Tag Archives: Ukraine

A Question, by the Bionic Mosquito

As you can tell from the top of the page, SLL is partial to questions. This one comes from the Bionic Mosquito via lewrockwell.com (you’ll have to click through to the article to get the question):

During the Munich Security Conference a couple of weeks ago, news came out that Russia would recognize various documents issued by eastern Ukrainian authorities – in other words, from the separatist regions of Donbass.

“The decree stated clearly this was made out of humanitarian concerns…until Minsk agreements have been fulfilled. The presidential decree validated IDs of Donbass residents so that they could enter Russia legally and use Russian rail transport and air carriers,” [Sergei Lavrov] explained.

Given the hysteria about Russia and Ukraine, you would think this would cause all sorts of calamity during the Conference. Apparently not:

Lavrov said this issue had not been brought up during foreign ministers’ talks in the so-called Normandy Four format in Munich.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was all spun up about it:

“I informed [US Vice President Mike Pence] about the recent decision of President Putin to validate the passports of the occupied territories, the so-called LPR and DPR, for me it is yet another proof of Russia’s violation of international law,” Poroshenko told reporters after a meeting with Pence.

And Poroshenko’s discussion with Pence came just hours after Pence vowed to “hold Russia to account.”

I hadn’t thought about it much more until reading The Saker today, updating the situation:

Let’s sum all this up:

• The Urkonazis completely close down the unofficial border with Novorussia

•Russia recognizes Novorussian documents

• The DNR and LNR nationalize all the Ukrainian industry in the Donbass

• The Ukronazis declare that the line of contact is now to be considered a border

• The Novorussians declare that the Russian Ruble is the only legal currency in Novorussia

• The Novorussians will now export their entire production of coal/anthracite to Russia

• All the factories in Novorussia will no longer pay taxes to Kiev

There appears to be much more going on that mere recognition of documents.

To continue reading: A Question

 

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The Warlords of Kiev, by Justin Raimondo

The Ukrainian government needs more money from Uncle Sugar, so it’s violating a cease-fire and stirring up trouble with separatists in eastern Ukraine. The corrupt government knows it can always find stooges like John McCain and Lindsey Graham to carry water for it in Washington (christened Eunuchville in “Balls“).  From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

The warlords of Kiev are going on the offensive, violating the terms of the Minsk peace accords, and attacking separatist rebels in the eastern part of the country in a desperate bid to provoke open conflict with Russia. What motivates them is fear of President Donald Trump, who has often expressed a desire to “get along with Russia” and who has openly said Ukraine is not a vital US national security interest. What motivates their new aggression is the possibility that the US subsidies that have kept their vicious war on their own people going – 10,000 killed so far – will dry up.

Ever since US and European Union-backed shock troops overthrew the democratically elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych, the coup leaders in Kiev have waged a relentless war against their rebellious subjects in the east. As “President” Petro Poroshenko put it:

“We will have jobs, they won’t! We will have pensions, they won’t! We will have benefits for retirees and children, they won’t! Our kids will go to schools and daycares, their kids will sit in the basements! They can’t do anything about it… And only this is how we will win this war! “

To the great shame of American policymakers, the United States has backed this monster to the hilt, sending billions in “foreign aid” to what is no doubt the most corrupt country in Europe and even sending US soldiers to “train” Poroshenko’s killers. Yet even Washington’s propagandists at “Radio Free Europe” have reported that the Ukrainian army is responsible for the current upsurge in fighting:

“Since mid-December Ukraine’s armed forces have edged farther into parts of the gray zone in or near the war-worn cities of Avdiivka, Debaltseve, Dokuchaievsk, Horlivka, and Mariupol, shrinking the space between them and the separatist fighters.”

