New Yorkers, including Russians, Show Support for Ukrainian Freedom
On Sunday, in Multiple Public Spaces in NYC, I Found Rallies for Ukrainian Independence
March 1, 2022 / NYC Neighborhoods / / Politics & Government / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.
In the photo at right, you can see protesters in Washington Square in the Village, voicing their opinions about Vladimir Putin's unprovoked aggression and invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The woman at the center of the photo asks,
"Why should you care?" and then she answers her question writing, "Putin Invasion = War on Democracy".
Russia & Ukraine - Putting the Conflict in Context - Date Rape
We're going to start a look into Putin's War on Ukraine. In doing so, we're going to report on it by providing a contextual framework to help you see things in a holistic manner, which is something the corporate run daily national news organizations seem to fail to do these days - while favoring sensationalistic, ratings-chasing, gossip-like, news reporting.
The gist of this story is that Ukraine is like a pretty woman who turned down Vladimir Putin's advances, so he decided to rape her.
The Basics - Ukraine's Population, Economy & Technology - Far Bigger & More Developed than I had Thought
Russia has a population of about 144 million as of 2020, while the Ukraine has a population of 44 million. This surprised me, perhaps in part because Russia has played such a visible role on the international stage, while the Ukraine has not.
Russia is also a much larger nation than Ukraine economically, as Russia has the sixth largest economy in the world measured in PPP, which is defined as 'purchasing power parity'. Ukraine, by contrast was the 40th largest economy in the world measured in PPP, and is the 44th [of 45] largest economy in Europe as measured nominally which includes the distortions made by currency exchange rates. Thus, when measured on comparable purchasing power [PPP], the Russian economy is only three times larger than Ukraine's, but because of currency trading, Russia does rates better on the global markets. The PPP numbers are measured based on a basket of currencies - not just the dollar - and thus PPP more effectively filters out currency exchange rate distortions.
The economies of Russia and the Ukraine also differ in terms of what they produce. The Russian economy is the second largest producer of oil and energy, including natural gas. Energy is Russia's largest single export and accounts for a significant portion of their government revenue. Russia is also rich in raw materials, commodities and minerals, which are used in its manufacturing sector. But the bulk of the Russian economy has been modernized and nearly two thirds of its economy is comprised of services.
The Ukraine has a large agricultural sector, as well as metals and coal sectors, which - as in Russia - facilitate manufacturing, and the Ukraine has the second largest natural gas reserves in Europe [but they still are a net importer of energy]. I couldn't find out what percent of the economy of the Ukraine was in services, but they have the fourth highest number of IT professionals in the world, and by 2015 over half of the nation had internet access [and in Kyiv it was 90%]. And their manufacturing base includes shipbuilding, aerospace and automotive.
So, to my suprise, the Ukraine is far bigger and is a far more technologically advanced than I had thought. And this helps explain why the little dictator, Vladimir Putin, is having trouble subjugating them.
- CLICK here to read the rest of our report on the Russian Invasion of the Ukraine - Background, Populations, Economies, Technology, & Additional Context.
A Very Brief Look at Ukraine's Evolving Borders
The photo at right shows a church service this past Sunday afternoon, at St. George's Ukrainian Catholic Church in the East Village. Earlier in the day, Cardinal Dolan attended the church at the 8 am service in show of solidarity and support for the Ukrainian people.
I did a bit of research into Ukraine's history, and one of the things I came away with was that their borders have - at times - seemed like fluctuating squiggly lines, moving in and out in tandem with the military and social turmoil in the Eastern European region during the past century or so.
I'm not going to go into a whole lot of detail here, as the history is too long and complicated to begin an exposition on it at this time. But let me give you a small sample: the Crimean Penninsula. The lands that comprise modern day Ukraine have been fought over since ancient Greek, Persian, Roman, Mongol and Byzantine times. And it seems the battle for Ukraine continue to this day.
In more recent times [the last couple centuries] the Ukrainian borders have shifted with the sands of time, mostly related to disputes with neighboring countries of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Lithuania and their bigger neighbors like Germany and Russia.
Post Fall of the Berlin Wall - Modern Day Politics in Ukraine
The Ukraine became an independent nation briefly, following the Russian Revolution of 1917 until 1921. In 1921 / 1922 the Ukraine became the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. After the defeat of the Nazis by the western alliance - which included both the United States and Russia - most Eastern European nations fell under the influence of the Soviet Union, including the Ukraine. A footnote is the Premier Kruschev, who was the Premier of the Soviet Union from the mid 1950's to the mid 1960's, allowed Ukraine to annex the Crimean Penninsula from Russia.
In 1991, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Ukraine declared its independence as a free nation. And ever since, the Ukraine has been moving in the direction of the west, increasingly asserting control of their own government, economy and society, through a free press and democratic elections. While the Ukrainians' movement in the direction of the West hasn't always been a straight line, it did seem to come together after the Soviet Union miltarily stormed the Crimean Penninsula in 2014, claiming the penninsula as Putin's / Russia's own. That action was apparently supported by the Russian people.
In response, the Ukrainians elected Volodymyr Zelensky by a wide margin [73% in favor]. This came after a couple of elections of a split electorate, and wins by closer margins. Zelensky embraced the Ukraine's westward movement, in contrast to neighboring Belarus where that nation's president, Lukashenko is alleged to have stolen the election in 2020. Lukashenko has held power since Belarus won its independence around the same time as Ukraine.
