Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

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FTR #833 Shooting Ourselves in the Foot in Ukraine (Habsburg Redux)

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. The new dri­ve is a 32-giga­byte dri­ve that is cur­rent as of the pro­grams and arti­cles post­ed by 12/19/2014. The new dri­ve (avail­able for a tax-deductible con­tri­bu­tion of $65.00 or more) con­tains FTR #827.  (The pre­vi­ous flash dri­ve was cur­rent through the end of May of 2012 and con­tained FTR #748.)

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This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment

Intro­duc­tion: Con­tin­u­ing analy­sis of the Ukraine cri­sis, this broad­cast high­lights an impor­tant, insight­ful arti­cle by Jonathan Mar­shall on the Con­sor­tium News web­site. details some of the dan­gers inher­ent in West­ern and U.S. pol­i­cy toward Rus­sia. He notes that:

  • The pos­si­bil­i­ty that the Ukraine cri­sis could lead to a larg­er con­flict (Rus­sia is, of course, a nuclear pow­er).
  • The pos­si­bil­i­ty that, if Rus­sia is forced into default, the eco­nom­ic impli­ca­tions for affect­ed Amer­i­can and Euro­pean insti­tu­tions could be pro­found­ly neg­a­tive.
  • The U.S. is work­ing to “make the econ­o­my scream” much as the Nixon admin­is­tra­tion did dur­ing its desta­bi­liza­tion of the Allende regime in Chile.
  • The U.S. and the West are, indeed, push­ing for “regime change” in Russia–a fun­da­men­tal vio­la­tion of inter­na­tion­al law.
  • The U.S. and West­ern stance imper­ils impor­tant areas of coop­er­a­tion with Rus­sia includ­ing nego­ti­a­tions over Iran’s nuclear capa­bil­i­ties, sup­port for the Afghan effort (where Rus­sia has per­mit­ted NATO flights over its ter­ri­to­ry), and attempts to find a solu­tion to the Syr­i­an civ­il war.
  • The pas­sage of anti-Russ­ian leg­is­la­tion giv­ing weapon­ry to the OUN/B heirs in pow­er in Ukraine was accom­plished just before mid­night (in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives) with three mem­bers of the House in atten­dance!
  • There are Russ­ian fas­cists fight­ing in Ukraine, whose mil­i­tary expe­ri­ence could trans­late into their ascen­sion to pow­er in Rus­sia.

The per­ils inher­ent in the Ukraine cri­sis are under­scored by the Amer­i­can dis­patch­ing of mil­i­tary train­ers and armored vehi­cles to the Ukrain­ian nation­al guard, which include the Nazi vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions.

Endgame of  the Ukraine cri­sis?

The per­ils were fur­ther under­scored by for­mer Sovi­et pres­i­dent Mikhail Gor­bachev, who warned about the pos­si­bil­i­ty of nuclear war, stem­ming from our cur­rent pol­i­cy drift.

The bal­ance of the pro­gram sets forth the renascent pow­er of the von Hab­s­burgs, who are gain­ing influ­ence in Hun­gary, one of the tra­di­tion­al seats of the old Aus­tro-Hun­gar­i­an Empire. In addi­tion to Hun­gary, Hab­s­burg descen­dants are active in oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries. Geor­gia’s ambas­sador to Ger­many is a Hab­s­burg princess, appar­ent­ly fur­ther­ing the anti-Russ­ian agen­da dis­cussed in George Elia­son’s expose of the evo­lu­tion of the “Spring of Nations,” the 19th cen­tu­ry ultra-nation­al­ist excep­tion­al­ism fos­tered by the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­i­an Empire. Nur­tured by the Promethean League between the World Wars, Nazi Ger­many dur­ing the Sec­ond World War and the West­ern democ­ra­cies dur­ing the Cold War, that vir­u­lent, bloody ide­ol­o­gy tri­umphed after the breakup of the U.S.S.R.

As set forth in FTR #824, the roots of Ukrain­ian fas­cism are anchored in the Hab­s­burg-gen­er­at­ed West­ern Ukrain­ian (Gali­cian) ultra-nation­al­ism. The Hab­s­burgs are very active in West­ern Ukraine at the present time. Karl von Hab­s­burg pre­sides over a radio sta­tion in West­ern Ukraine that is run­ning inter­fer­ence for the OUN/B heirs there.

Pre­vi­ous pro­grams cov­er­ing the Ukraine cri­sis are: FTR #‘s 777778779780781782, 783784794800803804, 808811817, 818, 824, 826, 829, 832.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: Review of Geor­gia’s role in the Promethean League; review of Otto von Hab­s­burg’s polit­i­cal alliance with Jaroslav Stet­zko, the geno­ci­dal head of state of the Nazi-allied Ukraine dur­ing World War II; review of Otto von Hab­s­burg’s mem­ber­ship in the Free Rudolf Hess Com­mit­tee; review of Karl von Hab­s­burg’s UNPO; review of Karl von Hab­s­burg’s mar­riage to Francesca Thyssen-Borne­misza; Wal­bur­ga von Hab­s­burg’s role in reac­tionary Swedish pol­i­tics; the role of the Hab­s­burgs in the final stages of the decline of the Sovi­et Union; review of the fas­cist align­ment of Europe’s monar­chi­cal fam­i­lies dur­ing World War II.

1. On the Con­sor­tium News web­site, Jonathan Mar­shall has post­ed a very impor­tant arti­cle, in which he details some of the dan­gers inher­ent in West­ern and U.S. pol­i­cy toward Rus­sia. He notes that:

  • The pos­si­bil­i­ty that the Ukraine cri­sis could lead to a larg­er con­flict (Rus­sia is, of course, a nuclear pow­er).
  • The pos­si­bil­i­ty that, if Rus­sia is forced into default, the eco­nom­ic impli­ca­tions for affect­ed Amer­i­can and Euro­pean insti­tu­tions could be pro­found­ly neg­a­tive.
  • The U.S. is work­ing to “make the econ­o­my scream” much as the Nixon admin­is­tra­tion did dur­ing its desta­bi­liza­tion of the Allende regime in Chile.
  • The U.S. and the West are, indeed, push­ing for “regime change” in Russia–a fun­da­men­tal vio­la­tion of inter­na­tion­al law.
  • The U.S. and West­ern stance imper­ils impor­tant areas of coop­er­a­tion with Rus­sia includ­ing nego­ti­a­tions over Iran’s nuclear capa­bil­i­ties, sup­port for the Afghan effort (where Rus­sia has per­mit­ted NATO flights over its ter­ri­to­ry), and attempts to find a solu­tion to the Syr­i­an civ­il war.
  • The pas­sage of anti-Russ­ian leg­is­la­tion giv­ing weapon­ry to the OUN/B heirs in pow­er in Ukraine was accom­plished just before mid­night (in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives) with three mem­bers of the House in atten­dance!
  • There are Russ­ian fas­cists fight­ing in Ukraine, whose mil­i­tary expe­ri­ence could trans­late into their ascen­sion to pow­er in Rus­sia.

Risky Blow­back from Russ­ian Sanc­tions” by Jonathan Mar­shall; Con­sor­tium News; 1/19/2015.

Last month, as Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma pre­pared to sign tougher sanc­tions leg­is­la­tion aimed at Rus­sia, the top White House econ­o­mist, Jason Fur­man, boast­ed that the West’s eco­nom­ic war­fare was already bring­ing Rus­sia to its knees.

“If I was chair­man of Pres­i­dent (Vladimir) Putin’s Coun­cil of Eco­nom­ic Advis­ers, I would be extreme­ly con­cerned,” Fur­man said. Declar­ing that Putin and his cir­cle were “between a rock and a hard place in eco­nom­ic pol­i­cy,” Fur­man crowed that “the com­bi­na­tion of our sanc­tions, the uncer­tain­ty they’ve cre­at­ed for them­selves with their inter­na­tion­al actions and the falling price of oil has put their econ­o­my on the brink of cri­sis.”

There’s no deny­ing the per­ilous state of Russia’s econ­o­my. One month ear­li­er, Russia’s Finance Min­is­ter Anton Silu­anov had pre­dict­ed that sanc­tions and low­er oil prices would cost the Russ­ian econ­o­my as much as $140 bil­lion, equal to about 7 per­cent of GDP. Over the course of 2014, the ruble lost 46 per­cent of its val­ue, only to drop anoth­er 7 per­cent on the first day of trad­ing in 2015. Russia’s cen­tral bank esti­mates that the coun­try suf­fered net cap­i­tal out­flows of $134 bil­lion last year, set­ting the stage for a painful depres­sion.

“We are going through a try­ing peri­od, dif­fi­cult times at the moment,” Putin con­ced­ed to a large group of inter­na­tion­al reporters only days after Furman’s com­ments.

But as schol­ars and pun­dits have been telling us for years, in today’s glob­al­ized world, no major prob­lem — eco­nom­ic, polit­i­cal, or mil­i­tary — stays local for long. Pun­ish­ing Rus­sia for its annex­a­tion of Crimea and its con­tin­u­ing sup­port for Ukrain­ian rebels is like­ly to cre­ate a host of unin­tend­ed and cost­ly reper­cus­sions for the Unit­ed States and Europe.

Unlike some tar­gets of U.S. sanc­tions, like Cuba or North Korea, Russian’s econ­o­my is big enough to mat­ter. Its free-fall may well drag the pre­car­i­ous EU economies part way down with it.

Asked by Bloomberg whether the world could see a finan­cial con­ta­gion result from Russia’s eco­nom­ic plight, West Shore Funds Chief Glob­al Strate­gist James Rickards said, “I think we will. This resem­bles 1997–98 more than it resem­bles the 2007–8 pan­ic. Remem­ber that start­ed in Thai­land in June 1997, then it spread to Indone­sia, then to South Korea, blood on the streets in both place, peo­ple were killed in riots, then it spread to Rus­sia. . . . It was the clas­sic exam­ple of con­ta­gion.”

Rickards added, “there’s a lot of dol­lar-denom­i­nat­ed cor­po­rate debt [in Rus­sia] that they may not be able to pay. . . . If that stuff starts to default, who owns it? Well, it’s owned by U.S. mutu­al fund investors, it’s in 401Ks, some of it’s in Euro­pean banks. If you own Ban­co San­tander and Ban­co San­tander has a big slug of Russ­ian cor­po­rate debt, how does it go down? They can point a fin­ger at the Rus­sians, but when that debt goes down, it’s going to come back to haunt us.”

That’s hard­ly a fringe con­cern. Thomas Fried­man has also sound­ed the alarm: “Russia’s decline is bad for Rus­sians, but that doesn’t mean it is good for us. When the world gets this inter­con­nect­ed and inter­de­pen­dent, you get a strate­gic reverse: Your friends, through eco­nom­ic mis­man­age­ment (see Greece), can harm you faster than your ene­mies.

“And your rivals falling (see Rus­sia and Chi­na) can be more dan­ger­ous than your rivals ris­ing. If Rus­sia, an econ­o­my span­ning nine time zones, goes into reces­sion and can­not pay for­eign lenders with its low­er oil rev­enues — and all this leads to polit­i­cal tur­moil and defaults to West­ern banks — that crash will be felt glob­al­ly.”

Europe’s Doubts

Euro­pean lead­ers appear to be hav­ing sec­ond thoughts about the wis­dom of play­ing a game of eco­nom­ic chick­en when their own nation­al economies are so weak. Aus­tri­an, French, Ger­man and Ital­ian lead­ers, meet­ing at a Brus­sels sum­mit in Decem­ber, all warned that Russia’s finan­cial cri­sis could blow back against their own economies.

“The goal was nev­er to push Rus­sia polit­i­cal­ly and eco­nom­i­cal­ly into chaos,” said Germany’s Vice Chan­cel­lor Sig­mar Gabriel.

In a sim­i­lar spir­it, French Pres­i­dent François Hol­lande told a radio inter­view­er that sanc­tions — which includ­ed the can­cel­la­tion of the deliv­ery of two Mis­tral heli­copter car­ri­ers to Rus­sia — were both unnec­es­sary and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive.

“Mr. Putin does not want to annex east­ern Ukraine,” Hol­lande said. “What he wants is to remain influ­en­tial. What Mr. Putin wants is that Ukraine not become a mem­ber of NATO.” As for sanc­tions, Hol­lande said, “I’m not for the pol­i­cy of attain­ing goals by mak­ing things worse. I think that sanc­tions must stop now.”

Such con­cerns did not dis­suade Con­gress last month from unan­i­mous­ly pass­ing tough new bans on financ­ing and tech­nol­o­gy trans­fers — along with $350 mil­lion in arms and mil­i­tary equip­ment to the Ukraine and $90 mil­lion for anti-Putin pro­pa­gan­da and polit­i­cal oper­a­tions in Rus­sia. For­mer Rep. Den­nis Kucinich not­ed that this momen­tous leg­is­la­tion passed the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives late at night with only three mem­bers present.

Care­ful What You Wish For

Promis­cu­ous use of sanc­tions against Rus­sia and a host of oth­er inter­na­tion­al tar­gets iron­i­cal­ly could come back to haunt the Unit­ed States by under­min­ing the very neo-lib­er­al prin­ci­ples it has cham­pi­oned for decades to under­gird U.S. eco­nom­ic expan­sion.

