How NATO Jabs Russia on Ukraine

Exclusive: The U.S. mainstream media portrays the Ukraine crisis as a case of Russian “imperialism,” but the reality is that Moscow has been reacting to aggressive moves by Washington to expand NATO to Russia’s border in violation of a post-Cold War pledge, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov used Wednesday’s interview with Bloomberg News to address the overriding issue regarding the future of Ukraine, at least from Moscow’s perspective. Speaking in fluent English, he said Russia would be “categorically against” Ukraine joining NATO.

Lavrov said he welcomed the interviewer’s question regarding whether Ukraine can be part of NATO, recognizing it as a chance to shoehorn background information into the interview. It was an opportunity to explain Moscow’s position to a wide English-speaking international audience – first and foremost Americans. His comments seemed partly aimed at those so malnourished on “mainstream media” that they might be learning the history of NATO enlargement for the first time. Lavrov said:

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“In my view, it all started … back in the 1990s, when in spite of all the pronouncements about how the Cold War was over and that there should be no winners – yet, NATO looked upon itself as a winner.”

Lavrov said U.S. and NATO reneged on a series of commitments: not to enlarge the Alliance; then (after NATO was expanded contrary to that commitment), not to deploy substantial forces on the territories of new NATO members; and then not to move NATO infrastructure to the Russian border.

“All these commitments have been, to one degree or another, violated,” said Lavrov, adding that “attempts to draw Ukraine into NATO would have a negative impact on the entire system of European security.” Lavrov said Russia’s national security interests and 25 years of recent history make this a key problem, not only for Ukraine and NATO, but also “an issue of Russia.”

Is Lavrov distorting the history? The answer is important – the more so inasmuch as the information needed to form cogent judgments is rarely found in the U.S. “mainstream media.” What happened in the months immediately before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall on Nov. 9/10, 1989, is key to understanding Russia’s attitude now.

No Dancing

To his credit, President George H. W. Bush sent a reassuring message to the Soviets, saying, “I will not dance on the Berlin wall.” And just three weeks after it fell, Bush flew to Malta for a two-day summit with Gorbachev.

At a joint press conference on Dec. 3, 1989, Gorbachev said, “We are at the beginning of a long road to a lasting, peaceful era. The threat of force, mistrust, psychological and ideological struggle should all be things of the past.”

In the same vein, Bush spoke of a new future just begun “right here in Malta” – one of lasting peace and enduring East-West cooperation. This came just six months after Bush had publicly called in a major speech in Mainz, West Germany, for “a Europe whole and free.” At the time it did not seem one had to be Pollyanna to hope that flesh could be pinned to the bones of that rhetoric.

According to Jack Matlock, then-U.S. ambassador to the U.S.S.R. who took part in the Malta summit, the most basic agreement involved (1) Gorbachev’s pledge not to use force in Eastern Europe where the Russians had 24 divisions (some 350,000 troops) in East Germany alone, and (2) Bush’s promise not to “take advantage” of a Soviet withdrawal from Eastern Europe.

In early February 1990, Bush sent Secretary of State James Baker to work out the all-important details directly with Gorbachev and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. Ambassador Matlock again was there and took careful notes on the negotiations, which focused on German reunification.

From memory, Matlock told me that Baker tried to convince Gorbachev that it was in Moscow’s interest to let a united Germany remain in NATO. Matlock recalled that Baker began his argument saying something like, “Assuming there is no expansion of NATO jurisdiction to the East, not one inch, what would you prefer, a Germany embedded in NATO, or one that can go independently in any direction it chooses.” [emphasis added]

The implication was that Germany might just opt to acquire nuclear weapons, were it not anchored in NATO. Gorbachev answered that he took Baker’s argument seriously, and wasted little time in agreeing to the deal.

Ambassador Matlock, one of the most widely respected experts on Russia, told me “the language used was absolute, and the entire negotiation was in the framework of a general agreement that there would be no use of force by the Soviets and no ‘taking advantage’ by the U.S.”

