Updates on the Gruesome News from Ukraine and the Underlying Geopolitics

Historian and Russian policy analyst Stephen Cohen with Thom Hartmann (the nasty ads are about two and a half minutes long). My.fdl operationmindcrime has the entire interview embedded, plus a few other links; I’ve clipped the first 20 minutes.

Several notes on his interview: First, please note: ‘If you study Russian history with an open mind…as much as you may hate the ideology of the Kremlin under a given regime, or however much you may dislike the leadership of Russia, as long as you approach Russian history, its triumphs, its traumas, (etc.)…that the Kremlin would see this slow advance of NATO as a dangerous threat and a provocation and would react exactly as George Kennan said it would twenty years ago.’

This is Cohen’s companion piece Cohen on Ukraine civil war: ‘Lincoln didn’t call Confederates terrorists’, June 14, 2014. It includes the ‘only heresy can break orthodoxy’ and ‘Obomba in a bubble with no matching counter-arguments’ themes.

Did he mean to say that Ukraine is one of the Kremlin’s ‘red lines’, or did he mean ‘Crimea’ and Georgia? And he may indeed be right that Russia wanted to leave some of the border open to citizens trying to escape Kyiv’s constant shelling in some key locales. Show of force in Poland and other nations on the periphery? Oh, yes; NATO is proving that it’s mission is in no way passé, José. But ‘pull your troops away from the border, Roosia!’

Diana Johnstone described the 2013 meeting Cohen referenced this way:

It Was All Planned at Yalta’

In September 2013, one of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs, Viktor Pinchuk, paid for an elite strategic conference on Ukraine’s future that was held in the same Palace in Yalta, Crimea, where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill met to decide the future of Europe in 1945. The Economist, one of the elite media reporting on what it called a “display of fierce diplomacy”, stated that: “The future of Ukraine, a country of 48m people, and of Europe was being decided in real time.” The participants included Bill and Hillary Clinton, former CIA head General David Petraeus, former U.S. Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers, former World Bank head Robert Zoellick, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, Shimon Peres, Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Mario Monti, Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite, and Poland’s influential foreign minister Radek Sikorski. Both President Viktor Yanukovych, deposed five months later, and his recently elected successor Petro Poroshenko were present. Former U.S. energy secretary Bill Richardson was there to talk about the shale-gas revolution which the United States hopes to use to weaken Russia by substituting fracking for Russia’s natural gas reserves. The center of discussion was the “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement” (DCFTA) between Ukraine and the European Union, and the prospect of Ukraine’s integration with the West. The general tone was euphoria over the prospect of breaking Ukraine’s ties with Russia in favor of the West.

Forbes reported at the time on the “stark difference” between the Russian and Western views “not over the advisability of Ukraine’s integration with the EU but over its likely impact.” The Forbes piece explained that the West knew the pitfalls, and Mark Adomanis’s predictions seem to be coming true. Add in the language that required Ukraine ‘to abide by Europe’s security and military policies’, and as Cohen reasonably decodes it: ‘bring Ukraine into NATO through the back door’.

Johnstone also says that the Empire’s policy was essentially mapped out in Zbigniew Brzezinski’s 1997 The Grand Chessboard.

Kissinger may have indeed volunteered his services to Obomba, at least he is relatively rational about Ukraine, even if one disagrees with his take. Zbig? Read away.

Cohen’s remarks about the fact that in Germany, there is actually debate going on about Ukraine and those responsible for this ‘crisis’ was seriously interesting. And lo, and behold, Michael Cavlan, commenting at Café-Babylon.net, brought this video of Sahra Wagenknecht, deputy chair of Germany’s Left Party speaking at the Bundestag about the EU crisis and the civil war in Ukraine in reaction to a policy statement by Chancellor Angela Merkel, June 4, 2014.

The Neo-Nazis of which she speaks

Writing at HuffPo on March 11, Michael Hughes addressed ‘The Neo-Nazi Question in Ukraine’:

‘In a State Department “fact sheet” released last week the U.S. accused Putin of lying about the Ukrainian government being under the sway of extremist elements. The report stated that right wing ultranationalist groups “are not represented in the Rada (Ukraine’s parliament),” and that “there is no indication the government would pursue discriminatory policies.”

Yet after simply Googling the terms “Ukraine” and “Neo-Nazi,” the official position of the United States government along with the stance taken by many in the American media both now seem quite dubious, if not downright ridiculous, especially considering that one would be hard-pressed to machinate the lineup that now dominates Ukraine’s ministry posts.

