The 8000 expeditionary force, support of the White movement, and the most serious intentions – exactly 100 years ago, on August 15th, 1918, the US State Department officially declared the severance of diplomatic relations with Russia, after which the Americans disembarked in Vladivostok. This marked the beginning of the full-scale intervention of the Entente countries in a country that was already submerged in civil war. The material of RIA covers what memory the overseas military personnel in the Far East left behind.
“The nation doesn’t exist”
Immediately after the October revolution Soviet Russia concluded a truce with Germany on the Eastern front and actually withdrew from the war. The Entente countries perceived it literally with hostility. Under the pretext of the inadmissibility of power in the former empire being captured by the “pro-German party”, the western powers were preparing themselves to intervene in a Russia that was already gripped by civil war.
In December of 1917 the US, Great Britain, France, and their allies held a conference, during which a decision was made concerning the differentiation of zones of interests on the territory of the former Russian Empire and the establishment of contacts with national and democratic governments. In other words, “western partners” planned to divide up the largest state on the planet among themselves, and it is the representatives of the White movement that were supposed to help them with this. Interventionists came into contacts with them even before the intervention.
Ukraine, Bessarabia, and Crimea were in the French sphere of influence. England reserved the right for “Cossack and Caucasian regions”, Armenia, Georgia, and Kurdistan. The US, which kept neutrality during the first years of Soviet power, as a result agreed to help Great Britain and France “explore” the Russian Primorye. The Americans wanted to kill two rabbits with one stone — to get access to the rich resources of the Far East and to prevent Japan – which also had its sights on “dividing the skin of the not yet killed bear” – from entrenching itself there.
The possible resistance of Russians wasn’t taken into account. The Republican senator from the State of Washington Miles Poindexter, calling for intervention, directly said:“Russia became simply a geographical concept, and it will never be anything else. Its force of unity, organisation, and restoration left forever. The nation doesn’t exist …” The ambassador of the US in Russia David Francis also called for intervention: “I insist on the need to take Vladivostok under control, and give Murmansk and Arkhangelsk to Great Britain and France”.
Already on August 3rd, 1918 the US Department of Defense gives the order to General William Graves about sending the 27th and 31st infantry regiments to Vladivostok, and also volunteers from the 13th and 62nd regiments. In total in the middle of the month the Americans disembarked about 8,000 military personnel in the Far East. Canadians, Italians, and Brits were also included in the expeditionary force. Formally the contingent had to provide safe passage for the Czechoslovak corps from the depths of Russia. In reality more mercantile aspirations prevailed.
“Interventionists on the territory of Russia defended the interests of their capital [money – ed],” said the military historian Boris Yulin. “Gold mines, wood, and coal — they had plans for all of this. I am sure that civil war in the country was so long and bloody only because of the intervention of foreign powers.
If it wasn’t for the Czechoslovak Legion and interventionists, it would’ve ended without big blood already in 1918. The leaders of the White movement provided the American, English, French, Japanese with concessions, and promised to pay imperial debts. In fact, they provided foreigners with control over Russian territory”.
The American interventionists used the “invitation” in full. They took away wood, furs, and gold from the Far East. American firms received permission from Kolchak’s government to carry out trade operations in exchange for “City Bank” and “Guaranty Trust” credits. One company alone sent from Vladivostok to the US 15,700 poods of wool, 20,500 sheep skins, and 10,200 large dry skins. Everything that represented at least some value was taken away.
They did not stand on ceremony with the local population who supported the Red partisans. In the Russian state historical archive of the Far East “Acts concerning the tortured and shot peasants were preserved in the Olginsky district in 1918-1920”. Here is an excerpt from this document: “Having captured the peasants I. Gonevchuk, S. Gorshkov, P. Oparin, and Z. Murashko, the Americans buried them alive for having ties to local partisans.
