Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Selling out Ukraine won’t Appease Russia
Russia’s unstoppable quest to subjugate Ukraine and the other x-captive nations won’t diminish in the event that Moscow achieves its mission.
There are other imperialistic opportunities for the Kremlin and that doesn’t bode well for global peace, stability and security.
Consequently, there is no reason for world leaders to cower behind the immoral thinking that surrendering Ukraine to Russia will satisfy its pursuit of global domination. It is far better for future generations and their peace, stability and security to subdue Russia – or bring it to heel – today.
It has been my premise since launching The Torn Curtain 1991 that Russia doesn’t alter its manifest destiny regardless of who occupies The Kremlin. Russia has been demonstrably aggressive and belligerent against its neighbors during the days of the tsars, Soviet commissars and today’s leadership headed by Vladimir Putin. Today, his criminal behavior against neighboring countries and Russia’s citizens confirm the ongoing dangerous nature of Russia.
Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavlo Klimkin, in an article The Guardian of Great Britain, warned the free world about Russia’s pursuit of domination:
“Russia’s appetite for hegemony does not stop with Ukraine. It greedily eyes other former states and satellites of the Soviet Union, and more broadly seeks to destabilize and divide the rest of Europe and the wider transatlantic alliance,” Klimkin wrote.
The Ukrainian official emphasized that Russia presents the “greatest threat” to the security and unity of Europe since the end of World War II. By implication, the free world should recognize that the front line of its defense is in eastern Ukraine, where the Russo-Ukraine War of 2014-17 is raging.
“There can be no talk of lifting sanctions until Russia is brought to heel and persuaded to comply with international rules. And sanctions hurt Russia more than the Kremlin cares to admit. They are slowly reducing Russia’s ability to destabilize Europe and the world,” he wrote.
Klimkin explained that central to Russia’s imperialistic nature is its definition of the “Russian World.” Much like Hitler’s “Volksdeutsche,” Putin and other Russian despots annexed into their concept of the Russia World all countries that they sought to enslave. On that basis Russia formed the involuntary, ominous fraternity known as the captive nations.
Ukraine persisted in fulfilling its aspirations of moving west while Russia warned Kyiv to cease dreaming of becoming a part of the European Union and, God forbid, NATO. Finally, the straw that broke Moscow’s back was the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity that ousted its gauleiter Viktor Yanukovych.
“It was more than Russia could stomach. It subsequently illegally annexed Crimea and invaded Donbas in support of the so-called ‘People’s Republics of Luhansk and Donetsk,’ which my government believes to be little more than a mixture of terrorist and criminal organizations,” Klimkin opined.
He also pointed out two obvious Russian traits that world leaders overlook. One is that Moscow can’t be trusted and the other is that it breaks its promises.
“Few in my country could have envisaged the consequences when in 1994 Ukraine gave up the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal, under guarantees protecting its territorial integrity from the UK, US and Russia. By annexing Crimea and invading Donbas Russia has spat on that historic document, the Budapest memorandum, which Ukraine signed up to in good faith to make the world a safer place. And 20 years on, Russia has not honored a single clause of the Minsk agreement that they signed in an effort to bring about a resolution to the war in Donbas, in which 10,000 of our people have been killed and 23,000 wounded,” Klimkin wrote.
Klimkin’s characterization of a deceitful Russian leadership was echoed by Ambassador Nikki Haley, US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, who continues to denounce Moscow’s belligerence much like her predecessor, Samantha Power, did. Haley told NBC News: “Take it seriously. We cannot trust Russia. We should never trust Russia.”
Russian leadership’s mindset is to rule from a position of superiority by taking advantage of its opponent’s weakness, said Klimkin, adding that all diplomats who have dealt with the Kremlin will admit that Moscow respects only power and should only be negotiated with from a position of strength and international solidarity.
“Russia exploits weakness. It does this in bilateral negotiations just as it surely exploits the weakness of the UN Security Council, where it abuses its right of veto as one of five permanent members,” Klimkin noted.
His earnest admonition to the free world is to “remain united in the face of the threat” and don’t blink first.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius has also cautioned about this Russian outlook in dealing with foreign and domestic issues.
Linkevičius observed that arguments such as “not to provoke” Russia and to act “in a pragmatic and responsible manner” are meaningless when applied to Moscow, which, ironically, is provoked to action by the free world’s inaction.
