Nov 30, 2021

The Economist

What to make of the military analysts who calmly list the reasons why the most serious war in Europe since 1945 might begin in January? The flat, muddy terrain of south-eastern Ukraine will be frozen solid by then, allowing Russian tanks to roll in. It is in the middle of the deployment cycle for the conscripts who make up much of Russia’s ground forces. And Russia may find itself with a pretext for invasion, since the new year has in the past brought front line flare-ups in Ukraine’s war against Russian-backed separatists. Besides, the 100,000 Russian troops massed near the border are more than mere theatre; Russia is setting up field hospitals and calling up its reserves.


Dima is unimpressed. A colonel in the Ukrainian army, he has watched the rapid transformation of his country’s armed forces from a bad joke to something approaching a modern army. And he thinks Russia has been watching, too. “They are afraid of us, because since 2014 we have shown what we can do,” says Dima, who prefers not to use his real name. “It would be a third world war, at a minimum,” he says, perhaps with a touch of hyperbole. In the corner of a café in Kyiv, fidgeting with cigarettes and coffee, he remembers how far Ukraine has travelled.


In 2014 Dima was commanding a battalion near Luhansk, a city near the Russian border. Of his 700 soldiers, only 40 were ready for active duty. His men did not bother to wear their clumsy Soviet-army vests or helmets, which offered little protection against bullets. Soldiers instead, when possible, dressed in German gear scrounged abroad in second-hand stores by volunteers. His tanks had the wrong engines installed. Few men had the training they needed to fight well. Had Ukraine enjoyed today’s military back in 2014 “Donetsk and Luhansk would be free today,” claims Dima with a snap of his fingers.


But they are not. Ukraine failed to stop Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the self-declared “republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk remain outside Ukraine’s control. That Ukraine had just 6,000 combat-ready troops at the time was a legacy of decades of neglect. Well-intentioned Ukrainian politicians were complacent after the signing in 1994 of the Budapest memorandum, under which Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons in exchange for security guarantees from America, Britain and Russia. Ill-intentioned officials, some with Russian citizenship, sold off equipment and took their cut.


Now Ukraine is getting its act together. Military spending as a share of GDP has more than doubled to 4%, funded in part by a “military levy” on incomes. America has given $2.5bn-worth of equipment to Ukraine. That includes Harris radios to ensure troops can communicate, and counter-battery radars to detect the source of enemy fire. Soldiers enthuse about their modern new uniforms. Conscription was reintroduced, though 85% of Ukraine’s soldiers are still professional.

Some necessary reforms will take time the country does not have. Procurement is murky and state-owned manufacturers are unproductive. An overly rigid Soviet-era command culture persists. But Ukraine has 250,000 troops and a further 900,000 reserves. Some 300,000 of them have experience on the front line. The new soldiers are better trained. The West, at first reluctant to send Ukraine weaponry, is changing tack. Ukraine has bought TB-2 Bayraktar combat-capable drones from Turkey, a NATO member, which the separatists can do little to stop. America has sent Ukraine Javelin missiles, though on the condition that they be stored far from the front line.


Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, wants more. Weaponry is nice but what he covets most is accession to NATO. That would commit America and 29 other countries to leap to Ukraine’s defence were it attacked by Russia. But such an invitation looks highly unlikely; NATO does not want an unambiguous commitment to defend a country Russia has already attacked. However, Ukraine is preparing its forces for “interoperability” with NATO forces anyway. Joint exercises with NATO are increasingly common; the older ones such as Rapid Trident, and Sea Breeze this summer, are getting bigger and more sophisticated. New exercises are also cropping up, such as Cossack Mace, a Britain-Ukraine exercise that began this year, and “Coherent Resilience”, an annual tabletop NATO exercise with Ukrainian officials that began in 2017. A new policy mandates command of English among all Ukrainian troops by 2025.


Much of Ukraine’s improvement has been based on the premise that Russia wants to challenge Ukraine, but does not want the cost of waging a war in its own name. Vladimir Putin funnelled troops and small quantities of Russian kit to the front line; but he has not sent planes or entire battalions. That has produced the kind of disorganised ground war that Ukraine has been getting better at fighting ever since. If Ukraine’s beefier military can deny Mr Putin his preferred option of a low-risk military gambit, the thinking goes, Ukraine might keep Russia at bay.


But Russian thinking may be changing in response to a version of the future it finds intolerable. It fears that a West-veering Ukraine will abandon its historical role as a buffer between Russia and the West, and instead play host to American firepower only a short distance from Moscow. Critics accuse Mr Putin of scheming to ensure that the Minsk II ceasefire agreement of 2015 would see Donetsk and Luhansk put back into a federal Ukraine with a power of veto over any Westward tilt. That has not happened. Ukraine’s courtship of Europe and America is continuing and Russia is losing patience, reckons Samuel Charap of the RAND corporation, an American think-tank.


That does not mean that Russia wishes to gobble up large swathes of Ukrainian territory for good. Fyodor Lukyanov, a foreign-policy analyst close to the Kremlin, suggests that a quick, hard incursion akin to Russia’s 2008 war with Georgia could occur, followed by merciless talks. A pretext would not be hard to find, or to manufacture.


No Western power looks willing to wage war against Russia for Ukraine’s sake. Mr Putin is probably bluffing. If he is not, Dima’s confidence will face a fearsome test.





November 30, 2021

Yahoo News


RIGA, Latvia — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned Tuesday that the U.S.-led military organization must prepare for the worst as concern mounts that Russia could be preparing to invade Ukraine.


