Ukraine and Russia: Prospects for Peace

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Video of the 10:30am, 2:30pm, and 5:30pm panels at the Ukraine and Russia: Prospects for Peace conference are now available on the Science for Peace YouTube channel (and also below).

Video

Panel 1: The Background

Panel 2: Who has done what? And why?

[ Video editing: Nestor Golets, foliocreative.ca ]

Panel 3: What are some potential solutions?

[ Video editing: Nestor Golets, foliocreative.ca ]

Other materials

Conference materials / papers will also be available for download or viewing on this page, which will also serve as a forum for continuing the discussions begun during the event (see comments section below).

Comments

  1. Marta Baziuk

    Perhaps of interest to conference attendees: Ukrainian/Russian writer Andrei Kurkov will be speaking Wed., March 4,
    Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 4-6 p.m.
    Alumni Hall 400 (121 St. Joseph Street, 4th floor), University of Toronto

    How Many Maidans Does Ukraine Need to Succeed?
    Kurkov commands the largest international audience of any author writing in the Russian language. He is also Ukraine’s best-selling author abroad and has written 18 novels and more than 30 film scripts. His most recent work is Ukraine Diaries: Dispatches from Kiev, which documents his experience living through the Euromaidan Revolution. The book has been translated into German, French, Italian, Estonian, English, Polish, Russian and Japanese.

  2. Victor Ostapchuk

    Oliver Stone, who considers America “The Great Satan” is blinded to a “Lesser Satan” and decided to make a film about the Maidan Revolution as plotted by American puppet masters. Just as the American Revolution was a French conspiracy. There is a problem here in critical thinking and informedness, one that those on the left should consider facing. From a fellow leftist:
    http://krytyka.com/en/community/blogs/open-letter-oliver-stone

  3. A.S.Payne

    The following statement was composed by A.S.Payne. He invites everyone who cares to read it to take issue with every word in it and to prove him wrong; and I also wish all good people good luck, especially the good people of the Donbass!

    First Salvo!

    “No amount of genius spent on the creation of propaganda will lead to success if a fundamental principle is not forever kept in mind. Propaganda must confine itself to very few points, and repeat them endlessly. Here, as with so many things in this world, persistence is the first and foremost condition of success.”

    That, if you do not recognize it already, is an excerpt from Mein Kampf, written by Adolf Hitler, published in 1925.

    And this is President Obama speaking in Estonia on September 3, 2014.

    “It was not the government in Kiev that destabilized eastern Ukraine; it’s been the pro-Russian separatists who are encouraged by Russia, financed by Russia, trained by Russia, supplied by Russia and armed by Russia. And the Russian forces that have now moved into Ukraine are not on a humanitarian or peacekeeping mission. They are Russian combat forces with Russian weapons in Russian tanks. Now, these are the facts. They are provable. They’re not subject to dispute.”

    “Russian weapons in Russian tanks?” Really, prez, that’s too rich! You lost me there. I was with you all the way; but that last part – weapons in tanks? That was one Russian too many. Really capsized my Canadian canoe it did. Sorry.

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose!
    And so spins the world about its axis of evil.

    No, Let Me Explain

    Now, not to let President Putin off the hook either, I’ll mete out the smack he surly deserves by unleashing a quote from the “Father of Modern American Journalism”.

    “Success makes men rigid and they tend to exalt stability over all the other virtues; tired of the effort of willing they become fanatics about conservatism.”

    This can be found somewhere in the pages of A Preface to Politics, written by Walter Lippman, published in 1913.

    I have never read this book. The closest I have ever come to reading Walter Lippman was as a teenager. Picked up for a buck in a secondhand bookstore on Lakeshore Road, I owned a crisp, crunchy, brittle, dried out, brown paged paperback copy of his book, Public Opinion, of which I may have read the half of before it fell apart in my hands so I probably moved on to something younger and more flexible by Vance Packard, maybe 1957’s The Hidden Persuaders.

    “Success makes men rigid and they tend to exalt stability over all the other virtues; tired of the effort of willing they become fanatics about conservatism.”

    To the best of my knowledge, if I were to bash Putin for anything, it would be to accuse him of being fanatically conservative.

    However, here is another interesting thought formulated by Walter Lippman in his aforementioned book.

    “It is perfectly true that that government is best which governs least. It is equally true that that government is best which provides most.”

