Ilargi: Ukraine – Trapped in Narrative

Yves here. We’re offering two posts on Ukraine tonight, in part because Greece dominated our coverage last week, and each post covers a different aspect of this devolving situation. Ilargi focuses on the thin, as in WMD-in-Iraq-like, justifications for escalation.

By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor-in-chief of The Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth

I’ve addressed the issue a hundred times, and it pains me to see it only gets worse. But it does. And it’s not my pain that counts, it has no meaning whatsoever, it’s the fact that we are inching ever closer to the kind of situations none of us would choose.

That is, war, people dying from sheer misery, people dying because they have no access to the services we take for granted, and even people being shelled by their own government.

All these things are happening as we speak, and we accept them lying down – on our couches -, and choose to ignore and even deny them, because we are trapped in narratives spun by those who see a profit in spreading these narratives. And who have a solid grip on what gets spun and what is not.

This is not going to end well. Not unless we speak up. Not for anyone amongst us. This one will not pass by your door, or mine. We’re approaching decision time. For the world, for your life and mine. It’s time to pick sides.

As I said, I’ve talked about this numerous times. I suggest you read for example 2014: The Year Propaganda Came Of Age. And then realize that the age of innocence is gone. That ‘I didn’t know’ no longer counts for anything. That ‘I’m just trying to make a living’ only goes so far. That your life is not only about you.

February 12 seems to have been a busy day. There had been a 16 hour – largely overnight – meeting in Minsk attended by Merkel, Hollande, Petroshenko and Putin. Why Putin was asked to attend – ostensibly representing the Donbass ‘rebels’ – is up for questioning, but he was there. The rebels themselves were not.

Not long after the cease-fire was announced, perhaps even prior to it, US Senator Jim Inhofe released photos, which he claimed prove Russian troops are in Ukraine. These were subsequently found to be fake. Like every other single ‘proof’ has been found wanting.

Think about that for a second, another second: it’s been a year since Maidan, since Yanukovich was chased out, and still not one piece of ‘evidence’ has been made to stick. Not one. While the US have the most advanced spy technology ever seen on the planet, it has not been able to produce one piece of information, for a whole year, to prove its assertions that Russia provides weapons to the ‘rebels’, sends soldiers to fight in the Donbass, or has anything to do with shooting down a plane. Not one single piece of evidence.

And then comes Inhofe. Who’s a bigwig, and whose claims may well sway Senate votes towards sending US arms to Kiev:

Inhofe Releases ‘Exclusive’ Deathly Images To Free Beacon That Are Not

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) released photographs Thursday of what he says is confirmed Russian military action against Ukraine. He gave them “exclusively” to the Washington Free Beacon. Except there’s just one problem — some of the photographs given to WFB from the 80-year-old senator date back to 2008 from the AP and aren’t exclusive at all.

The photos are fake. Completely fake. Just like all the other evidence presented over the past year. There is nothing that proves any Russian involvement. And if there were anything, you bet your behind they would trump it all over Fox and CNN until the cows had come home and left again for greener pastures. The US is attempting to start a war out of nothing, and for nothing, just because a group of deluded people think they can, and need to, conquer the largest nation on earth for their own advantage.

At roughly the same time Senator Inhofe tried to peddle his fake pictures, Ukraine ultranationalist leader Dmitry Yarosh, of the Right Sector, proclaimed he wouldn’t honor the Minsk deal.

Ukraine Right Sector Leader Rejects Peace Deal, Vows ‘To Continue War’

Ukraine’s Right Sector leader Dmitry Yarosh said his radical movement rejects the Minsk peace deal and that their paramilitary units in eastern Ukraine will continue “active fighting” according to their “own plans.” The notorious ultranationalist leader published a statement on his Facebook page Friday, saying that his radical Right Sector movement doesn’t recognize the peace deal, signed by the so-called ‘contact group’ on Thursday and agreed upon by Ukraine, France, Germany and Russia after epic 16-hour talks. Yarosh claimed that any agreement with the eastern militia, whom he calls “terrorists,” has no legal force.

Not only did Yarosh, who now says he wants to keep on fighting, play a pivotal part in the Maidan movement,and was heavily supported by the US and EU, this same man who ignores the agreement his own president signed, is a member of the Ukraine Parliament. And he’s on Interpol’s wanted list too. Yarosh, an acknowledged neo nazi, fights on ‘our’ side, and if if people like John McCain get their way, he’ll soon be provided with heavy US armory.

