Tag Archives: Ukraine

Paranoid Neocon Morons, Part 2

NORM ‘n’ AL Note:  We apologize profusely for our inability to hold to our promise of posting this on November 27th. We hope you will read it…it’s well worth your time.

 

In Part 1 we dispatched UkraineGater Tim Morrison’s preposterous suggestion that Washington is helping Kiev subdue the Donbas so we won’t have Russkies coming up the East River.

His related claim that Ukraine is a victim of Russian aggression is even more ludicrous. The actual aggression in that godforsaken corner of the planet came from Washington when it instigated, funded, engineered and recognized the putsch on the streets of Kiev during February 2014, which illegally overthrew the duly elected President of Ukraine on the grounds that he was too friendly with Moscow.

Thus, Morrison risibly asserted Support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty has been a bipartisan objective since Russia’s military invasion in 2014. It must continue to be.

The fact is, when the Maidan uprising occurred in February that year there were no uninvited Russian troops anywhere in Ukraine. Putin was actually sitting in his box on the viewing stand, presiding over the Winter Olympics in Sochi and basking in the limelight of global attention that they commanded.

It was only weeks later – when the Washington-installed ultra-nationalist government with its neo-Nazi vanguard threatened the Russian-speaking populations of Crimea and the Donbas – that Putin moved to defend Russian interests on his own doorstep. And those interests included Russia’s primary national security asset – the naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea which had been the homeport of the Russian Black Sea Fleet for centuries under czars and commissars alike, and on which Russia had a long-term lease.

We untangle the truth of the crucial events which surrounded the Kiev putsch in greater detail below, but suffice it here to note the whole gang of neocon apparatchiks which have been paraded before the Schiff Show have proffered the same Big Lie as did Morrison in the “invasion” quote cited above.

As the ever perspicacious Robert Merry observed regarding the previous testimony of Ambassador Bill Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, the Washington rendition of the Maidan coup and its aftermath amounts to a blatant falsehood:

The Taylor/Kent outlook stems from the widespread demonization of Russia that dominates thinking within elite circles. Taylor’s rendition of recent events in Ukraine was so one-sided and selective as to amount to a falsehood.

As he had it, Ukraine’s turn to the West after 2009 (when he left the country after his first diplomatic tour there) threatened Russia’s Vladimir Putin to such an extent that he tried to “bribe” Ukraine’s president with inducements to resist Western influence, whereupon protests emerged in Kyiv that drove the Ukrainian president to flee the country in 2014. Then Putin invaded Crimea, holding a “sham referendum at the point of Russian army rifles.” Putin sent military forces into eastern Ukraine “to generate illegal armed formations and puppet governments.” And so the West extended military assistance to Ukraine.

“It is this security assistance,” he said, “that is at the heart of the [impeachment] controversy that we are discussing today.”

Taylor’s right that this narrative is at the center of UkraineGate, but there is not a shred of truth to it. Nevertheless, defense of this false narrative, and the inappropriate military and economic aid to Ukraine which flowed from it, is the real reason this posse of neocon stooges took exception to the Donald’s legitimate interest in investigating the Bidens and the events of 2016.

As Morrison put it Tuesday and Vindman said last week, their interest was in protecting not the constitution and the rule of law, but the bipartisan political consensus on Capitol Hill in favor of their proxy war on Putin and the Ukraine aid package through which it was being prosecuted.

As I stated during my deposition, I feared at the time of the call on July 25 how its disclosure would play in Washington’s political climate. My fears have been realized.

Not surprisingly, the entire Washington establishment has been sucked into this scam. For instance, the insufferably sanctimonious Peggy Noonan used her Wall Street Journal platform to idolize these liars.

As she portrayed it, bow-tie bedecked George P. Kent appeared to be the very picture of the old-school American foreign service official. And West Pointer Bill Taylor – with a military career going back to (dubious) Vietnam heroism – was redolent of the blunt-spoken American military men who won WW II and the cold war which followed.

As Robert Merry further noted, She saw them as “the old America reasserting itself.” They demonstrated “stature and command of their subject matter.” They evinced “capability and integrity.”

Oh, puleeze!

What they evinced was nothing more than the self-serving groupthink that has turned Ukraine into a beltway goldmine. That is, a cornucopia of funding for all the think tanks, NGOs, foreign policy experts, national security contractors and Warfare State agencies – from DOD through the State Department, AID, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Board for International Broadcasting and countless more – which ply their trade in the Imperial City.

