Slaughter those strawmen

While any satirical work is going to entail some hyperbole for comic effect, satire works best when it is at least rooted in truth. For example, if you read enough “realist” articles about Russia you will notice that they talk about negotiating with Russia while largely ignoring what Russia’s supposed to give up in return. Either that, or the proposed deal is weighted in Russia’s favor. Another common feature is the implication that America’s best interests are at home while Russia is allowed to find its national interests on its neighbors’ land or as far away as the Levant.

Satire doesn’t work if all your jokes are based on strawmen, or in other words, if they’re not true. Imagine I’m writing a satire aimed at mainstream American conservatives, for example, and I keep making references to them being stoners and always trying to enforce strict environmental regulations on everyone. This is totally ineffective because in general, American conservatives either don’t use recreational drugs or at least don’t advertise the fact that they do, and we all know how they hate environmental regulations of any kind. In short, satire works when it’s based on a kernel of truth.

With that out of the way, let’s look at an example of what not to do. This popped up in one of my news feeds and at first I thought it would be entertaining. Halfway through, however, it started to turn into a passive-aggressive attack on an army of poor, defenseless strawmen. The author is anonymous, but claims to have tried to work as a journalist in Russia without success. If you read the whole thing, I think it’s pretty clear that this happened because of the evil Western media conspiracy, which makes sure that only journalists who write “anti-Russian” work have careers.

Let’s unpack.

“On the bright side, while it is true that scores of journalists have been killed in Russia since the 1990s, foreign correspondents should have it slightly easier than local journalists, being allowed to work without the need to constantly put their life in danger, while posing as heroes fighting for liberty, truth, democracy, LGBT rights, Chechen independence, freedom, fair elections, and protesting against Russian propaganda.”

Here was the first red flag. The author correctly points out that yes, Russia is far less lethal for foreign correspondents (only one killed), but where are they getting this stuff about “posing as heroes” for all those things that follow it? Posing implies that you don’t actually believe in any of those things. Moreover, most of the Russia journalists I know don’t do this and aren’t interested in being seen as “heroes” for anything.

“I tried my hand at it once, many years ago, but I was very young, barely discovering my emerging skills at writing, and though I was very passionate about the cause and thought I knew a thing or two about what I was writing, I had not discovered the right formula to deliver the content I was expected to provide.”

Here it is, folks, that part where our anonymous hero was a visionary but the gatekeepers of the mainstream media couldn’t see their brilliance. Look, here’s a piece of advice. Maybe you did have a great writing style and unique insight or expertise on Russia, but then again maybe you didn’t, or maybe you were too “passionate about the cause”(what cause?), or whatever. When I say that my inbox isn’t swamped with invitations to conferences or job offers from major media outlets, I freely admit that on one hand it is due to politics, but on the other it is due to lack of academic credentials or in some cases experience. I realize that keeping my own style and point of view through most of my work is limiting, because it’s not necessarily what big outlets are looking for. I don’t imply that there’s some cabal of media guardians who don’t want me working for their outlets because they can’t handle the truth that I write. I accept limited prospects (which have been better than I could have imagined) as the price of remaining me.

I hope you’re ready for more passive aggression:

“I have come to realize however that, whatever the dangers might be, for many professional journalists from Europe or the US, spending one or two years in Russia may be a real life-time career investment: after some months spent there, you will deservedly become a respected and distinguished expert on all things Russian until your retirement.”

It’s interesting to me how these types always seem to assume that nobody can possibly have knowledge about Russia before moving there. I’m not talking about picking up a few books and skimming them as you prepare for your assignment. I’m talking about people actually studying Russian language, culture, and history in university, for example. I’m also not sure who these “distinguished experts” are. It sound more like a description of pundits rather than actual journalists.

“After all who goes to Russia voluntarily? There certainly must be some rewards if one is ready to sacrifice one or two years of their lives to live in a dirty, gray, squalid, corrupt and poor country surrounded by rude, aggressive and retrograde brutes.”

Again, a passive-aggressive strawman. These are your words, author, not theirs. The kind of complaints or jokes that many Russia correspondents make are the same as those made by ordinary Russians. In fact I’d say that most newcomers tend to be super idealistic and don’t get why Russians complain so much. To them, everything is magical and wonderful. You only really start to assimilate when you begin to hate the same things that Russians hate. They don’t like the mud and rain, the lack of sun, or the hell that is trying to accomplish any sort of transaction at Sberbank. None of these things are magical because they’re in Russia. They suck in your country and they suck here.

“Going to Russia and reporting from there will also provide you with the unique experience of joining the envied and exclusive club of the Moscow hack pack, where you will meet all these other eccentric and heroic individuals, some idealist reformers, some Oxford educated aristocrats, the inevitable New York Jew who feels tied to his Russian-speaking ancestors, and some mean spirited but good-at-heart intellectually restless and brave villains, who just like you, got stranded between Europe and Asia.”

Passive-aggression intensifies. For those who don’t know, the so-called Moscow Hack Pack, inasmuch as such a group formally exists, is nothing more than a Facebook group. Any member of the group can invite and authorize a new person, and many members are actually Russians as opposed to foreigners. In fact, many of the members aren’t even journalists but fixers, copyeditors, translators, etc. It’s not even remotely exclusive, my membership being strong evidence of this, and this cast of characters the author describes does not resemble anything like the parties I’ve been to. It’s clear that the author is describing these Western correspondents in a way that makes them unlikable, particularly with the “aristocrats” remark.

As for restless or eccentric well, that’s pretty much anyone who lives in Russia long term. And for the record, not all of us got “stranded” here. I’m here because however ridiculous and naive it might have been, I wanted to be here. It was my biggest goal from the end of high school until the day I left. But alas, I guess I don’t really love Russia on the deeper, molecular level that the author does. I don’t love it enough to conflate Russia and Russians with a particular government and its foreign policy. I don’t love it enough to pretend that Russia exists outside of a system based on antagonistic classes.

So the real slaughter of strawmen begins with a bullet-point list:

“You do not have to like Russia. What sane human being likes Russia anyway? At worst, it will only be a temporary stay, just enough for you to become more familiar with the realities of Russia, before your employer decides to post you somewhere else to prevent you from going native, that is to say, incapable of delivering objective reporting.”

From my experience, most of the Western correspondents I know like living in Russia. A number of them have worked in places that would make Russia look like paradise by comparison. It is rarely boring here, and no matter how bad things are you can always find some good in Russian society.

“It is good if you go to Russia with all your good old preconceived ideas: these are the ones that have been popular until now, and frankly, who are you, the newbie, to challenge the good old cliches anyway? After all, Russia is Russia is Russia. Read some of the masters and the classics in the genre of Russia “reporting”, like Edward Lucas and Masha Gessen and stick to their wisdom. They are professionals with a vast experience and you have a lot of things to learn from them. The readers know what to expect when they read about Russia, and you know what sort of people your readers are: idealist loners with a genuine wish to improve humanity and some weird, exotic interest in the dark and cursed corners of the planet, who are looking for the excitement they would otherwise find in a detective story; or your other type of readers, who are worried about the impending threat Russia poses to all of us naive fools who are too cowardly to recognize a threat when we see one.”

This one’s a bit long so I’ll break it down into two parts. First let’s tackle that thing about preconceived notions. The author is right to attack the practice of coming to Russia with preconceived ideas. For example, when I came to Russia my preconceived notion was that Putin was a patriot who was making his nation stronger, cleaning up corruption, and restoring Russian pride. I dismissed the Western media coverage of him because at the time I assumed they just hated him for all those aforementioned things he was doing. Luckily once I arrived it was blatantly obvious that this was all bullshit. Putin and his cronies were comfortably in bed with the West, which happily accepted their ill-gotten fortunes in Western banks and real estate markets, and which also invested billions into Russia. Good thing I gave up that preconceived notion, right?

Now for the second part, notice the only Russia journalists that are ever named are Ed Lucas and Masha Gessen. These are two members of the Trinity of Low-Hanging Fruit for Kremlin Apologists, the third member being Paul Goble. The implication is that other Western correspondents write like them. Uh no, they do not, in fact. If you can’t tell the difference, you’re not paying attention. And while Gessen is indeed hysterical at times, she did spent much of her life in Russia and speaks Russian. That ought to count for something.

And get a load of that description of the audience. Hey, guess what- that’s you, dear reader! You’re an idealistic loner who wants to save the world. I say let’s look at the audience for pro-Putin English-language media and see who has more loners and weirdos. Take a look at the comments section on any RT article some time.

I hope I’m not the only one that doesn’t find this incredibly pretentious beyond belief. The Western correspondents don’t really get it. The media outlets don’t get it. The audiences don’t get it. No, only this guy, who admits he failed at journalism in Russia, truly gets it. Sure.

“You don’t need to do your own investigative work. After all, you are in a foreign and dangerous country, and you’d better take care of yourself. Just read the newspapers, watch TV and talk to opposition politicians, particularly those who got so little votes that they failed to get into Parliament. In other countries, their voices would be “marginal”, that it is to say, insignificant. In Russia, their voices are “marginalized”, so well worth reporting.”

This one is really insulting. Just to give you an example why, here’s Simon Ostrovsky sitting in Moscow and reading some newspapers:

 

Ostrovsky’s work is extreme, but I can rattle off numerous “hack packers” who have reported from front lines in Ukraine, often on both sides. Many have literally put their lives in danger when reporting on this war. In fact, so have I. That’s why I get a bit pissed when I see some self-acknowledged failed journalist implying that Western Russia correspondents just hang out in Moscow, surf the net, and meet with opposition candidates.

Next a word on those opposition candidates. When someone asks why such candidates get that amount of attention it is an indicator that they know little about Russian politics. When you cover politics, you’re supposed to cover controversy and conflict. That’s why the Tea Party got so much attention, for example. The problem in Russian politics is that the official opposition parties don’t really oppose the government or more accurately, the president, on any issue of significance. Anyone who does gets seriously “marginalized.” Just ask Ilya Ponomarev.

