Meet and Greet Natalie Jaresko, US Government Employee, Ukraine Finance Minister

Yves here. In addition to John Helmer’s report on how the US is keeping close tabs on its client state, Ukraine, via having State Department employee Natalie Jaresko serve as Finance Minsiter, reader YY pointed out that the German press was reporting the story:

http://deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten.de/2014/12/02/ukraine-us-investment-bankerin-ist-neue-finanzministerin/

http://deutsche-wirtschafts-nachrichten.de/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/jaresko-e1417560819946.jpg

I have a sneaking suspicion that the US media won’t take notice of Natalie Jaresko’s new appointment and on the accusations of her former husband that she made an improper loan out of an investment company heavily, if not entirely, funded by the US government. As Helmer writes:

It hasn’t been rare for American spouses to go into the asset management business in the former Soviet Union, and make profits underwritten by the US Government with information supplied from their US Government positions or contacts. It is exceptional for them to fall out over the loot.

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

Natalie Yareshko

The new finance minister of Ukraine, Natalie Jaresko, may have replaced her US citizenship with Ukrainian at the start of this week, but her employer continued to be the US Government, long after she claims she left the State Department. US court and other records reveal that Jaresko has been the co-owner of a management company and Ukrainian investment funds registered in the state of Delaware, dependent for her salary and for investment funds on a $150 million grant from the US Agency for International Development. The US records reveal that according to Jaresko’s former husband, she is culpable in financial misconduct.

Natalie Jaresko was appointed on Monday, and approved by a vote of the Verkhovna Rada on Tuesday evening. A presidential tweet and an announcement from the office of President Petro Poroshenko say a decree has been signed granting Jaresko Ukrainian citizenship to qualify her to take office. The legality of the decree was challenged today by the head of Poroshenko’s bloc in parliament, Yury Lutsenko.

For the record of Jaresko’s predecessor at the Finance Ministry in Kiev, Alexander Shlapak, click.

Shlapak

On Tuesday at the State Department, spokesman Marie Harf was asked: “apparently a U.S. national has been appointed finance minister. Has Washington something to do with this appointment?” Harf replied: “No, this is a choice for the Ukrainian people and their elect [sic] representatives. This is their decision. Certainly, I don’t think we had anything to do with it at all… the Ukrainian people and their representatives are able to pick whoever they want to be part of their government. That’s the beauty of how this process works.”

Jaresko was born into the Ukrainian émigré community of Chicago, taking her name from her father John Jaresko. Her brother, also named John, has been active in Ukrainian movements and received a medal in 2010 from then President Victor Yushchenko. At the time, sister Natalie was an appointee of Yushchenko’s Foreign Investors Advisory Council and the Advisory Board of the Ukrainian Center for Promotion of Foreign Investment. Yushchenko had given her the St. Olga medal in 2003.

Older sister, Katherine, married a Ukrainian, as did Natalie, who is 49. In 1989 Natalie Jaresko married Ihor Figlus, and took his name until their marriage ended in divorce in 2010.

For a study of the influence in Kiev of Kateryna Chumachenko and other Ukrainian-American women employed by the State Department, including Jaresko, read this. Chumachenko (below 2nd from left, with President George Bush in 2005) is the second wife of Victor Yushchenko, the Ukrainian President between 2005 and 2010.

unnamed

Figlus was at the US Embassy in Kiev, when Natalie was posted there.

Figlus went on to run the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine. He then took charge of the Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF). According to the career resume Natalie has issued, she was “a cofounder of Horizon Capital and has served as its Managing Partner since March 2006, simultaneously serving as President and CEO of Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF), a position she has held since February 2001. Prior to joining WNISEF, Jaresko worked at the U.S. Department of State. From 1992 to 1995, she served as the First Chief of the Economic Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and before that, she served in various economic positions at the State Department in Washington, DC.”

Since Jareshko and Figlus divorced, he has been airbrushed out of the business history she has portrayed as the basis of her experience, and of her prepping to be the new finance minister of Ukraine. Horizon Capital’s website lists as its founders Jaresko, two Americans (with Harvard degrees and Chicago backgrounds like Jaresko; below 1 and 2) and a Canadian-Ukrainian (3).

NIK

According to a recent Ukrainian community paper from Chicago, “Jaresko has worked more than 20 years in Ukraine as a venture capitalist, bringing countless foreign investments to Ukraine.” Counting the countless, Jaresko has disclosed that the kickoff fund WNISEF was “funded by the U.S. government to invest in small and medium-sized businesses in Ukraine and Moldova – in essence, to “kick-start” the private equity industry in the region. We began investing in this region in 1995, and have invested $122 million over the past 12 years in 30 businesses in a wide variety of sectors. Based on our team’s ability to successfully navigate this business environment, our track record, and Ukraine’s promising economic environment, we founded Horizon Capital in 2006.”

The US Government money has come from the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Reports promised by the website on the impact of its funding operations in Ukraine and Moldova between 1997 and 2005 are missing. The financial report for WNISEF for 2003, the first publicly available, reveals that a USAID grant to the fund amounted to $150 million, with a letter of credit commitment of $141.7 million; $113.6 million had been disbursed by the end of 2003. Asset value was dropping that year, while management salaries, business travel and other expenses were rising. The fund was lossmaking — $4.3 million in the red in 2002, $5.1 million lost in 2003.

The latest available report from WNISEF is for 2012. It can be read here. Invested asset value in 2012, though up on 2003, was falling from the year before, 2011. Investment income for 2012 came to $1.2 million, down 43% on the previous year. The management kept helping itself to more pay, but cut business travel. Still, the bottom line was a loss of $6.4 million, compared to a gain in 2011 of $401,662.

Horizon Capital says WNISEF was “the cornerstone limited partner in EEGF” – that’s Emerging Europe Growth Fund, LP. Its portfolio is reported here. Emerging Europe Growth Fund II, L.P. is what Jaresko’s group calls “a follow-on fund expanding on the success of Emerging Europe Growth Fund, L.P. (EEGF), a $132 million fund raised in 2006 with a similar investment strategy. Investors include European and U.S. fund-of-funds, banks, private pension funds, university endowments, family offices, and high net worth individuals. EEGF II typically invests $15-40 million in each of its portfolio companies, including expansion, buy-out and selective early stage opportunities.” Tinkoff Credit Systems of Russia is (maybe was) its lead portfolio asset.

The success Horizon Capital claims for its funds appears not to have been reported in the lossmaking years, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012. In the only two years which Jaresko managed in the black, 2007 and 2011, the net gains reported were $1.8 million and $401,662, respectively. On the asset side the annual reports are dominated by USAID’s outlay of $150 million. If other investors subscribed funds, they appear to have lost them.

When Jaresko was asked about the investment performance, she has said: “we are very pleased with both the investment pipeline and the exit environment, and believe 2006 will be a very good vintage for our investors.” The audited report for 2006 indicates there was a net investment loss of $5.3 million.

According to remarks published in Kiev by Timothy Ash, an analyst at Standard Bank London, Jaresko is “very well-prepared, highly experienced and tough as nails, she brings with her the unique ability to pick up the phone and reach virtually any decision maker in Washington without any introduction necessary; they know her – and they trust her.” Ash also says: “she fits the bill as an international expert, clean, and likely to be a radical thinker – able to think outside the box in terms of ideas. Ukrainian speaker, and has been resident in Ukraine for years so knows how things work, or rather don’t work.”

Interviewed by telephone, Ash said he did not know the US Government was financing Jaresko’s investment fund. “The US does do that”, he conceded. Asked for what he knows of the success of her investment portfolio and experience, Ash said he lacked details. “She’s been in the country [Ukraine] for twenty years… I don’t know anything about the success [of the investment firm].” To be a finance minister, Ash added, “you don’t necessarily have to be a finance ministry person.”

“She is extremely well qualified for this position – no doubt at all and any reasonable person reading this CV would say the same. Did a career in politics, not finance, make UK Chancellor George Osborne qualified for his position, or even Gordon Brown before him.” Asked what Ash means by characterizing Jaresko as “clean”, and what he knows about her links to the Ukrainian oligarchs, he said: “I don’t think she’s aligned with any oligarch.”

What exposure does his bank have to Ukraine at the moment? Ash replies: “given UK regulatory requirements I do not have access to that information…perhaps you would like to be aware that I have ‘Underweight’ recommendations on both Ukraine and Russia – so if you are trying to imply something inappropriate there, I would not bother.”

Yaresko_PinchukThe one link to a Ukrainian oligarch in Jaresko’s public record is with Victor Pinchuk, for whom she has been a regular participant at his Yalta European Strategy (YES) meetings and speaker at other functions Pinchuk has sponsored.

What Jaresko has had to say publicly this year is not much. In May 2014, speaking to the German Marshall Fund of Washington she talked up “competitiveness” and “infrastructure” in Ukraine, but omitted to identify the impact of civil war on the investment case. The following month, in June 2014, speaking in Stockholm, Jaresko said “what you see in the newspapers is a small, small part of the reality, the reality is much richer, the opportunities much greater, the real change much deeper than anyone could read about in the newspaper.” Again, no mention of civil war.

For details of the performance of Horizon Capital’s funds in 2013, Tatiana Bega, the firm’s investment relations spokesman in Kiev, was asked to clarify whether the registered ownership of Horizon Capital is Ukrainian; what the value is of the funds currently under management; how profitable the firm is currently; and what “portfolio investments you have made which you consider to have been successful”. There has been no reply. In January of this year Jaresko placed an authorized version of her career success in the Ukraine edition of Forbes, which can be read here. The reporter, Yelena Shkarlova, omitted to check Jaresko’s audited reports to verify what she was told.

Exactly what happened when Jaresko left the State Department to go into her government-paid business in Ukraine has been spelled out by her ex-husband in papers filed in the Chancery Court of Delaware in 2012 and 2013. A judgement by Vice Chancellor Donald Parsons, confirming the facts, can be read here. Without Figlus and without the US Government, Jaresko would not have had an investment business in Ukraine. The money to finance the business,and their partnership stakes, turns out to have been loaned to Figlus and Jaresko from Washington.