But Robert Merry got it right. These cats are not noble public servants and heroes; they’re apparatchiks and payrollers aggrandizing their own power and pelf – even as they lead the nation to the brink of disaster:

But these men embrace a geopolitical outlook that is simplistic, foolhardy, and dangerous. Perhaps no serious blame should accrue to them, since it is the same geopolitical outlook embraced and enforced by pretty much the entire foreign policy establishment, of which these men are mere loyal apparatchiks. And yet they are playing their part in pushing a foreign policy that is directing America towards a very possible disaster.

Neither man manifested even an inkling of an understanding of what kind of game the United States in playing with Ukraine. Neither gave even a nod to the long, complex relationship between Ukraine and Russia. Neither seemed to understand either the substance or the intensity of Russia’s geopolitical interests along its own borders or the likely consequences of increasing U.S. meddling in what for centuries has been part of Russia’s sphere of influence.

They obviously didn’t get it, but we must. So let us summarize the true Ukraine story, starting with the utterly stupid and historically ignorant reason for Washington’s February 2014 coup.

Namely, it objected to the decision of Ukraine’s prior government in late 2013 to align itself economically and politically with its historic hegemon in Moscow rather than the European Union and NATO. Yet the fairly elected and constitutionally legitimate government of Ukraine then led by Viktor Yanukovych had gone that route mainly because it got a better deal from Moscow than was being demanded by the fiscal torture artists of the IMF.

Needless to say, the ensuing US sponsored putsch arising from the mobs on the street of Kiev reopened deep national wounds. Ukraine’s bitter divide between Russian-speakers in the east and Ukrainian nationalists elsewhere dates back to Stalin’s brutal rein in Ukraine during the 1930s and Ukrainian collusion with Hitler’s Wehrmacht on its way to Stalingrad and back during the 1940s.

It was the memory of the latter nightmare, in fact, which triggered the fear-driven outbreak of Russian separatism in the Donbas and the 96% referendum vote in Crimea in March 2014 to formally re-affiliate with Mother Russia.

In this context, even a passing familiarity with Russian history and geography would remind that Ukraine and Crimea are Moscow’s business, not Washington’s.

In the first place, there is nothing at stake in the Ukraine that matters. During the last 800 years it has been a meandering set of borders in search of a country.

In fact, the intervals in which the Ukraine existed as an independent nation have been few and far between. Invariably, its rulers, petty potentates and corrupt politicians made deals with or surrendered to every outside power that came along.

These included the Lithuanians, Poles, Ruthenians (eastern Slavs), Tartars, Turks, Muscovites, Austrians and Czars, among manifold others.

At the beginning of the 16th century, for instance, the territory of today’s Ukraine was scattered largely among the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Ruthenia (light brown area), the Kingdom of Poland (dark brown area), Muscovy (bright yellow area) the Crimean Khanate (light yellow area).

The latter was the entity which emerged when some clans of the Golden Horde (Tartars) ceased their nomadic life on the Asian steppes and occupied the light yellow stripped areas of the map north of the Black Sea as their Yurt (homeland).

From that cold start, the tiny Cossack principality of Ukraine (blue area below), which had emerged by 1654, grew significantly over the subsequent three centuries. But as the map also makes clear, this did not reflect the organic congealment of a nation of kindred volk sharing common linguistic and ethnic roots, but the machinations of Czars and Commissars for the administrative convenience of efficiently ruling their conquests and vassals.

Thus, much of modern Ukraine was incorporated by the Russian Czars between 1654 and 1917 per the yellow area of the map and functioned as vassal states. These territories were amalgamated by absolute monarchs who ruled by the mandate of God and the often brutal sword of their own armies.

In particular, much of the purple area was known as “Novo Russia” (Novorossiya) during the 18th and 19th century owing to the Czarist policy of relocating Russian populations to the north of the Black Sea as a bulwark against the Ottomans. But after Lenin seized power in St. Petersburg in November 1917 amidst the wreckage of Czarist Russia, an ensuing civil war between the so-called White Russians and the Red Bolsheviks raged for several years in these territories and elsewhere in the chaotic regions of the former western Russian Empire.

At length, Lenin won the civil war as the French, British, Polish and American contingents vacated the postwar struggle for power in Russia. Accordingly, in 1922 the new Communist rulers proclaimed the Union of Soviet Social Republics (USSR) and incorporated Novo Russia into one of its four constituent units as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR) – along with the Russian, Belarus and Transcaucasian SSRs.