For starters, Andriy Parubiy, the new secretary of Ukraine’s security council, was a co-founder of the Neo-Nazi Social-National Party of Ukraine (SNPU), otherwise known as Svoboda. And his deputy, Dmytro Yarosh, is the leader of a party called the Right Sector which, according to historian Timothy Stanley, “flies the old flag of the Ukrainian Nazi collaborators at its rallies.”

The highest-ranking right-wing extremist is Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Sych, also a member of Svoboda, who believes that women should “lead the kind of lifestyle to avoid the risk of rape, including refraining from drinking alcohol and being in controversial company.” This is the philosophy underlying one of his “legal initiatives,” according to the Kyiv Post, “to ban all abortions, even for pregnancies that occurred during rape.”

The Svoboda party has tapped into Nazi symbolism including the “wolf’s angel” rune, which resembles a swastika and was worn by members of the Waffen-SS, a panzer division that was declared a criminal organization at Nuremberg. A report from Tel-Aviv University describes the Svoboda party as “an extremist, right-wing, nationalist organization which emphasizes its identification with the ideology of German National Socialism.

According to this BBC news clip two Svoboda parliamentarians in recent weeks posed for photos while “brandishing well-known far right numerology,” including the numbers 88 — the eighth letter of the alphabet — signifying “HH,” as in “Heil Hitler.” This all makes Hillary Clinton’s recent comments comparing Putin to Hitler appear patently absurd, as Stanley adeptly points out: “After all, in the eyes of many ethnic Russians, it is the Ukrainian nationalists — not Putin — who are the Nazis.”

Ah, yes; ‘the tanks and other heavy equipment have been provided by Russia’. We’re being bombarded with “those Russian tanks prove Putin is behind the terrorists!” Anyone who is anyone in this mess has pix and videos of those three tanks on Twitter! Even satellite photos! (proving exactly nothing)

Moon of Alabama discredits that narrative rather handily.

Events since the interview or those not discussed

On June 14, the Guardian reported: Bloodiest day in Ukraine conflict as rebel missiles bring down military jet: Il-76 transport plane destroyed at Luhansk airport, killing 40 paratroopers and nine crew.

In apparent retaliation, members of Right Sektor attacked the Russian Embassy in Kyiv, demanding the Russian flag be taken down, pelting the building with rocks and eggs, and destroyed diplomatic vehicles nearby. The protestors painted swastikas on them and the gates of the Embassy, as even the Guardian reported. Their article’s title was Ukraine minister’s abusive remarks about Putin spark diplomatic row’ (he started the chant: Putin is a dickhead), but the subtitle was hilarious in the extreme: ‘Andriy Deshchytsia caught swearing about Russian president while trying to placate protesters outside embassy in Kiev, even adding this:

‘Alexei Pushkov, a senior Russian foreign policy official, called on the Ukrainian president to fire his foreign minister after the outburst. Leonid Kalashnikov, Pushkov’s deputy, told a Russian radio station: “I can’t really imagine how anyone, especially a Russian representative, can sit down at the negotiating table with him after such an outburst.”

However, Geoff Pyatt, the US ambassador to Ukraine, wrote on Twitter that the minister had been “seeking to defuse a dangerous situation”, calling Deshchytsia “a skilled diplomat and credit to Ukraine“.

Ah, yes; quite the ‘placating diplomat’, Geoffrey. It just could make negotiations a wee bit more difficult, don’t you think?

Perhaps this also caused negotiations, including the costs of Gazprom gas a bit sticky. Press TV has reported that:

Russia has accused Ukraine of using “prohibited weapons” while attempting to retake the pro-Russia controlled city of Slavyansk.
Comments by the Russian Foreign Ministry Human Rights Ombudsman Konstantin Dolgov came on Thursday, shortly after Russian state media reported the use of incendiary bombs by Ukraine’s forces in the eastern city of Slavyansk.

“Ukrainian defense forces and nationalists are using prohibited weapons against Slavyansk’s civilians, firing on refugees and killing children,” Dolgov tweeted, adding, “Kiev’s humanitarian crimes against (Ukraine’s) southeastern residents … must be investigated.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Moscow once again called on Kiev to stop its military operations in eastern Ukraine and agree to a ceasefire with protesters there.

According to a statement by Russia’s Foreign Ministry, the appeal was made during a phone conversation between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking parts in the east have been the scene of deadly clashes between pro-Russia protesters and the Ukrainian army since Kiev launched military operations in the southeastern regions in mid-April in a bid to root out the protests there. Kiev says it is targeting armed pro-Russia protesters, but many civilians have been caught in the shelling that has been going on for days’.

