Category Archives: Ukraine

How Putin’s Fake News Machine Spread From Ukraine Across the Globe

Sebastien Roblin writes for War Is Boring:

The American press is awash with reporting on how fake news is flooding the Internet, and may have impacted the U.S. election. Blatantly false articles designed to stoke partisan passions on both sides generated clicks, ad revenue and righteous outrage that could be manipulated to serve political ends.

But while the 2016 may be the year that fake news on the Internet became the news, the outbreak of the fighting in Eastern Ukraine in 2014 was the first time it was weaponized in full public view.

It is natural, of course, that Russian media would have its own perspective on a conflict pitting ethnic Russians against Ukrainians. Accurate information is exceedingly difficult to obtain out of any armed conflict, and both loyalists and rebels in Ukraine engaged in “information warfare” and its fabrications.

What is not “natural” — or at least, naturally-occurring — is the concerted state-sponsored effort by the Kremlin to manufacture false news stories and commenters and push them through both official and unofficial outlets under its direction and control in order to enable Russian foreign policy objectives.

The methods pioneered in 2014 were a harbinger of the deluge that struck Europe and the United States in 2016.

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Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying

Mark Ames writes for AlterNet:

Last month, the Washington Post gave a glowing front-page boost to an anonymous online blacklist of hundreds of American websites, from marginal conspiracy sites to flagship libertarian and progressive publications. As Max Blumenthal reported for AlterNet, the anonymous website argued that all of them should be investigated by the federal government and potentially prosecuted under the Espionage Act as Russian spies, for wittingly or unwittingly spreading Russian propaganda.

My own satirical newspaper was raided and closed down by the Kremlin in 2008, on charges of “extremism”—akin to terrorism—which I took seriously enough to leave for home for good. What the Washington Post did in boosting an anonymous blacklist of American journalists accused of criminal treason is one of the sleaziest, and most disturbing (in a very familiar Kremlin way) things I’ve seen in this country since I fled for home. The WaPo is essentially an arm of the American deep state; its owner, Jeff Bezos, is one of the three richest Americans, worth $67 billion, and his cash cow, Amazon, is a major contractor with the Central Intelligence Agency. In other words, this is as close to an official US government blacklist of journalists as we’ve seen—a dark ominous warning before they take the next steps.

It’s now been a few days, and the shock and disgust is turning to questions about how to fight back—and who we should be fighting against. Who were the Washington Post’s sources for their journalism blacklist?

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U.S. Pledges $30 Million to Rebuild Ukraine’s Navy

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

The host of one of Russia’s main fleets until the secession of Crimea, calling Ukraine’s own navy a mess would be an understatement. Built around aging Soviet hand-me-downs, the ships they did have largely defected along with Crimea.
Indeed, while they have some small attack boats and the like, it would be fair to classify Ukraine’s entire “navy” as one ship, the Hetman Sahaydachnyy, their flagship, which is in the process of being repaired and refitted. Even this ship is just a frigate, but apart from coastal patrol boats and tug boats, it is what’s left.

Ukrainian Navy Commander Vice Admiral Ihor Voronchenko is playing up the repairs and upgrades to their ship as the beginning of a major increase in capacity which will allow them to “counter Russia” in the Black Sea. The US is bankrolling part of this effort with $30 million in aid.

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Ukrainian and Russian Elite Benefit From New Flare-Ups at the Border

Jaisal Noor speaks to Moscow-based political economist Aleksandr Buzgalin about how recent border confrontations distract from domestic policies as a source of internal social problems. (The Real News)

How Trump’s (Former) Campaign Chief Helped Get a Strongman Elected President of Ukraine

Luke Harding reports for The Guardian:

The scene was Ostroh, western Ukraine, on the eve of parliamentary elections.

A tall figure bounded on to a stage to cheers from a crowd of elderly flag-waving supporters. They chanted: “Yan-u-kov-ych, Yan-u-kov-ych.”

The man addressing them was Viktor Yanukovych, who at this point – autumn 2007 – was Ukraine’s pro-Russian prime minister. Three years earlier he had tried to cheat his way to victory in the country’s presidential election, triggering the pro-democracy uprising known as the Orange Revolution, which swept Yanukovych’s rival Viktor Yushchenko into power.

Now, barely three years later, Yanukovych was back, and his Party of Regions was ahead in the polls.

