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Putin’s Useful Idiots

Putin’s Useful Idiots

Western intellectuals have long had a soft spot for Russia. Voltaire, the French teacher of tolerance and a great friend of Catherine the Great, said that he would gladly move to Russia, though only if its capital were Kiev, not icy St. Petersburg. Johann Gottfried von Herder, the German philosopher of enlightened nationalism, dreamed that he would obtain earthly glory as the “new Luther and Solon” for an as-yet-unspoiled Ukraine, which he would transform into a “new Greece” within the Russian empire.

And in the last century intellectuals like André Gide, Pablo Neruda and Jean-Paul Sartre all stumped for the Soviet Union as what Lenin allegedly called “useful idiots,” apologizing for its monstrosities long after the rest of the world recognized them.

To those in the Eastern Europe left — myself included — who know Russia better than most, such naïveté has long been a source of chagrin. And yet it continues, even today, as many American and Western European intellectuals do all they can to minimize the dangerous aggression by Vladimir V. Putin.

Writing in The Nation, the Russia scholar Stephen F. Cohen argued that Mr. Putin was largely blameless for the conflict in Ukraine, that he had tried to avoid it but that the West had forced his hand. In Mr. Cohen’s eyes, the West has unnecessarily humiliated Russia by inviting countries like Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to join NATO.

Ukraine, he wrote, is part of Russia’s sphere of influence, so why can’t we just accept Mr. Putin’s proposal that Ukraine be federalized, with neutrality guaranteed in a new constitution?

Mr. Cohen’s defense of Russia’s sphere of influence overlooks the question of whether the countries that fall within it are there by choice or coercion. Ukraine is willing to be in the Western sphere of influence because it receives support for civil society, the economy and national defense — and Russia does nothing of the kind.

Mr. Cohen and others don’t just defend Russia; they attack the pro-democracy activists in Ukraine. Another American pundit, Max Blumenthal, described the Euromaidan movement as “filled with far-right street-fighting men pledging to defend their country’s ethnic purity.”

True, such people were present at the square, but they were marginal figures, and slogans about ethnic purity never gained popularity. Yes, generally speaking, Ukraine has its skinheads and its anti-Semites and even serial killers, pedophiles and Satanists. They are not present in smaller or larger numbers than in any other country, even in the most mature European state.

In one particularly egregious passage, Mr. Blumenthal writes about how the “openly pro-Nazi politics” of the Ukrainian political party Svoboda and its leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, “have not deterred Senator John McCain from addressing a Euromaidan rally,” nor did it “prevent Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland from enjoying a friendly meeting with the Svoboda leader this February.”

That distorts how these things work. A whole range of Western political leaders traveled to Euromaidan, and virtually all of them were photographed with Mr. Tyagnibok. For better or worse, Svoboda was part of the coalition of parties behind the Euromaidan movement, and they had agreed to support one another. Americans would behave exactly the same way in a similar situation.

Strangely, Western intellectuals seem unbothered by anyone who notes the similarity between their pronouncements and Russian propaganda. Indeed, they dismiss such charges out of hand. Zoltan Grossman, who teaches at Evergreen State in Olympia, Wash., writes that it is “wrong and irresponsible to assert that the presence of fascists and Nazis in the new government is merely Russian propaganda.”

For Dr. Grossman, inconvenient details are less important than the fact that Dmytro Yarosh, the leader of the far-right organization Right Sector, had been appointed deputy secretary of the National Security and Defense Council.

That sounds ominous, until you realize that Mr. Yarosh is not formally a member of the government, and that in February he met with Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine and gave public assurances that Right Sector intended to fight all instances of anti-Semitism, xenophobia and chauvinism.

What naïve American intellectuals say free of charge, the canny Gerhard Schröder, the former German chancellor, says for 250,000 euros a year as a board member of Gazprom, the Russian oil giant. Mr. Schröder, the German father of “Gazprom socialism” — a new subspecies of limousine liberalism — has repeatedly embarrassed Berlin by supporting Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

He isn’t alone — another former chancellor, Helmut Schmidt, has likewise sung Russia’s praises of late, as has Günter Verheugen, a prominent former European Union commissioner.

What drives these men? Is it a case of poorly conceived pacifism? An eruption of remorse for war crimes carried out against Russians, so many years ago? Or the Stockholm syndrome of a victim fascinated by his executioner?

Obviously, they are entitled to their opinions. But in speaking out this way they are doing great damage to Germany’s postwar government, built on a commitment to democracy and national self-determination, everything that is currently under attack by Mr. Putin.

The irony is that by standing beside Russia and pointing fingers at fascist phantoms in Ukraine, Western intellectuals are aligning themselves not just with the autocrat in the Kremlin, but the legions of far-right parties across Europe that have come to Russia’s defense, among them Hungary’s Jobbik, Vlaams Belang in Belgium, Austria’s Freedom Party, Italy’s Lega Nord and the French Front National. Who says Russia needs propaganda? It already has its useful idiots.

Slawomir Sierakowski became a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times in the fall of 2013. Mr. Sierakowski, born in 1979, is a Polish sociologist and political commentator. He is a founder and leader of Krytyka Polityczna (Political Critique), an Eastern European movement of liberal intellectuals, artists and activists, with branches in Ukraine and Russia. He is also the director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw and the president of the Stanislaw Brzozowski Association, overseeing its publishing house; its online opinion site; cultural centers in Warsaw, Gdansk, Lodz and Cieszyn, in Poland, and in Kiev, Ukraine; and 20 local clubs.

contributors-images-slide-VVT3-articleInlineA graduate of the University of Warsaw, Mr. Sierakowski has been awarded fellowships from Yale, Princeton and Harvard and from the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. He has written for many journals and newspapers, including The Guardian, El País, Haaretz and Die Tageszeitung and Gazeta Wyborcza. He has also collaborated (as a writer and actor) on “Mary Koszmary” (“Nightmares”) in 2008, which was expanded into a film trilogy, “And Europe Will Be Stunned,” by the Israeli-Dutch visual artist Yael Bartana. The work represented Poland in the 2011 Venice Biennale.
APRIL 28, 2014
Slawomir Sierakowski is a sociologist, a founder of the Krytyka Polityczna movement and the director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Warsaw. This article was translated by Maria Blackwood from the Polish.
www.nytimes.com/2014/04/29/opinion/sierakowski-putins-useful-idiots.html?_r=0

Read More: Der Spiegel getting into the Putin’s useful idiots club by linking the Ukraine government to Syrian jihadists.
euromaidanpr.com/2014/04/28/der-spiegel-about-worthless-ukraine/#more-7887

German government distances itself from Schröder after Putin embrace How much is Germany anti-Ukrainian or how much pro-Russian is Germany?
www.dw.de/german-government-distances-itself-from-schr%C3%B6der-after-putin-embrace/a-17600263

Unverschämt!
www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/ukraine-krise-gerhard-schroeder-feiert-mit-wladimir-putin-geburtstag-a-966641.html

Merkel fury after Gerhard Schroeder backs Putin on Ukraine Is Merkel also a Russophile and former communist buddy of Putin?
www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/10697986/Merkel-fury-after-Gerhard-Schroeder-backs-Putin-on-Ukraine.html

Putin’s remarks raise fears of future moves against Ukraine

Putin’s remarks raise fears of future moves against Ukraine

Video: NSA leaker Edward Snowden questioned Russian President Vladimir Putin about domestic spying on Thursday. Putin wasn’t exactly truthful in his response. (Fact-checking source: Andrei Soldatov)Video
By Kathy Lally, Published: April 17 E-mail the writer
MOSCOW — A confident President Vladimir Putin on Thursday used his annual televised meeting with the nation to portray a powerful Russia — one that is dismissive of the West, had troops operating in Crimea even as it denied it and regards a large swath of southeastern Ukraine as historically part of its territory.

Somewhat ominously, Putin reminded his audience that Russia’s parliament has given him the authority to send troops into Ukraine. Southeastern Ukraine — including the cities of Luhansk, Kharkiv, Donetsk and Odessa — had been part of the Russian empire, called New Russia, he pointed out. The Soviet Union turned it over to Ukraine. “Why? Let God judge them.” The argument was reminiscent of the one he had made earlier about Crimea, which was given to Ukraine in 1954.

Putin’s remarks raised fears that he was justifying a possible incursion into southeastern Ukraine, where the United States says 40,000 Russian troops are massed just across the border. U.S. and European officials have accused Russia of organizing the armed men and agitators who have been capturing government buildings in southeastern Ukraine and raising Russian flags. Putin denies it. The West says he is lying.

“Nonsense,” Putin said Thursday. “There are no Russian units in eastern Ukraine — no special services, no tactical advisers. All this is being done by the local residents.”

In early March, Putin denied that the well-equipped troops operating on Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and wearing green uniforms without insignia were Russian. Anyone could buy those uniforms, he said. On Thursday, when asked about the soldiers widely known as the green men, Putin acknowledged that they were Russian. Their presence had been necessary, he said, to keep order so that Crimeans could decide their future in a referendum.