The fact is that such opposition parties are marginalized. Their candidates and supporters have suffered everything from arrests to assaults, and in the case of Nemtsov- assassination. They are typically banned from the ballot in most regions. They often get no media coverage save for the occasional story about how they’re secret agents of the United States.

As for the official opposition parties, as I wrote in an update to my last post, this is basically a trap. If you report on the bombastic antics of the LDPR or the Stalin rehabilitation of the KPRF, as many reporters do from time to time, the pro-Kremlin people can just claim those are opposition parties that have nothing to do with Putin. You’re “smearing” Russia by implying that they have real power. If you don’t report on them, you’re focusing on marginal opposition figures. You just can’t win.

“You don’t need to study Russian (a smattering of Russian will be more than enough). Opposition politicians generally speak English very well, especially these self-exiled martyrs who have fled Russia for abroad. They might live outside of Russia now, but nobody has so much insider information about the inner diabolical workings of the Kremlin and so much insight into the bully psychopathic soul of Vladimir Putin. In fact, opposition politicians will court you, because they are careful to avoid Russian state propaganda media. Limited knowledge of Russian will also keep your exposure to Russian propaganda under check. Putin’s propaganda won’t fool you.”

Most of the correspondents I know either have a working professional knowledge of Russian or they are fluent in it (sometimes because it was their first language). But maybe that doesn’t matter. They don’t really know Russian like this author. There’s actually some kind of deeper Russian, so powerful that when you use it in conversation you actually make a connection with the other speaker’s magical Russian soul.

Oh and about interviewing opposition politicians, again I know plenty of people who interview die-hard regime supporters like Evgeny Fedorov (Marc Bennetts does so in his book I’m Going to Ruin Their Lives) or Night Wolves motorcycle club leader Aleksandr “The Surgeon” Zaldostanov. Western journalists have interviewed cossacks, volunteers in the Donbas, Sergei Markov, and of course Putin himself, on occasion.

As a final note, I find that a working knowledge of Russian is what protects you from “Putin’s propaganda.”

“Always remind the reader about Putin’s (preferably accompanied by the adjective “sinister”) KGB past. If you have some space left, do not fail to point out that in reality Putin was just a low level unglamorous employee posted to an insignificant provincial town in Eastern Germany, which does not make him anyway less sinister however. Putin is a nonentity, Putin is a nobody, but he is a dangerous tyrant who wants world domination too.”

The author nearly had a point here until the screwed it all up. Yes, there was and in some cases still is an irritating habit of always pointing out Putin’s KGB past any time he is mentioned. There are times when it is relevant, but this is way overused.

However, one reason it is overused is for the reason the author provides, namely that he was basically a desk jockey. Contrary to his implication, most journalists don’t point this out, and it has bolstered Putin’s mystique.

It’s probably worth pointing out that while Putin’s position was indeed not glamorous, he was stationed in Dresden, the capital of Saxony, and not some “insignificant provincial town in Eastern Germany.” Gee, the global Western media conspiracy really missed out on a great Russia expert here!

“Whatever action Russia takes, it is aggressive. For example Russia aggressively annexed Crimea (actually not a single shot was fired) and aggressively allowed for an aggressive referendum to take place in March 2014. Or like President Poroshenko put it last week, “the aggressor Russia, (with whom Ukraine is fighting a war) aggressively closes its markets, which amounts to economic aggression”. Not only the aggressor is aggressively attacking your country, it is also, aggressively, refusing to trade with your country!”

Whatever action? No, just the acts of aggression. The author excuses the annexation of the Crimea (which began with a military operation to secure the Crimean parliament building) because it was carried out without a shot fired. Well guess what- the Anschluss, the annexation of the Sudetenland, and the annexation of what was left of Czechoslovakia were all accomplished without a shot fired. Incidentally, the author is wrong about no shots being fired, and the takeover was far from non-violent; in some cases it was lethal. Incidentally one correspondent of mine had his camera stolen from him by Russian military personnel in the Crimea. Serves him right for not staying in Moscow and interviewing opposition figures!

Back to the question of aggression, seizing other countries’ land by military force, even if they rarely resort to using deadly force, is still aggression, period. Does anyone have the slightest belief that the author would approve of the US doing the same thing?

But you know what’s really funny? The author seems to be leaving out something. There’s a remark about Ukraine fighting a war with Russia, but no word as to who started it. For all we know, maybe Ukraine invaded and occupied Kursk or Rostov-na-Donu. Why mention aggression and then not bring up the Donbas? Instead the author mentions Poroshenko’s reference to a trade war. What the author doesn’t seem to know is that Russia had already pulled this trick…prior to Maidan.

Russia used trade and “sanctions” as a method of dissuading Yanukovych from signing the EU Association Agreement.  Here’s a relevant passage from that article:

“Glazyev, speaking on the sidelines of the discussion, said the exact opposite was true: “Ukrainian authorities make a huge mistake if they think that the Russian reaction will become neutral in a few years from now. This will not happen.”

Instead, he said, signing the agreement would make the default of Ukraine inevitable and Moscow would not offer any helping hand. “Russia is the main creditor of Ukraine. Only with customs union with Russia can Ukraine balance its trade,” he said. Russia has already slapped import restrictions on certain Ukrainian products and Glazyev did not rule out further sanctions if the agreement was signed.

The Kremlin aide added that the political and social cost of EU integration could also be high, and allowed for the possibility of separatist movements springing up in the Russian-speaking east and south of Ukraine. He suggested that if Ukraine signed the agreement, Russia would consider the bilateral treaty that delineates the countries’ borders to be void.”

Hmmm…Glazyev. That name sounds familiar. Glazyev…borders void…separatist movements…OH RIGHT! THIS THING! Isn’t it weird how the thing they threatened Ukraine with in 2013 actually happened almost exactly as they said it would?

So no, Western journalists don’t call everything Russia does “aggression.” Only the aggressive stuff. And on that note, Russian state media loves to brag about Russia’s military and nuclear capabilities. When you do that, people might see you as aggressive, particularly if you’ve invaded your neighbor. On to the next point.

“No explanation is too far-fetched. 9/11 truthers, it is widely known, are a bunch of lunatic conspiracy theorists. Russia actually had its own little 9/11 two years earlier, in September 1999, when bombs were detonated in Moscow and other cities killing almost 300 people. It has become common place in the media universal consensus on Russia that these bombs were actually planted in the apartments by FSB agents who were trying to create a pretext for the next invasion of Chechnya. The tragic accident is often remembered because it brought about the rise of Putin, who had left his post as FSB director, where he served for eight months, and had just been nominated Prime Minister by Eltsin.”

While the truth will probably never be known until after the regime’s archives are opened, I would ask the author to look at the concrete evidence provided for both conspiracies before declaring them to be equal. And another thing to consider is that the idea that this was a false-flag was not cooked up in the Western media but rather in Russia. Lastly, if this was a false-flag, it was a crime of the Yeltsin administration and not Putin, who could not have organized such a thing at the time. Putin no doubt became aware of what happened somewhere down the road and thus this incident is probably one of many reasons why he’s afraid to leave power.

“Putin is a macho. What could possibly be worse than being a man, and not just any man, but a man who pretends to pose as a manly man? The age of men is over. Men should not be allowed to be men, otherwise they become machos. Putin may have been seen shirtless a couple of times or two. Angela Merkel has been spotted naked. Somehow the press does not show the pictures of the German Chancellor naked every time there is a passing reference to her. It must be because she does not look so good naked.”

What’s a pro-Kremlin article without a little bit of creepiness. The thing isn’t that Putin is macho, it’s that he wants to be seen as such so badly. He’s constantly appearing in photo ops riding motorcycles, shooting guns, running around shirtless. He’s not simply “spotted” this way. Putin’s media machine promoted this macho image so they’re responsible for the reactions. And no, I don’t see references to shirtless Putin any time there’s a passing reference to him. I think I’ll just take the author’s word on the Merkel thing.

“If somebody online is expressing a view which might be interpreted as a slight display of sympathy towards Russia, you can assume pretty much without doubt that you are dealing with a paid Kremlin troll. There are actually millions of them and they are extremely infectious, their sole task is to transform the naive online users into Putin worshiping zombies, so the best way to deal with them is to ignore their inherently worthless arguments while naming-and-shaming them. If your article or your book receive a bad review, do not worry at all, it is the work of professional online trolls.”

I’ve often written about how ridiculously overused the term “Kremlin troll” is. For one thing, people need to be aware that these pro-Putin citizens of theirs have been around for a long time, some before the advent of the St. Petersburg troll factories and some even before the founding of RT. Instead of pretending this phenomenon is some kind of artificial foreign invasion, they should look at the problems in their society which alienate people so much that they’re willing to fantasize about some foreign government being their potential savior.

Now that being said, don’t worry, author. If you told me that nobody pays you to write, I’d believe it 100%.

“Russia is on the brink of economic collapse, but it has billions of dollars to invest in propaganda operations to subvert the Western liberal order.”

More like hundreds of million now, but that’s beside the point. Venezuela is on the brink of collapse and yet they still fund Telesur. As for that Western liberal order, well, it is subverting itself with its internal contradictions.

“If somebody is killed in Russia, the first thing to do is to blame the Kremlin for the assassination. After all, centuries of history have proven that Russia is a genocidal country.”

Russia has a higher homicide rate than the US, so that would be a lot of murderers pinned on the Kremlin, don’t you think? And yeah, when outspoken Kremlin opponents are gunned down in a country where getting firearms is no easy task, people are going to look toward the Kremlin. The last political assassination included as one of its suspects a man connected to one of Russia’s most powerful men, Ramzan Kadyrov. The killing was carried out within sight of the Kremlin walls. Yeah that strongly suggests some state involvement, doesn’t it?

“Putin wants to invade the Baltics. Nobody understands what Putin wants, nobody can understand him because he is illogical and insane. Indeed Putin has no reason why and Russia has shown no intention to invade the Baltics but this is exactly reason why Putin will do it. How can you be insane if you don’t do insane things?”

