The United States increases its pressure on Ukraine while preparing sanctions against it. It sends a high-level Foggy Bottom official to visit the country only a month after her previous visit. US Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland is going to Kiev on Thursday, February 6. The event is coordinated with the European partners. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will also visit Ukraine on February 5.
According to US State Department’s statement, in Kiev the Assistant Secretary will meet with government officials, opposition leaders, civil society and business leaders «to encourage agreement on a new government and plan of action that can put Ukraine back on track toward fulfilling the aspirations of the Ukrainian people for democracy, respect for human rights, European integration and economic growth».
It means the US is to lend a helping hand only to the Ukrainians who want to associate with the EU. Those who don’t should be looking for support somewhere else. No taking sides and meddling in, of course. That’s how democracy and impartiality are interpreted by the State Department.
The visit is taking place against the background of announcements from the White House, that the US is reportedly readying financial sanctions that could be levied against Ukrainian government officials and opposition leaders. U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden has made at least three phone calls in recent weeks to press Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to accept forming a government akin to Western interests.
Victoria Nuland – an instrument of brazen interference
Victoria Nuland is a dry behind the ears career diplomat with experience of holding senior positions in the George W. Bush and Obama administrations. She also has served as a foreign policy adviser to former Republican Vice President Dick Cheney and then as US ambassador to NATO.
Mrs. Nuland is married to well-known conservative foreign policy pundit Robert Kagan who pushed for the Iraq war. He has always spoken unfavorably about Russia and wants the administration to get tough on Ukraine. Some people call him a neocon…
The Assistant Secretary was under fire accused of lying to the American people as State Department spokesperson. She allegedly persuaded more senior officials to delete information on at least five attacks against foreign interests in Libya by unidentified assailants.
Some Republicans said at the confirmation hearings in July 2013 that she helped State Department superiors water down the now-infamous talking points used by the administration to inform Americans about the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi. The issue was raised during a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on the nomination to become assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs.
Questions were asked about the role she played in shaping the administration’s unwillingness to characterize the attacks as a premeditated act of terrorism, especially about a series of emails she wrote three days after the attacks in which she claimed her «building leadership» had «issues» with talking points about Benghazi that the administration was drafting.
An initial version of the talking points had made references to al Qaeda and to «at least five other attacks» on foreign interests that had occurred in Benghazi prior to attacks that killed U.S. Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans. But, following Mrs. Nuland’s input, those references were removed from a final version the White House gave to former UN Ambassador S. Rice for making a reference on several news talk shows.
As a result Susan Rice made no mention of Al Qaeda or terrorists on the talk shows, and instead said the Benghazi attacks had grown out of a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam video. Republicans had for months insinuated that the talking points were watered down as part of a White House strategy to downplay the possibility that a U.S. ambassador was killed on Mr. Obama’s watch in a terrorist attack.
The strategy’s goal, the argument goes, was to protect Mr. Obama’s national security record in the midst of hotly contested presidential campaign. As a result, Republicans claim the talking points were cleansed by senior officials. «At no point», said Nuland, «did I talk about the talking points with Secretary Clinton». «There are still some things that need to be known», said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.
Paul told the Associated Press he hoped to learn at the confirmation hearing whether weapons the assailants used in the Sept. 11 Benghazi attack had any connection to U.S. intelligence operations in Libya or Syria. He said, «Nuland was Hillary Clinton’s spokeswoman and I’m guessing she was in the room for a lot of conversations». Back then she received ardent support from…nobody else but leading neocons – Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
Finger in every pie
During her December 2013 visit to Ukraine, the US diplomat officially endorsed and encouraged protesters in Maidan square, including the National Socialist Svoboda party’s protesters who honor former Ukrainian SS troops who carried out massacres in the country as «liberators». She hit the pages of world media outlets by handing-out of buns and cookies to protesters becoming a graphic illustration of the US «policy of non-interference».
