It is somewhat unfortunate for the government and for that matter the UK as a whole that our current Foreign Secretary William Hague is such a maladroit character, the modern day equivalent of Lord Curzon (1919) our William shoots from the hip and never fails to turn a crisis into a drama.
His over eagerness to “talk big” quickly define the bad guys, and to be seen to then side with the good, led the Government down a very dangerous dark alleyway over Syria as his support for the Syrian rebels descended into appeasement and fused support for Al Quida on the ground.
And so it came as no surprise to find the Tory parties own Billy Big Boots at it again in the openingscenes of the current crisis in Ukraine, warning the Russian federation that it faced "significant diplomatic and economic costs" for its actions “"Be in no doubt, there will be consequences” he said before travelling the news studios to declare that the situation was “certainly the biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st Century” albeit only 14 years in!
Hague’s tough talking of course came before his own civil servants pointed out to him that economic sanctions on Russia would hurt the UK far more than it would Russia, and little press comment (with the exception of Jessica Helgot, Huff Post) was made about the threat to Britain’s Arms sales! Britain it seems has sold more than £86m of sniper rifles, ammunition, drones and laser technology to Russia in the last 18 months alone.
According to official Whitehall documents There are 271 arms export licenses given for arms sales, air vehicles, military helicopters, and spy equipment to Russia that remain active, despite the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Between 2008-2013 the UK licensed over £406 million in military and dual use licenses to Russia.
Perhaps William therefore had misplaced his arms sales figures when he told the House of commons last year that "The British Government will not issue licenses where we judge there is a clear risk the proposed export might provoke or prolong regional or internal conflicts, or which might be used to facilitate internal repression.”
He also I guess forgot, prior to sitting down with his European colleagues on Thursday 6th March that for any peaceful outcome for the situation in Ukraine to be possible that Russian President Vladimer Putin, the man whom he accused of declaring “baseless” concerns over ethnic Russians, would by his very central position play a critical part in any future peace contract.
Our EU neighbours and their governments have been thankfully less “Gung Ho” about what we all accept are still very serious matters unfolding on the edges of Europe’s Map, but the over keen and over willing habit of the Foreign Secretary to simply follow the USA’s lead in encouraging the people of nations states to rise in revolution irrespective of their chances of success or of the consequences for the wider civilian population has produced cyclical unrest, mayhem and murder on a tragic scale across Europe and the Middle East as the Arab Spring turned into deadly Winter of international discontent.
Do the governments of the West really care about self-determination? Or are they simply being expansionist in their never ending quest to create more and more puppet regimes for the capitalist machine to exploit?
There are also other valid reasons for us to be very cautious of taking sides in the current Ukrainian crisis too early and that is the unpalatable nature of the parties and groups who are currently leading this latest national revolution.
We should worry that Ukraine’s newly appointed secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council is none other than Andriy Parubiy, founder of the Social National Party of Ukraine, a fascist party styled on Hitler's Nazis, with membership restricted to ethnic Ukrainians, which went on to become the far-right nationalist party Svoboda,
We should be cautious of his deputy Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of the Right Sector - a group of hardline nationalist street fighters, who previously boasted they were ready for armed struggle to free Ukraine the Right Sector is an alliance of hardline far right gangs including both Patriot of Ukraine and the paramilitaries of UNA-UNSO, whose members parade in balaclavas and wear uniforms bearing far-right insignia, including the wolfsangel.
President Putin knows all too well the dangers of UNA-UNSO having witnessed their involvement in fighting against Russian troops in both Chechnya and Moldova.
Most worrying is though is that the new Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Sych is also member of the Svoboda party. Svobada managed just 10% of the vote in the last Ukrainian election but now since the beginning of the unrest and reformation of the National Government has 7 government ministers in very powerful and pivotal positions.
Amongst Svobada policies you will find plans to put a stop to immigration into Ukraine, and to make sure that only ethnic Ukrainians can be employed as civil servants, these ambitions together with the suggested ban on the use of the Russian Language within Ukraine no doubt did little to alleviate the concerns of President Putin over the future safety of ethnic Russians within Ukraine.
So despite William Hague’s attempts to avert all eyes in the direction of Moscow and pin all blame on Putin, the West is really stuck between a rock and a hard place over how or indeed whether it should intervene in the Ukraine, as I write the Crimean Parliament has called for a referendum on reunification with Russia on March 16th and across Ukraine preparations are well underway for a Presidential elections to be held on the 25th May.
As a believer of self-determination I must sit back and hope that both polls enable the hitherto silent majority in the Ukraine and Crimea to find their voice and make their contribution to the debate on Ukraine’s future clear, it may now not be possible for a majority to unite under a one nation banner, ethnic tensions may have been stretched too widely, but we can but hope that the far right in Ukraine are not allowed to benefit electorally from their seizure of power on such a low national support base, and we must also hope for everyone’s sake that our European Partners find a suitable muzzle for our hapless Foreign Secretary before his Lord Curzon impressions morph into some form of modern day Alf Garnett albeit with a Yorkshire accent.
The real accent, and the energy of our leaders should be on finding a peaceful way forward through dialogue and consent and not simply by grandstanding and showboating to impress our so called friends across the Atlantic.