And they finished off the wife of the partisan E. Boychuk as follows: they pricked her body with bayonets and drowned her body in a rubbish pit. They mutilated the peasant Bochkarev with bayonets and knives to the point where he became unrecognisable: his nose, lips, and ears had been cut off, his jaw had been unhinged, his face and eyes had been pricked by bayonets, his entire body had been cut up. Near Sviyagino station the partisan N. Myasnikov was tortured in the same brutal way – according to the testimony of an eyewitness, at first they chopped off his ears, then his nose, hands, legs, and then chopped him into pieces alive”.
The historian Fedor Nesterov in the book “Link of times” wrote: “The adherents of the Soviet power were pricked, cut up, shot in groups, hung, sank in the Amur, taken away in torturous ‘death trains’, and starved in concentration camps everywhere where where the bayonet of the overseas ‘liberators of Russia’ could reach”. According to him, many peasants who in the beginning didn’t support the Soviet power eventually rose up against the “guests” and came over to the side of the partisans.
Resistance to the occupiers spread. The battle at the village of Romanovka near Vladivostok in 1919 on June 25th history made history: Bolshevist units under Yakov Tryapitsyn’s command attacked the positions of the US army and destroyed more than 20 soldiers of the enemy.
After Kolchak’s troops had been defeated, foreign intervention in Russia lost its meaning. In 19 months of staying in the country, the American contingent in the Far East lost [were killed – ed] nearly 200 soldiers and officers. The last overseas serviceman went home on April 1st, 1920.
It should be noted that even when the civil war ended and the Americans and the majority of European powers recognised the USSR, no western politician condemned the bloody campaign in Russia. The double-faced attitude towards the occupation of the territories of a sovereign state was characterised more exhaustively by Winston Churchill in the four-volume work “The World Crisis”.
“Were they [the Allies] at war with Russia? Certainly not; but they shot Soviet Russians at sight. They stood as invaders on Russian soil. They armed the enemies of the Soviet Government. They blockaded the ports and sunk its battleships. They earnestly desired and schemed its downfall. But war – shocking! Interference – shame! It was, they repeated, a matter of indifference to them how Russians settled their own affairs. They were impartial – bang!”.
Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
‘No country for working parents’
Even before the pandemic, childcare was one of the biggest challenges facing young families. “It cripples families financially,” says Lucia Ryan, a school principal and parent of three-year-old twins.
Covid-19 has intensified the pressure on parents and providers, launching them into a new world of regulations, “play pods” and resulting staffing pressures.
“Our creche couldn’t find staff. So they reduced their hours to finish at 4pm,” Ryan, the principal of Hartstown Community School in Dublin, tells The Irish Times.
She was left trying to “run a school from home in the afternoons” and look after two-year-old twins, Matilda and John, though they are now enrolled in the State’s Early Childhood and Childcare Scheme, along with an afternoon childminder.
But she worries about the pressure facing parents and the “absolute heroes” who are the country’s childcare workers. Her third child is due in three weeks. She’s trying not to think about what happens when her maternity leave ends. “I don’t know what I’ll do.”
For many, the complications of the post-pandemic world of work and childcare are only beginning. A new era of flexibility is supposed to free people but, in practice, things could get worse, not better.
Up to 200,000 children are in early years services, with parents paying €800 per month for a creche place, and up to €1,200 a month in some areas. Now, some are discovering that their needs do not always align with either a childcare provider or their employer.
Michelle Walsh, who works with the Health Service Executive, recently returned to work after maternity leave with her second child, and considered herself lucky to get a place for the baby in the only creche in her rural town, where her three year old already attends. “On my first day back at work, the creche called to say they had to cut hours for my one year old and could only provide childcare until 1pm.”
The three-year-old could still stay full days. Walsh runs clinics in primary care four days a week, so “it is impossible to change hours to facilitate this. I’ve now had to find a childminder for the afternoons and start settling in again. To say the situation has been stressful is an understatement.”
The combination of a creche in the mornings and childminder in the afternoons is proving more expensive than full days in the creche would be. But it is her last option and she may have to take a career break if arrangements falter.
Other parents have similar stories, telling of the difficulty of juggling the same hours at work with reduced hours in childcare, the fees which haven’t changed and the dread felt that a child could be sent home with a sniffle.
