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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

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/

Fact Checking Vladimir Putin’s speech on Crimea

Fact Checking Vladimir Putin’s speech on Crimea
Three falsehoods in Putin’s Crimea speech to a joint session of Russian parliament. Truth Teller fact-checks video in the news to explain the truth about what’s being said.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday swiftly accepted the Ukrainian province of Crimea as part of Russia, announcing his decision in a lengthy speech that reflected his suspicion of the West and his anger at U.S. actions since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A number of readers have asked us to fact check his speech. Here are some of his more dubious statements, using the official Russian translation provided by the Kremlin.

“A referendum was held in Crimea on March 16 in full compliance with democratic procedures and international norms.”

This is false. The referendum was rushed, political opposition was squelched, and the choices did not allow for a “no.” (The options were either joining Russia — what the ballot called “reunification” — or remaining part of Ukraine with greater autonomy, effectively making the region independent in all but name.)

Moreover, the Ukrainian constitution, in Article 73, says that “alterations to the territory of Ukraine shall be resolved exclusively by the All-Ukrainian referendum,” described in Article 72 as a national referendum called either by the parliament or the president, or as a popular initiative with 3 million signatures from at least two-thirds of administrative districts known as oblasts. The Crimea referendum, set up by local authorities, met none of those conditions.

Under the constitution, Crimea, as an autonomous republic, has specially designated powers. But Article 134 states: “The Autonomous Republic of Crimea shall be an integral constituent part of Ukraine and shall resolve issues relegated to its authority within the frame of its reference, determined by the Constitution of Ukraine.”

“In 1954, a decision was made to transfer Crimean Region to Ukraine, along with Sevastopol…. This was the personal initiative of the Communist Party head Nikita Khrushchev. What stood behind this decision of his — a desire to win the support of the Ukrainian political establishment or to atone for the mass repressions of the 1930’s in Ukraine — is for historians to figure out. What matters now is that this decision was made in clear violation of the constitutional norms that were in place even then. The decision was made behind the scenes.”

Putin, in a long section of the speech, refers to Russia’s “shared history and pride” with Crimea. He is correct on that score. Crimea has been an important part of Russia since Catherine the Great seized it from the Ottoman Empire in 1783. Putin is also correct that the reasons for the 1954 transfer remain a bit of mystery, though historian William Taubman, in his Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Khrushchev, said that the one-time party boss of Ukraine had long tried to expand Ukraine’s territory and even tried to take Crimea for Ukraine 10 years earlier, in 1944.

But Putin is relying on sophism to assert that the transfer violated the “constitutional norms” at the time. Behind the scenes, Khrushchev, who did not yet have full power, had to get approval from key party officials. On Feb. 5, 1954, the Presidium of the Russian Supreme Soviet launched an initiative to transfer Crimea. That resulted in a decree on Feb. 19, 1954, by what was then called the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. Then the transfer was formally adopted by the Supreme Soviet on April 26, 1954.

There is some question as to whether the Soviet constitution also would have required referendums in the respective Soviet republics, but the Soviet Union was a one-party state, and the outcome would not have been in question. Ultimately the Supreme Soviet itself had the formal authority to ratify the transfer – -and that’s what happened.

“In general, constitutional norms were not followed in Soviet times even when they were followed — because Supreme Soviets didn’t really decide, but rather, did what they were told to do by party leaders, and elections (and referendums, if they were ever held) were pre-determined,” Taubman said in an e-mail.

“Crimeans say that in 1991, they were handed over like a sack of potatoes, and I can’t help but agree with it. And what about the Russian state? What about Russia? It humbly accepted the situation. This country was going through such hard times then that realistically it was incapable of protecting its interests.”

Actually, Crimea voted on whether to join Ukraine after the Soviet Union collapsed, though it was approved by a relatively narrow majority (54 percent), compared to other areas of Ukraine.