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Trump’s ‘Extreme Vetting’ Test for Immigrants, His Position on NATO and Russia and his Campaign Head’s $13m Scandal in Ukraine

Amy Goodman speaks to Matt Taibbi, award-winning journalist with Rolling Stone magazine, Phyllis Bennis, author of Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror and Linda Sarsour, director of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPower Change. They join Amy Goodman to talk about a  number of issues including Donald Trump’s vow to institute “extreme vetting” of visa applicants, his position on NATO and Russia, and his campaign head’s $13 million scandal in Ukraine. (Democracy Now!)

Biden Urges Ukraine President to Avoid Escalating Tensions With Russia

Reuters reports:

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a memorial service for three slain Baton Rouge police officers at Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S. July 28, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan BachmanU.S. Vice President Joe Biden spoke by phone on Friday with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and urged him “to do his part” to avoid escalating tensions with Russia, the White House said.

Biden noted that the United States has urged the Russian side to do the same, the White House said in a statement. Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Ukraine of trying to provoke a conflict over Crimea, which Moscow seized and annexed in 2014.

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Ukraine, After War, Becomes a Trove for Black Market Arms Trade

Alessandra Prentice and Anton Zverev report for Reuters:

[…] The fighting in eastern Ukraine between the Moscow-backed separatists and Ukraine’s pro-Western government killed hundreds of people, displaced thousands of residents and created a Cold War-style stand off between Moscow in the West.

It also had another consequence that is less visible but could in time prove equally dangerous: the conflict took huge amounts of arms out of government arsenals and put them in the hands of irregular units unable to properly control them.

Now the fighting has subsided, according to security officials and experts on the arms trade, the weapons are getting into the hands of criminals and being spirited to buyers well beyond the conflict zone.

Interviews by Reuters with security officials and rebels, as well as study of law enforcement data and court documents have shown that weapons are being channeled out of the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine in significant numbers, in some cases as part of an organized underground trade.

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Hacked Emails Reveal NATO General Plotting Against Obama on Russia Policy

Lee Fang and Zaid Jilani report for The Intercept:

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, until recently the supreme commander of NATO forces in Europe, plotted in private to overcome President Barack Obama’s reluctance to escalate military tensions with Russia over the war in Ukraine in 2014, according to apparently hacked emails from Breedlove’s Gmail account that were posted on a new website called DC Leaks.

Obama defied political pressure from hawks in Congress and the military to provide lethal assistance to the Ukrainian government, fearing that doing so would increase the bloodshed and provide Russian President Vladimir Putin with the justification for deeper incursions into the country.

Breedlove, during briefings to Congress, notably contradicted the Obama administration regarding the situation in Ukraine, leading to news stories about conflict between the general and Obama.

But the leaked emails provide an even more dramatic picture of the intense back-channel lobbying for the Obama administration to begin a proxy war with Russia in Ukraine.

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Ex-NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen Named as Adviser to Ukraine’s President

AP reports:

A former NATO Secretary-General and Danish prime minister has been named an adviser to Ukraine’s president.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Twitter Saturday that he will do his “utmost to promote security, economic reforms and stronger EU ties.”

A statement on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s website did not specify on what issues Fogh Rasmussen might concentrate.

Fogh Rasmussen described the security situation in eastern Ukraine “alarming” on his Facebook page. Ukrainian forces have been fighting Russia-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine for two years and more than 9,300 people have been killed.

Ukraine, which wants to join the 28-nation European Union, also “must implement much needed reforms,” including “enhanced fight against corruption.”

The 63-year-old Dane was NATO chief 2009-2014 after his eight years as Danish head of government.

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Chernobyl Nuclear Plant Will Remain a Threat for 3,000 Years

Matthew Schofield reports for McClachty:

Twenty years after the disaster, Yuri Andreyev, a former senior engineer at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, pointed to the destroyed Reactor No. 4 in a photo made a few hours after the April 26, 1986, explosion. // Efrem Lukatsky / AP Before the fire, the vomiting, the deaths and the vanishing home, it was the promise of bumper cars that captured the imagination of the boys.

It was 30 years ago that Pripyat and the nearby Chernobyl nuclear plant became synonymous with nuclear disaster, that the word Chernobyl came to mean more than just a little village in rural Ukraine, and this place became more than just another spot in the shadowy Soviet Union.

Even 30 years later – 25 years after the country that built it ceased to exist – the full damage of that day is still argued.