“We didn’t want any tanks, any nationalist combat units or people with extreme views armed with automatic weapons,” he said. “Of course, Russian servicemen backed the Crimean self-defense forces.”

The hastily arranged March 16 referendum resulted in 96 percent counted as voting for joining Russia. “In this situation,” he said, “we couldn’t have done otherwise.”

For just shy of four hours Thursday, Putin answered questions from a studio audience, from a video-connected crowd standing in the heart of the Crimean city of Sevastopol and from people calling in and texting from around the nation. Of 2 million calls and 400,000 texts, he answered around 70 questions. Last year, he spoke for four hours and 47 minutes.

Even Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who revealed a wide-scale U.S. surveillance program and has taken refuge from prosecution in Russia, came out of the shadows to ask a video question: Does Russia spy on its citizens the way the United States did?

No, Putin said. “Thank God, our special services are strictly controlled by the state and society, and their activity is regulated by law.”

The U.S. Embassy in Moscow tweeted in contradiction: “Snowden would probably be interested to know that Russian laws allow the control, storage and study of all data in the communication networks of the Russian Federation.”

Putin’s program was broadcast live on three main television channels and three radio stations. From across the nation, people added their voices to a chorus of “thank-you-Mr.-Putins,” expressing their gratitude for his acquisition of Crimea and his standing up to the West. Journalists and artists lauded him. “There is no legitimate power in Ukraine today,” lamented Karen Shakhnazarov, a filmmaker, who said that as a 20-year-old, his father had fought in the Soviet Army to free Crimea in World War II.

Andrei Norkin, a journalist for Kommersant Radio, said he was worried about the nation’s level of patriotism and urged Putin to support legislation that would set up military academies where schoolchildren could study under inspiring conditions.

“They learn respect for women and older people,” he said. “At cadet schools, they are trained to become real men.”

A few critics were heard, giving Putin the opportunity to describe how misguided they were.

“Laws are being developed that will make culture just a servant of ideology,” said Irina Prokhorova, a literary critic, head of the Civic Platform party and sister of Brooklyn Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov. People are being persecuted if they object to the annexation of Crimea, she said, calling it a “sad and forced decision.”

This is not 1937, Putin said, when people were being sent to labor camps.

“Some members of the Russian intelligentsia are unaccustomed to the fact that they might meet resistance or have someone else express a different position and disagree with their position,” Putin said. When contradicted, he said, they get emotional.

He said he had heard that regarding Crimea, some people “want their country to lose and think that this is a good thing. Here, too, there is a continuity. As is known, during the First World War, the Bolsheviks also wanted the Russian government and Russia in general to lose, and the situation quickly got out of hand, which led to the revolution.

“There is some sort of historical continuity here, not the best, though. However, I agree that in any case, we should not slip into some extreme forms of dealing with each other’s views or cast aspersions on people for their opinions. I will do my best to prevent this from happening.”

He dismissed U.S. complaints about Russian behavior as a double standard. “Why isn’t Russia allowed to defend its own interests?” he asked. And he criticized the sanctions the United States has imposed on Russia because of its annexation of Crimea as counterproductive.

“If you try to punish someone like mischievous kids and put them in a corner kneeling on frozen peas so it hurts them, then in the end, you will cut off the branch on which you are sitting,” he said, mixing his metaphors.

Many of his friends — wealthy men — were targeted by the sanctions. They had nothing to do with Crimea, he said.

“I should tell you,” he said, “that I don’t feel ashamed of my friends.”

Would he remarry, someone asked, referring to Putin’s recent divorce.

“First, I have to help my former wife get married, then think about myself.”
His comments were once again met by applause.
www.washingtonpost.com/world/putin-changes-course-admits-russian-troops-were-in-crimea-before-vote/2014/04/17/b3300a54-c617-11e3-bf7a-be01a9b69cf1_story.html

Read more, very ominous message from Putin with Russian imperialism intending on destroying Ukraine and/or start a World War 3:

Putin Makes Worrying Comments About Novorussia
www.businessinsider.com/maps-of-novorussia-and-old-russian-empire-2014-4?nr_email_referer=1

Ukrainian PM: Russia is a “threat to the globe”

Ukrainian PM: Russia is a “threat to the globe.”

On March 4, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt light candles and lay roses atop the Shrine of the Fallen in Kiev. On Sunday, Pyatt appeared on CNN's "State of the Union." (Mykhailo Markiv/ Reuters)

On March 4, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt light candles and lay roses atop the Shrine of the Fallen in Kiev. On Sunday, Pyatt appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union.” (Mykhailo Markiv/ Reuters)

Russia is a “threat to the globe,” and President Vladimir Putin has a dream of restoring the Soviet Union, the Ukrainian prime minister said Sunday.
“It’s crystal clear that Russia is the threat, the threat to the globe, and the threat to the European Union and the real threat to Ukraine,” Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.
Yatsenyuk said the world has “reason to be concerned” about Putin’s intentions, and Russia undermined global stability by annexing Crimea.
“President Putin has a dream to restore the Soviet Union, and every day he goes further and further, and God knows where is the final destination,” Yatsenyuk said. He cited a 2005 speech by Putin to the Russian Federal Assembly in which Putin said the collapse of the Soviet Union was “a major geopolitical disaster of the century.”
Also Sunday, Geoffrey Pyatt, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, said that a pact reached this past week to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine is the “best chance that we’ve got” to do so diplomatically.
Pyatt reiterated the U.S. and European Union view that there is not a military solution to the crisis and that it must be solved diplomatically.
“We’re convinced his is the best chance that we’ve got to achieve a diplomatic de-escalation of this crisis, and we’re working hard at it,” Pyatt said from Kiev on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Militants in at least a dozen cities in the east of the country have occupied buildings and seized weapons and armored vehicles. Pyatt said he believes that “Russia has influence over some of these groups” and hopes the country exercises that authority to try to implement the framework reached in Geneva.
On Sunday, an Easter truce was shattered by a gunfight that left at least one person dead and three wounded at a checkpoint occupied by a pro-Russian militia in eastern Ukraine. Russia said the clash was evidence that Ukraine was violating the accord reached in Geneva.
The pact calls for all parties to stop violent acts and for the disarmament of illegal groups. The United States says about 40,000 Russian troops are currently on the Russian-Ukrainian border. NATO is also increasing its military presence on its eastern border. Poland’s defense minister, Tomasz Siemoniak, told The Washington Post that it expects U.S. ground troops to be dispatched to his country.
“There is an apparent effort from outside to try to stir division, but I’m convinced that those who are trying to stimulate separatism, who are trying to preach violence, are not going to find resonance,” Pyatt said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier this week that the crisis is putting Ukraine on the brink of civil war.
Pyatt disputed this, saying that most Ukrainians “across the board” have a “desire to bring everyone together.” Pyatt said there are “obviously efforts from small isolated groups to stir division,” and characterized them as only “about a couple hundred of people.” Pyatt said they do not represent the whole of the country. “That’s not what I hear from most Ukrainians,” he said.
Pyatt said the United States and the E.U. want to see a politically stable Ukraine, and there “is no better answer to Russia” than Ukrainians voting in elections May 25.
Pyatt said there are reasons for unhappiness in the country, particularly economic problems in the eastern part of the country.
Ukraine’s military is woefully underarmed and without modern equipment and training, but Pyatt said the United States is not providing Ukraine armament, only support and non-lethal aid.
“Ukraine is outgunned,”he said. “But our efforts have been focused on diplomacy, focused on economic support.”
Also appearing on “Meet the Press,” Rep. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said the U.S. has given Ukraine $10 million in military and financial aid. Congress last month overwhelmingly approved a $1 billion aid package for Ukraine.
Yatsenyuk said that the country has asked for financial support but that it has to modernize its military.
“We need financial, economic support,” Yatsenyuk said. “We need to modernize the Ukrainian military and to overhaul all structures of Ukrainian defense systems.”

Also appearing on “Meet the Press,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said that eastern Ukraine will be lost unless the U.S. shifts its strategy. Corker is the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“I think we’re going to lose eastern Ukraine if we continue as we are,” he said, “and I think it’s going to be a geopolitical disaster if that occurs.”
Corker said the U.S. approach to foreign policy is a “day late and a dollar short,” and the U.S. needs to be more forceful in its approach toward Russia and increase sanctions on sectors such as energy and banking. Instead, he said, the administration keeps waiting to see what Russia’s next steps are rather than acting.
He said the U.S., by not taking a harder line, is essentially allowing Russia to go into Ukraine
.
“I think the administration is basically saying, ‘look, don’t do anything overt, don’t come over the border with 40,000 troops, don’t embarrass us in this way, but you can continue to undermine the sovereignty of the Ukrainians,” Corker said.
Corker said President Bashar al-Assad of Syria also knew he would not be punished by using chemical weapons.
“The wisest thing that Assad did was really to kill 1,200 people with chemical weapons, because in essence we said, ‘Don’t embarrass us any more in that way,'” Corker said, adding that Assad was able to kill 60,000 more people with bombs.
“And I think that’s what we’re saying with Russia,” Corker said. “Don’t embarrass us, but you can continue the black ops activity.”
BY KATIE ZEZIMA
April 20 at 10:32 am

Katie Zezima
Katie Zezima covers the White House for Post Politics and The Fix. She previously worked for the New York Times in Boston and the AP in New Jersey. She was a 2011-12 Knight-Wallace Fellow at The University of Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @katiezez.

www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/04/20/u-s-ambassador-to-ukraine-geneva-deal-best-chance-to-de-escalate-crisis/?ti

Read more:Putin’s 10-point plan to destroy Ukraine
www.kyivpost.com/content/ukraine/putins-10-point-plan-to-destroy-ukraine-344081.html

Terrible weapon of propaganda against Ukraine.

