Archive | Ukraine

Ukrainian regime arrests owner of Russian language news outlet

NOVANEWS
Image result for Russian language news outlet CARTOON
By Adam Garrie | The Duran 

The Ukrainian regimes notorious Secret Service, the SBU has arrested the owner of a Russian language news outlet Strana.ua.

Igor Guzhva was arrested while his offices were raided. Authorities loyal to the Poroshenko regime have stated that the charges related to allegations of blackmail, although many see this is yet another attempt to forcibly shut-down domestically owned Russian language news media after a law was passed banning Russian owned media in the country.

The regime authorities are also cracking down on the large domestically owned and produced Russian language media and entertainment sectors.

Strana.ua was harassed by the SBU throughout 2014 and 2015.

This looks increasingly like another politically motivated arrest by a regime engaged in crimes against humanity in Donbass.

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Ukraine Registers 500 Suicides by Donbass Military Operation Participants

NOVANEWS

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KIEV – Around 500 cases of suicide were registered among the Ukrainian servicemen who had been participating in the military operation in Donbass, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said in an article published Thursday.

“How is the state of affairs in Ukraine three years after the outbreak of the war?… According to the military prosecutor’s office, as of the beginning of June, 2017, approximately 500 cases of suicides were registered, among participants of the… operation [in Donbass area] after having returned from the combat zone,” Avakov said in an article published by Ukrayinska Pravda newspaper.

According to the interior minister, around 90-95 percent of combatants develop various social and medical, specially pertaining to the nervous system, problems after participating in military conflict, which is the universally recognized international standard. About one-third of these soldiers were diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which often led to suicide, Avakov noted.

Avakov said, citing the international human rights center La Strada — Ukraine, that the number of family members of Donbass conflict participants complaining of domestic violence increased eightfold in 2015.

In February 2015, the warring parties to the Ukrainian conflict in Donbass signed the Minsk peace accords in order to end the fighting in the crisis-torn region. Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine, as the members of the so-called Normandy Four, helped negotiate the Donbas ceasefire. The truce, however, has been repeatedly breached, with Kiev forces and Donbas militia accusing each other of violating it.

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Ukraine: US-Installed Fascist Rule in Europe’s Heartland. Will Donetsk Rejoin Russia?

NOVANEWS
 

The Obama administration bears full responsibility for replacing democracy in Ukraine with an illegitimate Regime integrated by Nazi parties. .

The nation shares a near-1,500 mile land and sea border with Russia. Stop NATO’s Rick Rozoff earlier explained Ukraine is “the decisive linchpin in plans by the US and its NATO allies to effect a military cordon sanitaire, severing Russia from Europe” – a sinister plot perhaps intended as prelude to nuclear war.

Under Kiev’s rule, Ukraine is a hotbed of militarized extremism, waging war on its own people, committing appalling human rights abuses – with full support and encouragement from Washington and key NATO countries.

Since putschists usurped power in February 2014, around 2.8 million Ukrainians fled Donbass to escape conflict unleashed by Kiev, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ Russian office.

Around 1.5 million are internally displaced. Most others left for Russia where they now reside as refugees.

Image result for President Alexander Zakharchenko

On May 12, Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) President Alexandr Azkharchenko told the Russia-Donbass Integration Committee

“(w)e have one goal, the reunification with the motherland, and the motherland is Russia – and this is the ultimate goal of this committee.”

“All the work is aimed only at one thing – homecoming.” Minsk is effectively dead because Kiev refuses to observe its principles. Instead it’s at war with the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics.

Both may pursue integration with Russia. Over three years of conflict likely convinced most of their people. Their future lies with Moscow, not Kiev.

If a referendum was held on reunification with the motherland, it’s hard imagining it wouldn’t pass overwhelmingly.

Instead of continuing to beat the dead horse of Minsk with no success, integration with Russia seems the most effective way forward – perhaps the only way to end conflict.

If agreed to by Putin and Russia’s parliament, what should have happened earlier, Kiev isn’t likely to shell cross-border, other than perhaps occasional incidents, risking confrontation with Moscow if they persist.

On Monday, Sergey Lavrov accused Kiev of

“sabotaging…the political process and arranging armed provocations on the contact line on a regular basis…”

Russia still calls Minsk the way to resolve conflict, knowing Kiev continues violating its terms, with support from Washington and NATO.

Image result for Eduard BasurinAccording to DPR’s vice commander Eduard Basurin, Ukrainian armed forces committed 51 ceasefire violations in the past 24 hours, 331 in the past week, firing 2,122 shells, mortar rounds and other projectiles at Donetsk – flagrant Minsk violations, continuing regularly.

“(T)he atrocities of the Ukrainian Nazis do not end,” Basurin stressed. They’re using banned munitions, including 8.6 mm caliber Lapua magnum expansive bullets – prohibited by the “Declaration on the use of bullets that are easily opened or flattened in the human body.”

On impact, they open like flowers, most often inflicting mortal wounds, nicknamed “flowers of death.”

Donetsk investigative bodies continue collecting incriminating evidence of war crimes by Ukrainian forces.

Russia’s Investigative Committee initiated criminal cases against Kiev military and political officials responsible for high crimes in Donbass, causing civilian deaths, injuries and destruction.

Russian law permits prosecutions if its citizens are harmed or if actions by a belligerent violate international human rights laws.

Last August, Moscow charged Ukraine’s defense minister and several military commanders with war crimes, additional cases launched in September and later in the year, likely more coming given endless Kiev aggression.

What’s ongoing followed putschists in Kiev usurping power, orchestrated by Washington, a sinister anti-Russia plot.

Moscow seeks mutual cooperation with all countries, conflict resolution to restore peace and stability to war-torn nations, and respect by the world community it deserves.

Commenting on Europe and America days earlier, Sergey Lavrov used uncharacteristically strong language, saying

“(w)e hope that Europe(an) (countries) will see that the era of a master-pupil relationship is long over.”

Improved relations with Russia depend on it.

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US Missile Sale to Saudi’s Undermines Ukraine Program

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An exhibition missile launch from the Tochka-U tactical complex. (File)

Sputnik/Moscow:  President Trump is preparing to reverse the Obama-era policy banning the sale of advanced guided missiles to Saudi Arabia. However, Russian observers say if the deal goes through, it will be a crushing blow to Grom-2, a Ukrainian program to create an analogue to Russia’s Iskander short range ballistic missile system.

On Thursday, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir confirmed that the Trump administration had taken steps to modify the Congressional notification program in order to advance the sale of over $1 billion-worth of Raytheon Paveway precision-guided missiles and Penetrator warheads to Riyadh.

