EU Cannot Go On Fighting Russia, “We can not have our relationship towards Russia dictated by Washington”

 

junker-400x251Note: This article originally appeared at German Economic News. Translated from the German by Boris Jaruselski

Huge reversal: the EU seeks a normal relationship with Russia. It seems that the EU is being greatly affected by the actions of Vladimir Putin in Syria: suddenly the EU President Jean-Claude Junker is saying that the EU must not let the US dictate their relationship with Russia. He has demanded a normalization of relations – and indirectly, the end of sancitons. 

The EU Commission President advocated a relaxation in the conflict with Russia. “We have to achieve a sustainable relationship with Russia. It’s not sexy, but has to be done. We can’t go on like this anymore”, he said on Thursday in Passau. It isn’t necessary to achieve overall understanding, but a sensible conversational basis. “The Russians are a proud people”, the country has “a role to play”, said Junker: “One must not remove them from the bigger picture, otherwise they’ll call again, very quickly, as we seen already.” He critisized US Presidnet Barack Obama, for having downgraded Russia as “regional power”. “Russia needs to be treated correctly”, the Luxemburgian explained. “We can not have our relationship towards Russia dictated by Washington. It’s simply not on.

This statement is particularly noteworthy. Until now, the EU always placed emphasis on having complete accord with the Americans, with the placement of the Russian sanctions. Some time ago, the US Vice President Joe Biden made it clear that the US had urged the EU to impose the sacntions. Junkers’ big back flip is confirming the statement made by Biden. It’s hard to discern what’s really going on Junker’s mind: as late as March, Junker was demanding the establishment of a EU army, which was expressly directed against Russia: such a European army would “give Russia the impression, that we are seriously intending to defend European Union’s values”, Junker said word for word, back then.

European Commission President Juncker: European policies must not be dictated by Washington

 

 

 

Published on Oct 12, 2015

Europe must treat Russia with more decency, improve the relationship, and not let EU policies be dictated by Washington, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a surprise speech in Germany.

Turning point? EU Commission head says relations with Russia ‘must be improved,’ US ‘can’t dictate’

56173a12c4618893278b45f6

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker © Vincent Kessler / Reuters

In the meantime, some progress has recently been reported in eastern Ukraine, as the armed forces of the self-proclaimed Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR) have begun withdrawing weapons under 100 mm caliber from the conflict zone. Ukraine’s Joint Staff has also announced the start of a withdrawal of artillery from the region. 

The withdrawal of weapons is part of the Minsk agreements, which was agreed upon by the leaders of the Normandy Four, namely France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia, in February. The deal required a ceasefire, a weapons withdrawal, constitutional reforms, legislative recognition of a special status for the unrecognized republics, and release and exchange of prisoners on an all-for-all basis.

However, lasting truce was only reached in late August. Kiev and the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics maintain the armistice has been holding since September 1, although both sides still occasionally accuse each other of violations.

Moscow continues to stress the importance of direct dialogue between Kiev and representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told CBS’s ‘60 Minutes’ at the end of September that all countries need to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty. 

“At no time in the past, now or in the future has or will Russia take any part in actions aimed at overthrowing the legitimate government,” Putin said, adding that Moscow “would like other countries to respect the sovereignty of other states, including Ukraine. Respecting the sovereignty means preventing coups, unconstitutional actions and illegitimate overthrowing of the legitimate government.”

EU sanctions against Russia could be renewed at the end of this year, however, even though some European countries have been hit hard by the fall in trade triggered, in part, by Moscow’s counter-sanctions on food imports.

EU sanctions include restrictions on lending to major Russian state-owned banks, as well as defense and oil companies. In addition, Brussels has imposed restrictions on supplying weapons and military equipment to Russia, as well as military technology, dual-use technologies, high-tech equipment, and technologies for oil production. A number of Russian and Ukrainian officials have also been blacklisted by the West.

World Bank sharply downgrades Ukraine’s GDP forecast http://on.rt.com/6t40 

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the U.N. General Assembly

putin-cheersPresident Vladimir Putin told the United Nations’ General Assembly on Monday that there is a need for an international coalition to fight the Islamic State terror group and support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

President Putin said the power vacuum in the Middle East had “started to be filled by militants and terrorists.” He added, “We think it is an enormous mistake to not cooperate with the Syrian government and its armed forces.”

“On the basis of international law, we must create a genuinely broad international coalition against terrorism.”

But there’s an obvious problem with his argument: By propping up Assad’s government, Moscow is actually facilitating the continued menace of the Islamic State.

The Assad regime a “terrorism generator of epic proportion, engaging in state terrorism against its own people and inciting terrorism from its opponents,” the strategic security firm The Soufan Group wrote last month.

“There is no justifying the actions of a group like the Islamic State or al-Nusra,” The Soufan Group continued, adding, “but the Assad regime’s wholesale slaughter of civilians provides the groups with radicalized supporters far faster than Assad’s military can then fight them.”

Nevertheless, Putin’s speech may have its intended effect.

“Sad commentary that 85 percent of what Putin said still sounded like he is now more relevant than Obama, ” David Rothkopf, CEO of the Foreign Policy Group, tweeted.

Russia has been increasing its military presence in Syria since the end of August — under the guise of helping the embattled Syrian president fight the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and other extremists.

