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Wed Jan 28, 2015, 03:21 PM


Sorry, Ukraine, You Can't Beat Putin

Jan 28, 2015 1:27 PM EST
By Marc Champion

The Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny recently said that were it not for Western economic sanctions, Russian tanks would already have swept west to the port city of Odessa, occupying a huge swath of Southern Ukraine and cutting off the rest of the country from the Black Sea. He's probably right, yet it won't count for much if Ukraine's government doesn't take advantage of the respite sanctions have provided by changing course.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has in recent weeks rekindled the war in Eastern Ukraine, and it's important to understand the role that Ukrainian actions have played in this. It's equally important to recognize that sanctions can't defeat Putin; they can only make him more cautious and open to a settlement.

It was just last September that Putin initiated the Minsk cease-fire agreement, halting his tanks after they had reversed many of the gains Ukraine's military had made against Eastern separatists over the summer. And it's a fair assumption that Europe's threat to impose heavier economic sanctions influenced his decision to stop his advance.

Putin had demonstrated that Ukraine's military simply isn't capable of standing up to Russian regulars, and that his tanks could indeed roll on to Odessa if he chose to give the order. In return for stopping, though, he expected Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to sue for a political settlement of the conflict, beyond the localized Minsk cease-fire.

Instead, Poroshenko had Ukraine's parliament rescind a law that had committed the country to military neutrality and announced its formal intention to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This was a serious misstep that made a return to war all but inevitable. If one thing is clear in this contest, it is that Putin will not -- and politically cannot -- make peace without some form of public assurance that Ukraine won't join NATO.



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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Jan 28, 2015, 04:55 PM

1. This from the article...how Obama's bullying mispeak in SOTU didn't help matters:

Yet this was unsustainable. Putin had still not blocked Ukraine from turning West. What's more, he looked weak. And to make matters worse on that front, U.S. President Barack Obama, in his State of the Union address, portrayed him as defeated:

Obama in SOTU Speech:

Mr. Putin’s aggression, it was suggested, was a masterful display of strategy and strength. That’s what I heard from some folks. Well, today, it is America that stands strong and united with our allies, while Russia is isolated, with its economy in tatters.

As fantasies go, this was right up there with George W. Bush's "mission accomplished" boast after the initial invasion of Iraq. Putin hadn't given up.And if Obama had the first inkling of Putin's character, he would understand that the best way to push him to attack is to boast of beating him.

So Ukraine and its partners lost an opportunity this winter, even if it's impossible to know whether Putin would himself have been willing to make the compromises needed for a settlement. It's also hard to know how far Putin will let his tanks go this time. If he believes there will be no more sanctions, or decides it's worth weathering them, Russian forces could take Mariupol, build a land corridor to Crimea or make the final push to Odessa.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Jan 28, 2015, 07:37 PM

2. Scholars at Odds on Ukraine

Since the crisis in Ukraine began, the Russia scholar Stephen F. Cohen has cast himself in the role of the unbowed dissenter, whose sharp criticisms of America’s foreign policy in the region have earned him denunciations as “Putin’s American toady,” as The New Republic put it, and worse.

But Mr. Cohen is also a man of means, whose wife’s charitable foundation has donated large amounts of money to support Russian studies, which have been hard hit by declining government funding.

Now, his largess and his divisive reputation have collided, opening a rift in the main scholarly association covering the post-Soviet world and spurring charges that the polarizing politics of the Ukraine crisis are stifling free speech and compromising the group’s scholarly mission.

The affair began amicably enough two years ago, when Mr. Cohen and his wife, Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor and publisher of The Nation, began discussions with the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies, about ways to support research.


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Response to bemildred (Reply #2)

Wed Jan 28, 2015, 08:12 PM

3. Cohen has so besmirched his own name with Putin apologia that people don't want his 1% money


thanks for the link

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Response to uhnope (Reply #3)

Wed Jan 28, 2015, 08:55 PM

5. It's just a squabble amongst foundation groups...

here's a bit at the last that explains:

Others defended Mr. Cohen’s scholarship, if not his conclusions. “I don’t agree with many of Cohen’s recent positions on Ukraine,” said Michael David-Fox, a professor at Georgetown, who signed the letter. “It’s precisely because he is in a minority that this is an especially important case.”

When going up against the Neocons/NeoLibs one will be a minority...therefore this explains what is going on from the perspective that Neocons/Neolibs want to re-start the Cold War and the funding dried up for reporting on honest scholarly research. Cohen got a grant from his wife to further his work and the PTB got upset because only their views on CNN, CBS, NBC and Charlie Rose should be heard.

