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Salon: The New York Times “basically rewrites whatever the Kiev authorities say”

This is a long but very comprehensive read on why most everything the public is lead to believe about the conflict in Ukraine is inaccurate. Very important read as we approach a direct confrontation with Russia.


[font size=5]Salon[/font]

[font size=4]The New York Times “basically rewrites whatever the Kiev authorities say”:
Stephen F. Cohen on the U.S./Russia/Ukraine history the media won’t tell you[/font]

There's an alternative story of Russian relations we're not hearing. Historian Stephen Cohen tells it here

Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin, Vladimir Putin (Credit: AP/Boris Yurchenko/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

[font size=3]It is one thing to comment in a column as the Ukrainian crisis grinds on and Washington—senselessly, with no idea of what will come next—destroys relations with Moscow. It is quite another, as a long exchange with Stephen F. Cohen makes clear, to watch as an honorable career’s worth of scholarly truths are set aside in favor of unlawful subterfuge, a war fever not much short of Hearst’s and what Cohen ranks among the most extravagant expansion of a sphere of influence—NATO’s—in history.

Cohen is a distinguished Russianist by any measure. While professing at Princeton and New York University, he has written of the revolutionary years (“Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution,” 1973), the Soviet era (“Rethinking the Soviet Experience,” 1985) and, contentiously but movingly and always with a steady eye, the post-Soviet decades (“Failed Crusade: America and the Tragedy of Post-Communist Russia, 2000; “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives,” 2009). “The Victims Return: Survivors of the Gulag After Stalin” (2010) is a singularly humane work, using scholarly method to relate the stories of the former prisoners who walk as ghosts in post-Soviet Russia. “I never actually lost the uneasy feeling of having left work unfinished and obligations unfulfilled,” Cohen explains in the opening chapter, “even though fewer and fewer of the victims I knew were still alive.”

If I had to describe the force and value of Cohen’s work in a single sentence, it would be this: It is a relentless insistence that we must bring history to bear upon what we see. One would think this an admirable project, but it has landed Cohen in the mother of all intellectual disputes since the U.S.-supported coup in Kiev last year. To say he is now “blackballed” or “blacklisted”—terms Cohen does not like—is too much. Let us leave it that a place may await him among America’s many prophets without honor among their own.

It is hardly surprising that the Ministry of Forgetting, otherwise known as the State Department, would eschew Cohen’s perspective on Ukraine and the relationship with Russia: He brings far too much by way of causality and responsibility to the case. But when scholarly colleagues attack him as “Putin’s apologist” one grows queasy at the prospect of a return to the McCarthyist period. By now, obedient ideologues in the academy have turned debate into freak show.[/font]

Full Story at Salon:

Letter from Natalia Buzina (Wife of slain Journalist)

Natalia Buzina posted this letter yesterday (translated from Russian). Her husband, Journalist Oles Buzina, was killed this week.

April 22, 2015

Natalia Buzina

Translated from Russian by Kristina Rus

Hello. My name is Natalia. I am the wife of Oles Buzina. I know that on such occasions the wives are assigned a different title. Mournful, gloomy, depressing only in the combination of letters. But I don't accept it. The power of the spirit of Oles is tremendous. It is not limited by the confines of the flesh, or three-dimensional space. Oles was in that storm that came from nowhere after the shots. And then wept for us, poor, with the rain and snow on the day of the funeral. He always had a way with the elements.

Yes, I know that I will never bring him green tea with honey to bed. And instead of "Thank you!" he will not murm: "Scratch my back." We will never walk at night to the pond to listen to the frog chorus and admire a Gogol night. And he will not say: "Nowhere there are such frogs as in Ukraine!"

I know for sure: you who committed this crime, have never been as happy as Oles. And hardly loved anyone in your life. Perhaps you even have children, wives and gray-haired mothers. But you're lying to them! You don't love them! And they will never pray for you when you need it.