But many experts have noted that Putin’s priority is not to get rid of ISIS, but to keep Assad in power against all rebels.

“The deployment is clearly designed to shore up the regime’s military capabilities, which have shown serious signs of weakness since March, when the rebels made a string of swift gains in different parts of the country,” Middle East expert Hassan Hassan wrote in The New York Times.

Western Defeat in Ukraine

 Western Defeat in Ukraine

 

By Roger Cohen  – Published by The New York Times

LONDON — It was not a surprise that President Vladimir Putin of Russia came out in strong support of FIFA against the “blatant attempt” of the United States “to extend its jurisdiction to other states.” Institutionalized corruption is Putin’s thing. The governing body of world soccer has become a near-perfect illustration of how such a system works, almost as good as the once-pliant Ukraine of Putin’s ousted puppet, former President Viktor Yanukovych.

American power is Putin’s obsession. He professes to see its long arm everywhere, subverting Russia and countries of its former empire. So the Justice Department’s move against FIFA fit every Russian geostrategic theory. (In addition, of course, Putin is worried about the 2018 World Cup in Russia, as he should be. To say the event will carry echoes of the Berlin Olympics of 1936 would be an exaggeration, but not a wild one.)

It is not a surprise that various Russian generals and officials have been blustering about nukes, even threatening to wipe out poor little Denmark’s navy; nor that they have made clear that they will defend the annexation of Crimea (where the extension of Russian jurisdiction was on the “blatant” side) with every weapon in their arsenal. Force is the language Putin understands better than any other. He knows how uncomfortable much of Europe has become with this lexicon.

There are in fact no more surprises. Putin has turned on the West, seeing opposition to it as the glue of his regime, rather than integration with it as the path to Russian progress. He has opted for his life’s work: buying people, compromising them, threatening them.

Perhaps it was the street protests in Moscow of late 2011. Perhaps it was a perception of Western perfidy in Libya earlier that year. Perhaps it was some inkling about a moment of American weakness. Perhaps it really was the ouster through a popular uprising of the grossly corrupt Yanukovych in Ukraine. Perhaps it was simply his inner K.G.B. officer rising to the surface, a yearning for the empire lost. In the end the reasons are secondary to the reality, which is that Putin has opted to ignite Russian nationalism by cultivating the myth of Western encirclement of the largest nation on earth by far. The G-7 will convene in a few days without him. Of course it will. The Russian president is no longer interested in the rules of that club. Controlled antagonism to it suits him better.

Some 15 months have gone by since the annexation of Crimea. A few things have become clear. On the whole, they are troubling. The first is how muted, really, the American reaction has been to Moscow’s seizure of a chunk of Ukrainian territory and Russia’s stirring-up of a little war in eastern Ukraine with its more than 6,000 dead. The United States is not even a party to the Minsk accords, the deeply flawed agreement to unwind the conflict that looks more like a means to freeze it in place.

By Ainhoa Aristizabal – Unruly Hearts

Roger, you sound like a broken record in bringing Washington’s rhetoric.  But let me remind you that the US has invaded 70 nations since 1776. Any wonder why americans are not welcome in many countries? Of course, americans reaction to Crimeans asking Russia to make them part of the Russian Federation hasn’t impressed them a bit being that their country has invaded 70 nations, and even occupied some of those countries.

The 4th of July is Independence Day for the United States and commemorates the 4 July 1776 Declaration of Independence for the US, the key passage of which is “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Unfortunately american racism has grossly violated the proposition that “all men are created equal” and the worst form of racism involves invasion of other countries, as well as the growing racism in your country. The US has invaded about 70 countries since its inception and has invaded a total of about 50 countries since 1945 [1]. The World needs to declare a transition from the 4th of July as Independence for America Day to the 4th of July as Independence from America Day.

The following is a list of countries invaded by the US forces  (naval, military and ultimately air forces) since its inception in order of major incidents. This catalogue derives heavily form the work of US academic Dr Zoltan Grossman’s article “From Wounded Knee to Libya: a century of U.S. military interventions” [1], Gideon Polya’s book ‘Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950” (that includes a brief history of all countries since Neolithic times) [2] and William Blum’s book “ Rogue State ” [3]. This list includes instances of violent deployment of US forces within America (e.g. against demonstrators, miners etc), and includes small-scale bombing and military intervention operations, military evacuations of Americans and specific instances of explicit threats of use of nuclear weapons. The list does not include the 1801-1805 US Marine Barbary War operations against Barbary pirates based in Morocco , Algeria , Tunisia and Libya , and also ignores massive US subversion of virtually all countries in the world.

Argentine newspaper: Putin behind the renaissance of Russia’s influence

 

1023464187

Russian President Vladimir Putin

President Vladimir Putin helped to restore Russia, as well as the former influence of the Kremlin amid the European crisis, Argentinian newspaper Infobae wrote. According to prominent Argentinian analyst and author Mariano Caucino, after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, for many years Russia seemed to have lost its privileged position as a global player. However, Russia’s geographical location, stockpile of nuclear arms and veto rights in the UN Security Council, as well as Moscow’s political, historical and energy influence point to the fact that the country is a world power.

The newspaper rhetorically asks who Vladimir Putin is: a hero who restored the superiority of Russia after the collapse of the USSR and national humiliation in the 1990s, or an “evil power” as Western media usually presents the Russian leader.