According to the judge, “Plaintiff Emerging Europe Growth Fund, L.P. (“EEGF”or the “Partnership”) is a Delaware limited partnership formed to make equity and debt financing investments in privately held companies in Ukraine and Moldova. Plaintiff Horizon Capital GP, LLC (“HCG” or the “General Partner”, and collectively with EEGF, “Plaintiffs”) is a Delaware limited liability company and the general partner of EEGF. Defendant Ihor Figlus (“Figlus” or “Defendant”) is a limited partner of EEGF. Figlus previously was married to non-party Natalie A. Jaresko. Jaresko is a co-founder of HCG and is the chief executive officer of EEGF….Figlus and Jaresko married in 1989. In February 2006, the couple jointly invested $150,000 in EEGF. Later that year, in September, they invested an additional $1.1 million in EEGF. Figlus and Jaresko divorced in 2010. They currently hold their interests in EEGF jointly, pending a settlement of their assets.”

The court has found that in January 2011, after the divorce, Figlus discovered he owed money as a co-signatory with Jaresko of loan agreements with which their positions in the funds had been financed. Judge Parsons’s narrative: “He requested information regarding EEGF and several loans Figlus and Jaresko had secured from HCG affiliate Horizon Capital Associates, LLC (“HCA”) to finance the couple‘s investment commitments to EEGF (the “loans”).”

unnamed1By September of 2011, after Figlus (right) has testified that he had read the documents provided by his wife’s associates, he concluded that the loans were “ improper”. That allegation he was unable to resolve with Jaresko, so Figlus turned to the Kyiv Post, a local English-language newspaper, and its reporter, Mark Rachkevych. According to the court record, “because he had no money to investigate the Loans, Figlus decided to inform Rachkevych of his suspicions and have Rachkevych investigate the propriety of the Loans. Over the next five months, Figlus and Rachkevych engaged in video conversations regarding EEGF.”

When Jaresko realized the beans were spilling, she sent Figlus a reminder that he had signed a non-disclosure agreement. Jaresko then enforced this with “a cease and desist letter to Figlus on behalf of EEGF demanding that he immediately discontinue disclosing confidential information regarding EEGF.” Because Figlus wasn’t deterred, Jaresko went to court in Delaware in October 2012, and got a temporary injunction prohibiting Figlus from disclosing any more.

Jaresko’s purpose, he now alleges, was not only to silence Figlus, but to strip him of his stake in their business partnership. “The record should be clear,” according to the judge, “that the parties to the agreement in question truly were sophisticated and operated on a level playing field. In this case, we have the unusual circumstance that a divorce settlement is proceeding contemporaneously with this lawsuit. Figlus‘s ex-wife is a founder of the Partnership and an officer of the General Partner, both Plaintiffs in this action. Figlus avers that he offered to resolve the case and to strictly comply with the Confidentiality Provision but that Plaintiffs insisted on pursuing the action at his expense to dispossess him of his interest in the Partnership to the benefit of his ex-wife. At this stage, of course, these are merely allegations and I express no opinion as to the truth of any of Defendant‘s allegations.”

The newspaper in Kiev was silenced, and there is no sign in its archive that Rachkevych, still a reporter for the Post, has recovered his investigative interest in Figlus, Jaresko, or Horizon Capital.

Jaresko also asked Judge Parsons to force Figlus to pay her legal fees in advance on the ground that Figlus was in violation of his contractual obligations to the Jaresko group. In his 26-page judgement of March 28, 2013, Parsons dismissed Jaresko’s claim. “Plaintiffs have directed the Court to no case, and the Court has found no case, where an advancement [of fee] provision such as the one here has been enforced against a limited partner based on that partner‘s breach of the partnership agreement…There are also numerous factual issues yet to be resolved. In these circumstances, including the absence of a pleading reflecting Plaintiffs‘ current theories for their advancement claim, the balance of the equities on the issue of advancement does not favor Plaintiffs.”

It hasn’t been rare for American spouses to go into the asset management business in the former Soviet Union, and make profits underwritten by the US Government with information supplied from their US Government positions or contacts. It is exceptional for them to fall out over the loot.

The record of US Government-funded investments in Russia through USAID, Harvard University, Andrei Schleifer (below left) , Jonathan Hay and their wives — Nancy Zimmerman and Beth Hebert — ended notoriously, but not in recriminations in the divorce court. Harvard pleaded culpable to charges by USAID, and repaid $26.5 million. The spousal conspirators were acquitted of criminal charges, but repaid $5.5 million. The affair also contributed to the ouster on conflict of interest grounds of Lawrence Summers (right) from the presidency of Harvard. Read the full story and more.

Schleifer

Jaresko’s promotion to run the Ukraine finance ministry is a very different outcome – for USAID and for the Harvard alumni involved in the more recent Ukrainian scheme. Whether Horizon Capital and its operations were a scheme, like the Russian one, to manipulate Ukrainian business for the advancement of US political strategy, and how much Jaresko has profited personally, may become clearer when, or if the details of the divorce proceeding between Figlus and Jaresko, are revealed. For the moment, they are under wraps, as are Figlus and reporters tempted to probe further.

Print Friendly
Tweet about this on Twitter0Digg thisShare on Reddit36Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Facebook0Share on LinkedIn4Share on Google+17Buffer this pageEmail this to someone

110 comments

  1. I.G.I.

    I am reminded about Simeon Djankov, the Bulgaria finance minister from 2009 until 2013, who landed there from the US World Bank; by all accounts a neoliberal zealot. His entry in the Wikipedia, however, has been thoroughly sanitized.

    1. OIFVet

      Yep, US citizen and Peterson Institute fellow Djankov always got a hard on from austerity, particularly for pensioners and health care. He became infamous for comparing the 2010 budget to a “small vegetarian pizza“. No cat food for you, lazy pensioners!

      Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the Estonian president, is also a US citizen.

      Some sovereignty for the Eastern European colonies, right Opti? Do they have the sovereignty to “make choices” , or is their “consent” manufactured by these think thank and State Dept/IMF/World Bank creatures, with Open Society helpfully giving “grants” to local media to “report the truth”? Long experience has thought me that sovereignty in the age of neocolonial globalization is a pleasant memory of a bygone era. It is now the Ukie turn to be sold out by their foreign citizen “elites”.

  2. Nick Smith

    The problem with this posting is that it offers innuendos in the guise of hard facts. But it’s definitely red meat for the likes of Naked Capitalism with its unabashed anti-Ukrainian slant (it’s only the business of CNN and Fox News to be objective and balanced). That, of course, doesn’t mean that Ms. Jaresko is going to succeed in her role of the Finance Minister. Who will under the circumstances? However, what is clear is that Ukraine which faces further numerous economic collapses won’t be better served by someone who has no clue about murky Ukrainian affairs and no clout or, at least connections, in Washington.

    1. Clive

      I’m neither “pro” or “anti” Ukranian; I don’t know enough about that subject to be either. Or neither. But I know a story about a U.S. operated slush fund when I read one.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Your comment looks like an classic example of projection.

      First, if you disagree with the content of the post, the onus is on you to provide specific objections as to the logic and/or the information presented. You failed to do so. Instead, you basically sniff that you don’t like the conclusions it reaches, by implication, because it is opposed to your point of view.

      Second, contrary to your assertion regarding the lack of facts, everything in this post is documented and sourced. This site has a sophisticated readership which is capable of judging the caliber of the information. And what, pray tell, in the world of politics, amounts to a “hard fact”? Even data, like vote totals (in an era of voter scrubbing and concerns about electronic machine tampering) and donation amounts (where reports of funds raised are actually based on pledges, and many pledges fail to materialize), aren’t as solid as they seem to be.

      Third, this site is not “anti-Ukrainian”. It is anti the US-sponsored coup in Ukraine. But you appear unable to grasp the difference.

      1. vidimi

        at least he didn’t say pro-russian.

        that has been one of my many, many peeves with the media in their framing of the discussions about events in ukraine. some rebels are pro-russian, but all are anti-maidan putsch. the two aren’t equivalent terms.

      2. Vatch

        “the US-sponsored coup in Ukraine”

        The U.S. did not sponsor a coup in Ukraine. After the grass roots demonstrations in Maidan and the parliamentary declaration of no confidence in President Yanukevych, he fled the country. At that point, the U.S. had a huge role in selecting the interim government. There was no coup, and what was sponsored by the U.S. government occurred after the President had effectively resigned. Then the Russians forcibly seized Crimea, which they whitewashed with a rigged election. By doing so, the Russians forced the Ukrainians towards the West.

        But I’m not going to naively say that the U.S. has the best interests of the Ukrainian people in mind. The Western oligarchs will exploit the Ukrainians, as the Ukrainian oligarchs have been doing, and as the Russian oligarchs would be doing if Ukraine had turned to the East.

        1. Bill Frank

          Coup or not, the US has driven the entire process from the outset to present. Russia’s actions have been nothing more than defensive. Blatant US sponsored aggression.

        2. Bart Fargo

          “what was sponsored by the U.S. government occurred after the President had effectively resigned”

          First off, Yanukovych didn’t resign (effectively or otherwise), he was forced out by the Ukrainian parliament on Feb 22nd. Second, in light of this early February call between Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, where the two basically handpick the new leadership of Ukraine, it’s absurd to claim the US wasn’t involved behind the scenes long before Yanukovych was deposed.

          http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26079957

          1. Vatch

            Actually, the parliament was several votes short of the number needed to remove him from office. Then his own political party disowned him, and he fled the country. It’s a gray area, a bit reminiscent of the removal of Richard Nixon from office in August, 1974. He wasn’t impeached, either. At least Nixon made his resignation explicit.

            I agree with you that the U.S. was heavily involved in the selection of the interim Ukrainian government, and I have said so more than once here at NC. I’m sorry I didn’t make that clear in my message to which you were responding.

        3. OIFVet

          I am surprised no one has called out the clumsy rhetorical two-steps Vatch keeps trying to pull off.
          Ukie love for “freedom and democracy” just sprouted organically, all the US did is step in after the tyrant was overthrown not by the $5 billion invested in “freedom and democracy” but by this love of “freedom and democracy”. Yes, Vatch “deplores” post-Maidan US meddling but hey, the Ukies are now “free”, whatever consequences the US “post regime-change” sponsorship bring. The fact that the IMF imposes policies that are opposed by the majorities in any country it ever goes to, and that those policies leave the majorities even worse off, conveniently is overlooked because the IMF is just as undemocratic and oppressive as most any regime it replaces. Plus, as he would put it, that’s a “trivial detail” not worth of too much attention. Bonus points for managing to both “condemn” US meddling and insists that it simply didn’t happen. That’s like having his cake and eating it too.