Not to be outdone, NATO has this:

Nato Head Says Alliance Has Data On Russian Military Presence In Ukraine

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg claims that the intelligence service of the alliance has some documented data of Russian military presence in eastern Ukraine. Stoltenberg announced it on air of the Kommersant FM radio. According to Stoltenberg, the militias of eastern Ukraine wouldn’t have been able to achieve the success they are demonstrating without Russia’s support. He said that NATO receives data on Russian military presence in Ukraine from the intelligence services, journalists and other sources but presented no concrete facts.

Moscow has repeatedly denied alleged presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in late January that those accusing Russia of sending troops and weapons to the conflict-torn south-eastern Ukraine need to substantiate their accusations with proof. “We hear a lot about the flow of Russian troops and arms,” Lavrov said speaking at his annual news conference. “And every time I respond that if one speaks with such certainty, than one should present some facts. However, no one is either capable or willing to present the facts.”

Again, if they has any such data, it would be plastered over every news paper and every TV screen in the western world, and likely beyond. But, turns out, Stoltenberg is as reliable as Senator Inhofe and the rest of them are:

OSCE Chief Saw No Russian Troops In Ukraine’s East

Lamberto Zannier, secretary general of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), told a forum on OSCE’s project coordination in Ukraine he could not confirm the movement or the presence of Russian forces there…

To top off the madness, apparently yesterday, one day after the Minsk cease-fire accord, the EU announced new anti-Russian sanctions for Monday:

New Anti-Russia Sanctions to Enter Into Force Monday 

Maja Kocijancic, European Commission’s spokesperson for foreign affairs, confirmed Friday that the EU will add 19 individuals, including five Russians, and nine entities to the list of sanctions over Ukraine on February 16. The statement was made a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin, together with the leaders of Germany, France and Ukraine, brokered a new deal on the crisis reconciliation in Minsk. “The political decision of additional listings has been taken on January 29. The [EU] Foreign Affairs Council on Monday adopted a legal act so it made it fulfilled this political commitment and has set to give the diplomatic efforts a chance that entering into force will happen on February 16, which is this coming Monday,” Kocijancic said.

The European Union, the United States and other countries have imposed several rounds of sanctions against Russia over its alleged role in the Ukrainian conflict. The restrictions target the country’s defense, energy and finance sectors, as well as a number of individuals. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it is not militarily involved in Ukraine’s internal affairs. Following the Minsk talks, EU leaders convened for an informal meeting but a new-wave of anti-Russia sanctions was not on the agenda, European Council President Donald Tusk announced. Meanwhile European leaders agreed that the implementation of Thursday’s deal will become a touchstone for further relations with Russia.

That doesn’t make any sense at all, to declare new sanctions when you’ve just signed a deal. That smacks of less than honorable intentions.

Ultra right wing military hothead Yarosh, honorable member of the Ukraine parliament, states he will not abide by what his own superior signed, while the ink he signed it with was still fresh. Which means the Kiev government, and by extension the US and EU, can claim it wasn’t them who violated the accord, but it will be violated regardless. And then when the rebels, alternatively labeled pro-Russian or Russian-led, defend themselves against the Right Sector, the west will have its narrative to declare war on Russia.

And that will not turn out well for us, for you and me. There’s nothing there that will benefit us. The lives of our children will be sacrificed on the altar of a few handfuls of crazed psychopaths. Unless we stop them. It would seem there’s not much time left.

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  1. Demeter

    Honorable intentions? How Victorian! The concept of honor itself, whether national honor or personal honor, is a result of integrity. This present reality has no integrity in the uppermost class of people, and hence not in government, religion, industry or academia. Intentions are the intentions of pirates: rape, pillage, plunder.

    Western Civilization would be a good thing, Gandhi said. Truer words were never spoken.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Absence of honor and integrity seems to have trickled down. No matter how obvious the repeated dishonesty, no matter how insulting the propaganda, the population swallows it. That’s the pain Ilargi feels. Even after taped evidence of the US-sponsored coup; after numerous claims of a Russian invasion with bogus evidence; after seven months of dead silence on the shootdown of MH17, and now laughable photo evidence from a US senator of a new invasion, the American people are acquiescent. Germany once again, and the US are in league with Nazis to provoke WW3 and the American and German people are passive collaborators … again. We seem to be helplessy trapped in one of hisory’s most vicious rhymes, about to wage another bankers’ war to end all wars.

