Tag Archives: Ukraine

Ukrainian Tragedy. Who Is to Blame? by Edward Lozansky

Edward Lozansky untangles the tangled web that is Ukraine. From Lozansky at antiwar.com:

In view of the upcoming summit in Washington between President Biden and Ukrainian President Zelensky, it is important to analyze the U.S. geopolitical strategy toward that country and see if it serves the best interests of the American people – and, for that matter, of the Ukrainians.

Here are some introductory points.

As a result of the Soviet Union’s collapse, its 15 former republics became independent states, Ukraine among them. Free from the communist yoke, having strong industrial and agricultural sectors, a favorable climate and fertile land, Ukraine – the place of my birth – had great potential to become one of the most prosperous European nations. Effective anti-corruption reforms, a certain level of autonomy for the regions with a large Russian ethnic population, two-state languages and neutral status with no membership in any military blocs would have made Ukraine, if not a new Switzerland, then definitely a happy and prosperous state. There would have been no civil war, and Donbass and Crimea would still be part of Ukraine.

However, some inside and outside forces had a different agenda, which resulted in the current tragedy, the loss of life and territory, the rise of radical nationalism, a neo-Nazi movement and vast economic devastation. Add to this tragedy that millions of skilled workers were forced to leave their country searching for manual jobs in foreign lands to survive and support their families.

In addition, Ukraine is now one of the major negative factors in both US domestic and foreign policies. President Trump’s impeachment in the House, the embarrassing scandal involving President Biden‘s son Hunter, an increasing threat of nuclear war with Russia – all these problems and more have Ukrainian connections.

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Putin Talks to the Nation, by Israel Shamir

Vladimir Putin talked to Russia and he had a few things to say about Crimea and Ukraine. From Israel Shamir at unz.com:

The Russian Direct Line is a unique exercise in direct democracy: Russian citizens call up their president and he answers their queries and solves their problems, like a Nordic konung a thousand years ago. Russia came into being as a chain of Nordic princedoms that practiced this sort of direct access to their ruler; early Russian princes and Tsars posed themselves as an instance of last appeal and immediate access. Twenty years ago, Vladimir Putin resurrected this ancient practice, and once a year every Russian can appeal to him on any subject matter at all. A man of power and authority, he can override any regulation, cut through the bureaucratic red tape, and solve any conundrum by his almost-royal grace. In the heavily bureaucratised country, such an omnipotent yet benevolent ruler provides excellent solutions to problems that should never have arisen in the first place.

The majority of questions and answers deal with everyday Russian life; with the supply of gas, with water drainage, with prices for vegetables, or communal charges. But Putin also answered questions that dealt with real world politics, and provided a few scoops for us. (Here is the full transcript)

The HMS Defender raid into Crimean waters is still fresh in memory, so Putin was asked whether this confrontation could have led to the Third World War. “No”, said Putin. “Even if we had sunk that ship, it wouldn’t put the world on the brink of a third world war because they know they could not win the war. We would also suffer, but we were in the right, and on our own ground.” This means that Russians are perfectly able to sink or capture the next NATO ship if she were to enter Russian waters.

The question of sovereign recognition does not come into the equation at all. Possession and recognition are different. The US refused to recognise (from 1940 to 1991) that the Baltic States were part of the USSR, but prudently the US Navy never tried to visit Riga port, even equipped as it was with a permit from the Latvian government-in-exile. Argentina would not recognise the British claim of sovereignty over Malvinas (Falklands) and boldly sailed within 200 miles of it. Their cruiser General Belgrano was sunk with all hands by the British RN submarine Conqueror. The law of the sea advises seafarers to pay heed to reality, not to claims however legally impressive.

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Ukraine Between Biden And A Hard Place, by South Front

Washington would really like to see the Ukrainian government launch an all-out offensive in eastern Ukraine, if for no other reason than to trash the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. However, the Ukrainian government doesn’t really want to destroy itself and the country. From South Front at zerohedge.com:

Joe Biden’s extensive interest in Ukraine during his tenure as Obama’s vice president meant that US attention towards the country would instantly be elevated once the new administration came into power. The Burisma scandal which implicated Hunter Biden and which became a problem for Joe Biden on the campaign trail, combined with Biden’s own apparent frailty and avoidance of extensive public engagements, have meant that Biden himself is in fact yet to have a telephone conversation with Zelensky. However, whether he deliberately chose to outsource Ukraine policy to his trusted advisors or they are taking initiative in order to fill the vacuum of power left by their boss’ incapacity, US Ukraine policy has taken a number of new twists and turns in the less than two months of the Biden Administration.

