I should note off the bat....epics and sagas.....usually end up being overblown. If you watch Gone With the Wind or Doctor Zhivago.....one being a long-winded soap opera over a southern family in turmoil, and the other being about a Russian doctor who always seems to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I should also note, while an American.....I've basically getting a good bit of my daily news from an abundance of different sources.....French news in English, the BBC, the English tabloids and daily papers, Germany's state-run TV news, Fox News, Sky news, Germany's Focus, USA Today, and even RT (Russia Today).
Over the past week, I've come to watch RT for about ninety minutes. To be honest, I can only handle about fifteen minutes at a time of RT because you reach a point where you know the story being told has some slanted views and you have to turn away from the story told to assemble what basic facts that they did tell, and what bogus stories were woven into the brief ten-minute update on the Ukraine.
RT has a number of British and American journalists on the staff, which is supposed to help the viewer feel reassured over the story told. You have to admire the way that they have to tell some quickly developing story, that they've enough management staff back in Moscow to rewrite the story to blend with the theme desired, and they can make the journalists redo their reports to go along with the perceived storyline. Kinda like watching American-style wrestling and knowing that the Undertaker will eventually come back and put down all the bad guys, and that the whole thing is a bit scripted.
From what I can see over Ukrainian news told by RT.....the storyline always starts in February, with the evil pro-EU politicians kicking the democratically-elected President out of the country. In actuality, they kinda asked what this negotiations were about in Oct/Nov/Dec, and how at the critical stage of economic talks and a major potential trade agreement....the President folded up the poker game and just said that Ukraine wasn't ready for big-time economic deals with the EU. For some reason, RT never gets to that point. To make RT's storyline work.....the story can only start at a certain point, and end at a certain point.
The Putin game here? It's hard to say. There is no vast oil reserves, natural gas reserves, gold supplies.....in the Ukraine. Normally, you'd do this kind of stuff to get at something.
The only apparent reason is to save the poor Ukrainian-Russians in the Ukraine. This would normally make a guy look pretty good....saving his own countrymen....it worked for Reagan in the Grenada episode, and for Thatcher in the Falklands episode. For Thatcher, oil potential might have figured into the episode to some degree, but yet to be a player three decades later. For Reagan, a one-star marginal medical school held a number of American students who might (only might).....have been threatened by Cuban revolutionary folks in Grenada.
The problem with the save-the-Russians scenario....is that there are easily forty countries out there now, from Finland to Italy, and even includes the US to some degree....with Russians. You see.....Russians get an itch to just pack up and go somewhere that they perceive is better than Russia. They've been doing this for almost a hundred years now. Between the Communist and pretend-to-be-democratic governments....it's given the average guy a moment to pause and consider the idea of someplace being better in life.
So it ought to make sense that Putin would want to go and save Russians....maybe in Latvia, Georgia, Moldova, and maybe even Estonia in the months ahead. Heck, there are around 1.2 million Russians in Germany....they might need saving from German-Turkish population or from the evil Bundestag political players. There's at least 500,000 Russians in Canada....who could always be threatened in some way by wayward drunk Canadians, or drunk Americans on holiday.
Saving Russians seems OK, but at the end of this episode.....how much did Putin and the Russian government end up spending? Just on military operations....you have to figure at least 300 million Euro so far. Some stories this week indicate that Russian troops have crossed over and been caught by the Ukraine military.....their cost will terminate because it's doubtful that they will volunteer to return to Russia.
The message to Russian-Ukrainians? It's hard to say. Up until December of 2013.....business and commerce ruled the aspects of a guy's typical day. Unemployment was on the high end of 7.5 to 8 percent. Here in 2014? The experts have kinda quit counting, and I'd assume that the unemployment is closer to forty percent right now. If you live in the central to east sections of the country.....other than gas station employees, coal miners, some farmers, and maybe mechanics.....there's nothing much going on. University operations have dwindled over on the east side of the country.
You can expect the winter approaching to be a harsh deal, and if you live in the zone of combat operations....it'll be a miserable year and you will depend on the charity of others (either the Russians or Europe) to get you through to spring of 2015. Attitudes by the Ukrainian-Russians might change a bit after a full-up and miserable winter.
So, I come to the beef of this particular blog. Commerce and industry. It's what makes or breaks a nation.
Since the 1960s....the Ukraine has been on this gradual (it's a pretty small but expanding line) build-up. They build trucks, tugboats, barges, cruise boats, spacecraft, aircraft, and cars (don't ask). They grow more wheat than ninety-nine percent of the countries in the world.
In the 1990s....they got smart and marketed their dental programs....all relatively cheap, and created dental tourism. Folks from Russia and Europe used to fly in and get expensive treatments done on the cheap.
Folks in Ukraine had an ample supply of active cell phones....actually 125 for every one-hundred residents, which means a number of guys were toting two and possibly three cell phones (one for the wife to call, one for mistress one, and one for mistress two....I will presume).
Ukraine produced more honey than any country in Europe, and they were kinda proud of that fact.
The Lviv Bus Factory in the Ukraine kinda got itself a reputation as a major builder of special-purpose buses....running off gas, diesel, electricity, and natural gas.
Ever seen the Dnepr motorcycle with it's sidecar (continually marketed today and sold throughout the world)? It's been made in Kiev since 1946.....course, we'd need to admit that the model and design of the original series came from Germany (after the war).
All of this industry business....if the EU trade agreement had gone through.....would have opened vast doors of commerce in Ukraine. The unemployment rate would have declined. The Ukraine university system.....already producing one of the higher rates of IT graduates....would have doubled in five years probably....and European companies would have found various ways to expand and market what Ukraine had to offer. All washed down the tubes now....because of the war episode.
There are two aspects that I'll end this commentary on. First, oddly enough....for the past two decades....Ukraine has been viewing a declining population. No one (oddly enough) moves there anymore, and the death rate has overtaken the birth rate. Generally, the population is going downward by a minimum of 100,000 a year (Wiki says 150,000). That's a generally bad sign of a country begging for commerce growth.
Second, while all these Russian-Ukrainians chat up a storm over their particular place in the Ukraine.....oddly enough.....there are at least fifty-five ethnic groups that exist in the Ukraine. There's even some group referred to as the Italians-of-Crimea (probably the mafia operations crowd, but it's best not to talk about them). You could be in some bar....chatting up a storm with your fellow Russian-Ukrainians, and then dragged into the corner to talk soccer with some Black Sea German guy, then get dragged off to the bar to argue car mechanics with a Urums-Ukraine dude. By late evening, you might even be in a lusty rendezvous situation with a Volga Tartar-Ukrainian gal....hoping that your Pontic Greek-Ukrainian wife didn't find out about your affair.
Oddly enough, for all these years....you seemed to get along with different cultures of people, with different work ethics, different ethnical backgrounds, different religious preferences, and different sexual tendencies. For some reason, it just kinda worked. And if you were sitting there long enough, you might want to ponder about why and how it worked. Then consider that you didn't have some Russian political folks getting all hyper and peppy about saving you...from something.