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Why is the Trump White House arming a corrupt Nazi thug regime in Ukraine?

The mainstream media obscures the truth of what is really happening in Ukraine, making arming warmongering extremists possible

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(by Patrick Lawrence – Salon) – It is difficult to see into the running Ukraine crisis, just as it is in the Syrian case. This has long been so and is entirely by design — an impressive collaboration between the policy cliques in Washington and their clerks in the press. Some events are reported, but only some, for omission is an essential device in these extraordinarily pervasive mis- and disinformation campaigns. Rarely, possibly never, are events presented so as to convey cause and effect or responsibility. All is disparate, all things occur in isolation, some occurrences never occurred, and there is no past. Informed understanding is rendered difficult on the way to impossible.

There were, for instance, the events of a Saturday evening in mid-October, when as many as 20,000 neo-Nazi fanatics marched in Kiev to honor the anniversary of a paramilitary group called the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which collaborated with Hitler’s Wehrmacht and the SS during World War II. It was the too-common scene in the Ukrainian capital: torches, fascist slogans, denunciations of “organized Jewry.” Before the march, President Petro Poroshenko declared the paramils of yesteryear “an inspiration.”

This, one of the exceptional and usefully revealing events in Ukraine during the year now passing, went unreported in the corporate press: nothing in the New York Times, nothing in the Washington Post, nothing on the networks, nothing more or less anywhere. Here is an account RT published, and I link to it with no shred of apology. How, to bring the point home, are we supposed to understand events in Ukraine when faced with omissions such as this?

My answer: We are not supposed to understand events in Ukraine.

Ukraine has been off the boil for some time now. There have been very few reports of any kind for many months. But the troubled nation on the fault line between East and West has been getting more attention of late. Several events have pushed their way into the news. They are reported as if wholly unrelated, in the usual way. But if we do our best to take them together, they suggest that the Ukraine crisis could return to the dangerous tension that followed the American-cultivated coup of February 2014. In the year to come, indeed, we may see a denouement.

*  *  *

I sat up and took notice when hints of a revived ceasefire began to drift in within the past month or two. These were often not much more than stray remarks emanating from Moscow or one of the European capitals. They suggested a renewed effort to implement the agreement known as Minsk II, after the city in which it was negotiated three years ago this coming February. The signatories of Minsk II were the Kiev government, Russia, Germany and France. The U.S. was pointedly excluded — not at Moscow’s behest so far as I could make out at the time, but because the French and Germans were fed up with American subterfuge intended to keep a dangerous and costly conflict going.

In his year-end remarks a few weeks ago, Vladimir Putin made it clear that he still regarded Minsk II as the basis of a resolution in Ukraine. Why did he single out that semi-moribund accord, I wondered? And why did he subsequently indicate that Washington’s tolerance of the Kiev government’s stubborn unwillingness to observe Minsk II was the main obstacle to a comprehensive settlement?

We now have apparent answers to these questions.

It turns out that Minsk II is nothing like moribund. Its signatories have been in intense negotiations — unreported in our press, naturally — for some months. These talks have proceeded according to what is called the Normandy format: It was in northern France three years ago that the four foreign ministers began to consult via telephone. Three of them — the German, French and Russian ministers — appear to have been working hard to bring Ukraine into conformity with the accord’s terms.

Last week we had news that the European and Russian ministers have met with some success. Prisoner exchanges were a key aspect of the Minsk II accord. They were intended as confidence-building steps in the early stages of a settlement process. Last Wednesday Kiev and the rebellious provinces in eastern Ukraine executed the largest exchange in the conflict’s history: 73 Ukrainians held as prisoners in the east were sent home, while Kiev released 200–odd personnel captured in the rebelling regions.

It is not a huge step, but neither is it inconsequential. Most immediately, it suggests that progress toward a restoration of the often-breached Minsk accord may come in 2018: a renewed momentum. But think about it: It also tells us that the two European powers and Russia finally succeeded in pressuring Kiev to cooperate. It is anyone’s guess how they got this done, but it is important, for the Minsk signatories have rarely, if ever, been able to persuade the Poroshenko government to observe its Minsk II obligations. Given that Kiev is a U.S. client requiring life support (via the International Monetary Fund) for its survival, it is evident that Poroshenko has enjoyed Washington’s dispensation in ignoring the accord’s stipulations.

