Trump’s Possible Path Out of Ukraine Crisis

Exclusive: The U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine in 2014 sparked a New Cold War with Russia, but a President Trump could roll back tensions with a creative strategy for resolving the Ukraine standoff, writes Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

If Donald Trump wants to make a decisive and constructive mark on U.S. foreign policy early in his presidency, there’s no better place to start than by helping to end the brutal war in Ukraine that has claimed some 10,000 lives.

President-elect Donald Trump

President-elect Donald Trump

The Obama administration helped ignite that war by attempting to yank Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and into the Western security and economic sphere. Working alongside the European Union, Washington fanned mass street protests that led to a violent putsch against Kiev’s elected government in February 2014. Moscow responded by annexing (or, depending on your point of view, reunifying with) Russian-speaking Crimea, which is also headquarters of Moscow’s Black Sea Fleet, and backing pro-Russia separatists in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Since then, the two sides have fought to a bloody stalemate. Besides killing thousands of civilians, the war has sunk Ukraine’s economy and fostered rampant corruption. U.S. and E.U. sanctions have dragged down Russia’s economy and derailed cooperation between Washington and Moscow in other theaters. Rising tensions between NATO and Russia have greatly raised the odds of an accidental military confrontation between the world’s two largest nuclear powers.

The best hope for Ukraine — and renewed East-West cooperation — is the Minsk Protocol, signed by Ukrainian, Russian, and European parties in the capital of Belarus on Sept. 5, 2014. The agreement provided for a ceasefire, an exchange of prisoners, and a framework for a political settlement based on giving the Donetsk and Luhansk regions a “special status.”

That agreement broke down amid renewed fighting until the parties signed the Minsk-2 Agreement on Feb. 12, 2015. It provided for constitutional reforms, elections in the two republics, and restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty over its borders. But Kiev has made no serious move to recognize the special status of its breakaway regions, and the two sides have engaged in sporadic hostilities ever since.

Final Words

Presidents Obama and Putin exchanged what may have been their final, desultory words on the subject at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru this month. Obama “urged President Putin to uphold Russia’s commitments under the Minsk agreements,” while a Russian spokesman said the two men “expressed regret that it was not possible to make progress in Ukraine.”

President Barack Obama meets with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice listens at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama meets with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice listens at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

As current foreign policy messes go, however, the Ukrainian imbroglio may offer the greatest opportunities for a rewarding cleanup. Doing so will require both sides to acknowledge some fault and find creative ways to save face.

Fortunately, President-elect Trump has created an opening for such a settlement by reaching out to Putin during the election campaign and explicitly declining to bash Russia for its annexation of Crimea (which followed a hastily arranged referendum in which the official results showed that 96 percent of the voters favored leaving Ukraine and rejoining Russia).

There are also small signs of progress that give hope. A limited demilitarization accord signed in September led to a mutual retreat by the Ukrainian army and pro-Russia separatists from a small city in eastern Ukraine. The withdrawal was verified by observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a party to the Minsk accords. Meanwhile, Ukraine, Germany, France and Russia are working on a new roadmap to strengthen the ceasefire.

Conditions for Peace

In a June 2015 interview with Charlie Rose, Putin laid out clear and reasonable conditions for making the Minsk accord stick:

Ukraine's anti-Russian President Petro Poroshenko speaking to the Atlantic Council in 2014. (Photo credit: Atlantic Council)

Ukraine’s anti-Russian President Petro Poroshenko speaking to the Atlantic Council in 2014. (Photo credit: Atlantic Council)

“Today we primarily need to comply with all the agreements reached in Minsk … At the same time, I would like to draw . . . the attention of all our partners to the fact that we cannot do it unilaterally. We keep hearing the same thing, repeated like a mantra – that Russia should influence the southeast of Ukraine. We are. However, it is impossible to resolve the problem through our influence on the southeast alone.

“There has to be influence on the current official authorities in Kiev, which is something we cannot do. This is a road our Western partners have to take – those in Europe and America. Let us work together. … We believe that to resolve the situation we need to implement the Minsk agreements, as I said. The elements of a political settlement are key here. There are several. . . .

“The first one is constitutional reform, and the Minsk agreements say clearly: to provide autonomy or, as they say, decentralization of power. . .