Death toll estimates run from hundreds to millions. The area near the reactor is both a teeming wildlife refuge and an irradiated ghost-scape. Much of eastern and central Europe continues to deal with fallout aftermath. The infamous Reactor Number 4 remains a problem that is neither solved nor solvable.

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NATO Seeks Bigger Black Sea Fleet to Target Russia

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Already picking fights with Russia in the Baltic Sea, and deploying ever growing numbers of ground troops in Eastern Europe, NATO’s latest focus in needling Russia is a major increase in naval presence in the Black Sea.

It makes sense from the position of NATO hawks. After all, the Black Sea includes one of Russia’s most historically important ports, at Sevastopol, and NATO is eager to contest Russia’s ownership of the Crimean Peninsula, in which that port is located.

It’s not going to be simple, however, as the effort will mostly have to come without the direct involvement of either the United States or Britain, NATO’s two biggest navies, and the two nations most eager to stick it to Russia.

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President Poroshenko’s Problems and the Crisis of the U.S. ‘Ukrainian Project’: Interview with Stephen F. Cohen

Contributing editor to The Nation, Professor Stephen F. Cohen, and radio host John Batchelor, continue their weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War, this week focussing on Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and events related to the second anniversary of the Ukranian civil war/U.S.-Russia proxy war. (The John Batchelor Show)

U.S. ‘Information War’ and the Embryonic Kerry–Lavrov Détente: Interview with Stephen F. Cohen

Contributing editor to the The Nation, Professor Stephen F. Cohen, and John Batchelor, continue their weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War, this week primarily focussing on the Panama Papers and negotiations between Kerry and Lavrov relating to Syria and Ukraine. (The John Batchelor Show)

Poroshenko’s Ukraine: Business As Usual

The Kyiv Post writes:

Want to know what life under President Petro Poroshenko and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman would look like? Judging from the behind-the-scenes jockeying to install Groysman as the replacement for Arseniy Yatsenyuk, it will be more of the same — and that will be bad for Ukraine.

Groysman’s emergence as likely prime minister is coming after closed-door dealings that lock out the public and, most likely, the public’s interests. To reach a majority of 226 votes in this Verkhovna Rada, it appears that concessions have been made to the oligarchs, fake populists and vested interests that have fleeced the nation since its independence in 1991. Groysman will present his program in parliament on March 25. He should talk about how he plans to break the grip of vested interests, but we doubt he has interest in doing so.

The stinky process to replace Yatsenyuk is more reason why only two options are acceptable: a professional and patriotic government led by Natalie Jaresko, the nation’s finance minister, or early elections to give voters another chance to drive out the corrupt old hacks that still dominate in parliament. In the end, Poroshenko became too frightened by Jaresko’s independence and the prospect that corrupt business as usual, especially in rule of law, will come to an end with her as prime minister.

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The New US-Russian Cold War Originated in the 1990s: Interview with Stephen F. Cohen

Nation contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussions of the new American-Russian Cold War. This installment begins with Cohen’s commentary on Russian President Putin’s remarkable statements, in a recent interview, that post-Soviet Russia was itself, not the West, responsible for the misery into which the country fell in the 1990s (a tacit but harsh criticism of his own patron, then President Boris Yeltsin). More importantly, Putin blames the Yeltsin government for not resisting the beginning of US encroachment on Russia’s security in the 1990s through the eastward expansion of NATO, resulting in today’s new Cold War. Cohen points out this is typical of Putin’s candor and wonders if Washington’s Russia “experts,” who are always being “surprised” by the Russian leader, actually read what he says and writes. The discussion turns then to the growing crisis of the European Union, including worsening conflicts among its member states—among them disputes over the flood of refugees, the new right-wing government in Poland, a forthcoming referendum in the Netherlands that could block Ukraine’s planned association with the EU, events in Ukraine itself, and relations with Russia. Cohen ends by pointing out America’s escalating opposition to Secretary of State John Kerry’s photo-détente with Putin, as evidenced by op-ed articles in The Washington Post and The New York Times, and by statements of top-rank generals that Russia is an ever growing military threat to the West, not a worthy partner in the Syrian war. Meanwhile, at the political epicenter of the new Cold War, Russia is suffering from Western sanctions and the collapse of world energy prices, but Ukraine is in ruins. (The Nation)

Obama to Hollande: Stay the course against Russia

Michael Crowley reports for Politico:

obama_francois_hollande_AP.jpgWhen President Barack Obama hosts French President François Hollande on Tuesday, he’ll have more on his agenda than demonstrating solidarity against terrorism. He’ll also be working to make sure Hollande sticks with the international effort to punish and isolate Vladimir Putin for his aggression in Ukraine.

