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With Trump now arming Ukraine’s Nazis, expect Russia to fight fire with fire

Moscow is not likely to back down now to Washington’s decision to provide lethal arms to the Kiev regime

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(TheFreeThoughtProject.com) – Last week, the Trump administration, reversed its previous position and announced they had agreed to supply advanced lethal defensive weapons to the Ukrainian government — including the likely delivery of Javelin anti-tank weapons — which could decimate Russian armor. This is a move sure to be seen in Moscow as a drastic escalation that will almost certainly precipitate a Russian retaliation.

Russian officials denounced President Trump’s authorization of lethal equipment to the Ukrainians as an aggressive act meant to deliberately sabotage the Minsk peace process.

“The United States has crossed a line by announcing its intention to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Saturday. “U.S. weapons are capable of leading to new casualties in our neighboring country, and we cannot remain indifferent to that.”

The decision was framed by the State Department as one of assisting Ukraine to fight back against Russian “aggression” and was lauded by Congressional war hawks as a necessary step to confront what many neocons and Cold War relics see as an expansionist Russian foreign policy.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the weapons were, “part of our effort to help Ukraine build its long-term defense capacity, to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and to deter further aggression.”

Proponents of sending the Ukrainian government advanced US weapons believe that if they can exact a harsh enough death toll on Russian soldiers assisting separatists in the Donbas, it will force Putin to withdraw support for the separatists.

The insane logic being employed by the West shows little understanding of the psychology of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It is simply wishful thinking to believe that a war of attrition, on the border of Russia, will force Putin to retreat. Instead, it will precipitate a drastic escalation in Russian support. One need simply analyze the past few years of war in Eastern Ukraine to clearly see that Moscow is willing to take undertake whatever economic, political or military consequences are necessary to prevent the defeat of anti-Kiev separatists in the Donbas.

In 2014 and 2015, when Ukrainian soldiers and pro-government neo-Nazi battalions were engaging Ukrainian separatists in fierce door-to-door, house-to-house fighting, Russia didn’t back down – instead, they escalated and forcefully stepped up support – as they supplied not only personnel, but tanks, supplies, and reinforcements to stop Kiev’s advances.

According to Daniel DePetris, a fellow at Defense Priorities, a Washington, D.C. thinktank:

In Putin’s mind, allowing Ukraine to retake strategic territory was an unthinkable prospect that would lead Kiev to believe that it could squash the rebellion militarily. The infusion of Russian troops stopped Ukrainian territorial advances in their tracks, at considerable human cost to Kiev.

In other words, whenever pro-Russian militants were losing ground or at risk, Moscow turned on the spigot of assistance to prevent a humiliating defeat or retreat. This is one of the biggest reminders to the world community that Ukraine’s political disposition is ultimately far more important to Russia’s strategic interests than it is to Washington’s. No amount of U.S. military equipment or heavy weapons systems is likely to eclipse what the Russians will provide to the other side.

To believe Russia will be intimidated into withdrawing its troops from Ukrainian territory or suing for a peace with a government Moscow sees as a puppet of the West just because a few more of its soldiers have been killed is to place hope over the reality of Putin’s track record throughout the war.

Whether we in the United States or Western Europe accept it as legitimate or not, Putin is highly motivated to preserve Russian influence and freedom of movement in a country that shares a 1,426-mile border with the Russian Federation. To allow Ukraine to drift fully into Europe’s orbit on his watch would be nothing short of a personal political humiliation for Putin and, more important, a geopolitical catastrophe for a Russia whose political elites remain incredibly nervous about a shrinking Near Abroad and any hint of political revolution in the former Soviet space.

The decision to provide advanced lethal weaponry to Ukraine will be used by Moscow as an excuse to increase its support to Ukrainian proxies in the breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The Russian government has operated in virtual lockstep with proxy forces since the Western coup to depose then Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Although made to look like a spontaneous revolution of the people of Ukraine, further study in the wake of the Euromaidan revealed a plethora of oligarchic forces called Fatherland, neo-Nazi Ukrainian nationalists, and shadowy intelligence forces operating in concert with Western intelligence agencies to create a perfect storm for a “popular revolution” in Ukraine.

What appeared on the face to be a popular uprising was, in reality, nothing more than a well-scripted coup attempt meant to install a pro-Western government in Ukraine. The Eastern regions of Ukraine, with large Russian speaking populations, refused to recognize this illegitimate government and requested federalization as to maintain a semblance of autonomy from the pro-Western regime that took power. However, the new pro-West government refused and instead sent in military forces to occupy the region. This precipitated local resistance and Russian assistance to the local Ukrainian forces fighting to defend their home from the newly installed regime in Kiev.

