The Powerful ‘Group Think’ on Ukraine

Exclusive: Official Washington’s “group think” on Ukraine – blaming everything on Russian President Putin – is so dominant that even independent thinkers like Paul Krugman get sucked into the collective misinformation, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

When even smart people like economist Paul Krugman buy into the false narrative about the Ukraine crisis, it’s hard to decide whether to despair over the impossibility of America ever understanding the world’s problems or to marvel at the power of the U.S. political/media propaganda machine to manufacture its own reality.

On Monday, Krugman’s New York Times column accepts the storyline that Russia’s President Vladimir Putin instigated the Ukraine crisis and extrapolates from that “fact” the conclusion that perhaps the nefarious Putin did so to engineer a cheap land grab or to distract Russians from their economic problems.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivering a speech on the Ukraine crisis in Moscow on March 18, 2014. (Russian government photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivering a speech on the Ukraine crisis in Moscow on March 18, 2014. (Russian government photo)

“Delusions of easy winnings still happen,” Krugman wrote. “It’s only a guess, but it seems likely that Vladimir Putin thought that he could overthrow Ukraine’s government, or at least seize a large chunk of its territory, on the cheap — a bit of deniable aid to the rebels, and it would fall into his lap. …

“Recently Justin Fox of the Harvard Business Review suggested that the roots of the Ukraine crisis may lie in the faltering performance of the Russian economy. As he noted, Mr. Putin’s hold on power partly reflects a long run of rapid economic growth. But Russian growth has been sputtering — and you could argue that the Putin regime needed a distraction.”

Or you could look at the actual facts of how the Ukraine crisis began and realize that it was the West, not Russia, that instigated this crisis. Putin’s response has been reactive to what he perceives as threats posed by the violent overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych and the imposition of a new Western-oriented regime hostile to Moscow and Ukraine’s ethnic Russians.

Last year, it was the European Union that was pushing an economic association agreement with Ukraine, which included the International Monetary Fund’s demands for imposing harsh austerity on Ukraine’s already suffering population. Political and propaganda support for the EU plan was financed, in part, by the U.S. government through such agencies as the National Endowment for Democracy.

When Yanukovych recoiled at the IMF’s terms and opted for a more generous $15 billion aid package from Putin, the U.S. government ratcheted up its support for mass demonstrations aimed at overthrowing Yanukovych and replacing him with a new regime that would sign the EU agreement and accept the IMF’s demands.

As the crisis deepened early this year, Putin was focused on the Sochi Winter Olympics, particularly the threat of terrorist attacks on the games. No evidence has been presented that Putin was secretly trying to foment the Ukraine crisis. Indeed, all the evidence is that Putin was trying to protect the status quo, support the elected president and avert a worse crisis.

Moscow supported Yanukovych’s efforts to reach a political compromise, including a European-brokered agreement for early elections and reduced presidential powers. Yet, despite those concessions, neo-Nazi militias surged to the front of the protests on Feb. 22, forcing Yanukovych and many of his officials to flee for their lives. The U.S. State Department quickly recognized the coup regime as “legitimate.”

Since the new regime also took provocative steps against the ethnic Russians (such as the parliament voting to ban Russian as an official language), resistance arose to the coup regime in the east and south. In Crimea, voters opted overwhelmingly to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, a process supported by Russian troops stationed in Crimea under a prior agreement with Ukraine’s government.

There was no Russian “invasion,” as the New York Times and other mainstream U.S. news outlets claimed. The Russian troops were already in Crimea assigned to Russia’s historic naval base at Sebastopol. Putin agreed to Crimea’s annexation partly out of fear that the naval base would otherwise fall into NATO’s hands and pose a strategic threat to Russia.

But the key point regarding Krugman’s speculation about Putin provoking the crisis so he could seize territory or distract Russians from economic troubles is that Putin only annexed Crimea because of the ouster of Yanukovych. If Yanukovych had not been overthrown, there is no reason to think that Putin would have done anything regarding Crimea or Ukraine.

It’s also true that the Feb. 22 coup was partly engineered by the U.S. government led by Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who had been an adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney and who is married to arch-neocon Robert Kagan, one of the intellectual authors of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Before the Ukraine coup, Nuland, was caught in a phone conversation plotting with the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine about who should replace Yanukovych. After the coup, her choice “Yats” – or Arseniy Yatsenyuk – emerged as the new prime minister and then shepherded through the IMF austerity plan.

But resistance to Kiev’s new rulers soon emerged in eastern Ukraine, which had been Yanukovych’s political base and stood to lose the most from Ukraine’s economic orientation toward Europe and reduced economic ties to Russia. Yet, instead of recognizing these understandable concerns of the eastern Ukrainians, the Western media portrayed the ethnic Russians as simply Putin’s pawns with no minds of their own.

I’m told that Moscow has provided some covert support for the eastern Ukrainian rebels (mostly light weapons), but that Putin has favored a political settlement (similar to what has been proposed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel). The deal would grant eastern Ukraine more autonomy and accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea in exchange for peace in the east and some financial support from Russia for the Kiev government.