NATO is worried about a Russian buildup of heavy equipment and troops near Ukraine’s northern border, not far from Belarus. Ukraine says Moscow kept about 90,000 troops in the area following massive war games in western Russia earlier this year, and could easily mobilize them.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said last week that his country’s intelligence service had uncovered plans for a Russia-backed coup d’état. Russia denied the allegation and rejected the assertion that it is planning to invade Ukraine.


“You can discuss whether the likelihood for an incursion is 20% or 80%, it doesn’t matter. We need to be prepared for the worst,” Stoltenberg told reporters in Riga, Latvia, after chairing talks among NATO foreign ministers focused on the threat posed by Russia.


“There is no certainty, no clarity about exactly what are the Russian intentions, and they may actually evolve and change,” the NATO chief continued. Referring to Russia’s 2014 seizure of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, Stoltenberg added: “They’ve done it before.”


The United States has shared intelligence with European allies warning of a possible invasion. European diplomats acknowledge the Russian troop movements, but some countries have played down the threat of any imminent invasion ordered by Moscow.


“We are very concerned about the movements we’ve seen along Ukraine’s border. We know that Russia often combines those efforts with internal efforts to destabilize a country. That’s part of the playbook, and we’re looking at it very closely,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.


“Any renewed aggression would trigger serious consequences,” Blinken warned.


German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also said that “Russia would have to pay a high price for any form of aggression.”


“NATO’s support for Ukraine is unbroken, and its independence, territorial integrity and sovereignty are not up for discussion,” Maas said. “Honest and sustainable de-escalation steps, which can only go via the route of talks, are all the more important now.”


Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 after Ukraine’s Moscow-friendly president was driven from power by mass protests. Weeks later, Russia threw its weight behind a separatist insurgency that broke out in Ukraine’s east.


Ukraine and the West have accused Russia of sending troops and weapons to back the rebels. Moscow denies that, saying that Russians who joined the separatists were volunteers. More than 14,000 people have died in more than seven years of fighting, which also has devastated Ukraine’s eastern industrial heartland, known as Donbas.


A 2015 peace agreement brokered by France and Germany helped end large-scale battles, but efforts to reach a political settlement have failed and sporadic skirmishes have continued along the tense line of contact. Russia has refused recent overtures for talks with France and Germany.


But Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said it is NATO that threatens peace in the region.


“Significant units and military equipment of NATO countries, including the U.S. and Britain, are being deployed closer to our borders,” Lavrov said during a news conference in Moscow. He alleged that the West has long provoked Ukraine “into anti-Russian actions.”


Whatever Russia’s intentions, NATO would not be able to provide Ukraine with any substantial military support in time to make a difference against Russian forces, so economic measures like Western sanctions are more likely to be used to inflict a financial cost on Moscow.


Stoltenberg underlined that Ukraine is not part of the military organization and so cannot benefit from the collective security guarantee available to member countries.


“We have different options, and we have demonstrated over the years in reaction to Russia’s previous use of military force against Ukraine that we can sustain heavy economic and financial sanctions, political sanctions,” Stoltenberg said.


Meanwhile, Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin announced that Belarus will conduct joint military drills with Russia “to cover the southern borders,” a reference to the border area near Ukraine, according to Belarus state news agency Belta.


Khrenin did not say when the exercises would take place but noted that they won’t be as large-scale as the joint drills Belarus and Russia held in September.


Cook reported from Brussels. Dasha Litvinova in Moscow, Geir Moulson in Berlin and Jill Lawless in London contributed.







Dec 1, 2021


Speaking at a press conference following the meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated, “You know, just the question is reflecting something, which I think we should be very much aware of, that is not acceptable. And that is that Russia has a sphere of influence. They try to re-establish some kind of acceptance that Russia has the right to control what neighbours do, or not do.


And that’s the kind of world we don’t want to return to, where big powers had a say, or a kind of right, to put limitations of what sovereign, independent nations can do. I, myself, I’m coming from a small country bordering Russia. And I’m very glad that our NATO Allies have never respected that Russia has the kind of right to establish a sphere of influence in the North, trying to decide what Norway, as a small, independent country can do or not do.


And that’s exactly the same for Ukraine. Ukraine is an independent, sovereign nation with internationally recognised borders, guaranteed by Russia and all the other powers. And those borders, those internationally recognised borders should be respected. And that includes, of course, Crimea as part of Ukraine, and Donbas as part of Ukraine. So this idea that NATO’s support to a sovereign nation is the provocation, is just wrong. It’s to respect the sovereignty of, the will of, the Ukrainian people.


So I think that tells more about Russia than about NATO. NATO is a defensive Alliance. NATO is not a threat to anyone, but NATO respects the decision of countries like the Baltic countries, Poland, when they decided to join. And we will also respect the decision of Ukraine, that they aspire for NATO membership. We have stated that they will become a member, but of course, it’s up to us, 30 NATO Allies, to decide when Ukraine is ready for membership, when they meet the NATO standards. We help them on their way towards membership with reforms, with support, with fighting corruption, with building defence and security institutions.


And the message is that it is only Ukraine and 30 NATO Allies that decide when Ukraine is ready to join NATO. Russia has no veto. Russia has no say. And Russia has no right to establish a sphere of influence, trying to control their neighbours.”



Dec 1, 2021


Axios reported, “The Biden administration, House and Senate Democrats and even the German government have been engaged in a multi-pronged effort to stop Congress from imposing mandatory sanctions on a Kremlin-backed natural gas pipeline.