Putin sound­ed more like a leader of the Tri­lat­er­al Com­mis­sion than an ex-KGB offi­cer when he warned last fall, “Sanc­tions are already under­min­ing the foun­da­tions of world trade, the WTO rules and the prin­ci­ple of invi­o­la­bil­i­ty of pri­vate prop­er­ty. They are deal­ing a blow to [the] lib­er­al mod­el of glob­al­iza­tion based on mar­kets, free­dom and com­pe­ti­tion, which, let me note, is a mod­el that has pri­mar­i­ly ben­e­fit­ed pre­cise­ly the West­ern coun­tries.

“And now they risk los­ing trust as the lead­ers of glob­al­iza­tion. We have to ask our­selves, why was this nec­es­sary? After all, the Unit­ed States’ pros­per­i­ty rests in large part on the trust of investors and for­eign hold­ers of dol­lars and U.S. secu­ri­ties. This trust is clear­ly being under­mined and signs of dis­ap­point­ment in the fruits of glob­al­iza­tion are vis­i­ble now in many coun­tries.”

Ian Brem­mer, pres­i­dent of the Eura­sia Group and for­eign affairs colum­nist for Time mag­a­zine, echoed Putin’s com­ments in his recent glob­al sur­vey, “Top Risks 2015,” which warned that “Amer­i­can uni­lat­er­al­ism is stok­ing dan­ger­ous trends” around the world. “I’m very far from a pes­simist, but for the first time since start­ing the firm in 1998, I’m start­ing to feel a seri­ous under­cur­rent of geopo­lit­i­cal fore­bod­ing.”

With regard to eco­nom­ic sanc­tions, Brem­mer observed, “The most impor­tant near-term chal­lenge is the dam­age inflict­ed on transat­lantic rela­tions. Europe will become more frus­trat­ed with an Amer­i­can uni­lat­er­al­ism that Europe (and Euro­pean banks) must pay for. Also, the U.S. could well slap new sanc­tions on Rus­sia and/or Iran, elic­it­ing a back­lash in 2015.

“Over the longer term, though, oth­ers will diver­si­fy away from reliance on the dol­lar and U.S.-dominated insti­tu­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly in East Asia, where Chi­na has the mus­cle and the motive to cre­ate its own insti­tu­tions, and where there is less dol­lar-denom­i­nat­ed debt to com­pli­cate the process. . . .

“And a fat tail con­cern for 2015, also relat­ed to the rise of strate­gic sec­tors: Gov­ern­ments tar­get­ed by sanc­tions will increas­ing­ly treat com­pa­nies that com­ply with them as instru­ments of Amer­i­can pow­er. This will expose these firms to height­ened risks of retal­i­a­tion – from reg­u­la­to­ry harass­ment to con­tract dis­crim­i­na­tion to cyber-attacks. The U.S. finan­cial sec­tor is par­tic­u­lar­ly vul­ner­a­ble on this count.”

Polit­i­cal Reper­cus­sions

The long-term con­se­quences of such sanc­tions could extend far beyond the cost to our own and oth­er West­ern economies. Already U.S.-Russian coop­er­a­tion on arms con­trol has been imper­iled. Pushed to the wall, Rus­sia may decline to con­tin­ue its essen­tial coop­er­a­tion with regard to resup­ply cor­ri­dors into Afghanistan, the Iran nuclear nego­ti­a­tions, and a polit­i­cal set­tle­ment in Syr­ia — all of which rank far high­er in any ratio­nal list of pri­or­i­ties than the fate of the East­ern Ukraine.

As Brem­mer warned, “A Krem­lin that feels antag­o­nized and iso­lat­ed but not sub­stan­tial­ly con­strained is a dan­ger­ous prospect. An aggres­sive­ly revi­sion­ist yet increas­ing­ly weak Rus­sia will be a volatile actor on the glob­al stage in 2015, pos­ing a top risk to West­ern gov­ern­ments and busi­ness­es through­out the year.” He pre­dict­ed the pos­si­bil­i­ty of more stealth cyber-attacks, con­fronta­tions with NATO, and tighter bond­ing between Rus­sia and Chi­na at the expense of the West.

If, as many Rus­sians believe, the real aim of sanc­tions is regime change — just as Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon pro­mot­ed a mil­i­tary coup against Chile’s Sal­vador Allende by order­ing poli­cies to “make the econ­o­my scream” — most observers agree the West could end up with a far more antag­o­nis­tic regime post-Putin.

In the short run, of course, sanc­tions sim­ply inflame Russ­ian nation­al­ism and bol­ster Putin’s pop­u­lar­i­ty. But in the longer run, observed Rus­sia expert Angus Rox­burgh in The Guardian, “Pour­ing fuel on Krem­lin clan wars that we bare­ly under­stand would be the height of fol­ly. We have no idea what the out­come might be – and it could be much worse than what we have at present.”

The longer the Ukraine con­flict sim­mers, the more extrem­ists on both sides gain lever­age. Writ­ing last Sep­tem­ber in The Moscow TimesNatalia Yud­i­na not­ed that “a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of right-wing Russ­ian rad­i­cals are now active­ly fight­ing in Ukraine. Where­as they pre­vi­ous­ly took part in social net­works, his­toric war bat­tle reen­act­ment groups and all sorts of qua­si-mil­i­tary train­ing camps, they are now gain­ing real-world com­bat expe­ri­ence.

“Fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of the con­flict, most will inevitably return to Rus­sia, where their long-stand­ing dreams of stag­ing a ‘Russ­ian revolt’ or ‘white rev­o­lu­tion’ will no longer seem so dif­fi­cult an accom­plish­ment. And that means that one more con­se­quence of this war will be a sharp esca­la­tion of activ­i­ty by right-wing rad­i­cals — only this time, in Rus­sia itself.”

With­out a crys­tal ball, we have no way of know­ing whether the new cold war with Rus­sia will thaw or go into a deep­er freeze. But it seems abun­dant­ly clear that eco­nom­ic sanc­tions and polit­i­cal con­fronta­tion over the fate of the East­ern Ukraine mag­ni­fy the risks to glob­al order far out of pro­por­tion to any real U.S. and West­ern inter­ests.

It’s worth remem­ber­ing, with the cen­ten­niary of World War I just past, that eco­nom­ic col­lapse and social dis­rup­tion are more like­ly to sow the seeds of extrem­ism and con­flict than to make the world safe for democ­ra­cy. If pol­i­cy mak­ers look to his­to­ry for pol­i­cy guid­ance, they would be well advised to study the lessons of Ver­sailles rather than stay­ing fix­at­ed on those of Munich.

2. The US plans announced last year to pro­vide mil­i­tary train­ing for Kiev’s nation­al guard units (which includes the neo-Nazi vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions) are set to begin this spring:

“US Train­ers To Deploy To Ukraine” by Paul McLeary; Defense News; 1/22/2015.

Amer­i­can sol­diers will deploy to Ukraine this spring to begin train­ing four com­pa­nies of the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Guard, the head of US Army Europe Lt. Gen Ben Hodges said dur­ing his first vis­it to Kiev on Wednes­day.

The num­ber of troops head­ing to the Yavoriv Train­ing Area near the city of L’viv — which is about 40 miles from the Pol­ish bor­der — is still being deter­mined, how­ev­er.

The Amer­i­can train­ing effort comes as part of a US State Depart­ment ini­tia­tive “to assist Ukraine in strength­en­ing its law enforce­ment capa­bil­i­ties, con­duct inter­nal defense, and main­tain rule of law” Pen­ta­gon spokes­woman Lt. Col. Vanes­sa Hill­man told Defense News.


The train­ing was request­ed by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment “as they work to reform their police forces and estab­lish their new­ly formed Nation­al Guard,” Hill­man added. Fund­ing for the ini­tia­tive is com­ing from the con­gres­sion­al­ly-autho­rized Glob­al Secu­rity Con­tin­gency Fund (GSCF), which was request­ed by the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion in the fis­cal 2015 bud­get to help train and equip the armed forces of allies around the globe.

The train­ing mis­sion has been the sub­ject of plen­ty of dis­cus­sion among US pol­icy mak­ers for months, and the Unit­ed States has already ear­marked $19 mil­lion to help build the Ukrain­ian Nation­al Guard.

“We’re very open to the idea that this becomes a first step in fur­ther train­ing for the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary,” Derek Chol­let, for­mer assis­tant sec­re­tary of defense for inter­na­tional secu­rity affairs, told Defense News just before he left the Pen­ta­gon on Jan. 17.

He was quick to add that he doesn’t antic­i­pate that this train­ing mis­sion “will require sig­nif­i­cant US pres­ence.”

The mis­sion comes at a time of increas­ing con­cern among East­ern Euro­pean coun­tries that Russ­ian aggres­sion in the region will increase, and as fight­ing around the east­ern Ukrain­ian city of Donet­sk between gov­ern­ment forces and Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratist rebels rages on.

Speak­ing at the Davos con­fer­ence on Wednes­day, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko accused Rus­sia of send­ing 9,000 troops into the east­ern part of his coun­try to back the rebels, a con­tention that NATO offi­cials have backed up, but with­out pro­vid­ing their own esti­mates for the num­ber of Russ­ian forces in coun­try.

Chol­let said Russ­ian mil­i­tary incur­sions into the Crimea and east­ern Ukraine have refo­cused Amer­i­can atten­tion on the region after a decade of fight­ing two wars in the Mid­dle East.

“A year ago we were wor­ried about the future of the trans-Atlantic rela­tion­ship, how would it be rel­e­vant to peo­ple,” he said. “And of course, the events of the last year with Rus­sia and Ukraine has focused peo­ple again on threats to Euro­pean secu­rity and the unfin­ished busi­ness, real­ly, still com­ing out of the end of the Cold War.”

One of the biggest chal­lenges for US pol­icy mak­ers is try­ing to dis­cern “where could this lead and how does this make us think anew about Euro­pean secu­rity issues and force pos­ture issues or defense spend­ing issues?” he added.

In addi­tion to US train­ers, Wash­ing­ton is begin­ning to pro­vide heav­ier mil­i­tary equip­ment to the gov­ern­ment in Kiev. On Mon­day, the Unit­ed States deliv­ered the first pro­to­type of an armored “Kozak” vehi­cle for use with the Ukrain­ian bor­der guard, accord­ing to the US Embassy there.

A post­ing on a US gov­ern­ment con­tract­ing site put the cost of the vehi­cle at $189,000.

The vehi­cle is built on a chas­sis man­u­fac­tured by Ital­ian com­pany Ive­co and fea­tures a V‑shaped armored hull to help pro­tect against mines and road­side bombs. The embassy said that to date, “the Unit­ed States has deliv­ered dozens of armored pick­up trucks and vans to the Ukrain­ian Bor­der Guard Ser­vice. The Kozak is larg­er and offers a high­er lev­el of pro­tec­tion.“

3. The dan­gers inher­ent in the Ukraine sit­u­a­tion were expressed by Mikhail Gor­bachev:

“Gor­bachev Warns of Major War in Europe” by Erik Kirschbaum; Reuters.com; 1/09/2015.

For­mer Sovi­et leader Mikhail Gor­bachev warned that ten­sions between Rus­sia and Euro­pean pow­ers over the Ukraine cri­sis could result in a major con­flict or even nuclear war, in an inter­view to appear in a Ger­man news mag­a­zine on Sat­ur­day.

“A war of this kind would unavoid­ably lead to a nuclear war,” the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize win­ner told Der Spiegel news mag­a­zine, accord­ing to excerpts released on Fri­day.

“We won’t sur­vive the com­ing years if some­one los­es their nerve in this over­heat­ed sit­u­a­tion,” added Gor­bachev, 83. “This is not some­thing I’m say­ing thought­less­ly. I am extreme­ly con­cerned.”

Ten­sions between Rus­sia and West­ern pow­ers rose after pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists took con­trol of large parts of east­ern Ukraine and Rus­sia annexed Crimea in ear­ly 2014.

The Unit­ed States, NATO and the Euro­pean Union accuse Rus­sia of send­ing troops and weapons to sup­port the sep­a­ratist upris­ing, and have imposed sanc­tions on Moscow.

Rus­sia denies pro­vid­ing the rebels with mil­i­tary sup­port and fends off West­ern crit­i­cism of its annex­a­tion of Crimea, say­ing the Crimean peo­ple vot­ed for it in a ref­er­en­dum.

Gor­bachev, who is wide­ly admired in Ger­many for his role in open­ing the Berlin Wall and steps that led to Ger­many’s reuni­fi­ca­tion in 1990, warned against West­ern inter­ven­tion in the Ukraine cri­sis.

“The new Ger­many wants to inter­vene every­where,” he said in the inter­view. “In Ger­many evi­dent­ly there are a lot of peo­ple who want to help cre­ate a new divi­sion in Europe.”

The elder states­man, whose “per­e­stroi­ka” (restruc­tur­ing) pol­i­cy helped end the Cold War, has pre­vi­ous­ly warned of a new cold war and poten­tial­ly dire con­se­quences if ten­sions were not reduced over the Ukraine cri­sis.