          Then there is the organic Ukie love of “Freedom and democracy” vs the scary oppressive Russkies and their chief Putler. The gloriously organic overthrow of the oppressor was met by the Putler’s unprovoked aggression and oppression because he hates “freedom and democracy”, while the US and its $5 billion were passive observers. Bonus points for the Bad Putler self-licking ice cream cone and for transferring the meddling in Ukraine exclusively on the Russian side of the ledger.

          That’s the basic Vatch argument. It allows him to present himself as a principled opposition to both Russian and US malfeasance while denying the existence of the latter. It’s a particularly hypocritical apologia of the neolibcon global domination agenda. It both absolves the US of any responsibility for the fiasco in Ukraine, and places the blame squarely on Russia and Putin. I guess that’s one way to use confirmation bias to both feed his Russophobia and to avoid cognitive dissonance in regards to his obvious (though denied) belief in US exceptionalism and his self-image as a principled critic and unwavering defender of “freedom and democracy.” No one will ever convince Vatch and his fellow travelers that the US did in fact sponsor a coup because the whole premise of his cognitive dissonance avoidance strategy and his vain self-image rest upon the denial of any US role in the events that led to the coup.

          1. Vatch

            I’m not going to waste time countering everything that’s false about your unnecessarily long message. Just a couple of points. I am very strongly opposed to the way that the IMF exploits the people of the countries that it is involved in. That’s not a trivial detail; it’s enormously important.

            Your snotty remarks about ‘Ukie love for “freedom and democracy”‘ are completely uncalled for. You’ve seen Buckaroo Banzai’s comment elsewhere on this page, and I think you should be a little more open minded about the people who were protesting in Maidan.

            The issues in the world are not black and white. There’s a great deal of complexity, and you accomplish nothing good by insulting people who are trying to make sense of that complexity.

            1. OIFVet

              Vatch: ” I am very strongly opposed to the way that the IMF exploits the people of the countries that it is involved in.”
              Vatch: “Soros is left-leaning” and his charities support democracy and freedom.
              Soros: “The International Monetary Fund should provide the country with “an immediate cash injection of at least $20 billion with a promise of more when needed,” Soros said in the article. The nation’s partners should provide additional financing “conditional on implementation of the IMF-supported program, at their own risk, in line with standard practice,” he said.”
              Vatch: “You might be correct, and my assessment of Soros’s left leaning tendencies might be mistaken. But I think it’s a trivial issue, and definitely not worth the sound and fury that OIFVet has expended on it.”

              Conclusion: Vatch is a hypocrite. Thanks for playing Vatch, your response was just perfect.

              1. Vatch

                Incessant arguing over an adjective is foolish and it is trivial. You yourself admitted that Soros is liberal on social issues:

                “Soros is a liberal on social issues, neoliberal in terms of his economic positions”

                In other words, you admitted that he is left leaning. I never said that he is a leftist or a socialist or any of the other incorrect things that conservatives say about him.

                Your constant insults are a clear violation of NC policies due to your frequent ad hominem attacks, and your high invective to content ratio. If you want to criticize ideas, that’s one thing. But you go too far in your criticism of the people who comment here at NC.

                I remember that you didn’t comment much during the NC fund drive. I wonder whether you were on moderation during that time?

                1. OIFVet

                  Liberal does not equal left-leaning. If it were, the recent SCOTUS decisions on gay marriage would characterize some of its conservatives as “left-leaning”. Apparently you are also ignorant of the history of liberalism as well, and what it actually is. Left-leaning it ain’t. So your attempt to paint Soros as “left-leaning” was a transparent bid to lend his neolibcon propaganda the legitimacy it lacks by appealing to the leftist inclinations of some of the audience here. You completely destroyed your credibility with this one and did expose yourself as a hypocrite. It is not an ad hominem, it is a fact that your own comments fully support. Too bad you find that insulting, but I am not one who likes to have mine intelligence insulted by the constant stream of propaganda and disinformation that you channel here.

                  As to my absence for a period, the reasons are for me to know and for you to speculate. Suffice it to say, I was as free to comment then as I am now. Deal with it, comrade.

            2. OIFVet

              PS: My response to Banzai was more than open-minded to Maidanites. It was one of sorrow for the truly sincere protesters who were used in order to replace the corrupt regime they protested with one just as corrupt. The snottiness, dear Vatch, is in your use of “trivial” in reference to the true motivations of the most active proponent of the sort of “change we’ve witnessed in Ukraine. You are a hypocrite too blinded by exceptionalism and Russophobic myopia to truly appreciate just how terrible the events in Ukraine are for Ukrainians, and who initiated them.

              1. CannedCigars

                Just want to jump in and put a reminder out that US government officials were handing out cookies to protesters as well. Talk about not getting involved in a country’s internal affairs!

                Could you imagine the absolute outrage in the US Media if Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov or one of his higher officials in the Ministry went to Occupy or Fergusson and handed out cookies to the protesters?

        4. Fíréan

          U.S. Senators John McCain and Chris Murphy were, in december 2013, in the Ukraine capital Kyiv, voicing their support for demonstators’ oppostion to Tresident Yanukovich and later openly meeting with the opposition leader of that time Oleh Tyahnybok of the Svoboda.

          On December 5, same year 2013, Victoria Nuland met Vitali Klitschko in Kyiv,, and later declared, “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…” Also from Nuland : “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.” All before the removal of President Yanukevych.

          As for the history of USA intervention in Ukraine politics and elections read this ( just for starters) , dated 7 December, 2004 ,
          http://www.archives.gov.ua/Sections/Ukraineomni/rpaul.htm

        5. Gaianne

          Vatch–

          Victoria Nuland herself boasted the US spent $5 billion to overthrow the Ukrainian government.

          Enough said, I should think!

          –Gaianne

    3. rusti

      However, what is clear is that Ukraine which faces further numerous economic collapses won’t be better served by someone who has no clue about murky Ukrainian affairs and no clout or, at least connections, in Washington.

      Great contribution. Obviously the only viable choices for Finance Minister are 1) Mr. Bean type character or 2) Omni-benevolent Washington Insider. The latter will unquestionably operate with the sole intention of spreading prosperity to the whole population of Ukraine, so to be anti-Washington Insider is to be anti-Ukrainian.

    4. trish

      “anti-Ukrainian?” Exactly which Ukrainians are likely to benefit from this kind of dubious appointment?

    5. steviefinn

      I suppose anyone who thinks that Fox news in particular is objective & balanced is likely to suffer from cognitive dissonance around these parts. As for being anti-Ukrainian – by Mr. Smith’s definition that would make me anti-almost everybody including my own country – if it was judged by my opinion of their lousy governments.

      ” You ain’t from around here ” – might I suggest in order to preserve cognitive consonance, you stick to the MSM.

      http://www.forwardprogressives.com/fact-checking-site-finds-fox-news-tells-truth-18-percent-time/

      1. Vatch

        “anyone who thinks that Fox news in particular is objective & balanced”

        I wondered about that, too. I just assumed that he meant that a business like Fox News should be objective and balanced, although it really isn’t. But I may have misinterpreted what was meant.

    6. Banger

      I think the site is, generally, against financial shenanigans and, in the case of Ukraine, U.S. imperialist strategies–if you want to even call them that. How Ukraine prospers from allowing U.S. officials to rule it either outright or through bribes, threats and “consultants” is beyond me. Countries that have allowed the U.S. to rule them have not turned out very well in recent years–look at Iraq or Afghanistan. Even assuming that Ukraine should adopt a pro-Western policy and keep Russia at arms-length the way events unfolded and the people installed in power are not going to work very well for most Ukranians.

      By aligning itself with the confused, chaotic and confused Washington, itself in the midst of an array of internal conflicts about everything, Ukraine is asking for trouble. It is that alliance we object to here.

      1. 0we'n'r0cair0

        u [[®eally!! think the site
        \/s. ffinancial shenanigans

        ʬhich’s, in the case of
        Ukraine
        \/
        u.s’d imperialist strategies]]
        ® here AllBButS_ E L L _ D 0 U T . . .

        ʬith0ut so much as1mention
        0f jusSuch
        ubermenschen, as*s e e n
        0bscene,
        WHO®Ebbehind
        X A C T L.I E AS*S a i d

        http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/articles/MacDonald-Solzhenitsyn-200-Years-Together-18.html

        ʬ0T’s n o t
        Yet
        0nce a gain&a gain
        W0T:..

        http://www.sunray22b.net/chapter_14.htm

        UnMentionable..: [[[if,
        0nly -a2z-
        0therʬise …

        unHerd0F]]]

    7. proximity1

      RE: “The problem with this posting is that, along with hard facts, many of which may be quite true, is also seems to offer innuendo about some of those hard facts. But it’s definitely red meat for the likes of Naked Capitalism with its unabashed anti-Ukrainian slant. …”

      I’m afraid Yves’ objection is correct: this site’s readers simply wouldn’t allow so sloppy a characterization to go by unchallenged.

      At most, you’d have to have argued something along the lines of:

      “The problem with this posting is that it offers innuendos in the guise of hard facts. But it’s definitely red meat for the likes of Naked Capitalism with its unabashed ‘anti the US-sponsored coup in Ukraine’ slant.”
      –which obviously doesn’t have the same punch and your manner of putting it.

      What’s more to the point is that, here, apparently, it’s an article of factually-demonstrated faith that, indeed, not only did the U.S. government (inter alia) meddle in and provoke a coup d’état in Ukraine, but also that, in doing this, these behind-the-scenes machinations were the necessary and sufficient cause of the ouster of Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych; and, further, that, not only is such a coup despicable in itself (which indisputably, it is) , it’s also a damn mean, nasty, thing to do to Vladimir Putin, who, as the supposed fairly elected and legitimate elected leader of the Russian Federation for the past, oh, fifteen years (with, at periods, certain convenient changes in official title) and, as far as anyone can tell at this point, perhaps the de facto leader-for-life of that same Federation, saw his preferred leader of Ukraine unceremoniously sent pakcing– all things which were certainly not according to the Kremlin’s plan. It’s these latter facts which matter here, and not whether or how much the ordinary people of Ukraine were themselves sincerely invested in the ouster of Yanukovich–as might be determined by asking them (then or now) about it.