President Biden’s decision to let Nord Stream 2 proceed has put his allies in an uncomfortable bind. Republicans have already blocked dozens of Biden’s foreign-policy nominees, and the dispute threatened to derail an annual defense bill passed by Congress every year  for six decades.


Democrats and Republicans have for years opposed Nord Stream 2, which would circumvent Ukrainian transit infrastructure and deliver Russian gas directly to Germany.


But Biden waived sanctions against the operator of Nord Stream 2 in the spring to help repair U.S. relations with Germany.


Ukraine views Nord Stream 2 as an existential threat, as it would remove one of the last deterrents the country has against a Russian invasion of its territory.


With a Dec. 31 deadline looming, the Senate has remained unable to close debate on the National Defense Authorization Act.


The delay is in large part because Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer refused to hold a floor vote on a Republican amendment reimposing sanctions on the operator of Nord Stream 2, citing a technical issue with the amendment.


However, late Tuesday night, the Senate reached an agreement to hotline — the process by which Republican and Democratic leadership swiftly gauges whether they can expedite legislative business — a package of 21 amendments for floor consideration.


The Nord Stream amendment proposed by Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is included in the package, Senate leadership aides tell Axios. If there are no objections to the overall package, Risch’s amendment will be formally considered, they said.


The Biden administration, led by State Department energy envoy Amos Hochstein and secretary of State Antony Blinken, has been lobbying Democrats against the amendment.


Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), a key Senate Democrat who authored previous Nord Stream 2 sanctions, told Axios she has ‘always been clear’ about her opposition to the pipeline, and will ‘continue to review legislation and mechanisms in Congress’ that would address her concerns.

House Democrats, meanwhile, had been working to strip out a similar version of a Nord Stream 2 sanctions amendment in ‘pre-conference’ negotiations with the Senate, multiple sources familiar with the discussions told Axios.


The Risch amendment will be set up as a “side-by-side” with another amendment proposed by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), which would impose a cascade of sanctions — including on Nord Stream 2 — if Russia invades Ukraine, according to a Senate aide.


Unlike the Risch amendment, Menendez’s amendment ultimately leaves the determination of whether to sanction Russia up to the Biden administration.”




Britain’s foreign secretary raises fears of Europe becoming reliant on Moscow for energy


Patrick Wintour

30 Nov 2021

The Guardian


Britain’s foreign secretary has joined a last-minute push to urge Nato allies to block the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, warning that Moscow would exploit its position if European nations became reliant on it for energy.


Liz Truss, at her first Nato foreign ministers meeting in Riga, also warned that Russia would be making a strategic mistake if it invaded Ukraine, promising an economic and diplomatic response by Nato.


The UK has been at the forefront of Nato countries, along with Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic states, to question the wisdom of the pipeline, which will take gas from Russia to Europe through the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine and depriving Kyiv of energy transit fees.


In a sign of her determination to challenge Russia, Truss was also pictured in a tank along with British troops in Estonia, in pictures reminiscent of her role model, Margaret Thatcher.


It remains to be seen how far the UK can push its opposition to Nord Stream 2 but the prime minister, Boris Johnson, raised the issue’s profile in a foreign policy speech at the Guildhall this month, saying: “We hope that our friends may recognise that a choice is shortly coming between mainlining ever more Russian hydrocarbons in giant new pipelines, and sticking up for Ukraine and championing the cause of peace and stability.”


Truss wrote in a Sunday Telegraph article: “Nord Stream 2 risks undermining European security by allowing Russia to tighten its grip on those nations who rely on it for gas.”


Yuri Vitrenko, the head of Ukraine’s state energy firm, Naftogaz, speaking at Chatham House in London on Monday, praised Johnson’s remarks as “timely and helpful.” He added: “Britain is an important ally. Boris Johnson does not look like he is afraid to confront Putin and he is calling things by their names.” He pointed out the UK could not be decisive since the outcome could depend on EU energy law.


Vitrenko argued the current Russian pipeline through Ukraine acted as “an important deterrent to a full-scale war” since if an invasion happened once Nord Stream 2 gas started flowing, “the revenues of Russia will not be affected, European consumers will not be affected – what we will hear is some deep concerns from European politicians, but it will not change Russia policy or military aggression.”


It was thought the long running economic and political battle against the 1,200-mile pipeline had been largely lost since so much of the construction was complete, and because the Biden administration, in a compromise agreement with Germany in May, dropped sanctions against the $10bn pipeline. Germany instead agreed to provide Ukraine with a subsidy to transition to green energy.


But British ministers intent on backing Ukraine do not think the battle to contain Nord Stream 2 – one largely conducted inside the EU – is lost. They point to paragraph two in the German-US statement of June, which says: “Should Russia attempt to use energy as a weapon or commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine, Germany will take action at the national level and press for effective measures at the European level, including sanctions, to limit Russian export capabilities to Europe in the energy sector, including gas, and/or in other economically relevant sectors.”


The UK claims Russia has been endangering European allies by limiting gas supplies in exactly the way that the agreement sought to rule out, a view strongly shared by many US Republican senators who are now blocking the defence budget to block Nord Stream 2.


Britain is also testing the water to see how the new German coalition will handle Nord Stream 2, noting the coalition agreement was silent on the issue. At least rhetorically, the new government is much tougher about defending Ukraine and Russian human rights abuses, British officials believe.


Oliver Krischer, a German Green politician, tipped by some to join the new super ministry for the climate and the economy, told Frankfurter Allgemeine this week: “Since gas demand will not increase in Germany or Europe, I see no need for Nord Stream 2. There is no commitment to this in the coalition agreement.”