The diplo­mat­ic stand­off over Ukraine is the worst between Moscow and the West since the Cold war end­ed more than two decades ago.

4. Before turn­ing to the Hab­s­burgs’ influ­ence and cur­rent activ­i­ties in Ukraine, we note the renascent Hab­s­burg pow­er in East­ern Europe.

“Descen­dants of Last Hab­s­burg Emper­or Climb Lad­der to Pow­er Hun­gary Looks to its Empire of the Past for a New Begin­ning” by Adri­an Bridge; The Inde­pen­dent; 12/23/1996.

In what must rank as one of the most unlike­ly polit­i­cal come­backs of the cen­tury, the descen­dants of the last Hab­s­burg emper­or are once again mak­ing their mark in the Cen­tral Euro­pean ter­ri­to­ries that their fam­ily ruled for hun­dreds of years.

Not sur­pris­ingly, the come­back revolves around the cities of Vien­na and Budapest, the twin cen­tres of pow­er in the lat­ter years of the Aus­tro– Hun­gar­ian empire, which at its peak stretched from the Adri­atic to what is now Ukraine.

The most strik­ing exam­ple of the trend is the appoint­ment this week of Georg von Hab­s­burg, the 32-year-old grand­son of Emper­or Karl I, to the posi­tion of Hungary’s ambas­sador for Euro­pean Inte­gra­tion.

In neigh­bour­ing Aus­tria, the tra­di­tional heart of Hab­s­burg pow­er, Georg’s broth­er, Karl, 35, was recent­ly elect­ed to rep­re­sent the coun­try in the Euro­pean par­lia­ment. In addi­tion to this, he serves as the pres­i­dent of the Aus­trian branch of the Pan-Euro­pean move­ment.

The appoint­ment in Budapest, where Karl I and his more famous pre­de­ces­sor, Franz Josef I, both held the title King of Hun­gary, marks the first time that a Hab­s­burg has been giv­en any offi­cial post in that coun­try since the col­lapse of the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­i­an empire in 1918 fol­low­ing defeat in the First World War.

In addi­tion to com­ing as a sur­prise, the move is full of his­tor­i­cal irony. While Georg von Habsburg’s pre­de­ces­sors did all that they could to keep the clock turned back to an impe­r­ial past, he is now being asked to help pro­pel the coun­try into the future through inte­gra­tion with West­ern Europe.


The new ambas­sador, who holds Hun­gar­ian cit­i­zen­ship and has worked as direc­tor of a film com­pany in Budapest since 1993, was quick to deny that he saw his new job as a step­ping stone to the restora­tion of the monar­chy.

“Let’s for­get about all that,” he told The Inde­pen­dent. “We have got much more impor­tant things to do now — such as bring­ing Hun­gary back into Europe. We Hab­s­burgs are a polit­i­cal fam­ily. We have been in the past, and why not again in the future?”

Otto von Hab­s­burg, 83, him­self a keen advo­cate of the Hun­gar­ian cause, has long since renounced any claim to his father’s throne.

But the same is not true of all the mem­bers of the fam­ily. Before his elec­tion to the Euro­pean par­lia­ment in Octo­ber, Georg von Habsburg’s old­er broth­er, Karl, refused to be drawn when he was quizzed on the issue.

When he was asked if he believed the Hab­s­burg monar­chy could return, his cir­cum­spect reply was: “Nev­er say nev­er again.”

5. A Hab­s­burg princess was anoint­ed as Geor­gia’s ambas­sador to Ger­many. 

“The Princess and the Bear” ; The Econ­o­mist; 2/18/2010.

Geor­gia strug­gles to make its case in Ger­many, which sees trade ties with Rus­sia as vital and the ex-Sovi­et Cau­casian repub­lic as trou­ble­some. So who bet­ter to bur­nish Georgia’s image there than a Ger­man-edu­cat­ed Hab­s­burg? Georgia’s new ambas­sador to Berlin, once she presents her cre­den­tials to the pres­i­dent next month, will be Gabriela Maria Char­lotte Felic­i­tas Elis­a­beth Anto­nia von Hab­s­burg-Lothrin­gen, princess Impe­r­ial and Arch­duchess of Aus­tria, Princess Roy­al of Hun­gary and Bohemia. A name like that, says Georgia’s pres­i­dent Mikheil Saakashvili, should open doors.

The tow­er­ing fig­ure on the Berlin diplo­matic scene is the Russ­ian ambas­sador to Ger­many, Vladimir Kotenev, an inde­fati­ga­ble socialite who runs what is prob­a­bly the biggest embassy in Europe. Ms von Hab­s­burg (the name she prefers) will not, despite her titles, have the cash to match his efforts. But she may still help Ger­mans think again about Georgia’s Euro­pean roots and future. Born in Lux­em­bourg, brought up in Ger­many and Aus­tria, the poly­glot Ms von Hab­s­burg is an avant-garde sculp­tor, spe­cial­is­ing in large steel out­door works. She has lived in Geor­gia since 2001, has become a Geor­gian cit­i­zen and gained a com­mand of the lan­guage (it is “improv­ing every day”, says Mr Saakashvili).

By the stan­dards of her fam­ily, a spot of diplo­macy in Berlin is not par­tic­u­larly exot­ic. The heirs to the Hab­s­burg emper­ors helped speed the down­fall of the Sovi­et empire, par­tic­u­larly by arrang­ing the cross-bor­der exo­dus from Hun­gary to Aus­tria in the sum­mer of 1989 that punched the first big hole in the iron cur­tain. Among Ms von Habsburg’s six sib­lings, her younger sis­ter Wal­burga is a lead­ing con­ser­v­a­tive politi­cian in Swe­den; her broth­er Georg is an ambas­sador-at-large for Hun­gary. Anoth­er used to be in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.


6. Karl von Hab­s­burg has been active in Ukraine. Karl von Hab­s­burg is the head of the UNPO.

“Karl von Hab­s­burg Keeps Ances­tors’ Pro­file Alive in Lviv” by Natalia A. Feduschak; Kyiv Post; 4/20/2010.

Karl von Hab­s­burg laughed hearti­ly when asked what it feels like to walk the streets of Lviv, a city that was once ruled by his ances­tors. “I look at it from an aca­d­e­mic point of view,” he said with a smile. “It had noth­ing to do with me.”

Despite his easy man­ner, how­ever, von Hab­s­burg evi­dently has no inten­tion of let­ting the past, par­tic­u­larly his ances­tors’ role, remain life­less in his­tory books. Near­ly a cen­tury after the Hab­s­burg monarchy’s rule end­ed in Europe, he is ded­i­cat­ing him­self to ensure its lega­cy lives on in west­ern Ukraine.

The 49-year-old von Hab­s­burg was in Lviv in March to announce the cre­ation of a foun­da­tion that car­ries his family’s name. Based in Ivano-Frankivsk, the Hab­s­burg Foun­da­tion will pro­mote and pre­serve the cul­tural lega­cy that for cen­turies shaped and gave Cen­tral and East­ern Europe its iden­ti­ty.

Along with trans­lat­ing books about the Hab­s­burgs, the foun­da­tion is also plan­ning to cre­ate the Haly­chyna Award, a prize that will hon­or indi­vid­u­als who pro­mote the region’s cul­ture through art, books or media.

While the foun­da­tion is still in its infan­cy, von Hab­s­burg says its mis­sion is vital.

“In this area, we need to do some­thing about keep­ing the her­itage alive, the his­tory and the intel­lec­tual his­tory. Authors came here because they got their inspi­ra­tion here,” he told the Kyiv Post in an inter­view.


At the turn of the twen­ti­eth cen­tury, the Aus­tro-Hun­gar­i­an Empire – which gave Cen­tral and East­ern Europe much of its art, cul­ture and archi­tec­ture – spanned from Ukraine’s Carpathi­an Moun­tains, down to the Adri­atic Sea in the south. It encom­passed more that twelve Euro­pean peo­ples and its monar­chy, the Hab­s­burgs, had enjoyed over six cen­turies of unin­ter­rupted pow­er.

A recent book by renowned his­to­rian Tim­o­thy Sny­der chron­i­cles the life of Wil­helm von Hab­s­burg, the mem­ber of the Hab­s­burg fam­ily who was clos­est aligned with Ukraini­ans. Titled The Red Prince, it brought renewed atten­tion to the family’s con­nec­tions with the region.

Bet­ter known as Vasyl Vashy­vaniy, Wil­helm was the younger son of Arch­duke Karl Stephan, who was in line to even­tu­ally become King of Poland. In a bid to save his crum­bling world, in 1916, Emper­or Franz Josef I, along with his Ger­man coun­ter­part, had cre­ated a Pol­ish king­dom as an inde­pen­dent state with a hered­i­tary monar­chy.

Wil­helm, how­ever, had his own goal: He want­ed to estab­lish a monar­chy on the ter­ri­tory of what is today’s west­ern Ukraine. Sny­der writes that the idea was well-received, par­tic­u­larly among some Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary lead­ers and the Church.

A mil­i­tary offi­cer by train­ing, Wil­helm sup­ported Ukraine’s inde­pen­dence strug­gle dur­ing World War I. He fought with Ukrain­ian troops against the Rus­sians, and had schemed and cajoled a myr­iad of politi­cians to sup­port his monar­chial aspi­ra­tions. Almost until his death at the hands of the Sovi­ets in 1948 – he was snatched off the streets of Vien­na and trans­ported to a prison in Kyiv for work­ing as an agent against the Sovi­et Union – Wil­helm believed this slice of the family’s empire could be his.

Although Wil­helm remains a less­er known fig­ure in his­tory books, von Haps­burg said he is aware of the role he played both with­in the family’s and Ukraine’s his­to­ry.

“I knew about his exis­tence and I know of the impor­tant polit­i­cal dimen­sion,” von Hab­s­burg said. “I read [Snyder’s book] and kept ask­ing my father, ‘Is this true?’”


The Hab­s­burg era has under­gone some­what of a renais­sance late­ly in west­ern Ukraine; the new foun­da­tion is just the lat­est in that trend. A con­fer­ence held late last year brought schol­ars from around the coun­try to Cher­nivtsi, which along with Lviv was con­sid­ered an impor­tant city in the region. A Ukrain­ian-lan­guage book on Wil­helm titled The Ukrain­ian Patri­ot from the Hab­s­burg Dynasty was pub­lished in 2008. It out­lines not only his biog­ra­phy, but also con­tains archival doc­u­ments and Wilhelm’s cor­re­spon­dence with Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary and reli­gious lead­ers.

Yet as much as his family’s lega­cy may be mak­ing a come­back in Ukraine, the Hab­s­burgs have had a hard­er time in Aus­tria, von Hab­s­burg said. Otto was only allowed to return to Aus­tria in the ear­ly 1960s after renounc­ing claims to the throne.

Still, von Hab­s­burg and his rel­a­tives remain polit­i­cally active. Von Hab­s­burg was once a mem­ber of the Euro­pean par­lia­ment, while oth­ers cur­rently hold posts there. One rel­a­tive even became a cit­i­zen of Geor­gia and is her new country’s ambas­sador in Ger­many.

“It’s a fam­ily that hasn’t focused on just one part of the world,” von Hab­s­burg said.

7.  It’s appar­ent that Ukraine is a top glob­al pri­or­ity for expand­ing the Habsburg’s influ­ence. Actions speak loud­er than words, and Karl’s new Ukrain­ian radio sta­tion says a lot:

“Karl Hab­s­burg-Lothrin­gen: We Now Have a Tru­ly Euro­pean Radio Sta­tion in Ukraine” by Geor­gi Gotev ; Eurac­tiv; 1/22/2015.

Since 20 Jan­u­ary, a tru­ly Euro­pean radio sta­tion is broad­cast­ing in Ukraine, its main spon­sor, Karl-Hab­s­burg Lothrin­gen, told EurAc­tiv in an exclu­sive inter­view

Karl Hab­s­burg-Lothrin­gen is an Aus­trian politi­cian and head of the House of Hab­s­burg. Since 1986, he has served as Pres­i­dent of the Aus­trian branch of the Paneu­ro­pean Union. Hab­s­burg-Lothrin­gen was an MEP between 1996 to 1999. He is Chair­man of Blue Shield, the organ­i­sa­tion for pro­tec­tion of cul­tural her­itage in armed con­flicts.

He spoke to Senior Edi­tor, Geor­gi Gotev.

You are behind a new radio sta­tion that was launched in Ukraine yes­ter­day (20 Jan­u­ary), a Euro­pean sta­tion, as it is called, broad­cast­ing on 100.00 FM. Can you describe it?

We now have a tru­ly Euro­pean radio sta­tion in Ukraine. There was already a radio sta­tion, but it was rebrand­ed in such a way that now it bears the name of the EU, it has the con­no­ta­tion; it is known as the Euro­pean sta­tion. And of course, what it real­ly has as a goal is to cre­ate a bit of the Euro­pean spir­it in Ukraine, which I think is quite impor­tant, because in com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Ukraine, a lot of things have gone bad­ly or wrong­ly late­ly, so I think it would be very good to have an out­let there that car­ries a strong Euro­pean mes­sage.