And Oles loved everyone. "Ukrops" and "colorados", Ukrainians and Russians, Jews and Tatars. He wanted to reconcile all of us in our common home - Ukraine. And never left his land when trouble came: "I can't leave my khokhlyats (Ukrainians). They are confused. I must help them."

Thank you, dear, for your response. Oles lives in each of your messages.

And for those who want to capitalize on this, I say: please, respect his name and honor! Don't gossip about him out of greed! Don't tear him into pieces for yourself! He can not answer you anymore! But he has a Supreme Protector.

Natalia Buzina


How to Avert a Nuclear War

How to Avert a Nuclear War

APRIL 19, 2015
New York Times


We find ourselves in an increasingly risky strategic environment. The Ukrainian crisis has threatened the stability of relations between Russia and the West, including the nuclear dimension — as became apparent last month when it was reported that Russian defense officials had advised President Vladimir V. Putin to consider placing Russia’s nuclear arsenal on alert during last year’s crisis in Crimea.

Diplomatic efforts have done little to ease the new nuclear tension. This makes it all the more critical for Russia and the United States to talk, to relieve the pressures to “use or lose” nuclear forces during a crisis and minimize the risk of a mistaken launch.

The fact is that we are still living with the nuclear-strike doctrine of the Cold War, which dictated three strategic options: first strike, launch on warning and post-attack retaliation. There is no reason to believe that Russia and the United States have discarded these options, as long as the architecture of “mutually assured destruction” remains intact.

For either side, the decision to launch on warning — in an attempt to fire one’s nuclear missiles before they are destroyed — would be made on the basis of information from early-warning satellites and ground radar. Given the 15- to 30-minute flight times of strategic missiles, a decision to launch after an alert of an apparent attack must be made in minutes.

This is therefore the riskiest scenario, since provocations or malfunctions can trigger a global catastrophe. Since computer-based information systems have been in place, the likelihood of such errors has been minimized. But the emergence of cyberwarfare threats has increased the potential for false alerts in early-warning systems. The possibility of an error cannot be ruled out.


The New World Disorder

The New World Disorder

Three decades ago, with the end of the Cold War and the dismantling of the South American dictatorships, many hoped that the much talked about ‘peace dividend’ promised by Bush senior and Thatcher would actually materialise. No such luck. Instead, we have experienced continuous wars, upheavals, intolerance and fundamentalisms of every sort – religious, ethnic and imperial. The exposure of the Western world’s surveillance networks has heightened the feeling that democratic institutions aren’t functioning as they should, that, like it or not, we are living in the twilight period of democracy itself.

The twilight began in the early 1990s with the implosion of the former Soviet Union and the takeover of Russia, Central Asia and much of Eastern Europe by visionless former Communist Party bureaucrats, many of whom rapidly became billionaires. The oligarchs who bought up some of the most expensive property in the world, including in London, may once have been members of the Communist Party, but they were also opportunists with no commitment to anything other than power and lining their own pockets. The vacuum created by the collapse of the party system has been filled by different things in different parts of the world, among them religion – and not just Islam. The statistics on the growth of religion in the Western world are dramatic – just look at France. And we have also seen the rise of a global empire of unprecedented power. The United States is now unchallengeable militarily and it dominates global politics, even the politics of the countries it treats as its enemies.

If you compare the recent demonisation of Putin to the way Yeltsin was treated at a time when he was committing many more shocking atrocities – destroying the entire city of Grozny, for example – you see that what is at stake is not principle, but the interests of the world’s predominant power. There hasn’t been such an empire before, and it’s unlikely that there will be one again. The United States is the site of the most remarkable economic development of recent times, the emergence on the West Coast of the IT revolution. Yet despite these advances in capitalist technology, the political structure of the United States has barely changed for a hundred and fifty years. It may be militarily, economically and even culturally in command – its soft power dominates the world – but there is as yet no sign of political change from within. Can this contradiction last?