Therefore a way to go after "The Nation Magazine" and trash Cohen because he was reporting stories no one wanted to have aired and because he has appeared on RT which high people in Obama Administration want to disallow the American People to be able to watch here in the USA. Definitely a violation of Free Speech since Cable Companies have it available to those who subscribe to "International Tier" on their Cable to watch news from other countries for Business or because they are here in the USA and want home news along with those of us who are tired of our USA PAP and want to hear otherviews.

So...they have Andy Lack, John Kerry, President Obama and others trashing RT America who reportson stories popular with American Liberals who have no Voice and RT/Russia and Europe reporting international news that's contrary to Radio Free America, MSM Corporate Sponsored Media for he Masses of Americans suddenly getting huge ratings and they just can't deal with it. So they begin to attack anyone they can find to stop it all. Go after "The Nation" and Cohen because of the association and now they are even after Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges getting their "on the payroll peeps" to write screeds warning Americans that they are NOT to listen to those people because they are Dangers to American Values....etc.

It's really getting ridiculous...if it wasn't so serious a violation of the Rights of Americans to watch, read anything they want to pay for. That's Capitalism that they love to praise except when it hurts their grand plans to filter what the corporations and the Military Industrial Complex don't want the average American to be aware of.

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Response to KoKo (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 28, 2015, 09:55 PM

6. One doesn't have to subscribe to the "International Tier" from their cable/Sat



If you have a high speed internet connection, a simple device like the Roku added to your television will give you more international news than you can watch without paying a subscription. RT, RT America, Al Jeezra English, Al Jeezra America, France24 (my favorite), BBC, etc.

These devices run around $60-$100 dollars. I bought mine at Target several years ago for around $70.


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Response to Purveyor (Reply #6)

Thu Jan 29, 2015, 08:41 AM

9. Indeed, I forgot to mention "internet connected devices"

but, was pointing out that going after RT or other news sources when they are available by commercial enterprises like cable is attacking people for their viewing choices is UnAmerican in principle.

I use one of those "internet connected devices" and You Tube or your laptop will allow one to watch alternative media from other countries. That's why the attacks on RT are so ridiculous....unless our Government is working to have "unapproved sources" banned from our viewing. Which does seem to be where they are going with Andrew Lack's latest screed.

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Response to KoKo (Reply #5)

Wed Jan 28, 2015, 09:58 PM

7. That's fascinating conspiracy theory


I've noticed that magical thinking, conspiracy theorizing and pure projection is common to many who, for whatever reason, need to defend the homophobic totalitarianism of Putin (and this thinking just happens to perfectly match Putin's own propaganda.) Your post is a good example.

You jump from an article about the distaste in academia for Cohen's embarrassing public appearances and writings, which have really gone overboard in the last year, and instantly start to talk about a conspiracy by "neocons/neolibs" to "restart the Cold War."

Some notable questions about your rant:

In what alternate universe has the Obama administration tried to "disallow" people from watching RT? What the heck are you referring to when you cite a "serious...violation of the Rights of Americans to watch, read anything they want to pay for." And don't you feel just a bit strange saying this, since Putin really has shut down nearly all independent media in Russia?

(This is a rhetorical question. Putin sympathizers on DU never answer questions about their defense of Putin's basically fascist ways.)

So let me engage in some conspiratorial speculation of my own: This Dissertation Fellowship money that Cohen's wife, a member of the 1%, wanted to donate to promote Cohen's name--I bet Cohen also wanted to control who gets it, so that he can influence the amount of Putin toadies in academia, and that's another reason the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies balked at taking his wife's dirty money.

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Response to Purveyor (Original post)

Wed Jan 28, 2015, 08:47 PM

4. Blitzkrieg turned mayhem: Hacktivists claim they reveal Ukrainian troops’ annihilation

The anti-government activists claim they have hacked personal computer of Ukraine’s Judge Advocate General and copied a number of classified documents. These documents are allegedly exposing some dark secrets of Kiev’s authorities regarding the real state of things in the zone of the so-called ‘anti-terrorist operation’ in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions of the country.

The price of the warfare resumed by President Petro Poroshhenko in the east is terrifying. The hacked documents claim at least 1,100 servicemen of the Ukrainian army have lost their lives over the period of the last two weeks. Many dozens Ukrainian soldiers gave up to separatist forces. Ukrainian army has lost over 100 tanks and the armored vehicles.

This information comes into collision with the latest reports by Kiev generals about “no losses”, “defeated enemy” and “thousands of eliminated terrorists”.

The explanation to this is simple: according to the documents allegedly hacked, Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) has officially forbidden the Defense Ministry to reveal true casualties among servicemen.


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