This is the one argument I’d totally agree with, but even here it fails because the link used as an example goes to the Atlantic Council think tank and I don’t see many Russia correspondents taking this threat seriously. I strongly suspect that the author had Ed Lucas and possibly Anne Applebaum in mind when they wrote this whole piece, but I don’t understand why they didn’t just call those people out. Instead they go after this exclusive “hack pack,” which as far as I know, never included either of those authors.

This seems to be a common tactic of some Putin fanboys, as I’ve often seen it before in Op-Edges on RT. Basically you smear Western correspondents in general, then pick some low hanging fruit, many of whom are more pundits than journalists these days, and the reader thinks that the rest of those Western journalists are the same. Guess what- they’re not. Actually read what they write some time.

But in case the author hasn’t insulted your intelligence enough, they end with a cover of Der Spiegel magazine that says, in German, “Stop Putin Now!” This is supposed to show how hysterical and biased the Western media is. Yet looking at the cover and the date, it looks as though it is a photo collage of victims from the MH17 incident. These people were killed with Russian weapons, by Russian-backed forces, in a war started by Russia. But the author looks at this and smirks at how irrational the Western media supposedly is toward Putin.

Can’t imagine why those Western outlets never hired this individual. Must be because they all secretly hate Russia. If the author’s still up for the job I’m sure RT will take them. They’ll hire anyone.

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50 thoughts on “Slaughter those strawmen

  1. Krissy Faustini

    I actually concur with many of the points of the article you took your time so painstakingly to dissect. Your rather simple and precisely preconceived views. Specifically your mention of the Maidan revolt and the subsequent annexation of Crimea are testament thereof. The issue is that the overthrow of Yankovich was the first aggressive act, to which Putin merely responded. Ok if you wish you can ignore the investments the US pumped into such regime change or the Victoria Nuland recordings or the agreements made immediately in the aftermath of the fall of the USSR in which Russia removed 300000 troops from East Germany in exchange for no EU or NATO expansion eastwards. All of these realities you can twist and turn according to your own subjectivity. The trouble however still remains that we are playing the game. Even if we seek to dismiss all of the afore mentioned variables, for this is what they are, then the mere fact that Brzezinsks Grand chessboard so brazenly exposes the US position with regards to the Ukraine could, from the Russian perspective not be ignored.
    When USA foreign policy advisers insist on pronouncing their strategies so freely and openly for the whole globe to hear them, then it is without wonder that the Russians had to take a stand to the unfolding crisis in the Ukraine. We effectively gave them no option.
    Of note is how the Maidan specifically forced Putin to change his stance in relation to the West. Putin prior to the Ukraine crisis had after all ” Made it clear that he would adopt a “Liberal” foreign policy that realigns Russia with the West to promote Russias long-term strategies”. I feel this needs no further explanation.
    I can only assume you are one of those who cling to this misconception that Russia s future can be secured by transforming the Russian bear into a Liberal market economy along Western lines. This means you ignore not only history but struggle to grasp simple strategy.
    The most important text for people to consider in regards to US-Russian relations is

    http://www.bookdepository.com/The-Grand-Chessboard-Zbigniew-Brzezinski/9780465027262?redirected=true&selectCurrency=GBP&pdg=kwd-59428546:cmp-608517262:adg-28079893976:crv-102922805096:pos-1t1&gclid=CPbDg9__pc8CFUVAGwodDEMGsQ

    Either you should read it, refresh yourself with the text or learn to disregard your preconceived ideas. Unfortunately you rather exposed yourself by mentioning Maidan.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “The issue is that the overthrow of Yankovich was the first aggressive act, to which Putin merely responded. ”

      Um no, that was not an “aggressive act,” because a people protesting their own government does not automatically equal a foreign backed coup.

      On 21 February an agreement was signed between the parties. While Yanukovych signed this agreement, he then elected to announce his resignation and flee (he later tried to retract said resignation when he was outside of the country).

      Moreover, the claim that Maidan was somehow orchestrated by outsiders betrays massive ignorance about both Maidan and real Western-backed coups.

      “Ok if you wish you can ignore the investments the US pumped into such regime change or the Victoria Nuland recordings”

      I’m sorry but the Nuland phone call proves absolutely dick. Nuland didn’t start Maidan. Mustafa Nayyem and Yanukovych started it.

      “immediately in the aftermath of the fall of the USSR in which Russia removed 300000 troops from East Germany in exchange for no EU or NATO expansion eastwards. ”

      I hate to break it to you, but there was no “exchange” between the EU and NATO in the aftermath of the fall of the USSR. First of all, the “not an inch eastward promise” is a total myth. Second, not even the Russians claim there was some promise regarding EU expansion.

      The USSR agreed to the Helsinki Accords which said that states could join alliances or other groups as they saw fit. Ukraine was not joining NATO, nor was it even joining the EU. It was signing a trade agreement with the EU, one not particularly different form association agreements with Serbia, Turkey, Algeria, etc. And it was Yanukovych who organized it.

      If the US wanted Ukraine in NATO so badly, they had the perfect opportunity between 2004 and 2008. All they had to do was give Ukraine a membership action plan. They did not do so.

      So please explain how there’s this big conspiracy to get Ukraine in NATO (in spite of a non-aligned status it has had up till late 2014), yet the leading NATO countries somehow forgot to even get the process started.

      And as for Brzezinski, I’m familiar with him. And guess what- he doesn’t run the United States. What is more, Russia may not have a liberal market economy in the sense that the US does, but it certainly achieves neo-liberal results even better than actual neo-liberal economics. Russia has one of the highest rates of wealth inequality in the industrialized world.

      Reply
      1. Krissy Faustini

        Your arguments are very simplistic and as I say you can twist and turn as you like. Brzezinski remains highly important not merely by his dominant position within US foreign policy at the time, but by the influence it still exacts today. His work after all has been reiterated by successive USA government’s as highlighted by assessments from both c rice and h clinton. The point that according to you the Nuland recordings means “dick” once again underscores your feable ability to construct credible argument. Academic papers and Gorbachev himself confirm their was an agreement that there will be no expansion Eastwards. Of course the usa now denies this, but again this highlights your lack of deep understanding of the subject and so exposes your preconceived ideas. That the maidan followed the failure to secure the association agreement with the eu and prevented the realisation of russias offer to enter into the Euroasian Union is key.
        It is clear from your musings that you have no understanding of the EU s integration policies or that this today goes hand in hand with nato integration. Further you can decide to close your ears to the leading pro western politicians in Kiev who publicly called for NATO and EU integration. It’s not enough to base your ideas on simple journalism, you need depth and a real understanding of the international environment. It is clear that you will feel compelled to respond with bs. You have a psychological need to do so. So you can certainly have the last word, but before I leave your little black and whute world I would however just like to state that I would have no hesitation at all in placing my bottom euro that you certainly don’t hold a PhD in international relations or security studies. Oh and yes your knowledge of Brzezinski certainlying does not consist of you actually having read him.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “Your arguments are very simplistic and as I say you can twist and turn as you like.”

        Yes they are rather simplistic, because concrete facts tend to be simplistic. Ukraine is a sovereign nation is a very simple concept. Too complex for the Russian government, perhaps, but rather clear to everyone else.

        “The point that according to you the Nuland recordings means “dick” once again underscores your feable ability to construct credible argument. ”

        Nope, again it’s pretty simple. Nuland was advising a US ambassador on how to relate with a new Ukrainian government. The actual time of the phone call has never been established, but it’s obvious that it took place long after Maidan was underway. I’d guess in 2014 in fact.

        Maidan actually began with people who were not affiliated with any of those parties. In fact, they didn’t want to have anything to do with them. Just keep in mind that I’ve actually personally spoken to people who were involved in that original Maidan.

        “Academic papers and Gorbachev himself confirm their was an agreement that there will be no expansion Eastwards. ”

        Nope. Feel free to cite those academic papers, but as for Gorbachev’s claim (which he later retracted IIRC), this would have been impossible. At the time he claimed this happened, Warsaw Pact and the USSR still existed. Why would Gorbachev be discussing NATO expansion with both those things still in existence?

        “hat the maidan followed the failure to secure the association agreement with the eu and prevented the realisation of russias offer to enter into the Euroasian Union is key.”

        I’m sorry but this sentence is incoherent. Russia had no concrete plans to join the EU. At the time of the EU agreement for Ukraine, everyone knew that actual membership was at least a decade off. Some still say that today.

        NATO membership wasn’t even on the table. As I said before, the US and NATO had the perfect opportunity to make Ukraine a member for a period of roughly four years. They didn’t even start the groundwork.

        “t is clear from your musings that you have no understanding of the EU s integration policies or that this today goes hand in hand with nato integration. ”

        Oh really? Then please explain how it is that Serbia has an association agreement and is set to join the EU, but there’s a 50% chance it won’t join NATO.

        “It’s not enough to base your ideas on simple journalism, you need depth and a real understanding of the international environment.”

        Clearly you don’t understand the environment if you get even the most basic facts about Maidan wrong.

        “So you can certainly have the last word, but before I leave your little black and whute world”

        Yes, I live in a world that’s black and white insofar as I believe things that actually happened and dismiss things that have no evidence.

        The very idea that the US would conspire to overthrow a European government that was never particularly hostile all because the president suspended (not ended) the signing of an EU trade agreement is simply idiotic. And while I don’t have a PhD, I certainly have red a great deal on the topic of coups and revolutions. Enough to say that Maidan doesn’t resemble a coup at all.

      3. Rubens Martinez

        don’t know whether to demolish the article itself or the post in response to the excellent Krissy.

        “Um no, that was not an “aggressive act,” because a people protesting their own government does not automatically equal a foreign backed coup”

        errrmm..yes it does. These protests lasted for over 70 days(for what exactly?), unfathomably contiuing all the way into the Sochi Olympics.During which Yanukovich comfortably survived an impeachment vote. Nobody protests for that long, over something that vague, in tandem with that many thugs,without some above force….they have these things called jobs and families ( unless they are under the payroll of various, unscrupulous US backed Ukrainian Oligarchs who can afford to keep them on the Maidian for a while). Soros/US group funding of protest groups, media, thugs, tactics, training of thugs in Poland and Lithuania is an open secret.

