Civil war in Ukraine

News Color revolutions Recommended Links Debt slavery Ukraine debt enslavement Nulandgate Predator state
Disaster capitalism The Far Right Forces in Ukraine Suppression of Russian language and culture in Ukraine Totalitarian Decisionism & Human Rights: The Re-emergence of Nazi Law Media-Military-Industrial Complex Neoconservatism as a stage of development of Neoliberalism New American Militarism
EuroMaidan101 Inside "democracy promotion" hypocrisy fair Diplomacy by deception Ukraine's oligarchs Fifth column Resurgence of ideology of neo-fascism NGOs as braintrust of color revolutions
Events of November 30 and aftermath SBU raid on Kiev Batkivshchina office Revolt of diplomats EU-brokered agreement on ending crisis To whom EuroMaidan Sharp-shooters belong?   Who Shot down Malaysian flight MH17 ?
Forming Provisional government Accession of Crimea to Russia Odessa Massacre of May 2, 2014 Mariupol, May 9 events Presidential Elections of May 25. 2014   Poroshenko presidency
Russian Ukrainian Gas wars Neoliberalism as a New Form of Corporatism Russian sanctions Demonization of Putin Ukrainian orange revolution   Neoliberal Brainwashing -- Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few
Delegitimization of Ruling Party Compradors Opposition as a way to get rid of feeling of inferiority Human right activists or globalism fifth column Exploiting "Revolutionary Romantics" as polit-technology   Disaster capitalism
Neoliberal Propaganda The Guardian Slips Beyond the Reach of Embarrassment Fighting Russophobia Foreign Agents Registration Act Russian Fifth column Humor   Etc
 

 


Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement.

We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron. … Is there no other way the world may live?

Dwight D. Eisenhower - Wikiquote

"War is simply the continuation of political intercourse with the addition of other means. We deliberately use the phrase 'with the addition of other means' because we also want to make it clear that war in itself does not suspend political intercourse or change it into something entirely different. In essentials that intercourse continues, irrespective of the means it employs. The main lines along which military events progress, and to which they are restricted, are political lines that continue throughout the war into the subsequent peace."[17]

Carl von Clausewitz - Wikipedia


Introduction

As "economic nationalist" I oppose both "ethnic nationalism" and neoliberalism. And in my view EuroMaydan victory in 2014 in some way is similar to victory of Trump in 2016: it confirmed that the far-right can serve as an emergency reserve for neoliberalism 

In both cases we see conversion from "classic neoliberalism" to "national neoliberalism" (along with converting the country into debt-slave of the West).  It signifies the possibility of alliance of neoliberals and far right nationalists in domestic policies.  Similar to the opposition to Trump in the USA EuroMaydan faced strong resistance, which in case of Ukraine eventually led to a civil war. Like Trump, Ukrainian nationalists who came to power after Euromaydan are betraying their key constituency due to which they came to power:

Astute observers saw this betrayal coming. The argument that Trump would somehow overturn America’s neoliberal economic order myopically focused on Trump’s trade policy. In doing so, it both misunderstood what Trump represented and the ideological framework of neoliberalism. Trump’s fever pitch agonizing over the United States’ trade deficit with China and Mexico are both the wallowing of an economic idiot and the maneuvering of a political savant. The issue was always economically inane. A trade deficit in-and-of-itself reveals very little about the overall health of an economy.

Whether a nation should strive for or against a trade deficit is more dependent on that nation’s strategic position within the global economy, and not necessarily an indicator of the health of domestic markets. But, trade proved to be a salient issue for symbolic purposes.

Stagnation and automation have compelled American middle and lower classes to accept an economic torpor. Making trade deficits a central campaign tenant provided these people with an outlet for their class anxieties without having to question the nature of class itself. Lethargic economic growth was blamed on Mexicans and the Chinese. The insinuation was for average Americans to take back what was rightfully theirs by engaging in a new round of economic bargaining with these two nations, if not an open trade war. 

In case of EuroMaydan the economic alliance with EU was sold as a panacea for all economic devastation of people on Ukraine after Kuchma installed oligarchic neoliberal regime. And which remained intact (sliding to more corruption) under Yushchenko despite the first Maydan. And Yanukovich was blamed for all ills of his two predecessors. Which is similar to the way Trump blamed Mexicans and Chinese for economic devastation of the US middle class under neoliberalism.  But instead of trade war with China like is happening in the USA, a civil was was one of side effects if transitioning to "national neoliberalism" ("externalities" in neoliberal economics speak )

In covering such  events as civil wars and uprisings it is difficult to agree on common narrative. We will cover the event from the view that the supreme duty of the national state is not it s own existence at all costs ("classic nationalism"), but the well-being of its people and building the prosperous economy ("economic nationalism"). This position has its weaknesses as interests of people and the national elite under neoliberalism typically diverge and the neoliberal elite often acts as occupying force of the country (comprador elite) acting in the interests of a foreign state... 

Economic nationalism should be understood as a set of practices to create, bolster and protect national economies in the context of globalized markets by returning in some areas to protectionism and regulation of big business, especially multinationals, while easing regulation of small and medium businesses and strengthening social security net.  In case of Ukraine EuroMaydan events forced Russian big business to leave Ukraine, but the tragedy is that the vacuum was filled with no less predatory "new partners".  The rise and institutionalization of economic nationalism was a product of the crisis of neoliberalism starting from 2008, which revitalized ethno-nationalist movements in many European countries including Baltic republics, Hungary, Poland, and Ukraine. As Bannon have said Steve Bannon on white nationalism, Donald Trump agenda - CBS News

“I’m not a white nationalist, I’m a nationalist. I’m an economic nationalist,” Bannon told the news outlet earlier this week. “The globalists gutted the American working class and created a middle class in Asia. The issue now is about Americans looking to not get f—ed over.”

Some economists like Richard Wolf view Trump as the last, desperate attempt to save "classic neoliberalism" (The Coming Collapse of the American Economic System with Richard Wolff - YouTube). In Ukraine, EuroMaydan might be viewed as the desperate attempt to save oligarchic version of neoliberalism established by Kuchma.

I see Ukraine as a victim of policies of neoliberal globalization and the efforts to create global, led by the USA neoliberal empire (which by extension requires weakening and possibly neutering Russia and China). Simplifying, we can say that one of the most effective "disaster capitalism" scheme for establishing neocolonial control over the country is the transition of the country to debt slavery via unleashing a civil war. In this regard, a simple formula:

 "Color revolution" + "Civil war" ->  "Debt slavery".

works perfectly well. Around 11K people have been killed in the Ukraine between April 2014 and May 2017.  Around 1.6 million people have been internally displaced (mostly to central region of Ukraine and southern regions of Russia). European future dream proclaimed by EuroMaydan turned into Middle Eastern civil war nightmare with crimes committed against the civilian population.

It is interesting to note that the carrot of "European future" proved to work extremely well in post-Communist countries, especially for students and regions that depend on labor migrants for survival (Western Ukraine). Promising Ukrainian population "European future" was a very effective, albeit almost obvious move.

And outside well qualified professionals and entrepreneurs, or the top 10% of the population Ukrainian population is not needed or wanted in Europe. For lower 80% this "European future" is a future of low paid service personnel and prostitutes in Western cities. The status of a low paid gastarbeiters is the grim reality of the employment situation in most EU countries. Still this carrot proved to be an extremely effective way to fool the population into actions which destroyed their achieved standard of living, as low as it was in comparison with major countries of Western Europe such as France and Germany. 

People generally hate and do not trust a local neoliberal government (and Yanukovich government was a neoliberal government), so it, by definition, is a low hanging fruit for a color revolution which typically installs even more rabid neoliberal and more cruel government.  With the rather small financial infusion people from Western Ukraine (and not only Western Ukraine) were easily be recruited to partciaper in actions with the goal to depose the government. This was proven during EuroMaydan in Ukraine and actually is true for all xUSSR countries.

First of all people are sick and tied of sliding and very low standard of living as due to that susceptible to any agitation that promise "better future for them and their children".  Delegitimization of the ruling neoliberal elite (aka "Yanukovich gang")  typically is presented via a more narrow term -- corruption --  created revolutionary situation that just waited to be exploited. 

Secondly because Western Europe that they knew only from TV or, at best, saw just its "tourist facade".  Few people know the reality of living in Western Europe. Which definitely has a higher standard of living even if it was substantially weakened by neoliberalism, and also weakened (but still strong in comparison with the USA) social security mechanisms. But it is very far from "worker paradise."  The real situation can be understood only after working in the particular country for three or more years and I doubt that those people came to EuroMaydan.

But it was relatively easy to use far right nationalists as a ram to depose Yanukovich (a "no brainer" as some observers put it). This is done by rallying against the government a large part of the disaffected population. In case of EuroMaydan, students and small entrepreneurs took active part, because they were among social groups oligarchic regime of Yanukovich really oppressed; add to that media of a couple of oppressed by and thus hostile to Yanukovich oligarchs, such  as Ihor Kolomoyskyi . It generally talked about a decade for people to forget how they were deceived in the past. So the memory about the promises of the  "bright future" in early 1990th and the grim reality that followed already evaporated. Another problem is that young people who were born after the first Ukrainian Great Depression that followed obtaining independence are not interested in a real history of this period.  This consideration suggests that in any xUSSR country you can stage a color revolution each 20 years or so.

It is also very easy for MSM to channel objective process of impoverishment of population under neoliberalism into the charge of corruption of the government. Which was definitely corrupt, especially Yanukovich himself,  but no more corrupt the previous (Kuchma, late Yushchenko) or subsequent Ukrainian governments (Provisional Government, Poroshenko).   In this sense the civil war in Donbass and its wide-range consequences is one of  the most important "externalities" of EuroMaydan (along with the loss of Crimea), the price of change of the government via violent uprising instead of regular election mechanisms.  

Both EuroMaydan and the civil war in Ukraine are related to (or even stem from) efforts of the USA to encircle Russia as a new geopolitical rival on one hand, as well as  the desire of the EU to get a resource base at the East and expand its market into yet another  country cutting Russia (plus Russophobia of elites of several countries including Poland and Sweden).  On the EU part, the "Economic Anschluss" of Ukraine can be viewed as a more gentle variant of "Drang nach Osten" -- a drive to enlarge its (mostly German) economic space by absorbing all Eastern European countries under the EU economic space umbrella.  

Contrary to statements about pro-Ukrainian bias of the USA policies in the region, the US efforts were not pro, but clearly anti-Ukrainian. Ukraine was viewed by the USA just as a pawn in geopolitical chess game against Russia.  And this game is mainly directed by the goals of encircling, weakening and, if possible, dismembering of Russia.  In this respect Ukrainian national interests, especially economic interests,  were never a consideration, it.  A the core of events was Obama administration push back against Russian opposition to American dominance and the EU and NATO expansion into Eastern Europe.

In this sense EuroMaydan was a logical continuation of a failed attempt to stage color revolution in Russia in 2011-2012; continuation of the same policy. This time the USA manage to inflict huge economic and political losses to Russia as EuroMaydan not only broke economic cooperation of Russia and Ukraine, but was followed by damaging Russian economic sanctions, as well as (naturally occurring, or artificially created) slump in oil prices which last  three and a half years (mid 2014 - 2018).  It also created an enemy from previously friendly or at least neutral state.

This EU Anschluss  agreement (in the writing which, at least formally,  participated functionaries from Yanukovich government, so in a way it was a joint effort) also included such disastrous measures as adoption of EU standards in areas were Ukraine can't compete with the EU companies and thus de-facto replacement of local production with imported. Such a pro-Russian president ;-)  “We want to move closer to the EU in our day-to-day work,” he used to say.  He wanted to sign it, but just wanted to bargain a little bit more. And he managed to get 3 billion loan from Russia on a really good terms. But by not signing the agreement in November 2013 he sealed his fate (EuroMaidan - Wikipedia) as EU with the help of the USA unleashed a color revolution against him:

The demonstrations began on the night of 21 November 2013, when protests erupted in the capital, Kiev, after the Ukrainian government suspended preparations for signing the Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement with the European Union, to seek closer economic relations with Russia

This attempt to demonstrate some degree of independence was a fatal political mistake because Ukraine was already under firm control of pro-EU/pro-US forces.  Previous Yushchenko government was essentially a vassal of the West and his appointees were deeply entrenched in all critical government structures including  security services; media was also controlled by neoliberal forces and hostile to Russia; the US NGO were extremely influential in Ukraine and influenced  the media landscape (Gromadske TV, etc) with NGO officers enjoying diplomatic immunity due to a special agreement, signed, I think, by Kuchma government  ( imagine this for a sovereign country).

While from  imperial standpoint such policy is logical as Russia is one of the main threat to the US-led global neoliberal empire and the second largest nuclear power,  is sows "dragon's teeth". As such it is dangerous to the USA too. But after the USA became the only world superpower in Washington never played favorable for them situation strategically and patiently. That's why we have this "F*ck EU" coupe d'état and the attempt to kill Yanukovich in February 2014. While removing Yanukovich was "slam dunk" thing, as he was widely hated by the Ukrainian population (which is actually typical for any neoliberal president in xUSSR area with a couple of exceptions) subsequent side effects of his removal did not played for the USA so well. They really antagonized Russia, which from this point started to view the USA as the enemy, not as a dominant economic power and the competition in XUUSR space.

Another nasty externality of this coup d'état  is that it eventually lead to an uprising in the East against Western Ukrainian attempt to colonize it, and eliminate Russian language and Russian culture, which are native to the region.   So it really created an artificial ethnic conflict in the country which basically was free of it.  My impression is that before EuroMaydan most Russian-speaking Ukrainians did not too closely associated themselves with Russia, viewing Moscow with some degree of suspicion. In other words, they viewed Russia much like Canadians view the USA. But now at least in Donbass region and probably in several other eastern regions, the attitudes drastically changed.  As well as attitude toward Western Ukrainian nationalists (which were never viewed too favorably in Eastern regions of Ukraine to begin with.)

For the country where the majority of population speaks the same language as people in Russia and have many family level and cultural ties breaking such ties in the name of establishing a new national identity is a very tricky political move. BTW Canadians do not like the USA for its Imperial Ambitions and (by-and-large successful) attempt to convert Canada into de-factor colony of the USA. But imagine that Quebec nationalists came to power in Canada and outlawed the English language.  And introduction of Ukrainian language repeats that story of reintroduction of national language in Baltic countries (or enforcement of Hebrew in Israel) and in view of dominance of English language does not have any real significance culturally (as the cultural life is now completely dominated by Western players and filmmakers in any case) and might  have slightly detrimental effect on education and science. I would be first to admit that it was a good time to replace Russian textbooks at universities with English language textbooks: previously Ukrainian universities (with the exception of Lvov and couple of other cities) typically used Russian textbooks for natural sciences, which now is politically incorrect. But they can't switch to English textbooks (potentially better for natural sciences and very cheap if bought used). The move which would instantly raise the level on knowledge of English language in the country, especially among educated middle class as such would diminish Russian cultural influence and, as such, strengthen the level of independence of the country from Russia.  Although increase in intensity and quality of study of English language is definitely one of the few positive effects of EuroMaydan.

Yanukovich was a rather weak and deeply corrupt President, which was not favorably viewed in Russia (which refused to create and support the government  in exile after he fled the country). Paradoxically he has no real friend other then Joe Biden ;-). Politically at the  beginning of 2015 he was completely isolated due to his sling into authoritarianism. Now it became known that several members of his government (for example Lyovochkin) were covertly working for "EuroMaydan".

One can also wander about  Russia position in this area. Russia professes limited version of economic nationalism, while remaining by-and-large a neoliberal country (which create a big weakness in Putin position, as you can't be  half-pregnant; if you profess neoliberalism  inside the country, you should profess neoliberal globalization and by extension accept the role of Washington as the center of global neoliberal empire).  In other words, Russia invented Trumpism before Trump ;-). So Russian neocolonialism is the fact of life and Russia want to keep the xUSSR states as its sphere of influence,  but on reality it might be more benign toward Ukraine than EU neo-colonial expansion into Ukrainian space.  Which, if we view Baltic states as a example, smells with  deindustrialization.

I suspect that there is no good guys in this drama.

What were the triggers of this civil war

It is difficult to talk about a single factor that  created Donbass conflict, which later turned into civil war. There were multiple factors that created preconditions to civil war in Ukraine:

  1. A side effect of the forceful neoliberalization of the country and "fast track" to EU Anschluss adopted by Yanukovich government. From this point of view Ukraine Civil war can be viewed as textbook case of  "disaster capitalism" in action.  Neoliberals in general, and neoliberal countries in particular (read G7), are ready to use shocks and violence to implement their radical policies (aka Washington consensus)  --  neoliberalization and debt enslavement of the weaker countries.  An interesting nuance here is that economic difficulties for the ordinary people, including mass unemployment and redistribution of wealth up inherent under any neoliberal or semi-neoliberal regime (and which can be easily amplified by external actions) can be used for unleashing color revolution against this "corrupt regime" (as if the next will be less corrupt)  under anti-corruption and "better life promises", which creates a mass support base for the "neoliberal revolutionaries".  Essentially this means conversion of Ukraine into "EU village", a resource base of cheap commodities and cheap workforce.  Starting the same the process that is now fairly advanced in Baltic republics, Poland, Bulgaria, Greece,  and some other central European countries.
  2. The slide of Ukraine toward more nationalist government was also facilitated by the global crisis of neoliberalism of 2008. In this respect Ukraine is not that different  from, say, Hungary, or Poland. So this were not only EU and the USA machination plus Yanukovich corruption and criminality. It looks like Ukraine just is repeating the general political trajectory of Baltic Republics, but  with 23 years delay.  And probably inevitably destined to repeat the mistakes the Baltic countries, especially Latvia, made on this path.
  3. The natural result of obtaining independence and subsequent rise of political importance and power (as guarantors of independence from Russia) of Western Ukrainian nationalists Parties and organizations,  previously completely decimated and eliminated as apolitical force in the USSR. They were resurrected with the full and enthusiastic support of the Ukrainian State and Ukrainian, especially Canadian and the USA, diaspora. As well as some NGO such as Soros foundation.  The fact that Yanukovich himself did quite a lot for resurrection of Svoboda as a political Party usually is swiped under the carpet by Western MSM, which incorrectly (with complete contempt for evidence) proclaiming him being a pro-Russian political figure. While in reality he was a moderate Ukrainian nationalist, who tried to extract some concession both from Russia and West trying to balance between them. In a sense Yanukovich brand of nationalism was not the different from the bran of nationalism which emerged in Dnepropetrovsk and was represented by Kuchma.   The fact that with Svoboda he brought into the nest a cuckoo egg escaped this mediocre and corrupt politician.  Luckily he managed to escape the attempt to kill him after the coup. Also please do not forget that his political mentor was Joe Biden. 
  4. Oligarchic republics has their own  dynamic of development and such a development in Ukraine led to loss of political power of "Donetsk elite". The contributing factors were internal frictions within Donetsk oligarchic clan and the fact that Dnepropetrovsk oligarchs (and first of all Kolomosky) openly sided with nationalists. In other words nationalists were used as the force to remove Yanukovich as a threat to other oligarchic groups.  Ukraine was and still is an oligarchic republic -- owners of big businesses still have a decisive impact on the politics and economy of the country. The Ukrainian oligarchic republic emerged during Leonid Kuchma’s presidency (1994–2004). There were several oligarchic clans in Ukraine with two most important being Donetsk clan and  Dnepropetrovsk clan. They were the cornerstones of the Ukrainian oligarchic democracy. Yanukovich, who represented the Donetsk clan and was closely linked to Akhmetov, was not a satisfactory President for other oligarchic groups. Yanukovich attempt to create "the family" as a new  oligarchic group consisting of his sons and loyal politicians were also viewed with great suspicion (see osw.waw.pl for more information)
  5. A "blowback" of the efforts of the USA to contain and encircle Russia. We can also view Ukraine as the latest victim of US geopolitics, which is directed on encircling, weakening and/or possible dismembering of Russia. And in this sense Maydan coup d'état represents the greatest success of the US diplomacy (and personally President Obama) in this direction (and an important step in the defense of the global neoliberal empire led by the USA) since the dissolution of the USSR. Now the USA managed to get a large, strategically positioned county hostile to Russia for a tiny sum of around five billion dollars invested in organizing color revolution. Please note that Israel in one year gets more. Later that led to forming in March 2018 of anti-Russian alliance of Geordia-Moldova-Ukraine -- another knockdown for Russian diplomacy in the region.  Donbass civil war can be viewed as externality of those efforts.

there were also contributing minor factors such as internal and external pressure on the Provisional Government (and euphoria from Maydan success); the side effect of Putin "overextending" his promises to Donbass residents after Crimea referendum.

Inherent political instability of neoliberal governments in post Soviet republics

Looks like deposing the elected government with the hands of disgruntled (and agitated with controlled by NGO "opposition" MSMs) citizens and few financial injections into opposition (with one stash of cash confiscated from Batkivshchyna offices) is a "sure thing". Just a matter of time and skills of intelligences agencies operatives. This is a "sure thing" method of changing the government  in any xUSSR country with some even rudimentary democratic structures and financial difficulties. Neoliberalism caused gradual sliding of standard of living of population and mass discontent. Which creates political instability and thus opportunity to install a more poor-western government with minimal spending  of money and resources by the  country that initialed such change.  If this results in a subsequent civil conflict, that OK and simplify getting control over strategic resources that happen to be in this country.  In a way it is even desirable outcome.  This latter statement is the essence of what is called "Disaster Capitalism".

While there are regional variations most of post-Soviet republics are oligarchic republics. As such  they have problem both with the  legitimacy of the ruling elite and withstand pressure form major  western countries (where oligarchs  store their assets).  See

It might well be that only "brutal dictatorships" can mount some resistance to such color revolution attempts and democracy is a very bad  idea for a country is low standard of living.

Was this conflict inevitable?

As similar tensions exists in Baltic republics, Moldavia and Kazakhstan it looks like some state of development of post Soviet republics with large Russian speaking minority involves some sort of conflict, as this population generally is not inclined to accept more provincial culture and language of the republic in which they are now citizens or permanent  residents (Latvia discriminates against Russian minority).  But whether such a conflict results and armed struggles and separation of some territory depends on additional circumstances, which might ne present or not.

Before Ukraine we have similar situation in Moldavia were part of the country with dominant Russian speaking population  also formed de-fat independent republic (Transnistria - Wikipedia). In Ukraine itself there were tensions due to attempt of "forceful Ukrainization" of  Crimea as to  lesser extent other  Eastern regions. Even in Kiev population resented forceful Ukrainization.  And the distance from such tensions to armed conflict can be crosses very quickly if favorite conditions  arise. That's why sudden appearance of  the  scene a government with a couple of mediocre and reckless politicians (Yatsenyuk and Turchinov) that  behaves like a bull in a china store was enough. You can imagine  the situation if Quebec  nationalists came to power and declared French language the only official language of Canada in order to diminish/eliminate  cultural and political influence of the USA on Canada ;-).

So the fact that Provisional government come to power in Kiev and in euphoria from their victory started to push Ukrainization further down the road proved to be  powerful enough trigger to light a civil war. Stupid and reckless actions when they encountered some resistance only help further to ignite this conflict.  It would be much wiser adding Russian as a state language but also introducing English as a new official language and requiring police and courts to accept it. Ass well as switch to teaching some subjects in English at high school and universities.

The Donbass region as an arena of this conflict was probably more or less accidental. There were no notable ethnic tensions to justify it. Just a mild resentment to forceful Ukrainization. Only later two groups of population ("vatniki" vs. "banderovtsi") became bitterly involved in this conflict. After several years of fighting and several thousands of civilians killed re-integration of this territory into Ukraine looks like very difficult, if not impossible task.

So Minsk accords, which proposes as a solution to the conflict federalizing Ukraine and granting Donbass the status similar to Crimea autonomy as well as general amnesty ( in return for putting down all arms) are probably by-and-large dead and can be used only for political games.  Even conversion of Ukraine into federative republic and granting Donbass the status of autonomy of a type formerly enjoyed by Crimean now is not enough for Donbass residents and represent too big concession for Kiev. Partially because as economic situation deteriorates,  other parts of Ukraine, especially TransCarpatian region might want the same status.

Economic consequences of Donbass conflict: The Ukrainian Second Great Depression

The  most important effect of the EuroMaydan along with dropping of the standard of living of population is an almost complete and long-term breakup of economic and cultural relations with Russia. The civil war in Donbass  only accelerated and deepened those trends.

We can view post EuroMaydan event as a Second Great Depression  for Ukrainian population (the  first was after the dissolution of the USSR). Ukrainian GDP dropped considerably after EuroMaydan, although exact figures are difficult to come buy ( see Ukraine GDP 1987-2018). Probably at least 50% in comparison with the level achieved in 2013. So it looks like another Great Depression in Ukraine. Also the fact that it is now under umbrella of EU will might eventually kill some Ukrainian  high tech industries and most of machinery manufacturing including auto industry. Without cooperation with Russia aviation industry is already dead (Ukraine has large Antonov factory in Kiev which produced transport planes and couple of other less important factories in Kharkiv) Without Russia cooperation the are all gone.  This is the same process of de-industrialization that we observed in Baltic republics. But it probably will have higher impact on Ukraine as the loss of Russian market is more critical for this country.

Resulting economic chaos and civil war destroyed the standard of living of the majorly of Ukrainian population and created several million of refugees.  Please take into account that one of the driving force of EuroMaydan was a high unemployment rate in Western Ukraine, where the growth of population was fastest (Uniate religion is close to Catholicism and does not encourage birth control).  Now the majority of Ukrainian live of less then $2 a day and will do so for many, many years, if not decades.  And that's what makes the whole EuroMaydan and subsequent Donbass conflict especially tragic, as most people who protested Yanukovich government  were striving for better life, for lower unemployment  and better economic opportunities for themselves and their children.  As all Donbass residents initially wanted was just a decree of cultural autonomy and adoption of Russian language as the second state language.

Now due to deterioration of economics and flow of refugees both to in central regions of Ukraine (especially Kiev region)  and to Russia we have zugzwang situation both for Ukraine and Donbass. Only external forces can benefit from the continuation of the war but the common ground to bring parties to the negotiation table was lost.

In other word the nest losers of those geopolitical games that created EuroMaydan is, unsurprisingly, the Ukrainian population and, first of all, the population of the Donetsk region.  Common people were forced into abject poverty as the result of  a sophisticated geopolitical game played on them with visa free travel and ability to work in EU as a carrot. After EuroMaydan far right nationalism was unleashed to dull the pain of economic rape as some kind of "opium for the masses". It allowed to project the ills brought by more deep neoliberalization of Ukraine and conversion it into debt slave nation on Russia. As the result most of Ukrainian population now is more hostile to Russia.  Of course, Ukrainians were not the first, and they are not the last among the victim of global neoliberal revolution which started with the election of Reagan.

It is surprising how resilient Ukrainians proved in such conditions. This was (and is) simply amazing to watch, despite the tragic nature of the situation.  Of course, in a standard development Kiev became an even larger sex shop for rich Western tourists and pensioners, than under Yanukovich, but this is also typical for other countries in xUSSR space. Still there were no complete economic collapse after EuroMaydan and most of infrastructure continued to function although in decrepit state and there is no money for its modernization. Railways state is especially tragic. But trains are still running.

How Ukrainians survive food prices that approach the USA prices on their salaries is a question that I cannot answer. Probably some local market have lower prices and self-grown vegetables help a lot (many Ukrainians has so called "dachas" from Soviet time, typically a plot 600 sq meters (around 6500 sq feet)  where you can grow fruits and vegetables. But transportation costs now bite hard.

Meat consumption for the majority of population is now severely restricted and all poor people can probably afford are just eggs, milk and pork fat. 

What is interesting that the process of separation of Ukraine from Russia was well under way since obtaining independence as the result of dissolution of the USSR in 1991 and would occur anyway, but probably will less economic losses for Ukrainians and Russians.  Those US propaganda tales about Yanukovich government being pro-Russian are just what they are fairy tales. No Ukrainian government since independence was pro-Russian, only the level of anti-Russian sentiments varied (with Yushchenko being the most anti-Russian, being just another Western Ukrainian nationalist).  Yanukovich  actually supported creation of Western Ukrainian training camps and indoctrination of Western Ukrainian youth into anti-Russian mindset. 

Now Ukraine started the process the results of which we can see in Baltic states: the elimination of Russian culture and language and almost complete economic isolation from Russia, as well as opening the market to Western Europe and the USA on conditions dictated to them (which are neo-colonial conditions). In Baltic republics that was smoothed by transfers from EU. While Ukraine faces full economic consequences of breaking of economic ties with Russia and subsequent gradual elimination of those sectors of manufacturing which can't compete with EU (which is the most sectors).  This de-industrialization process already started.

All economic hopes of EuroMaydan revolution -- higher salaries , more jobs, lower prices" were dashed very quickly as grivna was devaluated very quickly.  And with it the standard of living of the population (although not to the same extent, as food prices were increasing more slowly then devaluation of grivna).  But it was the  "liberalization" of gas price for population which let to dramatic jump of the cost of heating of houses and apartments, which in many cases exceeded the size of pensions of people living in those apartments. For many the only way to survive was not to pay.

As the result of neoliberal policies pursued by new Provisional government and then Poroshenko government the price of hydrocarbons for consumers (and first of all natural gas which is widely used in heating homes) in Ukraine skyrocketed and the cost of heating in winter became a huge problem in many regions and even large cities like Kiev (where salaries are probably 30% higher the at the periphery).  Since the victory of EuroMaydan the currency dropped more then 300% from around 8 grivna per dollar to around 28 per dollar. Economic promises of EuroMaydan can be viewed now only a big hoax.

The cost of heating on one bedroom apartment (say 35 square meters; around 350 square feet) the last winter exceeded the half of the average monthly salary (or full average pension). See  Cost of Living in Kiev. Updated Prices May 2017 for the current costs. Please note that average salary in Ukraine is around 3000 grivna (higher in Kiev) or $110 a month (with minimal 1000 grivna or $35 a month which is close to $1 a day -- absolute poverty; see Average Monthly Salary In Ukraine - Poltava Travel).  And the recent conversion rate is around 28 grivna per dollar

With food priced close to the level of the USA (especially for meat; vegetables, especially potato, are probably twice or three times cheaper). Ukrainians  can only thank IMF for their extreme generosity and valiant efforts in converting them into debt slaves. But that's the nature of neoliberal world order and we can do nothing about it. 

Unlike far right forces in Hungary and Poland, Ukrainian far right in this case also proved as close to neoliberal in economics as one can get, real neoliberal stooges, which proved to be a really toxic combination.

If Russia cuts supplies of gas via Ukraine (for which Ukraine gets transit fees), the country might be bankrupt. Trump is not willing to compensate for lost revenue and is generally adverse to economic aid. All he wants countries to buy as much the US weapons as possible and pay for them.  He did sold Ukraine coal to substitute for higher quality Donbass coal at double prices (the process that started under Obama I think; also South African coal was bought, which is cheaper, of lesser quality).  Which is completely within the framework of the "The Art of the Deal". The USA now also supply fuel for the Ukraine nuclear stations, displacing Russia (with some technological risk, associated with the change of the suppler). If the developments in Ukraine after EuroMaydan mirror  the same in Eastern European counties Ukrainian energy sector will be controlled by foreign multinationals, which will extract "a peace of flesh"  from the population, no matter what. Trump administration also is weighting in selling Ukraine advanced weapon, for which Ukraine will need to pay, depraving population of basic needs (Poroshenko government is locked into "Guns instead of butter policy" and can't changes it )

Economic and political consequences for Russia

Russia also suffered greatly from breaking ties with Ukraine but this was Washington design. That standard of living of population achieved at the end of 2013 did not return for the next 5 years.

Economic ties hit Russia directly as export to Ukraine was by-and-large eliminated. Import from Ukraine was also gradually eliminated. Now Ukraine import uranium rods for its nuclear electric stations from the USA, and recently started to import coal form the USA too. Paying probably twice more that comparable supplies from Russia. I think that it is only a matter of time when the  national energy companies will change hands. Ukraine also started to buy the US arms and all cooperation in arms industry with Russia stopped.   

The level of hostility to Russia which was present even under previous Ukrainian governments (especially Yushchenko), dramatically increased due to civil war in Donbass. For which Russia carry partial blame: when first they encouraged people uprising against Ukrainian nationalists who took power in Kiev via a coup, and then abandoned them limiting themselves to supply of weapons and volunteers despite implicit promises of repeating Crimea scenario, if population vote so in a referendum.  This is a personal fault of Mr. Putin. Donbass occurred on one hand because Putin irresponsible promise that Referendum would be treated just like in Crimea, but than by even more irresponsible behavior of junta (pushed by the USA which pursued their own geopolitical goal in the region in which Ukraine played the role of the patsy the only role of which is to weaken Russia as severely as possible). Far right junta moved army forces to pacify essentially minor conflict which started because of their overzealous application of the language law. There were no even minor ethnic conflict in this region with the rest of the county, which make this civil war and breakaway region somewhat unique.

Russian now has a huge and long-term problem with Ukraine. This is now hostile country, another Poland on the borders. But even more unpredictable and hostile. And sharing the language means that Ukrainian intelligence agencies represent a huge threat. Exactly like Washington wanted them to be.  As one member of Obama administration Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia and Ukraine, Evelyn Farkas  (Who the hell is Evelyn Farkas)  boasted "We have very good intelligence on Russia." Which is not bad from the point of preventing WWIII, but opens the door for various false flag operations under Russian flag, like Russiagate. 

Moreover it now is a perfect opportunity for EU to demonstrate its usual level of Russophobia. As Beckow  aptly observer  (June 17, 2018 at 6:01 pm GMT )

...EU wants cheap, reliable energy from Russia and to export to Russia as much as possible without interference from US. That is pure business. But the dominant political forces in EU are anti-Russia, some because they are fed by the security-military-academic spending, some because they 'studied' and were politically formed in US or UK. Some because that's just the way they are.

There is a strong, EU domestic anti-Russian population based on hundreds of years of history, resentment over losses (Germany, Poland, Sweden, Finland), self-brainwashing about perceived abuse (Poland, Baltics, eastern Europeans in general), hatred and contempt towards anything 'eastern', and the traditional anglo anti-Russian policies. Recently new emotional hatreds have been added with endless demonising Russia about xenophobia, hooligans, gays, stray dogs, anything the creative propagandists can push. Most Europeans turn out on reflection to be quite gullible and stupid.

There are a few minor exceptions and some Latin nations are more level headed. There is also a minority view in the German world, mostly based on their business realism that is neutral toward Russia, but not pro-Russian. There will be no political rapprochement between EU and Russia. There will be better business relations because water flows downhill and EU-Russia economic ties are such an obvious fit. The cultural hatred and political hostility will go on.

After WWII it took most Europeans less than a generation to revert to the traditional anti-Russian attitudes. In some cases, nations that were literally saved from extermination were more resentful than grateful. In Poland it took less than a year, in Czech Republic 20 years, but the old visceral hatreds emerged again.

My advise to Russia would be to mind its own business and not try to sacrifice for the others or to help them. It has always backfired because the cultural milieu in Europe is naturally resentful of Russia and the east in general. Business doesn't change that.

In other words the Ukrainian civil triggered resurgence of pre-existing anti-Russian forces in Europe. Contrary to a widespead myth, European business interests do not represent a powerful anti-russophobic force. The cancellation of SouthStream and Russian troubles with NorthStream II clearly attest that. While anti-Russian sanctions have cost Europe billions, there is no countrvailing force that  can stopsanctions. Also the US influence is way to big for most governments even try. This is why for years now various EU politicians and public figures have made some noises about lifting the sanctions, but when it came to the vote – they all voted as told by the real bosses.

But this major  geopolitical victory of the Obama administration may eventually turn into Pyrrhic victory as it facilitated re-rapprochement of Russia and China. With some signs of an economic and military union. Still Obama managed first to state color revolution in Russia (which failed, but was  no small feat) and  then to inflict real and substantial economic and political damages to Russia via Ukrainian civil war.

The Ukrainian  civil war disrupted many vital supply lines from Ukraine which were inherited from the USSR times.  Replacing them with native production, or other foreign sources takes both time and money.  Even Russian military-industrial complex was slightly disrupted as some types of engines were produced only in Ukraine (but Russians got the signal that supplies from Ukraine for Russian military industrial complex will be in 2005 with the election of Yushchenko, so they have has a decade to prepare for such a move). But the damage in "leaking vital technologies" still was done -- in the USSR years Ukraine (unlike Baltic republics) was treated like almost equal partner and now at the moment of dissolution had many critical USSR military technologies available.  Which now probably found new homes outside Ukraine, as Ukraine was always desperate for money and sold everything that can find a foreign buyer, including a large part of the military arsenal inherited from the USSR. 

In turn Ukrainian civil war also led to growth of anti-Americanism within normally pro-American part of Russian population. And some cooling of normally very friendly relations with Ukrainian industrialists and gastarbeiters. Of course. Russian wave of anti-Americanism never reached even one tenth of the Neo-McCarthyism witch hunt current in the USA. Where a simple contact with the Russian ambassador is as close to the treason as one can get ;-). Russian elite generally tries to cool down hot heads, understanding the key role of the USA as the major country in Western block as well as technological powerhouse.  And the fact that after Yeltsin years economic rape of Russia it remains weak economically and depends on the West in major technologies.

But still growing anti-Ukrainian and anti-American sentiments  in Russia represent  an important political factor... and probably like growing hostility of Ukrainian population toward Russia is also a long time factor. First of all this  factor almost completely eliminated political influence of Russian neoliberals (aka "Liberasts") for probably a next decade or more. They now are not  visible politically; just look at the most recent Russian Presidential elections. Unlike in 2012, where they were very active and enjoyed support of US NGO (now kicked out of the country) and financial support from Western embassies this time they were a sad joke. Even for such a major player in Russian politics as USA embassy support of neoliberal fifth  column become more difficult and requires more inventive schemes, especially in transferring  funds.  Now Russian neoliberals (including former cabinet members such as Kudrin) are viewed by population even less charitable than lobbists of the forign interest in Russia (aka fifth column) and more like traitors.

Paradoxically Russia did not block Ukrainian gastarbeiters, despite rather high level of unemployment and economic recession. Generally in economic relations with Ukraine  Russia  tried not to rock the boat. Which just allowed full freedom to rock it by Ukrainian side as if cutting economic relation with the largest neighbor and dominant in the region country is something that might be beneficial to Ukraine in a long run, outside plain revenge motives. 

In any case, even without open military confrontation,  this civil war guarantees that economic relations of Ukraine with Russia will continue to be in the deep freeze for the foreseeable future. While state relations now are marketed by open hostility on the part of Ukrainian State and  attempt to undermine Russia where they can. And Ukrainian  security services do have an opportunity to inflict some damage on Russia. although fear of retaliation might keep them in check. Still they provides great help the USA neocons, supplying all kind of damaging information, which helps to  turn Russia into the enemy of choice once again (despite Russia being yet another neoliberal country), much like the USSR once was during the Cold War. So it is a part of Cold War II.

Far right nationalists as patsies on neoliberals

It is interesting and pretty surprising that that ethno-linguistic nationalism proved to be not always an opponent of neoliberal globalization. Especially in emigrant/diaspora communities. For example Canadian Ukrainian nationalists (which are more radical nationalists and more Russia-hating than most Ukrainians) played far from constructive role in Ukrainian political life. Emigration breeds political extremism and combination of inflow of political extremists with economic adventurists seeking "make money fast" ventures proved to be really toxic for Ukraine. Theoretically Ukrainian nationalism should know the lessons from being a neighbor of a powerful nation with the large territory (the USA) and the problems with the sovereignty that such an "oversized" neighbor creates (As   noted  Washington treats Canada like a vassal, though most Canadians don’t seem to care). And they should be voice of reason in relations between Ukraine and Russia. But this was not the case. Canadian nationalists most put gasoline on nationalistic fire which started in Ukraine with the obtaining independence.  Geography is a destiny in some way. It is sad that they like to fight with Russia until the last Ukrainian, excluding themselves and their families.  It is the same problem as female chickenhawks in the US government: female neocons are even more militaristic and chauvinistic then their male counterparts (look at Victoria Nuland, or Hillary Clinton).

Far right  nationalists were quickly sidelined by hard core neoliberals led by Yatsenyuk and lost any influence on economic policy.  Like Germans say "The Moor has done his duty, the Moor can go".  And Yatsenyuk was a neoliberal who only pretended to be nationalist (much like his former boss Yulia Timoshenko). 

While Yatsenyuk was a fake nationalist, he was forced to act as the real one: Provisional government did send the army to fight and die in Donbass region. As a result we have what we have: neoliberalization, conversion of the country into a debt slave, loss of Crimea and the civil war in Donbass region in a country with no ethnic conflicts before EuroMaydan.  And Poroshenko government has even less sovereignty then the corrupt Yanukovich regime.  It's completely subservient to the USA and IMF. While Ukraine now is full member of "debt slave" club (Yanukovich government actually managed to shrink national debt a little bit; at least not to enlarge it).

But an important fact is that all such color revolutions, being part of "disaster capitalism" games bring more poverty and sufferings (often with the possibility of civil war) to the population. So they are essentially a counter-revolution, or more precisely revolutions by financial oligarchy against people. But that becomes evident to agitated population only when it is too late (and  now many Ukrainians are longing for the return of the times  of "corrupt Yanukovich regime").   The Yanukovich story proves that it is really dangerous to by a "half-neoliberal" and only "half of a dictator" (actually Yanukovich proved to be a despicable coward, who only accidentally, by pure luck,  escaped the destiny of colonel Kaddafi.).  As unforgettable Bush II used to say You're either with us, or against us.

Due to civil war Ukraine lost probably up to a hundred thousand people and a couple of millions were displaced.  It also lost several hundred billion dollars as economic consequences of the war. Some found refuge in Russia, some in central and western regions of Ukraine, but their social status and well-being were severely affected by this displacement.  Tiny percentage managed to emigrate the western countries, which are not that eagerly accepting a stream of Ukrainian refugees.  Which they essentially created (making the situation very similar with Syria).  Please note that there was no ethnic or religious tensions in Donbass under previous governments, which can at least partially justify this civil war. It really is an 100% artificial creation, driven by the USA and EU geopolitical moves in the region as well as Russia counter moves.  

Ukrainian nationalists also played pretty destructive role facilitating the abrupt and compete cut of economic relations with Russia, ignoring devastating economic consequences of such a move.  If Russia reciprocated by prohibiting Ukrainian nationals to work in Russia and cutting the supply of gas via Ukraine, that might well lead to the bankruptcy of the country and splitting it into several independent statelets with Western Ukraine probably being the first,  or the second.  So much for "Shche ne vmerla Ukraina".  The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

When Poroshenko became a legitimate President via nationwide election (Yanukovich formally remained the legitimate president until this moment, because he was alive and did not abdicate his post) he became the hostage of old policies of Provisional government, despite having initial reservations about them.  Some oligarchs clearly decided to pour more kerosene on fire, especially Ihor Kolomoyskyi

New troubles for nationalist government in Kiev are on horizon as Trump administration might not willing to pay Ukraine the money which were flowing to the country as low percent loans under Obama administration. As the same time they are encouraging the Ukrainian government to buy as much of US arms and other goods (trains, coal, fuel for nuclear stations) as possible. They will sell it even natural gas, if possible.

As the result a severe pension crisis might loom on the horizon even taking into account miserable level of pensions in Ukraine.  In case the EU does not come to the rescue, many Ukrainian pensioners will simply starve. As of December 2017 grivna crosses the mark of 28 per dollar.

Transition from semi-independent state to "debt slave"

In no way Yanukovich's Ukraine should be viewed as a sovereign state. At best I would call it "semi-independent". The USA actually has a big, if not decisive, influence on Ukrainian foreign policy. From this point of view EuroMaydan changed very little. After Kuchma Ukraine was already in semi-colonial state with most important decisions dictated by "Washington Obcom" (Joe Biden was a big friend and mentor of Yanukovich until he put a knife into his back; Manafort was a US political operative who managed Yanukovich election campaign; both names are hardly Russian).   And Marafort was probably closely connected to the US intelligence agencies and did pressed Yanukovich to pursue pro-Us policies The Mueller Indictments Still Don’t Add Up to Collusion The Nation:

There is widespread supposition that Manafort's dealings in Ukraine make him a prime candidate for collusion with Moscow. But that stems from the mistaken belief that Manafort promoted Kremlin interests during his time in Kiev. The opposite appears to be the case. The New York Times recounts that Manafort "pressed [then–Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor] Yanukovych to sign an agreement with the European Union that would link the country closer to the West -- and lobbied for the Americans to support Ukraine's membership." If that picture is accurate, then Manafort's activities in Ukraine during the period for which he has been indicted were diametrically opposed to the Kremlin's agenda.

He also was deeply unpopular and posed to be defeated in the next Presidential elections.

In a way this new arrangement represent the reversal of the result of WWII and partial accomplishment of the goals of Nazi Germany as for Slavic people in Ukraine and Russia. The net result is close -- abysmal poverty of the majority of population. But without planned by Nazy Germany extermination of Slavic population to make space for German colonists (essentially Hitler plan was a plagiarism from the USA colonial past with Slavonic nations instead of Indians). Remember General Plan Ost ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generalplan_Ost):

German Plan Ost to exterminate ” inferior races ”

Percentages of ethnic groups to be destroyed and/or deported to Siberia by Nazi Germany from future settlement areas.[15][16][3]

Ethnic group/Nationality Population percent subject to removal

Russians[17][16]           50–60% to be physically eliminated and another 15% to be sent to Western Siberia
Estonians[3][18]            almost 50%
Latvians[3]                    50%
Czechs[16]                   50%
Ukrainians[16]              65%
Belarusians[16]            75%
Poles[16]                     20 million, or 80–85%
Lithuanians[3]              85%
Latgalians[3]                100%

Country was forcefully  converted into the debt slave without any chances to get out, another "neo-colony" with formal sovereignty as a fig leaf and nationalism as "opium for the people".   Neoliberal colony controlled via financial instruments and local fifth column of compradors instead of occupation army. Ukraine now repeats the history of Latin America: borrow billions of dollars from foreign banks, hand the money to the wealthy who immediately deposit it right back to foreign banks, and let the ordinary people pay back the principal and interest.

The EU desire to increase the pace of colonizing Ukraine played a very important role in unleashing this civil war. EU along with  the USA was instrumental in bringing far right junta to power  as they correctly assumed that being in economics ersatz-nationalists they will suite EU economic interests better then Yanukovich government.   EU Anschluss  agreement turns Ukraine into market for EU goods and  source of  cheap raw materials. It is undeniable that under the slogans of democratization EU played a sinister, neo-colonial role in EuroMaydan color revolution. Especially such countries as Poland, Sweden and Germany. Which encouraged and participated in financing of the coup against the corrupt Yanukovich regime clearly understanding that the next regime might be even worse, equally incompetent and no less corrupt, but were pursuing their own regional interests, which at the time coincided with the USA geopolitical interests and have had a distinct anti-Russian angle (especially for Poland and Sweden). At the expense of ordinary Ukrainians who became pawns in a bigger geo-political game. That reminds me  XIX century colonial policies of European powers.  Just on a new level.

EU honchos correctly assumed that weakened after 1991 Russia with not cease supplying hydrocarbons to EU as the result of the coup and the Russian sanctions, if any, will be minor (they were limited to food items so far) and Russia can't stop importing high technology goods and machinery from the EU and the USA.  Poland economics also depends on Russian gas and transit fees and that cut would be a serious economic hit, although not to the extent of the same for Ukrainian economics, but Poland government decided to take this risk and won.  Also the level of hate of Russia of Polish elite traditionally is one of the highest in Europe (although it is not yet shared by most of Polish population). Just looks as such figure as former minister of foreign affairs in Tusk government Radoslaw Sikorski who was instrumental in forcing Yanukovich into complete capitulation (masked as an agreement with opposition leaders about peaceful transition of power via forthcoming Presidential elections (which Yanukovich would definitely lose), but which opposition did not intended to obey and used to depose him as police was withdrawn and did not defend government quarters (unlike President Salvador Allende, who was one of the first victims of neoliberal coup d'état, Yanukovich proved to be despicable coward, but  that; another story).  According  to Wikipedia:

Sikorski was involved in the events of the winter 2014 Ukraine Euromaidan protests at the international level. He signed on 21 February along with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leaders Vitaly Klitchko, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, and Oleg Tyagnibok as well as the Foreign Ministers of Russia, France and Germany a memorandum of understanding to promote peaceful changes in Ukrainian power.[60]

In other words there are no good guys in this story, Yanukovich, Russia, the USA, the EU, provisional government and Poroshenko all were essentially hostile to the interests of the Ukrainian population and were instrumental in driving the population to a really abject, African level poverty. They all conspired to inflict hardships on Ukrainian population.  Ukrainian neoliberal oligarchy proved to be pretty destructive to the country, which reminds me the situation in Greece. And the country now is the same debt slave as Greece.  With the only difference that there is no civil war in Greece.

Shadow of Transdnistia

Trnasdnistia is a region of Madavia which becem infomarlly independet after the dissolution of the USSR (Transnistria - Wikipedia )

After the dissolution of the USSR, tensions between Moldova and the breakaway Transnistrian territory escalated into a military conflict that started in March 1992 and was concluded by a ceasefire in July of the same year. As part of that agreement, a three-party (Russia, Moldova, Transnistria) Joint Control Commission supervises the security arrangements in the demilitarised zone, comprising twenty localities on both sides of the river. Although the ceasefire has held, the territory's political status remains unresolved: Transnistria is an unrecognized but de facto independent semi-presidential republic with its own government, parliament, military, police, postal system, currency and vehicle registration.[11][12][13][14] Its authorities have adopted a constitution, flag, national anthem, and coat of arms. It is the only country still using the hammer and sickle on its flag.

The problem of Donbass became frozen and with so much blood spilled by both sides re-incorporation of the region into Ukraine became exceedingly difficult task which need huge amount of money, money that neither the EU which facilitated this crisis, not the US who fanned insurgency against Yanukovich regime pursuing its own geopolitical interests are willing to pay. Shelling by Ukrainian side also does not help to resolve tension (and reciprocated by shelling  from separatists side) with people killed on the both sides.  Idea of conquering Donbass by military force might  succeed at great cost at blood and treasure, but also might end the same way as attempt for Georgia to conquer Abkhazia.

Attempts to solve the conflict by military means first by Provisional government (which was pretty stupid move, as initially the conflict was minor and could be solve by minor concessions) and then by Poroshenko administration (which inherited the problem and nationalistic hawks from Provisional government) put Ukrainian economics into a bigger and bigger hole.  and remember the initial issue was just a status of Russian language in the region. nothing else.  That reminds me medieval religious wars. So far the net result is loss of Crimea, destroyed industrial region and several millions of displaced population. The initial attempt to crush Donbass by Yatsenyuk-Turchinov Provisional government (which was pushed by the USA) failed dismally.

Can anything be done about this situation?

To preserve the political stability of Ukraine and to start climbing out of the debt  hole (or at least stop digging it deeper) the slide in the standard of living of population needs to be stopped. It is easy to say but very difficult to accomplish. The status of "debt slave" leave very little space for maneuvering. It also makes more difficult taming the political influence of oligarchs, halting  the war and cutting military expenses. Those three might be  steps in the right direction.

The resration of the standard  of living of population at least to the level achieved under Yanukovich would be the best revenge (before oil collapse Russia I saw figures that suggested that Russia has had the highest standard of living among xUSSR countries, above $1K a month (close to 2K in Moscow) with free university education and basic medical care; I do not know much about Russia but after oil prices collapse officially median salary dropped to say 23500/50=$470  or approximately 50% (Зарплаты в России — Русский эксперт) a month in 2016; they they rose in 2017 and 2018 due to growth of oil prices are still nowhere close to 2013 level ($23K a year).  And purchasing power of $500 in Russia is probably around $1K-1.5K in comparison with the USA or two to three times higher then in the USA (the same is true in Ukraine). This might be also be the benchmark to strive for.

From the other point  of view, the transfer of Ukraine to a colony of EU is probably the event that should have been expected after the dissolution of the USSR and now needs to be played with cool head and skilled hands.  There is some scale for maneuvering in this situation too. The task of extracting maximum benefits from this status and minimizing the damage is difficult but not impossible. But this needs talented politicians and cooperation of different  political parties, who areas in which Ukraine currently is lacking.

NOTE: In Eastern Europe there are very few regions which does not changed hands several times in the last, say, 300 years. And as balance of power after the dissolution of the USSR dramatically changed in favor of EU it is natural that it started absorbing the countries of Warsaw block and some former republics. For example, Baltic countries are only nominally sovereign and are by-and-large ruled from what is called "Brussels Obcom." With the current wave of neo-colonialism I would say that this EU might well continue this process with Moldavia, Belorussia, and Armenia, as another possible "associated states" after Ukraine (Georgia actually is already in EU orbit). Getting EU into "stans" might provoke a strong reaction from China, so EU probably with tread more carefully.


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Old News ;-)

[Aug 19, 2018] Ukrainian external debt reached 83 percent of the GDP

Aug 19, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile,

This year, the Ukraine Prime Minister Groisman said that the external debt is 83% of the GDP. And by the end of the year, having been pressurized by the IMF, it will reach 90%. In order to service its external debts, the Ukraine spends $4.8 billion a year.

This is real slavery - only a new, improved version of it. From the 17th to the 19 centuries, slavery in [the North American British colonies and then - ME] the United States had a number of serious deficiencies: slaves had to be brought all the way from Africa; slaves were not extremely industrious; Americans themselves had to live amongst the slaves; and, most unpleasantly, all this led to civil war in the United States.

In this version of 21st century slavery, all these disadvantages have been eliminated! Slaves stay in their homecountry: there is no need to bring them from there, no need to live amongst them and to feed them! Slaves are forced to work hard in the hope of paying off their debt, so they are motivated and hardworking. And most importantly, no civil war in the USA!

Draw your own conclusions.

[Aug 15, 2018] While the west is gradually leaning toward dumping Ukraine and hoping Russia will solve the financial problems it faces, Russia might decline this offer

Ukraine has huge problems because far right nationalists while hate corruption, do not control economics and oligarchs who control it do not intent to share their profits with the population, who is on the edge of starvation.
Breaking economic ties with Russia helped to relegate Ukraine to semi-colonial status as without cooperation with Russian industries and access to Russian market (which they know very well) many Ukrainian manufacturing industries are less viable..
Ukraine was already converted into debt-slave, and it is extremely difficult to climb out of this hole without default. At the same time it serves are powerful anti-Russian force in the region and as such will be semi-supported by both the USA and EU. for example attacks on Ukrainian currency probably will be avoided.
This is a variant of " don't cry for me Argentina" situation.
Notable quotes:
"... Notably that while the west is gradually leaning toward dumping Ukraine and hoping Russia will solve the problem, the warning signs are there that Russia has no intention of bailing out an exhausted Ukraine, and that this time it is going to be allowed to fail all the way down. The west should be warned that nobody is riding to the rescue and pouring their resources into stabilizing Ukraine – if the west cannot do it, the alternative is collapse and draining emergency work to keep the population from starvation. Prosperity is an impossible dream now, and the people – I think – would be pretty happy to be back where they were before the glorious Maidan. ..."
"... Interestingly, something that was not touched upon in the 'Necessary' section was the elimination of the oligarchy in Kiev and other major cities. I will declare frankly that I have no idea how this might be achieved – as discussed before several times, the Ukrainian oligarchs control something in the order of 70% of Ukrainian GDP, and are not about to gift any of it back to the Ukrainian state. ..."
"... You'll know there's no more money in Ukraine when the oligarchs leave, and I see no sign of that so far, while it is evident they intend to be a big part of any future rebuilding. They've already successfully stolen most of the IMF money, and plainly think an even bigger payday is still in the offing. ..."
"... Eventually, if the USA is unsuccessful in forcing the outbreak of another world war, the west will get around to either asking Russia to help, or trying to dump Ukraine on Russia. ..."
"... Whatever happens, the dream of Ukrainian nationalists to forge a great and powerful ... nation of Ukraine is always going to remain that – a dream. They're happy enough at present scampering about in the ruins and glorying in their imagination of great power, but they are kings of the dungheap without any clue of nation-building. ..."
"... The few who both hated Russia and honestly aspired to a Great Ukraine – free of corruption and able to pay its way through judicious management of its undeniable resources and casting off the peasant mentality – have no influence, and operate at the pleasure of the power-brokers; they are allowed to dabble at anti-corruption until their probing becomes uncomfortable, and then they are discredited and fired, if not charged with the crimes they say they are investigating. ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Cortes August 10, 2018 at 9:02 pm

Last post time, but a goodie (I think):

http://thesaker.is/whats-destructive-constructive-and-necessary-in-ukrainian-politics/

No intention to comment- read for yourselves.

Mark Chapman August 11, 2018 at 6:41 am
That is indeed an interesting piece – generally speaking, we most enjoy writing with which we agree, and I mostly agree with it and feel the ring of familiarity, because some of it is what we have been saying here for a couple of years. Notably that while the west is gradually leaning toward dumping Ukraine and hoping Russia will solve the problem, the warning signs are there that Russia has no intention of bailing out an exhausted Ukraine, and that this time it is going to be allowed to fail all the way down. The west should be warned that nobody is riding to the rescue and pouring their resources into stabilizing Ukraine – if the west cannot do it, the alternative is collapse and draining emergency work to keep the population from starvation. Prosperity is an impossible dream now, and the people – I think – would be pretty happy to be back where they were before the glorious Maidan.

Interestingly, something that was not touched upon in the 'Necessary' section was the elimination of the oligarchy in Kiev and other major cities. I will declare frankly that I have no idea how this might be achieved – as discussed before several times, the Ukrainian oligarchs control something in the order of 70% of Ukrainian GDP, and are not about to gift any of it back to the Ukrainian state.

But for so long as Ukraine continues to elect one oligarch after another to the office of President, the oligarch of the moment will be far more occupied with increasing his/her personal wealth and power, and settling scores with rivals, than with governance and accountability. At the same time, there is no use hoping the President will be a poor man or woman, because they generally do not have the worldly education to grasp the problem and envision solutions while being simultaneously beset from all sides by the oligarchy, seeking to retain its power and influence.

You'll know there's no more money in Ukraine when the oligarchs leave, and I see no sign of that so far, while it is evident they intend to be a big part of any future rebuilding. They've already successfully stolen most of the IMF money, and plainly think an even bigger payday is still in the offing.

The United States has largely forgotten Ukraine, as it was only ever a pretext for a full-court press against Russia anyway, and it now has enough Russophobia sustainment in its ditzy population to press forward without the need to invoke sympathy for Ukraine. Europe is still quite interested in a resolution, but only because of its fear that it is going to get stuck with the booby prize, and be made to assume responsibility for getting Ukraine on its feet somehow, perhaps even absorbing it. Eventually, if the USA is unsuccessful in forcing the outbreak of another world war, the west will get around to either asking Russia to help, or trying to dump Ukraine on Russia.

Whatever happens, the dream of Ukrainian nationalists to forge a great and powerful ... nation of Ukraine is always going to remain that – a dream. They're happy enough at present scampering about in the ruins and glorying in their imagination of great power, but they are kings of the dungheap without any clue of nation-building.

The few who both hated Russia and honestly aspired to a Great Ukraine – free of corruption and able to pay its way through judicious management of its undeniable resources and casting off the peasant mentality – have no influence, and operate at the pleasure of the power-brokers; they are allowed to dabble at anti-corruption until their probing becomes uncomfortable, and then they are discredited and fired, if not charged with the crimes they say they are investigating.

Patient Observer August 11, 2018 at 8:17 am
Well said. Presumably, the Donbass will pull away from Ukraine and vote to joint Russia and Russia will approve for any number of reasons but certainly including humanitarian, ethnic/cultural connections and military considerations. Other regions such as Odessa could jump aboard as well.

There may be a mass exodus from what is left – the grifter to the West and those seeking a better life to the east. The Nazis will remain behind and may serve some purpose such as providing a pool of mercenaries for CIA projects.

I, for one, do not think the Donbass will be an overwhelming economic burden in the long run. The population has shown resolve and resilience. Given leadership and material aid, they can rebuild fairly quickly I think.

[Aug 15, 2018] Canadian sniper rifles expected to be in the hands of Ukrainian military by fall, MP says

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al August 8, 2018 at 1:30 pm

Well Canada has rather upset the apple cart, hasn't it? On the one hand, western moralizing and sermonizing other states about what they should do used to be only restricted to mostly enemy states, preferably much less rich ones, on the other hand values only mean something if you actually are willing to pay a literal price in either money, blood or both.

The financial papers are saying that this will damage SA's the confidence of foreign investors, precisely those SA is trying to attract so that it can start to diversify its economy away from petroleum based products, but we have yet to see if this will have a noticeable effect, rather than just a wish effect.

The US has said Sweet FA, along with the rest of the sermonizing weapon selling west, so Canada has very little support from its allies. So far. Germany should be an obvious supporter but if pissing of the Saudis makes it more dependent on Russia ergo there are plenty of reasons that can be wheeled out to keep treading lightly.

It looks to me as just another sign of the existing order breaking down, whether or not Canada back tracks or not. Things fall apart, the center cannot hold.

As for the so-called free and democratic media, well they only further discredit themselves publicly.