He added, “I don’t see how anybody could view the subsequent expansion of NATO as anything but ‘taking advantage,’ particularly since, by then, the U.S.S.R. was no more and Russia was hardly a credible threat.”

In his book Superpower Illusions, Matlock wrote that NATO enlargement was a function
of U.S. domestic politics not of foreign policy strategic thinking. It seems he got that right, too.

Tough Guy Clinton

From the campaign trail on Oct. 22, 1996, two weeks before he defeated Bob Dole for a second term as president, Bill Clinton used NATO enlargement to advertise his assertiveness in foreign policy and America’s status as the “world’s indispensable nation.” Clinton bragged about proposing NATO enlargement at his first NATO summit in 1994, saying it “should enlarge steadily, deliberately, openly.” He never explained why.

President Clinton, thus, reneged on the pledges made by Baker to Gorbachev and Shevardnadze. Clinton lamely called upon Russia to view NATO’s enlargement as an arrangement that will “advance the security of everyone.”

Clinton’s tough-guy-ism toward Russia was, in part, a response to even more aggressive NATO plans from Clinton’s Republican opponent Bob Dole, who had been calling for incorporating Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary as full members of NATO and had accused Clinton of “dragging his feet” on this. Clinton was not about to be out-toughed.

Those three countries joined NATO in 1999, starting a trend. By April 2009, nine more countries became members, bringing the post-Cold War additions to 12 – equal to the number of the original 12 NATO states.

Clinton made what quintessential Russian specialist Ambassador George Kennan called a “fateful error.” Writing in the New York Times on Feb. 5, 1997, Kennan asserted: “Expanding NATO would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold-war era.”

“Such a decision may be expected to inflame the nationalistic, anti-Western and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion; to have an adverse effect on the development of Russian democracy; to restore the atmosphere of the cold war to East-West relations, and to impel Russian foreign policy in directions decidedly not to our liking.”

If you are the “sole indispensable” country in the world, though, you are sorely tempted not to heed the worrywarts.

Seeds of a Crisis

On Wednesday, Lavrov said the seeds of the current Ukraine crisis were sown in April 2008 during the NATO summit in Bucharest when NATO leaders stated in a declaration that “Georgia and Ukraine will be in NATO.”

Were Lavrov not the consummate diplomat, he might have also told his interviewer that, two months before the Bucharest summit, he had warned U.S. Ambassador to Russia William J. Burns to anticipate a strong Russian reaction to including Ukraine and Georgia in NATO. But diplomats don’t generally permit themselves an “I told you so.”

Thanks to Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning and WikiLeaks, we have the text of a State Department cable dated Feb. 1, 2008, from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow bearing the unusual title:  “NYET MEANS NYET: RUSSIA’S NATO ENLARGEMENT REDLINES.”

The IMMEDIATE precedence that the cable bears shows that Ambassador Burns (now Deputy Secretary of State) was addressing a priority issue under active consideration in Washington.  Though it was six years ago, Burns interlocutor was the same Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Here is Burns’s introductory summary of his discussions with Lavrov:

“Summary. Following a muted first reaction to Ukraine’s intent to seek a NATO membership action plan at the [upcoming] Bucharest summit, Foreign Minister Lavrov and other senior officials have reiterated strong opposition, stressing that Russia would view further eastward expansion as a potential military threat. NATO enlargement, particularly to Ukraine, remains ‘an emotional and neuralgic’ issue for Russia, but strategic policy considerations also underlie strong opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia.

“In Ukraine, these include fears that the issue could potentially split the country in two, leading to violence or even, some claim, civil war, which would force Russia to decide whether to intervene.”

Ambassador Burns continued: “Russia has made it clear that it would have to ‘seriously review’ its entire relationship with Ukraine and Georgia in the event of NATO inviting them to join. This could include major impacts on energy, economic, and political-military engagement, with possible repercussions throughout the region and into Central and Western Europe.”

Burns’s closing comment: “Russia’s opposition to NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia is both emotional and based on perceived strategic concerns about the impact on Russia’s interest in the region. … While Russian opposition to the first round of NATO enlargement in the mid-1990s was strong, Russia now feels itself able to respond more forcefully to what it perceives as actions contrary to its national interests.”