Thereafter the border and political status of Ukraine remained unchanged until the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 between the USSR and Nazi Germany. Pursuant thereto the Red Army and Nazi Germany invaded and dismembered Poland, with Stalin getting the blue areas (Volhynia and parts of Galicia) as consolation prizes, which where then incorporated into the Ukrainian SSR.

Finally, when Uncle Joe Stalin died and Nikita Khrushchev won the bloody succession struggle in 1954, he transferred Crimea (red area) to the Ukraine SSR as a reward to his supporters in Kiev. That, of course, was the arbitrary writ of the Soviet Presidium, given that precious few Ukrainians actually lived in what had been a integral part of Czarist Russia after it was purchased by Catherine the Great from the Turks in 1783.

In a word, the borders of modern Ukraine are the handiwork of Czarist emperors and Communist butchers. The so-called international rule of law had absolutely nothing to do with its gestation and upbringing.

It’s a pity, therefore, that none of the so-called conservative Republicans attending Adam’s Schiff Show saw fit to ask young Tim Morrison the obvious question.

To wit, exactly why is he (and most of the Washington foreign policy establishment) so keen on expending American treasure, weapons and even blood in behalf of the “territorial integrity and sovereignty” of this happenstance amalgamation of people subdued by some of history’s most despicable tyrants?

Needless to say, owing to this very history, the linguistic/ethnic composition of today’s Ukraine does not reflect the congealment of a “nation” in the historic sense.

To the contrary, central and western Ukraine is populated by ethnic Ukrainians who speak Ukrainian (dark red area), whereas the two parts of the country allegedly the victim of Russian aggression and occupation – Crimea (brown area) and the eastern Donbas region (yellow area with brown strips) – are comprised of ethnic Russians who speak Russian and ethnic Ukrainians who predominately speak-Russian, respectively.

And much of the rest of the territory consists of admixtures and various Romanian, Moldovan, Hungarian and Bulgarian minorities.

Did the Washington neocons – led by Senator McCain and Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland – who triggered the Ukrainian civil war with their coup on the streets of Kiev in February 2014 consider the implications of the map below and its embedded, and often bloody, history?

Quite surely, they did not.

Nor did they consider the rest of the map. That is, the enveloping Russian state all around to which the parts and pieces of Ukraine – especially the Donbas and Crimea – have been intimately connected for centuries. Robert Merry thus further noted,

As Nikolas K. Gvosdev of the US Naval War College has written, Russia and Ukraine share a 1,500-mile border where Ukraine “nestles up against the soft underbelly of the Russian Federation.” Gvosdev elaborates: “The worst nightmare of the Russian General Staff would be NATO forces deployed all along this frontier, which would put the core of Russia’s population and industrial capacity at risk of being quickly and suddenly overrun in the event of any conflict.” Beyond that crucial strategic concern, the two countries share strong economic, trade, cultural, ethnic, and language ties going back centuries. No Russian leader of any stripe would survive as leader if he or she were to allow Ukraine to be wrested fully from Russia’s sphere of influence.

And yet America, in furtherance of the ultimate aim of pulling Ukraine away from Russia, spent some $5 billion in a campaign to gin up pro-Western sentiment there, according to former assistant secretary of state for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who spearheaded much of this effort during the Obama administration. It was clearly a blatant effort to interfere in the domestic politics of a foreign nation – and a nation residing in a delicate and easily inflamed part of the world.

Indeed, Ukraine is a tragically divided country and fissured simulacrum of a nation. Professor Samuel Huntington of Harvard called Ukraine “a cleft country, with two distinct cultures” causing Robert Merry to rightly observe that,

Contrary to Taylor’s false portrayal of an aggressive Russia trampling on eastern Ukrainians by setting up puppet governments and manufacturing a bogus referendum in Crimea, the reality is that large numbers of Ukrainians there favor Russia and feel loyalty to what they consider their Russian heritage. The Crimean public is 70 percent Russian, and its Parliament in 1992 actually voted to declare independence from Ukraine for fear that the national leadership would nudge the country toward the West. (The vote was later rescinded to avoid a violent national confrontation.) In 1994, Crimea elected a president who had campaigned on a platform of “unity with Russia.”

In short, in modern times Ukraine largely functioned as an integral part of Mother Russia, serving as its breadbasket and iron and steel crucible under czars and commissars alike. Given this history, the idea that Ukraine should be actively and aggressively induced to join NATO was just plain nuts.