        “On 21 February an agreement was signed between the parties. While Yanukovych signed this agreement, he then elected to announce his resignation and flee (he later tried to retract said resignation when he was outside of the country).

        Moreover, the claim that Maidan was somehow orchestrated by outsiders betrays massive ignorance about both Maidan and real Western-backed coups. ”

        No it doesn’t. It followed the US playbook from umpteen colour revolutions….all of which fail….and they fail to learn from…apart from sowing chaos in Russia’s near-abroad.
        He “fled” to another part of his own country at first. The Yemen situation shows this absurd argument for what it is.

        “I hate to break it to you, but there was no “exchange” between the EU and NATO in the aftermath of the fall of the USSR. First of all, the “not an inch eastward promise” is a total myth. Second, not even the Russians claim there was some promise regarding EU expansion. ”

        Simple untrue…..several prominant US,German, British and Russian politicians say differently. Those who are retired and aren’t in the business of justifying their legacy but straight-shooting, all say differently.
        Jack Matlock , former Ambassador, is as honest as they come, he was in the discussions……safe to say he knows more about it than you.

        “If the US wanted Ukraine in NATO so badly, they had the perfect opportunity between 2004 and 2008. All they had to do was give Ukraine a membership action plan. They did not do so.

        So please explain how there’s this big conspiracy to get Ukraine in NATO (in spite of a non-aligned status it has had up till late 2014), yet the leading NATO countries somehow forgot to even get the process started. ”

        Fallacy. All the EU inductees since 2000 have first joined NATO….then joined the EU….to the point that they are nearly synonymous. Countries such as Romania,Hungary and Croatia have entirely reasonable reasons for joining NATO for the reason of European security…most of the others…it is a pointless action designed solely for anti-Russian purposes, by the same moron countries who are happy to encourage Ukraine to lose billions of money from separating from Russia…….but have no intention of giving loans or changing the major import/export imbalance that they have in their favour with Ukraine. The same “join NATO first, then EU later” is happening with Montenegro, a country with one of the smallest areas and population in Europe…but has many sympathetic to Russia and where an actual democratic vote to join NATO would result in a resounding No victory. The reason there was no membership action plan ,has nothing to do with USA not trying to get Ukraine into NATO, but is because under Yushchenko , Ukraine was almost as much of a pitiful joke as it is now, making open, public discussions of it pointless. Naval base in Crimea made an immediate plan pointless, but would have been a key election issues for Yushchenko in 2010 ( not renewing the lease) if he had not been such a crap ,Russophobic president and had a chance of winning.

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “don’t know whether to demolish the article itself or the post in response to the excellent Krissy.”

        The only thing you demolish is your own dignity with your idiotic ravings.

        “errrmm..yes it does. These protests lasted for over 70 days(for what exactly?), unfathomably contiuing all the way into the Sochi Olympics.”

        Okay. I guess Occupy Wall Street was an attempted coup. Americans don’t have a right to complain about anything. They must have been paid. RT won an award for their coverage of Occupy Wall Street- COINCIDENCE?

        I’m sorry but your claim here is both infantile and laughable.

        It is now the autumn of 2016 and you have now admitted that you don’t even know why people on Maidan were protesting. You are also clearly unaware that such protest movements (with tents and occupations) have a long history in Ukraine, long pre-dating the Orange Revolution, in fact.

        In short, you’ve basically shown the gallery that you know nothing about Ukraine, its history, or politics. Congratulations.

        “Nobody protests for that long, over something that vague,”

        Argument from ignorance.

        “Soros/US group funding of protest groups, media, thugs, tactics, training of thugs in Poland and Lithuania is an open secret.”

        Oh it’s an open secret? Okay please show us verified records of which groups at Maidan received funds and how they were trained. I want to know how they pulled off this coup.

        “No it doesn’t. It followed the US playbook from umpteen colour revolutions….all of which fail….a”

        Well if they fail why do they keep doing them? It’s almost like…They’re not actually part of some orchestrated plan but in fact complex social movements involving many contradictions, class issues, etc.

        “He “fled” to another part of his own country at first. The Yemen situation shows this absurd argument for what it is. ”

        He also announced his resignation before that.

        “Simple untrue…..several prominant US,German, British and Russian politicians say differently. Those who are retired and aren’t in the business of justifying their legacy but straight-shooting, all say differently.
        Jack Matlock , former Ambassador, is as honest as they come, he was in the discussions……safe to say he knows more about it than you.”

        Sorry, you need to present some evidence for this claim. It’s remarkable that Bush would tell Gorbachev he promises not to expand into countries that were, at the time, part of another nominally hostile alliance.

        Moreover, Russia signed the Helsinki Accords, which says that countries have the right to join any organization they wish.

        Don’t interfere in other nations internal affairs, remember?

        “Fallacy. All the EU inductees since 2000 have first joined NATO….then joined the EU….to the point that they are nearly synonymous. ”

        Synonymous, huh? Tell that to Switzerland, Austria, Finland, and Sweden.

        “t is a pointless action designed solely for anti-Russian purposes, by the same moron countries who are happy to encourage Ukraine to lose billions of money from separating from Russia”

        Actually it was the idea of Putin’s buddy Yanukovych. Again you show how little you know about this topic. You realize other people who know better can read this, right? This isn’t some private conversation where I’m the only person who knows you have no clue what you’re talking about.

        “The reason there was no membership action plan ,has nothing to do with USA not trying to get Ukraine into NATO, but is because under Yushchenko , Ukraine was almost as much of a pitiful joke as it is now, making open, public discussions of it pointless.”

        Ah I see, so they didn’t offer the membership action plan back then was because Ukraine was such a basketcase, but they were sure after supposedly overthrowing the Ukrainian government, given all the debt and problems that had accrued by 2013-2014, Ukraine would be ripe for an instant membership action plan.

        Brilliant logic, genius.

        I think it’s time we dismiss you as a crank. Also don’t attempt another name change. It’s not going to work.

      5. Jim Kovpak Post author

        The best evidence points primarily to the Berkut police. The government was the first to start killing. Only after this did some people start firing back. It is not clear to this day if any of those firing back might have been provocateurs of some kind.

        There is a BBC story where a protester claims to have been given a rifle and told to shoot at police (but protesters had already been killed by police at this point). BBC acknowledges that this man’s story couldn’t be confirmed. IIRC, the man had some affiliation with the far-right wing Svoboda party. This is very significant now, as several weeks ago a ledger was found showing bribes and gifts paid to various individuals and groups by Yanukovych’s Party of Regions. Among the items on the ledger are $200,000 to the Svoboda party and a five-figure amount to the older nationalist organization UNA-UNSO. When I brought this up to Ukrainian friends they found it strange that I was surprised. Apparently for a long time many people have suspected that Yanukovych was backing the far right.

    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      For future reference, if you want to give an example of prior aggression against Russia, please tell me what part of Russia was invaded in 2014. See Ukraine is a sovereign country, and Russia signed two agreements recognizing its borders, plus another recognizing its right to join any international organization or alliance it wants.

      Reply
      1. Rubens Martinez

        Georgia under the Autocrat murderer Saakashvili killed a few 100 Russian soldiers. The EU made it clear who started this ( months after Russia Today reported the truth). US ally countries supported Chechen terrorism in one form or another, giving exile or non-extradition to some of them, same thing with anti-Putin oligarchs,supporting colour revolutions, blocking the Russian plan for Transdniester that would have guaranteed a successful handover a “win-win” for all sides, US withdrawal from ABM treaty…I could go on and on at exposing ignorance.

        Even discarding my examples of aggression against Russia and taking your comment at face-value……It’s a bit like saying that until Iran launches a nuke against any country……then it’s nuclear programme isn’t an issue of contention or to be considered aggressive.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        What about? What about? What about? What about? What about?

        You were given a response, and all you come up with is another rant. Welcome to the ban list.

  2. AndyT

    These days, I feel even writing “correct” satire is getting more and more difficult – many people’s worldview has become so extreme, so hyperbolic on its own, that little to no room for parodying exaggeration is left.

    Reply
  3. Chris Fessler

    I have been reading the comments and while I feel very uncomfortable by the fact that the crimea was annexed by the RF, I have to say that the way it was done with no real blood shed must be commended. The issue here is that the US has rather set the bar for an extremely long list of terribly bloody interventions from central America, to the middle east., to South East Asia. They have not only broken international law in the process, but imprisoned and tortured thousands upon thousands of people. Putin s actions really pail into insignificance. Even the historical context of the Crimea in comparison to US interventions abroad gives some sense of justice, not to me personally, but to many Russians. When we see how blood was spilt in the Donbas, I would have prefered to see Putin annex the area there in similar fashion if he had managed to have kept the death toll to practically zero. International when we see US journalists scream foul at the likes of Putin it generally carries no wait due to the absolute havoc and destruction they as a country have wrought upon the world. Perhaps you should challene the convictions behind usa foreign policy rather than cherry picking which set of facts you “want” to believe. You do seem to have a cognitive bias in regards to your stance on Russia. More objectivity would be a good thing. I guess it is naturally hard to remove oneself from the psychological ties to ones homeland, you should seek however to reflect on this and to some degree other come this. You do rather appear to be some agent of US foreign policy 😀

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “I have been reading the comments and while I feel very uncomfortable by the fact that the crimea was annexed by the RF, I have to say that the way it was done with no real blood shed must be commended.”

      If we totally disregard all morality about aggression, yes, this actually is very different from their other operations in Chechnya, the Donbas, or Syria. Of course part of the reason for this is that the Ukrainian forces had been ordered to secure all weapons and remain in their bases after Yanukovych fled, and later Western leaders urged Ukraine not to resist the takeover as it was happening. Donbas showed us what Russia will do if another country tries to assert its sovereignty.

      Also as I pointed out- there was bloodshed, thousands of people were displaced, and now many have lost their civil rights.

      “The issue here is that the US has rather set the bar for an extremely long list of terribly bloody interventions from central America, to the middle east., to South East Asia. They have not only broken international law in the process, but imprisoned and tortured thousands upon thousands of people. Putin s actions really pail into insignificance.”

