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Serbia ‘to recruit’ Lord Peter Mandelson to help country achieve EU membership – he’s ‘cheaper than Tony Blair’

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Serbia ‘to recruit’ Lord Peter Mandelson to help country achieve EU membership – he’s ‘cheaper than Tony Blair’

The Labour politician and former European Commissioner for Trade is apparently ‘cheaper’ than Tony Blair

Natasha Culzac

Monday 30 June 2014

Peter Mandelson is being primed for a top level consultancy job to help near-bankrupt Serbia into EU membership, it has been reported.

The Labour politician is expected to be given a contract to help the stricken country enter the single market, after its prime minister considered Tony Blair “too expensive.”

“[Lord Mandelson] is one of the brightest guys I’ve ever met,’ said Serbia’s new PM, Mr Aleksandar Vucic, according to the Daily Mail.

“Mandelson is the best motivator I’ve ever seen in my life. Some people would say he’s on the dark side, but he has a very strong, unbeatable personality, you cannot frighten him, he’s very influential, he can have a real impact.”

Mr Vucic, a pro-European, anti-corruption and moderate centre-right leader, was sworn in on 27 April and is now vowing to deliver his country from economic ruin by following through with a series of unpopular fiscal reforms.

Last week he said that the country could go bankrupt and edge closer to a position similar to that “of Greece” if he did not tackle the issues of a “fast ageing nation,” with the adamant premier also pushing through a new privatisation law so that 584 state-owned companies can be sold off.

Serbia is among a handful of hopeful nations eyeing up EU accession. Mr Vucic hopes that former Business Secretary and European Commission for Trade, Lord Mandelson, will provide the answers, despite the Lord turning him down a year and a half ago.

Mr Vucic’s eagerness to abide by EU rules is a marked change from his tenure as Minister of Information under Slobodan Milošević’s presidency, where he was responsible for draconian measures to limit the press.

He added: “Of course we would like [to maintain ties] with Russia because of our tradition and history. But our main political goal, our main political target, is to be part of the EU.”

It was announced on Friday that €4billion is being pumped into a new commercial and residential waterfront complex in Belgrade, following an injection of cash from a firm in the United Arab Emirates.

It is hoped that the area, called Eagle Hills, will attract further business and tourism to the capital city to help kick start the flailing economy. The project will commence building in 2015 and will include and 650ft-high tower alongside apartments, shops and leisure facilities.

Lord Mandelson, who is now president of international think tank Policy Network, has warned David Cameron against using the threat of Britain’s exit from the EU as a weapon to get the reforms he desires.

Vehemently against the UK leaving Europe, Lord Mandelson also defended new European Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker as no “green-eyed federalist.”

“I would just give this advice to our Prime Minister: stop waving around the sort of threat of a referendum in Britain as if it is some sort of pistol we are holding to everyone’s head and saying ‘you’ve got to agree with us or else’," he told BBC Radio 4 this morning.

“He has got to formulate an agenda… that is right for Europe as a whole and doesn’t keep giving the impression that the only reason he, Mr Cameron, is advocating these measures is because of divisions in his own party.”

Albania, another country seeking EU membership, was given its first glimmer of hope last week after being awarded candidate status for possible entry following a number of recent reforms.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/serbia-to-recruit-lord-peter-mandelson-to-help-country-achieve-eu-membership–hes-cheaper-than-tony-blair-9572433.html

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Written by Mika

30. juna 2014. at 19:12

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Гускова: Желе да српски народ буде окривљен за Пр ви свјетски рат

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Гускова: Желе да српски народ буде окривљен за Први свјетски рат

30.06.2014 16:49 | Срна

Вишеград – Историчар из Русије Јелена Гускова рекла је Срни да они који желе ревизију историје и износе нове "доказе" о узроцима и разлозима почетка Првог свјетског рата, желе да српски народ буде окривљен како би се рекло да су Срби увијек криви, па и за оно што се овдје дешавало деведесетих година /20. вијека/.

Гускова, која у Андрићграду учествује на међународној конференцији о теми "Сто година од почетка Првог свјетског рата, историјске и правне студије", подсјетила је да тема почетка Првог свјетског рата дуго није била у центру пажње науке, друштвених организација, па и политичара, због чега су овакви скупови научника из цијелог свијета веома важни.

Она је нагласила да је вријеме да се научници огласе јер је у свијету у посљедње вријеме присутна тенденција да се за кризу на Балкану од Првог свјетског рата окриве они који нису криви.

У Андрићграду у Вишеграду данас је настављена међународна конференција о теми "Сто година од почетка Првог свјетског рата, историјске и правне студије", која је почела 28. јуна у Етнографском музеју у Београду.