“Russia’s attitude to the area of its influence means that no one is allowed to intrude into the sphere of the country’s interests as it poses a threat to its sovereignty,” the Argentinian newspaper noted.

Russia cannot imagine itself in isolation from world politics, while having all necessary things to be engaged in world affairs. Unfortunately, over the last decade, the West has attempted to force Russia out of the position as a superpower, preferring China and India.

“These are the hidden reasons, which motivated the Russian leadership to proceed to action on the creation of a multi-polar world. Russia seeks to demonstrate to the international community an alternative way of political, cultural and spiritual development based on Eurasian values.”

According to Infobae, Moscow believes that the times of a uni-polar world should be left in the past, when the United States after the Cold War used to be the sole superpower.

“Due to its historical significance, enormous size and political will, Russia is destined to be a global player in the future. Historic injustices committed in the 1980s and 1990s need to be fixed,” Mariano Caucino wrote.

Moreover, the newspaper noted that the long-term interests of the West would be better protected if they complied with the principles of respect for its partner and mutually beneficial cooperation, taking into account its political and historical realities.

Enforcing the Ukraine ‘Group Think’

CONSORTIUM NEWS

Independent Investigative Journalism Since 1995

May 9, 2015

Exclusive: U.S.-taxpayer-funded Radio Liberty has a checkered history that includes hiring Nazi sympathizers as Cold War commentators. Now, one of its current writers has used the platform to bash an American scholar who won’t join Official Washington’s “group think” on Ukraine, Robert Parry reports.

By Robert Parry

It may be fitting that the U.S.-funded Radio Liberty would be the latest media outlet to join in the bashing of an American academic who dares to disagree with U.S. policies on Ukraine, which have included supporting a 2014 coup that ousted the elected president and installing a new regime in which neo-Nazis play a prominent role. After all, Radio Liberty has a history of cuddling up to Nazis.

On May 6, a Radio Liberty pundit named Carl Schreck joined the Official Washington herd in demeaning Russian scholar Stephen Cohen as “a Putin apologist” who, Schreck said, was once “widely seen as one of the preeminent scholars in the generation of Sovietologists who rose to prominence in the 1970s, [but] Cohen these days is routinely derided as Putin’s ‘toady’ and ‘useful idiot.’”

Russia scholar Stephen Cohen.

Russian scholar Stephen Cohen.

While hurling insults, Schreck did little to evaluate the merits of Cohen’s arguments, beyond consulting with neoconservatives and anti-Moscow activists. Cohen’s daring to dissent from Official Washington’s conventional wisdom was treated as proof of his erroneous ways.

In that sense, Schreck’s reliance on vitriol rather than reason was typical of the “group think” prevalent across the U.S. mainstream media. But Radio Liberty does have a special history regarding Ukraine, including the use of Nazi sympathizers during the ramping up of the Cold War propaganda by Ronald Reagan’s administration in the 1980s.

In early 2014, when I was reviewing files at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California, I stumbled onto an internal controversy over Radio Liberty’s broadcasts of commentaries into Ukraine from right-wing exiles. Some of those commentaries praised Ukrainian nationalists who sided with the Nazis in World War II as the SS pursued its “final solution” against European Jews, including the infamous Babi Yar massacre in a ravine outside Kiev.

These RL propaganda broadcasts provoked outrage from some Jewish organizations, such as B’nai B’rith, and individuals including conservative academic Richard Pipes, prompting an internal review. According to a memo dated May 4, 1984, and written by James Critchlow, a research officer at the Board of International Broadcasting, which managed Radio Liberty and Radio Free Europe, one RL broadcast in particular was viewed as “defending Ukrainians who fought in the ranks of the SS.”

Critchlow wrote, “An RL Ukrainian broadcast of Feb. 12, 1984 contains references to the Nazi-oriented Ukrainian-manned SS ‘Galicia’ Division of World War II which may have damaged RL’s reputation with Soviet listeners. The memoirs of a German diplomat are quoted in a way that seems to constitute endorsement by RL of praise for Ukrainian volunteers in the SS division, which during its existence fought side by side with the Germans against the Red Army.”

Harvard Professor Pipes, who was an adviser to the Reagan administration, also inveighed against the RL broadcasts, writing – on Dec. 3, 1984 – “the Russian and Ukrainian services of RL have been transmitting this year blatantly anti-Semitic material to the Soviet Union which may cause the whole enterprise irreparable harm.”

Though the Reagan administration publicly defended RL against criticism, privately some senior officials agreed with the critics, according to the documents. For instance, in a Jan. 4, 1985, memo, Walter Raymond Jr., a top official on the National Security Council, told his boss, National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, that “I would believe much of what Dick [Pipes] says is right.”

That three-decade-old dispute over U.S.-sponsored radio broadcasts underscored the troubling political reality of Ukraine, which straddles a dividing line between people with cultural ties oriented toward the West and those with a cultural heritage more attuned to Russia. Since the Feb. 22, 2014 coup that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, some of the old Nazi sympathies have resurfaced.

For instance, on May 2, 2014, when right-wing hooligans chased ethnic Russian protesters into the Trade Union Building in Odessa and then set it on fire killing scores of people inside, the burnt-out building was then defaced with pro-Nazi graffiti hailing “the Galician SS” spray-painted onto the charred walls.

