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Ukraine Smoke and Mirrors

By       Message William Boardman     Permalink
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Is Anyone Playing This "Crisis" Straight? 

By William Boardman -- Reader Supported News

Maidan East by []

Whether it's a real crisis doesn't matter as long as you're afraid

Just when the U.S. Defense Secretary was in Japan giving indications that the Ukraine "crisis" was over as far as the U.S. was concerned, Ukrainians of all sorts, other Washington officials, and even the Japanese government all pitch in to keep the "crisis" alive, at least as a threat meme.

How much of a Ukraine crisis is it, really, when pro-Russians Ukrainians seize Ukrainian government buildings, calling for Russians protection/intervention -- and the Russians don't come?  They don't even threaten to come. That's been true for several days as this is written. Maybe it won't be true as you read it, since writing about Ukraine these days is like leaving a message in the sand without knowing where the tide line is on the beach. 

All the same, the opportunity, the pretext, the moment for Russian intervention arrived April 6 in eastern Ukraine (in the three oblasts of Kharkiv, Luhansk, and especially Donetsk). Russia, already presumed to have the means and the motive, did not seize the opportunity to invade any part of Ukraine. Quite the contrary, the Russians, and the Germans, and the European Union were all calling for calm, dialogue, and de-escalation. While others fulminated fantasy threats, German Chancellor Angela Merkel put the Russian takeover of Crimea in perspective with the succinctness of sanity, saying she considered it a "singular event." The European Union's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton called for "de-escalation and the avoidance of further destabilization." 

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Along with many American officials, the acting government of Ukraine has been inflating the Russian "threat" for weeks, stoking fear that the Ukraine mainland was poised to go the way of Crimea. That's the Ukrainian propaganda line that's still waiting for -- or possibly seeking to provoke -- confirmation on the ground. This fear-mongering is based on two assumptions: (1) that Russia has annexed Crimea (true) and (2) that Russian troops along the Ukrainian border (hard to nail down, more about that later) are planning to invade eastern Ukraine (counterintuitive from a rational perspective, but impossible to prove until it happens, or doesn't). In any event, it's a useful distraction for the Kiev government, which can't even run its parliament without breaking into fistfights. 

The killer quote so far, crystallizing American madness in the midst of a situation we spent twenty years preparing, comes from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, testifying to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on April 8:

"" quite simply, what we see from Russia is an illegal and illegitimate effort to destabilize a sovereign state and create a contrived crisis with paid operatives across an international boundary."

Looking in the mirror, Kerry apparently sees someone else as he utters an apt and precise description of the western role in Ukraine, destabilizing a sovereign state during the months of the Maidan that culminated in a pro-western coup d'etat, resulting in the illegal and illegitimate (but possibly better) Kiev government now in power. American paid operatives, both overt and, presumably covert, prominently included Asst. Secretary of State Victoria ("f*ck the EU") Nuland, who reports to Kerry. Nuland's stated choice for the next Ukrainian prime minister was Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whom the coup leaders chose as the next and current Ukrainian prime minister. 

Remembering that one side's de-stabilization can become another side's stabilization, it's foolish to question whether or not the Russians are engaged in events in Ukraine. The more useful question would be who doesn't have a hand in stirring the pot?  Summing up the official spin on events, the New York Times of April 8 began its Ukraine story, under the headline "Ukrainian Troops Move to Reassert Control in East," with this paragraph:

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"Ukrainian Interior Ministry troops expelled pro-Russian demonstrators from a regional administration building in the eastern city of Kharkiv early on Tuesday, arresting about 70 protesters as the provisional government in Kiev moved to exert control over unrest that the United States and its Western allies fear might lead to a Russian military invasion."

Nicely done, implying in one long sentence that: even though Ukraine's troops are in charge of a challenge that comes from "pro-Russian demonstrators" (who are Ukrainian civilians as far as is known), nevertheless everyone should be afraid of "a Russian military invasion" which seems no more likely than a Russian tourist invasion. The best touch is the reference to Kiev's "provisional" government, which has no legitimacy, having come to power in a process that began with demonstrations that mirror the one so quickly quelled in Kharkiv.

No doubt someone somewhere is arguing that this comparison proves that Ukrainians had more free speech under President Yanukovych that they have under the government that overthrew him and, in its first legislative act, banned Russian as an official language (later rescinded). 

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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)

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