Ruslana: The problem is, we are dealing with this terrible weapon of propaganda against Ukraine. And we are not defending ourselves in any way from it.
And as a result, these are the consequences.

All weak spots were stepped on.
All aspects have… been touched, religion, language, military power – everything, all the main basis of support have been touched.
When will we actually be engaged in propaganda FOR Ukraine?
When will we be engaged in that internal core, which is a base for our country.

The fact that Russia suddenly, thanks to this propaganda, became aggressive.

Today I will be repeating the word “propaganda” as many times as possible, until we all memorize how much more terrible this weapon is, much more frightening than all the tanks gathered together around our borders.

And so, exactly thanks to this propaganda, note sociology. .
Yes, the selection is not very big – only 4.5 thousand respondents, nevertheless, an indicator.
More than 50% of simple people living in Moscow are ready to go to war with Ukraine… This is the result of propaganda…
These are the consequences of the entire negative, splashed out on us by Kremlin, and I personally think – Putin’s politics.

It’s absolutely obvious to me that now all these conflicts, this artificially created situation, absolutely accurately injected informational viruses, absolutely all of us are infected, everyone, even those who considers themselves adequate, believe me, certain nervousness is already programmed in us.

As it’s clear to us what situation we are in. (I want to use concrete word…)

And we are trying to understand, how to simply go outside with the flag and try saying something nice… you might get killed, taken down. I can’t…
I am trying to plan a trip to, at least one of the cities in the east, and it’s impossible because I’m told, “well, Ruslana, there is not enough security present to ensure your safety”.

I know that there are people living in Donbass, who call every day asking for some help. They say, “We are patriots, we won’t give up Ukraine. Will never give up Ukraine, never, under no circumstances. Kiev, please, give us a hand”.
There were 300 signatures collected in 3 hours, if I’m not mistaken. Look, these are live signatures of people from Donetsk who signed for united Ukraine.
They ask Turchinov (acting President) to somehow personally pay attention to protection. The East is protected neither by police, nor by “Berkut”, nor by informational politics.
Can you understand how it’s for these people to live in these conditions?

Here I’m specially addressing to them! Guys! We will come to you and will help, and we will give you a hand. Most important – please keep that core inside you! Your core is Ukrainian!

Three facts to the guys in the east who are watching this program now.

Guys, “Russian Radio” started broadcasting in Lviv, started about a year ago. Was there at least one person who came outside with protests, did you hear anything like this, that Lviv was protesting against “Russian Radio”? It’s broadcasting and people area listening to it in minibuses. I will even tell you more, God forgive my hometown, but it’s the fact. And is there at least one problem? – No.

I will tell you more, my mother is Russian, and she is from Ural.
My mother speaks Russian in L’viv 35 years. Nobody has ever made a remark regarding that during her whole life.

And the third, concerning fascist technologies, we were sent the poster (everyone knows about it, it was disbursed online) – there is an eagle on the background and a mother with the child. This is classical propaganda, in Soviet style posters, and it has writing: the Russian Empire brings you better life. There was identical Hitler poster found dating to the 1930’s, absolutely similar picture, simply changed the name.

That is, after all, technologists know what gets on people’s nerves, what intimidates them, keeps them frightened. This means, it is necessary for Putin to keep Russia in awe, and for some reason we are the ones suffering from that. Perhaps, after all, we will find (I will address to you all the time) find that core within ourselves, find it, it is Ukrainian, it is much stronger than Russian core, we is stronger today. The problem now is not puppet – Yanukovich. He already ran away. There is much more serious problem upon us, and unfortunately, most likely Ukrainians will need to fight this problem. And this problem is one word – Putin.

Once again I can appeal to Putin because it is my method. I personally chose it. I travel worldwide and try to implement protection for our country’s image on the informational arena, because it is getting killed at the international level, globally, and killing us in such manner than it’s very difficult to imagine.

Here is one of those famous plots, very famous on the internet, where the same person is filmed in two different episodes and showed on two different Russian TV channels. According to the story, he brought about 500 thousands EUR to Maidan in order to supply military protective uniform. I was at Maidan. We never had any protective uniform. There was always deficiency. We had merely 20 armored shields for the entire Maidan and we exchanged them often with each other, depending what direction the bullets were coming from. In the second video, same person played anti-maidan protester who took part in rally against current temporary government and was beaten there. So this means that Russian propaganda technologists work crudely. It means that not in all cases everything has been going well. They rely on the idea that we are all, Russians in particular, stupid idiots who are going to believe anything they say. So, they work very and very crudely.

Now I would like to appeal to some Putin’s agents…

I hope Putin will get this appeal on his table sooner or later.
Taking an opportunity, once again I want to address to Putin and say:

“If you think that there were technologies, I personally, as a person who was at Maidan, can tell you that no technologies were present. I did not see them. I was at Maidan for 4 months, 3 for sure, and the last month I devoted to international travels and meetings. However, in the course of 3 months, during which day-by-day, night-by-night, I was at Maidan, everything was born in itself, people thought it out under way. We organized it because it didn’t exist and it was immediately needed. So, why are you assuming the right to our so-called “technologies”, inversing it? Why do you use everything we created and show it as the end product of technology? But there were no technologies. It was simply defense mechanism of Ukrainian people to actions you tried to implement with the help of Yanukovych”.

That’s all!

Ruslana receives Women of Courage award
www.kyivpost.com/guide/people/lifestyle-blog-ruslana-receives-women-of-courage-award-338653.html

False Claims About Ukraine

False Claims About Ukraine
Russian Fiction the Sequel: 10 More False Claims About Ukraine

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
April 13, 2014

“No amount of propaganda can make right something that the world knows is wrong.”
– President Obama, March 26

Russia continues to spin a false and dangerous narrative to justify its illegal actions in Ukraine. The Russian propaganda machine continues to promote hate speech and incite violence by creating a false threat in Ukraine that does not exist. We would not be seeing the violence and sad events that we’ve witnessed this weekend without this relentless stream of disinformation and Russian provocateurs fostering unrest in eastern Ukraine. Here are 10 more false claims Russia is using to justify intervention in Ukraine, with the facts that these assertions ignore or distort.

1. Russia Claims: Russian agents are not active in Ukraine.

Fact: The Ukrainian Government has arrested more than a dozen suspected Russian intelligence agents in recent weeks, many of whom were armed at the time of arrest. In the first week of April 2014, the Government of Ukraine had information that Russian GRU officers were providing individuals in Kharkiv and Donetsk with advice and instructions on conducting protests, capturing and holding government buildings, seizing weapons from the government buildings’ armories, and redeploying for other violent actions. On April 12, armed pro-Russian militants seized government buildings in a coordinated and professional operation conducted in six cities in eastern Ukraine. Many were outfitted in bullet-proof vests, camouflage uniforms with insignia removed, and carrying Russian-designed weapons like AK-74s and Dragunovs. These armed units, some wearing black and orange St. George’s ribbons associated with Russian Victory Day celebrations, raised Russian and separatist flags over seized buildings and have called for referendums on secession and union with Russia. These operations are strikingly similar to those used against Ukrainian facilities during Russia’s illegal military intervention in Crimea in late February and its subsequent occupation.

2. Russia Claims: Pro-Russia demonstrations are comprised exclusively of Ukrainian citizens acting of their own volition, like the Maidan movement in Kyiv.

Fact: This is not the grassroots Ukrainian civic activism of the EuroMaidan movement, which grew from a handful of student protestors to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians from all parts of the country and all walks of life. Russian internet sites openly are recruiting volunteers to travel from Russia to Ukraine and incite violence. There is evidence that many of these so-called “protesters” are paid for their participation in the violence and unrest. It is clear that these incidents are not spontaneous events, but rather part of a well-orchestrated Russian campaign of incitement, separatism, and sabotage of the Ukrainian state. Ukrainian authorities continue to arrest highly trained and well-equipped Russian provocateurs operating across the region.