The deal is expected to be just a part of weapons contracts worth tens of billions of dollars currently being negotiated by US defense companies and Saudi Arabia ahead of Trump’s visit to the country later this month. Al-Jubeir said that the president’s visit would be “historic,” and welcomed his administration’s tough rhetoric against Iran.

The Obama administration had frozen deals on precision-guided weapons to Riyadh late last year. The freeze was a response to reports of heavy civilian casualties in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been bombing Houthi militia in an attempt to reinstall former Yemeni President Abdrabbuh Mansur Hadi, who was ousted in a popular uprising in early 2015. Facing limited military success, Riyadh has taken to the strategy of attacking Yemeni infrastructure and blockading Houthi-controlled ports, thus threatening the country with humanitarian disaster.

But one side effect of the potential US-Saudi guided weapons deal which Ukrainian and Russian-language media couldn’t help but pick up on was the devastating impact the deal would have on the Ukrainian project to create the Grom-2, a new ground-to-ground tactical short-range ballistic missile system designed to compete with Russia’s 9K720 Iskander SRBM.

Concept art of the Grom-2 tactical short-range ballistic missile system.
Concept art of the Grom-2 tactical short-range ballistic missile system.

Last summer, Russian media revealed that Riyadh was the secret buyer financing Grom-2’s development. The Saudis were reported to have poured about $40 million into the project to enable military engineers from the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau and the Pavlograd Chemical Factory to design and produce the weapon.

Earlier this year however, reports emerged that the Saudi money had dried up, and that work on Grom-2 had been halted, pending more funding.Some Russian observers had earlier assumed that Riyadh’s desire to get ahold of a modern tactical ballistic missile system from Ukraine was connected to the fact that the US didn’t seem to want to sell them their own system, the MGM-140 ATACMS, which has capabilities roughly similar to the Iskander.

ATACMS Army Tactical Missile System
ATACMS Army Tactical Missile System

Now, with US-Saudi relations expected to warm up under Trump, observers say that if the US does move forward with its massive weapons sale to Riyadh, and the ATACMS system is part of that deal, the Grom-2 project will be threatened with being scrapped entirely.

Speaking to Russia’s Svobodnaya Pressa online newspaper, Kirill Semyenov, the head of the Center for Islamic Studies at the Institute of Innovative Development, observed that for a long time, many experts had assumed that Trump would continue Obama’s policy of cooler relations with the Gulf States.

“They read Trump’s words to mean that the US would be reducing its presence in the region. It’s worth recalling that during Obama’s second term, the leaders of Gulf states had refused to support high level talks with Washington, demonstratively sending their deputy ministers for meetings. Now, Trump has indicated very clearly that he will support the Gulf states in their struggle against Iran. Arms supplies are likely to be the first step along this path.”

Whether or not this will be able to break the Houthi resistance in Yemen is another story, Semyenov added, particularly if Riyadh does not stage a ground operation. “In general, without changes on the ground, such supplies can only lead to more civilian casualties. While the Saudis have high precision weapons, they do not aim them where they should. Often the bombs fall on weddings and other mass gatherings.”

The Iskander SRBM, this one from the St. Petersburg garrison.
The Iskander SRBM, this one from the St. Petersburg garrison.

For his part, Andrei Frolov, and editor-in-chief of the Arms Export, a Russian military publication, said that it was possible that the US will cave and deliver its ATACMS system to Riyadh. However, tying this delivery to Grom-2 is unnecessary.

“The Saudis invested into Ukraine’s Grom-2 project not because they do not have the opportunity to acquire short range tactical missile systems, but because they want to receive the competency to be able to develop their own systems,” Frolov noted.

Accordingly, if their contract with Ukrainian companies had allowed them to obtain the systems’ technology, the US’s supply of its own tactical missile system will have no impact on Grom-2.More significant is the question of why the Saudis halted their financing for the Ukrainian missile system in the first place. Is it a question of money, or the fact that Ukraine proved incapable of offering them what they are looking for? Given talk of tens of billions in weapons contracts with the US now, it doesn’t seem like a lack of cash was the main problem that Riyadh was concerned with.

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Peace Accords or Political Surrender? Latin America, the Middle East, Ukraine

NOVANEWS
 
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Over thirty year ago a savvy Colombian peasant leader told me, “Whenever I read the word ‘peace accords’ I hear the government sharpening its knives”.

In recent times, ‘peace accords’ (PAs) have become a common refrain across the world. In almost every region or country, which are in the midst of war or invasion, the prospects of negotiating ‘peace accords’ have been raised. In many cases, PA’s were signed and yet did not succeed in ending murder and mayhem at the hands of their US-backed interlocutors.

We will briefly review several past and present peace negotiations and ‘peace accords’ to understand the dynamics of the ‘peace process’ and the subsequent results.

The Peace Process

There are several ongoing negotiations today, purportedly designed to secure peace accords. These include discussions between (1) the Kiev-based US-NATO-backed junta in the west and the eastern ‘Donbas’ leadership opposed to the coup and NATO; (2) the Saudi US-NATO-armed terrorists in Syria and the Syrian government and its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies; (3) the US-backed Israeli colonial regime and the Palestinian independence forces in the West Bank and Gaza; and (4) the US-backed Colombian regime of President Santos and the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC).

There are also several other peace negotiations taking place, many of which have not received public attention.

Past and Present Outcomes of Peace Accords

Over the past quarter century several PAs were signed – all of which led to the virtual surrender of armed anti-imperialist protagonists and popular mass movements.

The Central-American PA’s, involving Salvador and Guatemala, led to the unilateral disarmament of the resistance movement, the consolidation of oligarchical control over the economy, the growth and proliferation of narco-gangs and unfettered government-sponsored death squads. As a consequence, internal terror escalated. Resistance leaders secured the vote, entered Congress as politicians, and, in the case of El Salvador, were elected to high office. Inequalities remained the same or worsened, and murders matched or exceeded the numbers recorded during the pre-Peace Accord period. Massive numbers of immigrants, often of internal refugees fleeing gang violence, entered the US illegally. The US consolidated its military bases and operations in Central America while the population continued to suffer.

The Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations did not lead to any accord. Instead ‘negotiations’ became a thin cover for increasing annexation of Palestinian land to construct racists ‘Jews-Only’ enclaves, resulting in the illegal settlement of over half a million Jewish settlers. The US-backed the entire farcical peace process, financing the corrupt Palestinian vassal-leaders and providing unconditional diplomatic, military and political support to Israel.

US-Soviet Union: Peace Accord

The Reagan/Bush-Gorbachev ‘peace accords’ were supposed to end the Cold War and secure global peace. Instead the US and the EU established military bases and client regimes/allies throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic and Balkans, pillaged the national assets and took over their denationalized economies. US-based elites dominated the vassal Yeltsin regime and virtually stripped Russia of its resources and wealth. In alliance with gangster-oligarchs, they plundered the economy.