Moreover, Russia did have extremely crucial interests at stake — a cache of more than 1,000 strategic nuclear weapons that were on Ukraine’s soil when the Soviet Union dissolved. In fact, Ukraine was instantly the world’s third biggest nuclear power, with more weapons than Britain, France and China combined. In the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, Russia, along with the United States and Britain, agreed to “refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine” in exchange for Ukraine’s joining the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“They [Ukrainian revolutionaries] resorted to terror, murder and riots. Nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites executed this coup. They continue to set the tone in Ukraine to this day.”

A coup d’état is obviously in the eye of the beholder, but Putin, without meaning to, actually is describing the role of the former Russian-backed government when he refers to terror and murder during the uprisings.

Putin also exaggerates the role of right-wing, nationalistic factions, though it is true that a party with a neofascist past and other ultra-nationalistic elements are now part of the government. (The party claims it has mellowed, but the World Jewish Congress has warned about it.) The Guardian newspaper, in a long report on this issue, notes that one revolutionary killed by a government sniper “was an unlikely fascist,” adding that “he was Jewish.”

In his speech, Putin described the new Ukrainian leaders as “these ideological heirs of Bandera, Hitler’s accomplice during World War II.” He is referring to Stepan Bandera, a Ukrainian nationalist who sought to create an independent Ukraine after the German invasion of the Soviet Union — only to be thrown into a German concentration camp. He was murdered in Munich by the KGB in 1959. Bandera remains a controversial figure in Ukraine.

“True, we did enhance our forces there; however — this is something I would like everyone to hear and know — we did not exceed the personnel limit of our Armed Forces in Crimea, which is set at 25,000, because there was no need to do so.”

Here, for the first time, Putin confirms Russian armed forced entered Crimea. But his math is in dispute. The Ukrainian government says the terms of the 30-year lease with Russia limits the number of Russian troops in Crimea to 12,500. But other accounts say the lease allows up to 25,000.

“As it declared independence and decided to hold a referendum, the Supreme Council of Crimea referred to the United Nations Charter, which speaks of the right of nations to self-determination.”

In a long section of his speech, Putin lashed out at the West for what he views as a double standard, defending Crimea’s action as the equivalent of Kosovo’s declaring independence from Serbia. In citing what he calls the “well-known Kosovo precedent,” Putin even accurately quotes from the U.S. submission to the International Court of Justice, which later concluded that Kosovo’s action did not violate international law. (Russia at the time denounced that ruling.)

But the analogy is woefully misplaced. The United States was not seeking to annex Kosovo, as Russia is doing with Crimea. Moreover, the Kosovars had spent years seeking greater autonomy, only to face such Serbian backlash that even Russia voted for a U.N. Security Council Resolution that said it was “gravely concerned at the recent intense fighting in Kosovo and in particular the excessive and indiscriminate use of force by Serbian security forces and the Yugoslav Army which have resulted in numerous civilian casualties and, according to the estimate of the Secretary-General, the displacement of over 230,000 persons from their homes.”

Even after 1999 NATO intervention — which was not sanctioned by the United Nations, as Putin correctly noted — the Kosovars engaged in a decade of inconclusive efforts to reach a deal with Serbia before formally declaring independence.
The Pinocchio Test

The Fact Checker is obviously not rating the entire speech, which reflects Putin’s worldview. But certainly this selection of statements is highly deficient or based on slim facts. He ignores Russia’s real interest in removing nuclear weapons from Ukraine’s soil, which led to a pledge by Moscow to respect Kiev’s sovereignty. He hypes the involvement of nationalist and right-wing groups in the uprising. The Kosovo analogy is a real stretch. One could quibble on whether some of these statements are worth Three Pinocchios, but the statement on the Crimean referendum by itself is worth Four Pinocchios. So that’s what the Russian president earns.
pinocchio_4
By Glenn Kessler
March 19 at 6:00 am
www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/03/19/fact-checking-vladimir-putins-speech-on-crimea/

