White House, other Western and Russian leaders restrained their rhetoric regarding the Ukrainian crisis even as other players on all sides ramped up claims of murder, conspiracy, torture and other unethical conduct rarely leveled so bluntly regarding large governments.
To be sure, the official rhetoric was tough -- but not in comparison with the claims by non-government players alleging state-sponsored, murderous, false flag operations -- or else schemes to falsify such evidence.
Ukrainian rock star Ruslana Lyzhychko, for example, told a National Press Club audience March 5 that Russians and their leader are undertaking vast propaganda efforts, torture and killing to maintain influence in the Ukraine following street protests that toppled a pro-Russian leader late last month.
But Ruslana -- known by her first name, shown in my photo and fresh from receiving White House honors this week for years of advocacy against Russia -- did not directly answer my question about whether she thought controversial leaked tapes were genuine in their implications. (The question is at the 30-minute mark of the 70-minute video below.)
One implication was that the Western-backed snipers intentionally killed fellow protesters, and another was that Western leaders were involved in the selection of the Ukraine's new leaders. The phone call the first week of February is now being virtually ignored, U.S. diplomat apologizes for profane remarks on E.U. in leaked phone call.
In a response of at least eight minutes, Ruslana instead argued that Russian President Vladimir Putin is capable of boundless evil and should be thwarted in the Ukraine -- and overthrown in Russia by its people.
Meanwhile, Putin, President Obama (shown calling Putin), Ukranian, NATO, United Nations and other leaders exchanged threats to opponents and promises of massive aid to allies.
But no major new violence or troop movements were reported. The leading players, including Russian and the Ukraine, have many inter-dependent ties, and thus risk hurting themselves if actions are not sufficiently planned or explained to various national and global constituencies.
Among major developments, Russia tightened its hold on the Crimean Peninsula, and European nations promised $15 billion in aid to the Ukraine.
Additionally, Republican former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Democratic former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote op-eds in the Washington Post providing their views, excepted below.
The columns, How the Ukraine crisis ends and What is to be done? Putin’s aggression in Ukraine needs a response are by two of the longest-term foreign policy advisors of the powerful. My new book, Presidential Puppetry, points to the important role of these two foreign policy gurus in particular.
Also, two United States-reared anchors on the Russian-government funded television station RT made news by on-air criticism of the Russian government and RT.
Breaking News and Analysis
President Barack Obama talks with Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice in the Oval Office, March 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)
Update: War Is A Crime, The War Activists, David Swanson, March 21, 2014. War activists, like peace activists, push for an agenda. We don't think of them as activists because they rotate in and out of government positions, receive huge amounts of funding, have access to big media, and get meetings with top officials just by asking -- without having to generate a protest first. They also display great contempt for the public and openly discuss ways to manipulate people through fear and nationalism -- further shifting their image away from that of popular organizers. But war activists are not journalists, not researchers, not academics. They don't inform or educate. They advocate. They just advocate for something that most of the time, and increasingly, nobody wants. William Kristol and Robert Kagan and their organization, the Foreign Policy Initiative, stand out as exemplary war activists. They've modified their tone slightly since the days of the Project for the New American Century, an earlier war activist organization. They talk less about oil and more about human rights. But they insist on U.S. domination of the world. Kagan has worked for Hillary Clinton. His wife Victoria Nuland has just been stirring up trouble in the Ukraine as Assistant Secretary of State. This pair is something of a good-cop/bad-cop team. Kristol bashes Obama for being a wimp and not fighting enough wars. Kagan reassures Obama that he can be master of the universe if he'll only build up the military a bit more and maybe fight a couple more wars here and there.
New York Times, Russia Massing Military Forces Near Border With Ukraine Steven Lee Myers and Alison Smale, March 13, 2014. Russia’s Defense Ministry announced new military operations in several regions near the Ukrainian border on Thursday, even as Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany warned the Kremlin to abandon the politics of the 19th and 20th centuries or face diplomatic and economic retaliation from a united Europe. The operations came as Ukraine’s acting president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, said in a statement on his official website that he believed Russian forces massed near the border were “ready to intervene in Ukraine at anytime,” and that he hoped diplomatic efforts by Ukraine and sympathetic nations would “stop the aggression.” Underscoring the potential gravity of the troop movements, Russia’s senior commander, Valery V. Gerasimov, spoke by telephone with his NATO counterpart, Gen. Knud Bartles of Denmark, the news agency Interfax reported, citing a defense source.