The post-Soviet Yeltsin regime ran elections, promoted multiple parties and presided over a desolate, isolated and increasingly surrounded nation – at least until Vladimir Putin was elected to ‘decolonize’ the State apparatus and partially reconstruct the economy and society.

Ukraine Peace Negotiations

In 2014 a US-sponsored violent coup brought together fascists, oligarchs, generals and pro-EU supporters seizing control of Kiev and the western part of Ukraine. The pro-democracy Eastern regions of the Donbas and Crimean Peninsula organized resistance to the putsch regime. Crimea voted overwhelmingly to re-unite Russia. The industrial centers in Eastern Ukraine (Donbas) formed popular militias to resist the armed forces and neo-Nazi paramilitaries of the US backed-junta. After a few years of mayhem and stalemate, a ‘negotiation process’ unfolded despite which the Kiev regime continued to attack the east. The tentative ‘peace settlement” became the basis for the ‘Minsk agreement’, brokered by France, Russia and Germany, where the Kiev junta envisioned a disarming of the resistance movement, re-occupation of the Donbas and Crimea and eventual destruction of the cultural, political, economic and military autonomy of the ethnic Russian East Ukraine. As a result, the “Minsk Agreement” has been little more than a failed ploy to secure surrender. Meanwhile, the Kiev junta’s massive pillage of the nation’s economy has turned Ukraine into a failed state with 2.5 million fleeing to Russia and many thousands emigrating to the West to dig potatoes in Poland, or enter the brothels of London and Tel Aviv. The remaining unemployed youth are left to sell their services to Kiev’s paramilitary fascist shock troops.

Colombia: Peace Accord or Graveyard?

Any celebration of the Colombian FARC – President Santos’ ‘Peace Accord’ would be premature if we examine its past incarnations and present experience.

Over the past four decades, Colombian oligarchical regimes, backed by the military, death squads and Washington have invoked innumerable ‘peace commissions’, inaugurated negotiations with the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) and proceeded to both break off negotiations and relaunch full-scale wars using ‘peace accords’ as a pretext to decimate and demoralize political activists.

In 1984, then-President Belisario Betancur signed a peace accord with the FARC, known as the ‘Uribe Agreement’. Under this agreement, thousands of FARC activists and supporters demobilized, formed the Patriotic Union (UP), a legal electoral party, and participated in elections. In the 1986 Colombian elections, the UP candidates were elected as Senators, Congress people, mayors and city council members, and their Presidential candidate gained over 20% of the national vote. Over the next 4 years, from 1986-1989, over 5,000 UP leaders, elected officials and Presidential candidates were assassinated in a campaign of nationwide terror. Scores of thousands of peasants, oil workers, miners and plantation laborers were murdered, tortured and driven into exile. Paramilitary death squads and landlord-backed private armies, allied with the Colombian Armed Forces, assassinated thousands of union leaders, workers and their families members. The Colombian military’s ‘paramilitary strategy’ against non-combatants and villagers was developed in the 1960’s by US Army General William Yarborough, Commandant, US Army Special Warfare Center and ‘Father of the Green Beret’ Special Forces.

Within five years of its formation, the Patriotic Union no longer existed: Its surviving members had fled or gone into hiding.

In 1990, newly-elected President Cesar Gaviria proclaimed new peace negotiations with the FARC. Within months of his proclamation, the president ordered the bombing of the ‘Green House’, where the FARC leaders and negotiating team were being lodged. Fortunately, they had fled before the treacherous attack.

President Andrés Pastrana (1998-2001) called for new peace negotiations with the FARC to be held ‘in a demilitarized zone’. Peace talks began in the jungle region of El Caguan in November 1998. President Pastrana had made numerous pledges, concessions and reforms with the FARC and social activists, but, at the same time he had signed a ten-year multi-billion dollar military aid agreement with US President Clinton, known as ‘Plan Colombia’. This practice of ‘double-dealing’ culminated with the Colombian Armed Forces launching a ’scorched earth policy’ against the ‘demilitarized zones’ under the newly elected (and death-squad linked) President Alvaro Uribe Velez. Over the next eight years, President Uribe drove nearly four million Colombian peasants into internal exile. With the multi-billion dollar funding from Washington, Uribe was able to double the size of the Colombian Armed Forces to over 350,000 troops, incorporating members of the death squads into the military. He also oversaw the formation of new paramilitary armies. By 2010 the FARC had declined from eighteen thousand to under ten thousand fighters – with hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties and millions rendered homeless.

In 2010 Uribe’s former Minister of Defense, Juan Manual Santos was elected President. By 2012 Santos initiated another “peace process” with the FARC, which was signed by the end of 2016. Under the new ‘Peace Accord’, signed in Cuba, hundreds of officers implicated in torture, assassinations and forced relocation of peasants were given immunity from prosecution while FARC guerillas were to face trial. The government promised land reform and the right to return for displaced farmers and their families. However, when peasants returned to claim their land they were driven away or even killed.

FARC leaders agreed to demobilize and disarm unilaterally by June 2017. The military and their paramilitary allies would retain their arms and gain total control over previous FARC- liberated zones.

President Santos ensured that the ‘Peace Accord’ would include a series of Presidential Decrees – privatizing the country’s mineral and oil resources and converting small family farms to commercial plantations. Demobilized peasant-rebels were offered plots of infertile marginal lands, without government support or funding for roads, tools, seed and fertilizer or even schools and housing, necessary for the transition. While some FARC leaders secured seats in Congress and the freedom to run in elections unmolested, the young rank and file FARC fighters and peasants were left without many alternatives but to join paramilitary or ‘narco’ gangs.

In summary, the historical record demonstrates that a series of Colombian presidents and regimes have systematically violated all peace agreements and accords, assassinated the rebel signees and retained elite control over the economy and labor force. Before his election, the current President Santos presided over the most deadly decade when he was Uribe’s Defense Minister.

For brokering the peace of the graveyard for scores of thousands of Colombian peasants and activists, President Santos was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In Havana, FARC leaders and negotiators were praised by Cuban President Raul Castro, President Obama, Venezuelan President Maduro and the vast majority of ‘progressives’ and rightists in North and South America and Europe.