We don’t know whether Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice read Burns’s prescient remarks, but Lavrov’s warning clearly fell on deaf ears. On April 3, 2008, the NATO summit in Bucharest issued a formal declaration that “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.”

Now, with events quickly spinning out of control in Ukraine, some policymakers need to tell President Obama that there can be even bigger trouble ahead, if Russia’s national security interests are not taken into account.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his 27-year career as a CIA analyst, he was chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and was posted briefly to the Soviet Union. He is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

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14 comments on “How NATO Jabs Russia on Ukraine

  1. Tjoe on said:

    Obama is the rabid dog for Israel. AIPAC controls most US politicians through money AND fear. They (warmonger US politicians) work for Israel now not the US citizen.

    • mdt187 on said:

      This is hardly about AIPAC and Israel, except that the US needs Israel for the US’s own expansion of interests into, you guessed it, Russia. Everything the US is doing in the Mideast is about Russia. It’s not about Israel. Israel is a tool.

  2. Joe Tedesky on said:

    Every time I read about American treaties I can’t help but think of the Native Americans.

  3. Eric Zuesse on said:

    This is an enormously important historical account, which establishes clearly that what Obama is now doing is mega-criminal.

  4. lucaslopes123@yahoo.com on said:

    suck obama

  5. F. G. Sanford on said:

    @ Eric Zuesse:
    I have to laugh at the idea that people think Obama is actually in charge. The articles about crypto-Nazis appearing on this site document, albeit superficially, the fascist elements operating in our government since at least the mid-thirties. Bill Clinton just addressed the Peter G. Peterson (right wing-nut, crypto-fascist, anti-labor, anti-medicare, anti-Social Security, anti-wage and tax reform) Foundation and warned that, “Putin wants to re-establish Russian greatness, but in the Czarist Empire sense”. When anyone criticizes Hillary, there are immediate cries of “misogynistic lies” and “slanderous vilification”. But if Karl Rove, grandson of the SS Austrian Nazi Gauleiter, can’t get Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush or Paul Ryan elected, his next choice is Hillary Clinton. The LAST thing our shadow government wants is a candidate from outside of the parasitical political class. Any time a comment defends Hillary or belittles her detractors, I have to assume they are actually right wing trolls. This whole charade intended to portray the illusion of democratic choice should have crumbled with the announcement that Joe Biden’s son has been named to the board of Ukraine’s largest gas company. Even Hitler shunned that kind of nepotism – he fired his nephew William who fled to Britain and later joined the U.S. Navy. The “Drang Nach Osten” will continue regardless of which party’s puppet is in the White House. If it isn’t war-mongering against Iran or Syria, it’ll be war-mongering against Russia or China. “Fascism Means War” was a political slogan from the 1930′s. War is the only thing we’ve had since 1945, and the only guy that ever tried to stop it got his brains splattered all over the back of a Lincoln Continental. Can anybody really blame Obama?

    • lynn on said:

      You got it right until the last sentence. Of course I blame Obama. One always has choices, even when those choices may not be palatable. Chelsea Manning, Ed Snowden, Tom Drake, Tom Tamm, John Kiriakou, and so many others made the right choices regardless of the consequences they knew would be coming. That’s the difference between being a morally corrupt traitor and being an American hero.

    • nuyorwegian on said:

      @ F. G. Sanford:

      I agree that the ruling elite of the US are moving the country towards fascism and that there have been elements within the US governing class promoting this at least since the 1930s as you say. But to suggest as you do that; “Any time a comment defends Hillary or belittles her detractors, I have to assume they are actually right wing trolls.” is utterly ridiculous. Surely you must be aware that there is a great deal of slander directed at Hillary Clinton of a blatantly misogynist nature that is based on total fabrication. I personally abhor her politics. I oppose virtually everything she stands for. But I oppose slander based on lies and hatred even when directed against my political enemies. Many of Hillary Clinton’s detractors are in fact reprehensible and richly deserving of condemnation. To make such a condemnation should not be interpreted as support for Hillary Clinton unless such support is made explicit.