The Biden Administration’s actions so far indicate a certain degree of impatience with the goings-on in Kiev which is behaving in an all too independent fashion on many issues. Kiev’s decision to nationalize Motor Sich, an aircraft engine manufacturer whose purchase was sought by Chinese investors thus robbing Ukraine of a significant influx of badly needed hard currency, took place after Washington had expressed displeasure at Chinese companies’ foothold in Ukraine which moreover brings with it access to Soviet-era technologies attractive to China’s aerospace industries. This action was taken in spite of the considerable risk of Chinese retaliation, which indeed occurred in the form of China’s Foreign Ministry informing its Ukrainian counterpart that it would no longer respect their wishes concerning economic activities in the Crimea, something that Chinese firms have thus far shied away from. The US Embassy in Kiev’s instant endorsement of Zelensky’s shutdown of three opposition TV stations and the placement of sanctions, in violation of Ukraine’s own laws, on one of Ukraine’s opposition leaders Medvedchuk on the grounds that these were involved in spreading so-called “Russian disinformation” suggests that Washington was at the very least aware of the move and may even have prompted it. US sanctioning of Igor Kolomoysky on the basis of his corrupting Ukraine’s politics indicates that Zelensky had not gone far enough in fulfilling Washington’s wishes. In doing this Washington demonstrated it is willing to publicly humiliate Zelensky should he fail to display appropriate deference to their wishes. The question at this point becomes, in which direction will Washington push Zelensky? How far, what means will Washington use to get its way, and to what extent will Zelensky resist?

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Russell Brand In Viral Video Destroys MSM & Silicon Valley For Hiding “Troubling” Hunter Biden News, by Tyler Durden

It’s rare when a member of the celebrity set goes against the prevailing propaganda . . . on anything. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

In a rare and refreshing interview which on YouTube has garnered 100,000 views in less than 24 hours, British comedian and actor Russell Brand and former Intercept journalist Glenn Greenwald teamed up to explain last year’s scandalous coordination by the mainstream media and social media companies to ensure the Hunter Biden laptop story and accompanying revelations over the Hunter-Ukrainian Burisma energy company scandal never reached broader public view.

“I’m not a pro-Republican person,” Brand introduced while talking to Greenwald on his YouTube channel. “I don’t see myself that way. I don’t see myself as conservative, or that I’m in a Trump, or Giuliani, or the  kind of media establishments that were reporting on these revelations [about Biden’s family]. They are not my cultural, social, or political allies. That’s certainly not how I see myself.” And then he blasted away: “However, it seems to me — what reason is Hunter Biden sat on the board of an energy company in… Ukraine?” he questioned. “What reason is James Biden sat on the board, or receiving payments from an energy company, in China?”

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Pictures of a Ukrainian Dream, by Pepe Escobar

Did Antony Blinken tell Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky that the US’s public support of Ukraine was so much window dressing unless Zelensky essentially allows his country to be raped by the US government and corporations? From Pepe Escobar at thesaker.is:

Picture yourself about to meet a girl with kaleidoscope eyes… No. Sorry. Actually picture merry lines of code in the R programming language – wallowing in a happy valley of game theory models which would not preclude Goth or New Romantic Walkyrie dancin’ to the 12-inch version of Bauhaus’s Bela Lugosi is Dead.

Imagine this reverie coming about because of a “pin!” in your inbox. After all you have just been presented with an astonishing piece of intel. You scramble to the exit, actually the entrance of the Magic Theater, where you ask, Keats-style, Was it a dream? Do I wake or sleep?

So what was the dream about? Oh, something so prosaic, so down to the nitty gritty geopolitics: what really happened during the visit of US Secretary of State Tony Blinken to Ukraine.

The great Andrei Martyanov has remarked that Blinken “told Kiev behind the scenes to ‘dial it down’, amidst the fluffy tropes about US concern for Ukraine’s ‘sovereignty’ and ‘security’”.

Well, looks like there was way more than fluffy tropes.

Leaked info on the closed-door meeting between Blinken and Comedian-in-Charge Zelensky is no less than incandescent. Blinken seemed to have read a no holds barred riot act.

Here are the guidelines. All Ukrainian state corporations must be controlled by the proverbial “foreign interests”. So board majorities must be either foreign or 5th columnists. The entire anti-corruption vertical drive must also be foreign-controlled. Same for the judicial system.

Andriy Kobolyev – an American asset – must be reinstated as head of Naftogaz. Zelensky moved mountains to get rid of Kobolyev.

Blinken demanded a massive push against every Ukrainian oligarch, so that huge chunks of Ukrainian economy are transferred to – who else – foreigners. Same for land privatization.

