From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject Stripping away the Bull: U.S. and Russian Threats Over Ukraine—What They’re About and Who’s the Aggressor
Date January 26, 2022 1:05 AM
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[Secretary of State Antony Blinken wants a one-way street where
spheres of influence are concerned. The U.S., for him, has the right
to wield influence everywhere, while others don’t.]
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Dee Knight
January 25, 2022
Covert Action Magazine
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_ Secretary of State Antony Blinken wants a one-way street where
spheres of influence are concerned. The U.S., for him, has the right
to wield influence everywhere, while others don’t. _



Threats and counter-threats flying between Washington and Moscow over
Ukraine have caused a flurry of fear and confusion that escalates and
expands daily. Is the world on the brink of war? What is it about, who
is the aggressor and who is to blame?

The dangerous standoff has lasted for most of a year. Each side
accuses the other of threatening war—in a way reminiscent of the
Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

During a week of intense diplomatic meetings in three European
capitals, which appeared to reach a dead end, President Joe Biden
seemed to “blink” midweek, on January 19, telling reporters in
Washington he had indicated to Russian President Putin that “we can
work out something.”

_New York Times_ senior reporter David Sanger jumped on it: “Mr.
President, it sounds like you’re offering some way out here, some
off-ramp—an informal assurance that NATO is not going to take in
Ukraine… and we would never put nuclear weapons there.” Sanger
went on to say Russia “wants us to move all of our nuclear weapons
out of Europe and not have troops rotating through the old Soviet
bloc.” Biden quickly said “No, there’s not space for that.”

Biden’s blink was a break in the warlike atmosphere that has
prevailed endlessly. Katrina van den Heuvel wrote the day before in
_The Washington Post_ that “Hotheads [were] having a field day. A
White House task force that includes the CIA [was] reportedly
[[link removed]] contemplating
U.S. support for a guerrilla war if Russia seizes Ukraine; Russian
hawks talk
[[link removed]] of
a military deployment to Cuba and Venezuela.” Biden had “installed
a team of national security managers from the ‘Blob,’ marinated in
successive debacles in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and more.”

Guns and sanctions
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are the U.S. empire’s preferred options, van den Heuvel said:
“with about 800 military bases
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the United States,” the U.S. has “more bases than diplomatic
missions. (Russia’s only military bases outside the former Soviet
Union are in Syria
[[link removed]].)”
She added that Secretary of State Blinken and the Blob “talk about
a rules-based
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order but respect it only if we make the rules, often exempting
ourselves from their application.”


“When will the U.S. stop lying to itself about global politics?”
asked CUNY Professor Peter Beinart, writing in the _New York Times_ on
January 13. He took issue with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who
[[link removed]] last
month that “One country does not have the right to dictate the
policies of another or to tell that country with whom it may
associate; one country does not have the right to exert a sphere of
influence. That notion should be relegated to the dustbin of

Beinart commented: “It’s a noble principle, just not one the
United States abides by. The United States has exercised a sphere of
influence in its own hemisphere for almost 200 years, since President
James Monroe declared
[[link removed]] that
the United States ‘should consider any attempt’ by foreign powers
‘to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as
dangerous to our peace and safety’.”

Blinken’s dustbin of history was still around in 2018, Beinart said,
when Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called
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Monroe Doctrine “as relevant today as it was the day it was
written.” And Trump’s National Security Adviser John
Bolton boasted
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“the Monroe Doctrine is alive and well.”

Blinken wants a one-way street where spheres of influence are
concerned. The U.S., for him, has the right to wield influence
_everywhere,_ while others don’t.

The same day Biden blinked, French President Macron weighed in
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saying war would be the “most tragic thing of all.” Speaking in
the European Union’s capital of Strasbourg, as new interim EU chair,
Macron said he hoped to revitalize the four-way “Normandy format”
talks between Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine to find a solution
to the Ukraine crisis. “It is vital that Europe has its own dialogue
with Russia,” Macron said. The EU had no part in the talks last week
between Russia, the U.S., NATO and the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCD).