      As for laughing “at the idea that people think Obama is actually in charge”; are you suggesting that somehow Obama has been deprived of all volition? Obviously (to you and me at least) he was selected to be elected by the aforementioned ruling elite with a fascistic agenda. Certainly he would not have been chosen had they not had faith that he would serve their interests. But is he not still responsible for his actions (as we all are)? Do you honestly think that he ran for President ignorant of whose interests he would be required to serve? Within the framework of serving those interests there is still a great deal of latitude for Presidential action. You seem to be suggesting that it is wrong to hold Obama accountable for criminal actions because who could blame him for fearing for his life! If he had such fears he should never have run for president.

      I also take issue with the suggestion that JFK was assassinated because he “tried to stop” the permanent war footing of the US since 1945. I have yet to see any concrete evidence of that. There is a great deal of circumstantial evidence that there was a conspiracy to kill him followed by a cover-up with the use of Oswald as a patsy. But this does not equate with the determination of motive. Considering Kennedy’s prior views and policies one would have to believe that he had something akin to a conversion experience whereby he reversed his position on war but that this was never revealed to the public and was only known to those who plotted to kill him.

      • F. G. Sanford on said:

        Why, thank you. I think your indictment is more poignant than mine. The goal of any intellectual endeavor is to get beyond the labels and examine the truth they are intended to conceal. To that extent, this conversation has accomplished a little “peeling” of the labels.

  6. dharmasyd@yahoo.com on said:

    Powerful statement, F.G. Sanford. and one with which, sadly, I cannot disagree. Led by hubris, it seems, we stumble toward our death. May the true diplomacy of ones like Lavrov be recognized and light the way.!

  7. Paul G. on said:

    “Russia has made it clear that it would have to ‘seriously review’ its entire relationship with Ukraine and Georgia in the event of NATO inviting them to join. This could include major impacts on energy, economic, and political-military engagement, with possible repercussions throughout the region and into Central and Western Europe.”

    You can’t say they weren’t warned. Now Russia protects the two breakaway provinces of Georgia and plays games with the “borders”. Of course , it didn’t help when Georgia’s idiot President Michael Saakashvili started a war with Russia by bombarding Tskhinvali, capital of breakaway S. Ossetia, in August 2008. He quickly got his army’s ass kicked and routed all the way to Gori (Stalin’s old home town). This while Georgia had two thousand troops in Afganistan trying to show the exclusive NATO club what a worthy member the little country would be. Georgia’s population is less than half that of Moscow.

    Misha’s rashness actually set back the efforts for membership because the wiser members weren’t interested in having a loose canon in the club. Now Misha is gone, a guest professor at Tufts and consultant to the new Kiev regime, and afraid of arrest in his own country; so Georgia is eager to get back on the path to NATO.

    For good reason, long bad experiences with the Soviets, Georgians are afraid of the bear. Unfortunately they do not realize that the longed for protection of NATO is also the only reason for Russian irritation with them.

    On the other hand many of the packaged products on Georgian shelves are from Russia and almost everyone over 25 speaks both Russian and Georgian. The new government is trying to improve relations with Russia, but are still hot to join NATO. Unwittingly they are becoming a pawn in the neo-cold war.

    Make commerce not war.

  8. Mateusz G. on said:

    It is interesting how this article does not take the involved central and eastern european countries into account. Without NATO enlargement those countries would be in a constant threat from Russia. The thing is, both the governments of those countries and people wanted to join NATO. If Russia was let to decide about the future of those countries nothing would have changed after the end of the Cold War. Why do you think those countries wanted to join NATO? Was it really just some american propaganda, or maybe they were afraid about future russian imperialism?

  9. John Frank on said:

    I appreciate Mr. McGovern setting out the history of NATO expansion.

    Former Ambassador Jack Matlock has a slightly different take on matters:

    NATO Expansion: Was There A Promise?

    In any event, it is clear that the Russian Federation takes strong exception to the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO and with valid reason.

    Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister made this quite clear in the referenced Bloomberg interview. People may also want to read:

    Dragging Ukraine into NATO negative for European security – Lavrov

    The Ukrainian crisis could have been avoided.

    Instead of seeking to ensure compliance with the February 21 agreement, the President and his team opted to side with the opposition forces in the Euromaidan lead by the national socialist militia Pravy Sektor and the national socialist Svoboda Party.

    The situation was made worse when President Yanukovych ordered the Berkut Security forces back to the barracks, allowing the opposition militias lead by the Pravy Sektor to take control.

    As a result, the opposition militias were able to force President Yanukovych and his team to flee Kyiv.

    A coalition of opposition parties, including the Svoboda Party were then able to take power from the Party of Regions, through the use of force and intimidation both within and outside of the Ukrainian Parliament.

    Upon taking power, the coalition of opposition parties proceed to remove President Yanukovych from office in a manner that was not carried out in accord with the Constitution.

    The Ukrainian Parliament then appointed the speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, Oleksandr Turchynov as Acting President, to hold office until elections scheduled for May 25 were held and Arseniy Yatsenyuk as interim Prime Minister, with members of the new governing coalition taking positions in Yatsenyuk’s cabinet, including representatives from the Svoboda Party.

    The governing coalition, lead by the Svoboda Party proceeded to repeal the 2012 Language Law which protected the use of the Russian language. Although this repeal was ultimately vetoed by the acting President, the intent of the new governing coalition is clear.

    As Brian Padden of the Voice of America reported yesterday, many of the positions of Oleh Tyahnybok, the head of the Svoboda Party now reflect the nationalist mainstream views.

    On the issue of language Tyahnybok stated:

    “My position and the position of the Svoboda party is the following: the only national language is Ukrainian, and that’s not even under discussion, and we will not give in to any concession on that. But in everyday life people can use any language they like,” he said.

    The categorization by Mr. Padden of the Svoboda Party being of the right is interesting, given the parties national socialist agenda. It would be better to classify national socialist parties as being of the radical left, but I digress.

    All of these steps, caused significant alarm among the ethnic Russian population in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine. Despite strong objections from the Russian Federation, the President and his team having recognized the new Ukrainian governing coalition and interim Ukrainian Government as “a reflection of democracy,” proceeded to largely reject these concerns, in essence saying “to the victor goes the spoils.”

    Some have endeavored to explain away the steps taken by the Obama administration up to, during and since this crucial period by suggesting that the President was not fully in control of his foreign policy and that he was somewhat taken aback by events, in essence being presented with a “fait accompli.”

    Unless one believes that Barack Obama is a mix of Mr MaGoo and Sargent Schultz, this effort to alleviate the President from responsibility for his own foreign policy is fallacious. All of the key players within the administration who implemented his Ukrainian foreign policy, including John Kerry, Samantha Power, Geoffrey Pyatt, Victoria Nuland, Susan Rice, James Clapper, John Brennan, Martin Dempsey and Jacob Lew were either nominated to to their present positions by the President and approved by the Senate, or appointed by the President.

    What is perhaps most troubling about the events that took place during this crucial period is that President Obama and his team placed America on the side of a governing coalition in the Ukrainian Parliament and an interim Ukrainian government that:

    1. Was put into power by militias lead by neo-Nazis;

    The Pravy Sektor has transformed itself into a political party, while many of its members have been absorbed into the new Ukrainian National Guard.

    Under the leadership of the Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, this has resulted in acts of violence being carried out against those opposed to the new Governing coalition, including the massacre in Odessa, the violence in Maripul and the killings in Krasnoarmeysk.

    Avakov resides in Kharkiv, Ukraine and is a member of the Batkivshchyna political party lead by Yulia Tymoshenko.

    2. Includes a political party and members of that party in the interim Government which the European Parliament on 13 December 2012 resolved:

    “8. Is concerned about the rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine, expressed in support for the Svoboda Party, which, as a result, is one of the two new parties to enter the Verkhovna Rada; recalls that racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views go against the EU’s fundamental values and principles and therefore appeals to pro-democratic parties in the Verkhovna Rada not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party;”
    European Parliament Resolution of December 13, 2012

    3. Repealed the 2012 Language Law at the urging of the Svoboda Party;

    Even though the bill repealing the 2012 Language Law was ultimately vetoed by the acting President, the damage had been done.