Yet, whatever anyone thinks of Putin or the proposed peace deal, it is simply inaccurate to assert a narrative claiming that Putin provoked the current crisis in Ukraine. The opposite is much closer to the truth. It is thus misguided for Krugman or anyone else to extrapolate from this false premise to deduce Putin’s “motives.”

Krugman, who has been one of the few rational voices on issues of global economics in recent years, should know better than anyone how a mistaken “group think” can create assumptions that will lead inevitably to wrongheaded conclusions.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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68 comments on “The Powerful ‘Group Think’ on Ukraine

  1. Berry Friesen on said:

    Robert, thank you for your sustained coverage of the crisis in the Ukraine. Krugman’s piece astonished me too, and recalling the history is an essential part of helping people understand this crisis.

    To your account, I would add the details of the February 21 agreement, which included extensive concessions by Yanukovych (moving up the general elections to December 2014, appointment of a constitutional commission to prepare revisions prior to that time, relinquishment of specific executive powers in the meantime, withdrawal of the riot police from the Maidan). Three or four dissident groups helped negotiate the agreement and were parties to it. They agreed to lay down their arms and disperse from the Maidan.

    The Russian and EU foreign ministers were parties to this agreement too and “guaranteed” it.

    Next day, Yanukovych did as he had promised and the riot police withdrew. Representatives of the dissident groups stood in the Maidan and repudiated the agreement. Armed thugs entered/occupied government buildings to intimidate government ministers and threaten members of the assembly. The occupiers of the Maidan never left.

    EU leaders did not lift a finger to enforce the agreement they had guaranteed.

    When the Russian foreign ministers says that the Kiev regime has a history of not keeping its promises and that the EU has no power to change that, he is right. The rogue regime in Kiev listens only to the U.S.A.

    • turtle on said:

      Nothing astonishing in this disinformative rave from zionist Krugman… Nuland, Cheney, Kagan… spot a pattern?

  2. Michael Gabriel on said:

    Many thanks to Robert Parry for this concise summary of the key facts of which all Americans should be aware. I continue to be amazed at the power of the MSM to control the script concerning such huge and historically significant world developments. Even Paul Krugman cannot escape its spell. I suggest here that a possible smoking gun may exist with respect to the purloined telephone conversation between ambassador Pyatt and Victoria Nuland that was aired (apparently by mistake) by Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC show about 1 week before the Ukranian coup. I urge all who read this to tweet, text or email Rachel Maddow, asking her to reveal how her bosses managed to get her NEVER AGAIN to mention this embarrassing conversation on the air. If we can get her to fess up, perhaps it will open a window into the all too effective MO of the MSM.

  3. “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” – Upton Sinclair from I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked (1935)

  4. “Delusions of easy winnings still happen”:
    War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
    War in Iraq (2003–present)
    Insurgency and coup d’etat in Libya (2011–present)
    Insurgency in Syria (2011–present)
    Insurgency and coup d’etat in Ukraine (2013–present)

  5. According to Romanian military expert and pilot Valentin Vasilescu, the Malaysian Boeing MH-17 was shot down from a gun of a MiG-29 aircraft, rather than a missile.
    http://themillenniumreport.com/2014/08/boeing-777-was-downed-by-ukrainian-mig-29-romanian-expert-says/

    • Ann,

      While yes the Mig 29 is a much better possibility than the Su25.

      Pravada is a conspiracy website, less grounded in reality than the old Soviet newspaper Pravada.

      And I note this Pravada just can’t help but push an Israeli link through the Poles and Mig 29 training. So there’s the whole antisemitic problem too.

      It would be better if this Pravada explained exactly why Ukrainians couldn’t have been flying a Mig29 that day, instead of immediately going with outside forces.

      (And I think neither the Israelis nor the Poles so stupid as to try this kind of idiocy. If you want to speculate, some party with access to a Lockheed F22 might have been stupid enough–but that plane would not show up on any radar the Russians would admit to having.)

    • Zachary Smith on said:

      My reading of the little article had a foreign pilot possibly flying a Ukrainian Mig-29, and the mention of Israel was only incidental.

      I’ve always wondered why the Russians designated the nearby fighters as Su-25s. How can you tell that sort of thing from a radar image, especially in a situation where the airplane sizes are nearly the same.

    • Zachary:

      This says to me a Polish pilot flying a Polish Mig 29:

      “Polish Air Force has 31 MiG-29 jets, 16 of which were re-equipped by specialists of Israel Aerospace Industries.”

      As for Israel, it’s the fact Israel is both listed as the Mig 29 modifier and having pilots specializing in this kind of attack; implication: The Israelis helped the Polish pilot out with this specific attack.

      • Wrong Zach,

        It’s antisemitic to see the hand of the Jewish state everywhere without then citing checkable evidence.

        Abe:

        You’ve confused my objection to antisemitism in Pravada with dismissal of a Mig 29 being the plane used.