      1. Crazy Horse

        Not long ago I was delivering a sailboat from Newport to Bermuda. Crew on board were successful attorneys from New York who happened to be Jewish. My statement that Americans were just as capable as Germans of looking the other way while atrocities were being committed by their country was met with extreme outrage—–.

        Delusion is the opium of the people.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Incisive truth evokes bitter denial in those most convicted. How dare you? But just imagine if you’d noted Israel’s concentration camps and the IDF’s uncanny resemblance to the Gestapo; you’d have walked the plank for sure. It’s a weird paradox that those professing devotion to truth and justice are able to most thoroughly delude themselves. The narcotic love of money is the root of it, as it is in Greece and Ukraine.

    2. Jack

      ‘Honor’ in all its forms is a farce, used to justify the ego and arbitrary social standards of a privileged elite. Time and again throughout history we see the most heinous acts carried out in the name of ‘honor’. It was ‘honor’ in the form of the dual concepts of kleos and aidos that made Achilles a hero to the ancient Greeks, when to modern eyes he was a petulant, whiny spoiled brat who would see the entire world burn in his quest for ‘honor’. It was ‘honor’ that gave Samurai the right to freely murder peasants in the street if they felt it was in anyway insulted.

      Societies and groups obsessed with honor are utterly lacking in integrity.

      1. Otter

        We pretend to be horrified by “honour killing”.

        “Honour” is a euphemism for “I lied”.

        It is also a euphemism for “No, you lied. I would never lie.”

      2. vidimi

        couldn’t agree more. honour also is for me the most troubling thing about islam which, as far as i know, is the only religion to vigorously stress it. maybe it’s just the wahhabi strain.

  2. Pepsi

    The easiest indicator that Russia has not invaded Ukraine is that the war is still going on. I’ve followed the conflict pretty closely and it seems that aside from scattered Russian personnel ‘advising’ the way American special forces always seem to be ‘advising,’ the Russian support for the rebels has been in the form of plain trucks and ammunition.

    Once the Donbas is an autonomous zone, a Ukrainian attack could provoke a Georgia attack on South Ossetia style overwhelming response. Then we could have all the photos of ‘invading Russian tanks’ we wanted.

    1. Jack

      Oh it’s a lot more than trucks:

      Full HD view of a Novorossian modernized T-72 variant only manufactured in Russia. There was also a picture from months back of a Novorossian T-64 that was also a variant never made anywhere outside of Russia. Russia has been supplying the separatists for the better part of a year, and according to Saker the supply line (called voentorg) has been running full blast for the last several months. There’s still no compelling evidence of masses of Russian troops being deployed though. Although there is this:

  3. JEHR

    Well, and what do you make of our PM who is just bursting with warmongering rhetoric: He wants to bomb in Iraq AND give money and perhaps weapons to Ukraine. I know what he is doing: he is appealing to the Ukrainian vote in Canada (where there are more than 1 million of Ukrainian descent); and he is presenting himself to Canadians as the “saviour” of the people by attacking our perceived “enemies.” What a crock! He perceives himself as Our Great and Glorious Leader when he is merely a mealy-mouthed ideologue. There has never been a more despicable, untrustworthy and disloyal leader in Canadian history. I hope I am being blunt enough.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Expect it to get worse as the shale industry’s malaise continues. There is an election in nine months after all.

  4. Jackrabbit

    “The Narrative”
    A circle-jerking elite production.
    Directed by Corporate Media.
    Starring: Grandstanding Politicians

    Don’t miss the ahistorical hysteria fueled by cherry-picked info and fear-mongering.

    You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (a lot) – you’ll pay through the nose.

    In-the-tank critics agree: Trust us, there Is No Alternative (TINA).

    H O P

  5. tgs

    And that will not turn out well for us, for you and me. There’s nothing there that will benefit us. The lives of our children will be sacrificed on the altar of a few handfuls of crazed psychopaths. Unless we stop them. It would seem there’s not much time left.

    I agree. But, ‘stop them’. How? This piece at the nation cites a recent poll showing 71% support for Obama’s neo-con foreign policy among Democrats. The author argues that Democrats, in the main, view Obama’s foreign policy as restrained.

    It is clear that there is a full-court press for continuing to up the ante with Russia. I just don’t see any sector with sufficient power to resist the march towards WWIII.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The poll is skewed because self-identified Democrats are in decline and two many of the pro-Obama respondents make up his positions and attribute Obama’s hideous nature to outside forces.