“The second thing that has to be done – the law passed earlier on the special status of . . . Luhansk and Donetsk, the unrecognized republics, should be enacted. It was passed, but still not acted upon. This requires a resolution of the Supreme Rada – the Ukrainian Parliament – which is also covered in the Minsk agreements. . . .

“The third thing is a law on amnesty. It is impossible to have a political dialogue with people who are threatened with criminal persecution. And finally, they need to pass a law on municipal elections on these territories and to have the elections themselves. All this is spelled out in the Minsk agreements. . . .

“I repeat, it is important now to have a direct dialogue between Luhansk, Donetsk and Kiev – this is missing.”

Future of Crimea

Any lasting settlement will also require some compromise over Crimea, which Putin has vowed never to relinquish.

A map showing Crimea (in beige) and its proximity to both the Ukrainian mainland and Russia.

A map showing Crimea (in beige) and its proximity to both the Ukrainian mainland and Russia.

As Ray McGovern, the CIA’s former chief Russia analyst, has noted, the annexation of Crimea did violate a pledge that Russia made in 1994 — along with Great Britain and the United States — “to respect the independence and sovereignty and existing borders of Ukraine,” as a precondition to Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons. Of course, the United States and the E.U. had already violated the same pledge by supporting a coup d’état against the country’s elected government.

McGovern cited other “extenuating circumstances, including alarm among Crimeans over what the unconstitutional ouster of Ukraine’s president might mean for them, as well as Moscow’s not unfounded nightmare of NATO taking over Russia’s major, and only warm-water, naval base at Sevastopol in Crimea.”

In support of annexation, Russian and Crimean authorities also pointed to the hasty referendum that was held in Crimea in March 2014, which resulted in 96 percent support for reunification with Russia, a relationship dating back to the Eighteenth Century. Subsequent polls of Crimean opinion, conducted by Western firms, have largely confirmed support for the 2014 referendum on rejoining Russia. But the referendum did not have international observers and was not accepted by the United States and other Western nations.

Condemning the annexation in a soaring speech about the “rule of law” and America’s dedication to universal principles, President Obama contrasted Crimea with Kosovo, which NATO forcibly broke away from Serbia in 1999.

Obama said, “Kosovo only left Serbia after a referendum was organized not outside the boundaries of international law, but in careful cooperation with the United Nations and with Kosovo’s neighbors. None of that even came close to happening in Crimea.”

Actually, none of that came close to happening in Kosovo, either. Obama’s story was a myth, but it confirmed the powerful legitimacy offered by popular referenda, like those in Great Britain over Scottish independence or Brexit.

Yet, as part of a permanent settlement of the larger Ukraine crisis, the Minsk signatories could agree to hold another, binding referendum in Crimea under international supervision to decide whether it stays under Russian rule or returns to Ukraine.

To get Russia’s buy-in, the United States and its European allies should agree to lift sanctions if Moscow abides by the referendum and other terms of the Minsk accord. They should also agree to rule out the incorporation of Ukraine into NATO, the original sin that sowed the seeds of crisis between Russia and the West. Russia, in turn, could agree to demilitarize its border with Ukraine.

Obstacles to Settlement

President Putin has signaled his willingness to compromise in several ways, including firing his hardline chief of staff, Sergei Ivanov, and welcoming the presence of armed observers from OSCE to monitor the Minsk agreement.

The neo-Nazi Wolfsangel symbol on a banner in Ukraine.

The neo-Nazi Wolfsangel symbol on a banner in Ukraine.

But major obstacles still impede progress. One is President Petro Poroshenko’s stalling in the face of opposition to the Minsk accord by Ukrainian nationalists. Kiev needs to be given a firm choice: go it alone, or compromise if it wants continued economic support from the United States and Western Europe. The Obama administration has quietly urged the Poroshenko government to honor the Minsk agreement, but has never put teeth behind its entreaties.

The other major obstacle is hostility from militarist hardliners in the West who propose arming Ukraine to ratchet up conflict with Russia. Prime examples include the State Department’s chief policy maker on Ukraine, Victoria Nuland; former NATO Commander Gen. Philip Breedlove, who became infamous for issuing inflated warnings about Russian military operations; Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain; and Stephen Hadley, Raytheon board member and former national security adviser to President George W. Bush, who chairs the Orwellian-named United States Institute for Peace.

But Trump will have great leeway as commander-in-chief to reject their advice and set a new direction for NATO’s policy on Ukraine and Russia more generally. He has everything to gain by breaking the cycle of political conflict with Moscow.