An odd bit of American largesse. She went to meet demonstrators before meeting the head of state to teach him on the ways to deal with the opposition. The interference was outright and ostentatious, that’s the way Victoria Nuland promotes foreign policy goals. As confirmation of US neutrality, Senator McCain followed Nuland to Maidan Square.
A couple of days later after her Maidan adventures, Mrs. Nuland addressed the «Ukraine in Washington 2013» conference. She shared her personal impressions after the visit never saying a word about the violence or seizures of administrative buildings, something the whole world was talking about as the events clearly turned into the wrong direction. The presidential residence was attacked on December 1, but the Assistant Secretary never even mentioned the fact. A good example of Foggy Bottom officials’ impartiality. At least you know who you deal with.
When Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych told the EU of his decision not to sign the association agreement last November, Victoria Nuland’s spokesperson issued the following statement:
«We continue to support the aspirations of the Ukrainian people to achieve a prosperous European democracy. European integration is the surest course to economic growth and strengthening Ukraine’s democracy» – an ostentatious and egregious intervention to embolden the opposition on the side of the protesters the opposition. She did it again on December 5 after her meeting Vitaly Klitschko in Kiev, «There should be no doubt about where the United States stands on this. We stand with the people of Ukraine who see their future in Europe…»
On January 15, after attacking Russia for granting a vital $15 billion bond purchase to help stabilize Ukraine, Nuland all but outlined the plan to intervene in Ukraine by telling the US Senate, «the use of violence and acts of repression carried out by government security forces and their surrogates have compelled us to make clear publicly and privately to the government of Ukraine that we will consider a broad range of tools at our disposal if those in positions of authority in Ukraine employ or encourage violence against their own citizens».
She went on, «We call on him to make it credible through concrete actions to restore government accountability, rule of law and engagement with Europe and the IMF». Then, referencing the planned 2015 national Ukraine elections, she added, «US pre-election assistance to Ukraine likely will include programs to support citizen oversight of the campaign environment and the conduct of the elections, independent media coverage and informed civic awareness and participation». Anybody asked the US to do that? And finally, «The State Department and USAID are reviewing how best to support Ukrainian civil society and media». She means the very USAID that is notorious for being a cover for CIA operations abroad.
Bride at every wedding
There had been other instances of Mrs. Nuland unique ability to behave like a bull in a china shop dealing with international issues. She is known in Russia for that. In March last year she said the spot-checks on NGOs in Russia was some kind of witch hunt, «The sheer scope of these inspections, which target not just NGOs but also civil organizations like religious and educational institutions… really gives us concern that this is some kind of a witch hunt».
Nuland added «we are providing funding through platforms outside of Russia for those organizations that continue to want to work with us, understanding that they have to report that work now to their own government». Back then the Russia’s Foreign Ministry condemned the US over its plan to continue financing certain Russian NGOs.
Moscow has accused Washington of meddling in its domestic affairs. «We consider the statement by the US State Department official representative Victoria Nuland, saying the US is going to continue financing some of Russia’s NGOs through intermediaries in third countries, avoiding the Russian legislature, a blatant interference into our internal affairs», Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement.
In August 2012 she could not but meddle into the Pussy Riot’s case. As U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland issued a brief response to the sentence, «The United States is concerned about both the verdict and the disproportionate sentences handed down by a Moscow court in the case against the members of the band Pussy Riot and the negative impact on freedom of expression in Russia», she said. «We urge Russian authorities to review this case and ensure that the right to freedom of expression is upheld». Mrs. Nuland failed to understand that Russia’s authorities cannot override courts’ rulings.
One more deed of Mrs. Assistant Secretary is to be recalled. After the presidential election in Russia was over, the United States congratulated the Russian people on the completion of the presidential election, but hesitated to congratulate Vladimir Putin personally. «The United States congratulates the Russian people on the completion of the presidential elections, and looks forward to working with the president-elect after the results are certified and he is sworn in», read the statement issued by then State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland.
As one can see for himself Mrs. Nuland has her finger in every pie, the Assistant Secretary is the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral.The examples mentioned above raise the question if she is the right person to deal with Russia, Ukraine and other states of the region having this kind of reputation. After all the art of flagrant interference has little to do with the art of real diplomacy expected from someone holding the position of US Assistant Secretary of State.