"Организатори ове конференције – Институт за упоредно право и Завод за уџбенике Србије, поводом 100 година од почетка Првог свјетског рата прије двије године направили су пројекат о овој теми по коме су историчари и правници из цијелог свијета написали 46 научних радова", рекао је директор Института за упоредно право Јован Ћирић.

Он је додао да су ти радови објављени на 800 страна у зборнику, чији је покровитељ био предсједник Србије Томислав Николић.

На конференцији учествују историчари и правници из Аустрије, Француске, Италије, Русије, САД, Албаније и Словеније.

Адвокат Горан Петронијевић каже да је овај капитални пројекат, са овако великим бројем учесника, професора и научника, темељ обезбјеђења доказа за историју коју многи покушавају да ревидирају.

Он је навео да се ревизијом историје баве они који су поражени у рату или се на било који начин сматрају оштећеним на мировним конференцијама послије великих сукоба као што је био Први свјетски рат.

"Свима је већ јасно како је почео Први свјетски рат, али неки и даље покушавају да Србију оптуже да је кривац за то, чему је, вјероватно, допринио статус Срба на Балкану послије сукоба деведесетих година", рекао је Петронијевић Срни.

Он истиче да су се Срби нашли у негативном контексту захваљујући страховитој медијској кампањи иностраних и федералних медија, тако да се покушај окривљивања српског народа и Гаврила Принципа за почетак Првог свјетског рата мора посматрати и у свјетлу покушаја ревизије историје.

"Мислим да је овај скуп и Зборник радова механизам да се српски народ одбрани и уједно припреми за будућност јер су суд историје и суд времена једине непристрасне судије", оцјењује Петронијевић.

Он је додао да Зборник радова и документи који су у њему објављени представљају будуће суђење времену и историји.

Конференција ће бити завршена сутра изношењем закључака.

Прије почетка конференције у Београду, телеграм подршке организаторима и учесницима послао је и предсједник Републике Српске Милорад Додик.

http://www.glassrpske.com/drustvo/vijesti/Guskova-Zele-da-srpski-narod-bude-okrivljen-za-Prvi-svjetski-rat/156988.html

Written by Mika

30. juna 2014. at 11:08

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Canadian space firm seeks millions after Harper government’s ant i-Russia sanctions ground satellite

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http://www.nationalpost.com/m/search/blog.html?b=news.nationalpost.com/2014/06/23/canadian-space-firm-seeks-millions-after-harper-governments-anti-russia-sanctions-ground-satellite&q=Russia&o=16

Canadian space firm seeks millions after Harper government’s anti-Russia sanctions ground satellite

Canadian space firm seeks millions after Harper government’s anti-Russia sanctions ground satellite

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David Pugliese, Postmedia News
Monday, Jun. 23, 2014

A Russia’s Soyuz-FG booster rocket with the space capsule Soyuz TMA-13M that will carry new crew to the International Space Station (ISS), is being fixed to the launch pad after transportation from hangar at the Russian leased Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Monday, May 26, 2014. The Soyuz is scheduled to launch on Thursday, May 29. AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky

A Canadian space company is seeking millions of dollars in compensation after the Conservative government scuttled the launch of a satellite because it was scheduled to be sent into orbit on a Russian rocket.

In April, the government shut down the launch of the spacecraft known as the Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Microsatellite or M3MSat. The spacecraft, which completed final testing last year at the Canadian Space Agency’s David Florida Laboratory in Ottawa, had been set for launch June 19 from Russia.

The decision to cancel the launch was included as part of the government’s actions to punish Russia for its actions during the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.

Satellite manufacturer COM DEV, which has facilities in Ottawa and Cambridge, Ont., along with its subsidiary exactEarth, are trying to obtain compensation for the loss of business because of the scuttled launch.

Space industry officials have privately questioned the government’s actions on M3MSat, pointing out the Conservative

government did not intervene to stop the launch that same day, June 19, of two smaller Canadian satellites on a Russian rocket. Those satellites and their launch were funded by the Canadian Space Agency.

COM DEV and exactEarth officials told investors on a June 5 conference call that they are in negotiations with the federal government and are seeking compensation. No further details were provided and exactEarth president Peter Mabson did not respond to a request for comment from the Citizen.

Public Works spokesman Pierre-Alain Bujold said the government is working with COM DEV. “The contract awarded to COM DEV to develop, build and launch the satellite M3MSat is still in effect,” he noted in an email. “The government issued a stop-work order, postponing the launch until further notice.

“Canada is now working with its contractor to determine options for a path forward for successful delivery of the capability.”

M3MSat is meant to provide maritime surveillance.

The Department of National Defence’s science agency is co-financing MSMSat with the Canadian Space Agency. The spacecraft is outfitted with sophisticated technology to allow it to track digital signals transmitted by ships, making it possible to identify and record marine traffic. M3MSat is expected to demonstrate the full capability of such advanced technology and will join exactEarth’s other five satellites, outfitted with similar tracking systems and already in orbit.