To add to the sense of policy in flux, certification of the pipeline was temporarily suspended by Germany’s energy regulator on 16 November on the technical grounds that its owners, Russia’s Gazprom, had created a German subsidiary for the German branch of the pipeline that did not meet the requirements of domestic law.






The Hill


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s allegation of a foiled Russian coup attempt against him underscores the linked external and internal threats confronting Ukraine.  The external threat is most visible in the approximately 114,000 troops Russia has massed on Ukraine’s borders because Russian President Vladimir Putin understands that his patrimonial autocracy cannot survive with an independent Westward-leaning Ukraine on its borders. 


Since empire is the historical corollary of Russian autocracy and are equally dependent on each other to survive, from Moscow’s standpoint Ukraine cannot be thought of as an independent state. Moreover, Putin has nothing to offer Russia but imperial circuses since he can no longer offer bread to an economically stagnant Russia that is also being ravaged by COVID-19.


In that context, the presence of Russian forces on Ukraine’s borders has been almost exclusively seen as a prelude to invasion. This perception is understandable and could well be correct, but it is incomplete. Anyone familiar with the Soviet modus operandi when confronting such challenges will remember that Moscow’s invasions and interventions in Hungary in 1956 and in Czechoslovakia in 1968 took place concurrently with the installation of a pro-Russian regime that supposedly invited Moscow’s coercion to create a façade of legitimacy.


Similarly in Poland in 1981, Moscow, though unwilling to intervene directly, clearly threatened from the outset to strike at the Solidarity movement and Poland and supported General Jaruzelski’s coup, which he defended as an alternative to invasion and war.


Consequently, it is entirely consonant with Moscow’s modus operandi to plan a coup with the apparent intention of bringing to power Ukraine’s reportedly richest oligarch, Rinat Akhmetov, supposedly a man Moscow could rely on and an opponent of Zelensky.


Akhmetov could then conceivably be persuaded to allow for an invasion or intervention to reestablish a pro-Russian order. Therefore, nobody should be surprised that this gambit was apparently underway, although Zelensky denied that Akhmetov had yet been approached to play the role of a Ukrainian quisling. Indeed, pro-Russian writers warned of such a coup.


On the one hand, the failure of this coup might further prompt Putin to use force in the absence of any indigenous support for his designs on Ukraine. On the other hand, the derangement of Russia’s plans makes an outright invasion still more potentially costly and adds to the risk of failure, for if it cannot be carried off quickly, its chances for failure multiply.

The second danger this affair highlights is the internal threat, namely the threat from an unreformed or incompletely reformed oligarchical system. The fact that the alleged plotters assumed they could “capture” Akhmetov for the coup reflects the fact that the Ukrainian oligarchs have long had extensive and multifarious ties to Russian economic, energy, financial, governmental and intelligence communities, if not also state-controlled criminal syndicates.


They are willing participants in Russian corruption. Moscow has consistently counted on their support in frustrating reform and Ukrainian independence and evidently believes it can continue to do so.


These internal security issues justify, and even impel, Kyiv to continue and even accelerate the drive towards “de-oligarchization” enshrined in a recent law. Ukraine, for example, must open up its entire energy economy to healthy competition so it can supply its own energy needs and even export some gas to Eastern and Central Europe. It must also do so to eliminate Russia’s chances of finding Ukrainian quislings who, in order to safeguard their own ill-gotten gains, will mortgage the country to Moscow. In this sense, the coup highlighted the linked dual-sided internal and external threats to Ukraine emanating from Moscow and the urgency of squelching both of them.


Admittedly Ukraine cannot do this all by itself. It still needs International Monetary Fund (IMF) loans and Western military and political support. But without progress on the internal scene, that support will not be forthcoming. In this manner, de facto conditionality of the material and political support being sent to Kyiv is the right policy.


Were Ukraine to desist from reform to meet the visible military threat, it would be conquered rather easily from within and be isolated internationally. There is a lesson here for other similarly threatened European states, particularly in the Balkans. Relying on Moscow is like riding a tiger. Not only will the failure to take care of domestic reform isolate you from other institutions and states’ assistance; it will also ensure that you end up inside the tiger. 


Therefore, Zelensky’s revelations highlight the intertwined dual threats Ukraine faces and what must be done to prevent them from being realized.


Stephen Blank, Ph.D., is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI). He is also a former professor of Russian National Security Studies and National Security Affairs at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College. He is also a former MacArthur fellow at the U.S. Army War College. Blank is an independent consultant focused on the geopolitics and geostrategy of the former Soviet Union, Russia and Eurasia.





Вся історія відносин між Москвою та Україною на протязі більше як 250 літ, з моменту злуки цих двох держав є планомірне, безоглядне, безсоромне, нахабне нищення української нації всякими способами, вщерть до стертя всякого сліду її, щоб навіть імени її не лишилось….І здавалось, така політика мала успіх…Лишився сам народ, без панства, без літератури, без школи, безграмотний, знесилений, оплутаний законами й державними апаратами визиску. Він уже забув свою історію, свою колишню боротьбу за соціальне й національне визволення… Здавалось, зроблено було все чисто: закопано, засипано, землю на могилі вглажено й пісочком присипано…Отже, ніби повна смерть нації.