    2. Doug Terpstra

      Agreed. Ignorance and acquiescence seem to be getting worse, and the eerie Obama phenomenon is pivotal. The man possesses almost metaphysical hypnotic power over a large enough number of people, including the rabid right in a twisted way, that a real awakening of consciousness seems extremely remote. It’s as if the Revelation of Bible prophecy is now being fulfilled in real time, but the Beast and anti-Christ are shockingly unexpected.

        1. Kyle

          I’d be cautious for two reasons-

          1. I wasn’t able to find an indication of who the author was in the document

          2. It’s a reputation destroyer, whether true or false it gives rise to suspicion. Also, it’s not dated.
          You remember all the birther stuff in the beginning?

          If you want to proceed investigating it further, I would do a Whois on the site where it was posted. Find out who owns the site.
          Do a search on other net locations of the document and do a Whois on them. I’ve just done a search and they exist. Examine these sites for evidence of neoliberal ideology, racism, etc., to see if there is an political opponent possibility.

          I personally wouldn’t be interested because as a history/political history/economics buff, I understand the issues of our current day do not specifically reside in the person of Obama alone. The ideologies are promoted by representatives of corporate power. I view Obama as one of them, deceiving those who supported him. Just the issue of his support of trade agreements alone tells everything you need to know about him and also the Clintons or anyone supporting free trade. They destroy the ability of their own people to even support themselves and that alone is anathema to any stance of representation of the people of this country. Really, I view it as potentially treasonous.

          In that context, I’d just as soon see him swept from office as soon as possible as well as all others who give their allegiance to corruption. Especially the neolibs and neocons.

          I haven’t read the document in full. It may be true but I would have to research it quite well with some video of Obama’s speeches to use in context plus I’d have to read the author of the hypnosis theory from which it was derived. One of the best ways to handle it would be to pass it on to someone in academia well versed in propaganda for an opinion. Keep it in mind as a frame of reference for future presidents. You might find it useful. We’ve been heavily propagandized.

          1. Integer Owl

            Just want to clarify that I did not go looking for this document as a response to the above post, I found it a couple of months ago during some browsing and thought it would be worth including, as the conversation had veered in that direction. I am certainly no expert in hypnosis but having read the document it seems to me to be plausible. It also would link with suspicions that Obama was previously involved in US intelligence services, where these sort of techniques may or may not be taught and used.

            I certainly concede that the lack of authorship and a date does not lend credibility, and I do not think the site I linked to is a reliable source of information. I used this link as the PDF file can be downloaded, however a quick google search shows many links covering this document.

            Like you, I don’t think that Obama is the source of the serious issues facing our time, although he has seemed to be a decent front-man for the US neolib/neocon racket. I certainly concede that concentrating on him misses the bigger picture, a missing the forrest for the trees type deal.

            Anyway, cheers for the reply. I didn’t understand your comment about remembering the birther stuff though…

            1. Kyle

              Integer Owl,

              The birthers, or birther movement, was an attempt to get Obama disqualified for office/impeached and removed from office due to the fact he was not born in the US. Apparently racist in origin, it also was picked up somewhat by his political opponents.

              The controversy made it all the way to SCOTUS and was eventually rejected with prejudice, i.e., would not be reheard.

              @Lambert below

              “…useful as a compendium of incident reports…”

              In pursuit of ???

              Also Lambert, check out the articles on Erickson and Neuro-Linguistic programming on Wikipedia. Additionally, these techniques are being taught in speech tutoring circles. Google ‘Obama and hypnosis’.

        2. Lambert Strether

          I couldn’t find an author, either, and I wonder how much the putative hypnotic techniques overlap with conventional techniques of rhetoric and oratory. It could be useful as a compendium of incident reports, though — I remember the one-finger gesture re: Hillary quite well.

          1. bob

            It appeared on October 5, 2008, according to the pdf data. Authored by “daniel”.

            It’s pretty good stuff. Entertaining at least. I have an objection to their use of the word science in relation to hypnosis.

            I also have to question the phrase at the bottom of every single page-


            So, the case is pretty solid. The is writing bullet proof. Literally. 68 pages should stop any small arms fire.

            Back checking a few of the listed “sources”, I found one guy who will make me a certified expert-


            Today Just One Investment of $2495

            Too late this year. Oh well.

    3. Ruben

      “It is clear that there is a full-court press for continuing to up the ante with Russia”
      Western MSM’s behavior reflects the impossibility of action against Russia/Putin similar in magnitude to the actions carried out against Libya/Ghadafi, Iraq/Hussein, Panama/Noriega, etc. It’s not warmongering, it is strident frustration. As they say in Chile, the louder the dog barks, the less he bites.