Later, some of Ukraine’s right-wing “volunteer” battalions sent to eastern Ukraine to crush the ethnic Russian resistance sported neo-Nazi and Nazi emblems, including Swastikas and SS markings on their helmets. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine.”]

Targeting Cohen

But anyone who detects this reality can expect to confront insults from the mainstream U.S. media and U.S. government propagandists. Professor Cohen, 76, has borne the brunt of these ad hominem attacks.

One of the ugliest episodes came when the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies joined the bash-Cohen mob. The academic group spurned a fellowship program, which it had solicited from Cohen’s wife, The Nation’s editor Katrina vanden Heuvel, because the program’s title included Cohen’s name.

“It’s no secret that there were swirling controversies surrounding Professor Cohen,” Stephen Hanson, the group’s president, told the New York Times.

In a protest letter to the group, Cohen called this action “a political decision that creates serious doubts about the organization’s commitment to First Amendment rights and academic freedom.” He also noted that young scholars in the field have expressed fear for their professional futures if they break from the herd. Cohen mentioned the story of one young woman scholar who dropped off a panel to avoid risking her career in case she said something that could be deemed sympathetic to Russia.

Cohen noted, too, that even established foreign policy figures, ex-National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, have been accused in the Washington Post of “advocating that the West appease Russia,” with the notion of “appeasement” meant “to be disqualifying, chilling, censorious.” (Kissinger had objected to the comparison of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler as unfounded.)

So, as the United States rushes into a new Cold War with Russia, we are seeing the makings of a new McCarthyism, challenging the patriotism of anyone who doesn’t get in line. But this conformity presents a serious threat to U.S. national security and even the future of the planet. We saw a similar pattern with the rush to war in Iraq, but a military clash with nuclear-armed Russia is a crisis of a much greater magnitude.

One of Professor Cohen’s key points has been that Official Washington’s “group think” about post-Soviet Russia has been misguided from the start, laying the groundwork for today’s confrontation. In Cohen’s view, to understand why Russians are so alarmed by U.S. and NATO meddling in Ukraine, you have to go back to those days after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Instead of working with the Russians to transition carefully from a communist system to a pluralistic, capitalist one, the U.S. prescription was “shock therapy.”

As American “free market” experts descended on Moscow during the pliant regime of Boris Yeltsin, well-connected Russian thieves and their U.S. compatriots plundered the country’s wealth, creating a handful of billionaire “oligarchs” and leaving millions upon millions of Russians in a state of near starvation, with a collapse in life expectancy rarely seen in a country not at war.

Yet, despite the desperation of the masses, American journalists and pundits hailed the “democratic reform” underway in Russia with glowing accounts of how glittering life could be in the shiny new hotels, restaurants and bars of Moscow. Complaints about the suffering of average Russians were dismissed as the grumblings of losers who failed to appreciate the economic wonders that lay ahead.

As recounted in his 2001 book, Failed Crusade, Cohen correctly describes this fantastical reporting as journalistic “malpractice” that left the American people misinformed about the on-the-ground reality in Russia. The widespread suffering led Putin, who succeeded Yeltsin, to pull back on the wholesale privatization, to punish some oligarchs and to restore some of the social safety net.

Though the U.S. mainstream media portrays Putin as essentially a tyrant, his elections and approval numbers indicate that he commands broad popular support, in part, because he stood up to some oligarchs (though he still worked with others). Yet, Official Washington continues to portray oligarchs whom Putin jailed as innocent victims of a tyrant’s revenge.

After Putin pardoned jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the neocon Freedom House sponsored a Washington dinner in Khordorkovsky’s honor, hailing him as one of Russia’s political heroes. “I have to say I’m impressed by him,” declared Freedom House President David Kramer. “But he’s still figuring out how he can make a difference.”

New York Times writer Peter Baker fairly swooned at Khodorkovsky’s presence. “If anything, he seemed stronger and deeper than before” prison, Baker wrote. “The notion of prison as cleansing the soul and ennobling the spirit is a powerful motif in Russian literature.”

Yet, even Khodorkovsky, who is now in his early 50s, acknowledged that he “grew up in Russia’s emerging Wild West capitalism to take advantage of what he now says was a corrupt privatization system,” Baker reported. In other words, Khodorkovsky was admitting that he obtained his vast wealth through a corrupt process, though by referring to it as the “Wild West” Baker made the adventure seem quite dashing and even admirable when, in reality, Khodorkovsky was a key figure in the plunder of Russia that impoverished millions of his countrymen and sent many to early graves.

In the 1990s, Professor Cohen was one of the few scholars with the courage to challenge the prevailing boosterism for Russia’s “shock therapy.” He noted even then the danger of mistaken “conventional wisdom” and how it strangles original thought and necessary skepticism.

“Much as Russia scholars prefer consensus, even orthodoxy, to dissent, most journalists, one of them tells us, are ‘devoted to group-think’ and ‘see the world through a set of standard templates,’” wrote Cohen. “For them to break with ‘standard templates’ requires not only introspection but retrospection, which also is not a characteristic of either profession.”