    Despite the acting President’s veto, the repeal of the 2012 Language Law was one of the most significant factors that ultimately resulted in the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol joining the Russian Federation.

    4. Largely represents the interests of western Ukraine, given the dominant role played by the Batkivshchyna and Svoboda parties, instead of being a national governing coalition as envisioned by the February 21 agreement which would have ensured representation from all parts of Ukraine;

    The result is many in eastern and southern Ukraine view the Parliamentary governing coalition and interim Government as being unrepresentative of their interests.

    For more on the issue of language and minorities in Ukraine read pages 96 – 109 of the OSCE Human Rights Assessment Mission Report dated May 8, 2014, covering the period March 6 to April 1.

    Also, people will want to read the White Book on violation of Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Ukraine for the period November 2013 – March 2014 prepared by Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation and released on May 5, 2014.

    All of this begs a few questions:

    A. Why has much of the American media ‘white washed’ how the governing Parliamentary coalition in Ukraine came to power? Why has the American media largely ignored the European Parliament resolution concerning the Svoboda Party? Why has much of the American media downplayed, denigrated or simply ignored the concerns of the ethnic Russian and Russian speaking populations in Ukraine, while playing up those of the Ukrainian majority, while ignoring or downplaying the glowing support for the Nazi in parts of western Ukraine?

    A. What was Congress thinking when passing legislation to authorize a billion dollar loan guarantee, along with additional executive authority to impose braoader sanctions against the Russian Federation?

    B. What was the President thinking when he signed this bill into law?

    C. What was the IMF thinking when approval was granted to a seventeen billion dollar loan facility?

    D. Did Congress, the President and the IMF not care that the governing Parliamentary coalition in Ukraine included a political party that the European Parliament had urged not be part of any governing coalition? That this governing coalition had come to power through the use of violence, threats and intimidation? That this governing coalition does not fully represent all of the regions of Ukraine in keeping with the February 21 agreement? That the Ukrainian Cabinet not only included members of the Svoboda party, but was comprised of members who largely represented the interests of western Ukraine to the detriment of the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine?

    The reality is that the West lead by the President and his team were exercising their power in effecting political change within Ukraine in furtherance of their perceived interests; and issues such as who carried out the dirty work, whether or not the new governing coalition includes a political party that should be black balled and that this new governing coalition is titled towards the interests of western Ukraine to the detriment of others fell by the wayside.

    This effort was propelled forward in the face of the Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol joining the Russian Federation as a result of what many perceived as gross violation of international law and norms. This lead to much of the media abandoning their role as free press. What had previously happened was simply ignored. Instead the moral outrage claimed by the President and his team, and much of official Washington, along with that of leaders in other capitals in the West towards Vladimir Putin was amplified leading to some ridiculous and outrageous rhetoric. The situation with Crimea could have been resolved through meaningful diplomacy, but instead the President and his team relied on threats and outrage.

    6. Will the election of a Ukrainian President make that much of a difference?

    The President and his team, along with the other members of the Group of Seven nations are now placing much significance on the election of a new President on May 25, while threatening to ‘Bleed’ Russia if the vote is disrupted. Yesterday, Bloomberg News reported that Russia Can’t Be Trusted Over Ukraine, NATO Chief Says. Is that because Sergey Lavrov made it clear during his interview with Bloomberg News that the Russian Federation will not back down in defending its national security interests?

    On February 21, the Ukrainian Parliament reinstated the 2004 Constitution. Unfortunately then President Yanukovych failed to sign the law before leaving Kyiv. While serious questions have been raised about the validity of the Ukrainian Constitutional Court decision in 2010 overturning the 2004 Constution, as matters now stand the Constitution is that passed on June 28, 1996 and readopted on October 1, 2010.

    In essence we are looking at a constitutional Republic with three branches of government that is a unitary system, with obligations and rights that support a democratic socialist agenda, so requiring a dominant role for the State in the affairs of the people.