Meanwhile, I just checked out the Canada headlines and this jumped out:

National Post: Canadian sniper rifles expected to be in the hands of Ukrainian military by fall, MP says
https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-sniper-rifles-expected-to-be-in-the-hands-of-ukrainian-military-by-fall-mp-says

Global Affairs Canada would not say whether Canadian taxpayers are financing the sale, and would not provide any other details about the arms deal

Few details are available about the proposed sale of weapons, as the Canadian government says such information is commercially sensitive. It has declined to name the company selling the guns or indicate how many rifles would be sent to Ukraine. However Conservative MP James Bezan, who has been in contact with the Canadian company that has the agreement to supply the rifles to Ukraine, confirmed the deal's likely timeline. He declined to name the firm since the sale still has to be finalized.

Nicolas Moquin, a spokesman for the Canadian Joint Operations Command Headquarters, said the Canadian military has been providing sniper and counter-sniper training to Ukraine's security forces since September 2015. He said Canada is not looking at this time of providing additional sniper training to coincide with the delivery of new weapons .
####

Freeland will be doing her grandfather justice!

Canadian sniper rifle manufacturers:

PGW Defense Technologies – C14 Timberwolf (CAF current rifle)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C14_Timberwolf

Parker-Hale C3, C3A1 and M82

Where as this old NP article fingers Colt Canada chasing sales to the Ukraine, though this seems to be for assault rifles rather than sniper rifles:

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-arms-manufacturer-hopes-to-sell-assault-rifles-to-ukraine-military

OR, is this just Canada selling sniper rifles that are not necessarily of Canadian origin?

According the the video below with Canadian MP James Barazan, he says there are large numbers of weapons such as assault rifles, sniper systems, mortar systems, counter battery radar etc. sitting in warehouses in Jordan (& Toronto) that were supposed to go to Kurdistan.

Patient Observer August 8, 2018 at 3:48 pm
Yes,, the world order is falling apart. For some reason, this state of affairs reminds me of the observation that married couples who are heading toward divorce are on that path not because of a lack of communications but because they are now communicating for the first time.
Mark Chapman August 8, 2018 at 4:48 pm
Ukraine is awash in small arms – they could give them out with a box of tea at the supermarket as a promotion, and it would still take months to work through their supply. The last thing they need is more rifles. On the other hand, new ones will probably fetch a good price on e-Bay.
Hor August 8, 2018 at 7:44 pm
Maybe the hryvnia no longer holds any value and the new currency is sniper rifles.

[Aug 15, 2018] Ukraine has more or less lost its case before the WTO, in which it wept that Russia s unfair imposition of an embargo on its railway cars and rolling stock constituted a violation which caused a former $3.2 Billion in annual sales

Aug 15, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman August 1, 2018 at 5:27 pm

Oh, dear; Ukraine has more or less lost its case before the WTO, in which it wept that Russia's unfair imposition of an embargo on its railway cars and rolling stock constituted a violation which caused a former $3.2 Billion in annual sales – more than it realizes from transit fees for carrying Russian gas to Europe – to collapse to $150 Million. The WTO bought the Russian rationale that Russian inspectors going to Ukraine to ensure the product conformed to Russian standards would be in fear of their lives.

But the WTO ruled that the security situation was such that Russian inspectors sent to check that Ukraine's exports complied with Russian standards would have been risking their lives, and Russia was therefore justified in not sending them to Ukraine.

"The panel fully agreed with Russia's position and recognized that there was no systematic restriction of imports of Ukrainian equipment by Russia," Russia's Ministry of Trade and Economy said in a statement.

The WTO did go on to say Russia could have carried out the inspections outside Ukraine, but therein lies a sandbag to the head that Ukraine probably spotted already – if Russian inspectors found shoddy work or any other reason to refuse the offered goods, to say nothing of the probability that no contracting position between the two countries even exists any more, then Ukraine would be out the sale plus whatever costs it incurred to ship the goods outside Ukraine.

https://m.investing.com/news/economy-news/wto-ruling-derails-bulk-of-ukrainian-trade-dispute-against-russia-1551279?ampMode=1

Gosh! Is Ukraine's Russophobia beginning to blow up in its face?

[Aug 14, 2018] Creating problems in Ukriane is one of the few ways Russia could impose tangible costs on USA

Looks like the aim of US sanctions is to ratchet the hostility up with Russia to the level of a full blown cold war. Ukraine can be a victim.
Notable quotes:
"... Meanwhile, you'll get bogged down in Ukraine. You'll face tough choices (sanctions will get North Korea-style quickly, and even Chinese sympathy will get questionable), like should you spend your scarce resources on modern weaponry or a large security force to keep Ukraine pacified? ..."
"... Very few people in Russia would want Ukraine now. The consensus is: "good riddance". In Ukraine, on the other hand, there are people who want Russia to invade. Some are waiting for someone else to liberate them from Nazis (they apparently are not familiar with Protestant wisdom that God helps those who help themselves), some pray for a pretext to invite NATO/US (as if anyone is willing to die for them). ..."
Aug 14, 2018 | www.unz.com

@reiner Tor


We'll need an anti-sanctions law regardless of whether or not we are going to invade.
Well, I'd say it's a precondition to invading Ukraine. If you're incapable of making such a simple law, you're sure as hell incapable of invading Ukraine. And you do need the law if you want to avoid the sanctions creating the perverse incentives inside Russia, like the biggest banks not having branches in the Crimea. Decoupling from the US dollar is no help, since US sanctions are extraterritorial, if you didn't notice, so they affect euro or even Chinese yuan denominated transactions, too.
Eastern Europeans will never mobilise. What would mass mobilisation even look like in a country like Hungary? Instead, they'll petition USA to station more of its troops in Eastern Europe. A lot more, like hundreds of thousands more.
Within living memory, Hungary had armed forces of 150,000 troops and 1,500 main battle tanks (admittedly, the majority were somewhat obsolete), with hundreds of fighter and light bomber jets (MiG-21s and Su-22s etc.), and we were the slackers in the Eastern Bloc, not spending on defense as much as other neighbors of us. Increasing defense spending to 2% of GDP is what's the plan. If you invaded and occupied the whole of Ukraine, it could easily go up to 4-5%.

Of course, the Americans might come in numbers, too. But you're delusional here:

Doing so will impose costs on the USA. Actually, this is one of the few ways Russia could impose tangible costs on USA: by stoking tensions in Eastern Europe.
We have no military industry to speak of. Most of our neighbors do have some, but even they are nowhere near self-sufficiency. You can guess who we'll buy our weapons from. Poland recently offered to pay for an American base on its soil. So it won't be much of a cost for the US, it might actually be quite beneficial.

Meanwhile, you'll get bogged down in Ukraine. You'll face tough choices (sanctions will get North Korea-style quickly, and even Chinese sympathy will get questionable), like should you spend your scarce resources on modern weaponry or a large security force to keep Ukraine pacified?

Mass deportations is the best part about occupying the Ukraine!
Stalin's USSR at the height of its power only deported much smaller populations. You'd need a lot of people to achieve that. But let's assume you'll manage to do that. It will, of course, create a huge backlash against Russia: popular opinion will get united against Russians. (Defense spending quickly up to 5% of GDP or higher.) The Ukrainians in our countries will of course enter the workforce and join anti-Russian ragtag militias to control the border.
Instead they would have to contend with an insurgency in Eastern Poland
So the people ethnically cleansed from their homes will rise up against NATO in support of Russia. This is a seriously dumb idea.

AnonFromTN , August 13, 2018 at 7:04 pm GMT

Very few people in Russia would want Ukraine now. The consensus is: "good riddance". In Ukraine, on the other hand, there are people who want Russia to invade. Some are waiting for someone else to liberate them from Nazis (they apparently are not familiar with Protestant wisdom that God helps those who help themselves), some pray for a pretext to invite NATO/US (as if anyone is willing to die for them).

This reminds me of an old Russian joke.

An old hag sits on the bench and screams: "Help! They are raping me!"
Another one passes by and asks: "Have you gone completely mad?"
The first one answers: "Everyone is entitled to a pleasant dream!"

Cyrano , August 13, 2018 at 6:15 pm GMT
@Mr. Hack

Don't worry about my IQ woes – they are non-existent. I am a stable genius – just like Donald Trump. Your IQ issues are – on the other hand – very easy to fix. All you have to do is admit that you are Russian and you immediately gain 20-30 IQ points. Of course, this will come at the expense of Russia, but then again. everything you've ever done in your history came at the expense of Russia. All the Russians ever wanted was to have a brotherly nation in Ukraine. They have a brother all right, unfortunately that brother has a Down syndrome.

AnonFromTN , August 13, 2018 at 5:46 pm GMT
@Okechukwu

Any Russian ruler who tries to return Crimea will be overthrown in no time. As Russia gradually disengages from the US-dominated financial system, the costs will go down. Russia has already created its own payment system similar to that of Visa and Mastercard, as well as its own money transfer system similar to SWIFT. On the other hand, if Russia fails to disengage from dollar-dominated system, the losses would be much greater than Crimea. It might even turn into a shithole, like Ukraine.

Insurance is more often a scam than not: Lehman Brothers enjoyed pretty high ratings until their crash. What's more, banks were insured against the risks of sub-prime mortgages they held. Remember what happened in 2008?

As to the future, nobody has the crystal ball. Can you tell how much a Big Mac will cost in the US five or ten years from now? $4? $40? $400? $4,000? Your guess is as good as mine. Ponzi schemes have a habit of crashing and nobody worked out a way of predicting when exactly the crash will occur.

AnonFromTN , August 13, 2018 at 5:15 pm GMT
@DaveE

This might be in the cards. The US sanctions actually squeezed Russian comprador (5th column) oligarchs, who were always subservient to the West, sent their families there, and are siphoning off their money offshore, more than anything. If Putin uses this to expropriate their stolen riches, which he might do (98% of Russian population would be cheering; they'd cheer even more if Putin hangs those bastards, but that's unlikely), these sanctions would be yet another example of the US shooting itself in the foot. The US is getting pretty good at that lately, always screaming that it hurts afterwards.

[Aug 02, 2018] This is a large book, embracing a vast amount of research. Conclusion is that accommodation with Putin will be very difficult

Events in Ukraine after EuroMaidan are notoriously difficult to understand.
The book is fairly recent and as such might be a useful introduction for a Western reader who is interested in Ukrainian event, but the material should be taken with a grain of salt. The author is way too simplistic and his views on geopolitical problems are incorrect. The idea that " Putin's Munich speech as a declaration of war" is nonsense. Also most of the readers probably know State Department talking points and can recognize them in the text.
. In some areas the author is clearly incompetent as the quote "In 2016, France blocked 24,000 cyber attacks targeting its military. Ukraine experienced 24, 000 cyber attacks in only the last two months of 2016" suggests.
The author views of Russia are typical of the US-based Ukrainian diaspora. As it is pretty much radicalized, it can be argued that it brings to Ukraine more harm then good. In short his views on Russia can be defined as cocktail of a 40% proof Russophobia with pure Neoconservatism. So while author analysis of "Post-Maydan" Ukrainian elite has its value, his view on Russia should probably be discarded.
For those who also bough McFaul book it is interesting to see correlation in views as well as differences (especially McFaul laments from page 429 to the end of the book) . McFaul was the co-architect of the 2011-2012 color revolution in Russia; and as an Ambassador became ostracized by Russian and later removed by Obama. For his role in "White color revolution of 2012" McFaul was put on the travel ban list by Russians and is not allowed to travel to the country. Both represent neoconservative stance on the events, but there are some subtle and rather interesting differences ;-)
Some Amazon reviews as one reproduced below are actually as valuable as the book itself and can serve as a valuable addition.
Aug 02, 2018 | www.amazon.com
5.0 out of 5 stars Graham H. Seibert TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 17, 2017
This is a large book, embracing a vast amount of research. Conclusion is that accommodation with Putin will be very difficult.

This is a large book, embracing a vast amount of research. Kuzio provides the conclusion to the book as the conclusion to his introduction. It is somber, but realistic:

"There cannot be a conclusion to the book because the Donbas is an unresolved conflict that is on-going. There will be no closure of the Ukraine-Russia crisis as long as Putin is Russian president which will be as long as he remains alive. To fully implement the Minsk-2 Accords would mean jettisoning the DNR-LNR which Putin will not do and therefore, a political resolution to the Donbas conflict is difficult to envisage."

Having lived in Kyiv for ten years, I was witness to the latter chapters of the drama that Kuzio describes. His account jibes with what I witnessed, and provides a coherent explanation of the events as they unfolded. The animus against Yanukovych was universal. His blatant theft was visible to all. Every merchant I dealt with lived in fear of his tax police. We saw, or more often read accounts about, the depredations of the titushki on a daily basis.

One of my key questions in 2014 was whether it might have been better to endure Yanukovych for another couple of years, until the elections. The Ukrainian people answered for me -- they had had enough. It wasn't exactly a coup, because the opposition was not well organized and because Yanukovych fled before he could be overthrown. But the will of the people was clear. He had to go. Kuzio makes a strong case that if it had not happened then, Yanukovych might have had time to secure his dictatorship in such a way that he could not be dislodged through democratic means.

Kuzio provides the most thorough and accurate description of the language situation I have ever read. A fact he often repeats is that a majority of the soldiers fighting against the Russians are themselves Russian speakers. Putin's claim that he is protecting a persecuted linguistic minority is absolute nonsense. Kuzio makes the very useful analogy between the use of English in Ireland and that of Russian in Ukraine. It is a matter of history and convenience.

Ukrainian is not a dialect of Russian. They are very distinct languages. Speaking Spanish, I was able to learn Portuguese quite easily. Speaking Russian has not enabled me to master Ukrainian. They have different alphabets and even different grammars. As a resident of Kyiv for 10 years I have not been forced to, and almost not been in a position to speak Ukrainian. Everybody I interact with is exactly as Kuzio describes – ardently Ukrainian, but nevertheless Russian speaking.

A question Kuzio does not raise is the utility of a language. For better or worse, Russian is a world language. There is a significant body of scientific literature, fiction and poetry written in Russian. It is, or was until recently, the lingua franca of the former USSR.

A lot of information about Kuzio himself is packed in the brief lead into his chapter entitled Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism: "Ukraine is in the hands of homosexuals and Jewish oligarchs. Aleksandr Dugin"

Russian philosopher Dugin is one of Kuzio's major bête noire's. Kuzio's book makes it clear that Dugin is as much of an activist as he is a philosopher. Dugin seems to have a hand in most things anti-Ukrainian. As a philosopher he is nothing – his book The Fourth Political Theory is the subject of the most savage pan I have ever written. Nonetheless, he is taken seriously by the resurgent Russian nationalists and Putin himself.

Dugin's claim that Ukraine is in the hands of homosexuals is absurd. Homosexuals are tolerated here, but they are discrete. Most Ukrainians, though they have no love whatsoever for Russia, are largely in sympathy with Russia's stand against the flaunting of homosexuality. The college-educated twentysomethings whom I know seem unaware that they even know homosexuals, though it appears to this San Franciscan that some people in our circles must be gay.

The claim that Ukraine is in the hand of Jewish oligarchs is quite another matter. Kuzio gives quite rational explanations for anti-Ukrainian, anti-Belarusian and anti-Russian sentiment, a great deal of which he manifests himself. He somehow looks at anti-Semitism as a phenomenon that is beyond explanation. I would contend that it should be regarded just as the other anti- concepts. Especially in the former USSR, where the Jews were regarded as a separate people in the same way as Ukrainians.

He writes about the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Fraud or hoax might be a better word. Internet sources name the author as a certain Russian Professor S. Nilus writing in 1901. The attractiveness of the fraud is that it coincides quite neatly with widely held opinions about the Jews, many of which have some substance.

Going to substance, Kuzio mentions some of the major Jewish oligarchs, Kolomoisky and Taruta, and some of the Jewish participants and Ukrainian politics: Yatsenyuk and Groisman. He discounts the notion that President Poroshenko's father, born Valtzman, was Jewish. I had never heard this account questioned. Other prominent Jews in Ukrainian politics/oligarchy who come immediately to mind include Feldman and Rabinowitz. It is not that there is anything wrong with Jews occupying dominant positions, but "simple Ivan" is not so stupid as to fail to notice them. It is also widely perceived that the Jewish oligarchs are no better or worse than the others, in that they put their personal interests ahead of that of the people who elected them. Poroshenko has been a major disappointment. Kuzio writes of Kolomoisky's support of the volunteer battalions in Donbas. True – but it was totally in line with his business interests.

The fact that six of the seven billionaires to emerge after the collapse of the USSR were Jewish belies Kuzio's claims that they were radically disadvantaged in the USSR. More balanced accounts of Soviet Judaism have been written by Robert Wistrich , Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Yuri Slezkine .

Even a paranoid has enemies. American Jewish neocons, especially Victoria Nuland and husband Robert Kagan, actively involved in Ukrainian politics, were strongly anti-Russian. Though Kuzio is absolutely correct that the animus of the Ukrainian people for Yanukovych was more than enough to power the Maidan uprising, it is also probably true that the CIA was covertly abetting the protesters.

Kuzio's history of the Donbas and Crimea provides a very useful background to the conflict. After the Welsh engineer John Hughes discovered coal around Donetsk in the 1880s there was a rush to exploit it. The sparse population of Ukrainian farmers was not interested in working the mines. The Russians brought in men from all over the Empire. A large number were criminals who earned early release by promising to work there. Others were simply soldiers of fortune.

Mining is dirty, dangerous and very masculine work. Kuzio reports that the history of the Donbas always mirrored the miners themselves. Politically, it sat in the middle between the Russians and the Ukrainians, respecting neither very much and casting its lot with whoever appeared at the moment to be most generous to them, more often Moscow than Kyiv.

Kuzio relates that Lenin included the Donbas within the Ukrainian SSR as a built-in fifth column, as a lever to control all of Ukraine. It remained after independence in 1991. The Donbas' unique culture and clannishness protected its politicians from probing inquiries into their dark pasts, such as Yanukovych' two prison terms. They would overlook his depredations and send him to Kyiv with the idea that "he's a crook, but he's our crook."

Crimea's history is even more convoluted, but the bottom line is that it has always been Russian speaking and did not identify greatly with Ukraine.

Kuzio reports, seemingly approvingly, that fellow author Alexander Motyl believes that Ukraine would be better off without these insubordinate, intransigent ingrates.

In the end, Kuzio sums the origins of the crisis up very well, "The roots of the Ukraine-Russia crisis do not lie in EU and NATO enlargement and democracy promotion, as left-wing scholars and realists would have us believe, but in two factors. The first is Russia's and specifically Putin's unwillingness to accept Ukrainians are a separate people and Ukraine is an independent state with a sovereign right to determine its geopolitical alliances. The second is Yanukovych and the Donetsk clan's penchant for the monopolization of power, state capture, corporate raiding of the state and willingness to accommodate practically every demand made by Moscow that culminated in treason on a grand scale. This was coupled with a shift to Sovietophile and Ukrainophobic nationality policies and return to Soviet style treatment of political opponents. Taken together, these policies made popular protests inevitable in the 2015 elections but they came a year earlier after Yanukovych bowed to Russian pressure to back away from the EU Association Agreement. These protests, in turn, became violent and nationalistic in response to the Party of Regions and KPU's destruction of Ukraine's democracy through the passing of draconian legislation, the president's refusal to compromise and his use of vigilantes and police spetsnaz for political repression, torture, and murders of protestors."

The question facing Ukraine at the moment is how to resolve the war in Donbas and how to prevent Russia from making further incursions. Kuzio shares some very useful insights in this regard.

Even in 2014, Russia simply did not have the resources to conquer Ukraine even if it had had the desire. Kuzio repeatedly makes the point that the Russian doctrine of hybrid war depends on a sympathetic or at least indifferent local populace. Even in the Donbass the Russians have not been welcomed by a majority.

Time and again, Putin proves himself too smart by half. In his desire to maintain deniability, he employed Chechens, Don Cossacks and "political tourists," thugs from all over Russia to infiltrate the Donbass as separatists. Criminals are simply not suited for either civil administration or organized warfare. After three months it was clear to Putin that he had to use Russian troops and administrators, pushing the separatists aside. Not mentioned in the book is the fact that a great many of the separatist leaders died mysteriously. Although Russia attempted to frame Ukraine for "Motorola's" death, it appears to have been done by Russian agents. Russia's trecherous duplicity neither won the war for them no fooled anybody for very long.

Russia has thus had several handicaps in capturing and holding even the small, Russophone and previously Russophile enclaves in Lugansk and Donetsk. The LPR and DPR would not survive without ongoing Russian support. They have not won the hearts and minds of the people.

This calls to mind Custine's Penguin Classics Letters From Russia on the fact that Russian duplicity and deceit made it impossible for them ever to subvert the West. Alexandr Zinoviev summed it up exquisitely in his satirical Homo Sovieticus :

"Even though the West seems chaotic, frivolous and defenseless, all the same Moscow will never achieve worldwide supremacy. Moscow can defend itself against any opponent. Moscow can deliver a knockout blow on the west. Moscow has the wherewithal to mess up the whole planet. But it has no chance of becoming the ruler of the world. To rule the world one must have at one's disposal a sufficiently great nation. That nation must feel itself to be a nation of rulers. And when it comes to it, one that can rule in reality. In the Soviet Union the Russians are the only people who might be suited to that role. They are the foundation and the bulwark of the Empire. But they don't possess the qualities of a ruling nation. And in the Soviet empire their situation is more like that of being a colony for all the other peoples in it."

This is the bottom line, something for the warmongers in Washington to keep in mind. Ukraine and NATO cannot defeat Russia on its own doorstep, but Russia can certainly defeat itself. For NATO to arm Ukraine, as the west did Georgia, or continue to crowd it as they are doing in the Baltics, is counterproductive. It would be quite possible, but also quite stupid for Russia to roll over its neighbors. The adventure in Ukraine has already been expensive, and holding Crimea and Donbas will only become more so. Conversely, for the west to arm countries against the Russians, as the US did in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Nicaragua, proved quite deadly for these supposed friends. Ukraine and the west should wait Putin out just as they waited out the USSR.

I have a couple of quibbles with the book. Kuzio uses the word "Fascist" to characterize various Russian nationalist groups that support Putin and attack Ukrainians. Fascism died with Hitler, 72 years ago. There should be a better term. This is especially true as Putin terms Ukrainians as "Fascists." The word is inappropriate, old and clichéd.

Kuzio goes on to paint the rising nationalist movements in Europe as Fascist, or extreme right wing. He excoriates Marine le Pen for taking Putin's money. There is a strong case to be made that anti-democrats, supported by mainstream parties, have seized the European Parliament and strongly suppressed free speech, open debate and the ability of such nationalists to find funding. Their national banks are prejudicially closed to Farage, Wilders, Orban, le Pen and the others. Kuzio should be more accommodating to the nationalists. Ukraine may soon find itself forced to work with them. Moreover, they have many good points. Generation Identity provides a succinct summary. It is a book of the millennial generation, the nationalists' strongest base, outlining their case against their elders, the boomers.

Ukraine is a conservative country. It is not wise to push the west's liberal agendas with regard to immigration, homosexuality, feminism and civil rights for the Roma and at the same time steel Ukraine for its fight against Russia. Even joining the battle against corruption smells of hypocrisy, as evidence of political corruption emerges all over the west. It is better to recognize the simple facts, as Kuzio does, and have a bit of faith. Ukraine managed against stiffer odds in 2014. It will survive.

[Jul 27, 2018] What Has Happened to Ukraine. Inertial Scenario for Ukraine's National and Political Identity by Alexei V. Popov

The author provides some interesting observations... He ignores the role of economics though.
Looks like a replay of events in Baltic republics. Might increase emigration and "provisialization" of Ukraine because Russian is suppressed but English did not became the second language (which is probably impossible without switching education into English language). Dominance of EU might be more harsh regime, then most of the supporters of Eurointergation assume, especially in economic sphere -- the status of semi-colony and debt slave are given, but it can be worse.
Economic suffering of population and pauperization of Ukraine are immense...
Notable quotes:
"... Yet, at least half of the population of all eight administrative regions of mainland South-East Ukraine viewed the Euromaidan as a coup, because, according to a survey conducted in early April 2014 by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, only a third of respondents in these regions (the survey was not conducted in Crimea and Sevastopol) considered Yatsenyuk and Turchinov legitimate heads of government and state, while half of respondents considered them illegitimate (Kiev International Institute of Sociology, 2014c). ..."
"... The conformism of the South-East elite, which only recently was at the head of the anti-Maidan movement, surpassed the conformism of society many times over, because this elite had much to lose. ..."
"... The situation with Crimea was another factor that objectively strengthened Kiev's position in the South-East. ..."
"... This predictably could not increase pro-Russian sentiments in the rest of Ukraine. ..."
"... anti-Russian forces took an increasingly tough position, describing all talk of federalization as separatism. ..."
"... the winners of the Euromaidan Crimea was not a reason but a pretext for starting a policy of de-Russification. However, these events influenced the political swamp, that is, citizens without a clear position, and strengthened the base of the current regime, as evidenced by the results of public opinion polls and elections. ..."
"... the Europeans played up to Kiev in criminalizing the notion 'federation,' because for the West the Ukrainian problem is part of the Russian problem ..."
"... The West views them as paramilitary organizations which established power in those regions with external help and imposed themselves on the population. ..."
"... This position of the West strengthened the attitude of the pro-Western liberal public in Ukraine towards people in the South-East as sovok ..."
"... the "discursive violence of the Ukrainian media" in late February-early April 2014 paved the way for the "brutality of the antiterrorist operation" by creating a negative image of people of the South-East. ..."
"... Ukrayinska Pravda, Livyi Bereg, ..."
"... At the same time, Ukrainian radical nationalism objectively was an instrument which Ukrainian [neo]liberals used to achieve victory. ..."
"... However, positive dynamics for either party to the conflict is not only measured by territories they seize -- it is seen in the fact that actions, formerly deemed impossible, turn out to be possible and not having obvious negative consequences. For example, the implementation of the political part of the Minsk Agreement (which both Kiev and the West consider imposed on Ukraine from the outside) now seems to be a much more illusory goal than it seemed in 2014-2015. ..."
"... In particular, Kiev has rescinded a bill on constitutional amendments regarding decentralization; an economic blockade of Donbass has been introduced; and several laws have been passed and measures taken to combat the Russian World, both inside and outside the country. ..."
"... The law on the reintegration of Donbass, passed by the Verkhovna Rada this January, was a logical development and a new stage of this policy. Its purpose is not so much to recognize the territories beyond Kiev's control as occupied by Russia. What is more important is that the law recognizes this state de facto without a formal recognition of the war with Russia de jure. ..."
"... This positive dynamics creates a situation where a critical mass of society thinks that at least Ukraine will not find itself in the same difficult situation as in the spring of 2014 and that, at best, it will restore full control over Donbass on its terms: Russia will not withstand the sanctions and will stop supporting the uncontrolled territories. The policy of the West does not contradict these expectations: the sanctions continue, there is almost no public criticism of Kiev's actions in Donbass at the state level, except for minor issues, and the U.S. has decided to supply Javelin antitank missiles to Ukraine, which is largely a symbolic gesture fitting perfectly into the aforementioned pattern of positive dynamics. ..."
"... Of course, very many of the above-mentioned elements of the positive (for Kiev) dynamics also have a great negative effect. For example, the existing format of the conflict in Donbass involves great military expenditures and leads to reduced ties with Russia, which is a significant burden for the Ukrainian economy. ..."
"... The present scale of losses of the Ukrainian army is not a factor that may spark a mass antiwar movement in the country, similar to the antiwar movement in the United States in the late 1960s, because the ratio of casualties to population in Ukraine is much smaller than that in the U.S. during the Vietnam War. ..."
"... Naturally, the economic situation in Ukraine is much less stable than that of the U.S. during the Vietnam War. However, in the public consciousness, the war is only one factor behind the economic problems (along with corruption, incompetence of the authorities, etc.). ..."
"... The war has advantages, too. Of course, they would have disappeared in the event of a full-scale conflict, but Kiev is confident that this will never happen. In a situation like this, it finds it simpler to mobilize society, convince it to put up with difficulties and, most importantly, format the political and information space in an advantageous way. Beneficiaries of this reformatting include not only the government but also a wide range of parties and politicians who supported the Euromaidan. ..."
"... So, the current format of the conflict strengthens the political regime in Ukraine, which is actually the closest to regimes of limited political competition, such as those that existed in some countries of Central and Eastern Europe during the interwar period in the 20th century, or some Latin American countries (Brazil and Guatemala) after the Second World War. There is formal pluralism and a real possibility of succession of power there, yet real power can be contested only by forces from one political spectrum, whereas forces that are beyond this spectrum are restrained and can only aspire to seats in parliament. ..."
"... support is limited -- the West will not fight for Ukraine and will not provide aid on a scale comparable to the Marshall Plan. ..."
"... Already now, due to migration, the population of the territory now controlled by Kiev is less than 30 million people (judging by bread consumption statistics). ..."
"... This means it has decreased by more than 40 percent since 1991. ..."
"... As regards Ukraine's admission to NATO, many Western European countries oppose this option. On the other hand, they have not proposed any detailed plan for Ukraine's non-aligned status. Objectively, such status would be best guaranteed by the specifics of the state's internal structure, when accession to a military alliance would require a consensus of the regions. ..."
"... If this state collapses due to external factors, the identity of a large part of its present population may change very quickly, as evidenced by the experience of the 17th century and recent decades. ..."
Jul 27, 2018 | eng.globalaffairs.ru

In Ukraine, however, the switching of sides takes place on a larger scale. For example, President Kuchma and Prime Minister Yanukovich had a majority in the Verkhovna Rada elected in 2002, which decreased somewhat in the last few months before the 2004 elections. Yet, newly elected President Yushchenko did not have any problems with the same parliament. The Ukrainian parliament elected in 2007 supported Prime Minister Timoshenko, but after Yanukovich won a presidential election in February 2010 he had a solid majority in it until the next election. Yanukovich also had a majority in parliament elected in 2012 until the last days of the Euromaidan. However, after the victory of the Euromaidan, a coalition was formed in parliament that supported the new authorities. It united factions and groups of 235 deputies in the 450-seat parliament, of whom 69 did not belong to pro-Euromaidan parties. Also, 371 deputies, including almost all deputies from the Party of Regions, voted to appoint Yatsenyuk as prime minister.

Can these figures serve as grounds to classify the Euromaidan as a coup d'état and accuse the new regime of failing to build a government of national accord, provided for by the agreement between Yanukovich and the opposition? A coup d'état presupposes suspending and resetting the functioning of government institutions, whereas this agreement did not specify what a national accord government should look like. On the other hand, the essence of such governments is to unite people of different political views, rather than make their members and supporters give up their former beliefs.

Yet, at least half of the population of all eight administrative regions of mainland South-East Ukraine viewed the Euromaidan as a coup, because, according to a survey conducted in early April 2014 by the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, only a third of respondents in these regions (the survey was not conducted in Crimea and Sevastopol) considered Yatsenyuk and Turchinov legitimate heads of government and state, while half of respondents considered them illegitimate (Kiev International Institute of Sociology, 2014c). However, the elite of the South-East did not question the legitimacy of the new government. The most it was ready to do was consider this government undesirable and due to be replaced at the next election.

The conformism of the South-East elite, which only recently was at the head of the anti-Maidan movement, surpassed the conformism of society many times over, because this elite had much to lose. But in this situation, the masses of protesters who considered the Euromaidan a coup found themselves without their usual leaders. New leaders emerged spontaneously from among protesters and were not viewed as authoritative by those who did not take part in the protests. The depth of the gap between the masses and the elites can be seen from the following fact: There is the émigré Ukraine Salvation Committee in Moscow, headed by former Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov, which positions itself as almost a government in exile. The Committee considers the hostilities in Donbass a civil war and, therefore, does not view the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics as occupation administrations. Yet, it has no contact with the leaders of these republics, which also consider themselves an alternative Ukraine.

Although there was less conformism among the masses than among the elites, it still made the protests in the South-East less widespread than they might have been if there had been a sign of dual power, for example, if Yanukovich and the part of the elite, including parliament deputies, who did not recognize the new regime had tried to create alternative government institutions. This conformism made many people accept on faith the assurances of the new government about broad decentralization, including the humanitarian sphere.

The situation with Crimea was another factor that objectively strengthened Kiev's position in the South-East. Beginning in March, Crimea and Sevastopol, which could have been at the vanguard of protests for reformatting Ukraine, withdrew from the political field of the country by joining Russia. This predictably could not increase pro-Russian sentiments in the rest of Ukraine. Formerly, public opinion polls had invariably showed a good attitude of the overwhelming majority of Ukrainians towards Russia. However, during the conflicts over Tuzla in 2003 and the gas dispute of 2009 their attitude deteriorated significantly. Now it happened again, only this time the conflict was much more serious. Attempts by the state which annexed part of Ukrainian territory to act as an arbiter and, at the same time, pressure Kiev to reformat Ukraine into a federation, in which the voice of the South-East should be heard, were predictably doomed to failure. Even potential supporters of Russia doubted the impartiality of such arbitration, and anti-Russian forces took an increasingly tough position, describing all talk of federalization as separatism.

True, Ukrainians who were firmly pro-Russian did not become more hostile to Russia because of Crimea, while for the winners of the Euromaidan Crimea was not a reason but a pretext for starting a policy of de-Russification. However, these events influenced the political swamp, that is, citizens without a clear position, and strengthened the base of the current regime, as evidenced by the results of public opinion polls and elections. EUROPEAN INTEGRATION VS COMPROMISE

On the other hand, it would be legitimate to ask whether the victory of the Euromaidan necessarily had to lead to a war, and whether a compromise could have been reached with the masses of the discontented in the South-East at an early stage. My answer is "no."

The short history of independent Ukraine developed, on the one hand, as a history of steady integration into European and world (but Western-controlled) organizations, and on the other hand, as a history of crises which became increasingly explosive and which ended in increasingly imperfect compromises. For some time, the relationship between these processes could be easily overlooked, but now it is much more difficult not to notice it. The February 2014 agreement on the settlement of the crisis, for the first time achieved with the participation of European guarantors, was also the first world agreement in the history of Ukraine that was not fulfilled. It was after the signing of the economic part of the Association Agreement that an anti-terrorist operation began in the East, and immediately after the political part of this agreement was signed (June 27, 2014), this operation entered into its largest-scale and bloodiest phase.

Of course, the West needed to put an end to Kiev's multi-vector policy and achieve unambiguous certainty for it. Hence its position on the language issue and the territorial structure of the country, which was most vividly realized in the April 2014 PACE resolution, which spoke of the inadmissibility of any mention of Ukraine's federalization (Parliamentary Assembly, 2014).

Obviously, the real problem was not in the word but in an optimal distribution of powers (for example, Spanish autonomous communities have more powers than Austrian federal lands), but the Europeans played up to Kiev in criminalizing the notion 'federation,' because for the West the Ukrainian problem is part of the Russian problem . Its attitude to the protests in the South-East and then the war in Donbass differed fundamentally from its attitude to an overwhelming majority of internal conflicts around the globe.

In the cases of Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh, ethnic Serbs in Croatia and Kosovo, Aceh in Indonesia, FARC in Colombia, etc., the West considered the leaders of separatists or insurgents legitimate representatives of certain ethnic or social groups who had taken over powers not provided for by the laws of their country. Their right to be a party to negotiations was not questioned. But the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics are in no way seen as self-proclaimed republics that reflect the views of their populations, even though illegitimately from the point of view of Ukrainian legislation. The West views them as paramilitary organizations which established power in those regions with external help and imposed themselves on the population.

This position of the West strengthened the attitude of the pro-Western liberal public in Ukraine towards people in the South-East as sovok (homo Sovieticus) and vatnik (bigots), whose opinion could be ignored. A recent study (Baysha, 2017) convincingly shows how the "discursive violence of the Ukrainian media" in late February-early April 2014 paved the way for the "brutality of the antiterrorist operation" by creating a negative image of people of the South-East. Importantly, these were not state-run, oligarchic or party nationalist media, although they did the same. These were popular websites, which are thought to be mouthpieces for liberal civil society ( Ukrayinska Pravda, Livyi Bereg, and Gordon ).

In other words, the conflict was a logical consequence of Westernization, rather than the rise of nationalism. Welcoming the successes of the Ukrainian army in July 2014, the European Parliament thus made it clear that this Westernization on the civilizational borders of Europe may not resemble the practices of major European countries. At the same time, Ukrainian radical nationalism objectively was an instrument which Ukrainian [neo]liberals used to achieve victory. True, it is not willing to play this role and wants to be something more than just an instrument. But behind the talk of the Banderization of Ukraine is a confusion of the notions of customer and contractor.

WAR IN AN ACCEPTABLE FORMAT

Of course, many of those who took part in the Euromaidan did not fight there for renaming Vatutin Avenue in Kiev as Shukhevich Avenue, or for banning the import of Russian books, including memoirs of Princess Yekaterina Dashkova, or for banning songs by Russian singers Vladimir Vysotsky and Victor Tsoi described as "tentacles of the Russian World" which leeched onto Ukrainians (definition by Vladimir Vyatrovich, the head of the Institute of National Memory, the most Euro-integrated organization of the Ukrainian government, which consistently advocates the idea of a nationalist "recoding" of Ukrainians). The voices of people who do not agree with this (for example, the poet and culturologist Evgenia Bilchenko) are sometimes heard in the media space, but the problem is whether these voices, together with the voices of those who were against the Euromaidan from the very beginning, can become a political factor.

I think this is almost ruled out under the most likely, inertial, scenario which provides for the development of tendencies that emerged after the victory of the Euromaidan and the preservation by Russia and the West of their behavioral models which have developed over recent years.

When assessing this scenario, one should bear in mind that the armed conflict in Donbass has over the last three years entered into a format that is the most advantageous (of all really possible ones) for Ukraine -- a low-intensity smoldering conflict.

This situation objectively predisposes one to see dynamics, positive for Kiev, in the conflict that began in 2014. At first, Ukraine surrendered Crimea to Russia and pro-Russian forces without a fight. At the next stage, however, it localized the offensive of the Russian World to Donbass, although it failed to take full control over the region. The result of this phase of the fight can be regarded as a draw, or Ukraine's defeat on points. But Crimea was lost through a knockout. After that, a defeat on points is still a better outcome.

The next, longest phase of the conflict has been going on without changes on the frontline. However, positive dynamics for either party to the conflict is not only measured by territories they seize -- it is seen in the fact that actions, formerly deemed impossible, turn out to be possible and not having obvious negative consequences. For example, the implementation of the political part of the Minsk Agreement (which both Kiev and the West consider imposed on Ukraine from the outside) now seems to be a much more illusory goal than it seemed in 2014-2015.

In particular, Kiev has rescinded a bill on constitutional amendments regarding decentralization; an economic blockade of Donbass has been introduced; and several laws have been passed and measures taken to combat the Russian World, both inside and outside the country. The latter include the termination of air service, a ban on remittances, restrictions on the import of Russian books, a ban on performances by some Russian entertainers, the actual abolition of the law "On the Basic Principles of the Language Policy," restrictions on the use of the Russian language on the Ukrainian radio and television and its abolition in education (with the exception of primary school), de-Russification of geographical names, and the removal of monuments.

Kiev views all these measures as non-military blows to the enemy, and the scale of such actions increases with every year.

The law on the reintegration of Donbass, passed by the Verkhovna Rada this January, was a logical development and a new stage of this policy. Its purpose is not so much to recognize the territories beyond Kiev's control as occupied by Russia. What is more important is that the law recognizes this state de facto without a formal recognition of the war with Russia de jure.

This positive dynamics creates a situation where a critical mass of society thinks that at least Ukraine will not find itself in the same difficult situation as in the spring of 2014 and that, at best, it will restore full control over Donbass on its terms: Russia will not withstand the sanctions and will stop supporting the uncontrolled territories. The policy of the West does not contradict these expectations: the sanctions continue, there is almost no public criticism of Kiev's actions in Donbass at the state level, except for minor issues, and the U.S. has decided to supply Javelin antitank missiles to Ukraine, which is largely a symbolic gesture fitting perfectly into the aforementioned pattern of positive dynamics.

For the reasons mentioned above, the West does not advocate a direct dialogue between Kiev and Donetsk/Lugansk, but considers the existing level of conflict with more and more victims an obviously lesser evil than a possible strengthening of the self-proclaimed republics. This clearly follows from the statement of German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel about the inadmissibility of Russia's proposal on a UN peacekeeping mission, which provides for the separation of the warring parties by peacekeepers, to be deployed along the frontline, and the protection of the OSCE mission, because that would only mean freezing the conflict. (A meeting between Vladislav Surkov and Kurt Volker, which took place in Dubai during the writing of this article, showed that the Americans are nevertheless ready to accept the Russian format as the first phase of a peacekeeping mission; yet its practical implementation is still far off.)

Of course, very many of the above-mentioned elements of the positive (for Kiev) dynamics also have a great negative effect. For example, the existing format of the conflict in Donbass involves great military expenditures and leads to reduced ties with Russia, which is a significant burden for the Ukrainian economy. However, it is important to understand a balance between positive and negative aspects from Kiev's point of view.

Of course, the mobilization was a straining factor for society, because it could affect almost every family. But since the end of 2016, when all people mobilized a year before returned home, only contract soldiers and professional officers have taken part in the conflict from the Ukrainian side -- that is, only those who have made this choice voluntarily or who have chosen military service as their lifetime career. This is the main reason why the format of hostilities can be considered acceptable or, at least, not too burdensome for Ukrainian society.

The present scale of losses of the Ukrainian army is not a factor that may spark a mass antiwar movement in the country, similar to the antiwar movement in the United States in the late 1960s, because the ratio of casualties to population in Ukraine is much smaller than that in the U.S. during the Vietnam War.

Naturally, the economic situation in Ukraine is much less stable than that of the U.S. during the Vietnam War. However, in the public consciousness, the war is only one factor behind the economic problems (along with corruption, incompetence of the authorities, etc.).

The unpopularity of the idea of peace at any cost not only shows the specific character of the Ukrainian regime but, above all, it shows that society does not view the crisis as a catastrophe, which means that the conflict has acquired a format convenient for Kiev.

This format means, in particular, that, to paraphrase Trotsky, Ukraine is in a state of both peace and war with Russia, taking advantage of each of these states. For example, over the first 11 months of 2017, Ukrainian exports to Russia grew by 12 percent and brought Ukraine U.S. $360 million more than a year before. Two-thirds of Ukrainian coal imports come from Russia, including 80 percent of anthracite, which has become scarce due to the blockade of Donbass.

The war has advantages, too. Of course, they would have disappeared in the event of a full-scale conflict, but Kiev is confident that this will never happen. In a situation like this, it finds it simpler to mobilize society, convince it to put up with difficulties and, most importantly, format the political and information space in an advantageous way. Beneficiaries of this reformatting include not only the government but also a wide range of parties and politicians who supported the Euromaidan. For example, there is a segment among supporters of the Batkivshchina Party, led by Yulia Timoshenko, and the Radical Party, led by Oleg Lyashko, who, judging by public opinion polls, do not support either a confrontation with Russia or the current policy of historical memory. Obviously, these are former supporters of the Party of Regions and communists, who have realized that the successors to these parties will not be allowed to win anyway and that power can be contested only by pro-Euromaidan parties. Therefore, they side with forces that are close to their own ideological position, guided by their social slogans and disregarding their greater geopolitical and humanitarian radicalism in comparison with the current authorities. But such a choice can be made only if one is confident that this radicalism will not lead to a great war and catastrophe.

So, the current format of the conflict strengthens the political regime in Ukraine, which is actually the closest to regimes of limited political competition, such as those that existed in some countries of Central and Eastern Europe during the interwar period in the 20th century, or some Latin American countries (Brazil and Guatemala) after the Second World War. There is formal pluralism and a real possibility of succession of power there, yet real power can be contested only by forces from one political spectrum, whereas forces that are beyond this spectrum are restrained and can only aspire to seats in parliament.

History shows that such regimes can exist for a very long time, especially with external support, which Kiev certainly has, if we mean support for its geopolitical policy, rather than concrete persons in power. It is another thing that such support is limited -- the West will not fight for Ukraine and will not provide aid on a scale comparable to the Marshall Plan.

The Georgian scenario for changing this regime is theoretically possible but unlikely, because several factors prevent the success of a would-be Ukrainian Ivanishvili. The conflict in Ukraine is felt more sharply because in 2014 it lost territories that it had controlled all the years of independence, while Georgia lost control over Abkhazia in 1993 and over South Ossetia even earlier. The August 2008 war only showed the impossibility of regaining these territories. But the most important thing is that, whereas Georgia was an obvious loser in that war, Ukraine has some positive dynamics, which was discussed above. In addition, differences between Georgians and Russians have always been obvious, whereas for Kiev the current conflict is a way to recode a large part of the population and form the nation on the basis of the thesis that "Ukraine is different from Russia." Finally, the evolution of Georgia should not be exaggerated. Diplomatic relations between Tbilisi and Moscow have not been restored, while relations between Kiev and Moscow have never been broken off. Although Georgia has toned down its anti-Russian rhetoric, it keeps moving towards the Euro-Atlantic structures.

Ukraine is moving in the same direction. Its problems will obviously grow in the near future. Already now, due to migration, the population of the territory now controlled by Kiev is less than 30 million people (judging by bread consumption statistics).

This means it has decreased by more than 40 percent since 1991. In addition, the largest, postwar, generation is now entering the mortality age, while the generation of newborns is the smallest over the years of independence. Yet, the territory of the country has retained its geopolitical value and, regardless of whether Ukraine is granted formal NATO membership or not, American troops can be permanently deployed in its territory during the current Cold War -- or, more precisely, their presence can be broadened, because several thousand NATO troops, half of them Americans, have been involved in military exercises permanently held at the Yavorovo test range since the spring of 2015.

As regards Ukraine's admission to NATO, many Western European countries oppose this option. On the other hand, they have not proposed any detailed plan for Ukraine's non-aligned status. Objectively, such status would be best guaranteed by the specifics of the state's internal structure, when accession to a military alliance would require a consensus of the regions. In an interview with the Atlantic magazine in November 2016, Henry Kissinger echoed this idea: "I favor an independent Ukraine that is militarily non-aligned. If you remove the two Donbass regions from eastern Ukraine, you guarantee that Ukraine is permanently hostile to Russia, since it becomes dominated by its Western part, which only joined Russia in the 1940s. The solution, then, is to find a way to give these units a degree of autonomy that gives them a voice in military entanglements, but otherwise keeps them under the governance of Ukraine." (Goldberg, 2016)

But since this voice remains solitary, the negative attitude of Western European countries to Ukraine's accession to NATO is only a short-term tactical choice which may change later.

It is also unlikely that the implementation of the Minsk Agreement will help create the model described by Kissinger, because a "voice in military entanglements" is a trait of a confederation. Meanwhile, the status of individual Donbass regions, as defined by the above agreement, is far even from that provided for in a federation. Rather, it is similar to the limited autonomy of ethnic Serbs in Croatia, which they received under the Erdut agreement.

Therefore, even if the Minsk Agreement is implemented, which is unlikely, the existing political regime in Ukraine will hardly change.

As regards Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians, in a situation where they cannot change this regime through elections, they will try to adapt to the existing reality, at least outwardly.

The described inertial scenario is basic and most probable. However, it is not the only possible one due to the weakness of the Ukrainian state (in particular, due to the growing influence of right-wing radicals who may obtain parallel power), the unstable situation in the world, and the unpredictability of Russia's policy in the long term, as Moscow may decide that Kiev has crossed certain red lines established by it. If this state collapses due to external factors, the identity of a large part of its present population may change very quickly, as evidenced by the experience of the 17th century and recent decades.

Alexei V. Popov is an expert with the Kiev Center of Political Studies and Conflictology

[Jul 27, 2018] Ukraine over the Edge Russia, the West and the New Cold War by Gordon M. Hahn

Notable quotes:
"... an essential warning against a continuation of the frivolous and dangerous policies of regime change adopted by the West after the end of the Cold War ..."
"... The result is both a sophisticated, multilevel analysis of how and why Ukraine emerged as the key hotspot in East-West relations, and an indispensable guide for those wishing to understand the origins of the New Cold War. ..."
"... Gordon M. Hahn challenges simplistic and often misleading narratives by the media and politicians and provides a corroboration that the Maidan massacre was a false flag mass killing ..."
"... They show Maidan's quasi-revolution was driven by international geopolitics, supporting counterposed Western and Russian "civilizationist" beliefs, and deep divisions within Ukrainian society itself, not a wellspring of widespread aspiration to Western-style democracy. ..."
Jul 27, 2018 | www.amazon.com

Review "Ukraine's 2013-2014 revolution, its civil war, and Russia's annexation of the Crimea have been succeeded by newer crises, but political analyst Hahn uses detailed reportage and geopolitical theory to argue for their long-term significance, presenting Ukraine as a troubling turning point in Russo-American relations and a case study of how democratization efforts can go awry...with Russia atop American headlines to an extent not seen since the end of the Cold War, [this book] will be a strong addition to global studies collections" -- Booklist

"It was not only Ukraine that went over the edge in 2014, but the whole European security system disintegrated, while a 'new cold war' chills relations between the great powers. In this masterful study, Gordon Hahn examines how Ukraine's internal divisions combined with external lines of fragmentation to create an explosive mix, which in turn intensified domestic conflicts. The result is an internationalized civil conflict, with catastrophic consequences for Ukraine and the world. Hahn is one of the few scholars with the knowledge and discernment to make sense of it all. His impressively well-researched and well-written book is essential reading."--Richard Sakwa, University of Kent

"This impressively researched and strongly argued book is an essential corrective to the myths that have been generated concerning the crisis in Ukraine, and an essential warning against a continuation of the frivolous and dangerous policies of regime change adopted by the West after the end of the Cold War ." --Anatol Lieven, Professor, Georgetown University in Qatar and author of Ukraine and Russia, A Fraternal Rivalry

Ukraine Over the Edge is a rigorous analysis of the cultural, historical, and intellectual origins of the Ukrainian crisis. While stressing that blame for the latest phase of this crisis is shared all around, Hahn traces its domestic origins to the militancy of the opposition to president Yanukovych, and its international origins to NATO expansion, which he regards as militarized democracy-promotion. The result is both a sophisticated, multilevel analysis of how and why Ukraine emerged as the key hotspot in East-West relations, and an indispensable guide for those wishing to understand the origins of the New Cold War. "--Nicolai N. Petro, Silvia-Chandley Professor of Peace Studies and Nonviolence, University of Rhode Island

" Ukraine Over the Edge is a very useful contribution to understanding origins and key developments of the crisis in this important European and post-Soviet country. Gordon M. Hahn challenges simplistic and often misleading narratives by the media and politicians and provides a corroboration that the Maidan massacre was a false flag mass killing ." --Ivan Katchanovski, University of Ottawa About the Author Gordon M. Hahn is an advisory board member at Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation, Chicago, and at the American Institute of Geostrategy (AIGEO), Los Angeles; a contributing expert for Russia Direct, and a senior researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), San Jose, California. He lives in Mountain View, California.

Preface

As I read, listened and watched Western sources on the events surrounding the mass demonstrations on central square in Kiev during winter 2013-2014, a sense of deja vu became undeniable. Having studied the nature of terrorism in Russia's North Caucasus, the causes and course of the August 2008 Georgian-Russian war, and other events involving Russia, I had seen a pattern of misrepresentation of these events by most Western, especially American, media, academia and government sources. There was a clear sense that this pattern was being repeated with regard to the events on the Maidan. Hence, I decided to investigate matters for myself and have come to a distinctly different conclusion regarding them than that imparted to the Western public.

Two years after the Maidan "revolution of dignity," it was already clear that the Western-backed overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was not entirely a revolution and was ultimately in vain regardless of how one conceptualizes the events surrounding the fall-winter 2013-2014 demonstrations and violence on Kiev's Maidan. The movement was based initially on middle class opposition to corruption and soft authoritarianism and support for European integration. Ultimately, the nascent pro-democratic revolution was hijacked by neofascist elements that infiltrated the Maidan protests, overthrew the government, and then were themselves superseded by several key oligarchs, who always have thrived under the post-Soviet ancient regime. Thus, corruption and criminality have increased rather than decreased, European integration has stalled, and authoritarianism is not just in the corridors of power but on the streets under the yoke of roaming bands of neofascist groups seeking to foment a second, truly "national revolution."

Despite the all-too-numerous adepts of democratization and democratic transition, this is not the first, nor is it likely to be the last time when the West has misunderstood processes it has hoped for, encouraged, and often funded and helped to organize. The "Arab Spring" is only the most recent set of cases in point. Predictably, that spring's various revolutions became an Islamist winter spread across parts of the Middle East and North Africa, except in Egypt -- where a counterrevolution returned the status quo ante.

Similarly, in 1991 the adepts of democratic transitions or "transitology" got it wrong. Few post-Soviet states became democracies because the "democratic revolution" that overthrew the reformist late Soviet regime of Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika was assumed to be a "revolution from below" led by societal opposition forces bent on living in a democracy. This was true in the Baltic republics, but in most cases the elements of democratic revolution from below were subsumed by a mix of less civil state bureaucrat-led revolutions from above and nationalist-led revolutions from below. In Russia, the revolution was largely one led from above by the Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian state apparatus against the partially reformed but crumbling central Soviet state and regime. In Central Asia and elsewhere, there was simply a change of signboards, rebranding for still very authoritarian regimes. The partial exception is Kyrgyzstan's tulip revolutions and counterrevolutions, which also had strong elements from above. Thus, it is no surprise that both Ukraine's 2004 Orange revolution, as 1 noted at the time, and the 2013-2014 Maidan "revolution of dignity," as I predicted, proved to be something less than the democratic revolutions "transitologists" hailed.

In addition to elements of revolution from below, the Maidan revolt also has elements of revolution from above led by some state officials and state-tied oligarchs. Moreover, the revolution from below was under considerable influence from national chauvinist, ultranationalist, and neofascist groups. The Maidan ultranationalist-oligarchic regime now has little popular support and few accomplishments in democratization, and is little different from the previous, except for a marked increase in western Ukrainian neofascism (both in the corridors of power and on the streets) and a near catastrophic economy. Revolutions are indeed unwieldy things, not very manageable once unleashed.

The international geopolitical consequences have been even more deleterious. A deepening Russian-Western confrontation over Ukraine risks recreating a bipolar "world split apart," with Russia more inclined than ever to forge alliances with regimes opposed to American and Western power.

This book is dedicated to clarifying these events and their consequences, something that is imperative given the misleading government and media characterizations of them. This study is based on Western, Ukrainian and Russian sources, including media reports, reliable primary and secondary Internet sources, and official documents of governments and international organizations.

They show Maidan's quasi-revolution was driven by international geopolitics, supporting counterposed Western and Russian "civilizationist" beliefs, and deep divisions within Ukrainian society itself, not a wellspring of widespread aspiration to Western-style democracy.

[Jul 09, 2018] Why Was Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 Shot Down, by Kees van der Pijl

Notable quotes:
"... Flight MH17, Ukraine and the New Cold War. Prism of Disaster ..."
"... Today, Western imperialism projects its global power, as far as capital is concerned, primarily from the perspective of speculative, financial asset investment. Long gone are the days of class and international compromise forced upon it after World War Two. Instead, the predatory instincts of dominant financial capital require forcibly opening up all states for commodification and exploitation. Given the global spread of product and commodity chains, the continued flow of profits to the West cannot be taken for granted as long as effective state sovereignty elsewhere persists. For the liberal, Anglophone heartland of capital, 'defence' is therefore not merely, or even primarily, a matter of upholding the territorial integrity of the states constituting it, but keeping open the arterial system of the global economy and maintaining the centrality of the West. Regime change is a logical corollary, and from this perspective we must view the coup in Ukraine in February 2014 and all ensuing events, including the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. ..."
"... Defence Planning Guidance for Fiscal 1994-'99 ..."
"... Self-Determination in the New World Order ..."
"... The Grand Chessboard ..."
"... Russia under Yeltsin had effectively surrendered its sovereignty to transnational capital and the West and as a result was left a social and economic disaster zone. ..."
"... The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq on a false pretext made abundantly clear that the West was abandoning the rules of the post-war international order. 'Democracy promotion' intended to prevent national sovereignty from being mobilised against Western global governance, was now made a priority. The 'Rose Revolution' in Georgia in 2003 and the 'Orange Revolution' a year later in Ukraine, marked the lengths to which the United States was willing to go. ..."
"... To ensure that countries incorporated into the US-NATO sphere of influence, really became neoliberal client states, Pascual and Krasner devised a strategy for preventive intervention with a rulebook listing the measures by which 'market democracy' was to be established. Ukraine was a key target and battleground, because by now, Russia was beginning to contest Western forward pressure. ..."
"... The economic mismanagement and infighting of the different oligarchic clans in Ukraine led to payment arrears and repeated shutdowns of the gas supply from Russia, and Gazprom, the state-owned Russian gas company, early on began to look for ways to bypass the Ukrainian grid. ..."
"... Patriot of Ukraine ..."
"... if the Ukrainians lose control of the narrative ..."
"... If Russia takes Ukraine, Belarus will join the Eurasian Union, and, presto, the Soviet Union (in another name) will be back. ..."
"... Far easier to [hold] the line now, in Ukraine than elsewhere, later ..."
"... weekend of 13 to 14 April, CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital. ..."
"... Anti-Terrorist Operation ..."
"... Parubiy sent out a Twitter message on the 15th that veterans of the Maidan uprising were poised to join the fight. ..."
"... The downing of MH17 on 17 July changed all that. As I said above, who did it and how remains obscure, although there are several pursued by people familiar with local circumstances, or revealed by insiders who know who which military assets were operating that day -- but all that remains inconclusive. The official reports by the Dutch Safety Board and the JIT may be conveniently dismissed although the DSB rightly pointed at the questionable decision by Kiev to allow civilian planes to fly over a war zone. However, irrespective of the actual perpetrator, and whether it was an intentional act or an accident, there is no doubt about the West's intent to exploit the event to the maximum. ..."
"... 'without MH17 it would have been pretty difficult to find sufficient support for the increased sanctions on the Russian economy' ..."
"... Even at the time of the Kiev coup, commentators wondered to what extent shale gas from the US might be used to offset Russian deliveries. LNG facilities planned in Florida and Maryland were projected to serve the European market at Gazprom's expense, a prospect meanwhile far more realistic. ..."
"... The downing of Flight MH17 also definitively sealed the fate of South Stream. Russian banks financing the project, led by Gazprombank, were hit by new sanctions, so that the necessary capital could no longer be raised internationally. ..."
"... Since the F-16 that shot down the Russian jet was part of a pro-NATO unit based at Inçirlik airbase that took part in the coup attempt, the incident over Syria would appear to fit in a framework that may also have decided the fate of Flight MH17: a provocation to throw relations with Russia into disarray, but we don't know for sure. ..."
"... whether managed or violent ..."
"... cover the scenarios from changes of leadership within the current structures, to the emergence of a group ready to pursue structural reform in some sort of accountable dialogue with the Russian population, to regime collapse ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... Russia Project Strategy ..."
"... In the current global conjuncture, even the tentative contender coalition combining the Eurasian Union, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, constitutes an acute danger to a capitalist West in crisis. Whether the United States and NATO would therefore also be willing to take even greater risks than they are doing now is a prospect too frightening to contemplate. However, it must be confronted, or the fate of the 298 people on Flight MH17 may become that of humanity at large. ..."
Jul 09, 2018 | www.unz.com

Four years ago, on 17 July 2014, in the midst of a civil war raging in eastern Ukraine, Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 was destroyed with all 298 passengers and crew. On 25 May last, the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) entrusted with the criminal investigation of the downing and composed of the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium, Malaysia and paradoxically, given its possible involvement, Ukraine, presented its second progress report. Like the first report in September 2016, it took the form of a press conference, with video animations supporting the investigation's findings. This time there was even less to report; the main conclusion was that elements from the Russian 53rd Buk missile brigade were the culprits, a claim already made by the London-based investigative group Bellingcat two years before. In February 2016 that assertion had still been dismissed as unfit for evidence by the Dutch chief prosecutor on the JIT, Fred Westerbeke, in a letter to victims' relatives. How can it possibly have become the core component of the case for the prosecution two years and two months later?

The JIT press conference was immediately followed by a formal declaration on the part of the Dutch and Australian governments that held Russia responsible. However, JIT member Malaysia dissociated itself from the accusation, whilst Belgium has remained silent. The obviously over-hasty conclusion, on the heels of the alleged Skripal nerve gas incident in Salisbury and the likewise contested Syrian government gas attack on jihadist positions in Douma, all point in the same direction: Putin's Russia must be kept under fire and there is no time to wait for a court verdict.

ORDER IT NOW

In my book Flight MH17, Ukraine and the New Cold War. Prism of Disaster (Manchester University Press), I have refrained from entering the slippery terrain of making claims about who pulled the trigger, intentionally or by accident, in the late afternoon of 17 July, or even which type of weapon was used. For the downing of the Malaysian plane has become part of a propaganda war that was already heating up prior to the catastrophe. Instead the book is about what we do know about the events surrounding it, in the preceding months, weeks, and days, indeed even on the day itself. Subsequent events have only underlined that it is this context that lends meaning to the tragedy.

Refocusing US Supremacy After the Soviet Collapse

Today, Western imperialism projects its global power, as far as capital is concerned, primarily from the perspective of speculative, financial asset investment. Long gone are the days of class and international compromise forced upon it after World War Two. Instead, the predatory instincts of dominant financial capital require forcibly opening up all states for commodification and exploitation. Given the global spread of product and commodity chains, the continued flow of profits to the West cannot be taken for granted as long as effective state sovereignty elsewhere persists. For the liberal, Anglophone heartland of capital, 'defence' is therefore not merely, or even primarily, a matter of upholding the territorial integrity of the states constituting it, but keeping open the arterial system of the global economy and maintaining the centrality of the West. Regime change is a logical corollary, and from this perspective we must view the coup in Ukraine in February 2014 and all ensuing events, including the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17.

