Who would have believed it? A few short weeks ago most people thought ,if they thought about it at all,that Ukraine was part of Russia and Crimea certainly was,and indeed always had been.
I must admit I always thought that they were all one and the same and I grew up in a household that had Soviet Weekly delivered alongside Boxing News and the Daily Worker!
My Dad never really got the hang of the Morning Star, till his dying day he always called it 'the Worker' and as a matter of fact with regard to Soviet Weekly they sent that to him free because he had been a subscriber since the 1940's.
I probably knew more about the Donbass coal field than I knew about any mining areas in Britain, other than of course the heroic miners of Fife and the equally heroic ,or almost as equally heroic men of South Wales.In our house it was a stretch of great imagination to think that there were coal mines in England.
Mining was a celtic occupation,rather like deep sea fishing and goading the English.
Yet the news over the last few weeks has concentrated on events in Ukraine,which again as a child I knew as 'the' Ukraine in the way that I knew things happened behind 'the' urals and anyway it was all part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
I knew Uncle Joe was a Georgian,ut that was OK too because Georgia was part of the USSR- the 'unbreakable union of freeborn republics' as described i the Soviet national anthem.
Now I should be used by now to the breakup of the Soviet Union and all those pesky small and like Ukraine enormous separate republics but even now its fairly difficult to make the separations
And if its hard for us, think how difficult it must be for so many millions of citizens of the former USSR.
Especially the older folk, who lived through or were directly affected by what they still call the Great .Patriotic War.Twenty-maybe thirty million Russian people died in the fight against fascism.They didn't much care if they were Georgians or Ukrainians or Tartars or whatever, they were Russians fighting for their homeland.
Now the war did throw up contradictions, there were some within the minority peoples who saw the war as a situation where they could escape th Russian hegemony,and of course there were still remnants of the White Russian forces who sided with the Germans in the hope of defeating the Communists.
So I', not surprised that there are lingering distrusts amongst sections of the community and that is easily fanned by both sides.
It is ironic perhaps that Leni believed in the rights of small nations to self determination and one of the best statements ever written about the rights of small nations was by JV Stalin when he was Commissar for National Minorities .
But of course socialist history is littered with ironies and contradictions.
However it does seem that what is going on at the moment in Ukraine is a nasty powrplay etween competing oligarchs, their stooges and the jockeying for power bases.
I have no doubt that amongst the crowds in Kiev there are many genuine radical democrats who hated the corruption and exploitation of their country.A genuine yearning for self determination that today every Scot should be acutely aware of(other than that numpty Darling!) but within that movement there lurk some very unsavory elements- anti-semites,racists,the worst possible nationalists-and of course the ususal band of free marketeers,opportunists and criminals
Yet on the other side there is the mirror reflection of Putin and his oligarchs, gun thugs,motor bike gangs,and corrupt officials and politicians.
What we are seeing is the criminal bands fighting amongst themselves for the spoils whilst the people get trampled in the middle.
Its a battle we have seen repeatedly in the Middle East, in the Balkans and almost anywhere where gangsters fall out!
And people wonder still why China is resistant to any attempt to break up the Peoples Republic!