Somewhat hilariously, Blinken warned that Russian troops might invade Ukraine. In this case, Zelensky can count only on huge political assistance, not military. So Zelensky in fact was ordered to stop asking to join NATO and cease provoking Russia, as President Putin, who already drew red lines, could make a “drastic decision”.

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What Just Happened in the Ukraine? by The Saker

The short answer to the title question is that once again Vladimir Putin has outsmarted the US, NATO, and Ukraine. From The Saker at unz.com:

Before we look into what just happened in the Ukraine, we need to first recall the sequence of events which lead to the current situation. I will try to make a short summary (skipping a lot of details) in the bullet-point style:

  1. Whether Ze initially intended to stop the war in the eastern Ukraine we don’t know, but what we do know is that he failed not only to stop it, in many ways his policies were even worse than Poroshenko’s. This might be the well-known phenomenon of a supposedly “pro-peace and happiness” politician being accused of being “weak” and thus not “presidential”; this politician has to show his “strength” is “patriotism”, that is acting recklessly on the external front. We see that from putatively “liberal” politicians such as the Dems in the USA and Labor in Israel. Historically, “liberals” are the most common war initiators. Ze showed his weakness almost from day 1, and the Ukronazis immediately seized this opportunity to engage in a massive multi-level campaign for war against Russia. This resulted in:
  2. A quasi-official repudiation of the Minsk Agreements and Steinmeier Formula by Kiev, followed by a sharp increase in bellicose statements and, most crucially a large scale move of forces (including tanks, heavy artillery, MLRS and even ballistic missiles!) towards the line of contact. At the same time Ukronazi politicians began making statements saying that a) the Ukrainian army was capable and willing to “liberate” all of the “Russian occupied” Ukrainian land thus, including both the Donbass and Crimea b) that Russia was going to attack the Ukraine anyway and c) that the consolidated West had to help the Ukraine because only the Ukrainian forces were keeping the asiatic drunken Russian hordes from over-running not only the Ukraine, but even the rest of Europe. Since the Ukraine simply has no agency, this begs the question of the US (and, to a lesser degree, the UK) rationale was for these moves. It is quite simple:
  3. Force Russia to openly intervene to protect the population of the Donbass from the inevitable genocide which the Ukronazis would have meeted out to the population of the LDNR.

How good was this plan? I would argue that it was a very solid plan which, for the USA, meant a win-win situation. Here is how it should have gone:

First, the Ukrainian forces would attack the LDNR, probably along three axes: one between the city of Gorlovka and Donetsk, one frontally attacking Donetsk proper, not to invade the city, but to tie down LDNR forces in protection of their capital, and one in the south with the aim of reaching the Russian border. This way, the LDNR defenders would have to defend their capital while, at the same time, risking envelopment on two axes. Remember that the LDNR has no strategic depth (Donetsk is practically on the frontline) and that the LDNR defenders could not trade space for time.

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The Ukraine Crisis Can Be an Opportunity, by Douglas MacGregor

Not that it will happen in the Biden administration, but the Ukraine offers a chance for the US government to adjust foreign policy to the emergence of Russia and China and obvious fiscal realities. From Douglas MacGregor at theamericanconservative.com:

President Biden can bring stability to U.S.-Russian relations if he doesn’t make the usual mistakes.

The trouble with leading a great power is that, from time to time, the president is obliged to act like the leader of a great power. If ever there was a time for sound presidential leadership, it’s now. With no appreciation for the endlessly renewable force of national self-preservation that animates Moscow’s maneuvers in Ukraine, President Biden’s insulting remarks and hostile sanctions have plunged the United States into a deeper, more dangerous confrontation with Russia in Ukraine, a region of limited strategic interest to the United States.

Putin’s directive to return most of his troops to garrison while leaving their weapon systems and equipment in place along the Ukrainian border should be viewed in Washington as an opportunity to create a measure of stability in U.S.-Russian relations that’s been missing for years. It’s not enough to hurl insults and simply restate what the Biden administration is against. It’s time to explore what kind of alternative to the fragile and dangerous status quo in Ukraine that Washington and Moscow can both support.

Washington did a deplorable job of formulating strategic aims in the Middle East and Afghanistan that justified the sacrifice of American blood and treasure. The president cannot seize the strategic initiative now if Washington continues to react impetuously and emotionally to real or imaginary threats to U.S. and allied interests.

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Uncharted Waters, by Israel Shamir

Russia is pursuing alliances and tactical advantage, the US is pursuing Russia. From Israel Shimir at unz.com:

The US has been fighting two wars: with Ukraine against Russia, and with Russia against Climate. Both are very costly, both bring no profit to Americans, both are entirely unnecessary, but both are essential for the Biden regime at this time, as the Covid pandemic runs out of steam. How will matters proceed?