3. Russia Claims: Separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine enjoy broad popular support.

Fact: The recent demonstrations in eastern Ukraine are not organic and lack wide support in the region. A large majority of Donetsk residents (65.7 percent) want to live in a united Ukraine and reject unification with Russia, according to public opinion polls conducted at the end of March by the Donetsk-based Institute of Social Research and Policy Analysis. Pro-Russian demonstrations in eastern Ukraine have been modest in size, especially compared with Maidan protests in these same cities in December, and they have gotten smaller as time has progressed.

4. Russia Claims: The situation in eastern Ukraine risks spiraling into civil war.

Fact: What is going on in eastern Ukraine would not be happening without Russian disinformation and provocateurs fostering unrest. It would not be happening if a large Russian military force were not massed on the border, destabilizing the situation through their overtly threatening presence. There simply have not been large-scale protests in the region. A small number of separatists have seized several government buildings in eastern cities like Donetsk, Luhansk, and Slovyansk, but they have failed to attract any significant popular support. Ukrainian authorities have shown remarkable restraint in their efforts to resolve the situation and only acted when provoked by armed militants and public safety was put at risk. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) observers have reported that these incidents are very localized.

5. Russia Claims: Ukrainians in Donetsk rejected the illegitimate authorities in Kyiv and established the independent “People’s Republic of Donetsk.”

Fact: A broad and representative collection of civil society and non-governmental organizations in Donetsk categorically rejected the declaration of a “People’s Republic of Donetsk” by the small number of separatists occupying the regional administration building. These same organizations confirmed their support for the interim government and for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

6. Russia Claims: Russia ordered a “partial drawdown” of troops from the Ukrainian border.

Fact: No evidence shows significant movement of Russian forces away from the Ukrainian border. One battalion is not enough. An estimated 35,000-40,000 Russian troops remain massed along the border, in addition to approximately 25,000 troops currently in Crimea.

7. Russia Claims: Ethnic Russians in Ukraine are under threat.

Fact: There are no credible reports of ethnic Russians facing threats in Ukraine. An International Republican Institute poll released April 5 found that 74 percent of the Russian-speaking population in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine said they “were not under pressure or threat because of their language.” Meanwhile, in Crimea, the OSCE has raised urgent concerns for the safety of minority populations, especially ethnic Ukrainians, Crimean Tatars, and others. Sadly, the ethnic Russians most at risk are those who live in Russia and who oppose the authoritarian Putin regime. These Russians are harassed constantly and face years of imprisonment for speaking out against Putin’s regular abuses of power.

8. Russia Claims: Ukraine’s new government is led by radical nationalists and fascists.

Fact: The Ukrainian parliament (Rada) did not change in February. It is the same Rada that was elected by all Ukrainians, comprising all of the parties that existed prior to February’s events, including former president Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. The new government, approved by an overwhelming majority in the parliament — including many members of Yanukovych’s former party — is committed to protecting the rights of all Ukrainians, including those in Crimea.

9. Russia Claims: Ethnic minorities face persecution in Ukraine from the “fascist” government in Kyiv.

Fact: Leaders of Ukraine’s Jewish as well as German, Czech, and Hungarian communities have all publicly expressed their sense of safety under the new authorities in Kyiv. Moreover, many minority groups expressed fear of persecution in Russian-occupied Crimea, a concern OSCE observers in Ukraine have substantiated.

10. Russia Claims: Russia is not using energy and trade as weapons against Ukraine.

Fact: Following Russia’s illegal annexation and occupation of Crimea, Russia raised the price Ukraine pays for natural gas by 80 percent in the past two weeks. In addition, it is seeking more than $11 billion in back payments following its abrogation of the 2010 Kharkiv accords. Russia’s moves threaten to increase severely the economic pain faced by Ukrainian citizens and businesses. Additionally, Russia continues to restrict Ukrainian exports to Russia, which constitute a significant portion of Ukraine’s export economy.

Kiev’s Independence Square, the focal point of protests against Mr. Yanukovych, has echoed in recent days with angry denunciations of authorities for their failure to crush separatists in the east and calls for citizens to take up arms to defend the country.

A recent opinion poll in Donetsk suggested that less than a third of the population wants to join Russia, far less than the proportion that wants Ukraine to remain intact. Donetsk residents who support Kiev increasingly wonder why a pro-Russian minority has been able to run amok.

“The ball is now on the side of Kiev,” wrote Oleksandr Honcharov, a lawyer from Donetsk, on his blog. “If the government cannot stabilize the situation, does it deserve to be called the government at all?”

www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/04/224759.htm

Will the world unite against Putin? Russia’s UN veto must be overturned by the civilized world.
Ukraine pleads with U.N. for peacekeepers
www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/04/14/kiev-russia-ukraine-insurgents/7691747/

Modern-Day Russian “Dupes”

Modern-Day Russian “Dupes”

pat

Pat Buchanan’s column, “Is God Now on Russia’s Side?,” is difficult to read and almost laugh-out-loud funny, as Buchanan was once a staunch anti-communist who served President Reagan as his communications director during the Cold War. Buchanan’s opposition to the Evil Empire, as Reagan correctly called it, has given way to an unseemly embrace of former Soviet KGB colonel Vladimir Putin, the virtual dictator of Russia who served the “Evil Empire” for decades.

Once a sharp thinker, Buchanan argues that Putin is a Christian and Russia is now a Christian nation. We are apparently supposed to ignore, or forgive, Putin’s violations of human rights, including murders of journalists, and the invasion of Ukraine.

There is absolutely no evidence, aside from rhetoric, to suggest that Russia in general and Putin in particular have been converted to Christianity. Instead, what we are witnessing is a massive Russian “active measures” campaign that has ensnared many American conservatives, convincing them that Putin is somehow a legitimate alternative to President Obama’s decadent worldview. It is troubling to see some of these conservatives endorse Russia’s invasion and occupation of Ukraine.

The term “active measures” refers to influence operations that use agents of influence, disinformation and propaganda.

The main flaw in Buchanan’s argument is the lack of any real evidence that Russia has come to grips with—and disavowed—its Soviet past. To the contrary, Putin laments the passing of the USSR and has put the former KGB, now the FSB, in charge of the power centers in Russia. He celebrates Russian spying on America.

Lt. Gen. Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking Soviet bloc defector, says that Russia is “the first intelligence dictatorship in history.” Two brave Russian investigative journalists, Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan, have captured the nature of the problem in their book, The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB.

Buchanan cites pro-family statements by Putin, and anti-gay and pro-life laws passed in Russia. But like the Soviet propaganda and disinformation that Buchanan fought to expose when he worked for Reagan, the Russian rhetoric and legislative maneuvers cannot be considered legitimate. It is a show, designed to mask the dangerous path Russia is on, both domestically and internationally.

Rather than embrace Christianity, the evidence shows Russia has embraced the Russian Orthodox Church, always a tool of Soviet intelligence.
As we noted in an AIM Report back in 1984, John Barron’s authoritative book, KGB, said that the KGB’s Directorate 5 is assigned to “clandestinely control religion in the Soviet Union” and to “insure that the Russian Orthodox Church and all other churches serve as instruments of Soviet policy.” Barron added, “The directorate placed KGB officers within the Russian Orthodox Church hierarchy and recruits bonafide clergymen as agents. Much of its work is accomplished through the Council on Religious Affairs, which is heavily staffed with retired and disabled KGB officers.”

Nothing has really changed. In fact, the Russian Orthodox Church is even closer to the regime these days, and is still so morally bankrupt that it published a 2014 calendar in honor of Soviet mass murderer Joseph Stalin. Former KGB officer Konstantin Preobrazhensky has called it “Putin’s Espionage Church,” and devotes a major portion of his book, KGB/FSB’s New Trojan Horse, to its use by the Russian intelligence service.

The scholarly paper, “The Occult Revival in Russia Today and Its Impact on Literature,” demonstrates the existence of something as sinister as the regime’s domination of the church for its own political purposes. It describes how “post-Soviet Russia” has embraced New Age and occult ideas, even what the author, German academic Birgit Menzel, calls “dark” or “evil forces.”

“The occult has always been used for different ends, for purposes that range from benignly spiritual to totalitarian or fascist,” she writes.

Menzel’s detailed article notes the impact of Theosophy on Russia and Russian Marxists. Founded by a Russian mystic named Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–1891), who wrote The Secret Doctrine, Theosophy teaches that man can become God through mystical experiences, and can even perform miracles.

Traditional Christians have a different view. Theosophy, writes Dr. Peter Jones, one of the world’s foremost experts on paganism and the occult, is part of a movement which “plans to eat the Christian church alive in the days ahead.” He says Theosophy is at “the spiritual heart” of the United Nations and notes that the Lucis Trust (originally the Lucifer Trust) is an occult Theosophist group in charge of the United Nations’ Meditation Room.

In Russia, Menzel cites evidence that the Soviet secret police had “special agents for occult matters” who monitored the theosophical society in Russia, several esoteric orders, and even a “secret society” of some kind.