Does it mean that this project is designed to counter the Russ­ian pro­pa­ganda? There is a lot of talk about the Euro­pean Union need­ing to do some­thing about it. Are you part of this effort, or is it some­thing you have decid­ed on your own?

The main role should not be pro­pa­ganda. The main role should be to deliv­er bal­anced infor­ma­tion, because we shouldn’t for­get that Ukraine is very much a Cen­tral Euro­pean coun­try. It has a very long Euro­pean his­tory, even from being part­ly in the Hanseat­ic League, and oth­er organ­i­sa­tions. There­fore, I think it is impor­tant to empha­sise the strong Euro­pean point that exists there. And of course the con­flict that we have been see­ing, the war in east­ern Ukraine, and the inva­sion of Crimea, these ques­tions have led to a con­flict where a lot of com­mu­ni­ca­tion went wrong. A con­flict that also led to the fact that in the east­ern Ukraine, due to some prob­lems with­in Ukraine, most of the infor­ma­tion to reach the Russ­ian-speak­ing pop­u­la­tion was infor­ma­tion com­ing exclu­sively out of Rus­sia. So it is very impor­tant to have a media out­let that is cov­er­ing Ukraine and that is car­ry­ing the Euro­pean news.

What lan­guages will you use?

There will def­i­nitely be both the Russ­ian and Ukrain­ian lan­guages, and we have the pos­si­bil­ity to weigh it accord­ing to where we are broad­cast­ing.

And are you get­ting some sup­port from the EU or else­where? You should be trans­par­ent, or you will end up being brand­ed as an Amer­i­can out­let….

Cur­rently, the project is fund­ed entire­ly by indi­vid­u­als. There is no state involved, there are no insti­tu­tions involved. There is a group of real­ly inter­ested indi­vid­u­als that have brought it togeth­er, and we will def­i­nitely try to keep our inde­pen­dence, by all means.


Are you per­son­ally inter­ested in Ukraine?

I have a fam­ily link to Ukraine, because part of Ukraine was very close­ly linked to Aus­tria not that long ago. I think that radio is a very inter­est­ing media, with the pos­si­bil­ity to reach a lot of peo­ple in an imme­di­ate way. So it is of per­sonal inter­est to me that I have the chance to con­tinue being active in Ukraine. I was very active there when I was an MEP, on the ques­tion of EU enlarge­ment. I nev­er had this reduced view of Europe being just the EU. I think it is very impor­tant to say that we have a greater Europe.

8. The broad­cast sets forth the fas­cist incli­na­tions of Otto von Hab­s­burg, the aging patri­arch of that fam­i­ly and the father of Karl von Hab­s­burg. (Younger lis­ten­ers should note that Rudolf Hess was one of Hitler’s clos­est aides and the last pris­on­er at Span­dau prison.)

The New Reich: Vio­lent Extrem­ism in Uni­fied Ger­many and Beyond  by Michael Schmidt; Copy­right 1993 by Michael Schmidt; Pan­theon Books [HC]; ISBN 0–679-42578–0; p. 137.

. . . The final esca­la­tion was reserved for Otto von Hab­s­burg, a CSU del­e­gate to the Euro­pean par­lia­ment and the son of the last Aus­tri­an emper­or; since 1973 he has also been pres­i­dent of the ultra-right Pan-Europa-Union and a mem­ber of the Free­dom for Rudolf Hess Com­mit­tee [Empha­sis added.] . . . .

9. The fas­cist incli­na­tions of the Hab­s­burgs are not unique among Euro­pean monar­chi­cal fam­i­lies.

Amer­i­can Dynasty: Aris­toc­ra­cy, For­tune, and the Pol­i­tics of Deceit in the House of Bush; by Kevin Philips; Viking [HC]; Copy­right 2004 by Kevin Phillips; ISBN 0–670-03264–6; pp. 63–64.

. . . . It is more than eerie. A dis­turb­ing side­bar to the polit­i­cal cul­ture of these restora­tions was how many of the would-be mon­archs, roy­al hous­es, and sup­port­ing fac­tions had been on the fas­cist side in World War II. Italy’s House of Savoy was ban­ished in part for back­ing Mus­soli­ni and sup­port­ing his 1938 race laws, tar­get­ing Jews. In Bul­gar­ia, Sime­on’s House of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha fought through much of the war as an ally of Nazi Ger­many. The Ser­bian fac­tions back­ing the poten­tial Alexan­der II evoked mem­o­ries of World War II mas­sacres and eth­nic bat­tles still com­mem­o­rat­ed after six hun­dred years. The Roman­ian House of Hohen­zollern-Sig­marin­gen, sup­port­ed by the Iron Guard move­ment that blend­ed rur­al East­ern Ortho­dox reli­gion with folk­ish nation­al­ism, fought most of World War II on Hitler’s side. . . .



9 comments for “FTR #833 Shooting Ourselves in the Foot in Ukraine (Habsburg Redux)”

  1. Here’s a reminder that, before things get bet­ter in Ukraine, they’re going to get a lot worse:

    The New York Times
    U.S. Con­sid­ers Sup­ply­ing Arms to Ukraine Forces, Offi­cials Say


    WASHINGTON — With Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists press­ing their attacks in Ukraine, NATO’s mil­i­tary com­man­der, Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, now sup­ports pro­vid­ing defen­sive weapons and equip­ment to Kiev’s belea­guered forces, and an array of admin­is­tra­tion and mil­i­tary offi­cials appear to be edg­ing toward that posi­tion, Amer­i­can offi­cials said Sun­day.

    Pres­i­dent Oba­ma has made no deci­sions on pro­vid­ing such lethal assis­tance. But after a series of strik­ing rever­sals that Ukraine’s forces have suf­fered in recent weeks, the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion is tak­ing a fresh look at the ques­tion of mil­i­tary aid.

    Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry, who plans to vis­it Kiev on Thurs­day, is open to new dis­cus­sions about pro­vid­ing lethal assis­tance, as is Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, offi­cials said. Defense Sec­re­tary Chuck Hagel, who is leav­ing his post soon, backs send­ing defen­sive weapons to the Ukrain­ian forces.

    In recent months, Susan E. Rice, Mr. Obama’s nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, has resist­ed pro­pos­als to pro­vide lethal assis­tance, sev­er­al offi­cials said. But one offi­cial who is famil­iar with her views insist­ed that Ms. Rice was now pre­pared to recon­sid­er the issue.

    Fear­ing that the pro­vi­sion of defen­sive weapons might tempt Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin of Rus­sia to raise the stakes, the White House has lim­it­ed Amer­i­can aid to “non-lethal” items, includ­ing body armor, night-vision gog­gles, first aid kits and engi­neer­ing equip­ment.

    But the fail­ure of eco­nom­ic sanc­tions to dis­suade Rus­sia from send­ing heavy weapons and mil­i­tary per­son­nel to east­ern Ukraine is push­ing the issue of defen­sive weapons back into dis­cus­sion.

    “Although our focus remains on pur­su­ing a solu­tion through diplo­mat­ic means, we are always eval­u­at­ing oth­er options that will help cre­ate space for a nego­ti­at­ed solu­tion to the cri­sis,” said Bernadette Mee­han, a spokes­woman for the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil.

    Fuel­ing the broad­er debate over pol­i­cy is an inde­pen­dent report to be issued Mon­day by eight for­mer senior Amer­i­can offi­cials, who urge the Unit­ed States to send $3 bil­lion in defen­sive arms and equip­ment to Ukraine, includ­ing anti-armor mis­siles, recon­nais­sance drones, armored Humvees and radars that can deter­mine the loca­tion of ene­my rock­et and artillery fire.

    Michèle A. Flournoy, a for­mer senior Pen­ta­gon offi­cial who is a lead­ing can­di­date to serve as defense sec­re­tary if Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton is elect­ed pres­i­dent, joined in prepar­ing the report. Oth­ers include James G. Stavridis, a retired admi­ral who served as the top NATO mil­i­tary com­man­der, and Ivo Daalder, the ambas­sador to NATO dur­ing Mr. Obama’s first term.

    “The West needs to bol­ster deter­rence in Ukraine by rais­ing the risks and costs to Rus­sia of any renewed major offen­sive,” the report says. “That requires pro­vid­ing direct mil­i­tary assis­tance — in far larg­er amounts than pro­vid­ed to date and includ­ing lethal defen­sive arms.”

    In his State of the Union address last month, Mr. Oba­ma not­ed that the sanc­tions imposed by the Unit­ed States and its allies had hurt the Russ­ian econ­o­my.

    But Amer­i­can offi­cials acknowl­edge that Rus­sia has repeat­ed­ly vio­lat­ed an agree­ment, reached in Min­sk in Sep­tem­ber. The agree­ment called for an imme­di­ate cease-fire in Ukraine, the removal of for­eign forces and the estab­lish­ment of mon­i­tor­ing arrange­ments to ensure that the bor­der between Ukraine and Rus­sia would be respect­ed.


    The administration’s delib­er­a­tions were described by a range of senior Pen­ta­gon, admin­is­tra­tion and West­ern offi­cials, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because they were talk­ing about inter­nal dis­cus­sions.

    A spokesman for Gen­er­al Breedlove declined to com­ment on his view on pro­vid­ing defen­sive weapons, which was dis­closed by Unit­ed States offi­cials privy to con­fi­den­tial dis­cus­sions.

    “Gen­er­al Breedlove has repeat­ed­ly stat­ed he sup­ports the pur­suit of a diplo­mat­ic solu­tion as well as con­sid­er­ing prac­ti­cal means of sup­port to the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine in its strug­gle against Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists,” the spokesman, Capt. Gre­go­ry L. Hicks of the Navy, said. But a Pen­ta­gon offi­cial famil­iar with the views of Gen­er­al Dempsey and Adm. James A. Win­nefeld Jr., the vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said they believed the issue of defen­sive weapons should be recon­sid­ered.

    “A com­pre­hen­sive approach is war­rant­ed, and we agree that defen­sive equip­ment and weapons should be part of that dis­cus­sion.” the Pen­ta­gon offi­cial said.

    Russ­ian casu­al­ties remain an unusu­al­ly del­i­cate polit­i­cal issue for Mr. Putin, who has denied that Russ­ian troops have been ordered to fight in Ukraine.

    The report by Ms. Flournoy and the oth­er for­mer offi­cials argues that the Unit­ed States and its allies should cap­i­tal­ize on this fact to dis­suade the Rus­sians and the sep­a­ratists from expand­ing their offen­sive.

    “One of the best ways to deter Rus­sia from sup­port­ing the rebels in tak­ing more ter­ri­to­ry and step­ping up the con­flict is to increase the cost that the Rus­sians or their sur­ro­gates would incur,” Ms. Flournoy said in an inter­view.

    The cur­rent stock of Ukrain­ian anti-armor mis­siles, the report notes, is at least two decades old, and most of them are out of com­mis­sion. So the report rec­om­mends that the Unit­ed States pro­vide the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary with light anti-armor mis­siles, which might include Javelin anti­tank mis­siles.

    ”Pro­vid­ing the Ukraini­ans with some­thing that can stop an armored assault and that puts at risk Russ­ian or Russ­ian-backed forces that are in armored vehi­cles, I think, is the most impor­tant aspect of this,” she added.

    The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion has pro­vid­ed radars that can locate the source of mor­tars. But the report urges the Unit­ed States to also pro­vide radars that can pin­point the loca­tion of longer-range rock­et and artillery fire. Ene­my rock­et and artillery attacks account for 70 per­cent of the Ukrain­ian military’s casu­al­ties, the report says.

    Ukraine, the report notes, also needs recon­nais­sance drones, espe­cial­ly since the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary has stopped all flights over east­ern Ukraine because of the sep­a­ratists’ use of anti­air­craft mis­siles sup­plied by Rus­sia.

    The report also urged the Unit­ed States to pro­vide mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment that can­not be inter­cept­ed by Russ­ian intel­li­gence.

    Poland, the Baltic States, Cana­da and Britain, the report says, might also pro­vide defen­sive weapons if the Unit­ed States takes the lead.

    The report was issued joint­ly by the Atlantic Coun­cil, the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion and the Chica­go Coun­cil on Glob­al Affairs. The oth­er offi­cials who pre­pared it are Strobe Tal­bott, who served as deputy sec­re­tary of state in the Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tion; Charles F. Wald, a retired Air Force gen­er­al who served as deputy com­man­der of the Unit­ed States Euro­pean Com­mand; Jan M. Lodal, a for­mer Pen­ta­gon offi­cial; and two for­mer ambas­sadors to Ukraine, John Herb­st and Steven Pifer.

    It looks like Kiev is going to have some new hard­ware on the way thanks to some enthu­si­as­tic back­ers in the US nation­al secu­ri­ty estab­lish­ment. Acquir­ing new sol­diers could be more com­pli­cat­ed due to a lack of enthu­si­asm:

    Glob­al Post
    Ukraine’s war is get­ting worse, and not every­one wants to fight

    Whether out of fear or polit­i­cal frus­tra­tion, some Ukraini­ans are dodg­ing the draft.
    Dan Peleschuk
    Feb­ru­ary 1, 2015 00:30

    KYIV, Ukraine — Rus­lan Kotsa­ba is some­one you’d typ­i­cal­ly con­sid­er a Ukrain­ian patri­ot: a jour­nal­ist in the country’s nation­al­ist-ori­ent­ed west, he’s par­tic­i­pat­ed in pro-democ­ra­cy protests and reg­u­lar­ly rails against offi­cial cor­rup­tion.