To continue reading: The Warlords of Kiev

 

Ukraine’s Problem Is Ukraine, by James D. Durso

Ukraine has critical problems that all the US financial aid and weaponry in the world won’t fix. In fact, they would probably make those problems worse. From James D. Durso at realcleardefense.com:

Ukraine’s government has hired Washington lobbyists to fix its problems with the Trump Administration, but would do better to fix its internal problems, instead. Ukraine’s problems are in four categories: a structural problem caused by the multiple overlapping entities involved in military strategy and procurement; the absence of a unified strategic vision for ordering equipment and supplies; a “Fifth Column” of pro-Russian officials; and a staggering corruption that divides the self-interest of the elites from the national interest.

A recent Rand study highlighted the deficiencies in the command structure of Ukraine’s security sector. Defense procurement particularly has several overlapping structures with no clear lines of authority or unity of command. The President, Prime Minister, Defense Ministry, General Staff and the infamous state-owned defense company, Ukroboronprom, compete against and undercut one another. Each entity produces its own wish list, driven more by impulse than strategy, and each entity has separate financial controls, opening the door to insider dealing and corrupt sales of government property.

In Ukraine, citizens are played for suckers: local militias fight to preserve home and liberty, while the leaders focus on procedure, personal prestige, and offshore bank accounts. Ukroboronprom is infamous for selling arms to the black market, and domestic contracts are given to factories indirectly owned by President Petro Poroshenko, who still hadn’t divested his business interests as he promised to do when he took office in 2014.

However, Ukraine’s political leaders are not fiddling while their country burns, they are busy stealing their military budgets — nearly half, in the estimate of a former Ukrainian senior military officer who requested not to be identified. They reason that when the rest of Ukraine is swallowed up by Russia, they will have a well-funded Plan B.

To continue reading: Ukraine’s Problem Is Ukraine

Being Ignored Can Be a Blessing, by Robert Gore

Billions of people around the globe would like Americans to put America first.

The largest infrastructure project in the world is China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, often referred to as the New Economic Silk Road. This effort spearheads the economic integration of the physical center of the world: the contiguous nations from China across Southeast and Central Asia, Russia, Belarus, Iran, and Turkey. The area has large percentages of the world’s land mass, population, and resources. Under construction is a huge network of new linkages: ports, roads, highways, high-speed rail lines, electricity transmission facilities, and petroleum pipelines.

To date China has also invested more than $51 billion in the countries along the present OBOR route. The new land rail routes will greatly reduce transportation costs across Eurasia, enable formerly isolated regions to connect efficiently to sea and land markets and ignite tremendous new economic growth across Eurasia.

“The Eurasian Century Is NOW Unstoppable,” William Engdahl, 10/11/16

US companies and US-led multinational institutions have been excluded from both the construction and financing, and the world’s reserve currency is getting the boot. Transactions are denominated in yuan and rubles, including oil and gas deals. Bye-bye petrodollar, the anchor for the dollar’s reserve status since Nixon abandoned the last dollar-gold link in 1971.

A LIGHT-HEARTED LOOK AT

THE DARK SIDE OF EMPIRE

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AMAZON PAPERBACK

KINDLE EBOOK

The war lobby ceaselessly conjures threats to US interests and conspiracies to dominate the world. All which must be met with US intervention—overt, covert, or both. How do you conjure a threat when a big part of the world decides to ignore you, who at best sees the US as irrelevant, at worst, a dangerous nuisance? One of life’s joys, all too rare, is telling self-important, pompous people that nobody cares what they do or say, or even if they live or die. It’s been a long time coming, but the rest of the world is starting to tell the US to keep its opinions and interventions to itself, and that’s a good thing for all concerned.

Two men who have caught the new mood are those Best Friends Forever, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. Putin watched the Soviet Union crumble, and Trump has been a vocal critic of the US’s Middle East follies. They both see the dark side of empire. Neither man has ever been accused of selfless concern for humanity. They are both unabashed proponents of national interests—putting America and Russia first—but they’ve redefined national interests in ways that vex the Western elite status quo.

