Ukraine Out of the Rabbit Hole: an Open Thread


(sorry it’s so long, but whoosh, there was a hella lot to cover.)

Ukraine had slipped out of the news recently (and obviously) in favor of ISIS, ISIL, Clinton, whatever, and after spending a few days digging around and collecting links, I found this headline yesterday by Bryan MacDonald at RT: ’Kerry in Sochi: Ukraine’s 15 minutes of fame is probably over’.  Well, yes; the news from Sochi indicates that it may be so; I just hope someone clues NATO in on the new developments./s

But let me digress.  Not a month ago, the sensible Stephen Cohen, Russian expert, was once again maintaining that there needs to political parity between the US and Russia.

As recently as May 9, Robert Parry had penned this piece describing the many Western media hits on Cohen: ‘Enforcing the Ukraine ‘Group Think’:

“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.”  Dude’s name is Schreck, which means ‘frightful’ or close.  That as NATO is busy trying to neutralize Russian propaganda.

Yes, Stephen Cohen is ‘a Putin apologist’.

May 9 was also the date of the 70th anniversary Moscow commemoration of Russians who’d died in WWII fighting the Nazis; some estimate 27 million of them.  Having chosen to snub the event as the New Cold War policy seemed to dictate, perhaps the White House was awestruck by the number of global leaders that had attended, including the Chinese who joined the parade out of respect or solidarity.

In any event, on May 12 John Kerry was sent to meet with Vladamir Putin and Sergei Lavrov in Sochi; what passed may prove to be historical watershed meetings, one with Lavrov, one with Putin, amounting to seven hour of actual diplomacy, most probably due to the Russian penchant for that form of state-to-state communication.

You may have seen baffling headlines afterward indicating that John Kerry had actually told Petro Poroshenko (aka: the Chocolate King, US puppet) not to be ramping up military fighting to “retake Crimea and the Donetsk airport”, as he was reported to have been doing. But indeed Kerry had sent that message, a de facto admission that the US is giving up on attempts to ‘isolate Russia’ and sanction their economy into oblivion, hoping that one result, of course, would be ‘regime change’.  When asked by a reporter about Poroshenko’s speech to the army, Kerry said”

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. 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.” said Kerry, according to the transcript.

He then offered some face-saving remarks such as “Now, it may be he was talking about in the long term. He may have been talking about the context of a final resolution or settlement; I don’t know the answer to that. But I do know that resort to force by any party at this point in time would be extremely destructive at a moment when everyone has brought together the working groups…”, yada, yada.

Lavrov was quite eloquent in stating which matters they’d discussed, including the Ukraine Minsk agreement, combating terrorism, ISIL, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, on and on, and ‘resolving Iran’s nuclear  program’.  They seem to have Hatch a Plan, or revived the old one.  But this is heady diplomacy by Lavrov, this next concerning ISIL:

“We believe that it is absolutely necessary to consistently fight that evil with no double standards based on the universally recognized principles of international law.”  Ahhhh.  When he spoke of Crimea, he noted that there were (ahem) many divergences between them as to the reality of the situation.  But on to the bilateral relationship, and Cohen’s “parity”:

“Among other things, we shared our views on the implementation of our agreements aimed at resolving the Iran’s nuclear program. We also discussed the situation in Yemen, Libya, and other Middle East countries. We also discussed the situation in Afghanistan, in the Korean Peninsula, and we emphasize that both U.S. and Russia are advocating denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Of course, we discussed the state of our bilateral relations, including some specific irritators that have been in place recently. But in a broader context, we also discussed our views related to bigger problems that had been accumulating for several years. Sometimes our opinions diverged and we did not always find common understanding of the issues. But we fully understand that it is absolutely necessary to avoid any steps that could further detriment relations between Russia and U.S. We believe that it is necessary to continue the cooperation between our countries, especially given the fact that resolution of many international problems really depends on our joint efforts – on the joint efforts of Russia and the U.S. – and I believe this is one of the main ideas about today’s negotiations, one of the main conclusions and outcomes of today.

Our president firmly emphasized that we are ready for as broad cooperation as possible and as close interaction as possible with the U.S.A. based on equal rights and mutual respect of interests and positions of each other. I’m very grateful to you, Secretary Kerry, for this long and productive day.”

Noteworthy developments and a bit of gossip

Long time journalist on matters Russian, John Helmer, writing at Naked Capitalism, wrote this while reporting on Angela Merkel’s visit to Moscow to (ahem) honor the WW II Russian dead, laying a wreath, etc., after having snubbed the May 9 observation day, as did almost all Western leaders.  Her “compromise”, it was called in the German press.