Right from the Soviet collapse in 1991, the US global perspective was articulated in several new strategic doctrines. The first and perhaps foundational one is the Wolfowitz Doctrine, named after Paul Wolfowitz, undersecretary of defence in the Bush Sr. administration, who commissioned a Defence Planning Guidance for Fiscal 1994-'99 (DPG) of 1992. It proclaims the United States the world's sole superpower, which must remain ahead of all possible contenders in arms technology and never again accept military parity, as with the USSR during the Cold War. The newly self-confident European Union, too, was obliquely warned that the US alone would handle global policing.

Additional doctrines, specifying on which grounds armed US intervention might be undertaken and justified, added elements such as humanitarian intervention (a Carnegie Endowment report of 1992, Self-Determination in the New World Order ); it was applied in Yugoslavia and again in Libya. Next, the'War on Terror', originally floated at Israeli Likud/US Neocon conferences between 1979 and 1984, was revived after the collapse of the USSR as the 'Clash of Civilizations' by Cold War strategist Samuel Huntington; Afghanistan and Iraq stand as monuments of the application of this doctrine. Finally, Zbigniew Brzezinski's The Grand Chessboard of 1997 specifically dealt with reorganising the former USSR, including Ukraine.

Through the different episodes, NATO was transformed into a global policing structure serving the interests of Atlantic capital. 'Out of area operations', unthinkable in the Yalta epoch, were first tried out against the Bosnian Serbs in the mid-1990s. The enlargement of the alliance into the former Soviet bloc, which began around that time too, was obviously motivated to prevent European departures from US tutelage, hence its bold forward surge. Already in 1994, Ukraine became the first former Soviet republic to join the Partnership for Peace, the newly created waiting room for NATO membership. To quell Russian concerns about the advancing West, the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997 laid down that no nuclear weapons and permanent troop deployments would take place in new member states. Yet Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova not long afterwards joined a low-key organisation of former Soviet republics (after the initials, GUAM), another oblique link up with NATO.

Mobilising Georgia and Ukraine against Resurgent Russia

Russia under Yeltsin had effectively surrendered its sovereignty to transnational capital and the West and as a result was left a social and economic disaster zone. Under his successor, Vladimir Putin, the country began to mutate back to a society led by a directive state, assisted by rising oil prices. After the United States unilaterally withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 and announced a missile defence system deployed in the CzechRepublic, Poland, and Rumania, Russia shifted to a more robust international position. The Anglo-American invasion of Iraq on a false pretext made abundantly clear that the West was abandoning the rules of the post-war international order. 'Democracy promotion' intended to prevent national sovereignty from being mobilised against Western global governance, was now made a priority. The 'Rose Revolution' in Georgia in 2003 and the 'Orange Revolution' a year later in Ukraine, marked the lengths to which the United States was willing to go.

Yet even a colour revolution means little if there is no accompanying make-over of the fundamental state/society relation. Hence, the incoming policy planning director at the US State Department, Stanford professor Stephen Krasner, and Carlos Pascual, former US ambassador in Kiev, developed a comprehensive regime change doctrine in 2004. This would prove a key element in the subsequent Ukraine intervention. To ensure that countries incorporated into the US-NATO sphere of influence, really became neoliberal client states, Pascual and Krasner devised a strategy for preventive intervention with a rulebook listing the measures by which 'market democracy' was to be established. Ukraine was a key target and battleground, because by now, Russia was beginning to contest Western forward pressure.

At the Munich Security Conference in January 2007, Putin reminded his audience of the promises made to Gorbachev in 1991 not to expand the Atlantic alliance and warned that further attempts at enlargement (the Baltic states having been included in 2004) would imply great risks. Yet NATO and the EU were inexorably pressing forward. At the Bucharest NATO summit in April 2008 the Americans made the offer of NATO membership to Georgia and Ukraine, only to have the offer vetoed by Germany and France. Possibly to force the issue, the pro-Western president brought to power by the Rose Revolution in Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, armed and encouraged by the US and Israel, later that year embarked on a military adventure to recapture the breakaway province of South Ossetia. It ended in a complete debacle, as a Russian army stood ready in North Ossetia to deal the invaders a major, if very costly, blow. This, then, was what Richard Sakwa calls, 'the war to stop NATO enlargement'. From now on, every post-Soviet republic tempted to join the Atlantic alliance would have to reckon with Russian protection for groups resisting such integration, irrespective of whether it concerned actual Russians or any other of the almost two hundred nationalities of the former USSR.

The EU-Russian Energy Equation and Ukraine

The gas from Russia that feeds Europe today was discovered back in the 1960s; the Friendship oil pipeline was built in 1964 and the Soyuz, Urengoi and Yamal pipelines followed after West Germany started purchasing Soviet gas. The link-up culminated in 1980 with the contract for a gas pipeline from Urengoi in north Siberia to Bavaria, signed by a heavy-industry consortium headed by Deutsche Bank.

After the collapse of the USSR, Russian gas had to pass through the pipeline grid of independent Ukraine, which in the meantime had become the prey of rival clans of oligarchs. For most of them, gas was the key source of rapid enrichment -- directly, as in the case of subsequent prime minister Yuliya Timoshenko, 'the Gas Princess', or indirectly, by supplying steel pipes for gas transport, as in the case of president Leonid Kuchma's son-in-law, Victor Pinchuk, the 'Pipeline King'. The economic mismanagement and infighting of the different oligarchic clans in Ukraine led to payment arrears and repeated shutdowns of the gas supply from Russia, and Gazprom, the state-owned Russian gas company, early on began to look for ways to bypass the Ukrainian grid.

After Putin had come to power, he disciplined the Russian oligarchs as part of the restoration of state sovereignty. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the energy oligarch and richest of all Russian billionaires at the time, at the time was buying support in the Duma to build a trans-Siberian pipeline to China; whilst negotiating with ExxonMobil and Chevron about US participation in his Yukos concern, which he planned to merge with Sibneft into the world's largest oil company. In 2005 he was convicted to a long prison sentence. Yukos was brought back into the Russian patrimony via a proxy construction involving state-owned Rosneft and Gazprom, as part of broader subordination of the economy to the state.

Gazprom meanwhile began building alliances to avoid future disruption of supplies via Ukraine and secure its European market. In 2005 it agreed with the outgoing government of Gerhard Schröder to build a pipeline across the Baltic directly to Germany, 'Nord Stream', with a consortium of German companies. Schröder was made the chairman of the board of the joint venture, Achimgaz, and two years later, a South Stream pipeline across the Black Sea to Bulgaria was contracted with ENI of Italy. It was to be extended into south-eastern Europe as far as Austria. In this way Gazprom and the Russian state were outmanoeuvring various EU projects for pipelines aimed at by-passing Russia. Indeed it was the EU's plan to use a Nabucco pipeline across Turkey to connect to the Caspian energy reserves that prompted the $40 billion South Stream project. Romano Prodi, prime minister of Italy, who first discussed South Stream with Putin in late 2006, was offered the chairmanship, which he declined, perhaps in the knowledge the project would become highly contested.

The Eurasian connection by now posed a direct threat to the cohesion of the enlarged Atlantic bloc. Besides Nord Stream and South Stream, Gazprom's collaboration with NIOC of Iran and a joint venture with ENI in Libya set all alarm bells ringing in Washington. Already in May 2006, a few months after the gas shutdown to Ukraine, the US Senate unanimously adopted a resolution calling on NATO to protect the energy security of its members and have it develop a diversification strategy away from Russia. Senator Richard Lugar in a much-noted speech prior to the NATO summit in Riga, Latvia, in November 2006, argued in favour of designating the manipulation of the energy supply as a 'weapon' that can activate Article 5 of the NATO treaty (common defence).

In a report to the European Parliament in 2008, the director of the EurasianPolicyCenter of the Hudson Institute in the US recommended that the EU should assist in liberalising and modernising the Ukrainian grid instead of supporting South Stream. Tension in the Black Sea area, her report noted candidly, might serve the purpose of blocking that pipeline altogether. However, after the 2010 election of president Victor Yanukovych, the front man of the powerful eastern and southern oligarchs, the lease of Russia's Crimean naval base at Sebastopol, home of its Black Sea fleet, had been extended to 2042, so the prospects for stirring up unrest there were mitigated by Moscow's enduring naval preponderance.

Regime Change in Kiev

One aspect of the resurgence of a sovereign Russia was the plan for a Eurasian economic union to rebuild relations with former Soviet republics (Ukraine obtained observer status early on). The EU's Eastern Partnership was a direct response. It was offered to former Soviet republics in 2008, in a gesture that signalled that Europe now effectively acted as a subcontractor to the larger anti-Russian design drafted in Washington. Concretely, the EU offered Ukraine and other former Soviet republics an Association Agreement that also included provisions for the country's alignment on NATO security policy, besides a neoliberal make-over in the spirit of the Krasner-Pascual doctrine. The envisaged reforms would be devastating for the country's existing power structure, not least for the Donbass oligarchs whose front man was Yanukovych. Their heavy industry assets would be swept away by EU competition, the country turned into an agricultural supplier, and Russian gas cut off.

Hence, when both the EU and Russia sought to win over Yanukovych to join their respective blocs and Brussels ruled out the triangular arrangement by which the Ukrainian president had hoped to postpone the choice, he could not but step back from signing the EU Association Agreement in November 2013 and accept a Russian counteroffer. By then, 'Europe' had become a code word for an end to oligarchic rapaciousness, in which Yanukovych and his sons had become involved as well. The president's decision triggered mass demonstrations and occupations, which this time included an armed insurrection by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists in the historically anti-Russian west of the country. It created the space for actual fascists to hijack the protests and prepare a coup. By their use of deadly force at the Maidan central square (ascribed by the coup plotters and in the West to the riot police), the Ukrainian ultras demonstrated they were ready to kill their own compatriots to achieve their aims.

To prevent the situation from getting out of hand completely, the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland flew to Kiev on 20 February 2014. However, whilst they negotiated a deal with Yanukovych and the opposition, the US and other NATO ambassadors met with Andriy Parubiy, the co-founder of the fascist party of Ukraine and former head of its militia, Patriot of Ukraine . Parubiy, today the speaker of the Kiev parliament, was in command of the armed gangs at the Maidan; two days later these took power in the capital, installing a government of Ukrainian nationalist stripe, selected by US diplomats. Parubiy was appointed secretary of the National Security and Defence Council (NSDC), a key post overseeing all military and intelligence operations, which he continued to hold until three weeks after the downing of MH17. With the Russian-Ukrainian half of the country effectively disenfranchised, the coup was responded to by the secession of Crimea and an armed insurrection in the Donbass. Stirrings of revolt in Odessa and Mariupol would be suppressed with deadly violence, in which Parubiy and other far right figures were directly involved.

Confronting the BRICS in Ukraine

From late March onwards the war party in the United States and NATO began to elaborate a strategy that would make Ukraine the testing ground for a trial of strength with Russia and China. The secession of Crimea and its re-incorporation into the Russian Federation was exploited to evoke the spectre of an impending Russian invasion on several fronts. General Philip Breedlove, commander of US Eucom (European Command, one of nine regional US military commands spanning the globe) and NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (Saceur), coordinated the Western position with General Wesley Clark, a former NATO Saceur at the time of the Yugoslavia wars. Clark was already advising Kiev forces in eastern Ukraine before the Donbass had actually risen in revolt. On 12April he asked Breedlove whether the NATO commander could not arrange a statement blaming Moscow for the violence because ' if the Ukrainians lose control of the narrative , the Russians will see it as an open door'. Clark then elaborated on the general geopolitical situation, giving further insights into why the war party in the US believed that Ukraine was to be 'held' and chosen as a battle ground to confront Russia and China. No time was wasted on market democracy here. Claiming that 'Putin has read US inaction in Georgia and Syria as US "weakness",' Clark went on to explain that

China is watching closely. China will have four aircraft carriers and airspace dominance in the Western Pacific within 5 years, if current trends continue. And if we let Ukraine slide away, it definitely raises the risks of conflict in the Pacific. For, China will ask, would the US then assert itself for Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, the South China Sea? If Russia takes Ukraine, Belarus will join the Eurasian Union, and, presto, the Soviet Union (in another name) will be back. Neither the Baltics nor the Balkans will easily resist the political disruptions empowered by a resurgent Russia. And what good is a NATO "security guarantee" against internal subversion? And then the US will face a much stronger Russia, a crumbling NATO, and [a] major challenge in the Western Pacific. Far easier to [hold] the line now, in Ukraine than elsewhere, later .

On the weekend of 13 to 14 April, CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital. The Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO, so called because the use of military force within the country is only warranted under that label) began right after Brennan's visit; Parubiy sent out a Twitter message on the 15th that veterans of the Maidan uprising were poised to join the fight. Since NATO had earlier implored Yanukovych not to use force against (armed) demonstrators, Moscow now asked the alliance to restrain the coup leaders in turn. But according to foreign minister Lavrov, the answer they got was that 'NATO would ask them to use force proportionately'.

In fact even the oligarch, Petro Poroshenko, elected president on 25 May 2014 to provide a veneer of legitimacy to the coup regime, proved unable to restrain the hardliners. On 30 June, following a four-hour NSDC meeting with Parubiy, interior minister Avakov, and others whose armed followers were demonstrating outside, Poroshenko declared that the ceasefire would be lifted and a new offensive launched. Three days later NATO naval manoeuvres in the Black Sea commenced with US participation and with electronic warfare a key component. On the ground, Kiev's forces made rapid progress, apparently drawing a ring around the large rebel city of Donetsk. NATO had its own concerns: an upcoming summit in Wales in September was expected to capitalise on the trope of a 'Russian invasion', vital after the Afghanistan debacle, and dovetailing with the emerging contest with the BRICS bloc.

The BRICS, coined first as a banker's gimmick, were never more than a loose collection of '(re-) emerging economies', but from Washington's perspective, sovereign entities not submitting to neoliberal global governance are unacceptable. So when on 16 July, the BRICS heads of state, hosted by the Brazilian president, Dilma Rousseff (removed by a rightwing conspiracy in May 2016), signed the statute establishing a New Development Bank, or BRICS bank, as a direct challenge to the US and Western-dominated World Bank and IMF, the US imposed new sanctions on Russia over Ukraine, specifically targeting the energy link with the EU. The creation of an equivalent of the World Bank with a capital of $100 billion with a reserve currency pool of the same size (an equivalent of the IMF), laid the groundwork of a contender pole in the global political economy challenging the West's austerity regime frontally -- or so it seemed at the time.

Still in Brazil before flying back to Moscow, Russian president Putin on the fringes of the football world cup finals also agreed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to pursue a comprehensive Land for gas deal. Its tentative provisions included normalising the status of Crimea in exchange for a massive economic rehabilitation plan and a gas price rebate for Ukraine. However, a special European Council meeting convened on the 16th could not reach agreement on whether the EU should follow the American lead this time, since countries with export interests to Russia and dependent on its gas, were balking. Instead, the Council stressed the EU's commitment 'to pursue trilateral talks on the conditions of gas supply from the Russian Federation to Ukraine' in order to 'safeguard the security of supply and transit of natural gas through Ukraine.'

The Downing of Flight MH17 and South Stream

The downing of MH17 on 17 July changed all that. As I said above, who did it and how remains obscure, although there are several pursued by people familiar with local circumstances, or revealed by insiders who know who which military assets were operating that day -- but all that remains inconclusive. The official reports by the Dutch Safety Board and the JIT may be conveniently dismissed although the DSB rightly pointed at the questionable decision by Kiev to allow civilian planes to fly over a war zone. However, irrespective of the actual perpetrator, and whether it was an intentional act or an accident, there is no doubt about the West's intent to exploit the event to the maximum.

Former secretary of state and then-presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton in a TV interview on the 18th called for making 'Russia pay the price' once its culpability had been established. Her to-do list for the EU included, one, 'toughen sanctions'; two, find alternatives to Gazprom, and third, 'do more in concert with us to support the Ukrainians'. The 'Land for gas' negotiations were shelved and on the 22nd Europe dropped the remaining hesitations when it underwrote the US sanctions targeting Russia's role as an energy supplier. As Mark Leonard, founder and director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, noted in a newspaper interview a year later, 'without MH17 it would have been pretty difficult to find sufficient support for the increased sanctions on the Russian economy' .

In 2009 the EU had introduced a new energy policy, dubbed a 'Third Energy Package'. It does not permit gas to be transported to the EU by the company producing it, effectively forcing Gazprom to sell even the gas piped through the Ukrainian grid to other companies before it could enter the EU. Nord Stream had still been exempted from EU competition rules, but the projected South Stream was not, never mind that most contracts with Gazprom had been signed before the Third Energy Package came into force. Even at the time of the Kiev coup, commentators wondered to what extent shale gas from the US might be used to offset Russian deliveries. LNG facilities planned in Florida and Maryland were projected to serve the European market at Gazprom's expense, a prospect meanwhile far more realistic.

The Crimean secession and incorporation into the Russian Federation obviously played its own role here. Crimea is a historically Russian region; having been assigned to Ukraine by a whim of Soviet party leader Khrushchev in 1954, it never reconciled itself to being part of an independent Ukraine. After the nationalist coup in late February, the status of the Russian naval base in Sebastopol was in the balance. In 1991, the Black Sea had been a Soviet/bloc inland sea, with one NATO country (Turkey) bordering it. Now there were two more NATO/EU countries and two pro-Western, aspiring NATO members on its littoral. So when one week after the coup, three former Ukrainian Presidents, Kravchuk, Kuchma, and Yushchenko, called on the coup government in Kiev to cancel the agreement under which the lease of Sebastopol, home to the Russian Black Sea fleet, had been extended to 2042, the question of who would be able to project naval power over the Black Sea became acute. The question now was whether Russia would be able to provide cover for a large-scale project such as South Stream, or not.

South Stream itself came into the firing line directly. The European Parliament, which never raised the issue of why the February agreement with Yanukovych the EU brokered had been sidelined by the coup, on 17 April 2014 adopted a non-binding resolution opposing the South Stream gas pipeline and recommended a search for alternative sources of gas. On 28 April, the United States imposed a ban on business transactions within its territory on seven Russian officials, including Igor Sechin, the CEO of Rosneft, the Russian state oil company, as well as Gennady Timchenko, whose Volga Group controls Stroytransgaz, the company entrusted with building the Bulgarian section of South Stream. Nevertheless the Bulgarian parliament approved South Stream two weeks after the reincorporation of Crimea, circumventing the EU's anti-trust legislation by renaming the pipeline a 'sea-land connection'.The European Commission then instructed Bulgaria to stop work on South Stream and proceeded to cut off tens of millions of much-needed regional development funds, whilst the US ambassador warned Bulgarian companies against working with Timchenko. A final visit of US Senators John McCain and Ron Johnson, in combination with other punitive measures then led to the cancellation in early June. As Eric Draitser commented at the time, 'South Stream has become one of the primary battlegrounds in the economic war that the West is waging against Russia'.

The downing of Flight MH17 also definitively sealed the fate of South Stream. Russian banks financing the project, led by Gazprombank, were hit by new sanctions, so that the necessary capital could no longer be raised internationally. Putin earlier had hinted at moving the transit of gas for the EU to non-European countries; in August, it was reported there was a Plan B in the works to export via Turkey. On 1 December 2014, during a state visit to Ankara, the Russian president announced that in light of Western sanctions and the refusal of construction permits in the EU, South Stream would be replaced by a 'Turkish Stream' pipeline, besides the existing Blue Stream link. However, in November 2015, a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian fighter jet over northern Syria, throwing relations between Moscow and Ankara into a deep crisis and entailing the cancellation of Turkish Stream. This was only overcome after the July 2016 coup attempt against Erdoğan, in which Russia sided with the Turkish president, possibly even warning him in advance. Since the F-16 that shot down the Russian jet was part of a pro-NATO unit based at Inçirlik airbase that took part in the coup attempt, the incident over Syria would appear to fit in a framework that may also have decided the fate of Flight MH17: a provocation to throw relations with Russia into disarray, but we don't know for sure.

Regime Change in Moscow?

The MH17 disaster occurred in the context of a deep crisis, in which capitalist discipline as imposed from its historic epicentre in the West, has become primarily predatory, relying to an ever-greater extent on violence. Speculative financial operations in combination with the 'War on Terror' have spread economic risk and repression at home, war and regime change abroad. Human survival itself has been turned into a global gamble played out over the head of the affected populations for private gain. The West, led by the effectively bankrupt United States, increasingly relies on force to sabotage the formation of any alternative, something its own social formation can no longer bring forth. Even the most promising, potentially revolutionary IT and media developments coming out of Silicon Valley have been mortgaged by a planetary project of communications surveillance to safeguard US imperial positions.

Back in the 1980s, when it launched the second Cold War, the Reagan administration intended to destabilise the Soviet bloc and bring about regime change in Moscow. This is also the aim of the current, new Cold War. A 2015 Chatham House report, 'The Russian Challenge', discusses this in some detail. Although it concedes that the West cannot have an interest in Russia sliding into complete anarchy, neither should the Putin presidency be protected 'against change, whether managed or violent '. Therefore, 'whether Putin was ousted by an internal coup, by illness or by popular unrest , it would nevertheless be sensible for the West to give further thought to how it might deal with the consequences of regime change in Russia.'

Effective communication with the Russian people and the defence of human values beforehand would be essential for Western credibility Planning for the future ought, lastly, to cover the scenarios from changes of leadership within the current structures, to the emergence of a group ready to pursue structural reform in some sort of accountable dialogue with the Russian population, to regime collapse .

The president of the National Endowment for Democracy, Carl Gershman, in a piece for the Washington Post in October 2016 suggested launching a new, sustained anti-Putin campaign, for which the contract killing of the journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, ten years earlier, might be used as a vignette.

For such a campaign, George Soros' Open Society Foundation can be trusted to have elaborated the 'civil society'/colour revolution scenarios, whilst identifying the groups that might be mobilised for their execution. The OSF plan of action for 2014-17, titled Russia Project Strategy , identifies Russian intellectuals active in Western academic and opinion networks, the Russian gay movement, and others as potential levers for civil society protest against the conservative bloc in power in Moscow. From the OSF documents hacked by the CyberBerkut collective, Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation emerges as the key beneficiary, and discussion portals and liberal media such as Echo of Moscow radio station, RBK news agency, and the newspaper Vedomosti, as the preferred channels to disseminate content.

There is no need to repeat that all this is part a powerful offensive to derail the loose contender bloc around China and Russia, which had constituted itself in the face of Western aggressiveness and crisis. The seizure of power in Ukraine as well as the secession of Crimea and the civil war in the east, which has meanwhile cost the lives of more than 13,000 people and displaced a million, as well as economic warfare against Russia by the US and the EU, have brought the danger of a large European war several steps closer. Whether the actual downing of Flight MH17 was an intentional, premeditated act or an accident, whether it involved a jet attack, an anti-aircraft missile, or both, ultimately cannot be established with certainty. Yet both the NATO war party and the coup regime in Kiev, which on many occasions has demonstrated that its ultra-nationalist and fascist antecedents are very much alive, would have been perfectly capable of such an act and had the means for it. Most importantly, they had the motive. Those in power in Kiev had several times already attempted to draw Moscow into the civil war, directly and through a NATO intervention. If this indeed was their aim, it would also have served the Atlantic bloc's determined and long-standing commitment to force continental Europe into an antagonistic relation with Russia.

In the current global conjuncture, even the tentative contender coalition combining the Eurasian Union, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, constitutes an acute danger to a capitalist West in crisis. Whether the United States and NATO would therefore also be willing to take even greater risks than they are doing now is a prospect too frightening to contemplate. However, it must be confronted, or the fate of the 298 people on Flight MH17 may become that of humanity at large.

Kees van der Pijl is a Fellow, Centre for Global Political Economy and Professor Emeritus of the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex.

[Jul 06, 2018] If Ukraine drifts into chaos, its neighbors, being aware of its history of extreme violence and atrocity are preparing themselves for the spillover

So far Ukrainian society holds well and I see no signs that it will collapse soon. Economics in dismal shape though...
Jul 06, 2018 | www.unz.com

Erebus , June 16, 2018 at 9:40 am GMT

Look up Rostislav Ishenko's latest excellent piece yesterday:

I did, and as usual Ishenko takes an oblique approach that shines a light into obscure but critical corners.

What an eye opener this one is.

Not sure how much was lost in translation, but if I understood correctly the Russians are massing forces in the Western District, not because they fear an attack from NATO, or plan to attack Europe but to rescue Europe from a conflagration that will be sparked in Ukraine. That it was drifting into failed state status is well known, but that a religious war is in the offing was utterly unknown to me, and I suspect to most others here.

That in turn shines a light on why Poland and the Baltics are begging for US/NATO troops as well, and at least partially why US/NATO is delivering. As Ukraine drifts into chaos, its neighbours, being aware of its history of extreme violence and atrocity are preparing themselves for the spillover. They have no desire to relive the decade+ blood orgy that erupted in the middle of the 20th C centred on Ukraine (where, IMHO, the real Holocaust happened).

Overwhelming force applied at an overwhelming pace is the best way of dealing with such an outbreak, and the Russians are the only party able to deliver. US/NATO forces can be expected to roar around in their APCs avoiding trouble and then claim credit in accordance with Western military tradition. Meanwhile, the Russians will go into mopping up the leftovers.

Makes a lot of sense if Ishchenko's read of the situation is right. It probably has a bigger impact on Dunford's and Gerasimov's meeting than the USM "going home".

Whew!
PS: Yes, I was aware of the Russian central bank selling off its USTs. With the Petro-Yuan and Western sanctions now in full swing, it really doesn't need $100B's worth to manage its U$ denominated imports.

[Jul 06, 2018] Corporate Media's About-Face on Ukraine's Neo-Nazis by Daniel Lazare

Notable quotes:
"... Special to Consortium News ..."
"... The Washington Post ..."
"... Washington Post ..."
"... The New York Times ..."
"... Zhydobanderivets ..."
"... The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy ..."
"... Le Monde Diplomatique ..."
"... The American Conservative ..."
"... If you enjoyed this original article please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one. ..."
Jul 05, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

Corporate Media's About-Face on Ukraine's Neo-Nazis July 5, 2018 • 59 Comments

U.S. corporate media spent years dismissing the role of neo-Nazis in Ukraine's 2014 coup but it is suddenly going through a conversion, as Daniel Lazare reports.

By Daniel Lazare
Special to Consortium News

Last month a freelance journalist named Joshua Cohen published an article in The Washington Post about the Ukraine's growing neo-Nazi threat. Despite a gratuitous swipe at Russia for allegedly exaggerating the problem (which it hasn't), the piece was fairly accurate.

Entitled "Ukraine's ultra-right militias are challenging the government to a showdown," it said that fascists have gone on a rampage while the ruling clique in Kiev closes its eyes for the most part and prays that the problem somehow goes away on its own.

Thus, a group calling itself C14 (for the fourteen-word ultra-right motto, "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children") not only beat up a socialist politician and celebrated Hitler's birthday by stabbing an antiwar activist, but bragged about it on its website. Other ultra-nationalists, Cohen says, have stormed the Lvov and Kiev city councils and "assaulted or disrupted" art exhibits, anti-fascist demos, peace and gay-rights events, and a Victory Day parade commemorating the victory over Hitler in 1945.

Yet nothing has happened to stop this. President Petro Poroshenko could order a crackdown, but hasn't for reasons that should be obvious. The U.S.-backed "Euromaidan" uprising not only drove out former president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, who had won an OSCE-certified election, but tore the country in two, precisely because ultra-rightists like C14 were in the lead.

When resistance to the U.S.-backed coup broke out in Crimea and parts of the country's largely Russian-speaking east, the base of Yanukovych voters, civil war ensued. But because the Ukrainian army had all but collapsed, the new, coup government had no one to rely on other than the neo-fascists who had helped propel it to power.

So an alliance was hatched between pro-western oligarchs at the top – Forbes puts Poroshenko's net worth at a cool $1 billion – and neo-Nazi enforcers at the bottom. Fascists may not be popular. Indeed, Dmytro Yarosh, the fire-breathing leader of a white-power coalition known as Right Sector, received less than one percent of the vote when he ran for president in May 2014.

But the state is so weak and riddled with so many ultra-rightists in key positions – Andriy Parubiy, founder of the neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine, is speaker of the parliament, while ultra-rightist Arsen Avakov is minister of the interior – that the path before them is clear and unobstructed. As Cohen points out, the result is government passivity on one hand and a rising tide of ultra-right violence on the other. In the earlier stages of the civil war, for instance, the rightwing extremists burned more than 40 people alive in a labor union building in Odessa, a horrific incident downplayed by Western media.

Cohen's article may have Washington Post readers scratching their heads for the simple reason that the paper has long said the opposite. Since Euromaidan, the Post has toed the official Washington line that Vladimir Putin has exaggerated the role of the radical right in order to discredit the anti-Yanukovych revolt and legitimize his own alleged interference.

Sure, anti-Yanukovych forces had festooned the Kiev town hall with a white supremacist banner, a Confederate flag , and a giant image of Stepan Bandera , a Nazi collaborator whose forces killed thousands of Jews during the German occupation and as many as 100,000 Poles. And yes, they staged a 15,000-strong torchlight parade in Bandera's honor and scrawled an SS symbol on a toppled statue of Lenin. They also destroyed a memorial to Ukrainians who had fought on what Bandera supporters regard as the wrong side of World War II, that is, with the Soviets and against the Axis.

But so-called responsible, mainstream journalists are supposed to avert their eyes to avoid being tarred as a " useful idiot " whom Putin supposedly employs to advance his "anti-American agenda." Ten days after Yanukovych's departure, the Post dutifully assured its readers that Russian reports of "hooligans and fascists" had "no basis in reality."

A week or so later, it said "the new government, though peppered with right-wing politicians, is led primarily by moderate, pro-European politicians." A few weeks after that, it described Bandera as no more than "controversial" and quoted a Kiev businessman as saying: "The Russians want to call him a fascist, but I feel he was a hero for our country. Putin is using him to try to divide us."

Thus, the Post and other corporate media continued to do its duty by attacking Putin for plainly saying "the forces backing Ukraine's government in Kiev are fascists and neo-Nazis." But who was wrong ?

The New York Times was no better. It assailed Russia for hurling "harsh epithets" like "neo-Nazi," and blamed the Russian leader for "scaremongering" by attributing Yanukovych's ouster to "nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes, and anti-Semites." The Guardian 's Luke Harding – a leading Putin basher said of the far-right Svoboda Party:

"Over the past decade the party appears to have mellowed, eschewing xenophobia, academic commentators suggest. On Monday, the U.S. ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, said he had been 'positively impressed' by Svoboda's evolution in opposition and by its behavior in the Rada, Ukraine's parliament. 'They have demonstrated their democratic bona fides,' the ambassador asserted."

This is the party whose founder, Oleh Tyahnybok, said in a 2004 speech that "a Moscow-Jewish mafia" was running the Ukraine and that Bandera's followers "fought against the Muscovites, Germans, Jews and other enemies who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state." Had the leopard really changed its spots, according to Pyatt? Or was it simply a matter of America not giving a damn as long as Svoboda joined the fight to encircle Russia and advance NATO's drive to the east?

As someone named Marx once observed , "Who you gonna believe, me or your own two eyes?" As far as Ukraine was concerned, the answer for the corporate press came from the U.S. State Department. If Foggy Bottom said that Ukrainian neo-Nazism was a figment of Russia's imagination, then that's what it was, regardless of evidence to the contrary.

Someday, historians will look back on Euromaidan Ukraine as one of the looniest periods in western journalism – except, of course, for all the ones that have followed. But if one had to choose the looniest story of all, one that best reflects the abject toadyism of the reporting classes, it would have to be "Why Jews and Ukrainians Have Become Unlikely Allies," a 1,400-word article that ran on the Post -owned Foreign Policy website in May 2014. Four years later, it stands as a model of how not to write about an all-important political crisis.

Cohen's Conversion

Tyahnybok: 'Moscow-Jewish mafia' is running Ukraine.

The piece begins with the usual hand-wringing about Svoboda and Right Sector and expresses remorse that the latter still venerates the "controversial" Bandera, whose followers "fought on the side of the Nazis from 1944 until the end of World War II." (Actually, they welcomed the Germans from the start and, despite rocky relations with the Slav-hating Nazis, continued to work with them throughout the occupation.)

But then it gets down to business by asserting that as bad as Ukrainian nationalists may be, Russia is doubly worse. "Despite the substantial presence of right wing nationalists on the Maidan during the revolution," it says, "many in Ukraine's Jewish community resent being used by Putin in his propaganda war." The proof is an open letter signed by 21 Ukrainian Jewish leaders asserting that the real danger was Moscow.

"We know that the political opposition consists of various groups, including some that are nationalistic," the letter declared. "But even the most marginal of them do not demonstrate anti-Semitism or other forms of xenophobia. And we certainly know that our very few nationalists are well-controlled by civil society and the new Ukrainian government – which is more than can be said for the Russian neo-Nazis, who are encouraged by your security services."

This was music to Washington's ears. But if neo-Nazis are free of "anti-Semitism or other forms of xenophobia," how does one explain the white-power symbols in the Kiev town hall? If nationalists were "very few" in number, why did journalists need to explain them away? If Russian security forces really encouraged neo-Nazis, where were the torchlight parades and portraits of Bandera-like collaborators hanging from public buildings in Moscow?

The article might have noted that Josef Zissels, the Jewish community leader who organized the letter, is a provocative figure who has long maintained close relations with Ukraine's far right. A self-styled Zhydobanderivets – a word that roughly translates as "Kike follower of Bandera" – he has since infuriated other Jewish leaders by criticizing California Congressman Ro Khanna for sending a letter to the State Department asking that pressure be brought on the governments of Poland and Ukraine to combat Holocaust revisionism in their countries.

Forty-one Jewish leaders were so angry, in fact, that they sent out a letter of their own thanking Khannna for his efforts, expressing "deep concern at the rise of anti-Semitic incidents and expressions of xenophobia and intolerance, including attacks on Roma communities," and "strongly proclaim[ing] that Mr. Iosif Zissels and the organization VAAD do not represent the Jews of Ukraine." A Jewish community leader in Russia was so outraged by the pro-Bandera apologetics of Zissels and a Ukrainian-Jewish oligarch named Igor Kolomoisky that he said he wanted to hang both men "in Dnepropetrovsk in front of the Golden Rose Synagogue until they stop breathing."

So Foreign Policy used a highly dubious source to whitewash Ukraine's growing neo-Nazi presence and absolve it of anti-Semitism. As crimes against the truth go, this is surely one of the worst. But now that the problem has gotten too big for even the corporate media to ignore, overnight muckrakers like Joshua Cohen are seeing to it that getting away with such offenses will no longer be so easy. Before his abrupt about-face, the author of that misleading Foreign Policy piece was Joshua Cohen.

Daniel Lazare is the author of The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace, 1996) and other books about American politics. He has written for a wide variety of publications from The Nation to Le Monde Diplomatique , and his articles about the Middle East, terrorism, Eastern Europe, and other topics appear regularly on such websites as Jacobin and The American Conservative .

If you enjoyed this original article please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.


mike k , July 6, 2018 at 4:49 pm

The leaders of Israel who sell weapons to the Nazis in Ukraine, are no better than those Nazis.

Susan Sunflower , July 6, 2018 at 1:37 pm

for those having Alice In Wonderland whiplash, yes the USA was funding the Ukranian neonazis Azov Brigade before Congress banned the funding in March 2018.

https://therealnews.com/columns/the-us-is-arming-and-assisting-neo-nazis-in-ukraine-while-congress-debates-prohibition

which of course does not mean that others are not funding them and/or funding or simply "arming" their friends and allies

https://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-arming-neo-nazis-ukraine/24876

same old "syrian playbook" wrt to enemy-of-my-memory bull .

rosemerry , July 6, 2018 at 10:12 am

The two-hour documentary "Putin" shows in an interview Pres. Putin explaining his government's cooperating with the Western- supported Ukrainian government for four years (because they were neighbors and had many links) which he considered normal behavior. However, once the 2014 election brought in a more "Moscow-friendly" team to govern Ukraine, the USA began its plans to overthrow it and we see all the consequences shown in this article.

Francis Lee , July 6, 2018 at 7:53 am

Ukraine: Fascism's toe-hold in Europe.

The tacit support given by the centre-left to the installation of the regime in Kiev should give them cause for concern writes Frank.

Politics in the Ukraine can only be understood by reference to its history and ethnic and cultural make-up – a make-up criss-crossed by lasting and entrenched ethnic, cultural and political differences. The country has long been split into the northern and western Ukraine, where Ukrainian is the official and everyday lingua franca, and the more industrialised regions of the east and south where a mixture of Russian speaking Ukrainians and ethnic Russians reside. Additionally, there has long been Hungarian and Romanian settlement in the west of the country, and a particularly important Polish presence, whose unofficial capital, Lviv, was once the Polish city of Lwow. The Russian Orthodox Church is the predominant form of Christianity in the East, whilst in the west the Christian tradition tends towards Roman Catholicism.

Politically the Eastern and Southern Oblasts (Regions) which includes the cities and centres of heavy industry, Kharkov, Lugansk, Donetsk, Zaporozhe, Nikolayev, Kherson, Simferopol and Odessa, have tended to tilt towards Russia whilst the western regions have had a more western orientation. This has traditionally been reflected in the electoral division of the country. There is no party which can be considered 'national' in this respect, except ironically, the old Communist party, which of course is now banned. The major regional parties have been the Fatherland party of Yulia Tymoshenko (since renamed) and the former head of government, Arseniy Yatsenyuk as well as the ultra-nationalists predominantly in the west of the country, and the deposed Victor Yanukovich's Party of the Regions in the East (now defunct) along with its junior partner in the coalition, the Ukrainian Communist Party.

However, what is new since the coup in February 2014 there has been the emergence from the shadows of ultra-nationalist (fascist) parties and movements, with both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary (i.e.,military) wings. In the main 'Svoboda' or Freedom Party, and the paramilitaries of 'Right Sector' (Fuhrer: Dimitry Yarosh) who spearheaded the coup in Kiev; these have been joined or changed their names to inter alia the Radical Party, and Patriots of the Ukraine; this in addition to the punitive right-wing militias, such as the Azov Regiment responsible for numerous atrocities in the Don Bas.

Suffice it to say, however, that these political movements and parties did not emerge from nowhere.
This far-right tradition has been historically very strong in the western Ukraine. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was first established in 1929 and brought together, war veterans, student fraternities, far-right groups and various other disoriented socially and political flotsam and jetsam under its banner. The OUN took its ideological position from the writings of one, Dymtro Dontsov, who, like Mussolini had been a socialist, and who was instrumental in creating an indigenous Ukrainian fascism based upon the usual mish-mash of writings and theories including Friedrich Nietzsche, Georges Sorel, and Charles Maurras. Dontsov also translated the works of Hitler and Mussolini into Ukrainian.

The OUN was committed to ethnic purity, and relied on violence, assassination and terrorism, not least against other Ukrainians, to achieve its goal of a totalitarian and homogeneous nation-state. Assorted enemies and impediments to this goal were Communists, Russians, Poles, and of course – Jews. Strongly oriented toward the Axis powers OUN founder Evhen Konovalets (1891-1938) stated that his movement was ''waging war against mixed marriages'', with Poles, Russians and Jews, the latter which he described as ''foes of our national rebirth''. Indeed, rabid anti-Semitism has been a leitmotif in the history of Ukrainian fascism, which we will return to below.

Konovelts himself was assassinated by a KGB hit-man in 1938 after which the movement split into two wings: (OUN-m) under Andrii Melnyk and, more importantly for our purposes (OUN-b) under Stepan Bandera. Both wings committed to a new fascist Europe. Upon the German invasion in June 1941, the OUN-b attempted to establish a Ukrainian satellite state loyal to Nazi Germany. Stepan Lenkavs'kyi the then chief propagandist of the OUN-b 'government' advocated the physical destruction of Ukrainian Jewry. OUN-b's 'Prime Minister' Yaroslav Stets'ko, and deputy to Bandera supported, ''the destruction of the Jews and the expedience of bringing German methods of exterminating Jewry to Ukraine, barring their assimilation and the like.''

During the early days of the rapid German advance into the Soviet Union there were some 140 pogroms in the western Ukraine claiming the lives of between 13000-35000 people (Untermensch, in fascist terminology). In 1943-1944 OUN-b and its armed wing the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukrainska povstanska armia – UPA) carried out large scale ethnic cleansing resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands; this was a particularly gruesome affair in Volhynia where some 90000 Poles and thousands of Jews were murdered. The campaign of the UPA continued well into the 1950s until it was virtually wiped out by the Soviet forces.

It should be said that during this early period Bandera himself had been incarcerated by the German authorities up until his release in 1944, since unlike Bandera they were not enamoured of an independent Ukrainian state but wanted total control. Bandera was only released at this late date since the German high command was endeavouring to build up a pro-German Ukrainian quisling military force to hold up the remorseless advance of the Red Army. Also pursuant to this it is also worth noting that during this period the 14th Galizian Waffen SS Division, a military Ukrainian collaborationist formation established by Heinrich Himmler, was formed to fight the Soviet forces, and yet another being the Nachtingal brigade; (1) this unit was integrated into the 14th Galizian in due course. It is also interesting to note, that every year, and up to 2014 commemoration ceremony including veterans of this unit takes place with a march through Lviv in an evening torchlight parade – genuine Nazi pastiche. The flag of this unit is not dissimilar to the Peugeot logo, the standing lion, and can be seen at ultra-nationalist rallies as well as football matches involving Lviv Karparti FC. There are also numerous statues of Bandera across Ukraine, and since the 2014 coup even street names bearing the same name. Significantly the UPA have now received political rehabilitation from the Kiev Junta, with Bandera declared a hero of the Ukraine and the UPA rebranded as 'freedom fighters.' One particularly splendid statue of Bandera stands proudly in Lviv and is usually adorned with flowers.

Other novel attractions the capital of Banderestan include 'Jewish themed restaurants' one such is Kryivka (Hideout or Lurking Hole) where guests have a choice of dishes and whose dinning walls are decorated with larger than life portraits of Bandera, the toilet with Russian and Jewish anecdotes. At another Jewish themed restaurant guests are offered black hats of the sort worn by Hasidim. The menu lists no prices for the dishes; instead, one is required to haggle over highly inflated prices ''in the Jewish fashion''. Yes, it's all good clean fun in Lviv. Anti-Semitism also sells. Out of 19 book vendors on the streets of central Lviv, 16 were openly selling anti-Semitic literature. About 70% of the anti-Semitic publications in Ukraine are being published by and educational institution called MUAP (The Inter-Regional Academy of Personnel Management). MAUP is a large, well-connected and increasingly powerful organization funded from outside anti-Semite sources, and also connected to White Supremacist groups in the USA and to the David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

(It is one of the ironies of history that if the Zionists in AIPAC and the Washington neo-con think tanks, and the Labour Party Friends of Israel, were so concerned about anti-Semitism, they might try looking for it in Lviv. They wouldn't have to search very far.)
Present day neo-Nazi groupings in Ukraine – Svoboda (Freedom) party and Right Sector – have been the direct descendants from the prior ideological cesspool. Heading Svoboda is Oleh Tyahnybok. Although these are separate organizations Tyahnybok's deputy Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn is the main link between Svoboda's official wing and neo-Nazi militias like Right Sector. The Social-Nationalist party as it was formerly known chose as its logo an amended version of the Wolfsangel, a symbol used by many SS divisions on the Eastern front during the war who in 2004 a celebration of the OUN-UPA, stated in 2004, that ''they fought against the Muscovite, Germans, Jews and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrainian state.'' And further that ''Ukraine was ruled by a Muscovite-Jewish mafia.'' Tyahnybok came under pressure from the then President, Yuschenko, to retract his inflammatory statements, which he did, but he then retracted the retraction!

Given the fact that Svoboda was, apart from its stamping grounds in the west, making little national electoral headway, it was essential to clean up its image and deny its Nazi past. But this was always going to be difficult since the members of such groups cannot help the unscripted outbursts and faux pas which they tend to make and which reveals their true colours. For example, following the conviction and sentencing of John Demjanjuk to five years in jail for his role as an accessory to the murder of 27,900 people at the Sobibor death camp, Tyahnybok travelled to Germany and met up with Demjanjuk's lawyer, presenting the death camp guard as a hero, a victim of persecution ''who is fighting for truth''.
And so it goes on. We can therefore infer that this organization is inveterate fascist. More disturbing Svoboda has links with the so-called Alliance of National European Movements, which includes: Nationaldemokraterna of Sweden, Front Nationale of France, Fiamma Tricolore in Italy, the Hungarian Jobbik and the Belgian National Front. More importantly Svoboda held several ministerial portfolios in the Kiev administration, and Right Sector swaggers around Kiev streets with impunity, and/or are being drafted into a National Guard to deal with the separatist movements in the east, or to beat down anyone who doesn't conform to their Ayran racial and political ideals.

One would have thought that this mutating revolution in the Ukraine would have drawn attention of the centre-left to the fact that fascism had gained a vital beachhead in Europe, and that the danger signals should be flashing. But not a bit of it; a perusal of the Guardian newspaper quickly reveals that their chief concern has been with a non-existent 'Russian threat'. One of their reporters – or old friend, Luke Harding -described Right Sector as an ''eccentric group of people with unpleasant right-wing views.'' Priceless! This must rank as the political understatement of the century. In fact, the Guardian was simply reiterating the US-imposed neo-conservative foreign policy. But naturally, this is par for the course.

(1) The Nachtingal brigade, which was later incorporated into the SS Galizien, took part in a three-day massacre of the Jewish population of Lvov (now Lviv) from 30 June 1941. Roman Shukhevych was the commander of the Nachtingal and later, in 1943, became commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (the "Banderivtsy", or UPA/UIA[5] ), armed henchmen of the fascist Stepan Bandera, who after the war pretended that they had fought both Nazis and Communists. Members of the division are also accused of having murdered some 800 residents of the Polish village of Huta Pieniacka and 44 civilians in the village of Ch?aniów.

Paolo , July 6, 2018 at 7:11 am

Just for the record: the Ukrainians hailed the Nazis as liberators after the Soviets had let millions of Ukrainians die of hunger in the thirties, a sort of "genocide" that goes under the name of Holodomor and has officially been recognized by western Parlaments only a few decades ago. In eastern Ukraine there were no more inhabitants after the Holodomor, and the Russians imported hundreds of thousand peasants from Russia to get agriculture working again.

The problems of Ukraine are so deep that fomenting regime change there was a most idiotic thing to do. Sooner or later the problems will explode, and it will be tough shit. Whoever helped this regime change should be locked up in some high security jail as far as possible.

Garrett Connelly , July 6, 2018 at 9:52 am

The big lie is 180° opposite of reality repeated over and over using free corporate propaganda.

vinnieoh , July 5, 2018 at 3:15 pm

Still scratching my head at the electric last line of Mr. Lazare's piece. I'm mean, I'm used to "official" organs like WaPo and NYT publishing whatever narrative is most helpful to whatever pieces are being moved on the chessboard, but for the same "freelance journalist" to have written both the earlier Foreign Policy piece and the recent WaPo piece is a puzzle to me.

Does Joshua Cohen just write stuff that goes with the flow (at any particular moment) and has a good chance of being published (and consequently of himself being paid)?

Or did this person really have an epiphany, and the scales fell from his eyes? I suspect a third explanation though what that may be eludes me. One thing is for sure, as a Trump/Putin meeting gets closer, expect more false "official" narratives concerning both Ukraine and Syria.

robjira , July 5, 2018 at 2:54 pm

https://off-guardian.org/2018/01/11/documentary-ukraine-on-fire-2016/

For anyone who hasn't watched this film yet.

Seamus Padraig , July 5, 2018 at 2:05 pm

'The U.S.-backed "Euromaidan" uprising not only drove out former president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, who had won an OSCE-certified election, but tore the country in two, precisely because ultra-rightists like C14 were in the lead But if one had to choose the looniest story of all, one that best reflects the abject toadyism of the reporting classes, it would have to be "Why Jews and Ukrainians Have Become Unlikely Allies," a 1,400-word article that ran on the Post-owned Foreign Policy website in May 2014.'

Here's the thing though: however weird it may sound, there actually DOES seem to exist some sort of tacit alliance between (some, not all) Jews and Ukrainian Nazis. Even if their ultimate goals are completely at odds–the Nazis hate the EU, but the Jews mostly want to join it–they nearly always seem to work together against Russia. It has even been maintained that the Azov Battalion (one of the all-volunteer Neo-Nazi militias fighting against the Donbass rebels) was entirely financed for a time by Jewish oligarch Ihor Kholomoisky, at least until he did something to piss Poroshenko off and got sacked from his post as governor of Dniepropetrovsk. And in the beginning, Jews who tried to point out that Neo-Nazi groups were involved in overthrowing Yanukovych, like Dr. Stephen Cohen, were roundly denounced a 'Russia apologists' just for stating facts.

But now that Washington's whole Ukraine project has gone south, I guess the Nazis, having outlived their usefulness, are, as usual, to be the fall-guys and take all the blame.

Anna , July 5, 2018 at 2:39 pm

yeh, the Kaganat of Nuland has many veils.
The most stunning aspect of the banderite putsch in Kiev was the dead silence of nazi-hunters from Wiesenthal Center, the always oh-so-sensitive ADL, the main 52 (fifty-two!) American Jewish organizations, and the overall docility and compliance of the "righteous" Israel with the banderite-neo-Nazi ideology by Kagans-selected power structures in Ukraine.
Mr. Kolomojsky, a financier of neo-nazi battalion Azov, is still an Israeli citizen.
Mrs. Nuland-Kagan, the main machinator of the regime change in Kiev, has not been ostracized by the Jewish Community at large.
The deeply amoral and bloodthirsty Carl Gerschman from NED, who has been the main cheerleader for the putsch and for the installing the banderite-friendly government in Kiev, has not been ostracized by the Jewish Community at large either. What a stench!
https://medium.com/@gmochannel/us-staged-a-coup-in-ukraine-brief-history-and-facts-898c6d0007d6

Pft , July 5, 2018 at 9:07 pm

Yeah. The prime minister and many of the top oligarchs are Jewish. Relations between Ukraine and Israel seem quite good despite the UNSC vote that the US abstained on regarding Israeli settlements in the West Bank, perhaps reminded by Stalin doing the same to them in the 1920's.

As for relations with the neo nazis I remember before WWII that Zionists in Palestine cooperated with Nazis who sent German Jews to Palestine in return for the purchase of German goods which were being boycotted by Jews in the west

I suspect most Americans don't know Ukrainian history. The early years of Bolshevik rule were quite brutal and over 10 million rural Christians lost their lives in Ukraine over their policies .Solzhenitsyn 200 years can shed some light on the roots of the anti-Semitism among the peasants that developed in the 20's-30's and no doubt has been passed on.

Robert , July 6, 2018 at 4:24 pm

I've thought about this myself and have concluded that a fair number of Jewish organizations and institutions in the Ukraine were receiving a small portion of the US State Department funding allocated to the Ukraine each year of $200-250 million, totaling $5 billion since 1992. In return for this rather small (by US standards) outlay to a broad spectrum of NGOs, private educational and religious institutions, and political groups, the US purchased an enormous amount of influence. Most of the members of these groups were unaware of this US support, as the funds were funneled through individual leaders who were tasked to influence opinion, organize demonstrations and petitions, and write letters to the press and government members. Scholarships to the US and Canada were offered to promising youth to ensure continuity of support. For this reason, most Jewish and other groups operating in Ukraine have, until recently and only with reluctance, been willing to deviate from the official US "story". Thus, they knowingly (at least as far as their leadership was concerned) supported an overtly US-led neo-Nazi coup.

mike , July 5, 2018 at 1:24 pm

Makes sense that Josh Cohen is a former U.S. Agency for International Development project officer involved in managing economic reform projects in the former Soviet Union. Isn't that really what this is all about? Putin gets elected and takes charge of the economy, jailing corrupt oligarchs and putting the kibosh on said reform projects sponsored by us in care of Jeffrey Sachs et al. As Russia tries to reassert its sovereignty the US gets miffed and retaliates.

It's a lot of fun until someone loses an eye.

Tom Hall , July 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm

The Electronic Intifada has just posted an article by Asa Winstanley detailing how Israel, among others, has been supplying the Ukrainian Azov Battalion with military arms. It's well worth reading.

https://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-arming-neo-nazis-ukraine/24876

The next time you hear a pro-Israel mouthpiece sounding off about purported antisemitism in the British Labour Party, or in pro-Palestinine activist circles in the U.S., invite them to consider Israel's policy -- and that of the U.S. as well as friendly European states -- of direct military sponsorship of textbook Nazism in Ukraine. Jews are being menaced and beaten in the streets of Kiev by armed bands who celebrate their historical persecution, while thugs like Avigdor Lieberman sit cordially with officials representing that regime. But then, such warm relations between Zionists and anti-Semites is an old story.

Jeff Harrison , July 5, 2018 at 1:03 pm

Interesting. Anyone with two brains to rub together knows that the US, to the best of it's ability, has been surrounding Russia with compliant right wing governments, usually dictators, but we've gotten better at manipulating elections to get reliable puppet government. The bad news is that it is a full time job to stay on top of that.

Gary Weglarz , July 5, 2018 at 1:01 pm

It used to be that the only things one could depend on were "death & taxes." Now of course we must add to that list the very dependable presence of CIA / State Dept lies parroted by MSM all over the West. Lies which are endlessly repeated in defiance of all physical reality and often in direct opposition to actual events in the actual world we live in. From the Ukraine coup, to Russia-gate, to the "Assad's gassing his own people" regime change propaganda, to the totally surreal Alice in Wonderland Skripnal poisoning nonsense in the U.K, the Western MSM have been as dependable as the rising sun. They can and do provide fact-free, evidence-free reporting directly from the bowels of the deep state in support of the neocolonial West, including unending support for the never ending resort to mass violence the West relies upon to keep the rest of the planet subjugated – just as it has for the last 500+ years.

irina , July 5, 2018 at 2:06 pm

It's not just the media. The late night talk show hosts are doing their bit too, as I heard last night on a Jimmy Kimmel rerun (of a recent show). Can't remember the context as I was doing the dishes, but did hear him say the usual "Russian illegally annexed Crimea" standard phrase, immediately followed by "and then invaded Ukraine". The latter just casually tossed off as a given. People hear these memes constantly repeated and, regardless of their veracity (suspect to say the least) it becomes part of their worldview.

Who is behind the political preaching of hosts like Jimmy Kimmel ? Inquiring minds want to know !

Joe Tedesky , July 5, 2018 at 2:43 pm

You know what irina, seeing these late night talk shows go all crazy over Putin makes me think of the Zio-Media executives, and where their allegiance to power resides. Joe

Devil's Advocate , July 5, 2018 at 2:48 pm

I would assume you'd have to look at who owns the media source in question. Kimmel's show is on ABC, which is partly owned by Disney. Follow the money chain of those 2 parent companies, and you have your answer.

Gary Weglarz , July 5, 2018 at 6:28 pm

irina – I quite agree. The same is true of the former Daily Show crew members who now have their own shows. Several have shown themselves to be quite the little imperialist war mongers when it comes to gleefully repeating the CIA sponsored Syrian regime change and Russiagate propaganda. Samantha Bee & John Oliver kept triggering my gag reflex with their propaganda lines until I found a simple but effective solution and stopped watching them altogether. We have an amazingly seamless propaganda system here in the U.S. One can chose to either get one's "pro-war regime change propaganda" delivered with barely concealed racism and misogyny from Fox News, or instead opt for hearing the same nonsense delivered with pretentious blather and catchy jazz interludes at PBS. American democracy is all about having "choices."

Jeff Harrison , July 5, 2018 at 7:57 pm

I quite agree. I knew the minute that they started calling RT a propaganda outlet that, in fact, the USG was running a full scale propaganda operation. I don't know if I simply wasn't paying enough attention or if they have, in fact ramped the operation up, but I can hardly read any MSM outlet's output without calling bullshit on it.

irina , July 6, 2018 at 2:55 am

Jimmy Kimmel actually used to be funny and there is a really good clip (somewhere on youtube no doubt) of him reading a 'doctored' Dr. Seuss
book to The Donald (a live guest) during his primary candidacy.

But since The Donald's election Kimmel has opened almost every show with 'ten minutes hate' segment on The Donald. I still watch (or at least listen) occasionally because I want to know what is being fed to The Public.

You are absolutely right though, "we have an amazingly seamless propaganda system here in the US". The average person maybe has 30 minutes to devote to the news, between getting home and having dinner; they watch some sort of news show and think they are 'informed'. But it actually takes MANY hours and a knowledge of alternative websites to even begin to piece together an approximation of what might, in reality, be going on.

The Russians used to say that, at least they knew they were being propagandized.

Unfortunately, probably due to 'American Exceptionalism', most Americans think the MSM is bringing them 'the truth'. But nothing could be further from The Truth.

Peter H , July 6, 2018 at 10:41 am

I can't count the number of times I've had to turn off Colbert's Late Show for his Russian/Putin bashing BS. So disappointing. That's a rule in my house now. The first mention of Russia and off it goes.

Drew Hunkins , July 5, 2018 at 12:52 pm

Likewise, the corporate militarist-Zio media should eventually have to concede someday that the current Syrian "rebels" are little more than ruthless sociopathic Saudi-Zio-Washington intel agency supported mercenary terrorists.

Folks in the know knew very early on that much of the Kiev putschists and violent invaders of Eastern Ukraine were neo-Nazi types bent on eradicating the last vestiges of Russian social and ethnic solidarity.

It's really truly remarkable when one steps back to think about it all. These are the depraved groups the crypto-fascists, the Wall Street militarist imperialists, and Zionists have embedded themselves with: bloodthirsty Takfiri mercenary terrorists and neo-Nazis.

Bob Van Noy , July 5, 2018 at 2:25 pm

Each time I see an article like this I'm reminded of the videos of Zbigniew Brzezinski's early meetings with the Mujahideen and his manipulation of cultures on The Grand Chessboard or "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" a totally absurd assumption and the natural outcome of that absurdity, is blowback which this article again addresses. Our "boots on the ground" end up paying the price of this kind of supposed intellectualism. Shameful. Thank you Drew Hunkins.

Joe Tedesky , July 5, 2018 at 2:39 pm

Bob the old saying if I got right is the company you keep is what you become. We have truly loss our way, and Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of the biggest reasons we have become the predators of this dying green earth. All this for the profit, as all mankind must yield to the power of the dollar. Sad. Joe

MBeaver , July 6, 2018 at 5:03 am

One would think we had learned from Vietnam. Instead the "peace loving" liberals do everything to destabilize whole region for nothing and then send soldiers in who die for their messed up agenda.

JWalters , July 5, 2018 at 7:16 pm

It is truly remarkable. A lot of the behind-the-scenes magic is explained in "War Profiteers and Israel's Bank" http://warprofiteerstory.blogspot.com
.

[Jul 05, 2018] SNAFU! Dr. Phillip Karber on the Russian Way of War (MUST WATCH VIDEO!!!!)

If we assume that this is true: "Beyond that, the Ukrainians had no realistic option to defend Crimea. Their military was in extremely poor shape by the time 2014 rolled around thanks to more than two decades of neglect, monumental corruption and even more monumental incompetence by Ukrainian politicians and military leaders, while the Russians had well prepared contingency plans and had already begun far reaching military reforms as a result of their experiences in Chechnya and Georgia."
Then Ukrainian armed forces should drastically improve after several years of fighting.
Notable quotes:
"... The fact that the US leadership didn't even stop to consider how the Russians might react shows just how arrogant, hubristic and incompetent Obama and his national security team really were. ..."
"... Caveat emptor. Karber is a flamboyant blowhard. This is not to dismiss Russia's invasion or or act of war in Ukraine but merely to state that this guy is essentially a Tom Clancy cut out. I like a lot of his slides (I wonder who made them?) and his valuable tactical observations (even if it does sound, at times, like a shopping list for Ukrainian military aid) but he is no SME. https://foreignpolicy.com/2... ..."
Jul 05, 2018 | www.snafu-solomon.com
Thundarr the Barbarian15 minutes ago

If the Obama administration ordered Ukraine not to fight for Crimea on the assumption they could force Russia to give it back via sanctions, they miscalculated badly.

The Russians believe Crimea rightfully belongs to them and they saw control of it as vital to their national security. There were some serious shenanigans going on in Kiev, which the Russians interpreted as an American engineered coup. The Russians reacted to what they believed was a major threat to their national security. The fact that the US leadership didn't even stop to consider how the Russians might react shows just how arrogant, hubristic and incompetent Obama and his national security team really were.

There is no way the Russians will ever give up Crimea, especially under pressure from the US, NATO and the EU. No Russian politician could do that and hope to survive. Besides, the Russians have repeatedly demonstrated an ability to endure suffering and hardships much greater than the capacity of Western nations to endure and the sanctions showed that Russia was far less vulnerable to pressure than Western politicians assumed.

Beyond that, the Ukrainians had no realistic option to defend Crimea. Their military was in extremely poor shape by the time 2014 rolled around thanks to more than two decades of neglect, monumental corruption and even more monumental incompetence by Ukrainian politicians and military leaders, while the Russians had well prepared contingency plans and had already begun far reaching military reforms as a result of their experiences in Chechnya and Georgia. SurfaceBook 4 hours ago I disagree with mr kerber's assesment on Crimean ops being the largest air assault in history. Operation Market Garden in WW2 was the largest Air assault involving divisions of paratroopers from US/UK/Poland into german occupied drop zones (in conjuction with a land assault forcing it's way to Arnhem).