There are videos online of the alleged white phosphorus bombs or shells raining down in civilian areas. I don’t know, but this video is titled (Bing translated): ‘Army twice per day bombarded Slavyansk phosphorus’.

From Reuters: Russia cuts off gas to Ukraine as Kiev orders border secured’

‘Kiev and Moscow blamed each other for the failure to agree on the price of future gas deliveries and refused to abandon well established positions: Russia offering a discount and Ukraine rejecting that as a tool for political manipulation’, yada yada.

A long-term reduction of supply could hit EU consumers, which get about a third of their gas needs from Russia, around half of it through pipelines that cross Ukraine. Earlier price disputes led to “gas wars” in 2006 and 2009, and Russian accusations Ukraine stole gas destined for the rest of Europe.

Gazprom’s Miller said Russia would provide Ukraine with the volumes necessary to cover EU demand, but implied that Kiev may take some of those supplies for their own use – a potential shortfall Moscow could not be expected to cover.

Leveraging the EU toward pragmatic sanity?

Will a Bay of Pigs moment be sparked? Will this just be a civil war of attrition as some predict, or will Putin make any military move to protect Novoroosiya? Does he personally care about the many dead and/or those fleeing for their lives? I admit that I doubt it when I see his cold dead eyes. Will the Russian populace make demands on him? What does it tell us that the front page of the Guardian World has not one piece about Ukraine as I type? Iraq has taken center stage, of course. Pity the poor pawns in this hideous and unnecessary geopolitical theater. It just didn’t have to be this way. As Stephen Cohen said so well: “Their demands aren’t at all unreasonable.”

(cross-posed at My.firedoglake.com)

33 responses to “Updates on the Gruesome News from Ukraine and the Underlying Geopolitics

  1. Wendye

    Stellar piece.Thank you for the voice of sanity in this completely insane world.

  2. I will share it out on my facebook site

  3. welcome, michael cavlan, and thank for sharing it on FB. it may be 2L2R in the main, but it’s hard to care since the media has turned away from the story. thanks again for the Sahra Wagenknecht vimeo; i’d breezed right by it on operationmindcrime’s dairy (for several ‘never mind’ reasons).

    i reckon that one of the remaining questions is ‘who will stop the Imperium’ as in cohen’s mixed up ‘when our roosters come home to roost’ theme.

    but for the citizens of ukraine, i hear….

    and in my dark moments of rage and angst, bruce cockburn:

  4. Son Of A BUSH; spawned Or Odopted !

  5. “Cold, dead eyes”? A little Margaret Thatcher in reverse, dear wendye?

    I think Putin’s fending off the empire as well as he can, and it’s very unfortunate that they don’t care how they mount the attack, they’re gonna strike hard at Putin’s popularity with those that speak his language. I am still pondering how he has won Chechen support with his tactics there, but apparently he did. I’m just glad he didn’t rush us into another bloody crisis…yet. He may have no choice at the last, but I thank him for holding back.

    And yes, he does rather care for those fleeing civilians. As I understand it, he now controls the borders with eastern Ukraine and is facilitating the exodus of the fleeing thousands. Something we might compare to our own warm brown eyed leader’s policy with respect to similar crossborder refugees.

    Putin is not confronting anybody – unless you want to go back to harboring whistleblowers and deflecting bombers from Syria.

    And, um, I’m none too thrilled with ye olde Thom Hartmann. Jes’ sayin’.

  6. brothers under the skin, bruce, but obomba is even worse.

  7. i did see the saker say he believes that putin does care personally; i think he cares politically, but that’s just me, of course. and really, it may matter little in the end. he controls the borders? could you say more about that? all i’m reading is that kyiv means to shut them tight, *then* negotiate (what a term in all of this at this late date, eh?) so many preconditions, while the US is making common cause with…iran now.

    mmmm. if i failed to convey that he is not confronting anyone, then my post has failed epically.

    yes, the freakazoids in kyiv are sociopaths.

  8. and yes, thom hartmann: egad. also, i’d had a tab up with a quote i looked up that pretty much goes with your good james madison quote. i didn’t find the exact date of it, and an oldie, but:

    “The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
    ~ Journalist Finley Peter circa 100 years ago.

    also, i’d grabbed this link, which may have been what prompted me to comment on putin’s eyes:

    ‘Pentagon studying Putin’s body language to predict his behavior’

    conclusion: “Connors characterized Putin’s body language as a “highly restricted…head-to-tail spinal pattern similar to fish movement” in one 2004 report, according to her because he likely did not crawl as an infant.