      Also of key importance here, at this bastion of liberal democratic values, is the similarly settled view that, what was fit as a doctrine for James Monroe in 1823 (entered the language in 1850) is also fit as a working doctrine for Vladimir Putin and his appointed heirs and successors in perpetuity, world without end, Amen. Opinions to the contrary simply aren’t really welcome on these issues. They’re perhaps tolerated (so far) but they’re not welcome to any further rigorous debate. That, I think, qualifies as a “slant”, but not precisely the slant which your unfortunately chosen words described. People here are usually very sharp-eyed and you have to be much more careful in the way you put things. Hell, if you said that stuff via tuneful poetic expressions and did this in a church in Putin’s Russia, dressed in colorful clothes and leotards and coiffed in knitted balaclavas, you could find yourself hauled up before a criminal tribunal answering charges that you’d engaged in hooliganism and were liable to be found guilty and sentenced to hard time in prison.

      For his part, Putin, the leader-of-fifteen-years expressed himself as thinking, about such like events and the ensuing charges, stated that …”while he saw “nothing good” about the band’s protest, “Nonetheless, I don’t think that they should be judged so harshly for this.”

      [Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pussy_Riot#Arrest_and_prosecution ] Again, the poor guy [Putin] just can’t catch a break!–outside of his realm and certain parts of cyberspace.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Just like Nick Smith, you are distorting our position and also seem hostage to a cognitive bias called “halo effect,” which is to see people and situations as all good or all bad. You specifically insinuate that we are pro-Putin. We are anti-US warmongering, including US adverturism in Eastern Europe. In other words, we are “not A”. You are trying to make that out to be “B” when that is utterly your construction.

        It appears that you, following the US media, see any questioning of US/EU stance re Ukraine as being pro-Putin, as opposed to “anti reckless and dubious US warmongering.” We set out to bring a fight to Putin’s doorstep and got a predictable reaction. The US is continuing to escalate with Putin. The intent of the meddling in Ukraine was to move NATO in. As we’ve discussed at length previously, Russia had been given assurances when the USSR was contemplating letting the Warsaw Pact states go that the US would NOT move NATO into any former Warsaw Pact states. When Clinton repudiated those assurances in 1997, cold warrior George Kennan said that would prove to be the biggest geopolitical mistake the US ever made.

        I suggest you read this op-ed by Henry Kissinger:

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/henry-kissinger-to-settle-the-ukraine-crisis-start-at-the-end/2014/03/05/46dad868-a496-11e3-8466-d34c451760b9_story.html

        He is not hostage to the black/white position that underlies your thinking. And as we’ve said before, when Kissinger sounds sensible, it’s a sign that conventional thinking is off kilter.

        1. Synoia

          when Kissinger sounds sensible, it’s a sign that conventional thinking is off kilter.

          Thank you. Best laugh this morning.

        2. OIFVet

          Yes, these backward Russkies still guided by “outmoded” realism, while the “enlightened” US is guided by 21st century values like “freedom and democracy”. All that is missing is the unicorm and hippies singing Kumbaya while nations willingly discard their sovereignty and invite the benevolent guarantor of “global” values and transnational corporations (by way of “free” trade agreements) to take over the functions once carried out by their national governments. So what’s the difference? One is honest about its aims and the other one is a hypocrite who plays the same game but packages it in focus group approved propaganda about “values” it pretends to hold,. One seeks regional sphere of influence and security buffer, the other sees the entire planet as its sphere of influence and security buffer. One seeks to protect its natural resources and their channels of distribution, the other seeks to control everybody else’s natural resources by controlling their distribution channels. One seeks to protect its sovereignty while the other seeks to destroy it globally. Care to guess which is which?

          No doubt simplistic labels such as “Putin lovers” are useful tools for the simple and those who seek to reinforce the simplistic thinking with its propaganda in order to advance its imperial interests by wrapping them in the packaging of “values” that appeal to the vanity-driven exceptionalism of the brainwashed masses. Who could resist the call for “freedom and democracy”, even those brought by bombs or covert economic/political/media war? Still, utilizing this type of Imperial propaganda “actually insults the sort of intelligence I’d have credited most anyone with who has found his way to participating regularly at this site.”

        3. proximity1

          RE: “I suggest you read this op-ed by Henry Kissinger.”

          Alright, suggestion taken. I reply:

          My commented selections from Kissinger’s article:

          “But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.”

          I agree with this as a guiding principle. The major problem with it is simply the fact that V. Putin is president-and-dictator of Russia and he happens to disagree about this point.

          “Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States.”

          actually, and very unfortunately, no, this is the sort of poor phrasing that would ordinarily not pass muster in the threads of NC. “Russia must accept…”? First, in Russia, we’re dealing and concerned not with “Russia” but with its dictator, Vladimir Putin, who, if we’re even just a little bit honest with ourselves, is simply not going to going along with that view of Mr. Kissinger about what “Russia must” do–failing which, “Russia” risks finding “Moscow [doomed] to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States,” which latter assertion, by the way is sheer unacknowledged conjecture on Kissinger’s part. I recall that he was a damn fool throughout his tenure in high policy-making circles in Washington from the late ’60s through the late ’70s and I really don’t think he has learned very much from his blunderings of that time. Let’s read on and see.

          “The West must understand that, to (“)Russia(“), Ukraine can never be just a foreign country.”

          Again, we have Kissinger’s word this wildly amobitious piece of postulation; it may prove out, but, frankly, none of us shall be around to discover what Ukraine can or cannot ever be to Russia. What Kissinger is really doing here is presenting a bald assertion and hoping that it’s taken at is silly face value. In fact, K’s objective is much more modest: he simply wants to get along in the near intermediate term, never mind what Ukraine can or can’t ever be to the state of Russia or its people. Moving on, why, again “must” “The West” (See Georges CORM, 2009) “understand” (i.e. accept) this? Suppose “The West” refuses? Then, we’re to assume, they, too shall be similarly “doomed to repeat” & etc. Behind all this is simply a flagrantly anti-liberal-democratic view that we are all doomed to a “Game of Thrones” vision of world political affairs by which another of Kissinger’s life-long working assumptions figures so prominently, namely the Great Powers and their “spheres of influence” doctrine, which leaves pretty much all of us as mere pawns in a game of tilting megalo-maniacs. I don’t see how this dismal picture is or can be avoided, given Kissinger’s set of working assumptions. I also don’t see why the astute editorial leadership at NC should find it compelling as a basis for polemical discussion about international politics and morals in either theory or practice.

          “Russian history began… (blah, blah, blah)…Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia.”

          All of that, however true or disputable it may be–and, conveniently, neither Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn nor Joseph Brodsky are available to either attest to or object to Kissinger’s enrolling them as witnesses for the prosecution–it’s not of any probative value when it comes to what the people of Russia or Ukraine or even “The West,” for that matter, ought to do _NOW- about these alleged facts of history and their supposed consequences.

          “The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis.”

          I’m not sure exactly what “the strategic element” means to Kissinger in this particular (let alone any other) context, but I suspect it’s not good or admirable. But I stipulate that, indeed, the E.U. is damnable in its general dilatory-nesses and that’s usually a bad thing. Just to state my own view– for everyone’s sakes, I think both the people of Ukraine would do best for themselves by staying well out of both E.U. and NATO memberships. Both, I agree, are associations which are basically disasters looking for places to happen over and over and over.

          “Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.”

          Pious Kissingerian Piffle. Kissinger has always been first and foremost interested in establishing his ideas of what he calls “priorities”–about which he speaks here as though they are something objective when, as we should know so well, they are anything but that.

          “They (Ukrainians) live in a country with a complex history and a polyglot composition.”

          A fact which, it happens, is also true of just about every other long-inhabited place in this world. So what?

          “To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West — especially Russia and Europe — into a cooperative international system.”

          But, again, there is simply nothing, I repeat, nothing, to indicate that, whatever Kissinger or anyone else may think or desire on this point, Vladimir Putin is determined, whatever “The West” does or doesn’t do about it, to treat Ukraine as his sphere of influence fetish object–the real impulses behind this, I suspect, concern deep psychological-needs aspects common even to ordinary heads of state but especially prominent in megalo-maniacal heads of state.

          RE:

          “We should seek reconciliation,…”
          “Russia and the West, and least of all the various factions in Ukraine, have not acted on this principle. Each has made the situation worse.”
          ” For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.
          ” Putin should come to realize that, whatever his grievances,” …
          ” Leaders of all sides should return to examining outcomes, not compete in posturing. …

          See the immediately foregoing cvomment esp. RE Putin’s stated views (e.g.: as recently as yesterday’s (04 Dec. 2014 State of the Russian Federation speech).

          “The test is not absolute satisfaction but balanced dissatisfaction.”

          Which test? Whose test? and, moreover, whose balanced dissatisfaction does he mean? This is a bunch of vague, ethereal crypto-foreignpolicy-guru-wonk speak passed off as words of wisdom from a guy whose record, again, should have already left us with little patience for his dreary brand of East-West power gaming.

          As either reference or argumentative support, I consider the recommendation of this piece just sad, really.

          1. proximity1

            Correction:

            Of course, this, need the amended [part in brackets,]

            …there is simply nothing, I repeat, nothing, to indicate that, whatever Kissinger or anyone else may think or desire on this point, Vladimir Putin is [anything other than]determined, whatever “The West” does or doesn’t do about it, to treat Ukraine as his sphere of influence fetish object. …

          2. OIFVet

            ” First, in Russia, we’re dealing and concerned not with “Russia” but with its dictator, Vladimir Putin…”

            You still don’t know anything about Russia or its history, of which Ukraine is an integral part.

            neither Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn nor Joseph Brodsky are available to either attest to or object to Kissinger’s enrolling them as witnesses for the prosecution

            Really? Do you not consider Solzhenitsyn’s writings as part of the historical record? Read, and learn: The Voice of a Prophet: Solzhenitsyn on the Ukraine Crisis. Pay attention to what he has to say about Crimea as well. Is Solzhenitsyn and evil dictator too, then?

            As a whole, your prolific comments are long on verbiage and short of any real knowledge or understanding about the subject matter of Russia and Putin. It is long-winded restating of the US propaganda fictions.

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            How many straw men can you work into a pretense at an analysis? And you think you are smarter and more expert at diplomacy and realpolitik than Kissinger, who has made more intense study of the principals over the decades (and actually met and negotiated with their leaders) than you could ever hope to?

            He’s quite deliberate in his choice of words, while you are out and out dishonest. Putin is not a dictator. He is a democratically elected leader with astonishingly high popularity ratings, consistently over 70% and now approaching 80% thanks to Western attacks on Russia. He is authoritarian, but that is a big difference from being a dictator. Look at the intrusions on our “freedoms” Americans have accepted, starting with mass surveillance and the suspension habeus corpus and the requirement for a warrant for searches within 100 miles of the border. And US citizens face way lower security threats than Russians (I’m not saying what Putin is doing in curbing freedom is justified either, but that our position on that issue is flat out hypocritical). There is no evidence he’s cooked elections.