    In so far as this pertains to President Putin’s time in office –please, anybody, correct me if I’m wrong– my understanding is that the following are the facts. They are provable. They’re not subject to dispute.

    This is the condition Russia’s condition was in after 15 years of Putin’s leadership and before the onset of the present crisis.

    1999 GDP: 195 bil. USD // 2013 GDP: 2,113 bil. USD

    1999 GDP per person: 1,320 USD // 2013 GDP per person: 14,800 USD

    1999 Inflation: 36.5% // 2013 Inflation: 6.5%

    1999 Gold-Foreign ex. Reserve: 12.6 bil. USD
    2013 Gold-Foreign ex. Reserve: 511 bil. USD

    1999 National debt: 78% GDP // 2013 National debt: 8% GDP

    1999 Pension: 499 RUB // 2013 Pension: 10,000 RUB

    1999 Income: 1,522 RUB // 2013 Income: 29,940 RUB

    Chalk one up for the conservative fanatic President Putin.

    “It is equally true that that government is best which provides most.”

    Let’s move on.

    “Je ne suis pas Charlie!”

    Here’s The Father of Modern American Journalism one more time. No idea where it comes from. You click, you copy, you cut, you paste.

    It churns out. The medium is the message. Let this extended quote serve as our springboard.

    “We must insist that free oratory is only the beginning of free speech; it is not the end, but a means to an end. The end is to find the truth.

    The practical justification of civil liberties is not that self-expression is one of the rights of man. It is that the examination of opinion is one of the necessities of man.

    For experience tells us that it is only when freedom of opinion becomes the compulsion to debate that the seed … has produced its fruit.

    When that is understood, freedom will be cherished not because it is a vent for our opinions but because it is the surest method of correcting them.”

    Humor is only funny if you get the joke.

    If you don’t get it, you won’t laugh and you might take offence.

    If I make a joke and you are offended by it, I owe you an apology.

    I owe you an apology in exchange for which you are obliged to offer me your forgiveness. This kind of behavior has worked wonders for civilization.

    To say anything I want, anywhere and anytime I please, is not a matter of exercising my freedom of speech. It is a demonstration of carelessness and a callous heart. Both of which will guarantee me a miserable existence.

    Why anyone in their right mind believes free speech is about promoting ethnic humor as a public good and that slurs are a viable form of public discourse is beyond me.

    Is sacrilege the most time-honored use of the word? I don’t think so, surly not in the public sphere. It’s fun among family and friends and like-minded gatherings to blow off some steam. But one would hardly wish to find it down at the cop shop when one wants to lodge a complaint, would you?

    How could anyone who has not lost control of their senses imagine that the greatest purpose of free speech is that it gives an individual the ability to make fun of everyone and everything, to jeer and mock and give offence, to publicly sack what is personally deemed sacred and dear?

    Rallying around the right to call people names is not only to make ridiculously light of the importance of the uses of language but also to encourage barbarism at a time when thought, consideration and careful deliberation ought to be the rule of the day.

    We have all night to make merry of the atrocity exhibition our world has become, let us devote our sunlit hours to discovering what generates such monstrosity.

    “… , freedom will be cherished not because it is a vent for our opinions but because it is the surest method of correcting them.”

    Walter Lippman (September 23, 1889 – December 14, 1974) God bless.

  4. Victor Ostapchuk

    Apropos the previous comment, It so happens that no matter how much diversionary obfuscation, quoting Hitler and Lippman, verbal rambling one engages in, what Obama said in the above quote is what happened in Donbas—just because Obama said it does not make it untrue. As to Putin, since the start of his war against Ukraine he continues to amaze the world with his Orewellian mendacity—denials regarding Russian shelling of Ukraine, infiltration with weapon and men, pretending to be unable to control his border etc. Unfortunately the effect of the previous and probably upcoming comments will be to drown this comments section with verbiage and render it useless—this can be seen in many an online newspaper. As to GDP statistics, it is quite clear that Putin’s Russia has become an authoritarian mafia state—gross income inequalities, regime criminality in place of the rule of law, and a suppressed civil society. A dictatorship based on energy windfalls that is not sustainable. Which is why it is so important for him to make sure Ukraine does not diverge from Russia—compared to Russia, civil society there has burgeoned having defeated the previous criminalizing regime. Putin fears the evolution of an open society in neighboring Ukraine because he senses in it a grave threat to his dead end dictatorship.