ExactEarth has contacts with government agencies around the world to provide the tracking data from the satellites.

Liberal MP Marc Garneau, a former astronaut and head of the Canadian Space Agency, said the government should compensate the companies. “It’s obviously not COM DEV’s fault,” Garneau said. “Call it collateral damage but if you are going to take steps on the diplomatic front or in the terms of trade sanctions, sometimes this kind of thing can happen.”

Officials with the Canadian Space Agency and COM DEV are also now trying to find another country or private company willing to send the surveillance satellite into space.

Russia has indicated it is more than willing to launch Canadian satellites, say sources.

Walt Natynczyk, the head of the Canadian Space Agency, said in mid-April that sanctions against Russia would not affect operations on the International Space Station. Canada continues to work with all its partners involved in the space station, which include the United States, Russia, Europe and Japan, he added.

But beyond that, the co-operation will be decided on a case-by-case basis, the former general noted.

M3MSat was supposed to be operating by September. It is still not known when the spacecraft will be launched.

Posted in: News Tags: Canadian Politics, Harper Government, Russia

Written by Mika

25. juna 2014. at 13:54

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No-Bluff Putin

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VOICE

No-Bluff Putin

Anyone who says Russia is losing in Ukraine doesn’t understand how this game is played.

BY STEPHEN M. WALT

JUNE 4, 2014

Who’s winning the battle for Ukraine? Despite continued signs of trouble in Ukraine’s eastern provinces, some pretty prominent people have recently offered a decidedly upbeat interpretation of events there. The first was U.S. President Barack Obama, who, during his commencement speech at West Point last week, cited the Western response to the crisis as a telling example of successful multilateral diplomacy. In his words, "the mobilization of world opinion and international institutions served as a counterweight to Russian propaganda, Russian troops on the borders, and armed militias." It’s not over, he warned, but this effort "has given a chance for the Ukrainian people to choose their future."

A second optimistic appraisal came from New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who announced on May 27 that Vladimir Putin had "blinked" and proclaimed that the Russian leader "got pretty much everything wrong." According to Friedman, "Putin’s seizure of Crimea has weakened the Russian economy, led to China getting a bargain gas deal, revived NATO, spurred Europe to start ending its addiction to Russian gas and begun a debate across Europe about increasing defense spending." His close-to-gleeful summary: "the country Putin threatens most today is Russia."

There’s a grain of truth in these optimistic assessments, in the sense that Russia has paid a price for its recent actions. And Obama and Friedman are correct to remind us that Russia is not the looming geopolitical threat that some hawks tried to conjure up when it seized Crimea. But what both Obama and Friedman miss is the real — and completely normal —motivation behind Putin’s behavior.

It ain’t rocket science: Putin was willing to pay a substantial price because Russia’s vital interests were at stake.

It ain’t rocket science: Putin was willing to pay a substantial price because Russia’s vital interests were at stake. On balance, I’ll bet Putin still sees this matter as a net win.

Just consider what Putin has achieved in the past few months.

First, he has put the idea of a further NATO expansion on the back burner for a long time, and maybe forever. Russia has opposed NATO’s march eastward ever since it began in the mid-1990s, but Russia was not in a position to do much about it. The brief 2008 war between Russia and Georgia was Putin’s first attempt to draw a red line, and that minor skirmish dampened enthusiasm for expansion considerably. This time around, Putin made it abundantly clear that any future attempt to bring Ukraine into NATO or even into EU membership will be met with firm Russian opposition and will probably lead to dismemberment of the country.

Second, Putin has restored Russian control over Crimea, an act that was popular with most Crimean residents and most Russians as well. The takeover entailed some short-term costs (including some rather mild economic sanctions), but it also solidified Russian control over its naval base in Sevastopol and will allow Russia to claim oil and gas reserves in the Black Sea that may be worth trillions of dollars. The United States and Europe can try to block development of these reserves by tightening sanctions even more, but they are more likely to let sanctions ease off once the situation in Ukraine cools. And if Russia eventually decides to start exploiting these areas, is the United States going to send the 6th Fleet to stop it?

Third, Putin has reminded Ukraine’s leaders that he has many ways to make their lives difficult. No matter what their own inclinations may be, it is therefore in their interest to maintain at least a cordial relationship with Moscow. And Ukraine’s new president, Petro Poroshenko, got the message. As he told Lally Weymouth of the Washington Post before his election, "Without a direct dialogue with Russia, it will be impossible to create security." Since taking office, he has made it clear that he wants to expand Ukraine’s economic ties to Europe — something crucial to any hope of reforming its troubled economy — but he also intends to improve relations with Russia as well.

