JACK MATLOCK JR. [the last ambassador to the USSR]: Well, I think that what we have seen is a reaction, in many respects, to a long history of what the Russian government, the Russian president and many of the Russian people—most of them—feel has been a pattern of American activity that has been hostile to Russia and has simply disregarded their national interests. …how would Americans feel if some Russian or Chinese or even West European started putting bases in Mexico or in the Caribbean, or trying to form governments that were hostile to us?
…in the Orange Revolution in Kiev, foreigners, including Americans, were very active in organizing people and inspiring them. Now, you know, I have to ask Americans: How would Occupy Wall Street have looked if you had foreigners out there leading them?
…if you really look at it dispassionately, Ukraine is better off without Crimea, because Ukraine is divided enough as it is. Their big problem is internal, in putting together disparate people who have been put together in that country. The distraction of Crimea, where most of the people did not want to be in Ukraine and ended up in Ukraine as a result of really almost a bureaucratic whim, is—was, I think, a real liability for Ukraine.
…I just hope everyone can calm down and look at realities and stop trying to start sort of a new Cold War over this. As compared to the issues of the Cold War, this is quite minor. It has many of the characteristics of a family dispute. And when outsiders get into a family dispute, they’re usually not very helpful.
…fundamentally, it’s going to be the Ukrainians who have to put their society back together. It is seriously broken now. And it seems to me they could take a leaf from the Finns, who have been very successful ever since World War II in putting together a country with both Finns and Swedes, by treating them equally, by being very respectful and careful about their relations with Russia, never getting into—anymore into military struggles or allowing foreign bases on their land. And they’ve been extremely successful. Why can’t the Ukrainians follow a policy of that sort? I think, for them, it would work, too. But first, they have to find a way to unite the disparate elements in Ukraine; otherwise, these pressures from Russia, on the one hand, and the West, on the other, is going to simply tear them apart.
…I would say that I think Russian media have exaggerated that right-wing threat. On the other hand, those who have ignored it, I think, are making a big mistake. We do have to understand that a significant part of the violence at the Maidan, the demonstrations in Kiev, were done by these extreme right-wing, sort of neo-fascist groups. And they do—some of their leaders do occupy prominent positions in the security forces of the new government. And I think—I think the Russians and others are quite legitimately concerned about that. Therefore, you know, many of these things are not nearly as black and white, when we begin to look at them, as is implied in much of the rhetoric that we’re hearing. And I do think that everybody needs now to take a quiet breath to really look at where we are and to see if we can’t find ways, by keeping our voices down, to help the Ukrainians in present-day Ukraine to get to a road to greater unity and reform that will make them a viable state.
Archive for the ‘Russia’ Category
Posted by Charles II on March 20, 2014
Posted by Charles II on March 16, 2014
Robert Parry, The Consortium:
[Following the Iraq debacle,] You might have expected that the neocons would have been banished to the farthest reaches of U.S. policymaking, so far away that they would never be heard from again. However, instead of disappearing, the neocons have proved their staying power, now reemerging as the architects of the U.S. strategy toward Ukraine.
… the ultimate goal of the Ukraine gambit is not just “regime change” in Kiev but “regime change” in Moscow. By eliminating the independent-minded and strong-willed Putin, the neocons presumably fantasize about slipping one of their ciphers (perhaps a Russian version of Ahmed Chalabi) into the Kremlin.
Then, the neocons could press ahead, unencumbered, toward their original “regime change” scheme in the Middle East, with wars against Syria and Iran.
JP Sottile, The Consortium:
Behind the U.S.-backed coup that ousted the democratically elected president of Ukraine are the economic interests of giant corporations – from Cargill to Chevron – which see the country as a potential “gold mine” of profits from agricultural and energy exploitation, reports JP Sottile.
Despite the turmoil within Ukrainian politics after Yanukovych rejected a major trade deal with the European Union just seven weeks earlier, Cargill was confident enough about the future to fork over $200 million to buy a stake in Ukraine’s UkrLandFarming. According to Financial Times, UkrLandFarming is the world’s eighth-largest land cultivator and second biggest egg producer.
On Dec. 13, Cargill announced the purchase of a stake in a Black Sea port. Cargill’s port at Novorossiysk — to the east of Russia’s strategically significant and historically important Crimean naval base — gives them a major entry-point to Russian markets and adds them to the list of Big Ag companies investing in ports around the Black Sea, both in Russia and Ukraine.
Cargill was decidedly confident amidst the post-EU deal chaos.
Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy and National Democratic Institute helped fund and support the Ukrainian “Orange Revolution” in 2004. Freedom House is funded directly by the U.S. Government, the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Department of State.