““We are ready for this,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said last Thursday after meeting Secretary of State John Kerry. Referring to Nuland, Lavrov added: “we were not those who had suspended relations. Those, who had done it, should reconsider their stance….But, as usual, the devil is in the details.” Lavrov meant not one, but two devils, who have sabotaged every move towards a settlement of the Ukraine conflict since the start of 2014 – Nuland and Merkel.
Merkel’s Kaput! moment came on May 10, when she went to Moscow to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Deutsche Welle, the state German press agency, called it Merkel’s “compromise after she stayed away from a Russian military parade the day before.”

At the following press conference with Putin, Merkel said: “We have sought more and more cooperation in recent years. The criminal and illegal annexation of Crimea and the military hostilities in eastern Ukraine has led to a serious setback for this cooperation.” German sources say the word Merkel said, “verbrecherische” has rarely been used by her before; it carries the connotation in colloquial German of gangsterism — and of Nazism. “Merkel doesn’t seem to care what she says any longer,” a high-level German source says. “She exhibits more and more emotion these days, more irritation, and less care for what she says, and where. Putin understood exactly what she meant, and on the occasion she said it. He acted with unusual generosity not to react.”

Helmer’s take, by the way, is that Angela Merkel’s inflammatory name-calling was by way of gaining votes for her re-election campaign, meaning that her indictments of Putin may have been by way of self-serving politics, but he says his sources know there will never be entente between Germany and Russia while Merkel rules.  He also had a bit of fun describing Nuland’s brand of diplomacy:

“On the next day, by the time Nuland was in Kiev meeting Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk and President Petro Poroshenko, the spokesman claimed the “United States’ full and unbreakable support for Ukraine’s government, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. We continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine and reiterate our deep commitment to a single Ukrainian nation, including Crimea, and all the other regions of Ukraine.”

Hello?  But then, Helmer again:

“Whatever devil can be read in these details, US Government statements indicate something new — there are now only two pairs of shoulders, Merkel’s having been shouldered aside. If there’s to be a settlement of the Ukraine conflict, it will be trilateral, according to the US, one between the US, Russia, and Ukraine. From the Russian point of view, it’s plain this means a deal between Russia and the US, with Nuland to keep the Ukrainian government in line.

Nuland has insisted that she was right beside Kerry in his meetings in Sochi. The press photographs have excluded her. The Kremlin, Lavrov and Kerry have spoken as if Nuland wasn’t there.

Patrick Smith writing at has a lot of interesting takes via his sources in Moscow his long familiarity with these issues in ‘John Kerry admits defeat: The Ukraine story the media won’t tell, and why U.S. retreat is a good thing; the U.S. seems to admit it overplayed its hand over Ukraine. Caving to reality is actually the best possible policy’

He mentions having predicted it, and narrates how many times Moscow has saved the West from its reflexive war stances, but disagrees with Helmer’s Moscow sources, and says his sources tell him that even Merkela will likely vote not to renew sanctions against Russia.   He also believes that both Kerry and Obama may be ‘legacy shopping’, and may see rapprochement with Iran as he/they did for the same with Cuba.  I dunno about that, but you can bet your Nellie that ‘we did stupid stuff’ won’t be seein’ the light of day.

Meanwhile, in Kyiv:

On May 14, the Kyiv Post was announcin: ‘Nation’s first Anti-Corruption Bureau chief starts his work’.  Well, yes, that will take care of any lingering doubts that there is still corruption afoot in Kyiv!  Young Artem Sytnyk would have the office up and running by October, but assumedly he’d find nothing like this sort of thievery highlighted:

“Combined, the corrupt schemes during ex-President Viktor Yanukovych’s four years in power allegedly led to the theft of $37 billion from the state — equal to one-fifth of Ukraine’s gross domestic product in 2013, according to Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.”

But some grrrrrrrreat news came on May 15: Parliamentary commission says it has no evidence tying Yatsenyuk to corruption’.  Whew, that’s a relief, but it was important that he be deemed ‘clean’, as some contrarian journalists like StephenCohen had been positing that the US might just ditch Poroshenko, and install Yats, given that Poroshenko didn’t even have command of his own army, even back in March.

