“Putin in difficult position over Ukraine: Analyst”
Press TV has conducted an interview with Brian Becker, with the ANSWER Coalition, from Washington, about the Ukrainian government’s violent crackdown in its eastern regions, which has caused a humanitarian crisis.
The following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Do you agree with our other guest’s opinion (Peter Sinnott, independent scholar, New York) that because of the fighters that are pro-Russian this situation is currently where it’s at regarding IDPs (internally displaced persons) regarding casualties etc?
Becker: Your guest is echoing the propaganda of NATO and the United States about what’s happening in Eastern Ukraine. It’s not true, it’s not accurate, it’s not factual; it’s just propaganda.
We have to just step back to see what’s really happened. The humanitarian crisis that we’re witnessing right now began on July 1st.
It began on July 1st when the current Ukrainian government that came to power following a coup d’état on February 22nd of this year – That government called an end to a ceasefire that both sides had abided by.
At the end of a ten day ceasefire he had the support of the Pentagon in ending the ceasefire and then he began a military initiative against the people in eastern and southern Ukraine in the cities that are called the rebel strongholds.
They’ve used fighter jets and attack helicopters to drop bombs and missiles on people. Hundreds of thousands of people in response – and this is since July 1st since the government unilaterally declared an end to the ceasefire, have fled their homes; tens of thousands are completely displaced; others have fled across the border into Russia.
The humanitarian crisis, which is real in eastern Ukraine and southern Ukraine, is a consequence of a series of actions – the end of the July 1st ceasefire is just the latest – but if you go back and just think where we were a year ago. A year ago there was no war and no one imagined that Ukraine would be torn apart by war.
But then starting in November when the EU countries gave the Yanukovych government an ultimatum to accept the austerity program and Yanukovych balked, protests began that were egged on day after day after day by all the US government authorities: they had Victoria Nuland from the State Department; John McCain in the streets and those protests grew violent and the government was violent.
Then there was an agreement reached on February 21st between Yanukovych and the foreign governments of Poland, France, Germany and Russia and the opposition to call early presidential elections and to have a restriction or reduction of presidential power.
But the next day, aided and abetted by the United States, semi-fascist militia stormed the parliament, seized the government and created a new reality in Ukraine.
That’s what created the crisis in eastern and southern Ukraine when that new government declared immediately that Russian would no longer be an official second language in Ukraine and the people in eastern and southern Ukraine feared that this was in fact an anti-Russian and semi-fascist or neo-Nazi-led government.
That’s what started this crisis.
Press TV: It is reported that Russia has amassed 20,000 near the border and US warnings of a possible invasion. Moscow has this is not true. Our guest says the US has no real strategy for Ukraine.
Becker: This is a fantasy world when your guest says the Russians stopped reproducing in 1973 and now they’re reclaiming all the former soviet non-Russian lands.
The reality is a great number of the former Soviet non-Russian Republics have already associated with the economic union. The Baltics for instance are completely incorporated not only into the economic union, but they’re incorporated into NATO contrary to the assertions and promises made by Western powers including the United States at the time of the dissolution of the Soviet Union 23 years ago.
Ukraine and the Yanukovych government, which was a democratically elected government sought to integrate into Europe, but on different terms than those offered by the EU.
In other words Yanukovych balked at the extreme austerity measures that the EU required Ukraine to embrace in order to come in as an economic associate, not as a full partner. He instead sought the balance and have trade with Europe, EU and also with Russia and he proclaimed that Ukraine would never become part of NATO – where of course we know this Russian naval installation and the Black sea in Crimea is located.
He in other words was pursuing a policy of pro-European integration, but neutrality.
Then the neo-Conservatives in the US government aided and abetting those in the right wing sector and the most right wing nationalist xenophobic and semi-fascist or neo-Nazi parties in Ukraine staged large scale and increasingly violent protests – and finally that led to a coup d’état.
Russia did not shoot down the Malaysian airliner – your guest asserted as if it’s a given fact; there’s been no completed investigation.
The Russian government has I would say played a very prudent role.
The rebels in eastern and southern Ukraine who are being pounded by their own government – a government that speaks in the name of the Ukrainian people of which they are a part – pounded with missiles and bombs – they want the Russians to intervene but Putin, realizing that we are on the brink of what could become a geo-strategic global crisis of the first magnitude – has played it prudent.
So, Putin is actually in a difficult place. He doesn’t want to disappoint those in Russia who are demanding that they come to the aid of their brethren who are being pounded by the Ukrainian government – And Russia in this part of Ukraine have historically always been part of Russia.
He’s under pressure to do something and yet if he does something meaning if he sends troops in, the US and Russia will be in a new stage, not necessarily of a Cold war, but a possible hot war – and Putin doesn’t want that.
The Russian government says, they just said it today – and I’ll finish here – that the amassing of 20,000 troops along the border which the US claims – and which your guest says is an absolute fact – the Russian government says it’s not true and that the war exercises that they have, which are 70 kilometers away, were planned a year ago.
Whether that’s true or not true your guest and the US government is painting the picture that Russia is provoking a global crisis when in fact this global crisis was created by the neo-Conservative most expansionist elements within the US government.
Your guest is right about one thing: they (the US) had no strategic view long term; they thought we’ll overthrow the government in Kiev; we’ll get a puppet or proxy or client government in Ukraine; and then they didn’t think through the unintended consequences of this, which is the civil war now raging in eastern and southern Ukraine.
Press TV: Our guest Peter Sinnott saying Russia was accused of having 20,000 troops built up at the border several months back also and they denied it but air photos proved it.
Becker: Russia has had 45,000 there since the end of the Soviet Union in Crimea and now there has been a referendum in Crimea affiliated with Russia. Those troops have been there in 1991.
How come you don’t mind the fact that a neo-Nazi government has come to power in Kiev? Five of the eleven members of the Cabinet that took place after the coup d’état that you support were filled with people from the right wing sector and neo-Nazi parties. That’s a fact that five of the eleven members of the first Cabinet after February 21st including the Interior Department in other words, the military forces, which began a military offensive against Russian-speaking people. Why does that not bother you?
Sinnott: What about the massive demonstrations?
There were massive demonstrations in Hitler’s Germany, too, I mean the fact that there is large numbers of people supporting it doesn’t mean that the leadership was not neo-Nazi.
Press TV: Russia at the point of no return, are they going to go all the way against what the US and NATO and Europe wants?
Becker: I think Putin is being very prudent very cautious trying to avoid having a larger geo-strategic global crisis. They’re trying to come to some resolution, they’ve offered a resolution.
They don’t want eastern and southern Ukraine to join Russia, they would like it to be an autonomous or more autonomous region. Of course, that gives Russia additional influence in the country long term.
Putin is not the one escalating this, this is the central government in Ukraine with the backing of NATO and behind it the Pentagon. Again always a good thing for US arms manufacturers to have another point of military confrontation somewhere.
So, even if the US has no real strategy, it’s in this and it’s in it for good. I think long term there will be a breakdown of US/Russian relations going forward. I don’t think those are going to heal any time soon.
Brian Becker, Press TV