“As soon as we loosen the reins, the Kremlin sees it as a sign of our weakness, as another opportunity, or even an encouragement to act with more energy, to demand or negotiate on the new ground ‘gained,” the Lithuanian official said. “It’s like playing football, when Russians add elements of wrestling and rugby to it, and we adapt to it ‘pragmatically and responsibly,’” he noted.
Other political pundits see Putin’s latest criminal and warlike actions as precursors to an expanded invasion of Ukraine.
Columnist Paul Goble quoted Rabbi Avraam Shmulyevich, president of Israel’s Institute for Eastern Partnership, as saying: “Two terrible events in one day” – the murder in Kyiv of former Russian Duma member Denis Voronenkov and the blowing up of the Balakliya arms dump, the largest in Europe – may mean that the Russian tyrant has launched “a major diversion” in preparation for an expansion of his attacks on Ukraine.
The Israeli analyst opined that such diversions have often preceded Putin’s aggression in Ukraine and elsewhere and that there are compelling reasons to think that he believes he can break Poroshenko’s government and put himself in line to advance on Kyiv.
“In any Western country, such events, even more when they occur simultaneously would be sufficient to raise the issue of trust in all ministers of the force block and even the head of government because such things in a normally organized country cannot be allowed by definition,” Shmulyevich said.
As I have written in the past, America’s foreign policy paralysis sparked by President Donald Trump’s benevolent view of Putin is one basis for Moscow’s brazen military preparations.
Goble indicated that if Putin is following such a game plan, then Shmulyevich believes that it is only because he is “certain that America is paralyzed and Ukraine will be afraid to respond in an adequate manner” or will be unable to do so because of fundamental problems within its own government apparatus.
Russia won’t always resort to outright armed invasions in order to expand its empire. Moscow is capable of subtle subterfuge as well. The former president of Estonia predicted last week that Europe will be the “main battlefield” for Russian disinformation campaigns to influence Western elections this year. Such a battle plan could certainly fracture the European Union.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Estonia’s president from 2006-16, testified before the House Foreign Affairs committee that the Kremlin’s recent attempts to target European elections appear aimed at splitting up the European Union and NATO alliances along the lines of divide and conquer.
“Certainly the candidates who are being supported are ones who are anti-EU and anti-NATO. The most prominent, of course, in the key country of France, is Marine Le Pen,” Ilves said, referring to the leader of France's far-right National Front.
A special task force set up by the EU accused Russia in January of attempting to influence several crucial elections in Europe, including in France, Germany, and the Netherlands, through the dissemination of fake news. Ilves added that Italy also is at risk of Russian meddling during pre-term elections expected to be held this summer.
The Estonian politician, noting the election fraud accusations levied against Putin after his 2012 reelection, said Europe is at a disadvantage against Moscow given the “complete asymmetry” of the recent attacks.
“We can’t do to them what they do to us, meaning us in the West,” Ilves said. “Ultimately, if you’re the ones counting the votes in an authoritarian one-party state, you’re not going to influence the election.”
Not surprisingly, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in a speech to the European People’s Party Congress on March 29, bore witness to Russia’s expanding belligerence and called for a strong, resolute and uncompromising European leadership to subdue Moscow and preserve European unity.
“The anti-EU forces are still on the move. Russia will do its utmost to push the EU off the cliff. The Kremlin never gave up on attempts to build an ‘alternative’ Europe. For that to happen they will spread uncertainty and distrust in our societies. Divide et impera! (Divide and conquer) – This is an absolutely main and key principle. The Kremlin’s goal is to split Europe and to water down the values. As long as this goal stands – the idea of EU and Russia getting strong together is an illusion. You can’t get strong together with someone who has zero-sum thinking. And the Kremlin has only one rule: Russia must be on the top.”
The Ukrainian president expressed his belief in a symbiotic relationship between a secure and prosperous Europe and a peaceful and stable Ukraine.
“Let’s unite our efforts in bringing Donbas and Crimea back to Ukraine and Russian aggressor out of Ukraine. It is not the crisis of misunderstanding. It is a crisis of two opposite concepts of Europe: either freedom or tyranny. Only one of them will survive in the end. Ukraine is on the edge of this struggle,” he remarked.
“Three years every single day Ukraine is fighting this hybrid war against Russian military, terrorists, propaganda, hackers, corruption and absolute deception. Despite losses, Ukraine will fight its double fight. First – to be free. Second – to become a better nation, worthy of Europe.”
There is more at stake in failing to bring Russia to heel today than Ukraine’s independence.