West – outright and flagrant interference mixed with facts twisting
In his annual State of the Union speech in the U.S. Congress President Obama said «In Ukraine, we stand for the principle that all people have the right to express themselves freely and peacefully, and to have a say in their country’s future». The US urges Ukraine not to clamp down on peaceful protests. The officials deliberately use the word peacefulperfectly realizing any resemblance to anything «peaceful» is no more. The protests ceased to be peaceful a long time ago, especially since January 19 turning extremely violent with extremists getting a free hand in broad daylight.
At the Munich security conference John Kerry met the leaders of Ukraine’s opposition parties and said that the US is «fully behind» them, that is behind the forces seeking to overthrow the democratically-elected government by all means, including force, «Nowhere is the fight for a democratic, European future more important today than in Ukraine», Kerry told the conference participants, «The United States and EU stand with the people of Ukraine in that fight».
At the same time the US says it wants any outside powers to keep away from interfering in Ukraine’s internal affairs! Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed concern by «attempts to involve the military in the crisis». What would he say if someone expressed concern over using force against European protesters, or those who were involved in mass riots in the Tottenham district in London in 2011, or the Occupy movement?
There was a flurry of top EU officials visiting Kiev in December 2013, including European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Guido Westerwelle, at the time Germany’s foreign minister, openly giving one-sided support to the opposition. At that Brussels had the chutzpah to accuse Moscow of what the European Union itself has been engaged in Ukraine.
The European Parliament drafted a resolution earlier this week, claiming that Russia is bringing unacceptable pressure to bear on Kiev. The resolution urges the EU countries to speak with Russia with a single voice and think up moves to counter it.
Instead of unequivocally condemning the rise of violent Ukrainian nationalism, which could turn Ukraine into a war-torn country, the West is only threatening President Yanukovych with sanctions, while turning a blind eye to the real danger coming from radicals. To achieve their aims they are planning substantial short-term financial assistance for Ukraine, as EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton reported.
The Commissioner explained these plans to the Wall Street Journal, which wrote of «the West’s most significant move to date to reopen the geopolitical struggle for Kiev since Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych turned his back on an EU economic pact and, instead, signed a deal with Russia for$15 billion in aid».
Speaking at the conference European Council President Herman Van Rompuy admitted that Ukraine is currently a common concern of European countries. «Ukraine is on all our minds», he said. It is a sign that the EU has not given up its mind to woo Ukraine. «The offer is still there», Van Rompuy said, «And we know time is on our side. The future of Ukraine belongs with the European Union», he said never minding to ask Ukrainians if they thought alike.
As mentioned above, EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton is heading to Kiev to talk with political leaders on February 5. «The more intermediaries there are, the more problems there are,» Russian President Putin commented the news at the January 28 Russia-EU summit.
Situation creep sends shivers down the spine
Since the mid-January the Ukrainian traditional opposition parties went out of focus in favor of Pravy Sector or Right Sector, the organization few had ever heard before. It is made of the activists of radical groups, including UNA-UNSO and the ‘Svoboda’ (Freedom) ultra-right party, «Trizub» and ‘Patriot of Ukraine’ openly announcing their plans to launch a guerilla war against the government.
Para-military trained neo-Nazi rightists have taken over the protests and launched a tough fight against police. Andrei Tarasenko, Pravy Sektor’s coordinator warned, «If they attack and try to carry out a bloody crackdown, I think there will be a massacre. Guerilla warfare will begin in Ukraine». The stated goal is to oust the current government and «build a nation state».
Demonstrators threw Molotov cocktails at riot police from the top of the Dynamo Kiev football stadium in central Kiev beginning January 19. Police responded by using stun grenades and tear gas against the mobs. More than sixty police were hospitalized from barrages of rocks, stones andMolotov cocktails.