  6. Susan

    “the real value of a conflict, the true value is in the debt that it creates – you control the debt you control everything”

    And since we are clear that Obama et al are best buds with the debt mongers, I can’t imagine how we untangle this narrative. Did we not speak to say, jail the bankers who blew up global finance? That didn’t work. Did we not plead for a “public option?” Did we not protest the administration’s biggest fleecing, which they call the “foreclosure crisis?” So far, it’s debt mongers still holding the reins. The rest of us? Heads down, bowing and scraping. The next big kabuki will be lesser weevilists insisting that Hilary is better than Jeb. Heaven help us!

    I found it interesting to hear Varoufakis in a talk on his modest proposal say there will not be war in Europe, as in another “war to end this depression.” It was an older talk. And if there isn’t to be a big power play in Europe (Ukraine spillover), why has Germany insisted on arms sales to Greece? Are they arming them for the conflict? Who’s directing this play in which we’re all extras?

  7. Lexington

    Think about that for a second, another second: it’s been a year since Maidan, since Yanukovich was chased out, and still not one piece of ‘evidence’ has been made to stick. Not one. While the US have the most advanced spy technology ever seen on the planet, it has not been able to produce one piece of information, for a whole year, to prove its assertions that Russia provides weapons to the ‘rebels’, sends soldiers to fight in the Donbass, or has anything to do with shooting down a plane. Not one single piece of evidence.

    Given that the outright invasion and annexation of Ukrainian territory in violation of its treaty obligations isn’t sufficient to satisfy Ilargi of Putin’s intentions can we just stipulate that there is no standard of proof that could conceivably cause him to question is ideological commitments and call it a day?

    Rote repetition of the tenets of the faith appears to be all that people like Ilargi have left to contribute to the conversation and that isn’t getting us anywhere.

    1. Integer Owl

      I really have to doubt the sincerity of posts like these. The situation in Crimea has been covered ad nauseum on this site, with Russia’s actions being non-violent and favoured by the Crimean residents. Short version of the story: Russia held a long-term (indefinite?) lease from Ukraine there, using it as their only warm water Navy port, and the illegitimate, US-installed ‘government’ threatened the stability of this agreement. I expect that had there ever been any doubt regarding this arrangement, Russia would never have allowed Ukraine to have the territory to begin with.

      1. Lexington

        There has been a lot of coverage on this site, unfortunately much of it has generated far more smoke than light.

        Besides the fact you obviously haven’t done your homework on the Sevastopol lease (colour me surprised) the idea that it is ok for Russia to violate the sovereignty of another country and annex its territory to fulfill its need for foreign bases just shows how intellectually and morally bankrupt the reactionary pro-Russia camp is.

        Who are the real fascists here?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          In case you missed it, the population of Crimea voted to secede to join Russia. So one could argue the term annexation is a big misnomer.

          Moreover, the government in Kiev assumed control in the absence of elections in February when elections were already scheduled for March, and it repudiated the existing constitution. But that point escapes you.

          1. Lexington

            In case you missed it, the population of Crimea voted to secede to join Russia. So one could argue the term annexation is a big misnomer.

            One could argue almost anything, whether the argument has any merit is a completely different matter.

            I’m not aware of any general principle that the legitimacy of a sovereign state is contingent on the assent of all its citizens, and that any subgroup of citizens can at any time arbitrarily break up the state’s territorial integrity by withdrawing their assent. Furthermore I don’t think this is a principle most people would be prepared to endorse if they carefully consider the implications. It would mean for example that Lincoln was in the wrong when he resorted to war to prevent Southern secession. It would mean Hitler’s annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland was completely legitimate (in the sense that the populations of these territories overwhelmingly favoured union with Germany), and his invasion of Poland (in cooperation with the USSR) only illegitimate to the extent he did not limit himself to annexing territories where ethnic Germans where in the majority.

            To take another example I have used elsewhere, let’s perform a little thought experiment: in a few years the majority of the populations of New Mexico and Texas will be Hispanic. What if the Mexican government then invited these states to hold referendums on rejoining the mother country from which they had been forcibly wrested by acts of American imperialism in the 19th century. If the majority of the populations of these states voted to rejoin Mexico would the US be compelled to recognize the legitimacy of the referendum results? What if the referendums are being organized by pro-separatist Americans backed by Mexican troops infiltrated into the US?

