Israel’s ambassador in Kiev, Reuven Din El, opened a hotline with a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist movement to “prevent provocations,” according to an agreement reached last week.
The agreement came at the end of a meeting between Din El and Dmitry Yarosh, the leader of the Right Sector paramilitary group, which participated in the overthrow of the government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

In the meeting, “Dmitry Yarosh stressed that Right Sector will oppose all [racist] phenomena, especially anti-Semitism, with all legitimate means,” the embassy wrote on its website.
“The parties agreed to establish a ‘hotline’ to prevent provocations and coordinate on issues as they arise,” it said.
Yarosh’s troops had a decisive role in the revolution that forced Yanukovych to flee to Russia.

Last month he told the Ukrainian Pravda newspaper that his outfit shares many beliefs with the xenophobic Svoboda party and cooperates with it, but rejects the xenophobia displayed by Svoboda members and leaders.

“We have a lot of common positions on ideological issues, but there are big differences. For example, I do not understand racist elements and I do not adopt them,” he said.
Yarosh said that “non-Ukrainians” should be treated according to principles set forth by Ukrainian nationalist leader Stepan Bandera.
A one-time ally of Nazi Germany who later turned against the Nazis, Bandera said non-Ukrainian allies should be treated as brothers and neutral parties should be respected.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center and other Jewish organizations have condemned the glorification in Ukraine of Bandera, whose troops are believed to have killed thousands of Jews 

when they were allies of the Nazis in 1941.

Svoboda lawmakers have regularly used the pejorative “zhyd,” which is equivalent to “kike,” to describe Jews.
In response to protests from Jewish leaders, Svoboda argued “zhyd” was a correct and neutral, albeit archaic term. Svoboda’s leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, has in the past referred to a “Moscow-Jewish mafia” which he said ruled Ukraine.

Din El and Tyahnybok spoke in March 2013 in a meeting which the Israeli foreign ministry said was not coordinated with Jerusalem. 