The hard core of the protest movement is made up of neo-Nazi groups, characterized by vicious xenophobia, anti-Semitism and revisionism. Since January 19 the average ‘protester’ is not a pro-European hipster, but a violent, xenophobe glorifying Ukrainian Nazis who fought in World War II.
Their published Manifesto states «All those who at this point would try to tame the revolutionary energy of the masses should be proclaimed traitors and punished in the most severe way. The time of peaceful singing and dancing at Maidan is over. This is waste of time. There can be no negotiations, no compromise with the ruling gang. We will carry high the fireof national revolution».
Ambassadors of the US, Canada and some EU member states have gone to Maidan to meet Pravy Sektor activists. Instead of unequivocally condemning the rise of violent Ukrainian nationalism, which could turn Ukraine into another failed state like Somalia, the West is only threatening the incumbent government with sanctions, while turning a blind eye to the danger emanating from the right wing extremists and nationalists.
Russia stands for non-interference into Ukraine’s internal affairs
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged European governments on January 21 not to interfere in Ukraine’s political crisis and expressed concern that events in Kiev could be spinning out of control. «We would prefer that some of our European colleagues refrained from acting unceremoniously over the Ukrainian crisis, when, without any kind of invitation, members of certain European governments rush to the Maidan (central square in Kiev), take part in anti-government demonstrations in a country with which they have diplomatic relations,» Lavrov told a news conference. «It is just distasteful».
On January 25 Lavrov cautioned the U.S. against meddling in Ukrainian affairs and making inflammatory comments. «I told [U.S. Secretary of State] John Kerry that is very important now not to interfere in the process and to avoid any statements that will only heat up the situation,» Lavrov said in an interview with state television news program Vesti v Subbotu. (14) «I hoped he heard me», Lavrov added.
At a gathering of the world’s top diplomats and defense officials at the Munich annual security conference (January31-February 2), Sergey Lavrov took issue with what he said were «prominent European politicians actually encouraging such actions». «What does incitement of increasingly violent street protests have to do with promoting democracy?» Lavrov said. «Why don’t we hear condemnations of those who seize and hold government buildings, burn, torch the police, use racist and anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans?» The Russian foreign policy chief suggested that a possible solution to tensions such as those over Ukraine was a free trade zone including the European Union and the Customs Union of former Soviet states, «It is unlikely that any European nation would face the ‘either-or’ choice today if we were already on the track to a common European home»,he said. «Unfortunately, what still prevails is the logic of preserving the dividing lines according to the principle of ‘he who is not for us is against us».
Russia considers external interference into Ukraine’s domestic affairs inadmissible, presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on January 23. «It is absolutely inadmissible for us to interfere into domestic affairs. We are confident that the Ukrainian authorities know what to do and will find best solutions to bring the situation back to normal, onto a legal and peaceful track», he said in an interview with the Komsomolskaya Pravda daily. He added, «We absolutely cannot understand when foreign states’ ambassadors working in Kiev say what the Ukrainian authorities should do, from where they should withdraw interior troops, from where withdraw police forces and so on. In other words, we cannot understand when such instructions from outside on what to do are given. Of course, this is an absolutely inconceivable story. And of course, we cannot approve this and more likely this situation evokes our indignation».
Ukraine’s political crisis dominated the summit between the European Union and Russia on January 28, with Russian President Vladimir Putin assuring Ukrainians that Russia would honor a loan deal whatever government emerges in Kiev. «I think that the Ukrainian people are able to sort it all out themselves. Anyway, Russia will never interfere», he said speaking at a press conference after the summit. The Russian President also promised not to revise the recently signed agreement on assistance to Ukraine, whatever government comes to power in Ukraine. «We believe that both the loan and the phased reduction in energy prices on gas, are associated with the need and desire to support not any particular government, but the Ukrainian people». «Are we going to revise our arrangements on loans and energy if opposition comes to power? No, we are not», said Putin.
Gist of the matter and wrong persons at wrong time in wrong places
Russia has urged the European Union not to interfere in the situation in Ukraine on the belief that the Ukrainians should themselves decide on the path they want to follow in the future.
