Did Obama Sell Out Ukraine in a Quid Pro Quo for Syria?

People light candles during a religious service at a church in KievWhat are we to make of the headline: US to Putin: Don’t send troops into Ukraine.” Or this one: White House warns Russia not to get military involved in Ukraine conflict” Or this one from overseas: “US tells Russia to keep troops out of Ukraine . . . “ 

Each article referred to Susan Rice, the National Security Advisor, who in response to a question on NBC’s “Meet the Press” program yesterday said that for Russia to intervene militarily in Ukraine would be a “grave mistake.” I don’t know why Ms Rice didn’t say something to the effect, “We Don’t See That Happening” or “Democracies don’t invade other democracies.” That she answered as if it was a probability made me wonder what information the White House is dealing with that we don’t know. Does she have information Putin is contemplating such an action? It seems something is in the wind for her not to dismiss it out of hand. Is she trying to do another Benghazi?

If the headlines in a newspaper were, “U.S tells Germany to keep its troops out of France,” what would you think? I suppose the first thing you’d say to yourself is why is the U.S. doing that? Is there some reason people in the U.S. believe Germany plans to attack France?

Whatever is going on, even the Canadian Citizenship Minister Chris Alexander indicated Canada too will take steps to punish Russia for interfering with Ukraine. (The latter article has telling photographs.) British Foreign Secretary William Hague said: “It would really not be in the interests of Russia to do any such thing.”

Everyone is acting like they know more than they are letting on. We know the West will not do anything militarily to help the Ukrainian people. The Russians have a free hand to go in militarily should Putin desire to do this. He is in a dire position. His most fervent goal since he’s been in office is to have “Ukraine as a key part in a union of ex-Soviet states . . . Without Ukraine’s 46 million people, Putin’s dreams will be smashed.

Maybe things aren’t what they seem. Maybe Putin was told by Obama that there will only Potemkin-village like threats, as Susan Rice just performed, but that they will fade like jelly fish put out in the hot sun given a couple of weeks.

As any student of history knows, there are always things we see and things we don’t see in dealings between nations. In World War II the US and Britain gave Poland to Stalin to keep him happy; and they forcibly returned all those who tried to get out of Stalin’s grasp. During the Cuban Missile crises Kennedy made a secret agreement with Khrushchev to take our missiles out of Turkey.

How then do we know that President Obama has not made a secret deal with Putin to the effect he can invade Ukraine, we’ll make noise and really do nothing else, and in exchange he will back us on taking the splinter of Syria out of Obama’s foot.

Here’s what we know: Obama and Putin spoke for an hour Friday. On Saturday,Russia joined the United States in passing a resolution at the United Nations on Syria.  This was a change of heart for the Russians. Its ambassador to the UN said:“many Russian considerations were borne in mind and as a result the document took on a balanced nature.” On Sunday, we heard from Susan Rice.

An article analyzing these matters noted: “And the United States also cannot afford a confrontation with Russia that could further complicate U.S. goals in the Syrian civil war, in the Iranian nuclear negotiations, disarmament issues, and on other fronts. Russia has a unique ability to be a spoiler for U.S. foreign policy goals, analysts say. One sign of Russia’s importance to U.S. goals was adoption by the United Nations Security Council on Saturday of a resolution aimed at opening the way for humanitarian supplies to reach the Syrian civil war victims. Western diplomats have long been pushing for such a resolution, but it was held up by resistance from Russia and China, who voted for it Saturday.’ 

On thing we know is that Putin does nothing out of the goodness of his heart; for him to give us something, he will have taken something back.

What’s queer about the whole thing is that Friday’s agreement in Kyiv, reached after all-night talks, for a cease-fire and early elections which was facilitated by France, Germany, Poland and Ukraine’s President Yanukovych was opposed by the Russians who didn’t sign on to it. Yet allegedly Putin says he told Obama he wants to be part of any agreement. Then Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told US Secretary of State John Kerry “the most important thing now is to provide for the complete fulfillment” [of the EU-brokered agreement.] “The Ukrainian opposition is deviating from the agreement, having in effect seized power in Kiev, refused to disarm and continued to place its bets on violence.” Only the Russians could refuse to support a deal and then when the deal goes south and against them insist on the deal being implemented.

This sounds very much like a Yalta type dealing and again the Ukrainian people are going to be given over to the Russians as many were in Operation Keelhaul when almost all people who fled from Soviet tyranny during WWII to the West were forcibly returned to Stalin’s gulags.