Privately, Obama officials say they are concerned about whether key European leaders are prepared to extend sanctions on Moscow, which expire in late January. And they are wary of any effort by Putin — who will host Hollande in Moscow later this week — to link events in Syria and Ukraine. The fear is that Putin might try to trade more aggressive Russian action against the Islamic State for France’s backing in reducing or ending the sanctions.

A premature end to sanctions in Europe “is always our worry,” said Evelyn Farkas, who served until last month as the Pentagon’s top official for Russia and Ukraine. “They can’t back away from sanctions. Ukraine is a separate situation” from Syria.

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 Will Paris Melt the New US-Russian Cold War? Interview with Stephen Cohen

Stephen F. Cohen and John Batchelor continue their weekly discussion of the new East-West Cold War. Accelerating a trend already evident as a result of the Syrian crisis, according to Cohen, the savage terrorist acts on Paris almost immediately resulted in a French-Russian military alliance against the Islamic State in Syria, with French President Hollande and most of Europe dramatically breaking with the Obama Administration’s nearly two-year-old policy of “isolating Putin’s Russia” over the Ukrainian crisis. (The Nation)

Russia and the Curse of Geography

Tim Marshall writes for The Atlantic:

Vladimir Putin says he is a religious man, a great supporter of the Russian Orthodox Church. If so, he may well go to bed each night, say his prayers, and ask God: “Why didn’t you put mountains in eastern Ukraine?”

If God had built mountains in eastern Ukraine, then the great expanse of flatland that is the European Plain would not have been such inviting territory for the invaders who have attacked Russia from there repeatedly through history. As things stand, Putin, like Russian leaders before him, likely feels he has no choice but to at least try to control the flatlands to Russia’s west. So it is with landscapes around the world—their physical features imprison political leaders, constraining their choices and room for maneuver. These rules of geography are especially clear in Russia, where power is hard to defend, and where for centuries leaders have compensated by pushing outward.

Western leaders seem to have difficulty deciphering Putin’s motives, especially when it comes to his actions in Ukraine and Syria; Russia’s current leader has been described in terms that evoke Winston Churchill’s famous 1939 observation that Russia “is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside of an enigma.” But it’s helpful to look at Putin’s military interventions abroad in the context of Russian leaders’ longstanding attempts to deal with geography. What if Putin’s motives aren’t so mysterious after all? What if you can read them clearly on a map?

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Is the Ukraine Situation More Dangerous than the Middle East? Interview with Stephen Cohen

Stephen F. Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and he is a contributing editor to The Nation. He is also the author of a number of books including Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War. On top of this he is a founding board member of The Committee for East-West Accord. This interview with the Thom Hartmann Show was recorded two weeks ago. You can find more interviews and articles by Professor Cohen here. (Thom Hartmann Show)

Banned Cluster Bombs Were Used in Five Countries, Report Says

Rick Gladstone reports for The New York Times:

[…] The organization, the Cluster Munition Coalition, said in its annual report that use of the bombs had been documented in armed conflicts in LibyaSudan, Syria, Ukraine and Yemen.

The use of these weapons was criticized by all 117 countries that have joined the treaty, which took effect five years ago. Their use was also criticized by a number of others that have not yet joined the treaty but appear to have abided by its provisions.

[…] The treaty prohibits all use of cluster munitions and sets deadlines for the destruction of stockpiles and the clearance of areas contaminated by unexploded cluster bomblets, which can be deadly if disturbed. The treaty also provides for assistance to victims of cluster bombs.

The United States, which is among the countries that have not signed the treaty, still produces and exports cluster munitions. In a telephone interview, Ms. Wareham said that although the United States had sharply reduced its supply of cluster munitions, at least three different types of American-made cluster munitions had been used by Saudi-led forces this year in the Yemen conflict.

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Ukraine’s top oligarchs weather storm, retain political influence

Johannes Wamberg Andersen reports for the Kyiv Post:

Ukraine’s oligarchs have hit a rough patch financially, but they still wield too much influence over the nation’s politics and economic life, according to a report published by Transparency International Ukraine on Aug. 5. Political parties are dependent on them for money, and reforms get undermined as a result.

Comparing net worth assessments conducted by Focus magazine, practically all of Ukraine’s richest have seen their wealth plunge since 2013, as revolution and war pummeled the country. The top 15 richest are worth only $22.8 billion, down a whopping $19 billion from 2013, according to Focus.