 

[From an article published by LEW ROCKWELL]

 

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We’ve heard it all now, folks. Obama says his appearance of incompetence, of wavering and uncertainty in the face of international threats, is really just “strategic patience.” Well, gosh…so sorry we misunderstood, Mr. O…

Putin got Crimea and wants lots more. Iran is still working on the bomb. And ISIS is expanding its territory as fast as it can. But fear not, our illustrious Man On Fire in the White House has everything under control.

Mr. ObummerOur fearless leader knows what he’s doing. First he golfs incessantly to make them think he’s a lightweight. He bows and appeases in person. And then at the last possible second, when they least expect it, he…attacks? No, he falls back to his totally-thought-out plan of Patient Strategy. Or Strategic Patience. It’s also been called Leading From Behind.

Just be strategically patient.

Critics of Obama’s foreign policy have for years assailed his administration for responding too slowly to crises ranging from Syria to Russia. In a far-reaching blueprint released Friday that outlines the administration’s worldview, the White House insisted the United States is leading the global effort to confront challenges in a deliberate manner described as “strategic patience.” (“Leading the global effort” from behind.)

Instead of taking that 3 AM phone call, Barry sleeps in and gets back to it at 3 PM.  Strategic patience.

Instead of rescuing Americans under fire in Benghazi, he lets them die and blames a video. Patient strategy.

A White House summary of the strategy, released in tandem with the overall plan, repeatedly highlights the administration’s intent to lead — in partnerships, with military power, and “with a long-term perspective, influencing the trajectory of major shifts in the security landscape today in order to secure our national interests in the future.”

This is the sort of thing a new business  with no business plan puts out to explain why they need money. “We’re, uh, influencing major shifts, working toward synergy in order to secure marketplace share as part of our long-term perspective. You know, shifts. And synergy. Long-term stuff. We just need some short-term money now so we can get to the long-term stuff.”

Friday’s strategy essentially is the written product of what the White House has all along argued is in America’s best interests: Carefully constructed security plans that consider all options before getting ensnared in risky and potentially open-ended conflicts.

Like Libya? You know, the illegal war Obama launched by lying to the UN, that ended with Al Qaeda taking over.

How about Afghanistan? Syria? Iraq? Where are those carefully constructed security plans that consider all options before getting ensnared in risky conflicts?

Maybe we need to be more strategically patient until the carefully constructed plans are revealed.

“The United States should not “attempt to dictate the trajectory of all unfolding events around the world,” Obama wrote. “As powerful as we are and will remain, our resources and influence are not infinite.”

Says the man who keeps trying and failing to influence other countries as he squanders most of our resources and all our influence. Thanks for clearing that up for us, Mr. O.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice is set to publicly roll out the strategy in a speech Friday afternoon at the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington.

And if you don’t like her speech, she’ll blame a YouTube video.

Additionally, the White House calls climate change and energy security as key to US national security. Not opposing the man-burning barbarians who are trying to figure out how to get to Washington as soon as possible. Climate change is the key to our security.

Also gay rights. And ObamaCare. And golfing.

Even Obama’s own top advisers have criticized his administration’s national security decisions. Late last month, former Defense Intelligence Agency head Mike Flynn, a retired Army three-star general, said many in the administration were “paralyzed” by the complexity of fighting the Islamic State, leading them to “accept a defensive posture, reasoning that passivity is less likely to provoke our enemies.”

But wait, General. That’s not passivity. That’s Strategic Patience in action.

Although a 1986 U.S. law requires US presidents to issue an annual national security strategy, Obama’s last policy was issued in May 2010, and made the case for ending the war in Iraq and adding more troops to the fight in Afghanistan.

Well, gosh…big mistake. We’re sorry. Those plans worked out pretty well, didn’t they?

[by Daniel Greenfield, writing for Front Page Magazine]
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Putin finds a way to help deliver Palestinian state and retaliate against Western sanctions…

With near-zero chance of getting the UN to mandate Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority turns to Russia for help.

Russia sees a way to retaliate...

Russia has finally found a lever with which to gain revenge on the United States and the West for its support for Ukraine. As payback for the painful sanctions imposed on its economy, Moscow is now brandishing a new diplomatic sword.

The man who handed the Kremlin this sword on a silver platter, thereby enabling it to divert the world’s attention away from what is taking place in Ukraine, is none other than Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Out of total desperation given the near-zero chance of gaining UN Security Council approval of a draft mandating an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Abbas has now turned to Russia, one of the five permanent members of the UNSC, in hopes that it will help Ramallah advance the draft resolution.