Intensified negotiations and a prisoner exchange: That makes two recent events. Now let us note and connect a couple of others so as to taste the forbidden fruit: some modest measure of understanding as to what is going on in Ukraine. This will not take long.

Fighting between the two sides had escalated considerably during the months of intensified negotiation, most obviously. Kurt Volker, President Trump’s special emissary on the Ukraine question, termed it the deadliest fighting since the conflict began after the 2014 coup. In my read, it is very likely Ukrainian forces remain, as they long were, the primary aggressors in Kiev’s war with the eastern regions. While it may never be possible to assign clear responsibility for this, there is no case whatsoever for casting Kiev in a purely defensive role. This we know at the very least. And again, what Kiev does it does with Washington’s approval, tacit or otherwise. This we also know.

Just before Christmas, Washington dropped a big one. The State Department announced that the Pentagon will begin supplying Ukraine with lethal weapons, while the administration will allow U.S. defense suppliers to sell Kiev small arms. There is a long story here. Since the 2014 coup we have watched what amounts to a subtle search for just how far the U.S. can intervene in Ukraine without prompting Moscow simply to bring the Poroshenko government, and with it the American adventure, to an abrupt end.

Warmongers such as Senator John McCain have been agitating in favor of arming Kiev for years. A year or so after the coup, the Pentagon sent military trainers to work with Ukrainian troops. The Obama administration drew the line at offensive weapons. But now Kiev will have the Javelin anti-tank missiles it has long coveted. Last summer, not to be missed, U.S. special forces took part in a military exercise on Ukrainian soil for the first time. That seems to be about the time Germany, France and Russia finally began to get somewhere with Kiev.

What are we watching? In my read no more or less than what has been going on in Ukraine since the coup in Kiev. It was hard to see then and so it is now, but let us not fail to register those events it is possible to discern and interpret.

On one hand, Europeans have recently shown very modest signs of progress toward implementing a ceasefire as a preliminary to a comprehensive agreement, and Russia remains with them while making a couple of things clear. One, a long-term settlement in Ukraine requires a federalist governing structure to keep the nation whole while accommodating its historic, ethnic, cultural and linguistic differences. (I have long agreed on this point; it is incorporated into Minsk II.) Two, Russia will not withdraw its support for the eastern regions until they are able to defend themselves against what could otherwise be a bloodbath. This latter was another point Putin made clear in his year-end remarks.

On the other hand, there are the Americans. The U.S. continues to encourage the pathologically corrupt Poroshenko government — consider this notable year-end piece in the Kyiv Post — even as its ratings in the opinion polls are consistently in single digits. At the very moment the Minsk II signatories finally achieve enough leverage over Kiev to force its cooperation, the U.S. begins to arm it.

One final note: It is very unlikely the apparent revival of Washington’s spoiler role in Ukraine is President Trump’s doing. In August of 2016, as some readers may recall, candidate Trump insisted that the Republican Party remove the plank in its platform that specifically mandated weapons sales to the Kiev government. But Trump’s preference for a new détente with Moscow, as is well known, spooked the national security apparatus. Four months into his presidency — and it is much easier to remember this — he was effectively forced to surrender control of foreign policy to the Pentagon in his “my generals” speech. That was last spring. In my read, Defense Secretary Mattis and H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, are now shaping Ukraine policy.

Now we are ready to watch as Ukraine stumbles into the new year. Now we have a chance to see what is supposed to remain unseen, to understand what we are not supposed to understand.

I wish all readers a Happy New Year and an eyes-wide-open 2018! My thanks to all for following the columns, and especially to those who take the time to comment. I read them all and learn from many.

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Is the Violent Dismemberment of Russia Official US Policy?

Neocons make the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

The Duran

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Authored by Erik D’Amato via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity:


If there’s one thing everyone in today’s Washington can agree on, it’s that whenever an official or someone being paid by the government says something truly outrageous or dangerous, there should be consequences, if only a fleeting moment of media fury.

With one notable exception: Arguing that the US should be quietly working to promote the violent disintegration and carving up of the largest country on Earth.