China Backs Russia on Ukraine

Chinese media has covered the evolving situation in Ukraine with interest, in part because China has avested interest in Ukraine’s fate. Now, the world is returning the scrutiny. In the wake of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to send troops to the Crimean Peninsula, it seems the world is taking sides on the Ukrainian issue. And everyone wants to know where China stands—one of the perils of being a major power.
On Sunday, after the Russian Federation Council authorized the use of armed forces in Ukraine, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang issued a special statement on the situation. “China is deeply concerned about the current situation in Ukraine,” Qin said. He called on “the relevant parties in Ukraine to resolve their internal disputes peacefully within the legal framework.” As for external interference in the Ukraine, Qin emphasized that China respects “the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine” and said that a solution should be found “based on respect for international law and norms.”
However, Qin also cryptically said that “there are reasons for why the situation in Ukraine is what it is today.” Qin didn’t go into detail about what those reasons might be, but Chinese media sources offered some suggestions. A Xinhua commentary argued that the West’s “biased mediation has polarized Ukraine and only made things worse in the country.” The article said that the West should work together with Russia to find a solution, and “stop trying to exclude Russia from the political crisis they failed to mediate.”
Further, the Xinhua commentary had no criticism for Russia’s decision to send troops to Crimea. “It is quite understandable when Putin said his country retained the right to protect its interests and Russian-speakers living in Ukraine,” the commentary said. Rather than opposing the move, the West should “respect Russia’s unique role in mapping out the future of Ukraine.”
The Global Times took a realist (and cynical) view of the situation, arguing that “the Ukrainian situation shows us clearly that in the international political arena, principles are decided by power.” The article argued that the Ukrainian opposition and the pro-Yanukovych, pro-Russian elements both only seem to gain legitimacy after they are able to assert their dominance. The article came to a rather strange conclusion: comparing the situation in the Ukraine to the “double standards” Washington applies to U.S.-China relations. “There is no logic” in those arguments (presumably referring to U.S. human rights critiques of China), “only that the U.S. is still the more powerful player.”
The juxtaposition of U.S.-China relations with the Ukraine crisis helps clarify China’s position. It’s hard to see how Russian troops entering Crimea meshes with China’s principle of non-interference, not to mention Beijing’s avowed respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. However, China is far from the only nation to bend its principles in favor of realpolitik. Denouncing Putin’s decision to send troops to Ukraine would jeopardize the evolving partnership between Beijing and Moscow. Worse, standing against Moscow would mean China was standing with the West—which could be taken as implicit support for the Ukrainian opposition forces that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych.
Meanwhile, China is leery of “color revolutions,” including Ukraine’s own “Orange Revolution” in 2004. The Chinese government has long speculated that the “color revolutions” were instigated by Western nations to oust unfriendly regimes—and Beijing itself remains wary that the U.S. is trying to foment another color revolution within China. Many in China now argue that Ukraine’s “Orange Revolution” papered over fissures that are springing to the forefront in the current tensions. To Beijing, Western intervention (both 10 years ago and today) is directly responsible for the current violence.
As a result, China has decided to back Russia—at least according to Russia’s Foreign Ministry. The Voice of Russia, citing a FM statement, said that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a telephone conversation Monday wherein they noted “the coincidence of Russia’s and China’s positions on the situation in Ukraine.”
China’s own Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang was a bit more circumspect in his Monday press conference. “China upholds its own diplomatic principles and the basic codes for international relations,” Qin said. However, he added that “we have also taken the historical and contemporary factors of the Ukraine issue into consideration.”  In others words, Qin said, China stands fast to its principles while also “seeking truth from facts” (实事求是).
China’s ambiguous position reveals its dilemma. Beijing’s instinct is to back Moscow, both to uphold the fruitful cooperation between these two nations and to stand firm against pressure from the West. However, vocally supporting Russia would violate China’s principle of non-interference. More importantly, it could arguably set a precedent of Chinese support for military intervention to protect separatists unhappy with their government—which goes against all China’s instincts, given its own issues with Tibet and Xinjiang provinces. Yet as the Global Times put it, at the end of the day power calculations mean more than principles. China’s geopolitical strategy requires Beijing to at least tacitly support Russia, and at the end of the day that argument outweighs more abstract philosophical concerns.

The Guardian: Russia may face second round of sanctions over Ukraine

March 7, 2014, 1:02 p.m. | Ukraine abroad — by Guardian
The U.S. President Barack Obama

 Barack Obama and his European Union allies have unveiled a co-ordinated set of sanctions to punish Russia for occupying Crimea, imposing visa restrictions on individuals and sharpening rhetoric in what has rapidly degenerated into the worst east-west crisis since the cold war.

A different perspective from the main stream media offerings on the Ukraine situation......

Yanis Varoufakis: Ukraine – Three Awkward Questions for Western Liberals and a Comment on the EU’s Role