One other curiousity , Washington 'ordered' Ukraine ? a sovereign nation under orders ? just who is in charge of ukraine at that time ? see more

Thundarr the Barbarian SurfaceBook 2 hours ago

To answer your question: Victoria Nuland, who was the Assistant Secretary of State for Eurasian Affairs during the Obama administration. In other words, she was the American proconsul for Eastern Europe.

ignatzthecat6 hours ago

Bottom line? "The Fog of War".........All these scenarios mean nothing after the first "shot" is fired. If any US "enemy" cannot crush US air power they are finished from the gitgo. Not a fan of our foreign policies but we can "crush" the enemy; we just can't "rule" them.

Distiller9 hours ago

Would really like to hear the other side. Where does he get his information from? The Ukrainians? All this Russia-is-evil-and-scheming-to-do-more-evil is ... slightly over the top. I don't say it's impossible that Russian regular troops have been involved in Donbas but he makes it sound like Unternehmen Zitadelle

BSmitty13 hours ago

IMHO, beware taking too many lessons away from this conflict. The Ukranian's don't have anything close to the SEAD/DEAD/EW/airpower capability of the US. What worked against their aviation won't necessarily work against ours. Once mid-high altitude air defenses are down, enemy jammers will have a short lifespan.

His comments that even light infantry should have the means to get away when under attack, and sufficient armor to counter attack point to the inadequacies of Army IBCTs (Infantry, not "Interim").

IMHO, IBCTs should have 100% vehicular mobility, and have the option of attaching an independent tank battalion. Cobbling together random HMMWVs from div/corps just seems silly. Make vehicles part of the core TOE. see more

DOnT4 BSmitty 6 hours ago

You are assuming that we are working within our own timeline. Yes with enough time and blood, we can peal back their defense network with airpower. The question is, who buys us that time?

Russians (and the Chinese) ground forces trained to fight in contested airspace. The US Army assumes we have it.

utahbob6214 hours ago

Sol, Thanks for posting the link and asking for discussion. One thing that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up is how much of this is being shared with the PLA and worse the DPRK? They are pretty smart and probility can figure lots of this out on their own. Is there any PLA observers up front with the RuFA or exchanging TTPs in an AAR? Or professional papers and presentations at staff school level or higher? I am just a grunt and red leg, but how does the EW and fires part impact the navy? A step is being taken: http://soldiersystems.net/2... I wonder when this is part of OPFOR at NTC or 29 Palms? see more

Solomon Mod utahbob62 14 hours ago

NO! thank you for sharing !!!!! this is like getting a seat at the Army War College and getting to hear what is never shared with the troops or the public.

to be honest what i heard in that video was downright shocking. i won't say scary cause i won't be facing that shit but if i was i'd be beyond concerned.

to answer your question you can bet your last dollar that the Chinese are getting briefings on this. you can bet that they're not only studying the above vid but getting info from the subject matter experts in Russia.

this guy is senior but i would so love to hear an assessment of Marine Corps chances if war were to break out in Norway or surrounding countries (we still have the flank). how would a Marine Expeditionary Brigade standup to those type tactics. we're talking about a lighter formation than the US Army equivalent but with integrated air.

oh and a side note. as much as i think the US Army and Marine Corps would be in a hurtlocker can you imagine what would happen to any of our European allies if they were somehow isolated and attacked?

my only regret about this whole thing is that i wanted to sit back and drink in serious conversation about this video. instead i'm getting the usual trolling. i can tolerate that on the majority of subjects i cover here but this one is different. i wanted to hear from serious individuals doing serious thinking about what the Dr presented.

such is life. if you run across anything else PLEASE send it. i find this fascinating!

Deckard Rick15 hours ago T

he slide at 12.44 is also interesting it shows Russia's "desire" for "friendly relations" with the west and its neighbours. But i guess like in the cold war there is no shortage of naives that think that Russia understands anything else but sanctions or force. see more

spinfight Deckard Rick13 hours ago

Very true but defenses still have to be credible. It's pretty clear that a European military would get squashed like a bug.

Remington Steele16 hours ago

Caveat emptor. Karber is a flamboyant blowhard. This is not to dismiss Russia's invasion or or act of war in Ukraine but merely to state that this guy is essentially a Tom Clancy cut out. I like a lot of his slides (I wonder who made them?) and his valuable tactical observations (even if it does sound, at times, like a shopping list for Ukrainian military aid) but he is no SME. https://foreignpolicy.com/2...

Deckard Rick16 hours ago

My conclusions -- Western/ US allies/Nato armies will need to have:

- integrated air defence at every level from platoon to regimental.(manpads, spaag,
- mass fire/steel rain capabilities cheap and heavy MLRS also MLRS launched antiradiation missiles)
the israelis launched AGM Shrikes with boosters from trucks to target Syrian Radars
- Field Army EW sigint/elint/jamming/defense capabilities
- EW munitions (currently russia has tube artillery launched jammers don't know about the US or NATO)
- Small and light SPGs like the Gvozdika

spinfight Nuno Gomes 16 hours ago
Whilst I agree Russia does tend to export it's kit extensively. Also some of the potential uses such as GPS jamming drones, could be more than merely inconvenient on very small budgets.

[Jul 03, 2018] The role of diaspora might as destructive in Ukraine as it was in Iraq and Iran

Notable quotes:
"... The reason they endlessly get it wrong, of course, is that they listen to the exiles in the US and elsewhere. Those exiles still mainly come from the old upper classes, with their eternal sense of entitlement to power, and their air-tickets ready in their pockets to fly back to Tehran and take back their positions under the Shah. Because of course, the Iranian revolution was one of the first populist movements, where the religious regime appealed directly to "the people", and the upper classes were cut out. The system has worked well - "the people" have continued to vote for the regime, naturally being a majority. ..."
Jul 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Laguerre , Jul 2, 2018 4:37:58 AM | 37

There was a distinct change earlier this year, after the second US fusillade of cruise missiles, and the Israeli bombing of "Iranian" bases in Syria.

We were all expecting further military action, but nothing happened, in particular no more Israeli action, although Iranian forces in Syria were hardly damaged.

Instead they started muttering about subversion of the Iranian state from the inside, which is what b is writing about here. That was a big sign that the all-out assault on Iran has been called off.

Why? Evidently because the military say no. The scenario was the same as the one back in 2012, the last time we thought to see Israeli aircraft getting permission from Saudi to do their bombing runs on Iran, but it didn't happen then, because the Israeli military were saying no. Evidently the position hasn't changed, I was relieved to discover, although the propagandists claimed the plan is all worked out now, and Iran has little defence.

Well, internal subversion of the regime, then. Hasn't the US been attempting to do precisely that for 40 years now, ever since the revolution overthrew the Shah in 1979? What are the conditions which mean that they are going to succeed now, when they've failed for 40 years?

The reason they endlessly get it wrong, of course, is that they listen to the exiles in the US and elsewhere. Those exiles still mainly come from the old upper classes, with their eternal sense of entitlement to power, and their air-tickets ready in their pockets to fly back to Tehran and take back their positions under the Shah. Because of course, the Iranian revolution was one of the first populist movements, where the religious regime appealed directly to "the people", and the upper classes were cut out. The system has worked well - "the people" have continued to vote for the regime, naturally being a majority.

I don't want to get into a historical disquisition (which in any case I've said before), but the reason this works is that there's history behind it - I'm pretty sure that the original Islamisation of Iran (I don't mean the Arab conquest, but the conversion of the country) was a popular revolt against the pre-Islamic nationalist aristocracy, who didn't pay any taxes. The present-day Iranian exiles attach themselves strongly to that old nationalist aristocracy, including most academics of Iranian origin in western universities. They don't seem to notice that the class they admire grindingly oppressed the poor, such that it led to a revolution.

sorry for that rant, as Debs would say.

[Jul 03, 2018] Is reconsiliation still possible?

Jul 03, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

currently having an online debate about conditions in the crimea, specifically alleged russian oppression of crimeans in 2018, but also conditions leading up to the initial referendum (my opponents claim annexation or conquest, and cite a freedom house survey to back it up--from what i can see freedom house is fully funded by the us govt). my understanding is the us fomented the coup in ukraine, along with nato, as opposed to the ukrainian people rebelling against a russian puppet, which is the us line i believe. any articles or sources detailing the us role in all this, or rebutting claims that crimeans are being terrified into silence in 2018 about russian oppression, would be appreciated.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Jul 1, 2018 2:05:08 PM | 3


somebody , Jul 1, 2018 4:01:34 PM | 5

3 Just quoting "Western" mainstream sources:

BBC?

"Ethnic Russians in the majority, Tartars and Ukrainians in the minority."

Carnegie?

About half of the respondents admit to having been taken by surprise by Russia's actions in 2014. Interestingly, there is agreement among the Crimean population, including the Crimean Tatars, that successive Ukrainian governments had neglected the region. Roughly one third of respondents pointed to this neglect as the main cause of the developments in 2014. ... The majority of survey respondents agree with the statement that the different ethnic groups in Crimea currently live peacefully side by side. Twenty percent disagree "fully" or "rather" with this statement, thereby indicating both an uncertainty and unease with the situation at the moment that reaches beyond the Crimean Tatar share of the population (about 12 percent). This result is mirrored in the reaction to the ban on the main political Crimean Tatar organization, the Mejlis, by the Russian authorities: 20 percent "fully" or "rather" disagreed with this step, compared to 80 percent endorsing this policy. ... The survey clearly spells out the severe disruption of links to the rest of Ukraine, limited travel to other parts of Russia, the absence of personal international reference points, and a near-complete integration into the Russian media sphere.

This combination makes any change in the opinions of the majority of the Crimean population on the annexation unlikely in the foreseeable future. However, it is also clear that the Crimean population's high expectations in the Russian economy and trust in Russian (but not Crimean) institutions needs to be carefully managed by Moscow in view of the already strained financial situation of the majority of the Crimean population.

Compare to Ukraine

The authors are also cautious about drawing overly-optimistic conclusions about the present time: "The risk of conflict emerging within Ukrainian society and growing serious remains, based on noticeable differences among residents of different regions about the further geopolitical direction the country should move in. There are also serious problems connected to restoring Ukraine's territorial integrity and the model of coexistence with those living in the regions that are currently occupied, how to reach reconciliation and mutual understanding." ...

Joining the EU remains a strong desire among a majority of Ukrainians. In September 2016, 51% of those surveyed by the Rating Group put integration with the EU ahead of joining Russia's Customs Union or some other association. Still, in Rating's September 2015 survey, 57% of Ukrainians did so, and in September 2014, 59% did. This noticeable decline could be the result of a number of factors. For one thing, the Association Agreement did not have a noticeable impact on the standard of living of most Ukrainians. Many Ukrainians are also upset at what they see as the European Union's limp response to Russia's aggression against their country. And the way the granting of a visa-free regime to the EU has been dragged out for years and the obvious internal squabbles among the Union's members have also left their imprint on Ukrainians.

Ukraine is a very diverse country. Trump coming to an agreement with Putin that eases tensions instead of agreeing/dividing on spheres of influence would be their best hope.

PavewayIV , Jul 1, 2018 6:26:14 PM | 8
pretzelattack@3 re: "...rebutting claims that crimeans are being terrified into silence in 2018 about russian oppression."

I honestly have not heard anything about actual oppression - just that some Ukrainians and Tartars are still - today - not terribly happy with the secession/annexation/transfer. Acts of civil disobedience were generally individual, "I don't want to be part of Russia and I'm not signing these papers or paying taxes," kind of thing. I know any polls of Crimeans are noted to be terribly flawed - neither the pro-Russian nor the pro-Ukraine people trust anyone taking polls. They'll not answer or give an answer that seems to agree with whatever 'side' the pollster might be from.

I can't see how this issue could be fairly considered without at least an acknowledgement that in 1954, 1.1 million people in Crimea woke up one day to find they were now citizens of the Ukraine SSR. No polls, no vote, no discussion and no terribly good reasons.

https://www.wilsoncenter.org/publication/why-did-russia-give-away-crimea-sixty-years-ago

Jen , Jul 1, 2018 6:27:35 PM | 9
Pretzel Attack @ 3:

If you need sources to back up your argument that the US helped to foment the Maidan uprising that overthrew the Yanukovych government, here are a couple that feature a video and a transcript of a phone conversation.

Information CLearing House: Victoria Nuland [former US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe during Obama administration] Admits: US Has Invested $5 Billion In The Development of Ukrainian "Democratic Institutions"
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37599.htm

The article includes the video of the speech Nuland gave to the Washington press corp in December 2013 in which she talks about "investing" the $5 billion.

A transcript of the phone call between Nuland and the then US ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who to select for the post-Yanukovych government in Kiev at this Global Research link:
https://www.globalresearch.ca/us-eu-clash-on-how-to-install-a-puppet-regime-in-ukraine-victoria-nuland/5367794

This is the famous phone call in which Nuland utters her most memorable lines: "Yats [Yatsenyuk] is the guy [for deputy prime minister]" and "Fuck the EU".

-----

I have also found details of the Korsun massacre incident that occurred on 20 February 2014. I had known about this massacre but in a hazy way and had thought only a few people had been killed. However this incident is much more grave and this was the stimulus for the Crimeans to organise their independence referendum and break away from Ukraine.

Eight buses of Crimean supporters of the Yanukovych government were returning to Crimea when the convoy was ambushed by Nazi thugs (who had known of the convoy's movements in advance). The thugs ordered everyone off the buses, beat them up and tortured them. Several people were killed.

More details of the Korsun incident at this Fort Russ link:
https://www.fort-russ.com/2015/02/korsun-massacre-anniversary-what-really/

karlof1 , Jul 1, 2018 6:47:59 PM | 10
Crimeans are very pleased about their reaffiliation with Russia. To say otherwise is to lie, pure and simple.
dh , Jul 1, 2018 6:51:06 PM | 11
@3 You can add this to Jen @9...

"Americans prepared very seriously and thoroughly for their entrance into Crimea, – said a member of the Federation Council Committee on defense and security, Dmitry Sablin. – A year before the events on Maidan in Kiev, they made repair estimates of a number of buildings in Sevastopol and in Simferopol, where they planned to house the headquarters and intelligence units. Military airfields and garrisons, which then belonged to Ukraine, they considered as their own military installations and even sent instructions for their conversion to NATO standards. In the plans of the U.S. military April 2014 was the start time of upgrades in Crimea. It seemed to them that the issue has been settled. But the referendum had thrown off their plans, and on March 18, Crimea became Russian again, where the overseas guests were no longer welcome. Americans later themselves acknowledged that the Russians outplayed them on all counts. Well, and from helplessness imposed sanctions -- as a revenge for Crimea".

https://www.fort-russ.com/2016/03/how-russia-ruined-american-plans-in/

Jen , Jul 1, 2018 7:02:07 PM | 12
Pretzel Attack @ 3:

Here's a Russia Insight documentary in which survivors of the Korsun massacre help re-enact the incident:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ummUo7DEEzM

Jen , Jul 1, 2018 7:08:28 PM | 13
Pretzel Attack @ 3

You can add this to DH @ 11:

Renovation of Sevastopol School #5, Ukraine
Solicitation Number: N33191-13-R-1240
Agency: Department of the Navy
Office: Naval Facilities Engineering Command
Location: NAVFAC Europe and Southwest Asia
https://www.fbo.gov/?s=opportunity&mode=form&id=2bb691b61c59be3a68180bd8c614a0cb&tab=core&_cview=1

This is the tender put out by the US Navy to invite private companies to propose renovation plans for a school for naval officers' children in the military base in Sevastopol.

Jen , Jul 1, 2018 7:08:28 PM | 13 Daniel , Jul 1, 2018 7:40:45 PM | 14
Sabine @6: On political/national/ethnic determinations.

It is a messy situation. I had thought one of the reasons we hate the Nazis is because ethno-nationalism is evil. And yet, most of the West's leaders fully support Israel, and the AZ Empire is promoting Kurdish ethno-states in Iraq and Syria (though not in Turkey, where 50% of all Kurds live).

We were all ready to accept a referendum that would have seen Scotland secede from Great Britain, and yet when people in regions of 1991 Ukraine resisted the Western-fomented coup in 2014, and voted to secede, we are told they are terrorists to be crushed.

Most of the national borders in the Middle East and Africa were created by an elite in Great Britain and Europe, which divided families and crammed together enemies, creating the inevitable century of turmoil. And yet, here most of us support the sovereignty of some of those artificially-created neocolonial states.

Messy.

Personally, I believe in the right to self-determination. If a group of people in a region choose to form, or dissolve, or maintain, or expand a political entity, then they should be allowed to. Such decisions should be made by the will of those people only.

What I see as illegitimate is people from outside that region interfering to force their will on others.

Jen , Jul 1, 2018 8:42:46 PM | 17
Pretzel Attack @ 3:

I keep finding juicy things for you!

Here is a link to a documentary "Crimea for Dummies" by Los Angeles-based film-maker Miguel Francis Santiago in 2014. Watch it and judge for yourself whether Crimeans seem genuinely happy at being part of Russia again.
https://21stcenturywire.com/2018/06/17/sunday-screening-crimea-for-dummies-2014/

MFS also travelled to the Donbass and made a documentary about his journey there. I saw the documentary a couple of years ago and from memory I believe he met Givi, one of the Donbass military commanders. Givi died in early 2017 when a missile hit his office.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukQgVoTnAuE

Daniel , Jul 1, 2018 9:32:44 PM | 19
Jen. Thanks for the great links on the Ukraine situation. Oliver Stone created a stunning documentary, that is the best on the subject I've seen: "Ukraine on Fire"

Unfortunately, it appears to be banned or at lest heavily censored within the US. I saw it on RT.

I found a version with foreign language over-dubbing which my ear finds difficult. But it does have CC in English.

Grieved , Jul 2, 2018 12:08:00 AM | 25
@3 pretzelattack

I second all of the very valuable responses made to you, but no story of Crimea would be complete without Crimea. The Way Home. Documentary by Andrey Kondrashev

I've seen several uploads of this documentary, which was made in 2015. But the resolution of this version is superb. I recommend it for everyone actually, and I'm happy to say that it's being hosted on the Vesti News channel - which is worth exploring in its own right.

This is the definitive story told from the inside of the people of Crimea forming a resistance force to take their land back from Ukraine. It was already happening but the Korsun massacre detailed above by commenters was the galvanizing point that showed the Crimeans that Kiev was coming to massacre it also, unless it resisted. And as everyone knew, Crimea was hated most of all, and its suffering would be far worse than that of Donbass.

Kondrashev is a popular Russian news commentator, and he interviews Putin extensively in the film. This was made one year after the Crimea restoration to Russia, after the events of that time, coordinated by Putin, were de-classified.

The documentary is a dramatic and stirring work. You will be totally in love with with Crimea and the Russian people by the end of it. And you will understand how the Maidan was a US color revolution in classical style. Your heart will jump when you see the snipers kill the hard-pressed Berkut. And it's a true story, made from real footage, and with parts reenacted by the actual people.

When the polite green men show up, in the very nick of time, you may find yourself weeping with gladness.

[Jun 26, 2018] Donetsk and how it was founded by 19th-century Welsh engineer industrialist John Hughes, after whom it was originally named Yuzovka.

Jun 26, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Mark2 @ 81, Daniel @ 82:

I am halfway through watching a film of US actor Peter von Berg travelling through the Donetsk People's Republic and meeting Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko and various others to find out how the Donetsk rebels are creating a socialist state under a situation of war. The film is as much an implicit criticism of US society (and by extension, Western capitalist society generally) as it is an investigation of the reality on the ground on Donetsk, ignored by the Western MSM.

Von Berg visits a greenhouse farm growing tomatoes, a hospital and a factory among other places he travels to (including the capital, of course) in the DPR.

There is even a short history of the city of Donetsk and how it was founded by 19th-century Welsh engineer industrialist John Hughes, after whom it was originally named Yuzovka.

https://www.therussophile.org/watch-nyc-to-donetsk-back-a-new-film.html/

Posted by: Jen | Jun 25, 2018 7:06:44 PM | 89

[Jun 18, 2018] The next year the strategic position of Ukraine might get worse

Jun 18, 2018 | www.unz.com

Beckow , June 16, 2018 at 12:24 am GMT

If Kiev wants to attack Donbas they better hurry. After World Cup, and definitely next year when the pipelines bypassing Ukraine will be ready, Ukraine's strategic situation will get worse. We are in a transition phase: sh..t happened in 2013-15 that is impossible to undo, but there were fortunately constraints on all sides that prevented a meltdown. In a year or two most of those constraints will be gone.

Saker is correct that EU countries will not work with Russia. Blaming it all on Washington was always stupid – there are forces in Europe, in all countries, who want a confrontation with Russia. Any event, real or fake, will be used to escalate. West cannot lose this one without another fight. And if they sit on their hands, they will eventually lose with a disillusioned Ukraine and slowly disintegrating EU. Populist energy needs to be re-directed eastward, and for that a more aggressive policy is required. This is not pessimism, there simply is no way for EU elite to climb down. How could UK make up with Russia without looking like complete idiots? Or Macron and Merkel? The hostility is at this point inherent in the situation – what started out as a badly thought-out attempt to get some quick goodies (bases in Crimea, Nato expansion, sell weapons) has evolved into a real death spiral.

We are one Franz Ferdinand moment away from a catastrophe. Let's enjoy the games while we still can. Trump knows this, so he is trying desperately to organize a summit or send some messages of conciliation. But he is powerless and it might be too late for that. Hubris never dissipates, it requires a disaster and an elite turnover to cure hubris.

Mattheus , June 16, 2018 at 2:06 pm GMT
Saker is once again completely wrong. His theories fall short to explain lots of real events. He got hooked on his "Anglo-Zionist" theory and "one Hegemon", which is far from explaining the reality on the ground. There is no one single hegemon, but two powerful interest groups in the west. One of the power centers is dominated by the Rothschilds from the City of London and the other ruled by the Rockerfellers which is based in the US.
The powers described above are sometimes working in collusion but sometimes work against each other (They were in collusion during the Soviet Afghan war for instance). Currently, we don't see a collusion but a war being waged in between these two groups. I think it is highly self evident, so much so that it is happening almost all in the open. In the modern history we haven't witnessed such a openly fought war ever before (between these two powers). All is at stake and the war in between these two is vicious. Thus you can explain Trump's attitude towards EU, everlasting character assasination of Trump by certain opposing circles in the US, high level resignations, the state of confusion of Nato and much more. If this theory is right (and I think it is much more viable than any other theory that I came across in the Alt-Med), this makes Russia firmly embedded into one of the camps. Unfortunately, the position that Russia took makes him not a sovereign power but on contrary puts him into a subservient role. The late actions of Russia, especially in Syria, is quite telling. I know people who admire Russia get quite frustrated when they hear such a scenario and outcome, but this is possibly the only way Putin believes that Russia can survive. Thus it explains his latest house clean-up of Euroasian integrists. Even worse, if you believe in this scenario, it brings Russia and China against each other especially in the long run. This scenario also put a full stop to the idealist Euroasian multi-polar world order.
Here is the link to an older video in Russian with English subtitles. The guy's name is Andrei Fursov and he has some interesting things to say regarding this subject. This interview was just before Obama was elected but is still quite relevent. His newer videos seems to have lost steam, possibly because he is working for some state connected Russian institutions and think-thanks and thus I think he is somewhat restricted. After all it is again the famous "Game Theory", isn't it?
byrresheim , June 16, 2018 at 6:39 pm GMT
As long as the Author keeps talking about Ukronazis, we know that he is not at all prepared to see any problems on the Russian side at all.

Which serves devalue his argument, even if there are a lot of valid points otherwise.

Beckow , June 17, 2018 at 1:39 am GMT
@Philip Owen

I don't think you realize that armies need supplies. To break into Donbas cities would be hard enough, but to re-supply them would be impossible. Civilians would mostly evacuate, so there would be little to 'hide in'. Kiev cannot win militarily as long as Russia opposes it. Russia can always blast their bases from air, or with missiles. Don't kid yourself, if Russia has the will, they will prevail.

Since you mentioned 2014, there was a perfect opportunity for Maidanistas to avoid this. All they had to do was to be friendly and accommodating to its Russian minority. Offer them autonomy, re-assure them, promise that trade and ties with Russia would continue. Kiev did the exact opposite, an extremely bad tactic. US kept on telling them to cool it, that one doesn't win by attacking before ready. But in Kiev emotions prevailed, and so we are where we are.

Sooner or later a more accommodating government in Kiev will try the 'let bygones be bygones' tactic on Russia. If we are lucky enough to make it that far.

[Jun 17, 2018] Ukraine as reflection of USA. When masters fall out their men get the clout by Mark Kravets

Dec 26, 2017 | medium.com

So-called Ukrainian 'maidans' have bored the world community to death. And the public has been taking the protests currently under way in Kiev for no more than traditional autumn and winter open-air parties, similar to the Parisian 'fire shows'. Meanwhile, much more significant confrontation has been taking place in Kiev, alongside with the circus of ex-president of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili. An inner conflict between two anticorruption and power-wielding departments of the country is long overdue. In their relations with the media, both representatives of those organizations and members of various Verkhovna Rada fractions have been describing specific processes that are taking place in Ukraine as 'Makhnovshchina' or a war of all against all, literally speaking.

After returning from the international anti-corruption forum organized by the U.S. State Department, Nazar Holodnitsky, head of the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (SAP) of Ukraine, stated in an interview to TSN , the Ukrainian TV channel, that a standoff of law enforcement agencies may escalate into a war harmful to entire Ukraine. Thus, a conflict between the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine (NABU) and the General Prosecutor's Office (GPO) has evolved into a hybrid war with interrogations involving physical and mental pressure and mutual accusations of all sorts of evils. Delegates of both sides have simultaneously visited their U.S. sponsors and come back comforted with just another assurance of '1000% support'.

Such confrontation of the government institutions raises eyebrows, I must say. State Department has publicly been sympathized with both the corruption fighters and the General Prosecutor's Office upon condition of the settlement of conflict by legal means and punishment of officials guilty of criminal charges. Meanwhile, the FBI has also been drawn in this undeclared war. In June 2016, the FBI and NABU adopted the Memorandum of Understanding, which allows the FBI to assist NABU and SAP in the matter of investigations and implementation of anti-corruption actions. The Bureau's special agents and analysts have been working in NABU on a temporary rotational basis.

The mere presence of the FBI suggests an idea about another U.S. security service which has been standing invisibly by in Ukraine, since it gained independence. This is the CIA, a classic rival of the FBI. The very secret visit in 2014 of the former Central Intelligence Agency chief John O. Brennan preceded the beginning of active hostilities in Ukraine. The CIA stood behind the appointment of the recent Kiev government. It had also protected the acting president of the country from rivals, up to a certain time. For instance, they conduced to the resignation of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a former rather ambitious Prime Minister of Ukraine who was in conflict with Petro Poroshenko and running for his post.

That helps explain the real cause of furious intransigence of NABU and the General Prosecutor's Office throwing wild accusations at each other. They have virtually been used by power-wielding structures and political forces of another state for a showdown. A never-ending internal fighting in the American national security environment has become the talk of the town being eventually accreted with new dirty wash. It seems that it has become more acute, with the passing of time.

For example, the FBI dealt a hard blow to the CIA bringing 12-count charges including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, false statements, and other against Paul Manafort, Donald Trump's former campaign chairman and his business associate, Richard Gates. His other partner, Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager was involved as well. Manafort was renowned for his associations with the CIA and for consulting the Party of Regions which was led by Victor Yanukovych. It became clear who was he FBI's source of such detailed and valuable data after the statements by Artem Sytnyk , Director of NABU and Serhiy Leshchenko , a Ukrainian MP.

Nevertheless, the CIA won at this stage of confrontation, because Trump came to power. Even support to the current President of the USA prior to the elections wasn't of much assistance to the FBI Director Comey.

History has witnessed a number of episodes when Ukraine was a stage for showdown by political forces from other countries. It never ended peacefully. As far back as in the XVII century Ukrainian territory had become a theatre of operations owing to the bloody strife between Polish hetmans (high military commanders in the Army of the Kingdom of Poland) of Ukrainian and Cossack origin. As a result, lands of the Zaporizhian Host voluntarily pledged allegiance to Russia.

During World War II the Ukrainian people suffered much harder. At that time the Third Reich was intensely seeking for ways to weaken the USSR, even before it invaded Poland in 1939. It was decided to use the ancient divide-and rule tactics proven by Julius Caesar, involving gradual tearing away of territories with malcontent population. Ukraine was considered the most prospective area for fomenting disaffection.

However, there also was both ideological and political discord among the highest ranks of the Third Reich. Thus, Alfred Rosenberg, the main ideologue of Nazism, along with admiral Wilhelm Canaris (who was accused of 'spiritual instigation' of a plot against Hitler) were planning the establishment of Ukrainian buffer state controlled by the Third Reich. Using such promises they managed to recruit Andriy Melnyk, a central figure in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), and notorious Stepan Bandera who, just like Mr. Yatsenyuk, was striving to lead the government in independent Ukrainian state. If the second one kept clinging to his aims all the time, Melnyk was good at matching to desires of his sponsors from Hitler's surrounding. When Himmler and Koch didn't recognize Rosenberg's ideas and wanted to weaken his power in the National Socialist Worker's Party, Melnyk was quick to assure them of his willingness to cooperate on any terms, especially when they let him know that Fuhrer didn't like the idea of a Ukrainian buffer state.

It is a paradox that those relations that had developed both within various branches of OUN-UPA and the Third Reich senior ranks coordinating them were similar to the recent situation in Ukraine. Ukrainian nationalist leaders were used not only for German purposes, but also for elimination of competitors in power. For instance, Rosenberg, after all, had to abandon his point of view. Many of his influential followers resigned just like chief Comey did to the delight of chief Pompeo, this May. Although NABU, the organization most thoroughly maintaining a steady U.S. course prepared for Ukraine, has been successfully continuing investigations, digging into Poroshenko who fell into disfavor for his poor record. And here you are, Marie Yovanovitch, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and a close acquaintance of the U.S. president's national security advisor McMaster and Secretary of Defense Mattis has indirectly supported Saakashvili's demonstration. In September, Saakashvili hanged out happily with contenders of the recent president in future election Valentyn Nalyvaichenko and Andriy Sadoviy, in Lviv. Now a big friend of Senator McCain Yulia Timoshenko and a number of Verkhovna Rada MPs endorse him.

This mess of warring parties seems to be disordered and extremely headachy. The situation has been much worse for the number of competing forces and foreign organizations standing behind them in Ukraine was much greater during the Third Reich and it continues to be so at present. The recent Ukrainian bellum omnium contra omnes has been a reflection of competitive battle between various security and governmental agencies in the USA.

A single distinct and unequivocal fact is that being a neighbour of such a huge state as Russia, Ukraine was always suffering from those who wish to weaken that influential country. Over and over again throughout Ukrainian history the country was exploited, with nationalist sentiments artificially ignited and false promises made. Even 'humane' Rosenberg's scheme ascribed Ukraine the role of a mere supplier of raw materials and a buffer state between Germany and Eastern Slavic countries without any right to independence.

As such, the USA regards Ukraine as an administered territory which is useful for strategic and economic aims. They skillfully manipulate Kiev government with carrot and stick. Undesirable Ukrainian political puppet might be branded as corrupt and replaced by more manageable nominee, at any time. There is always a possibility to initiate another blood shedding Maidan with oppressions and civil war, in case of urgency. Today's Ukraine is no freer than it was in 1941, during the invasion of Nazi Germany. Melnyks, banderas, hetmans skoropadskies have been replaced by new 'heroes', who never changed their essence. For evanescent promises and artificially inflated ambitions they've been tearing the country apart without mercy either to each other, or their countrymen. Meanwhile, the world community has been watching with approval the beacon of democracy vigorously setting things to order in 'dark and ignorant' Ukraine. Each of them thinking, 'Better them than me.'

[Jun 15, 2018] Putin, Donbass, emigration of Ukranians to Russia and US neocons foreign policy

An interesting point about refugees and emigration of Ukrainians to Russia.
Notable quotes:
"... Donbass is a civil conflict involving some Russian support for the rebels, who're overwhelmingly from the territory of the former Ukrainian SSR. These individuals have a realistic basis to oppose the Kiev based regimes that came after the overthrow of a democratically elected Ukrainian president. ..."
"... During the American Revolution, most of the pro-British fighters were said to be colonists already based in America. Furthermore, the American revolutionaries received significant support from France. With these factors in mind, the Donbass rebels don't seem less legit than the American revolutionaries. ..."
"... Some Kiev regime elements positively reference the 1995 Croat ethnic cleansing of Krajina Serbs (known as Operation Storm) as a solution for ending the rebel position in Donbass. Russia doesn't seek a massive refugee problem in Donbass and some other parts of the former Ukrainian SSR. As is, a sizeable number of Ukrainian residents have fled to Russia. ..."
"... Putin isn't anti-US in the manner claimed by Peters. Moreover, Peters is clearly more anti-Russian (in a narrow minded way at that) than what can be reasonably said of how Putin views the US. Putin's obvious differences with neocons, neolibs and flat out Russia haters isn't by default anti-US. He was the first foreign leader to console the US following 9/11. The Russian president has been consistently on record for favoring better US-Russian ties (even inquiring about Russia joining NATO at one point), thereby explaining why he has appeared to have preferred Trump over Clinton. ..."
"... the Russians (by and large) prefer predictability. As a general rule this is otherwise true. However, Clinton's neocon/neolib stated views on Russia have been to the point where many Russians felt willing to take a chance with Trump, whose campaign included a comparatively more sympathetic take of their country. At the same time, a good number of Russians questioned whether Trump would maintain that stance. ..."
Jun 15, 2018 | www.unz.com

Mikhail , Website June 14, 2018 at 10:28 pm GMT

@Carlton Meyer

Peters has been hardcore anti-Russian and anti-Serb. His views are quite collapsible. Regarding one of his mass media appearances

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/07/17/dnc-kiev-regime-collusion-isnt-americas-best-interests.html

Last week, Fox News host Tucker Carlson, received well deserved praise for taking to task the permeating anti-Russian biases. The highlight of Carlson's exchanges was his encounter with Ralph Peters, who for years has spouted grossly inaccurate propaganda against Russia. Antiwar.com and Russia Insider, are among the counter-establishment English language venues commenting on the Carlson-Peters discussion. The US foreign policy establishment realist leaning National Interest carried a lengthy piece on Carlson's challenge to the neocon/neolib foreign policy perceptions. For the record, more can and should be said in reply to Peter's comments.

Peters falsely claims that Russia hasn't made a concerted effort in confronting ISIS. In one of his more accurate moments, CNN's Wolf Blitzer said that the ISIS claimed shoot down of a Russian civilian airliner over Egypt, was in response to Russia's war against ISIS. You've to be either a liar or clueless to not recognize why Russia has actively opposed ISIS. The latter sees Russia as an enemy, while having a good number of individuals with roots in Russia and some other parts of the former USSR.

Peters' characterization of Russia targeting civilian areas is disingenuous. Over the years, the matter of collateral damage is something periodically brought up in response to those killed by US and Israeli military actions.

Peters offers no proof to his suspect claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin kills journalists. There're numerous anti-Putin advocates alive and well in Russia. That country does have a violence problem. Recall what the US was like in the 1960s thru early 1970′s. For that matter, Bernie Sanders isn't blamed for the pro-Sanders person who attempted to kill Republican lawmakers.

Given the situations concerning Kosovo and northern Cyprus, Peters is being a flat out hypocrite regarding Crimea. Donbass is a civil conflict involving some Russian support for the rebels, who're overwhelmingly from the territory of the former Ukrainian SSR. These individuals have a realistic basis to oppose the Kiev based regimes that came after the overthrow of a democratically elected Ukrainian president.

During the American Revolution, most of the pro-British fighters were said to be colonists already based in America. Furthermore, the American revolutionaries received significant support from France. With these factors in mind, the Donbass rebels don't seem less legit than the American revolutionaries.

Some Kiev regime elements positively reference the 1995 Croat ethnic cleansing of Krajina Serbs (known as Operation Storm) as a solution for ending the rebel position in Donbass. Russia doesn't seek a massive refugee problem in Donbass and some other parts of the former Ukrainian SSR. As is, a sizeable number of Ukrainian residents have fled to Russia.

Putin isn't anti-US in the manner claimed by Peters. Moreover, Peters is clearly more anti-Russian (in a narrow minded way at that) than what can be reasonably said of how Putin views the US. Putin's obvious differences with neocons, neolibs and flat out Russia haters isn't by default anti-US. He was the first foreign leader to console the US following 9/11. The Russian president has been consistently on record for favoring better US-Russian ties (even inquiring about Russia joining NATO at one point), thereby explaining why he has appeared to have preferred Trump over Clinton.

Some (including Trump) disagree with that view, which includes the notion that the Russians (by and large) prefer predictability. As a general rule this is otherwise true. However, Clinton's neocon/neolib stated views on Russia have been to the point where many Russians felt willing to take a chance with Trump, whose campaign included a comparatively more sympathetic take of their country. At the same time, a good number of Russians questioned whether Trump would maintain that stance.

Steve in Greensboro , June 14, 2018 at 10:42 pm GMT
@Rurik

I suppose many of us saw the Tucker with Max Boot. Boot seemed unhinged, really emotionally overwrought by Tucker raising commonsensical challenges to his neocon orthodoxy. Sad, angry man.

[Apr 10, 2018] Ukraine is a debilitated state, created under Soviet auspices, hampered by a difficult Soviet inheritance, and hollowed out by its own predatory elites during two decades of misrule. But it is also a nation that is too big and independent for Russia to swallow up

Apr 10, 2018 | www.foreignaffairs.com

Ukraine is a debilitated state, created under Soviet auspices, hampered by a difficult Soviet inheritance, and hollowed out by its own predatory elites during two decades of misrule. But it is also a nation that is too big and independent for Russia to swallow up. Russia, meanwhile, is a damaged yet still formidable great power whose rulers cannot be intimidated into allowing Ukraine to enter the Western orbit. Hence the standoff. No external power or aid package can solve Ukraine's problems or compensate for its inherent vulnerabilities vis-à-vis Russia. Nor would sending lethal weaponry to Ukraine's brave but ragtag volunteer fighters and corrupt state structures improve the situation; in fact, it would send it spiraling further downward, by failing to balance Russian predominance while giving Moscow a pretext to escalate the conflict even more. Rather, the way forward must begin with a recognition of some banal facts and some difficult bargaining.

Russia's seizure of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine do not challenge the entire post-1945 international order. The forward positions the Soviet Union occupied in the heart of Europe as a result of defeating Nazi Germany were voluntarily relinquished in the early 1990s, and they are not going to be reoccupied. But nor should every detail of the post–Cold War settlement worked out in 1989–91 be considered eternal and inviolate. That settlement emerged during an anomalous time. Russia was flat on its back but would not remain prostrate forever, and when it recovered, some sort of pushback was to be expected.

Something similar happened following the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, many of the provisions of which were not enforced. Even if France, the United Kingdom, and the United States had been willing and able to enforce the peace, their efforts would not have worked, because the treaty had been imposed during a temporary anomaly, the simultaneous collapse of German and Russian power, and would inevitably have been challenged when that power returned.

Territorial revisionism ensued after World War II as well, of course, and continued sporadically for decades. Since 1991, there have been some negotiated revisions: Hong Kong and Macao underwent peaceful reabsorption into China. Yugoslavia was broken up in violence and war, leading to the independence of its six federal units and eventually Kosovo, as well. Unrecognized statelets such as Nagorno-Karabakh, part of Azerbaijan; Transnistria, a sliver of Moldova; Abkhazia and South Ossetia, disputed units of Georgia; and now Donetsk and Luhansk, parts of Ukraine -- each entails a story of Stalinist border-making.

The European Union cannot resolve this latest standoff, nor can the United Nations. The United States has indeed put together "coalitions of the willing" to legitimize some of its recent interventions, but it is not going to go to war over Ukraine or start bombing Russia, and the wherewithal and will for indefinite sanctions against Russia are lacking. Distasteful as it might sound, Washington faces the prospect of trying to work out some negotiated larger territorial settlement.

Such negotiations would have to acknowledge that Russia is a great power with leverage, but they would not need to involve the formal acceptance of some special Russian sphere of interest in its so-called near abroad. The chief goals would be, first, to exchange international recognition of Russia's annexation of Crimea for an end to all the frozen conflicts in which Russia is an accomplice and, second, to disincentivize such behavior in the future. Russia should have to pay monetary compensation for Crimea. There could be some federal solutions, referendums, even land swaps and population transfers (which in many cases have already taken place). Sanctions on Russia would remain in place until a settlement was mutually agreed on, and new sanctions could be levied if Russia were to reject negotiations or were deemed to be conducting them in bad faith. Recognition of the new status of Crimea would occur in stages, over an extended period.

It would be a huge challenge to devise incentives that were politically plausible in the West while at the same time powerful enough for Russia to agree to a just settlement -- and for Ukraine to be willing to take part. But the search for a settlement would be an opportunity as well as a headache.

NATO expansion can be judged to have been a strategic error -- not because it angered Russia but because it weakened NATO as a military alliance. Russia's elites would likely have become revanchist even without NATO's advance, because they believe, nearly universally, that the United States took advantage of Russia in 1991 and has denied the country its rightful place as an equal in international diplomacy ever since. But NATO expansion's critics have not offered much in the way of practicable alternatives. Would it really have been appropriate, for example, to deny the requests of all the countries east of Germany to join the alliance?

Then as now, the only real alternative was the creation of an entirely new trans-European security architecture, one that fully transcended its Cold War counterpart. This was an oft-expressed Russian wish, but in the early 1990s, there was neither the imagination nor the incentives in Washington for such a heavy lift. Whether there is such capacity in Washington today remains to be seen. But even if comprehensive new security arrangements are unlikely anytime soon, Washington could still undertake much useful groundwork.

Critics might object on the grounds that the sanctions are actually biting, reinforced by the oil price free fall -- so why offer even minimal concessions to Putin now? The answer is because neither the sanctions, nor the oil price collapse, nor the two in conjunction have altered Russia's behavior, diminished its potential as a spoiler, or afforded Ukraine a chance to recover.

Whether they acknowledge it or not, Western opponents of a negotiated settlement are really opting for another long-term, open-ended attempt to contain Russia and hope for regime change -- a policy likely to last until the end of Putin's life and possibly well beyond. The costs of such an approach are likely to be quite high, and other global issues will continue to demand attention and resources. And all the while, Ukraine would effectively remain crippled, Europe's economy would suffer, and Russia would grow ever more embittered and difficult to handle. All of that might occur no matter what. But if negotiations hold out a chance of somehow averting such an outcome, they are worth a try. And the attempt would hold few costs, because failed negotiations would only solidify the case for containment in Europe and in the United States.

It is ultimately up to Russia's leaders to take meaningful steps to integrate their country into the existing world order, one that they can vex but not fully overturn. To the extent that the Ukraine debacle has brought this reality into sharper focus, it might actually have been useful in helping Putin to see some light, and the same goes for the collapse of oil prices and the accompanying unavoidable devaluation of the ruble. After the nadir of 1998, smart policy choices in Moscow, together with some lucky outside breaks, helped Russia transform a crisis into a breakthrough, with real and impressive steps forward. That history could replay itself -- but whether it will remains the prerogative of one person alone.

[Apr 01, 2018] Is a New War Against Russia in Ukraine Unfolding Before Our Eyes by by John McMurtry

This is definitely cancer stage of neoliberalism, but I doubt that there is connection between Skripal poisoning and Ukraine.
Also why the USA served as the catalyst for coming nationalists to power in 2014 the process started long ago with Yushchenko and to a certain extent is typical for all post Soviet republics, including Kazakhstan and Belorussia. they all try to distance themselves from Russia to prove their sovereignty. The low intensity warfare in Donetsk is the only differentiator, but even this remind attempt of Georgia to subdue South Ossetia in the past and Karabah conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
Still the author is definitely a brilliant writer and thinker he describes geopolitical tensions really well
Notable quotes:
"... has to have such a war-drum distraction to survive. ..."
"... Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee of the UN General Assembly ..."
Apr 01, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker's government, and the silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding by all NATO-member governments, mass media and even 'peace activist' organisations.

This time the big-lie pretext is about the alleged poisoning by the Kremlin/Putin of a double-agent, usually a stock move in the espionage entertainments, but here with no evidence of the claimed origin of the lethal nerve-agent, but rather expert denial within British defence and weapons research itself, with devious political word games to get around the absence of any corroborated evidence in familiar denuciations of Russia full of aggression and hate. Not even a death is recorded while US-led nd UK-armed ally forces are still mass-murdering poor civilian Yeminis, drone-murdering endless targets and civilians abroad, continuing on unblamed for the ongoing NATO-executed eco-genocides of Iraq and Libya societies, and on the 19-years anniversary of the mass bombing of, once again a society, Yugoslavia, with the most evolved social infrastructures of health, education, housing and life security in the region.

What this latest war pretext for US and NATO-backed aggression is really about is justifying more war in the Ukraine now that the massive war preparations along all of Russia's Western borders following the self-declared Nazi-led and proven US- orchestrated and commanded mass-murder coup d'etat in February 2014 . As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker's government, and the silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding by all NATO-member governments, mass media and even 'peace activist' organisations.

This time the big-lie pretext is about the alleged poisoning by the Kremlin/Putin of a double-agent traitor, usually a stock move in the espionage entertainments. Yet here there is no confirmed evidence whatever of the claimed origin of the lethal nerve-agent, but rather expert denial within British defence and weapons research itself that is silence in the press, with devious political word games crafted to get around the absence of any corroborated facts in the familiar denuciations of Russia full of team aggression and hate. Not even a death is recorded while US-led nd UK-armed ally forces are still mass-murdering poor civilian Yeminis, drone-murdering endless targets and civilians abroad, continuing on unblamed for the ongoing NATO-executed eco-genocides of Iraq and Libya societies, and on the 19-years anniversary of the mass bombing of Yugoslavia -- once again a socialist society with the most evolved social infrastructures of health, education, housing and life security in the region.

What this latest war pretext for US and NATO-backed aggression is really about is justifying more war in Ukraine now that the massive war preparations along all of Russia's Western borders following the self-declared Nazi-led and proven US- orchestrated and commanded mass-murder coup d'etat in February 2014 . As always, this US-directed mass murder was reverse-blamed on the ever shifting Enemy face -- Russia's allied but duly elected government of the Ukraine. It was only after this violent-coup Nazi-led and US directed overthrow of the elected government of the very resource-rich Ukraine -- "the breadbasket of Europe" and sitting on newly discovered rich fossil fuel deposits -- that Russia annexed its traditional territory of the Crimea next to Eastern Ukraine, the latter after the violent coup put under the rule of a US-Nazi-led government until its people fought back with Russia assistance for the now NATO-targeted zones of the new Donetsk and Lugansk republics.

What is new now is that we are about to enter yet another NATO-member war build-up against the cornerstone of Western ideology, the designated Enemy Russia. As usual there is amnesia of the ever-recurring big-lie pretext, the need for another crisis to keep the two-billion-dollar a day US-led NATO war machine going, the baleful puppet moves of Canada in the process, the crisis of legitimacy of the lead attacker's UK government, and silent diversion from the whole nightmare scenario unfolding in NATO-member states, mass media and even 'peace activist' organisations.

Cui Bono?

The UK and the US followed by Canada and some of the EU have by expulsion of Russia diplomats prepared the diplomatic way for war in the Ukraine to seize back these lost coup-territories, and it will be in the name of "freedom", "human rights" and "the rules of civilised nations". But there is much officially suppressed colour to the warring parties political conflict which reveals who the truly heinous suppressor of human rights is. Under mass media and corporate-state cover, the US-UK-NATO axis about to make war in Ukraine is doing so under the factually absurd but non-stop pretext of "Russia aggression" constructed out of the double-agent poisoning affair, with the guilty agents and poison having no proof but the ever louder UK-led and NATO-state assertion of it in unison. Yet there is a clear answer to the cui bono question -- which party does all this benefit? Clearly once the question is posed, as opposed to completely gagged in the corporate press, Theresa May's slow-motion collapsing Tory government -- now even challenged for its fraudulent Brexit referendum protecting the big London banks from EU regulation -- has to have such a war-drum distraction to survive. The old war of aggression pattern reverse-blamed on the official enemy unwinds yet again.

It is revealing in this context how Canada's government has no such ruler need of war -- unless it be its Ukraine-descendent Foreign Minister up front and the very powerful and widely Nazi-sympathizing Ukraine Liberal vote bank and leadership brought to Canada after 1945 to overwhelm the preceding active socialist Ukrainian community in Canada. Canada's government -- not its people -- is in any case used to being a puppet regime in foreign affairs as a twice-colonized rule by big business (why the NDP is not allowed to govern unless so subjugated).

The Human Rights Question

In light of all of this suppressed factual background and motive for more war in Ukraine which is unspeakable in the official news, interaction with the United Nations is of revealing interest. While it has been the cover for US-led NATO executed genocidal wars of aggression in the past as in Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yugoslavia and Korea, the pretexts of 'human rights', 'responsibility to protect' and 'stopping communist aggression', which are in fact always been the spectacular opposite on the ground in terms of diseased, mass-murdered and destituted bodies, these pretexts may not sell well when the background facts are no longer suppressed from public view.

It is worthwhile recalling how Science for Peace leadership used to be against but has since Afghanistan collaborated with these false-pretext wars in sustaining their illusions and thus the war crimes and crimes against proceeding underneath them.

The NATO-executed Ukraine war now being orchestrated is especially revealing in its actual record of 'protecting human rights' through 'international law' and 'norms of civilised nations'. Completely buried in official records is a United Nations resolution n on Ukraine that the US and Canada repudiated on November 20 2015 after the US-led bloody coup d'etat in Ukraine was in full motion of claiming all the vast tracts of land and resources that were Russia-speaking territory in the past.

The resolution was straightforwardly against "Nazi symbols and regalia" as well as "holocaust denial". The Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Affairs Committee of the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly voted for a resolution to enable measures against "the glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that facilitate the escalation of modern forms of racism, xenophobia and intolerance". A total of 126 member-states of the UN voted for it for the second time. Over 100 countries voted for a similar resolution in 2014 including "denial of the holocaust and glorification of the Nazi movement, former members of the Waffen SS organization, including the installation of memorials to them, and post-coup attempts to desecrate or destroy the monuments to those who fought against Nazism in Ukraine during World War II".

How could any civilised state vote against these United Nations Resolutions for human rights as Canada and the US have done and stood by ever since? Well instituted group hatred of the officially designated enemy can justify anything whatsoever, and does so right into next NATO-executed orgy of war crime and crimes against humanity, again inside Europe itself flaunting reverse-blame lies and slogans as red meat for psychotically trained masses. It is not by accident that Canada's Foreign Minister is in this near century-old Nazi loyalist vs Russia-speaking conflict was before her appointment the "proud "granddaughter of a leading Nazi war propagandist during its occupation of Poland and Ukraine described as a "fighter for freedom".

Yet on the other hand, we must not lose ourselves in ad hominem responsibility. Crystina Freeland, her Canada name, is interestingly propagandist in itself from her birth -- Christian Free Land -- but not observed in the corporate press. Minister Freeland is only a symptom of something far deeper and more systemically murderous and evil in state-executed unlimited greed and immiserization of innocent millions of people masked as 'human rights' , 'freedom' and 'rule of law' . Her more sinister double in the US is also a renamed person of the region, Victoria Nuland (read New Land) who orchestrated the whole 2014 mass-murder coup in Ukraine and now tub-thumps on public television for the 'need to teach Putin and Russia a hard lesson', aka another war attack by US-led NATO on Russia's borders.

The difference now is that the absurd pretext and geostrategic mechanisms now in motion beforehand can be seen in front of our eyes -- that is, if we can still see through the engineered prism of the US-UK led NATO war machine. This alone will stop it.

John McMurtry is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada whose work is translated from Latin America to Japan. His most recent book is The Cancer Stage of Capitalism: From Crisis to Cure .

[Mar 27, 2018] Within a week after Brennan's 'routine' visit in April 2014 to the Ukraine the Ukrainian army launched a civil war. That was within 2 weeks of the CIA instigated coup an the end of February 2014

Mar 27, 2018 | www.unz.com

JR , Next New Comment March 27, 2018 at 6:24 am GMT

Within a week after Brennan's 'routine' visit in April 2014 to the Ukraine the Ukrainian army launched a civil war. That was within 2 weeks of the CIA instigated coup an the end of February 2014.

[Mar 23, 2018] In a way Ukraine stepped on the same rake twice: once in 1991 and the second time in 2014. That's unforgivable

Looks like the rules of neoliberal game for Ukraine are as following: Ukraine should be ready for fight Russia till the last Ukrainian, serving as cannon fodder for EU geopolitical interests in Eurasia; (2) As a "debt slave" Ukraine should allow the transfer of ownership of all strategic assets and commodities to EU corporations for pennies on dollar independently of how Donbass situation is resolved; (3) Ukraine should buy EU products, no matter how poor they are and local production should be be iether eliminated ("Baltics style deindustrialization"), or outsourced to transnational corporations with Ukrainian as a cheap labor force (wage slaves).
Notable quotes:
"... And the Ukraine made a massive mistake. Their situation is completely different to Poland after USSR fell. ..."
Mar 22, 2018 | www.unz.com

likbez , March 23, 2018 at 3:20 am GMT

@polskijoe

And the Ukraine made a massive mistake. Their situation is completely different to Poland after USSR fell.

Very true. Poland was the first Eastern European country which adopted neoliberal model and thus served to a certain extent as "photo model" of neoliberalism for the rest of Eastern Europe and xUSSR space. So standard of living did not drop too low. The country was somewhat supported by EU and by the USA.

Ukraine was royally raped economically in 1991-2000. Probably as bad as Russia, may be even worse.

In 2014 Ukrainians were lured by unrealistic dream of getting Western European standard of living as a gift for breaking with Russia. As well as the resentment toward kleptocrat Yanukovich (which actually was pretty typical neoliberal politician; not much worse then Poroshenko )

Now they start to understand that the EU will devour the corpse to the bones and they are stuck at the Central African level poverty of $2 a day or so (on average), but this is too late.

A very typical story, a very typical outcome. Neoliberalism is a cancer. As Russian prime minister quipped about economic rape of Russia by local and Western neoliberals in 1991-2000: "We strived to get the best [economic] outcome, but it turned out like we got even worse then average. As always." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Viktor_Chernomyrdin )

So in a way they stepped on the same rake twice: once in 1991 and the second time in 2014. That's unforgivable.

[Mar 06, 2018] The Empire shall go for the Russia's internal problems and try to capitalize on that. Ukraine was taken down using that approach. Oh, wait, not only Ukraine but all those who didn't tow the line.

Notable quotes:
"... Politically the situation we see in Ukraine is that the ordinary people don't really care about the politics they are genuinely concerned about bread and butter it is quite sad actually that the US is treating the Ukraine as a pawn and a quite cheap one at that in its game with Russia ..."
Mar 06, 2018 | www.unz.com

likbez , March 6, 2018 at 4:00 am GMT

Some weak points of the article:

1. There is some mystery in this Putin "bragging" about new formidable weapons. This is not his style. Why now? Why do it when sanctions are in place and can be easily be tightened as the result? Looks like in order to make such a statement Putin should have intelligence information about a real threat of attack from the USA, or some large scale provocation in Syria or Ukraine. Only in this case his statement makes some sense. As a open warning: do not do it. Otherwise this is just an open invitation for the new, more destructive and expensive stage in nuclear arms race. The scenario that Russia should try to avoid.

2. Also the rule is: if your adversary is making a mistake, you should not try to stop him. If missile defense systems and aircraft carriers are useless why not to allow the USA to put another 100 billion dollars into it ? Something does not compute here. BTW both remain perfectly viable as the first strike weapons (you never know what those tubes contain and they can hold cruise missiles as well). The fact that they will perish is just part of the cost of the whole operation.

3. Russia has way too many problems, both economic and political. So each dollar put into military technology is stolen from the civilian sector and makes sanctions more effective. So succumbing to the arm race is like self-sanctions.

4. After 2012 it is clear that the way the USA will try to undermine Russia is most probably via political interference during the next election, in which there will be a power vacuum as Putin finishes his last term, and there is no Putin II. The problem of the leader succession is a well-known Achilles' spot of Russia. In 2012 the "collective West" achieved pretty significant success in staging color revolution in Russia using pro-West (aka Zapadniki) and comprador sector in Moscow as the fifth column. The political situation in Moscow will always favor pro-European forces, as this city has a huge concentration of employees of foreign companies, professionals and entrepreneurs who depend on the West and earn money from the West (compradors) . Efforts to put in power a classic neoliberal like Macron in France will be multiplied for elections in 2024. I do not see, why they can't be more successful then in 2012.

5. While weakened by the recent McCarthyism campaign in the USA, Russian comprador sector and neoliberals are still a very powerful political force and control a significant part of media and oligarch money. Russian constitution was written by the USA. And scars from the economic rape of Russia in 90th still did not fully heal. In other words, pro-Western forces in Russia are powerful enough to serve as a base to stage another color revolution. Probably along with crashing oil prices before the elections again, or some other nasty trick. In this case you do not need any missiles. As long as Russia is a neoliberal country Putin and his policies remain a political anomaly. And Putin himself a maverick. There will be no another Putin, but there can well be another Gorbachov, or, worse, Yeltsin. The same is true for China, but at least China has political control of the Communist Party and state ownership of the financial sector. The latter is not true for Russia and is a huge political risk. While neoliberalism entered the stage of decline there is no viable alternatives on the horizon.

6. Loss of Ukraine was/is a huge geopolitical defeat of Putin (and Russia as a country) which can't be compensated any bragging about new weapon systems. It was and still is a geopolitical knockdown.

7. Hopes about "some sensible conversation on the new world order may start between key geopolitical players" are naïve. The US elite is hell-bent on world superiority as this is a pre-condition of the existence of the dollar as the primary world currency. This situation will not probably change until the end of cheap oil, which might take another twenty years or more.

8. If time is working against the USA, why not to sit quiet and try not to anger aging hegemon as China supposedly does (having also advantage of host of "offshored" manufacturing from the USA and having the USA as debtor).

9. The level of brain drain from Russia actually is a huge limiting factor, which makes a claim about cruising missile with a nuclear reactor as a part of propulsion engine highly suspect.

10. The network of intelligence agencies around Russia (which now include Estonia and Ukraine) probably represents much more serious threat then the "first strike" capability of the USA, if such thing can ever exist.

11. "Collective West" can easily tighten sanction expanding them on more technological sectors, thus damaging Russia economic growth. So bragging about new weapons is bad diplomacy when the opponent is much stronger economically and politically.

12. China has less than 300 nuclear weapons and still is regarded as a formidable nuclear power, probably spending 20 times less money in this area.

13. The claim that "The Kinzhal effectively removes any non-suicidal surface force thousands of miles away from Russia's shores and renders its capabilities irrelevant" is highly questionable. The idea of the first strike includes the elimination of the possibility of launching most (or all) Kinzhal missiles carriers, as a necessary part required for the success of the operation. Any losses of forward deployed units are acceptable in such a huge game.

peterAUS , March 6, 2018 at 4:26 am GMT
@iffen

Just a pre-empt, tiring if you say you don't understand Ukraine, etc. then twenty comments; dem Jews.

No rain, too much rain, dem Jews.

Well, you did utter the trigger word.

Guess your family believes religiously in the eternal victimhood and in the right of Jewish people to demand special treatment from "others"– "because of Holocaust." -- This is over. After the fraternization of the Kagans' clan (via Nuland-Kagan) with neo-Nazi in Ukraine and after Israeli's support for ISIS, Jewish pretenses on superior morality (and similar fantastic inventions) have become unrealistic.

Yahweh, help us.

peterAUS , March 6, 2018 at 4:43 am GMT
@likbez

Putin should have intelligence information about a real threat of attack from the USA, or some large scale provocation in Syria or Ukraine.

I'd go for Ukraine.

Something does not compute here.

Well, "if we can't have it it's not good." Sour grapes.

Russia has way too many problems, both economic and political. So each dollar put into military technology is stolen from the civilian sector and makes sanctions more effective. So succumbing to the arm race is like self-sanctions.

Agree.

In other words, pro-Western forces in Russia are powerful enough to serve as a base to stage another color revolution. In this case you do not need any missiles.

...While neoliberalism entered the stage of decline there is no viable alternatives on the horizon.

Agree.

Loss of Ukraine was/is a huge geopolitical defeat of Putin (and Russia as a country) which can't be compensated any bragging about new weapon systems. It was and still is a geopolitical knockdown.

Agree. But, perhaps that's not true. In any case, the resident "Team Russia" will now explain that. As victory, of course.

Hopes about "some sensible conversation on the new world order may start between key geopolitical players" are naïve. The US elite is hell-bent on world superiority as this is a pre-condition of the existence of the dollar as the primary world currency.

Agree.

If time is working against the US, why not to sit quiet and try not to anger aging hegemon as China supposedly does (having also advantage of host of "offshored" manufacturing from the USA and having the USA as debtor).

and

The level of brain drain from Russia actually is a huge limiting factor, which makes a claim about cruising missile with a nuclear reactor as a part of propulsion engine highly suspect.

and

"Collective West" can easily tighten sanction expanding them on more technological sectors, thus damaging Russia economic growth. So bragging about new weapons is bad diplomacy when the opponent is much stronger economically and politically.

"Team Russia" coming up. You are about to see the light. Somehow.

peterAUS , Next New Comment March 6, 2018 at 5:48 pm GMT
@Sergey Krieger

Putin and those around him would better do concentrate on internal issues or eventually issues will concentrate on them.

Agree.