“How didn’t we think of this before?” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov must be thinking to himself. “Here’s an excellent issue to play with in the UN with which to drive the Americans crazy.”

Lavrov seems downright jovial in the photograph showing him receiving veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat during the latter’s visit to Moscow. For his part, Erekat looks as if he has hit the jackpot – an alliance with Russia, a dream come true for the Palestinian people. Both men, however, are fooling each other and themselves.

In truth, Russian support for the Palestinian draft resolution won’t contribute an iota to advancing the document in the Security Council. Lavrov, who once served as Moscow’s envoy to the UN, knows this full well. In the three years since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, Russia has consistently thwarted every attempt by the Security Council to pass a resolution with the aim of removing Bashar Assad from power in Damascus.

The Russians even torpedoed strictly declarative, nonbinding, and symbolic resolutions put forward by the US and the Europeans who sought to condemn the Assad regime. The Americans don’t like seeing the Security Council involve itself with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a portfolio that Washington views as its exclusive domain. One doesn’t need to be an expert in international relations to guess how the Americans would react to a Russian bid to push forward a Security Council draft paper on the Palestinian question, particularly after US Secretary of State John Kerry has also gone on record as stating that the proposed resolution is unacceptable.

What does Moscow gain from all this? It buys time – two, perhaps three days during which the UN doesn’t talk about Ukraine. That’s quite a shabby gain for a country that seeks to solidify its standing as a world power. The Palestinians, meanwhile, are shooting themselves in the foot. Not only have they angered Washington with their obstinacy, insisting on submitting the draft paper for a vote, but now they are perceived by the Obama administration as courting Vladimir Putin, a US adversary. Ramallah wants guarantees from a Russia that is barely hanging on economically due to Western sanctions.

Decades ago, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Abba Eban, said of the Palestinians: “They never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Now it seems they have stepped up their diplomatic game. Abbas and his cohorts in the Palestinian leadership have intentionally created an opportunity – a UNSC draft resolution and an appeal to Russia – that they will not miss.

[from The Jerusalem Post]

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
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Our world today in pictures…

Sometimes a picture can deliver a message faster and much more succinctly than words. Here are a few like that:

Haven't we had enough already of heading left?

Decisions, decisions...

Another spectacular move...but Mr. Obama has someone else actually wielding the hammer...he's not good with tools.

This is where the money came from for the new food stamps...

Unfortunately, this is not really a fantasy...

As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

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The EU dithers, Obama slumbers, and Ukrainians continue to suffer…

Henry Kissinger once pointed out that since Peter the Great, Russia had been expanding at the rate of one Belgium per year. All undone, of course, by the collapse of the Soviet Union, which Russian President Vladimir Putin called “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century.”

Putin’s mission is restoration. First, restore traditional Russian despotism by dismantling its nascent democracy. And then, having created iron-fisted “stability,” march.

Use the 2008 war with Georgia to detach two of its provinces, returning them to the bosom of mother Russia (by way of Potemkin independence). Then late last year, pressure Ukraine to reject a long-negotiated deal for association with the European Union, to draw Ukraine into Putin’s planned “Eurasian Union” as the core of a new Russian mini-empire.

Turns out, however, Ukraine had other ideas. It overthrew Moscow’s man in Kiev, Viktor Yanukovych, and turned to the West. But the West — the EU and America — had no idea what to do.

Russia does. Moscow denounces the overthrow as the illegal work of fascist bandits, refuses to recognize the new government created by parliament, withholds all economic assistance and, in a highly provocative escalation, mobilizes its military forces on the Ukrainian border.

The response? The EU dithers and Barack Obama slumbers. After near total silence during the first three months of Ukraine’s struggle for freedom, Obama said on camera last week that in his view Ukraine is no “Cold War chessboard.”

Unfortunately, this is exactly what it is for Putin. He wants Ukraine back.

Obama wants stability, The New York Times reports, quoting internal sources. He sees Ukraine as merely a crisis to be managed rather than an opportunity to alter the increasingly autocratic trajectory of the region, allow Ukrainians to join their destiny to the West and block Russian neo-imperialism.

Sure, Obama is sympathetic to democracy. But it must come organically, from internal developments, you see. Must not be imposed by outside intervention, but develop on its own.