An ally in the Kremlin will immeasurably improve his chances of making deals in the Middle East, finding a way out of Afghanistan, and managing China.

The next few months should tell us whether Trump has the independence, imagination, and gumption to do the right thing.

Jonathan Marshall is author or co-author of five books on international affairs, including The Lebanese Connection: Corruption, Civil War and the International Drug Traffic . Some of his previous articles for Consortiumnews include “Nazi Roots of Ukraine’s Conflict,” “Escalations in a New Cold War,” “European Union’s Imperial Overreach,” and “Kosovo Chaos Undercuts Clinton ‘Success.’”

33 comments for “Trump’s Possible Path Out of Ukraine Crisis

  1. Joe Lauria
    November 27, 2016 at 14:26

    Excellent piece.

  2. Carroll Price
    November 25, 2016 at 22:22

    With Zionist neocons no longer roaming the world in search of nations to overthrow, you will be surprise at how quickly peace and order will become the rule, not the exception.

  3. chupacabra
    November 25, 2016 at 21:40

    The Gallup and Pew polls (and the German GsK) reaffirmed the results of Crimea referendum – the people have exercised their right to self-determination, end of story. International official observers from EU were invited – but chose not to come, but some volunteers have been there and validated the outcome as well. No one will even consider offering to buy Crimea back – as it is an insult to the idea of democracy and self-determination, residents are not slaves, they have spoken, it is done.

    By the way – has anybody seen Oliver Stone’s “Ukraine on Fire?” I’ve seen it in Russian on youtube and it is impressive and accurate on most salient points, but I am waiting for English version. I am actually surprised by Stone’s courage, he told this complex story in a fair and factual manner and even relatively naive viewers can understand the mechanics of the coup and subsequent war crimes against residents of Eastern Ukraine. I highly recommend it (along with french Canal + documentary “Mask of Revolution”).

  4. wootendw
    November 25, 2016 at 15:06

    The Donetsk ‘republics’ are not recognized even by Russia. Put them in the same category as Taiwan for now.

    Russia could have taken Crimea years ago but did not until the West ousted Yanukovich just because he accepted a better offer from Putin than the one he negotiated with the State Department and the EU. Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to rejoin Russia but the rest of Ukraine did not. Externally imposed border changes can mean years of instability but Russia would be suicidal to give Crimea back. The best option would be for Russia to ‘buy’ Crimea from Ukraine with the funds it previously paid Ukraine for leasing its base there. That could eventually lead to a permanent settlement.

  5. Michael Kenny
    November 25, 2016 at 15:00

    The obvious settlement in Ukraine has always been on the table, namely that Russia ceases to back the fake “rebellions” in Donetsk and Lugansk and allows the Ukrainian government to re-assert its sovereignty in those areas (where Russians, indeed, are a minority, mostly the result of colonisation in the Stalin era) and some kind of deal is made over Crimea, where there are very few Ukrainians. Russians have a majority but there is a significant minority of Crimean Tatars, who utterly loath the Russians.How their rights are to be respected is never addressed in pro-Putin US meida articles.One solution is for Russia to “buy” Crimea, Alaska-style, paying (in gold!) X number of years of the rent they were paying for the Sebastopol naval base. Putin has never been willing to accept such a deal, probably because he thinks he can get more by brute force. By the way, Mr Marshall weakens his position by claiming that the US sought “to yank Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit”. As a sovereign state, Ukraine, by definition, is not and never was in anyody’s “orbit”. He thereby denies that Ukrainians have human rights, such as the right to an independent state. He treats Ukrainians like a herd of cattle whose ownership is being disputed by two powerful ranchers. That is an utterly repugnant ideology reminiscent of nazi “master race” theories.

    • Joe B
      November 25, 2016 at 15:40

      No, capitulation is not a suggestion of a solution.
      No, those of Russian language or ethnicity make up about 80 percent of the population of E Ukraine.

      There is no argument for Russia to buy Crimea, which was part of Russia for most of the last few centuries, was given to Ukraine by USSR premier Kruschev, and is the primary naval base of Russia. The US/W Ukraine should pay reparations for trying to take it from them. What would you say to the US having to buy Hawaii now from Russia?