    So it may seem strange that ear­li­er this month he slammed his country’s war effort against Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists.

    “I denounce mobi­liza­tion [for war],” Kotsa­ba said in a video post­ed to YouTube on Jan. 17. “I call on all rea­son­able ade­quate peo­ple to denounce this mobi­liza­tion, because this hell, this hor­ror, must be stopped.”

    With Ukraine mired in a messy war in the east, author­i­ties here have launched a new wave of con­scrip­tion aimed at beef­ing up their fight­ing forces.

    But that may get tougher to do as the war grinds on.

    Whether out of frus­tra­tion with the country’s lead­ers and their han­dling of the war — or sim­ply out of a grow­ing fatigue with the nine-month-long con­flict — some Ukraini­ans are turn­ing away from the draft, which was rein­stat­ed last year as the cri­sis in east­ern Ukraine deep­ened.

    Local media have report­ed anti-draft protests and instances of no-shows at local mil­i­tary com­mis­sions in sev­er­al regions.

    A pres­i­den­tial advis­er even claimed ear­li­er this week that about 37 per­cent of those called up in one west­ern region, tra­di­tion­al­ly known for its nation­al­ist con­vic­tions, had report­ed­ly fled abroad. In a sep­a­rate near­by region, almost one in five of those draft­ed report­ed­ly claimed reli­gious exemp­tions.

    The trend is like­ly part of what some soci­ol­o­gists say is a pro­nounced fear among ordi­nary Ukraini­ans that the con­flict will inten­si­fy, just as it has in recent weeks. More than 5,000 peo­ple have been killed, while a Sep­tem­ber cease­fire has dete­ri­o­rat­ed into all-out war with no end in sight.

    Many are also pre­oc­cu­pied with the dire eco­nom­ic sit­u­a­tion.

    “More than 90 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion has felt the effects of the eco­nom­ic cri­sis,” said Yevge­ny Kopatko, head of the Research and Brand­ing Group, a poll­ster in Kyiv. “Soci­ety lives with a high lev­el of anx­i­ety.”

    Offi­cials are try­ing to allay fears that wide­spread draft-dodg­ing is hap­pen­ing — indeed, many regions have report­ed no such prob­lems. So far, the cur­rent wave of mobi­liza­tion has called up more than75,000 men, about 60 per­cent of whom will enter ser­vice, Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko said this week.

    Ukrain­ian men ages 25–60 are eli­gi­ble for con­scrip­tion. Pref­er­ence is giv­en to those with mil­i­tary expe­ri­ence and with par­tic­u­lar spe­cial­iza­tions, such as tank train­ing.

    But author­i­ties have also sought to crack down on attempts to avoid con­scrip­tion. On Fri­day, Poroshenko issued a decree that includes a pro­vi­sion aimed at reg­u­lat­ing for­eign trav­el for those sub­ject to mobi­liza­tion.

    The mil­i­tary has also cre­at­ed a data­base to keep track of offend­ers, who face two to five years in prison if found guilty of dodg­ing the draft.

    But that pun­ish­ment appar­ent­ly fails to deter men like Kotsa­ba, who as a jour­nal­ist has report­ed on the con­flict from either side of the line and who, since his video address, has attract­ed jeers and wide­spread con­dem­na­tion as a “trai­tor.”

    Though the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine (SBU) even threat­ened to launch a crim­i­nal case against him, Kotsa­ba remains out­spo­ken.

    In an inter­view with Glob­al­Post, Kotsa­ba said he objects to fight­ing in a “civ­il war,” a hot­ly dis­put­ed term giv­en the amount of Russ­ian sup­port the sep­a­ratist rebels receive. But his main com­plaint is that the con­flict — offi­cial­ly dubbed an “anti-ter­ror­ist oper­a­tion” — hasn’t been hon­est­ly por­trayed by the gov­ern­ment.

    Author­i­ties here have still not for­mal­ly declared a state of war, despite their reg­u­lar alle­ga­tions of Russ­ian mil­i­tary incur­sions into east­ern Ukraine. Crit­ics like Kotsa­ba say that’s a loop­hole that pro­vides Poroshenko, whose con­fec­tionary com­pa­ny still oper­ates a fac­to­ry in Rus­sia, more diplo­mat­ic wig­gle room.

    “The point is in the prin­ci­ple: When war is declared, then we don’t trade with Rus­sia, we cut off diplo­mat­ic ties, the pres­i­dent removes any busi­ness assets he has in Rus­sia,” he said.

    Kotsa­ba is not alone. Some Ukrain­ian rights activists have also tak­en issue with the legal ambi­gu­i­ty of the con­flict, argu­ing that in absence of a clear state of war, con­scripts legal­ly chal­lenge the draft. Oth­ers say mobi­liza­tion is legal­ly applic­a­ble in any instances of “armed aggres­sion,” not only when mar­tial law — or a state of war — is for­mal­ly declared.


    Kopatko, the soci­ol­o­gist, agrees the issue is com­plex and points to a curi­ous para­dox: While more than 70 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion wants a peace­ful res­o­lu­tion to the con­flict, more than 60 per­cent also believe it’s nec­es­sary to keep fight­ing, accord­ing to Research and Brand­ing Group data.

    “Social con­scious­ness has gone through a sort of mil­i­ta­riza­tion,” Kopatko said. “Peo­ple are liv­ing in anoth­er dimen­sion, they look at things dif­fer­ent­ly now.”

    In relat­ed news, Ger­many and Hun­gary both pledged to NOT arm Ukraine:

    The Irish Times
    Ger­many and Hun­gary agree not to pro­vide arms to Ukraine
    Dis­agree­ment over phi­los­o­phy of a Budapest gov­ern­ment crit­ics call anti-democ­ra­ti

    Daniel McLaugh­lin
    First pub­lished: Mon, Feb 2, 2015, 18:47

    The lead­ers of Ger­many and Hun­gary have agreed not to sell weapons to Ukraine to use in its war against Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists, but have dis­agreed over the phi­los­o­phy of a Budapest gov­ern­ment that crit­ics call anti-demo­c­ra­t­ic.

    Hun­gar­i­an prime min­is­ter Vik­tor Orban host­ed Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel yes­ter­day for talks that were close­ly watched by Moscow and west­ern cap­i­tals, giv­en his efforts to main­tain good rela­tions with Rus­sia and his crit­i­cism of EU sanc­tions against it.

    Russ­ian pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin is due to vis­it Budapest in a fortnight’s time, and ana­lysts said Dr Merkel was keen to gauge Mr Orban’s stance on Ukraine, where heavy fight­ing con­tin­ued and sep­a­ratist lead­ers announced plans to draft an addi­tion­al 100,000 men in the com­ing weeks.

    “For my part, I can say that Ger­many won’t sup­port Ukraine with weapons,” Dr Merkel said in Budapest. “I’m firm­ly con­vinced that this con­flict can­not be solved by mil­i­tary means.”

    Mr Orban said Hun­gary shared those posi­tions, but there was no pub­lic com­ment from either leader on Budapest’s rela­tion­ship with Rus­sia, which is lend­ing Hun­gary €10 bil­lion to expand its only nuclear pow­er plant.

    Hungary’s leader has named Rus­sia – along with Chi­na, Turkey, India and Sin­ga­pore – as states that are suc­cess­ful while not being “west­ern, not lib­er­al democ­ra­cies and in some cas­es prob­a­bly not even democ­ra­cies”.

    In a now infa­mous speech last July, Mr Orban said the “new state that we are build­ing in Hun­gary today is not a lib­er­al state . . . I don’t think our Euro­pean Union mem­ber­ship pre­cludes us from build­ing an illib­er­al new state based on nation­al foun­da­tions.”

    Ger­many’s involve­ment in the con­flict is obvi­ous­ly going to be sig­nif­i­cant whether its send­ing arms or not. But Hun­gary’s involve­ment, when you fac­tor in the large eth­nic Hun­gar­i­an pop­u­la­tion in Ukraine’s Tran­scarpathi­an region...now that’s going to be some­thing to watch...

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 2, 2015, 7:15 pm
  2. Kiev has a solu­tion to its mil­i­tary deser­tion prob­lem: shoot the desert­ers:

    Ukraine Pass­es Law to Shoot Desert­ers
    By Damien Sharkov 2/6/15 at 12:53 PM

    The Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment has approved a motion to allow com­man­ders in the armed forces to fire at army desert­ers and use force against ser­vice­men for “neg­li­gence” or “drink­ing alco­hol” while on duty.

    The motion was dis­cussed in a ses­sion yes­ter­day after­noon, with 260 MPs pass­ing it out of a total 320, accord­ing to Ukrain­ian news agency Unian — sur­pass­ing the nec­es­sary 226 votes need­ed to pass the bill. It will now be added as an amend­ment to the cur­rent Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­tion on the reg­u­la­tions imposed on com­man­ders’ actions toward their charges.

    The act will allow com­man­ders to “utilise dras­tic mea­sures” — defined by the UN as the use of force and firearms — towards offi­cers caught act­ing “neg­li­gent­ly” or in vio­la­tion to the code of con­duct dur­ing com­bat duty or while they are on bor­der patrol. The new act adds “drink­ing alco­holic or low-alco­holic bev­er­ages” while on duty as an offence pun­ish­able by force.

    Human Rights Watch (HRW), an inter­na­tion­al watch­dog doc­u­ment­ing vio­la­tions of human rights, has spo­ken out against the move. “Using force to harm or kill when some­one is ‘neg­li­gent, deserts or drinks alco­hol while on duty’ is unlaw­ful under inter­na­tion­al law,” Yulia Gor­buno­va, a HRW researcher in Ukraine says.

    “It is a dis­pro­por­tion­ate response which could con­sti­tute pun­ish­ment in vio­la­tion of inter­na­tion­al stan­dards,” she adds. “Force in the army can only be used in self defense or where the per­son is pos­ing an immi­nent threat to oth­ers. Shoot to kill would be an extra­ju­di­cial exe­cu­tion and is unlaw­ful,” Gor­buno­va con­cludes.

    When asked if there was a seri­ous prob­lem with dis­ci­pline and deser­tion with­in the Ukrain­ian army, the Ukrain­ian armed forces did not com­ment.

    Balázs Jarábik, a researcher for the Carnegie Endow­ment for Peace, spe­cial­is­ing in cen­tral and east­ern Europe, believes the new law is not as sur­pris­ing as it seems, but rather “an old Sovi­et prac­tice.” Asked if the new law indi­cates a lack of com­mit­ment in Ukrain­ian troops he replied “Not at all.”

    “The armed forces are very com­mit­ted — look at the bat­tle for Donet­sk air­port or the fierce fight for Debalt­se­vo. Kiev could not even order those folks to with­draw,” he said refer­ring to the fierce bat­tle for Donetsk’s air­port which has been ongo­ing since Sep­tem­ber, and the Ukrain­ian forces defence of the small town of Debalt­se­vo in the face of advanc­ing rebel mil­i­tants.

    Accord­ing to Jarábik, Kiev’s major mil­i­tary chal­lenges are to do with its admin­is­tra­tion, and issues regard­ing recruit­ment and alle­ga­tions of cor­rupt lead­er­ship are par­tic­u­lar­ly prob­lem­at­ic.

    “Cru­cial­ly, Ukraine failed to ensure the nec­es­sary quan­ti­ty of sol­diers alto­geth­er in the stan­dard four mobi­liza­tion rounds dur­ing the last annu­al cycle,” Jarábik adds. Accord­ing to a state­ment made by the deputy com­man­der of Ukraine’s armed forces Vladimir Talay­lay, 78,000 peo­ple had been called up for duty by last month, but only 46,000 new recruits were enlist­ed into the mil­i­tary as a result.

    The Ukrain­ian armed forces announced ear­li­er this week they may resort to call up women aged over 20 in the next recruit­ment cycle to make up the num­bers.

    Along with Ukraine’s troops a series of vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions have formed with the back­ing of wealthy busi­ness­men, the most famous of whom is Igor Kolo­moys­ki, who report­ed­ly funds the vol­un­teer Aidar, Azov, Dnepr‑1, Dnepr‑2 and Don­bas bat­tal­ions.

    The exis­tence of such units has remained a con­tro­ver­sial top­ic as there are no uni­ver­sal rules about who reg­u­lates their prac­tices.

    “Many of the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions par­tial­ly assim­i­lat­ed in the army are paid for by oli­garchs,” Jara­bik says. “Ukraini­ans increased their mil­i­tary spend­ing this year but indeed cor­rup­tion remains a big issue,” Jarábik adds.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 6, 2015, 4:01 pm
  3. Petro Poroshenko just threat­ened mar­tial law if a peace agree­ment isn’t reached:

    Ukraine ready to intro­duce mar­tial law if cri­sis grows — IFX cites Poroshenko

    KIEV Wed Feb 11, 2015 5:13pm IST

    (Reuters) — Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko said on Wednes­day Ukraine was pre­pared to intro­duce mar­tial law across Ukraine if the sep­a­ratist con­flict in the east esca­lates fur­ther, news agency Inter­fax report­ed.