  5. Victor Ostapchuk

    The events in Ukraine constitute a major challenge for people on the left who in their justified critical attitude to the effects of US foreign policy on the world may seem uncritical in their thinking about what Putin’s authoritarian and neo-imperial Russia has become and is doing outside its borders. People who care about freedom, social justice, and all the admirable values of the left might look at this Russia not through the filters of their justified anti-Americanism, but on its own terms. For example, compare the kind of society that Putin has fostered with the kind that Ukrainians have been struggling to establish since expelling the de facto and de jure illegitimate gangsterizing regime of Yanukovych (usurpation of power since election in 2010 including a constitutional coup, election fraud in 2012 & much more). To fail to see Putin’s regime for what it is and to refrain from condemning it amounts to a betrayal of the noble principles of the left. Some critical thinking, which scientists for peace are certainly capable of, ought to really be enough. This is not meant to be a criticism, but rather a plea to rise to challenge facing us since Russia undertook a hybrid but real war against its sovereign neighbor. And whatever America did elsewhere, two wrongs don’t make a right—Ukrainians should not have to pay for whatever harms rendered by others in the greater world.

  6. A.S.Payne

    Oh, I get it!
    If we all agree that Vlad’s bad, then we can all feel good.
    Is that just one of those noble principles we ought not betray, or the only one?

    In any case, Ukraine is entering hyperinflation and that burgeoning civil society you speak of better batten down the hatches.

  7. Metta (for Peter Russell)

    A Path to a Constitutional Solution in Ukraine

    If a cease-fire works for a while and the positions of the Kiev government and the rebels are frozen, they wont be frozen for long if there is not a process for working out a constitutional restructuring acceptable to both sides. Here is an outline of a possible approach to such a constitutional restructuring.

    1) The leadership on both sides must be willing to make a fundamental compromise: the Government in Kiev must be willing to engage in talks with the rebel leaders in eastern Ukraine, and the rebel leaders must be willing to accept the Government in Kiev as a legitimate government. Russia would have to agree to have the constitutional status of Crimea included in the talks.
    2) Constitutional talks can only proceed under international auspices. This would best be provided by the EU and Russia. The international sponsors would provide the site, and mediation services.
    3) On the agenda of the talks would be consideration of changes in Ukraine that would provide the eastern Oblasts of Luhansk and Donetsk, and possibly Crimea, more autonomy than other Ukrainian oblasts. The examples of semi-autonomous regions in countries like the UK and Spain would be examined. Also on the agenda would be shared fundamental rights, language rights, the process of ratifying changes agreed to by the leaders, and economic measures to rebuild the industrial infrastructure in the areas where fighting has occurred.
    4) The international sponsors would design and provide a dispute resolution system for dealing with alleged violations of the constitutional agreement.

  8. A.S.Payne

    A striking a example of double-think or just another day the office?

    Cash-Strapped Ukraine Struggles to Keep Russia Gas Supplies
    By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FEB. 27, 2015, 7:22 A.M. E.S.T.

    “ Last week, Ukraine cut gas supplies to eastern areas controlled by the rebels, prompting Russia to pump gas directly to the area. Russia said the deliveries should be counted as a part of the overall volume of its gas exports to Ukraine, but Kiev protested, saying it could not manage the distribution of gas in areas outside its control.

    “ Putin on Wednesday angrily denounced Ukraine’s decision to halt gas supplies to eastern regions, home to 4.5 million mostly Russian-speaking people, saying it “smacks of genocide.”

    “ “If the Ukrainian authorities consider it part of their territory, they should be fully responsible for the situation there,” he said. “And if it’s not so, they should openly say that.” ”

    President Putin must possess the patience of saint.

  9. A.S.Payne

    I apologize to anyone that bothered or bothers to read my submission above. The headline should read:

    A striking example of doublethink or just another day at the office?

    To balls up the opener is really unforgivable. One-liners float nobodies boat if you foul up the quote.

    But I’d just finished reading that article shortly before I had to run off to work and had been so infuriated by the monumental absurdity of diplomacy when confronting a government that wants to have things both ways, or perhaps would like the land but not the people –always a terrifying proposition– that, well, … I won’t let it happen again. I admire the good people of the Donbass too much to let my words slip again. Their discipline and sacrifice put me to shame.

    Other than that it’s pretty roomy here, considering that one speaker at the conference had the balls to talk World War Three! I guess words carry no weight in this part of the world anymore. Talk of World War Three is just that. Talk. But like Commander Cohen always says, “I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean, I love the country but I can’t stand the scene. And I’m neither left or right, I’m just staying home tonight, getting lost in that hopeless little screen.”