Fourth, Friedman’s tale of a "revived" NATO iswishful thinking at best and pure fiction at worst. The alliance did deploy a few warplanesto the east to reassure its Baltic members, and Obama offered the usual verbal affirmationsand pledged $1 billion in miscellaneous defense measures during his visit to Poland this week. But the Poles seem less than reassured and continue to demand more U.S. protection; what they seem to want is a big NATO military base on their territory. The crisis also reminded observers that NATO expansion was never based on serious calculations of interest and capability: The United States and its allies simply assumed the Article 5 pledge to defend NATO’s new members would never have to be honored. I don’t think Russia has the slightest intention of expanding anywhere else, but doubts about the wisdom of NATO’s earlier expansion have never been greater.

Friedman also says Europeans are now debating increased defense spending, as if these discussions were going to make Putin lose a lot of sleep. In fact, NATO’s European members have talked about doing enhanced defense capabilities for years, but the level of actual spending has steadily declined.

Finally, Friedman seems to think Russia signed its new 30-year, $400 billion gas deal with China out of a sense of desperation and that the deal is a losing proposition. Hardly: The price China reportedly agreed to pay is slightly less than what Russia charges its European customers, but it is more than double the price that customers in the Commonwealth of Independent States cough up, and it will still earn Gazprom a tidy profit. More importantly, the deal strengthens Sino-Russian economic relations and diversifies Gazprom’s customer base, which will allow it to push for harder bargains elsewhere. Western sanctions may have made Putin somewhat more willing to cut a deal, but it is still a net win for him.

To sum up: Putin’s maneuverings look like a failure only if you believe his goal was to dismember Ukraine completely or re-create the old Soviet Union. By contrast, if you think his primary objective was to keep Ukraine from joining a U.S.-led "sphere of influence" in Europe, then his handling of the crisis looks adroit, ruthless, and successful.

In short, Putin’s tacit acceptance of the recent Ukrainian election and his other moves to de-escalate the crisis aren’t an example of his backing down in the face of coordinated Western pressure. Instead, he is lowering the temperature because he got the most important things he wanted and just about everything he could reasonably expect. Putin didn’t "blink"; he just knew when to pocket his gains and cash in.

Photo by YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/06/04/no_bluff_putin_russia_ukraine_obama_tom_friedman

Written by Mika

11. juna 2014. at 16:07

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Washington’s Iron Curtain in Ukraine

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Tightening the U.S. Grip on Western Europe

Washington’s Iron Curtain in Ukraine

by DIANA JOHNSTONE

NATO leaders are currently acting out a deliberate charade in Europe, designed to reconstruct an Iron Curtain between Russia and the West.

With astonishing unanimity, NATO leaders feign surprise at events they planned months in advance. Events that they deliberately triggered are being misrepresented as sudden, astonishing, unjustified “Russian aggression”. The United States and the European Union undertook an aggressive provocation in Ukraine that they knew would force Russia to react defensively, one way or another.

They could not be sure exactly how Russian president Vladimir Putin would react when he saw that the United States was manipulating political conflict in Ukraine to install a pro-Western government intent on joining NATO. This was not a mere matter of a “sphere of influence” in Russia’s “near abroad”, but a matter of life and death to the Russian Navy, as well as a grave national security threat on Russia’s border.

A trap was thereby set for Putin. He was damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t. He could underreact, and betray Russia’s basic national interests, allowing NATO to advance its hostile forces to an ideal attack position.

Or he could overreact, by sending Russian forces to invade Ukraine. The West was ready for this, prepared to scream that Putin was “the new Hitler”, poised to overrun poor, helpless Europe, which could only be saved (again) by the generous Americans.

In reality, the Russian defensive move was a very reasonable middle course. Thanks to the fact that the overwhelming majority of Crimeans felt Russian, having been Russian citizens until Khrushchev frivolously bestowed the territory on Ukraine in 1954, a peaceful democratic solution was found. Crimeans voted for their return to Russia in a referendum which was perfectly legal according to international law, although in violation of the Ukrainian constitution, which was by then in tatters having just been violated by the overthrow of the country’s duly elected president, Victor Yanukovych, facilitated by violent militias. The change of status of Crimea was achieved without bloodshed, by the ballot box.

Nevertheless, the cries of indignation from the West were every bit as hysterically hostile as if Putin had overreacted and subjected Ukraine to a U.S.-style bombing campaign, or invaded the country outright – which they may have expected him to do.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry led the chorus of self-righteous indignation, accusing Russia of the sort of thing his own government is in the habit of doing. “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests. This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext”, Kerry pontificated. “It’s really 19th century behavior in the 21st century”. Instead of laughing at this hypocrisy, U.S. media, politicians and punditry zealously took up the theme of Putin’s unacceptable expansionist aggression. The Europeans followed with a weak, obedient echo.