    “Putin’s bodily imbalance and self-image show him to be risk-averse — stuck in place and time — and extremely sensitive to criticism,” she wrote.

    “Putin’s physical problems “created a strong will that he survive and an impetus to balance and strengthen the body…When we are unable to do something, really hard work becomes the way,” she said a year later during an interview with The Atlantic.

    “He is like that ice skater who had a club foot and became an Olympic skater,” she said. “It is really poignant to watch him on tape. This is a deep, old, profound loss that he has learned to cope with, magnificently.”

    rather respectful, isn’t it?

    but jeez, louise, juliania; the man was a top officer in the KGB for sixteen years. because he cared personally about the people, you reckon?

  9. And what explains ZerObama’s wallowing, and similar extreme sensitivity to criticism?

  10. not my study bruce, and i don’t necessarily subscribe to it. i did do some classes (and get analyzed by) a great body/mind psychotherapist, though, and learned to spot a lot of cues in body armoring. micro-expressions tell a lot, as well, and i just watched vid of jay carney’s goodbye talk. he made disgust expressions s he said how much he’d loved the job, and the press corps. obomba was a harder read on that one.but i usually think ‘a smile that doesn’t reach his eyes’. unless he’s talking about drone killing his girls’ boyfriends or something.

    but srsly, i can scarcely want to watch him anymore, given the sociopathic deeds he commits. i do remember a bit about the stills of ‘operation geronimo’. were i to make a study, i might even start right there. then hit the videos.

  11. michaelcavlan

    Speaking of Maggie Thatcher and rocket launchers. I got a few Maggie songs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htNSUBjXV6g

  12. michaelcavlan

    Orrrrrrrrrrrrr the more tamer one. LOL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJh0m0E7Ozg

  13. michaelcavlan

    Or even, just so that it is not just the Irish……………………………………. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1bJbeeKBPCU

  14. michaelcavlan

  15. i do remember ‘ding dong’ and maggie. the rest i may try tomorrow; i am bushed (so to speak). :)

  16. LOL sorry Wendye
    You mentioned Maggie thatcher and rocket launcher. It just flowed out of me from there. sleep well friend.

  17. just flowed right out, did they now? :) i liked the mcCullagh one best; insanely good photos. some were used in my favorite billy bragg video.

  18. yeah that one is my favorite as well. I may be Irish but first and foremost i am an Internationalist who believes in standing up for the working class no matter what imaginary border they are behind.
    John McCollough did a stellar job with that song. He sang it for all of us that understood just what a vile person that woman was.

  19. he did, O, how he did. and billy bragg:

  20. michaelcavlan

    Another stellar song. i am particular to this version though Natalie Merchant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQt7Mk14194

  21. i love merchant, especially ‘this house in on fire’, but i reckon i like billy’s as more of a call to (metaphorical, at least) arms.

  22. Sorry to have raised the spectre of Margaret Thatcher – I was thinking of her Gorbachev quote that she’d looked into her eyes and poking a little fun there. But wendye, it’s good you had the conversation about the veracity of videos at fdl – we know they can be manipulated and certainly propaganda is rife on all sides – hopefully numbers are hugely exaggerated is my thought on the matter.

    But the entire subject, and this includes for Iraq, makes me think back to ‘Dr. Zhivago’ and I thank you for taking me there. The end of the novel is very different from the end of the David Lean movie, much more realistic to my mind, though obviously it wouldn’t have played on screen.

    The movie begins and ends with the daughter of Zhivago and his half brother conversing on a mighty dam under construction – she is a brave new world worker and gets given Zhivago’s childhood balalaika (his mother’s I think.) In the book the child is rediscovered by Zhivago’s longtime friends, and she relates an utterly gruesome story about the murder of the son of her ‘caregiver’ by a robber said caregiver has trapped in her cellar – the situation resolved by passing military on a train – military from the finally ‘settled in’ regime.

    It is a sign for the friends that apocalyptic events of their revolutionary experience have now been replaced by..”the metaphorical has become literal, children are children, and terrors are terrible, there you have the difference.”

    I wish this transition for Ukraine; I wish it for Iraq; I wish it for us.

  23. “…his eyes…” sorry!