Washington Post, How the Ukraine crisis ends, Henry A. Kissinger, March 5, 2014. Henry A. Kissinger, shown in a file photo from early in his career, was secretary of state from 1973 to 1977. Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation. But do we know where we are going? In my life, I have seen four wars begun with great enthusiasm and public support, all of which we did not know how to end and from three of which we withdrew unilaterally. The test of policy is how it ends, not how it begins. Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them. Russia must accept that to try to force Ukraine into a satellite status, and thereby move Russia’s borders again, would doom Moscow to repeat its history of self-fulfilling cycles of reciprocal pressures with Europe and the United States. The West must understand that, to Russia, Ukraine can never be just a foreign country. Russian history began in what was called Kievan-Rus. The Russian religion spread from there. Ukraine has been part of Russia for centuries, and their histories were intertwined before then. Some of the most important battles for Russian freedom, starting with the Battle of Poltava in 1709 , were fought on Ukrainian soil. The Black Sea Fleet — Russia’s means of projecting power in the Mediterranean — is based by long-term lease in Sevastopol, in Crimea. The European Union must recognize that its bureaucratic dilatoriness and subordination of the strategic element to domestic politics in negotiating Ukraine’s relationship to Europe contributed to turning a negotiation into a crisis. Foreign policy is the art of establishing priorities.
Washington Post, What is to be done? Putin’s aggression in Ukraine needs a response, Zbigniew Brzezinski, March 3, 2014. Zbigniew Brzezinski was national security adviser from 1977 to 1981, and co-founded the Trilateral Commission with David Rockefeller in 1974. Regarding the Russian aggression against Ukraine, much depends on what Vladimir Putin does next. Putin’s thuggish tactics in seizing Crimea offer some hints regarding his planning. He knew in advance that his thinly camouflaged invasion would meet with popular support from the Russian majority in Crimea. He was not sure how the thin and light Ukrainian military units stationed there would react, so he went in masked like a Mafia gangster. In the event of serious Ukrainian resistance, he could disown the initiative and pull back.
Washington Post, Putin: Will protect Russians in Ukraine, Kathy Lally and William Booth, March 4, 2014. He asserts that the pro-Russian former regime in Kiev was illegally overthrown and that the man he regards as Ukraine’s president asked him for military help.
Washington Post, Cold War looms over NATO’s talks on Ukraine, Anthony Faiola, March 4, 2014. NATO members pledge “solidarity” at emergency meeting, but there are signs of division in Europe over how to respond to Russia’s intervention in Crimea. U.S. prepares sanctions on Russians.
Zero Hedge, "Behind The Kiev Snipers It Was Somebody From The New Coalition" -- A Stunning New Leak Released, Tyler Durden, March 5, 2014. When it comes to "dirty tricks" what is about to be presented, blows the top off anything Russia may or has done to date. Earlier today an even more shocking recording has been "leaked" this time one between the always concerned about human rights EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet, in which it is revealed on tape that all those photos of horrifying deaths of Ukrainians by snipers during the last days of the Median stand off, were in fact caused not by snipers controlled by Yanukovich, but that the snipers shot at both protesters and police in Kiev were allegedly hired by Maidan leaders! Here is the key exchange, just after 8 minutes into the conversation:
Paet: "All the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers from both sides, policemen and people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides.... Some photos that showed it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it is really disturbing that now the new coalition they don't want to investigate what exactly happened. So there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition."
Ashton: "I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh."
Paet: "It already discreditates (sic) this new coalition."
So first US orchestrates the Kiev overthrow, and now the new "leaders" of Ukraine are allegedly found to have fired against their own people -- the same provocation they subsequently used to run Yanukovich out of the country and install a pro-Western puppet government.
Of course, said pro-Western coalition has not been discredited because Ms. Ashton has sternly refused to investigate, knowing quite well how horribly this would reflect on the new Ukraine "leadership" -- a government which shot its own people to fabricate the pretext under which it rose to power. Is it any wonder then that Russia has responded the way it has?
