'No surprise Western govts prop up Ukrainian rebels, call them legitimate'
RT:The US, the UK and others insist that Russian troops have taken over Crimea. The armed men there say they are local self-defense units. So what proof does the West have of a Russian incursion?
Nebojsa Malic: I don’t think they have any proof, but then again, they’ve never needed any proof for any of their allegations over the past 25 years. They simply say what they want the public to believe and expect the public to believe it. I don’t see a problem even if these were Russian troops because Russia has a treaty that allows it to keep a number of troops in the Crimean region, and the number of troops Russia does keep is far fewer than allowed by the treaty.
So again, I don’t really see a problem here. There’s been no invasion, the people in Crimea are happy enough. They’re posting selfies with these soldiers, they’re smiling, they are walking around with flowers. That’s not like a typical Western invasion, which involves lots of bombs and lots of dead people. This isn’t exactly the kind of imagery the West usually projects when they go around flexing their power, and that’s why they’re trying to be as panicky and as alarmist as possible in their public announcements.
RT:They said Russia is violating Ukraine's sovereignty. But what about the EU and the US politicians propping up the Maidan opposition before it came to power?
NM: I would say that a far greater violation of sovereignty is actually staging a coup and replacing an elected government of a country with unelected stooges, like the United States has specifically done with the Maidan opposition. There was the intercepted phone call, which we all heard, who the United States government was plotting to install in power. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened. That is a violation of sovereignty. Before that is resolved, nobody should really speak about any sort of other violations, real or imagined.
RT:The UK says the new government in Kiev is legit, while Yanukovich didn't honor the February 21 agreement with the then-opposition and fled. Do they have a point?
NM: Who decides the legitimacy of these things? Normally it would be the Ukrainian people. The last time they were polled, they elected Viktor Yanukovich as their president. The crowd in Maidan didn't have any sort of democratic legitimacy. What they did have is that they had weapons. And they had money from the West, and the diplomatic support of Western governments. And using those levers, they actually took over power by force on February 22. The agreement that was purportedly achieved between European ministers and President Yanukovich was violated by the Maidan protesters who resorted to violence and forced the issue. So honestly, for the Western governments propping up these rebels, to declare them legitimate is obviously expected. But they don’t get to decide the legitimacy of these things.
RT:We've seen how many people in Crimea aren't happy with the Kiev leaders. Why is the will of the people not taken into account by Western nations then?
NM: Western governments generally don’t take will of the people into consideration at all, anywhere ever. The only will that matters to them is their own. So if they want to achieve something, if they want to carve up Yugoslavia or Serbia or Russia or Ukraine or anywhere else, they just find stooges that they can manipulate, install them in power, and then claim that the stooges’ decisions are legitimate because they represent a will of some phantom people or other. And that’s usually how they've been doing business for the past two decades. Sooner or later, somebody is going to have to stand up to them and say, “No, you can’t do this. This is against your own rules, this is against everybody rules. Stop.”
RT:Washington says the rights of minorities are protected in Ukraine. But what about those ultra-nationalists affiliated with the government, who made no secret about their hatred towards Russians and other ethnic groups?
NM: How can the United States government say the minority rights are protected in Ukraine when the very first thing that the rebel government did was pass a law banning the use of Russian language? If that is a protection of minorities, then what’s going on in Kosovo is multi-ethnic democracy, and Kosovo has been ethnically cleansed of everybody but Albanians, and even the Albanians who disagree with the current regime – which was also installed by the United States. Obviously some definitions are not all straight here.
RT:What do you think the international community will ultimately do if the referendum in Crimea goes ahead, and people vote to re-join Russia?
NM: It’s hard to predict what the international community will do, because there is no such thing as the international community. The United States uses this phrase to represent what it and its NATO allies are doing around the world. If the referendum in the Crimea is legitimate, and by all democratic standards, it looks like it is, have any treaties been violated? No. Has any force been used? No. By all rights, it should be a legitimate decision. However, this is not in the interest of the people who just overthrew the government in Ukraine and want to claim the entire country for themselves, including the people that don’t want to have anything to do with these neo-Nazi parties involved in the new government. And they will try to impose their will by force, and I fear what might happen then.
RT:Many in the international community want Russia to start negotiating with Kiev's government. What would it take for that to happen?
NM: I think the Russian government has repeatedly said that they would be perfectly willing to negotiate with a legitimate government in Kiev. So for any sort of negotiations, there has to be a legitimate government in Kiev to negotiate with, and right now we don’t have that. I think there would need to be some sort of political solution within Ukraine that would create an actual legitimate government in Kiev that would be able to conduct negotiations about any of these issues, from the status of minorities or any other groups, to all sorts of international treaties, to EU accession, etc. But right now, there is no legitimate government. There’s just a group that proclaimed itself the new government based on violence and foreign support.
RT:Yatsenyuk has passionately argued many times that Russia should not intervene into Crimea’s affairs and that Kiev wouldn't recognize the results of Crimean referendum. Is that an attempt to protect Ukrainian territorial integrity or is it what Washington and Brussels want him to say?
NM: Mr. Yatsenyuk can certainly give fairly impassioned speech, but who does he actually represent? Does he represent the Ukrainian people? Does the represent a portion of the Ukrainian people? Does he represent the international banker interests? Does he represent the US government that put him in the position he’s currently in? Who exactly is he speaking for? Until we can figure that out we can’t really figure out what any of his words mean.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.