Because so much of the discussion around US-Russian affairs is marked by hysteria and hyperbole, you are forgiven for assuming this is an exaggeration. Unfortunately it isn’t. Published in the Hill under the dispassionate title “Managing Russia’s dissolution,” author Janusz Bugajski makes the case that the West should not only seek to contain “Moscow’s imperial ambitions” but to actively seek the dismemberment of Russia as a whole.

Engagement, criticism and limited sanctions have simply reinforced Kremlin perceptions that the West is weak and predictable. To curtail Moscow’s neo-imperialism a new strategy is needed, one that nourishes Russia’s decline and manages the international consequences of its dissolution.

Like many contemporary cold warriors, Bugajski toggles back and forth between overhyping Russia’s might and its weaknesses, notably a lack of economic dynamism and a rise in ethnic and regional fragmentation.But his primary argument is unambiguous: That the West should actively stoke longstanding regional and ethnic tensions with the ultimate aim of a dissolution of the Russian Federation, which Bugajski dismisses as an “imperial construct.”

The rationale for dissolution should be logically framed: In order to survive, Russia needs a federal democracy and a robust economy; with no democratization on the horizon and economic conditions deteriorating, the federal structure will become increasingly ungovernable…

To manage the process of dissolution and lessen the likelihood of conflict that spills over state borders, the West needs to establish links with Russia’s diverse regions and promote their peaceful transition toward statehood.

Even more alarming is Bugajski’s argument that the goal should not be self-determination for breakaway Russian territories, but the annexing of these lands to other countries. “Some regions could join countries such as Finland, Ukraine, China and Japan, from whom Moscow has forcefully appropriated territories in the past.”

It is, needless to say, impossible to imagine anything like this happening without sparking a series of conflicts that could mirror the Yugoslav Wars. Except in this version the US would directly culpable in the ignition of the hostilities, and in range of 6,800 Serbian nuclear warheads.

So who is Janusz Bugajski, and who is he speaking for?

The author bio on the Hill’s piece identifies him as a senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, a Washington, D.C. think-tank. But CEPA is no ordinary talk shop: Instead of the usual foundations and well-heeled individuals, its financial backers seem to be mostly arms of the US government, including the Department of State, the Department of Defense, the US Mission to NATO, the US-government-sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, as well as as veritable who’s who of defense contractors, including Raytheon, Bell Helicopter, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Textron. Meanwhile, Bugajski chairs the South-Central Europe area studies program at the Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State.

To put it in perspective, it is akin to a Russian with deep ties to the Kremlin and arms-makers arguing that the Kremlin needed to find ways to break up the United States and, if possible, have these breakaway regions absorbed by Mexico and Canada. (A scenario which alas is not as far-fetched as it might have been a few years ago; many thousands in California now openly talk of a “Calexit,” and many more in Mexico of a reconquista.)

Meanwhile, it’s hard to imagine a quasi-official voice like Bugajski’s coming out in favor of a similar policy vis-a-vis China, which has its own restive regions, and which in geopolitical terms is no more or less of a threat to the US than Russia. One reason may be that China would consider an American call for secession by the Tibetans or Uyghurs to be a serious intrusion into their internal affairs, unlike Russia, which doesn’t appear to have noticed or been ruffled by Bugajski’s immodest proposal.

Indeed, just as the real scandal in Washington is what’s legal rather than illegal, the real outrage in this case is that few or none in DC finds Bugajski’s virtual declaration of war notable.

But it is. It is the sort of provocation that international incidents are made of, and if you are a US taxpayer, it is being made in your name, and it should be among your outrages of the month.

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At Age 70, Time To Rethink NATO

The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:


“Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.”

So said President Charles De Gaulle, who in 1966 ordered NATO to vacate its Paris headquarters and get out of France.

NATO this year celebrates a major birthday. The young girl of 1966 is no longer young. The alliance is 70 years old.

And under this aging NATO today, the U.S. is committed to treat an attack on any one of 28 nations from Estonia to Montenegro to Romania to Albania as an attack on the United States.

The time is ripe for a strategic review of these war guarantees to fight a nuclear-armed Russia in defense of countries across the length of Europe that few could find on a map.

Apparently, President Donald Trump, on trips to Europe, raised questions as to whether these war guarantees comport with vital U.S. interests and whether they could pass a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

The shock of our establishment that Trump even raised this issue in front of Europeans suggests that the establishment, frozen in the realities of yesterday, ought to be made to justify these sweeping war guarantees.