One of many fascinating revelations from Menzel’s well-researched 2007 article is that Aleksandr Dugin, now an adviser to Putin, has incorporated some of these ideas into his theory of “geopolitical Eurasianism,” a revival of the Russian empire that includes Islamic Iran. She writes, “Since 2000, Dugin has moved to the center of political power close to the Putin administration by a deliberate strategy of veiling his mystic-esoteric ideology…”

This is the same Dugin who was photographed meeting with former American Ku Klux Klan leader and neo-Nazi David Duke in Russia. Duke argues, like many Russian nationalists, that communism was imposed on Russia by a Jewish banker conspiracy.

Robert Zubrin, the author of several articles about Dugin, points out the similarities between the National Socialism of Hitler and Dugin’s original National Bolshevism. He says Dugin gave up on the idea of his own political party so he could become an adviser to Putin’s United Russia Party. For a time, he worked with the Russian Communist Party, the second largest political party in the country next to Putin’s United Russia.

As part of this transformation, Zubrin says, Putin himself became a spokesman for tradition and morality, even though the Russian government “runs the biggest organized human trafficking operation in the world,” kidnapping Russian girls and selling them around the world as prostitutes. “Nobody should be fooled by Putin’s claim of being a defender of conservative morality,” Zubrin says.

“There’s far more depravity in Russia, including homosexual depravity, than there is here,” he says. “In the Russian army, boyish recruits are subject to homosexual rape by officers as a form of hazing, and the regime protects this.”

Equally troubling, there are reports that Dugin’s vision of a resurgent Russia is built in part on the ideas of Aleister Crowley (1875-1947), a Satanist who described himself as the “Beast 666,” or Antichrist, of the Book of Revelation. “It [is] worth mentioning that in early 90s the National Bolsheviks and their main ideologist Aleksandr Dugin tried to bring Aleister Crowley’s ideas to wide popular masses in Russia with enviable persistence,” one observer of the Russian political scene noted.

Some analysts say Crowley, who visited Russia twice (in 1898 and in 1913), was a mastermind of an international conspiracy rooted in Satanism, and that he helped the Communists in Russia and his philosophy played a role in the subsequent rise of the Nazis in Germany.

His associates included Walter Duranty, the correspondent for The New York Times who achieved notoriety—and a Pulitzer Prize—for helping cover up the crimes of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, such as his murder of millions of Ukrainians.

As incredible as it seems, S.J. Taylor writes in her book about Duranty, Stalin’s Apologist, that Duranty and Crowley participated in drug-taking Satanic orgies. In a series of rituals conducted in Paris in 1913, Crowley received a “sacrament” from “a certain priest, A.B.,” who Taylor says was Duranty. The sacrament was semen. Taylor said that, during these orgies, verses were chanted, including one consisting of “Blood and semen! Blood and semen!”

In his column on Putin’s alleged Christ-like qualities, Buchanan writes that he was “startled to read” that the newsletter from the social conservative World Council [sic] of Families had hailed Russia as a “pro-family leader” and that the group’s conference this fall was being held in Moscow.

Buchanan asked, “Will Vladimir Putin give the keynote?”

Buchanan failed to notice that the conference has been “suspended,” in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The World Congress of Families says, “The situation in the Ukraine and Crimea (and the resulting U.S. and European sanctions) has raised questions about the travel, logistics, and other matters necessary to plan” the Moscow event.

In other words, the Americans planning to go to Moscow and attend services at Christ the Savior Cathedral of the Russian Orthodox Church would not be able to spend the Russian rubles that were coming their way.

Those rubles were supposed to be provided by Putin crony Vladimir Yakunin, a former KGB officer like Putin who reportedly stole millions, if not billions, from public expenditures on construction projects related to the Sochi Olympic Games. Some of the stolen funds were used to build a fancy estate for Yakunin that includes a guest house, a servants quarters, a garage for 15 cars, sauna, swimming pool and prayer room.

The World Congress of Families (WCF) has been collaborating with the Russians since at least 2008, when it participated in the World Public Forum, another group founded by Yakunin. Larry Jacobs of the WCF said at the time, “Much credit should be given to Vladimir Yakunin, who has invested his time and resources for the betterment of world civilizations.”

Tell that to the people of Ukraine.

Cliff Kincaid — April 4, 2014
www.aim.org/aim-column/modern-day-russian-dupes/

Kremlin and Putin are Anti-Christ….propagating evil against the JUDEO-CHRISTIAN world and weakening it against Al Queda.

Read More:
Revelation13.net: Is the Antichrist Russian President Putin? — More on Putin and Russia — a Bible prophecy and New Age analysis


revelation13.net/Putin.html


Putin's Russia: 'Evil Empire' 2.0? by FORAtv

New Evidence: Russian Spies Backed Kiev’s Killers

The Daily Beast

The Daily Beast


New Evidence: Russian Spies Backed Kiev’s Killers
Following on a Daily Beast report, Ukrainian authorities say that Russian advisers and ex-President Yanukovych played a direct role in the slaughter of protesters on February 20.
Ukraine’s new authorities have arrested a dozen members of the country’s disbanded “Berkut” riot police. The men are suspected of participation in the February slayings of dozens of protesters in Kiev, gunned down while agitating for the ouster of then-President Viktor Yanukovych. The authorities say more arrests are to follow and they are turning their attention to other security units, including a crack Ukrainian anti-terrorist team first identified by the Daily Beast last weekend.

In a dramatic press conference by the prosecutor general and heads of the interior ministry and SBU state security, Ukraine’s new security chiefs say Yanukovych ordered the mass slayings and the snipers were under his “direct leadership”. They allege also they have uncovered evidence that Russia’s intelligence service the FSB assisted and advised Ukrainian counterparts in the bloody bid to suppress anti-government protests, leaving more than a hundred dead.

The new head of Ukraine’s SBU intelligence service Valentyn Nalivaichenko told reporters that his predecessor at SBI, Aleksandr Yakimenko oversaw the carnage in the Maidan on the orders of ex-president Yanukovych. The operation started to be put into effect on the evening of February 18 when 108 Alfa Team members tried to set up on a building overlooking Independence Square. Protesters had vacated the structure earlier because of an fire there. The Alfa members were armed with AK-47s and sniper rifles, including German Blaser hunting rifles. But the fire and smoke prevented the Alfa team from remaining in the building.

Russian experts, who had flown in that day to advise, also brought weapons, ammunition and explosives, said Nalivaichenko. The Alfa members involved are now in hiding in Crimea but some former commanders are still in Ukraine and are being interrogated. The Ukraine government is demanding from Moscow the identity of the Russian FSB officers who acted as advisers.

Video screenshot
Alfa Team Exclusive Video
The authorities stress that the investigation into the killings is still in its early stages and is centering on the killing of at least 53 anti-government protesters in Kiev’s Independence Square, known as the Maidan, on February 20. Many of the dead were killed by long-distance sniper rounds. Those killings came the day before the Yanukovych government crumbled with some key government loyalists deserting the regime as a result of the bloodshed and the ousted president fleeing Ukraine’s capital for Russia.

In all at least 103 people were killed on the streets of Kiev in the months-long protest against Yanukovych, according to the country’s Ministry of Health, although the protesters put the number at 118. The ministry says 166 protesters remain missing and that 1,528 persons were injured in the anti-government clashes.

A spokesman for the general prosecutor said all of the arrested are being detained as suspects in “mass murder on Institutska Street,” which leads off the Maidan. It saw some of the worst violence in February and has been renamed by protesters as the Avenue of the Heavenly Hundred, in honor of those killed.

According to Ukraine’s interim Attorney General Oleh Makhnitsky those detained so far were members of a special “Black Unit” within the Berkut “trained for special operations including the killing of people.” He says, “They were overseen by the presidential administration,” adding that additional arrests are likely in the coming weeks.

The special operations unit provided cover for unarmed Berkut, acting Deputy Prosecutor General Aleksey Baganets told reporters. “Their task was, as they explained, although we don’t fully believe them, to shoot back at advancing protesters and allow the regular Berkut troops to retreat.” The commander of the Black Unit is among the arrested.

www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2014/03/30/exclusive-photos-of-kiev-s-russian-trained-killers.html
kiev killers2Feb 20. Click to launch gallery. (The Daily Beast)

The decision to announce preliminary findings of the ongoing probe came 48 hours after the Daily Beast published exclusive still photographs of armed members of the SBU’s anti-terrorist Alfa unit and other crack special forces units from the interior ministry locking and loading on the morning of February 20 in the courtyard of the Kiev headquarters of the Ukrainian intelligence service three blocks from the Maidan.

The SBU is the successor intelligence agency to the Ukrainian branch of the Soviet-era KGB and has exceptional ties with the Russian intelligence service, the FSB, says Ukraine’s new Justice Minister, Pavlo Petrenko. He claims the former head of the agency was a Russian agent. The Alfa Team trains with specialists from Russia, according to former Russian military intelligence officer Boris Volodarsky.