Read more: Putin’s breathtaking lies about Russia
By Alexander J. Motyl
updated 3:05 PM EDT, Wed March 19, 2014
www.cnn.com/2014/03/19/opinion/motyl-putin-speech/?hpt=po_t1

Putin’s warped reality
By Charles Lane, Published: March 19
www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-lane-putins-warped-reality/2014/03/19/ce81fd58-af79-11e3-9627-c65021d6d572_story.html

The civilized world must stop Putin and his disinformation machine to continue spewing “facts” that are contrary to reality. Why are the Russians allowed to repeat their lies on and on in the world arena. Are there too many Russophiles or are there not enough bold people out there like Samantha Powers?
So Putin stole Crimea just like that without any costs and now he has stated that he will not invade the rest of Ukraine and attempt to annex some of its southeastern provinces. Will he receive the 5 Pinocchios Award along with Barack Obama.

Meet Stephen F. Cohen, Vladimir Putin’s Best Friend in the American Media

Meet Stephen F. Cohen, Vladimir Putin’s Best Friend in the American Media
He is a great historian of Stalinism who has been celebrated by colleagues on the left and right. So why is Stephen F. Cohen so eager to act as a propagandist for Putin?

Photo by CNN

Photo by CNN


Stephen F. Cohen, a veteran Russian scholar at New York University and Princeton, has lately gained some dubious notoriety as Vladimir Putin’s number one apologist in the ranks of American punditry.
After a piece in The Nation slamming the American media for “toxic” anti-Putin reporting and a CNN appearance defending Putin’s incursion into Crimea as an attempt to protect “Russia’s traditional zones of national security,” Cohen was excoriated not just by the conservative media but by The New Republic and New York magazine. More recently, a critical but respectful feature in Newsweek dubbed him “the man who dared make Putin’s case.”

But what drives Cohen’s ongoing battle against “the demonization of Putin”?
Some of his detractors sound baffled by the paradox of a longtime leftist defending an essentially right-wing authoritarian regime; New York’s Jonathan Chait blames it on “the mental habits of decades of anti-anti-communism” transferred onto a no-longer-communist Kremlin. In The Daily Beast, James Kirchick treats Cohen as one of the “realists” advocating a pragmatic rather than morality-based foreign policy. And Cohen himself, in the Newsweek interview, avers that he is the true American patriot seeking to keep the United States out of a reckless confrontation.

Yet none of these explanations quite captures the motives or the history behind Cohen’s passion, which is ultimately less about realism than frustrated idealism. Regrettably, this idealism has led Cohen—a man of unquestionable erudition, sometimes insightful analysis, and by all appearances genuine sympathy for Russia’s tribulations—into some strange places at odds with both reality and morality.

As he writes in the foreword to his 2009 book, Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives, Cohen’s interest in Russia dates back to his days as a college student in the late 1950s, when he became keenly concerned with social justice after growing up in segregated small-town Kentucky. He developed a particular interest in Soviet alternatives to Stalinism and Nikolai Bukharin, the revolutionary and theorist killed in Stalin’s purges whom Cohen saw as the embodiment of such an alternative—a champion of a mixed economy and more humane politics. (Other historians argue that Bukharin, earlier a full supporter of revolutionary mass terror and state-controlled production, saw liberalization in the 1920s as merely a strategic retreat to rebuild the Soviet economy and pacify the populace.) Cohen’s first book was an acclaimed 1975 biography of Bukharin, an expanded edition of which is to be published this year.

Cohen had a strong personal investment in his subject. In the mid-1970s, he began spending a lot of time in Moscow in academic exchange programs, an experience he describes in his 2010 book, The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin; he grew close to Bukharin’s widow Anna Larina, herself a gulag survivor, and developed friendships with a few Soviet dissidents. He was a devout foe of Stalinism—at the time, he was already doing research on gulag survivors—and no fan of the Brezhnev-era Soviet regime, which for unspecified reasons barred him from travel to the Soviet Union from 1982 to 1985. However, a running theme in Cohen’s writings was the possibility of “socialism with a human face.” He argued that Communism was not monolithic; that Stalinism was not an organic continuation of Leninist Bolshevism (a “richly diverse movement,” as Cohen, then a junior fellow at Columbia University’s Research Institute on Communist Affairs, wrote in a 1967 letter to the New York Review of Books) but a radical break from it; and that the Soviet system had real potential for peaceful reformism. It is telling that his closest dissident friend was Roy Medvedev, probably the only notable dissident in the 1970s who still considered himself a Marxist-Leninist.