        Sorry I pointed out that the Mig 29 was a much better option than the Su 25 at least a week ago.

    • Pravda.ru is a Russian internet news website.

      Yaj, if you’re concerned about “conspiracy” websites, contact theguardian.com or telegraph.co.uk and ask them if they have “seen” any armoured columns lately.

      Poland and Israel have enjoyed military ties since the late 1990s. In fact, Israel recent supplied Poland with upgrades of the Mig-29 fighter. http://world.einnews.com/article/218283134/W8wyhRM-tvNoI9ct Maybe MH-17 was a product demo.

      The pathetic “antisemitic problem” canard won’t fly here.

      “The Jewish people are an indelible part of Polish history, and Poland is an indelible part of Jewish history … Our deep bilateral cooperation is based on common values and a shared history, as well as on the aspiration to a common future in which we want to achieve the same goals.”

      - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a joint press conference with Polish Prime Minister Tusk, 23 February 2011

    • Abe:

      By your “logic” WND is a US news website.

      In fact linking Israel to this attack, without any evidence, is antisemitic, and I note you link Israel to the downing of MH17.

      Find real evidence of Israel’s involvement and cite away, but made up links on conspiracy websites (this one Russian) won’t do for evidence.

      Feel free to object to Guardian or NYTimes reporting.

      • Zachary Smith on said:

        In fact linking Israel to this attack, without any evidence, is antisemitic,

        No, it’s anti-Israel, and that’s not the same thing.

        But I agree there ought to be evidence.

      • Zach:

        I think you need to look into broad unsupported attacks on Israel before denying the antisemitism in the Pravda “reporting”.

        Without credible sourcing: It’s “a powerful Jewish state is out to sow trouble in the world because they’re behind every US neo-con misadventure”, and that’s an antisemitic position to hold.

      • Comrade Yaj, you are the source for that incredible “quote.” Better fact check yourself.

      • Zachary Smith on said:

        I think you need to look into broad unsupported attacks on Israel before denying the antisemitism in the Pravda “reporting”.

        Ok, I went back to the Pravda article for the third time. I’m cut-pasting the part mentioning Israel.

        “They are familiar with the airspace of Ukraine, they took part in all exercises that Ukrainian Air Force has organized in the last four or five years. Polish Air Force has 31 MiG-29 jets, 16 of which were re-equipped by specialists of Israel Aerospace Industries. The planes received new avionics (multifunction color displays (MFCD), GPS-guided weapons, data-link support, UHF / VHF RT-8200 Rockwell Collins radio station and MDP video technology, etc.). Polish pilots were trained by Israeli instructors who have extensive experience in destroying a variety of air targets, concluded Valentin Vasilescu.

        There is absolutely nothing anti-semitic there. And also absolutely nothing anti-Israel. Israel makes money selling weapons. Lots of countries do that. They make money training the recipients of those weapon sales. Lots of countries do that. Pravda may or may not be anti-Jewish. The site isn’t on my bookmark list. I can’t recall even seeing it until reading the link. I know little and could care less about Pravda.

        Israel is a shitty little nation which has behaved very badly since its inception. That’s an “anti-Israel” statement. Those citizens of Israel who support the bad behavior who claim to be of the Jewish religion are monsters. If calling out Jewish criminals is anti-semitic, so be it. BTW, I’m also against Muslim and Christian and Hindu and Shinto criminals.

        Does that get me any extra “shame” points?

        I don’t like murderous assholes. Stealing is one of the Ten Commandment prohibitions. So is murder.

        Israel has been doing and continues to do both.

        If they were so bold as to deliberately attack a US Navy ship, image how little they care about a subhuman race whose land, gas, and water they want to steal. Never mind that Islam is, like Christianity, essentially a derivative of the Jewish religion.

      • Zach:

        The focus on Israel without evidence of Israel being involved is antisemitic.

        Provide some evidence of the Poles doing this with Israeli upgraded Mig29s and the antisemitism goes away.

      • Zachary Smith on said:

        The focus on Israel without evidence of Israel being involved is antisemitic.

        Provide some evidence of the Poles doing this with Israeli upgraded Mig29s and the antisemitism goes away.

        Both sentences are complete nonsense. I think the second one swerves into crazy, though.

    • Reality has a well-known “antisemitic” bias where Israel is concerned.

    • The Polish-Israeli Mig-29 connections are factual. In my opinion, Vasilescu generally presents a reasonable hypothesis. Investigation of this hypothesis is appropriate. Automatic rejection of this hypothesis is unreasonable (and the “antisemitic” shrieks are merely pathetic).

      Evidence has been conspicuously lacking on the US/NATO side of the equation.

      • Abe:

        But there’s no evidence for the Poles doing this, without without Israeli help.

        Other parties in the region also have Mig 29s, or other high flying cannon armed fighter aircraft.

  6. Eleni Tsigante on said:

    With this article Paul Krugmann has proved once and for all that he is part of “the system” and not the trustworthy critic / independent thinker he plays at being.