The photographs, part of an archive of hundreds of pictures and video footage shot on February 20 by ordinary Ukrainians and supplied exclusively to the Daily Beast also show Alfa Team members and other crack units rotating in and out of the courtyard during the shootings. Many of their faces are visible while they are preparing for action or resting during the morning without their masks.

Today the Daily Beast is adding to the photographs published Saturday night by posting video footage of the SBU courtyard on February 20 as well as some video frames taken the following morning of suspected Alfa team members loading up a van in the courtyard with ammunition boxes before driving it away. The February 21 frames were taken hours before Yanukovych fled the capital. Team members are seen switching tags on VW and Mazda vans parked in the courtyard before driving them off in what Maidan activists suspect was an operation to rid the SBU of ordnance and weaponry that could be linked to the shootings.

Maidan leaders have expressed reservations about the set-up of the investigation into the slayings, which is being overseen by the new heads of the SBU, the police and the prosecutor general’s office. They have objected to agencies possibly involved in the carnage leading the investigation, fearing the results will be flawed, worrying that even if the new leaders are determined to get to the bottom of the shootings, there are Yanukovych loyalists in the agencies able to sabotage the probe or cover up evidence.

Some activists expressed satisfaction with the explosive preliminary findings on Thursday but others are still pushing for an outside international body to probe the killings and provide oversight.
jamie
www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/04/03/ukraine-fingers-russian-advisors-and-ex-president-yanukovych-in-february-massacre.html
Jamie Dettmer

God help us never to allow such tragic killings of Ukrainians to ever occur again. Russian brutality must be overcome my the JUDEO-CHRISTIAN principles of life. The civilized world must seek for justice and hold Russia’s Kremlin and Putin accountable for propagating evil. Kremlin must be exorcised! To the Ukrainian Heavenly Hundred-Heroes Never Die!!!!

Read More: Russia’s FSB was involved in the mass killings in Kyiv.
www.pravda.com.ua/news/2014/04/3/7021237/

The Future of Europe: An Interview with George Soros

The Future of Europe: An Interview with George Soros
George Soros and Gregor Peter Schmitz APRIL 24, 2014 ISSUE
Parts of the following interview with George Soros by the Spiegel correspondent Gregor Peter Schmitz appear in their book, The Tragedy of the European Union: Disintegration or Revival?, just published by PublicAffairs.

Supporters of the Russian annexation of Crimea at a rally in Red Square, Moscow, March 18, 2014

Supporters of the Russian annexation of Crimea at a rally in Red Square, Moscow, March 18, 2014


Maxim Shemetov/Reuters
Supporters of the Russian annexation of Crimea at a rally in Red Square, Moscow, March 18, 2014
Gregor Peter Schmitz: The conflict in Crimea and Ukraine has changed the shape of European and world politics, and we will come to it. But let us first talk about a subject on which you’ve taken a critical position over the years: the crisis of the European Union: With regard to the euro, isn’t the worst over?

George Soros: If you mean that the euro is here to stay, you are right. That was confirmed by the German elections, where the subject was hardly discussed, and by the coalition negotiations, where it was relegated to Subcommittee 2A. Chancellor Angela Merkel is satisfied with the way she handled the crisis and so is the German public. They reelected her with an increased majority. She has always done the absolute minimum necessary to preserve the euro. This has earned her the allegiance of both the pro- Europeans and those who count on her to protect German national interests. That is no mean feat.

So the euro is here to stay, and the arrangements that evolved in response to the crisis have become established as the new order governing the eurozone. This confirms my worst fears. It’s the nightmare I’ve been talking about. I’m hopeful that the Russian invasion of Crimea may serve as a wake-up call. Germany is the only country in a position to change the prevailing order. No debtor country can challenge it; any that might try would be immediately punished by the financial markets and the European authorities.

Schmitz: If you said that to Germans, they would say: Well, we have already evolved a lot. We are more generous now and have modified our policy of austerity.

soros1
Soros: I acknowledge that Germany has stopped pushing the debtor countries underwater. They are getting a little bit of oxygen now and are beginning to breathe. Some, particularly Italy, are still declining, but at a greatly diminished pace. This has given a lift to the financial markets because the economies are hitting bottom and that almost automatically brings about a rebound.

But the prospect of a long period of stagnation has not been removed. It’s generally agreed that the eurozone is threatened by deflation but opposition from the German Constitutional Court and its own legal departments will prevent the European Central Bank (ECB) from successfully overcoming the deflationary pressures the way other central banks, notably the Federal Reserve, have done.

The prospect of stagnation has set in motion a negative political dynamic. Anybody who finds the prevailing arrangements intolerable is pushed into an anti-European posture. This leads me to expect the process of disintegration to gather momentum. During the acute phase of the euro crisis we had one financial crisis after another. Now there should be a series of political rather than financial crises, although the latter cannot be excluded.

Schmitz: You say that current arrangements are intolerable. What exactly needs to change? What needs to be reformed?

Soros: At the height of the euro crisis, Germany agreed to a number of systemic reforms, the most important of which was a banking union. But as the financial pressures abated, Germany whittled down the concessions it had made. That led to the current arrangements, which confirm my worst fears.

Schmitz: As we speak, European finance ministers are in the process of concluding an agreement on the banking union. What do you think of it?

Soros: In the process of negotiations, the so-called banking union has been transformed into something that is almost the exact opposite: the reestablishment of national “silos,” or separately run banks. This is a victory for Orwellian newspeak.

Schmitz: What’s wrong with it?

Soros: The incestuous relationship between national authorities and bank managements. France in particular is famous for its inspecteurs de finance, who end up running its major banks. Germany has its Landesbanken and Spain its caixas, which have unhealthy connections with provincial politicians. These relationships were a major source of weakness in the European banking system and played an important part in the banking crisis that is still weighing on the eurozone. The proposed banking union should have eliminated them, but they were largely preserved, mainly at German insistence.

Schmitz: That is a pretty drastic condemnation. How do you justify it?

Soros: In effect, the banking union will leave the banking system without a lender of last resort. The proposed resolution authority is so complicated, with so many decision-making entities involved, that it is practically useless in an emergency. Even worse, the ECB is legally prohibited from undertaking actions for which it is not expressly authorized. That sets it apart from other central banks, which are expected to use their discretion in an emergency.

But Germany was determined to limit the liabilities that it could incur through the ECB. As a result, member countries remain vulnerable to financial pressures from which other developed countries are exempt. That is what I meant when I said that over-indebted members of the EU are in the position of third-world countries that are overindebted in a foreign currency. The banking union does not correct that defect. On the contrary, it perpetuates it.

Schmitz: You sound disappointed.

Soros: I am. I left no stone unturned trying to prevent this outcome, but now that it has happened, I don’t want to keep knocking my head against the wall. I accept that Germany has succeeded in imposing a new order on Europe, although I consider it unacceptable. But I still believe in the European Union and the principles of the open society that originally inspired it, and I should like to recapture that spirit. I want to arrest the process of disintegration, not accelerate it. So I am no longer advocating that Germany should “lead or leave the euro.” The window of opportunity to bring about radical change in the rules governing the euro has closed.

Schmitz: So, basically, you are giving up on Europe?

Soros: No. I am giving up on changing the financial arrangements, the creditor–debtor relationship that has now turned into a permanent system. I will continue to focus on politics, because that is where I expect dramatic developments.

Schmitz: I see. Obviously, people are concerned about the rise of populist movements in Europe. Do you see any opportunity to push for more political integration, when the trend is toward disintegration?

Soros: I do believe in finding European solutions for the problems of Europe; national solutions make matters worse.

Schmitz: It seems the pro-Europeans are often silent on important issues because they are afraid that speaking up might increase support for the extremists—for example, in the case of the many refugees from the Middle East and Africa who hoped to reach Europe and were detained on the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Soros: Like it or not, migration policy will be a central issue in the elections. We must find some alternative to xenophobia.

Schmitz: What do you propose to do about it?

Soros: I have established an Open Society Initiative for Europe—OSIFE for short. One of its first initiatives is Solidarity Now, in Greece. The original idea was to generate European solidarity with the plight of the Greek population that is suffering from the euro crisis and Greek solidarity with the plight of the migrants, who experience inhuman conditions and are persecuted by the ultranationalist Golden Dawn party. It took us some time to get the project off the ground, and by the time we did, it was too late to generate European solidarity with the Greeks because other heavily indebted countries were also in need of support. So we missed that boat, but our initiative has had the useful by-product of giving us a better insight into the migration problem.

Schmitz: What have you learned?

Soros: That there is an unbridgeable conflict between North and South on the political asylum issue. The countries in the North, basically the creditors, have been generous in their treatment of asylum seekers. So all the asylum seekers want to go there, particularly to Germany. But that is more than they can absorb, so they have put in place a European agreement called Dublin III, which requires asylum seekers to register in the country where they first enter the EU. That tends to be the South, namely, Italy, Spain, and Greece. All three are heavily indebted and subject to fiscal austerity. They don’t have proper facilities for asylum seekers, and they have developed xenophobic, anti-immigrant, populist political movements.