Nor is it characteristic of U.S.-taxpayer-funded Radio Liberty, which has gone from promoting the views of Nazi sympathizers in the 1980s to pushing the propaganda of a new Ukrainian government that cozies up to modern-day neo-Nazis.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Obama Gave Up on Ukraine, Press Simply Ignored It

 

Eric Zuesse

On Tuesday, May 12th, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was asked at a press conference in Sochi Russia, to respond to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s recent statements promising renewed war against Donbass, which were made first on April 30th, “The war will end when Ukraine regains Donbass and Crimea,” and which were repeated on May 11th, by his saying, “I have no doubt, we will free the [Donetsk] Airport, because it is our land.” In other words, Poroshenko had repeatedly made clear that he plans a third invasion of Donbass, and, ultimately, also to invade and retake Crimea. (The Western press, however, had not reported any of these threats that were being made by Poroshenko.)

Kerry responded:

“ I have not had a chance – I have not read the speech. I haven’t seen any context. I have simply heard about it in the course of today [which would be shocking if true]. But if indeed President Poroshenko is advocating an engagement in a forceful effort at this time, we would strongly urge him to think twice not to engage in that kind of activity, that that would put Minsk in serious jeopardy. And we would be very, very concerned about what the consequences of that kind of action at this time may be.”

None of this was reported by Western ‘news’ media. Even Russia’s own Sputnik News, which was Russia’s main English-language medium reporting on Kerry’s comment, ignored this shocking assertion by the U.S. Secretary of State contradicting the nominal leader of the Ukrainian Government that the U.S. itself had installed in February 2014. 

The Obama Administration now had slammed Poroshenko down on the key issue of whether to resume the war against Ukraine’s former Donbass region, and also slammed him on whether Ukraine should invade Crimea, which is Russian territory and would therefore mean a war against the Russian armed forces. America’s stooge-regime in Kiev was here being publicly taken to the woodshed about the advisability of yet another Ukrainian invasion of Ukraine’s former southeastern breakaway regions, Donbass and, even Crimea. 

Sputnik didn’t quote any of this from Kerry. Instead, they headlined, “Kerry: Poroshenko Should ‘Think Twice’ Before Using Force in Donbass,” and they opened their news-report by saying: “Following an extensive six hour discussion between US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and President Putin, Kerry stressed that any Ukrainian efforts to seize the Donetsk Airport through force would violate the Minsk Protocol and would face strict opposition from Washington.” That assertion was true, and important, but all that was quoted from Kerry was the nondescript: “What is important is to make sure that both sides are moving forward in implementing the Minsk accord in its full measure.” Even Kerry’s stunning “think twice” statement, which was actually Washington’s first-ever verbal slam-down of the stooge-regime the U.S. itself had installed in Ukraine in February 2014, in an extremely bloody coup, wasn’t being quoted at all by Sputnik. (Only that two-word phrase was in the headline, but it — and its surrounding passage and context — were entirely absent from the report itself.) Nor was the significance of Kerry’s remark there discussed, at all. Their news-report was a total botch.

Western ‘news’ media were far worse than a botch; they were outright dishonest. Typical was BBC, which headlined on May 12th“Ukraine Crisis: Kerry Has ‘Frank’ Meeting with Putin,” and their article said nothing whatsoever about Kerry’s shocking slam-down of his Ukrainian stooge. To that ‘news’ report was also appended an “Analysis: Bridget Kendall, BBC News, Sochi,” which simply blathered, and concluded, “There was no breakthrough on anything.” That statement was the exact opposite of the truth.

The one good, and, really, brilliant, news-analysis on this important matter, was from the legendary specialist on “the Empire’s [Washington’s] War on Russia,” the anonymous blogger who goes by the name, “The Saker.” His was not really a news-report, because he, too, failed to quote Kerry’s pathbreaking and shocking statement. He didn’t even quote the insignificant squib that Sputnik itself had quoted from Kerry’s remarks. Instead, he merely paraphrased Kerry, which is far less reliable than a quotation, and also far less informative than the packed shocker that Kerry actually delivered. Saker’s paraphrase was far briefer than was Kerry’s statement which is quoted here; it was merely: “Kerry made a few rather interesting remarks, saying that the Minsk-2  Agreement (M2A) was the only way forward and that he would strongly caution Poroshenko against the idea of renewing military operations.” That’s all there was to it. So, The Saker failed to provide a news-report on Kerry’s shocker. But his news-analysis  of its significance was superb, and it’s extremely worth reading (it’s worth clicking onto the link which will now be provided on the article’s title). That analysis was dated May 13th, and it was bannered, “Yet Another Huge Diplomatic Victory for Russia.”  

But also there was just a slice of real news in The Saker’s article, when he said, only in passing (as if it were insignificant, which it was not), “Then, there was the rather interesting behavior of [Victoria] Nuland, who was with Kerry’s delegation, she refused to speak to the press and left looking rather unhappy.” Nothing more than that, but that’s plenty. In other words: Nuland, the agent whom President Obama had placed in charge of arranging the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, and of selecting the leader of the junta that would be imposed upon Ukraine (“Yats” Yatsenyuk), and who told the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine what to do and how to do it, was now exceedingly disturbed to find herself overridden at this late date in her Ukrainian escapade, publicly overridden by her own immediate boss, Secretary of State Kerry. 