    Among other things, it is ludicrous to suggest that the largest country in the world, Russia, needs yet more territory, especially when that territory (Ukraine) is a large failed state: impoverished, indebted, infrastructurally broken, backward, internally riven and highly nationalist. Before the crisis Russia had full trade & cooperation with Ukraine, which is all it needed – the last thing Russia needs is the huge problem of Ukraine itself. Crimea is a different case.

    By the way, one detail that most commentators fail to mention is that one of the IMF/EU conditions was that Ukraine shut down ALL its industry. Since most of this industry is in the East, this was/is a direct threat to the livelihood of the majority there.

    As a Europeans I can only comment that what happened in Ukraine was not hidden from our view, and in our case (Greece) the government hasn’t tried to hide it or propagandise. So the US propaganda war is especially alarming. In fact for ordinary Europeans this is a double crisis: not only Ukraine, but also a reality of neutered or abandoned sovereignty under the umbrella of NATO. This is the EU’s ‘elephant in the room’ which our press and politicians refuse to address or acknowledge, ie the degree to which we are mere puppets of the United States to the point that we act against our interests, both short & log term..

    • Well said.

    • Krugman is establishment. He can object to policies in his narrow area of expertise, but will not venture outside of conventional wisdom in other areas. This would get him branded a “kook”, “conspiracy theorist”, or some other epithet that would harm his position as an “expert”.

  7. JCWilliams on said:

    Why call Krugman an independent thinker? It would be impossible to write the piece he wrote if he was objective. it’s not group think if you want something to happen and try to make it more palatable through doublethink and historical revisionism. , it’s called propaganda and disinformation. He knows that he is ignoring reality and smearing Putin. He wouldn’t have the job he has if he was an independent thinker.

  8. When I read Krugman this morning I was appalled, clearly he’s been getting his news “facts” from the likes of the New York Times.

    He really needs to read other sources.

    Until such time as Krugman apologizes in writing, in a public forum, I’ll have to down grade my respect for his “thinking” to the Dowd-Friedman option, and those two idiots I never read.

    Krugman’s column today was like Kristof claiming he never supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

  9. Thomas on said:

    I am fairly new to your website, yet I am flabbergasted that independent journalists (you folks, presumably) just used the phrase “independent thinkers like Paul Krugman” with a straight face. My good sirs, I will concede that Professor K. might in some corner of his mind occasionally THINK independently, but it’s not possible that he could WRITE independently ANYTHING that is published by his NYT masters. He is a skillful propagandist in the pay of the ruling class, which has plenty of tentacles in academia, especially in economics departments.

  10. Come on now, this is not “group think” this is cluster F$$king. Can’t you recognize a professional whore-espondent, selling what’s left of his soul for a few shekels? Types like this will lie to their mothers and take Judas to dinner. But everybody with even a light IQ can see through this sh$it. The game is up, these guys fellate for the dollar, even after twenty, thirty years of accumulating money they still have no pride of conscience. Keep S$$king boys, plenty of sausage left over.

  11. An interesting point of view Mr. Parry but you fail to address the single largest atrocity of this war: the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. The evidence is pretty convincing that it was shot down with an advanced surface-to-air missile from rebel-held territory. How could this have been done with out Mr. Putin’s complicity? Even if the rebels had captured the launcher, they could not operate it without extensive training from Moscow. The rebel leader Igor Strelkov posted online (later deleted) that he had shot down a plane only minutes after it happened, and before it was known that a passenger airliner had been hit. The evidence of rebel guilt, and Mr. Putin’s complicity, is pretty incontrovertible.

    How do you answer, Mr. Parry?

  12. jaycee on said:

    Robert Parry is almost alone in continuing to emphasize that an internationally mediated agreement had been reached in Ukraine, and that it was highly irresponsible for the US (more exactly it was the Anglo countries, with Canada and UK) to recognize the coup government. That decision, especially when a better deal was on the table, highlights the general awfulness of the current crop of politicians and their appointees. The Anglo countries, in particular, have continued to sow tension and hysteria – and repeatedly act to block humanitarian aid to those who need it. It also highlights the general awfulness of the mainstream corporate media: I have not found a single example whereby any of the politicians, appointees, or their spokespersons have ever been asked to account for the reasoning behind the hasty acceptance of the coup regime as legitimate.