In his 1985 book, Rethinking the Soviet Experience: Politics and History Since 1917, Cohen noted with regret that, as reformist hopes withered and died in the 1970s, most liberal dissidents “concluded that the entire Soviet system was hopelessly ill-conceived and corrupt—that reform from within the Communist party-state was impossible,” and their protests “grew increasingly anti-Soviet.” This, he argued, only led to more repression, drawing dissenters into a “political cul-de-sac” since change in the Soviet Union could only happen through “reform from above.” Around the same time, he claimed in The Nation that the Reagan administration’s quest to pressure the Soviets into change would inevitably fail since it was “predicated on wildly exaggerated conceptions of Soviet domestic problems. In reality, the Soviet Union is not in economic crisis; nor is it politically unstable.”

Not long after, Cohen’s cherished “reform from above” suddenly became reality as the new Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, embarked on a course of liberalization and reform. Still more excitingly for Cohen, glasnost included a Bukharin revival, with major support from Gorbachev himself. Bukharin was formally exonerated in 1988 and became, as Cohen recounts in Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives, “virtually canonized as Lenin’s rightful heir, anti-Stalinist prophet and hero, and forerunner of Gorbachev’s perestroika reformation.”

Cohen threw himself enthusiastically into this reformation. He traveled regularly to the Soviet Union with his wife Katrina Vanden Heuvel, an editor at The Nation and currently its editor-in-chief and they co-authored the 1989 book, Voices of Glasnost: Interviews with Gorbachev’s Reformers, a collection of interviews with fourteen officials, journalists, and intellectuals, all of them proponents of a kinder, gentler (and more efficient) Soviet socialism.

Then, in late 1991, the dreams of reformist socialism crashed with the end of the Soviet Union. The new Russian leadership was far more interested in embracing Western-style democratic capitalism than in reforming socialism. Lenin was tossed on the dustbin of history—even if his mummified body remained in the Mausoleum on Red Square—and Bukharin’s ghost faded into irrelevance. As Cohen notes with tangible bitterness in Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives, “Of what political use or historical interest was a founding father whose country no longer existed?”

For many observers, the Soviet Union’s downfall leads to the logical conclusion that Soviet communism was not reformable after all: virtually the moment its coercive mechanisms weakened, the entire edifice began to crack and promptly collapsed. Not surprisingly, Cohen strongly disagrees. His view is most succinctly summed up in a 2011 talk at a conference sponsored by the Gorbachev Foundation: the Soviet Union, he believes, did not “collapse” but was dismantled by the power-hungry Boris Yeltsin—aided by “the radical intelligentsia” which “hijacked Gorbachev’s gradualist reformation” and helped bring Yeltsin to power, and by greedy bureaucratic elites eager to plunder the Soviet Union’s wealth. To make this case, he drastically downplays both the economic crisis of 1990-1991 (when, as Russian satirist Viktor Shenderovich once quipped, “Soviet power still existed but the food had already run out”) and the separatist tensions in the Soviet republics.

Meanwhile, Cohen blames Yeltsin’s reforms in the early 1990s for causing “the worst economic and social catastrophe ever suffered by a major nation in peacetime.” That’s a rather startling assertion from someone familiar with Stalin’s brutal collectivization of agriculture and the ensuing “terror-famine” of the early 1930s.