Colombia’s bloody history, including the widespread murder of Colombian civil rights activists and peasant leaders, has continued even as the documents finalizing the Peace Accords were being signed. During the first month of 2017, five human right activists were murdered by death squads – linked to the oligarchy and military. In 2015, while the FARC was negotiating over several clauses in the agreement, over 122 peasant and human rights activists were murdered by paramilitary groups who continued to operate freely in areas controlled by Santos’ army. The mass media propaganda mills continue to repeat the lie that ‘200,000 people were killed by the guerillas (FARC) and the government’ when the vast majority of the killings were committed by the government and its allied death squads; a calumny, which guerilla leaders fail to challenge. Prominent Jesuit researcher Javier Giraldo has provided a detailed factual account documenting that over three quarters of the killings were committed by the Army and paramilitary.

We are asked to believe presidential regimes that have murdered and continue to murder over 150,000 Colombian workers, peasants, indigenous leaders and professionals are suddenly transformed into justice-loving partners in peace. During the first three months of this year, activists, sympathetic to the peace agreement with the FARC, continue to be targeted and killed by supposedly demobilized paramilitary murderers.

Social movement leaders report rising political violence by military forces and their allies. Even peace monitors and the UN Human Rights Office admit that state and paramilitary violence are destroying any structure that President Santos could hope to implement the reforms. As the FARC withdraws from regions under popular control, peasants seeking land reform are targeted by private armies. The Santos regime is more concerned with protecting the massive land grabs by big mining consortiums.

As the killing of FARC supporters and human rights activists multiply, as President Santos and Washington look to take advantage of a disarmed and demobilized guerilla army, the ‘historic peace accord’ becomes a great deceit designed to expand imperial power.

Conclusion: Epitaph for Peace Accords

Time and again throughout the world, imperial-brokered peace negotiations and accords have served only one goal: to disarm, demobilize, defeat and demoralize resistance fighters and their allies.

‘Peace Accords’, as we know them, have served to rearm and regroup US-backed forces following tactical setbacks of the guerrilla struggle. ‘PA’s are encouraged to divide the opposition (’salami tactics’) and facilitate conquest. The rhetoric of ‘peace’ as in ‘peace negotiations’ are terms which actually mean ‘unilateral disarmament’ of the resistance fighters, the surrender of territory and the abandonment of civilian sympathizers. The so-called ‘war zones’, which contain fertile lands and valuable mineral reserves are ‘pacified’ by being absorbed by the ‘peace loving’ regime. This serves their privatization programs and promote the pillage of the ‘developmental state’. Negotiated peace settlements are overseen by US officials, who praise and laud the rebel leaders while they sign agreements to be implemented by US vassal regimes . . . The latter will ensure the rejection of any realignment of foreign policy and any structural socio-economic changes.

Some peace accords may allow former guerilla leaders to compete and in some cases win elections as marginal representatives, while their mass base is decimated.

In most cases, during the peace process, and especially after signing ‘peace accords’, social organizations and movements and their supporters among the peasantry and working class, as well as human rights activists, end up being targeted by the military and para-military death-squads operating around government military bases.

Often, the international allies of resistance movements have encouraged them to negotiate PAs, in order to demonstrate to the US that ‘they are responsible’— hoping to secure improved diplomatic and trade relations. Needless to say, ‘responsible negotiations’ will merely strengthen imperial resolve to press for further concessions, and encourage military aggression and new conquests.

Just ‘peace accords’ are based on mutual disarmament, recognition of territorial autonomy and the authority of local insurgent administration over agreed upon land reforms, retaining mineral rights and military-public security.

PA’s should be the first step in the political agendas, implemented under the control of independent rebel military and civil monitors.

The disastrous outcome of unilateral disarmament is due to the non-implementation of progressive, independent foreign policy and structural changes.

Past and present peace negotiations, based on the recognition of the sovereignty of an independent state linked to mass movements, have always ended in the US breaking the agreements. True ‘peace accords’ contradict the imperial goal of conquering via the negotiating table what could not be won through war.

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What America’s Coup in Ukraine Did

NOVANEWS
Armée Ukraine USA

On March 23rd, Gallup headlined “South Sudan, Haiti and Ukraine Lead World in Suffering”, and the Ukrainian part of that can unquestionably be laid at the feet of U.S. President Barack Obama, who in February 2014 imposed upon Ukraine a very bloody coup (see it here), which he and his press misrepresented (and still misrepresent) as being (and still represent as having been) a ‘democratic revolution’, but was nothing of the sort, and actually was instead the start of the Ukrainian dictatorship and the hell that has since destroyed that country, and brought the people there into such misery, it’s now by far the worst in Europe, and nearly tied with the worst in the entire world.

America’s criminal ‘news’ media never even reported the coup, nor that in 2011 the Obama regime began planning for a coup in Ukraine, and that by 1 March 2013 they started organizing it inside the U.S. Embassy there, and that they hired members of Ukraine’s two racist-fascist, or nazi, political parties, Right Sector and Svoboda (which latter had been called the Social Nationalist Party of Ukraine until the CIA advised them to change it to Freedom Party, or “Svoboda” instead), and that in February 2014 they did it (and here’s the 4 February 2014 phone call instructing the U.S. Ambassador whom to place in charge of the new regime when the coup will be completed), under the cover of authentic anti-corruption demonstrations that the Embassy organized on the Maidan Square in Kiev, demonstrations that the criminal U.S. ‘news’ media misrepresented as ‘democracy demonstrations,’ though Ukraine already had democracy (but still lots of corruption, even more than today’s U.S. does, and the pontificating Obama said he was trying to end Ukraine’s corruption — which instead actually soared after his coup there).

The head of the ‘private CIA’ firm Stratfor said it was “the most blatant coup in history” but he couldn’t say that to Americans, because he knows that our press is just a mouthpiece for the regime (just like it was during the lead-up to George W. Bush’s equally unprovoked invasion of Iraq — for which America’s ‘news’ media suffered likewise no penalties).

When subsequently accused by neocons for his having said this, his response was “I told the business journal Kommersant that if the US were behind a coup in Kiev, it would have been the most blatant coup in history,” As I pointed out when writing about that rejoinder of his, he had, in fact, made quite clear in his Kommersant interview, that it was, in his view “the most blatant coup in history,” no conditionals on that.

Everybody knows what Obama, and Clinton, and Sarkozy, did to Libya — in their zeal to eliminate yet another nation’s leader who was friendly toward Russia (Muammar Gaddafi), they turned one of the highest-living-standard nations in Africa into a failed state and huge source of refugees (as well as of weapons that the Clinton State Department transferred to the jihadists in Syria to bring down Bashar al-Assad, another ally of Russia) — but the ‘news’ media have continued to hide what Obama (assisted by America’s European allies, especially Poland and Netherlands, and also by America’s apartheid Middle Eastern ally, Israel) did to Ukraine.