But Ukraine is never on its own. Not with a bear next door. American neutrality doesn’t allow an authentic Ukrainian polity to emerge. It leaves Ukraine naked to Russian pressure.

What Obama doesn’t seem to understand is that American inaction creates a vacuum. His evacuation from Iraq consigned that country to Iranian hegemony, just as Obama’s writing off Syria invited in Russia, Iran and Hezbollah to reverse the tide of battle.

Putin fully occupies vacuums. In Ukraine, he keeps flaunting his leverage. He’s withdrawn the multibillion-dollar aid package with which he had pulled the now-deposed Ukrainian president away from the EU. He has suddenly mobilized Russian forces bordering Ukraine. His health officials are even questioning the safety of Ukrainian food exports.

This is no dietary hygiene campaign. This is a message to Kiev: We can shut down your agricultural exports today, your natural gas supplies tomorrow. We can make you broke and we can make you freeze.

Kissinger once also said “in the end, peace can be achieved only by hegemony or by balance of power.” Ukraine will either fall to Russian hegemony, or finally determine its own future — if America balances Russia’s power.

How? Start with a declaration of full-throated American support for Ukraine’s revolution. Follow that with a serious loan/aid package — say, replacing Moscow’s $15 billion — to get Ukraine through its immediate financial crisis. Then join with the EU to extend a longer substitute package, preferably through the International Monetary Fund.

Secretary of State John Kerry says Russian intervention would be a mistake. Alas, any such declaration from this administration carries the weight of a feather. But better that than nothing. Better still would be backing these words with a naval flotilla in the Black Sea.

Whether anything Obama says or does would stop anyone remains questionable. But surely the West has more financial clout than Russia’s kleptocratic extraction economy that exports little but oil, gas and vodka.

The point is for the U.S., leading Europe, to counter Russian pressure and make up for its blandishments/punishments until Ukraine is on firm financial footing.

Yes, $15 billion is a lot of money. But it’s less than one-half of one-tenth of 1 percent of the combined EU and U.S. GDP. And expending treasure is infinitely preferable to expending blood. Especially given the strategic stakes: Without Ukraine, there’s no Russian empire.

Putin knows that. Which is why he keeps ratcheting up the pressure. The question is, can this administration muster the counterpressure to give Ukraine a chance to breathe?

NORM ‘n’ AL Note: Unfortunately for the Ukrainians, the entire world knows the answer to that question. It is painfully obvious that Obama will do nothing but give speeches. Putin is not worried in the least about Obama or the US military or our non-existent foreign policy. Unfortunately for Americans, Obama is proving himself almost daily to be the most ineffective, do-nothing president in our history. Even when he tries to do something, as in Obamacare, he does nothing. When you elect an amateur to our highest office, you get an amateur’s results.

[by Charles Krauthammer, writing for The Washington Post]

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Events in Ukraine far more important than most of us realize…

What the people of Ukraine are being put through is absolutely horrible.  They are caught in the middle of a massive tug of war between the East and the West, and they are paying a great price for it.  Ultimately, Ukraine will end up either being dominated by Russia (a bad outcome) or by the EU and the United States (another bad outcome).  Most Ukrainians just want to be free and want to be able to build a better future for themselves and their families, but it is extremely unlikely that they will be able to escape the specter of foreign domination.

Ukrainians paying a heavy price...

Meanwhile, the violence in Ukraine is planting the seeds for a potentially much larger conflict down the road.  The days of “friendly relations” between the United States and Russia are now gone.  Russia is absolutely furious that the U.S. has fueled a violent revolution on its own border, and it is something that Russian officials will not forget for a very long time.  In return, U.S. officials are taking an increasingly harsh stance toward Russia.  In the end, the seeds that are being planted right now could ultimately blossom into a full-blown conflict between the superpowers in the years to come.

Let there be no mistake – the United States is heavily involved in what is going on in Ukraine.  Even the New York Times admits this.  And the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine and the Assistant Secretary of State have been caught on tape discussing their next moves in getting a new government installed in Ukraine.

In addition, a number of non-governmental organizations inside the United States have allegedly been assisting and organizing the revolution in Ukraine for a long time.  At least a few of these organizations have ties to George Soros.  This is something that I discussed in a previous article.

Some of the “progressive” NGOs that have been accused of fueling the violent revolution in Ukraine include the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, and the Open Society Foundations (formerly known as the Open Society Institute).