The appearance of European and US politicians at the Kiev-held rallies amounts to heavy-handed interference in the affairs of the sovereign state.
But the West just cannot reconcile with the fact that Ukraine has chosen not to sign an association agreement with the European Union. Looks like it is ready to go to any length (ethics and diplomacy forgotten) to reverse the situation, for instance, portraying the extremists and hoodlums as fighters for democracy when they behave like Nazis. The West is openly trying to destabilize the country.
On January 31 President Obama spoke about his vision of events in Ukraine. He said the United States hopes that negotiations with Ukraine’s officials and political opposition will lead to «some sort of democratic process that creates a government with greater legitimacy and unity».
«We have been actively engaged in what’s been happening in the Ukraine. Not only has our embassy and our folks who are over there been talking to the opposition as well as the government, but folks like Vice President (Joseph) Biden have spoken directly to President (Viktor) Yanukovych about our belief that, No. 1, rules that restrict protests and free speech are ultimately counterproductive and we are very much against it».
He added, «over the long term, part of what’s happened here is that the people of Ukraine are clearly looking to Europe and the West as a partner in a more free, more free-market based economy». So the democratically elected government of Ukraine somehow lacks legitimacy and the US sends «folks» to rectify the situation.
State Department’s Victoria Nuland, the leader of «folks», is at the head of the process. She is openly supporting the opposition. She has visited the protesters’ headquarters and held rousing speeches in front of the excited crowds. The Assistant Secretary openly admitted that the US spent billions of dollars on ‘democratizing’ Ukraine.
There is also a reason to believe that if worst comes to worst and the situation would make the US and Russia join efforts like they do in Syria, Mrs. Assistant Secretary will be a wrong person in the wrong position and at the wrong time. Because then there will be a need for constructive approach instead of brazen behavior unworthy of someone who is a career diplomat. Otherwise what career diplomats are for?
A related news report from AFP
Kiev (AFP) – An advisor to Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Washington on Thursday of financing and arming Ukrainian militants as a senior US official arrived for crisis talks in Kiev.
Putin’s economic advisor Sergei Glazyev, often seen as the Kremlin’s pointman on Ukraine, also suggested that Russia had legal grounds to intervene in the two-month-old crisis, describing the situation at attempted coup.
“According to our information, American sources spend $20 million a week on financing the opposition and rebels, including on weapons,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with the Ukrainian edition of Russian broadsheet Kommersant published Thursday.
“We have information that the militants are briefed on the territory of the US embassy, that they are being armed. Of course it is unacceptable, this has to be looked into,” he said.
Glazyev also indicated that Russia had legal grounds to intervene in the crisis, referring to the so-called Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances dating back to 1994.
“According to this document, Russia and the United States are guarantors of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and frankly speaking they are obliged to intervene when such conflicts arise.”
The memorandum was signed after Ukraine demanded security guarantees in connection with its accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The Kremlin advisor also accused the Ukrainian government as well as the opposition and Western powers of peddling lies and distorting reality.
“What is happening in Kiev is described well in Ukrainian legislation — this is an attempted coup, an attempt to overthrow the authorities by force.”
“The situation is schizophrenic because for some reason everyone is afraid of calling a spade a spade.”
“The West calls terrorists and putschists ‘activists’ (and) tries to present them as peaceful demonstrators even though everyone sees how they attack police and hurl Molotov cocktails at them, prepare napalm, and arm themselves.”
“The paradox of a schizophrenic state is that it is comfortable with the sides lying to each other and they do not want to reach agreement before catastrophe strikes.”
“The powers that be fear for their billions. That’s why they are trying to tough it out without losing anything, which only makes the disease worse.”
The hawkish aide last year threatened Ukraine with economic retaliation if it signed a key partnership pact with the European Union.
In November, President Viktor Yanukovych scrapped plans to sign the agreement, sparking the current crisis.
Last week, Glazyev said Yanukovych would lose power if he did not “quash the rebellion.”