“Our creche has reduced its hours. They haven’t reduced fees,” says Olivia, who doesn’t want to use her real name because she does not want to be perceived as critical of her creche or her employer, when she’s just frustrated by the system. “It used to be 7.30am to 6pm. Now it’s 8.00am to 5.30pm, which can be challenging . . . I know management are keen not to raise fees, but they say with the pod system, it’s impossible to have the staff for longer hours.”
Consequently, she has to finish work at 5pm. “Right now I’m still WFH [working from home] but it will be even more challenging once I go back to the office in a couple of weeks. In the old days, I used to drop three kids to creche for 7.45am, where they got breakfast and two were brought to school from there. Then I could work from 8am to 5.30pm. Now, we need to split drop-off for school and creche, make it to work for 9am and rush out of work at 5pm for pick-up.”
Her employer is understanding, but the hours have to be made up. “It’s just back to the same old juggling – logging in early morning or after kids go to bed.”
So what exactly is going on to put Ireland’s already-struggling childcare infrastructure under such additional strain? “The pre-Covid pressures are back with a bang,” says Frances Byrne, policy director with Early Childcare Ireland, which represents 3,900 childcare providers providing care for 120,000 children.
Irish parents already pay the third-highest proportion of their income on childcare of OECD countries, due, provider say, to the lack of spending over generations by successive governments.
According to the OECD, Ireland was spending just 0.1 per cent of gross domestic product on early years prior to Covid, the lowest investment of any developed country. During Covid, additional government funding “kept the show on the road” and meant that creches were able to keep staff employed and stay open, Byrne says. But as the world returns to normal, there’s no certainty over how long that funding will be available.
Meanwhile, although the pod system is supposed to offer some flexibility – allowing staff to move between pods to cover breaks for each other for example – in practice many creches feel they’ve been left with a choice of hiring more staff or reducing hours. Regina Bushell, who is the managing director of Grovelands, which operates six childcare centres in the midlands and runs the Seas Suas group representing independent childcare providers, explains how it has reduced the places available to babies.
“The regulations require a ratio of three [babies] to one [staff member]. But realistically for governance, I need a three to two ratio, because that one person has to have annual leave, lunch breaks, their comfort breaks, they may go out sick. I require those three babies to be in on a full-time basis to cover the cost.”
“Service providers would love to be able to provide as much flexibility as required. But there is a sustainability problem if parents only want to do five hours, but there are staff there who need to be paid for 10 hours.”
One mother in a different part of the country, Sinead, said her daughter used to attend after-school care from 2.30pm to 5.30pm five days a week. She had been hoping to use the care for two days, not five because of Covid-prompted changes to her work, but the provider can only do all or nothing.
Sinead is understandably annoyed, but, explains Byrne, “It’s not an inflexibility by choice; it’s an inflexibility imposed by the funding models.”
Funding is tied to attendance, says Byrne. So the National Childcare Scheme is the most flexible, but it can only offer flexibility “for up to eight weeks”, says Byrne. “If someone is saying I’m not going to need care on a Wednesday because I’m working from home or I reduced my hours, it’s really difficult for providers to offer that flexibility. Over time, their public funding will be withdrawn.”
The answer, believes Early Childhood Ireland, is more money and more flexibility. The Government has committed to doubling spending by 2028, but a five-year budget is needed, says Byrne.
And the models must adapt to post-Covid working. In Scandinavian counties, the provider is not “punished” if a parent is in a position to reduce their child’s hours. “We need to move to a Scandinavian model, where everybody pays something, but the richest pay more – but even the richest only pay up to a certain amount.”
As things stand, says Olivia, Ireland is no country for working parents and “definitely no country for working mothers.”
France recalls ambassadors from US, Australia over submarines row
President Emmanuel Macron ordered the recalling of the envoys after Canberra ditched a deal to buy French submarines in favour of US vessels, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
Le Drian said in a statement that the decision was made to “immediately” recall the two French ambassadors due to “the exceptional seriousness of the announcements made on September 15th by Australia and the United States.”