There is ongoing debate around the world on the question of whether the American empire is in decline. And there is a vast literature of declinism, all arguing that this decline has begun and is irreversible. I see this as wishful thinking. The American empire has had setbacks – which empire doesn’t? It had setbacks in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s: many thought the defeat it suffered in Vietnam in 1975 was definitive. It wasn’t, and the United States hasn’t suffered another setback on that scale since. But unless we know and understand how this empire functions globally, it’s very difficult to propose any set of strategies to combat or contain it – or, as the realist theorists like the late Chalmers Johnson and John Mearsheimer demand, to make the United States dismantle its bases, get out of the rest of the world, and operate at a global level only if it is actually threatened as a country. Many realists in the United States argue that such a withdrawal is necessary, but they are arguing from a position of weakness in the sense that setbacks which they regard as irreversible aren’t. There are very few reversals from which imperial states can’t recover. Some of the declinist arguments are simplistic – that, for example, all empires have eventually collapsed. This is of course true, but there are contingent reasons for those collapses, and at the present moment the United States remains unassailable: it exerts its soft power all over the world, including in the heartlands of its economic rivals; its hard power is still dominant, enabling it to occupy countries it sees as its enemies; and its ideological power is still overwhelming in Europe and beyond.


Why We Must Return to the US-Russian Parity Principle

Why We Must Return to the US-Russian Parity Principle

The choice is either a New Détente or a more perilous Cold War.
Stephen F. Cohen
April 14, 2015
The Nation Magazine

A pro-Russian separatist stands in front of damaged buildings following a shelling by
Ukrainian forces in Donetsk, 2014. (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)

(The text below is a somewhat expanded version of remarks I delivered at the annual US-Russia Forum in Washington, DC, held in the Hart Senate Office Building, on March 26.)

When I spoke at this forum nine months ago, in June 2014, I warned that the Ukrainian crisis was the worst US-Russian confrontation in many decades. It had already plunged us into a new (or renewed) Cold War potentially even more perilous than its forty-year US-Soviet predecessor because the epicenter of this one was on Russia’s borders; because it lacked the stabilizing rules developed during the preceding Cold War; and because, unlike before, there was no significant opposition to it in the American political-media establishment. I also warned that we might soon be closer to actual war with Russia than we had been since the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

I regret to say that today the crisis is even worse. The new Cold War has been deepened and institutionalized by transforming what began, in February last year, as essentially a Ukrainian civil war into a US/NATO-Russian proxy war; by a torrent of inflammatory misinformation out of Washington, Moscow, Kiev and Brussels; and by Western economic sanctions that are compelling Russia to retreat politically, as it did in the late 1940s, from the West. Still worse, both sides are again aggressively deploying their conventional and nuclear weapons and probing the other’s defenses in the air and at sea. Diplomacy between Washington and Moscow is being displaced by resurgent militarized thinking, while cooperative relationships nurtured over many decades, from trade, education, and science to arms control, are being shredded. And yet, despite this fateful crisis and its growing dangers, there is still no effective political opposition to the US policies that have contributed to it—not in the administration, Congress, mainstream media, think tanks, or on campuses—but instead mostly uncritical political, financial, and military boosterism for the increasingly authoritarian Kiev regime, hardly a bastion of “democracy and Western values.”

Indeed, the current best hope to avert a larger war is being assailed by political forces, especially in Washington and in US-backed Kiev, that seem to want a military showdown with Russia’s unreasonably vilified president, Vladimir Putin. In February, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande brokered in Minsk a military and political agreement with Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko that, if implemented, would end the Ukrainian civil war. Powerful enemies of the Minsk accord—again, in both Washington and Kiev—are denouncing it as appeasement of Putin while demanding that President Obama send $3 billion of weapons to Kiev. Such a step would escalate the war in Ukraine, sabotage the ceasefire and political negotiations agreed upon in Minsk, and provoke a Russian military response with unpredictable consequences. While Europe is splitting over the crisis, and with it perhaps shattering the vaunted transatlantic alliance, this recklessness in Washington is fully bipartisan, urged on by four all-but-unanimous votes in Congress. (We must therefore honor the 48 House members who voted against the most recent warfare resolution on March 23, even if their dissent is too little, too late.)