I voted for Obama, partly because the insane McCain (“bomb, bomb, bomb Iran”) and the creepy Romney (“Russia, this is, without question, our number one geopolitical foe”) were denounced by the (duplicitous) Obama for saying such evil things, their aggressive international positions, which continued old Cold-War-era hostilities into the present, even after the Cold War had ended long ago (in 1991) (but only on the Russian side). I since have learned that in today’s American political system, the same aristocracy controls both of our rotten political Parties, and American democracy no longer exists. (And the only scientific study of whether America between the years 1981 and 2002 was democratic found that it was not, and it already confirmed what Jimmy Carter later said on 28 July 2015: “Now it’s just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or being elected president. And the same thing applies to governors, and U.S. Senators and congress members.” But yet our Presidents continue the line, now demonstrably become a myth, of ‘American democracy’, and use it as a sledgehammer against other governments, to ‘justify’ invading (or, in Ukraine’s case, overthrowing via a ‘democratic revolution’) their lands (allies of Russia) such as in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and maybe even soon, Iran.

Here are some of the events and important historical details along the way to Ukraine’s plunge into a worse condition than most African nations:

“Yanukovych’s Removal Was Unconstitutional”

“Obama Definitely Caused The Malaysian Airliner To Be Downed”

“War on Donbass was planned to ignite a major war in Europe.”

“Our ‘Enemies’ In Ukraine Speak”

“Meet Ukraine’s Master Mass-Murderer: Dmitriy Yarosh”

“Ukrainian Soldier Explains Why He Enjoys Killing Russians”

“Russia’s Leader Putin Rejects Ukrainian Separatists’ Aim To Become Part Of Russia”

“Gallup: Ukrainians Loathe the Kiev Government Imposed by Obama”

Please send this article to every friend who is part of the majority that, as a Quinnipiac University poll published on March 22nd reported, “A total of 51 percent of voters say they can trust U.S. intelligence agencies to do what is right ‘almost all of the time’ or ‘most of the time’” (and that level of trust was far higher than for the rotten press and for the rotten politicians), even after the CIA’s rubber-stamping Bush’s lies to invade Iraq, and after the FBI’s shameless performance on Hillary Clinton’s privatized State Department emails even after her smashing their cell-phones with hammers, etc., and all the other official cover-ups, with no American officials even so much as being charged for their rampant crimes against the American public.

Besides: ever since the CIA’s founding, it has had an “Operation Gladio” that specializes in organizing terrorist acts so as for them to be blamed on, first, communist countries when they existed; and, then, after the end of communism, on allies of Russia. Did the American dictatorship begin right after FDR died in 1945? How much longer will these lies succeed?

For the people of Iraq, and of Syria, and of Ukraine, and many such countries, this dictatorship has destroyed their lives. Trusting the ‘intelligence’ services of a dictatorship doesn’t make any sense at all. They’re all working for the aristocracy, the billionaires — not for any public, anywhere; not here, not there, just nowhere. Should the cattle trust the feedlot-operator? Only ignorance can produce trust, under the conditions that actually exist.

So, unless the idea is that ignorance is bliss, pass along the truth, when you find it, because it is very rare — and the system operates to keep it that way.

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Challenging Klobuchar on Ukraine War

NOVANEWS

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As Democrats compete to become the new War Party – pushing for a dangerous confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia – some constituents are objecting, as Mike Madden did in a letter to Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

From Mike Madden (of St. Paul, Minnesota) 

Dear Senator Klobuchar, I write with concern over statements you have made recently regarding Russia. These statements have been made both at home and abroad, and they involve two issues; the alleged Russian hack of the presidential election and Russia’s actions in the aftermath of the February 22, 2014 coup in Kiev.

U.S. intelligence services allege that President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign to denigrate Hillary Clinton and help elect Donald Trump. The campaign is purported to include the production of fake news, cyber-trolling, and propaganda from Russian state-owned media. It is also alleged that Russia hacked the email accounts of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, subsequently providing the emails to WikiLeaks.

Despite calls from many quarters, the intelligence services have not provided the public with any proof. Instead, Americans are expected to blindly trust these services with a long history of failure. Additionally, the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, have both been known to lie to the public and to Congress, Mr. Clapper doing so under oath.

Meanwhile, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange maintains the emails did not come from Russia (or any other state actor) and his organization has an unblemished record of revealing accurate information in the public interest that would otherwise remain hidden. While responsible journalists continue to use the word ‘alleged’ to describe the accusations, Republicans with an ax to grind against Russia, and Democrats wishing to distract from their own failings in the campaign, refer to them as fact. Indeed, on the ‘Amy in the News’ page of your own website, Jordain Carney of The Hill refers to the Russian meddling as “alleged”.

A congressional commission to investigate the alleged Russian hacking is not necessary. Even if all the allegations are true, they are altogether common occurrences, and they certainly don’t rise to the level of “an act of aggression”, “an existential threat to our way of life”, or “an attack on the American people” as various Democratic officials have characterized them. Republican Senator John McCain went full monty and called the alleged meddling “an act of war”.

Joining War Hawks

It is of concern that you would join Senator McCain and the equally belligerent Senator Lindsey Graham on a tour of Russian provocation through the Baltics, Ukraine, Georgia, and Montenegro. The announcement of your trip (December 28, 2016) on the ‘News Releases’ page of your website renewed the unproven claim of “Russian interference in our recent election”. It also claimed that the countries you were visiting were facing “Russian aggression” and that “Russia illegally annexed Crimea”.

Sen. John McCain  and Sen. Lindsey Graham

It is unfortunate that these claims have become truisms by sheer repetition rather than careful examination of the facts. Russia has not invaded eastern Ukraine. There are no regular units of the Russian military in the breakaway provinces, nor has Russia launched any air strikes from its territory. It has sent weapons and other provisions to the Ukrainian forces seeking autonomy from Kiev, and there are most certainly Russian volunteers operating in Ukraine.

However regrettable, it must be remembered that the unrest was precipitated by the February 22, 2014 overthrow of the democratically elected president Viktor Yanukovych which, speaking of meddling, was assisted by U.S. State Department, other American government agencies, and one Senator John McCain. The subsequent military and paramilitary operations launched by the coup government against the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk were described by President Putin as “uncontrolled crime” spreading into the south and east of the country. In American parlance, both the interim coup government in Kiev and the current government of President Petro Poroshenko have engaged in “killing their own people”.

Ignoring the Details

If Russia’s actions are to be considered “aggression” or an “invasion”, one must find a whole new word to describe what the United States did to Iraq in 2003. If, like your colleague Senator McCain, you hold the annexation of Crimea to be illegal under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, I urge a closer look.