Слова Володимира Винниченка з його opus magnum Відродження Нації. Моє навчання історії визвольних змагань 1917-20 років  було наскрізь насичене негативним відношенням до Винниченка як одного з провідників через якого були програні визвольні змагання. Винниченко був у постійному конфлікті з Симоном Петлюрою у справі потреби збройного забезпечення української державності бо виходячи з соціалістичної а то і комуністичної точки зору він не передбачав війни між комуністами чим він був. Це була одна з трагедій його життя а також трагедія Крут та вторгнення Муравйова як і подальші події.


При одній з моїх поїздок до княжого города Львів і відвідин там матірного історичного Наукового Товариства ім. Тараса Шевченка я був заскочений що ця установа знаходиться на вул. Винниченка. Адже ж Львів п’ємонт українського національного відродження. Чому там у центрі Львова  вулиця Винниченка.


Мушу признатися, що до незалежності я мало читав Винниченка, Хвильового і такого як  Шахрай. Комуністи просто мене не цікавили, навіть українські націонал-комуністи. Після прочитання цих постатей і це досить поверхово, я переконаний, що ці особи були більшими українцями чим українська влада за останніх тридцять років. Це надзвичайно сумне ствердження, зроблене не для розпачі але для освідомлення чим ми стали.


Мушу при цій сповіді висповідатися також за мою святу маму яка не шанувала зовсім Винниченка, уважала його зрадником і навіть не шанувала надто Петлюру бо “він нас продав Пілсудському”. Я тому ініціював виготовлення художньої фільмові стрічки про Петлюру бо зробили ми фільми про Бандеру, Шухевича, Шептицького. Досить вже тих галичанів,  а галичанам потрібно фільм про Петлюру бо вони його ані не знають ні не розуміють.


Сьогодні стан провідництва нашої діаспори чи у США чи у Канаді чи де небудь є для мене застрашаючий. Досить сказати, що тільки дуже малий відсоток моїх ровесників, а ще гірше з молодшими навіть знає, а тим менше читав цих осіб котрих я згадав. Це мабуть нормальне явище на підставі чи асиміляції чи просто ігнорування літератури, мови тощо.


Цей регрес національної свідомості  відчутний також в Україні. Без найменшого сумніву Володимир Зеленський це регрес у відродженні нації як писав Винниченко мимо деяких його виступів, адже ж він актор. А його кадри просто національні дебіли. Першим

президентом був лис Кравчук. Він був комуністичним ідеологом але він був багато більш національно свідомим чим Володимир Зеленський. Перший міністр закордонних справ Анатолій Зленко був далеко більше свідомий і професійний чим Дмитро Кулеба. Мої перші зустрічі з пост колоніальною Україною було через Геннадія Удовенка у ролі Постійного представника України до ООН. Він вперше проголосував ще за Союзу інакше чи представник Союзу. На цьому пості були пізніше Анатолій Зленко, Валерій Кучинський, Юрій Сергеєв. Як з ними порівнювати таких як синка міністра культури за Щербицького Володимира Єльченка чи якогось там Сергія  Кислицю котрий публічно заявив, що Україна ні українська ні християнська. Ми котимось у національну прірву.


Ми відбули вшанування пам’яті жертв Голодомору особливо 27 листопада у Катедрі Св. Патрика. Це відзначення має вже майже тридцять років. Це не єдине вже традиційне відмічення. Я пригадую як до відзначення Голодомору на форумі ООН готувався Валерій Кучинський, збирав підписи представників держав на заяви для  голосування на Генеральній Асамблеї (це було за мало свідомого Президента Кучми) у якого в команді були одіозні Табачник, Медведчук чи Юрій Сергеєв за Ющенка але пізніше за Януковича і коротко за Порошенка. Кожного року було таке відзначення. Сергеєв організував навіть мимо московського лакея Януковича.  Минулого року не було мабуть через пандемію, цього року поки що немає або через лінивство або брак бажання. Для Кислиці це не важне як виходить з його веб сайту де важко знайти будь що про Голодомор.


З другої сторони таке відзначення могли б ініціювати речники Світового Конгресу Українців або Світової Федерації Українських Жіночих Організацій, дві діаспорні структури котрі являються єдиними українськими неурядовими організаціями членами ООН. Потрібно тільки замовити зал і приготувати програму.  Навіть Кислиця з української місії міг би замовити зал. Хіба такого відмічення в ООН знову не буде?


Мені соромно за мій народ! Винниченко, Хвильовий чи Шахрай були б таке влаштували. Бо у них все ж таки була українська душа. А тут національна пустота і примітивність. Доборолась Україна…


30 листопада 2021 року                                            Аскольд С. Лозинський  









The Biden administration’s decision to waive sanctions on a Russian-built pipeline in Europe keeps hitting close to home.

The move to let the pipeline go forward, which drew bipartisan criticism at the time, not only kicked off the Republican-led blockade of President Joe Biden’s foreign-policy nominees — now it’s imperiling passage of the annual defense policy bill, typically a bipartisan affair that’s become law each year for six decades.

GOP senators have resorted to hardball tactics to force the administration to implement sanctions on the Russia-to-Germany natural gas line, known as Nord Stream 2. Republicans have slow-walked confirmation of key national security officials and, on Monday night, blocked further action on the defense policy bill absent a vote to strengthen those sanctions.

Passing the defense bill and working to confirm as many of the 50-plus nominees as possible are just two priorities on the Senate’s year-end to-do list. But both goals are at risk of failure — and the whole problem originates with Nord Stream 2.