The Ukrainian war may have been postponed. Russian troops withdrew from their forward positions on the Ukrainian border to their permanent bases. Perhaps Putin decided that the threat of a powerful Russian response would suffice for Kiev to give up their plans of a Donbas invasion. It was a close call: Kiev artillery shelled Donbas; Russian tanks faced them waiting for the order to roll westward, but the order didn’t come. It is still too close to call. In the last few days, the shelling of Donbas by the Kiev regime has actually intensified. Kiev troops have moved forward to the frontline separating the regime-controlled areas and free Donbas, and they brought with them more of their heavy weaponry. In Donbas, people are in a wretched mood: they feel abandoned by Russia, or rather have returned to the same hell of intermittent shelling they have lived with for years. They haven’t been allowed to join the Russian Federation as they had hoped. In Kiev, they think Putin blinked first. So say the Brits. Prudent Putin does not want war, but he may still get it. What we have now feels like a lull rather than a stable situation.

Europe Defender, one of the largest US Army-led military exercises in decades has kicked off and will run until June. The Russian Defence Minister Mr. Shoygu called upon his troops to stand ready to respond to any “adverse developments” during the NATO exercises; heavy weapons will remain in forward positions, so troop deployment could be fast. In May, Royal Navy ships will pass the Bosporus, while the Russians have moved their missile boats from the Caspian and Baltic Seas to the Black Sea. So there are still plenty of chances for things to go wrong.

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Putin Rewrites the Law of the Geopolitical Jungle, by Pepe Escobar

Any country (e.g. the United States) that tangles with Russia and comes up the worse for it can’t say they weren’t warned. From Pepe Escobar at unz.com:

 

Putin’s address to the Russian Federal Assembly – a de facto State of the Nation – was a judo move that left Atlanticist sphere hawks particularly stunned.

The “West” was not even mentioned by name. Only indirectly, or via a delightful metaphor, Kipling’s Jungle Book. Foreign policy was addressed only at the end, almost as an afterthought.

For the best part of an hour and a half, Putin concentrated on domestic issues, detailing a series of policies that amount to the Russian state helping those in need – low income families, children, single mothers, young professionals, the underprivileged – with, for instance, free health checks all the way to the possibility of an universal income in the near future.

Of course he would also need to address the current, highly volatile state of international relations. The concise manner he chose to do it, counter-acting the prevailing Russophobia in the Atlanticist sphere, was quite striking.

First, the essentials. Russia’s policy “is to ensure peace and security for the well-being of our citizens and for the stable development of our country.”

Yet if “someone does not want to…engage in dialogue, but chooses an egoistic and arrogant tone, Russia will always find a way to stand up for its position.”

He singled out “the practice of politically motivated, illegal economic sanctions” to connect it to “something much more dangerous”, and actually rendered invisible in the Western narrative: “the recent attempt to organize a coup d’etat in Belarus and the assassination of that country’s president.” Putin made sure to stress, “all boundaries have been crossed”.

The plot to kill Lukashenko was unveiled by Russian and Belarusian intel – which detained several actors backed, who else, US intel. The US State Department predictably denied any involvement.

Putin: “It is worth pointing to the confessions of the detained participants in the conspiracy that a blockade of Minsk was being prepared, including its city infrastructure and communications, the complete shutdown of the entire power grid of the Belarusian capital. This, incidentally means preparations for a massive cyber-attack.”

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As British Warships Deploy to Black Sea, Putin Warns of Red Lines, by Finian Cunningham

Putin’s red lines should be taken much more seriously than Obama’s were. From Finian Cunningham at strategic-culture.org:

The British are being told that they cannot just sail their warships into the Black Sea and rattle their sabers in Russia’s face. Putin is telling the Brits and anyone else not to even think about getting that close.

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a stern warning to countries trying to provoke military tensions, saying that his nation is drawing up red lines for defense.

Putin delivered the sharp remarks during his annual state-of-the-nation address to lawmakers from both chambers of the Russian parliament. The stark warning comes amid spiraling tensions over Ukraine between Western supporters of the Kiev regime and Russia.

Specifically, days before Putin’s set-piece speech, British media reported that Britain’s Royal Navy is planning to deploy two warships to the Black Sea: a Type-45 destroyer armed with anti-aircraft missiles; and a frigate for hunting submarines. A British ministry of defense spokesman is quoted as saying the move was a sign of “unwavering support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity” in the face of alleged Russian aggression.

The British deployment is planned to take place in the coming weeks. The two warships will transit Turkey’s Bosphorus Strait to enter the Black Sea. International shipping is permitted under the Montreux Convention. However, the British plan seems far from an innocent passage, and a rather more calculated provocation.

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