The bottom line is this: the Ukrainian people want to decide who they will deal with by themselves. For three months in the bitter cold they stood in Maidan seeking that right. They did that because they did not want to again be enslaved by Russia. Russia should have no role in what the Ukrainians decide for themselves.

When the Obama Administration says it will be working: “with our allies, with Russia, and with appropriate European and international organizations to support a strong, prosperous, unified and democratic Ukraine,” it seems to me it is showing that Obama has made a side deal with Putin. The Ukrainians want the Russians out; why then is the United States trying to push them back in.

PS: The New York Times published an op-ed suggesting Russia will not interfere in Ukraine. It is full of internal inconsistencies which reminded me of the Times’s Walter Duranty.  So beware of NY Times stories on Ukraine.

This is shown in this op-ed where the writer states: “Moscow’s gesture of support was built on the belief, which Putin himself has expressed, that Ukrainians and Russians are one people. This obviously is not true, if only because Ukrainians themselves are not —— at least not yet — one people.” He fails to mention that Ukrainians never thought themselves as one people with the Russians despite what the Russians might think. They have fought for centuries for their freedoms.

5 replies on “Did Obama Sell Out Ukraine in a Quid Pro Quo for Syria?”

  1. Hand-held anti-aircraft missiles pretty much turned the tide against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Once the Red Army’s low altitude air support (particularly helicopter gunships) was negated, their counter-insurgency campaign went down-hill. The EU, and, US, must make the latest stinger type anti-aircraft weapons available to Ukraine, if they seriously expect Ukraine to make a fight of it. There can’t be any dithering, as was the case in Syria. Things are moving fast. Real decisions have to be made.

    Elmer: If you can spare some time, keep us all informed of the feeling on the street. You seem like a guy who’d be very busy taking part in the defense of his country, so, I won’t be surprised if you can’t comment for awhile. Good luck, and, God keep you.

  2. Look’s like Putin is about to push most of the Kremlin’s chips into the center of the poker table. Obama is making stern, but, vague, threats. Is he really going to see Putin’s raise? Does Obama believe Putin is just trying to buy the game? There are pro-Russian demonstrations going on in Donetsk, and, Harkiv. Rumors have it that some public buildings in those cities have already been seized by the protestors. As Elmer has informed us, plain-clothes Spetnaz/FSB personal are probably already there, mixing with the crowds.
    The media talking-heads are nuts. The Russians are going to invade Ukraine to take over not only Crimea, but, also, the eastern Oblasts. If they succeed, and, there’s nothing to stop them, Ukraine will lose its mineral wealth, bread-basket, and, industrial base. The rump, consisting of Kyiv, and, the western oblasts, would integrate with the West. Ukraine would likely get NATO membership as part of a quid-pro-quo arrangement recognizing the Russian occupation, and, assimilation, of the eastern oblasts, and, Crimea.

    All my prognosticating is based on the notion that Ukraine will fold when faced with a Russian military invasion. There is also a counter-scenario. In that scenario, Ukraine militarily resists the invasion. RT-TV is putting out the line that CIA/SF have been training guerillas in Poland, and, Lithuania.
    Matt thinks the Ukrainian military are too cozy with the Russians to be depended on. Perhaps, but that’s been the opinion before. In 1943 OUN-B ordered all the police units recruited by the Nazis to desert with their weapons, and, reinforce UPA. They did. UPA successfully battled all comers for better than a decade. UPA’s downfall came when they were infiltrated by Soviet intelligence agents, and, overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the Kremlin’s counter-insurgency effort in Ukraine. A guerilla struggle would be a costly uphill battle, against heavy odds, but, the patriotic truculence consistently displayed by the Maidan fighters makes me think they are up for it. The Svoboda lads seem particularly eager to see where the iron crosses grow.

    Well…, this situation certainly puts the finish to all those boring days, whiling away the hours with cribbage games, and, day-dreams, down in ICBM silo launch-centers. Those formerly idle officers are probably very busy re-targeting their missiles. Watch the Atomic Clock, the big hand is starting to move, again.

    1. Khalid:

      Thanks for the comment. I’ve been watching the Ukraine situation with fascination. My post today touches upon America’s failure under Obama’s leadership.