“Many ultranationalist forces that somehow came to power after the elections in the autumn of 2014, strongly disagree to negotiate with the militia. Thus, the radical organization “Right Sector” whose activity is banned in Russia by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, immediately declared that opposes the ceasefire, the leaders of volunteer battalions also argue with the decisions of the authorities, says Steven Cohen. The political situation in Kiev is extremely dangerous. Poroshenko tries to present the situation with Debaltseve as a “victory”, but everyone knows what really happened. 

On the part of commanders of battalions there was insubordination, but the Ukrainian authorities can not do anything about it, because in many respects it depends on radical groups, the men who take an active part in the hostilities in the Donbass. It is impossible to say for certain that Poroshenko threatens a “fascist coup,” but the situation with the radicals, some of which have won public office should alert not only the Ukrainian authorities, but also the United States and the European Union, said Stephen Cohen.”

Yes, those would be the ‘Freaks in Kyiv’, who have burned people alive and opened fire on civilians wantonly in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking of which, you may want to peruse this photo and video roundup at, ‘Graham Phillips’ Personal Account of the Grim Day Odessans Burned; A freelancer recalls the horrible day when pro-Kiev fanatics set upon and mercilessly killed peaceful anti-Maidan demonstrators’.  It actually wasn’t quite as grisly as I’d anticipated, fwiw.

Okay, so Kerry (and assumedly his Boss) have thrown in the towel on not only serious Putin bashing, but perhaps Ukraine itself, at least for now.  What were the signs and portents that they finally noticed that caused them Get Real?

For one thing, Ukraine is a money pit, and perhaps near to becoming a failed state.  Their economy has contracted close to 18% this quarter (Russia’s is doing fine) and even the IMF is saying No to more money for the nation.  Different sources disagree about Ukraine’s debt being written down, including which debt, if any.  But the World Bank is assuring that recovery is on the way.  There have been plenty of protests over IMF austerity provisions, and even some talk of a Right Sector coup (sorry, I can’t find the link just now).

But what of the global power shifts and realignments?  Consider R-I’sThe Chinese-Russian-Iranian Coalition: Washington’s Nightmare; the myth that Russia is internationally isolated was once again shattered during the Moscow Conference on International Security’

I suppose the headline and header say it all, but I’ll clip this bit because: Schadenfreude (apologies) and information worth knowing and rememering (if one indeed can):

“The geopolitical environment is changing and it is not sympathetic to US interests. Not only has a Eurasian Economic Union been formed by Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia in the post-Soviet heart of Eurasia, but Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran — the Eurasian Triple Entente— have been in a long process of coming together politically, strategically, economically, diplomatically, and militarily.

Eurasian harmony and integration challenges the US position in its “Western perch” and bridgehead in Europe and even orients US allies to act more independently. This is one of the central themes explored by my book ‘The Globalization of NATO’.

Former US security bigwig Zbigniew Brzezinski warned US elites against the formation of a Eurasian“coalition that could eventually seek to challenge America’s primacy.” According to Brzezinski such a Eurasian alliance would arise as a “Chinese-Russian-Iranian coalition” with Beijing as its focal point.”

Well, of course had the Empire of Chaos realized that their New Cold War and Pivot to China would cause exactly this realignment…  Garsh, Mickey; might those Axis of Evil states might not create something like this for their collective defense?

“Russia’s S-300 and S-400 air defense systems are being rolled out across Eurasia from Armenia and Belarus to Kamchatka as part of a state-of- the-art countermove to the new “Iron Curtain.” These air defense systems make Washington’s objectives to neutralize the possibility of a reaction or second strike much harder.

Even NATO officials and the Pentagon, which referred to the S-300 as the SA-20 system, admit this .“We have studied it and trained to counter it for years. While we are not scared of it, we respect the S-300 for what it is: a very mobile, accurate, and lethal missile system,” US Air Force Colonel Clint Hinote has written for the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations.”

Ho ho and har har, Mon Colonel; good to hear.

Economic shifts, collaborative defense and financial opportunities?  Holy hell, it looks like it.

Pepe Escobar: U.S. Wakes Up to New (Silk) World Order’

He says that it’s finally dawned on Washington that Moscow won’t back down from their red lines: no Ukraine in NATO, and no chance of popular republics of Donetsk and Lugansk being smashed, by Kiev, NATO or anybody else.  He believes that Moscow offered some face-saving on leaving the new borders alone.  Plus:

“Ukraine is a failed state now fully converted into an IMF colony. The EU will never accept it as a member, or pay its astronomic bills. The real action, for both Washington and Moscow, is Iran. Not accidentally, the extremely dodgy Wendy Sherman — who has been the chief U.S. negotiator in the P5+1 nuclear talks — was part of Kerry’s entourage. A comprehensive deal with Iran cannot be clinched without Moscow’s essential collaboration on everything from the disposal of spent nuclear fuel to the swift end of UN sanctions.