It Was All Planned at Yalta

In September 2013, one of Ukraine’s richest oligarchs, Viktor Pinchuk, paid for an elite strategic conference on Ukraine’s future that was held in the same Palace in Yalta, Crimea, where Roosevelt, Stalin and Churchill met to decide the future of Europe in 1945. The Economist, one of the elite media reporting on what it called a “display of fierce diplomacy”, stated that: “The future of Ukraine, a country of 48m people, and of Europe was being decided in real time.” The participants included Bill and Hillary Clinton, former CIA head General David Petraeus, former U.S. Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers, former World Bank head Robert Zoellick, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt, Shimon Peres, Tony Blair, Gerhard Schröder, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Mario Monti, Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite, and Poland’s influential foreign minister Radek Sikorski. Both President Viktor Yanukovych, deposed five months later, and his recently elected successor Petro Poroshenko were present. Former U.S. energy secretary Bill Richardson was there to talk about the shale-gas revolution which the United States hopes to use to weaken Russia by substituting fracking for Russia’s natural gas reserves. The center of discussion was the “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement” (DCFTA) between Ukraine and the European Union, and the prospect of Ukraine’s integration with the West. The general tone was euphoria over the prospect of breaking Ukraine’s ties with Russia in favor of the West.

Conspiracy against Russia? Not at all. Unlike Bilderberg, the proceedings were not secret. Facing a dozen or so American VIPs and a large sampling of the European political elite was a Putin adviser named Sergei Glazyev, who made Russia’s position perfectly clear.

Glazyev injected a note of political and economic realism into the conference. Forbes reported at the time on the “stark difference” between the Russian and Western views “not over the advisability of Ukraine’s integration with the EU but over its likely impact.” In contrast to Western euphoria, the Russian view was based on “very specific and pointed economic criticisms” about the Trade Agreement’s impact on Ukraine’s economy, noting that Ukraine was running an enormous foreign accounts deficit, funded with foreign borrowing, and that the resulting substantial increase in Western imports ccould only swell the deficit. Ukraine “will either default on its debts or require a sizable bailout”.

The Forbes reporter concluded that “the Russian position is far closer to the truth than the happy talk coming from Brussels and Kiev.”

As for the political impact, Glazyev pointed out that the Russian-speaking minority in Eastern Ukraine might move to split the country in protest against cutting ties with Russia, and that Russia would be legally entitled to support them, according to The Times of London.

In short, while planning to incorporate Ukraine into the Western sphere, Western leaders were perfectly aware that this move would entail serious problems with Russian-speaking Ukrainians, and with Russia itself. Rather than seeking to work out a compromise, Western leaders decided to forge ahead and to blame Russia for whatever would go wrong. What went wrong first was that Yanukovych got cold feet faced with the economic collapse implied by the Trade Agreement with the European Union. He postponed signing, hoping for a better deal. Since none of this was explained clearly to the Ukrainian public, outraged protests ensued, which were rapidly exploited by the United States… against Russia.

Ukraine as Bridge…Or Achilles Heel

Ukraine, a term meaning borderland, is a country without clearly fixed historical borders that has been stretched too far to the East and too far to the West. The Soviet Union was responsible for this, but the Soviet Union no longer exists, and the result is a country without a unified identity and which emerges as a problem for itself and for its neighbors.

It was extended too far East, incorporating territory that might as well have been Russian, as part of a general policy to distinguish the USSR from the Tsarist empire, enlarging Ukraine at the expense of its Russian component and demonstrating that the Soviet Union was really a union among equal socialist republics. So long as the whole Soviet Union was run by the Communist leadership, these borders didn’t matter too much.

It was extended too far West at the end of World War II. The victorious Soviet Union extended Ukraine’s border to include Western regions, dominated by the city variously named Lviv, Lwow, Lemberg or Lvov, depending on whether it belonged to Lithuania, Poland, the Habsburg Empire or the USSR, a region which was a hotbed of anti-Russian sentiments. This was no doubt conceived as a defensive move, to neutralize hostile elements, but it created the fundamentally divided nation that today constitutes the perfect troubled waters for hostile fishing.

The Forbes report cited above pointed out that: “For most of the past five years, Ukraine was basically playing a double game, telling the EU that it was interested in signing the DCFTA while telling the Russians that it was interested in joining the customs union.” Either Yanukovych could not make up his mind, or was trying to squeeze the best deal out of both sides, or was seeking the highest bidder. In any case, he was never “Moscow’s man”, and his downfall owes a lot no doubt to his own role in playing both ends against the middle. His was a dangerous game of pitting greater powers against each other.