Asylum seekers are caught in a trap. If they register in the country where they arrive, they can never ask for asylum in Germany. So, many prefer to remain illegal, hoping to make their way to Germany. They are condemned to illegality for an indefinite period. The miserable conditions in which they live feed into the anti-immigrant sentiment.

Schmitz: Looking at other European issues, aren’t your foundations also very involved in the problems of the Roma (Gypsies)?

Soros: Yes, we have been engaged in those issues for more than twenty-five years. The Roma Education Fund has developed effective methods of educating Roma children and strengthening their Roma identity at the same time. If this were done on a large-enough scale it would destroy the hostile stereotype that stands in the way of the successful integration of the Roma. As it is, educated Roma can blend into the majority because they don’t fit the stereotype but the stereotype remains intact.

This is another instance where the European Commission is having a positive effect. I look to the European Structural funds to scale up the programs that work.

Schmitz: What do you think of Vladimir Putin’s recent policies with respect to Ukraine, Crimea, and Europe?

Soros: Now you are coming to the crux of the matter. Russia is emerging as a big geopolitical player, and the European Union needs to realize that it has a resurgent rival on its east. Russia badly needs Europe as a partner, but Putin is positioning it as a rival. There are significant political forces within the Russian regime that are critical of Putin’s policy on that score.

Schmitz: Can you be more specific?

Soros: The important thing to remember is that Putin is leading from a position of weakness. He was quite popular in Russia because he restored some order out of the chaos. The new order is not all that different from the old one, but the fact that it is open to the outside world is a definite improvement, an important element in its stability. But then the prearranged switch with Dmitry Medvedev from prime minister to president deeply upset the people. Putin felt existentially threatened by the protest movement. He became repressive at home and aggressive abroad.

That is when Russia started shipping armaments to the Assad regime in Syria on a massive scale and helped turn the tide against the rebels. The gamble paid off because of the preoccupation of the Western powers—the United States and the EU—with their internal problems. Barack Obama wanted to retaliate against Syria’s use of chemical weapons. He asked for congressional approval and was about to be rebuffed when Putin came to the rescue and persuaded Assad to voluntarily surrender his chemical weapons.

That was a resounding diplomatic victory for him. Yet the spontaneous uprising of the Ukrainian people must have taught Putin that his dream of reconstituting what is left of the Russian Empire is unattainable. He is now facing a choice between persevering or changing course and becoming more cooperative abroad and less repressive at home. His current course has already proved to be self-defeating, but he appears to be persevering.

Schmitz: Is Russia a credible threat to Europe if its economy is as weak as you say?

Soros: The oligarchs who control much of the Russian economy don’t have any confidence in the regime. They send their children and money abroad. That is what makes the economy so weak. Even with oil over $100 a barrel, which is the minimum Russia needs to balance its budget, it is not growing. Putin turned aggressive out of weakness. He is acting in self-defense. He has no scruples, he can be ruthless, but he is a judo expert, not a sadist—so the economic weakness and the aggressive behavior are entirely self-consistent.

Schmitz: How should Europe respond to it?

Soros: It needs to be more united, especially in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine. Putin prides himself on being a geopolitical realist. He respects strength and is emboldened by weakness. Yet there is no need to be permanently adversarial. Notwithstanding the current situation in Ukraine, the European Union and Russia are in many ways complementary; they both need each other. There is plenty of room for Russia to play a constructive role in the world, exactly because both Europe and the United States are so preoccupied with their internal problems.

Schmitz: How does that translate into practice, particularly in the Middle East?

Soros: It has totally transformed the geopolitical situation. I have some specific ideas on this subject, but it is very complicated. I can’t possibly explain it in full because there are too many countries involved and they are all interconnected.

Schmitz: Give it a try.

Soros: I should start with a general observation. There are a growing number of unresolved political crises in the world. That is a symptom of a breakdown in global governance. We have a very rudimentary system in place. Basically, there is only one international institution of hard power: the UN Security Council. If the five permanent members agree, they can impose their will on any part of the world. But there are many sovereign states with armies; and there are failed states that are unable to protect their monopoly over the use of lethal force or hard power.

The cold war was a stable system. The two superpowers were stalemated by the threat of mutually assured destruction, and they had to restrain their satellites. So wars were fought mainly at the edges. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a brief moment when the United States emerged as the undisputed leader of the world. But it abused its power. Under the influence of the neocons, who argued that the United States should use its power to impose its will on the world, President George W. Bush declared “war on terror” and invaded Iraq under false pretenses.

That was a tragic misinterpretation of the proper role of hegemonic sorosmerkel It is the power of attraction—soft power—that ensures the stability of empires. Hard power may be needed for conquest and self-protection, but the hegemon must look after the interests of those who depend on it in order to secure their allegiance instead of promoting only its own interests. The United States did that very well after World War II, when it established the United Nations and embarked on the Marshall Plan. But President Bush forgot that lesson and destroyed American supremacy in no time. The neocons’ dream of a “new American century” lasted less than ten years. President Obama then brought American policy back to reality. His record in foreign policy is better than generally recognized. He accepted the tremendous loss of power and influence and tried to “lead from behind.” In any case, he is more preoccupied with domestic than foreign policy. In that respect America is in the same position as Europe, although for different reasons. People are inward-looking and tired of war. This has created a power vacuum, which has allowed conflicts to fester unresolved all over the world.

Recently, Russia has moved into this power vacuum, trying to reassert itself as a geopolitical player. That was a bold maneuver, inspired by Putin’s internal weakness, and it has paid off in Syria because of the weakness of the West. Russia could do what the Western powers couldn’t: persuade Assad to “voluntarily” surrender his chemical weapons. That has radically changed the geopolitical landscape. Suddenly, the prospect of a solution has emerged for the three major unresolved conflicts in the Middle East—Palestine, Iran, and Syria—when one would have least expected it.

The Syrian crisis is by far the worst, especially in humanitarian consequences. Russia’s entry as a major supplier of arms, coupled with Hezbollah’s entry as a supplier of troops, has turned the tables in favor of Assad. The fighting can be brought to an end only by a political settlement imposed and guaranteed by the international community. Without it, the two sides will continue to fight indefinitely with the help of their outside supporters. But a political settlement will take months or years to negotiate. In the meantime, Assad is following a deliberate policy of denying food and destroying the medical system as a way of subduing the civilian population. “Starve or surrender” is his motto.

This raises the specter of a human catastrophe. Unless humanitarian assistance can be delivered across battle lines, more people will have died from illness and starvation during the winter than from actual fighting.

Schmitz: What about Iran?

Soros: There has been an actual breakthrough in the Iranian crisis in the form of a temporary agreement on nuclear weapons with the new president Hassan Rouhani. The sanctions imposed by the Western powers have been very effective. The Iranian revolution itself advanced to the point where it fell into the hands of a narrow clique, the Revolutionary Guard; the mullahs were largely pushed out of power. As head of the mullahs, the Supreme Leader could not have been pleased. He must also be aware that the large majority of the population has been profoundly dissatisfied with the regime. In contrast with previous attempts at negotiations, he seems to be in favor of reaching an accommodation with the United States. That improves the prospects for a final agreement. We must take into account, as Vali Nasr recently wrote, that Iran has, after Russia, the world’s second-largest reserves of natural gas; and it potentially might compete with Russia in supplying gas to Europe.

Schmitz: That leaves the longest-lasting crisis, Palestine.

Soros: Recent developments in Egypt have improved the chances of progress in the long-festering Palestinian crisis. The army, with the active support of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, has removed the legally elected president and is engaged in the brutal suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood. This otherwise disturbing development has a potentially benign side effect: it raises the possibility of a peace settlement between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, to the exclusion of Hamas. This would have been inconceivable a few months ago. Secretary of State John Kerry became engaged in the Palestinian negotiations well before this window of opportunity opened, so he is ahead of the game. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is very suspicious but, for all his intransigence, cannot openly oppose negotiations because, having openly supported Mitt Romney in the American elections, he holds a relatively weak hand. Negotiations are making progress, but very slowly indeed.

If all three crises were resolved, a new order would emerge in the Middle East. There is a long way to go because the various conflicts are interconnected, and the potential losers in one conflict may act as spoilers in another. Netanyahu, for instance, is dead set against a deal with Iran because peace with Palestine would end his political career in Israel. Nevertheless, the broad outlines of a potential new order can already be discerned, although we cannot know the effects of the current crisis in Ukraine. Russia could become more influential, relations between Saudi Arabia and the United States may become strained, and Iran may emerge as America’s closest ally, second only to Israel. But the situation remains fluid and may change from one day to the next.

Schmitz: Recently the crisis in Ukraine has overshadowed all the others.