      This is called “whataboutism” and it’s a logical fallacy. For one thing, in the guise of the Soviet Union one could argue that Russia intervened as much as the US did, but I don’t equate the USSR with Russia as is popular these days.

      What I can say is that the only reason why Russia has not acted as bad as the US during the past couple decades is simply because it lacks the capability to do so. We know this because once Russia acquired a greater capacity to project military force (thanks to military reforms started in 2008), they have happily used it. Unlike in Western countries where politicians must consider the potential unpopularity of a war, Putin doesn’t have to worry about silly things like public opinion or elections.

      Whereas Western politicians always have to go through great mental gymnastics in order to turn an aggressive war into a “defensive” last resort, in Russia the idea of invading and conquering foreign countries is celebrated in the media.

      So tell me, what do you think this country would act like if it had more power to project military force like the US?

      “When we see how blood was spilt in the Donbas, I would have prefered to see Putin annex the area there in similar fashion if he had managed to have kept the death toll to practically zero”

      So what you’re saying is that you think it is fine for Russia to invade and conquer parts of sovereign nations. But it’s not okay when the US does it.

      Thanks, you’ve basically exposed yourself as a hypocrite.

      ” Perhaps you should challene the convictions behind usa foreign policy rather than cherry picking which set of facts you “want” to believe.”

      I’m probably better read on the evils of US foreign policy than you.

      “You do seem to have a cognitive bias in regards to your stance on Russia.”

      Probably because you clearly haven’t read much of my work. Back in the US I was involved in anti-war demonstrations and counter-recruitment.

      “You do rather appear to be some agent of US foreign policy’

      This is probably due to your primitive dichotomy and the foolish assumption that I somehow represent the US government. Well that and the possibility that you, like many people who take a pro-Putin bent, tend to construct exciting fantasies for themselves wherein they are battling the forces of US hegemony online. As for the “ties to the homeland” remark, this is just plainly idiotic and can be so dismissed.

      See the problem with your formulaic whataboutist argument is that I don’t represent the US government. I feel no obligation to defend them unless objective facts happen to be in their favor. If you say “what about Iraq,” I just say that is terrible. In fact in much of my work I often point out how the Iraq War is the root of many problems connected with Russia today- from armed aggression to their attempted propaganda offensive in the West.

      But at the end of the day, every time you’re comparing a Russian action to a US one, you’re essentially saying that Russia is no better than the US. In fact, when you look at the words and deeds of Russia’s leadership and their supporters, it’s quite clear they want to be like America- the bad America, the one that invaded Iraq, the one that overthrew Allende and napalmed the Vietnamese, etc.

      When they say “Don’t lecture us,” what they mean is that let’s have a world where big military powers get to do as they please without condemnation. Let’s not strive for something better.

      Is that the formula for a better world?

      Reply
    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I’m just curious- Do you consider people who criticize US foreign policy, like yourself (and myself for that matter), to be “agents of Russian foreign policy?” Or are you capable of understanding the concepts of ideology, principles, morals, free will, etc?

      Reply
  4. chris

    Well we can tally up the list of governments overthrown by the USSR and the USA, there is no comparison. You fail to recognize that the RF is a status quo power. Russia has not in general projected power beyond its sphere of influence, almost everything you say denies the existence of spheres of influence and this is to your convenience, as I say you simply cherry pick what elements of the argument you wish to put forth. US foreign policy is dominated by realism, If you really understand the efforts the US has undertaken in pursuing regime change across the world, then Maidan fits the picture perfectly. Its all very well to deny that the US funded any opposition groups etc etc. We can also ignore successive US governments containment policies of China and Russia etc and we can deny the impact that the projection of such ideas into the global domain have on decision makers in the RF and beyond. I have no doubt that your view of the Syrian crisis also simply starts at the point of the Arab spring with no US interference at all., but this is to deny that in the US realism dominates foreign policy. Its not enough to read a handful of books on Russia and you simply cant deny that when the likes of Wesley Clark reveal ideas such as these(please see video link), that other countries will not have to make snap decisions accordingly.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MqVY1-ncBI Now you can take him to task, but in general people will always put his words ahead of yours.
    it was foreign interference in Maidan that predominately changed Putins stance to the West. Again when we see US and EU politicians addressing the crowds at the Maidan this will have an effect. So you can deny all you want US foreign policy, deny Brzezinski, deny the RF containment strategies projected into the domain by Rice and Clinton, deny the words of W Clark in relation to the way US carries out policies, deny the existence of spheres of influence and above all deny that this will have an impact on decision makers abroad. You must appreciate that other governments when confronted with such factors are officially held captive by the ideas the US projects.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “Well we can tally up the list of governments overthrown by the USSR and the USA, there is no comparison.”

      Actually this is debatable but entirely irrelevant. Bad US actions don’t justify bad Russian ones.

      Also, how many of those coups were in what most would reasonably call the US’ “sphere of influence?” I guess you must be totally cool with the US’ actions against Cuba, Venezuela, Chile, etc. because hey- sphere of influence!

      “You fail to recognize that the RF is a status quo power. Russia has not in general projected power beyond its sphere of influence, almost everything you say denies the existence of spheres of influence and this is to your convenience, as I say you simply cherry pick what elements of the argument you wish to put forth.”

      Spheres of influence are an outdated, imperialistic policy that Russia wants to restore. They were not positive since the majority of the world’s people found themselves in one power’s sphere of influence or another.

      “US foreign policy is dominated by realism,”

      Actually it isn’t, and the Russians would say the same. That’s why all their apologists in the West tend to be “realists.”

      “If you really understand the efforts the US has undertaken in pursuing regime change across the world, then Maidan fits the picture perfectly.”

      Actually I’m quite familiar with such methods and unlike you, I understand Maidan so I can tell the difference.

      For Maidan to have been a coup, a long series of things needed to happen and work out just perfectly. Some of the actors who would need to perform said actions could not have been in the pay of anyone (apart from Russia), and thus the coup plotters would have no way to project how their project would work out.

      Also many people like you fail to realize that Ukraine actually has a very long history of major protests which even pre-date the Orange Revolution. So far nobody’s been stupid enough to claim those were Western-organized coups.

      ” Its all very well to deny that the US funded any opposition groups etc etc. ”

      Which groups are you referring to, specifically? Name them and say what role you think they performed in the coup. Be prepared to use evidence to back your claims.

      “I have no doubt that your view of the Syrian crisis also simply starts at the point of the Arab spring with no US interference at all.,”

      The Syrian crisis starts with one family running a country without any real opposition since the 70’s. Believe it or not, people tend to get a bit fed up with that over time.

      Your problem is that you do not see other people as having agency, ideas, etc. You think only you have your own ideas, only you can be some kind of dissident. Everyone else is just a mindless pawn in some geopolitical game. It’s condescending and it’s also one of the reasons why the left is in shambles in so many Western countries.

      “it was foreign interference in Maidan that predominately changed Putins stance to the West.”

      Nonsense. If you lived in Russia you would have seen the same kind of bullshit propaganda about “color revolutions” as far back as 2006-2007. The difference is back then the economy was booming.

      What changed was when the rising middle class got the dignity to demand a real democratic system, fair elections, and a host of other things Westerners like you take for granted. That scared the hell out of Putin, and what is more, the Russian economy already started to show problems in 2013. Maidan was just the tipping point for that paranoid coward.

      “Again when we see US and EU politicians addressing the crowds at the Maidan this will have an effect”

      I hate to break it to you, but Maidan had gone on for some time before that happened. What really turned something that began as a small demonstration into a huge one was the actions of the riot police on 30 November. The second catalyst was a crackdown on the right to protest, and then later, of course, the disappearances and then the sniper fire.

      What you fail to realize about Maidan is that when the EU and US politicians endorsed it, it was a case of them backing the right side and Russia choosing the kleptocratic dictator-in-training. Russia does this constantly, and Arab Spring is a perfect example.

      A student of bad US foreign policy such as yourself should no doubt be familiar with the fact that Egypt’s Mubarak was a US-funded puppet dictator. Obviously this was cause for concern when the protests broke out in Tahrir square. But having learned something over the decades, the US took a cautious, neutral approach, probably realizing that Mubarak’s time had come.

      Russia on the other hand watches a dictator crack down on their own people, sometimes with bullets and bombs, and the typical Kremlin reaction is to turn that dictator into some kind of anti-imperialist hero. Then they get mad when people accuse them of supporting dictators.

      The US policy in this respect is weaselly and dishonest, but it works. The Russian policy clearly doesn’t.

      It’s not difficult to understand why the Kremlin does this, however. Putin and his elite are extremely afraid of being held accountable to their people. For this reason they reject the concept that a “legitimate” government can ever lose its legitimacy through rampant theft, violations of the constitution, or even violence against citizens.

      I have no doubt in my mind that if threatened with popular revolution, Putin will gladly unleash all manner of terror on his people as Assad does in Syria.

      And of course Westerners like you will cheer him on and laugh about all those “US-funded dupes” getting mowed down in the streets.

      Because remember, Russians, Ukrainians, Arabs- they don’t have agency. They don’t have hopes, dreams, or ideas. Their only role is to work for one side or another in a real-life game of Risk.

      It is far better to back a government that preaches lofty goals and yet falls short of them, than to support one which says that might makes right, and big powers should simply divide up the world into spheres of influence.