Russia's movement toward the Western values of democracy, free speech and independence was usurped by a reportedly very violent and corrupt dictator, posing as a president [Putin]. Putin reportedly aligned himself with the Russian mob, to make the billionaire Russian Oligarchs answer to him, instead of the other way around. The Russian Oligarchs are believed to have robbed the Russian people of their great natural resources wealth, during the process of Russian property privatization, following the fall of the Communist Party.
So while current dictator-President Vladimir Putin was consolidating his grip on Russia, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Ukrainians were attempting to carve out their own path to becoming a free people, with all the rights, opportunities and benefits that democracy and self determination confer upon a nation's citizenry.
Notice the protester's sign at right, stating that she's a Russian, and she is opposes Putin's War.
Vladimir Putin & Modern Day Politics in Russia
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the west failed to do what FDR and Truman wisely did to our enemies [at the time] following WWII - provide outreach to [Russia] help them continue moving toward becoming a free and open society. Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher were at the helm.
In Russia, in the late 1990's and early 2000's the Communist Party became the Opposition Party to Putin's party. The Communists currently hold something like between 10% - 35% of the seats in the Russian Federation government. While the opposition has a voice, it's weak and muted, and more of a subterfuge to deceive the outside world that Russia is a 'democracy' and that Putin is a President, of which neither is true.
As noted in a prior post, Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny is the first member of the Russian politics who seems to scare Putin. Vladimir allegedly had one of his henchment try to poison Navalny.
Biden's Behind-the-Scenes Coalition Building Response
Biden appears to have done what appears a masterful job of bringing NATO members, and for that matter, a large share of the whole planet, into a unified effort to aid the Ukrainians and thwart - and maybe stop - Russian aggression. Coordinating a collective response by the 27 NATO members was - to say the least - a very challenging effort, particularly after the disruptive shenanigans of the prior Administration. Yes, it took time, but real progress generally does. And they're not through.
Volodymyr Zelensky, famously told NATO / America on Saturday that he didn't "need a ride, he needed weapons" when Western Powers asked him if he wanted help evacuating. But it's worth reminding folks that little more than a month ago, Zelensky was telling Biden to tone down the rhetoric about a Russian invasion, and that Biden's release of information about the pending Russian invasion, was alarming the Ukranians. And it's worth noting that Zelensky and the Ukrainian Parliament didn't declare a State of Emergency until the same day that Putin's Russia attacked. So Zelensky and the Ukrainians appeared to be slow to wake up to / recognize the real danger and threat that Putin's phony military exercises represented.
For many years now, the U.S. has been providing Ukraine with a fair amount of aid, including arms. This was done in 2021 to the tune of between a half billion and $650 million. And already this year the U.S. has made another $350 million available to the Ukraine, which may explain in part why Putin's army isn't moving so quickly in and sweeping them off their feet.
While this doesn't mean their collective efforts will succeed, fascist dictators like Putin need to be spanked, and spanked hard. Preferably by his own people, like the Italians did to Benito Mussolini, during WWII.
Balancing the Fine Line - Deterrence vs Escalation
So far, no other nation has signed up as Ukraine's military allies, in part because the U.S. and NATO don't want to escalate things. The sanctions and aid packages provided to the Ukraine have obviously helped, because after more than a week, both Kyiv and Kharkiv are still controlled by the Ukrainians. Kyiv is only 120 miles from the Belarus / Russian border, and Ukraine's second largest city, Kharkiv, is even closer [only 25 miles from the Russian border].
Most military analysts had expected the Russians to have won control of both of these cities by now. But the fighting has begun to intensify, and it's going to get very ugly, just like Vladimir Putin's face.
As of this update [3/3/22], about a million Ukrainians have fled their country.
Rupert Murdoch's Mercenary Media Millionaires Appear to be Putin Sympathizers
Rupert Murdoch's Fox News propagandists were off the Fox website on Monday, February 28th, probably to do a reset. The Fox News rage machine attacks on our leaders and fellow Americans, seems traitorous in these situations, as the phony, hyped up, Murdoch manufactured Fox News anger appears unpatriotic, which one could easily argue that it is.
Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham once again provided shock value to the network in the days following the Russian invasion, by seeming to support Putin [Carlson] or by underming Biden [Ingraham]. Hannity has become a flip flopper on the subject, just as he did with gays and the Iraq War, as he once thought Putin's Russia should be our friend, and most recently said that the military should overthrow Putin or kill him.
Beware the Increasingly Warped Prism Through Which the 'News' is Filtered
Unfortunately about half of our national daily news media is controlled by Australian born billionaire Rupert Murdoch. Read the manipulative accounts of events by Murdoch's NY Post and WSJ with skepticism, and stay tuned to the omissions, distortions and deceits of Murdoch's Fox News propagandists and beware his growing, insidious influence over ABC News coverage through things like the vidifont [news lines at the bottom of the screen or graphics alongside the newscasters' heads], the outreach to the more sensationalistic characters of political parties or the population, and less of serious contextual analysis of people, places and events.
At his core, billionaire Rupert Murdoch appears to be a manipulative propagandist, not unlike Joseph Goebbels, the propagandist for the Nazis, in the two decades ending with WWII. Murdoch never seems to take his eye off capitalizing on opportunities to accumulate more money and more power. Murdoch appears to do this by manipulating voters' perceptions: 1) in favor of pols who will use their government power once in office, to reward the billionaire, and 2) to discredit his [puppet] pols' opponents, by distorting the news accounts about them, on Murdoch's Fox News, NY Post, Wall St Journal and increasingly ABC News.
To learn more about the corruptive nature of Rupert Murdoch on American mass media via the outlets he controls in America, Britain and Australia - see our report series - Rupert Murdoch and the 21st Century Propaganda Press.
I'll try to follow up with more background and information in the coming week, as events continue to unfold.