The abandonment of the ocean-class submarine project that Australia and France had been working on since 2016 constituted “unacceptable behaviour among allies and partners,” the minister said.
“Their consequences affect the very concept we have of our alliances, our partnerships, and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe”
US President Joe Biden announced the new Australia-US-Britain defence alliance on Wednesday, extending US nuclear submarine technology to Australia as well as cyber defence, applied artificial intelligence and undersea capabilities.
The pact is widely seen as aimed at countering the rise of China.
The move infuriated France, which lost a contract to supply conventional submarines to Australia that was worth Aus$50 billion (€31 billion, $36.5 billion) when signed in 2016.
The French ambassador recalls from the United States and Australia, key allies of France, are unprecedented.
At request of @EmmanuelMacron, @Ph_Etienne & his colleague appointed in Canberra are being recalled to Paris for consultations. This reflects exceptional seriousness of announcements made on Sept 15 that constitute unacceptable behavior for allies/partnershttps://t.co/o75Lnte9I8
— French Embassy U.S. (@franceintheus) September 17, 2021
France has made no effort to disguise its fury and on Thursday accused Australia of back-stabbing and Washington of Donald Trump-era behaviour over the submarines deal.
“It’s really a stab in the back,” Le Drian said Thursday. “We had established a relationship of trust with Australia, this trust has been
France has also called off a gala at its ambassador’s house in Washington scheduled for Friday. The event was supposed to celebrate the anniversary of a decisive naval battle in the American Revolution, in which France played a key role.
Australia earlier shrugged off Chinese anger over its decision to acquire US nuclear-powered submarines, while vowing to defend the rule of law in airspace and waters where Beijing has staked hotly contested claims.
Beijing described the new alliance as an “extremely irresponsible” threat to regional stability, questioning Australia’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and warning the Western allies that they risked “shooting themselves in the foot”.
China has its own “very substantive programme of nuclear submarine building”, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison argued Friday in an interview with radio station 2GB.
China claims almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in shipping trade passes annually, rejecting competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Beijing has been accused of deploying a range of military hardware including anti-ship missiles and surface-to-air missiles there, and ignored a 2016 international tribunal decision that declared its historical claim over most of the waters to be without basis.
France’s European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said on Friday that Paris was unable to trust Canberra in ongoing European Union trade deal talks following the decision, before the ambassadors were recalled.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, in Washington, said she understood the “disappointment” in Paris and hoped to work with France to ensure it understands “the value we place on the bilateral relationship and the work that we want to continue to do together”.
Pope Francis calls President Higgins a ‘wise man of today’
Pope Francis has described President Michael D Higgins as a “wise man of today” during an Audience in the Vatican on Friday morning.
President Higgins met the Pontiff for the fourth time on Friday and discussed issues including climate change, environment and global inequality.
During the formal photocall, the Pope said: “Today, I did not just meet a man, a President, I met a wise man of today.
“I thank God that Ireland has such a wise man as its Head (of State).”
A statement issued by the Vatican said that after the audience with the Pope, President Higgins met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
“During the cordial talks, various matters of mutual interest were discussed, such as migration and the protection of the environment, with particular attention to the prospects of the 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26), to take place in Glasgow.
“There was also a joint reflection on the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and the future of Europe, focusing finally on the theme of the strengthening of the peace process in the country.”
The President was accompanied to the Vatican by his wife, Sabina Higgins, and by Ireland’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Derek Hannon.
He presented to the Pope a ‘Bata Iascaire’ or ‘Fisherman’s Stick’ made on Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands.
Artist Lochlainn Cullen took a local blackthorn stick and wove it with special cotton, using knots drawn from fishing.
The spiral is called ‘St. Mary’s Hitch’ and consists of three interwoven strands and represents the divine trinity.
A controversy around Mr Higgins’s declining of an invitation to a church service in Armagh next month marking the centenary of partition and creation of Northern Ireland, which the queen will attend, had threatened to overshadow the Vatican visit.
‘They are everywhere in this area’
‘No country for working parents’
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