Of course, few would disagree that Russia’s “Wild West capitalism” of the nineties was not a pretty picture, with the rise of oligarchs who gave robber barons a bad name and millions of people cast adrift and struggling. One can argue about the causes and the specifics of this crisis—for instance, whether Yeltsin-era policies were really free market-oriented (the private sector remained crippled by byzantine taxes and regulations, official corruption, and lack of effective legal protection for property rights) and whether some of the decade’s social ills were caused by the transition to the market or by the disastrous Soviet legacy. (Thus, the decline in Russians’ life expectancy began in the Soviet era, with male life expectancy at birth dropping from 64 years in 1965 to 61.4 years in 1980.) Still, Cohen has an indisputable point when he says that the hardship and chaos of the 1990s explain widespread Russian support for Putin’s neo-authoritarian rule—as well as the resurgence of Stalinist nostalgia, with both Putin and Stalin seen as symbols of the “strong hand” bringing order and security.

sadThis, however, should hardly preclude a critical view of Putin and Putinism: if anything, an authoritarian strongman is all the more dangerous when he rides a wave of legitimate popular discontent with economic and social chaos. The fact remains that after his rise to power, Putin systematically strangled Russia’s free press (the remnants of which are now under attack in the warmongering over Ukraine), crushed political opposition, turned elections into a farce and the parliament into an obedient rubber stamp, and moved toward making anti-Western nationalism an official ideology. And these are facts that Cohen either glosses over or downplays—for instance, by asserting that “de-democratization began under Yeltsin, not Putin” (which is true only in the sense that power was increasingly concentrated in the presidency rather than elected representatives).

All this autocratic thuggery seems a more than adequate explanation for why the Western media would take an uncharitable view of Putin, the ex-KGB officer who has always taken conspicuous pride in his Soviet-era career. Yet Cohen professes to be utterly baffled by why Putin is so “villainized.” His explanation in The Nation article is that the U.S. press “adopted Washington’s narrative” of Yeltsin as the man steering Russia to democracy, still treating him as “an ideal Russian leader.” By contrast, in the 2000s, the media—again taking their cue from Washington—began to treat the Kremlin as the enemy. (This account completely ignores, among other things, the complexities of U.S.-Russian relations in both the 1990s and the 2000s: the chill between Moscow and Washington at the end of the Yeltsin years, the initially cordial relationship between George W. Bush and Putin—the War on Terror ally in whose eyes Bush famously got “a sense of his soul”—and the “reset” at the start of Obama’s presidency.)

In essence, Cohen is arguing that the American media dislikes Putin because he is seen as the anti-Yeltsin. But this seems like classic projection: the far more likely explanation is that Cohen sympathizes with Putin because he sees Putin as the anti-Yeltsin, and Yeltsin as the anti-Gorbachev who destroyed the bright and shining hopes of Soviet reformism. The irony, of course, is that Putin’s rule hasn’t seen a restoration of socialism, Soviet-style or otherwise (except for the fact that, while Yeltsin repudiated the Soviet period, Putin treats it as a source of real achievements and legitimate pride). Putin’s Russia is a country of corrupt crony capitalism, conspicuous consumption by the rich and the affluent, and a repressive state that increasingly leans on a subservient church as its source of moral authority. It stands, in short, for everything a leftist should detest.

Many of Cohen’s arguments about post-Communist Russia are legitimate subjects of debate, and his scholarship has been serious enough to draw praise from the likes of Robert Conquest, the British historian and author of The Great Terror. And yet his Putin cheerleading increasingly crosses the line into denial or outright recycling of Kremlin propaganda. Last October, at a New York University symposium, Cohen asserted with a straight face that the game of musical chairs between Putin and Dmitry Medvedev (who was handpicked to succeed Putin in 2007, then stepped aside for his mentor four years later) was not a carefully orchestrated ploy to circumvent the Russian constitution’s ban on two consecutive presidential terms but a genuine, though unsuccessful, “tryout” for Medvedev. “I don’t believe that Putin’s return was agreed upon in advance,” said Cohen—flatly contradicting Medvedev’s own statement to the media in 2011 that he and Putin had “long ago” agreed on the power arrangement.