David Kramer is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs and, according to his Freedom House bio page, formerly a “Senior Fellow at the Project for the New American Century.”
That puts Kramer and, by one degree of separation, Big Ag fixer Morgan Williams in the company of PNAC co-founder Robert Kagan who, as coincidence would have it, is married to Victoria “F*ck the EU” Nuland, the current Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
Interestingly enough, Ms. Nuland spoke to the U.S.-Ukrainian Foundation last Dec. 13, extolling the virtues of the Euromaidan movement as the embodiment of “the principles and values that are the cornerstones for all free democracies.”
These people hang out together, they have the same triumphalist world view in which America is the lamp to the world and capitalism = democracy, so they work together on common goals, even if those goals may contradict international law and those American values that are not commercial. It’s not a conspiracy, but neither is it the government that Americans voted for when they voted for Barack Obama. After all, what Cargill, Monsanto, and John Deere are doing in the Ukraine (using our State Department and the tax money collected by our government) is more akin to a hostile takeover of the kind that Mitt Romney pioneered.
Posted by Charles II on February 24, 2014
Robert Parry, The Consortium:
Exclusive: American neocons helped destabilize Ukraine and engineer the overthrow of its elected government, a “regime change” on Russia’s western border. But the coup – and the neo-Nazi militias at the forefront – also reveal divisions within the Obama administration, reports Robert Parry.
Posted by Charles II on February 20, 2014
There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear
There’s a man with a gun over there. Telling me I got to beware
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound. Everybody look what’s going down.
A thousand people in the street. Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side. It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound
Everybody look what’s going down –Buffalo Springfield
STEPHEN COHEN: … we are watching history being made, but history of the worst kind.
…And the longer-term outcome may be…the construction, the emergence of a new Cold War divide between West and East…. And if that happens, if that’s the new Cold War divide, it’s permanent instability and permanent potential for real war for decades to come. That’s what’s at stake.
One last point, also something that nobody in this country wants to talk about: The Western authorities, who bear some responsibility for what’s happened, and who therefore also have blood on their hands, are taking no responsibility.
let’s ask ourselves this: Who precipitated this crisis? The American media says it was Putin and the very bad, though democratically elected, president of Ukraine, Yanukovych. But it was the European Union, backed by Washington, that said in November to the democratically elected president of a profoundly divided country, Ukraine, “You must choose between Europe and Russia.” That was an ultimatum to Yanukovych. Remember—wasn’t reported here—at that moment, what did the much-despised Putin say? He said, “Why? Why does Ukraine have to choose? We are prepared to help Ukraine avoid economic collapse, along with you, the West. Let’s make it a tripartite package to Ukraine.” And it was rejected in Washington and in Brussels. That precipitated the protests in the streets.
What percent are the quasi-fascists of the opposition? Let’s say they’re 5 percent. I think they’re more, but let’s give them the break, 5 percent. But we know from history that when the moderates lose control of the situation, they don’t know what to do. The country descends in chaos. Five percent of a population that’s tough, resolute, ruthless, armed, well funded, and knows what it wants, can make history. [Cohen adds that it is precisely these forces that Washington is supporting]
at the beginning, there were hundreds of thousands, tens of thousands, of very decent, liberal, progressive, honorable people in the streets. But they’ve lost control of the situation. That’s the point now. And so, the Russians are saying, “Look, you’re trying to depose Yanukovych, who’s the elected government.” Think. If you overthrow—and, by the way, there’s a presidential election in a year. The Russians are saying wait ’til the next election. If you overthrow him—and that’s what Washington and Brussels are saying, that he must go—what are you doing to the possibility of democracy not only in Ukraine, but throughout this part of the world? And secondly, who do you think is going to come to power?
[In a leaked tape,] The highest-ranking State Department official [Victoria Nuland], who presumably represents the Obama administration, and the American ambassador in Kiev [Geoffrey Pyatt] are, to put it in blunt terms, plotting a coup d’état against the elected president of Ukraine.
in Washington and in Brussels, they lie: They’re talking about democracy now. They’re not talking about democracy now; they’re talking about a coup now.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And is it conceivable, if Ukraine descends into a further civil war, that Russia might intervene?
STEPHEN COHEN: It’s conceivable. It’s conceivable.[Emphasis added]
GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER: Sure. Well, the Obama government continues to fund this opposition even more openly than did the Bush—than did the Bush regime. If you look at the budget there, you know, Obama specifically requested funding for these Venezuelan opposition groups despite—you know, despite anti-democratic activity in the past, despite the fact that López and others were involved in signatories of the coup in 2002 and engaged in violent actions that they were brought up on charges for in 2002. And so, for López to come now and to claim that he’s an actor for democracy in the streets is really quite—you know, quite laughable. But what he is trying to do is to really seize control of this opposition away from the more moderate elements.