    Speak­ing ahead of a peace sum­mit of lead­ers of France, Ger­many, Rus­sia and Ukraine, Poroshenko said Kiev’s key posi­tion at talks would be aimed at secur­ing an uncon­di­tion­al cease­fire, but Ukraine was pre­pared to defend itself mil­i­tar­i­ly if need­ed.

    “I, the gov­ern­ment and the par­lia­ment are ready to take the deci­sion to intro­duce mar­tial law in all the ter­ri­to­ries of Ukraine,” he was quot­ed as say­ing at a gov­ern­ment meet­ing.

    “We are for peace ... (but) our coun­try needs to be defend­ed and we will do that to the end,” he said.


    “Ukraine has always been and always will be a uni­fied state ... fed­er­al­i­sa­tion is a seed that will not take root in Ukrain­ian soil,” he said, refer­ring to pro­pos­als pushed by Moscow.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 11, 2015, 9:09 am
  4. In a twist, Mikheil Saakashvili has turned down the job of head of Ukraine’s anti-cor­rup­tion bureau. It sounds like he was unwill­ing to become a Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen in order to take the job. So, instead, he’s being appoint­ed as one of Willy Wonka’s oom­pa loom­pa advis­ers as the head of the Advi­so­ry Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil of Reforms where he will help imple­ment best prac­tices and build glob­al sup­port for Ukraine. Or some­thing like that:

    Geor­gia’s Saakashvili appoint­ed aide to Ukraine leader
    Agence France-Presse Feb­ru­ary 14, 2015 6:00am

    Mikheil Saakashvili, the for­mer fierce­ly pro-West­ern leader of Geor­gia, has been appoint­ed an aide to the Ukraine pres­i­dent to help the war-torn coun­try on its path to reform, offi­cials said.

    In his new job as the head of the Advi­so­ry Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil of Reforms, the 47-year-old for­mer pres­i­dent will help imple­ment best prac­tices and build glob­al sup­port for the ex-Sovi­et coun­try.

    “Mikheil will become a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Ukraine abroad and, simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty in Ukraine,” Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko said in a state­ment.

    Saakashvili for his part said Ukraini­ans deserved a bet­ter future free of cor­rup­tion and injus­tice.

    “We will not win if we do not build a new Ukraine today and do not imple­ment new reforms,” he was quot­ed as say­ing in a state­ment.

    A charis­mat­ic lawyer, Saakashvili rose to pow­er in Geor­gia after the Rose Rev­o­lu­tion that oust­ed the coun­try’s for­mer leader, ex-Sovi­et for­eign min­is­ter Eduard She­vard­nadze, in 2003.

    Dur­ing his decade in pow­er he was praised for mod­ernising reforms that brought Geor­gia back from the brink of eco­nom­ic col­lapse and tack­led wide­spread cor­rup­tion but drew crit­i­cism for the coun­try’s defeat in a brief war with arch-foe Rus­sia in 2008.

    Saakashvili said Ukrain­ian offi­cials had ear­li­er sug­gest­ed that he apply for a job of head of the Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau, but he did not want to renounce his Geor­gian cit­i­zen­ship.

    Ukraine has ear­li­er installed sev­er­al for­eign­ers in top gov­ern­ment posts.

    Lithua­nia-born Aivaras Abro­mavi­cius was appoint­ed eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment and trade min­is­ter while Unit­ed States-born Natalia Jaresko became finance min­is­ter.

    Alexan­der Kvi­tashvili, also from Geor­gia, was appoint­ed health min­is­ter.


    Well, hope­ful­ly life as a Williams­burg hip­ster gave Mikheil Saakashvili the life expe­ri­ences he needs to con­tin­ue craft­ing Ukraine’s new anti-cor­rup­tion leg­is­la­tion, although he might have oth­er rel­e­vant expe­ri­ences.

    And note that it isn’t just anti-cor­rup­tion work that Saakashvili will be focus­ing on. He’s been apply­ing his knowl­edge of best prac­tices to all sorts of dif­fer­ent areas of Ukrain­ian life:

    Democ­ra­cy & Free­dom Watch
    Saakashvili appoint­ed advis­er to Ukraine’s Poroshenko
    by DFWatch staff | Feb 14, 2015

    TBILISI, DFWatch–Former Geor­gian Pres­i­dent Mikheil Saakashvili was Fri­day offi­cial­ly con­firmed as advis­er to the Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent, despite being want­ed for crimes in his home coun­try.

    Saakashvili will be head of the Advi­so­ry Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil of Reforms, a body sub­or­di­nate to Ukraine’s Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko.

    “The Advi­so­ry Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil of Reforms is a con­sul­ta­tive body the main task of which is to elab­o­rate pro­pos­als and rec­om­men­da­tions on the imple­men­ta­tion of reforms in Ukraine tak­ing into account the best inter­na­tion­al expe­ri­ence,” a state­ment pub­lished on the offi­cial web­site of Poroshenko reads.

    Pros­e­cu­tors in Geor­gia have charged Saakashvili in four dif­fer­ent crim­i­nal cas­es, which include cov­er­ing up the mur­der of a 28 year old bank employ­ee in 2006.

    Toward the end of his near­ly ten years term – the last year in a frag­ile pow­er-shar­ing agree­ment with a hos­tile coali­tion – his rule became increas­ing­ly unpop­u­lar. The coali­tion, called Geor­gian Dream, won a land­slide vic­to­ry in 2012 on a promise to ‘restore jus­tice’, and pro­ceed­ed to put for­mer offi­cials on tri­al and free over half of all pris­on­ers in the coun­try based on the per­cep­tion that there were too many mis­car­riages of jus­tice to go through each case indi­vid­u­al­ly.

    Last year also Saakashvili per­son­al­ly was charged. He is cur­rent­ly want­ed for cov­er­ing up the mur­der of bank employ­ee San­dro Girgvliani in 2006, for order­ing the beat­ing of a par­lia­men­tar­i­an in 2005, embez­zle­ment of more than four mil­lion dol­lars, and for order­ing the vio­lent dis­per­sal of an oppo­si­tion ral­ly and storm­ing of a TV stu­dio in 2008.

    But Poroshenko hails the reforms under the Nation­al Move­ment leader.

    “We’ve been think­ing for a long time how to use the knowl­edge, expe­ri­ence and unique know-how of Mikheil Saakashvili in the best way,” Poroshenko’s state­ment reads.

    It goes on to say that the Geor­gian ex-pres­i­dent car­ried out reforms in vir­tu­al­ly all areas of eco­nom­ic, polit­i­cal and social life, par­tic­u­lar­ly tak­ing note of the police reforms, the edu­ca­tion reforms and the jus­tice reforms.

    “We will not win if we do not build a new Ukraine today and do not imple­ment new reforms. It is a pur­suit in time. If new Ukraine comes true, Geor­gia will also be free,” Poroshenko’s offi­cial web­site quotes Saakashiv­ili say­ing.

    Poroshenko fired his advi­sor more than five days ago, when there were also reports that Saakashvili turned down an offer to be head of the anti-cor­rup­tion bureau in Ukraine. In his new posi­tion, Saakashvili will not be required to obtain a Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen­ship, but may remain a Geor­gian cit­i­zen.

    A few days ago, Saakashvili said in an inter­view with the TV sta­tion Dozhd that there are a num­ber of Geor­gian min­is­ters and offi­cials in Ukraine’s new gov­ern­ment, who are ‘busy con­duct­ing reforms.’

    “For exam­ple our for­mer Deputy Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Eka Zghu­ladze is now in charge for police reform,” he said, adding that peo­ple sup­port her now. Many Geor­gians, he said, are busy with the jus­tice reforms, to cre­ate a sys­tem of online ten­ders and oth­er pro­ce­dures.

    Poroshenko first advised Mikheil Saakashvili to be advi­sor back in May 2014, but he declined, instead promis­ing to assist them infor­mal­ly with­out hav­ing an offi­cial posi­tion.

    Saakashvili is want­ed by Geor­gia and the gov­ern­ment is wait­ing for a response from Inter­pol in con­nec­tion with a Read Alert sent out to appre­hend him.


    That’s right:

    “We’ve been think­ing for a long time how to use the knowl­edge, expe­ri­ence and unique know-how of Mikheil Saakashvili in the best way,” Poroshenko’s state­ment reads.

    It goes on to say that the Geor­gian ex-pres­i­dent car­ried out reforms in vir­tu­al­ly all areas of eco­nom­ic, polit­i­cal and social life, par­tic­u­lar­ly tak­ing note of the police reforms, the edu­ca­tion reforms and the jus­tice reforms.

    “We will not win if we do not build a new Ukraine today and do not imple­ment new reforms. It is a pur­suit in time. If new Ukraine comes true, Geor­gia will also be free,” Poroshenko’s offi­cial web­site quotes Saakashiv­ili say­ing.

    Pre­sum­ably Saakashvil­i’s role as an inter­na­tion­al rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Ukraine is con­tin­gent on him stay­ing off of the inter­pol want­ed lists so that will be some­thing to watch as far as a Saakashvili career devel­op­ment hur­dles. Land­ing on inter­pol would also com­pli­cate one of the oth­er new report­ed roles Saakashvilie is going to be play­ing: Arms sup­ply coor­di­na­tor:

    Ex-Geor­gian pres­i­dent says will coor­di­nate Ukraine arms sup­plies issue
    14 Feb­ru­ary 2015 | 09:49 | FOCUS News Agency

    Kiev. For­mer Geor­gian Pres­i­dent Mikheil Saakashvili, who was appoint­ed Fri­day as the chair­man of Ukraine’s inter­na­tion­al con­sul­ta­tive reform coun­cil, has said he will coor­di­nate the issue of arms sup­plies to Kiev, TASS report­ed.
    “Now it is most impor­tant to help Ukraine with weapons. Over the next sev­er­al days, I will be coor­di­nat­ing this,” Saakashvili told a Ukrain­ian TV chan­nel.

    US Depart­ment of State Spokesper­son Jen Psa­ki said on Fri­day the arms sup­plies to the war-torn Ukraine are still on the table even after this week’s sign­ing of the new Min­sk agree­ments.
    In com­ments to his appoint­ment to the post, Saakashvili, who ear­li­er refused to obtain the Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen­ship, said: “I am a free politi­cian and a Geor­gian cit­i­zen, all oth­er pro­pos­als on get­ting Ukraine’s cit­i­zen­ship were not fit­ted in a whole strat­e­gy, and of course, I should return to my coun­try,” he said.
    The decree pub­lished on Fri­day says that the coun­cil will be a con­sul­ta­tive agency under the Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent tasked to pro­vide pro­pos­als and rec­om­men­da­tions on reforms in Ukraine on the basis of the best inter­na­tion­al expe­ri­ence.
    Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko said Saakashvili, who has unique knowl­edge and expe­ri­ence and has in fact worked as a free-lance advi­sor on Ukrain­ian reforms, has final­ly received his offi­cial sta­tus.
    Pres­i­dent Poroshenko said Saakashvili would become “Ukraine’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive abroad and at the same time the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty in Ukraine.”
    Ear­li­er reports said Saakashvili could head the country’s new­ly cre­at­ed Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bureau. How­ev­er, he was not includ­ed on the pub­lished list of can­di­dates for the post.

    Hip­ster or not, Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen or not, Saakashvili is ready for his new job as arms coor­di­na­tor. Very ready.

    He’s ready for a lot.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 15, 2015, 7:34 pm
  5. Hi Dave, I was won­der­ing what you know about the US embassy in Kiev and the their sup­port for the “tech camp” meet­ing that occurred there on March 1st, 2013, eight months before the Maid­an coup real­ly starts ramp­ing up. Here’s the link http://ukraine.usembassy.gov/events/techcamp-2013-kyiv.html

    The link describes how “the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv paired lead­ers in the tech­nol­o­gy com­mu­ni­ty with civ­il soci­ety orga­ni­za­tions to pro­vide in-depth expo­sure to low-cost and easy to imple­ment tech­nolo­gies. More than 60 civ­il soci­ety lead­ers from through­out Ukraine came togeth­er to get hands-on train­ing in a vari­ety of areas rang­ing from fundrais­ing using crowd­sourc­ing, cit­i­zen jour­nal­ism, PR tools for NGOs, Microsoft software(weird) and pro­grams for NGOs, and more. These civ­il soci­ety orga­ni­za­tions will be poised to use new tech­nolo­gies to grow their net­works, com­mu­ni­cate more effi­cient­ly, and keep pace with the chang­ing world.”