In a 2012 Reuters column, Cohen complained that Putin is often blamed for the 2006 murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, even though “the editors of Politkovskaya’s newspaper, the devoutly anti-Putin Novaya Gazeta, believe her killing was ordered by Chechen leaders, whose human-rights abuses were one of her special subjects.” He forgets to mention that the Chechen leader in question, Ramzan Kadyrov, is Putin’s best buddy—or that Novaya Gazeta has also asserted that the actual killers are connected to Russian special services and protected by the government.

But the disconnect from reality is most glaringly evident in Cohen’s Newsweek interview. Take this gem: “We don’t know that Putin went into Crimea. We literally don’t know. We’re talking about ‘facts’ that are coming out of Kiev, which is a mass of disinformation.” Cohen must be the only person in the world who thinks there’s any doubt that the armed men who are all over Crimea wearing Russian army uniforms without insignia and wielding Russian weaponry—“little green men,” as irreverent Russians call them—are actually Russian soldiers.

And he hits an all-time low when asked about Pussy Riot, the activist punk rockers given a two-year prison sentence in 2012 for an anti-Putin protest performance in a Moscow cathedral. After noting that “in 82 countries they would have been executed” (a statement later amended to say that the women “would have faced criminal charges in many countries and the death penalty in several of them”), Cohen tells the interviewer, “You know what they were doing before they went to prison? They would go into supermarkets, strip, lay on their back, spread their legs apart and stuff frozen chickens in their vagina. There were people in there with their kids shopping and Russian authorities did nothing. They didn’t arrest them.”

The very slight factual basis for this outlandish claim is that two members of Pussy Riot once belonged to an activist performance art group called Voina (War). In one of its “performances,” a woman discreetly stuffed a supermarket chicken inside her panties and into her vagina (an act not witnessed by anyone except other group members who took photos), then left the store and “birthed” the chicken in an empty lot outside. However tacky, this was hardly the flagrant public obscenity Cohen alleges. What’s more, the chicken stunt did not actually involve any of the Pussy Riot defendants—though Russian television falsely implied that it did.

It’s rather sad to see Cohen, who has written with sensitivity and compassion about gulag survivors, sink to the level of a pro-Kremlin Internet troll, perpetuating a crude slander against courageous young women who are currently braving harassment and physical assaults as they advocate for prisoner rights.

Cohen is doubtless sincere in his conviction that he stands against a propaganda war that incites dangerous hostility to Russia. Yet his sincerity leads him to channel Kremlin propaganda as effectively as any paid shill. A verse composed by Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko for Cohen’s seventieth birthday in 2008 included the lines, “I love you, my unique friend, Steve / And envy you that you’re naïve.” Alas, this brings to mind an old Russian proverb: “There’s a kind of simplicity that’s worse than thievery.”

Cathy Young is a contributing editor at Reason magazine. She is the author of Growing Up in Moscow: Memories of a Soviet Girlhood (Ticknor & Fields, 1989). You can follow her on Twitter at @CathyYoung63

www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/16/meet-stephen-f-cohen-vladimir-putin-s-best-friend-in-the-american-media.html

Omitted in this article is Cohen’s disdain for the Ukrainian people. He refers to Ukraine as a region of Russia denying along with Putin the existence of Ukraine. He is a Ukrainophobe who is against Ukraine’s self determination, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. He believes that his fellow Jews are also against the establishment of an independent , free and democratic Ukraine. I believe this is not true as many Jews have embraced Ukraine as their Homeland.

Mentioning Hitler makes Americans more willing to intervene in Ukraine


Mentioning Hitler makes Americans more willing to intervene in Ukraine

A pro-Ukrainian activist holds a poster (L) with Russian President Vladimir Putin caricatured as Adolf Hitler during a rally in front of the German Embassy in Kiev on March 11, 2014. (ANATOLII STEPANOV, AFP/Getty Images).