  13. Joe Tedesky on said:

    This video is interesting. It even mentions Robert Parry’s reporting on Ukraine. Hope you enjoy.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=b67OGUsQC44

  14. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko signed a new law today that allows police in the “antiterrorist operation zone” to shoot without warning those deemed to be “terrorists.”
    http://euromaidanpress.com/2014/08/18/poroshenko-allows-policemen-to-shoot-without-warning-in-the-ato-zone/

  15. F. G. Sanford on said:

    Y’all should catch Krugsy’s interview with Bill Moyers (another softball “progressive” journalist who sticks strictly to marshmallow issues and fringe trivialities) talking about Thomas Picketty’s new book. Krugsy is plainly shocked, shocked! to learn that as an economist, he has become completely irrelevant. Eclipsed by the likes of Picketty and Michael Hudson, who have plainly and accurately predicted the continuing economic death spiral, he knows things will get much worse. So, Krugsy has decided to polish up his Neocon “street creds” and throw in with them. He figures he probably has a shot at Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Hillary (Secretary will go to a campaign contribution bundler) if he can transform his column into a Neocon political puff platform. That would be perfectly consistent with the “Peter Principle” of American politics: before you can reasonably expect to get the job, you have to prove you lack the qualifications. A real expert might ask too many questions and could prove to be an embarrassment. The other option is to demonstrate a proclivity to tell bald-faced lies and impudently refute the truth in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. As a Neo-con-artist, he’ll be expected to give deceptive progress reports on the status of the non-existent “recovery”. That will take a really, really big liar, and he has to prove he’s got what it takes.

  16. Robert I think you are exactly right. US/EU journalists simply refuse to look at the Feb 21 agreement and article 111 of the Ukranian Constitution both of these documents support the Feb 21 coup and illegal removal of Yanukovich. The West completely disregards anything Russia has to say.

    Can you write more about the EU association agreement. An article in Foreign Affairs indicates that Poland was a main driver to include Ukraine as a buffer to Russia. There are many articles that demonstrate the EU’s inflexibility on this issue because if the Ukraine joined the EU association agreement they were precluded from joining the Eurasian Union

  17. Its quite simple really. Paul Krugman works for the NY Times. He’s not about to go against the establishment narrative and lose his job like Chris Hedges or Phil Donahue.

  18. In past monthes I realized that Russian press not even in half so pro-government like US media. So much for democracy and free speech.

  19. Brendan on said:

    When the coup was launched against Yanukovich, journalists collectively portrayed it as just a vote by parliament for a new government in response to popular protest.

    My own reaction to that was more like “WTF?”. That’s because the headline story the previous day was about Ukraine’s then opposition leaders and a number of foreign ministers effectively recognising Yanukovich as president by signing an agreement with him that he would hold early elections later in the year. This appeared to be forgotten the next day in the media coverage.

    Other things that journalists have turned a blind eye to included the Nazi background of many in the new government, the Odessa massacre, the evidence that some of the fatal sniper shots in Maidan Square came from an opposition-controlled hotel and Russia’s evidence of Ukrainian military activity near the MH17 disaster.

    Accusations against the Russians and Russian speakers, on the other hand, have been presented as facts without any real evidence. These include the “Russian invasion” of Crimea in clear violation of international law, the shooting down of the MH17 by East Ukrainian rebels and the Ukrainian army’s attack last week on a Russian armoured column inside Ukraine.

    That’s the standard that the journalism has sunk to recently. No wonder Paul Krugman believes everything he reads about Russia if he limits himself to the mainstream coverage of Ukraine.

  20. And all these drops of truth are absolutely useless in the sea of lie…
    A sort of self-soothing (we are not such scums).
    And people are dying in Donetsk, the humanitarian aids convoy is blocked at the Ukrainian border, reporters are imprisoned, crimes are continuing…

  21. Robert, thank you for the concise reporting on the Western World vs. Russia. I have been looking at the use of “social media” as evidence from the US State Department and to me it harkens of the days leading up to the Iraq War where the US State Department provided no real evidence but grandiose claims of anthrax and mushroom clouds. It is that very clear lack of evidence that has me questioning everything.

    It seems to me that looking at the last couple of wars that there is always an economic connection. What makes me wonder about the demonization of Russia (which started even before Ukraine and the Olympics) is does it have more to do with economics. It is clear to me that Russia has really been pushing for the world to replace the US Dollar as the world reserve currency for some time now. I believe in 2009, the then President, Medvedev, presented a prototype of a new world reserve currency (of course I don’t believe that our western media even reported this, I live in Canada). Since then, as a member of the BRICS, Russia along with its’ other partners have been making trade agreement after trade agreement in local currencies which circumvent the US Dollar not too mention it has been agreed this year that a BRICS Development Bank will open in Shanghai in 2015 and I believe start to lend in 2016 which puts it in competition with the IMF, World Bank and SWIFT Banking system. As for Russia’s role in the BRICS, it seems to be the bridge between India and China (who still have some disputes). I have also been reading that, I believe, Kerry has been making the rounds to China and India over the last few weeks trying to convince them to isolate Russia. If Kerry could convince China and India to isolate Russia then would’t that effectively break-up the BRICS which are threatening the US Dollar and western hegemony over the world? I just kind of wonder if the whole Ukrainian crisis has less to do about Ukraine and more to do with trying to destroy the BRICS by isolating Russia (especially looking at the lengths that the US State Department is willing to go to demonize Russia). Just my thoughts…

  22. Robert, thank you again for your continuous effort to put events into the right context.
    I think that one can easily fall into a trap and unintentionally spread misinformation by using questionable expression.