      Reply
  5. chris

    You protest too much. I actually can not read through all your response it is far too long winded and nonsensical. In general you can be very happy with the situation in the Ukraine. the US of course is very happy with the divide of the Ukraine, unlike the orange revolution which enabled a pro Russian party to regain power through democratic means, the US has now benefited from the fact that many who would vote for the previous pro Russian party of the regions, are now barred from doing so. In fact this option has been totally disbanded with no prospect of a Ukraine return to bolster Russian power. Its a job exceptionally well done. the Russian move of course was to salvage what it could and protect their access to the strategically important black sea at Simferapol. To prevent greater losses in a nutshell. the association contract and deeper European integration would have served at restricting any pro Russian governments modus operandi and thus would have been detrimental to Russian interests. This is pretty much the basis for the Ukraine crisis. Its about the global divide of power and about spheres of influence. Iam sure its a facet you have not understood with your simple regurgitation of pro democracy movements. Now we have an opposition that is incredibly fascist and an economy deprived of a market. Of course Ukrainian products will be rejected on mass in the EU, but this is all irrelevant. the Ukraine has served as a sacrificial lamb in the interests of others and thats it. Job well done all around.
    Indeed the Syrian crisis despite the clear western outrage that we meet in the media has achieved its objectives too, that is the strengthening of US and Israeli interests in the region and the weakening of the Iran, Hizbullah and Syrian axis. Thanks Elvis has left the building. i feel no further need to entrench your ideas further by your inability to face up to objectivity and go beyond your comfort zone. 😉

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “You protest too much. I actually can not read through all your response it is far too long winded and nonsensical. ”

      Now you’re getting frustrated because you’ve probably never had your fallacious whataboutist arguments challenged.

      My response is well organized and clearly addressed your main points, which I quoted. You do realize that other readers can see this exchange and note that, right?

      If you try to dismiss one of my responses without addressing my points in that manner again, you will be banned. If you want to rant and rave, get your own blog.

      “In general you can be very happy with the situation in the Ukraine. ”

      Actually I’m clearly not, on both sides. But the difference is I have faith in people and their agency, unlike you.

      ” unlike the orange revolution which enabled a pro Russian party to regain power through democratic means, the US has now benefited from the fact that many who would vote for the previous pro Russian party of the regions, are now barred from doing so.”

      Gee, HOW did that happen? They are “barred” because of Russia’s annexation and war. In fact from the beginning the government made preparations to allow those in occupied territory to vote. The DNR/LNR militants prevented this.

      Former PoR members have formed the Opposition Bloc, which would be stronger if those people in the Donbas were allowed to exercise their right to vote in Ukraine.

      “the Russian move of course was to salvage what it could and protect their access to the strategically important black sea at Simferapol. To prevent greater losses in a nutshell.”

      Here’s a tip if you want to sound more competent when talking about Ukraine. The naval base is at Sevastopol, which happens to be on the sea, and not Simferopol, which is not.

      Second, there was no concrete evidence that this base was under threat. The Ukrainian government had every reason to continue the lease. As is typically the case, the Kremlin just decided this was all a NATO plot and acted accordingly.

      Third, I’m sure you’re just as supportive of US military bases abroad, aren’t you? I mean if the US had to seize part of Cuba to ensure the security of Guantanamo, I bet you’d be all for it, right? Spheres of influence, right?

      Of course you wouldn’t. hypocrite.

      “This is pretty much the basis for the Ukraine crisis. Its about the global divide of power and about spheres of influence”

      No it isn’t, because the EU trade agreement had nothing to do with joining NATO or cutting off trade with Russia.

      It is the Russian government that believes in spheres of influence because they are imperialists.

      And you seem to forget that EU integration was the brainchild of your democratically elected Yanukovych. Who would have thought that people would get pissed about a party that makes EU integration a part of their platform, and then stalls to avoid signing the deal when it’s ready?

      Nah…People couldn’t get mad on that on their own. They don’t have ideas or desires like you, the superior Westerner! They’re just duped pawns putting their lives and health at risk for several months for $20. It must be that.

      “Of course Ukrainian products will be rejected on mass in the EU, but this is all irrelevant.”

      Clearly that’s not the case: http://ec.europa.eu/trade/policy/countries-and-regions/countries/ukraine/

      “Indeed the Syrian crisis despite the clear western outrage that we meet in the media has achieved its objectives too, that is the strengthening of US and Israeli interests in the region and the weakening of the Iran, Hizbullah and Syrian axis. ”

      I doubt you’ll find a single sane person who approves of the US policy on Syria.

      “i feel no further need to entrench your ideas further by your inability to face up to objectivity and go beyond your comfort zone.”

      Ironic for someone who clearly spends most of his time in an echo chamber. You think anything you’ve said here is new to me? Shit we probably read the same sources.

      The difference here is that while you just sit there and read about these things, I talk to the people who were actually involved in these events.

      Reply
  6. chris

    Your arguments are made in kindergarten. The reply such as the one made about the Donbass being better if Putin had acted in the same way he did in the Crimea. You answer something along the lines of now I support Russian invasion and something about hypocrisy. The reality is that it is anyway defacto under the control of rebel Russians , the point that you fail to see is that if Putin had dominated the area in the way he did with Crimea and in the way the Western press accuses him of doing, then the bloodshed would have been kept to a minimal. The statement was about preserving lives. the reality of the situation in terms of control of the area remains the same. Its unchanged, your point is irrelevant and actually even highlights the minimal role that the Russian army plays in the Donbass region. It was not a great decision on the part of the Maidan to send their army to bombard this region, certainly not helpful and is a far greater act of aggression in terms of lives lost. Again a fact you will no doubt twist. While as for Gorbachev he is on record even in the last 14 months talking about the agreement concerning non expansion of the EU and NATO eastwards. Threatening to ban someone is equally an act born in kindergarten. I am very aware that people see the thread that is a good thing. People can see the points and the threat appears more than anything else that it is indeed you who are getting frustrated. You should reflect on your answers. because you appear a little bit unbalanced. You need greater understanding of strategy, the role that Clausewitzian theories play in US military decision making and a greater understanding of international relations. The facts contrary to what you state are multifaceted and not simple at all. By thinking they are simple you show once more that you are unqualified to comment on the state of affairs then you think you are. Which coincidentally is often another psychological bias see Dunning-Krueger. You can happily ban me, but please first respond to this in your typical roaring way. Thank you 🙂

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “Your arguments are made in kindergarten.”

      You know, “chris,” that’s a really odd statement for someone claiming to be a Westerner.

      “Your arguments are made in kindergarten. The reply such as the one made about the Donbass being better if Putin had acted in the same way he did in the Crimea. You answer something along the lines of now I support Russian invasion and something about hypocrisy.”

      You’d have to in order to say something like that.

      ” The reality is that it is anyway defacto under the control of rebel Russians ,”

      No, it is under control of Russian military commanders, GRU officers, and some local puppets. This was orchestrated by Russia.

      ” the point that you fail to see is that if Putin had dominated the area in the way he did with Crimea and in the way the Western press accuses him of doing, then the bloodshed would have been kept to a minimal. ”

      Well he did invade the Donbas and the bloodshed has not been minimal. There would have been no bloodshed in Crimea AND Donbas if Putin had simply woken up to the fact that Ukraine is a sovereign country and it is not Russia, period. If the US had done this, I’d condemn it just as fervently. If fucking Zimbabwe had done this I’d be against it.

      Russia recognized Ukraine’s borders in two different treaties.

      “It was not a great decision on the part of the Maidan to send their army to bombard this region, certainly not helpful and is a far greater act of aggression in terms of lives lost.”

      “Maidan” doesn’t have an army, genius. Ukraine has a right to defend its own territory. No artillery or air bombardment would have been used had the Russian agents and their local puppets not chosen to escalate into a full scale war. Keep in mind that in April, before any shells were being fired, Turchinov offered all rebels amnesty if they would just leave the buildings they had seized. That’s a sweet deal. Later, after the war had begun, it was the Ukrainian side that first declared a unilateral week-long ceasefire in which they offered to negotiate. Again, another amnesty was offered. The rebels did not respond. It’s also worth noting that the points offered by the government in this ceasefire later became the basis for the Minsk agreement, which the rebels signed and then ignored. So they can’t pretend that those first conditions were so unacceptable if they later approved the same package later on.

      And since you support Putin, please don’t even bring up bombardment of cities. This is a man who had Grozny leveled. He has backed a man in Syria who has dropped everything from barrel bombs to chemical weapons on his people. Hell, the MVD used thermobaric rockets and possibly tank rounds on the school in Beslan- a HOSTAGE situation.

      You can’t cry about bombardment of cities in one country, and then excuse far more bombardment of cities in another country because everyone opposed to the government is an “Islamist terrorist.”

      “Threatening to ban someone is equally an act born in kindergarten. I am very aware that people see the thread that is a good thing. People can see the points and the threat appears more than anything else that it is indeed you who are getting frustrated.”

      Yes, when a judge finds a raving lunatic sovereign citizen in contempt of court and has him removed, it’s just like kindergarten.

      Obviously you, like many pseudo-intellectual morons on the internet, believe that you are entitled to an audience and serious consideration. Newsflash: You are not. Being banned doesn’t necessarily mean you “won” or that someone is upset or afraid of you. More often than not, as in this case, it means that you are not arguing in good faith and/or your opinions are not worthy of consideration.

      This is the case here. You have made claims; you have failed to properly support them with evidence. You then ignore answers to your claims and you resort to psychobabble in a pathetic and vain attempt to distract from the very obvious fact that you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about.

      Nobody is obligated to endure more of this time-wasting bullshit.

      Put simply, your “arguments” can be dismissed as “frivolous,” as in having no merit and not worthy of consideration. I initially considered them in the beginning, but since you are unable to logically defend them there is no more need to do so.

      “ou need greater understanding of strategy, the role that Clausewitzian theories play in US military decision making and a greater understanding of international relations. ”

      Clausewitzian? Please go read Clausewitz’s principles of war, then look at US policy from Afghanistan to Syria, and tell me that they have made clear, attainable goals. Look at what they did between Afghanistan and Iraq and tell me that they were following the basic principles about economy of force.

      You’re just trying to sound smarter here and it’s not working.

      “The facts contrary to what you state are multifaceted and not simple at all. By thinking they are simple you show once more that you are unqualified to comment on the state of affairs then you think you are. ”

      I never claimed the facts are simple. Some things, however, are simple. That Ukraine is a sovereign nation that should not be invaded is pretty simple, at least for now. If Ukraine really were run by genocidal Nazis, then we could speak about other nations’ responsibility to stop the regime from killing masses of people. But not only is this not the case, but it’s also exactly what Russia defends Assad for doing.

      Lastly, you can talk about multifaceted facts all you want, but in reality your arguments here are ridiculously simplistic. US = bad, Russia = Good. The US did bad things so it’s okay for Russia to do them.