Soros: Indeed. Ukraine and in particular Crimea are of much greater interest to Russia than anything in the Middle East. Putin woefully misjudged the situation. Last autumn he had no difficulty in outmaneuvering the European Union, which was hamstrung by its internal political and financial problems. Under German leadership it offered too little and demanded too much. Putin could easily offer a better deal to Ukrainian President Yanukovych. But the Ukrainian people rebelled, upsetting the calculations of both sides.

The rebellion wounded Putin in his Achilles heel. The idea of a spontaneous rebellion simply did not enter into his calculations. In his view the world is ruled by power and those in power can easily manipulate public opinion. Failure to control the people is a sign of weakness.

Accordingly, he made it a condition of his assistance that Yanukovych should repress the rebellion. But the use of force aroused the public and eventually Yanukovych was forced to capitulate. This could have resulted in a stalemate and the preservation of the status quo with Ukraine precariously balanced between Russia and Europe, and a corrupt and inept government pitted against civil society. It would have been an inferior equilibrium with the costs exceeding the benefits for all parties concerned.

But Putin persisted in his counterproductive approach. Yanukovych was first hospitalized and then sent to Sochi to be dressed down by Putin. Putin’s instructions brought the confrontation to a climax. Contrary to all rational expectations, a group of citizens armed with not much more than sticks and shields made of cardboard boxes and metal garbage can lids overwhelmed a police force firing live ammunition. There were many casualties, but the citizens prevailed. It was a veritable miracle.

Schmitz: How could such a thing happen? How do you explain it?

Soros: It fits right into my human uncertainty principle, but it also reveals a remarkable similarity between human affairs and quantum physics of which I was previously unaware. According to Max Planck, among others, subatomic phenomena have a dual character: they can manifest themselves as particles or waves. Something similar applies to human beings: they are partly freestanding individuals or particles and partly components of larger entities that behave like waves. The impact they make on reality depends on which alternative dominates their behavior. There are potential tipping points from one alternative to the other but it is uncertain when they will occur and the uncertainty can be resolved only in retrospect.

On February 20 a tipping point was reached when the people on Maidan Square were so determined to defend Ukraine that they forgot about their individual mortality. What gave their suicidal stand historic significance is that it succeeded. A deeply divided society was moved from the verge of civil war to an unprecedented unity. Revolutions usually fail. The Orange Revolution of 2004 deteriorated into a squabble between its leaders. It would be a mistake to conclude that this revolution is doomed to suffer the same fate. Indeed the parties participating in the interim government are determined to avoid it. In retrospect the resistance of Maidan may turn out to be the birth of a nation. This promising domestic development was a direct response to foreign oppression. Unfortunately it is liable to provoke further pressure from abroad because successful resistance by Ukraine would present an existential threat to Putin’s continued dominance in Russia.

Schmitz: You are referring to the Russian invasion of Crimea. How do you see it playing out?

Soros: If it is confined to Crimea it will serve as a further impetus to greater national cohesion in Ukraine. Crimea is not an integral part of Ukraine. Khrushchev transferred Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 by an administrative decree. The majority of its population is Russian and it is the base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. That is exactly why Putin is liable to put military and economic pressure on Ukraine directly and they are not in a position to resist it on their own. They need the support of the Western powers. So Ukraine’s future depends on how the Western powers, particularly Germany, respond.

Schmitz: What should the Western powers do?

Soros: They should focus on strengthening Ukraine rather than on punishing Russia. They cannot prevent or reverse the annexation of Crimea. They are bound to protest it of course because it violates the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 that guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine, including Crimea, but they are not in a position to oppose it by military means. Even sanctions ought to be used sparingly in order to preserve them as a deterrent against the real danger, namely of direct military or economic assault on Ukraine. Russian forces have already occupied a gas plant in Ukraine supplying Crimea and may take more territory unless they are stopped.

Fortunately economic sanctions would be a potent deterrent provided they are used judiciously. Freezing the foreign assets of Russian oligarchs is the opposite of smart sanctions. Oligarchs sending their profits and their children abroad weaken the Russian economy. Until now capital flight was more or less offset by foreign direct investment. Effective sanctions would discourage the inflow of funds, whether in the form of direct investments or bank loans. Moreover, the US could release oil from its strategic reserve and allow its sale abroad. That could put the Russian economy into deficit. The Russian economy is fragile enough to be vulnerable to smart sanctions.

Schmitz: Wouldn’t that be cutting off your nose to spite your face? Germany has a lot of investments in Russia, which are equally vulnerable.

Soros: Effective sanctions against Russia should be threatened at first only as a deterrent. If the threat is effective, they wouldn’t be applied. But Chancellor Merkel faces a fundamental choice: should Germany be guided by its narrow national self-interests or should it assert its leadership position within the European Union and forge a unified European response? On her choice hinges not only the fate of Ukraine but also the future of the European Union. Her passionate speech to the German Parliament on March 13 gives me hope that she is going to make the right choice.

Schmitz: What is your idea of the right choice?

Soros: A large-scale technical and financial assistance program for Ukraine. The EU and the US, under the leadership of the International Monetary Fund, are putting together a multibillion-dollar rescue package that will save the country from financial collapse. But that is not enough: Ukraine also needs outside assistance that only the EU can provide: management expertise and access to markets.

Ukraine is a potentially attractive investment destination. But realizing this potential requires improving the business climate by addressing the endemic corruption and weak rule of law. The new regime in Ukraine is eager to confront that task. But only the EU can open up its domestic market and provide political risk insurance for investing in Ukraine. Ukraine in turn would encourage its companies to improve their management by finding European partners. Thus Ukraine would become increasingly integrated in the European common market. That could also provide a much-needed fiscal stimulus for the European economy and, even more importantly, help to recapture the spirit that originally inspired the European Union.

www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/apr/24/future-europe-interview-george-soros/

Crimea is as part of Ukraine as Ukraine is part of Europe. Crimea is Ukrainian Land.

Read more: Vox Populi with Oksana Mamchenkova: Will Ukraine ever get Crimea back from Russia?
www.kyivpost.com/opinion/vox-populi/vox-populi-with-oksana-mamchenkova-will-ukraine-ever-get-crimea-back-from-russia-339895.html

UN Approves Resolution Calling Russia’s Crimea Annexation Illegal
www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/27/un-resolution-russia-crimea_n_5043126.html

Admiral Igor Kabanenko: Real intentions of Russia

Admiral Igor Kabanenko: Real intentions of Russia
adminral
Dear Friends!
Let’s take a look at what Russian intentions really could be and what signs are we seeing.

They are as follows:

Putin’s statement about possible revising of Bialowieza Accords is a serious signal. Last time Putin made his speech in Moscow, he stated that “legitimization of Ukraine as an independent state” is illegal and gives Kremlin the right for restoring the old USSR by force;
A statement of NATO Secretary General about mismatch between claims of Russia pulling back their troops from the eastern borders of Ukraine and the real picture (an information about alleged departure of the Russian battalion to Samara was nothing more than a publicity stunt);
By evaluation of NATO commander, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, the situation on the Russian – Ukrainian border is “extremely alarming” and that “Russians have everything they need to invade Ukraine”; that there is a possible scenario of invasion of Southern Ukraine to establish a land link to Crimea; as well as thrust to Odessa, and invasion of Eastern Ukraine;
The stationing of audio equipment by Russian troops on the borders with Ukraine for an active propaganda aimed at both Ukrainian military and local population;
The active intelligence by Russian special services and military intelligence on the territory of Ukraine, in particular by spy-ship near port of Odessa;
Cancelling by Russia previously scheduled talks between deputy foreign ministers of Ukraine and Russia in Minsk on April 4 is very alarming signal;
The decision of Donetsk Regional Council to hold a local referendum regarding region’s status, as well as continuous destabilizing of situation in Donetsk, Kherson, Odessa and other regions by utilizing insurgents, extremists and members of the fifth column. All these actions are directly supported by Russian leaders and State Duma;
Fierce propaganda by Moscow with a twisted rhetoric aimed at the “unity of Russian and Ukrainian people”, of course, under Moscow protectorate, as well as calming claims that Russia has no intent to invade Ukraine – we have heard this before and know how it has ended. In the war language it is called “continuous strategic misleading of the enemy”;
The rhetoric towards Ukraine changed to calming (see – after all, invasion did not happen last week!), also Russian media switched their attention to elections which clearly is a trick orchestrated by Moscow to divert attention from military escalation.
Therefore, if Kremlin truly did not want the war, it would immediately start relocation of troops to their usual bases of deployment and pack up weapons and equipment, in other words – do everything to demonstrate its good intentions. Unfortunately, their actions so far indicate exactly the opposite.
My advice, is not to relax. Hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

This record is also available in: Russian, Ukrainian

inforesist.org/admiral-igor-kabanenko-real-intentions-of-russia/?lang=en

Read more:Russia could achieve Ukraine incursion in 3-5 days
www.reuters.com/article/2014/04/02/us-ukraine-crisis-breedlove-idUSBREA310PP20140402

Ukraine needs help from NATO to survive Russian aggression.