It is safe to say that what was needed was something that so far seems totally lacking in Ukraine: a leadership that recognizes the divided nature of the country and works diplomatically to find a solution that satisfies both the local populations and their historic ties with the Catholic West and with Russia. In short, Ukraine could be a bridge between East and West – and this, incidentally, has been precisely the Russian position. The Russian position has not been to split Ukraine, much less to conquer it, but to facilitate the country’s role as bridge. This would involve a degree of federalism, of local government, which so far is entirely lacking in the country, with local governors selected not by election but by the central government in Kiev. A federal Ukraine could both develop relations with the EU and maintain its vital (and profitable) economic relations with Russia.

But this arrangement calls for Western readiness to cooperate with Russia. The United States has plainly vetoed this possibility, preferring to exploit the crisis to brand Russia “the enemy”.

Plan A and Plan B

U.S. policy, already evident at the September 2013 Yalta meeting, was carried out on the ground by Victoria Nuland, former advisor to Dick Cheney, deputy ambassador to NATO, spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton, wife of neocon theorist Robert Kagan. Her leading role in the Ukraine events proves that the neo-con influence in the State Department, established under Bush II, was retained by Obama, whose only visible contribution to foreign policy change has been the presence of a man of African descent in the presidency, calculated to impress the world with U.S. multicultural virtue. Like most other recent presidents, Obama is there as a temporary salesman for policies made and executed by others.

As Victoria Nuland boasted in Washington, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the United States has spent five billion dollars to gain political influence in Ukraine (this is called “promoting democracy”). This investment is not “for oil”, or for any immediate economic advantage. The primary motives are geopolitical, because Ukraine is Russia’s Achilles’ heel, the territory with the greatest potential for causing trouble to Russia.

What called public attention to Victoria Nuland’s role in the Ukrainian crisis was her use of a naughty word, when she told the U.S. ambassador, “Fuck the EU”. But the fuss over her bad language veiled her bad intentions. The issue was who should take power away from the elected president Viktor Yanukovych. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party been promoting former boxer Vitaly Klitschko as its candidate. Nuland’s rude rebuff signified that the United States, not Germany or the EU, was to choose the next leader, and that was not Klitschko but “Yats”. And indeed it was Yats, Arseniy Yatsenyuk , a second-string US-sponsored technocrat known for his enthusiasm for IMF austerity policies and NATO membership, who got the job. This put a U.S. sponsored government, enforced in the streets by fascist militia with little electoral clout but plenty of armed meanness, in a position to manage the May 25 elections, from which the Russophone East was largely excluded.

Plan A for the Victoria Nuland putsch was probably to install, rapidly, a government in Kiev that would join NATO, thus formally setting the stage for the United States to take possession of Russia’s indispensable Black Sea naval base at Sebastopol in Crimea. Reincorporating Crimea into Russia was Putin’s necessary defensive move to prevent this.

But the Nuland gambit was in fact a win-win ploy. If Russia failed to defend itself, it risked losing its entire southern fleet – a total national disaster. On the other hand, if Russia reacted, as was most likely, the US thereby won a political victory that was perhaps its main objective. Putin’s totally defensive move is portrayed by the Western mainstream media, echoing political leaders, as unprovoked “Russian expansionism”, which the propaganda machine compares to Hitler grabbing Czechoslovakia and Poland.

Thus a blatant Western provocation, using Ukrainian political confusion against a fundamentally defensive Russia, has astonishingly succeeded in producing a total change in the artificial Zeitgeist produced by Western mass media. Suddenly, we are told that the “freedom-loving West” is faced with the threat of “aggressive Russian expansionism”. Some forty years ago, Soviet leaders gave away the store under the illusion that peaceful renunciation on their part could lead to a friendly partnership with the West, and especially with the United States. But those in the United States who never wanted to end the Cold War are having their revenge. Never mind “communism”; if, instead of advocating the dictatorship of the proletariat, Russia’s current leader is simply old-fashioned in certain ways, Western media can fabricate a monster out of that. The United States needs an enemy to save the world from.

The Protection Racket Returns

But first of all, the United States needs Russia as an enemy in order to “save Europe”, which is another way to say, in order to continue to dominate Europe. Washington policy-makers seemed to be worried that Obama’s swing to Asia and neglect of Europe might weaken U.S. control of its NATO allies. The May 25 European Parliament elections revealed a large measure of disaffection with the European Union. This disaffection, notably in France, is linked to a growing realization that the EU, far from being a potential alternative to the United States, is in reality a mechanism that locks European countries into U.S.-defined globalization, economic decline and U.S. foreign policy, wars and all.

Ukraine is not the only entity that has been overextended. So has the EU. With 28 members of diverse language, culture, history and mentality, the EU is unable to agree on any foreign policy other than the one Washington imposes. The extension of the EU to former Eastern European satellites has totally broken whatever deep consensus might have been possible among the countries of the original Economic Community: France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux states. Poland and the Baltic States see EU membership as useful, but their hearts are in America – where many of their most influential leaders have been educated and trained. Washington is able to exploit the anti-communist, anti-Russian and even pro-Nazi nostalgia of northeastern Europe to raise the false cry of “the Russians are coming!” in order to obstruct the growing economic partnership between the old EU, notably Germany, and Russia.