In other words: she is now sidelined. That’s important news, but The Saker there merely hinted at it, and only in passing. So, as a news-report, The Saker’s article was poor but perhaps the best around; but as a news-analysis, it was excellent, and by far the best.

Nuland now knows that she has lost, and that Obama has thrown in the towel on the original plan for Ukraine, which had been for an all-out military conquest of the region, Donbasswhere the people had voted over 90% for the man whom Nuland’s team had overthrown on 22 February 2014, Viktor Yanukovych, and so Obama had wanted those people to be either killed or else expelled from Ukraine (so that they’d never again be able to vote in a Ukrainian national election and thus possibly restore a neutralist leadership of Ukraine, such as had existed under the man Obama deposed, Yanukovych).

Consequently, clearly, now, Obama is on-board with the “Plan B” for Ukraine, which Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel had put into place, the Minsk II Agreement, which brought about the present ceasefire, which now has become clearly the utter (even accepted by Kerry) capitulation of Obama’s Plan A on Ukraine, which plan Nuland had been carrying out. Kerry’s public statement there was a public slap in the face to his own #2 official on Ukraine; and it could not have been asserted by him if he were not under Obama’s instruction that the previous plan, to exterminate or drive out all the residents of Donbass, was no longer worth trying, and that the Hollande-Merkel plan would be America’s fall-back position.

Obama’s message in this, through Kerry, to Ukraine’s President Poroshenko, and indirectly also to Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yatsenyuk (the leader whom Nuland herself had selected), is: we’ll back you only as long as you accept that you have failed our military expectations and that we will be stricter with you in the future regarding how you spend our military money. We’re getting in line now behind the Hollande-Merkel peace plan for Ukraine.

Dmitriy Yarosh, and the other outright nazis who had been threatening to overthrow Poroshenko if he doesn’t renew the war against Donbass and seize Crimea; Dmitriy Yarosh, who was the man who had led the Ukrainian coup for the U.S., and whose thugs had dressed as Yanukovych’s security forces when gunning down both police and demonstrators in the February 2014 coup, in order for Yanukovych to become blamed for the bloodshed on that occasion; is now, in effect, being told: if you will try another coup, this time to overthrow our own stooges in Ukraine, then you’re finished, Mr. Yarosh. Don’t do it.

Merkel and Hollande thus won. Putin had decidedly won. Obama and the nazis he had empowered in Ukraine have now, clearly, been defeated. But the mess that Obama’s people have created in Ukraine by their coup and subsequent ethnic-cleansing to eliminate the residents of Donbass, will take decades, if ever, to repair.

Western ‘news’ media can cover it all up, but they can’t change this reality, which, increasingly as time goes by, will expose the press’s failure to have even reported on this historically important U.S. coup in Ukraine and its ultimate failure. As a story about  the press, it is about yet another system-wide press-deceit upon the public, comparable to their ‘news coverage’ of ‘Saddam’s WMD,’ and other lies, in 2002 and 2003. 

More and more people are coming to know what utter rot the Western press are. The news-report that you are now reading here, has been submitted to all of them, but they’ll probably all reject it like they’ve all refused to report the truth that it and its predecessors report and reported about Obama’s nazi (i.e., racist-fascist) takeover of Ukraine. How the Western press will get out of their cover-ups and outright lies, yet again, is hard to imagine. But maybe they’ll just not report it at all — yet again. Obama has thrown in the towel on Ukraine, and still the press hasn’t yet reported it. But now I have, and you’re reading it here, perhaps for the first time, even though Kerry’s sensational remark was made a week ago.

Thus, major historical events (like Kerry’s statement here) occur, in broad daylight, which never were even reported by the Western press — they were instead covered-up, not covered at all, by ‘our’ ‘free’ press.

Exiled Russian lawmaker explains why Putin isn’t afraid of Obama

136236898.0.0

Exiled Russian lawmaker explains why Putin isn’t afraid of Obama

VOX – Tuesday, April 21, 2015

On March 20, 2014, when Russia’s State Duma voted on whether to annex the Ukrainian region of Crimea into Russia, 445 of the Duma’s legislators voted yes and one voted no. The “no” was Ilya Ponomarev, a longtime leftist politician and critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Within a few months, Ponomarev was exiled from Russia and stripped of his legislative immunity from prosecution. Though he is still officially a Duma member, he now lives in the US and is attempting to organize a more formal opposition to Putin from outside of the country.

We spoke to him in Washington, DC, about the stability of Putin’s rule, the Russian elites who help keep him in power, how things might change, and Putin’s increasingly tense relationship with Europe and the United States. While Ponomarev believes change will come to Russia, he warned that it will take years — and believes it will likely come from a combination of Russian elites turning against Putin and popular unrest, not from the ballot box.

What follows is a transcript of our conversation, edited and condensed for clarity.

Let me ask you about Crimea, and your vote in the Duma against its annexation as part of Russia. Did you know you were going to be the only one voting against it?

Yes. I expected this.

So why did you vote against it?

I thought there had to be somebody to show that it wasn’t unanimous. Because if it was unanimous, that would be used later to restore relations with Ukraine [while treating the annexation of Crimea as irrevocable]. But if there was a split, that means you have somebody to talk to [in the Russian government about Crimea’s status]. But of course, I understood that would significantly disrupt my activities in the country.

Did you expect the reaction to be as bad as it was?