“We’ve tried everything with the administration to try to get this done, and they won’t do it,” Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, said in a brief interview. “So I don’t know what you do with somebody when they won’t follow the law. You gotta keep hammering that, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Risch is among a handful of Republicans who objected to a package of amendments to the defense bill because it didn’t include his proposal to impose sanctions on Nord Stream 2 AG, the company heading the project, and allow Congress to override presidential waiver authority. A similar provision was included in the House-passed defense bill.

Republicans believe that considering the provision would force Democrats to take a politically difficult vote against the Biden administration, which waived the sanctions this year in a bid to preserve the U.S.-Germany relationship and trans-Atlantic unity. The German government supports the pipeline because it will deliver cheap energy to the country, but the U.S. and its western partners believe that the project will jeopardize Europe’s energy security by strengthening Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Earlier Monday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell cited the pipeline as a reason he would vote against cutting off debate on the annual defense bill, which typically clears both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support. McConnell made his move after Republicans had rejected an agreement to vote on a slate of 19 amendments, many of them GOP-authored.

“Considering sanctions on the pipeline that fuels Putin’s encroachment over Europe, including provisions from Sen. Risch, that closely mirror language that the House added unanimously, is certainly worth the Senate’s time,” McConnell said on the Senate floor before announcing he would vote against advancing the defense policy bill.

The chamber ultimately failed to secure an agreement on cutting off debate Monday night, leaving the legislation without a clear path forward. Democrats — and the White House — accused Republicans of hijacking the process for political gain.

“We’re seeing some members of Congress press for sanctions that don’t actually deter Russia but do threaten Transatlantic unity, in order to score political points at home — all while holding up critical national security funding on a range of unrelated issues,” a White House official told POLITICO in a statement. “It makes no sense.”

“I think the Republicans should stand by their always-motto that we must protect the troops, we must do everything possible, and we can’t let anything stand in its way. That’s what I’ve always heard,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said. “It’s time to put up or shut up.”

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Armed Services and Foreign Relations panels, said he believes Republicans are trying to make things more difficult for Democratic leaders, who are tasked with shepherding the defense bill, Biden’s social spending package, a debt ceiling increase and other critical measures through the chamber before the end of the year.

“They want to kill [the social-spending bill], so if they can slow everything else down, that’s probably what they’re trying to do. I wouldn’t have thought they’d try to do that with the defense bill,” Kaine said. “I think they’re just trying to make everything hard at year-end.”

But Republicans countered that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer delayed full consideration of the defense bill until this month, even though it cleared the Armed Services Committee in July.

“Let me be clear — Sen. Schumer has put us in this position today. He waited more than two months after we filed the NDAA to bring it to the floor,” Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Armed Services panel, said on the floor. “Because the majority leader mismanaged the Senate schedule, he won’t allow votes on bipartisan amendments that make our country more secure.”

The hangup puts leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees, who must deliver a compromise defense bill to Biden’s desk by the end of 2021, in a bind. Even if Democrats and Republicans can pass a bill in the coming days, committee leaders will have just a few weeks to iron out a final bill.

Committee staff have been hashing out differences in their competing bills for weeks already in an effort to smooth over the talks. And lawmakers have said that, to save time, they may resort to methods outside of a formal conference committee to negotiate and pass a compromise bill.

State Department leaders, meanwhile — including energy security adviser Amos Hochstein — have urged congressional leaders to take steps that would prevent Nord Stream 2-related sanctions from being included in the defense bill, according to two people familiar with the outreach. That includes stripping the Nord Stream 2 provision from the House-passed NDAA when the two chambers’ bills are reconciled later.

A senior State Department official characterized the conversations as part of the “regular order of business” when Congress considers measures that the administration might find objectionable.

The official said Risch’s amendment would tie up the Senate floor with votes on individual sanctions every 90 days. The House’s language is “completely unprecedented,” the official said, because it would remove the president’s waiver authority.

“Of course we’re going to express our opinion, as the administration and as the State Department, to say that we would never agree to losing our ability to make foreign policy and use sanctions as a tool,” the official said.

Still, Democrats are rejecting the suggestion that they’re afraid of voting on Risch’s amendment or any other provision related to Nord Stream 2.

“I’ve never been one to whisper in the leader’s ear asking that I not have to vote on something,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said. “That’s the job.”

So far, Democratic leaders are showing no signs of caving to the GOP demands, including on the pipeline.

“The Republican choice to block our bill — and by extension legislation to support our troops and protect the homeland — can be summed up in two words: inexplicable and outrageous,” Schumer said. “I hope the American people are watching.”




By Sarah Rainsford

BBC News

Nov 27, 2021


When Russia wanted the US to sit up and take notice last April it sent tanks towards the Ukrainian border. The show of force worked: President Joe Biden called Russia’s Vladimir Putin and in June the two men met in Geneva.

But whatever they agreed about Ukraine at their summit, something has since gone awry.

In recent weeks, Russian tanks have been moving west towards Ukraine once again, prompting fresh, even starker warnings from US intelligence circles that a cross-border offensive could be on the cards.

This build-up of Russian forces was spotted some 300km (185 miles) from Ukraine

Moscow insists that’s “anti-Russian” hysteria, and most analysts agree there’s no rationale for Russia openly entering – and massively escalating – the conflict in Ukraine, where it backs separatist forces but always denies a direct role.

‘Red rag to a bull’

Instead, they see the Kremlin sending a message that it’s ready to defend its “red lines” on Ukraine: above all, that it must not join Nato.

“I think for Putin it’s really important. He thinks the West has begun giving Ukraine’s elite hope about joining Nato,” political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya at R.Politik told the BBC.