Despite the best efforts of the US government and its mainstream media arm to portray Putin as bent on offensive expansion, to date his efforts outside of Russia have been directed towards securing what fair-minded observers would concede are vital interests. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine after a US-sponsored coup installed a hostile regime there. In a referendum, Crimean citizens voted overwhelmingly to leave Ukraine and join Russia. Sebastopol, on the western Black Sea coast of Crimea, is the Russian navy’s warm-water base.

Russia has provided aid to eastern Ukrainian separatists, who have Russian roots, speak Russian, and would prefer to be part of that country. Repeated references to a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine are a canard. If Russia had invaded Ukraine a Russian flag would fly above the capitol in Kiev. Putin regards a secure Ukraine as vital to Russian security, but he has no interest in assuming Ukraine’s ruinous debts or suppressing the pro-Europe and US western half of the country, and he has not annexed eastern Ukraine. Putin tolerates Ukraine’s current Western puppet government—it’s so incompetent and corrupt it poses little threat—but NATO incorporation, a goal of US neoconservatives, would be unacceptable.

Russia has maintained a naval base, Tartus, on Syria’s western Mediterranean coast since 1971. The Soviet Union and then Russia have been staunch allies of the successive autocratic regimes of father and son Hafez and Bashar al-Assad. Putin’s military moves have bolstered Bashar al-Assad against a rebel alliance seeking regime change, funded and supported by the US, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf monarchies, and until recently, Turkey. Russia’s regime preservation operation came at the request of Assad, Syria’s elected head of state. Whatever moral high ground there may be in this sad and bloody war, Russia has the better claim to it.

Syria has been disastrous for the US and its Europe allies, and they were excluded from the most recent cease-fire negotiations conducted between Syria, Turkey, Russia, and Iran, on the one side, and various rebel groups on the other. This drives US interventionists crazy. Being ignored is inconceivable and unacceptable, but what can you do other nations choose to do so and you cannot impose your will? Tellingly, the new Trump administration, presumably less interventionist, has been invited to the negotiations.

There are billions of people who wish they could ignore, and be ignored by, the US government. From South and Central America to the countries joining the OBOR initiative to the Middle East and Northern Africa, the US has inflicted misery, corruption, devastation and death. Americans often cast what they do in righteous, even messianic terms, rendering foreigners as “less than” who need to be saved and protected, and Americans as their “more than” saviors. Americans are among the world’s worst listeners; the desires of the saved are usually not acknowledged, much less acted upon. The saved soon see through the charade—America does what America wants, hang the rhetoric—and the US government would undoubtedly win a global poll as the world’s most hypocritical institution.

The hypocrisy leaves the government unable to acknowledge either what it has wrought or its consequences. It has made South and Central America its playpen for political meddling and the war on drugs, but will not admit that the misery it has helped create is in large part responsible for the influx of immigrants. US intervention has turned the Middle East and Northern Africa into a horror show, but policymakers refuse to publicly connect that to the obvious dots of burgeoning global terrorism and the European refugee crisis. US military “protection” comes with the usual protection racket price: you do as your protector says. Hence Europe, Japan, and a host of smaller countries are enervated US vassals. Per the reserve currency privilege, the US has papered the world with its fiat debt, setting up the global economy for the biggest financial and economic crash in history.

Whether they realize it or not, countless billions of ordinary people should pray to whatever god they pray to that President Trump’s America First means America leaves them alone. Commendably, many Americans realize that would be not only best for world, but for America, too. The country faces a debt, demography, and entitlement tsunami. It can no longer afford empire and Pax Americana, if it ever could. Putting America’s own house in order, or even making a good start, would be a full-time, eight-year endeavor for the entire Trump team, and that’s if they never take vacations or sleep.

There is much wisdom in the phrase: “Mind your own business.” Making America great will entail making America dispensable and irrelevant, setting it free to address its own problems, and setting the rest of the world free to address theirs.

THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION: WHEN

AMERICA MINDED ITS OWN BUSINESS

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AMAZON

KINDLE

NOOK

Ukraine Nationalizes Its Largest Bank, Which Holds 36% Of All Domestic Deposits, by Tyler Durden

Vladimir Putin could, if he wanted, roll Russia’s military into Ukraine and own the country in a week or two. Why doesn’t he? One reason may be because the country is a financial mess. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

It was just a few short days ago, on Wednesday of last week, that Ukraine’s largest lender, PrivatBank, said that reports it will be nationalized were “attempts to create panic and destabilize the political situation in the country.”

Local media, quoted by Reuters, speculated that Privatbank, which is part-owned by one of Ukraine’s richest men, billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, could be privatized if it does not meet a year-end deadline for Ukraine banks to reach a capital ratio requirement agreed under an International Monetary Fund bailout program. However, what made Privatbank unique, is that with some $6 billion in private deposits – or 36.5% of Ukrainian banks’ total – it puts America’s own TBTF banks to shame: the bank is an absolute giant which controls nearly half of the local banking sector.

On Wednesady, the bank’s deputy chairman reaffirmed that there was nothing to worry about and said its customers had received phone calls and messages telling them the bank would be taken under state control due to a failure to meet the required capitalization level. “Exploiting the ignorance of citizens about nationalization, they stir up panic,” Oleg Gorokhovsky said, without saying who was behind the reports.

Separately, the bank stated that “the information attack on Ukraine’s largest bank, Privatbank linked to the ‘pseudo-nationalisation’ of the bank is primarily directed at clients of the bank and is an attempt to destabilize the political situation in the country.” It added that the reports of its imminent nationalization were politically motivated.

Fast forward four days, when late on Sunday night, the “attempts to create panic and destabilize the political situation” in Ukraine turned out to be true after all, and whether politically motivated or otherwise, the Ukrainian government announced hours ago that it would nationalize the suddenly very ironically named PrivatBank, unleashing one of the biggest shake-ups of the banking system since the country plunged into political and economic turmoil two years ago.

To continue reading: Ukraine Nationalizes Its Largest Bank, Which Holds 36% Of All Domestic Deposits

Russia-Baiting and Risks of Nuclear War, by Ray McGovern

One of the reasons Ray McGovern writes consistently good articles is that he was once on the “inside,” he worked for the CIA. From McGovern at consortiumnews.com:

As U.S. and Russian officials trade barbed threats and as diplomacy on Syria is “on the verge” of extinction, it is tempting to view the ongoing propaganda exchange over who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in July 2014 as a side-show. That would be a huge mistake – easily made by President Obama’s wet-behind-the-ears sophomoric advisers who seem to know very little of the history of U.S.-Russia relations and appear smug in their ignorance.

Adult input is sorely needed. There are advantages to having some hands-on experience, and having watched how propaganda wars can easily escalate to military confrontation. In a Sept. 28 interview with Sputnik Radio, I addressed some serious implications of the decision by the U.S. and two of its European vassal states (the Netherlands and Ukraine) to stoke tensions with Russia still higher by blaming it for the downing of MH-17.

In short, there is considerable risk that the Russians may see this particular propaganda offensive (which “justified” the European Union’s economic sanctions in 2014), together with NATO’s saber rattling in central Europe, as steps toward war. In fact, there is troubling precedent for precisely that.

A very similar set of circumstances existed 33 years ago after the Soviets did shoot down Korean Airlines Flight 007 on Sept. 1, 1983, when it strayed over sensitive military targets inside the Soviet Union and the KAL-007 pilots failed to respond to repeated warnings. After the tragic reality became obvious, the Soviets acknowledged that they had downed the plane but said they did not know it was a passenger plane.

However, 1983 was another time of high tensions between the two superpowers and President Ronald Reagan wanted to paint the Soviets in the darkest of hues. So, his administration set out to sell the storyline that the Soviets had willfully murdered the 269 passengers and crew.