Please don’t misunderstand me.  I am not taking sides.  I am just pointing out that both sides in Ukraine are controlled.  If I was living in Ukraine, I would want both Russia and the United States to go away and leave Ukraine alone.

Instead, Ukraine is being used as a battleground to fight a proxy war between the East and the West.  Now that the opposition has gained the upper hand, it does not appear that Russian officials are in any mood to recognize the new “government”

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Monday said Russia had grave doubts about the legitimacy of those in power in Ukraine following President Viktor Yanukovich’s ouster, saying their recognition by some states was an “aberration”.

Medvedev also stated that he has “big doubts about the legitimacy of a whole series of organs of power that are now functioning there.”

Last Friday, an agreement was signed by the two sides in Ukraine that was supposed to bring about a peaceful resolution to all of this.  But the revolutionaries reneged on the deal and toppled the government instead.  Needless to say, Russia was quite horrified by this

The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the West for turning a blind eye to what Moscow described as the opposition reneging on its agreement signed Friday to form a unity government and aiming to “suppress dissent in various regions of Ukraine with dictatorial and, sometimes, even terrorist methods.”

So what does Russia plan to do?

That is the big question that everyone is asking.

They are not doing much of anything just yet.  But there have been rumors that we could potentially see some economic blowback

Russia and the Customs Union could temporarily limit increased-risk food imports from Ukraine, given fears of loose safety control, said Sergei Dankvert, head of the Russian veterinary and phytosanitary oversight service Rosselkhoznadzor.

“My Belarusian colleague and I are extremely concerned about the situation in Ukraine. We do not rule out that curbs could be introduced on the imports of products of high veterinary and phytosanitary risks from Ukraine,” Dankvert told Interfax after talks with his Belarusian counterpart Yury Pivovarchik in Bryansk, and telephone talks with Ukraine’s Deputy Agrarian Policy Minister Ivan Bisyuk.

Of course what the U.S. government is most concerned about is any military action that Russia might take.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice says that what has happened in Ukraine reflects “the will of the Ukrainian people and the interests of the United States and Europe” and that it would be a “grave mistake” for Russia to get militarily involved.

But whatever happens over the next few days, nobody should think that the Russians are simply going to abandon their interests in Ukraine.  Russia has a very important military base down in the Crimea, and the eastern half of the country is very pro-Russian.

So the struggle between East and West in Ukraine is likely to continue for quite some time to come.  The following is an excerpt from a recent WND article

The issue with Ukraine is whether it will join the E.U. or Putin’s Eurasian Union. The country is roughly divided on this issue between eastern and western Ukraine. The eastern portion wants to remain with Russia while the western side wants to move closer with the West.

In southern Ukraine, where the Crimea is located, Russian influence remains strong.

Because demonstrators who want to see Ukraine lean westward have become emboldened with their immediate success of ousting Yanukovich, it could make it more difficult for them to come to terms with any settlement agreement to reunify the country.

Moscow has a large naval military facility in Sevastopol in the Crimea and recently received a 25-year lease extension to 2042, with another five-year renewal option until 2047. In exchange, Ukraine received a multiyear discounted contract for much-needed natural gas.

And the pro-Russian eastern half of the country is actually the stronger of the two halves economically.  So this will likely complicate mattersfor the EU and the U.S. as they try to bring Ukraine into their sphere of influence…

Seven of Ukraine’s 10 largest private companies by revenue are either headquartered or maintain the majority of their operations in eastern Ukraine. These firms are owned by some of Ukraine’s wealthiest and most influential individuals. Three of these 10 corporations — mining and steel company Metinvest, energy firm DTEK and its subsidiary Donetskstal — are based in the eastern industrial city of Donetsk and are owned by Ukraine’s wealthiest man, Rinat Akhmetov. Interpipe, the company that controls 10 percent of the world market share of railway wheels and more than 11 percent of the world market share of manganese ferroalloys, is based in Dnipropetrovsk and belongs to businessman and politician Victor Pinchuk.

The country’s most important businessmen are embedded in the east, where their businesses make disproportionately high contributions to the Ukrainian economy and national budget.

In the end, this proxy war between the East and the West has left Ukraine with a collapsed economy and on the brink of civil war.

And what has happened in Ukraine has caused permanent damage in the relationship between the United States and Russia. Someday the U.S. may end up bitterly regretting antagonizing the Russian Bear named Putin.