[…] So while the participants in the oligarch system are plainly suffering at present, the oligarch grip remains firmly in place.

Much of the fall in wealth of Ukraine’s richest can be attributed to the hemorrhaging of the value of the national currency, the hryvnia, which has lost more than 50 percent of its value since 2014, amid mass public protests against the corrupt rule of Viktor Yanukovych.

Still, many of their present problems stem from the system they created.

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U.S. Institute of Peace’s Hawkish Chairman Wants Ukraine to Send Russians Back in Body Bags

Lee Fang reports for The Intercept:

The United States Institute of Peace is a publicly funded national institution chartered by the U.S. government to promote international peace through nonviolent conflict resolution.

But its chairman, Stephen Hadley, is a relentless hawk whose advocacy for greater military intervention often dovetails closely with the interests of Raytheon, a major defense contractor that pays him handsomely as a member of its board of directors.

Hadley, the former national security advisor to President George W. Bush, was an advocate for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and more recently appeared in the media to call for massive airstrikes in Syria. Over the last year, he has called for escalating the conflict in Ukraine.

In a speech at Poland’s Wroclaw Global Forum in June, Hadley argued in favor of arming the Ukrainian government in part because that would “raise the cost for what Russia is doing in Ukraine.” Specifically, he said, “even President Putin is sensitive to body bags — it sounds coarse to say, but it’s true — but body bags of Russian soldiers who have been killed.”

Hadley also called for European governments to broadly boost military spending, ideally doubling it. “You know, let’s show that Europe is going to have real commitment to military forces,” he said.

The call to flood Ukraine with weapons not only contrasts sharply with the stated mission of the Institute of Peace, but many scholars believe doing so would provoke more conflict.

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Is the New Cold War about to get hot? Interview with Stephen Cohen

Stephen F. Cohen is Professor Emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics at NYU and Princeton, and he is a contributing editor to The Nation. He is also the author of a number of books including Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War. On top of this he is a founding board member of The Committee for East-West Accord. You can find more interviews and articles by Professor Cohen here.

Samantha Power: Liberal War Hawk

Robert Parry writes for Consortium News:

President Barack Obama talks with Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, following a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Sept. 12, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)[…] Though Power is a big promoter of the “responsibility to protect” – or “R2P” – she operates with glaring selectivity in deciding who deserves protection as she advances a neocon/liberal interventionist agenda. She is turning “human rights” into an excuse not to resolve conflicts but rather to make them bloodier.

Thus, in Power’s view, the overthrow and punishment of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad takes precedence over shielding Alawites and other minorities from the likely consequence of Sunni-extremist vengeance. And she has sided with the ethnic Ukrainians in their slaughter of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.

In both cases, Power spurns pragmatic negotiations that could avert worsening violence as she asserts a black-and-white depiction of these crises. More significantly, her strident positions appear to have won the day with President Barack Obama, who has relied on Power as a foreign policy adviser since his 2008 campaign.

Power’s self-righteous approach to human rights – deciding that her side wears white hats and the other side wears black hats – is a bracing example of how “human rights activists” have become purveyors of death and destruction or what some critics have deemed “the weaponization of human rights.”’

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Tony Blair speaks at Putin’s ‘vanity forum’… and considers a job with Ukraine

Matthew Holehouse reports for The Telegraph:

Tony Blair, the former Prime Minister, appeared to be courting both sides of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict as he appeared at Vladimir Putin’s “vanity summit”, hours after being offered a job by the government of Kiev.

Mr Blair this morning appeared alongside Russian bankers and government ministers at the St Petersburg Economic Forum, a pet project of Vladimir Putin modelled on the World Economic Forum in Davos.

[…] His appearance in the region gives a tantalising indication of where Mr Blair’s interests may now lie.

His network of business interests, clients and contacts already stretches across the world, providing advice to an oil firm in Saudi Arabia, JP Morgan Chase Bank in the US, and governments in Kazakhstan, Romania and Mongolia. He has built up extensive network of contacts in China.’

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Mikheil Saakashvili and The Georgian Invasion of Ukraine

Lincoln Mitchell writes for the New York Observer:

In one of the stranger developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko recently appointed former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili as governor of the Odessa region. Mr. Saakasvhili, who had served as his country’s President between 2004-2013, had been spending his days since leaving office alternating between being one the world’s most outspoken supporters of Ukraine’s struggle against Russia, and enjoying a hipster lifestyle of semi-retirement in Brooklyn. Meanwhile, the Georgian government has indicted Saakashvili on charges related to the violent dispersal of protests and other malfeasance.