    But yes, I do think it is possible to have been a KGB officer and now have a statesman’s concerns. Nobody’s perfect, but Russians are good people like us, and they like him. I just watched Andrew Bacevich on the Real News talking about Iraq. What a good guy, spells it out pretty clearly, the terrible terrible waste of it all. Putin saw it with Gaddaffi, started to try to put the brakes on after that.

    All I can say is somebody had to.

  24. Here’s what I hope is a good translation of one of Pasternak’s poems, the last three verses:

    “Day was breaking. Dawn swept the last of the stars
    Off heaven’s vault as if they were ash motes.
    And Mary, out of all the countless multitude, allowed
    Only the Magi to enter the cleft in the crag.

    He slept, all refulgent, in the manger of oakwood,
    Like a moonbeam within a deep-hollowed tree.
    In lieu of sheepskins His body was warmed
    By the lips of an ass and the nostrils of an ox.

    The Magi stood in shadow (the byre seemed in twilight);
    They spoke in whispers, groping for words.
    Suddenly one, in deeper shadow, touched another
    To move him aside from the manger, a little to the left.
    The other turned: like a guest about to enter,
    The Star of the Nativity was gazing upon the Maid.”

  25. Correction: I should have said the above was an extract from the poems of Yurii Zhivago.

  26. oh, me, juliania. for tonight, i’m feelin’ rode hard and put up wet. fought household machines today, and did some must-do gardening, barely made sense answering comments over yonder, i’d guess.

    please excuse me until tomorrow? and sleep well.

  27. michaelcavlan

    No problem for me in invoking the name of that woman Maggie Thatcher. It lead to the above “flowing out” of a bunch of stellar Thatcher songs that Wendye and I got to share with each other. LOL
    We Irish have a very special “bond” with her ya know? LOL

  28. the poem will take further readings; the imagery is replete with metaphors.how strange that even having read ‘Zhivago’ at least twice, i don’t recall that very different ending. the images of the two on the dam wrote over the book for me, it seems.

    “But yes, I do think it is possible to have been a KGB officer and now have a statesman’s concerns.”

    but ah: i never said it would have made ‘statesman’s concerns’ impossible, but i did say that he may not *personally* care all that much. he, of course, answers to his fellow oligarchs, dumas and to the russian populace, at least as far as i know. surely you must have read this piece by chris floyd that sparked fairleft’s entire diary: ‘now is not the tie to undermine putin!’ or close. yes, he had spent a decade living under his rule, and was bugged by all those skirting past the facts as he saw them.

    he has written since, adding a wider perspective to what evil is afoot in ukraine. but you will no doubt love the coming book salon at fdl:


  29. #NATO SG @AndersFoghR @ChathamHouse:

    “I can confirm we now see a new Russian military buildup on #Ukraine border,a few thousand more troops”

    Tony White ‏@rumoverijse 8h

    #NATO scrambles #RAF fighter jets after ‘multiple’ Russian planes spotted in Baltic airspace http://dailym.ai/1lzD3k6 via @MailOnline

  30. Rather than go OT on your lovely music thread, wendye, I am taking your earlier advice to go to a relevant topic on this – now I know what ‘running around with hair on fire’ really means. I do hope this information in the badly skewed information war will percolate out – going to NC next as they had a very good piece by Lambert up yesterday (Sunday, July 20) on this.

    I know people are shellshocked by all the violence – I am as well – but this is really really important. I just posted at metamars’ diary on activists two important links:


    So far it is a short group of comments, so the links are in the earliest ones. My last comment is that while awful things are happening in Gaza, if Russia goes to war all bets are off, and if they feel they are not being heard, that indeed could well happen.

    I sure hope I’m wrong. I sure hope Putin will maintain his cool and take the Kennedy option.

  31. I signed in – I don’t know why it is refusing to put my logo on this. Well, I will do the old way and get it. The above was me!

  32. sorry you’re getting stripped of your kiwi, and yes, things are breaking uglier in ukraine. i’d been about to post some of the ‘Putin did it!’ (alternately Russia) tweets from asshat geofrey pyatt, but the best ones are buried by today and hard to dig out. my take is that the plane distracts from the ethnic cleansing in novorussia, myself, not that there was ever any mention of that in the msm.

    but i will stick up stephen cohen on amy goodman’s, although i was surprised she had him back after having gone with banderist cretin chris miller of the kyiv post and his ilk. but today’s bread day, and i’m pressed for time at the moment.

    some good links and speculation on woody box’s piece at the bottom of the readers’ list. metamars is a crank, maukonen…is mawkish and has the lowest opinion of amerikans of anyone i’ve ever known online.

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