'Sub' outside Stockholm was civilian boat

Source: The Local

'Sub' outside Stockholm was civilian boat

Published: 13 Apr 2015 07:43 GMT+02:00

Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad at a press conference after Sweden's October submarine hunt. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

A suspected submarine spotted in the Stockholm archipelago a week after Sweden's extensive hunt for Russian underwater vessels outside the capital last autumn was only a civilian boat, Sweden's Armed Forces have now said.

On October 31st, 2015, retired naval officer Sven Olof Kviman snapped a picture of what looked like a 20-30 metre long, black submarine in waters just outside Lidingö in Stockholm. The incident has remained unconfirmed, but has been classed by the military as a “potential” submarine.

But Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad has now told Swedish newspapers that the Armed Forces reported to the Swedish government last Wednesday that the suspected underwater vessel was in fact only a civilian “working boat”.

Read more: http://www.thelocal.se/20150413/suspected-sub-in-swedish-waters-was-working-boat

Sweden confirms mystery ‘Russian sub’…was in fact a workboat
Published time: April 13, 2015

ARCHIVE PHOTO: Swedish corvette HMS Visby patrols the Stockholm Archipelago October 19 2014, searching for what the military says is a foreign threat in the waters (Reuters / Marko Savala)

The unknown foreign vessel the Swedish Navy searched for near Stockholm last autumn was actually a “workboat,” a senior navy official says. Local media had alleged a hunt was on to try and find a Russian submarine, which was believed to be in the area.

Swedish Rear Admiral Anders Grenstad told the Swedish TT news agency on Saturday that what was thought to be a vessel or a foreign submarine was actually just a “workboat.”

READ MORE: Swedish military wants $700mn to hunt subs after autumn ‘chase’

The Swedish Navy changed the wording from “probable submarine” to “non-submarine” when referring to the reconnaissance mission connected to the unidentified vessel spotted in the Stockholm archipelago.


The massive hunt was used by the Swedish Defense Ministry to justify a six billion kronor ($696 million) hike in defense spending between 2016 and 2020.

The Least Among Us: The War in the Donbas Is Terrorizing Ukraine’s Most Vulnerable Citizens

The Least Among Us: The War in the Donbas Is Terrorizing Ukraine’s Most Vulnerable Citizens

The Western media have forgotten those who have suffered the most in the Ukrainian civil war—the eastern Ukrainians.
James Carden
April 6, 2015
The Nation Magazine

An apartment that sustained damage from shelling; an 80-year-old woman lives there alone. Oktyabrskaya district, Donetsk (All photos by James Carden)

On a bluff overlooking the Sea of Azov in the southwest corner of Russia—tucked between the city of Rostov-on-Don and the town of Taganrog—sits a series of six unprepossessing buildings on dirt lot roughly the size of an acre. Living in these plain cinderblock dwellings are over fifty school-age children and their mothers, refugees from the war that has been raging in the cities, villages and towns of East Ukraine’s Donbas region for nearly a year. These mothers and children probably do not have very good chances for happy futures; they lack means and they lack opportunity. Their separatist husbands and fathers are still in Donbas fighting against Keiv’s regular army and ultra-nationalist battalions or else have been killed. For many, the homes they once knew have been destroyed and the country they were born into is now very far along the process of disintegrating. Yet. for all that. these refugees in Russia, by the sea, are the lucky ones. They got out.

Many have not. For four days last week (March 24-27) I and a small group of other foreign journalists*, visited the largest city in the Donbas, Donetsk, and several surrounding towns and villages. Today, Donetsk, which had a pre-war population of well over 1 million inhabitants, seems on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. In several shelters in and around Donetsk we saw scores of children—some as young as three days old—and their mothers (and many cases their grandmothers) living in cramped, dirty hovels with limited access to electricity, food and water. The sound of artillery shelling could be heard not far off from the Donetsk airport where fighting between the separatists’ Army of Novorossiya and the Ukrainian forces has sporadically flared up, despite the fact the the second Minsk cease-fire has, for now, largely held in other parts of Donbas.