“The training, the weapons and so on are like a red rag to a bull for Putin and he thinks if he doesn’t act today, then tomorrow there will be Nato bases in Ukraine. He needs to put a stop to that.”

Ukraine’s desire to join the security bloc is nothing new, nor is Russia’s insistence on vetoing that ambition in what it sees as its own “back yard”.

But Moscow has been rattled recently by the Ukrainian military using Turkish drones against Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine; the flight near Crimea of two nuclear-capable US bombers was an extra irritant.

There’s also concern that the so-called Minsk agreements, a framework for ending Ukraine’s seven-year-old conflict that’s too contentious to actually implement, could be jettisoned for something more favourable to Kyiv.

‘Signal Putin wants to send’

In April, Russia found that demonstrative military deployment worked well so it’s repeating the trick.

“Our recent warnings have indeed been heard and the effect is noticeable: tensions have risen,” President Putin told Russian diplomats last week. He argued that tension needed sustaining to force the West to reckon with Russia, not ignore it.

“If the military movements [close to Ukraine] are explicit, then this is not about direct military action – it’s about a signal Putin wants to send,” Andrei Kortunov, head of the RIAC think-tank in Moscow, told the BBC.

The signal to Ukraine is not to try anything rash, he believes, like seizing back control of the Donbas.

For the West, Mr Kortunov says Russia’s message is to stop its “infiltration” of Ukraine with Nato infrastructure, including new kinds of weapons.

“That’s definitely a matter of concern for Moscow,” he argues.

This week, Russia’s external intelligence agency, the SVR, evoked the 2008 Georgia war, in a statement on Ukraine.

It recalled the “high price” paid by then Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who sparked all-out conflict with Russia by attempting to regain control of the separatist region of South Ossetia, which is backed by Moscow.

“The Georgian scenario is on the table and could be used in Ukraine,” Tatiana Stanovaya argues. “That doesn’t mean Russia is preparing it; that there’s no way back. I think it’s just an option for now, not a decision,” she says.

‘We’re not invading’

Ukraine itself at first dismissed US talk of an unusual troop build-up, though it has since joined the chorus of concern.

According to its head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, around 94,000 Russian troops are now deployed in the vicinity of Ukraine.

He believes they could launch an attack from several directions early next year.

On Friday, Ukraine’s president made clear his country had no plans for an incursion into the Donbas.

“Russia would definitely like to send the signal that if forced to fight, it will fight,” Mr Kortunov reasons. “But I don’t see what can be accomplished by a direct military offensive against Ukraine.”

No matter how it goes, the collateral damage will be much more significant than any possible gain. So it’s possible Mr Putin is hedging his bets.

“My suspicion is that this is contingency planning,” was security expert Mark Galeotti’s conclusion in his podcast In Moscow’s Shadow.

He suggests the Kremlin is “creating all sorts of opportunities”, and no firm decision has been taken.

But he too doubts that Moscow wants open conflict, bringing more sanctions and a total rupture in relations with the West.

“A vicious war in Ukraine could shatter the unity and legitimacy of the Russian regime,” warns Mark Galeotti. “The good news is that I suspect the regime understands that.”

On balance, he believes the Kremlin will find reasons not to escalate the situation.

Tanks for talks

There are also signs that, once again, what Moscow really wants to achieve with its tanks are more talks with the US: another summit of the two presidents.

It’s a risky way of conducting diplomacy, but for Mr Putin the stakes are high.

“At a meeting between Putin and Biden, neither will give clear commitments but there may be some tacit understanding on how far the US is ready to go in increasing its military support to Ukraine,” Mr Kortunov argues. “That’s not impossible.”

Russian sources say such talks could happen in the coming weeks, perhaps remotely at first. The White House hasn’t yet confirmed that.

“Whilst Putin has a flicker of hope that he can do a deal with Biden, he won’t take any rash steps. But if he thinks it’s all doomed, he could do the worst things we can imagine,” Tatiana Stanovaya warns.

As long as the Russian leader has that hope, then she believes “things won’t be so awful”.




By Paul Sonne, Ellen Nakashima  and Missy Ryan

November 29, 2021

The Washington Post

The White House is reviewing options to deter a feared Russian invasion of Ukraine, including providing more military aid to Kyiv and threatening sanctions, to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from escalating the simmering conflict into a full-blown transatlantic crisis.


The deliberations come as President Biden and his aides prepare for a virtual call with Putin next month, a moment that analysts see as an opportunity to signal the costs of an invasion to the Kremlin but also present a path for reducing tension.


Amid spiking U.S. concern over unusual movements by Russian troops on the Ukrainian border, Secretary of State Antony Blinken embarked Monday on a trip to Europe, where Washington is looking to consolidate a position among allies at a summit with NATO foreign ministers in Latvia. Blinken will then go to Sweden for a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, also scheduled to be attended by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.


“We will talk about our assessment of what’s happening on Russia’s border with Ukraine, and we will begin that conversation of what are the options that are on the table, and what is it that NATO as an alliance would like to do together?” Karen Donfried, the State Department’s top official for Europe, said ahead of the trip.


Administration officials are trying to craft an approach that neither appeases Russia nor provokes significant escalation, which is harder now than it was nearly eight years ago, when Moscow annexed Crimea and fueled a separatist war in Ukraine’s east that has left more than 13,000 people dead.


The Russian and Ukrainian militaries are more advanced, the West remains divided on how tough to be on Moscow, and Putin has grown increasingly bold about pressing Russia’s claims on Ukraine.