This obsession with high tech is actually puzzling. Not only that, but, overall, which "military" is better. "Whose father/older brother is stronger" kid talk.

The Empire shall go for the Russia's internal problems and try to capitalize on that. Ukraine was taken down using that approach. Oh, wait, not only Ukraine but all those who didn't tow the line. Thinking that, somehow, a conventional war, only, will settle the issue is not only delusional but stupid. Why would The Empire do that? No reason whatsoever.

It will try to do exactly what's been doing since '91. Internal dissent.

So, while Russian elites will keep building high tech weaponry (remember USSR), The Empire will keep working on getting all those "unhappy" with Putin regime onboard and using them for weakening the regime.

If the regime in Moscow can't, or doesn't want to see it, well, it doesn't deserve that position. True, weapons industry is good for making money and stashing most of it offshore. Not sharing that wealth, though, with general population is not that smart, just, they simply can't help it. That's the way of the world there. Czars and serfs.

The problem is, of course, they can't step down even if they wanted to. Nobody wants kangaroo courts and hanging. Or public murder broadcast live on Internet. Conundrum.

FB , March 6, 2018 at 2:06 pm GMT
@likbez

You make some interesting observations and your comment is thought-provoking

However I think the intent of the article was to explore some of the technical issues of what we saw on March 1 not so much the political dimension and certainly your approach is to try to get an overall wide angle picture that gets every possible Russia issue into the frame

which by necessity means you give up some resolution or granularity if you will compared to a more tightly focused article

You start with an initial premise of why announce these weapons now and question the wisdom the simple answer may be technical related these weapons may be already mature technically and now is the time to show them ?

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar

A couple more points you mention sanctions quite a bit but we have seen that Russia is able to carry on just fine sanctions or not

The key indicator there is that sanctions are having a much bigger blowback on the US itself i.e. the US is losing Europe

Germany has been quite vocal about US going a step too far in trying to dictate energy policy which is key to German industrial export economy and besides they may finally be finding their sea legs after years of subservience to an increasingly unhinged country that is heading for the cliff

The Germans are going to get Nordstream 2 because they want it. It is actually more important to Germany than to Russia Russia has been supplying energy to Europe for many decades going back to Soviet times but is just now starting to feed the biggest energy consumer in the world China

Other, smaller EU countries notably Italy have become quite vocal about Russia sanctions hurting them we saw just now an election in Italy where the ruling claque were turfed

So it seems that the days of US dictating the politics to its European vassals may be over the kind of friction they are making with sanctions and their increasing hysteria is only hastening this process of vassals breaking off

The other issue is Ukraine you bring to this the the typical US perspective of 'losing' a country this again goes back to the vassal game

The US gained all of Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union but did Russia lose anything sensible people will say the lost they burden of empire long after it had ceased being profitable as with the British previously

Ukraine is historically something of an artificial country the original Kievan Rus [Rurivik dynasty] was the original Russia it fell apart after the Mongol invasions but the Russian and Ukrainian language and people are mostly indistinguishable other than the Galician Catholic minority

For several hundred years the peoples of the Ukraine [ie even then it was more than a single national people] were under rule by the Poles and Lithuania while the new Russian empire based in Moscow gained strength and eventually took over 300 years ago

There are and have always been Ukrainian nationalists that do not like Russia but they are in the minority the best way to think of Ukraine is similar to Scotland even the Irish are more distant from the English than Ukrainians from Russians

Politically the situation we see in Ukraine is that the ordinary people don't really care about the politics they are genuinely concerned about bread and butter it is quite sad actually that the US is treating the Ukraine as a pawn and a quite cheap one at that in its game with Russia

I don't believe the Russians look at the situation that way there is real fraternity among many Russians and Ukrainians that goes to a fundamental level again similar to Scotland where the country is divided on the issue of the English

So unless the EU and US are prepared to do a full Marshall plan to drag Ukraine into a reasonable living standard then this 'win' will turn out to be something of a chimera

Heck the polls even in eastern Europe are trending against the post Cold War direction with about half the people now questioning if the new boss is really better than the old boss

And finally if you are going to do a wide angle shot like this then get the crazy cousin into the picture also ie the US and its failing Ponzi economy that is bound to collapse just on the principles of mathematics

China and Russia are working to bury the source of all US strength the petrodollar this is literally kryptonite the US is quite simply toast once the petrodollar sinks

China is the world's biggest economy and biggest energy buyer Russia is the world's biggest energy seller other nations too that are not so strong and have felt the body blows of US economic warfare such as Iran, Venezuela and other will gladly join in

It's starting to feel like US has used up all its chips and all its markers

The entire developing world wants real prosperity not economic colonialism and corporate plunder

These are some large and powerful currents that have to be taken into account if one is going to take a wide angle shot of geopolitics

AP , Next New Comment March 6, 2018 at 6:53 pm GMT
@FB

Ukraine is historically something of an artificial country the original Kievan Rus [Rurivik dynasty] was the original Russia it fell apart after the Mongol invasions

Relationship of Kievan Rus to modern Russia and Ukraine is somewhat analogous to the relationship of Charlemagne's Frankish Empire to modern France or Germany. Although both Germany and France would have to be in the same linguistic family for the analogy to be more accurate.

For several hundred years the peoples of the Ukraine [ie even then it was more than a single national people] were under rule by the Poles and Lithuania

Correct. This meant not only political separation but largescale settlement (about 10% of the population were Polish settlers – these were absorbed by the natives, so most Ukrainians have some Polish roots), centuries of schooling, etc. And this was enough to lead to a different culture, language, identity.

eventually took over 300 years ago

The eastern half of Ukraine was linked to Moscow in the 1650s (so indeed about 300 years), but the western half in the 1770s (so 200 years) and Galicia not until 1939.

but the Russian and Ukrainian language and people are mostly indistinguishable

Incorrect. Ukrainian is about as close to Russian as it is to Polish (Ukrainian grammar and pronunciation is closer to Russian, but Ukrainian vocabulary actually has more words in common with Polish than with Russian). The Scandinavian languages are closer to each other Russian is to Ukrainian. The catch is that in everyday life about half of Ukrainians, and most urban Ukrainians other than people in Lviv, use Russian rather than Ukrainian. Kiev is a Russian-speaking city (and Dublin an English-speaking one).

the best way to think of Ukraine is similar to Scotland

Anatol Lieven correctly observed that Ukraine's relationship to Russia is somewhere between that of Scotland and that of Ireland, to England. Viewing it as Scotland is too positive, as Ireland too negative. Given that Scotland itself nearly separated, it is natural to see Ukraine as separate.

[Mar 03, 2018] Shocking EU Reforms Ukraine's public debt doubles in 4 years, while personal incomes halve

Mar 03, 2018 | www.fort-russ.com

The Ukrainian economy is in a catastrophic state after four years of "euro-reforms," said ​​Viktor Medvedchuk, head of the public movement "Ukrainian Choice – People's Right." "At the end of 2013. Ukraine's state and publicly guaranteed debt was 40% of GDP, and by the end of 2017 it had more than doubled, exceeding 80% of GDP. In 2013, Ukraine's GDP per capita was more than $ 4,075, and in 2016 decreased to $ 2221.

The average monthly salary in 2017 as a whole for the country was $ 267 (in 2013 it exceeded $ 408), pensions are also 2.3 times lower than before the euro reform. Today, it is slightly more than $ 48, while in 2013 it was almost $ 112, " Medvedchuk said.

[Mar 02, 2018] >US Approves Sale of Anti-Tank Missiles to Ukraine by Jason Ditz

Mar 02, 2018 | news.antiwar.com

$47 million sale targeted at neighboring Russia

Posted on March 1, 2018 Categories News Tags Pentagon , Russia , Ukraine

With Ukrainian officials continuing to talk up their hostility with neighboring Russia, the Pentagon announced on Thursday that approval has been granted for the sale of Javelin anti-tank systems to Ukraine.

The sale, estimated at a $47 million deal for Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, would involve 37 Javelin Command Launch Units and 210 missiles . The Poroshenko government says it will be used to "protect Ukrainian soldiers."

Russia is protesting the sale, however, arguing that the sale of the missiles would encourage Ukraine to resume the use of force against Eastern Ukraine's ethnic Russian rebels, with the idea that they would deploy the missiles against any rebel tanks, and also against any Russian tanks that might join the fight.

Pentagon officials downplayed the issue, saying they don't believe the Javelin missiles will materially change the military balance of power in the region. Despite obvious offensive uses for such missiles, the US is trying to spin this as another "defensive" sale to Ukraine.

[Mar 02, 2018] Review 'Breaking Point' Finds Fake News and Real Violence in Ukraine

So Europeans, both Russians and Ukrainians are dying again for the USA geopolitical goals.
Mar 02, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

The first line of the Ukrainian national anthem is "Ukraine has not yet died," one interviewee says in "Breaking Point," a fierce documentary about that country and its recent clashes with Russia. For a land often perched on the edge of ruin, she says, mere survival is something to celebrate.

Directed by Mark Jonathan Harris and Oles Sanin, the film starts with a rundown of a history that has repeated itself for centuries -- invaders have long prized Ukraine for its resources and geography, and modern times are no exception.

... ... ...

The filmmakers supply terrifying footage: At civilian rallies, we see nightstick beatings and bloody riots. During military battles, bullets whiz by and explosions shake the cameras. Nerve-racking scenes follow Ukraine's extraordinarily bold volunteer soldiers.

[Feb 28, 2018] Barring black swan events, the Ukraine is meta-stable and can muddle along indefinitely

Feb 28, 2018 | www.unz.com

p

Pavlo , February 28, 2018 at 4:34 am GMT

the government makes a show of it.

there has been dramatic improvement in number of soldiers, usability of equipment

That is the show.

The Ukrainian army's battlefield performance after February 2015 has not improved, nor will the odds ever again be as favourable as they were in Mid-2014. Kiev has assembled an army suitable for skirmishing and the occasional terrorist attack, nothing more strenuous. Building an army capable of winning the war would entail discipline and sacrifice, and the effort would be for nothing since the RF forces would move in and crush Kiev's army if it were ever on the point of victory.

Kiev is content with the status quo – it's far from ideal for them but it's not so bad as to justify the risks involved in a new offensive (this will never happen). Barring black swan events, the Ukraine is meta-stable and can muddle along indefinitely, so long as Moscow does not pull its finger out of its backside and resolve the situation properly.

likbez , February 28, 2018 at 10:52 am GMT
@Pavlo

Kiev is content with the status quo – it's far from ideal for them but it's not so bad as to justify the risks involved in a new offensive (this will never happen). Barring black swan events, the Ukraine is meta-stable and can muddle along indefinitely, so long as Moscow does not pull its finger out of its backside and resolve the situation properly.

Two consideration:

1. Ukraine decides very little. Government was outsourced to Washington, DC. If creation of tension with Russia is necessary, they will launch offensive.
2. Nationalist movements, especially far-right, have their own often destructive dynamics and can do things that are illogical and/or highly harmful for the country. They also are ready to fight and die for their ideas. In this sense Poroshenko is a hostage of Galician far right "revolutionaries. "

[Feb 27, 2018] Syria vs Ukraine

Looks like Poroshenko is playing with fire. the longer Donetsk and Lugansk republics exists as a separate political entities the more difficult and costly will be to bring them back. Each year matters in this respect. After, say, ten year probably no compromise could ever emerge, unless Russia is weakened and /or dissolved into smaller statelets (the permanent problem for Russia is change of leadership, so 2024 will be a very important year, as Putin does not have any realistic successor who can continue his policies. So iether Russian "economic nationalists" (to borrow Bannon's term) or Pro-European faction will come to power. In both cases foreign policies change. Or the US economy crash again and military budget will be drastically cut, leaving no money for foreign military adventure and the protection of neoliberal empire. Direct attach might elicit Russian response and as such is highly risky (especially in view of Russia being pissed by the USA all the time now and might want to make Ukraine, as a US client, a boy for beating) , but periodic skirmishes just run this territory into wasteland that Syria regions now are. They also drive population out.
Notable quotes:
"... IMO the emerging partition is likely to last a long time. Syria is only 80 years old as a state and a prolonged de facto partition as opposed to wartime occupation can easily become more or less perm ..."
"... If the Kurds of Afrin throw themselves on the mercy of the Syrian government in Damascus then Kurdish autonomy is squashed in that enclave. And, when it is all said and done, isn't that what Erdogan really wants? ..."
Feb 27, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

turcopolier , 25 February 2018 at 11:06 PM

TTG et al

You don't understand what I mean. IMO the emerging partition is likely to last a long time. Syria is only 80 years old as a state and a prolonged de facto partition as opposed to wartime occupation can easily become more or less permanent as was the case with Turkey's acquisition of Hatay. pl

Yeah, Right said in reply to turcopolier ... , 26 February 2018 at 12:30 AM
I certainly don't dispute that Turkey is invading Afrin. And I agree with you that if things continue to stand as they are now then that invasion will continue until all of Afrin has been overrun.

But to simply extrapolate from what has happened into the future suggests that circumstances won't change or - if they do - that Erdogan will continue on like some wind-up automaton.

If the Kurds of Afrin throw themselves on the mercy of the Syrian government in Damascus then Kurdish autonomy is squashed in that enclave. And, when it is all said and done, isn't that what Erdogan really wants?

If the Kurds are too stupid or too proud to play that card then, yeah, sure, you and I both agree that they will be ground into the dirt.

But if they do supplicate to Assad then the situation changes.

You (I assume) believe that in that circumstance Erdogan will continue to grind on with this invasion regardless.

I believe he will beat his chest and then go home.

One of us will be wrong, and one of us will be right.

[Feb 25, 2018] I were in the US or EU leadership, I'd make sure that Ukraine is not my friend, simply for the sake of self-preservation.

Neither EU nor the USA want to be Ukrainian friends. They want Ukrainian market and resources. That's it.
Feb 25, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anon Disclaimer , February 26, 2018 at 12:20 am GMT

Anon from TN

Somehow in numerous statements in this thread, mostly boiling down to "mine is more Russian than yours", the key issues were missed. I am not even talking about obvious trolls trying to denigrate Putin's foreign policy feats. He achieved a lot more with a relatively weak hand than the US with a much stronger one, both in Syria and in Ukraine.

Admittedly, Ukraine does not count: only Americans, who have no history and don't know the history of other countries, could have stepped into that particular pile of s Ukraine brings ruin to anyone it supports. At the beginning of the eighteens century Ukrainian Hetman Mazepa betrayed Russia and joined the Swedes. Peter the Great decimated Swedes in the battle near Poltava. That was the end of Sweden as a great European power. Western Ukrainians fought for Austro-Hungarian Empire in WWI. Where is that Empire now? Then "independent" Ukraine supported Germans. Well, they lost WWI. Then Ukrainians served Hitler in WWII. USSR smeared Nazi Germany over he wall. Then Ukrainians were "holier then thou" supporters of the Soviet Union. Where is it now? So, if I were in the US or EU leadership, I'd make sure that Ukraine is not my friend, simply for the sake of self-preservation.

Syria is a totally different story. The Empire, on behalf of Israel and Saudis, tried to break it up into a bunch of powerless Bantustans. The plan seemed to be close to bearing fruit until Putin threw a wrench into the works. With ridiculously small ground and air force he turned the tide of the war. The Empire was frustrated. Hence the hysterics.

Anyway, IMHO Putin's Russia has two major weaknesses. One is the profusion of oligarchs who stole their riches from the state and hid the loot offshore. He does not seem inclined to tackle them, likely honoring the deal he made in 2000. "Protected" appear to include even such notorious figures as Chubais (if you ask Russians, ~90% would say that oligarchs should be stripped of their wealth, tried, and imprisoned; but as many or more would say that Chubais should be publicly hanged). The other weakness is that it remains a one-man show, i.e., the absence of credible state institutions and an obvious successor. The rest is chaff.

Jake , February 26, 2018 at 12:50 am GMT
"what we see is that western democracies are run by gangs of oligarchs and bureaucrats who have almost nothing in common with the people they are supposed to represent."

ABSOLUTELY TRUE!

Robert Dunn , Website February 26, 2018 at 1:06 am GMT
I'm like so totally sure the CIA will not be interfering with their election.
Kiza , February 26, 2018 at 1:36 am GMT
@utu

Just for a moment I will take you seriously, although you sometimes write truly silly stuff, and respond.

Yes, the AngloZionist would prefer to turn and absorb the Russian and Chinese elite, but only as low subordinates. This is what they have been doing in other conquered countries – generating a mix of the new and compliant part of the old elite with a greater proportion of the new elite. The Russian neo-Liberals are ready and waiting for the job, looking down on their compatriots as cattle (the same word as goyim, what an amazing coincidence!?). Read what this Felix writes about the Russians. This gang turned Russia into killing fields in 1917 and will gladly do it again given half a chance by their foreign masters.

The masters are underwriting the full-time writing of puppets such as Karlin. Karlin is the Russian Elliot Higgins , interpreting data without a faintest idea of solid data analysis, a paid full-time hack drawing the right conclusions for the empire. Perhaps he sees himself as a minister in the Russian puppet government after the successful regime change.

Therefore, this group of regular trolls (about 10 nicks) on all Saker's writings are aiming to be that future new Russian servant elite when Russia would be absorbed. They are truly the last thing that Russian people need.

As I said above, I have seen it all before, it is deja vu all over again (Yogi Bear).

[Feb 25, 2018] Poland vs Ukraine

Actually life in Ukraine was not that bad in 2010-2014. Hopefully "After-Maydan" deterioration might be temporary, although without new markets for Ukrainian industrial goods recovery is almost impossible. Also the level of foreign debt is now much higher, so they dig a deeper hole for themselves to climb out. Other probable scenario is bankruptcy. See also Bill Black Once a Poster Child for Austerity, Latvia Becomes a Hotbed of Corruption naked capitalism
Feb 25, 2018 | www.unz.com

Dmitry , Next New Comment February 25, 2018 at 7:15 pm GMT

@Felix Keverich

Poland's level of GDP per capita is 6 times bigger than Ukraine's. They started out around the same level in 1991 and were supposed to follow the same playbook. To the extent that their paths diverged can be explained by Ukrainian corruption and incompetence.

Poland received hundreds of billions of dollars in EU subsidies and transfers. Not a fair comparison. Even still today they are receiving this transfer of wealth from net contributor countries in the EU (there's another good reason EU became unpopular in net contributor countries like the UK and the Netherlands):

https://msp.gov.pl/en/polish-economy/economic-news/4015,Poland-to-get-nearly-EUR-106-bln-from-2014-2020-EU-budget-pool-expected-impact-o.html

Felix Keverich , Next New Comment February 25, 2018 at 8:16 pm GMT
@Dmitry

Energy subsidies from Russia to the Ukraine are estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars since 1991. The Ukraine has been well subsidized since independence. What they have been desperately lacking is governance.

[Feb 25, 2018] The neoliberal "methodology" for "showing economic success" is propaganda masquerading as "science". So they sell Latvia as a poster child of austerity, true neoliberal market miracle. In reality it is a hot bed of curruption and deindustrialization

Latvia now is a typical neoliberal debt slave and flourishing sex trafficking market. Not that different from other Baltic states, Ukraine, Moldavia and generally all xUSSR space.
Feb 25, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

YankeeFrank , February 25, 2018 at 7:38 am

Bill mentions the brain drain from Latvia, but I seem to recall a quite massive general emigration from the country during austerity, which also helped to "reduce unemployment" as well. The neoliberal "methodology" for "showing economic success" is moral and economic bankruptcy masquerading as "science". And wow. So we have Latvia to thank for the coming nuclear holocaust as well. A true neoliberal market miracle.

Lambert's two principles of neoliberalism are once again brought to mind:

#1 Because markets.

#2 Go die.

Skip Intro , February 25, 2018 at 11:03 am

All those 'excess' workers who left were helping keep wages low in the EU
In the sense that Latvia's future productivity is sacrificed for short-term benefits on the books, it starts to look like another asset-stripping scheme, and the costs are borne by workers in the EU.

The Rev Kev , February 25, 2018 at 8:40 am

This is not the first time that Latvia has appeared on NC ( https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/01/latvias-economic-disaster-as-a-neoliberal-success-story-a-model-for-europe-and-the-us.html ) and probably won't be the last. What is it about neoliberalism that that seems to have corruption as part of its DNA?

Latvia already has one of the highest levels of poverty and income inequality in the EU and its population has dropped by about a fifth in the past 18 years which is a bit of a record considering that there was no war, that is, unless you count the neoliberal war on people. Some moved to the capital Riga but most bailed out of the country altogether and are not coming back. You can find whole blocks of empty buildings in some towns.
But don't worry. The Latvians are on the case. The head of the Latvian Central Bank detained for extortion and the Latvian Ministry of Defense both blame, you guessed it, Russia!

Lambert's two principles of neoliberalism may have to be updated. He already has
#1 Because markets.
#2 Go die.

He may have to modify the second one to say
#2 Go die or get the hell outta Dodge.

DJG , February 25, 2018 at 9:11 am

Now I may be prejudiced because the Gs came from deepest darkest Lithuania–and we're talking out in the endless woods in a village along a lake.

When people talk about population decline in Latvia, you are talking about part of the corruption. The native Latvians wanted a way of getting rid of the Russian population, many of whom are considered immigrants. So dropping 20 percent of the population means throwing out the Russians. When your "population policy " is based on something like that, you can image what the country's economic policies are like.

In contrast–although Lithuania, too, has lost some 10 – 15 percent of its population since restored independence–the Lithuanians came to terms, imperfect terms, with their smaller Polish and Russian minorities. Nevertheless, the Lithuanians didn't go whole-hog free-market fundamentalism. And when a recent president was found to be corrupt, they impeached him and threw him out.

So you have different models for how to survive as a Baltic State. Latvia has made a mess of its "model."

edmondo , February 25, 2018 at 10:53 am

"Now of course that's still in a land where they had really severely repressed wages for the working class and for middle class, and continued to tolerate a fair degree of unemployment and underemployment for folks, as well. So, yeah it works really well for the oligarchs. And they do employ people. The unemployment rate drops, but the country invariably becomes extremely corrupt."

Was he still talking about Latvia or did he switch over to the USA?

Altandmain , February 25, 2018 at 12:15 pm

There is a strong correlation between inequality and corruption.

Furthermore, in the medium term there is a causal relationship:
http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/1331677X.2016.1169701

This would suggest that inflicting austerity on a population, which worsens inequality, will set the precedent for corruption in the future.

Massinissa , February 25, 2018 at 12:27 pm

Half a decade ago when Latvia was considered a success story for neoliberal austerity, one animator made this great satire video making fun of how farcical it was to consider it such.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IRUBJ8qraY

Eustache De Saint Pierre , February 25, 2018 at 12:42 pm

Latvia also being part of that running sore which involves according to the US state department's last global estimate, about 800,000 to a million victims per annum of people trafficking. Of which around 80% are female, with a not stated amount being children, used for both labour & sexual purposes.

I suppose that it comes as little surprise that the 2 main flows of these commodities is from East to West & South to North.

[Feb 24, 2018] How to Solve the Ukraine Crisis Peacekeepers

An interesting discussion with two polar views on the situation. There is no good guys in the story anyway. Nether the USA, or Russia, or Ukrainian nationalists, or separatists qualify. Truth probably lies somewhere in between. The debate itself reminds the current political debate in the USA between neoliberals/globalists and "economic nationalists"/isolationalists : the two sides do not hear other and their positions are irreconcilable. Each has its own set of grievances. Its own version of history. And its own vision of the desirable future.
Independence by itself meant huge stimulus to Western Ukrainian nationalists (who historically lived a long time under Hapsburg empire). So their political ascendance were given and Maydan was just the culmination point of a long process (actually encouraged by EU members such as Germany, Poland , Baltic republics and Sweden)
The USA clearly tried to secure it geopolitical interests via forcefully turning Ukraine to the West. Despite the fact that it was not completely ready for such a move yet; although were slowly moving in this direction since independence. Germany (and EU in general) played the same fatal role of "accelerator" as well. They wanted new markets for their goods and also have geopolitical interests in weakening Russia (which did happened; Ukraine was the biggest strategic defeat of Putin). The Nazi Lebensraum was, after all, about Ukraine.
But the process of "separation" from Russia was pretty much under way since independence and proceeded at a brisk pace under Yanukovich too, who actually supported Ukrainian nationalists during his term (especially Svoboda, hoping to create something like the USA two party systems: nationalists vs Party of Regions). And it was Yanukovich government which prepared and intended to sign the association agreement with the EU. Then Yanukovich hesitated to sign it and at this point was doomed as pro-Western forces has already their own dynamics and financial support from abroad. With the financial. organizational and political support support of the USA and EU were able to depose him. Large (for Ukraine political scene) amount of money was injected, protesters bused from Western Ukraine, and eventually yet another color revolution (the first was so called Orange revolution which brought to power Yushchenko government) took care of Yanukovich regime. The problem is that this "alternative" political course and a new vision of Ukrainian future proved to be a minefield. Also the association agreement with EU was very unfair to Ukrainian economic interests and essentially downgraded the status of Ukraine to the status of neo-colony openly promoting deindustrialization like in Baltic Republics.
Some unrealistic dreams about benefits of Ukraine association with EU were pretty widespread and become a political factor in the success of the Maydan. nobody understood that by trying to balance between Russia and the West Yanukovich postponed the day of reckoning and kept economics expanding. Everybody hated corrupt Yanukovich although some members of his cabinet were pretty competent technocrats. Nobody calculated losses from the separation of economic ties with Russia and having a hostile Russia as a neighbor. Hopes that EU will open its market for Ukrainian agricultural goods and to Ukrainian gastarbeiters proved to be exaggerated. To say nothing about the danger (or even mere possibility) of civil war as the result of Maydan. All those dreams about improving the standard of living via association with EU were buried after the Maydan very soon. The currency dropped around 300% after 2014 from 8.5 to 27 grivna per dollar. Markets in Russia are almost completely lost.
Ukrainian nationalists decided that the success of Maydan gave them carte blanche on neo-colonization of Eastern Ukraine as well as the suppression of Russian language and culture. They miscalculated. This policy was similar to "Polinization of Western Ukraine" by Poles and it faced growing resistance. Lugansk and Donetsk republic are direct results of this resistance (not without Russia help). In other words this policy backfired, and now those regions represent a Gordian knot for both the USA, EU, Russia and Ukraine. For Poroshenko government to agree on federalization (which Minsk accords presuppose) means to lose face politically (Why to organize Maydan in such cases, if the net result is a huge drop of the standard of living, loss of Crimea, and federalization of Ukraine?), and they prefer military solution to the problem. The USA under Trump administration are only happy to sell weapons to them (as well as coal to replace lost coal from Donetsk region). And nuclear fuel to electrical stations inread of Russia. Meanwhile economics is not improving and that also represents a political threat to Poroshenko, making push for the military solution more probable.
Notable quotes:
"... Any agreement, however -- at least as far as the U.S. State Department is concerned -- would require that Russia must make the first move to ease tensions. ..."
"... Secretary Tillerson has made it abundantly clear that Russia must take the first steps to de-escalate violence and resolve this conflict by fully implementing the Minsk Accords." ..."
"... Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for ..."
"... . You can follow him on Twitter: ..."
"... This country is screwed, alas. Peacekeepers will not change much, but they could help stop shellings and thus help regular people who suffer the most. ..."
"... Strelkov came into Donbass on April 12, 2014 and the acting president Turchinov announced ATO (Anti terrorist operation) on April 7. The people of Donbass protested peacefully for months and no one wanted to talk with them. They sent tanks and jets instead. ..."
"... "And yes, his self-promotion as the "governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals." ..."
"... Indeed, that is why there is a civil war in Ukraine. "Red Cross officially declares Ukraine civil war" https://www.thelocal.ch/201... ..."
Feb 23, 2018 | nationalinterest.org

Any agreement, however -- at least as far as the U.S. State Department is concerned -- would require that Russia must make the first move to ease tensions. However, it is unclear is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson or anyone in his department truly speaks for the Trump Administration.

"It's important to be clear about U.S. policy towards the conflict: Crimea is Ukraine. The Donbas is Ukraine. We will never accept trading one region of Ukraine for another. We will never make a deal about Ukraine without Ukraine," John J. Sullivan, deputy secretary of state, said during a speech in at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Diplomatic Academy in Kiev on Feb. 21 . "To advance these fundamental goals, Secretary Tillerson appointed Ambassador Kurt Volker as Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations in July of last year. And his mandate is to break the deadlock with Russia over Ukraine. Secretary Tillerson has made it abundantly clear that Russia must take the first steps to de-escalate violence and resolve this conflict by fully implementing the Minsk Accords."

Time will tell if any progress will be made in solving the Donbas situation.

Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest . You can follow him on Twitter: @davemajumdar .


Joe Stevens , February 22, 2018 2:20 AM

If that's the case, then America needs to pull it's own illegal occupation forces out of eastern Syria ASAP too! Eastern Syria is Syria. Eastern Syria is NOT part of Kurdistan! What a bunch of hypocrites.

Vic , February 22, 2018 7:11 AM

"One potential approach -- which as been proposed by U.S. special representative to Ukraine Kurt Volker -- is where peacekeepers would be deployed in phases while Ukraine implements some of the measures it agreed to under the Minsk agreements."

-That could work, here is the Minsk 2 agreement for those that don't know, https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...

It stipulates that Ukraine should complete a number of things, and by the end of it Donbass will be returned to Ukraine. If you add phased peacekeepers to this it could work, the peacekeepers would start between Donbass and Ukraine, and then move into Donbass and get more control the more of the Minsk 2 agreement Ukraine completed.

The peacekeepers could not be NATO or Russian troops for each side to agree obviously

VadimKharichkov , February 22, 2018 5:08 AM

Europe and the US have nothing of value to offer to Ukraine because there's little to exchange it for. There is no economy and too few natural resources to fight for. Thus, Ukraine will remain a suitcase without a handle despite wet dreams of its ultra-nationalists (should be represented in the troll section of this thread).

It will remain useless as an economical ally to Russia in the upcoming years because Ukraine is divided within itself.

The only thing it will be good for, is to serve as an example for everybody on how foolish it is to overthrow democratically elected governments for the sake of fairy tales.

The conflict there will be frozen for decades, as it was frozen in Moldova and Georgia. Without Russian and European investments, there will be no economical development in Ukraine.

This country is screwed, alas. Peacekeepers will not change much, but they could help stop shellings and thus help regular people who suffer the most.

Jorge Martinho VadimKharichkov , February 22, 2018 6:13 AM

Vadim, if Ukraine is not important, why do you spend so much of your precious time writing about it? Why does Russia keep financing the war in Donbass if its so uninteresting to invest in Ukraine? Why did Russia steal Ukrainian gas in the Azov Sea? Or why does it steal ukrainian coal in Donbass? Where did the machinery from the Donbass factories go, Vadim?

Vic Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 7:02 AM

"Or why does it steal ukrainian coal in Donbass?"

-The coal belongs to the people of Donbass, not Ukraine, and Ukraine itself banned buying gas from these territories in hope that it will cause more misery to the civilians living there, just like Ukraine stole their pensions and their social welfare in hope for causing maximal suffering.

Jorge Martinho Vic , February 22, 2018 9:09 AM

The Donbass is internationally recognized as part of Ukraine. Second Ukraine is not obliged to pay for the Russian occupation of its territory. The occupation force is responsible for everything that happens inside that territory, even the payment or not of pensions.

Vic Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 10:06 AM

That is a pure lie, the conflict between Donbass and Ukraine is a civil war. Russia is not occupying those territories. And Donbass will return to Ukraine if they can follow thru on the Minsk 2 agreement like they agreed to, but never will of course, because the hyper-corrupt Ukrainian government need the legitimacy and distraction that war brings both domestically to avoid coup and internationally as an excuse.

"Red Cross officially declares Ukraine civil war" https://www.thelocal.ch/201...

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 1:56 PM

Strelkov, referring to the war he helped start in Donbas: "In the beginning, nobody there wanted to fight."

Pro-Russian agitators like Pavel Gubarev tried to illegally take over government buildings in E Ukraine, and also tried to organize protests, but they had little support from the local population. The local population was cynical about Kiev, but they certainly weren't interested in starting a civil war. That is why Strelkov and other Russians had to start the war.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 2:48 PM

"but they certainly weren't interested in starting a civil war. That is why Strelkov and other Russians had to start the war."

-Nobody wanted a war of course, that is one reason why the Kiev government became so dependent on volunteer n4zists, they were the only one that was eager and willing to kill their brothers at the whims of the unconstitutional coup regime. The average Ukrainian soldiers didn't want to fight and a lot of the Donbass fighters came from defected Ukrainian soldiers.

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 5:55 PM

Again, all I have to do is point to Strelkov: "In the beginning, nobody there wanted to fight."

"I dream of a Russia in its natural borders," he says. "At least those of 1939." He claims to have been the one who convinced Putin to intervene militarily in Ukraine, at a time, he says, when the Kremlin was still debating the proper approach to the country."

"I was the one who pulled the trigger for war," Strelkov boasts."

http://www.spiegel.de/inter...

Vic Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 4:17 AM

Doesn't matter at all what some commanders "boasts" , the war was started when the unconstitutional and unelected government of Ukraine sent its army to crush the rebels.

brylcream Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 3:20 AM

Strelkov came into Donbass on April 12, 2014 and the acting president Turchinov announced ATO (Anti terrorist operation) on April 7.
The people of Donbass protested peacefully for months and no one wanted to talk with them. They sent tanks and jets instead.

"and also tried to organize protests, but they had little support from the local population. "

This is a blatant lie.

Alex Robeson brylcream , February 23, 2018 7:18 AM

Strelkov took Slavyansk on April 12 - that's not when he arrived. As for the ATO, yes, it was announced on April 7, after armed separatists stormed regional government buildings in Donetsk, Lugansk and Kharkov, raised Russian flags, and said they would hold an independence referendum. What would Russia do if Karelia was taken over by pro-Finnish separatists? And keep in mind, when the ATO was announced, Turchynov promised amnesty for separatists who laid down arms.

No, the "people" of Donbass did not protest peacefully (Gubarev and others were not representative of the people of Donbass). Gubarev and others repeatedly tried to seize buildings and declare self-rule/independence. But polls during that time clearly showed that people did not want independence, even if they were unhappy about Yanukovych being ousted from the presidency. Public opinion did not really shift towards independence until after the fire of Odessa and Mariupol, when Donbass regions were under separatist control and influenced by Russian propaganda.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 2:46 PM

"Strelkov, referring to the war he helped start in Donbas: "In the beginning, nobody there wanted to fight.""

-The civil war was started when the unelected and unconstitutional coup government sent the army to kill the rebels in Donbass for just wanting their language rights protected.

"Pro-Russian agitators like Pavel Gubarev tried to illegally take over government buildings in E Ukraine,"

-Pavel is a Ukrainian, and it is pretty far fetched to call it illegal to resist to an illegal unconstitutional coup government.

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 2:58 PM

I have not seen any proof that there was a coordinated coup to remove Yanukovych. On Feb 21st, Western powers got what they wanted when Yanukovych agreed to form a coalition government with Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, and Tyahnybok (OK, maybe Tyahnbok wasn't they're first choice) and have early elections. Yanukovych fled because the security forces abandoned him. They most likely abandoned him because the Feb 21st agreement called for investigation into violence on the Maidan, and they thought they would be blamed for everything.

I never said Gubarev wasn't Ukrainian. But he was clearly a pro-Russian agitator. And yes, his self-promotion as the "governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals.

brylcream Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 3:35 AM

Yanukovich was in Donetsk when they broke their constitution in the Rada, when they didn't have enough votes to impeach him.

"And yes, his self-promotion as the "governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals."

Really?
https://www.youtube.com/wat...

Alex Robeson brylcream , February 23, 2018 7:50 AM

He was in Kharkiv, but not on an official visit. He was fleeing. And sorry, but protests attended by a few thousand people do not mean that Gubarev had widespread support.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 3:14 PM

""governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals."

-It is worth to point out that there was no democratic support for the coup in Kiev however. Which I guess is why there was a coup in the first place.

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 4:20 PM

You still haven't offered any proof for your claim of a coup in Kiev.

brylcream Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 3:37 AM

Check the Ukrainian constitution, Article 111. There is described how a president could be impeached.

Alex Robeson brylcream , February 23, 2018 7:33 AM

That's not a coup. It's an unconstitutional removal of a president who abandoned his post. What were they supposed to do - live with a power vacuum?

Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 3:09 PM

"And yes, his self-promotion as the "governor of Donetsk" was both illegal and unpopular with the locals."

-Hardly illegal, quite the opposite, more like it was a duty to resist an unconstitutional coup government. And while I have not found a opinion poll on rebel controlled areas, the closes I found suggest that the rebels has a very high support among the Donbass population.

"An opinion poll that was taken on the day of the referendum and the day before by a correspondent of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Washington Post, and five other media outlets found that of those people who intended to vote, 94.8% would vote for independence. The poll did not claim to have scientific precision, but was carried out to get a basis from which to judge the outcome of the referendum, given that independent observers were not present to monitor it. Even with those who said they would not vote counted in, a 65.6% majority supported separation from Ukraine"
http://www.faz.net/aktuell/...

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 5:52 PM

You should probably try reading the actual article, instead of quoting Wikipedia. The journalists polled 186 people, and of those 110 supported independence. That's a tiny and insignificant sample size. People voting for independence had been going through a war started by pro-Russian separatists, they were under the martial law of pro-Russian separatists, and their only news was Russian propaganda telling them that Kiev was all Nazis who wanted to exterminate Russia. Also, as you no doubt saw while reading Wikipedia, polls taken before Strelkov and the others started the war showed that the locals were not supportive of independence.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 4:22 AM

" them that Kiev was all Nazis who wanted to exterminate Russia"

-Pretty close to the truth actually, Kiev certainly did and are doing everything they can do exterminate the local civilians in Donbas, but stealing their pensions, cutting of social pay, hindering and stoping food, medicine and water.

Actually I mentioned that in my comment, there are no opinion polls but the closes we get is the opinion polls from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the Washington Post, which shows a massive support for the rebels. Which is no surprise as we are talking about an illegal unconstitutional pro-nazi government seizing power.

"tthe locals were not supportive of independence.

-The support for rebels are as all sources show quite high, of course nobody wanted the war, but that was forced on them by the unelected coup government. If Ukraine had just language right of the Donbass people there would have been no war.

Alex Robeson Vic , February 23, 2018 8:14 AM

No, Kiev was not filled with Nazis. Russia engaged in fearmongering to get Crimeans to vote for independence. And what happened? The Ukrainian Army in Crimea resisted all provocations to start a war. Kiev thought that the international community would come to its aid. Remember the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2014? Svoboda and Right Sector barely had any public support at all. The lie that Kiev was filled with Nazis was just that - a lie.

Again, your Frankfurter Allgemeine poll was less than 200 people who happened to be willing to talk to Western journalists. Only 110 of them said they wanted independence, and this was after living under martial law and Russian propaganda for months. There were plenty of actual scientific polls conducted in April before the "referendum" which showed that there was no support for secession - at most, people wanted decentralisation.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 22, 2018 3:05 PM

Well, depends on what you mean with proof I suppose, is an American marxist oligarchs admitting they spent millions to training demonstrators to subvert Ukrainian democracy proof?
Is the fact that 100% of NATO controlled media support the Ukrainian opposition proof?
Is that fact that USA leaders went down to Ukraine and gave out cookies to the undemocratic opposition and held speeches encouraging them to overthrow their government proof?
Is leaked phone calls from USA telling Ukraine which leaders should be installed(which later were installed) proof?
Is Obama openly admitting they handled the "transition of power" in Ukraine proof?
Is the fact that the fascist and ultra-nationalist groups used used to overthrow the democratic government of Ukraine(OUN) known CIA assets proof? I mean, basically, it was the most blatant coup in world history. But if you literally want the USA government to totally in details describe and admit to every detail you will just have to wait a few years or decades until it is released in a FOI report like the fact that USA created ISIS.

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 4:38 PM

- I'm assuming you mean the $5 billion the US invested over 20+ years? Russia invested $40 billion in the same time frame - 8x as much as the US (see Sergey Glazyev's March 24, 2014 interview with National Review). Financial investments in democratic institutions are not proof of a coup, but nice try.

- NATO controlled media? There's no such thing.

- Why is it such a big deal with Nuland giving out cookies?

- John McCain didn't encourage them to "overthrow their government". When did he say that? He said "We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently. And the destiny you seek lies in Europe."

- Did you know that government officials from European countries and the EU also encouraged the protesters?

- Nuland and the US were clearly operating to keep the opposition united, and yes, they pushed their interests by encouraging Yatsenyuk to take the lead. But Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, and Tyahnybok were already established as opposition politicians in general, and had been accepted by the Maidan protesters before the US arrived on the scene. And besides, the Feb 21st agreement was what the US wanted - it would have placed those three figures in a coalition government with Yanukovych, followed by early elections. All of that considered, the fact that they emerged as leaders after Yanukovych left is really not surprising.

- Obama admitted what everyone knew - the US had entered into the crisis on the side of the EU to push Yanukovych to listen to the protesters. Russia, of course, was pushing Yanukovych to crack down. I remember when RT and Sputnik tried to twist it to mean Obama was claiming the US was behind a coup - it was the most blatant spin/propaganda I've ever seen. Go back and watch Obama's interview with Fareed Zakaria.

- You'll have to provide at least an ounce of proof that ultranationalist, far-right, or neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine are "CIA assets". Otherwise you're just another baseless conspiracy theorist.

- Yes, the US and USSR (Russia) have engaged in regime changes in the past. There's zero proof though, that there was a coup in Ukraine.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 4:27 AM

lol, yes, that is what is called a coup. Not only a coup but the most blatant coup in history I would say, I can only imagine if Russia funded trained and funded demonstrators Mexico, Russian leaders went to Mexico handing out cookies and giving support to the demonstrators, and ordering the opposition which leaders should be installed after the coup and so forth,and then afterwards openly admitting it did it.Hilarious. But I guess you are paid troll, and even when FYI releases information where USA planned the entire thing in detail, like it has with its creation of ISIS and al-qaeda you will deny it still.

Here is the head of Stratfor by the way, the "Shadow CIA" saying the exact same thing, xD

"Head of Stratfor, 'Private CIA,' Says Overthrow of Yanukovych Was 'The Most Blatant Coup in History'"
http://www.washingtonsblog....

Alex Robeson Vic , February 23, 2018 9:01 AM

Watch the video of Obama's interview ( https://www.youtube.com/wat... - he clearly states "Yanukovych then fleeing after we had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine." In other words, he openly admits to helping form the February 21st "Agreement on settlement of political crisis in Ukraine". Obviously he's not talking about the Rada removing Yanukovych from office.

Nuland's conversation backs this up. It shows the Obama administration was helping Yatsenyuk, Klitschko, and Tyahnybok stay united. Yanukovych was individually offering them posts in his government. The US was pushing them to resist those offers. This culminated in the February 21st agreement, where the US and EU got additional concessions from Yanukovych - a coalition government with those three leaders, early elections, and investigations of the violence on Maidan.

As for the head of Stratfor, George Friedman went on to write an article in which he said that his quote was completely taken out of context ( http://www.businessinsider.... .

You think handing out cookies means people are funding coups. I'll have to remember that when giving cookies to my children.

Jorge Martinho Vic , February 22, 2018 2:34 PM

Civil wars dont involve foreign powers invading another country...

Duendao Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 7:21 PM

So what is doing the US in syria?

Vic Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 2:43 PM

Indeed, that is why there is a civil war in Ukraine. "Red Cross officially declares Ukraine civil war" https://www.thelocal.ch/201...

Vic Jorge Martinho , February 22, 2018 7:01 AM

Russia does not steal anything, the Crimean people voted to join Russia and that is their democratic right.

"With two studies out of the way, both Western-based, it seems without question that the vast majority of Crimeans do not feel they were duped into voting for annexation, and that life with Russia will be better for them and their families than life with Ukraine. A year ago this week, 83% of Crimeans went to the polling stations and almost 97% expressed support for reunification with their former Soviet parent."
https://www.forbes.com/site...

Alex Robeson Vic , February 22, 2018 1:48 PM

Crimea was a coup, initiated on February 27, 2014 when armed/masked militants (Spetsnaz?) stormed the Crimean parliamentary building, raised the Russian flag over the building, and barricaded themselves inside. During this occupation, an emergency parliamentary session was called. It is unknown how many MPs participated - a number have said they were not there, even though they were claimed to have been there. But in that emergency session, the Crimean PM (Anatolii Mohyliov) was illegally removed and replaced with an unpopular pro-Russian MP (Sergey Aksyonov). Aksyonov immediately called for the independence referendum. Just to emphasize, all of this happened while the parliamentary building was under armed occupation from unknown pro-Russian forces (most likely Spetsnaz), and against the will of the current Crimean and Ukrainian governments. Interestingly, just the day before (February 26), the Crimean government had told pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian protesters outside the building that there would be no effort to seek independence from Ukraine.

It was, without doubt, a coup.

Vic Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 4:28 AM

Derp, there is quite literally a source right above you debunking your lies and linking to several USA and Germany opinion polls verifying that the result of the referendum was reflective of the democratic will of the Crimean people.

Alex Robeson Vic , February 23, 2018 9:03 AM

I didn't dispute the poll. What I said is that before the referendum Russia instigated a coup, suppressed protests, and created a sense of fear in Crimea that drove people to think Kiev was filled with Nazis. Of course they voted to join Russia after that.

BlackRoseML Alex Robeson , February 23, 2018 1:27 PM

Isn't that what happened throughout Ukraine when "protestors" (more accurately thugs) took over the Regional Administration buildings and occupied them? Well, before the coup in Kiev, numerous government buildings in other regions were occupied.

You said that it was a big propaganda exercise to portray being pro-Ukraine as being pro-Nazi. Then why was the Euromaidan far right? Why were the most prominent activists and leaders of the "revolution" associated with Svodoba and Right Sector? Why were there thugs destroying monuments to Lenin? Why were many activists extolling Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych?

The people on the Maidan behaved like far-right lunatics and brigands. No wonder why there it isn't difficult to conceive of them as Nazis.

If I were a woman in Crimea, I would be grateful that I am not living under the jackboot of the Maidan thugs.

[Feb 24, 2018] As Washington's efforts to recapture and return Russia to vassalage have failed it has resorted to a growing series of provocations and conflicts

Notable quotes:
"... Nevertheless, the US retains its political clients in the Baltic , the Balkans and Eastern and Central European regimes. However, these clients are unruly and often eager to confront a nuclear-armed Russia, confident that the US-NATO will intervene, in spite of the probability of being vaporized in a nuclear Armageddon. ..."
"... Despite President Trump's campaign promises to 'pull-back', the US has re-entered Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in a big way. The Trump shift from global containment and realism to 'rollback and aggression' against Russia and China has failed to secure a positive response from past and present allies. ..."
"... China has increased economic ties with the EU. Russia and the EU share strategic gas and oil trade ties. Domestically, the US military budget deepens the fiscal deficit and drastically threatens social spending. This creates a scenario of increasing US isolation with its futile aggression against a dynamic and changing world. ..."
Feb 24, 2018 | www.unz.com

Russia has reduced and challenged the US pursuit of a uni-polar global empire following the recovery of its sovereignty and economic growth after the disaster of the 1990's. With the ascent of President Putin, the US-EU empire lost their biggest and most lucrative client and source of naked pillage.

Nevertheless, the US retains its political clients in the Baltic , the Balkans and Eastern and Central European regimes. However, these clients are unruly and often eager to confront a nuclear-armed Russia, confident that the US-NATO will intervene, in spite of the probability of being vaporized in a nuclear Armageddon.

Washington's efforts to recapture and return Russia to vassalage have failed. Out of frustration Washington has resorted to a growing series of failed provocations and conflicts between the US and the EU, within the US between Trump and the Democrats; and among the warlords controlling the Trump cabinet.

Germany has continued lucrative trade ties with Russia, despite US sanctions, underscoring the decline of US power to dictate policy to the European Union. The Democratic Party and the ultra-militaristic Clinton faction remains pathologically nostalgic for a return to the 1990's Golden Age of Pillage (before Putin). Clinton's faction is fixated on the politics of revanchism . As a result, they vigorously fought against candidate Donald Trump's campaign promises to pursue a new realistic understanding with Russia. The Russia-Gate Investigation is not merely a domestic electoral squabble led by hysterical 'liberals.' What is a stake is nothing less than a profound conflict over the remaking of the US global map. Trump recognized and accepted the re-emergence of Russia as a global power to be 'contained', while the Democrats campaigned to roll-back reality, overthrow Putin and return to the robber baron orgies of the Clinton years. As a result of this ongoing strategic conflict, Washington is unable to develop a coherent global strategy, which in turn has further weakened US influence in the EU in Europe and elsewhere.

Nevertheless, the intense Democratic onslaught against Trump's initial foreign policy pronouncements regarding Russia succeeded in destroying his 'pivot to realism' and facilitated the rise of a fanatical militaristic faction within his cabinet, which have intensified the anti-Russia policies of the Clintonite Democrats. In less than a year, all of Trump's realist advisers and cabinet members have been purged and replaced by militarists. Their hard core confrontational anti-Russia policy has become the platform for launching a global military strategy based on vast increases in military spending, demands that the EU nations increase their military budgets, and open opposition to an EU-centered military alliance, such as the one recently proposed by French President Emmanuel Macron.

Despite President Trump's campaign promises to 'pull-back', the US has re-entered Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria in a big way. The Trump shift from global containment and realism to 'rollback and aggression' against Russia and China has failed to secure a positive response from past and present allies.

China has increased economic ties with the EU. Russia and the EU share strategic gas and oil trade ties. Domestically, the US military budget deepens the fiscal deficit and drastically threatens social spending. This creates a scenario of increasing US isolation with its futile aggression against a dynamic and changing world.

[Feb 23, 2018] American Meddling in the Ukraine by Publius Tacitus

Ukraine is now now a pawn in a big geopolitical games. With USA EU (Germany) and Russia pulling the country in different directions. But the victory of Ukrainian nationalists is not surprising and is not solely based on the US interferences (althouth the USA did lot in this direction) pursuit its geopolitical game against Russia. It repeats the story of Baltic Republics, albeit with a significant time delay. There should be some social group that secure independence of the country and Ukrainian nationalists happen to be such a group. That's why Yanukovich supported them and Svoboda party (with predictable results).
Notable quotes:
"... The ideological fissures that are growing in the United States are beginning to resemble the warring camps that characterize the Ukrainian political world. The divide in Ukraine pits groups who are described as "right wing" and many are ideological descendants of real Nazis and Nazi sympathizers against groups with a strong affinity to Russia. This kind of gap cannot be bridged through conventional negotiations. ..."
"... The US support, both overt and covert, for Ukrainian politicians is grounded in an anti-Soviet (now anti-Russian) ideology. We have convinced ourselves that Russia is hell bent on world domination. Therefore we must do whatever is necessary to stop Russia, which includes uncritical, blind support for elements in Ukraine that also detest the Russians. But in doing so we have closed our eyes to the filthy underbelly of the virulent anti-Semitism that lurks in western Ukraine. ..."
"... US meddling in the Ukraine is astonishing in its breadth. It ranges from the fact that the wife of former President Viktor Yuschenko was an American citizen and former senior official in the US State Department. Do you think there would be no complaints if Melania Trump was born in Russia and had served in the Russian Foreign Ministry? Yet, most Americans are happily ignorant of such facts. ..."
"... I wouldn´t put to much stress on Bandera having been a bad guy. His enemies were no better. They just won the war and the victors write history. ..."
Feb 23, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

The ideological fissures that are growing in the United States are beginning to resemble the warring camps that characterize the Ukrainian political world. The divide in Ukraine pits groups who are described as "right wing" and many are ideological descendants of real Nazis and Nazi sympathizers against groups with a strong affinity to Russia. This kind of gap cannot be bridged through conventional negotiations.

Who is the United States government and media supporting? The Nazis . You think I'm joking. Here are the facts, but we must go back to World War II :

When World War II began a large part of western Ukraine welcomed the German soldiers as liberators from the recently enforced Soviet rule and openly collaborated with the Germans. IThe Soviet leader, Stalin, imposed policies that caused the deaths of almost 7 million Ukrainians in the 1930s--an era known as the Holomodor).

Ukrainian divisions, regiments and battalions were formed, such as SS Galizien, Nachtigal and Roland, and served under German leadership. In the first few weeks of the war, more than 80 thousand people from the Galizien region volunteered for the SS Galizien, which later known for its extreme cruelty towards Polish, Jewish and Russian people on the territory of Ukraine.

Members of these military groups came mostly from the organization of Ukrainian nationalists ka the OUN, which was founded in 1929. It's leader was Stepan Bandera, known then and today for his extreme anti-semitic and anti-communist views.

CIA documents just recently declassified show strong ties between US intelligence and Ukrainian nationalists since 1946.

Jump ahead now to the April 2014 "uprising" of anti-Russian forces in the Ukraine (Maidan 2). The US was firmly on the side of the protesters, who ultimately succeeded in ousting the elected President. And who were helping lead this effort?

Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security and Defence Council is Andriy Parubiy. Parubiy was the founder of the Social National Party of Ukraine, a fascist party styled on Hitler's Nazis, with membership restricted to ethnic Ukrainians.

The Social National Party would go on to become Svoboda, the far-right nationalist party whose leader, Oleh Tyahnybok was one of the three most high profile leaders of the Euromaidan protests. . . .

Overseeing the armed forces alongside Parubiy as the Deputy Secretary of National Security is Dmytro Yarosh , the leader of the Right Sector – a group of hardline nationalist streetfighters, who previously boasted they were ready for armed struggle to free Ukraine.

The US support, both overt and covert, for Ukrainian politicians is grounded in an anti-Soviet (now anti-Russian) ideology. We have convinced ourselves that Russia is hell bent on world domination. Therefore we must do whatever is necessary to stop Russia, which includes uncritical, blind support for elements in Ukraine that also detest the Russians. But in doing so we have closed our eyes to the filthy underbelly of the virulent anti-Semitism that lurks in western Ukraine.

US meddling in the Ukraine is astonishing in its breadth. It ranges from the fact that the wife of former President Viktor Yuschenko was an American citizen and former senior official in the US State Department. Do you think there would be no complaints if Melania Trump was born in Russia and had served in the Russian Foreign Ministry? Yet, most Americans are happily ignorant of such facts.

But Viktor Yuschenko is not an American who speaks a foreign language. He is very much a Ukrainian nationalist and steeped in the anti-Semitism that dominates the ideology of western Ukraine. During the final months of his Presidency, Yuschenko made the following declaration:

In conclusion I would like to say something that is long awaited by the Ukrainian patriots for many years I have signed a decree for the unbroken spirit and standing for the idea of fighting for independent Ukraine. I declare Stepan Bandera a national hero of Ukraine.

Without hesitation or shame, Yuschenko endorsed the legacy of Bandera, who had happily aligned with the Nazis in pursuit of his own nationalist goals. Those goals, however, did not include Jews. And here is the ultimate irony--Bandera was born in Austria, not the Ukraine. So much for ideological consistency.

US interference was not confined to serendipitous relationships, such as the Yuschenko marriage. It also included the open and active funding of certain political groups and media outlets. The US State Department sent money through a variety of outlets. One of these was the Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening aka CEPPS. This is :

a USAID program with other National Endowment for Democracy-affiliated groups: the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the International Republican Institute and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. In 2010, the reported disbursement for CEPPS in Ukraine was nearly $5 million.

The program's efforts are described on the USAID website as providing "training for political party activists and locally elected officials to improve communication with civic groups and citizens, and the development of NGO-led advocacy campaigns on electoral and political process issues."

Anyone prepared to argue that it would be okay for Russia, through its Foreign Ministry, to contribute several million dollars for training party activists in the United States?

What we do not know is how much money was being spent on covert activities directed and managed by the CIA. During the political upheaval in April 2014 (Maidan 2), there was this news item:

Over the weekend, CIA director John Brennan travelled to Kiev, nobody knows exactly why, but some speculate that he intends to open US intelligence resources to Ukrainian leaders about real-time Russian military maneuvers. The US has, thus far, refrained from sharing such knowledge because Moscow is believed to have penetrated much of Ukraine's communications systems – and Washington isn't about to hand over its surveillance secrets to the Russians.

Do you think Americans would be outraged if the head of Russia's version of the CIA, the SVR or FSB, traveled quietly to the United States to meet with Donald Trump prior to his election? I think that would qualify as meddling.

Count me as one of the people who is outraged by the hypocrisy and stupidity now on display in the United States. I am not talking about Trump. I am referring to the Republicans and Democrats and pundits and media mouthpieces who are fuming about Russian citizens writing on Facebook as one of the worst catastrophies since Pearl Harbor or 9-11.

There clearly is meddling going on in America's political landscape. But it ain't the Russian Government. No. There are foreign and domestic forces aligned who are keen on portraying Russia as a threat to world order that must be opposed by more defense spending and tougher sanctions. That is the propaganda that dominates the media in the United States these days. And that is truly dangerous to our nation's safety and freedom.

Posted at 01:24 PM in Publius Tacitus , Russiagate | Permalink


james , 23 February 2018 at 02:11 PM

good post pt.. thanks... i never knew ''the wife of former President Viktor Yuschenko was an American citizen and former senior official in the US State Department.'' that is informative.. i recall following this closely back in 2014.. the hypocrisy on display in the usa at present is truly amazing and frightening at the same time.. it appears that the public can be cowed very easily..
Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg , 23 February 2018 at 02:29 PM
good points well made.

On the twitters, you would be accused of "whatabouttism" - which is the crime of excusing Putin's diabolism by pointing out American interference with the internal politics an elections of other nations. A CIA guy recently said the US only interferes to 'promote democracy' - tell that to Australia, Vietnam, Mexico, Chile, Congo, Russia, Ukraine...it's a long long list.

An independent Ukraine was also a project of German foreign policy after the Brest-Litowsk Treaty (the equivalent of the Versailles Treaty, only aimed at Russia) SO I have o wonder how much of the enthusiasm for Vicky Nuland's Israel friendly Nazi state-let (oh what irony!) is a product of Germany wanting to reassert itself in the east, using NATO solidarity as a fig leaf. Maybe they will make Ukraine import a lot o Africans "refugees" so that Soros' project of creating a brown Europe will be advanced in the Slavic sphere as well as the west.

Adrestia , 23 February 2018 at 02:39 PM
It's not only the US. The EU borg are also meddling. In my country we had a referendum about Ukraine. The population voted "Against" on the question: "Are you for or against the Approval Act of the Association Agreement between the European Union and Ukraine?"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_Ukraine%E2%80%93European_Union_Association_Agreement_referendum,_2016

This was the only referendum that was done since it was implemented in 2015. A second one is being organized on the Intelligence and Security Services which has controversial parts with regard to access to internet traffic.

This referendum will take place on March 21, 2018 and will probably be voted against because of the controversial elements (in part because there is still living memory of our Eastern neighbors in the second world war)

https://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet_op_de_inlichtingen-_en_veiligheidsdiensten_2017

These 2 will probably be the last. Our house of representatives have voted yesterday to end the referendum law (with a majority vote of 76 out of 150 representatives!)

So much for democracy. The reason stated that the referendum was controversial (probably because they voted against the EU borg). Interesting is that the proposal was done by the party that wanted the referendum as a principal point. This will almost certainly ensure that the little respect left for traditional parties is gone and they will not be able to get a majority next elections.

The liberal party - who provides the prime-minister - EU leader Hans van Baalen and Belgian ex-prime minister Guy Verhostad held a controversial speech on the Maidan square in support of the protesters that the EU will support them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cIL1FWCIlu8

Tom , 23 February 2018 at 03:22 PM
I wouldn´t put to much stress on Bandera having been a bad guy. His enemies were no better. They just won the war and the victors write history. The deeper problem of Ukraine is the fact that in the East of the country (and maybe even the majority of the country) Bandera is indeed regarded as a villain. But in the West he is a hero to this day. Even in Soviet times people from Western Ukraine were regarded as "fascists" by much of the rest of the country. No wonder as there were anti soviet partisans until late in the fifties.

Even in the nineties anybody who travelled in Ukraine could feel the tension between East and West. The Russians were certainly aware of it and mindful not to rip the country apart they cut the Ukrainians an enormous amount of slack. Of course they supported "their" candidates and shoveled money into their insatiable throats. Only to be disappointed time and again. "Prorussian" Kutshma turned into a Ukrainian "patriot" (such is the logic of statehood) and the same thing happened with Yanukovich. People forget that he would have signed an association agreement with Europe had Europe not refused because he was insufficiently "democratic". Really the West should have been content with things as they were. But the West wanted it all. They wanted Ukraine firmly in the "Western" camp. Thereby they ripped the country apart. As a good friend of mine who has studied in Kiev in Soviet times remarked: to ask Ukraine to choose between East and West is like asking a child in divorce proceedings who it liked more: daddy or mummy?
Really the West (not only the US -the Eu is also guilty) is to blame. It is long past time to get down from the high horse and stop spreading chaos and mayhem in the name of democracy,

Jony Kanuck , 23 February 2018 at 03:27 PM
Publius,
An informative column.
The coup & later developments soured me on the MSMedia. I'm an initiate into modern Russian history: NATO in the Ukraine = WW3!