The Normandy format has been a vehicle for implementing the 2015 Minsk
agreements designed to end the separatist war in Ukraine’s Donbas
region. This solution has already been proposed and accepted in
principle, according to Anatol Lieven, who wrote in The Nation
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that the Minsk II agreement was already adopted by France, Germany,
Russia and Ukraine in 2015, and endorsed unanimously by the UN
Security Council.

Key elements of the Minsk II deal are full autonomy for Ukraine’s
eastern regions in the context of decentralization of power in
Ukraine, demilitarization, and restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty.
Despite agreement by all parties, political analyst Anatol Lieven says
“because of the refusal of Ukrainian governments to implement the
solution and refusal of the United States to put pressure on them to
do so,” the settlement is a kind of “zombie policy.”

The issue of NATO expansion is another “zombie policy” as the U.S.
refuses to acknowledge Russia’s legitimate opposition to it.

After the first of three negotiating sessions between the U.S. and
Russia during the week of January 10, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Sergei Ryabkov had declared it “absolutely mandatory” that Ukraine
“never, never, ever” become a NATO member. In response, U.S.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said: “we will not allow
anyone to slam closed NATO’s open-door policy.”

U.S. Peace Council. [Source:
[[link removed]]]

When U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with Ukraine’s
President Zelensky in Kyiv in October, he promised U.S. support for
Ukraine’s future NATO membership, and blamed Russia for
“perpetuating the war in eastern Ukraine.” Russian President Putin
shot back on December 23 that “Further movement of NATO eastward is
unacceptable. They are on the threshold of our house.”

Last March 24, the Ukrainian president decreed
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that Ukraine would take Crimea back from Russia, with “military
measures” to achieve “de-occupation.” The U.S. and NATO voiced
“unwavering” support.

In April NATO backed a Ukrainian offensive in its civil war against
Russian-allied separatists in the eastern provinces, Donetsk and
Luhansk. That is when Russia moved more troops to its borders with
Ukraine, signaling it would defend its allies (Former CIA Case Officer
and CAM columnist John Kiriakou has reported that the actual number of
Russian troops massed on the Ukraine border, estimated between 70,000
and 90,000, was the same number that had been there for the last eight
years [[link removed]], and that
Western media reports of a Russian troop buildup were inflammatory.
Vice-Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, the head of the German navy, was
forced to resign after saying talk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine
was “nonsense” and that Russia was merely seeking “respect”
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for its security concerns in Europe).

Last summer 30,000 U.S. troops led “Operation Defender Europe
2021,” a set of NATO exercises from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea,
according to the U.S. Peace Council
[[link removed]].
In December the U.S. staged simulated bombing raids within 12 miles of
Russian airspace. NATO warplanes confronted Russian aircraft 290 times
in 2021.

On December 7, Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland told
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the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the U.S. has given $2.4 billion
to Ukraine since 2014 “in security assistance”—$450 million in
2021 alone. (This week, the Biden administration approved an
additional $200 million in military aid
[[link removed]]to
add to the $450 million given last year).

[Joe Biden's Pick of Victoria Nuland Means Relations with Russia Could
Get Worse | The National Interest]

Victoria Nuland [Source:
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Nuland helped orchestrate the 2014 coup in Kyiv, the Ukrainian
capital, that toppled a government friendly to Russia. The new
far-rightist government ended language rights for Russian speakers who
are the majority in the Ukraine’s eastern provinces. Donetsk and
Lugansk voted to separate, as did Crimea. Russia then annexed Crimea,
to protect Russian speakers there and secure its Black Sea naval base.
Russia provided humanitarian aid and trade to Donetsk and Lugansk, and
stationed troops on their eastern border for protection.

[The Ukraine Crisis]

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A _New York Times _report
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on January 6 said “Russia intervened militarily in Ukraine in 2014
after _pro-democracy protests_ erupted there.” [Emphasis added.] The
coup was actually carried out by fascist gangs, according to a May 2,
2018, report in
[[link removed]]_The
Nation_ by Stephen Cohen.

The gangs, including self-declared neo-Nazis, were encouraged by
Nuland, Biden and other prominent U.S. politicians. The neo-Nazis were
integrated into Ukraine’s official military which, since 2014, has
been trained, armed and reorganized by the U.S., Britain, Canada and
other NATO countries.