“There has never been a more propitious moment for Putin if he wants to invade Ukraine,” said Fiona Hill, who served as a top Russia adviser in the Trump administration.


The Kremlin denies it is planning an offensive. For weeks, however, U.S. officials have warned publicly and in discussions with allies that they are alarmed about Russian troops near the Ukrainian border. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Thursday said Russia had massed a “large and unusual concentration of forces in the region,” including tanks, artillery, armored units, drones and electronic warfare systems, as well as combat-ready troops. Ukraine says Russia has about 94,000 troops near the border.

The intelligence that worried senior Biden administration officials goes beyond the Russian troop buildup, according to U.S. officials, who declined to be more specific and who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters.


The administration is considering enhanced military aid to Ukraine and weighing potential sanctions or other measures that could be taken before or after an invasion, in addition to reviewing military contingency plans, U.S. officials said.


Washington has also floated the possibility of an in-person summit between Biden and Putin in the first half of 2022, according to people familiar with the matter, a move that might buy time to build unity among allies or revitalize a moribund political process to resolve the military conflict in Ukraine’s east.


The potential meeting was broached by CIA Director William J. Burns in his visit to Moscow earlier this month, they said. The possible in-person meeting was first reported by the Russian newspaper Kommersant. The White House said it had nothing to announce about a meeting.


Ukraine has shored up its defenses since 2014 with Western help. But Ukrainian Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov, the country’s top military intelligence official, this month told the Military Times that Kyiv is seeking additional air, missile and drone defense systems, as well as electronic jamming devices, to help counter rocket and artillery fire.


U.S. officials have said they aren’t sure if Putin is going to attack, or even whether he has reached a decision, noting he could be moving forces near the Ukrainian border as a bargaining strategy with Western powers. After surprising Washington with a similar buildup last spring, Putin landed his first high-profile summit with Biden.


But comments by Putin and other top Russian officials about Ukraine have sharpened in recent months, and that more aggressive rhetoric, combined with the second military buildup, have raised fears the Russian leader may not be bluffing.


“When you say things like, ‘Ukraine does not now and has never had a right to exist as a sovereign state, there is no such thing as the Ukrainian people,’ where does your rhetoric go from there?” a senior Western intelligence officer said. “And where has rhetoric like that led in the past? It has pretty consistently been a prelude to conflict.”


The dilemma, said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a Russia expert at the Center for a New American Security, “is Putin fundamentally cares more about Ukraine than even the United States does. So how do you deter an adversary when there’s such an asymmetry of interests?’’


Andrew S. Weiss, a Russia analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said Putin has failed to achieve his goals in Ukraine, and in fact his aggression has worsened the

security situation on Russia’s western border, revitalized NATO and strengthened anti-Russian sentiment in Ukrainian society.

“For a whole host of reasons, he’ll never admit that, of course, which is part of the reason he continues to see restoring Ukraine to the Kremlin’s sphere of influence as the single most important piece of unfinished business for Russia’s security and his own legacy,” Weiss said.


On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky alleged a group of Russians and Ukrainians were found plotting a coup against him, accusations the Kremlin rejected.


The deteriorating situation presents a new test for the transatlantic alliance, which has embraced Ukraine as a partner rather than an ally. It has provided Kyiv with weaponry, training and support, but stopped short of extending a guarantee of defense that formal NATO membership affords.


Ukrainian officials have warned Moscow could mount a simultaneous multifront invasion from the north, south and east to force a retreat and capitulation by Kyiv. Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov told The Washington Post that a new Russian invasion would be far bloodier and more costly to Europe than the 2014 operation.


The ambiguity about how far NATO would go to defend Ukraine against Russian military action already has sparked debate in Washington and exacerbated divides within the alliance that the Kremlin has sought to exploit.


Samuel Charap, a Russia analyst at the Rand Corporation, argued the United States, faced with limited ability to coerce Putin, should pressure Ukraine into further implementing the moribund 2015 peace deal known as the Minsk II agreement as a symbolic first move to “put the onus on Moscow to de-escalate.”


Ben Hodges, the former commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, said Washington should do the opposite, and apply diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Moscow. “Nothing in Russia’s history should cause anybody to think for one second that giving in to them will cause them to say, ‘okay, we’re good,’ ” Hodges said. “I believe they really do only respect strength.”


The top Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees sent a letter to the Pentagon last week urging the administration to do more to shore up Ukraine’s military and expressing concern that the United States hasn’t taken more aggressive action.


Kendall-Taylor said the upcoming call is a chance to convey the costs of an invasion and emphasize that it would change the security situation in Europe. “The U.S. would have no choice but to position more forces in Europe,” Kendall-Taylor said.


U.S. officials say they realize meetings alone are not off ramps. “There’s this tension between getting rid of the crisis in the near term — let’s throw another summit at Putin — and the longer-term imperative,” said one official. “If you offer concessions, what do you teach them and China? You teach them to manufacture crises because you get concessions.”

The Biden administration’s response is also sure to be watched closely elsewhere around the world, perhaps most notably in China, where Beijing’s stance on Taiwan in many ways mirrors Russia’s approach to Ukraine.

The latest challenge over Ukraine comes as Europe grapples with an energy crisis that has highlighted its dependency on Russian gas, and as the continent faces a leadership transition in

Germany. Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel for years took the lead on European diplomacy toward Ukraine.


Hill, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Europe must “step up to meet this challenge.” Any further incursion by Russia into Ukraine, which has been established as an independent nation for 30 years, she said, poses a “massive challenge to the territorial integrity of every other European state.”