I expected they might try a criminal case for sure. I didn’t expect that they would try to isolate me outside of Russia. I would rather expect the reverse — that they would try to contain me within Russia. They decided to go the other way.

Do you regret it?

The vote? Of course not. This was my job to do this. So I consulted with my constituents, and I tried to do right.

After the vote, what was the reaction from your constituents?

The most common reaction, pardon my language, is, “We disagree, but you are a true Siberian man with real balls.” That was the most common phrase I heard.

I understand you’re traveling to Europe soon. What are you working on there?

I’m working with the Russian diaspora, which has been traditionally disorganized and hasn’t had any kind of political agenda. It’s very fragmented. That’s a very dramatic contrast with the Ukrainian diaspora, because the Ukrainians are very well-organized. They were very active in terms of what was going on in 2004 in the Orange Revolution and the recent Maidan events.

The Russian diaspora is not like that. So I want to change it. I want to use it to develop a vision of Russia after Putin.

Within Russia, a big constituency for Putin’s actions in Crimea and in eastern Ukraine has been the neo-imperialist movement and, to some extent, the Russian nationalist movement that sees these areas as rightfully Russian. Are these groups focusing much on the Russian communities in the Baltic states, in Estonia and Latvia and Lithuania?

All Russian speakers. All those who might be seen as wanting to come back. But even the Russian community in Baltic states is divided. Take an example that I know well, Latvia, where we have the largest Russian community. There are people for whom Russian is a native tongue but who agreed to integrate in Latvian society and learn the language. That’s about half of the Russian population there; they are citizens.

They still identify themselves as Russians. They watch Russian TV. The mayor of Riga is Russian, Nils Ušakovs. The party that is supported by these Russians, Harmony, is the number-one political party in Latvia. They get around 30 percent, 35 percent of votes. It’s supported by these ethnic Russians in Latvia, but they are pro-Latvian. They don’t want to join Russia.

But there are ethnic Russians in Latvia who are non-citizens, who say, “We don’t want to learn Latvian language. It’s not our fault that we live here, and they should respect [our rights].” It is a difficult issue of being a non-citizen in your own country, where you have been born. They are very much pro-Russian because they feel oppressed.

That community was supporting a local referendum to acknowledge Russian as a second state language in Latvia. The referendum failed, but a very significant number voted for it. And that basically illustrates the divide.

If Putin’s going to leave office, are you looking toward the Duma elections coming up in 2016 or the presidential election in 2018 as how that would happen?

Most likely not that fast, because it’s impossible to use the existing electoral code and conduct free elections. We will end up with exactly the same system, and I think that without rewriting the constitution, without rewriting the basic political laws, it’s impossible to create a workable system. You would need to have a kind of transitional president, during which these set of laws would be developed.

We have this with the president of Kyrgyzstan, Roza Otunbayeva, who was elected by all different political actors during the revolution. [Otunbayeva served as transitional president in 2010 and 2011 after the government was deposed.] She was a popular figure, and she was trusted by everybody to not abuse power and to not run as a candidate during the next election.

Sure, but the mechanism for that was a revolution.

Yes, I would think that only a revolution would change things [in Russia]; I don’t believe any change will come through the elections.

Who would that come from?

I think that would come from a combination of civil unrest in the streets and from elites who are already dissatisfied with what’s going on, who would come to understand that it’s really dead-end for them in this current system.

Right now, though, there are still hopes [among Russian elites] that a new American president will come into office in 2017 and that he or maybe she will end the sanctions.

Do people believe the sanctions will end specifically because Hillary Clinton would end them, or just that once Obama leaves, whoever comes in will change US policy toward Russia?

The analysis in the Kremlin that has been propagated down, including to the [state] media, is the belief that the Americans are extremely rational and pragmatic. [In this view, the problem is only that] Obama is a lame duck and so he would not do anything, and he already has a personal issue with [Putin]. But as soon as he’s out, the pressure would go.

But elites in Russia are unhappy with how things are going?

Of course nobody is happy with how things are going. The sanctions are disturbing [to the elites]. The elites are nervous, and definitely don’t want to live under such circumstances for a long period of time because it’s a kind of personal instability for them. It creates insecurity. They want to settle this down so that these feelings will go. It hurts their business. Even those who are not under sanctions, they might come under them at any time.

Who are these elites? Are there key people who, if they lose faith in Putin, could be important in determining what happens?

It’s a significant part within Russian elites who can open the gates of the Kremlin in a critical situation. They are within business, the establishment, law enforcement. Nobody wants to fight against their own people. They would never make the first move, but they will join the winning side.

That’s why it has to be a combination [of elites and a popular movement to effect change]. People on the streets need to protest. That’s what was happening in Ukraine. You know, Maidan [the 2013 Ukrainian revolution] would not have happened if it was just people on the Kiev streets. It happened only because it was a combination: people at the top, the inability of law enforcement to really fight, and mass popular movement.

What’s stopping that from happening now?

People are not ready. It takes time. You have to mature to that idea.

People, at the end of the day, are pretty rational. So they always weigh risks, especially risks to themselves. And if there is doubt, they’ll always be waiting whether any change is real or not. So they have to start to feel that the change is real. That has to be in the air, the sense that it’s real. That something is going to change.

s there a belief among the elite that Putin, even if they don’t love him, can at least maintain stability and keep all the internal forces in line?