Russia is no threat. But to vociferous Russophobes in the Baltic States, Western Ukraine and Poland, the very existence of Russia is a threat. Encouraged by the United States and NATO, this endemic hostility is the political basis for the new “iron curtain” meant to achieve the aim spelled out in 1997 by Zbigniew Brzezinski in The Grand Chessboard: keeping the Eurasian continent divided in order to perpetuate U.S. world hegemony. The old Cold War served that purpose, cementing U.S. military presence and political influence in Western Europe. A new Cold War can prevent U.S. influence from being diluted by good relations between Western Europe and Russia.

Obama has come to Europe ostentatiously promising to “protect” Europe by basing more troops in regions as close as possible to Russia, while at the same time ordering Russia to withdraw its own troops, on its own territory, still farther away from troubled Ukraine. This appears designed to humiliate Putin and deprive him of political support at home, at a time when protests are rising in Eastern Ukraine against the Russian leader for abandoning them to killers sent from Kiev.

To tighten the U.S. grip on Europe, the United States is using the artificial crisis to demand that its indebted allies spend more on “defense”, notably by purchasing U.S. weapons systems. Although the U.S. is still far from being able to meet Europe’s energy needs from the new U.S. fracking boom, this prospect is being hailed as a substitute for Russia’s natural gas sales – stigmatized as a “way of exercising political pressure”, something of which hypothetic U.S. energy sales are presumed to be innocent. Pressure is being brought against Bulgaria and even Serbia to block construction of the South Stream pipeline that would bring Russian gas into the Balkans and southern Europe.

From D-Day to Dooms Day

Today, June 6, the seventieth anniversary of the D-Day landing is being played in Normandy as a gigantic celebration of American domination, with Obama heading an all-star cast of European leaders. The last of the aged surviving soldiers and aviators present are like the ghosts of a more innocent age when the United States was only at the start of its new career as world master. They were real, but the rest is a charade. French television is awash with the tears of young villagers in Normandy who have been taught that the United States is some sort of Guardian Angel, which sent its boys to die on the shores of Normandy out of pure love for France. This idealized image of the past is implicitly projected on the future. In seventy years, the Cold War, a dominant propaganda narrative and above all Hollywood have convinced the French, and most of the West, that D-Day was the turning point that won World War II and saved Europe from Nazi Germany.

Vladimir Putin came to the celebration, and has been elaborately shunned by Obama, self-appointed arbiter of Virtue. The Russians are paying tribute to the D-Day operation which liberated France from Nazi occupation, but they – and historians – know what most of the West has forgotten: that the Wehrmacht was decisively defeated not by the Normandy landing, but by the Red Army. If the vast bulk of German forces had not been pinned down fighting a losing war on the Eastern front, nobody would celebrate D-Day as it is being celebrated today.

Putin is widely credited as being “the best chess player”, who won the first round of the Ukrainian crisis. He has no doubt done the best he could, faced with the crisis foisted on him. But the U.S. has whole ranks of pawns which Putin does not have. And this is not only a chess game, but chess combined with poker combined with Russian roulette. The United States is ready to take risks that the more prudent Russian leaders prefer to avoid… as long as possible.

Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of the current charade is the servility of the “old” Europeans. Apparently abandoning all Europe’s accumulated wisdom, drawn from its wars and tragedies, and even oblivious to their own best interests, today’s European leaders seem ready to follow their American protectors to another D-Day … D for Doom.

Can the presence of a peace-seeking Russian leader in Normandy make a difference? All it would take would be for mass media to tell the truth, and for Europe to produce reasonably wise and courageous leaders, for the whole fake war machine to lose its luster, and for truth to begin to dawn. A peaceful Europe is still possible, but for how long?

Diana Johnstone is the author of diana.johnstone

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/06/06/washingtons-iron-curtain-in-ukraine/

Written by Mika

7. juna 2014. at 19:31

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‘Russian troops in Ukraine? Got any proof?’ Putin’s best quotes from French media talk

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‘Russian troops in Ukraine? Got any proof?’ Putin’s best quotes from French media talk

Published time: June 04, 2014 18:30
Edited time: June 04, 2014 20:16

Vladimir Putin faced a barrage of tricky questions in France from the media ahead of his meeting with world leaders at the 70th anniversary of the Normandy landings. Here are his best replies on key issues: Ukraine, Crimea and relations with the US.

On Ukraine, its sovereignty and Russian troops:

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine has been occupying the center of international attention since the end of last year. While the coup-appointed government in Kiev is carrying out a military crackdown on the southeast of the country, the US said that Russian troops are allegedly involved in the crisis and they have proof of that.