A pro-Ukrainian activist holds a poster (L) with Russian President Vladimir Putin caricatured as Adolf Hitler during a rally in front of the German Embassy in Kiev on March 11, 2014. (ANATOLII STEPANOV, AFP/Getty Images).

You may have heard about a little controversy involving the mention of Adolf Hitler in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Now a new YouGov poll provides a sense of what difference mentioning Hitler can make.

In the poll, respondents were asked whether they thought the U.S. should get involved in Ukraine and what types of involvement were appropriate — sanctions, economic aid, diplomacy, military intervention, and so on. But the poll also involved an experiment. Half of respondents were asked about Ukraine only after they answered these two questions:

“Do you think Vladimir Putin’s actions in Crimea today are similar to what Hitler did in Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938?”

“Would you consider it ‘appeasement’ for the U.S. and other western democracies not to take strong action to defend Ukraine?”

The other half of respondents answered these questions after they were asked about Ukraine. So we can see what effect bringing up Hitler and appeasement had on opinion.

Doug Rivers reports the results:

Only 21% of those asked in the conventional way favored U.S. involvement in the Ukraine. When this question was preceded by the questions about appeasement and comparing Putin to Hitler, support for U.S. involvement rose to 29%. It didn’t change the overall result — a majority of Americans still oppose getting involved in the Ukraine even after the parallel to 1938 is mentioned — but it does make a difference of about 8%.

By John Sides
March 14 at 4:38 pm

www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/03/14/mentioning-hitler-makes-americans-more-willing-to-intervene-in-ukraine/

putins

We ask President Obama to intervene in every way possible to Stop Putin from waging war on Ukraine and the Western World as China and Al Qaeda look on as opportunists against JUDEO-CHRISTIANS….

Princeton Prof. Stephen Cohen: Putin ‘Didn’t Create’ Crisis, ‘Had No Choice but to React’

Princeton Prof. Stephen Cohen: Putin ‘Didn’t Create’ Crisis, ‘Had No Choice but to React’

by William Bigelow 2 Mar 2014 279 post a comment

by William Bigelow 2 Mar 2014 279 post a comment

On CNN, Fareed Zakaria interviewed Princeton and NYU professor Stephen Cohen about his article in The Nation this week in which he argues that Vladamir Putin is not the “neo-imperialist thug” he is accused of being.

Asked about Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine, Cohen said that Putin did not create the crisis and had no choice but to react. Cohen also said that next to Mikhail Gorbachev and possibly Boris Yeltsin, Putin was the least authoritarian Russian ruler in 400 years. The transcript of the interview follows:

Zakaria: Steve, you say that this guy is not the rank imperialist and rank dictator we see him as. Explain why he isn’t those things.

Cohen: Nor is he, as Secretary Albright and Professor Brzezinski suggested, “Hitler,” with their references to Munich. Putin is not a thug; he’s not a neo-Soviet imperialist who’s trying to recreate the Soviet Union; he’s not even anti-American. What he is is intensely, historically pro-Russian. He’s been in power fourteen years, and his mission is, as he sees it, and many Russians see it, [to] restore Russia from the disaster of 1991, the collapse of the Russian state. Remember, that was the second time in the 20th century the Russian state had collapsed, the first time in 1917. So to recreate the stability, prosperity, greatness, whatever that means in Russia at home, and in the process, restore Russia’s traditional zones of national security on its borders; that means Ukraine as well. He did not create this Ukrainian crisis; it was imposed on him, and he had no choice but to react. That’s [unintelligible] today.

Zakaria: You say he’s actually one of the most liberal rulers of Russia in its history.

Coehn: I wouldn’t put it that way, I mean, I wouldn’t use the word liberal. What I would say is if we view Putin in the context of the last 400 years of Russian history, with the exception of Gorbachev and possibly the first post-Soviet president Yeltsin, though there’s an argument there, Putin is the least authoritarian – let’s call him the most “soft” authoritarian, of Russian rulers in centuries. And by the way, in so far as it matters, because Jews, and the status of Jews in Russia, is often a barometer of how Russia rulership treats its society, Putin has been better for Russian Jews than any in Russian history, and if you want evidence of that, just ask Israel.