    One of these words is “annexation” in the context of the crimea issue. Annexation is the forcible acquisition of a state’s territory. This is not what happened at crimea.

    For my understanding what happend is, that crimea, an autonomous body of the ukraine state opted for independence twice, first within its regional parliament and second in a referendum expressing the will of the majority of the crimeans to become an independent state. They de facto “seperated” from Ukraine.

    Up to this point we have two contraditng legal positions with different levels of the jurisdication. The Ukrainian constitution does not allow a unilateral declaration of independence, but demands a nationwide referendum, whereas the international law ensures the right of self-determination of people, with a boundary condition that force was not applied or if just proportionate.

    Yes one can ask, the question did Russia used force during the referendum? First Russian soldiers were allowed to be at the island in their barracks. But, what those russian soldiers without markings did, was going out of their barracks and encircle buildings and barracks of the Ukrainian military, effectively stopping them from leaving the buildings. By doing so they assured that the referendum could take place without external provocations and disturbances. We now see which measures the Kiev junta is ready to apply in order to bring regions disagreeing with the events back on track. This scenario was avoided.

    Shortly after secession, crimea brought forward a motion to russia to give up its independence and become a legal body of the russian federation. The motion was sustained and crimea was incorporated.

    So we have secession and an incorporation rather than an annexation. The difference has serious implications.

    • Well, I do believe that the Crimeans willingly joined with Russia rather than the narrative that they voted at gunpoint. I believe now there is evidence by the Pew Research Center which supports this assertion.

      Pew Research Center: “Despite Concerns about Governance, Ukrainians Want to Remain One Country” (May 8, 2014):

      http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/05/08/despite-concerns-about-governance-ukrainians-want-to-remain-one-country/

      If you go to the middle of the article where it starts to talk about Crimea then you find that (starting with “Crimean residents are almost universally positive toward Russia.”) Crimean residents are quite positive towards Russia with 93% having confidence in Putin and 92% saying that Russia is playing a positive role in Crimea. Also that 91% of Crimeans believe the referendum was free and fair with 88% saying that Kyiv should recognize the results of the vote.

      Anyway, you can read it for yourself.

  23. DYUDYUKA on said:

    A drop of truth in a sea of lies((( Thank you Robert
    We Russians read all your articles and not only your but also negative in translation and we just laugh your policy and secretaries of state. What is Psaki education high?

  24. Katerina on said:

    As a Ukrainian, I don’t know how to react to articles like these. Mr. Parry, you accuse Krugman (and others) of blindly following the US government’s party line on Ukraine. But at the same time, you seem to follow the Russian party line rather than taking a balanced approach and reporting the truth.

    How do you think Ukrainians feel when they read an article that omits truths obvious to anyone actually living in Ukraine and states as fact a number of points that are clearly false? I personally feel dismayed and powerless when I see the confidence with which you repeat this inaccurate portrayal of the situation in my country.

    I am not going to jump to conclusions and accuse you of being a paid mouthpiece for the Kremlin or its allies. But I do wonder where you get your information and respectfully ask you to visit Ukraine and talk to some real Ukrainians before feeling entitled to so confidently state what happened in my country last winter and what is happening there now.

    Ask them about the homegrown support for the Euromaidan movement, which had less to do with the EU or IMF than me and my friends and tens of thousands of others being fed up with the rampant corruption and lawlessness of the Yanukovych regime. A small group of students turned out to protest in support of the association agreement; hundreds of thousands turned out to protest the police beating these students as they were dispersing.

    You’ll understand that the three men who signed the February agreement did not represent the protesters – perhaps you’ll talk to some of us who were there that night, when these so-called “leaders” presented the agreement to the people… Perhaps you’ll be surprised to see that we are not Nazis, neo-Nazis, fascists, or such…that many of us are actually political moderates. You’ll find few rosy descriptions of Klitchko and Yatseniuk, by the way…but hey, they’re better than Yanukovych.

    I could go on…you fail to mention that the Crimea situation started out with Russian armed men taking over the government. You fail to mention that the rebellion in the Donbass has been led until very recently by Russians from Russia (not Ukrainians, ethnic Russians from Ukraine, etc).None of these points are controversial – all are facts that can be easily confirmed.

    By the way, your position seems to be based on a hate and distrust of the US government, the CIA, etc, etc. I do not challenge this part of your narrative — because I am not an expert on these topics. I don’t depend on the US mainstream media for information about Ukraine. I don’t love Obama or Poroshenko or Putin or really any leader because I think they’re all corrupt in one way or another. My allegiance is to the truth…and if you, too, care about the truth, I would ask you to take a closer look at my country before writing about it.

    • And children and their civilian parents are dying every day for Ukrainian freedom and democracy.
      Oh, you don’t see it, it’s Kremlin propaganda.

    • Brendan on said:

      I don’t think that anybody is saying that most of those involved in the Euromaidan movement were fascists or neo-Nazis, but there’s no doubting the neo-Nazi connections of many in the government that took over after the protests. Among those are not only the Svoboda members but also current or former members of
      the Right Sector, the Bandera Trident Organization, UNA/UNSO and Svoboda’s predecessor the Social Nationalist Party.