National Press Club, NPC Newsmaker: Ruslana Lyzhychko, March 5, 2014 (70 minute video). As the tense political situation in Ukraine escalated, Ruslana Lyzhychko, one of Ukraine's most internationally recognizable and politically active citizens discussed the situation in her home country at the National Press Club on March 5, 2014. 30 minute mark
Huffington Post, Washington Post 'News Article' Slams President Obama for Not Bombing Russia, Robert Naiman, March 3, 2014. People make fun of Senator John McCain, saying that he never met a war he didn't like. But if the Washington Post were a Senator, Senator W. Post's extremist warmongering concerning the potential use of military force would make Senator McCain look like a prudent moderate by comparison. This isn't just true of its "opinion" pages, but of how the Washington Post "reports the news." In the wake of the Russian military intervention in Crimea, the Post -- in a purported "news article" -- is claiming that the crisis illustrates that President Obama is too reluctant to use military force.
New York Times, Pressure Rising as Obama Works to Rein In Russia, Peter Baker, March 2, 2014. As Russia dispatched more forces and tightened its grip on the Crimean Peninsula on Sunday, President Obama embarked on a strategy intended to isolate Moscow and prevent it from seizing more Ukrainian territory even as he was pressured at home to respond more forcefully. Working the telephone from the Oval Office, Mr. Obama rallied allies, agreed to send Secretary of State John Kerry to Kiev and approved a series of diplomatic and economic moves intended to “make it hurt,” as one administration official put it. But the president found himself besieged by advice to take more assertive action. The Russian occupation of Crimea has challenged Mr. Obama as has no other international crisis, and at its heart, the advice seemed to pose the same question: Is Mr. Obama tough enough to take on the former K.G.B. colonel in the Kremlin?
Washington Post, Obama speaks with Putin by phone, calls on Russia to pull forces back to Crimea bases, Karen DeYoung, March 1, 2014. President Obama spoke for 90 minutes with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday in what appeared to have been a testy exchange reflecting an escalating battle of wills and growing international tension over Ukraine. Obama expressed “deep concern” over Russia’s “violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity . . . [and] breach of international law,” the White House said. He called on Putin to pull Russian forces, now reportedly spread across Crimea, back to their bases in the autonomous Ukrainian region, according to a White House statement, and made clear that Russian refusal would lead to suspension of U.S. participation in planning for the upcoming Group of Eight summit in Sochi, Russia, scheduled for June, and “greater political and economic isolation.”
Washington Post, U.S. diplomat apologizes for profane remarks on E.U. in leaked phone call, Anne Gearan, Feb. 6, 2014. Victoria Nuland dismissively referred to slow-moving European efforts to address the crisis in Ukraine. The top U.S. diplomat for Europe apologized Thursday for comments about the European Union that were — to put it lightly — undiplomatic. “F--- the E.U.,” Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, left, said in a private telephone call to U.S. Ambassador to the Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, right, that was intercepted and leaked online. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki acknowledged that the recording was authentic and said Nuland had apologized to E.U. officials. But U.S. officials were also quick to point the finger at Russia, which has bristled at U.S. involvement in Ukraine.
Washington Post, A quick guide to the people in the call on Ukraine, Terri Rupar, Feb. 6, 2014. Who Victoria Nuland is discussing in her phone call about the situation in Ukraine. In the call, Nuland, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and State Department spokeswoman, was dismissively referring to slow-moving European efforts to address political paralysis and a looming fiscal crisis in Ukraine. But it was the blunt nature of her remarks, rather than U.S. diplomatic calculations, that seemed exceptional. Nuland also assessed the political skills of Ukrainian opposition figures with unusual candor and, along with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, debated strategy for their cause, laying bare a deep degree of U.S. involvement in affairs that Washington officially says are Ukraine’s to resolve.
Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues
FireDogLake, Given Alleged CIA Spying on Senators, When Will Senate Intelligence Committee Release Torture Report? Kevin Gosztola, March 5, 2014. Reported and alleged Central Intelligence Agency spying on Senate Select Committee on Intelligence members should only increase the effort by senators to have a report on the agency’s rendition, detention and interrogation program released. McClatchy reports that the CIA Inspector General’s Office has requested that the Justice Department investigate “malfeasance” by the agency stemming from conduct related to the Senate report, which comprehensively details the CIA’s role in the torture of terrorism suspects. The “malfeasance” is suspected to be alleged “monitoring” of computers that committee staff were using when working on the report in a “secure room at CIA headquarters.” The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has pushed for the release of the 6,300-page report and filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the CIA, appropriately reacted, “If it turns out that the CIA was spying on the Senate committee that oversees the agency, it would be an outrageous violation of separation of powers.”