            I have a strong suspicion most Americans would not be nearly as ready to apply the standards they deem acceptable in the Ukraine to their own country.

            And while we’re on the topic of the right to secession, how did Vladmir Putin react when the Chechens tried to leave Russia? Maybe my memory is a little fuzzy but I don’t remember any paeans to the inviolate right of peoples to choose their own destinies falling from Putin’s lips. What I do remember is an invasion of Chechnya conducted with a notorious degree of brutality.

            When you move beyond the unreflective “but they held a vote!” knee jerk response and really begin examining the implications of Crimean annexation the issue is much more complex than it initially appears -but then maybe that’s why most people are most comfortable with the knee jerk response.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              You expect me to take this seriously? The vote for secession in Crimea took place AFTER the overthrow of the elected government and the repudiation of the current constitution, only 6-7 weeks before elections were due to take place. This isn’t even remotely comparable to the fact set in the US and you know it.

              1. Paul

                The onus should be on you to explain why Russia was entitled to invade a sovereign nation. All evidence is that Putin did it for the same reason he does everything he does – it was an opportunity for him to steal. There are massive human rights abuses and confiscation of property occurring in Crimea under the auspices of the Russian government. There was no indication of any such systematic violations before Russia invaded.

                1. OIFVet

                  Got links, Paulie? And I don’t mean foaming op-eds of the type you just posted or photos from Inhoffe’s office.

                    1. OIFVet

                      Oh goody: the NYT!!! Might as well post links to Psaki’s press releases. As to HRW, I am still waiting for them to demonstrate the same concern for the indiscriminate shelling and killings of civilians in the East by the Kiev junta, which is in itself an act of terror, as they do for the poor Tatars who decided to actively forego Russian citizenship after 96% of their neighbors voted for secession.

                      Still waiting for evidence of the Russkie invasion BTW. Got some?

            2. Ben Johannson

              What if the referendums are being organized by pro-separatist Americans backed by Mexican troops infiltrated into the US?

              You mean what would happen if Mexico appropriated American territory in the same manner Americans appropriated that same territory from Mexico?

              Golly, let me think. . .

            3. Crazy Horse

              I’m in favor of almost any action, no matter how underhanded, if it removes the cancer called Texas from the United States! For starters we would be rid of the Bush dynasty, 1/2 of the hereditary royalty that are permitted on stage of the carnival called American electoral politics.

              1. different clue

                The Bush Dynasty has generational roots in Connecticut and elsewhere. Herbert “Opium Poppy” Bush was the first Bush to strike out for Texas. The Interstate Transnational Bushes have many bases and the disposition of Texas would make no difference to Bush Dynasty wealth or power.

        2. Integer Owl

          On the Sevastopol Naval base lease, it seems in 2010 the lease was extended to 2042. This is consistent with what I wrote, you will note I inserted a question mark as to whether it was an indefinite lease.

          What do you think would happen if a country tried to take away one of the many strategic military bases the US has around the world? I expect there would be significantly more fuss than at Crimea recently.

          Personally, I see the end-game of the US and I don’t like it, and see Russia as possibly the only nation (at the moment) that has the will to refuse to acquiesce to a unipolar world. This does not entail me being ideologically attached to everything Russia does, has done, or stands for, however I certainly understand that this point may be too nuanced for you to comprehend.

          I stand by the assertion made by Bart that you are willfully misrepresenting the situation.

    2. Bart Fargo

      Given that Ilargi is specifically referring to the current military conflict in the Donbass and the downing of MH17 – not to the 11 month-old annexation of Crimea – can we just stipulate that you are unwilling to acknowledge the focus of his argument, and prefer to willfully misrepresent the regional nature of the present-day conflict in Ukraine?

      1. Lexington

        Bizarre argument.

        What rule of logic constrains the evidence I can use to critique Illargi’s position to the evidence he himself cites? By that logic any argument can be made irrefutable by the simple expedient of the person advancing it refusing to recognize any contrary evidence.

        can we just stipulate that you are unwilling to acknowledge the focus of his argument, and prefer to willfully misrepresent the regional nature of the present-day conflict in Ukraine?

        Speaking of willful misrepresentation I have acknowledged the focus of his argument, which is that Putin isn’t providing massive material support to the insurgents. I just think on a balance of probabilities the odds are very high that he is completely wrong about this and furthermore, to reiterate my previous point, I think he is so deeply committed to this position that no reasonable standard of evidence will alter it.