At first glance, this seems like a very strange move by the Ukrainian President, not least because Mr. Saakashvili is not even Ukrainian. However, since taking the appointment, Mr. Saakashvili, who had been a member of Mr. Poroschenko’s Council of International Advisors, has given up his Georgian citizen to become a citizen of Ukraine. The appointment seems to indicate a belief, on the part of Mr. Poroschenko, that in a country of well over 40 million people, there is not one person who is sufficiently smart, incorruptible, loyal to the President and visionary enough to serve as governor of this key region. Additionally, in recent years, many critics of Vladimir Putin, including Ukraine’s current Prime Minister, have argued the Russian President is seeking to reconstitute the Soviet Union. Yet, now it is Ukraine’s President who is behaving as if he is not exactly clear that Georgia and Ukraine are separate countries. Saakashvili, after all, is only one of several Georgians, all previously part of his government, who are serving in very high level positions.’

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Why Arming Ukraine Is a Really Bad Idea

Paul J. Saunders writes for The National Interest:

Renewed fighting in Ukraine has in turn renewed calls to arm Ukraine, including in the United States Congress. Yet there is an enormous and largely unacknowledged flaw in the argument to provide the Kiev government with lethal weapons.

Advocates of this approach assert that sending anti-tank missiles, mortars and other arms to Ukraine will help Ukrainian forces to kill more of the Russian troops fighting alongside separatist forces in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of eastern Ukraine. Since Russian president Vladimir Putin and other senior officials have repeatedly denied that Russian soldiers are in the country, they say, he must be trying to hide Moscow’s involvement from the Russian people because he fears political opposition from soldiers’ mothers (a significant political constraint during the first war in Chechnya, not to mention in Afghanistan a decade earlier) and others. If we can only kill enough of Putin’s troops, they continue, Putin will no longer be able to conceal the scale of Russia’s engagement in the conflict and will face public pressure to limit it or even to withdraw.

While this might appear logical on its face, this line of thinking ignores a fundamental reality of the politics of war-fighting that Americans should well understand from their own experiences: how many soldiers are dying in combat is considerably less important than why they are doing it.’

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Nazi Collaborators Triumph Over Communists in Ukraine

Leonid Bershidsky writes for Bloomberg:

<p>Everything must go.</p>
 Photographer: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty ImagesIt’s goodbye Lenin, hello Nazi collaborators in Ukraine these days. Laws signed into effect by President Petro Poroshenko require the renaming of dozens of towns and hundreds of streets throughout the country to eliminate Soviet-era names. At the same time, Ukraine will begin to honor groups that helped Hitler exterminate Ukrainian Jews during World War II.

Ukrainians’ desire for a European identity and a break with the country’s Soviet past is Poroshenko’s biggest political asset, but these latest steps should worry the country’s Western allies.

A law Poroshenko signed May 15 bans all Soviet and Nazi symbols, even on souvenirs, and criminalizes “denying the criminal character” of both totalitarian regimes. It bans place names, monuments and plaques glorifying Soviet heroes, Soviet flags and communist slogans. Statues of Lenin have been toppled in many Ukrainian cities since the “revolution of dignity” last year, but the new law goes further. ‘

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Why Mr. Kerry Went to Sochi: Interview with Stephen Cohen

Cole Delbyck writes for The Nation:

John Kerry and Vladimir Putin‘Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent sitdown with Russian President Vladmir Putin in Sochi has ushered the Ukrainian crisis onto a new and far more public stage. The Nation’s Stephen Cohen joined The John Batchelor Show to comment on the long-awaited meeting of the minds, as well as the competing strategies for stability in the Ukraine.

It was not certain, Cohen explained, that Putin would make time to meet with Kerry. But prior to Kerry’s visit, Angela Merkel met with Russian leaders to stress the importance of a non-military solution. Cohen speculated that “Merkel and Putin must have decided that this was the last chance to actually implement the Minsk agreement and compel Kiev…to negotiate with the rebels in the East.” Kiev’s close ties to Washington, Cohen said, were likely on Putin’s mind when he “agreed to meet with Kerry, seeking that commitment…to get Kiev to the negotiating table.”’

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW @ The JOHN BATCHELOR SHOW…