      The US obviously did try to “yank Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit” regardless of its sovereignty, and the US did so by schemes and scams. Ukraine has entrenched factions, democracy was not working well to reconcile them, and the responsibility of foreign powers was to stay out of it or work impartially toward reconciliation under democracy. The US chose to use coercion to force its proxies into power, even supporting neo-Nazis to cause a civil war, and even supported their claim to dominance of E Ukraine against the will of its people. The US is your “nazi master race” connection, not Russia.

  6. TellTheTruth-2
    November 25, 2016 at 14:44

    Ukraine, Syria, and other wars of aggression can be traced right back to Ziocon war mongers and, unless the swamp is drained and these war mongers eliminated, they won’t stop until they start WW3 and destroy the USA. But, if their goal is to destroy the USA, it’s easier to see why they do what they do.

    • Tatarewicz
      November 27, 2016 at 09:07

      The goal of Israel’s Khazars is not to destroy the US upon which they depend for security but to have US shake up Russia so much that their cohorts can return to power there and to have Ukraine, the home of their forefathers, as a second homeland, part of NATO, for added security.

      • Sam F
        November 27, 2016 at 09:55

        Will you please expand upon the linkage of zionists to aggression in Ukraine. If this is a particular branch of the Jewish diaspora, why would this determine US or Israeli policy? That could be very interesting, but mere speculation would not.

  7. November 25, 2016 at 12:48

    The majority of the above are the worst replies I have come across in the years I have been reading this side.
    They are replies you can expect from Polack Russia haters fed to them starting day one with their mother’s milk.
    I’m basing what I say having worked with Polack whom it takes two to change a lightbulb.
    Of course writers of above replies weren’t around during WWII like I was when all Allied military equipment had instructions in English and Polish. What about all the other non-English troops, well they had to read the English, but to prevent disasters by the Polacks the instruction had to be on the equipment in Polish.
    Have a nice day.

    • Erik
      November 25, 2016 at 15:25

      Now, sir, ethnic groups cannot be inherently good or bad. There have been many brilliant Polish people, and I went to school with many of them: they are the only people whom I’ve heard tell a Polish joke. Each wave of immigrants to the US has taken the lowest jobs at first, and has been subject to such discrimination. The most likely cause of your anecdote of bilingualism was relative ease of translation, or some other anomaly. I have seen no Russia-haters among Polish Americans, but I’m sure that any such characteristic can be found here and there in every group.

      Look for example at Wronski, the Polish mathematician (solution of systems of linear differential equations), or General Kosciuszko (1746-1817), a friend of Jefferson who urged him to free his slaves.

  8. Dieter Heymann
    November 25, 2016 at 09:45

    The Ukraine regime change may have triggered the resumption (not new) of the old cold war but the tinder lies elsewhere: Syria and Iran. Does the change of boss for Crimea really change anything? Is that a threat to the West? Nonsense. But Assad must go and there must be regime change in Iran.

  9. Mikhailovich
    November 25, 2016 at 08:27

    The deindustrialisation of Ukraine after “The Revolution of Dignity” happened not because the war, but as the result of the policy of cutting all high-tech industry cooperation between Ukraine and Russia. It was one of the goals of the regime change. Much of Ukraine – Russia high-tech cooperation was in the military industry. So by severing the cooperation, they hoped to slow down the modernisation of Russian Army.

  10. stinky rafsanjani
    November 25, 2016 at 06:12

    let’s skip this minsk agreement crap. it’s meaningless.

    trump has the nukular option on ukraine.

    he can release the intel on the shootdown by
    ukranian forces of MH17, and call for criminal
    persecution of the guilty oligarch(s).

    ah, and perhaps give a little insight as to
    who was responsible for the maidan shootings.