        In any case if I have misrepresented the nature of the conflict I can assure that it was not done willfully. It would however be very helpful if you could specify exactly how you feel I have misrepresented it.

        1. danB

          You write, “I just think on a balance of probabilities the odds are very high that he is completely wrong about this…” Have you no empirical evidence to offer? try this: Senator imhoff’s got some photographic proof for you.

  8. timbers

    “Given that the outright invasion….” of Russia in Ukraine.

    It was not an invasion, and you know that. As Russia correctly noted, the U.N. charter permits what happened in Crimea as much as it permits the illegal overthrow of the Ukraine government that Obama caused. And clearly Putin had great justification for his actions while Obama had only evil ones.

    1. Lexington

      I’m sorry, when did the UN General Assembly and Security Council abdicate their prerogative to interpret the UN Charter and place this authority solely in the scrupulously clean hands of Vladmir Putin?

      If Putin has actually put the status of the Crimea before the UN and it had endorsed his actions then he could legitimately claim the authority of the UN for them, but he obviously never did that.

      Also, this “coup government” nonsense has run its course. The idea that Victoria Nuland and $5 billion turned 44 million Ukrainians into willing tools of American foreign policy is a grotesque affront to both reason and common sense (either that, or Nuland is actually the most brilliant black ops operative in the history of the world, which must mean her critics are clueless idiots). Before the “coup” tens of thousands of Ukrainians were in the streets demanding Viktor Yanukovich’s ouster. How many are now marching to have the “coup” reversed?

      The only people raving hysterically about a “coup” are, and have always been, those whose agenda demonstrably doesn’t accord with the interests of most Ukrainians.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I see your arguments are becoming more filled with straw men and ad hominem attacks as you are losing ground.

        The ides that $5 billion is not enough to make a huge difference in a poor, horribly corrupt country that was already on the verge of being a failed state is ludicrous. US presidential campaigns, in a stable country of 340 million with high cost TV air time, cost $1 billion.

        As to the use of the word “coup,” your charge of “raving hysterically” looks like a case of projection. The government was overthrown, with the use of force, a mere six or seven weeks before elections were due to be held. The constitution was torn up. Please tell me how that is not a coup.

        And as for who has the interests of the Ukrainians at heart, stoking an ethnic conflict in a country that had a history of people of European and Russian ethnicity living peacefully together was not the way to go. As no less than Henry Kissinger pointed out:

        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…

        A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction.

        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. Russia would not be able to impose a military solution without isolating itself at a time when many of its borders are already precarious. For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.

        You have also implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, straw-manned our position. We are against US meddling and escalation in Ukraine and the reckless instigation of a Cold War with Putin. Deploring US policy is not tantamount to being pro-Putin.

        1. timbers

          “Deploring US policy is not tantamount to being pro-Putin.”

          Like saying their were no WMD in Iraq got you accused of being pro-Saddam, people now say you love Putin if you say “Obama (not Putin) created the conditions that downed the Malaysian plane over Ukraine” or criticize Obama’s policy toward Russia.

      2. timbers

        “I’m sorry, when did the UN General Assembly and Security Council abdicate their prerogative to interpret the UN Charter and place this authority solely in the scrupulously clean hands of Vladmir Putin?”

        To my knowledge, they have not “abdicated their prerogative.” Just as the UN has not abdicated their prerogative to you to selectively interpret the UN Charter for the sole benefit on one nation, the United States. It is a grey area regarding the actions of both sides – the U.S. coup and Russian annexation of Crimea at Crimea’s request – as Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov has stated. But between the two, the deepest grays and blacks are on the U.S. side, not Russia’s.

        “Also, this “coup government” nonsense has run its course. The idea that Victoria Nuland and $5 billion turned 44 million Ukrainians into willing tools of American foreign policy is a grotesque affront to both reason and common sense (either that, or Nuland is actually the most brilliant black ops operative in the history of the world, which must mean her critics are clueless idiots).”

        Actually, that is not our idea, and there is this glaring piece of mis-information and falsehood in your statement: The 44 million Ukrainians by and large do NOT support Obama’s civil war in Ukraine and are not “willing tools” of Obama, but innocent victims who by and large oppose Obama’s war in Ukraine. Do some reading at Vineyard of the Saker, how Kiev has enormous problems getting citizens to fight or join the military, the Kiev soldiers with perfect American accents speaking english, and the public speaking out against any war. It is the elites who want war. The 44 million you call “tools” are against war being instigated by Obama and foreign outsiders.