U.S. government propagandists and their media stenographers laid on all the Sturm und Drang they could summon to promote the lie that the Soviets knew KAL-007 was a civilian passenger plane before they shot it down. As Newsweek’s headline declared, “Murder in the Sky.”

Exploitation of the tragedy yielded a steep rise in tensions, and almost led to a nuclear exchange just two months later. There is an important lesson, now three decades later, as Western governments and the mainstream media manufacture more endless fear and hatred of Russia.

The Dutch/Ukrainian Follies

On Wednesday, new “evidence” blaming Russia for the downing of MH-17 over eastern Ukraine was made public – brought out of the oven, as it were, at a Dutch Maid bakery employing Ukrainian confectioners. A bite into the evidence and it immediately dissolves like refined sugar – and leaves an unpleasant artificial taste in the mouth.

The Dutch-Ukrainian charade played by the “Joint Investigation Team,” on which Belgium, Australia and Malaysia also have members, is an insult to the relatives and friends of the 298 human beings killed in the shoot-down. Understandably, those relatives and friends long for truth and accountability, and they deserve it.

To continue reading: Russia-Baiting and Risks of Nuclear War

What Should We Do About Crimea? by Ron Paul

The last paragraph of this article has many great suggestions. Unfortunately they make so much sense that none of them will ever see the light of day. From Ron Paul at antiwar.com:

Is Crimea about to explode? The mainstream media reports that Russia has amassed troops on the border with Ukraine and may be spoiling for a fight. The Russians claim to have stopped a Ukrainian sabotage team that snuck into Crimea to attack key infrastructure. The Russian military is holding exercises in Crimea and Russian President Vladimir Putin made a visit to the peninsula at the end of the week.

The Ukrainians have complained to their western supporters that a full-scale Russian invasion is coming, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he may have to rule by martial law due to the Russian threat.

Though the US media pins the blame exclusively on Russia for these tensions, in reality there is plenty of blame to go around. We do know that the US government has been involved with “regime change” in Ukraine repeatedly since the break up of the Soviet Union. The US was deeply involved with the “Orange Revolution” that overthrew elected president Viktor Yanukovych in 2005. And we know that the US government was heavily involved in another coup that overthrew the same elected Yanukovych again in 2014.

How do we know that the US was behind the 2014 coup? For one, we have the intercepted telephone call between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. In the recording, the two US officials are plotting to remove the elected government and discussing which US puppet they will put in place.

You would think such undiplomatic behavior could get diplomats fired, but sadly in today’s State Department it can actually get you promoted! Nuland is widely expected to get a big promotion – perhaps to even Secretary of State – in a Hillary Clinton administration, and Geoffrey Pyatt has just moved up to an Ambassadorship in Athens.

Ambassador Pyatt can’t seem to control himself: Just as tensions were peaking between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea this month, he published a series of Tweets urging Ukraine to take back Crimea. Is this how our diplomats overseas should be acting? Should they be promoting actions they know will lead to war?

When the mainstream media discusses Crimea they are all lockstep: that’s the peninsula Putin annexed. Never do they mention that there was a referendum in which the vast majority of the population (who are mostly ethnic Russians) voted to join Russia. The US media never reports on this referendum because it produced results that Washington doesn’t like. How arrogant it must sound to the rest of the world that Washington reserves the right to approve or disapprove elections thousands of miles away – meanwhile we find out from the DNC hacked files that we don’t have a lot of room to criticize elections overseas.

What should we do about Ukraine and Russia? We should stop egging Ukraine on, we should stop subsidizing the government in Kiev, we should stop NATO exercises on the Russian border, we should end sanctions, we should return to diplomacy, we should send the policy of “regime change” to the dustbin of history. The idea that we would be facing the prospect of World War III over which flag flies above a tiny finger of land that most US politicians couldn’t find on a map is utterly ridiculous. When are we going to come to our senses?

http://original.antiwar.com/paul/2016/08/21/what-should-we-do-about-crimea/