    • the lion
      November 25, 2016 at 14:19

      would that be that Ukraine has around 1000 of the missiles claimed to have shot down the aircraft, that it has multiple Launchers of these said missiles, that Ukraine was in charge of the air traffic control of the said Aircraft, or that a similar sized Ukraine military aircraft was shot down a week before! IF the so called Rebels shot the aircraft down it was only there because the Ukraine Government WANTED it there, they guided it to that spot, not the rebels at all! Just remember that at the same time Ukraines President was making spurious claims of hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops crossing the border they were being invaded, what better way to get NATO involved than to shoot down an aircraft that was carrying hundreds of one of its nations citizens! Did we note that the initial investigation would not allow the Malaysian Government access to anything and it was THIER plane, we have seen Belgium gain access to the investigation yet it wasnt their plane didnt take off from Belgium and no Belgian citizen died on it and that was BEFORE Malaysia got a look in! We also saw that Ukraines Government had a VETO as to releasing the findings of the matter! WHY? facts are these there were three groups that had access to this type of Missile, the Rebels who stole them from the Oblast armoury noting that one full air battalion of these missiles and their launchers were in the regions Armoury, The Russians and the Ukraine Government well actually they were not lawfully a Government they had staged a coup and no knew election had been held (and it could be argued that as there has never been a full election even the current leadership is flawed)! Now as for Motive the rebels thought that they were shooting down a spy aircraft and from all intents and purposes that is probably the case, The Russians seriously had little motive at all, Putin is a master strategist and this is all wrong in that department! Ukraine well it has the greatest motive of all, that of the Hope that NATO would have weighed in on the basis that an attack on one NATO country is an attack on all! They would have had NATO go in take the rebels as well as Crimea! Has the five billion dollars spent by Victoria Nuland of the US State department for the TWO coups she funded been worth it! Just remember that none other than the Vice President of the United States son has magically appeared on the board of one of Ukraines largest gas producers, WHY? My take is the Ukraine air traffic controllers guided the plane there in the HOPE that it would be shot down by the rebels using a stolen Missile system which they only had a rudimentary knowledge of its use!

      • stinky rafsanjani
        November 26, 2016 at 07:05

        unless i’m misteaken, a danish report prior to the event insisted
        there were no functional systems held by the rebels, thus the
        need to manufacture the russians bringing one across the

        naturally with full-spectrum coverage of every cubic centimeter
        of ukraine, us intelligence does in this case indeed know all.
        the buk missile system does not operate as a single unit; there
        is also a command vehicle plus multiple radar units. this system
        could not possibly have been switched on, much less fired,
        without being monitored.

        as to a convoy of 5+ distinct vehicles, as well as the claimed
        thousands of vehicles and troops, pouring across the border,
        must also realize anything larger than a bunny rabbit would
        be picked up. so where are the satellite photos? absence of
        evidence in this case indeed is evidence of absence.

        i would suggest a certain oligarch with a private militia (that
        happened to have a fully-operational buk system from
        ukraine’s military) felt that the downing of a passenger jet
        attibuted to the rebels was a sacrifice he was willing to make.

  11. Mark Thomason
    November 24, 2016 at 19:06

    “there’s no better place to start than by helping to end the brutal war in Ukraine”

    Sure there is.

    For killing, US and allied actions in Syria have killed more, troubles the US started in Libya have killed more, Yeman is killing more, Iraq is killing more. Iraq kills more every two months than the entire death toll in Ukraine.

    For importance to the US, Mexico is coming apart as a failed state, and would spill over here even worse than it already is.

    This is just special pleading to get the US to do more of the stupid stuff Hillary was doing in Ukraine.

  12. Bill Bodden
    November 24, 2016 at 16:44

    Actually, none of that came close to happening in Kosovo, either. Obama’s story was a myth, …

    Obama didn’t tell the truth? Really? I’m shocked. Who would have thought such a thing could happen?

  13. Joe B
    November 24, 2016 at 10:46

    A very good article, and a good point that Ukraine is a simpler place to initiate rapprochement with Russia than the Mideast.

    It appears likely that Russia will not demilitarize its border without credible assurances that the US does not continue to create another S Korea in W Ukraine, which regardless of any treaty, its MIC/WallSt/right-wing will continue to do.

    So the diplomatic framework must recognize and deal with long term processes and independent actions other than states’ official acts. In most respects the US and perhaps the EU are no longer even able to comply with their own treaties, as there is no longer any decency or honesty in their governments or control of their governments or dark state apparatus by their own populations.

    Russians would be correct to return to the view that unregulated capitalist imperialist states will not comply with any treaty except when its suits their immediate intent anyway. They can keep the door open, and perhaps embarrass those governments before their own people by showing treaty violations, but must assume treacherous intent and remain armed.

    • Bill Bodden
      November 24, 2016 at 16:39

      It appears likely that Russia will not demilitarize its border without credible assurances that the US …

      Credible assurances made in Washington don’t apply in foreign and Native American affairs. The only promises from Washington politicians with any credibility are those that come with an understanding the politician will deliver what is expected of him or her in exchange for campaign donations or hints of another career after Congress and the White House.