Some additional history:
A Ukrainian nation did not exist until after WW1; one piece was Russian, another Polish and another Austrian. The Holodomor is exaggerated for political purposes; the actual number dead from famine appears to be 'only' 2M. It wasn't Soviet bloody mindedness, it was Soviet agricultural mismanagement; collectivizing agriculture drops production. They did this right before the great drought of the 1930s - remember the dustbowl. There was a famine in Kazakestan at the same time; 1.5M died. The Nazis raised 5 SS divisions out of the Ukraine. As the Germans were pushed back they ran night drops of ordnance into the Ukraine as long as they could. The Soviets had to carry on divisional level counter insurgency until 1956. After the war, Gehlen, Nazi intelligence czar, kept himself out of jail by turning over his files, routes & agents to the US. He also stoked anti Soviet paranoia. The Brits ended up with a whole Ukr SS division that they didn't want, so they gave it to Canada. Which is why Canada has such cranky policy around the Ukraine!

bluetonga , 23 February 2018 at 03:28 PM
A very interesting conversation between Victoria Nulland and ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, caught at picking the future rulers of liberated Ukraine :

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QxZ8t3V_bk

This is not meddling. This is a defensive (preemptive?) action against Russian agression.

Publius Tacitus -> Tom... , 23 February 2018 at 03:31 PM
Tom,
I'm sure you'd like us to ignore Bandera. I bet he liked children and dogs. Just like Hitler. Bandera was a genuine bad guy. There is no rehabilitating that scourge on society. Nice try though.
Publius Tacitus -> bluetonga... , 23 February 2018 at 03:36 PM
I am giving you the benefit of the doubt that your final comment is sarcasm. When you have two senior US Government officials who will and will not constitute a foreign government, you have gone beyond meddling. It is worse.
VietnamVet , 23 February 2018 at 03:57 PM
PT

The media is hysterical. Today, Putin's Facebook Bot Collaborator contacted the Kremlin before his mercenaries attacked Americans in Syria. I've never seen such an intense barrage of propaganda before in my life. America is fracturing apart like Ukraine. This is no coincidence. In both countries, oligarchs have seized power, the rule of law abandoned and there is a rush of corruption. A World War is near. The realists are gone. The Moguls are pushing Donald Trump pull the trigger. Either in Syria with an assault to destroy Hezbollah (Iran) for good or American trainers going over the top of trenches in Donbass in a centennial attack of the dead.

The Twisted Genius , 23 February 2018 at 03:59 PM
Publius Tacitus,

Hallelujah and jubilation! We're in full agreement on this subject. What we did to Ukraine is shameful in every way. A remember a video of a pallet of money being unloaded from a USG place at Kiev during Maidan 2. That's in addition to Nuland's bag of cookies. I always thought that one of the objectives of our meddling in Ukraine was to make Sevastopol into a NATO naval base. I would definitely want to see a full account of what support we provided to the nazi thugs of Svoboda and Pravy Sektor. We have a long history of meddling, at least twice as long as the Soviet Union/Russia. But that does not mean we should stop investigating the Russian interference in our 2016 election. Just stop hyperventilating over it. It no more deserves risking a war than our continuing mutual espionage.

TimmyB , 23 February 2018 at 04:08 PM
Our leaders are the biggest hypocrites on the planet. The Ukraine was almost evenly divided between pro-Western and pro-Russian sides. Our government, rather than waiting for an election, assisted an armed rebellion against the elected pro-Russian government. Among the groups our government allied with in this endeavor were out and out Nazis.

As a result of this rebellion, the Russian majority in Crimea overwhelming voted to leave the Ukraine and rejoin Russia, which they had been part of for over 150-years. While our government continues to provide military aid to Israel, which used force of arms take over the West Bank, it imposed sanctions against Russia when the people of Crimea voted to join their former countrymen. Mind boggling.

[Feb 23, 2018] Russia loses the E. Ukraine as a buffer.

Feb 23, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Les | Dec 31, 2016 12:09:53 PM | 4

Kissinger reportedly working on a deal with Russia: Crimea for East Ukraine.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/henry-kissinger-russia-trump-crimea-advises-latest-ukraine-a7497646.html

[Feb 20, 2018] Russia's Election Meddling Worse Than a Crime; a Blunder by Robert W. Merry

Feb 20, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Ukraine is crucial in this Russian sense of territorial imperative. It's a tragically split country, with part tilting toward the West and part facing eastward toward Russia. That makes for a delicate political and geopolitical situation, but for centuries that delicate political and geopolitical situation has been overseen by Russia. Now the West wants to end that. Upending a duly elected (though corrupt) Ukrainian president was part of the plan. Getting Ukraine into NATO is the endgame.

Note that the Ukrainian revolution occurred in 2014, which just happened to be the year, according to the U.S. indictments, that Russia initiated its grand program to influence America's 2016 elections. Kennan was right: Russia inevitably would react badly to the NATO encirclement policy, and then America's anti-Russian cadres would cite that as evidence that the encirclement was necessary all along. That's precisely what's happening now.

Which brings us to the fifth and final fundamental reality surrounding the revelation of Russia's grand effort to influence the U.S. election. It was an incredible blunder. Given all that's happened in U.S.-Russian relations this century, there probably wasn't much prospect that those relations could ever be normalized, much less made cordial. But that is now utterly impossible.

Donald Trump campaigned on a platform of seeking better relations with Russia. After getting elected he repeatedly asserted in his first news conference that it would be "positive," "good," or "great" if "we could get along with Russia." Unlike most of America's elites, he vowed to seek Moscow's cooperation on global issues, accepted some U.S. share of blame for the two countries' sour relations, and acknowledged "the right of all nations to put their interests first."

This suggested a possible dramatic turn in U.S.-Russian relations -- an end to the encirclement push, curtailment of the hostile rhetoric, a pullback on economic sanctions, and serious efforts to work with Russia on such nettlesome matters as Syria and Ukraine. That was largely put on hold with the narrative of Russian meddling in the U.S. election and vague allegations of campaign "collusion" with Russia on behalf of Trump's presidential ambitions.

It doesn't appear likely that investigators will turn up any evidence of collusion that rises to any kind of criminality. But it doesn't matter now, in terms of U.S.-Russian relations, because these indictments will cement the anti-Russian sentiment of Americans for the foreseeable future. No overtures of the kind envisioned by Trump will be possible for any president for a long time. It won't matter that every nation does it or that America in particular has done it or that the West's aggressive encirclement contributed to the Russian actions. The U.S.-Russian hostility is set. Where it leads is impossible to predict, but it won't be good. It could be tragic.

Robert W. Merry, longtime Washington, D.C., journalist and publishing executive, is editor of The American Conservative . His latest book, President McKinley: Architect of the American Century , was released in September.

[Feb 11, 2018] What We've Learned in Year 1 of Russiagate

Notable quotes:
"... The New York Times ..."
"... The new weapons for Ukraine coincides with an increase in US troop deployments in the Baltic region on Russia's border, prompting Russia to accuse the United States of violating the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, and position nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in response. ..."
Feb 11, 2018 | www.thenation.com

One consequence of the Trump-Russia fixation is the overshadowing of the far-right agenda that Trump and his Republican allies are carrying out, including, inexorably, policies that undermine the narrative of Trump-Russian collusion. But as that narrative is also used as a cudgel against Trump's presidency, it is worth asking if some of those policies are now even a direct result.

In December, Trump authorized the sale of new weapons to Ukraine for its fight against Russian-backed separatists. President Obama had rejected the arms shipments, "fearing that it would only escalate the bloodshed," as The New York Times noted in 2015. Trump had also opposed such a move during the campaign, but was swayed by lobbying from advisers and congressional neoconservatives . "Overall," observed Andrew Weiss , a Russia expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, "I see this discussion [on Trump-Russia] as fitting within a broader effort by people within the national security bureaucracy to box Trump in on Ukraine."

The new weapons for Ukraine coincides with an increase in US troop deployments in the Baltic region on Russia's border, prompting Russia to accuse the United States of violating the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, and position nuclear-capable ballistic missiles in response.

[Jan 30, 2018] The Unseen Wars of America the Empire The American Conservative

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Like the Romans, we have become an empire, committed to fighting for scores of nations, with troops on every continent and forces in combat operations of which the American people are only vaguely aware. "I didn't know there were 1,000 troops in Niger," said Senator Lindsey Graham when four Green Berets were killed there. "We don't know exactly where we're at in the world, militarily, and what we're doing." ..."
"... Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, ..."
"... . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com. ..."
Jan 30, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

The Unseen Wars of America the Empire By Patrick J. Buchanan January 30, 2018, 12:01 AM

Forward Operating Base Torkham, in Nangahar Province, Afghanistan (army.mil) If Turkey is not bluffing, U.S. troops in Manbij, Syria, could be under fire by week's end, and NATO engulfed in the worst crisis in its history.

Turkish President Erdogan said Friday his forces will cleanse Manbij of Kurdish fighters, alongside whom U.S. troops are embedded.

Erdogan's foreign minister demanded concrete steps by the United States to end its support of the Kurds, who control the Syrian border with Turkey east of the Euphrates all the way to Iraq.

If the Turks attack Manbij, America will face a choice: stand by our Kurdish allies and resist the Turks, or abandon the Kurds.

Should the U.S. let the Turks drive the Kurds out of Manbij and the entire Syrian border area, as Erdogan threatens, American credibility would suffer a blow from which it would not soon recover.

But to stand with the Kurds and oppose Erdogan's forces could mean a crackup of NATO and a loss of U.S. bases inside Turkey, including the air base at Incirlik.

Turkey also sits astride the Dardanelles entrance to the Black Sea. NATO's loss would thus be a triumph for Vladimir Putin, who gave Ankara the green light to cleanse the Kurds from Afrin.

Yet Syria is but one of many challenges facing U.S. foreign policy.

The Winter Olympics in South Korea may have taken the menace of a North Korean ICBM out of the news, but no one believes that threat is behind us.

Last week, China charged that the USS Hopper, a guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, a reef in the South China Sea claimed by Beijing, though it is far closer to Luzon in the Philippines. The destroyer, says China, was chased off by one of her frigates. If we continue to contest China's territorial claims with our warships, a clash is inevitable.

In a similar incident Monday, a Russian military jet came within five feet of a U.S. Navy EP-3 Orion surveillance jet in international airspace over the Black Sea, forcing the Navy plane to end its mission.

U.S. relations with Cold War ally Pakistan are at rock bottom. In his first tweet of 2018, President Trump charged Pakistan with being a false friend.

"The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools," Trump declared. "They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!"

As for America's longest war in Afghanistan, now in its 17th year, the end is nowhere on the horizon. A week ago, the International Hotel in Kabul was attacked and held for 13 hours by Taliban gunmen who killed 40. Midweek, a Save the Children facility in Jalalabad was attacked by ISIS, creating panic among aid workers across the country.

Saturday, an ambulance exploded in Kabul, killing 103 people and wounding 235. Monday, Islamic State militants attacked Afghan soldiers guarding a military academy in Kabul. With the fighting season two months off, U.S. troops will not soon be departing. If Pakistan is indeed providing sanctuary for the terrorists of the Haqqani network, how does this war end successfully for the United States? Last week, in a friendly fire incident, the U.S.-led coalition killed 10 Iraqi soldiers. The Iraq war began 15 years ago.

Yet another war, where the humanitarian crisis rivals Syria, continues on the Arabian Peninsula. There, a Saudi air, sea, and land blockade that threatens the Yemeni people with starvation has failed to dislodge Houthi rebels who seized the capital Sanaa three years ago. This weekend brought news that secessionist rebels, backed by the United Arab Emirates, seized power in Yemen's southern port of Aden from the Saudi-backed Hadi regime fighting the Houthis. These rebels seek to split the country, as it was before 1990.

Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE appear to be backing different horses in this tribal-civil-sectarian war into which America has been drawn. There are other wars -- Somalia, Libya, Ukraine -- where the U.S. is taking sides, sending arms, training troops, flying missions.

Like the Romans, we have become an empire, committed to fighting for scores of nations, with troops on every continent and forces in combat operations of which the American people are only vaguely aware. "I didn't know there were 1,000 troops in Niger," said Senator Lindsey Graham when four Green Berets were killed there. "We don't know exactly where we're at in the world, militarily, and what we're doing."

No, we don't, Senator. As in all empires, power is passing to the generals. And what causes the greatest angst today in the imperial city? Fear that a four-page memo worked up in the House Judiciary Committee may discredit Robert Mueller's investigation of Russia-gate.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever . To find out more about Patrick Buchanan and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.

[Jan 28, 2018] Cought in geopolitical war Ukraine became a pawn in bigger games

Jan 28, 2018 | www.unz.com

Remember how the USA ignited the Ukraine to punish the Russians for their thwarting of the planned US attack on Syria? Well, the very same Ukraine has recently passed a law abolishing the "anti-terrorist operation" in the Donbass and declaring the Donbass "occupied territory". Under Ukie law, Russia is now officially an "aggressor state". This means that the Ukronazis have now basically rejected the Minsk Agreements and are in a quasi-open state of war with Russia. The chances of a full-scale Ukronazi attack on the Donbass are now even higher then before, especially before or during the soccer World Cup in Moscow this summer (remember Saakashvili?). Having been ridiculed (again) with their Border Security Force in Syria, the US Americans will now seek a place to take revenge on the evil Russkies and this place will most likely be the Ukraine. And we can always count the Israelis to find a pretext to continue to murder Palestinians and bomb Syria. As for the Saudis, they appear to be temporarily busy fighting each other. So unless the Empire does something really crazy, the only place it can lash out with little to lose (for itself) is the eastern Ukraine. The Novorussians understand that. May God help them.


Paranam Kid , January 26, 2018 at 5:58 am GMT

Saker, interesting analysis. 1 tiny point of criticism:

Remember how the USA ignited the Ukraine to punish the Russians for their thwarting of the planned US attack on Syria?

If I am not mistaken the CIA fomented "Orange revolution" in Ukraine was in 2014, whereas Russia stepped into the Syrian war in 2015. So in the quoted sentence, it seems you got the sequence of events back to front.

bliss_porsena , January 28, 2018 at 10:14 am GMT
Ha-ha! Goddam Russkies scorched the Amero-ISIS arse and now Russo-Turks are gaslighting the Kurds and their ten 'Murican lilypads. It's time for a diversionary Great Patriotic Ukrainian War, just as soon as Porko sobers up.
Seamus Padraig , January 28, 2018 at 11:53 am GMT
@Biff

You're both wrong. The Orange Revolution occurred in 2005: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Revolution

What occurred in 2014 was the Maidan psy-op. As far as I recall, the only thing significant that happened in Ukraine in 2010 was the election of Yanukovych.

Michael Kenny , January 28, 2018 at 2:04 pm GMT
In an article about Syria, Russia is omnipresent and the article ends by talking about Ukraine. Nothing could better illustrate the fact that Putin has painted himself into a corner in both places. He is irreversibly bogged down in Syria and any deal he makes with the Kurds will just bog him down even more. Putin is a sitting duck. The US can lower the boom on him at any time by relaunching the war and there's nothing he can do about it. And, of course, the author makes clear that all this is "about" Ukraine. Syria is a proxy war. But in Ukraine also, Putin has painted himself into a corner. He can't go forward, he can't go backwards and he can't stay where he is!
bluedog , January 28, 2018 at 3:23 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny

Looks to me like he has done very well, the Ukraine is a basket case, surviving on little more than borrowed money(I see on the QT that they are back to having to buy coal from Russia AGAIN) and sooner rather than later there will be another coup as they find that even the EU don';t want them.Syria why does he need to make a deal with the Kurd's for they are not his problem,if anyone makes a deal with the Kurd's it will have be Syria,as far as that little chunk we carved out just what good is it landlocked with no access to a water port,as normal your trolling along with the mighty U.S. which is little more than a paper tiger with its involvement in Afghanistan Africa and other places of interest as it tries to save what can't be saved,the EMPIRE

EliteCommInc. , January 28, 2018 at 4:40 pm GMT
@Michael Kenny

I am not sure there is any evidence that Pres Putin needs t do anything.

He has no intention of raking the Ukraine. Not an issue. He's responding the consequences of a western incited violent revolution that spun out of control -- and is protecting "ethnic Russians" a dynamic that plagues Europe and Asia.

In Syria he is not launching a campaign of conquest but supporting. Anyone who thinks Russia is caught in a vice is sorely mistaken. I can see from the comments that misunderstanding the motivations of pothers remains in play and that is not encouraging.

Yo be clear, I have full faith of US might. we can bring a formidable amount of force on any situation -- it's frightening, just how formidable we are. The question remains

first should we
second how long we need to sustain it
third tested against multiple adversaries (of our own making) in multiple locations
fourth tested against other modern states who themselves have engaged in tech superior forces
fifth the strategic advantages -- short verses long term

Just because one can -- doesn't . . .

Nor am I ignoring that we have allies willing to take on Russia, but when push comes to shove . . . who knows. I think we are the ones getting played and as for trapped -- and bogged down --

goodness gracious.

[Jan 27, 2018] Ukraine, Syria, Russiagate, the Media, and the Risk of Nuclear War by Robert Roth

Notable quotes:
"... London Review of Books, ..."
"... at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack ..."
"... Return to Moscow ..."
"... The demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia is where the neocons and the liberal interventionists most significantly come together. The U.S. media's approach to Russia is now virtually 100 percent propaganda. For instance, the full story of the infamous Magnitsky case cannot be told in the West, nor can the objective reality of the Ukrane coup in 2014 . The American people and the West in general are carefully shielded from hearing the "other side of the story." Indeed to even suggest that there is another side to the story makes you a "Putin apologist" or "Kremlin stooge." ..."
Jan 27, 2018 | www.unz.com

The claim of Russian meddling in the US election has brought US-Russia relations to what may be an all-time low, substantially contributing to the near-universal demonization of Russian president Vladimir Putin and of Russia itself in virtually all major media, with little or no discussion of the supposed evidence for the claim. A stellar exception is the London Review of Books, which published a critically important essay by Rutgers University professor Jackson Lears in the January 4, 2018 issue. Titled "What We Don't Talk about When We Talk about Russian Hacking," the article is an excellent overview and analysis of many of the issues the title suggests.

The claim of Russian meddling in the election remains to this day evidence-free, although you would never know that from the treatment of the topic in the mainstream media. As Professor Lears observes:

Like any orthodoxy worth its salt, the religion of the Russian hack depends not on evidence but on ex cathedra pronouncements on the part of authoritative institutions and their overlords. Its scriptural foundation is a confused and largely fact-free 'assessment' produced last January by a small number of 'hand-picked' analysts – as James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, described them – from the CIA, the FBI and the NSA. The claims of the last were made with only 'moderate' confidence. The label Intelligence Community Assessment creates a misleading impression of unanimity, given that only three of the 16 US intelligence agencies contributed to the report. And indeed the assessment itself contained this crucial admission: 'Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation and precedents.' Yet the assessment has passed into the media imagination as if it were unassailable fact, allowing journalists to assume what has yet to be proved. In doing so they serve as mouthpieces for the intelligence agencies, or at least for those 'hand-picked' analysts.

But although Professor Lears refers to the reports of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity in his discussion of "Russian hacking," it seems clear there must have been a leak, not a hack, because "the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack ." ("Was the 'Russian Hack' An Inside Job?", July 25, 2017, https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/07/25/was-the-russian-hack-an-inside-job/ .)

In any case, definitive claims about who was responsible (assuming, purely arguendo , it was a hack) face the fact that, according to Ray McGovern and William S. Binney, two members of VIPS,

On March 31, 2017, WikiLeaks released original CIA documents [the "Vault 7" trove of CIA documents ] -- ignored by mainstream media -- showing that the agency had created a program allowing it to break into computers and servers and make it look like others did it by leaving telltale signs like Cyrillic markings, for example. ("Trumped-up Claims Against Trump," May 17, 2017, http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-trump-russia-phony-20170517-story.html ).

McGovern was a CIA analyst for 27 years; Binney worked for NSA for 36 years, was the agency's technical director of world military and geopolitical analysis and reporting, and created many of the collection systems still used by NSA.

In other words, as Russian president Vladimir Putin has explained,

today's technology is such that the final address can be masked and camouflaged to an extent that no one will be able to understand the origin of that address. And, vice versa, it is possible to set up any entity or any individual [so] that everyone will think that they are the exact source of that attack. (Valdimir Putin's televised interview on NBC (June 4, 2017), by NBC News' Megyn Kelly, text published on the website of the President of Russia, June 5, 2017.) [9]

Demonization of Putin and Russia

The demonization of Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russia itself is just part, albeit the most dangerous part, of a disinformation campaign flowing from the mainstream media. I don't propose to present a full treatment of the subject here. But in broad outline, it's my understanding that when the Cold War ended in 1991, Russian president Boris Yeltsin accepted the advice of Western neoliberal planners and dismantled much of the Russian "safety net," with the result that the Russian economy tanked and millions of people faced terrific hardship.

Vladimir Putin has been attempting to repair that situation, and his initial success is part of the reason for his popularity in Russia. That understanding comes from a number of articles I've read over the years, but primarily from Tony Kevin's book Return to Moscow , mentioned above. I'm hardly an expert on internal Russian politics. But I've read many of the extensive public statements Mr. Putin has made since 2007, and with my primary concern being his role in international relations and with respect to the control of Russia's nuclear arsenal, he strikes me as a statesman. [10] . Yet as investigative journalist Robert Parry observes,

The demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia is where the neocons and the liberal interventionists most significantly come together. The U.S. media's approach to Russia is now virtually 100 percent propaganda. For instance, the full story of the infamous Magnitsky case cannot be told in the West, nor can the objective reality of the Ukrane coup in 2014 . The American people and the West in general are carefully shielded from hearing the "other side of the story." Indeed to even suggest that there is another side to the story makes you a "Putin apologist" or "Kremlin stooge."

Western journalists now apparently see it as their patriotic duty to hide key facts that otherwise would undermine the demonizing of Putin and Russia. Ironically, many "liberals" who cut their teeth on skepticism about the Cold War and the bogus justifications for the Vietnam War now insist that we must all accept whatever the U.S. intelligence community feeds us, even if we're told to accept the assertions on faith. [11] .

One result is a needless heightening of the dangers and risks outlined in this article.

[Jan 21, 2018] Poeoshenko failed to imagine the situation a Russia in which Putin was no longer around and the hawks, with plenty of stored up grievances, were in power. The Russians have their neocons too and if they came out on top we'd be worse off than now. Failing to resolve the Donbass crisis now might create much worse situation in the future

Notable quotes:
"... Imagine a Russia in which Putin was no longer around and the hawks, with plenty of stored up grievances, were in power. The Russians have their neocons too and if they came out on top we'd be worse off than now ..."
"... The European elites wish to see Europe as a world power. Unrealistic, perhaps, but say that entity did become a dominant force. They complain about the lack of democratic control in the States, but that's nothing to the lack of democratic control in Europe. And we've already seen what the Europeans, including us, are capable of when it comes to predatory foreign intervention. Give the Europeans enough things that go bang and we could be yearning for the good old days. ..."
Jan 21, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

English Outsider -> Babak Makkinejad... 21 January 2018 at 11:18 AM


Babak - "The only sensible thing to do is to cut and run; in my opinion. Just work through the implications as US cuts and run in the Levant, in the Persian Gulf, in South Korea."

As you point out, that could have unexpected effects. We saw what happened when a previous dominant power - Great Britain, though by no means as overwhelmingly dominant and not at all so at the end - effectively cut and ran after the Second World War. It ended up more of a mess than it started out as.

Even in an ideal world, a world in which the current style of Great Power politics was universally abandoned, the sudden withdrawal of the US would cause instability and chaos. The disengagement would have to be gradual.

But there is no such ideal world as that and there will not be. Therefore the sudden withdrawal of the US would leave a power vacuum that others would fill.

What others? Imagine a Russia in which Putin was no longer around and the hawks, with plenty of stored up grievances, were in power. The Russians have their neocons too and if they came out on top we'd be worse off than now .

The European elites wish to see Europe as a world power. Unrealistic, perhaps, but say that entity did become a dominant force. They complain about the lack of democratic control in the States, but that's nothing to the lack of democratic control in Europe. And we've already seen what the Europeans, including us, are capable of when it comes to predatory foreign intervention. Give the Europeans enough things that go bang and we could be yearning for the good old days.

I'm one of those that still hope that the non-interventionist policy that was voted for in America in 2016 will be carried through. But if that is indeed Trump's intention then there is more in his way than local political or administrative difficulties. To engineer such a transition would require great care. It's no good if the US just steps back and worse comes forward to take its place.

It's not overly idealistic, or even that unrealistic, to hope for a world in which defense forces (AND defensive alliances) are used for the proper purpose of defence and not for expensive and destructive enterprises dreamed up by some bubble elite. That's part of what Trump 2016 was about. But getting to such a world would require a considerably more careful transition than we've seen in similar circumstances in the past.

[Jan 21, 2018] Syria - Turks Attack Afrin, U.S. Strategy Fails, Kurds Again Chose The Losing Side

There are some analogies here with the recent Poroshenko government desire to take Donbass area back by military force.
Notable quotes:
"... How will this breakup of Syrian national territory affect the situation between the Donbass region and the Ukraine junta? ..."
"... True and very sad. The Syrians have been caught in the crossfire since the beginning. We have theorized over the various causes of the war, but, in the end, when the superpowers are hanging around, Syrians are the first row of pieces to be sacrificed. ..."
"... The Afrin war plays several roles. It will demonize and demoralize further the 'independentist' Kurds, awake the nationalist Turkish feeling by displaying military power that has been damaged by the coup, boost the Islamist flame among the rural Turks so the Turks can forget about their grudge over the EU and the declining buying power. ..."
"... All the actors are tributaries flowing into the main river, and all moving in the same general direction, because the river is actually the tide of history. All players are advancing to meet their inevitable destinie ..."
Jan 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

BRF , Jan 21, 2018 10:28:49 AM | 17

Let me see if I understand all this? The Erdogan Turks fully back the terrorists in Syria aiming to dislodge the Assad Syrian government. The USA et al fully backs the same.

The USA also backs the PKK/YPG Kurd faction in Syria as a means to at least break up Syrian national territory, as originally in their plans, even if they do remove the Assad government as originally planned.

Erdogan has wanted to expand Turkey's national boundaries at the expense of Syria's. This latest encroachment, as with Euphrates Shield, accomplishes this goal especially if they can subsume their terrorist proxies occupied areas in Idlib Province as the USA has by using their newest Kurd proxies in eastern Syria. Erdogan need only create some new proxy (Turkmen?) and go after the terrorists and Kurds in western Syria. No doubt with American help.

Erdogan and the USA disagree only on what future the Kurdish people will play in the eastern territories of Syria and Turkey. So what will be the necessary accommodation between them?

If a Kurdish state is declared and backed by NATO and a UN resolution what if anything can Syria and her allies do about it as war is simply out of the question.

How will this breakup of Syrian national territory affect the situation between the Donbass region and the Ukraine junta?

NemesisCalling , Jan 21, 2018 1:41:54 PM | 37
This would not be some devious plot by Turks/US to prolong the war in Syria and give cover to send more troops in ... troops that never leave? The whole thing seems a bit too ... convenient.

Posted by: GoraDiva | Jan 21, 2018 1:22:57 PM | 35

@35 E

True and very sad. The Syrians have been caught in the crossfire since the beginning. We have theorized over the various causes of the war, but, in the end, when the superpowers are hanging around, Syrians are the first row of pieces to be sacrificed.

And I would never put my faith in any international community ruling after Syria. We are in uncharted territory, I believe. Dance with the one you came with and if you have to stand on Putin's toes to keep up, then hold him close.

"Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power, while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must." -- Thucydides

Can we got off this stupid ride, yet?

William Rood , Jan 21, 2018 2:03:05 PM | 41
"These oilfields seem to be the big prize and one of the main reasons the US wants to hold onto this corner of Syria."

Posted by: financial matters | Jan 21, 2018 10:37:30 AM | 18

The goal of the MIC and Deep State is just to keep the chaos going as long as possible to sell arms and benefit careers. However, Trump has been enticed to go along with it by the promise that the US will "take their oil."

Don Wiscacho , Jan 21, 2018 3:21:35 PM | 47

@ William Rood re: Kurds who can't speak Arabic

You may be correct that those Kurds aren't Syrian, but not necessarily so. The areas of Syria that have actually had Kurdish, or for instance Armenian, majorities have enjoyed a large measure of de facto autonomy, which has only increased in the last 20 years. So while nominally required to use Arabic in schools, if the school is staffed with Kurdish teachers and administrators with Kurdish students, there is little to stop them from simply teaching in Kurdish. Or Armenian, or Aramaic, etc.

Frank , Jan 21, 2018 5:13:08 PM | 56
We had wrongly predicted that Turkish threats against the Kurdish held north-west area of Afrin were empty:
Maybe not. Maybe your first analysis was correct. If the Kurdish militias do fight, it will take many weeks, and lead to substantial Turkish losses. So it is really too early to say that Erdogan will attempt to conquer Afrin no matter the cost, and too early to say that the US will not put effective pressure on Erdogan, or offer him some sort of deal.

So far, Erdogan has upped the ante, but he hasn't gone all in.

virgile , Jan 21, 2018 6:03:49 PM | 60
Erdogan is obsessed by keeping power and winning his re election in 2018 or 2019 . To get that, he needs to neutralize the Turkish Kurds who don't vote for him. Sunni conservative Kurds worship Erdogan for his promotion of Sunni Islam. For them Islam is the unifying factor of Turks especially Sunni Islam. They all vote for the AKP.

Erdogan has emasculated the burgeoning liberal Kurdish party, the HDP, by demonizing the liberal Kurds and throwing its leader in prison just to get more votes in the previous parliamentary election that he reran to win with a very small margin.

For the next election, he is very worried about the growth of other centrist parties, the weakness of his ally the MHP, a nationalist party archi-enemy of the Kurds and about the insatisfaction of the Turks with the deteriorating relation with the EU and the fall of the lira.

The Afrin war plays several roles. It will demonize and demoralize further the 'independentist' Kurds, awake the nationalist Turkish feeling by displaying military power that has been damaged by the coup, boost the Islamist flame among the rural Turks so the Turks can forget about their grudge over the EU and the declining buying power.

The question is will he win fast enough not to create the impression of failure and a quagmire that would reflect negatively on his voters? And what will be the aftermath of Afrin? early elections?

Grieved , Jan 21, 2018 6:52:02 PM | 66
I agree with everyone!

It's a multiple win-win, a great demonstration of congruent interests all doing their own thing. Lots of things remain to play out. But there are no downsides to this situation, no matter who holds what piece of Syrian territory for what temporary short time.

All the actors are tributaries flowing into the main river, and all moving in the same general direction, because the river is actually the tide of history. All players are advancing to meet their inevitable destinies: Turkey moves closer to Russia, and closer, despite much bad blood, to restoring the friendship between itself and Syria (over time); the Kurds get their final lesson about the perfidious US and settle into their lands in Syria, as Syrians; Dr. Assad gets his entire country back for his people (over time); terrorists die; the US is further marginalized and its generals scream mayhem, in words only.

Great update, b - thanks!

[Jan 21, 2018] MoA - Sundry - Shutdown, Ukraine, Omidyar And Syria

Jan 21, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

The Ukrainian Parliament has practically declared the Minsk agreements null and void and decided to militarily "liberate" Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea from the will of the people living there. Just in time the neo-nazi fanatics of the Azov Battalion received a U.S. military delegation and U.S. arms.

The 2015 Minsk II agreement ( full text ) demanded that the Ukraine creates a new law for the administration of these regions:

Without delays, but no later than 30 days from the date of signing of this document, a resolution has to be approved by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, indicating the territory which falls under the special regime in accordance with the law "On temporary Order of Local Self-Governance in Particular Districts of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts," based in the line set up by the Minsk Memorandum as of Sept. 19, 2014.

Russia is not a party of the agreement. But when the resolution by the Ukrainian parliament was not forthcoming western propaganda falsely blamed Russia for "not fulfilling the Minsk agreement" and the west has since bound the sanctions on Russia to this fake conclusion.

The National Bank of Ukraine announced that an independent accountant found that PrivatBank, then owned by the coup financier and billionaire Ihor Kolomoyskiy , was plundered of $5.5 billion shortly before it went bankrupt and nationalized by the coup government. In connection with that an IMF loan of $1.8 billion to the Ukraine allegedly went directly into Kolomoyskiy's pockets. How much of this stolen money was paid to U.S. politicians?

While the anti-Trump politicians and media still fret about "Russian influence" on U.S. social media everyone seems to have forgotten that in early 2016 the Ukraine set up a massive troll farm and a Ministry of Truth. Back then even the U.S. ambassador to the Ukraine disliked that . If every troll tweeting in Russian or with Cyrillic letters in its name is under the direct command of Vladimir Putin where then are those Ukrainians trolls?

les7 , Jan 20, 2018 1:57:19 PM | 18

@15
You ask "How much more is there to come...?"

The last round in Ukraine erupted while the winter games finished in Sochi. I see the empire positioning things to repeat the treatment during FIFA. Ukraine is being primed and the clock is set to create incidents that will force Russia's hand.

This potential very public shaming of Russia is what is restraining Russia from responding to many of the US and Israeli (and Turkish?) provocations in Syria. Perhaps they are hoping their present silence will gain them some grace for that showcase event.

Personally, I doubt it.

And should some incidents happen during the FIFA world cup events, we will see the real Putin - which might be for the best in the long run.

frances , Jan 20, 2018 6:11:22 PM | 42
re:?The Ukrainian Parliament has practically declared the Minsk agreements null and void and decided to militarily "liberate" Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea from the will of the people living there. Just in time the neo-nazi fanatics of the Azov Battalion received a U.S. military delegation..."
And also just in time Russia is voting on legalizing militias in Africa and elsewhere; just in time for Spring in the Ukraine?
http://russiafeed.com/russia-legalize-private-military-contractors-get-leg-africa/
Eugene , Jan 20, 2018 5:20:49 PM | 39
I'm curious about Ukraine & its neo-nazi's. How do the Israelis who work there, knowing the past-present? After all, mention the word nazi in their presence, and they go out of their collective minds attacking the source. Or maybe there's some sort of collusion taking place?

[Jan 20, 2018] Ukraine President given power to wage war in the separatist republics and Crimea.

Jan 20, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Posted by: CarlD | Jan 19, 2018 11:49:05 AM | 57

addwnsum to 56

https://www.rt.com/news/416305-ukraine-donbass-law-war-moscow/

Ukraine President given power to wage war in the separatist republics and Crimea.

[Jan 12, 2018] How the BBC shapes the news.

Jan 12, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

English Outsider | Jan 10, 2018 1:41:48 PM | 30

I'm in the UK as well and now find it quite alarming how the BBC shapes the news.

Recently on Radio 4 I listened to the BBC talking of a terrorist group related to or derived from Al Qaeda merely as "rebels", and giving the impression that their actions were part of a legitimate insurgency. That's not how 9/11 was described.

It's all too like the BBC's Ukraine reporting, in which the neo-Nazi component was played down and the indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas in Donetsk and Lugansk spoken of as legitimate warfare.

Crazy. And not only the PR. All those journalists and expensive editors and more admin staff than you can shake a stick at, and there's more fact to be got on some one man and a dog Russian news outlet. I heard recently of an old BBC hand describing the way the BBC changed after David Kelly. What with that and what with the material we now see put out by the BBC, I reckon that as far as foreign news goes we've got ourselves our very own Pravda on the Thames.

[Jan 05, 2018] Kissinger reportedly working on a deal with Russia: Crimea for East Ukraine.

Jan 05, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Kissinger reportedly working on a deal with Russia: Crimea for East Ukraine.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/henry-kissinger-russia-trump-crimea-advises-latest-ukraine-a7497646.html

You think Russia loses the E. Ukraine as a buffer.

[Jan 03, 2018] When Putin Talks on Ukraine, It Is Worth Listening

Notable quotes:
"... Originally from: ..."
"... Ukraine. Putin's remarks on the state of affairs in Ukraine are, of course, wholly at odds with what Washington puts out on the subject. But they are not at odds with reality: Washington is. ..."
"... Those terms remain Putin's point of reference. They appear to remain the European Union's, too. Washington, which the Europeans and Russia excluded from the Minsk talks for the wisest of reasons, does not seem to have a point of reference, busy as it is pretending there is progress on the corruption front and that Kiev is not dependent on a frightening collection of militias, many of them led by neo–Nazi fanatics. ..."
"... These groups still present the threat of a massacre in the eastern provinces, as Putin reminded his audience. He spoke with notable ease of Russian assistance in those regions, suggesting this can end when they are capable of self-defense. ..."
Jan 03, 2018 | russia-insider.com
Originally from: When Putin Talks, It Is Worth Listening

Ukraine. Putin's remarks on the state of affairs in Ukraine are, of course, wholly at odds with what Washington puts out on the subject. But they are not at odds with reality: Washington is. As Putin calmly noted, the number-one obstacle to a settlement in Ukraine is, as it has been for three years come next February, the profoundly corrupt government installed in Kiev after the American-cultivated coup in 2014.

I say three years next February because it was then the settlement framework known as Minsk II (for the city where it was negotiated and signed) was put in place.

Those terms remain Putin's point of reference. They appear to remain the European Union's, too. Washington, which the Europeans and Russia excluded from the Minsk talks for the wisest of reasons, does not seem to have a point of reference, busy as it is pretending there is progress on the corruption front and that Kiev is not dependent on a frightening collection of militias, many of them led by neo–Nazi fanatics.

These groups still present the threat of a massacre in the eastern provinces, as Putin reminded his audience. He spoke with notable ease of Russian assistance in those regions, suggesting this can end when they are capable of self-defense.

We would do well to understand where the force of inertia lies in Ukraine. This was Putin's topic. A settlement in Ukraine remains possible via the framework fixed three years ago. Let us not forget this. Moscow has not deviated from Minsk II -- another point worth noting. The spoilers are in Kiev, and behind them are those in Washington, which continues to encourage the irresponsible behavior of the Poroshenko government and other Ukrainian elites.

[Dec 29, 2017] Will War Cancel Trump's Triumphs by Pat Buchanan

Dec 29, 2017 | www.unz.com

But it is in the realm of foreign policy where the real perils seem to lie. President Trump has been persuaded by his national security team to send Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, for use against the tanks and armor of pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Should Petro Poroshenko's Kiev regime reignite the war in his breakaway provinces bordering Russia, Vladimir Putin is less likely to let him crush the rebels than to intervene with superior forces and rout the Ukrainian army.

Trump's choice then? Accept defeat and humiliation for our "ally" -- or escalate and widen the conflict with Russia.

Putin's interest in the Donbass, a part of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union for centuries, is obvious.

What, exactly, is ours -- to justify a showdown with Moscow?

In this city there is also a powerful propaganda push to have this country tear up the nuclear deal John Kerry negotiated with Iran, and confront the Iranians in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and the Persian Gulf.

... ... ...

The Korean War finished Truman. Vietnam finished LBJ. Reagan said putting Marines into Lebanon was his worst mistake. Iraq cost Bush II both houses of Congress and his party the presidency in 2008.

Should Trump become a war president, he'll likely become a one-term president.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of a new book, "Nixon's White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever."

[Dec 26, 2017] Are sanctions pushing Russians to rally around the flag Not exactly

Notable quotes:
"... There is an ongoing conflict between Russia and the West concerning EU and NATO expansion into the former USSR. Russia's resisting this expansion, and the West is trying to bully Russia into accepting it. ..."
"... The Atlantic Alliance's support for the 2014 Maidan revolution in Ukraine was all about pulling that country into the EU and NATO. The West's involvement in this revolt amounted to an aggressive move by the West against Russia. In return, Russia annexed Crimea, and triggered an anti-Ukrainian revolt in Donbass. ..."
"... The West's response to this was to impose economic sanctions on Russia, in an effort to destroy that country's economy. The goal was to force Russia to submit to the West's mandate, and to permanently forgo its vital national interests in Ukraine ..."
"... Sanctions are there because Russia. is an ally of Syria , and Israel wants Syria destroyed. The sanctions are a means to punish Russia for being Syria's friend, and also to remove Russian influence from that area of the world. Their base at Tarterus. ..."
"... For all it is worth , currently the Russians have more of a legitimate justification to attack the USA and Israel , than Japan did when they attacked Pearl Harbor, because of sanctions slapped on them since they would not leave China, and then moved into Vietnam after being allowed to by Vichy France. ..."
"... Quite obvious sanctions are not hurting Russia as they were Japan otherwise it would be a nasty scene right now. But still not advisable to poke that bear further. ..."
Dec 26, 2017 | www.washingtonpost.com

AMR56 6/18/2017 10:52 AM EDT

There is an ongoing conflict between Russia and the West concerning EU and NATO expansion into the former USSR. Russia's resisting this expansion, and the West is trying to bully Russia into accepting it.

The Atlantic Alliance's support for the 2014 Maidan revolution in Ukraine was all about pulling that country into the EU and NATO. The West's involvement in this revolt amounted to an aggressive move by the West against Russia. In return, Russia annexed Crimea, and triggered an anti-Ukrainian revolt in Donbass.

The West's response to this was to impose economic sanctions on Russia, in an effort to destroy that country's economy. The goal was to force Russia to submit to the West's mandate, and to permanently forgo its vital national interests in Ukraine.

The first round of sanctions has obviously failed to have its effect. That's why the US Senate is now attempting a new, harsher round of sanctions in an effort to force Russia to submit to the West's mandate. ... more See More Like Share

MyFreeAdvice 6/16/2017 9:08 AM EDT
The new sanctions on Russia is all about giving an advantage to US LNG producers. First shipment of LNG to Poland from US, ever, was done just last week. It is all a game for the benefit of the big business while emotionally victimizing the common person in the US.
Alex Bes 6/16/2017 7:31 AM EDT [Edited]
Timoty Frai made a lot of research and did a lot of conclusions. Unfortunately he did not understand the only fact: we Russians has a little bit different mentality. Sanctions could not make us gave up if we believe that we are on a right side )))

For example: Imagine if someone say to you: "If you will not let me hurt your baby I will reject you as a customer!" Will you let him hurt your baby??? Most of the Russians won't!

Christopher Perrien 6/15/2017 9:06 AM EDT [Edited]
Sanctions are there because Russia. is an ally of Syria , and Israel wants Syria destroyed. The sanctions are a means to punish Russia for being Syria's friend, and also to remove Russian influence from that area of the world. Their base at Tarterus.

For all it is worth , currently the Russians have more of a legitimate justification to attack the USA and Israel , than Japan did when they attacked Pearl Harbor, because of sanctions slapped on them since they would not leave China, and then moved into Vietnam after being allowed to by Vichy France.

Quite obvious sanctions are not hurting Russia as they were Japan otherwise it would be a nasty scene right now. But still not advisable to poke that bear further.

Manuel Angst 6/15/2017 9:49 AM EDT
"... punish Russia for being Syria's friend"

Propping up the biggest butcher of Syrian people is hardly "being Syria's friend".

... more See More Like Nedlog and Manuel Angst 2

Revealer 6/15/2017 6:42 PM EDT
Must I remind you that many thousands of Americans living in both Southern and Northern states of American considered Abraham Lincoln a butcher of American people and a tyrant doing the U.S. civil war. In fact he outraged so many who thought of him that way he was assassinated because of a belief that he was a tyrant and a butcher of American people. Many people at the time remembered Gen. Sherman's military march through the South that burned everything in sight and believe it or not killed many civilians. Be careful who you call a butcher. ... more See More Like
Don Brook 6/15/2017 8:47 AM EDT
Putin's disciple Trump may well decide to invade some small country as a way of shoring up his own declining approval. ... more See More Like Share
Tebteb27 6/15/2017 8:54 AM EDT
You are a type locality example of the slow digression into destructive ignorance that we currently face as a nation. God help us. ... more See More Like
Ed Chen 6/15/2017 9:10 AM EDT
That is the best vision of how the leftist (the same word "liberal") propaganda screw the minds of the people like Don Brook, to bring this nation to a dangerous situation of clash with each other over nothing, but the pain could be great. Are sanctions pushing Russians to 'rally around the flag'? Not exactly. - The Washington Post
Bob Twou 6/15/2017 8:37 AM EDT
The sanctions have strengthen Russia's domestic economy and has turn the corner
despite low energy prices. Sanctions are never an effective tool for international relations, look at Cuba. lol
Russian are an educated people, they are not stupid which the Establishment media wants us to believe. Time to talk, isn't that what diplomacy is all about? ... more See More Like Share Erugo 1
altR 6/15/2017 8:58 AM EDT
You are also correct, sanctions are the biggest waste of time. They are only for the political elite to fake resolve

[Dec 25, 2017] Ukraine loses gas dispute to Russia; ordered to pay $2 billion to Gazprom by by Alexander Mercouris

Notable quotes:
"... By contrast the reduction in the gas price Naftogaz refers to from $485/tcm to $352 tcm which Naftogaz makes much of in its statement appears to apply only to gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom in the second quarter of 2014 and still sets the price of gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom higher than was demanded by Ukraine during this period. ..."
"... Ukraine recently borrowed $3 billion on the international financial markets at very high interest almost certainly in order to pay the $3 billion the High Court in London has ordered it to pay Russia. Whilst the $2 billion is technically a debt owed by Naftogaz not Ukraine and its non-payment would does not place Ukraine in a state of sovereign default, Gazprom is in a position to enforce the debt against Naftogaz's assets (including gas it buys) in the European Economic Area. It is difficult to see how Naftogaz and Ukraine can avoid payment of this debt. ..."
"... Has Ukraine actually gained anything from its long running gas dispute with Russia? ..."
Dec 25, 2017 | theduran.com

On Friday 21st December 2017 the Stockholm Arbitration Court made a ruling in the legal dispute between Ukraine's state owned gas monopoly Naftogaz and Russia's largely state owned gas monopoly Gazprom.

In the hours after the decision – which like all decisions of the Stockholm Arbitration Court – is not published, Naftogaz claimed victory in a short statement. However over the course of the hours which followed Gazprom provided details of the decision which suggests that the truth is the diametric opposite.

The Duran recommends using WP Engine >>

Here is how the Financial Times reports the competing claims

Both Ukraine's Naftogaz and Russia's Gazprom both on Friday claimed victory as a Stockholm arbitration tribunal issued the final award ruling in the first of two cases in a three-year legal battle between the state-controlled energy companies, where total claims stand at some $80bn.

An emailed statement from the Ukrainian company was titled:

"Naftogaz wins the gas sales arbitration case against Gazprom on all issues in dispute."

Start your own website here >>

The Stockholm arbitration tribunal -- in its final award ruling in a dispute over gas supplies from prior years -- had, according to Naftogaz, struck down Gazprom's claim to receive $56bn for gas contracted but not supplied through controversial "take-or-pay" clauses. They were included in a supply contract Ukraine signed in 2009 after Gazprom dented supplies to the EU by cutting all flow amid a price dispute -- including transit through the country's vast pipeline systems. In a tweet Ukraine's foreign minister

Pavlo Klimkin wrote: "The victory of Naftogaz in the Stockholm arbitration: It's not a knockout, but three knockdowns with obvious advantage."

But later Gazprom countered that arbitors "acknowledged the main points of the contract were in effect and upheld the majority of Gazprom's demands for payment for gas supplies", worth over $2bn. A Naftogaz official responded that the company never refused to pay for gas supplied, but challenged price and conditions.

Given the tribunal does not make its decisions public, doubt loomed over which side was the ultimate winner. Anticipation also grew over the second and final tribunal award expected early next year over disputes both have concerning past gas transit obligations.

Friday's final Stockholm arbitration ruling follows a preliminary decision from last May after which both sides were given time to settle monetary claims outside of the tribunal but failed to reach agreement.

Here is the full Naftogaz statement:

"Today, the Tribunal at the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce has completely rejected Gazprom take-or-pay claims to Naftogaz amounting to USD 56 billion for 2009-2017.

Gazprom said that in a separate decision on May 31 of this year, the tribunal denied Naftogaz's application to review prices from May 2011 to April 2014, ordered it to pay $14bn for gas supplies during that period, and said that the take-or-pay conditions applied for the duration of the contract. Gazprom claimed that Naftogaz would have to pay it $2.18bn plus interest of 0.03 per cent for every day the payments were late, and then pay for 5bn cm of gas annually starting next year.

When the different sides give opposite accounts of the same decision it obviously becomes difficult to say what the real decision actually is. However Gazprom says that the court upheld (1) the main provisions of the contract; (2) the contract's take-or-pay provisions, these being a particularly contentious issue in the contract; and (3) that Naftogaz has been ordered to pay Gazprom $2 billion, presumably immediately, with interest for every day the amount is unpaid.

By contrast the reduction in the gas price Naftogaz refers to from $485/tcm to $352 tcm which Naftogaz makes much of in its statement appears to apply only to gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom in the second quarter of 2014 and still sets the price of gas supplied to Ukraine by Gazprom higher than was demanded by Ukraine during this period.

The key point here is that Russia agreed to reduce the price of gas supplied to Ukraine by an agreement Russia's President Putin reached with Ukraine's President Yanukovich in December 2013. After the Maidan coup the new Ukrainian government went back on the agreement causing the Russians to demand payment of the original price. However over the course of 2014, as energy prices began first to slide and then crashed, and as it became clear that Ukraine was simply not paying for its gas, Russia again reduced the price of the gas Ukraine had to pay.

What seems to have happened is that the Stockholm Arbitration Court decided to smooth out the price of gas payable by Ukraine throughout 2014, which is the sort of thing arbitration tribunals are regularly known to do, whilst leaving the essentials of the contract unchanged.

If so then this is not a victory by Ukraine but a clearcut defeat, which Naftogaz and the Ukrainian government have tried to spin into a victory by citing the reduction in the gas price in the second quarter of 2014 and the reduction in future gas import volumes, neither of which were contentious issues. By contrast it is clear that Ukraine and Naftogaz must pay the full contractual price and abide by the contract's take-or-pay provisions for the whole of the period of the contract prior to the second quarter of 2014.

What this means in terms of hard cash is that Ukraine must now pay Russia a further $2 billion on top of the $3 billion it was recently ordered to pay by the High Court in London. Just as it is holding back on paying the $3 billion it was ordered to pay by the High Court until the appeal process in London is finished, so it will try to hold off paying the $2 billion it has just been ordered to pay to Gazprom until the final decision of the Stockholm Arbitration Court (thus the brave talk of Naftogaz's claims of "up to $16 billion transit contract arbitration against Gazprom") but thereafter payment of the $2 billion will fall due. I say this because the claim Gazprom owes Naftogaz "up to" $16 billion in transit fees looks like it has been plucked out of the air.

What this means is that over the course of 2018 Ukraine will have to pay Russia $5 billion ($3 billion awarded by the High Court in London and $2 billion awarded by the Stockholm Arbitration Court). Since the $2 billion awarded by the Stockholm Arbitration Court is technically an arbitration award, Gazprom will need to convert it into a court Judgment before it can enforce it, but that is merely a formality. At that point this debt will become not merely due but legally enforceable as well.

Ukraine recently borrowed $3 billion on the international financial markets at very high interest almost certainly in order to pay the $3 billion the High Court in London has ordered it to pay Russia. Whilst the $2 billion is technically a debt owed by Naftogaz not Ukraine and its non-payment would does not place Ukraine in a state of sovereign default, Gazprom is in a position to enforce the debt against Naftogaz's assets (including gas it buys) in the European Economic Area. It is difficult to see how Naftogaz and Ukraine can avoid payment of this debt.

Has Ukraine actually gained anything from its long running gas dispute with Russia?

Naftogaz brags that Ukraine has saved up to $75 billion because it is no longer buying gas from Russia. However this begs the question of whether the gas Ukraine is now importing from Europe really is significantly cheaper than the gas Ukraine was buying from Russia? This is debatable and with energy prices rising it is likely to become even less likely over time.

[Dec 24, 2017] Donald Trump Prepares to Escalate Confrontation with Russia over Ukraine by Doug Bandow

Notable quotes:
"... With over 10,000 dead, the conflict in Ukraine is a humanitarian travesty but of minimal security consequence to America and Europe. Indeed, Kiev's status never was key to Europe's status. An integral part of the Soviet Union and before that the Russian Empire, Ukraine turned into an unexpected bonus for the allies by seceding from the Soviet Union, greatly diminishing the latter's population and territory. Russia's seizure of Crimea and battle in the Donbass destabilized an already semi-failed state, but did not materially alter the European balance of power. Or demonstrate anything other than Moscow's brutal yet limited ambitions. ..."
"... At the same time, transferring lethal arms would divide the U.S. from European nations, many of which oppose further confrontation with Russia, especially over Ukraine. Brussels already bridled at Congress' new sanctions legislation, which passed without consulting the Europeans and targeted European firms. If Moscow responds with escalation, Washington may find no one behind it. ..."
"... Also noteworthy is the fragility of the Ukrainian state. Kiev's self-inflicted wounds are a more important cause than Russian pressure. The government is hobbled by divisions between East and West, violent neo-fascist forces, bitter political factionalism, economic failure, and pervasive corruption. The recent specter of former Georgian President and Ukrainian Governor Mikheil Saakashvili clambering across rooftops, escaping arrest, and railing against President Petro Poroshenko epitomized Ukraine's problems. Kiev, to put it mildly, is not a reliable military partner against its nuclear-armed neighbor. ..."
"... Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire (Xulon). ..."
Dec 24, 2017 | nationalinterest.org

Most Americans were told Donald Trump won the presidential election last year. But his policy toward Russia looks suspiciously like what a President Hillary Clinton would have pursued. Exhibit A is the apparent decision to arm Ukraine against Russia in the proxy conflict in the Donbass. This dunderheaded move will simply encourage Moscow to retaliate not only in Ukraine but against U.S. interests elsewhere around the globe.

With over 10,000 dead, the conflict in Ukraine is a humanitarian travesty but of minimal security consequence to America and Europe. Indeed, Kiev's status never was key to Europe's status. An integral part of the Soviet Union and before that the Russian Empire, Ukraine turned into an unexpected bonus for the allies by seceding from the Soviet Union, greatly diminishing the latter's population and territory. Russia's seizure of Crimea and battle in the Donbass destabilized an already semi-failed state, but did not materially alter the European balance of power. Or demonstrate anything other than Moscow's brutal yet limited ambitions.

In fact, present allied policy makes continuation of the current conflict almost inevitable. Newly released documents demonstrate that Soviet officials reasonably believed that releasing their Warsaw Pact captives would not lead to NATO's expansion to Russia's border. Well, well. Look what actually happened -- the very dramatic increase in tensions that George F. Kennan predicted would occur. For Russia sees geographical space and buffer states as critical for its security, and none are more important than Ukraine.

Expanding NATO, disregarding Moscow's historic interests in the Balkans, dismantling onetime Slavic ally Serbia, aiding "color revolutions" that brought anti-Russian governments to power along its border, announcing the intention of inducting both Georgia and Ukraine into the alliance created to confront Moscow, and finally ostentatiously backing a street revolution against a corrupt but elected leader friendly to Russia -- going to far as to discuss who should rule after his planned ouster -- could not help but be viewed as hostile in Moscow. One can easily imagine how Washington would react to similar events in Canada or Mexico.

Russia's response was unjustified but efficient and, most important, limited. Moscow grabbed Crimea, the only part of Ukraine with a majority of Russian-speakers (who probably favored joining Russia, though the subsequent referendum occurred in what was occupied Crimea). Moscow further backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine, perhaps in hopes of grabbing territory or merely bleeding Kiev.

Some Western responses were near hysteria, imagining a blitzkrieg attack on Ukraine, conquering the country. The Baltic States saw themselves as the next targets. Poland remembered its twentieth century conflicts with Moscow. At least one observer added Finland to Moscow's potential target list. Others worried about intimidation of allied states, borders being withdrawn, and challenges to the European order. Some afflicted with war fever feared an attempt to reconstitute the Soviet Union and perhaps roll west from there.

None of which happened.

Perhaps President Vladimir Putin secretly was an Adolf Hitler-wannabe but was dissuaded by the U.S. and NATO response. However, economic sanctions and military deployments were modest. Assistance to Ukraine did not include lethal military aid. Most likely, Putin never intended to start World War III.

Instead, he opportunistically took advantage of the opportunity to snatch Crimea, the territory with the closest identification with Moscow, simultaneously safeguarding the latter's major Black Sea base, and create a frozen conflict in the Donbass, effectively preventing Ukraine's entry into NATO. Russia's activity there also gives him an opportunity to create additional trouble for the U.S.

Moscow's policy is unpleasant for America and Europe, but only prevents the allies from doing that which is not in their interest: inducting a security black hole into NATO. Even before 2014, Ukraine was a political and economic mess. While independent it mattered little for Western security, in NATO it would bring along all of its disputes and potential conflicts with Russia, a touchy, nationalistic nuclear power.

What State Department called "enhanced defensive capabilities," which require congressional approval, aren't likely to raise the price of the conflict enough to force Russia to back down. The Putin regime has far more at stake in preserving its gains than the U.S. does in reversing them. Moscow also is better able to escalate and is likely to consistently outbid the West: Putin's advantages include greater interests, geographic closeness, and popular support. For Ukraine more weapons would at most mean more fighting, with little additional advantage.

Indeed, the plan to arm Kiev with weapons, especially if anti-tank missiles are included, as news reports indicate, would risk turning the Donbass conflict from cool to warm--and perhaps more. Ukraine already joins Russia in failing to implement the Minsk Agreement. Kiev would not only be better armed, but might believe that it enjoyed an implicit guarantee from Washington, which in turn would have more at stake and thus be less inclined to abandon its new "investment." Then what if Moscow escalated? In 2014 the Putin government deployed Russian military units to counter Ukrainian gains. Would Washington do likewise in response to Moscow?

At the same time, transferring lethal arms would divide the U.S. from European nations, many of which oppose further confrontation with Russia, especially over Ukraine. Brussels already bridled at Congress' new sanctions legislation, which passed without consulting the Europeans and targeted European firms. If Moscow responds with escalation, Washington may find no one behind it.

Providing lethal weapons would almost certainly encourage the Ukrainians to press for even heavier arms and escalate the fighting, as well as discourage them from negotiating a settlement. U.S. officials refer to the weapons as defensive, but their capabilities are not so easily compartmentalized. Said Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the "ability to stop armored vehicles would be essential for them to protect themselves." True, but the ability to disable tanks is useful on offense as well as defense. There has been little movement in the battle line over the last couple of years. New U.S. weapons aren't necessary to preserve the status quo. Rather, they would most help Ukraine press harder for a military solution.

Does Kiev want to accept a compromise peace or fight on? Obama Pentagon official Michael Carpenter said providing weapons "will be a huge boost of support to Ukraine." Moscow is not concerned about Kiev's military potential. Russia is concerned that the U.S. and Europe say they intend to induct Ukraine into NATO. The closer the military ties grow between America and Ukraine, the greater Moscow's incentive to keep the conflict going. Russia also has opportunities to retaliate against American interests elsewhere. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said: "The United States crossed the line in a sense" and "may lead to new victims in a country that is neighboring us." America, he added, was an "accomplice in fueling war."

That might be just talk, but Russia can provide aid, sell arms, offer political backing, and give economic assistance in ways that hamper U.S. activities. Afghanistan, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Venezuela all provide opportunities for Russian mischief. Moscow could refuse to back additional sanctions on Pyongyang or even provide the latter with S-400 anti-aircraft missiles.

Although limited resources constrain Moscow, politics encourages a tough response. Putin is running for reelection but has lost support because of the Russian Federation's economic weakness. Nationalism remains one of his strongest issues; an assault by America on Russian interests would offer him a means to rally public support.

Also noteworthy is the fragility of the Ukrainian state. Kiev's self-inflicted wounds are a more important cause than Russian pressure. The government is hobbled by divisions between East and West, violent neo-fascist forces, bitter political factionalism, economic failure, and pervasive corruption. The recent specter of former Georgian President and Ukrainian Governor Mikheil Saakashvili clambering across rooftops, escaping arrest, and railing against President Petro Poroshenko epitomized Ukraine's problems. Kiev, to put it mildly, is not a reliable military partner against its nuclear-armed neighbor.

A better approach would be to negotiate for Russian de-escalation by offering to take NATO membership for Ukraine (and Georgia) off the table. In fact, expanding the alliance is not in America's interest: the U.S., not, say, Luxembourg, is the country expected to back up NATO's defense promises. And neither Kiev nor Tbilisi warrants the risk of war with a great power, especially one armed with nukes. Eliminating that possibility would reduce Moscow's incentive to maintain a frozen conflict in the Donbass. Backing away also would create the possibility of reversing military build-ups by both sides elsewhere, especially around Poland and the Baltic States.

Washington and Moscow have no core security interests in conflict with each other, especially in Ukraine. Instead of turning a peripheral security issue into a potential military clash with Moscow, Washington should seek to trade military disengagement from Ukraine for Russian acceptance of that nation's territorial integrity. Moscow might not agree, but the Trump administration won't know unless it makes the offer. Right now, it doesn't seem to care to even try. Quite the contrary.

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and a former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan. He is the author of Foreign Follies: America's New Global Empire (Xulon).

[Dec 23, 2017] The State Department has approved the delivery to the Ukrainian army of modified 50 calibre Barrett sniper rifles, "Model M107A"

Dec 23, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Moscow Exile , December 21, 2017 at 10:55 am

Oh look at what I just got given me!

https://icdn.lenta.ru/images/2017/12/21/12/20171221122514922/brief_f8fe6380f3186e74c06a46d665607174.jpg

The state Department has approved the delivery to the Ukrainian army of modified 50 calibre Barrett sniper rifles, "Model M107A"

It may be related to the Model 82A1®/M107®, but the M107A1 is far from a simple evolution. Driven by the demands of combat, every component was re-engineered to be lighter yet stronger. Designed to be used with a suppressor, this rifle allows you to combine signature reduction capabilities with the flawless reliability of the original Barrett M107, but with a weight reduction of 5 pounds. Advanced design and manufacturing make the M107A1 more precise than ever.

