Sick trash

I’d never heard of the Euro-Atlantic Security Leadership Group (EASLG) until today, even though it turns out that one of its members has the office next door to mine. Its website says that it seeks to respond to the challenge of East-West tensions by convening ‘former and current officials and experts from a group of Euro-Atlantic states and the European union to test ideas and develop proposals for improving security in areas of existential common interest’. It hopes thereby to ‘generate trust through dialogue.’

It’s hard to object to any of this, but its latest statement, entitled ‘Twelve Steps Toward Greater Security in Ukraine and the Euro-Atlantic Region’, doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. The ‘twelve steps’ the EASLG proposes to improve security in Eastern Ukraine are generally pretty uninspiring, being largely of the ‘set up a working group to explore’ variety, or of such a vaguely aspirational nature as to be almost worthless (e.g. ‘Advance reconstruction of Donbas … An essential first step is to conduct a credible needs assessment for the Donbas region to inform a strategy for its social-economic recovery.’ Sounds nice, but in reality doesn’t amount to a hill of beans).

For the most part, these proposals attempt to treat the symptoms of the war in Ukraine without addressing the root causes. In a sense, that’s fine, as symptoms need treating, but it’s sticking plaster when the patient needs some invasive surgery. At the end of its statement, though, the EASLG does go one step further with ‘Step 12: Launch a new national dialogue about identity’, saying:

A new, inclusive national dialogue across Ukraine is desirable and could be launched as soon as possible. … Efforts should be made to engage with perspectives from Ukraine’s neighbors, especially Poland, Hungary, and Russia. This dialogue should address themes of history and national memory, language, identity, and minority experience. It should include tolerance and respect for ethnic and religious minorities … in order to increase engagement, inclusiveness, and social cohesion.

This is admirably trendy and woke, but in the Ukrainian context somewhat explosive, as it implicitly challenges the identity politics of the post-Maidan regime. Unsurprisingly, it’s gone down like a lead balloon in Kiev. The notorious website Mirotvorets even went so far as to add former German ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger to its blacklist of enemies of Ukraine for having had the temerity to sign the EASLG statement and thus ‘taking part in Russia’s propaganda events aimed against Ukraine.’ Katherine Quinn-Judge of the International Crisis Group commented on Twitter,  ‘As the idea of dialogue becomes more mainstream, backlash to the concept grows fiercer.’ ‘In Ukraine, prominent pro-Western politicians, civic activists, and media, have called Step 12 “a provocation” and “dangerous”,’ she added

Quinn-Judge comes across as generally sympathetic to the Ukrainian narrative about the war in Donbass, endorsing the idea that it’s largely a product of ‘Russian aggression’. But she also recognizes that the war has an internal, social dimension which the Ukrainian government and its elite-level supporters refuse to acknowledge. Consequently, they also reject any sort of dialogue, either with Russia or with the rebels in Donbass. As Quinn-Judge notes in another Tweet:

An advisor to one of Ukraine’s most powerful pol[itician]s told us recently of his concern about talk of dialogue in international and domestic circles. ‘We have all long ago agreed among ourselves. We need to return our territory, and then work with that sick – sick –  population.’

This isn’t an isolated example. Quinn-Judge follows up with a couple more similar statements:

Social resentments underpin some opposition to disengagement, for example. An activist in [government-controlled] Shchastye told me recently that she feared disengagement and the reopening of the bridge linking the isolated town to [rebel-held] Luhansk: ‘I don’t want all that trash coming over here.’

In 2017, a woman working with frontline families told me why she didn’t want reintegration. ‘These [the population of rebel-held Donbass] are people with a minimum level of human development, people raised by their TVs. Okay, so we live together, then what? We’re trying to build a completely new society.’

And there once again you have it – one of the primary causes of the war in Ukraine: the contempt with which the post-Maidan government and its activist supporters regard a significant portion of their fellow citizens, the ‘sick trash’ of Donbass with their ‘minimum level of human development’. You can fiddle with treating Donbass’ symptoms as much as you like, à la EASLG, but unless you tackle this fundamental problem, the disease will keep on ravaging the subject for a long time to come. In due course, I suggest, the only realistic cure will be to remove the patient entirely from the cause of infection.

18 thoughts on “Sick trash”

  1. Yeah, but that’s just their standard narrative.

    See here, for example:

    And it’s been there, either officially or beneath the surface, since … forever. Since the Habsburgs, probably, when it was first introduced in Ruthenia.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exact reason why Russia couldn’t stand idly by as noted here:

      As for work ethic, a pro-Russian ethnic Ukrainian from Kharkov told me that many eastern Ukrainians believe that the pro-Orange/Euromaidan Ukrainians from the West are less dedicated to work – noting how many in that latter grouping took off from work to engage in street demos.


    2. This person speaks so casually of genocide!!!

      It’s disgusting that such people have been empowered and such ideas are mainstream.
      Calling people sick trash is the start on the road to genocide


  2. All that you have described above is very sad, but not very surprising – which is itself very sad. I think Patrick Armstrong is right that a lot of the reason Ukraine is not and has never been a functional polity is because much if not most of the population cannot accept that the right side won WWII.


  3. Contempt and loathing towards the Donbass is a pretty popular feeling amongst Ukrainian svidomy. E.g., one of the two regular pro-Ukrainian commenters on my blog. To his credit, he supports severing the Donbass from Ukraine (as one would a gangrenous limb – his metaphor) as opposed to trying to claw it back. Which is an internally consistent position.


    1. In Part I and II we saw how much truth is there in Herr Karlin’s claim of being a model of the rrrracially purrrre Rrrrrrrussian plus some personal views.

      Part III (this one) gives a peek into his cultural and upbringing limits, which “qualify” him as an expert of all things Russian, who speaks on behalf of the People and the Country.