      3. Paul

        You hit the nail on the head with your earlier comment about there being no standard of proof which would suit the crowd which sees Putin as a benevolent statesman.

  9. Kyle

    “Unless we stop them.”

    Puhleeze. Let’s just stop with the Loony Tune suggestions. Until the political psychopaths that currently make up the corporate cheering section that we call our government are run out of office, that’s just not going to happen. Otherwise, they’re going to follow the dictates of their corporate masters who are just as loony thinking they’ll come out the other end of a nuclear war smelling like roses.

  10. falcemartello

    History repeats itself. The constant lies and saber rattling that has occured since the repubblicans have taken of congress and the presedency are obvious. Obama is democrat only in name and definately a friend of the right. Renzi in Italy is just a poster boy version of Berlusconni. There is a great photo being circulated through social media in Italy with a picture of Mussolini and on his left pockcket id the emblam of the P.D (partito Democratico) meaning democratic party .What a farce. I agree wholeheartedly with the article . I have been thinking this ever since the crisis surfaced itself in the beginning of 2014. All the facts are towards the USA and its cronnies. There is another Ukrainian oligarch I can’t remember his name but a real interesting article on him on Voltaire magazine. The Jacobian has more on the crisis in the Ukraine which is rather interesting along with Counterpunch. Yes they are all left leaning rags but I am a marxist why wouldn’t I be reading such magazines. History repeats itself and yesterdays news gets wrapped in todays fish. WWW3 is definitely on the horizon. Will the masses lap it up. Not sure on this one. Europeans will hold the key to this one. The Chinese panda and the Russian bear have seen this coming for awhile. Unlike westerners they are psychosomatic in nature, both peoples from these two countries recall history. The Chinese with the Boxer wars and the Russians with the WW2 and Stalingrade unfortunately the Antlantacists of the anglo world tend to try to rewrite history and at present are total revisionist. They blame Putin in revisionism , meanwhile the evidence is all looking at them at how the western MSM circus is really the revisionist.

  11. slakbas

    seriously… ukraine has a population of 40m, donbass 2m… there might be one base there, with a few weapons… but they are winning? i suppose it was ukraine that knocked down MH17

    1. vidimi

      that’s as good a guess as any.

      also, i wonder what the current population of the country is after so many people have fled?

      finally, why is the pro-west side so adamant about denying federalisation? it’s beyond clear now that the minor differences that always existed between the western ukies in the west and the russian-speakers on the east have now become irreconcilable and that the latter will not be given fair representation in the running of the new country. none of the coup-apologists provide a solution to this.

  12. steelhead23

    Late to the party once again, but this particular entry provides some very interesting discussion. Open for discussion is the ethics of territorial expansion. I recall that South America was divvied up in Spain – between Papist Spain and Portugal. Portugal claimed all of it, based on the Treaty of Alcaçovas. But the Spanish king had sponsored Columbus’ voyage of discovery. Whose land should it be? (Forget the native inhabitants, they were heathens, not subject to the Pope’s control). So, in the Treaty of Tordesillas, eastern SA was ceded to Portugal, the west to Spain. At the time, Spain was no match for the strength of Portugal and it was the Pope who blessed the division. My point is that discussing territorial expansion with ethics in mind is a tad silly. A smarter move, one displayed in the Treaty of Tordesillas, is pragmatism. In pragmatism, the desires of all parties to the dispute should be considered valid and concessions made to secure peace for all.

    What does Russia want? I believe that above all, Russia wants security. Further, it is an ex-empire and has both ethnic and economic interests in its prior satellite nations. We should view these interests as legitimate. The West has violated commitments made during the collapse of the Soviet empire to not bring prior Soviet satellite nations into NATO. The West did bring Poland into NATO and has aggressively stationed Anti Ballistic Missile batteries in Poland. From Russia’s perspective, these are first strike weapons, intended to prevent retaliation should the West attack. I tend to view Crimea’s separation from Ukraine as a ‘done deal.’ It would be a huge hill to climb for Putin to abandon Crimea to Ukraine. But, very likely there may be room to maneuver on Donesk and the rest of western Ukraine, particularly if the West is willing to remove its ABMs from Poland. I don’t see this as Chamberlain ceding the Sudetenland to Hitler, who was clearly the aggressor, but more like the Treaty of Tordesillas – a sensible solution to a problem that if not resolved could be catastrophic for all of civilization. Except that any discussions of changing the borders of Ukraine should include reps from both Kiev and the rebels.

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