            Kissinger does mean “Russia”. Russia, per the popularity figures I cited above, is in line with Putin’s position or even more accurately, Putin’s position accurately reflects that of an overwhelming majority of Russians. It is utterly false to represent Putin as imposing his views on a passive and abused Russian population, as you and most Western propagandists seek to do.

            Kissinger’s big point is both sides have become so polarized in their positions that they can’t talk to each other, much the less understand each other’s point of view. Kissinger sees that in terms of their actual interests, there is bargaining space for a solution and thus de-escalation. And his other big point is Ukraine by virtue of history and the structure of its economy will of necessity have close relations with Russia, no matter what the West would like. You ignore this fundamental point too.

            Your comment re “balance dissatisfaction” show you don’t understand negotiations. This is not an arcane or even controversial idea.

            In a successful negotiation, both sides come out feeling bruised. You never get what you want. You have to give up things. Regret is inevitable, but for a deal to work, both sides need to feel that what they gave up was not unfair or excessive, that the other side didn’t get all of what it wanted either.

            1. proximity1

              RE:

              “And you think you are smarter and more expert at diplomacy and realpolitik than Kissinger, who has made more intense study of the principals over the decades (and actually met and negotiated with their leaders) than you could ever hope to?”

              Sounds like a lame appeal to authority to me.

              What I think–and thought at the time Kissinger was a key formulator of and participant in the foreign and domestic policy catastrophes which took place during his tenure–is that, as proved out, each time I regarded a some apparent move, plan or initiative of his as, in my opinion, wildly foolish and unnecessary, that, in fact is what it nearly always turned out to be.

              While it’s of course true that, unlike Kissinger, I was never –and never could have expected to have been– even asked for my opinions about, let alone involved directly in, such negotiations, I could see, as could any interested observer following the news, both the official U.S. policy positions– as they were presented in their publicly offered rationales and, again, as the readily imputable power-relations suggested that they differed, in unacknowledged fact– that the premises of these policies were erroneous and stupidly so.

              His record, which is a disgrace from any respectable moral point of view, speaks for itself. Where and how I expected that his views would fail is where and how, as it turned out again and again, they did fail. Not only am I just one of many who might say the same, many people during Kissinger’s did write and speak accurately about how and where his policy courses were mistaken and morally repugnant.

              “Putin is not a dictator.”

              In the fullness of time, it’s going to be seen and understood—as it already is by many people in Russia already, and ever since he came to power–that’s essentially just what he is. In not appreciating this, you present one of the most striking lapses in your otherwise keen perception of things. Every one of us is always, at any given time, wrong about something in our constellation of steadily-held beliefs and opinions. I’m certainly wrong in mine at certain points which my experience hasn’t yet revealed to me but later should–if I live that long. But the character of Putin is not one of these in my case while it is in your case.

              I’m hard-pressed to imagine that you’ve ever bothered to read much of anything by Politkovskaya. You really ought to. Her insights are some of what you need but apparently lack. But as I read your comments here over the past few weeks, I’m also hard-pressed to imagine your daring to allow yourself to read her various collected journalism. You rarely if ever cite anything from Novaya Gazeta in your site–either favorable to Putin or, moreover, unfavorable–while, elsewhere, your site’s attention to and readiness to cite in the Links a variety of published sources is nothing short of very impressive.

              RE : “Look at the intrusions on our “freedoms” Americans have accepted, starting with mass surveillance and the suspension habeus corpus and the requirement for a warrant for searches within 100 miles of the border.”

              I have. Then, you go on to compare Putin’s degree of supervision and control with what’s current in the U.S.–as though variations–where they are found–are evidence of meaningful differences in the scope of freedoms enjoyed by Russians as contrasted to those enjoyed by Americans–or others, Europeans, etc. This is a mistaken comparison and one based on a faulty premise about how such things are indicative or not of the head of state’s proclivities for allowing democratic civic freedoms to exist or thrive.

              Both Russia and the U.S. present a dismal picture and in both countries, the trend is toward a worsening, for essentially the same sorts of reasons. Now, both being in open and direct capitalist competition for markets and trade, the easily mistaken part and place of communist ideology is removed, and we can better see –on one side as on the other–the actors and their motives for what they are. This, of course, is no less true of China, by the way, where nothing of substance remains of the Maoist communist ideological order.

              RE: “It is utterly false to represent Putin as imposing his views on a passive and abused Russian population, as you and most Western propagandists seek to do.”

              Putin’s popular support, while real, is also overestimated. It must be because all the institutions by which we’d otherwise discover the extent of his disfavor, the numbers of people disagreeing vehemently with him and his rule, these are squelched and oppressed to an all-but-complete degree. Where there are exceptions allowed to our view, they’re allowed, the rarities that they are, precisely so that they may be pointed out as “proofs” of the toleration which Putin shows for his critics. On the other hand, so complete is his control, he can afford to allow those exceptions without fear–for the time being. What he cannot afford is for a general appreciation on the part of the average public fo the true extent of his unpopularity among those who are best-placed to know what he and his coterie are actually doing–though, as in the U.S. and practically everywhere else, these things aren’t available to open view.

              Like that in the U.S., the whole political structure of the Russian Federation is based on a hardly-veiled violent force. How overt and constant that force has to be in order to maintain the minimum required order varies from time to time as circumstances change in public attitudes and awareness and behavior.

              RE: “And his [Kissinger’s] other big point is Ukraine by virtue of history and the structure of its economy will of necessity have close relations with Russia, no matter what the West would like. You ignore this fundamental point too.”

              I don’t ignore it. I say that what you describe as close relations with Russia shall, by Putin’s own insistence, preclude any but a sham and a pretense of genuine independence of content and direction on the part of Ukraine–in other words, Ukraine will be “free” to the extent that it follows Putin’s main policy needs and interests and where it strays from those, it shall be sanctioned and coerced one way or another–directly or by proxy– by Putin’s order.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                There was as large and vocal opposition among the intelligensia in Moscow, which BTW had been Putin backers until a few years ago. They turned on him lately but have again become supporters in the face of the Western threat.

                And all your expatiating fails to deal with ANY of the issues I raised. Putin is not a dictator. He was and remains democratically elected. Kissinger did say exactly what he meant, particularly as regards negotiations. You’ve instead shifted grounds and you now try attacking Kissinger as morally bankrupt. Kissinger has long been clear that he believes in realpolik, which is not a moral position. And you are batshit if you think the US position in Ukraine or our geopolitics generally has anything to do with morality. We are backing a government where the neo-Nazi minister of defense announced a program of ethnic cleansing against ethnic Russians in the southeast. And you tell me our position is somehow morally justified?

                1. proximity1

                  I see we’re now talking past each other. You’re not reading and rightly understanding what I’ve been trying to say and argue here–for if you had, you’d never have caricatured me as any kind of proponent of “our position”–where “our” refers to either the actual or, as it may differ from that, the “official” United States government and where “position” refers to sundry policy positions in the international relations of the U.S. government.

                  Similarly, had you really followed correctly what I’ve written and argued here in this thread, you could never have asserted that “you think the US position in Ukraine or our geopolitics generally has anything to do with morality,” as, indeed, I do not believe that they do –though, if they were done right, there would be and there ought to be something inherently moral about them.

                  RE: “There was as large and vocal opposition among the intelligensia in Moscow, which BTW had been Putin backers until a few years ago. They turned on him lately but have again become supporters in the face of the Western threat.”

                  Nowhere do you offer any preamble as to why you present these particular people as _our_ signal point of reference on the issue. But, assuming that they should be the gage and reference point around which we’re to measure the ups and downs of political life in Russia, what do those facts prove about your claims concerning Ukraine–I guess they’re intended to show that the West, bent on making Ukraine politically the play-thing of the West, on making it a proxy of Western power, is thereby a threat to both Putin and the good people of Russia? That, I gather, is the sumary of your argument in invoking this Russian intelligensia.

                  Why they (stipulated as “the intelligensia in Moscow”), with their shifting views on the vicissitudes of Russia’s domestic and international political affairs, ought to be our reference point is something I have not yet seen explained–though I’ve seen it assumed– as valid. From all I’ve experienced of them, the French, British, and, I’m sure, American intelligencia are a fractious and disputatious lot, divided on practically every political issue one could care to mention. You’ve presented them here as unified–first in their support (Putin was elected, after all, as you keep insisting on reminding us) , then their opposition, and, now, as you put it, “…have again become supporters in the face of the Western threat.”

                  But the threat to that intelligensia–as indeed to any and all intelligensia everywhere–is basically the same everywhere and at all times. It’s neither particularly more nor less “Western” than it is “Eastern” or “Christian”, “Muslem” or “Jewish.” You’re presenting us with the picture of the looming menace to Putin and his Russians that NATO or the E.U. are supposed to pose in the event that Ukraine becomes a member of either or both of these. Well, while that might happen, it hasn’t happened yet and, as far as any of us–Kissinger included–knows, it may never happen. When I consider Russians I imagine those who are similar to myself. If I were in Russia, it’s Putin who would pose the most important and immediate threat to my well-being, not some eventual NATO or E.U. membership taken by Ukraine. That same view informs my attitudes in each case of nationalities’ so-called interests. In France, it’s Hollande or Sarkozy, with their policies, who represent the biggest and most immediate threat to me and my likes. In Britain, it’s Cameron or Miliband who have that part, not Hollande, not Putin and not the NATO or Brussels authorities.

                  Putin or Obama or Boehner, or Cameron or Miliband, or Merkel; Hollande or Sarkozy; Harper, his opponents, or Abbott and his–these people all pose the same threats to their intelligensias since they all operate on more or less the same set of self-interested power-seeking bases.

                  RE: “You’ve instead shifted grounds and you now try attacking Kissinger as morally bankrupt. Kissinger has long been clear that he believes in realpolik,
                  which is not a moral position.”

                  First, it is no “shift of grounds to attack Kissinger as morally-bankrupt–it is simply and entirely to the point: Kissinger is no reference of value, certainly not morally and not “pragmatically,” either. His record as a diplomat was a crashing failure both morally and pragmatically. For you to argue as though you either do not accept or do not understand that is really stunning–coming from one who is supposed to be opposed to all that Kissinger stood for: corrupt, arbitrary dishonest, occult and unaccountable political power chiefly excercised by violent force. I am not “trying” to attack Kissinger as morally-bankrupt, I am, rather, simply pointing out the fact that he is that. He has nothing useful to tell us here that others–typified by his life-long opponents–haven’t done sooner and better than Kissinger.