President Trump’s choice to deepen U.S. engagement in a conflict that involves a non-NATO country and whose political positioning is largely irrelevant to U.S. policy in Europe is a bad decision that has frightening implications regarding the increased potential for conflict with another nuclear superpower.

In an article for Breaking Defense, DePetris posited numerous, compelling, unanswered questions that reveal the extremely shortsighted nature of the Trump administration’s decision:

What, for instance, is the U.S. objective in Ukraine other than simply trying to bleed the Russians in a proxy conflict? When — not if — Russia escalates, what would the Trump administration do to counter it? How far is the U.S. willing to go to frustrate Moscow’s ambitions in a country it sees as an extension of its former Soviet glory? What if Putin, in his desire to respond to what he regards as American aggression in his own backyard, seeks to expand the conflict by stirring up pro-Moscow sentiment among the Russian-speaking populations of the Baltics? What would NATO do in that situation? Is NATO even prepared for such a contingency? And if they are not, how is any other Eastern European nation supposed to have any confidence in NATO when the transatlantic alliance can’t even defend its own members?

As Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, commented on Twitter:

Aside from the obtuse goal of “containing Russia,” involving the U.S. in an ethnonational conflict between two peoples/states with a long and complicated history is an extremely dangerous proposition that could potentially result in a greater likelihood of direct conflict between the United States and Russia – something no sane person ever hopes to see.

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Ariel Cohen explains Washington’s latest foreign policy strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

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While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

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Even a Vacuous Mueller Report Won’t End ‘Russiagate’

Too many reputations and other interests are vested in the legend for it to vanish from American politics anytime soon.

Stephen Cohen

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Authored by Stephen Cohen via The Nation:


Russiagate allegations that the Kremlin has a subversive hold over President Trump, and even put him in the White House, have poisoned American political life for almost three years. Among other afflictions, it has inspired an array of media malpractices, virtually criminalized anti–Cold War thinking about Russia, and distorted the priorities of the Democratic Party. And this leaves aside the woeful impact Russiagate has had in Moscow—on its policymakers’ perception of the US as a reliable partner on mutually vital strategic issues and on Russian democrats who once looked to the American political system as one to be emulated, a loss of “illusions” I previously reported.

Contrary to many expectations, even if the Mueller report, said to be impending, finds, as did a Senate committee recently, “no direct evidence of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia,” Russiagate allegations are unlikely to dissipate in the near future and certainly not before the 2020 presidential election.

There are several reasons this is so, foremost among them the following:

  1. The story of a “Kremlin puppet” in the White House is so fabulous and unprecedented it is certain to become a tenacious political legend, as have others in American history despite the absence of any supporting evidence.
  2. The careers of many previously semi-obscure Democratic members of Congress have been greatly enhanced—if that is the right word—by their aggressive promotion of Russiagate. (Think, for example, of the ubiquitous media coverage and cable-television appearances awarded to Representatives Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, and Maxine Walters, and to Senators Mark Warner and Richard Blumenthal.) If Mueller fails to report “collusion” of real political substance, these and other Russiagate zealots, as well as their supporters in the media, will need to reinterpret run-of-the-mill (and bipartisan) financial corruption and mundane “contacts with Russia” as somehow treasonous. (The financial-corruption convictions of Paul Manafort, Mueller’s single “big win” to date, did not charge “collusion” and had to do mainly with Ukraine, not Russia.) Having done so already, there is every reason to think Democrats will politicize these charges again, if only for the sake of their own careers. Witness, for example, the scores of summonses promised by Jerrold Nadler, the new Democratic chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
  3. Still worse, the top Democratic congressional leadership evidently has concluded that promoting the new Cold War, of which Russiagate has become an integral part, is a winning issue in 2020. How else to explain Nancy Pelosi’s proposal—subsequently endorsed by the equally unstatesmanlike Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and adopted—to invite the secretary general of NATO, a not-very-distinguished Norwegian politician named Jens Stoltenberg, to address a joint session of Congress? The honor was once bestowed on figures such as Winston Churchill and at the very least leaders of actual countries. Trump has reasonably questioned NATO’s mission and costs nearly 30 years after the Soviet Union disappeared, as did many Washington think tanks and pundits back in the 1990s. But for Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, there can be no such discussion, only valorization of NATO, even though the military alliance’s eastward expansion has brought the West to the brink of war with nuclear Russia. Anything Trump suggests must be opposed, regardless of the cost to US national security. Will the Democrats go to the country in 2020 as the party of investigations, subpoenas, Russophobia, and escalating cold war—and win?