Celebrated as “the most successful alliance in history,” NATO has had two histories. Some of us can yet recall its beginnings.

In 1948, Soviet troops, occupying eastern Germany all the way to the Elbe and surrounding Berlin, imposed a blockade on the city.

The regime in Prague was overthrown in a Communist coup. Foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell, or was thrown, from a third-story window to his death. In 1949, Stalin exploded an atomic bomb.

As the U.S. Army had gone home after V-E Day, the U.S. formed a new alliance to protect the crucial European powers — West Germany, France, Britain, Italy. Twelve nations agreed that an attack on one would be treated as an attack on them all.

Cross the Elbe and you are at war with us, including the U.S. with its nuclear arsenal, Stalin was, in effect, told. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops returned to Europe to send the message that America was serious.

Crucial to the alliance was the Yalta line dividing Europe agreed to by Stalin, FDR and Churchill at the 1945 Crimean summit on the Black Sea.

U.S. presidents, even when monstrous outrages were committed in Soviet-occupied Europe, did not cross this line into the Soviet sphere.

Truman did not send armored units up the highway to Berlin. He launched an airlift to break the Berlin blockade. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian rebels in 1956. JFK confined his rage at the building of the Berlin Wall to the rhetorical: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

LBJ did nothing to help the Czechs when, before the Democratic convention in 1968, Leonid Brezhnev sent Warsaw Pact tank armies to crush the Prague Spring.

When the Solidarity movement of Lech Walesa was crushed in Gdansk, Reagan sent copy and printing machines. At the Berlin Wall in 1988, he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Reagan never threatened to tear it down himself.

But beginning in 1989, the Wall was torn down, Germany was united, the Red Army went home, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the USSR broke apart into 15 nations, and Leninism expired in its birthplace.

As the threat that had led to NATO disappeared, many argued that the alliance created to deal with that threat should be allowed to fade away, and a free and prosperous Europe should now provide for its own defense.

It was not to be. The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

This, said Kennan, would “inflame the nationalistic and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion” and “restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations.” Kennan was proven right.

America is now burdened with the duty to defend Europe from the Atlantic to the Baltic, even as we face a far greater threat in China, with an economy and population 10 times that of Russia.

And we must do this with a defense budget that is not half the share of the federal budget or the GDP that Eisenhower and Kennedy had.

Trump is president today because the American people concluded that our foreign policy elite, with their endless interventions where no vital U.S. interest was imperiled, had bled and virtually bankrupted us, while kicking away all of the fruits of our Cold War victory.

Halfway into Trump’s term, the question is whether he is going to just talk about halting Cold War II with Russia, about demanding that Europe pay for its own defense, and about bringing the troops home — or whether he is going to act upon his convictions.

Our foreign policy establishment is determined to prevent Trump from carrying out his mandate. And if he means to carry out his agenda, he had best get on with it.

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Photos of new Iskander base near Ukrainian border creates media hype

But research into the photos and cross-checking of news reports reveals only the standard anti-Russian narrative that has gone on for years.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News obtained satellite photos that claim that Russia has recently installed new Iskander missile batteries, one of them “near” to the Ukrainian border. However, what the Fox article does not say is left for the reader to discover: that in regards to Ukraine, these missiles are probably not that significant, unless the missiles are much longer range than reported:

The intelligence report provided to Fox by Imagesat International showed the new deployment in Krasnodar, 270 miles from the Ukrainian border. In the images is visible what appears to be an Iskander compound, with a few bunkers and another compound of hangars. There is a second new installation that was discovered by satellite photos, but this one is much farther to the east, in the region relatively near to Ulan-Ude, a city relatively close to the Mongolian border.

Both Ukraine and Mongolia are nations that have good relations with the West, but Mongolia has good relations with both its immediate neighbors, Russia and China, and in fact participated with both countries in the massive Vostok-2018 military war-games earlier this year.

Fox News provided these photos of the Iskander emplacement near Krasnodar:

Imagesat International

Fox annotated this photo in this way:

Near the launcher, there is a transloader vehicle which enables quick reloading of the missiles into the launcher. One of the bunker’s door is open, and another reloading vehicle is seen exiting from it.