                  You assert that, “Kissinger has long been clear that he believes in realpolik,” and that is quite true. What is not at all true is the widely-believed but utterly ridiculous pretense that followed: “… which is not a moral position.” “Realpolitik” ‘s proponents, as the Wikipedia page on the topic states, “would contend that they are merely operating within limits defined by practical reality,” which they–as you have–assert, falsely, is “amoral” or, in your words, “is not a moral position.” But all political relations inevitably and inherently presuppose–implicitly or explicitly–a moral view, stance, of some sort which is entailed in any chosen policy course–no matter on what other basis those choosing the policy it otherwise try to excuse or justify it. Stated or not, there are always moral presuppositions behind all political actors’ acts and decisions–whether they call themselves proponents of “realpolitik” or pragmatism or they are or pretend that they are guided by any other formal or informal set of principles of behavior.
                  You’re free to deny that and I suppose you shall. I think the useful part of this exchange has found its limit. I’ll read but not reply to whatever corrections you may like to present me–unless you specifically ask for a reply.

      2. Bart Fargo

        “if you said that stuff via tuneful poetic expressions and did this in a church in Putin’s Russia, dressed in colorful clothes and leotards and coiffed in knitted balaclavas, you could find yourself hauled up before a criminal tribunal answering charges that you’d engaged in hooliganism and were liable to be found guilty and sentenced to hard time in prison.”

        And what exactly do you think would happen if a group were to try a Pussy Riot-type stunt at a similar venue in the US, say at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC? The responding police would just applaud warmly and let the demonstrators go home?

      3. CannedCigars

        Proximity1, a few things.

        The US has no problem with ‘apparent democracies’ like Singapore, where there has never been any other party elected but the one it has now. Lee Kwan Yue also ruled Singapore – with a few changes in Title – for many decades. Do you think Singapore is unfairly called a Democracy?

        How about Syngman Rhee? Did the US k’vetch much about his iron fisted “Presidency” of South Korea?

        I have never seen a CEO who outsourced his production to Shanghai or Qingdao complain about democracy in China.

        Where is the US pressure on Saudi Arabia to hold Elections? Brunei? Qatar? Kuwait?

        The US doesn’t seem to be pushing General Sisi to hold elections very hard.

        Interesting who the US pressures and who it doesn’t.

        There is ONE good thing about the Russian Oligarchs. Their takeover using mafia tactics, of the Soviet infrastructure, probably saved the country from being snapped up by American and European Corporations. Don’t think for a minute these corporations wouldn’t have worked with local strongmen to weaken and divide Russia into as many small states as possible. That’s been a long goal of ZBig, who has been very open about it.

        Please, when it comes to international relations, let’s throw out the democracy canard. The US supports regimes that back anti-communism (in the Cold War) and/or Neolibconism in the Present Day, regardless of democracy, and has since 1944.

        1. proximity1

          When you posted the above, I hadn’t yet posted my comment-reply to Yves. So, you couldn’t have read this, which I reiterate here as an answer–

          “Behind all this is simply a flagrantly anti-liberal-democratic view that we are all doomed to a “Game of Thrones” vision of world political affairs by which another of Kissinger’s life-long working assumptions figures so prominently, namely the Great Powers and their “spheres of influence” doctrine, which leaves pretty much all of us as mere pawns in a game of tilting megalo-maniacs. I don’t see how this dismal picture is or can be avoided, given Kissinger’s set of working assumptions. I also don’t see why the astute editorial leadership at NC should find it compelling as a basis for polemical discussion about international politics and morals in either theory or practice.”

          “…let’s throw out the democracy canard…”

          In other words, let’s accept that pawns in the games of megalomaniacs we were born and such pawns we are (Sez you) doomed to remain–and we ought to just lump it and get used to it since, (I suppose you contend–though you lack the candor to state it outright) “TINA.”

          No, thank you. Speaking for myself, fuck that. And, no, “let’s not throw it out.” And I hope others everywhere answer similarly. This is a discussion forum about the world and its vexing problems. If the answer is to skip straight to “we’re pawns, get over it! ” then you’ve just undermined the point of discussing these things at all in the first place–or didn’t that occur to you?

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            This is frankly is a ton of bloviating and completely ignores the points made about how the US is perfectly happy to support thugs, as long as they are thugs we like. And that’s true of your long and high noise to signal ratio comment on the Kissinger op-ed.

            When you run out of arguments, you pump out a lot of words and assume that persuades readers. Sorry, they can see that you’ve run out of arguments.

  3. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Looking at the telescope the other way around, it may be that the Ukrainians want some pet American apparatchiks around to tie the US more closely to their regime. Anybody who thinks that this collection of corporados, fascist squadristi and careerist think-tank spawn is some legitimate expression of the Ukrainian people’s love of freedom is trolling.

  4. YY

    I can see how those clowns in Kiev would take on ex-patriots or even foreigners with connections into their regime. What I do not understand or have sympathies for is American foreign policy being run by ex-pats of the subject country. The entirety of US failure (does anybody think it not?) in its relations with Cuba can be blamed on appeasing and listening to the Cuban ex-pat community. It appears at least with the Eastern European area and particularly with Ukraine there is far too much ex-pat interests in meddling with the region. Apparently this goes as well for the Canadians policy on Ukraine as well. This is not to say that ex-patriot interests are not legitimate, it just should not be the basis for defining the national interest. Some times you get a Ho Chi Min, most of the time you get Ahmed Chalabi.

    1. Northeaster

      “too much ex-pat interests in meddling with the region.”

      Or direct meddling – Hunter Biden

  5. Banger

    This article reflects on the confusing and chaotic nature of Washington DC politics and is an example of the confused and chaotic set of arrangements/networks that makes up the current National Security State/Deep State. Like organized crime there are “made” men and women, fixers, bag men/women, useful idiots, beards, major and minor con artists, deep plotters like the Frank Underwood (main character in House of Cards), cabals, thieves, assassins, double agents–in short, a cacophony of intrigue. And many players in that game have a hell of a lot of fun playing it–lots of sex, travel, money, great restaurants, oligarchs hoping to enroll you in their pet projects and so on. Mix it with the usual martinets, religious fanatics, nerds, old Washington families (yes they play a role), and secret and overt idealists and ideologues and you have quite an insane mix–something right out of Fellini. At the moment there are no real unifying ideas of projects and thus corruption blooms.

    1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

      I’m sure Joseph Tainter would have something pithy to say about all that.

    2. dave

      All true but there is a unifying consistent force that is always on point to Hate and Undermine Russia:

      Zbigniew Brezezinski – co-founder of Trilateral Commission with his Patron and today Main Foreign Policy advisor to Obama. Led NSC Policies during Carter Administration that brought down his Presidency.

      His Son – Mark: Member of the NSC in the Clinton Administration

      His Daughter – Mika: Co- Anchor MSNBC – Morning Joe – always free with Russian Propaganda

      His Son – Ian: Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense for Europe and Russia – Bush Administration

      His Nephew – Mathew: PR flack for – Akhmadov – DC envoy and long standing resident for Chechen Terrorists (very busy this week!)

      “The entire crew is made up of petty Polish aristocrats notable mainly for their fanatical, consuming hatred of Russia and Russians”

      Obama does not make a move in the Ukraine without Zb.

      1. different clue

        Perhaps we need a better word for Zbiggy’s mindset towards Russia than “Russophobia”. How about
        the word cluster: anti-Russianism, anti-Russianitic, anti-Russianite.

    3. Jackrabbit

      The Banger grand jury fails to indict.

      Chaos and markets: the ultimate no-agency propaganda. Those who suffer from the neolibcon agenda are figuring this out for themselves.

      =
      =
      =
      H O P

  6. PaulArt

    I thought this was a brilliant expose! Thanks to Yves for running this. A very fascinating story of how the elitist parasites operate. It starts with the Chicago elitist connection with Obums and then moves on upward to feed both at the government trough and the private sector trough.

  7. Play dat sad bandura

    Wow this takes me back. This is classic Edelman. He thinks he’s the sinister top-hatted octopus of international capitalism strangling the globe, waving moneybags in his tentacles and gnawing babies with his gruesome hooked beak. Any USAID thing going on around there – project finance, FDI, portfolio investment – if you were lucky got like one guy on the team who knew what he was doing. Everybody else was doodling or shooting spitballs in the back of the room, waiting for the meeting to end so they could go hide behind trees. If you’ve ever heard a DoS cookie-pusher try to talk business it’s the saddest thing, they have no clue. It’s like they got a bag of refrigerator magnets with accounting terms and they shake it out and say it aloud. Good thing Ukraine has no money to lose or they’d be broke in no time.

  8. grizziz

    Pardon my cynicism and lack of empathy for the proletariat, but the whole affair is summed up by Maire Harf’s quote, “That’s the beauty of how this process works.” Hillarious!

  9. proximity1

    ( Belated amendation to my previous post–somehow the edit feature failed me.)

    “The problem with this posting is that , in addition to the hard facts, it seems to offer what may look like innuendo in relation to certain of those hard facts. But it’s definitely red meat for the likes of Naked Capitalism with its unabashed ‘anti the US-sponsored coup in Ukraine’ slant.”

  10. Dennis Redmond

    Yves:

    There was NO coup d’etat in Ukraine. None. Nada. Zero. DID NOT HAPPEN.

    Fact: Ukraine is a democracy. From November 2013 to February 2014 there was a genuinely democratic and popular protest in Ukraine against a corrupt, murdering thug of a President (Yanukovych), who fled to his imperial patron, Putin. This was followed by free and fair elections for Ukraine’s Presidency which centrist Poroshenko won, and free and fair elections for Parliament — elections which centrist, non-crazy, non-ultra-nationalist, anti-corruption parties overwhelmingly won.

    Fact: Ukraine is NOT Russia. Never has been, never will be. For folks who don’t know anything about past or present Ukrainian history, historian Timothy Snyder has plenty of useful lectures on Youtube.

    Fact: Putin’s thugocracy invaded the eastern Donbass (a region which happens to be 70% ethnic Ukrainian, incidentally), killing thousands of Ukrainians. Putin’s goons also shot down MH-17, murdering nearly three hundred people. Russian T-72 tanks, artillery shells and machine guns are on Ukrainian territory, killing Ukrainians as we speak. It is a monstrous, evil colonial war by a former imperial power (Russia) on a former colonial possession (Ukraine), and will be as suicidal and disastrous for Russia as the Bush oiligarchy’s monstrous, evil colonial war on Iraq was for the US.