      I can’t figure out what Obama told Putin that seems to have made Putin more defiant. Two conversations, one public warning, and Putin, as you say, is all in with his chips. You only do that when you’re either totally desperate or highly sure you go a winning hand. It seems Obama’s threat back to Putin was that we wouldn’t participate in preparatory meetings for the G-8 summit in Sochi. That was sure to have put great fear in Putin’s heart.

      Ukraine’s new navy chief just folded his navy into the Soviet embrace; its army base on Crimea is surrounded by Russian soldiers. If they defend themselves that give Putin greater reason to go in to save the people he already sent in. I still don’t see the Ukrainian army in those outposts such as Crimea or eastern Ukraine putting up any resistence. I’m told that during Yanukovich’s rule that he purged the army of officers who leaned toward Ukraine replacing them with Russian-types. Even had that not happened, I think the Ukraine army would have been so overwhelmed by the Russian blitzkreig-like attackes that resistance would be futile. Remember, the battlefield usually goes to he who controls the air – that’s why the US has been so succesful in its wars. But there will be a difference, although the troops in the Ukrainian army will not fight back they will disappear into the countryside and take up arms with the people who have fought in Maidan. There won’t be great army battles as we’ve seen in the past, it will be back to hit and run attacks.
      Right now I can’t disagree too much with your assessment but there are things to know about in Ukraine which perhaps may cause Putin’s plans not to turn out as well as he wants.
      His incursion into Crimea has made Russia lose a great part of the rest of Ukraine forever. Whatever happens in the west, it will never be ruled by Russia again other than through the use of huge military force; and, they are saying in that part of Ukraine to the Russians, “you think Afghanistan was tough well wait until you get here.” There will be enormous resistence to the Russians. There’s also the fact that most Russian speaking Ukrainians consider themselves Ukrainian and not Russian. They will also look upon Russia as an invading force and treat it accordingly. So Putin’s gamble may turn out not to be such a good thing after all.

      As far a Lithuania and Poland are concerned, they will be useful in any armed resistance to the Russians. Like with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, modern arms will flow into Ukraine to resist the Russians. Obama needs to pick up his game as do the rest of the European countries. Putin may come to realize the days of might being right no longer exist. It’ll be a hard come down for him but if the US and Europe finds courage they can stop him.

      I noted in my post that what is most disturbing is America’s lack of preparation for this event. Obama’s calls to Putin show weakness. Why is it we are so unprepared for things like this and Syria?

  3. The Russians are scrambling to find a replacement for Yanuchyvich. They’ll raise some Russophile politician from the East as their new puppet. He’ll be a “Janos Kadar” type, pliant, eastern-bloc politician. Or, Putin might give Tymoshenko another whirl. She’s done lots of business with him before, but, her problem is that she may not be acceptable to the folks at the Maidan. I noticed the Maidan fighters don’t like being manipulated by old school political leaders, or, parties. It showed great spirit to set that fire-extinguisher off in “Klitch”s face. If the big man has been graced with a pleasant US State Department nickname, it’s a good indication he’s Obama’s pick to lead Ukraine.
    Maidan is the reification of an anti-structural political space. Victor Turner described periods of anti-structure as those moments when all the moral valences of life are switched to neutral, and, society’s “normal” social structures broken, rebuilt, then, broken again, as ideas circulate through the collective consciousness. Sometimes, past structures just disappear. The internal dialectic of the collective consciousness runs wild, accepting, and, discarding, political forms, trying them on, so to speak, seeing if they fit.
    Traditional societies, knowing the power, and, unpredictable nature, of these re-birthing moments, hedge them in with ritual, often, in “coming of age” ceremonies. Political anti-structuralism has no such restraints. It’s completely ungoverned “balls to the wall” anarchy at its creative best.

    Elmer: Be careful, man. Don’t take any wooden nickels. Good Luck to everybody on the barricades.

  4. your post is absolutely outstanding

    a little info on Russian presence in Ukraine:


    The documents show that the snipers on Instytutska Street near Ukraine’s government district were special units of Interior Ministry troops, led by a colonel and soliders with a special Omega unit. According to the documents, former Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko gave the order to use weapons to the Sokil unit, the main department of combating organized crimes.

    According to the documents, the former first deputy of the Main Intelligence Directorate of Russia stayed at the Kyiv Hotel and helped with preparations, getting paid by the Security Services of Ukraine. Russian officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

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