[Fox:] The Iskander ballistic missile has a range up to 310 miles, and can carry both unconventional as well as nuclear warheads, putting most of America’s NATO allies at risk. The second deployment is near the border with Mongolia, in Ulan-Ude in Sothern Russia, where there are four launchers and another reloading vehicle.

[Fox:] Earlier this week, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said authorities of the former Soviet republic are being “controlled” by the West, warning it stands to lose its independence and identity as a consequence. “The continuation of such policy by the Kiev authorities can contribute to the loss of Ukraine’s statehood,” Mr Patrushev told Rossiyskaya Gazeta, according to Russian news agency TASS.

This situation was placed by Fox in context with the Kerch Strait incident, in which three Ukrainian vessels and twenty-four crew and soldiers were fired upon by Russian coast guard ships as they manuevered in the Kerch Strait without permission from Russian authorities based in Crimea. There are many indications that this incident was a deliberate attempt on the part of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, to create a sensational incident, possibly to bolster his flagging re-election campaign. After the incident, the President blustered and set ten provinces in Ukraine under martial law for 30 days, insisting to the world, and especially to the United States, that Russia was “preparing to invade” his country.

Russia expressed no such sentiment in any way, but they are holding the soldiers until the end of January. However, on January 17th, a Moscow court extended the detention of eight of these captured Ukrainian sailors despite protests from Kyiv and Washington.

In addition to the tensions in Ukraine, the other significant point of disagreement between the Russian Federation and the US is the US’ plan to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Russia sees this treaty as extremely important, but the US point of view expressed by John Bolton, National Security Adviser, is that the treaty is useless because it does not include any other parties that have intermediate range nukes or the capability for them, such as Iran, North Korea, and China. This is an unsolved problem, and it is possible that the moves of the Iskander batteries is a subtle warning from the Russians that they really would rather the US stay in the treaty.

Discussions on this matter at public levels between the Russian government and the US have been very difficult because of the fierce anti-Russia and anti-Trump campaigns in the media and political establishments of the United States. President Putin and President Trump have both expressed the desire to meet, but complications like the Kerch Strait Incident conveniently arise, and have repeatedly disrupted the attempts for these two leaders to meet.

Where Fox News appears to get it wrong shows in a few places:

First, the known range for Iskander missiles maxes at about 310 miles. The placement of the battery near Krasnodar is 270 miles from the eastern Ukrainian border, but the eastern part of Ukraine is Russian-friendly and two provinces, Donetsk and Lugansk, are breakaway provinces acting as independent republics. The battery appears to be no threat to Kyiv or to that part of Ukraine which is aligned with the West. Although the missiles could reach into US ally Georgia, Krasnodar is 376 miles from Tbilisi, and so again it seems that there is no significant target for these missiles. (This is assuming the location given is accurate.)

Second, the location shown in the photo is (44,47,29.440N at 39,13,04.754E). The date on the “Krasnodar” photo is January 17, 2019. However, a photo of the region taken July 24, 2018 reveals a different layout. It takes a moment or two to study this, but there is not much of an exact match here:

Third, Fox News reported of “further Russian troops deployment and S-400 Surface to air missile days after the escalation started, hinting Russia might have orchestrated the naval incident.”

It may be true that Russia deployed weapons to this base area in Crimea, but this is now Russian territory. S-400s can be used offensively, but their primary purpose is defensive. Troops on the Crimean Peninsula, especially at this location far to the north of the area, are not in a position strategically to invade Kherson Oblast (a pushback would probably corner such forces on the Crimean peninsula with nowhere to go except the Black Sea). However, this does look like a possible defense installation should Ukraine’s forces try to invade or bomb Crimea.

Fox has this wrong, but it is no great surprise, because the American stance about Ukraine and Russia is similar – Russia can do no right, and Ukraine can do no wrong. Fox News is not monolithic on this point of view, of course, with anchors and journalists such as Tucker Carlson, who seem willing to acknowledge the US propaganda about the region. However, there are a lot of hawks as well. While photos in the articles about the S-400s and the Russian troops are accurately located, it does appear that the one about Iskanders is not, and that the folks behind this original article are guessing that the photos will not be questioned. After all, no one in the US knows where anything is in Russia and Ukraine, anyway, right?

That there is an issue here is likely. But is it appears that there is strong evidence that it is opposite what Fox reported here, it leaves much to be questioned.

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