On February 21, 2014, an agreement brokered by the European Union was signed between President Yanukovych and the leaders of three major opposition parties. The agreement contained terms for a cessation of violence, immediate power sharing, and new elections. Smelling blood in the water, the opposition in Maidan Square did not withdraw from the streets or surrender their illegal weapons as agreed, but instead went on the offensive. Yanukovych, under threat to his life, fled Kiev along with many others in his Party of Regions.

Nor did the opposition party leaders honor the agreement. The next day, they moved to impeach Yanukovych, however they failed to meet several requirements of the Ukrainian Constitution. They failed to indict the president, conduct an investigation, and have that investigation certified by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine. Instead, they moved directly to a vote on impeachment and, even on that count, they failed to obtain the required three-fourths majority vote. So, even though the Budapest Memorandum did offer assurances of Ukrainian security and territorial integrity in exchange for surrender of Soviet-era nuclear weapons on its soil, the sovereign government of Ukraine had fallen in a violent unconstitutional putsch.

Yanukovych remained its legitimate president-in-exile and he, along with the prime minister of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, requested Russian intervention on the peninsula to provide security and protect the human rights of ethnic Russians threatened by the new coup government and neo-Nazi elements within it.

One can now see how real that threat was by looking to eastern Ukraine where the Ukrainian military and neo-Nazi paramilitaries such as the Azov Battallion, have moved with force against the defenders of the Donbass region whose people seek autonomy from a government in Kiev that they do not recognize. Approximately 10,000 people have died in the Donbass War, whereas only six people were killed during the period of annexation (February 23-March19, 2014) in Crimea.

While the Donbass War drags on, Crimea remains stable today. The popular referendum conducted on March 16, 2014 lent legitimacy to the subsequent annexation. Official results claimed 82% turnout with 96% of voters favoring reunification with Russia. Independent polling conducted in the early weeks of March 2014 found 70-77% of all Crimeans favored reunification. Six years prior to the crisis in 2008, a poll found that 63% favored reunification. Even though many ethnic Ukranians and Tatars boycotted the election, rejoining Russia was clearly the will of the majority of Crimean people.

President Putin, characterizing the situation in Ukraine as a revolution, claimed that Russia had no agreements with the new state and therefore no obligations under the Budapest Memorandum. He also cited Chapter I: Article 1 of the United Nations Charter, which calls for respect for the principle of self-determination of peoples. The 1975 Helsinki Accords, which affirmed post-World War II borders, also allowed for the change of national boundaries by peaceful internal means.

The Kosovo Precedent

It is also useful to consider parallel occurrences in Kosovo. In 1998 ethnic cleansing by Serbian troops and paramilitaries led to a NATO intervention without U.N. authorization. There is little question that the move was illegal, but legitimacy was claimed due to the urgent humanitarian need. Ten years later, Kosovo would declare independence from Serbia and the disputed matter would end up before the International Court of Justice. In 2009 the United States provided the Court with a statement on Kosovo that read in part: “Declarations of independence may, and often do, violate domestic legislation. However, this does not make them violations of international law.”

The United States should accept the Russian annexation of Crimea both as a pragmatic matter, and one of principle. In 1990, during negotiations for the re-unification of Germany, the United States promised that there would be no eastward expansion of NATO. That promise has now been broken three times and eleven new nations have been added to the alliance. Ukraine has also entered in partnership with NATO, and at various times, full membership has been discussed. Russia has consistently expressed its disapproval. According to your website, an objective of your trip was “to reinforce support for NATO”. If this weren’t provocative enough, your three-senator delegation went to a front-line military outpost in Shirokino, Ukraine to incite an escalation to the Donbass War. Senator Graham told the assembled soldiers “Your fight is our fight, 2017 will be the year of offense”. The leader of your delegation, Senator McCain, said “I am convinced you will win and we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win”.

After the speeches were given, you are seen in a video of the New Year’s Eve event accepting what appears to be a gift from one of the uniformed soldiers. With all of the furor over former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s resignation, and possible violation of the Logan Act, for discussing alleviation of sanctions with a Russian ambassador, this appears to be a far more serious offense. Not only did your delegation advocate for a foreign policy that was not aligned with that of acting President Obama, it was also contrary to President-elect Trump’s approach to the region. And the results of your advocacy have the potential to be far more deadly than the mere alleviation of sanctions.

Sincerely, Mike Madden St. Paul, Minnesota

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Challenging Klobuchar on Ukraine War

Ukraine, Crimea and the Push for War

NOVANEWS
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By James ONeill – New Eastern Outlook 

There are currently three major flash points in the world, where a false step could rapidly lead to escalation and a major war from which human civilization would be the main loser. Those flashpoints are the Middle East, the South China Sea and Ukraine/Crimea. In each of them Australia has made major missteps, invariably at the request of the Americans, and where Australia’s national interest is either non-existent or the opposite of the actions that have been taken.

The recent upsurge in fighting in the Lugansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine, collectively referred to as Donbass, where Ukrainian forces have vastly increased the artillery barrage of civilian areas has sharpened the likelihood of a more serious war breaking out. In these circumstances the responsibility of the media to accurately report what is happening and why is high. Yet, as is so often the case, we are treated to a non-stop barrage of misinformation and outright propaganda.

The reincorporation of Crimea into the Russian Federation in March 2014 is invariably portrayed as the result of an “invasion” and “annexation” and that peace can only be restored with Crimea’s return to Ukraine.

This is not only a rewriting of history; it also ignores the crucial historical background of that region of the world and how that is relevant to the present day. A brief history is in order, if only because it is not something that the mainstream media will ever state, as wedded as they are to a narrative whose sole purpose is the demonization of Russia and of President Putin.

Ukraine itself has only had its modern borders since 1945. Prior to that time part had come under the sway of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, and another part had been incorporated into Tsarist Russia in 1667. Following the peasant revolt of 1768/69 there was a partitioning between the Austrian empire and the Russian empire. It has therefore to a greater or lesser extent been a part of the Russian empire for more than 300 years. To give that some perspective, it is a longer period than either the United States or Australia has been a nation state.

Following the Ukrainian War of Independence from 1917-1921 it was absorbed into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics where it remained until the break up of the USSR in 1991.

Crimea has had a similarly chequered history. Prior to the Crimean War 1853-56 when Australian troops fought with the British and the Turks against Russia, Crimea had been part of the Russian Empire. Catherine the Great defeated the Ottomans in 1783 and thereafter Crimea was part of Russia. That war was fought on Crimean soil. Prior to the Ottomans, Crimea had for the previous 2000 years been variously parts of the Greek, Roman, Mongol and other empires. Then as now it occupied a strategic position on the Black Sea. The Crimean War had as a primary target the Russian naval base at Sevastopol. Which is further evidence that nothing really changes.

