Tag Archives: Ukraine

What Trump Can Expect From Putin, by Ray McGovern

The deployment of US Anti-Ballistic Missile systems around Russia’s borders is a make or break issue for the Russians. From Ray McGovern at antiwar.com:

In the style of a President’s Daily Brief for President Trump:

When you meet with President Putin next week, you can count on him asking you why the U.S. is encircling Russia with antiballistic missile systems.

Putin regarded the now-defunct Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty as the key to maintaining the nuclear-weapons balance between the United States and Russia and told filmmaker Oliver Stone that the US withdrawal from the treaty in 2001 and the follow-on US deployment of ABM batteries could “destroy this balance. And that’s a great mistake.”

For decades, the Russians have viewed an invulnerable nuclear-tipped strategic missile force as a deterrent to a US attack though they have never displayed an inclination to commit suicide by actually firing them.

From this perspective, Putin wonders why the US might seek to upset the nuclear balance by deploying ABM systems around Russia’s borders, making Russia’s ICBM force vulnerable.

Putin’s generals, like yours, are required to impute the most provocative intentions to military capabilities; that is what military intelligence is all about. Thus, they cannot avoid seeing the ABM deployments as giving the US the capability for a first strike to decapitate Russia’s ICBM force and, by doing so, protecting the US from Russian nuclear retaliation.

And, as Putin has made clear, the Kremlin sees US claims that the deployments are needed to thwart a strategic strike from Iran as insultingly disingenuous – all the more so in light of the 2015 multilateral agreement handcuffing Iran’s development of a nuclear bomb for the foreseeable future.

Yet, the U.S.-Russia strategic balance becomes more and more precarious with the deployment of each new ABM site or warship, together with rising concerns at the possibility of a US technological breakthrough. With the time window for Russian leaders to evaluate data indicating a possible US nuclear strike closing, launch-on-warning becomes more likely – and so does World War III.

Your visit to Warsaw en route to Hamburg for the G-20 summit will shine the spotlight on the threat Putin sees in the deployment of missile defense systems in Poland – as well as Romania and elsewhere on Russia’s periphery.

It is no secret that Russian leaders feel double-crossed by NATO’s steady creep eastward, but Russia’s strategic planners seemed to believe they could handle that – up to a point. That point was reached with the Feb. 22, 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine, which Moscow viewed as one U.S.-backed regime change too many and one that installed a virulently anti-Russian government along a route historically used by foreign invaders.

To continue reading: What Trump Can Expect From Putin

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A Ukraine On The Verge Of Disaster Benefits No One, by Federico Pieraccini

Ukraine is a basket case, and odds are it will become an even bigger one. From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:

In the past three months, the lines of contact between Ukraine and the forces in Donbass have seen an escalation of considerable tension. Both the republics of Lugansk and Donetsk have suffered violent attacks at the hands of Kiev’s military forces. Of course all these violations are in stark contrast to what was established in the Minsk II agreements, in particular as regards the use of certain weapons systems.

In addition to the military issues between Donbass and Ukraine, Kiev faces important internal struggle between oligarchs regarding economic issues. Symptomatic of this were the clashes in Avdeevka, then the attempts to capture the water filtration plant in Donetsk, and finally the blockade of coal transit from Donbass to Ukraine. All these have further deepened divisions between the components of the Ukrainian state’s power. The consequences of these events have led to greater instability in the country and decisive moves by the nationalist fringe alongside the Ukrainian SBU and other components of the military, who are the authors of the blockade of the railway lines between the Donbass and the rest of Ukraine. Intensifying the divisions within the country, the meeting between Tymoshenko and Trump has further increased tensions, with Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman defining Timoshenko as the source of all problems, both economic as well are regarding corruption. Ukraine is politically divided, exacerbated by disputes between Poroshenko and Timoshenko, and these divisions are being exploited by foreign actors like Israel and Turkey, propping up the nationalist and banderist fringe within the National Guard battalion.

External pressure is clearly exerted indirectly on the Poroshenko administration in order to force it to keep the extreme factions of the nationalist battalions under control. For his part, Trump, by meeting with Tymoshenko, has sent a clear signal that in the case of excessive chaos in Kiev, the succession of power has already been decided. In the same way, the IMF exerts pressure on Kiev, slowing down the funding necessary for Ukraine to survive.

To continue reading: A Ukraine On The Verge Of Disaster Benefits No One

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

 

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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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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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