    Without getting into to much detail, the Parliament makes laws within the scope of its authority, passes an annual budget, approves the President’s nominee for Prime Minister, may force the resignation of the President’s Cabinet due to lack of confidence, has oversight responsibilities, along with the power to appoint a certain number of Judges to the Highest Court and to other administrative bodies as set out in the Constitution.

    Executive authority as set out in the Constitution is vested with the President. The President’s nominee for Prime Minister is subject to the approval of Parliament. The Prime Minister submits a list of Cabinet members to the President for his approval. The Cabinet has certain administrative authority as set out within the Constitution. The President may fire the Cabinet. The President has authority to appoint a certain number of Judges to the Highest Court and to other administrative bodies. The Prosecutor General is nominated by the President and approved by Parliament.

    Laws may be introduced into Parliament by either a People’s Deputy, the President, in certain cases the Cabinet, and in certain cases by the Head of the National Bank. The President has the power to put certain issues to the public by way of referendum.

    Presuming the present governing Parliamentary coalition lead by the Batkivshchyna and Svoboda parties stays together, how much will change in the make up of the Government until the next Parliamentary elections in 2016?

    This question is even more relevant as Petro Poroshenko, who is the leading candidate for President, is running as an independent candidate.

    Recent polls suggest that Poroshenko will likely win the election without the need for a run off.

    With Poroshenko as President, and his desire to move Ukraine towards Europe, Arseniy Yatsenyuk will likely be reappointed as Prime Minister, and the existing Cabinet which includes members of the Batkivshchyna and Svoboda parties will probably be reappointed to their present positions. The Prosecutor General will also most likely be reappointed.

    Poroshenko is running on a law and order platform, while touting his business experience and independence. However, given the makeup of the governing coalition in Parliament, the new Government will likely continue to largely represent the interests of western Ukraine at the expense of the interests of the ethnic Russian and Russian speaking Ukrainian populations in southern and eastern Ukraine. Is it any wonder that this segment of the Ukrainian population may decide to simply not vote in the Presidential election?

    7. Decentralization of power or a federal structure for Ukraine

    While western Ukraine balks at a federal structure, instead offering decentralization of authority, what about those who believe a federal structure for Ukraine is the <a href=http://www.nybooks.com/blogs/nyrblog/2014/may/05/ukraine-only-way-to-peace/ target=blank_best way forward?

    With the decision on Thursday by Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, who is a member of the Svoboda party, to classify the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk republics as terrorist organizations, despite talks in Kharkiv on Saturday, and continued talks scheduled next week, can Ukraine actually hold a meaningful national dialogue with representatives of eastern Ukraine to resolve the present crisis?

    Is the reality that are we now in the midst of a low insurgency civil war, (notice the tone of the Economist article, placing all of the blame on Russia), which is being made worse by the ongoing military operations of the Ukrainian army in eastern Ukraine, which Russia insists be brought to an immediate end, all of which is made worse with the rise of a new pro-Kyiv irregular militia in violation of the Geneva accords?

    As to the article by the Economist, yes people are responsible for their own actions, but maybe if the western media, and especially much of the American media had not so blithely ignored the legitimate concerns of those in southern and eastern Ukraine with how power was stripped from their representatives and taken by interests in western Ukraine, which includes neo-Nazi and fascist elements, while their language and other rights were threatened, the present situation would be different.

    What influence does Ukraine’s richest man who controls much of the economic activity in the Donbass region now have over the situation in eastern Ukraine?

    How will the religious conflict that has developed affect efforts to resolve matters through a national dialogue?

    Throw into this mix the financial problems faced by the Government, as well as the deteriorating economy, along with cuts in subsidies to meet the IMF loan requirements and we are faced with a highly polarized and combustible situation.

    One can only hope that cooler heads prevail, or to put it in the words of Sir Winston Churchill people decide “to jaw, jaw is better than to war, war” while calls for even more sanctions supported by western Ukrainian media and others is resisted.

    My regrets for going on at length. Trusting these comments are of some interest.