After the Russian Revolution Crimea became an autonomous Republic within the USSR and stayed there until 1954. In that year, following a resolution of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR it was transferred to Ukraine.

There are various theories as to why the transfer was made, one popular version being that it was a symbolic gesture marking the 300th anniversary of Ukraine becoming part of the Tsardom of Russia. The actual reasons do not matter so much as two other factors that were operative.

The first was that as an integral part of the USSR it did not make a great deal of political difference as to which State Crimea was nominally attached. The second factor was that neither the Russian people nor the Crimeans were consulted about the decision.

There things remained until February 2014 when a coup was mounted against the lawful government of Ukraine. The Australian media refuse to acknowledge that it was a coup, and that the coup was organized and paid for ($5 billion dollars) by the Americans, as the chief organizer, then Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland freely acknowledged to a congressional committee.

The Crimeans, as indeed also the residents of the Donbass region, were extremely unhappy with the takeover in Kiev of a frankly fascist government. The people of eastern Ukraine, including Crimea, are overwhelmingly ethnic Russian, speak the Russian language as their first language, intermarry with Russians across the border, and culturally identify with Russia.

A referendum was hastily organized and held on 16 March 2014. The result was that there was an 83% turnout, and 96.77% of those who voted were in favour of being readmitted to the Russian Federation. That result was condemned by the US and Australia, among other nations. The main objections stated were that the vote was held after Russian troops had “invaded” Crimea, and that the Crimeans had no right to hold such a referendum.

In one form or another those objections have been repeated by the western media ever since. An added claim is that the “annexation” of Crimea is further evidence of “Russian aggression” in general and that of Mr Putin in particular.

The facts are rather different. First, let us look at the “invasion” claim. There were already 25,000 Russian troops in Crimea. They were there pursuant to a treaty with the Ukrainian government, mainly associated with the very important Russian naval base at Sevastopol. It will be recalled that that naval base was a major target of the British and allied forces in the Crimean War more than 150 years earlier.

There was absolutely no evidence that the presence of Russian troops prevented the free exercise of the vote by Crimeans in the referendum, except indirectly in that their presence certainly deterred Ukraine from military intervention.

Independent polls conducted after the referendum, for example by the German Gfk polling organisation showed that 82% of those polled supported the referendum result and only 4% opposed it. Other, including American, polling organisations, obtained similar results.

The second major claim is that the referendum was “unlawful” and as such not recognised by the western powers. This is a classic example of western hypocrisy. Western governments are perfectly willing to accept independence referenda when it suits their geopolitical purposes to do so. There are a number of recent examples.

In April 1993 Eritrea held a referendum to establish its independence from Ethiopia. Only Eritreans were able to vote. It passed overwhelmingly. There was no objection from the US or Australia.

On 17 February 2008 Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia. There was no referendum. Not only did the US not object, they bombed Serbia to encourage the government to accept the result. Australia protested neither the declaration of independence nor the illegal bombing.

The International Court of Justice gave an advisory opinion on Kosovo’s declaration of independence on 23 July 2010. The Court noted that previous declarations of independence being declared invalid had to be seen in their specific context. Importantly, the Court noted as a general principle that there was an absence of a general prohibition against unilateral declarations of independence under international law.

The important factual difference in Crimea’s case is the long history of the peninsula as a part of Russia; its ethnic and linguistic ties to Russia; and that there was a referendum with the overwhelming majority of citizens voting to leave Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

In September 2014 the people of Scotland voted in a referendum of whether or not they would remain a part of the United Kingdom or become a separate sovereign nation. In that case the referendum was narrowly lost although a mooted second referendum following the Brexit vote in the UK may well have a different result.

Again, neither the US nor Australia claimed that the Scots were not entitled to have a referendum, nor that they would refuse to recognise the result.

The final point to be made in this context is that in 1970 the United Nations General Assembly passed by acclamation (i.e. without dissent from either Australia or the United States) a Declaration on Principles of International Law .

In the section of the Resolution regarding “the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples” was the following passage:

By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, all peoples have the right to freely determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and every State has the duty to respect this right in accordance with the provisions of the Charter.

What the Crimeans have done is no more nor less than they are entitled to in accordance with this Declaration. It is Australia, the United States and others that condemn Crimea and the Russians who are in breach of their legal and moral obligations.

A further illustration of western hypocrisy over Crimea and the Donbass is the total silence over the ongoing military assault against the civilian population of Donbass. The Minsk 2 Accords, initiated by France and Germany, and agreed to by Russia and Ukraine, contained a number of provisions designed to recognise the legitimate aspirations of the people of Donbass.

The Minsk 2 Accord provided, inter alia, for a ceasefire; a pullback of Ukrainian troops; for the Ukrainian Rada to pass specific laws relating to the governance of Donbass; and to amend the Ukrainian constitution to incorporate decentralization as a key component.

All of these provisions have been ignored and violated. Instead of condemning the Ukrainian violations and failure to carry out its obligations, the US and its allies have continued to blame Russia. Immediately after the US election, Senators McCain and Graham travelled to Kiev and urged Ukraine to keep fighting, promising American support.

There is no evidence that they did so with the support of then President –elect Trump and their authority to do so is unclear. The immediate result of the US Senator’s visit was an upsurge in the bombardment of villages and towns in the Donbass region.

There is an equally stunning silence from the Australian authorities. They seem incapable of understanding history, incapable of recognizing the efforts made by the Russians to create an economic arrangement that would benefit Ukraine through open association with both the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union; and of recognizing the grave potential for war posed by the reckless expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders.

Instead of recognizing the historical and geopolitical realities, including that Ukraine is now a failed state ruled by neo-fascists, they continue to parrot the tired cliché that the Russians are to blame.

Upon such fatal ignorance are wars often started.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Ukraine, Crimea and the Push for War

Large-scale Offensive by Ukrainian Armed Forces against Donbass: Propaganda vs. Reality

NOVANEWS
 
Map_of_the_Donbass

Media coverage of the recent escalation in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine has once again shown that mainstream media provides a slanted view on the military situation in the region. It is especially interesting to observe how various mainstream outlets and so-called “NGOs” blamed militia of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) for an alleged usage of human shields in artillery duels. However, all these reports just hide how things really work on the ground.

The recent escalation began in late January starting with a large-scale offensive by Ukrainian Armed Forces in the industrial area of Avdeevka, south of the DPR capital of Donetsk. Meanwhile, artillery strikes dramatically intensified along the entire contact line.


This video is based on a military analysis by Denis Seleznev; Voiceover by Harold Hoover

The escalation deeply affected Donetsk, Makeevka, and Yasinovataya which compose a de-facto, united, highly populated, urban, complex with industrial infrastructure.