Iran is a key node in the Chinese-led New Silk Road(s) project. So the real Masters of the Universe must have also — finally — seen this is all about Eurasia, which, inevitably, was the real star in the May 9 Victory Day parade. After his pregnant with meaning Moscow stop — where he signed 32 separate deals — Chinese President Xi Jinping went to do deals in Kazakhstan and Belarus.

So welcome to the New (Silk) World Order; from Beijing to Moscow on high-speed rail; from Shanghai to Almaty, Minsk and beyond; from Central Asia to Western Europe.

By now we all know how this high-speed trade/geopolitical journey is unstoppable — spanning the Beijing-led, Moscow-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the BRICs Development Bank. Central Asia, Mongolia and Afghanistan — where NATO has just lost a war — are being inexorably pulled into this trade/geopolitical orbit covering all of central, northern, and eastern Eurasia.   [snip]

There’s the not-so-negligible matter of the Pentagon “discovering” China has up to 60 silo-based ICBMs – the CSS-4 – capable of targeting almost the whole U.S., except Florida.”

Yes, and at least for now, they may as well sit down and talk, don’t you think?

From NATO on Twitter:

The West is tryin’ to play by the rules, dammit!

Is this just ‘sooo yesterday’ (May 13) or bet-hedging?

@NATO  ·  May 13 #NATO stands firm in support for #Ukraine  #ForMin

From two days ago, and I haven’t read it yet:

#NATO SG meets #Russia Minister of Foreign Affairs Lavrov in Brussels today 

What do you see, what do you know, imagine, fear?

Oopsie: Breaking: ‘Clashes, tires on fire outside Ukrainian parliament in Kiev’,, with video:

“Clashes are reported in central Kiev where crowds of protesters are rallying against the economic crisis and the soaring cost of private loans. Local media say several people have tried to break into the Ukrainian parliament.

The protesters have clashed with police and blocked the entrances to the parliament building.

The so-called “Financial Maidan” crowd is demanding that the parliament approves the law on restructuring private loans in foreign currency, which would convert people’s debts into national currency at pre-crisis levels.

The protesters have set fire to car tires and attempted to break into the Parliament building. Riot police have so far been able to hold them back.” [snip]

Among the slogans the protesters are shouting is the infamous “Out with the gang!” heard numerous times during the 2013-14 Maidan uprising against President Yanukovich and his government, which eventually brought the current officials to power.”

11:30 MDT:

 Hmmmm.  Well.  Um.

12 responses to “Ukraine Out of the Rabbit Hole: an Open Thread

  1. When I look back on Ukraine’s “history,” I remember well that, in 1992, the President’s brother was in charge of the nation’s Organized Crime. Today, the “crime”Schema is now the establishment.

  2. Here is a bit more analysis on current events:

    I am wondering about the Merkel account – she did the same sort of thing after meeting with Putin for several hours in Australia. I don’t know enough about it, but there seems to be a parallel to Poroshenko’s public belligerence, as if somebody has her over a barrel. Maybe I’m being too kind, but it would explain why Putin can ignore the insult.

    I will say, however, that his and Lavrov’s position has been consistent – always calling the West ‘our partners’ even while strongly decrying the aggressive tactics that have led to this terrible situation.

    It’s really the whole argument about collateral damage or capital punishment writ large, isn’t it? Pontifications about some manufactured political priority, and meanwhile innocent people die while the enforcers stay their bloody course because they are the enforcers.

    I’m with Asclepias: first, do no harm.

    To jaango: are you speaking of bill clinton’s brother? it’s history i don’t know about, i guess.

    • yes, john helmer had mentioned (bleeping) language in australia…once putin had left.

      “Verbrecherische isn’t the first instance of Merkel’s loose lips sinking her own ship. Last November she picked more aggressive German for impromptu remarks than were set down in the chancellery’s script. But that was in Australia, and Putin had already left the country. Merkel isn’t the only politician to say things in Australia which don’t count in the rest of the world.”

      i dunno, juliania; she seems to have put her ownself over the barrel, but i guess we’ll soon see how she votes on ending sanctions. apparently it has to be unanimous.

      my guess would be that putin and lavrov are steeped in the language of diplomacy, and to them deeds are what matter in the end. they will have be very used to being called names by now, yes?

      i really enjoyed lavrov’s remarks in the transcript. kerry was verbose, but so…amerikan. ;-)

      • Well, the poor lady is getting to that age . . . though personally I’ve only become more possessed of wisdom as the years pile on ;~)

  3. Juliana2
    I was referring to Ukraine’s brother of their then President. And in that same time frame, Mexico’s brother of the President, had the same assigned ‘responsibility.’ Consequently two bothers from their respective countries’ were up to their elbows this traditional crappola. And said sadly, the behavior remains the same while the general public continues to get “the shaft.”