The cease-fire, which is being actively undermined by Kiev’s refusal to negotiate directly with the rebel government, has, according to several rebel fighters we spoke to, not prevented snipers from taking up positions in abandoned apartments throughout the city. Though the targets of sniper fire have mainly been rebel parliamentarians and members of the burgeoning Donetsk government, the fear they inspire among the non-combatants is real.

Unremarked upon by the American media, eastern Ukraine’s elderly, women and children are living in a city that is effectively under an economic and military blockade by the Western-backed government in Kiev; which has resulted in a very real sense of privation throughout the city. The Poroshenko government, as one of its first moves, cut off all social services and benefits to the citizens of the Donbas; because people are living without medical insurance, hospitals are offering their services for free. Kiev has also cut the area off from the banking system; there is no access to credit or even the most rudimentary banking services. Unsurprisingly, commerce has ground to a standstill; in the city center only small markets selling flowers, crafts and, occasionally, food seem to be doing much business. Medium-sized enterprises, retailers and restaurants, are shuttered, as are, according to one parliamentarian we spoke to, most of the Donbas’s primary large-scale industry: coal and steel enterprises. Only the main Donbas Metallurgical facility is still operating.


Donbass: ‘The War Has Not Started Yet’ - PEPE ESCOBAR

OP commentary: Our media is fairly quiet at the moment and not reporting much on the region. But there is a general concern building that while things are quiet, there are indications more war is on it's way.

Kiev Wants War
Donbass: ‘The War Has Not Started Yet’


Two top Cossack commanders in the People’s Republic of Donetsk and a seasoned Serbian volunteer fighter are adamant: the real war in Donbass has not even started.

It’s a spectacular sunset in the People’s Republic of Donetsk and I’m standing in the Cossack ‘holy land’ – an open field in a horse-breeding farm – talking to Nikolai Korsunov, captain of the Ivan Sirko Cossack Brigade, and Roman Ivlev, founder of the Donbass Berkut Veterans Union group.

Why is this Cossack ‘holy land’? They take no time to remind me of the legendary 17th century Cossack military hero Ivan Sirko, a.k.a. “The Wizard”, credited with extra-sensory powers, who won 55 battles mostly against Poles and Tatars.

Only three kilometers from where we stand a key battle at a crossroads on the ancient Silk Road called Matsapulovska Krinitsa took place, involving 3,000 Cossacks and 15,000 Tatars.

Now, at the dawn of the Chinese-driven 21st century New Silk Road – which will also traverse Russia – here we are discussing the proxy war in Ukraine between the US and Russia whose ultimate objective is to disrupt the New Silk Road.

Commander Korsunov leads one of the 18 Cossack brigades in Makeevka; 240 of his soldiers are now involved in the Ukrainian civil war – some of them freshly returned from the cauldron in Debaltsevo. Some were formerly part of the Ukrainian Army, some worked in the security business. Korsunov and Ivlev insist all their fighters have jobs, even if unpaid – and have joined the Donetsk People’s Republic army as volunteers. “Somehow, they manage to survive.”

What’s so special about Cossack fighters? “It’s historical – we’ve always fought to defend our lands.”Commander Korsunov was a miner, now he’s on a pension – although for obvious reasons he’s receiving nothing from Poroshenko’s Kiev set up; only support from the Berkut group, the Ministry for Youth and Sports of the People’s Republic, and humanitarian food convoys from Russia.

Korsunov and Ivlev are convinced Minsk 2 will not hold; fierce fighting should resume “in a matter of weeks.” According to their best military intelligence, Kiev’s army, after the recent IMF loan, was allocated no less than $3.8 billion for weapons.


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