A Soviet-made 82mm mortar, widely used by both sides in the conflict, has a maximum firing range of 3km. A 120mm mortar has a firing range of 5km. D-30 122mm howitzers and 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers have a firing range of about 15km. 2S3 Akatsiya self-propelled howitzers have a firing range of about 18km, and BM-21 Grad military rocket launcher systems have a firing range of between 30 and 40 km in case of the usage of modern rockets.

If DPR and Ukrainian artillery units want to hit each other they are pushed to deploy these weapons much closer to the contact line. In case of a real combat in the area of Donetsk, and especially in case of a counter-battery fire, DPR forces are pushed to operate from areas located close to the urban complex. Furthermore, artillery units have to maneuver on a constant basis in order to avoid artillery strikes by the enemy.

In turn, Ukrainian Armed Forces have many more options to deploy artillery and other combat systems in non-populated areas but they don’t do this because in this case they will not be able to blame DPR units for shelling some residential areas.

It’s obvious that both sides implement a kind of military censorship hiding on an official level. However, this allows the mainstream media and think tanks to highlight some facts while hiding others in order to create a wide range of media forgeries, manipulating public opinion over the conflict.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Large-scale Offensive by Ukrainian Armed Forces against Donbass: Propaganda vs. Reality

Ukraine Sabotages Trump’s Russia Detente

NOVANEWS
Image result for Ukraine NAZI LOGO
By Jonathan Marshall 

Less than two weeks into office, President Trump faces one of the first big tests of his non-confrontational policy toward Russia. As new fighting erupts in Eastern Ukraine, the Kiev regime and its U.S. supporters are predictably demanding a showdown with Vladimir Putin.

Initial evidence suggests, however, that the latest flare-up in this nearly three-year-old conflict was precipitated by Kiev, possibly in the hope of forcing just such a confrontation between Washington and Moscow. It’s looking more and more like a rerun of a disastrous stunt pulled by the government of Georgia in 2008, which triggered a clash with Russia with the expectation that the George W. Bush administration would come to its rescue and bring Georgia into the NATO alliance.

After months of relative quiet, the fighting in Ukraine erupted on Jan. 28 around the city of Avdiivka, a now-decrepit industrial center. Eight pro-government fighters and five separatists apparently died in the first two days of hostilities. Meanwhile, residents of the city are struggling to survive heavy shelling and sub-zero weather with no heating.

Perennial critics of Russia were quick to blame Moscow for the renewed bloodshed. “We call on Russia to stop the violence (and), honor the cease-fire,” declared a State Department official.

The Washington Post’s reliably neo-conservative editorial page suggested that Russia felt liberated to unleash rocket and artillery barrages after Putin spoke with Trump by phone, with the goal of wrecking a meeting between Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Russian onslaught “look(s) a lot like a test of whether the new president will yield to pressure from Moscow,” the Post declared, as if this were Czechoslovakia, 1938, all over again.

Poroshenko was quick to take advantage of the clash by asking, rhetorically, “Who would dare talk about lifting the sanctions in such circumstances?” Just last month, Austria’s foreign minister called for an easing of sanctions on Russia in return for “any positive development” in Ukraine. President Trump has been noncommittal about sanctions in the face of full-throated demands by congressional hawks in both parties to keep them in place.

Who’s to Blame?

The jury is still out on who provoked the latest violence, but Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, established by the U.S. government to broadcast propaganda during the height of the Cold War, reported Monday:

“Frustrated by the stalemate in this 33-month war of attrition, concerned that Western support is waning, and sensing that U.S. President Donald Trump could cut Kyiv out of any peace negotiations as he tries to improve fraught relations with Moscow, Ukrainian forces anxious to show their newfound strength have gone on what many here are calling a ‘creeping offensive.’

“Observers say the Ukrainians appear to be trying to create new facts on the ground . . . In doing so, the pro-Kyiv troops have sparked bloody clashes with their enemy, which has reportedly made advances of its own — or tried to — in recent weeks.”

A senior member of Europe’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine warned, “The direct result of forward moves is escalation in tension, which often turns to violence.” How right he was.

It’s hard to see what Putin gains from new fighting, at a time when Trump faces an army of skeptics at home for his go-easy-on-Russia strategy. Poroshenko has everything to gain, on the other hand, by pressing Americans and West Europeans to reaffirm their support for his government, which took power after a 2014 coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych, who was strongly supported in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

The Georgia Playbook

The situation is reminiscent of the August 2008 conflict between Russia and its neighbor on the Black Sea, Georgia. A bloody clash between the two countries’ armed forces in the tiny enclave of South Ossetia prompted a blast of militant rhetoric from American hawks.

Vice President Richard Cheney declared, “Russian aggression must not go unanswered.” Richard Holbrooke, who would become a senior adviser to the future President Obama, said, “Moscow’s behavior poses a direct challenge to European and international order.”

It may have been significant that the Georgian president’s paid U.S. lobbyist was also presidential candidate John McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser. As one analyst commented at the time, “McCain’s swift and belligerent response to the Soviet actions in Georgia has bolstered his shaky standing with the right-wing of the Republican Party. . . . Since the crisis erupted, McCain has focused like a laser on Georgia, to great effect. According to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released on August 19 he has gained four points on Obama since their last poll in mid-July and leads his rival by a two to one margin as the candidate best qualified to deal with Russia.”

Yet when the smoke settled, it turned out that Georgia, not Russia, had started the war by launching an artillery barrage against South Ossetia’s capital city. It was a ploy by Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili to drag the West into supporting his campaign to take over the enclave.

The independent International Crisis Group had warned in 2007 that Georgia’s risky strategy of provoking “frequent security incidents could degenerate into greater violence.”

A year later, following the brief war with Russia, an ICG investigation reported authoritatively that it began with a “disastrous miscalculation by Georgian leadership,” who “launched a large-scale military offensive” into the Russian-occupied enclave, killing dozens of civilians and causing severe damage to South Ossetia’s capital from artillery barrages.

The report also criticized “Russia’s disproportionate counter-attack,” which it deemed a response to “the decade-long eastward expansion of the NATO alliance” and other grievances.

Putting blame aside, the ICG report observed that “The Russia-Georgia conflict has transformed the contemporary geopolitical world, with large consequences for peace and security in Europe and beyond.” Indeed, it marked one of the greatest setbacks in post-Cold War relations between Moscow and the West until the 2014 Ukraine crisis.

If the 2017 Ukraine crisis gets out of hand, the consequences for peace and security may be just as great or greater. It will be informative to see whether President Trump and his national security team get the straight facts before capitulating to the interventionists who want to see U.S.-Russian relations remain strained and volatile.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Ukraine Sabotages Trump’s Russia Detente

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