Readers of my new book War With Russia?, which argues that there are no facts to support the foundational political allegations of Russiagate, may wonder how, then, Russiagate can continue to be such a major factor in our politics. As someone has recently pointed out, the Democrats and their media are now operating on the Liberty Valance principle: When the facts are murky or nonexistent, “print the legend.”

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Patriarch Bartholomew slaps down effort to solve Ukrainian Church crisis

Seraphim Hanisch

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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has a problem.

In October last year, by his order, two schismatic churches and their leaders were “rehabilitated” and the schismatic churches were combined and relaunched as a new national church, ostensibly for the people of Ukraine.

However, everything about this action was wrong.

The Patriarch attempted to reinterpret Church history and assumed the power to take over the situation in Ukraine, when Orthodox Christian ecclesiology says that no bishop (even a Patriarch) is permitted to impose his will outside his own See. Ukraine was not the territory of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, nor has it been for hundreds of years.

The people he lifted into power – Filaret Denisenko and Makary Maletich, both were formerly out of communion with canonical Orthodoxy, and Filaret is notable for having a terrible record with his priests, a common-law wife (forbidden for a bishop) and most notably, Filaret was also anathematized by the Russian Church for his actions.

Thirdly, the new church has yet to go on record with any statement at all about how its formation serves the will of God. This is because it cannot do so. The Orthodox Church in Ukraine exists as an ultranationalist thumb in the eye of Russia, even to the point some people in the new community said “now we have our own God. We don’t need the Russian God.”

This is a very bad sentiment because in the Orthodox Church there is only one God, and he does not pick between nations because of national identity.

To date, none of the other fourteen universally recognized Local Orthodox Churches has accepted the new Church and none of the local Churches are in communion with the OCU (Orthodox Church in Ukraine). Everyone who has said anything at all about this matter has rejected communion with schismatics, though a few monasteries on Athos did allow services with these people.

In essence, at this time the Patriarch has a new church on his back that no one wants but him. His statements that the other local Churches, namely Russia, will have no choice but to accept the OCU have not been proven right so far.

In fact, the pressure is running in the opposite direction.

Patriarch John X of Antioch, the oldest Christian Church in continuous existence, received a letter from Patriarch Bartholomew in response to the request by many leaders of local Churches to hold a pan-Orthodox discussion to resolve the dispute in Ukraine. According to the Union of Orthodox Journalists, the letter amounted to a slap in the face, borne of Patriarch Bartholomew’s own petulance, arrogance, and pettiness (We have added emphasis):

In a letter to the Primate of the Antiochian Orthodox Church, Patriarch John X, Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople declared that “he has good reasons” to refrain from a general Orthodox meeting on the Ukrainian church issue, reports the official website of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Patriarch Bartholomew called the discussion of the religious situation in Ukraine “useless” and reminded the Primate of the Antiochian Church of his refusal to participate in the Crete Council of 2016, which Constantinople had been prepar[ing] for a long time.

“After the four Orthodox Churches, from a church and theological point of view without a reason, refused to be present at the Ecumenical Sacred Council, for which there are no excuses, and your ancient Church was one of them, the Ecumenical Patriarchate has good reasons to refrain from such a meeting at the pan-Orthodox a level that will be useless since it will only lead to the agreement that the participants will disagree with each other,” wrote the Patriarch of Constantinople.

According to him, the autocephalous nature of the OCU became a reward for the Church of Ukraine, and the Phanar returned “to the fold of the canonical Church” the members of the UOC KP and the UAOC who were “unfairly” outside it. At the same time, Patriarch Bartholomew assures that he returned the schismatics to the bosom of Orthodoxy exclusively “following church traditions and canons.”

In other words, the Patriarch appears to be digging in. This situation is entirely wrong according to Church canons. The Patriarch is acting as though he has jurisdiction over all other Orthodox Churches, which is a position remarkably similar to that perceived by the Bishop of Rome prior to the Great Schism of 1054 which split the Roman Catholic Church apart from the other ancient Orthodox Patriarchates.

The result of that split was a slow disintegration of Christian integrity in the Roman Church, the eventual development of Protestantism and the present result of a severely degraded form of Christianity in the West, where the law of God is not considered at all, and one can essentially believe or act however they want and find a “church” that will back them up, or they will start their own.

The current actions of the Ecumenical Patriarch have caused concerns, even fears, of a new split in the Orthodox Church, and with the present geopolitical climate being strongly anti-Russian, there is a lot of thought that the United States is influencing and encouraging the split in order to isolate both Russia and its Orthodox Church, which is the largest and strongest in the world at this time.

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