      Exhibit “A”

      I left when I was six, in 1994, so I’m not really the best person to ask this question of – it should probably be directed to my parents, or even better, the Russian government at the time which had for all intents and purposes ceased paying academics their salaries.

      I went to California for higher education and because its beaches and mountains made for a nice change from the bleakness of Lancashire.

      I returned to Russia because if I like Putler so much, why don’t I go back there? Okay, less flippancy. I am Russian, I do not feel like a foreigner here, I like living in Moscow, added bonus is that I get much higher quality of life for the buck than in California.”

      Exhibit “B”

      “I never went to school, don’t have any experience with writing in Russian, and have been overexposed to Anglo culture, so yes, it’s no surprise that my texts will sound strange.”


  4. The Russian branch of Carnegie Endowment did a piece on this issue. It mostly fits your ideas, but the author suggests it was a compromise, short-term solution – what steps can be taken right now, without crossing red lines of either side – but compromise is unwelcome among both parties. The official Russian reaction was quite cold too.

    “Удаленные 12 шагов. Почему в Мюнхене испугались собственных предложений по Донбассу”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Upon a quick perusal of the website of the org at issue, Alexey Arbatov and Susan Eisenhower have some kind of affiliation with it, thus maybe explaining the compromise approach you mention.

      This matter brings to mind Trump saying one thing during his presidential bid – only to then bring in people in key positions who don’t agree with what he campaigned on.

      In terms of credentials and name status, the likes of Rand Paul, Tulsi Gabbard, Stephen Cohen and Jim Jatras, are needed in Trump’s admin for the purpose of having a more balanced foreign policy approach that conforms with US interests (not to be necessarily confused with what neocons and neolibs favor).

      Instead, Trump has been top heavy with geopolitical thinking opposites. He possibly thought that having them in would take some of the criticism away from him.

      The arguably ideal admin has both sides of an issue well represented, with the president intelligently deciding what’s best.


  5. On the BBC and on other media there are films of Ukrainians attacking a bus with people evacuated from China. These people even wanted to burn down the hospital where the peoplew were taken (along with other unrelated patients)

    This is a sign of a degraded society – attacking people who may or may not be ill!!!

    Ukraine will eventually break up
    The nationalist agenda is just degrading the society.

    -The economy is failing
    -People who can, are leaving
    -The elected government has no control over the violent people who take to the streets

    It’s clear Zelensky is a puppet no different to Poroshenko – this destroys the idea that democracy is a good thing.

    It’s very sad that the EU and the Americans under Obama – empowered these decisive elements and then blame Russia.

    Crimea did the right thing leaving Ukraine – Donbass hopefully will follow.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. “And there once again you have it – one of the primary causes of the war in Ukraine: the contempt with which the post-Maidan government and its activist supporters regard a significant portion of their fellow citizens, the ‘sick trash’ of Donbass”


    Only them?


    Yesterday marks yet another milestone on the Ukrainian glorious шлях перемог and long and arduous return to the Family of the European Nations. The Civil Society ™ of the Ukraine rose as one in the mighty CoronavirusMaidan, against the jackbooted goons of the crypto-Napoleon (and agent of Putin) Zelensky. Best people from Poltava oblast’ (whose ancestors without doubt, welcomed Swedish Euro-integrators in 1709) and, most important of all, from the Best (Western) Ukrajina, who 6 years ago made the Revolution of Dignity in Kiev the reality and whom pan Poroshenko called the best part of the Nation, said their firm “Геть вiд Москви!”…

    …to their fellow Ukrainian citizens, evacuated from Wuhan province in China…

    The Net is choke full of vivid, memorable videos, showing that 6 years after Maidan, the Ukraine now constitute a unified, эдiна та соборна country. You all, no doubt, already watched these clips, where a brave middle-aged gentleman from the Western Ukraine, racially pure Ukr, proves his mental acuity by deducing, that crypto-tyrant (and “не лох”) Zelensky wants to settle evacuees in his pristine oblast out of vengeance, because the Best Ukrajina didn’t vote for him during the election. Or a clip about a brave woman from Poltava oblast, suggesting to relocate the Trojan-horse “fellow countrymen” to Chernobol’s Zone. Or even the witty comments and suggestions by the paragons of the Ukrainian Civil Society, “волонтэры”:

    Shy and conscientious members of the Ukrainian (national!) intelligentsia had their instincts aligned rrrrrright. When they learned about that their hospital will be the one receiving the evacuees from Wuhan, the entire medical personell of that Poltava oblast medical facility rose to their feet and sang “Shenya vmerla”. Democracy and localism proved once again the strongest suit of the pro-European Ukraine, with Ternopol’s oblast regional council voting to accept the official statement to the crypto-tyrant Zelensky, which calls attempts to place evacuees on their Holy land “an act of Genocide of the Ukrainian People” (c)

    Just the headlines.


    That’s absolutely “normal”, predictable reaction of the “racially pure Ukrainians” to their own fellow citizens. Now, Professor, are you insisting on seeking or even expecting “compromise” with them? What to do, if after all these years, there is no such thing as the united Ukrainian political nation?


  7. “Ukraine’s democracy is flourishing like never before due to the tireless efforts of grassroots, pro-democracy, civil-society groups. Many Ukrainians say their country is now firmly set on an irreversible, pro-Western trajectory. Moreover, the country has also undertaken a top-to-bottom cultural, economic, and political divorce from its former Soviet overlord.

    Today, Ukraine is a democratic success story in the making, despite Russia’s best efforts to the contrary.”
    – Nolan Peterson, a former special operations pilot and a combat veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, is The Daily Signal’s foreign correspondent based in Ukraine

    International recognition of the fact:


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