Stephen Cohen wrote that “the pogrom-like burning to death of ethnic
Russians and others in Odessa later in 2014 reawakened memories of
Nazi extermination squads in Ukraine during World War II.” These
horrors have been all but deleted from the American mainstream
narrative, despite being well-documented
[[link removed]].

Cohen added that “stormtroop-like assaults on gays, Jews, elderly
ethnic Russians, and other ‘impure’ citizens are widespread
throughout Kyiv-ruled Ukraine, along with torchlight marches
reminiscent of those that eventually inflamed Germany in the late
1920s and 1930s… The police and official legal authorities do
virtually nothing to prevent these neo-fascist acts or to prosecute
them. On the contrary, Kyiv has officially encouraged them
by systematically rehabilitating and even memorializing
[[link removed]] Ukrainian
collaborators with Nazi German extermination pogroms and their
leaders during World War II, renaming streets in their honor,
building monuments to them, rewriting history to glorify them, and

[Men in military garb stand with flags featuring the Azov movement's
symbol, which is similar to the Wolfsangel, widely used by Nazi German
divisions during the Second World War]

Neo-Nazis in Ukrainian army. [Source:
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The people of the self-declared people’s republics of Donetsk and
Lugansk in eastern Ukraine suffer under a complete economic blockade
by Ukraine and its Western allies. Historically known as the Donbass
region, eastern Ukraine is a mining and industrial center. Donbass
miners played a crucial and heroic role in the defeat of the German
invasion of the Soviet Union in World War II. Many Russians revere the
Donbass as “the heart of Russia
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All of Ukraine east of the Dnieper river is predominantly
Russian-speaking. U.S. claims of a “Russian invasion” are
reminiscent of claims of North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam
after the artificial separation of Vietnam in 1954. The entire U.S.
narrative about Ukraine is a cynical fabrication designed to justify


In mid-December Russia took a diplomatic initiative and presented a
list of security proposals to the United States. According to the
_Wall Street Journal_, they include ending NATO’s expansion further
eastward to include Ukraine, a promise for each side to refrain from
hostile activities, and an end to NATO military activities in all of
Eastern Europe, Transcaucasia and Central Asia.

“There is no other option,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister
Ryabkov told reporters, “since a characteristic feature of the
current stage of relations between Russia and the collective West is a
complete lack of trust.” The Russian diplomat also said “we have
no intention to invade Ukraine.”

Among the “severe consequences” threatened by the U.S. against
Russia, the Financial Times
[[link removed]] has
said sanctioning Russia’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline to Germany was
“top of the list.” Western Europe is already facing an energy
crunch, with skyrocketing prices for natural gas.

[The First String Of The Nord Stream 2 Pipeline Gas-In Procedure
Completed | Pipeline Technology Journal]

Route of Nordstream 2 Pipeline. [Source: pipeline.journal-net
[[link removed]]]

Europeans need energy security and are wary of war. They want the Nord
Stream 2 pipeline as soon as possible, while the Biden
administration calls
[[link removed]] it
a “bad deal” and claims that it makes Europe vulnerable to Russian
“treachery.” Texas Senator Ted Cruz has pressed hard against the
pipeline, which offsets opportunities for U.S. energy companies to
supply gas to the European market. U.S. foreign adventures have often
constricted Europe’s energy sources.

A 2021 survey by the _European Council on Foreign Affairs_ found that
most Europeans want to remain neutral in any U.S. war against Russia
or China. But new NATO member-states align with the U.S. against
Russia. They have installed terminals to receive U.S. liquid natural
gas deliveries, to reduce dependence on Russian gas.

Despite all the diplomatic efforts, powerful institutional and
economic forces in the U.S.—the military industrial complex and big
energy companies among others—are eager for a new Cold War with
Russia, which would provide them with boundless opportunities for
profitable deals. “The U.S. military-industrial complex needs
enemies like human lungs need oxygen,” the saying goes. “When
there are no enemies, they must be invented.”

The demonization of Vladimir Putin and Russia by the U.S. media is
part of this policy of inventing enemies. There is a long list of
foreign leaders and nations whose attempts to defy the dictates of
Washington and pursue an independent foreign policy have brought down
upon them the wrath of the U.S. Capitalist Empire.


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