Friday, July 8, 2016
Poroshenko-Kerry Press Meeting: Tone Down the Cheers
The press encounter for President Petro Poroshenko and Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday, July 7, in Kyiv offered more disturbing information and insights about US-Ukraine-Russia affairs than encouraging ones.
The only positive outcome was the announcement that sanctions will be continued against Russia for being an international bully and invading Ukraine from the south and east. But this was already known a couple of weeks ago so Poroshenko and Kerry merely created news and headlines by capitalizing on old information.
Sadly, the entire event resembled a lesson in how not to offend Moscow while heaping oft-repeated demands and platitudes on Ukraine about how much progress Kyiv is making in becoming a virtuous country. We’ve also heard Vice-President Joe Biden make these remarks in Kyiv and Washington.
The single preposterously impudent remark at the encounter was made by Kerry, who said in reply to a reporter’s question:
“Now, I think that it is necessary to find a path forward that unites the interests of the parties in a way that is fair and sensible, and provides assurance to both sides – to all sides, because there’s more than one, or two – that the requirements of Minsk are in fact being met and being met in a way that gives everybody an assurance that their needs are going to be satisfied.”
Kerry was referring to moving toward a successful fulfillment of the Minsk truce. In order to do so, Ukraine’s allies in this process must first recognize that Russia is the aggressor and criminal while Ukraine is the victim that was violated by an armed invasion, killings of civilians and soldiers, destruction of cities and towns, and occupation of sovereign, indivisible territory.
Consequently, the United States should not accentuate equality between Ukraine and Russia. There is no unity of interests; there are no ways that are fair and sensible that provide assurance to all sides; and there is only one violator of the Minsk accords and transgressor of UN and global laws and norms. The final resolution shouldn’t attempt to assure everyone that their needs will be satisfied because they can’t be. Russia is intent on re-subjugating Ukraine and the other former captive nations and rebuilding its prison of nations. The free world should do what’s possible to deflect Russia from that goal.
Kerry referred to parity between Moscow and Kyiv during his prepared remarks when he discussed “the situation in eastern Ukraine.” Sadly, the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-16 in the minds’ of world leaders has deteriorated from a conflict to a situation. Denying the obvious, avoiding calling it a war, and evading panic-inspiring references to Russia being similar to Nazi Germany will not bring peace to the region sooner.
The Secretary of State naively stated that Putin has “indicated that he does have a desire to try to see this process move forward, as does President Obama.” Is there verified evidence of that desire? If Putin possesses such a desire, then the war that he launched would be over and peace would reign in the region.
There is no reason to give the Russian dictator such undeserving credit by saying “And so we are hopeful that in the days ahead, that we will in fact be able to translate those expressions of hope and words in the telephone call into real actions that will make a difference.”
Kerry reiterated Washington’s commitment to returning Crimea, the first victim of Russian aggression in February 2014, to Ukraine’s sovereignty but he prefaced his comment by saying “Russia’s move to Crimea.” Move? Again he’s hiding behind antiseptic words.
Kerry also repeated a list of Ukraine’s accomplishments since establishing sovereign independence 25 years ago, noting that its “democratic potential is far brighter today.”
He said in the past 70 days the Verkhovna Rada approved constitutional amendments to reinforce judicial independence, eliminated wasteful subsidies, and began implementing a broad civil service reform. “In any country, anywhere, at any time, that’s a pretty significant agenda and a pretty significant set of accomplishments. But here, where there still continues to be difficulties with respect to security, it’s even more profound a statement of purpose and of commitment and of accomplishment.
“So Ukraine is undeniably moving forward, but I think we all agree that the job isn’t done. More has yet to be done to strengthen Ukraine’s democracy,” Kerry said.
Even a cursory ready of daily newspapers would show that “more has yet to be done” is an admonition that can be applied to any country on earth.
As world leaders and pundits have noted, Ukraine is singlehandedly endeavoring to build a democratic, market-oriented existence for itself; combat corruption and a soviet mentality; and fight for its life against the world’s greatest military machine – Russia.
Ukraine would be able to overcome these internal and external calamities faster if the US and free world would genuinely step up to the plate with far more assistance and understanding than they’re exhibiting today.
President Poroshenko, for his part, in addition to thanking the United States for its help, made one notable observation. In replying to a reporter’s question about his level of optimism, Ukraine’s commander in chief openly referred to the conflict or situation as “a state of war.” Too bad others didn’t take note of it.
“And your question, am I optimistic enough – look, I offer you the confidential information: This is impossible to be the president in a country in a state of war and not to be optimistic, because this is the only way to return Ukrainian flag to the occupied territory. Yes, I am optimistic, and I think that we can reach the result in a very short period of time with the support of our partners and allies,” Poroshenko said.
Warsaw is the venue for the NATO Summit, which was addressed during the meeting with the press. Kerry said the US has an open door policy about allowing new members to join the Atlantic alliance but added “when they are ready.” Ukraine is making progressive with military modernization but not fast enough, he said.
I wonder if this doesn’t mean that Ukraine’s membership will be put off indefinitely until Russia acquiesces to Ukraine’s active participation in this military bloc.
With the free world hoping against hope that the Minsk accords will return peace to the region and mollify the former captive nations’ fears about deeper Russian aggression, the germs of Russian subversion, terrorism, sedition and treason will spread their roots from eastern Ukraine and Crimea to all of Ukraine. The free world must support Ukraine in subduing and expelling Russian troops and terrorists from Ukraine, and then capture and prosecute all of the seditious, secessionist traitors just like the leaders of the Confederate States of America were here in 1865.
We, in the free world, especially the United States, must not be so servile as to accept any official quasi-positive comment about Ukraine without subjecting it to a scratch test. We must be more demanding of our elected officials to avoid needless clichés but rather insist that they provide Ukraine with critical frontline support that will defend Ukraine and Euro-Atlantic countries from Russian and others’ aggression.
These are not Cold War fears but 21st century realities.