  10. Metta (for Susana Ochi)

    These are notes taken from one of the lunch-time discussions.

    Science for Peace: Sunday, February 22nd, 2015
    Ukraine and Russia: Prospects for Peace
    Lunch Time “Meeting”:
    Exploring Non Violent Action Possibilities, with John Bacher (Tim Hortons)
    Ellie Kirzner, Janis Alton, Joan Montgomerie, Suber Guin, Tim Tiner, Susana Ochi

    1. Help refugees: The UN Refugee Agency, Doctors Without Borders, Dignitas International

    2. Donations

    3. Non-violent approaches: lobbying Canadian government / rebuilding Radio Canada International

    4. Role of Women: engaging women in peacebuilding – UN Security Council Resolution 1325

    5. Human Rights needs and abuse: publishing articles in magazines, newspapers

    6. Bringing attention to what really is happening in both countries: connecting with regional experts as Valerie Zawilski, Marta Dyczok, Andre Kamenshikov.

    7. Working with social movements groups in Ukraine/Russia: Mothers of Soldiers

    8. Bring into attention unpublished non-violent responses to violence, as the demonstration in Moscow against the annexation of Crimea.

    9. Monitoring and Reporting non-violent movements to inspire local population.

    10. Creating dialogue groups in Toronto to bring awareness of both sides’ issues/concerns/perspectives.

  11. Jim Deutsch

    I can only be very brief, and repeat an email I had sent out shortly after the day.
    If the “science” in SfP is to have meaning, then let us no longer provide a platform for those who already have access to corporate media.

    Our existence is justified not by repeating what is already out there, but by actively pursuing underlying causes, through reasoned investigation, whether or not it supports the military-industrial-governmental-surveillance-academic-media complex. I was shocked at how the two A.M. panelists arrogantly shut down a challenging question.

  12. A.S.Payne

    CLOSER TO THE HEART

    CBC.ca featured the following article the other day, which is a copy and paste commingling of reports by Reuters and AP goosed by the Canadian Press into a shape that tries to cover all the bases.

    We skip to the piece tacked on at the end of it all.

    ________________________________________________________________

    Boris Nemtsov Killing: Theories Fly as Muscovites Pay Tribute to Putin Critic

    Thousands March in Honour of Leading Opposition Politician

    Thomson Reuters Posted: Mar 01, 2015 6:05 AM ET Last Updated: Mar 02, 2015 5:33 AM ET

    Ukrainian Parliament Member Detained

    The federal Investigative Committee said Alexei Goncharenko was being questioned Sunday about his alleged involvement in a fire that broke out last year in his home city Odessa between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian demonstrators. Dozens died in the fire, including some Russian citizens.

    For many Russians, the Odessa fire remains one of the more painful episodes of the Ukraine conflict.

    ________________________________________________________________

    What’s My Problem?

    “… alleged involvement in a fire that broke out last year in his home city Odessa between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian demonstrators.”

    I guess that’s one way of putting it. Fires do break out between demonstrators. It did happen last year in his home city of Odessa. Dozens died. But that’s awfully vague, isn’t it?

    Journalists have had 10 months to come up with a summary statement that contains a shadow of the truth about this truly terrible outbreak of violence and the best they can deliver is “a fire broke out between demonstrators”.

    What were they doing, rubbing two sticks together? It’s no wonder a fire broke out!

    And why mention, that “for many Russians, the Odessa fire remains one of the more painful episodes of the Ukraine conflict.”

    Does it not pain Ukrainians when dozens of demonstrators die by fire? Do only Russians by contrast possess such sensitive souls?

    Then I read this here article and, boy! it all comes rushing back like a nightmare you wish you could forget but you can’t because the return of the repressed is like a dragon breathing down your neck and the flames can no longer be ignored because they’re scorching your skin.

    ________________________________________________________________

    Police Arrest Ukrainian MP Involved in Odessa Tragedy at Nemtsov’s Mourning / Sputnik International

    17:49 01.03.2015(updated 19:41 01.03.2015)

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Moscow police confirmed the arrest of Ukrainian parliament member Oleksiy Goncharenko ahead of the march commemorating slain Russian politician Boris Nemtsov on Sunday.