AMY GOODMAN: And the U.S. role?
GEORGE CICCARIELLO-MAHER: The U.S. continues to fund this opposition. I think we’ll probably find out afterward, as we usually do, to what degree the U.S.’s hand has been actually involved in these processes. But the reality is this is a—this is a miscalculation by the opposition. I think it’s doubtful that the United States has told the opposition to take this tack, because it’s not a very strategic tack. But, you know, we know that this is an opposition that’s been in direct contact with the embassy, that it receives funding from the United States government. And so, this is—against the broad backdrop of U.S. intervention and the funding of the Venezuelan opposition, this is the action of an autonomous Venezuelan opposition that is going to, once again, it looks like, tear itself apart.
Cohen made a very good point. There aren’t many extremists. But when things break down to the point that the moderates are ineffective, extremists take over. The US is very good at funding opposition movements. But again and again, whether in Libya or in Syria or in Ukraine or in Venezuela, this has not empowered democratic forces, but rather reactionary, fascistic, and terrorist forces. In the case of the Ukraine, a leaked tape has made it clear that the US wants fascistic forces to come to power.
Update: See here for “Yats”:
[Nuland and Pyatt] conclude that Arseniy Yatsenyuk of jailed billionaire oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party should rule, conferring regularly with Oleh Tyahnybok of the fascist Svoboda Party, whose members and neo-Nazi allies provide most of the thugs fighting riot police in Kiev.
Posted by Charles II on December 23, 2012
Julian Borger, The Guardian:
Russian military advisers are manning some of Syria’s more sophisticated air defences – something that would complicate any future US-led intervention, the Guardian has learned.
The advisers have been deployed with new surface-to-air systems and upgrades of old systems, which Moscow has supplied to the Assad regime since the Syrian revolution broke out 21 months ago.
The depth and complexity of Syria’s anti-aircraft defences mean that any direct western campaign, in support of a no-fly zone or in the form of punitive air strikes against the leadership, would be costly, protracted and risky.
Air strikes against chemical weapon depots would potentially disperse lethal gases over a vast area, triggering a humanitarian disaster. US and allied special forces have been trained to seize the air bases where the warheads are kept, but it is unclear what the next step would be. It would be physically impossible to fly the hundreds of warheads out of the country, while it would take thousands of troops to guard the arsenal for what could be many months.
Posted by Charles II on December 30, 2011
An interesting interview with Prof. Stephen Cohen on DemocracyNow that upends the narrative we have been given about events in Russia. He says that:
* The high point of democracy in Russia was actually under Gorbachov, before the fall of Communism
* When Yeltsin stood on a tank in front of Parliament, an event that is treated positively in the West, it reversed the movement toward democracy
* Most of the reporters who have been killed were investigating huge ripoffs of state enterprises by “entrepreneurs”
* The recent elections were the fairest in Russia’s history (still crooked, but less so)
* The rise in the vote for the Communist party is by working-class people who want to throw off the kleptocracy represented by Putin
* The Communist Party represents the Old Guard, not the Gorbachov reform wing. They benefit from having opposed the breakup of the USSR
* If the Communists get the same alliance in the presidential election, Putin will lose
Cohen thinks that things are going well to get an eventual reform. I’m skeptical. Russia needs a genuine independent political force. Communism belongs to the past.
Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 25, 2010
Now let’s see if the Senate Republicans are still pouting when the time comes for them to help ratify the agreement when it’s finally ironed out.
Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 22, 2009
–Iran and Israel have just held their first direct talks since 1979. (It’s the lead story on Ha’aretz’ front page right now.) Think that would have happened under Bush?
In other news, Obama, whose signature FoPo issue is shaping up to be nuclear disarmament, is pushing a plan to enlist Russian cooperation — in the form of vetting Iranian nuclear material intended for non-weaponized use — that negotiators have agreed to implement. (Of course, the leaders of the countries involved now have to OK the plan, but I think giving Moscow a key role here — and thus a very real sense of investment in the plan’s success — was a masterstroke.)
Think THAT would have happened under Bush?
Now if only Obama could get Israel to peacefully part with its own nuke arsenal, and tell Lanny Davis to go pound salt, we’d be getting somewhere.
Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 15, 2009
As I noted last week, Paul Krugman has been working to counter the anti-stimulus brigade’s attempt to use the specter of inflation to scare Obama away from fully implementing the stimulus package — or going back for more stimulus cash.