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Yves here. This post is useful because the issues Varoufakis raises are orthogonal to most of the discussion in the English language press over Ukraine.
By Yanis Varoufakis, a professor of economics at the University of Athens. Cross posted from his blog
Let us accept (as I do) the principle that national minorities have the right to self-determination within lopsided multi-ethnic states; e.g. Croats and Kosovars seceding from Yugoslavia, Scots from the UK, Georgians from the Soviet Union etc.
Awkward question no. 1: On what principle can we deny, once Croatia, Kosovo, Scotland and Georgia have come into being, the right of Krajina Serbs, of Mitrovica Serbs, of Shetland Islanders and of Abkhazians to carve out, if they so wish, their own nation-states within the newly independent nation-states in the areas where they constitute a clear majority?
Awkward question no. 2: On what principle does a western liberal deny the right of Chechens to independence from Russia, but is prepared to defend to the hilt the Georgians’ or the Ukrainians’ right to self-determination?
Awkward question no. 3: On what principle is it justifiable that the West acquiesced to the raising to the ground of Grozny (Chechnya’s capital), not to mention the tens of thousands of civilian deaths, but responded fiercely, threatened with global sanctions, and raised the spectre of a major Cold War-like confrontation over the (so far) bloodless deployment of undercover Russian troops in Crimea?
The above three questions are being asked not because I want to challenge the notion that Mr Putin is a dangerous despot. I have no doubt that he is. Indeed, I wear as a badge of honour the fact that I was in a minority of one in the Faculty Board meeting of the University of Athens in 2003, where I voted against the award of an honourary doctoral degree to Mr Putin by the University of Athens (denying the University the opportunity to state that the award had been unanimous, and thus incurring the wrath of most colleagues who had been ‘requested’ politely by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to honour Mr Putin during his visit to Athens).
My three awkward questions have two aims: To remind readers of the West’s unprincipled attitude toward ‘other’ people’s struggles and tragedies. And to explain, in part, why such unprincipled behavior by the proponents of democratic principles ends up denigrating not only these very principles but greatly reinforcing the power and influence of the Putins of this world as well.
Europe and the Ukraine
Ukrainians fought pitched battles against the security forces in Kiev’s main square to protest against the former President Yanukovic’s decision to back out of a deal that would seal the country’s partnership with the European Union. Why? Are they blind to the incongruities of the European Union?
No, they are not. However, Ukrainians are facing a different type of problem compared to those we Europeans do. Whatever bone we have to pick with Brussels, with the ECB etc. (and we have many!), the people of Kiev had other priorities. E.g. how to rid themselves of security forces that felt at liberty to torture and to kill; how to travel freely; how to live in a country where courts were not completely run by the same mafia that run the state apparatus. To them, the fact that democracy is on the wane in the Eurozone and Europe’s principles are becoming increasingly hollow, matters little: The EU, however fast it may be descending into democratic illegitimacy, still looks like Heaven through many Ukrainian eyes.
Having said that, the greatest tragedy for Ukrainians is that their highest hopes are resting on weak shoulders: the European Union’s!
‘Europe’s Foreign Policy’ are three words that only need to be stated to cause hilarity. For there is no such thing, in truth. Even the Franco-German axis has been shuttered by Libya, let alone the ambitious idea of a common foreign policy for a United Europe that can act as a bulwark helpful to the Ukraine.
While Libya was of minimal importance to Europe’s security, even if of crucial importance to the Libyans, Ukraine is crucial and Europe ought to tread very carefully. What worries me the most is that the seriousness of the Ukrainian crisis is in inverse proportion to Europe’s competence in the field of foreign policy. Brussels may be keen to expand its ‘authority’ Eastward but it is treading into dangerous territory, ill equipped to deal with the repercussions.
The United States, the IMF, Germany and the Ukraine
The Ukraine is, and was always going to be, the battleground between Russia’s industrial neo-feudalism, the US State Department’s ambitions, and Germany’s neo-Lebensraum policies. Various ‘Eurasianists’ see the crisis in Kiev as a great opportunity to promote a program of full confrontation with Russia, one that is reminiscent of Z. Brzezinski’s 1970s anti-Soviet strategy. Importantly, they also see the Ukraine as an excellent excuse to torpedo America’s role in normalising relations with Iran and minimising the human cost in Syria. At the same time, the IMF cannot wait to enter Russia’s underbelly with a view to imposing another ‘stabilization-and-structural-adjustment program’ that will bring that whole part of the former Soviet Union under its purview. As for Germany, it has its own agenda which pulls its in two different directions at once: securing as much of the former Soviet Union as part of its neo-Lebensraum strategy of expanding its market/industrial space Eastwards; while, at the same time, preserving its privileged access to gas supplies from Gazprom.
As for the White House itself, there is little doubt that both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry understand the limits of Western power and the danger that too much of a hawkish reaction to the events in the Ukraine will undermine their efforts vis-à-vis Syria and Iran, at a time when Iraq is being increasingly destabilised.
Epilogue: The European Union should stop meddling in the Ukraine
In this geopolitical context, Brussels’ ambitions ought to be curtailed. The European Commission is clueless, regarding the goings on in the Ukraine, and the less involved they get the better for everyone. Indeed, the EU apparatchiks resemble Rome’s last emperors who, foolishly, thought that extending the Empire’s borders was all that mattered, when in reality the problem was that the Empire’s core was rotting.