[by Michael Snyder, writing for THE ECONOMIC COLLAPSE blog]

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

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Putin dreams of a Eurasian Union, Ukraine dreams of freedom, and the US has stopped dreaming…

To understand why President Obama’s Syria policy has failed so badly, look no further than the brutal regime crackdown on political protesters in Ukraine. The link is Vladimir Putin.

U.S. officials foolishly banked on the Russian leader to squeeze Syria’s dictator into a political compromise at Geneva peace talks. But Putin — who prides himself on displays of bare-chested machismo — disdains political compromise. He prefers strongmen, whether in Syria, Ukraine, or elsewhere, and will back Bashar al-Assad, no matter his war crimes.

Similarly, Putin encouraged Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, to unleash carnage on civilian protesters last week. By so doing, he has sent a message the Obama administration can’t ignore as it tries to find a new strategy for Syria: Putin plays hardball. He will only temper his support for dictatorial allies if he’s made to believe the cost is too high.

Putin’s modus operandi is clear in Ukraine. The current crisis began when the Ukrainian government seemed poised to sign an association agreement with the European Union in November. The accord appealed to citizens who hoped tighter ties to Europe would put brakes on a corrupt, nearly bankrupt government that was rushing toward dictatorial rule.

Putin, however, has dreams of creating a Eurasian Union, a vast political and economic bloc that relinks former Soviet states — including Ukraine. He offered Yanukovych a $15 billion bailout and cheap gas in return for spurning the EU offer. That sparked peaceful protests in Kiev calling for Yanukovych’s resignation and early elections.

The Ukrainian leader promised not to use force against demonstrators, but shifted gears after meeting with Putin in Sochi. On Monday, Russia gave Ukraine a $2 billion down payment, and Putin conversed by phone with Yanukovych. The next day came the crackdown.

Yanukovych appears to be going for “the full Assad” says the Brookings Institution’s Fiona Hill, co-author of “Mr. Putin: Operative in the Kremlin.” “The idea is to have no compromise, even though there could have been a way out with the demonstrators.” A team of Russian “crowd control” experts is said to be aiding the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.

Russian government spokesmen are demonizing the Ukrainian opposition with the same language they applied to once-peaceful Syrian demonstrators, calling them “extremists” and “terrorists.” They also insist that the protesters are tools of the West.

But Ukraine is not Syria: Despite Putin’s blessings, Yanukovych can’t drop barrel bombs on Kiev.

Indeed, says Adrian Karatnycky, a Ukraine expert and senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, there are still ways to pressure Putin into recognizing the risks of backing Yanukovych. Prime among them: If the EU (with strong U.S. support) finally approves targeted sanctions against Ukrainian officials and its so-called oligarchs, super-rich businessmen who still support the regime. Deprived of assets abroad, and visas to Europe and America, these key players might turn against their president.

Fear of offending Putin has previously inhibited EU officials from imposing such sanctions, which might have prevented the current tragedy in Kiev. But the Russian leader’s open disdain for Europe may finally have goaded them to act.

Meantime, says Karatnycky, harsher crackdowns will only accelerate protests around the country; the safety of pipelines carrying Russian gas to Europe could be at risk. Ukraine could soon become a drain on Russian resources. Putin’s dream of economic integration with Ukraine could “go by the boards, if Kiev becomes a quasi-Beirut.” As the costs of his neo-imperialism rise, Putin might consider an alternative candidate to lead Ukraine.

Forcing Putin to consider a compromise in Syria will be much harder after the administration’s feckless policy of the past three years.

When he was Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, John Kerry understood what was needed. “Assad won’t (change) unless the on-the-ground calculations change,” he said in May 2012. In other words: Neither Assad nor his Russian backers will bargain at the negotiating table unless they fear he might lose on the battlefield.

But the White House has refused for two years to provide military aid to vetted and moderate rebels, even as Islamist groups flourished with aid from private Arab sources. Meantime Putin (and Iran) shoveled funds, guns, and manpower to Assad, who is winning on the ground.

As Obama reconsiders whether to help vetted Syrian rebels, he should recognize the lesson from Kiev:

The only way to dissuade Putin from backing dictators, whether in Syria or Ukraine, is to make the cost higher than he is willing to bear.

[by Trudy Rubin, writing for The Philadelphia Inquirer]

NORM ‘n’ AL Note: The violence in Ukraine is now raging at even higher levels now that former Ukrainian president Yanukovych has stepped down from his position.

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As always, posted for your edification and enlightenment by

NORM ‘n’ AL, Minneapolis
normal@usa1usa.com
612.239.0970

 

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