      The commitment to democracy of those who could not even wait for early elections later this year is also questionable.

      The Crimea situation started only after the ban on Russian as an official language was imposed the day after the coup.

      Regarding the prominence of Russians from Russia in the war in East Ukraine, that’s what happens when a national government alienates a large part of the population in a region. Experienced fighters and leaders move in to fill the vacuum and gain support from enough of the population that previously had no great interest in being part of Russia.

      • jaycee on said:

        “The commitment to democracy of those who could not even wait for early elections later this year is also questionable.”

        Strongly agree. From a North American perspective, I cannot recall that a goal of civil rights, anti-war, or even Occupy protesters was the unconstitutional removal of the sitting elected government. The Ukraine constitution allowed for and spelled out the means to impeach the President, and was not followed. The claim seems to be that some sort of “revolution” occurred – but it is a strange revolution whereby the sitting government is removed but then the expectations are that everything else remains exactly the same.

    • Katerina, thank you for the recitation of Kiev regime talking points.

      I am not a Ukrainian and I have never been to Ukraine. However, in my opinion, Robert Parry’s reporting has been both balanced and singularly committed to revealing “the inconvenient truth of what happened in Ukraine.”

      Parry has never asserted that the Maidan protesters as whole were Nazis. However, he has fairly and accurately reported the truth that “neo-Nazis were at the forefront of the Kiev coup that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych, a reality that the U.S. government and news media have been relentlessly trying to cover up.”

      “Although real-time reports from the scene in February chronicled armed and organized militias associated with the neo-Nazi Svoboda party and the Right Sektor attacking police with firebombs and light weapons, that information soon became a threat to the Western propaganda theme that Yanukovych fled simply because peaceful protesters occupied the Maidan square.

      “So, the more troubling history soon disappeared into the memory hole, dismissed as “Russian propaganda.” The focus of the biased U.S. news media is now on the anti-Kiev militants in the Russian-ethnic areas of eastern Ukraine who have rejected the authority of the coup regime and are insisting on regional autonomy.”

    • Rough McHewn on said:

      “Ask them about the homegrown support for the Euromaidan movement”

      How can that be?
      Victoria Nuland admitted what we all knew. The US government has poured into Ukraine $5 Billion over the past few years, through the usual suspects (USAID, NED, etc.) geared toward putting into power a compliant regime.
      It boils down to protecting Pax-Americana via US Dollar hegemony at any cost.

    • In her December 13, 2013 speech at an International Business Conference sponsored by Chevron, Victoria Nuland, US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs boasted, “Since the declaration of Ukrainian independence in 1991, the United States supported the Ukrainians in the development of democratic institutions and skills in promoting civil society and a good form of government – all that is necessary to achieve the objectives of Ukraine’s European. We have invested more than 5 billion dollars to help Ukraine to achieve these and other goals.”

      The Crimean referendum interfered with the US/NATO “investment.” The post-coup regime in Kiev went to war to obstruct the referendums in Donetsk and Luhansk.

      On the information war front, Paul Roderic Gregory, Forbes Magazine’s resident Putin-basher, rolls in regularly.

      A research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, a neo-con think tank, Gregory never tires of waving alleged smoking guns.

      Gregory’s “Real Crimean Election Results” smoking gun is a Russian document supplied by, you guessed it, a Ukrainian website.

      Strangely, even though he is a published expert on the Soviet economy and chair of the International Advisory Board of the Kiev School of Economics, Gregory resorted to “a version clumsily translated by Google.”

      Neo-con pundits like Gregory get paid for swallowing whoppers and belching.

      The US and EU are notorious for their use of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), particularly Human Rights groups, as tools of regime change. Ukraine is the obvious case in point.

    • Don’t you tired from all this lie?
      The referenced site contains a clarification on these data. But who cares…
      And there were international observers – who had agreed to come. All were invited (in contrast of “not allowed”).

    • Well it seems to me that Pew Research Center data taken in May actually does support to the results of the referendum. In the Pew Research Center article they point out that Crimean residents are quite positive towards Russia with 93% having confidence in Putin and 92% saying that Russia is playing a positive role in Crimea. Also that 91% of Crimeans believe the referendum was free and fair with 88% saying that Kyiv should recognize the results of the vote.

      http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/05/08/despite-concerns-about-governance-ukrainians-want-to-remain-one-country/

      If you go to the middle of the article where it starts to talk about Crimea then you find that (starting with “Crimean residents are almost universally positive toward Russia.”).

  25. GeorgeV on said:

    I think Henry Kissinger described it well as he said the demonization of Putin is a not a policy but a sign of the absence of policy.
    Sadly even Krugman is not immune to that.
    This guy has no fricking idea what is going on in Ukraine but it’s safe to blame Putin for everything so he goes along whit that.