    As for the article, Helmer’s only relevant point of information seems to be that Jaresko and Iglus are having a messy divorce. Aside from that, the Finance Minister doesn’t set fiscal policy, that’s in the hands of the new parliament.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The elected leader of a state was forced into exile. The US meddled to produce that outcome. He was a thug, but this was done outside the democratic process in a soi-disant democracy. Even Wikipedia calls it a “revolution”. The new interim government revoked the then-current constitution and reverted to the previous one.

      That is a coup.

      The fact that you keep citing Snyder, whose New York Review of Books piece was shredded by readers of this site as a piece of crude propaganda, is telling.

      Go read this link by Kissinger, which I cited earlier in this thread, about Ukraine. He says specifically:

      The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709, were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. Even such famed dissidents as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky insisted that Ukraine was an integral part of Russian history and, indeed, of Russia…

      The Ukrainians are the decisive element. They live in a country with a complex history and a polyglot composition. The Western part was incorporated into the Soviet Union in 1939 , when Stalin and Hitler divided up the spoils. Crimea, 60 percent of whose population is Russian , became part of Ukraine only in 1954 , when Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian by birth, awarded it as part of the 300th-year celebration of a Russian agreement with the Cossacks. The west is largely Catholic; the east largely Russian Orthodox. The west speaks Ukrainian; the east speaks mostly Russian. Any attempt by one wing of Ukraine to dominate the other — as has been the pattern — would lead eventually to civil war or break up. To treat Ukraine as part of an East-West confrontation would scuttle for decades any prospect to bring Russia and the West — especially Russia and Europe — into a cooperative international system.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/henry-kissinger-to-settle-the-ukraine-crisis-start-at-the-end/2014/03/05/46dad868-a496-11e3-8466-d34c451760b9_story.html

      Putin had NOTHING TO DO with the downing of MH-17. The facts on that are still hotly debated, but at most it was done by the rebels, and was a mistake. There’s absolutely no upside in shooting down a passenger aircraft. You try to make it sound deliberate!

      Similarly, Putin is not a dope, and he did not invade. In case you missed it, the Urkainian government had announced the first steps of ethnic cleansing. Yatsenyuk has been bombing the southeast to compel them to accept the legitimacy of the new government. Almost immediately after he took control, he threw out the three deputy defense ministers and installed neo-Nazis.

      The minister of defense, Mikhail Koval, has announced his intention to remove the “subhumans” in the southeast who voted for Yanukovych. They will “be resettled in other regions. …There will be a thorough filtration of people.” Their property will be confiscated, and “Land parcels will be given out for free to the servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other military formations, as well as to the employees of Interior Ministry and the Security Service of Ukraine that are defending territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country in eastern and southeastern regions of Ukraine.” Translation: soldiers have been given license to engage in plunder and theft against ethnic Russians.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIohJfFrYSk

      Put it this way: how do you think the US would react if a minority group took over Québec, threatened to move in the Chinese army, banned the use of English, and threatened the confiscation of property and forced resettlement of Americans living there?

      Oh, and the equipment in eastern Ukraine being Russian origin proves nothing. Virtually all military equipment in Ukraine, including that used by the government in Kiev, is Russian made.

      Many Russians have relatives in Ukraine. And Putin is no fool. He certainly did not “invade” Donbass. While there are reports of Russian soldiers in Ukraine, they were not ordered by the Russian government to enter. They went in on their own. Now I don’t consider it implausible at all for word to have gone down in the Russian army, “If you want to go to Ukraine to help relatives and friends, you won’t be counted as AWOL and you’ll get full pay” but that is a long way from launching a campaign, which is what you assert happened.

      1. EmilianoZ

        A revolution is not the same thing as a coup. A revolution can in theory be democratic. Wasn’t the French revolution democratic at least in its beginnings since a loathing of the aristocracy seemed to have been widespread? Of course the revolution was later confiscated by the bourgeois but that’s another story.

        However the suspicion that the French revolution was US sponsored cannot be entirely discarded. After all Jefferson was around at that time, supposedly as an “ambassador”. He could probably foresee that a distressed France would sell Louisiana at a shockingly discounted price.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I should have spelled that out, but just as one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, “revolution” is the word used by the government now in Kiev. I am pretty certain but can’t readily locate a reference, that regular elections were mere months away. So there was no need to overturn the government apparatus to get the unpopular Yanukovych out.

          Moreover, the trigger for the revolution was Yanukovych signing a loan and treaty with Russia, after failing to conclude a deal with the EU because the loan was, in Wikipedia’s tortuous language, “contingent to several reforms in almost all aspects of Ukrainian society.” Yanukovych first said he’d accept the reforms, then decided they were too much, and so turned to the Russians.

          Revolutions are normally the result of oppression. It’s hard to see the drivers of this uprising fitting the normal pattern.

          1. Vatch

            Some of the oppressiveness and corruption of the Yanukovych administration is described in Andrew Wilson’s book Ukraine Crisis. Unfortunately, I don’t have the book in front of me, but it looks as though Yanukovych was pretty bad even by Ukrainian standards. He prosecuted (for political reasons) at least 13 senior members of the previous government (some of them may have deserved prosecution, but then so did Yanukovych). Also, the protests started more than 6 months before the scheduled elections, and I’m sure there were legitimate fears about what Yanukovych would do in the meantime. Many killings, kidnapping, and “disappearances” were perpetrated against demonstrators during the period from November, 2013 to February, 2014. This was occurring prior to the controversy about the sniper attacks in Maidan.

            Anyhow, the point is that the Yanukovych administration was oppressive.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Yes, but elections were coming soon. You didn’t need to suspend the then-current Constitution to get him out.

              And the US spent lots of money in Ukraine fomenting dissent, so it is not at all clear that those uprisings were organic.

              1. Vatch

                I don’t understand your statement about the constitution. He wasn’t removed by the parliament, since they fell a few votes short of what was needed. They might have eventually found enough votes, but he left the country before that could happen. His political party also disavowed him.

                As for the money that the U.S. spent, I doubt that much of it found its way to the protesters in Maidan.

                1. Massinissa

                  Oh of course not. But it went to the organizers.

                  What, you didnt think it was organic, did you?

                    1. Massinissa

                      Yes, and No. (Though that didnt stop the FBI from wiretapping King. Just in case we was.) Im afraid ive never found any evidence the USSR ever had that kind of capability outside its own borders.

                      It would have been pretty cool if the USSR was behind those movements though.

                    2. Vatch

                      I gotta ask: why would it have been cool if the USSR had been behind the civil rights or environmental movements?

                      By the way, J. Edgar Hoover was a paranoid weirdo.

                2. Jackrabbit

                  No one has ever claimed that the money went to the protesters.

                  $5 billion from US-govt (as per Nuland) and a lot more from private sources went to pro-Western organizations over many years.

                  As long as Ukraine’s trajectory was toward the West, these organizations were happy. As soon as there was a major setback, a ‘spontaneous’, pro-democracy demonstration appeared (Quelle Surprise!, as Yves would say). Then Nuland served them cookies, and arranged to move ‘Yats’ into power and for visible political support for the new regime. How much clearer could it be?

                  1. Buckaroo Banzai

                    I wonder if you, or any of the other commenters, have actually been to Ukraine, or talked to any of its people, before the Maidan protests?

                    I have, and while I don’t have any idea what “really” happened, I do know that the people I talked to were pretty fed up with the rampant corruption. Smart, hardworking people with no connections, who could barely make a decent living.

                    Maybe these frustrated people were incited to protest, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t take very much inciting to get the ball rolling.

                    1. OIFVet

                      Smart, hardworking people with no connections

                      It is these people who are the losers of this fiasco. They were used to bring a US-friendly government that suits the interests of the US, but is just as corrupt and beholden to the oligarchs and a foreign power as the government it replaced. It is a change, no doubt: a change in which foreign power controls the colony, whose role is to be a pawn between two powers in their struggle for domination. Is it really that hard to understand why people like Jackrabbit are opposed to such “change”?

                3. Yves Smith Post author

                  You need to bone up on what happened. The new government threw out the constitution. They were so good as to temporarily adopt an older version.

                  1. Vatch

                    My question was whether they used the new constitution as an excuse to remove him from office. If that’s what happened, I wasn’t aware of it. I know that they restored the older constitution that has fewer presidential powers.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I don’t think that’s the issue. The Russians did not assert a claim. They responded to events.

          The issue is what you make of the referendum to join Russian and Russia accepting the de-facto petition and integrating Crimea. The argument against that is more technical and legalistic. The Crimeans took the position that the Kiev government was illegitimate. But if you took the Kiev government as being valid, then the referendum was in violation of national law and Russia had no business taking the referendum seriously.

          1. Vatch

            The Russians seized Crimea by military means a couple of weeks before the election. And the election was more than 96% in favor of joining Russia. I don’t believe an election result that lopsided. There was electoral fraud: vote early and vote often, as machine politicians are reputed to say in some American cities.

            Whether or not the Kiev government was valid, there should have been U.N. observers present at such a controversial election. Also, Florida, 2000, but I digress.

            1. Jackrabbit

              We’ve been over this ground, Vatch.

              Some groups boycotted the election because they KNEW that the Russian majority would win. That’s why the tally’s show such a high support for joining Russia.

              You know this, but you are spinning it. Predictable and pathetic because you’re biased views with respect to Ukraine/Russian affairs have been refuted time and time again.

              PS I actually like much of your commentary on other subjects.

              1. Vatch

                I don’t think that a voter boycott was responsible for the excessive vote totals. From Wikipedia:

                The ensuing 16 March 2014 referendum on whether to join Russia, had an official turnout of 83% and officially resulted in a 96.77% (Crimea) and 95.6% (Sevastopol) affirmative vote,[46] but the referendum was condemned by the EU, the US, Ukraine and the representatives of the Crimean Tatars for violating Ukraine’s constitution and international law.

                Crimea is about 60% Russian, 24% Ukrainian, 10% Crimean Tatar, and the rest from other groups. I honestly don’t see how an 83% voter turnout would lead to 96% endorsing union with Russia.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Crimea

                1. Massinissa

                  What, because its IMPOSSIBLE for Ukrainians to support Russia right? Its mostly just the Western ones that hate Russia.