Yes, some people actually afraid that without Putin it would be a turn for worse. That’s a possibility; that is a very valid fear. A lot of these Novorossiya people [who see much of Ukraine as rightfully part of Russia and may have fought in eastern Ukraine] are real fighters or are real 100 percent fascists. That’s really scary for a lot of people.

One of the usual Putin lines of propaganda is that he never says he is good. The message put out to the [Kremlin] media might say, “Yes, we are bad, but those who might come after us are worse.”

He never says, like, United Russia [Putin’s political party] is good. He says, “Yes, it is corrupt. Yes, it is incompetent. But look at the opposition. They are even more corrupt, they are even more incompetent. They are associated with the ’90s, and in the ’90s it was worse than we have now, so you better stick with the lesser evil.”

And the elites find this message compelling?

eah, many people do. We have seen so often in our lives that it can always be worse. People are really afraid.

The opposition is focused too much on negative things. Like, okay, [opposition figure Alexei] Navalny is against the corruption. Okay, we are all against the corruption. It’s pretty self-evident that we should fight corruption.

That’s why Putin is saying Navalny is as corrupt as all the others. That’s his message. People say, “Probably that’s not true, but still I don’t know. He’s against corruption, we like him, but how?”

Is there anyone you think is providing a compelling alternative message in Russia right now?

Right now I don’t see many people do this. There was a prototype, called Club 2015. It was organized by a group of Russian business people in 1995 who were developing this 20-year vision for Russia.

It was never actually implemented inside Russia despite the fact that four members of the club, who swore that they would promote the ideas of the group, all have prominent positions right now. For example, Olga Dergunova, one of the members, is now chief of the government agency that manages state property.

But another member became a key person for reforms in Georgia, under [former Georgian President] Mikheil Saakashvili. It was extremely successful, and helped to defeat corruption and jump-start reforms. And that came from that [Club 2015] vision.

here seems to be a view in Russia that the US and Europe are somewhat divided over their approach to Russia — for example that Europe is only going along with sanctions because Obama has pressured them into it. Is there an effort by Russia to widen this possible division?

In general, [the view is that] this current administration thinks this all should be a European affair. They have their priorities in the Middle East, which I think is a mistake.

Putin recognizes this lack of attention and lack of strategy and is trying to play on the contradictions. Europe is not very capable as a union in terms of foreign policy, and Putin is trying to increase the possibility that this union could fall apart. He is financing right-wing parties, he is financing separatists.

A fear that I hear from people who work with NATO is that Putin is trying to, as you say, heighten contradictions between the US and Europe, and particularly between the US and Germany, over the degree to which NATO should counter Russia’s actions in Europe. And that part of what he’s trying to do, not just in Ukraine but maybe also in the Baltics, is to force a split between Europe and the US that will divide NATO. Do you think that’s right?

That’s obviously his strategy. The weaker part of NATO is not right now contradictions between Europe and US, but contradictions within Europe. Within the neutral countries of Europe, like in Germany.

First, inside Germany there is a greater degree of anti-Americanism, and Putin is playing on this. It’s 19th-century anti-imperialism that has been translated into anti-Americanism. Putin, again, is trying to use this concept of lesser evil, that you should ally with the lesser imperialism to fight the major imperialism. And a lot of people who are ultra-left and ultra-right tend to agree with that position, and that is facilitating this kind of thing.

Also it’s important to see that in Germany, Social Democrats and Socialists [two major political parties] are traditionally affiliated with labor unions. And that’s all about jobs, and jobs are about economic cooperation with Russia. I hear all the time from German Social Democrats, “Our economic interests in Ukraine, they are minuscule, and our economic interests in Russia, they are pretty large. Of course, we understand that Ukraine is right and Russia is wrong, but, speaking pragmatically about the interests of Germans, common Germans, we should still be with Russia.”

That view also seems to be much more popular with German voters, one of saying, “Let’s not get involved in this, because it’s really just a fight between the US and Russia that could be costly to us, and let’s stick with our economic interests.”

Yes, absolutely. And [the Kremlin] plays on this all the time. They are trying to show Germans that you’d be better off forgiving Russia for all wrongdoings, because that would be to your benefit.

The most extreme version of this that I hear in Washington is the fear that Putin could try to split Germany from NATO once and for all by hinting that he might do with the Russian communities in Estonia or Latvia something like what he did in Donbass, in eastern Ukraine. And because Estonia and Latvia are NATO members, this would force Germany to choose whether it was going to side with NATO and come to the Baltics’ defense, or whether it would say, “No, we’ve had enough of this,” and that this would effectively end NATO.

I wouldn’t think Putin would dare to vote for open military measures in the Baltic states. But of course it would be enough for grassroots movements there to rebel, and Russia would play on this, and that would be used as a lever on Europe.

Rather, I think it’s a very high probability of further advances in non-NATO members in eastern Europe. Definitely Putin might decide for another offensive in eastern Ukraine, after Victory Day [an annual Russian holiday marking the end of World War II] on May 9. Or he might try to build this land corridor to Crimea. He might escalate in Moldova [where Russia has a military base in the separatist region of Transnistria].

With Baltic states, as NATO members, he’ll be more cautious. But he’s the type of guy who is always increasing stakes.