What proof? Why don’t they show it?” Putin told French media.

“The entire world remembers the US Secretary of State demonstrating the evidence of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, waving around some test tube with washing powder in the UN Security Council. Eventually, the US troops invaded Iraq, Saddam Hussein was hanged and later it turned out there had never been any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. You know – it’s one thing to say things and another to actually have evidence.

“After the anti-constitutional coup in Kiev in February, the first thing the new authorities tried to do was to deprive the ethnic minorities of the right to use their native language. This caused great concern among the people living in eastern Ukraine.”

“I wouldn’t call them either pro-Russian or pro-Ukrainian. They are people who have certain rights, political, humanitarian rights, and they must have a chance to exercise those rights.”

“When [the coup] happened some people accepted this regime and were happy about it while other people, say, in eastern and southern Ukraine just won’t accept it."

On Crimea, its referendum and historical ties to Russia:

After Crimea voted in its March referendum to join Russia, the West voiced concerns that the people in the region voted at gunpoint.

Russian troops were in Crimea under the international treaty on the deployment of the Russian military base. It’s true that Russian troops helped Crimeans hold a referendum 1) on their independence and 2) on their desire to join the Russian Federation. No one can prevent these people from exercising a right that is stipulated in Article 1 of the UN Charter, the right of nations to self-determination.

“We conducted an exclusively diplomatic and peaceful dialogue – I want to stress this – with our partners in Europe and the United States. In response to our attempts to hold such a dialogue and to negotiate an acceptable solution, they supported the anti-constitutional state coup in Ukraine, and following that we could not be sure that Ukraine would not become part of the North Atlantic military bloc. In that situation, we could not allow a historical part of the Russian territory with a predominantly ethnic Russian population to be incorporated into an international military alliance, especially because Crimeans wanted to be part of Russia.”

One journalist asked the president whether he wants to recreate the old borders of the Soviet Union.

We want to use modern policies to improve our competitive advantage, including economic integration. This is what we are doing in the post-Soviet space within the Customs Union and now also within the Eurasian Union.

On US relations and its aggressive foreign policies:

“Speaking of US policy, it’s clear that the United States is pursuing the most aggressive and toughest policy to defend its own interests – at least, this is how the American leaders see it – and they do it persistently."

“There are basically no Russian troops abroad while US troops are everywhere. There are US military bases everywhere around the world and they are always involved in the fates of other countries, even though they are thousands of kilometers away from US borders.”

“So it is ironic that our US partners accuse us of breaching some of these rules,” Putin said, apparently referring to Hillary’s Clinton’s statement on Russia’s foreign policy in Eastern Europe, comparing it with Hitler’s in the 1930s. “When people push boundaries too far, it’s not because they are strong but because they are weak. But maybe weakness is not the worst quality for a woman.”

"As for my relations with Barack Obama, I have no reason whatsoever to believe he is not willing to talk to the President of Russia. But ultimately, it is his choice. I am always ready for dialogue, and I think that dialogue is the best way to bridge any gaps."

On Russia, defense, sovereignty, and opposition parties:

Amid the tensions concerning the latest $1.6 billion military deal that France will supply Russia with two Mistral helicopter carriers, Putin said he hopes the two countries will continue to develop their ties.

“Overall, our relations in this area are developing well, and we would like to continue strengthening them – in aviation, shipbuilding, and other sectors.”

A policy of expansionism and conquest has no future in the modern world. We’re confident that Russia can and should be a partner with its traditional allies, in the broad sense, now and also in the future.”

“Any country that becomes a member of a military alliance gives away some of its sovereignty to a supranational body. For Russia, this would be unacceptable. As for other countries, it has nothing to do with us. They have to decide such matters for themselves."

"And there’s another example: François Mitterrand, who spoke of European confederation, with Russia as its member. I think this opportunity still exists and we will have it in the future.”

Speaking about internal policies Putin said that Russia is a common democratic state and its’ “current regime is not connected to any particular person”

“The overwhelming majority of Russian citizens tend to rely on their traditions, their history and, if I may say so, their traditional values. I see this as the foundation and a factor of stability in the Russian state, but none of this is associated with the President as an individual. Moreover, it should be remembered that we only started introducing standard democratic institutions recently. They are still in the process of evolving.”

“Some of our opponents say there are unacceptable restrictions. What kind of restrictions do we have? For example, we have banned the promotion of suicide, drugs and pedophilia. These are our restrictions. What’s wrong with that?”

“In the United States, since we talked about it, homosexuality is illegal in some states. We impose no criminal liability whatsoever. We banned only promoting homosexuality among minors. It is our right to protect our children and we will do it.”

http://rt.com/news/163676-putin-ukraine-french-us/

Written by Mika

4. juna 2014. at 16:24

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