March 4, 2014

3 Articles On Ukraine/Russia/Crimea

1. An excerpt from, "Obama’s Confrontation over Ukraine Has Increased Putin’s Support at Home" by Jack Matlock, March 2:
I received the following comments on yesterday’s essay from a Russian-speaking American now resident in Moscow. They include some important points about Russian opinion and on the impact of the Ukrainian events on politics in Russia itself. Each of the points deserves a separate essay, but I wish to share them without delay. (I have added some emphasis by italics or boldface here and there.)

1) In Moscow even anti-Putin liberals seem to think that the US/EU has pushed too far in Ukraine. For example, last week I had lunch with two Russian professionals. The conversation turned to Ukraine and one of them remarked that US policy seemed driven solely by a desire to “stick it to Russia” (насолить). The leaked conversation between Nuland and Ambassador Pyatt shocked people. It appears to people that the US is encouraging anti-Russian nationalists or sending signals that they could easily misinterpret. At the end, they decided that it was probably more ineptitude than a deliberate effort to cause harm, but I imagine 90% of Russians assume American diplomats understand exactly what they’re doing and the potential consequences. It takes a great deal of sophistication to consider stupidity and incompetence as an explanation.

3) If you read the US press, it’s axiomatic that Crimea and Eastern Ukraine would choose Russia, if given the choice. But I’m hearing it’s not a sure thing, especially in regards to Eastern Ukraine. There people want to keep their jobs and they don’t want their factories shut down in a trade war with Russia, but that doesn’t mean they want to be annexed.

4) People make a sharp distinction between Crimea and other parts of Ukraine. If a referendum does vote in favor of union, most Russians would be happy to take them, irrespective of political leaning.

 I will be commenting in greater detail on some of these points, but for now will simply say that though I have been a strong admirer and supporter of President Obama, I cannot understand how he could fail to recognize that confronting President Putin publicly on an issue that is so central to Russian national pride and honor, not only tends to have the opposite effect on the issue at hand, but actually strengthens tendencies in Russia that we should wish to discourage. It is as if he, along with his advisers, is living in some alternate ideological and psychological universe.
2. An excerpt from, "The U.S. has Installed a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine" by Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, March 2:
This is a proxy government which enables the US, NATO and the EU to interfere in Ukraine’s internal affairs and dismantle its bilateral relations with the Russian Federation. It should be understood, however, that the Neo-Nazis do not ultimately call the shots. The composition of the Cabinet broadly coincides with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland ” recommendations” contained in the leaked telephone call to the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.

Washington has chosen to spearhead Neo-Nazis into positions of authority. Under a “regime of indirect rule”, however,  they take their orders on crucial military and foreign policy issues –including the deployment of troops directed against the Russian federation– from the the US State Department, the Pentagon and NATO.

The World is at a dangerous crossroads: The structures and composition of this proxy government installed by the West do not favor dialogue with the Russian government and military.
3. An excerpt from, "The EU U.S. Tug Over Ukraine Policy" by 'b' of Moon of Alabama, March 4:
No, I am no supporter or defender of Merkel, but the tug over the Ukraine is as much between the EU and the United States as it is between the "west" and the "east". Yes, the EU screwed up its Ukraine strategy by giving an ultimatum to Yanukovich to sign an association agreement and, when he rejected, by instigating trouble in Kiev. But what the U.S. is doing is worse. It managed to sabotage the February 21 comprise three EU foreign minister had negotiated between Yanukovich and his opposition and ordered fascist storm troupers onto the Ukrainian parliament to press it to illegally "elect" its favorite candidate to head the Ukraine. Six members of the fascists Bandera follower party Svoboda are now part of the illegitimate Ukrainian government. Certain U.S. policymakers seem to want war with Russia. The Europeans have very different interests.

All favored comments below the Merkel piece in Die Welt are taking the Russian position in this conflict and point out the fascists in the Ukrainian government. This in a paper with a usually conservative and very pro-American readership. The German public, despite an anti-Russian propaganda campaign in most main-strem media, is certainly not on the side of the United States and its NATO interventionists.

There is a long "tradition" of using fascist nationalist groups against Russia. That country lost over 20 million people fighting fascism and for Russians to see fascists ruling in Kiev is therefore an incredible assault on their national identity. Russians know their history and they certainly know who is standing behind these fascists. That is likely what Merkel told Obama about Putin's perspective.