See: BarrrrettM107A1

[Dec 23, 2017] IMF demands that the price of gas be raised for Ukrainians

Dec 23, 2017 | rusnewstoday24.ru

As reported by the permanent representative of the International Monetary Fund in the Ukraine, Jost Longman, the Kiev authorities should increase Ukrainian gas tariffs to the level of import parity. Longman argues that an increase in gas prices will have a positive effect on the development of the free market and will teach the Ukrainians to use natural gas economically. "In the end, the final goal is the implementation of a free gas market. On the way to this, it is important to continue to adjust the price of gas in accordance with the price of imports", said Longman. "One price for all types of consumer also eliminates the space for corruptio," he added.

[Dec 22, 2017] If You Are Looking for Consistency, Trump Ain't Your Man by Publius Tacitus

Dec 22, 2017 | turcopolier.typepad.com

Christmas came early for Donald Trump. He signed a historic tax cut, kept the Government funded and operating and, to the delight of many in his base, used UN Ambassador Nikki Haley as a mouthpiece to tell the rest of the world to go pound sand. He is feeling groovy. But Donald Trump is still his own worst enemy. And his Presidency will be fatally harmed if he continues with his erratic foreign policy and his empty talk on dealing with the opioid plague.

Let's start with his wildly fluctuating foreign policy. There is no consistency nor is their a theme. When he announced that he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, many assumed he was on the Israeli leash and was behaving as any obedient dog would. Perhaps.

How then do you explain yesterday's (Thursday) decision to arm Ukraine as a show of force to Russia :

The Trump administration has approved the largest U.S. commercial sale of lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine since 2014. . . . Administration officials confirmed that the State Department this month approved a commercial license authorizing the export of Model M107A1 Sniper Systems, ammunition, and associated parts and accessories to Ukraine, a sale valued at $41.5 million. These weapons address a specific vulnerability of Ukrainian forces fighting a Russian-backed separatist movement in two eastern provinces.

The people we are arming in the Ukraine are the actual and intellectual descendants of the Nazi sympathizers who helped the Einsatzgruppen murder more than a million Jews after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. Scholar Richard Sakwa provides the horrifying details on the pro-Nazi ideological foundation of the key Ukrainian political groups we are backing:

"The Orange revolution, like the later Euromaidan events, was democratic in intent but gave an impetus 'to the revival of the radical versions of [the] Ukrainian national movement that first appeared on the historical scene in the course of World War II and a national discourse focused on fighting against the enemy'.41 " . . . .

"In Dnepropetrovsk, for example, instead of the anticipated 60 street-name changes, 350 were planned. Everywhere 'Lenin Streets' became 'Bandera Avenues' as everything Russian was purged. One set of mass murderers was changed for another. Just as the Soviet regime had changed toponyms to inscribe its power into the physical environment, so now the Euromaidan revolution seeks to remould daily life. In Germany today the names of Nazis and their collaborators are anathema, whereas in Ukraine they are glorified."

Excerpt From: Richard Sakwa. "Frontline Ukraine : Crisis in the Borderlands." from the Afterward

At the very moment we are signaling our support for Israel, the country founded largely because of the horror over the Shoah, we are also giving weapons to political groups whose parents and grand parents helped carry out the Shoah. Oh yeah, in the process of doing this we are providing a tangible threat to Russia. Imagine what our reaction would be if Russia decided to step up its weapons supplies to Cuba.

Then we have Trump's tough talk on the opioid slaughter taking place across America. Let me be clear. He is not responsible for the start of this plague. The Obama Administration carries a heavy burden on that front. CBS 60 Minutes has done a magnificent job in exposing the role that the Obama Justice Department refused to play in going after the major corporate opiate drug pusher--i.e., the McKesson Corporation :

In October, we joined forces with the Washington Post and reported a disturbing story of Washington at its worst - about an act of Congress that crippled the DEA's ability to fight the worst drug crisis in American history - the opioid addiction crisis. Now, a new front of that joint investigation. It is also disturbing. It's the inside story of the biggest case the DEA ever built against a drug company: the McKesson Corporation, the country's largest drug distributor. It's also the story of a company too big to prosecute.

In 2014, after two years of painstaking inquiry by nine DEA field divisions and 12 U.S. Attorneys, investigators built a powerful case against McKesson for the company's role in the opioid crisis.

[According to DEA Agent Schiller] This is the best case we've ever had against a major distributor in the history of the Drug Enforcement Administration. How do we not go after the number one organization? In the height of the epidemic, when people are dying everywhere, doesn't somebody have to be held accountable? McKesson needs to be held accountable.

Holding McKesson accountable meant going after the 5th largest corporation in the country. Headquartered in San Francisco, McKesson has 76,000 employees and earns almost $200 billion a year in revenues, about the same as Exxon Mobil. Since the 1990s, McKesson has made billions from the distribution of addictive opioids.

So what has Donald Trump done? That is the wrong question. What has he failed to do? We are approaching the one year anniversary of his Presidency and Trump has failed to nominate a Director for the Drug Enforcement Administration, a Director for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, a Director for the National Institute of Justice and an Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs . In other words, none of the people who would be on the policy frontline putting the President's tough words into action have been nominated. Not one. And those agencies and departments are drifting like a rudderless ship on stormy seas.

Another problem for Trump is his mixed signals on getting entangled in foreign wars. During the campaign he made a point of ridiculing those candidates who wanted to go to war in Syria. Now that he is in office, Trump, along with several members of his cabinet, are threatening Iran on almost a daily basis. The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity just put out a memo on this very subject (which, I'm happy to note, reflects some of the themes I've written about previously):

Iran has come out ahead in Iraq and, with the 2015 nuclear agreement in place, Iran's commercial and other ties have improved with key NATO allies and the other major world players -- Russia and China in particular.

Official pronouncements on critical national security matters need to be based on facts. Hyperbole in describing Iran's terrorist activities can be counterproductive. For this reason, we call attention to Ambassador Nikki Haley's recent statement that it is hard to find a "terrorist group in the Middle East that does not have Iran's fingerprints all over it." The truth is quite different. The majority of terrorist groups in the region are neither creatures nor puppets of Iran. ISIS, Al-Qaeda and Al-Nusra are three of the more prominent that come to mind.

You have presented yourself as someone willing to speak hard truths in the face of establishment pressure and not to accept the status quo. You spoke out during the campaign against the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq as a historic mistake of epic proportions. You also correctly captured the mood of many Americans fatigued from constant war in far away lands. Yet the torrent of warnings from Washington about the dangers supposedly posed by Iran and the need to confront them are being widely perceived as steps toward reversing your pledge not to get embroiled in new wars.

We encourage you to reflect on the warning we raised with President George W. Bush almost 15 years ago, at a similar historic juncture:

"after watching Secretary Powell today, we are convinced that you would be well served if you widened the discussion beyond the circle of those advisers clearly bent on a war for which we see no compelling reason and from which we believe the unintended consequences are likely to be catastrophic."

Finally, there is the recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel. I defer to Colonel Lang on this. He believes that this single decision has planted an odious seed that will sprout into a global anti-U.S. sentiment that will reduce our global influence and tangibly damage our leadership on the world stage. While I suppose there always is a chance for a different kind of outcome, I learned long ago not to bet against the old warrior on matters like this.

Taking all of this together I think we are looking at a 2018 where U.S. foreign policy will continue to careen around the globe devoid of a strategic vision.

catherine , 22 December 2017 at 07:20 PM

'' The people we are arming in the Ukraine are the actual and intellectual descendants of the Nazi sympathizers who helped the Einsatzgruppen murder more than a million Jews after Hitler invaded the Soviet Union''

They are also the descendants of the Ukrainians who were starved to death by the Bolsheviks plundering of their crops first then starved again by Stalin.
That Jews figured large in the Bolsheviks is a fact and noted:..then and later.

A collection of reports on Bolshevism in Russia
by Great Britain. Foreign Office

https://www.archive.org/stream/collectionofrepo00greaiala/collectionofrepo00greaiala_djvu.txt

''..anti-Semitism is growing, probably because the food supply committees are entirely in the hands of Jews and voices can be heard sometimes calling for a " pogrom."

So I am giving Ukraine a pass on their so called threat to the Chosen.

Babak Makkinejad -> mongo... , 22 December 2017 at 07:32 PM
Yup, every one and everything under the sun bears some responsibility except the poor, abused, manipulated, down-trodden users.
Publius Tacitus -> catherine... , 22 December 2017 at 07:32 PM
You make my point. The NAZIS came up with lots of nifty reasons to justify exterminating Jews. Starvation by Stalin, therefore kill the Jews. Yeah, that makes sense (sarcasm fully intended).

[Dec 22, 2017] When Russians Were Americanophiles, by Anatoly Karlin

Notable quotes:
"... And if anything Americans make their own shamelessness worse when they fabricate imaginary pretexts for weaselling out of their country's commitment, such as a wholly imaginary entitlement for them to decide for themselves when there is a "humanitarian" justification for doing so, or make up wholesale fantasy allegations about "weapons of mass destruction" that even if true wouldn't justify war. ..."
"... r Correction. It's the elites that don't want to join Russia. And the reason they don't is because the West gives them goodies for being anti-Russian. This kind of strategy worked pretty well so far (for the West) in Eastern Europe and it will continue to work for some time yet. But not forever, not in Ukraine and Belorussia. ..."
"... They are indeed, but my assumption is that Russia's present elite is, for the most part, corruptible. Putin will be gone before 2024, and his successor will be under immense pressure -- carrot and stick -- to deregulate Russia's media landscape, which will make foreign money pour into Russian media outlets, which will in turn lead to more positive coverage and more positive views of the West. Only a few days ago, we learnt that Washington ruled out signing a non-interference agreement with Moscow since it would preclude Washington from meddling in Russia's internal affairs. What does this tell you about the Western elite's plan for Russia? ..."
"... The 1996 Presidential Election campaign suggests that the Russian public is no less suggestible, and so does Russian (and Ukrainian) opinions on the crisis in the Donbass. ..."
"... Soviets and Soviet Union were always in awe of America. You could see it in "between-the-lines" of the texts of the so-called anti-imperialist, anti-American Soviet propaganda. It was about catching up with American in steel production and TV sets ownership and so on. American was the ultimate goal and people did not think of American as an enemy. ..."
"... Then there is the fact that Bolsheviks and Soviet Union owed a lot to America though this knowledge was not commonly known. Perhaps one should take look at these hidden connections to see what was the real mechanism bending the plug being pulled off the USSR. There might be even an analogy to South Africa but that is another story. ..."
"... Moreover, post-democratic post-Yanukovich Ukraine is clearly inferior to its predecessor. For one thing, under Yanukovich, Sevastopol was still Ukrainian ..."
"... There is no pro-Ukrainian insurgency in Crimea or inside the republics in Donbass, and it's not due to the lack of local football hooligans. ..."
"... Even among Svoboda voters, I suspect only a small minority of them are the militant types. We should be to contain them through the use of local proxies. The armies of Donbass republics currently number some 40-60 thousand men according to Cassad blog, which compares with the size of the entire Ukrainian army. ..."
"... Official Ukrainian propaganda worked overtime, and still works today, to hammer this into people's heads. And it's an attractive vision. An office dweller in Kiev wants to live in a shiny European capital, not in a bleak provincial city of a corrupt Asian empire. The problem is, it's ain't working. For a while Ukraine managed to get Russia to subsidize Ukrainian European dream. Now this is over. The vision is starting to fail even harder. ..."
"... Unfortunately, the Ukraine has been spending 5%* of its GDP on the military since c.2015 (versus close to 1% before 2014). ..."
"... Doesn't really matter if tons of money continues to be stolen, or even the recession – with that kind of raw increase, a major enhancement in capabilities is inevitable. ..."
"... I have read a article mentioned something like Putin said, to annexed whole Ukraine means to share the enormous resource wealth of vast Russia land with them, which make no economic sense. If Russia is worst than Ukraine, then there won't be million of Ukrainian migrating over after the Maidan coup. ..."
"... So are all those Baltic states. Russia don't want these countries as it burden, it is probably only interested in selected strategic areas like the Eastern Ukraine industrial belt and military important Crimea warm water deep seaport, and skilled migrants. Ukraine has one of lowest per capital income now, with extreme corrupted politicians controlled by USNato waging foolish civil war killing own people resulting in collapsing economic and exudes of skilled people. ..."
"... Agreed, and he happens to be in the right here. Russia actually has a good hand in Ukraine, if only she keeps her cool. More military adventurism is foolish for at least three reasons ..."
"... The return of Crimea to Russia alone has been a dramatic improvement in the inherent stability of the region. A proper division of the territory currently forming the Ukraine into a genuine Ukrainian nation in the west and an eastern half returned to Russia would be the ideal long term outcome, but Russia can surely live with a neutralised Ukraine. ..."
"... You realise that Ukraine's GDP declined in dollar terms by a factor of 2-3 times, right? A bigger share of a smaller economy translates into the same paltry sum. It is still under $5 billion. ..."
"... Futhermore an army that's actively deployed and engaged in fighting spends more money than during peacetime. A lot of this money goes to fuel, repairs, providing for soldiers and their wages rather than qualitatively improving capabilities of the army. ..."
"... The bottom-line is Ukraine spent the last 3,5 years preparing to fight a war against the People's Republic of Donetsk. I'll admit Ukrainian army can hold its own against the People's Republic of Donetsk. Yet it remains hopelessly outmatched in a potential clash with Russia. A short, but brutal bombing campaign can whipe out Ukrainian command and control, will make it impossible to mount any kind of effective defence. Ukrainian conscripts have no experience in urban warfare, and their national loyalties are unclear. ..."
"... Most ukrops even admit that Kharkov could easily have gone in 2014, if Russia had wanted it/feasible ..."
Dec 22, 2017 | www.unz.com
Randal , December 18, 2017 at 2:37 pm GMT

Russians would have to acknowledge that they were naive idiots who threw away an empire centuries in the making

What's remarkable to me about that graph of opinion over time is how pig-headedly resilient Russian naivety about the US has been. Time after time it appears the scales would fall from Russians' eyes after the US regime disgraced itself particularly egregiously (Kosovo, Iraq, Georgia), and within a few months approval would be back up to 50% or above. It took the interference in the Ukraine in 2014 to finally make the truth stick.

Randal , December 18, 2017 at 2:56 pm GMT
@Art Deco

There are no disgraces incorporated into any of these events

That might be your opinion, but Kosovo and Iraq were openly illegal wars of aggression in which the US shamelessly flouted its own treaty commitments, and supporting Georgia was, like NATO expansion in general and numerous other consistently provocative US foreign policy measures directed against post-Soviet Russia, a literally stupid matter of turning a potential ally against the real rival China into an enemy and ally of said rival.

You are perfectly entitled to endorse mere stupidity on the part of your rulers, but the fact that you so shamelessly approve of waging illegal wars counter to treaty commitments discredits any opinions you might have on such matters.

Verymuchalive , December 18, 2017 at 3:17 pm GMT

Russians would have to acknowledge that they were naive idiots who threw away an empire centuries in the making to end up within the borders of old Muscovy

Actually, present Russian borders are more those of Peter the Great, circa 1717, than Old Muscovy. Russia, unlike nearly all the Great Powers of the C20th, has retained its Empire – Siberia, the Russian Far East, Kamchatka, South Russia and the Crimea ( first acquired as recently as 1783 ).

Once those dim-witted Ukies finally implode the Ukrainian economy, Russia will be able to gobble up the rest of southern and eastern Ukraine – all the way to Odessa.

The places that seceded from the Soviet Union are places that Russians don't want ( Northern Kazakhstan excepted ) and are urgently required to receive all those Central Asian immigrants who will be deported by sensible Russian governments in the near future. ( I exclude Armenians from the last clause )

inertial , December 18, 2017 at 3:26 pm GMT
Yes, US had squandered a lot of good will in exchange for extremely valuable "geopolitical foothold in Eastern Europe." Incidentally, Soviet propaganda was never anti-American. It was anti-capitalist, an important distinction. Whereas in America, anti-Russian propaganda has always been anti- Russian .
Mitleser , December 18, 2017 at 3:35 pm GMT

the US gained a geopolitical foothold in Eastern Europe, tied up further European integration into an Atlantic framework,

Washington could get both by integrating and not alienating americanophile Russia.

closed off the possibility of the "Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok" envisaged by Charles de Gaulle.

It also closed off the possibility of an American-led Global North.

Art Deco , December 18, 2017 at 4:46 pm GMT
@Randal That might be your opinion, but Kosovo and Iraq were openly illegal wars of aggression in which the US shamelessly flouted its own treaty commitments,

We had no treaty commitments with either Serbia or Iraq and both places had it coming.

Felix Keverich , December 18, 2017 at 5:01 pm GMT
@Art Deco

You have a large national state.

Correction: Russian Federation is not a nation state. It is a rump state . Its Western borders are artificial, drawn by the Communists in the 20th century, they exclude those parts of Russia, which the Communists decided to incorporate into separate republics of Belarus and Ukraine.

I don't know of any Russian nationalist, who wants Azerbaijan back, but reclaiming Belarus and Ukraine is absolutely essential to have a country, we could all proudly call 'home' – an actual Russian nation-state. Again, what really matters here is not the size of the country, it's that all the land that's historically Russian should be fully within the borders of this country.

PS: just because we had trouble holding onto Chechnya doesn't mean that annexing Belarus will be hard. Sure, we can expect blowback in the form of Western sanctions, but I don't anticipate much resistance from inside Belarus.

Swedish Family , December 18, 2017 at 5:06 pm GMT
@Randal

It took the interference in the Ukraine in 2014 to finally make the truth stick.

Another possibility is that the change since 2014 is rather the result of more anti-American reporting in Russia's state-owned media. This would mean, as I suspect, that the pendulum will swing back once the Kremlin loosens its tight grip of the media.

Felix Keverich , December 18, 2017 at 5:12 pm GMT
@Art Deco With that kind of thinking I don't see how you can criticise Russia's incursions into the Ukraine. At least Russia has an actual reason to fight a war in the Ukraine. US invaded and destroyed Iraqi state for no reason whatsoever. US interests suffered as a result of its ill-advised agression, they ended up empowering their avowed enemy – Iran.
Felix Keverich , December 18, 2017 at 5:18 pm GMT
@Swedish Family

This would mean, as I suspect, that the pendulum will swing back once the Kremlin loosens its tight grip of the media.

How do you see this happening? Why would the Kremlin give up its control of the media? These people are smart enough to understand that whoever controls the media controls public opinion.

Art Deco , December 18, 2017 at 5:42 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich Correction: Russian Federation is not a nation state. It is a rump state.

Your 'rump state' extends over 6.6 million sq miles and has a population of 152 million.

Its Western borders are artificial, drawn by the Communists in the 20th century, they exclude those parts of Russia, which the Communists decided to incorporate into separate republics of Belarus and Ukraine.

It's western borders are no more artificial than that of any other country not bounded by mountains or water.

I don't know of any Russian nationalist, who wants Azerbaijan back, but reclaiming Belarus and Ukraine is absolutely essential to have a country, we could all proudly call 'home' –

'Essential'? You just can't get through the day without Minsk?

As for White Russia, your constituency there has in its dimensions fallen by half in the last 20 years.

http://russialist.org/belarusians-want-to-join-eu-rather-than-russia-poll-shows/

As for the Ukraine, you've no discernable constituency for reunification. The constituency for a Russophile foreign policy weighs in there at about 12% of the public. VP's three-dimensional chess game is going swimmingly.

My own forebears discovered in 1813 that the residue of British North America was quite content with gracious George III, and our boys got their assess handed to them by them Cannucks. We got over it and so can you. Miss Ukraine is just not that into you. Best not to play the stalker.

inertial , December 18, 2017 at 5:46 pm GMT
@Art Deco As for the Ukraine, you've no discernable constituency for reunification.

You don't know much about Ukraine.

Art Deco , December 18, 2017 at 5:50 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich With that kind of thinking I don't see how you can criticise Russia's incursions into the Ukraine. At least Russia has an actual reason to fight a war in the Ukraine.

They dissed you. La di dah. My own countrymen have put up with that from an array of Eurotrash and 3d world kleptocrats every time we open the newspaper.

US invaded and destroyed Iraqi state for no reason whatsoever.

No, we did so because that was the best alternative. The other alternative was a sanctions regime which Big Consciences were assuring the world was causing a six-digit population of excess deaths each year or taking the sanctions off and letting Saddam and the other Tikritis to follow their Id. Iraq was a charnel house, and the world is well rid of the Tikriti regime, especially Iraq's Kurdish and Shia provinces, which have been quiet for a decade. You don't take an interest in the ocean of blood for which the Ba'ath Party was responsible, but you're terribly butthurt that politicians in Kiev don't take orders from Moscow. Felix, I can taste teh Crazy.

Felix Keverich , December 18, 2017 at 5:58 pm GMT
@Art Deco

Your 'rump state' extends over 6.6 million sq miles and has a population of 152 million.

Exactly, and you're missing the point. Re-read my previous comment again:
I don't know of any Russian nationalist, who wants Azerbaijan back, but reclaiming Belarus and Ukraine is absolutely essential to have a country, we could all proudly call 'home' – an actual Russian nation-state. Again, what really matters here is not the size of the country, it's that all the land that's historically Russian should be fully within the borders of this country.

Russians know more about these things than you do. The vast majority of us do not regard Belarus and Ukraine as part of "заграница" – foreign countries. Ukrainians and in particular Belorussians are simply variants of us, just like regional differences exist between the Russians in Siberia and Kuban'.

http://russialist.org/belarusians-want-to-join-eu-rather-than-russia-poll-shows/

I don't care, because this isn't a popularity contest. There were similar polls in Crimea showing majority support for the EU, just before the peninsula voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia. LOL

The question that matters to me is will there be a vast resistance movement inside Belarus following the annexation, and to be honest I don't expect one.

reiner Tor , December 18, 2017 at 6:06 pm GMT
@Art Deco

We had no treaty commitments with either Serbia or Iraq

Except the UN Charter and the Helsinki Accords. The latter only with Serbia.

reiner Tor , December 18, 2017 at 6:11 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich Neither the Ukrainians nor probably the Byelorussians want to join Russia. Get over it. You still have a big enough country.
Randal , December 18, 2017 at 6:13 pm GMT
@Art Deco

We had no treaty commitments with either Serbia or Iraq

The treaty commitment in question was with almost the entire rest of the world, namely when your country entirely voluntarily signed up to a commitment to "refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state". If your country had retained the slightest trace of integrity and self-respect it would at least have had the decency to withdraw from membership of the the UN when it chose to breach those treaty commitments.

And if anything Americans make their own shamelessness worse when they fabricate imaginary pretexts for weaselling out of their country's commitment, such as a wholly imaginary entitlement for them to decide for themselves when there is a "humanitarian" justification for doing so, or make up wholesale fantasy allegations about "weapons of mass destruction" that even if true wouldn't justify war.

An entire nation state behaving like a lying '60s hippy or a shamelessly dishonest aggressor.

I'm sure you're proud.

and both places had it coming.

A straightforward confession of lawless rogue state behaviour, basically.

Do you actually think somehow you are improving your country's position with such arguments? Better for a real American patriot to just stop digging and keep sheepishly quiet about the past three decades of foreign policy.

inertial , December 18, 2017 at 6:45 pm GMT
@reiner Tor Correction. It's the elites that don't want to join Russia. And the reason they don't is because the West gives them goodies for being anti-Russian. This kind of strategy worked pretty well so far (for the West) in Eastern Europe and it will continue to work for some time yet. But not forever, not in Ukraine and Belorussia.

That's because the population of these places is Russian (no matter what they were taught to call themselves by the Commies.) Their culture is Russian. The rulers of Ukraine and, to a much lesser degree, Belorussia are trying to erect cultural barriers between themselves and Russia. Good luck with that, in the 21st century. It's more likely the culture will further homogenize, as is the trend anywhere in the world. Eventually it will tell.

Now, the question is if Russians will even want Ukraine back. This is not so clear.

Mitleser , December 18, 2017 at 6:47 pm GMT
@Mr. XYZ

Would Russia have been interested in joining both the E.U. and NATO?

Integration into West is what Russians wanted. An example

IF RUSSIA HAD THE CHANCE TO BECOME A FULL MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN UNION NOW, WOULD YOU BE FOR OR AGAINST THIS? (N=800)

08/2009:
For: 53%
Against: 21%
Difficult to say: 27%

https://www.levada.ru/en/2016/06/10/russia-s-friends-and-enemies-2/

Mitleser , December 18, 2017 at 6:56 pm GMT
@Randal

What needs to be explained is not the sustained low opinion after 2014 but rather the remarkable recoveries after 1999, 2003 and 2008.

Yugoslavia and Iraq were not that close to Russia and Russian elite was still pushing for Integration into West at that time. After 2008, "Reset" and Obama happened.

It seems unlikely the Russian media would have been as sycophantically pro-Obama merely for his blackness and Democrat-ness, though, and of course he wasn't around anyway in 2000 and in 2004.

Keep in mind that Obama's opponent in 2008 was McCain, that McCain. Just like Trump, Obama seemed like the lesser evil and not to blame for previous conflicts.

Darin , December 18, 2017 at 7:53 pm GMT
@inertial

That's because the population of these places is Russian (no matter what they were taught to call themselves by the Commies.) Their culture is Russian.

This is for them to decide, not for you.

It's more likely the culture will further homogenize, as is the trend anywhere in the world.

Yeah, the culture homogenizes around the world, into global Hollywood corporate culture. In the long there, "traditional Russian culture" is as doomed as "traditional Ukrainian culture" and "traditional American culture" if there is anything left of it.

AP , December 18, 2017 at 7:56 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

The fact is neither did Crimeans really want to join Russia (polls didn't show that)

Nonsense, Mr. Clueless-About-Ukraine: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimean_status_referendum,_2014#Polling

Polling by the Razumkov Centre in 2008 found that 63.8% of Crimeans (76% of Russians, 55% of Ukrainians, and 14% of Crimean Tatars, respectively) would like Crimea to secede from Ukraine and join Russia and 53.8% would like to preserve its current status, but with expanded powers and rights . A poll by the International Republican Institute in May 2013 found that 53% wanted "Autonomy in Ukraine (as today)", 12% were for "Crimean Tatar autonomy within Ukraine", 2% for "Common oblast of Ukraine" and 23% voted for "Crimea should be separated and given to Russia".

The takeaway is that Crimeans were satisfied being part of Ukraine as long as Ukraine had an ethnic Russian, generally pro-Russian president like Yanukovich in charge (2013 poll), but preferred being part of Russia to being part of a Ukrainian state run by Ukrainians (2008 poll, post-Maidan).

AP , December 18, 2017 at 7:59 pm GMT
@inertial

That's because the population of these places is Russian (no matter what they were taught to call themselves by the Commies.) Their culture is Russian.

Believer of Russian nationalist fairytales tells Russian nationalist fairytales. You managed to fit 3 of them into 2 sentences, good job.

Felix Keverich , December 18, 2017 at 8:07 pm GMT
@AP I was referring specifically to Russian attitudes about Ukrainians. I know that among Ukrainians themselves, there is quite the confusion on this subject.
Randal , December 18, 2017 at 8:15 pm GMT
@Mitleser Fair points, though you seem to concede to the Russian elites a significant degree of competence at managing public opinion, in 2000 and in 2004.

I was under the impression that Putin personally was still quite naïve about the US even after Kosovo, which partly accounts for his rather desperately helpful approach after 9/11, though not so much after Iraq.

But I have been told by Russians who ought to have some knowledge of these things that Putin and the wider regime were not so naïve even back in the late 1990s, so the case can be made both ways.

AP , December 18, 2017 at 8:16 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

reclaiming Belarus and Ukraine is absolutely essential to have a country, we could all proudly call 'home' – an actual Russian nation-state.

In which 25 million or so Ukrainians actively resist you, and another 5 million or so Ukrainians plus a few million Belarusians nonviolently resent your rule. You will reduce the cities or parts of them to something like Aleppo, and rebuild them (perhaps with coerced local labor) while under a sanctions regime. Obviously there will have to be a militarized occupation regime and prison camps and a network of informants. A proud home.

Again, what really matters here is not the size of the country, it's that all the land that's historically Russian should be fully within the borders of this country.

Baltics were Russian longer than Ukraine. Central Poland became Russian at the same time as did half of Ukraine. According to the 1897 census, there were about as many Great Russian speakers in Kiev governate as in Warsaw. Take the Baltics and Warsaw back too?

inertial , December 18, 2017 at 8:20 pm GMT
@Darin This is for them to decide, not for you.

Yes, of course. Just don't assume they will decide the way you think.

Felix Keverich , December 18, 2017 at 8:21 pm GMT
@AP These polls vary greatly from time to time and depending on the group conducting them. These polls are meaningless : most ordinary people go about their daily lives never thinking about that kind of issues, when suddenly prompted by a pollster they give a meaningless answer.

I'm sure, support for reunification will go up in Belarus, if the Kremlin shows some leadership on this issue. We will find enough people willing to work with us, the rest will just have to accept the new reality and go about their daily lifes as usual.

The situation in Ukraine is different, it differs wildly by region and will require us to modify our approach.

Art Deco , December 18, 2017 at 8:24 pm GMT
@German_reader US started in a demented attempt at reshaping the region according to its own preferences.

It did nothing of the kind. It ejected two governments for reasons of state. One we'd been a state of belligerency with for 12 years, the other was responsible for a gruesome casus belli. Now, having done that, we needed to put in place a new government. There was no better alternative means of so doing than electoral contests.

Swedish Family , December 18, 2017 at 8:26 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

How do you see this happening? Why would the Kremlin give up its control of the media? These people are smart enough to understand that whoever controls the media controls public opinion.

They are indeed, but my assumption is that Russia's present elite is, for the most part, corruptible. Putin will be gone before 2024, and his successor will be under immense pressure -- carrot and stick -- to deregulate Russia's media landscape, which will make foreign money pour into Russian media outlets, which will in turn lead to more positive coverage and more positive views of the West. Only a few days ago, we learnt that Washington ruled out signing a non-interference agreement with Moscow since it would preclude Washington from meddling in Russia's internal affairs. What does this tell you about the Western elite's plan for Russia?

melanf , December 18, 2017 at 8:32 pm GMT
@Swedish Family

Another possibility is that the change since 2014 is rather the result of more anti-American reporting in Russia's state-owned media. This would mean, as I suspect, that the pendulum will swing back once the Kremlin loosens its tight grip of the media.

Definitely no. American propaganda (itself without the help of Putin) were able to convince the Russians that America is the enemy. Propaganda of Putin to this could add almost nothing.

Mitleser , December 18, 2017 at 8:42 pm GMT
@Randal

Fair points, though you seem to concede to the Russian elites a significant degree of competence at managing public opinion, in 2000 and in 2004.

I am just taking into account that the early 00s were right after the 1990s when pro-Americanism was at its peak in Russia. Yugoslavia and Iraq were too distant too alienate the majority permanently.

I was under the impression that Putin personally was still quite naïve about the US even after Kosovo, which partly accounts for his rather desperately helpful approach after 9/11, though not so much after Iraq.

Why do you think did he suggest joining NATO as an option? Not because NATO are "good guys", but because it would ensure that Russia has a voice that cannot be ignored. After all, the Kosovo War showed the limits of the UNSC and by extension of Russia's voice in the unipolar world.

melanf , December 18, 2017 at 8:43 pm GMT
@Mitleser

Integration into West is what Russians wanted.
An example
08/2009:

Since then, everything has changed

Mitleser , December 18, 2017 at 8:51 pm GMT
@Swedish Family

Putin will be gone before 2024, and his successor will be under immense pressure -- carrot and stick -- to deregulate Russia's media landscape, which will make foreign money pour into Russian media outlets, which will in turn lead to more positive coverage and more positive views of the West.

There is no reason to assume that West will offer the Russian elite enough carrot to deregulate the Russian media order and the stick is just more reason not to do it and to retain control.

What does this tell you about the Western elite's plan for Russia?

And you think that people in Russian elite are not aware of it?

Felix Keverich , December 18, 2017 at 8:52 pm GMT
@AP

In which 25 million or so Ukrainians actively resist you, and another 5 million or so Ukrainians plus a few million Belarusians nonviolently resent your rule. You will reduce the cities or parts of them to something like Aleppo, and rebuild them (perhaps with coerced local labor) while under a sanctions regime.

This is a fantasy. Look, the effective size of Ukrainian army right now is around 70.000 – does this look like a strong, united nation willing and able to defend itself?

On the left side of the Dnieper truly crazy svidomy types is a small minority – they stand out from the crowd, can be easily identified and neutralised just like in Donbass. A typical Ukrainian nationalist east of Dnieper is a business owner, university educated white collar professional, a student, a journalist, "human rights activist" – these are not the kind of individuals, who will engage in guerilla warfare, they will just flee (like they already fled from Donbass).

Swedish Family , December 18, 2017 at 8:59 pm GMT
@Randal

In the west, opinion of the US was managed upwards with the Obama presidency because he fitted so well with US sphere establishment antiracist and leftist dogmas that he had almost universally positive (even hagiographic) mainstream media coverage throughout the US sphere, but with Trump opinions of the US are mostly back down where Bush II left them.

I agree with most of this, but you leave out precisely why public opinion shifts. My, rather cynical, view is that media is by far the main driver in shifting public views, and so whoever gives the media marching orders is the Pied Piper here.

An example close to home was the consternation among some of my conservative friends over the events Charlottesville. They knew nothing about the American alt-right, and still less about the context of what happened that day, yet they still spoke of what a disgrace it was for Trump not to distance himself from these deplorables. This was, of course, fully the making of Swedish media.

The 1996 Presidential Election campaign suggests that the Russian public is no less suggestible, and so does Russian (and Ukrainian) opinions on the crisis in the Donbass.

Art Deco , December 18, 2017 at 9:03 pm GMT
@Swedish Family

ruled out signing a non-interference agreement with Moscow since it would preclude Washington from meddling in Russia's internal affairs. What does this tell you about the Western elite's plan for Russia?

It tells me the reporters are confused or you are. There is no 'agreement' that will prevent 'Russia' from 'meddling' in American political life or the converse. The utility of agreements is that they make understandings between nations more precise and incorporate triggers which provide signals to one party or the other as to when the deal is off.

utu , December 18, 2017 at 9:07 pm GMT
@inertial

Soviets and Soviet Union were always in awe of America. You could see it in "between-the-lines" of the texts of the so-called anti-imperialist, anti-American Soviet propaganda. It was about catching up with American in steel production and TV sets ownership and so on. American was the ultimate goal and people did not think of American as an enemy.

Then there is the fact that Bolsheviks and Soviet Union owed a lot to America though this knowledge was not commonly known. Perhaps one should take look at these hidden connections to see what was the real mechanism bending the plug being pulled off the USSR. There might be even an analogy to South Africa but that is another story.

Sean , December 18, 2017 at 9:12 pm GMT
Two powerful countries beside one another are natural enemies, they can never be friends until one has been relegated by defeat. Britain and France were enemies until France became too weak to present a threat, then Britain's enemy was Germany (it still is, Brexit is another Dunkirk with the UK realizing it cannot compete with Germany on the continent).

Russia cannot be a friend of China against the US until Russia has been relegated in the way France has been. France has irrecoverably given up control of its currency, they are relegated to Germany's sidekick.

China is like Bitcoin. The smart money (Google) is going there. Received wisdom in the US keeps expecting China's economic growth to slow down but it isn't going to happen. When it becomes clear that the US is going to be overtaken, America will try and slow down China's economic growth, that will be Russia's opportunity.

Swedish Family , December 18, 2017 at 9:19 pm GMT
@melanf

American propaganda (itself without the help of Putin) were able to convince the Russians that America is the enemy. Propaganda of Putin to this could add almost nothing.

Being Russian, you would be in a better position than I am to comment on this, but the obvious counter to that line is who channeled this American propaganda to the Russian public and for what purpose? This article might hold the answer:

http://www.unz.com/tsaker/re-visiting-russian-counter-propaganda-methods/

reiner Tor , December 18, 2017 at 9:20 pm GMT
@Art Deco Well, they can now send troops to Syria on land.
Art Deco , December 18, 2017 at 9:25 pm GMT
@German_reader Calling me "Eurotrash"

I didn't have you in particular in mind.

oh well, I get it, US nationalists like you think you're the responsible adults dealing with a dangerous world, while ungrateful European pussies favor appeasement, are free riders on US benevolent hegemony etc. I've heard and read all that a thousand times before, it's all very unoriginal by now.

No, I'm a fat middle aged man who thinks most of what people say on political topics is some species of self-congratulation. And a great deal of it is perverse. The two phenomena are symbiotic. And, of course, I'm unimpressed with kvetching foreigners. Kvetching Europeans might ask where is the evidence that they with their own skills and resources can improve some situation using methods which differ from those we have applied and kvetching Latin Americans can quit sticking the bill for their unhappy histories with Uncle Sam, and kvetching Arabs can at least take responsibility for something rather than projecting it on some wire-pulling other (Jews, Americans, conspiracy x).

Randal , December 18, 2017 at 9:26 pm GMT
@Art Deco

Do they have one more soldier at their command and one more piece of equipment because we had troops in Iraq?

Well, according to the likes of Mattis they certainly do. Have you never heard of the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMU), a large faction of which reportedly swear allegiance directly to Khamenei.

Is that "victory" for you?

An of course they now have a direct land route to Hezbollah, to make it easier for them to assist that national defence militia to deter further Israeli attacks. That's something they never could have had when Saddam was in charge of Iraq.

Is that "victory" for you?

And they don't have to worry about their western neighbour invading them with US backing again.

Is that "victory" for you?

AP , December 18, 2017 at 9:28 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

These polls vary greatly from time to time and depending on the group conducting them. These polls are meaningless: most ordinary people go about their daily lives never thinking about that kind of issues, when suddenly prompted by a pollster they give a meaningless answer.

So according to you when hundreds or thousands of people are asked a question they are not prepared for, their collective answer is meaningless and does not indicate their preference?

So it's a total coincidence that when Ukraine was ruled by Ukrainians most Crimeans preferred to join Russia, when Ukraine was ruled by a Russian, Crimeans were satisfied within Ukraine but when Ukrainian nationalists came to power Crimeans again preferred being part of Russia?

Are all political polls also meaningless according to you, or just ones that contradict your idealistic views?

Swedish Family , December 18, 2017 at 9:31 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

This is a fantasy. Look, the effective size of Ukrainian army right now is around 70.000 – does this look like a strong, united nation willing and able to defend itself?

In fairness, the young Ukrainians I have spoken to avoid the "draft" mainly out of fear that they will be underequipped and used as cannon fodder. (I'm not sure "draft" is the word I'm looking for. My understanding is that they are temporarily exempt from military service if they study at university or have good jobs.)

melanf , December 18, 2017 at 9:46 pm GMT
@Swedish Family

but the obvious counter to that line is who channeled this American propaganda to the Russian public and for what purpose?

It is known – the minions of Putin translated into Russian language American (and European) propaganda, and putting it on the website http://inosmi.ru/ .
The Americans also try: there is a special "Radio Liberty" that 24-hour broadcasts (in Russian) hate speech against the Russian.
But it only speeds up the process (which will happen anyway) .

AP , December 18, 2017 at 10:12 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

This is a fantasy. Look, the effective size of Ukrainian army right now is around 70.000 – does this look like a strong, united nation willing and able to defend itself?

It was about 50,000 in 2014, about 200,000-250,000 now.

Polish military has 105,000 personnel. Poland also not united or willing to defend itself?

On the left side of the Dnieper truly crazy svidomy types is a small minority – they stand out from the crowd, can be easily identified and neutralised just like in Donbass

Avakov, Poroshenko's interior minister and sponsor of the neo-Nazi Azov battalion, in 2010 got 48% of the vote in Kharkiv's mayoral race in 2010 when he ran as the "Orange" candidate. In 2012 election about 30% of Kharkiv oblast voters chose nationalist candidates, vs. about 10% in Donetsk oblast. Vkontakte, a good source for judging youth attitudes, was split 50/50 between pro-Maidan and anti-Maidan in Kharkiv (IIRC it was 80/20 anti-Maidan winning in Donetsk). Kharkiv is just like Donbas, right?

A typical Ukrainian nationalist east of Dnieper is a business owner, university educated white collar professional, a student, a journalist, "human rights activist"

Football hooligans in these places are also Ukrainian nationalists. Azov battalion and Right Sector are both based in Eastern Ukraine.

Here is how Azov started:

The Azov Battalion has its roots in a group of Ultras of FC Metalist Kharkiv named "Sect 82″ (1982 is the year of the founding of the group).[18] "Sect 82″ was (at least until September 2013) allied with FC Spartak Moscow Ultras.[18] Late February 2014, during the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine when a separatist movement was active in Kharkiv, "Sect 82″ occupied the Kharkiv Oblast regional administration building in Kharkiv and served as a local "self-defense"-force.[18] Soon, on the basis of "Sect 82″ there was formed a volunteer militia called "Eastern Corps".[18]

Here is Azov battalion commander-turned-Kiev oblast police chief, Kharkiv native Vadim Troyan:

Does he look like an intellectual to you? Before Maidan he was a cop.

these are not the kind of individuals, who will engage in guerilla warfare,

On the contrary, they will probably dig in while seeking cover in urban areas that they know well, where they have some significant support (as Donbas rebels did in Donetsk), forcing the Russian invaders to fight house to house and causing massive damage while fighting native boys such as Azov. About 1/3 of Kharkiv overall and 1/2 of its youth are nationalists. I wouldn't expect mass resistance by the Kharkiv population itself, but passive support for the rebels by many. Russia will then end up rebuilding a large city full of a resentful population that will remember its dead (same problem Kiev will face if it gets Donbas back). This scenario can be repeated for Odessa. Dnipropetrovsk, the home base of Right Sector, is actually much more nationalistic than either Odessa or Kharkiv. And Kiev is a different world again. Bitter urban warfare in a city of 3 million (officially, most likely about 4 million) followed by massive reconstruction and maintenance of a repression regime while under international sanctions.

Russia's government has adequate intelligence services who know better what Ukraine is actually like, than you do. There is a reason why they limited their support to Crimea and Donbas.

Your wishful thinking about Ukraine would be charming and harmless if not for the fact that such wishful thinking often leads to tragic actions that harm both the invader and the invaded. Remember the Iraqis were supposed to welcome the American liberators with flowers after their cakewalk.

AP , December 18, 2017 at 10:22 pm GMT
@Swedish Family

In fairness, the young Ukrainians I have spoken to avoid the "draft" mainly out of fear that they will be underequipped and used as cannon fodder.

Correct. The thinking often was – "the corrupt officers will screw up and get us killed, or sell out our positions to the Russians for money, if the Russians came to our city I'd fight them but I don't wanna go to Donbas.." This is very different from avoiding the draft because one wouldn't mind if Russia annexed Ukraine. Indeed, Dnipropetrovsk in the East has contributed a lot to Ukraine's war effort, primarily because it borders Donbas – ones hears from people there that if they don't fight in Donbas and keep the rebels contained there, they'd have to fight at home.

Felix Keverich , December 18, 2017 at 10:39 pm GMT
@AP LMAO, Ukrainians are nothing like Arabs. They are soft Eastern-European types. And in Eastern regions like Kharkov most of them will be on our side.

The best thing about Ukrainian neo-Nazis such as Azov battalion is that there is very few of them – no more than 10.000 in the entire country. I assume Russian security services know all of them by name.

To deal with Ukronazi problem, I would first take out their leaders, then target their HQs, arms depots and training camps. I would kill or intimidate their sponsors. Ukronazis would be left decapitated, without resources, undermanned and demoralised, trying to fight an insurgency amongst the population that hates and despises them. It will be a short lived insurgency.

AP , December 18, 2017 at 10:58 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

LMAO, Ukrainians are nothing like Arabs. They are soft Eastern-European types.

And Russians and Poles were also soft when someone invaded their country? Ukrainians are not modern western Euros.

And in Eastern regions like Kharkov most of them will be on our side.

Most pensioners. It will be about 50/50 among young fighting-age people.

The best thing about Ukrainian neo-Nazis such as Azov battalion is that there is very few of them – no more than 10.000 in the entire country

Maybe. Ukrainian government claims 46,000 in volunteer self-defense battalions (including Azov) but this is probably an exaggeration.

OTOH there are a couple 100,000 demobilized young people with combat experience who would be willing to fight if their homeland were attacked, who are not neo-Nazis in Azov. Plus a military of 200,000-250,000 people, many of whom would imitate the Donbas rebels and probably redeploy in places like Kharkiv where they have cover. Good look fighting it out block by block.

trying to fight an insurgency amongst the population that hates and despises them

In 2010, 48% of Kharkiv voters chose a nationalist for their mayor. In 2012 about 30% voted for nationalist parties. Judging by pro vs, anti-Maidan, the youth are evenly split although in 2014 the Ukrainian nationalist youths ended up controlling the streets, not the Russian nationalist ones as in Donbas. This is in the most pro-Russian part of Ukraine.

Suuure, the population of Kharkiv will despise their kids, grandkids, nephews, classmates etc,. but will welcome the invaders from Russia who will be bombing their city. Such idealism and optimism in Russia!

It will be a short lived insurgency.

And Iraq was supposed to be a cakewalk.

Felix Keverich , December 18, 2017 at 11:15 pm GMT
@AP Again, supporting Maidan doesn't mean you're ready to take up Kalashnikov and go fight. Ukrainian youth is dodging draft en masse. It's a fact.

This is what typical Maidanist Ukrainian youths look like; these people certainly don't look like they have a lot of fight in them: They remind me of Navalny supporters in Russia. These kind of people can throw a tantrum, but they are fundamentally weak people, who are easily crushed.

Cato , December 19, 2017 at 3:43 am GMT
@Felix Keverich Northern Kazakhstan is/was ethnically Russian, since the 1700s. This should have been folded into Russia; the North Caucasus should have been cut loose. My opinion.
AP , December 19, 2017 at 3:53 am GMT
@Felix Keverich Typical Russian mistakes regarding Ukraine: weak student-types in Russia are the main supporters of Ukraine in Russia, thus the same type must be the main pro-Maidan people in Ukraine. Because Ukraine = Russia. This silly dream of Ukraine being just like Russia leads to ridiculous ideas and hopes.

As I already said, the Azov battalion grew out of brawling football ultras in Kharkiv. Maidan itself was a cross-section – of students, yes, but also plenty of Afghan war vets, workers, far right brawlers, professionals, etc. It's wasn't simply "weak" students, nor was it simply far-right fascists (another claim by Russia) but a mass effort of the western half of the country.

Here are Afghan war vets at Maidan:

Look at those weak Maidan people running away from the enemy:

Azov people in their native Kharkiv:

Kharkiv kids:

Ukrainian youth is dodging draft en masse. It's a fact.

Dodging the draft in order to avoid fighting in Donbas, where you are not wanted by the locals, is very different from dodging the draft to avoid fighting when your own town is being invaded.

AP , December 19, 2017 at 4:10 am GMT
@AP Summer camp was in Kiev, but there is another outside Kharkiv.

To be clear, most Ukrainians fighting against Russia are not these unsavory types, though they make for dramatic video. Point is that pro-Maidan types in Ukraine are far from being exclusively liberal student-types.

jimbojones , December 19, 2017 at 8:01 am GMT
A few points:

- The Russians ALWAYS were Americanophiles – ever since the Revolution. Russia has been an American ally most often explicit but occasionally tacit – in EVERY major American conflict, including the War on Terror and excluding Korea and Vietnam (both not major compared to the Civil War or WW2). The only comparable Great Power US ally is France. Russia and the US are natural allies.

- Russians are Americanophiles – they like Hollywood movies, American music, American idealism, American video games, American fashion, American inventions, American support in WW2, American can-do-aittude, American badassery and Americana in general.

- There are two Ukraines. One is essentially a part of Russia, and a chunk of it was repatriated in 2014. The other was historically Polish and Habsburg. It is a strange entity that is not Russian.

- The Maidan was a foreign-backed putsch against a democratically elected government. Yanukovich was certainly a corrupt scoundrel. But he was a democratically elected corrupt scoundrel. To claim Russian intervention in his election is a joke in light of the CIA-backed 2004 and 2014 coups.

Moreover, post-democratic post-Yanukovich Ukraine is clearly inferior to its predecessor. For one thing, under Yanukovich, Sevastopol was still Ukrainian

Anatoly Karlin , Website December 19, 2017 at 1:35 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich I think this poll is the most relevant for assessing the question, since it covered different regions and used the same methodology.

Takeaway:

1. Support for uniting into a single state with Russia at 41% in Crimea at a time when it was becoming quite clear the Yanukovych regime was doomed.

2. Now translates into ~90% support (according to both Russian and international polls) in Crimea. I.e., a more than a standard deviation shift in "Russophile" sentiment on this matter.

3. Assuming a similar shift in other regions, Novorossiya would be quite fine being with Russia post facto . Though there would be significant discontent in Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, and Kherson (e.g., probably on the scale of Donbass unhappiness with the Ukraine before 2014).

4. Central and West Ukraine would not be, which is why their reintegration would be far more difficult – and probably best left for sometime in the future.

5. What we have instead seen is a one standard deviation shift in "Ukrainophile" sentiment within all those regions that remained in the Ukraine. If this change is "deep," then AP is quite correct that their assimilation into Russia has been made impossible by Putin's vacillations in 2014.

AP , December 19, 2017 at 2:18 pm GMT
@jimbojones

The Maidan was a foreign-backed putsch against a democratically elected government

Typical Russian nationalist half-truth about Ukraine.

To be clear – Yanukovich was democratically elected in 2010, into a position where his powers were limited and where he was faced with a hostile parliament. His post-election accumulation of powers (overthrowing the Opposition parliament, granting himself additional powers, stacking the court with local judges from his hometown) was not democratic. None of these actions enjoyed popular support, none were made through democratic processes such as referendums or popular elections. Had that been the case, he would not have been overthrown in what was a popular mass revolt by half the country.

There are two Ukraines. One is essentially a part of Russia, and a chunk of it was repatriated in 2014. The other was historically Polish and Habsburg. It is a strange entity that is not Russian.

A bit closer to the truth, but much too simplistic in a way that favors Russian idealism. Crimea (60% Russian) was simply not Ukraine, so lumping it in together with a place such as Kharkiv (oblast 70% Ukrainian) and saying that Russia took one part of this uniformly "Russian Ukraine" is not accurate.

You are correct that the western half of the country are a non-Russian Polish-but-not Habsburg central Ukraine/Volynia, and Polish-and-Habsburg Galicia.

But the other half consisted of two parts: ethnic Russian Crimea (60% Russian) and largely ethniuc-Russian urban Donbas (about 45% Russian, 50% Ukrainian), and a heavily Russified but ethnic Ukrainian Kharkiv oblast (70% Ukrainian, 26% Russian), Dnipropetrovsk (80% Ukrainian, 20% Russian), Kherson (82% Ukrainian, 14% Russian), and Odessa oblast (63% Ukrainian, 21% Russian).

The former group (Crimea definitely, and urban Donbas less strongly) like being part of Russia. The latter group, on the other hand, preferred that Ukraine and Russia have friendly ties, preferred Russian as a legal language, preferred economic union with Russia, but did not favor loss of independence. Think of them as pro-NAFTA American-phile Canadians who would nevertheless be opposed to annexation by the USA and would be angered if the USA grabbed a chunk of Canada. In grabbing a chunk of Ukraine and supporting a rebellion in which Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk kids are being shot by Russian-trained fighters using Russian-supplied bullets, Putin has turned these people off the Russian state.

Mr. Hack , December 19, 2017 at 2:35 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin

3. Assuming a similar shift in other regions, Novorossiya would be quite fine being with Russia post facto. Though there would be significant discontent in Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, and Kherson (e.g., probably on the scale of Donbass unhappiness with the Ukraine before 2014).

'Asumptions' like this are what provide Swiss cheese the airy substance that makes it less caloric! Looks like only the retired sovok population in the countryside is up to supporting your mythical 'NovoRosija' while the more populated city dwellers would be opposed, even by your own admission (and even this is questionable). I'm surprised that the dutifully loyal and most astute opposition (AP) has let this blooper pass without any comment?

Felix Keverich , December 19, 2017 at 2:41 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin I think when answering this question, most people simple give what they consider to be the socially acceptable answer, especially in contemporary Ukraine, where you will go to prison for displaying Russian flag – who wants to be seen as a "separatist"?

In Crimea it has become more socially acceptable to identify with Russia following the reunification, which is why the number of people who answer this way shot up . The same effect will seen in Belarus and Ukraine – I'm fairly certain of it.

Though there would be significant discontent in Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Zaporozhye, and Kherson

Discontent will be limited to educated, affluent, upwardly mobile circles of society. Demographic profile of Ukrainian nationalist East of Dnieper resembles demographic profile of Navalny supporters in Russia. These people are not fighters. Most of them will react to Russian takeover by self-deporting – they have the money and resources to do it.

AP , December 19, 2017 at 2:51 pm GMT

Demographic profile of Ukrainian nationalist East of Dnieper resembles demographic profile of Navalny supporters in Russia. These people are not fighters.

Repeating your claim over and over again doesn't make it true. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azov_Battalion

The Azov Battalion has its roots in a group of Ultras of FC Metalist Kharkiv named "Sect 82″ (1982 is the year of the founding of the group).[18] "Sect 82″ was (at least until September 2013) allied with FC Spartak Moscow Ultras.[18] Late February 2014, during the 2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine when a separatist movement was active in Kharkiv, "Sect 82″ occupied the Kharkiv Oblast regional administration building in Kharkiv and served as a local "self-defense"-force.[18] Soon, on the basis of "Sect 82″ there was formed a volunteer militia called "Eastern Corps".[18]

The brawling East Ukrainian nationalists who took the streets of Kharkiv and Odessa were not mostly rich, fey hipsters.

Mr. Hack , December 19, 2017 at 2:53 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

Discontent will be limited to educated, affluent, upwardly mobile circles of society.

So, even by tour own admission, the only folks that would be for unifying with Russia are the uneducated, poor and those with no hopes of ever amounting to much in society. I don't agree with you, but I do see your logic. These are just the type of people that are the most easily manipulated by Russian propoganda – a lot of this went on in the Donbas, and we can see the results of that fiasco to this day.

Andrei Martyanov , Website December 19, 2017 at 2:55 pm GMT
@jimbojones

Russia and the US are natural allies.

While geopolitically and historically it is true:

a)Post-WWII American power elites are both incompetent and arrogant (which is a first derivative of incompetence) to understand that–this is largely the problem with most "Western" elites.

b) Currently the United States doesn't have enough (if any) geopolitical currency and clout to "buy" Russia. In fact, Russia can take what she needs (and she doesn't have "global" appetites) with or without the US. Plus, China is way more interested in Russia's services that the US, which will continue to increasingly find out more about its own severe military-political limitations.

c) The United States foreign policy is not designed and is not being conducted to serve real US national interests. In fact, US can not even define those interests beyond the tiresome platitudes about "global interests" and being "exceptional".

d) Too late

Felix Keverich , December 19, 2017 at 3:10 pm GMT
@AP I like how I got you talking about the Ukronazis, it's kinda funny actually, so let me pose as Ukraine's "defender" here:

This neo-Nazi scum is not in any way representative of the population of Eastern Ukraine. These are delinquents, criminals, low-lifes. They are despised, looked down upon by the normal people, pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian alike. A typical Ukrainian nationalist East of Dnieper is a business owner, a journalist, an office worker, a student who dodges draft. It's just the way it is.

Felix Keverich , December 19, 2017 at 3:24 pm GMT
@AP The way to think about Azov battalion is to treat them like a simple group of delinquents, for whom Ukrainian nationalism has become a path to obtain money, resources, bigger guns and perhaps even political power. Azov is simply a gang. And Russian security services have plenty of experience dealing with gangs, so I don't expect Ukronazis to pose a major challenge.
reiner Tor , December 19, 2017 at 3:35 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich I'm not sure about Ukrainian football hooligans, but football hooligans in Hungary are not necessarily "low -lifes, criminals, delinquents", in fact, the majority of them aren't. Most groups consist mostly of working class (including a lot of security guards and similar) members, but there are some middle class (I know of a school headmaster, though I think he's no longer very active in the group) and working class entrepreneur types (e.g. the car mechanic who ended up owning a car dealership) and similar. I think outright criminal types are a small minority. Since it costs money to attend the matches, outright failures (the permanently unemployed and similar ne'er-do-wells) are rarely found in such groups.
Felix Keverich , December 19, 2017 at 3:50 pm GMT
@reiner Tor LOL I classify all football hooligans as low-lifes simply due to the nature of their pastime. Ukrainian neo-Nazi militias have been involved in actual crimes including murder, kidnapping and racketeering. Their criminal activities go unpunished by the regime, because they are considered "heroes" or something.
AP , December 19, 2017 at 3:57 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

I like how I got you talking about the Ukronazis

I never denied the presence of them.

This neo-Nazi scum is not in any way representative of the population of Eastern Ukraine.

If by "representative" you mean majority, sure. Neither are artsy students, or Afghan war veterans, or schoolteachers, any other group a majority.

Also not all of the street fighters turned militias neo-Nazis, as are Azov. Right Sector are not neo-Nazis, they are more fascists.

These are delinquents, criminals, low-lifes.

As reiner tor correctly pointed out, this movement which grew out of the football ultra community is rather working class but is not lumpens. You fail again.

A typical Ukrainian nationalist East of Dnieper is a business owner, a journalist, an office worker, a student who dodges draft

Are there more business owners, students (many of whom do not dodge the draft), office workers combined than there are ultras/far-right brawlers? Probably. 30% of Kharkiv voted for nationalist parties (mostly Tymoshenko's and Klitschko's moderates) in the 2012 parliamentary elections, under Yanukovich. That represents about 900,000 people in that oblast. There aren't 900,000 brawling far-rightists in Kharkiv. So?

The exteme nationalist Banderist Svoboda party got about 4% of the vote in Kharkiv oblast in 2012. This would make Bandera twice as popular in Kharkiv as the democratic opposition is in Russia.

reiner Tor , December 19, 2017 at 4:00 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

I classify all football hooligans as low-lifes simply due to the nature of their pastime.

They are well integrated into the rest of society, so you can call them low-lifes, but they will still be quite different from ordinary criminals.

Ukrainian neo-Nazi militias have been involved in actual crimes including murder, kidnapping and racketeering.

But that's quite different from being professional criminals. Members of the Waffen-SS also committed unspeakable crimes, but they rarely had professional criminal backgrounds, and were, in fact, quite well integrated into German society.

AP , December 19, 2017 at 4:08 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

The way to think about Azov battalion is to treat them like a simple group of delinquents, for whom Ukrainian nationalism has become a path to obtain money, resources, bigger guns and perhaps even political power

Yes, there are elements of this, but not only. If they were ethnic Russians, as in Donbas, they would have taken a different path, as did the pro-Russian militants in Donbas who are similar to the ethnic Ukrainian Azovites. Young guys who like to brawl and are ethnic Russians or identify s such joined organizations like Oplot and moved to Donbas to fight against Ukraine, similar types who identified as Ukrainians became Azovites or joined similar pro-Ukrainian militias. Also not all of these were delinquents, many were working class, security guards, etc.

Good that you admit that in Eastern Ukraine nationalism is not limited to student activists and businessmen.

And Russian security services have plenty of experience dealing with gangs,

They chose to stay away from Kharkiv and limit Russia's action to Donbas, knowing that there would be too much opposition, and not enough support, to Russian rule in Kharkiv to make the effort worthwhile.

utu , December 19, 2017 at 4:08 pm GMT
@Anon Out of all hypotheses on the JFK assassination the one that Israel was behind it is the strongest. There is no question about it. From the day one when conspiracy theories were floated everything was done to hide how Israel benefited form the assassination.
Felix Keverich , December 19, 2017 at 4:13 pm GMT
@reiner Tor I feel that comparing Azov to SS gives it too much credit.

My point is that this way of life is not something that many people in Ukraine are willing to actively participate in. Most people are not willing to condone it either. AP says that Azov and the like can act like underground insurgency in Eastern cities. But I don't see how this could work – there will a thousand people around them willing to rat them out.

There is no pro-Ukrainian insurgency in Crimea or inside the republics in Donbass, and it's not due to the lack of local football hooligans.

Felix Keverich , December 19, 2017 at 4:25 pm GMT
@AP

That represents about 900,000 people in that oblast. There aren't 900,000 brawling far-rightists in Kharkiv. So?

This means these people won't pose a big problem. These folks will take care of themselves either through self-deportation or gradually coming to terms with the new reality in Kharkov, just like their compatriots in Crimea did.

Even among Svoboda voters, I suspect only a small minority of them are the militant types. We should be to contain them through the use of local proxies. The armies of Donbass republics currently number some 40-60 thousand men according to Cassad blog, which compares with the size of the entire Ukrainian army. We should be able to recruit more local Ukrainian proxies once we're in Kharkov.

Art Deco , December 19, 2017 at 4:31 pm GMT
@Gerard2 oligarchs, not nationalism are the driving force behind the "Ukrainian" mass crimes against humanity committing --
AP , December 19, 2017 at 4:48 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

AP says that Azov and the like can act like underground insurgency in Eastern cities. But I don't see how this could work – there will a thousand people around them willing to rat them out.

About 1/3 of the population in Eastern Ukrainian regions voted for Ukrainian nationalists in 2012, compared to only 10% in Donbas. Three times as many. Likely after 2014 many of the hardcore pro-Russians left Kharkiv, just as hardcore pro-Ukrainians left Donetsk. Furthermore anti-Russian attitudes have hardened, due to the war, Crimea, etc. So there would be plenty of local support for native insurgents.