    They con­tin­ue to go about the neces­si­ty and trans­paren­cy of such a pro­gram:
    “The tech­nolo­gies and approach­es pre­sent­ed help to build new net­works of rela­tion­ships, enhance skill devel­op­ment, and cre­ate new avenues for com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Adop­tion of these tech­nolo­gies by civ­il soci­ety orga­ni­za­tions will help sup­port the mis­sions of these groups as well as broad­er social goals of democ­ra­cy, trans­paren­cy and good gov­er­nance in the 21st Cen­tu­ry.”
    Now, this may seem like noth­ing, but in the light of the USAID and it’s own “cuba twit­ter” — known as Zun­Zu­neo, I thought to myself “how the bloody hell did we miss this crit­i­cal piece of the puz­zle??” While some read­ing this will say this is noth­ing, a day camp for activists, but it was­n’t just help­ing con­nect activists — it was about track­ing them and fol­low­ing their texts and mes­sages. Thing’s start get­ting real­ly weird when you scroll to the bot­tom of the usem­bassy url, and come across the tech­camp url, that takes you, to this
    What the seri­ous fudge is this. It takes you to a pay for use pro­gram that teach­es you how to spy on net­works, “friends”[their words, not mine{creepy}], and tele­com devices in gen­er­al. If what this is imply­ing is true, while it’s report­ed US embassy use states its pur­pose was to con­nect Maid­an activists, it’s actu­al com­pa­ny stat­ed pur­pose for the group Tech Camp sell­ing this device is the track­ing and trans­fer of indi­vid­u­als per­son­al data. From the Tech Camp Kiev’s own web­site:

    “As the app actu­al­ly has ‘spy’ in its name, it is more like­ly asso­ci­at­ed with spy­ing soft­ware, which is in fact designed for the use on mobile plat­forms of dif­fer­ent mak­ing. These plat­forms actu­al­ly include, but not lim­it­ed to Android, iOS, Black­ber­ry OS and Win­dows Mobile. Even though the spy­ing is exact­ly what the major­i­ty of the users install Flex­ispy for, this app also pro­vides some essen­tial secu­ri­ty and recov­ery tools, which alone could be as valu­able to these users as any oth­er paid bun­dle that pur­pose­ly tar­gets the secu­ri­ty aspect.”

    One last thing from the USEm­bassy site:
    Two more Tech­Camps 2.0 will be held in Donet­sk in April(2013) and Ivano-Frankivsk in May.
    What does this mean? It means that any Maid­an pro­test­ers and even pos­si­bly Donet­sk res­i­dents with this app installed would have had their gps loca­tion tracked and revealed, and all their mes­sages would have been bun­dled and sent, most like­ly through a US embassy chan­nel, much like with USAID’s “cuban twit­ter” known oth­er­wise as “Zun­zu­neo”. This would have giv­en a heads up to any poten­tial polit­i­cal dis­sent or dis­agree­ment amongst pro­test­ers using the app, and would have let any of the groups like Right Sec­tor or the UPA know exact­ly who is oppos­ing them, what they are say­ing, and let know them know exact­ly where they live...

    Posted by NIMO | February 19, 2015, 1:34 pm
  6. One last thing about the “tech Camp” Kiev site, I checked out the Terms of Ser­vice, and it just gets worse and worse:

    “By oper­at­ing the Web­site, Tech Camp Kyiv does not rep­re­sent or imply that it endors­es the mate­r­i­al there post­ed, or that it believes such mate­r­i­al to be accu­rate, use­ful or non-harm­ful. You are respon­si­ble for tak­ing pre­cau­tions as nec­es­sary to pro­tect your­self and your com­put­er sys­tems from virus­es, worms, Tro­jan hors­es, and oth­er harm­ful or destruc­tive content(that sounds like them say­ing if you find out this is a virus, you still can’t sue). The Web­site may con­tain con­tent that is offen­sive, inde­cent, or oth­er­wise objec­tion­able, as well as con­tent con­tain­ing tech­ni­cal inac­cu­ra­cies, typo­graph­i­cal mis­takes, and oth­er errors.”

    Posted by NIMO | February 19, 2015, 1:57 pm
  7. @NIMO–

    I had­n’t heard of the event before, nor was I aware of the par­tic­u­lars.

    It does look fishy as Hell–not that that is sur­pris­ing, giv­en a USAID func­tion at the Amer­i­can embassy.

    It would be amaz­ing if that were any­thing BUT an intel oper­a­tion of some kind.

    You appear to have done a pret­ty good job set­ting forth the basics.


    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | February 19, 2015, 1:57 pm
  8. Ukraine’s for­mer envoy to Cana­da recent­ly remind­ed Cana­da that not only is Ukraine prepar­ing for a ‘full-scale war’ with Rus­sia but every­one is invit­ed. That means you too, Cana­da;

    CBC News
    Ukraine prepar­ing for ‘full-scale war,’ says for­mer envoy to Cana­da
    Vadym Prys­taiko, now deputy for­eign min­is­ter, calls on the West to ‘stiff­en up in the spine’

    Post­ed: Feb 21, 2015 7:00 AM ET Last Updat­ed: Feb 21, 2015 7:11 PM ET

    Ukraine’s deputy for­eign min­is­ter says he is prepar­ing for “full-scale war” against Rus­sia and wants Cana­da to help by sup­ply­ing lethal weapons and the train­ing to use them.

    Vadym Prys­taiko, who until last fall was Ukraine’s ambas­sador to Cana­da, says the world must not be afraid of join­ing Ukraine in the fight against a nuclear pow­er.

    In an inter­view with CBC Radio’s The House air­ing Sat­ur­day, Prys­taiko says the cease­fire bro­kered by Ger­many and France was not hold­ing.

    “The biggest hub we ever had in the rail­road is com­plete­ly destroyed and dev­as­tat­ed,” he told host Evan Solomon about Debalt­seve, cap­tured by Russ­ian-backed rebels after the terms were to have tak­en effect ear­li­er this week.

    “We see that they are not stop­ping,” he says, sug­gest­ing the fight was now head­ing south to the port of Mar­i­upol.

    “It does­n’t take a genius to see what they are try­ing to do.… They are tak­ing more and more strate­gic points.”


    ‘We have to do some­thing’

    “The stakes are real­ly high,” Prys­taiko says, point­ing out that Ukraine has now closed its bor­der cross­ing with Rus­sia. “We don’t want to scare every­body, but we are prepar­ing for full-scale war.”

    What to do in the face of such a threat? For starters, get over your fears, he says.

    “What we expect from the world is that the world will stiff­en up in the spine a lit­tle,” he says. “Every­body is afraid of fight­ing with a nuclear state. We are not any­more, in Ukraine — we’ve lost so many peo­ple of ours, we’ve lost so much of our ter­ri­to­ry.

    “How­ev­er dan­ger­ous it sounds, we have to stop [Putin] some­how. For the sake of the Russ­ian nation as well, not just for the Ukraini­ans and Europe.”

    Prys­taiko says Ukraini­ans are blunt when it comes to what they need.

    “We would like Cana­da to send lethal weapons to Ukraine,” he said. “Weapons to allow us to defend our­selves.”

    Cana­da has been help­ing to train Ukrain­ian sol­diers for the last decade, but it isn’t enough, he says.

    “It was­n’t on the lev­el that would help our army [against an] inva­sion.”

    Ukraine wants weapons, and train­ing to use them, he said.

    His coun­try has received all the non-lethal assis­tance Cana­da pledged, with the excep­tion of new radar tech­nol­o­gy which is “in the final stages,” he says.

    Defence Min­is­ter Jason Ken­ney empha­sized at a defence con­fer­ence Thurs­day in Ottawa that the radar capa­bil­i­ties would not be used for tar­get­ing poten­tial strikes against rebel forces.

    He also said last week­end on The House that Cana­da does­n’t have large stock­piles of weapons to give, although it could acquire some from oth­er ven­dors and then sup­ply Ukraine.

    ‘It’s painful’

    Beyond weapons, Prys­taiko empha­sized the impor­tance of finan­cial assis­tance, includ­ing a pack­age on its way from Cana­da and Japan.

    “Don’t for­get that the infra­struc­ture in Donet­sk is already dev­as­tat­ed. We’ve lost at least 20 per cent of the indus­tri­al [out­put] of Ukraine. We’ve had to close the mar­ket with Rus­sia, which is a third of our exports and imports.

    “It’s painful.”

    He says Cana­da has been help­ful by tak­ing “prob­a­bly the most staunch posi­tion” and talk­ing to its allies.

    “It’s a big change for Europe,” he says, where neigh­bour­ing coun­tries feel scared.

    But he does­n’t hold back from call­ing on Ukraine’s West­ern allies to step up, echo­ing the frus­tra­tion he expressed last Novem­ber over Canada’s will­ing­ness to inter­vene in Iraq but not send troops to help Ukraine.

    “I was quite blunt … and prob­a­bly it was pre­ma­ture at that point but now I have to ask again: If we see the same sort of rebels com­ing towards cen­tral Ukraine, towards oth­er cities, how much is dif­fer­ent from what we see in Iraq and the inter­na­tion­al help which was com­ing?”

    “Unfor­tu­nate­ly, we will prob­a­bly pose a very seri­ous ques­tion for the rest of the world: How can we react to this new chal­lenge? We haven’t had it for 50 years in Europe. Now it’s back again.”

    “What we expect from the world is that the world will stiff­en up in the spine a little...Everybody is afraid of fight­ing with a nuclear state. We are not any­more, in Ukraine — we’ve lost so many peo­ple of ours, we’ve lost so much of our ter­ri­to­ry.” Pep talks aren’t real­ly his thing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 22, 2015, 7:17 pm
  9. The band is back togeth­er, play­ing the same old tunes:

    The Wall Street Jour­nal
    Ukraine’s U.S. Back­ers Use Cold-War Play­book
    Pair who helped arm Afghans against Sovi­ets find new cause

    By Adam Entous
    May 7, 2015 10:30 p.m. ET

    Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko appeared before the U.S. Con­gress last Sep­tem­ber and plead­ed for weapons to counter Russ­ian advances. After­ward, mem­bers of his del­e­ga­tion sat down with two Amer­i­can sup­port­ers at a home in George­town. Why, the Ukraini­ans asked, was the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion promis­ing so much but doing so lit­tle?

    Michael Pills­bury, a Pen­ta­gon con­sul­tant, and Gor­don Humphrey, a for­mer Repub­li­can U.S. sen­a­tor, leaned across a white couch and whis­pered to each oth­er. It was just like 1984, they agreed.

    Few Amer­i­cans have more exper­tise push­ing a balky admin­is­tra­tion to bat­tle an invad­ing Russ­ian army than Messrs. Pills­bury and Humphrey. In the mid-1980s, hav­ing con­clud­ed Pres­i­dent Ronald Rea­gan wasn’t seri­ous about arm­ing the Afghan muja­hedeen, they worked with Rep. Char­lie Wil­son to build the largest covert-action pro­gram in Cen­tral Intel­li­gence Agency his­to­ry. The Sovi­et army, stung by the advanced U.S. weapon­ry pro­vid­ed to local forces, with­drew from Afghanistan in 1989. The Sovi­et Union col­lapsed soon after.

    Today, as the two Cold War adver­saries face off anew, it is the Ukraini­ans who are des­per­ate for U.S. weapon­ry and strug­gling to make sense of U.S. pol­i­cy. Mem­bers of the coali­tion that prod­ded Mr. Rea­gan into fight­ing the Sovi­ets in Afghanistan have reopened their 30-year-old play­book, this time seek­ing to pres­sure Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma to punch back against Vladimir Putin’s Rus­sia.

    This account of their effort is based on inter­views with Messrs. Pills­bury and Humphrey and many oth­ers involved, includ­ing admin­is­tra­tion and defense offi­cials and the vis­it­ing Ukraini­ans.

    The two Amer­i­cans explained to the Ukraini­ans the intri­ca­cies of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and weapons pro­cure­ment. They ush­ered Ukrain­ian offi­cers around the Pen­ta­gon, much as they did with Afghan com­man­ders in the 1980s. And they helped Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can groups lob­by to cre­ate a Sen­ate cau­cus mod­eled after the one Mr. Humphrey co-chaired in the 1980s, to press Mr. Oba­ma to send arms. (Mr. Wil­son, a Demo­c­rat who used his con­gres­sion­al role to appro­pri­ate mon­ey to arm the Afghans—an effort recount­ed in a book and a 2007 movie, “Char­lie Wilson’s War”—died in 2010.)

    New era, new bat­tle

    There are impor­tant dif­fer­ences between the two eras that cast a cloud over Ukraine’s prospects. Among them is a divid­ed Congress’s dimin­ished abil­i­ty to wield the pow­er of the purse to guide for­eign pol­i­cy.

    “I’m not sure that Con­gress has reached the point at which it’s will­ing to real­ly use the levers at its dis­pos­al,” says Sen. Chris Mur­phy, a Con­necti­cut Demo­c­rat and mem­ber of the Senate’s Ukraine Cau­cus.

    Ukraine, with its mod­ern army and pro-West­ern gov­ern­ment, has lit­tle in com­mon with the muja­hedeen of the 1980s, except that both have had ter­ri­to­ry seized by a regime in Moscow and both have been out­gunned. Much of the U.S. aid in the 1980s was covert, while efforts to sup­port Ukraine are overt.

    Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials say they are sup­port­ing the Ukraini­ans by impos­ing sanc­tions against Moscow and by pro­vid­ing non­lethal gear. They cite con­cerns that pro­vid­ing advanced weapon­ry could lead to a dan­ger­ous cycle of esca­la­tion, mak­ing mat­ters worse for Kiev.