                  Peer groups are more important than ethnicity anyway. Russia only took Crimea because they knew the polls would turn out this way. Crimea never even wanted to be part of Ukraine. They voted to stay part of Russia before they were added to the Ukrainian state back in the 1990s.

                  One of the reasons Putin hasnt militarily taken Donetsk or Lugansk the way the West has been fearmongering is because the populations would not have been unanimously favorable of that kind of annexation. Most of the so-called ‘pro-russian rebels’ really just want more autonomy under Ukraine, as opposed to being bona fide russian separatists.

                2. Jackrabbit

                  You claim electoral fraud but have no proof while at the same time ignoring (in your initial comment on the matter) the well-known boycotting.

                  This is spinning. And it is an example of why you have no credibility on Russia/Ukraine issues.

            2. Massinissa

              You realize that Yanukovich was DEMOCRATICALLY ELECTED right? You act like he was some kind of satrap placed by Putin, when we all know that isnt true. Yanukovich was elected by the Russian speaking majority in Ukraine, which has since been electorally disencfranchised, leading to a minority of them rebelling against the Putschists.

                1. Massinissa

                  Who you forget left voluntarily after committing an unconstitutional act.

                  Yanukovich was forced out. Any corruption he had could have been resolved through the democratic process the way Yulia Timoshenko’s corruption was.

            3. Yves Smith Post author

              No, troops were NOT moved into anything other than the Russian airbase, which was under lease to Russia, and the border. Puhleeze. That did admittedly make a lot of people unhappy.

            4. CannedCigars

              How did NATO organize the Kosovo Referendum? Was Belgrade invited to oversee it? Did ALL of Serbia get to vote in the Kosovo referendum, or only Kosovars themselves? Or did NATO, which militarily occupied the region, simply insist on running it themselves and declare the results valid with the help of other Western Supranational Groups and NGOs?

              Putin spoke about this long sore spot specifically, in a “Good for the US/NATO Goose? Good for the Russian Gander!” sort of way.

              Crimea is the (Russian) Kosovo. It has been Russian for centuries anyway.

        2. Massinissa

          Yeah, heres the thing, Tatars only make of 10% of the current population. Most of them are Russians by birth and ethnicity. The logic that applied in Kosovo also applies in Crimea

    2. Jackrabbit

      Fact: Neuland said that US spent $5 billion in Ukraine leading up to the Maidan protests. Much more is likely to have been spent.

      =

      Fact: The US has not released crucial info related to the MH-17 downing.

      =

      Fact: No one has been able to show any direct involvement by Russia in Donbas. If there were real proof of this the anti-Putin MSM campaign would have amplified it.

      =

      Fact: Ever since US turned a UN-approved no-fly zone in Libya into an unauthorized (by UN or Congress) bombing campaign, Russian-US relations have soured. Russian support for Syria and Iran are sore points and Russia’s cozy-ing up to China must make neocons apoplectic.

      =

      Fact: We had a chance for a constructive relationship with Russia after the end of the Cold War but greedy, short-sighted interests caused us to ‘lose the peace’ (as we do, time and time again).

      =

      Fact: Obama’s ‘Reset’ with Russia is about as genuine as his ‘New Beginning’ with the Arab World and ‘Change you can believe in’ domestic agenda. Foreign and domestic trust in US government has been shattered by neolibcons.

      =

      Fact: there is a huge scaremongering propaganda campaign against Putin/Russia, which seeks to spin facts into hysterical innuendo.

      =

      Fact: The neolibcon Foreign PolicyAgenda makes us less safe and is a big reason why we a police state at home.

      =

      Fact: Being anti-neolibcon does not make one unpatriotic or a Putin supporter.

      =

      Fact: Ukraine is an economic basket case that will need hundreds of billions of dollars of support. Russia is only too glad to let the West sink into that mire.

      =

      Fact: I don’t know anyone that would send their kids to fight for Ukraine. When Russia backs a puppet government in Mexico or Quebec, let me know.

      =
      =
      =
      H O P

        1. OIFVet

          He is waiting for some Soros- funded entity to produce the “rebuttal”. Talking to you Andrew Wilson of the European Council on Foreign Policy, there is an outbreak of truth -telling going on. Need antidote, stat.

        2. Vatch

          I agree with several of Jackrabbit’s points. Not everything, but I’ve posted messages elsewhere about some of my disagreements.

    3. Bill Frank

      DR, the third “fact” point actually contains no “facts.” Rather, they are simple re-statements of MSM propaganda.

      1. Vatch

        I can’t confirm everything in Dennis’s third point, but I can confirm a less severe variant of it, which I posted to NC on Nov. 28:

        “In late August, Russia poured in enough men, tanks and armoured personnel carriers to support a counter-offensive, after President Poroshenko dodged Putin’s harsh terms at a meeting in Minsk. Putin could reverse the military tide, but only with what were increasingly obviously military means, although the EU, as ever, remained reluctant to call them such. The German press was actually counseling Ukraine (rather than Russia) to back off, as too radical a defeat in the Donbas might ‘provoke’ Putin. But at the end of August, NATO estimated that there were at least 1,000 regular Russian troops in Ukraine. The Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers of Russia went much higher: 10,000 to 15,000 had served in total, 7,000 to 8,000 were then in Ukraine, and 200 had died. These kinds of numbers were big enough to give many Ukrainians second thought. Russia may have already sent in sufficient forces to turn the tide, and the West had done nothing.”

        This is from page 142 of Ukraine Crisis by Wilson.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          This, as the British would say, is not proven.

          Whether Russia sent tanks in is in dispute. All tanks in Ukraine, including those of the government in Kiev, are Russian made. No Russian soldiers were ordered in. These were not combat formations with a chain of command and logistical support. There were irregulars coming into Ukraine.

          As I said earlier, Putin is no dope. There was no authorized movement of military personnel in. As discussed below, the Ukraine defense minister had announced what amounted to a plan for ethnic cleansing of ethnic Russians in the southeast. In case you missed it, a civil war was underway. It’s a virtual certainty that rebel leaders were asking for help from their contacts in Russia. Many Russians have relatives in Ukraine. The question is whether there was as formal wink and nod within the military: “if you go in, you’ll continue to get full pay” as opposed to informal support (more akin to “don’t ask, don’t tell”).

          1. CannedCigars

            Multiple satellites cover that area pretty well I would think. Any large troop movement would be detected. Pretty hard to think how a few BMPs or Grads could get by undetected.

            I imagine the military has computers as well as human eyes, pouring over all these images 24-7.

            One place the DPR/LPR can get heavy materials is from Ukrainian Army defectors. If memory serves, I believe the SBU (Ukraine Security Bureau) in the region and their heavy equipment defected to DPR.

    4. Massinissa

      No Coup? Gee, I wonder why we gave 5 billion to those Maidanites then. Just supporting freedom and democracy with lavish handouts of cash I suppose?

  11. Lambert Strether

    I dunno. A US citizen, funded by the US government, becomes Ukrainian Finance Minister? If I weren’t so smart and subtle, I might think that smelled a little off and maybe had something to do with money.

    It may not be a coup, but it sure looks coup-y. I mean, what next? Defense Minister?

    1. Massinissa

      Im reminded of a Mayer Amschel Rothschild quote that goes something like, “Give me control of a nations money, and I care not who makes the laws”

      If we control their budget we basically already control everything else including defence, Lambert.

        1. Massinissa

          We already made Bidens son chief of a Ukrainian oil company, which IMO is more important.

          Certainly more lucrative for the Biden family, at any rate.

      1. CannedCigars

        Kvitashvilli’s appointment was described by Yats as a means of controlling Rx Oligarchs. That’s a good excuse.

        I also heard he tried to completely privatize Georgia’s healthcare as part of the Shakashvilli’s government. That’s his real aim in Ukraine, probably.

        Color me shocked.

        Also discovered today that Hungary’s private pension system had imploded a while back due to nickel and diming, fiscal irresponsibility, if not outright fraud. Another gift of “Western Advisors”.

        Well, we Americans are next when they run out of foreigners to squeeze.

    2. proxinity1

      I agree with all this –and I said very similar things, and a lot else besides in an effort of more than forty minutes yesterday before the screen froze up and left no alternative than to delete the text-editor window.

      You’re right, it does look bad, smell bad and is probably in fact good evidence of the very things you suspect that it suggests. It also happens to be just about the most commonplace set of current working ways and means in our thoroughly corrupt world system of power realtions. I don’t mean, on that basis to excuse it in the least. Rather, I suggest that we Just think further about the many ways that this model is found over and over in all manner of relations between nations and between nations and influential corporate entities– think, especially Goldman Sachs and its wonderland of highly-placed former senior executives, now in extremely influential places inside governments and other power-interests around the world. The picture presented here is, yes, entirely sordid looking, and, whether or not in this particular instance, all the bad-smelling indications are rightly suspected to mean what its clear most of us agree that they mean, in general, things are that way, and do work that way. I’m pleased that NC is stoutly against it and not, as seems to some, also in a sort of de facto backhanded manner, offering what looks like excuses for Putin’s realpolitik–nevermind that comments such as “those clowns in Kiev” don’t get the same rebuke here as did Nick Smith’s comment @ 2:07 a.m. (above).

  12. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Is the new Health Minister Georgian?

    The last time a Georgian had anything to do Ukrainian politics, it was famine and starvation time in the 1920’s.

  13. Massinissa

    Perfect timing then, since the Ukrainians are going to be starving again soon Im afraid, or at least about to become very cold. Winter Is Coming and all that.

    Edit: This was supposed to be a reply to MLTPB

    1. steviefinn

      At the end of the day that’s the real tragedy – ordinary Ukrainians caught in between a rock & a hard place – dispensable pawns trapped in a conflict between power entities of varying degrees of darkness. We are all prey to parasites to a lesser or greater extent & our suffering is in relation to the hunger of our own national beast.

  14. RBHoughton

    The problem with the US position that her appointment was made by the representatives of the Ukrainian people is a simple one.

    When citizens vote for a rpresentative to handle their political affairs they are giving their suffrage not their sovereignty. Those representatives are Agents of the electors. They are not empowered to receive the sovereignty of the people. That would be an absurd extension of democratic government into tyranny and contrary to every Constitution that has ever been written.

    Representatives should take great care. We are watching them in every country and they appear to have casually exceeded their mandate globally. Time for change.

  15. skrik

    G’day. I’ve responded to your comment here; I’d be interested in any comment you may care to make, perhaps better ‘over there?’ Thanks in advance.

Comments are closed.