      “Which coincidentally is often another psychological bias see Dunning-Krueger.”

      It’s funny you bring up Dunning-Krueger because throughout this exchange you’ve revealed several times that you don’t know very basic facts about the events you’re discussing.

      I love it when someone tries to be clever invoking something like that and it blows up in their face.

      Reply
  7. Quinton Benjaminavich

    I’m a relatively new, but loyal reader, and I must say that the comment section is quite alive today! I really enjoy reading your no-nonsense, factual, and ethics-based take down of opposing arguments.
    I have one question though: can you point me in the direction of a source showing Yanukovich’s resignation and later retraction of said resignation? This is the first I’ve heard of it. I was under the impression that he had been forced out by his parliament (the so-called “coup”). I’ll admit that I am less well-read on the issue, but I was following the crisis closely at the time. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Thanks. It really has been more lively here. Although some people come into just rant about how I’m a CIA shill or whatever, I actually think a little conflict was needed. No one likes an echo chamber.

      Anyway, in the 21 February agreement Yanukovych agreed to resign and hold early elections. Some in the government may have been referring to this. When he recorded his denial of the resignation, he was still in Ukraine.

      There’s more on this in this link: http://www.rferl.org/a/was-yanukovychs-ouster-constitutional/25274346.html

      I specifically picked this Radio Free Europe link because it is a US government-sponsored outlet publishing an article questioning the constitutional legality of removing Yanukovych, and it is true that no, the impeachment was not to the letter of the law at the time. Of course Yanukovych fleeing is what made the exception necessary.

      Reply
  8. Asehpe

    “You answer something along the lines of now I support Russian invasion and something about hypocrisy.”

    Something? Did you read what Jim wrote? Let me refresh your memory:

    ‘No it isn’t, because the EU trade agreement had nothing to do with joining NATO or cutting off trade with Russia.
    It is the Russian government that believes in spheres of influence because they are imperialists.
    And you seem to forget that EU integration was the brainchild of your democratically elected Yanukovych. Who would have thought that people would get pissed about a party that makes EU integration a part of their platform, and then stalls to avoid signing the deal when it’s ready?
    Nah…People couldn’t get mad on that on their own. They don’t have ideas or desires like you, the superior Westerner! They’re just duped pawns putting their lives and health at risk for several months for $20. It must be that.’

    Did you provide any answer to that? Did you even touch on the fact that Yanukovych himself started the EU integration policy? Did you address the Russian Government’s own belief in “spheres of influence”? No you didn’t. You just sit, rant and rave and throw adjectives around. But actually provide any evidence? Noooo–that’s too much work. You’d have to leave your comfortable seat to do that!

    “the point that you fail to see is that if Putin had dominated the area in the way he did with Crimea and in the way the Western press accuses him of doing, then the bloodshed would have been kept to a minimal.”

    Why? By keeping the blood machine running, Putin keeps Ukraine more unstable. Why on earth would he want it to stop? What ‘geopolitical’ or ‘realistic’ goal would that serve that keeping Ukrainians killing Ukrainians wouldn’t serve even better?

    Besides, note that he started his war with troops often composed of and led by extremists and bandits — people who are not really known for their restraint and orderliness.

    Also, you don’t seem to be familiar with Glazyev and what he said. Why not address him? Oh — I bet he’s also been paid by the West. Of course. The world is composed of robots, all ready to jump whenever someone pays them. I wonder what kind of country you’d have to grow up in to have this impression about other people?…

    “The statement was about preserving lives. the reality of the situation in terms of control of the area remains the same.”

    Ah, then you didn’t get the point about the bloodshed being part of the strategy for this area — which, unlike Crimea, Putin never intended to annex, but simply build into some kind of Novorossian puppet state?

    No blood in Crimea, because we want tourists there. Yes blood in Donbass, because we want anger there. Anti- and pro-Ukrainian anger. Helps us achieve our goals of keeping Ukraine unstable.

    ” It was not a great decision on the part of the Maidan to send their army to bombard this region, certainly not helpful and is a far greater act of aggression in terms of lives lost. Again a fact you will no doubt twist.”

    No, I will merely exercise some whataboutism of my own. So you’ll agree that it was a crime for Russia to send troops to Chechnya when it started a civil war for its own independence — the Russian government should have stayed out of it, because intervening inside their own country was a ‘far greater act of aggression in terms of lives lost,’ right? Or is this a fact that you will also twist?

    There would have been no war in the Donbass if Putin didn’t want it. He wanted it, he got it, he keeps fueling it, he will let it end only when he wants to.

    “While as for Gorbachev he is on record even in the last 14 months talking about the agreement concerning non expansion of the EU and NATO eastwards.”

    An agreement while the Warsaw Pact was still alive? Gee, did he forget about it?

    “Threatening to ban someone is equally an act born in kindergarten.”

    Actually, ,he put up with your rants, answered every single one of your claims, while you ignored most of what he says and didn’t provide any evidence to back your claims. To me, it looks much more like you’re a child throwing a tantrum at a supermarket and your parents have to take you back home so other people can shop without your bwaaaaahing on them.

    You could change that, of course. You could start actually trying to make points with arguments and evidence. But will you? No, you won’t. And that’s why you’ll eventually be banned — for lack of anything resembling an honest, well-constructed argument.

    “I am very aware that people see the thread that is a good thIng. People can see the points and the threat appears more than anything else that it is indeed you who are getting frustrated.”

    All I see is that you prefer to attack Jim personally rather than provide evidence for your claims. That’s pretty clear.

    “You should reflect on your answers. because you appear a little bit unbalanced.”

    Look at the mirror. What do you see, if not a person with answers more than a bit unbalanced?

    “You need greater understanding of strategy, the role that Clausewitzian theories play in US military decision making and a greater understanding of international relations.”

    Clausewitz was 19th-century. Is that where you want the world to go back to? I’m sorry, but we’ve gone beyond that already. You might just as well cite Machiavelli, who certainly would agree with your viewpoints even better than Clausewitz.

    “The facts contrary to what you state are multifaceted and not simple at all.”

    Mention them. Explain the facets. Can you do that? If possible with evidence? Or is this just pretence?

    “By thinking they are simple you show once more that you are unqualified to comment on the state of affairs then you think you are.”

    Nothing is simple in the world. But whether or not something happened is indeed simple. Either you wrote your comment, or you didn’t. Since I see it here, I conclude you wrote it. See? That’s simple. If you deny that facts exist and have to be taken into account, you’re the one who disqualifies yourself as a commentator on anything at all.

    “You can happily ban me, but please first respond to this in your typical roaring way.”

    He’ll answer with arguments, and you’ll answer with emotional prose designed to make others angry. Happily it won’t work.

    Wouldn’t this be a better world if you actually had any arguments? If you actually could expose on the complexity of a given situation with any real knowledge of it, with evidence, with experience… Wouldn’t this be a better world?

    But no — we live in the real world, where you know nothing about the topic you’re commenting on, other than what you saw on ΗΤΒ or heard from Киселёв. Такой некультурный…

    C’est la vie… Такова жизнь…

    “Thank you”

    На здоровие! We’ll hand your ass to you anytime. It’s not really hard, you know.

    If this all is ‘kindergarten’, then I guess your level is ‘nursery school’ or ‘baby care center’. You know, it would help you so much if you actually did some work — if you actually went somewhere, talked to the people involved and tried to understand their viewpoint, instead of buying into conspiracy theories without any shred of evidence to support them… You have no idea how much this would do to open your eyes. There’s a whole world out there. Go see it.

    Reply
  9. Asehpe

    “A yes Sevastopol you are 100% right. Your not too bad. I wish you a good day”

    And you can read a map! That’s indeed more than I expected of you. Congratulations! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Now, what do you think your mistake concerning Simferopol and Sevastopol tells us about how much you know about Ukraine, its people, and their motivations?…

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      This is a good time to once again point out that Chris tried to invoke Dunning-Krueger.

      Meanwhile apart from screwing up Simferopol and Sevastopol he also thought that there was no violence or bloodshed in the Crimea. If I cared enough to go back through his responses I’d probably be able to pick out more blatant errors about very basic events.

      It’s also funny how he’s saying America follows a realist policy when most of the pro-Kremlin people say the exact opposite, and want the US to follow what they call a “realist” policy.

      Reply
  10. Krissy Faustini

    What is the evidence that shows the Berks did the shooting? The bbc interview came out a year after the event happened, despite the fact they had footage on the day.it seems strange.in europe the bbc story was certainly not the first to question the shooting and it did so to a lesser degree than germanys ard. What is the strongest source that it was the Berks?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      The story came out later no doubt because that man came forward later. In any case, the investigation is a long process, especially because of the way it has been carried out. Here’s an example: http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-killings-probe-special-report-idUSKCN0HZ0UH20141010

      As you can see in that article, however, the evidence is mostly based on video footage from security cams and photographs. Since they were wearing uniforms it’s not hard to identify them.

      Also it’s important to note that the first people killed by police were not killed by snipers. They disappeared and their dead bodies were found some time after.

      Reply
  11. Krissy Faustini

    Olga Bogolamets view is to be dismissed? I’m not trying to be rude, but I don’t understand why I should value Reuterus over rt. From my point of view the are equally capable of portraying their version of events.the german channel ard was extremely quick in suggesting the Berkut not actually started the shooting while olga Bogolamets was on the UKs channel four news possibly the next day, but at the very least within a week. Certainly the majority of the western press put the blame at Yankovic h’s feet, but why so little of the mainstream media dismissed this Olga and any suggestion it could have been different?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      You don’t understand why you should value Reuters over RT? Well let’s start with the fact that Reuters is a private news agency that is highly respected (including by RT I hear), whereas RT is owned by the Russian state and carefully and consistently toes the foreign ministry’s line on everything. That and RT has often been caught airing fake stories, using fake experts or covering up their actual political activities, etc.

      “Certainly the majority of the western press put the blame at Yankovic h’s feet, but why so little of the mainstream media dismissed this Olga and any suggestion it could have been different?”