    The lega­cy of the CIA’s role in Afghanistan remains con­test­ed. U.S. offi­cials and out­side experts often cite that covert action as a cau­tion­ary tale about the risks of inter­ven­tion. In the chaos after the Sovi­et with­draw­al, the Tal­iban rose and played host to Osama bin Laden and al Qae­da.

    Messrs. Humphrey and Pills­bury say the cost of the war in Afghanistan helped bring down the Sovi­et Union. The mis­take, they argue, was wan­der­ing U.S. atten­tion after the Sovi­ets left.

    Messrs. Pills­bury and Humphrey first met in 1979. Mr. Pills­bury was a for­eign-pol­i­cy advis­er to Sen­ate Repub­li­cans. Mr. Humphrey was a fresh­man sen­a­tor.

    Many in Con­gress want­ed to help the Afghans, but there was dis­agree­ment over how. Until 1985, the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion pro­vid­ed enough sup­port to keep the muja­hedeen in the fight but not enough to allow them to pre­vail. Messrs. Pills­bury and Humphrey say they found that posi­tion amoral.

    As a Pen­ta­gon assis­tant under­sec­re­tary for pol­i­cy plan­ning at the time, Mr. Pills­bury became a behind-the-scenes cham­pi­on for the Afghan cause. He teamed up with Mr. Humphrey, then the co-chair­man of the con­gres­sion­al task force on Afghanistan.

    The Afghans had ini­tial­ly asked for small arms and ammu­ni­tion, Mr. Pills­bury recalls. He urged them to request advanced U.S. weapons sys­tems. Mr. Humphrey used his posi­tion on the task force to press the Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tion to drop its resis­tance to send­ing sur­face-to-air Stinger mis­siles.

    In March 1985, Mr. Rea­gan signed a new covert strat­e­gy. Afghan com­man­dos car­ried out cross-bor­der raids that shocked the Sovi­ets. Stinger mis­siles start­ed bring­ing down Sovi­et heli­copters in 1986. Two years lat­er, the Sovi­et army began with­draw­ing.

    Renewed inter­est

    Mr. Humphrey returned to pri­vate life in New Hamp­shire in 1990, about the time the Sovi­et Union start­ed to col­lapse. Fas­ci­nat­ed by Rus­sia and its lan­guage, he start­ed vis­it­ing about once a year. He thought U.S.-Russian rela­tions were mov­ing in the right direc­tion until Mr. Putin began con­sol­i­dat­ing pow­er and crack­ing down on press free­doms. Then Rus­sia annexed Crimea and began incur­sions into east­ern Ukraine.

    When the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment start­ed lob­by­ing last spring for U.S. mil­i­tary sup­port, the recep­tion was cool, defense offi­cials say. Pen­ta­gon offi­cials weren’t sure they could give even non­lethal gear and intel­li­gence to Ukrain­ian forces they believed were infil­trat­ed by the Rus­sians.

    An ear­ly advo­cate for Ukraine was for­mer Pen­ta­gon offi­cial Phillip Kar­ber, who in 1985 co-wrote an influ­en­tial Armed Forces Jour­nal report that called for send­ing Stingers to the muja­hedeen. In brief­in­gs to mem­bers of Con­gress and writ­ten reports on Ukraine, he repeat­ed argu­ments he made in 1985: Draw a line to pre­vent Moscow from advanc­ing fur­ther, and intro­duce mod­ern weapon­ry to make the inva­sion more cost­ly.

    Thir­ty years ago, Michael Vick­ers, who stepped down last month as Under­sec­re­tary of Defense for Intel­li­gence, was part of the CIA team that helped devel­op the agency’s strat­e­gy in Afghanistan. Last year, he vis­it­ed Ukraine twice and emerged as an impor­tant voice with­in the Pen­ta­gon in favor of pro­vid­ing mil­i­tary aid, offi­cials say.

    The con­flict in Ukraine stirred Cold War mem­o­ries for Mr. Humphrey. He had lost touch with Mr. Pills­bury after leav­ing the Sen­ate but found his con­tact infor­ma­tion online last sum­mer and sent him a brief email—their first con­tact in 24 years.

    After some hes­i­ta­tion, Mr. Pills­bury agreed to check into Ukraine’s arms requests at the Pen­ta­gon, where he remained a con­sul­tant. He report­ed back to Mr. Humphrey: It was going nowhere.

    The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion was con­cerned that send­ing weapons would pro­voke rather than deter Mr. Putin, U.S. offi­cials say. Intel­li­gence ana­lysts were cau­tious, hav­ing mis­judged Mr. Putin’s inten­tions ear­li­er in the con­flict. The issue had no momen­tum in Con­gress.

    Mr. Humphrey knew times had changed. “The Cold War is over,” he says. “And yet I believe that if there were a few deter­mined mem­bers in each house, those weapons could be flow­ing to Ukraine today.”

    Last Sept. 16, he emailed Michael Sawkiw, whose Ukrain­ian Nation­al Infor­ma­tion Ser­vice is the long­time pub­lic-rela­tions arm for Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­cans. Mr. Humphrey told him it was impor­tant to mobi­lize the Sen­ate and “vol­un­teered his assis­tance,” Mr. Sawkiw recalls.

    Mr. Humphrey flew down to Wash­ing­ton and watched the Ukrain­ian president’s Sept. 18 speech from a seat in the House gallery. He was moved by the appeal for arms.

    That same day, he attend­ed a vote of the Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee on leg­is­la­tion that would autho­rize Mr. Oba­ma to pro­vide mil­i­tary equip­ment to Ukraine. In keep­ing with pro­to­col, Sen. Bob Menen­dez, a New Jer­sey Demo­c­rat who at the time was chair­man of the pan­el, rec­og­nized Mr. Humphrey’s pres­ence in the room.

    Mr. Humphrey stood up and said he had three words for the sen­a­tors: “Please help Ukraine.” The com­mit­tee passed the bill unan­i­mous­ly.

    At Mr. Humphrey’s sug­ges­tion, Mr. Pills­bury agreed to meet with Lt. Gen. Volodymyr Zamana and oth­er mem­bers of the Ukrain­ian president’s del­e­ga­tion in a Sen­ate office. After­ward, Mr. Pills­bury invit­ed the Ukraini­ans to his George­town home to con­tin­ue the dis­cus­sions over tea.

    The Ukraini­ans had emerged from the Sen­ate com­mit­tee vote con­fi­dent U.S. weapons would start flow­ing. “No. This is the begin­ning of a very long process,” Mr. Pills­bury recalls telling them.

    Ana­toliy Pinchuk, a mem­ber of the Ukrain­ian del­e­ga­tion, showed Messrs. Pills­bury and Humphrey copies of let­ters that Pres­i­dent Poroshenko and his defense min­is­ter had sent to admin­is­tra­tion and mil­i­tary offi­cials, includ­ing then-Defense Sec­re­tary Chuck Hagel. In them, the Ukrain­ian defense min­is­ter asked for armored vehi­cles, anti­tank, anti­air­craft and “oth­er weapons of lethal action.”

    Top U.S. offi­cials nev­er said “no” but nev­er said “yes, ” the Ukrain­ian del­e­ga­tion told their Amer­i­can hosts.

    The Ukraini­ans want­ed to send air­craft to pick up U.S. weapons direct­ly from sur­plus stock­piles in Afghanistan. Mr. Pills­bury told them the idea was a non­starter.


    Messrs. Pills­bury and Humphrey thought Ukraine had a bet­ter case to make than the Afghan rebels once had. “It’s a pro-West­ern gov­ern­ment that wants weapons,” says Mr. Pills­bury. “It’s more legit­i­mate than a bunch of guer­ril­las.”

    In the weeks that fol­lowed, Mr. Humphrey met with about a dozen sen­a­tors. He spoke to oth­ers by phone.

    Messrs. Humphrey and Pills­bury urged near­ly two dozen Ukrain­ian-Amer­i­can groups to band togeth­er to increase their influ­ence. When they formed a com­mit­tee to lob­by for arms and for cre­at­ing a Sen­ate cau­cus, Messrs. Humphrey and Pills­bury became unpaid advis­ers.

    Mr. Pills­bury took three sep­a­rate del­e­ga­tions from Ukraine to the Pen­ta­gon to explain how the U.S. bureau­cra­cy works.

    In one Decem­ber meet­ing out­side the Star­bucks in the Pentagon’s main food court, two Ukrain­ian colonels, both in uni­form, reviewed print­outs of the forms they would need to buy arms. They told Mr. Pills­bury they were baf­fled by the red tape. Thir­ty years ear­li­er, the Afghan com­man­ders he took to the Pen­ta­gon, dressed in san­dals, were even more con­fused.

    Mr. Oba­ma signed leg­is­la­tion into law lat­er that month autho­riz­ing mil­i­tary aid for Ukraine. U.S. defense offi­cials then had to explain to their Ukrain­ian coun­ter­parts that Con­gress hadn’t yet pro­vid­ed mon­ey.

    “We had to tell the Ukraini­ans, ‘OK, guys. I know this sounds a lit­tle wonky, but it doesn’t mean you have $350 mil­lion to play around with,’ ” a senior defense offi­cial recalls. An autho­riza­tion, the offi­cial says, was “a sym­bol­ic ges­ture.”

    In Jan­u­ary, Ukrain­ian offi­cials thought the White House was poised to pro­vide advanced anti­tank weapons known as Javelins. At the time, U.S. offi­cials said a major­i­ty of Mr. Obama’s top cab­i­net-lev­el advis­ers endorsed the request.

    In the first week of Feb­ru­ary, Mr. Hagel and Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry had lunch with nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Susan Rice. Ms. Rice told them the pres­i­dent wasn’t ready to pro­vide the Ukraini­ans with Javelins and that she doubt­ed he would ever reach that point, accord­ing to two offi­cials. A senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial declined to com­ment on inter­nal pol­i­cy delib­er­a­tions.

    The Sen­ate Ukraine Cau­cus was launched on Feb. 9. Co-chair­man Sen. Rob Port­man, an Ohio Repub­li­can whom Mr. Humphrey had lob­bied to step up his role, fol­lowed up with a vis­it to Kiev in April to sur­vey the country’s mil­i­tary needs. Oth­er cau­cus mem­bers met with Ukrain­ian del­e­ga­tions in Wash­ing­ton.

    Pub­licly, the sen­a­tors voiced strong sup­port for Kiev and called on Mr. Oba­ma to send arms. Pri­vate­ly, sev­er­al have told Ukrain­ian offi­cials to keep expec­ta­tions in check.

    The lat­est leg­is­la­tion autho­riz­ing arms for Ukraine cleared a key House com­mit­tee last month. But its unclear whether Con­gress will appro­pri­ate the mon­ey for the weapons or try to force Mr. Obama’s hand.

    In Rep. Char­lie Wilson’s day, law­mak­ers on the right com­mit­tees had more pow­er to ear­mark funds for pet pro­grams. “Today, that is far more dif­fi­cult,” says Mr. Port­man. “The pres­i­dent is autho­rized to do it. He has the funds to do it. He ought to move ahead.”

    Sen. John McCain, Repub­li­can chair­man of the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, dis­ap­point­ed a vis­it­ing Ukrain­ian del­e­ga­tion when he said of the Sen­ate: “We have brakes but no accel­er­a­tor ped­al.”

    After that meet­ing, Mr. Pills­bury tried to reas­sure the Ukraini­ans. “You are mov­ing faster than we did in the 80s,” he told them.

    This is how close the US is to com­mit­ting to advanced weapons:

    In Jan­u­ary, Ukrain­ian offi­cials thought the White House was poised to pro­vide advanced anti­tank weapons known as Javelins. At the time, U.S. offi­cials said a major­i­ty of Mr. Obama’s top cab­i­net-lev­el advis­ers endorsed the request.

    In the first week of Feb­ru­ary, Mr. Hagel and Sec­re­tary of State John Ker­ry had lunch with nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er Susan Rice. Ms. Rice told them the pres­i­dent wasn’t ready to pro­vide the Ukraini­ans with Javelins and that she doubt­ed he would ever reach that point, accord­ing to two offi­cials. A senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial declined to com­ment on inter­nal pol­i­cy delib­er­a­tions.

    Sen. John McCain, Repub­li­can chair­man of the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, dis­ap­point­ed a vis­it­ing Ukrain­ian del­e­ga­tion when he said of the Sen­ate: “We have brakes but no accel­er­a­tor ped­al.”

    After that meet­ing, Mr. Pills­bury tried to reas­sure the Ukraini­ans. “You are mov­ing faster than we did in the 80s,” he told them.


    Giv­en that the GOP is clear­ly plan­ning on mak­ing 2016 a ‘for­eign pol­i­cy’ elec­tion (since pledg­ing to fight bad guys over­seas is prob­a­bly the GOP’s sales pitch these days), it’s going to be real­ly inter­est­ing to see whether or not a nation­al meme emerges that the US needs to throw cau­tion into the wood-chip­per and go all in and turn Ukraine into a full-scale proxy war between the US and Rus­sia. It seems very pos­si­ble.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 12, 2015, 5:09 pm

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