    Goncharenko took part in the violent events in southern Ukraine’s Odessa on May 2, 2014, when far-right activists blocked anti-EU protesters inside the city’s House of Trade Unions and set the building on fire. According to official statistics, the incident killed 48 people and wounded over 250.

    Goncharenko posted photos of dead activists in Odessa on Twitter and expressed public support for “cleansing” of the camp of the opponents of the newly-installed Ukrainian authorities.

    The politician went to Moscow to attend the march in commemoration of Boris Nemtsov killed on Friday. The investigation of the killing is currently underway.

    ________________________________________________________________

    Why would this Russian report concern itself in such detail? Perhaps the Odessa fire is one of the more painful episodes in the Ukrainian conflict vis-à-vis Russia after all?

    “ … Odessa on May 2, 2014, when far-right activists blocked anti-EU protesters inside the city’s House of Trade Unions and set the building on fire.”

    That’s mighty strong coffee, Jeffery! You sure that fire didn’t just break out on own accidently?

    “ … posted photos of dead activists in Odessa on Twitter and expressed public support for “cleansing” of the camp of the opponents of the newly-installed Ukrainian authorities.”

    Medic! Having a heart attack here! Someone get me a glass of water!

    “ … went to Moscow to attend the march in commemoration of Boris Nemtsov killed on Friday.”

    A hypocrite to say the least, and that he is not alone in his hypocrisy says a whole lot more.

    Let’s all take a deep breath and think about what can be done.

    MUCH CLOSER TO THE HEART

    The closer we move geographically to the heart of a tragedy the more detailed and defined the memories of the tragedy become. This perhaps points to a solution.

    Let those populations and their respective governments who are directly affected by a tragic event deal with it to the best of their abilities without the interference of those who are left untouched.

    On a geopolitical level this amounts to the following manifesto for the Ukraine crisis:

    I call for the establishment of Disaster Area Diplomacy, or, DAD, for short.

    Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Moldova, and Russia should form a Disaster Area Diplomacy Alliance, aka DADA. This would be a temporary alliance created solely to iron out the grievances arising from the present crisis in Ukraine.

    DADA would apply pressure on Ukraine to find a solution to its current problems and have a grace period of one year to produce favorable results.

    During the period of grace the world community, or WC, aka the west, would be mere spectators of the action.

    However, should DADA fail to fulfill its mandate within one year, the WC would then be permitted to step up and apply pressure on DADA.

    I would suggest sticking to current convention and that economic sanctions be leveled at DADA as Collective Punishment (CP).

    The result of these sanctions would be catastrophic for such a huge swath of the global population that the impending execution of CP would ensure that everyone’s mind would be wide open and positively charged so that, perforce, an amicable solution to the crisis in Ukraine would emerge tout de suite.

    Of course the fact that the WC would enjoy a yearlong sojourn conducive to some self-reflection would be of benefit to us all as well.

    Thank you.

    OUTRO

    Everybody knows about being goaded
    Everybody knows how we all got lost
    Everybody knows the war’s been sold us
    Everybody knows how much it cost

    Everybody knows they feel able
    With a gun out on the table
    That’s how it rolls, everybody knows

  13. Metta Spencer

    We don’t make peace with our friends. We make peace with our enemies. And the main way we go about that is to talk to them, and listen to them.

    This forum is maintained by Science for Peace, a group of academics and scientists who are patient enough to listen to the people whose ideas they may dislike. So I welcome these conversations and assure you that everyone is welcome to comment, as long as the comments are not abusivem threatening, or unmistakably delusional. This welcome includes both people of high and low positions, people with great communication resources and people who are generally ignored. Welcome, everyone!

  14. Dmitri

    Here we go, this what most of our so called informed “friends” should learn http://www.cbc.ca/radio/thecurrent/the-current-for-march-17-2015-1.2997944/crimeans-happy-about-union-with-russia-polls-find-1.2997952

  15. Lina

    It was promised by conference organizers that “Video of the Ukraine and Russia: Prospects for Peace conference will be available on the Science for Peace YouTube channel—by mid-March at the latest; hopefully sooner—and will appear on this page as embedded video.” – mid-march already passed. Where is it ? Will it be provided ?

  16. Ken Simons

    The videos are on their way! There have been a few technical problems, but we are currently uploading the video for the early afternoon panel (Paul Robinson, Fred Weir, and Borys Wrzesnewskyj). The others will follow.

    Many thanks to Nestor Golets for his help in editing these videos.

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