    • do you mean the brother of Leonid Kravchuk, prez from 1992-1994? i’m so sorry, i’m failing to get it.

      To juliania: well, to me the woman is a thatcher clone, and for me, it’s hard to cut her slack that you ever-so-kindly do. ;-)

  4. U.S. rabbit hole denizens ALL, InDeed ! TINC (There Is No Change)!! FucKerry sez yes; Vicky Lebensraum frankly SezNo; und 0bama, STILL pretending to drive from the back-of-the-bus play-seat, sez mebbe.
    Meanwhile, the Poppy Bush PNAC Attackers & Company putsch another corporate coup in Kyiv (not to mention the US worker-backstabbing ones of FastRacketeering TPP and TTIP, pointed directly at the heart of der Heimland)!!! Now, can we all 卐ieg ODEϟϟA ?

  5. i’d meant by ‘rabbit hole’ the media equivalent of ‘memory hole’, but kinda seeing the mad hatter and friends at play. always a new scream to bring, iow.

    yes, if i get your drift, in the main, the PNACers seem to be almost dictating foreign policy, but this is a shift worth noting, imo. realizing a hand vastly over-played, but never admitting it. and of course this is just…for now.

    but sometimes i wonder if we share a common language, bruce. by the by, i answered your email, and got it back again by way of the mailer daemon, or whatever. sorry.

  6. And not simply foreign fiascos; But RIGHT Down another hole here in the Homeland:
    They’re $O$ ($ellin Our $overeignty) in an economic “Seven Days in (domestic) MayDayn”!

    But 0′ … Look! A Ucrane!!

    • i’m glad zuesse drums the point that those are *not trade deals*, they are corporate coups détat, in effect.
      and yes, thank you do much, richard nixon. obama’s lies about it have reached the point of treason, even if that seems excessive.

      whoosh; i’d read ‘seven days in may’ decades ago, but i guess i didn’t even know there’d been a film version made. burt lancaster’s speech gave me the shivers. it’s not hard to imagine why so many ordinary USians are swayed by that sort of paranoid amplified rhetoric, is it?

  7. I’m not sure this qualifies to be here, but taking the ‘open thread’ title as an excuse, I thought this Nader piece (short – yay!) one of his better recent enlargements of dialogue.

    Texas gullywashers have been very much underreported in my neighboring state but reading that a river rose 29 feet in one hour has me eyeing the dark clouds on the southern horizon with trepidation. We’ve had some sudden serious attacks lasting maybe ten minutes. So far the rain is a good thing – it’s definitely a change – my stunted fruit trees are leaping into delirious growth.

    [My absence due to a five-day cricket test at Lords. Sadly we lost, but it was a crackingly good match and the winning bowler/batsman was born in NZ at least. And great entertainment for the demoralized Brits.]

  8. glad to know that you enjoyed the cricket, and it’s fine that you posted it here, but mr. nader might be living in the past more than the oppressive present.

    yes, he borrowed from a wonderful margaret mead quote, inadvertently, i’m sure: ““Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

    while true, mr. nader forgets the current pressitute media, and how hard it is now to get any pushback news out there (media consolidation in servitude to the PTB), and the wage wins were quite shallow, though not worth giving up for more strikes. well, i could go on raining on his parade, which i know you would hate, so instead i’ll bring another relevant mead quote:

    “Never depend upon institutions or government to solve any problem. All social movements are founded by, guided by, motivated and seen through by the passion of individuals. ”

    oh, and social scientists rightly (imo) say that change happens when *10% of a populace believes in a new meme strongly*, as in: one whose boil can’t be stirred down with a spoon.

    my metaphor, but it will indeed be *revolutionary* when we effect the changes that ordinary people and the planet require. many posit that we’ll never get there in time; i dunno the answer to that, all the quotes like “the truth and the light bend toward the arc of justice”. i fervently hope so, juliania.

    meanwhile, i will try to make a garden, find some light in dark corners in my (admittedly rather crap) meditations. ;-)

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