Russians say, correctly, that after Kiev has shelled Donetsk how can the people of Donetsk reconcile themselves with Kiev?

The time when Russia could have bloodlessly marched into Kharkiv is over. Ukrainian forces have dug in. How will Kharkiv people feel towards uninvited Russian invaders shelling their city in order to to take it under their control?

There is no pro-Ukrainian insurgency in Crimea or inside the republics in Donbass, and it's not due to the lack of local football hooligans.

Crimea was 60% Russian, Donbas Republics territory about 45% Russian; Kharkiv oblast is only 25% Russian.

With Donbas – there are actually local pro-Ukrainian militants from Donbas, in the Donbas and Aidar battalions.

Felix Keverich , December 19, 2017 at 4:50 pm GMT
@AP It was a decision that Putin personally made. He wasn't going to move in Crimea either, until Maidanists overthrew his friend

It goes without saying that Putin doesn't share my nationalist approach to Ukraine problem: he does not see the destruction of Ukrainian project as necessary or even desirable. And I'm sure the restraint Putin has shown on Ukraine doesn't come from him being intimidated by Azov militia.

AP , December 19, 2017 at 4:56 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

These folks will take care of themselves either through self-deportation or gradually coming to terms with the new reality in Kharkov, just like their compatriots in Crimea did

The problem with this comparison is that Crimeans were far more in favor of joining Russia that are Kharkivites.

The armies of Donbass republics currently number some 40-60 thousand men according to Cassad blog, which compares with the size of the entire Ukrainian army.

Ukrainian military has 200,000 – 250,000 active members and about 100,000 reserves. Where did you get your information? The end of 2014?

We should be able to recruit more local Ukrainian proxies once we're in Kharkov.

You would be able to recruit some local proxies in Kharkiv. Kiev even did so in Donbas. But given the fact that Ukrainian nationalism was 3 times more popular on Kharkiv than in Donetsk, and that Kharkiv youth were split 50/50 in terms of or versus anti Maidan support (versus 80/20 IIIRC anti-Maidan in Donbas), it would not be so easy. Moreover, by now many of the hardcore anti-Kiev people have already left Kharkiv, while Kharkiv has had some settlement by pro-Ukrainian dissidents from Donbas. So the situation even in 2014 was hard enough that Russia chose to stay away, now it is even worse for the pro-Russians.

AP , December 19, 2017 at 5:00 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

And I'm sure the restraint Putin has shown on Ukraine doesn't come from him being intimidated by Azov militia.

This is rather a symptom of a much wider phenomenon: the population simply doesn't see itself as Russian and doesn't want to be part of Russia. So its hooligan-types go for Ukrainian, not Russian, nationalism as is the case in Russia.

Felix Keverich , December 19, 2017 at 5:02 pm GMT
@AP

The time when Russia could have bloodlessly marched into Kharkiv is over. Ukrainian forces have dug in. How will Kharkiv people feel towards uninvited Russian invaders shelling their city in order to to take it under their control?

The locals will move to disarm Ukrainian forces, who have taken their city hostage, then welcome Russian liberators with open arms, what else they are going to do? lol

It's just a joke though. In reality there is virtually no Ukrainian forces in city of Kharkov. They don't have the manpower. Ukrainian regime managed to fortify Perekop and the perimeter of the people's republics, but the rest of Ukraine-Russia border remains completely undefended. It's wide open!

Felix Keverich , December 19, 2017 at 5:05 pm GMT
@AP Honestly, I doubt that this kind of stuff has much impact on Putin's decisionmaking.
Mr. Hack , December 19, 2017 at 5:09 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

It goes without saying that Putin doesn't share my nationalist approach to Ukraine problem: he does not see the destruction of Ukrainian project as necessary or even desirable.

Well there you have it. Putin is a much smarter guy than you are Felix (BTW, are you Jewish, all of the Felix's that I've known were Jewish?). Good to see that you're nothing more than a blackshirted illusionist.*

*фантазёр

German_reader , December 19, 2017 at 5:20 pm GMT
@for-the-record German and European reliance on US security guarantees is a problem, since it's become pretty clear that the US political system is dysfunctional and US "elites" are dangerous extremists. We need our own security structures to be independent from the US so they can't drag us into their stupid projects or blackmail us anymore why do you think Merkel didn't react much to the revelations about American spying on Germany? Because we're totally dependent on the Americans in security matters.

And while I don't believe Russia or Iran are really serious threats to Europe, it would be foolish to have no credible deterrence.

AP , December 19, 2017 at 5:25 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

"How will Kharkiv people feel towards uninvited Russian invaders shelling their city in order to to take it under their control?"

They will move to disarm ther Ukrainian forces, who have taken their city hostage, then welcome their Russian liberators with open arms, what else they are going to do? lol

While about 1/3 of Kharkiv voted for Ukrainian nationalists, only perhaps 10%-20% of the city would actually like to be part of Russia (and I am being generous to you). So your idea is equivalent to American fantasies of Iraqis greeting their troops with flowers.

It's just a joke though. In reality there is virtually no Ukrainian forces in city of Kharkov. They don't have the manpower. Ukrainian regime managed to fortify Perekop and the perimeter of the people's republics, but the rest of Ukraine-Russia border remains completely undefended.

Are you living in 2014? Russian nationalists always like to think of Ukraine as if it is 2014-2015. It is comforting for them.

Ukraine currently has 200,000-250,000 active troops. About 60,000 of them are around Donbas.

Here is a map of various positions in 2017:

Kharkiv does appear to be lightly defended, though not undefended (it has a motorized infantry brigade and a lot of air defenses). The map does not include national guard units such as Azov, however, which would add a few thousand troops to Kharkiv's defense.

It looks like rather than stationing their military in forward positions vs. a possible Russian attack, Ukraine, has put lot of troops in Dnipropetrovsk, Mykolaiv, Kiev and Odessa.

Felix Keverich , December 19, 2017 at 5:34 pm GMT
@AP

Ukrainian military has 200,000 – 250,000 active members and about 100,000 reserves. Where did you get your information? The end of 2014?

I read Kassad blog, and he says Ukrainian formations assembled in Donbass number some 50-70 thousands men. The entire Ukrainian army is around 200.000 men, including the navy (LOL), the airforce, but most of it isn't combat ready. Ukraine doesn't just suffer from a lack of manpower, they don't have the resources to feed and clothe their soldiers, which limits their ability field an army.

By contrast the armies of people's republics have 40-60 thousand men – that's impressive level of mobilisation, and they achieved this without implementing draft.

Art Deco , December 19, 2017 at 5:54 pm GMT
@AP So your idea is equivalent to American fantasies of Iraqis greeting their troops with flowers.

The local populations in Iraq were congenial to begin with, at least outside some Sunni centers. It was never an object of American policy to stay in Iraq indefinitely.

Felix Keverich , December 19, 2017 at 5:55 pm GMT
@AP

Kharkiv does appear to be lightly defended, though not undefended (it has a motorized infantry brigade and a lot of air defenses).

How many people does this "motorized infantry brigade" have? And more importantly what is its level of combat readiness? Couldn't we just smash this brigade with a termobaric bomb while they are sleeping?

Ukraine is full of shit. They had 20.000 troops in Crimea, "a lot of air defenses" and it didn't make a iota of difference. Somehow you expect me to believe Ukraine has a completely different army now. Why should I? They don't have the resources to afford a better army, so it is logical to assume that Ukrainian army is still crap.

Art Deco , December 19, 2017 at 6:01 pm GMT
Russian nationalists always like to think of Ukraine as if it is 2014-2015. It is comforting for them.

Betwixt and between all the trash talking, they've forgotten that the last occasion on which one country attempted to conquer an absorb another country with a population anywhere near 30% of its own was during the 2d World War. Didn't work out so well for Germany and Japan.

Art Deco , December 19, 2017 at 6:03 pm GMT
@for-the-record Austria, on the other hand, has survived for more than 60 years without the US "umbrella" to protect it (and with a military strength rated below that of Angola and Chile), so why couldn't Germany?

Austria hasn't been absorbed by Germany or Italy therefore Germany doesn't have a use for security guarantees or an armed force. Do I render your argument correctly?

German_reader , December 19, 2017 at 6:32 pm GMT
@for-the-record

Germany has willingly supported the US

Not completely true, Germany didn't participate in the Iraq war and in the bombing of Libya.
I'm hardly an expert on military matters, but it would seem just common sense to me that a state needs sufficient armed forces to protect its own territory if you don't have that, you risk becoming a passive object whose fate is decided by other powers. Doesn't mean Germany should have a monstrously bloated military budget like the US, just sufficient forces to protect its own territory and that of neighbouring allies (which is what the German army should be for instead of participating in futile counter-insurgency projects in places like Afghanistan). Potential for conflict in Europe is obviously greatest regarding Russia it's still quite low imo, and I want good relations with Russia and disagree vehemently with such insanely provocative ideas as NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia, but it would be stupid not to have credible deterrence (whose point it is to prevent hostilities after all). I don't think that's an anti-Russian position, it's just realistic.
Apart from that Germany doesn't probably need much in the way of military capabilities maybe some naval forces for participation in international anti-piracy missions.
Regarding nuclear weapons, that's obviously something Germany can't or shouldn't do on its own (probably wouldn't be tolerated anyway given 20th century history), so it would have to be in some form of common European project. Hard to tell now if something like this could eventually become possible or necessary.

Mr. Hack , December 19, 2017 at 6:46 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich Sorry to prickle your little fantasy world once again tovarishch, but according to current CIA statistics Ukraine has 182,000 active personnel, and 1,000,000 reservists! For a complete rundown of Ukraine's military strength, read this and weep:

https://www.globalfirepower.com/country-military-strength-detail.asp?country_id=ukraine

inertial , December 19, 2017 at 8:18 pm GMT
@Art Deco They've had ample opportunity over a period of 26 years to make the decision you favor. It hasn't happened, and there's no reason to fancy they'll be more amenable a decade from now.

Yes, these people had been sold a vision. If only they leave behind the backward, Asiatic, mongoloid Russia, they will instantly Join Europe. They will have all of the good stuff: European level of prosperity, rule of law, international approval, and so on; and none of the bad stuff that they associated with Russia, like poverty, corruption, and civil strife.

Official Ukrainian propaganda worked overtime, and still works today, to hammer this into people's heads. And it's an attractive vision. An office dweller in Kiev wants to live in a shiny European capital, not in a bleak provincial city of a corrupt Asian empire. The problem is, it's ain't working. For a while Ukraine managed to get Russia to subsidize Ukrainian European dream. Now this is over. The vision is starting to fail even harder.

The experience of Communism shows that it may take decades but eventually people notice that the state ideology is a lie. Once they do, they change their mind about things rather quickly.

Swedish Family , December 19, 2017 at 8:26 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

It goes without saying that Putin doesn't share my nationalist approach to Ukraine problem: he does not see the destruction of Ukrainian project as necessary or even desirable.

Agreed, and he happens to be in the right here. Russia actually has a good hand in Ukraine, if only she keeps her cool . More military adventurism is foolish for at least three reasons:

(1) All the civilian deaths in the Donbass, somewhat perversely, play to Russia's advantage in that they take some of the sting out of the "Ukraine is the victim" narrative. Common people know full well that the Ukrainian troops are hated in the Donbass (I once watched a Ukrainian soldier shock the audience by saying this on Shuster Live), and they know also that Kiev has a blame in all those dead women and children. These are promising conditions for future reconciliation, and they would be squandered overnight if Russian troops moved further westward.

(2) The geopolitical repercussions would be enormous. As I and others have already written, the present situation is just about what people in elite Western circles can stomach. Any Russian escalation would seriously jeopardize European trade with Russia, among other things.

(3) There is a good chance that Crimea will eventually be internationally recognized as part of the RF (a British parliamentary report on this matter in 2015, I think it was, made this quite clear). The same might also be true of the Donbass. These "acquisitions," too, would be jeopardized by more military action.

Swedish Family , December 19, 2017 at 9:56 pm GMT
@Art Deco

You mean Putin mercs kill more Ukrainian civilians and we 'take some of the sting out of the 'Ukraine is a victim narrative'? Sounds like a plan.

No, I wrote that those civilians are already gone and that both sides had a hand in their deaths, which will help the peace process since no side can claim sole victimhood.

And your assumption that the separatists are mercenaries is groundless speculation. Estimations are that well over half of the separatists are born and bred in Ukraine, and there is no evidence to suggest that they are fighting for the love of money.

Did you cc the folks in Ramallah and Jerusalem about that?

Risible comparison. Theirs is a conflict involving three major religions and the survival of the Israeli state at stake. On the Crimean question, we have already heard influential Westerners voice the possibility that it might one day be accepted as Russian, and if you read between the lines, many Ukrainians are of a similiar mind.

Anatoly Karlin , Website December 20, 2017 at 12:19 am GMT
@Felix Keverich Unfortunately, the Ukraine has been spending 5%* of its GDP on the military since c.2015 (versus close to 1% before 2014).

Doesn't really matter if tons of money continues to be stolen, or even the recession – with that kind of raw increase, a major enhancement in capabilities is inevitable.

As I was already writing in 2016 :

Like it or not, but outright war with Maidanist Ukraine has been ruled out from the beginning, as the more perceptive analysts like Rostislav Ischenko have long recognized. If there was a time and a place for it, it was either in April 2014, or August 2014 at the very latest. Since then, the Ukrainian Army has gotten much stronger. It has been purged of its "Russophile" elements, and even though it has lost a substantial percentage of its remnant Soviet-era military capital in the war of attrition with the LDNR, it has more than made up for it with wartime XP gain and the banal fact of a quintupling in military spending as a percentage of GDP from 1% to 5%.

This translates to an effective quadrupling in absolute military spending, even when accounting for Ukraine's post-Maidan economic collapse.

Russia can still crush Ukraine in a full-scale conventional conflict, and that will remain the case for the foreseeable future, but it will no longer be the happy cruise to the Dnepr that it would have been two years earlier.

* There's a report that says actual Ukrainian military spending remained rather more modest at 2.5% of GDP ( https://www.osw.waw.pl/sites/default/files/prace_66_ang_best_army_ukraine_net.pdf ); even so, that still translates to huge improvements over 2014.

AP , December 20, 2017 at 12:26 am GMT
@Felix Keverich

The entire Ukrainian army is around 200.000 men, including the navy (LOL), the airforce, but most of it isn't combat ready.

250,000. Combat readiness is very different from 2014.

Ukraine doesn't just suffer from a lack of manpower, they don't have the resources to feed and clothe their soldiers, which limits their ability field an army.

Again, it isn't 2014 anymore. Military budget has increased significantly, from 3.2 billion in 2015 to 5.17 billion in 2017. In spite of theft, much more is getting through.

By contrast the armies of people's republics have 40-60 thousand men – that's impressive level of mobilisation, and they achieved this without implementing draft

It's one of the only ways to make any money in the Republics, so draft is unnecessaary.

AP , December 20, 2017 at 12:35 am GMT
@Swedish Family

Estimations are that well over half of the separatists are born and bred in Ukraine, and there is no evidence to suggest that they are fighting for the love of money.

80% are natives. Perhaps as much as 90%. However, often it a way to make a meager salary in those territories, so there is a mercenary aspect to it. Lots of unemployed workers go into the Republic military.

Anatoly Karlin , Website December 20, 2017 at 12:35 am GMT
@Swedish Family

Estimations are that well over half of the separatists are born and bred in Ukraine, and there is no evidence to suggest that they are fighting for the love of money.

80% in 2014-15, to be precise; another 10% from the Kuban; 10% from Russia, the Russian world, and the world at large.

NAF salaries are good by post-2014 Donbass standards, but a massive cut for Russians – no Russian went there to get rich.

That said, I strongly doubt there will ever be international recognition of Crimea, let alone Donbass. Israel has by far the world's most influential ethnic lobby. Even NATO member Turkey hasn't gotten Northern Cyprus internationally recognized, so what exactly are the chances of the international community (read: The West) recognizing the claims of Russia, which is fast becoming established in Western minds as the arch-enemy of civilization?

AP , December 20, 2017 at 12:56 am GMT
@Anatoly Karlin Fascinating link. The numbers for the military budget are a lot lower than reported elsewhere.

Mobilization percentages by region:

"Among the leaders of the fourth and fifth wave of partial mobilisation were the Khmelnitsky, Dnipropetrovsk, Vinnytsia, Kirovohrad and Zaporizhia regions, as well as the city of Kyiv, whose mobilisation plan was fulfilled 80-100% (the record was Vinnytsia oblast, which achieved 100% mobilisation). At the opposite extreme are the Kharkiv, Chernivtsi, Donetsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lugansk, Sumy, Ternopil and Transcarpathian regions, where the results of the mobilisation varied from 25 to 60%."

Summary:

2014:

The true face of the Ukrainian armed forces was revealed by the Russian annexation of Crimea and the first weeks of the war in the Donbas – they were nothing more than a fossilised structure, unfit for any effective function upon even a minimum engagement with the enemy, during which a significant part of the troops only realised whom they were representing in the course of the conflict and more than once, from the perspective of service in one of the post-Soviet military districts, they chose to serve in the Russian army

2017:

The war in the Donbas shaped the Ukrainian army. It gave awareness and motivation to the soldiers, and forced the leadership of the Defence Ministry and the government of the state to adapt the army's structure – for the first time since its creation – to real operational needs, and also to bear the costs of halting the collapses in the fields of training and equipment, at least to such an extent which would allow the army to fight a close battle with the pro-Russian separatists. Despite all these problems, the Ukrainian armed forces of the year 2017 now number 200,000, most of whom have come under fire, and are seasoned in battle. They have a trained reserve ready for mobilisation in the event of a larger conflict*; their weapons are not the latest or the most modern, but the vast majority of them now work properly; and they are ready for the defence of the vital interests of the state (even if some of the personnel still care primarily about their own vested interests). They have no chance of winning a potential military clash with Russia, but they have a reason to fight. The Ukrainian armed forces of the year 2014, in a situation where their home territory was occupied by foreign troops, were incapable of mounting an adequate response. The changes since the Donbas war started mean that Ukraine now has the best army it has ever had in its history.

* The Ukrainian armed forces have an operational reserve of 130,000 men, relatively well trained and with real combat experience, who since 2016 have been moulded out of veterans of the Donbas (as well as from formations subordinate to the Interior Ministry). It must be stressed, however, that those counted in the reserve represent only half of the veterans of the anti-terrorist operation (by October 2016, 280,000 Ukrainians had served in the Donbas in all formations subordinate to the government in Kyiv, with 266,000 reservists gaining combat status; at the beginning of February 2017, 193,400 reservists were in the armed forces). Thanks to that, at least in terms of the human factor, it should be possible in a relatively short period of time to increase the Ukrainian army's degree of combat readiness, as well as to fight a relatively close battle with a comparable opponent, something the Ukrainian armed forces were not capable of doing at the beginning of 2014.

AP , December 20, 2017 at 1:21 am GMT
@Anatoly Karlin

NAF salaries are good by post-2014 Donbass standards, but a massive cut for Russians – no Russian went there to get rich.

Which further points to the critical role played by Russians. Many of the local volunteers are participating because doing so offers a salary, which is very important in a wrecked, sanctioned Donbas. The Russian 10%-20% are motivated, often Chechen combat vets. They are more important than their % indicates.

Gerard2 , December 20, 2017 at 2:33 am GMT
@Gerard2 ..and lets not forget the failure in mobilisation from the Ukrainian military

That and having to hire loads of Georgians, Chechens, Poles and other mercenaries. Pretty much tallys perfectly with the failed shithole Ukraine government structure full of everyone else .but Ukrainians

melanf , December 20, 2017 at 5:16 am GMT
Amazing – almost any discussion in this section turns to хохлосрач (ukrohitstorm)
neutral , December 20, 2017 at 8:39 am GMT
@melanf What is almost incomprehensible for me in these endless Russia vs Ukraine arguments is how they (yes both sides) always ignore the real issues and instead keep on raising relatively petty points while thinking that mass non white immigration and things like the EU commissioner of immigration stating openly that Europe needs endless immigration, are not important.

It's like white South Africans who still debate the Boer war or the Irish debate the northern Ireland question, and are completely oblivious to the fact that these things don't matter anymore if you have an entirely new people ruling your land (ok in South Africa they were not new, but you know what I mean).

melanf , December 20, 2017 at 10:54 am GMT
@Swedish Family

Estimations are that well over half of the separatists are born and bred in Ukraine

much more than half. Donbass rebels: soldiers of the detachment of "Sparta". Data published by Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine:

https://imgur.com/a/Gh8zx

TT , December 20, 2017 at 12:05 pm GMT
I have read a article mentioned something like Putin said, to annexed whole Ukraine means to share the enormous resource wealth of vast Russia land with them, which make no economic sense. If Russia is worst than Ukraine, then there won't be million of Ukrainian migrating over after the Maidan coup.

So are all those Baltic states. Russia don't want these countries as it burden, it is probably only interested in selected strategic areas like the Eastern Ukraine industrial belt and military important Crimea warm water deep seaport, and skilled migrants. Ukraine has one of lowest per capital income now, with extreme corrupted politicians controlled by USNato waging foolish civil war killing own people resulting in collapsing economic and exudes of skilled people.

What it got to lose to unify with Russia to have peace, prosperity and been a nation of a great country instead of poor war torn? Plus a bonus of free Russia market access, unlimited cheap natural gas and pipeline toll to tax instead of buying LNG from US at double price.

Sorry this s just my opinion based on mostly fake news we are fed, only the Ukrainian know the best and able to decde themselves.

Randal , December 20, 2017 at 12:59 pm GMT
@Swedish Family

Agreed, and he happens to be in the right here. Russia actually has a good hand in Ukraine, if only she keeps her cool. More military adventurism is foolish for at least three reasons:

Yes, this is my view also. I think Russia was never in a position to do much more than it has, and those who talk about more vigorous military interference are just naïve, or engaging in wishful thinking, about the consequences. I think Putin played a very bad hand as well as could reasonably be expected in Ukraine and Crimea. No doubt mistakes were made, and perhaps more support at the key moment for the separatists (assassinations of some of the key oligarchs who chose the Ukrainian side and employed thugs to suppress the separatists in eastern cities, perhaps) could have resulted in a better situation now with much more of the eastern part of Ukraine separated, but if Russians want someone to blame for the situation in Ukraine apart from their enemies, they should look at Yanukovich, not Putin.

In the long run, it seems likely the appeal of NATO and the EU (assuming both still even exist in their current forms in a few years time) is probably peaking, but strategic patience and only limited covert and economic interference is advisable.

The return of Crimea to Russia alone has been a dramatic improvement in the inherent stability of the region. A proper division of the territory currently forming the Ukraine into a genuine Ukrainian nation in the west and an eastern half returned to Russia would be the ideal long term outcome, but Russia can surely live with a neutralised Ukraine.

Felix Keverich , December 20, 2017 at 1:18 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin

There's a report that says actual Ukrainian military spending remained rather more modest at 2.5% of GDP ( https://www.osw.waw.pl/sites/default/files/prace_66_ang_best_army_ukraine_net.pdf ); even so, that still translates to huge improvements over 2014.

You realise that Ukraine's GDP declined in dollar terms by a factor of 2-3 times, right? A bigger share of a smaller economy translates into the same paltry sum. It is still under $5 billion.

Futhermore an army that's actively deployed and engaged in fighting spends more money than during peacetime. A lot of this money goes to fuel, repairs, providing for soldiers and their wages rather than qualitatively improving capabilities of the army.

The bottom-line is Ukraine spent the last 3,5 years preparing to fight a war against the People's Republic of Donetsk. I'll admit Ukrainian army can hold its own against the People's Republic of Donetsk. Yet it remains hopelessly outmatched in a potential clash with Russia. A short, but brutal bombing campaign can whipe out Ukrainian command and control, will make it impossible to mount any kind of effective defence. Ukrainian conscripts have no experience in urban warfare, and their national loyalties are unclear.

AP predicts that the cities of Kharkov, Dniepropetrovsk will be reduced to something akin to Aleppo. But it has taken 3 years of constant shelling to cause the damage in Aleppo. A more likely outcome is that Ukrainian soldiers will promptly ditch their uniforms, once they realise the Russian are coming and their command is gone.

Anatoly Karlin , Website December 20, 2017 at 1:32 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich Nominal GDP collapsed, but real GDP only fell by around 20%. This matters more, since the vast majority of Ukrainian military spending occurs in grivnas.

By various calculations, Ukrainian military spending went up from 1% of GDP, to 2.5%-5%. Minus 20%, that translates to a doubling to quadrupling.

What it does mean is that they are even less capable of paying for advanced weapons from the West than before, but those were never going to make a cardinal difference anyway.

AP is certainly exaggerating wrt Kharkov looking like Aleppo and I certainly didn't agree with him on that. In reality Russia will still be able to smash the Ukraine, assuming no large-scale American intervention, but it will no longer be the trivial task it would have been in 2014, and will likely involve thousands as opposed to hundreds (or even dozens) of Russian military deaths in the event of an offensive up to the Dnieper.

Felix Keverich , December 20, 2017 at 1:50 pm GMT
@AP

It's one of the only ways to make any money in the Republics, so draft is unnecessaary.

It's not like the regime-controlled parts of the country are doing much better! LOL

My point is that this bodes well for our ability to recruit proxies in Ukraine, don't you think? We could easily assemble another 50.000-strong local army, once we're in Kharkov. That's the approach I would use in Ukraine: strip away parts of it piece by piece, create local proxies, use them to maintain control and absorb casualties in the fighting on the ground.

Mr. Hack , December 20, 2017 at 1:52 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin

In reality Russia will still be able to smash the Ukraine, assuming no large-scale American intervention, but it will no longer be the trivial task it would have been in 2014, and will likely involve thousands as opposed to hundreds (or even dozens) of Russian military deaths in the event of an offensive up to the Dnieper.

Fortunately, we'll not be seeing a replay of the sacking and destruction of Novgorod as was done in the 15th century by Ivan III, and all of its ugly repercussions in Ukraine. Besides, since the 15th century, we've seen the emergence of three separate nationalities out of the loose amalgamation of principalities known a Rus. Trying to recreate something (one Rus nation) out of something that never in effect existed, now in the 21st century is a ridiculous concept at best.

AP , December 20, 2017 at 1:58 pm GMT

"It's one of the only ways to make any money in the Republics, so draft is unnecessaary."

It's not like the regime-controlled parts of the country are doing much better! LOL

Well, they are, at least in the center and west. Kievans don't volunteer to fight because they have no other way of making money. But you probably believe the fairytale that Ukraine is in total collapse, back to the 90s.

We could easily assemble another 50.000-strong local army, once we're in Kharkov.

If in the process of taking Kharkiv the local economy goes into ruin due to wrecked factories and sanctions so that picking up a gun is the only way to feed one's family for some people, sure. But again, keep in mind that Kharkiv is much less pro-Russian than Donbas so this could be more complicated.

Art Deco , December 20, 2017 at 2:01 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin How so? Poland and France (together around equal to Germany's population) worked out perfectly for Nazi Germany.

You're forgetting a few things. In the United States, about 1/3 of the country's productive capacity was devoted to the war effort during the period running from 1940 to 1946. I'll wager you it was higher than that in Britain and continental Europe. That's what Germany was drawing on to attempt to sustain its holdings for just the 4-5 year period in which they occupied France and Poland. (Russia currently devotes 4% of its productive capacity to the military). Germany had to be exceedingly coercive as well. They were facing escalating partisan resistance that whole time (especially in the Balkans).

Someone whose decisions matter is going to ask the question of whether it's really worth the candle.

AP , December 20, 2017 at 2:07 pm GMT
@Art Deco Thanks for the correction. This suggests that transforming Iraq into a solidly pro-Western stable democracy would have been much harder than doing so for Japan. This I think would have been the only legitimate reason to invade in Iraq in 2003 (WMDs weren't there, and in 2003 the regime was not genocidal as it had been decades earlier when IMO an invasion would have been justified)

Again, much of Iraq is quiet and has been for a decade. What's not would be the provinces where Sunnis form a critical mass. Their political vanguards are fouling their own nest and imposing costs on others in the vicinity, such as the country's Christian population and the Kurds living in mixed provinces like Kirkuk.

Correct, but most of this have been the case had the Baathists remained in power?

You've seen severe internal disorders in the Arab world over 60 years in Algeria, Libya, the Sudan, the Yemen, the Dhofar region of Oman, Lebanon, Syria, and central Iraq.

Which is why one ought to either not invade a country and remove a regime that maintains stability and peace, or if one does so – take on the responsibility of investing massive effort and treasure in order to prevent the inevitable chaos and violence that would erupt as a result of one's invasion.

Felix Keverich , December 20, 2017 at 2:08 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin To be honest, I don't think it'll be necessary to sacrifice so many lives of Russian military personnel. Use LDNR army: transport them to Belgorod and with Russians they could move to take Kharkov, while facing minimal opposition. Then move futher to the West and South until the entire Ukrainian army in Donbass becomes encircled at which point they will likely surrender.

After supressing Ukrainian air-defence, our airforce should be able to destroy command and control, artillery, armoured formations, airfields, bridges over Dnieper, other infrustructure. Use the proxies to absord casualties in the fighting on the ground.

Andrei Martyanov , Website December 20, 2017 at 2:13 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin

but it will no longer be the happy cruise to the Dnepr that it would have been two years earlier.

Anatoly, please, don't write on things you have no qualification on writing. You can not even grasp the generational (that is qualitative) abyss which separates two armed forces. The question will not be in this:

but it will no longer be the happy cruise to the Dnepr that it would have been two years earlier.

By the time the "cruising" would commence there will be no Ukrainian Army as an organized formation or even units left–anything larger than platoon will be hunted down and annihilated. It is really painful to read this, honestly. The question is not in Russian "ambition" or rah-rah but in the fact that Ukraine's armed forces do not posses ANY C4ISR capability which is crucial for a dynamics of a modern war. None. Mopping up in the East would still be much easier than it would be in Central, let alone, Western Ukraine but Russia has no business there anyway. More complex issues were under consideration than merely probable losses of Russian Army when it was decided (rightly so) not to invade.

I will open some "secret"–nations DO bear collective responsibility and always were subjected to collective punishment -- latest example being Germany in both WWs -- the bacillus of Ukrainian "nationalism" is more effectively addressed by letting those moyahataskainikam experience all "privileges" of it. In the end, Russia's resources were used way better than paying for mentally ill country. 2019 is approaching fast.

P.S. In all of your military "analysis" on Ukraine one thing is missing leaving a gaping hole–Russian Armed Forces themselves which since 2014 were increasing combat potential exponentially. Ukies? Not so much–some patches here and there. Russian Armed Forces of 2018 are not those of 2013. Just for shits and giggles check how many Ratnik sets have been delivered to Russian Army since 2011. That may explain to you why timing in war and politics is everything.

AP , December 20, 2017 at 2:23 pm GMT
@Anatoly Karlin

Nominal GDP collapsed, but real GDP only fell by around 20%.

About 16% from 2013 to 2015 when Ukraine hit bottom:

https://www.worldeconomics.com/GrossDomesticProduct/Ukraine.gdp

AP is certainly exaggerating wrt Kharkov looking like Aleppo and I certainly didn't agree with him on that.

I wrote that parts of the city would look like that. I don't think there would be enough massive resistance that the entire city would be destroyed. But rooting out a couple thousand armed, experienced militiamen or soldiers in the urban area would cause a lot of expensive damage and, as is the case when civilians died in Kiev's efforts to secure Donbas, would probably not endear the invaders to the locals who after all do not want Russia to invade them.

And Kharkiv would be the easiest to take. Dnipropetrovsk would be much more Aleppo-like, and Kiev Felix was proposing for Russia to take all these areas.

Andrei Martyanov , Website December 20, 2017 at 2:31 pm GMT
@Felix Keverich

To be honest, I don't think it'll be necessary to sacrifice so many lives of Russian military personnel.

The question is not in losses, per se. Russians CAN accept losses if the deal becomes hot in Ukraine–it is obvious. The question is in geopolitical dynamics and the way said Russian Armed Forces were being honed since 2013, when Shoigu came on-board and the General Staff got its mojo returned to it. All Command and Control circuit of Ukie army will be destroyed with minimal losses if need be, and only then cavalry will be let in. How many Russian or LDNR lives? I don't know, I am sure GOU has estimates by now. Once you control escalation (Russia DOES control escalation today since can respond to any contingency) you get way more flexibility (geo)politcally. Today, namely December 2017, situation is such that Russia controls escalation completely. If Ukies want to attack, as they are inevitably forced to do so, we all know what will happen. Ukraine has about a year left to do something. Meanwhile considering EU intentions to sanction Poland, well, we are witnessing the start of a major shitstorm.

Mr. Hack , December 20, 2017 at 2:45 pm GMT

Most ukrops even admit that Kharkov could easily have gone in 2014, if Russia had wanted it/feasible

Really? So why didn't Russia take Kharkiv then? Why wan't it 'feasible', Mr.Know it All?

Gerard2 , December 20, 2017 at 2:48 pm GMT
@Mr. Hack

Trying to recreate something (one Rus nation) out of something that never in effect existed, now in the 21st century is a ridiculous concept at best.

A stupid comment for an adult. Ukraine, in effect never existed before Russia/Stalin/Lenin created it. Kiev is a historical Russian city, and 5 of the 7 most populated areas in Ukraine are Russian/Soviet created cities, Russian language is favourite spoken by most Ukrainians ( see even Saakashvili in court, speaking only in Russian even though he speaks fluent Ukrainian now and all the judges and lawyers speaking in Russian too), the millions of Ukrainians living happily in Russia and of course, the topic of what exactly is a Ukrainian is obsolete because pretty much every Ukrainian has a close Russian relative the level of intermarriage was at the level of one culturally identical people.

AK: Improvement! The first paragraph was acceptable, hence not hidden.

Gerard2 , December 20, 2017 at 2:52 pm GMT
@Mr. Hack economics, hope that the west and their puppets in Kiev would act like sane and decent people, threat of sanctions and so on.

As is obvious, if the west had remained neutral ( an absurd hypothetical because the west were the ringmasters of the farce in this failed state) ..and not supported the coup and then the evil war brought on the Donbass people, then a whole different situation works out in Ukraine ( for the better)

AP , December 20, 2017 at 3:17 pm GMT
@Gerard2

Kharkov always was and will be as pro-Russian as Donbass

Kharkiv oblast: 71% Ukrainian, 26% Russian
Donetsk oblast: 57% Ukrainian, 38% Russian (skews more Russian in the Donbas Republic parts)

Self-declared native language Kharkiv oblast: 54% Ukrainian, 44% Russian
Self-declared native language Donetsk oblast: 24% Ukrainian, 75% Russian

(not the same thing as language actually spoken, but a decent reflection of national self-identity)

2012 parliamentary election results (rounding to nearest %):

Kharkiv oblast: 62% "Blue", 32% "Orange" – including 4% Svoboda
Donetsk oblast – 84% "Blue", 11% "Orange" – including 1% Svoboda

A good illustration of Russian wishful thinking fairytales compared to reality on the ground.

S3 , December 20, 2017 at 3:23 pm GMT
@S3 Nietzsche famously foresaw the rise and fall of communism and the destruction of Germany in the two world wars. He also liked to think of himself as a Polish nobleman. Maybe this is what he meant.
Gerard2 , December 20, 2017 at 7:25 pm GMT
@AP Kharkiv oblast: 71% Ukrainian, 26% Russian
Donetsk oblast: 57% Ukrainian, 38% Russian (skews more Russian in the Donbas Republic parts)
gT , December 21, 2017 at 7:34 am GMT
Its very amusing reading all the comments so far. But reality is that Russia should take back all the lands conquered by the Tsars, and that includes Finland.

Look at America. Currently the US has troops stationed in other countries all over the world. And most of those "independent" countries can't take virtually no decision without America's approval. This is definitely the case with Germany and Japan, where their "presidents" have to take an oath of loyalty to the US on assuming office. Now America has even moved into Eastern Europe, and has troops and radars and nuclear capable missile batteries stationed there. So America is just expanding and expanding its grasp while Russia must contract its territories even further and further. Yippee.

So Russia must take back all the territories conquered by the Tsars so as to not lose this game of monopoly. Those in those territories not too happy about such matters can move to America or deal with the Red Army. This is not a matter of cost benefits analysis but a matter of Russia's national security, as in the case of Chechnya.

The territories to Russia's East are especially necessary for Russia's security; when the chips are down, when all the satellites have been blown out of space, all the aircraft blown out of the air, all the ground hardware blown to smithereens; when the battle is reduced to eye to eye rat like warfare, then those assorted Mongol mongrels from Russia's East come into their element. Genghis Khan was the biggest mass murderer in history, he made Hitler look like a school boy, his genes live on in those to Russia's East. So if America were to get involved in Ukraine Russia would have no issues losing a million troops in a matter of days while the US has never even lost a million troops in its civil war and WW2 combined.

Lets face it, those Mongol mongrels make much better fighters than the effete Sunni Arabs any day, so Russia should get them on her side. In Syria those ISIS idiots would never have got as far as they did were it not for those few Chechens in their midst's.

But alas, Russia has to eat humble pie at the moment, internationally and at the Olympics. But humble pie tastes good when its washed down with bottles of vodka, and its only momentarily after all.

Art Deco , December 21, 2017 at 10:50 am GMT
@gT Look at America. Currently the US has troops stationed in other countries all over the world.

Since 1945, between 70% and 87% of American military manpower has been stationed in the United States and its possession. The vast bulk of the remainder is generally to be found in about a half-dozen countries. (In recent years, that would be Germany, Japan, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kuwait). Andrew Bacevich once went on a whinge about the stupidity of having a 'Southern Command' without bothering to tell his readers that the Southern Command had 2,000 billets at that time, that nearly half were stationed at Guantanamo Bay (an American possession since 1902), that no country had more than 200 American soldiers resident, and that the primary activity of the Southern Command was drug interdiction. On the entire African continent, there were 5,000 billets at that time.

And most of those "independent" countries can't take virtually no decision without America's approval. This is definitely the case with Germany and Japan, where their "presidents" have to take an oath of loyalty to the US on assuming office.

This is a fantasy.

Art Deco , December 21, 2017 at 10:52 am GMT
@gT Why not post sober?
gT , December 21, 2017 at 4:05 pm GMT
@Art Deco Fantasy?

Read here about Merkel obeying her real masters

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/editorial-merkel-has-left-germans-high-and-dry-a-911425.html

and read here about "BERLIN IS WASHINGTON'S VASSAL UNTIL 2099″

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-183232

I especially like the bit about "Though most of the German officers were not originally inclined against America, a lot of them being educated in the United States, they are now experiencing disappointment and even disgust with Washington's policies."

Seems its not only the Russians who are getting increasingly pissed off with the US when at first they actually liked the US. No wonder the Germans are just letting their submarines and tanks rot away.

Also https://www.veteranstodayarchives.com/2011/06/05/germany-still-under-the-control-of-foreign-powers/
(damn South Africans popping up everywhere)

[Dec 16, 2017] Canada takes initiative among NATO countries in deciding to provide heavy weapons to Ukraine

Dec 16, 2017 | www.newcoldwar.org

Canada has taken a lead among NATO countries in approving heavy weapons sales to the government and armed forces of Ukraine. The Liberal Party government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision on December 13.

The U.S. government is poised to make a similar decision .

The decision by Washington's junior partner in Ottawa is a blow to human rights organizations and others in the U.S. and internationally who argue that increasing the arms flow to the regime in Kyiv will only escalate Ukraine's violence against the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine was compelled to sign the 'Minsk-2' ceasefire and peace agreement on Feb 12, 2015. Germany and France endorsed the agreement and have pretended to stand by it. But Ukraine has violated Minsk-2 ( text here ) ever since its signing, with impunity from Kyiv's allies in western Europe and North America.

Minsk-2 was endorsed by the UN Security Council on Feb 17, 2015. That shows the regard which NATO members such as the U.S. and Canada attach to the world body -- the UN it is a useful tool when it can be manipulated to serve their interests, otherwise it is an annoyance to be ignored. Witness their boycotting of the UN General Assembly discussion (and eventual adoption) on July 7, 2017 of the Treaty on the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons .

[Dec 12, 2017] Saakashvii troubles: the reliability of Western support for him in under question

Notable quotes:
"... straight from the lips of Pavlo Munchkin. The west will not react to Saakashvili's detention , and considers it to be an internal Ukrainian matter. So Kiev can make up whatever wild charges it wants, and Uncle Sam will not ride to the rescue. Saakashvili has apparently outlived his usefulness. ..."
"... Well, indeed, it looks like the collective West decided to just say to poor, ageing, clumsy Mishiko "I know thee not, old man!". The ritualistic spitting and trampling of Saakasvhili effigy in the Freest Press in the World (Western one) will commence soon enough. But before that – a quick reminder of what they were saying, before re-alignment of the winds, blowing from Washington's ObCom. ..."
"... "AFTER the Maidan revolution and the start of the Russian war against Ukraine in 2014, Western policy had two aims: to halt and punish Russian aggression and to help Ukraine become a democratic state governed by the rule of law. America imposed sanctions on Russia, ordered the president, Petro Poroshenko, to establish an anti-corruption force and sent Joe Biden, then vice-president, on repeated visits to insist on fighting graft. The EU imposed sanctions on Russia, and made support for civil-society and the rule of law a linchpin of the association agreement it signed with Ukraine in 2014. ..."
"... In that light, the news out of Ukraine over the past few weeks has been dire. The country's prosecutor-general has disrupted investigations by its National Anti-corruption Bureau, with the apparent consent of Mr Poroshenko. The interior minister has intervened to protect his son from similar scrutiny. Officers in the security service, the SBU, have tried to arrest Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president turned Ukrainian corruption-fighter, only to be driven back by protesters. Prosecutors are targeting anti-corruption activists; the army, interior-ministry troops and private militias work at cross-purposes, answering to different politicians or oligarchs . Mr Poroshenko's government has been seriously weakened. ..."
"... "To some Europeans and Americans, this picture suggests that their efforts to persuade Ukraine to turn over a new leaf were always doomed to fail. That is a misreading. In fact, the recent chaos in Ukraine comes in part because in the past year, especially since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Europe and America have eased the pressure. If they do not restore their commitment to defending anti-corruption reforms, Ukraine risks sinking back into the morass from which it tried to extricate itself with Maidan. ..."
"... Ukraine's grubby politicians and oligarchs have tried to frustrate Western aims without openly defying them (see article ). Partly as a result, policy under Mr Trump has lost its focus on fighting graft. Kurt Volker, the American envoy to Ukraine, works on external security; America may soon sell the country lethal weapons for the first time. But when the State Department complains about corruption, it is ignored -- because (unlike Mr Biden) the White House offers it no support. As for the EU, few believe it would jeopardise its association agreement with Ukraine for the sake of the rule of law. So, the country's elite no longer fears attacking investigators and activists." ..."
"... "Lay off the pay-offs ..."
"... If they succeed in ending the attempts to fight graft, it will be a disaster for Ukraine -- and a step back for Europe and America, too. The country is the focal point of the West's conflict with Russia. Weak and divided, it is vulnerable to Russian encroachment, especially if Vladimir Putin decides he needs to fire up patriotic Russian voters. Chaos would also buttress Mr Putin's claim that the West's aims in Ukraine are purely anti-Russian and have nothing to do with democracy or the rule of law. All this would undermine the rules-based global order, with consequences in the South China Sea and elsewhere. ..."
"... Now that Ukraine is defying complaints by America's State Department and the EU's foreign-policy arm, it is vital that America and Europe use every tool at their disposal to support corruption-fighters in Kiev. The EU should make plain that the benefits of the association pact depend on progress against graft; America should attach the same conditions to arms sales. Prosecutors in Western capitals should investigate the laundering of ill-gotten Ukrainian wealth. Support for Ukraine's territorial integrity should not involve tolerance for the lack of integrity among its politicians." ..."
Dec 12, 2017 | marknesop.wordpress.com

Warren , December 10, 2017 at 8:26 pm

Al Jazeera English
Published on 9 Dec 2017
SUBSCRIBE 1.7M
He was the president of Georgia, then a governor in Ukraine, and now he's in jail on hunger strike.

The arrest, and re-arrest, of Mikhail Saakashvii in Kiev has stirred protests which evoke memories of the Ukrainian revolution three years ago.

Saakashvili's supporters say his detention is based on lies and they want him let go. They already freed him once earlier this week – from a police van.

Tuesday's dramatic scenes saw a former president being dragged across a roof. Police arrested him for allegedly conspiring with Russia against the Ukrainian state. Saakashvili then escaped custody, before police tracked him down again on Friday. The former Georgian leader says his arrest is politically motivated.

But is it really?

Presenter: Sami Zeidan

Guests:

Alexander Korman – Former Head of the Public Council and First Deputy Chairman of Public Council to the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Ukraine.
Sergey Markov – Former Russian MP & spokesman for President Vladimir Putin.
Lilit Gevorgyan – IHS Global Insigh tanalyst and principal economist covering Russia & Ukraine.

marknesop , December 9, 2017 at 9:34 pm
Aaaaand there you have it, folks, straight from the lips of Pavlo Munchkin. The west will not react to Saakashvili's detention , and considers it to be an internal Ukrainian matter. So Kiev can make up whatever wild charges it wants, and Uncle Sam will not ride to the rescue. Saakashvili has apparently outlived his usefulness.

I don't really feel sorry for him, because I've always thought he was a twat and his preening over being the golden child of Washington was sickening. In fact, he probably deserves whatever happens to him, although I expect the west will make some kind of private deal to get him out on the promise that he will stay out of Ukraine. Where he will go then is anyone's guess, since he is a stateless person with no citizenship. But it is significant to note how much weight Ukraine still swings with the west, even though Europe is getting impatient about its hamfisted anti-corruption charade. Kiev just said "Stay out of it", and the west retired smartly.

I think you will agree that is hardly a climate in which Poroshenko will feel moved to do anything much about corruption beyond making a lot of noise and promises.

Lyttenburgh , December 10, 2017 at 12:36 am
Well, indeed, it looks like the collective West decided to just say to poor, ageing, clumsy Mishiko "I know thee not, old man!". The ritualistic spitting and trampling of Saakasvhili effigy in the Freest Press in the World (Western one) will commence soon enough. But before that – a quick reminder of what they were saying, before re-alignment of the winds, blowing from Washington's ObCom.

The Economist (Editorial): Ukraine is a mess; the West should press it harder to fight graft – Lay off the pay-offs
Drama in the streets is a sign of worsening corruption. Ukraine must notbe allowed to fail

Ukraine is a mess? Nooooo waaaaaay! Are you sure? Tell me more!

"AFTER the Maidan revolution and the start of the Russian war against Ukraine in 2014, Western policy had two aims: to halt and punish Russian aggression and to help Ukraine become a democratic state governed by the rule of law. America imposed sanctions on Russia, ordered the president, Petro Poroshenko, to establish an anti-corruption force and sent Joe Biden, then vice-president, on repeated visits to insist on fighting graft. The EU imposed sanctions on Russia, and made support for civil-society and the rule of law a linchpin of the association agreement it signed with Ukraine in 2014.

In that light, the news out of Ukraine over the past few weeks has been dire. The country's prosecutor-general has disrupted investigations by its National Anti-corruption Bureau, with the apparent consent of Mr Poroshenko. The interior minister has intervened to protect his son from similar scrutiny. Officers in the security service, the SBU, have tried to arrest Mikheil Saakashvili, the former Georgian president turned Ukrainian corruption-fighter, only to be driven back by protesters. Prosecutors are targeting anti-corruption activists; the army, interior-ministry troops and private militias work at cross-purposes, answering to different politicians or oligarchs . Mr Poroshenko's government has been seriously weakened. "

That's important part – keep it mind. But here comes the "meat" of the article! Good flunkies of Ed Lukas has found the answer to the eternal question "Whom to blame?" as pertains to the Ukraine and its current woes! Are you ready? Here it is:

"To some Europeans and Americans, this picture suggests that their efforts to persuade Ukraine to turn over a new leaf were always doomed to fail. That is a misreading. In fact, the recent chaos in Ukraine comes in part because in the past year, especially since the inauguration of President Donald Trump, Europe and America have eased the pressure. If they do not restore their commitment to defending anti-corruption reforms, Ukraine risks sinking back into the morass from which it tried to extricate itself with Maidan.

Ukraine's grubby politicians and oligarchs have tried to frustrate Western aims without openly defying them (see article ). Partly as a result, policy under Mr Trump has lost its focus on fighting graft. Kurt Volker, the American envoy to Ukraine, works on external security; America may soon sell the country lethal weapons for the first time. But when the State Department complains about corruption, it is ignored -- because (unlike Mr Biden) the White House offers it no support. As for the EU, few believe it would jeopardise its association agreement with Ukraine for the sake of the rule of law. So, the country's elite no longer fears attacking investigators and activists."

Trump! It is all Trump's fault! Because – surely! – under the watch of the President of Peace B. Obama and gramps Biden no dodgy things ever happened in the Ukraine, noooope! Biden (and his son) gonna defend this PO like lions! This also welcomes nasty question – aren't Mr. Poroshenko himself an oligarch, whose personal wealth skyrocketed since his election? And maybe – I'm not insisting, no-no – having lots of cash stashed in "Panama Papers Fund" precludes him from actually fighting corruption – and not, you know, the election of Trump? Heresy, I know!

But the articles goes from strength to strength, boldly skipping to the "What to do?" section. The solution is as brilliant and though-over as everything else in there:

"Lay off the pay-offs

If they succeed in ending the attempts to fight graft, it will be a disaster for Ukraine -- and a step back for Europe and America, too. The country is the focal point of the West's conflict with Russia. Weak and divided, it is vulnerable to Russian encroachment, especially if Vladimir Putin decides he needs to fire up patriotic Russian voters. Chaos would also buttress Mr Putin's claim that the West's aims in Ukraine are purely anti-Russian and have nothing to do with democracy or the rule of law. All this would undermine the rules-based global order, with consequences in the South China Sea and elsewhere.

Now that Ukraine is defying complaints by America's State Department and the EU's foreign-policy arm, it is vital that America and Europe use every tool at their disposal to support corruption-fighters in Kiev. The EU should make plain that the benefits of the association pact depend on progress against graft; America should attach the same conditions to arms sales. Prosecutors in Western capitals should investigate the laundering of ill-gotten Ukrainian wealth. Support for Ukraine's territorial integrity should not involve tolerance for the lack of integrity among its politicians."

Hahahahahhahahahhahahhahhahahahahaohmysidesarehurtinghahhahhahahahmakeitstophahahha

Nope. Your Russophobia is high (and you yourself dear Western elites are also high most of the time when it comes to Russia) that you will allow this unholy corrupt mess to persist. Because, really, you are not interested in "democracy" and "open society". Not at the prize of people electing someone, whose strings you cannot pull.

At the same time – this is "big: and "respectable" The Economist we are talking about. They smell the fire from the yet unlit tires of new Maidan. They are afraid . They know, that their "Operation: SHOWCASE" of turning Ukraine into a "democratic alternative to Russia" failed. They are in denial.

Oh, how sweet!

Cortes , December 10, 2017 at 2:08 am
The obligatory "rules-based global order" makes a tardy but welcome cameo appearance like an aging well-loved Thespian milking the audience for a final burst of applause before retirement. Great stuff!
Moscow Exile , December 10, 2017 at 6:25 am
Украинцы проголосовали за возвращение "преступного режима" Януковича

Ukrainians voted for a return of the "criminal regime" of Yanukovich
01:24 – 10.12.2017

Ninety-two percent of the audience of the Ukrainian TV channel "NewsOne" voted for the return of the regime of former President Viktor Yanukovych, reports the news portal "Politnavigator".

In Saturday's broadcast, viewers were asked to choose one of two options to answer the question "For whom would you vote: for the last criminal power or the current one?". Out of 46,686 people only eight per cent supported the policy of the current president, Petro Poroshenko.

On 23 October, the Centre for social studies "Sofia" published the results of a poll in which 79 percent of the population in varying degrees did not approve of Poroshenko being head of state: the answer "fully approve of the President" was chosen by only 1.6 percent.

On October 17, the Prosecutor General of the Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko, accused former president Viktor Yanukovich of embezzling assets worth $40 billion. According to the head of the supervisory authority, this was comparable with the annual budget of the country.

Yanukovych was President of the Ukraine from 2010 to 2014. After a violent regime change by means of the Euromaidan mass protests in Kiev and other cities, he left the country.

In the Ukraine, there have been initiated several criminal cases made against the former head of state and his property on the territory of the country has been seized.

marknesop , December 10, 2017 at 3:46 pm
There's a useful lesson there for someone: more than 90% – arguably; we have no way to know how scientific or representative this poll was – of the population does not support the current government, in a country that has considerable and recent practical experience of revolution. Yet the current government prevails with complete impunity, and even flaunts its contempt for accountability. How can these two realities coexist? Is it possible the violent nationalist element wields disproportionate influence, despite all the quacking about its low support in the polls and Russian exaggeration of its extremist beliefs?
Patient Observer , December 10, 2017 at 8:39 am
Can't vouch for the entire web site but this was interesting:

Baiting is the act of deliberately annoying or provoking someone to extreme emotion. When a person baits another, they are deliberately taunting in order to provoke a response from the offender's attack.

If you are a fisherman, it might be fun but if you're the fish -- or worse a worm squirming on a hook, being used to entice a predator to amuse? It's simply not as much fun for people who are the victims of any form of bait and switch attack.

Truly believing the world as they know it revolves around them, they tend to symptomatically behave in ways that are compulsively self-promoting, grandiose, illogical, irrational, egocentric, and grandiose.

Every social interaction is seen as a competition of sorts, with the Narcissist behaving as if their distorted, self-deluded version of any fact, story, or reality is somehow rooted in divine truth (rather than being recognized as a symptom of psychiatric dysfunction and outright gaslighting tales and lies).

The condition -- a personality TYPE classification, rather than an actual diagnosis of illness (per se) -- tends to be rooted in cultural nurturing, for the most part.

http://flyingmonkeysdenied.com/definition/baiting/

Warren , December 10, 2017 at 10:44 am
Can Neoliberalism Ever Go Away?

People all over the world are protesting against globalisation, inequality and selfishness. Democratic liberalism is supposed to solve these problems, but liberalism and its big brother neoliberalism are actually the cause of these problems. Furthermore, once a country has adopted neoliberalist policies it is very hard for it ever to reject them.

https://sputniknews.com/radio_brave_new_world/201707281055961487-can-neoliberalism-ever-go-away/

[Dec 09, 2017] Criticism of Ukraine's language law justified rights body by Alessandra Prentice

Paradoxically it was language question which by-and-large fueled Crimea secession and Donbass uprising. Now they decide to step on the same rake again.
If Ukraine strive to be like Canada and the part of EU why do not adopt English as an official language, to defuse the tensions relegating Ukrainian and Russian to the role of regional languages (which both of them now actually are). That will instantly diminish the influence of Russia and thus fulfill the main goal of Western Ukrainian nationalists who are in power after Maydan (at least partially). English is a great, cultural and scientifically dominant language now and countries like Canada enjoy full benefits of this situation. Because cultural and political influence of Russia is what Ukrainian nationalists are most afraid of. English is politically acceptable to them. That also will save money of textbooks and like, especially university level textbooks.
They now actually gave a powerful tool for Russia to further limit economic ties claiming discrimination of Russian speaking population. Not that Ukrainian nationalist care much about Russian reaction.
But Western Ukrainian nationalists have a penchant for making disastrous for the Ukrainian economy moves to feed their ambitions and stereotypes. Which led to the situation when Ukraine is just debt slave nation with limited sovereignty and huge problems due to impoverishment of population and decay of Soviet era infrastructure. Neoliberalism is not a friend of such countries as Ukraine, despite all population expectations after Maydan. They want to milk Ukraine, not to help. and they are very skillful in that as Ukraine probably leaned during 90th. This is what neoliberal " disaster capitalism " is about. In other words Ukraine which previously somehow managed to balance between West and East milking both, moved itself in the zugzwang position.
As for adoption of Ukrainian (which is a beautiful language, BTW), think what would happen if Canadian French nationalists managed to force French upon the county as official language while bordering with the USA (actually like in Ukraine where in western part of the country there are few people who do not speak Russian, there are few people in Canada who neither speak nor understand English)
It is critical now that the population can speak English because the markets for Ukraine now are in the West. Ukraine by and large lost Russian market. Probably for a long time.
Notable quotes:
"... "The less favorable treatment of these (non-EU) languages is difficult to justify and therefore raises issues of discrimination," it said. Language is a sensitive issue in Ukraine. ..."
"... After the pro-European Maidan uprising in 2014, the decision to scrap a law allowing some regions to use Russian as an official second language fueled anti-Ukrainian unrest in the east that escalated into a Russia-backed separatist insurgency. ..."
Dec 09, 2017 | www.reuters.com

Kiev has submitted the law for review by the Venice Commission, a body which rules on rights and democracy disputes in Europe and whose decisions member states, which include Ukraine, commit to respecting.

In an opinion adopted formally on Friday, the commission said it was legitimate for Ukraine to address inequalities by helping citizens gain fluency in the state language, Ukrainian.

"However, the strong domestic and international criticism drawn especially by the provisions reducing the scope of education in minority languages seems justified," it said in a statement.

It said the ambiguous wording of parts of the 'Article 7' legislation raised questions about how the shift to all-Ukrainian secondary education would be implemented while safeguarding the rights of ethnic minorities.

As of 2015, Ukraine had 621 schools that taught in Russian, 78 in Romanian, 68 in Hungarian and five in Polish, according to education ministry data. The commission said a provision in the new law to allow some subjects to be taught in official EU languages, such as Hungarian, Romanian and Polish, appeared to discriminate against speakers of Russian, the most widely used non-state language.

"The less favorable treatment of these (non-EU) languages is difficult to justify and therefore raises issues of discrimination," it said. Language is a sensitive issue in Ukraine.

After the pro-European Maidan uprising in 2014, the decision to scrap a law allowing some regions to use Russian as an official second language fueled anti-Ukrainian unrest in the east that escalated into a Russia-backed separatist insurgency.

[Dec 09, 2017] The West Backed the Wrong Man in Ukraine by Leonid Bershidsky

Poor Ukraine. It is now just a prey of major powers and other neoliberal predators, including transnational corporations. Each wants a fat piece. Looks after Poroshenko "revolt" against anti-corruption bureau prompted Washington to "switch horses during crossing the river" (which is very Tramp-style decision). A new favorite most probably is Timoshenko (about whom they have a lot of compromising material, so she will always be on the hook). When a neoliberals poodle like Aslund tweets " "President Poroshenko appears to have abandoned the fight against corruption, any ambition for economic growth, EU or IMF funding," you can be sure that Washington priorities now definitely changed. Such a brave man telling people the hard truth ;-) This guy would praise Poroshenko to skies, if that wouldn't be case. .. The message from Bershidsky handlers who ordered this "hit piece" is that same -- "The moor has done his duty, moor has to go". Such a hatchet job in MSM like Bloomberg, NYT or Wapo is usually done only under direct order from powers that be.
Re-appearance of Saakashvili with this farce of illegal crossing of the border (imagine this !) on the political scene is probably also orchestrated from Washington.
Formally Poroshenko is accused that he is trying to undermine the work of anti-corruption bureau controlled by FBI. The real situation might be that gradually Poroshenko probably understood that blind following of Washington political line is the road to nowhere and leads to further impoverishing of population. Also "independent" status of anti-corruption buro to a certain extent makes Ukrain a colony with colonial administration. Specifically it give FBI the possibility to persecute any Ukrainian politician. On the other hand Poroshenko also have far right nationalists sitting behind his back and they are probably not too exited by neoliberal reforms Poroshenko pursue. Standard of living in Ukraine dropped to the level when it corresponds to standard of living of some Central African countries -- less then $2 a day. It became a "sex shop" for Western Europeans, especially French. Most of prostitutes in Western Europe are Ukrainian woman. In other words both Ukraine and Poroshenko are now is zugzwang situation.
So in desperation Poroshenko probably started making some "unapproved" moves interfering with work of FBI controlled anti-corruption buro (which actually did not jail a single US citizen for corruption). Probably following Polish example of ' disobedience " to neoliberal dictate. A reaction followed.
Charges of corruption is such a classic tool of "color revolutions" that now it can be viewed as just a symbol of renewed attempt to interfere into Ukraine political life. A Washington Obcom dictate, if you wish. Actually corruption a little bit complicates looting of the country which if done by financial mechanisms as it means that in contracts Western companies have some disadvantage and need a local "roof" which negatively affects the profits.
Notable quotes:
"... He and his first prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, knew what the U.S. State Department and Vice President Joe Biden, who acted as the Obama administration's point man on Ukraine, wanted to hear. ..."
Dec 05, 2017 | www.bloomberg.com

President Petro Poroshenko is sacrificing Westernization to a personal political agenda.

It's become increasingly clear that Obama-era U.S. politicians backed the wrong people in Ukraine. President Petro Poroshenko's moves to consolidate his power now include sidelining the anti-corruption institutions he was forced to set up by Ukraine's Western allies.

Poroshenko, who had briefly served as Ukraine's foreign minister, looked worldlier than his predecessor, the deposed Viktor Yanukovych, and spoke passable English. He and his first prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, knew what the U.S. State Department and Vice President Joe Biden, who acted as the Obama administration's point man on Ukraine, wanted to hear. So, as Ukraine emerged from the revolutionary chaos of January and February 2014, the U.S., and with it the EU, backed Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk as Ukraine's next leaders. Armed with this support, not least with promises of major technical aid and International Monetary Fund loans, they won elections, posing as Westernizers who would lead Ukraine into Europe. But their agendas turned out to be more self-serving.

... ... ...

After a failed attempt