Zakaria: What about the new imperialism? Why should it be taken as a given that Russia should send troops into parts of Georgia, into parts of Ukraine, every time it feels it has been adversely affected? That does seem neo-imperialist, no?

Cohen: Fareed, we could argue this for hours. We could do the analogy. What if suddenly, Russian power showed up in Canada and Mexico, and provinces of Canada and Mexico said they were going to join Putin’s Eurasian economic union and maybe even his military bloc? Surely the American president would have to react as forcefully as Putin has.

I don’t think if Canada wanted to start a trade relationship with Russia – I do not believe that the American president would want to send troops into Canada. But if it was a trade relationship that excluded preferential trade with the United States, it would certainly create a crisis.

But let’s get back to Ukraine. Brzezinski and Albright said, for example, that the current government in Kiev is legitimate. Putin says it’s not legitimate. I would argue that if you had on your show a panel of constitutional international lawyers, they would be hard-put to explain how a government which a week ago overthrew the entire Ukrainian constitutional order, deposed the elected president and has been passing anti-Russian legislation in Kiev, and which is at least partially controlled by very extremist forces in the streets, is legitimate. That would be hard to explain.

www.breitbart.com/Big-Peace/2014/03/02/Princeton-Prof-Putin-Didn-t-Create-Crisis-Had-No-Choice-but-to-React
love

CNN discredited by Putin apologist Stephen Cohen! Get him off of the tube! This Professor is a Ukrainophobic Russophile!

Meet Vladimir Putin’s American Apologist: Shameful to America, NYU and Princeton University!
www.newrepublic.com/article/116820/vladimir-putin-defended-american-leftist

Western Media: Don’t distort the situation in Ukraine!

Western Media: Don’t distort the situation in Ukraine!
Halya Coynash
02.03.14
Quelle: khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1393797933
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mic
They’re out on the streets, they’re vocal and they tacitly allow the West to think that since there are two sides to the story, expressing grave concern is enough. There are indeed a large number of pro-Russian citizens in the Crimea who welcome Russian intervention, however there are plenty of Ukrainians – including ethnic Russians – who vehemently oppose Russia’s effective occupation of the Crimea.

Any media coverage should be objective and present all sides.

A CNN report on Sunday afternoon spoke only to people who were pleased that the Russians had seized control and delighted to be asked if they were frightened of the new government in Ukraine. No attempt was made to ascertain what was meant by their allegations of “fascists” in control or what the grounds for their fears were. This has no basis in fact, making the fears unfounded, if understandable. If journalists had spoken to a broader range of interviewees, they would have understood that nobody is stopped from speaking Russian in the Crimea, and that these fears were largely being fuelled by propaganda on Russian television channels.

As of around 23.00, Kyiv time, just over 117 thousand “ethnic Russians and Russian speakers” have signed a petition entitled Mr Putin: We ethnic Russians and Russian speakers don’t need protection; there have been statements of protest from religious bodies; human rights organizations (Ukrainian and Russian); the Crimean Tatars (up to 15% of the Crimean population, and an indigenous people for whom the Crimea is their sole homeland).

Nobody is asking international news agencies to take a stand. Quite the contrary: the truth is needed to ensure adequate response to a situation of grave danger and to counter seriously distorted coverage of events which mislead the public.

Please be careful in your news coverage, and provide as full a picture as possible.

maidantranslations.wordpress.com/2014/03/03/western-media-dont-distort-the-situation-in-ukraine/

Media beware in the coming days and weeks Putin will try to destabilize Ukraine’s eastern regions with hired thugs and paramilitaries. And he may yet impose his will on these regions with a formal invasion. Get the word out and do good to stop a war between Russia and Ukraine.