  26. Consortiumnews.com on said:

    Posted for Per Fagereng: It seems odd to me that Paul Krugman opposes austerity economics, yet he writes in support of the Kiev regime, which is imposing austerity on its citizens.

    Per Fagereng

  27. The phenomenon we are witnessing is not merely “group think” but full on Orwellian “doublethink”

    “To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy, to forget, whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again, and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself – that was the ultimate subtlety; consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the word ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.”
    - George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), part 1, chapter 3

  28. Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West’s Fault: The Liberal Delusions That Provoked Putin
    By John J. Mearsheimer
    http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/141769/john-j-mearsheimer/why-the-ukraine-crisis-is-the-wests-fault

    According to Mearsheimer, “The United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West. At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward and the West’s backing of the pro-democracy movement in Ukraine — beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004 — were critical elements, too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement, and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbor turned into a Western bastion. For Putin, the illegal overthrow of Ukraine’s democratically elected and pro-Russian president — which he rightly labeled a “coup” — was the final straw. He responded by taking Crimea, a peninsula he feared would host a NATO naval base, and working to destabilize Ukraine until it abandoned its efforts to join the West. Putin’s pushback should have come as no surprise. After all, the West had been moving into Russia’s backyard and threatening its core strategic interests, a point Putin made emphatically and repeatedly. Elites in the United States and Europe have been blindsided by events only because they subscribe to a flawed view of international politics.

  29. Ukraine Humanitarian Aid Flounders
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/20/ukraine-humanitarian-aid-flounders/

    As the violence in east Ukraine continues to spiral out of control, it is readily apparent that US diplomatic efforts to bring peace to the region are non existent – except to stir opposition against a 280 vehicle humanitarian convoy stalled at the border and to reiterate a cycle of uncorroborated fictions against Russia.

  30. It’s refreshing to see such unbiased articles. I’m a Russian-American living in USA for 21 out of my 25 years of age. I must admit, I have always been pro-Russian, and I have seen how much Putin has improved the quality of life in Russia first hand (by visiting Russia), and I’ve got relatives that live there whose only real complaint is that he’s doing it too slow. So all of this anti-Putin hate in US mass media is just frustrating. Recently, US has completely destabilized the Middle East, and Russia has stepped in and prevented genocide in Georgia, and got Syria on board with the chemical weapons ban, and offered to give Ukraine a bail out package with no strings attached to keep their economy from crashing, contrary to some Russians’ inclination to let Ukraine rot, and spend the money on Russia’s economy. So all this hate against Russia made me furious. It’s this frustration and anger that has caused me to start actively looking for a way to go back to Russia, and continue my life there. I don’t hate America, I don’t hate Americans, but the foreign policy of USA make me unwilling, and disgusted to continue living here.

  31. Dear Robert Parry, I’m sorry for the mistakes as I write through the translator. I am a resident of southern Ukraine, and speak in Russian! Currently in our country there is a war between the Ukrainian and Russian! Every day in our city bury soldiers who died from weapons called “Grad” fire was from Russian territory! I personally talked to the soldiers who have returned alive. And the first thing they said – “Russia for me now the enemy”. If you allow yourself so blanch VV Putin. Come to us in the ukraine and see how Russian army crosses the border with Ukraine killing our soldiers who defend their homeland!

  32. Razumny Evgeny on said:

    I wrote an appeal to the citizens of America, so many people think in Russian. I offer to you to bring this to more U.S. residents.

    Hello, my friends!
    Did you
    know that your country is attacked nation, which has never lost a war and can
    wipe America
    off the face of the earth for a few minutes? America
    is proud of the democracy, so politicians of the USA express interests of Americans,
    including on the international scene, and work on behalf of the American
    people. All opened facts say that the armed revolution, and, the massacre of
    civilians of Ukraine subsequent to it was organized by your country, so, you
    who have chosen the governors took part in it. You throw phosphoric and
    cassette bombs of the city, you purposefully put artillery volleys on hospitals
    and schools, you shoot wounded, and you already killed more than 40 children.
    We in Russia don’t divide
    ourselves with citizens of Ukraine,
    and the frontier between our countries is conditional line on cards therefore
    killing Ukrainians, you kill us, our brothers, wives, children, mothers. All
    religions and nature laws as a whole say that it is necessary to be responsible
    for everything. We got used to difficulties and are always ready to die for the
    people, and the earth, and you are ready to die for unreasonable ambitions and
    aggression of the politicians ELECTED BY YOU?

    First of
    all, world existence depends on our people on our planet, and in general world
    existence therefore I offer cooperation, we won’t allow in the power of the
    aggressive politicians ready rigidly to answer your aggression, and you will
    get rid of the hawks in the power of type “McCain and Ko. ” Also you
    will make impact on decrease in external aggression by the United States of America.
    Distract for a while from not the most important issues, blockbusters and other
    shows, while these blockbusters didn’t become surrounding reality. Let’s prove
    in practice that our countries are democratic and peaceful. All of us bear
    responsibility for the acts and PASSIVENESS. Open eyes and heart and act, time
    hasn’t enough.