      Because perhaps she didn’t have concrete evidence? Again, there’s video footage and photographs of these guys shooting. They wear uniforms. There’s certainly no mistaking that they brutally attacked the peaceful Maidan protesters on 30 November, and it was that event which made Maidan grow into something far bigger.

      Also when you have an event like this, you’re always going to start out with conflicting events. This happens all the time in news. But the majority of the evidence points to Berkut. This is not a terribly unusual thing for former Soviet security forces. The late Karimov of Uzbekistan had a similar massacre, and there was one in Kazakhstan in 2013 or 2012.

      And please, the president’s name is Yanukovych. Yankovic is a parody singer/songwriter.

      Reply
  12. Krissy Faustini

    Sorry that’s supposed to read why so much of the mainstream media dismissed olga b and the possibility of a different version?

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      The problem is that while different versions are possible, they are not all plausible. Most of the evidence points to Berkut.

      Also if you read Ofcom’s report on one of RT’s many citations, one citation was related to their coverage of the Maidan sniper case. They aired a story in which they seriously distorted the statement of some Estonian official so as to support a conspiracy theory that the snipers were something other than government-controlled.

      So there’s one of many reasons why you should trust Reuters over RT. Ofcom has at least 15 reasons to date, I believe.

      Reply
  13. Krissy Faustini

    You have more faith in institutions such as ofcom than I do. And simply because rt like the bbc is run by the state this does not mean that every story is simply untrue. The media in general private or not has incredible bias. The uk press for one has 8 right wing papers and three on the left. Their stories conflict. They are in themselves pages of propaganda for one party. Videos are far from water tight. I always find incidents on the micro level are extremely hard to prove either way. Interests of nation states however appear a lot clearer. The uk media and I believe usa media on mass were full of propaganda in the build up to the Iraq war for instance. I see little distinction. I certainly agree that rt is not very subtle in elements of propaganda, it does however increasingly show alternative views. Oksana Byoko for instance has had increasing trouble with several guests. But aren’t we everywhere just being subjected especially in the international arena to bs? I mean it’s saying something when milosevic is exonerated and the world is barely aware of it, despite the fact he was condemned by all and sundry across the globe.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “And simply because rt like the bbc is run by the state this does not mean that every story is simply untrue. ”

      Nobody ever said that. But here’s the thing- RT has a solid record of supporting the Kremlin line on everything. It’s not hard for me to find BBC documentaries or articles which question or challenge official narratives. And again, we’re talking about Reuters, a private and very respected international news agency.

      Besides always supporting the Kremlin line, as I said before RT has been caught misrepresenting guests and airing false information.

      “:Videos are far from water tight.”

      They are when the people in them are wearing uniforms. Let me ask you this- if someone in an American special forces uniform, with an American weapon, appeared in just one photograph, supposedly near Maidan, would you be so skeptical as you are now?

      Admit it- you want the Russian narrative to be true. I’ve got bad news for you- it isn’t. Yanukovych was a thug and a thief and the idea that his police wouldn’t kill people when they felt threatened is naive to say the least.

      “The uk media and I believe usa media on mass were full of propaganda in the build up to the Iraq war for instance. I see little distinction. ”

      RT basically takes all those mistakes of the media back then and concentrates them in one network. Is that better?

      If anything RT resembles Fox News, again, is that better? Since the debacle of the Iraq War case, we’ve seen an explosion of much better media. None of that has come from Russia though.

      ” I mean it’s saying something when milosevic is exonerated and the world is barely aware of it, despite the fact he was condemned by all and sundry across the globe.”

      Yes it is saying something- this says that you fell for a false story circulated by “alternative media.”

      http://www.rferl.org/a/milosevic-war-crime-deniers-feed-receptive-audience/27910664.html

      Note how they distorted a statement in order to concoct this story, and when you Google “Milosevic exonerated” you get RT and various “alternative news sites.”

      Here’s a tip, when the “mainstream media” isn’t reporting on something, it’s usually because the claim is simply bullshit.

      Reply
  14. Krissy Faustini

    No I do not want the russian narrative to be true.it’s simply that in international affairs all I have ever seen is lies. Syrian gas attacks according to an rsi interview with Carla del ponte were found to be far from conclusive . She stated the evidence wss not sufgicent to prove Assads regime has employed the chemicsl weapons. This is Carla del ponte. Swiss national television, this is just another examole. Repeatedly lies have been told on all sides.I could equally say you seem to want the pro western story to be true. My decision making process on such cases are made not on individual incidents, for I consider far too many variables to be at play. It is my view that the clearest methodology by which to assess events is through national interests. I’m glad you do concede space for the possibility that it may not have been the Berkut that started the shooting, although it’s clear you lean in this direction. I can not be sure to what degree anyone’s ideas and beliefs are motivated. But I have been brought up with people like Powell sitting before the UN with satellite images that meant nothing. Indeed little green men in an unknown fields to me equally means nothing. Russia certainly has interests in ukr, but they are not the only ones. It is my view that the ukr is the innocent party that suffers between Russia and the west.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “I’m glad you do concede space for the possibility that it may not have been the Berkut that started the shooting, although it’s clear you lean in this direction.”

      No, I do not concede that. As I pointed out, the first people killed at Maidan were not killed by snipers, but definitely by the government side. I only concede that some people could have been killed by the other side. In any case, Berkut initiated violence at Maidan on 30 November. It was not lethal but several people were hospitalized as I remember. Even journalists were attacked.

      Ukraine is not an “innocent” party but a sovereign nation. It bears some responsibility for Yanukovych, Kuchma, etc. But Maidan was started on the initiative of a few citizens who decided they were fed up with living in a county run by an increasingly authoritarian thief.

      It is Russia that decided to make it some kind of battleground between East and West.

      Reply
  15. Krissy Faustini

    I guess poststructuralist theories from my point of view play in important role in the way people arrive at their ideas

    Reply
  16. Krissy Faustini

    Well from my view there are extremely conflicting views of violence on the maidan, indeed well before the shootings there certainly was violence and plenty of it was orchestrated by those who opposed the government.The problem with nulands recording is that everything she subsequently said, became a reality. That yatsenuk had recieved money from US funds equally changes the dimension. I certainly agree that both pro western and pro tusdian government’s in the ukr have been entirely corrupt. As will the current regime be. My advice to ukr would also be to take heed of advice from any foreign advisors, especially those from the imf. US and British military advisers should do well not to advice an escalation of events in the Donbas and all parties should be aware that long term groups such as azo battalion could prove a security threat to the very state itself. Certainly a new transdinestr will become a reality. Any way it was interedting

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “Well from my view there are extremely conflicting views of violence on the maidan, indeed well before the shootings there certainly was violence and plenty of it was orchestrated by those who opposed the government.”

      Well I’m sorry but your view is objectively wrong in this case. The violence started on the police side when they tried to storm the square on 30 November. This is well documented.

      “The problem with nulands recording is that everything she subsequently said, became a reality.”

      Not really. First of all the call could be edited and we don’t know when it was recorded. It certainly has nothing to do with the beginning of Maidan. Nuland is simply advising a US ambassador on how he should relate to the new government.

      “That yatsenuk had recieved money from US funds equally changes the dimension.”

      Well Yatsenyuk is an opposition politician and he didn’t start Maidan- Mustafa Nayyem and other non-political activsts were responsible for that. Initially they didn’t want the opposition parties to associate with them because they are seen as just as corrupt by some people.

      Yatsenyuk is also gone now.

      As far as Azov (which is now a regiment) being a threat- yes, I have warned about things like this. It should be disbanded. Right-wing nationalists have flaunted the law on several occasions and in one case killed four national guardsmen right outside the Rada building (I was in Kyiv the day that happened). But it is not Ukraine who started this war and Ukraine does not want to escalate anything. They have enough problems. Most people I talked to, including soldiers, just want it to be over with.

      Reply
  17. Krissy Faustini

    My point with the Nuland recordings is that she states what roles different players will take.that might not show they started the maidan, but it also dpes not disprove it. What it does show however is incredible interference. Or at the least what appears to be incredible interference. Even if the tape was doctored the people she mentions got those positions with Klitschko taking a back seat. This is compromising. From a Russian perspective given a whole host of other factors even if it’s all coincidental all these factors can be misconstrued. This is not a justification for Crimea, but these factors given putins outlook on international affairs, which generally would be taken into consideration in any action brings up many many questions.
    My problem above all with the maidan shootings is that on the 21st of 2014 after what about a hundred days? The demonstrators took arms to the maidan, why? because they knew on that day the Berkut was going to shoot at them? They brought them with no malicious intent, but simply because they knew they would have to retaliate that day? That in a court of law eould be deemed troubling .That many of the bullets in the Berkut were the same as in the protestors even more so.
    Let’s hope yak never comes back 😀

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      “My point with the Nuland recordings is that she states what roles different players will take.that might not show they started the maidan, but it also dpes not disprove it”

      But none of those players started it. In fact a lot of the protesters were also disappointed when they struck the deal on 21 February.

      “The demonstrators took arms to the maidan, why? because they knew on that day the Berkut was going to shoot at them? ”

      A small minority of people had taken weapons, and this was after lethal violence from the police side. It is certainly possible that some of these people intended to provoke something. Maidan was a very large movement and I’ve been told that many of the ordinary people saw the far rightists as dangerous provocateurs and grandstanders (they were certainly that, if nothing else). What is more, we now know that Yanukovych’s government was financing one of the major far right parties.

      Because of the war and Ukraine’s struggle over corruption it will probably be a while before a thorough investigation is done.

      I’m really glad we’ve started to have a dialog here. I was extremely skeptical of Maidan in the beginning because of the very poor way media on both sides portrayed it. For me what changed my mind was actually going back to Ukraine, talking to organizers, participants, and other eyewitnesses.

      Reply
  18. Martin

    “I feel very uncomfortable by the fact that the crimea was annexed by the RF”
    Uncomfortable? I’m sure the Tatars are grateful for this expression of discomfort!
    State of these comments!
    Thanks yet again Jim for another informative and entertaining post

    Reply

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