      • Joe B
        November 24, 2016 at 19:15

        Well, you may have found a solution there! A treaty with the US must provide a bribery channel. But if an honest future admin were accidentally elected, the other parties might report the bribes. So they would have to bury the bribes in a tin can under a certain elm tree in the cemetery at midnight, etc. and give new secret instructions to each succeeding US official. Or set up a PAC claiming that it only seek equal rights for Russians, but makes heavy donations to the right candidates if they pledge allegiance and deliver the goods.

    • chuck
      November 24, 2016 at 22:58

      Nonsense. The only thing Putin is interested in is dragging things out to get facts on the ground as much in his favor as possible. Please don’t expect tears about broken treaties when Vlad hasn’t lived up to any of them either. You speak as though we are negotiating a trinket shop with the Vatican. You are talking about one of the most ruthless and bloodthirsty people of the last 50 years.

      • Joe B
        November 25, 2016 at 10:12

        That is propaganda. Skip Putin: we are adults talking about nations not children demonizing personalities. There appears to be no evidence of Russian aggression in recent decades, but merely right wing MSM propaganda of the MIC/zionist warmongers.

        1. Explain why your propaganda sources had not one photograph of any alleged Russian invading forces in Ukraine, and had to give up that propaganda line and switch to the idea of invisibly smuggled troops and small arms. Those right wing warmongering mass media sources are completely discredited.

        2. As to treaties relating to Syria, your friends in the dark state broke the recent ceasefire with the Deir Ezzor “accidental” attack, and proved to have been supporting AlQaeda all along. You refused to cease support for AlQaeda linked groups despite Russia’s 28-day pause in the Aleppo siege in which your proxies refused to let civilians out or aid in. You simultaneously began the siege of Mosul which is ten times as large with very similar civilian risks, while blaming Russia for inevitable losses in the Aleppo siege. You cover up your “collateral damage” to civilians while blaming on Russia the damage caused by AlQaeda et al in West Aleppo. No concern for truth there.

        3. Since the Korean War, the US warmongers have regularly committed sustained aggression on the borders of Russia and China and blamed it on Russia, which has never done that to the US. Not many intelligent people believe the propaganda these days.

        4. Your claim that Putin is the most “ruthless and bloodthirsty” leader in 50 years is childish propaganda. There have been quite a few leaders in the last 50 years directly implicated in mass murder, most of them either US leaders or supported by the US, while you cite only a few hypothetical and indirect connections to individual deaths.

        Who do you right wingers think you are trying to fool? The propaganda reminds me of unethical and dumb salesmen, always confident that some other guy is even dumber.

        • wootendw
          November 25, 2016 at 15:12

          “Who do you right wingers think you are trying to fool?”

          Is Obama a ‘right winger’? His administration is guilty of some of things you mention and all of the recent things regarding Ukraine.

          • Joe B
            November 25, 2016 at 19:17

            Yes, I would put the Obama admin on the center-right in foreign and domestic policy. The center-right in foreign policy as characterized by fearmongering and military aggression (but not to the extent of Hitler), and in domestic policy by opposition to public interest regulation of business (but not racism etc.). Which includes the Dems with Reps in recent decades.

          • Texas Aggie
            November 30, 2016 at 11:01

            Yes, he is. He’s certainly right of center as shown by his attacks on whistleblowers, strengthening the surveillance state, arms sales to Saudis and Israelis, militarizing the police, putting Wall St. personnel into regulatory positions, and drone attacks on civilians. That there are people even further right doesn’t mean he’s left

    • DV
      November 30, 2016 at 05:21

      The first thing Putin should say to Trump is that Russia is going to continue with its re-armament program or abandon alliances and relationships it established. As correctly noted, there can be no “credible assurances” from the US/NATO. The relationship should be based on balance of power. Trumps come and go and Russia will certainly be foolish to rely on the relationship with a guy, who may well become one-term President.

  14. Stand with Russia
    November 24, 2016 at 09:29

    I think part of this is really foolish. Everyone knows that Crimea is mainly ethnic Russians and want to be part of Russia. And have wanted to rejoin Russia for years. The Western elite simply does not support self determination unless its specifically in their interests. Crimea is a moot point. That discussion is done. What you are describing would never happen because the Western elite knows they could do referendums till they are blue in the face and they will always side with joining Russia.

    The way to stop this situation is partly for the people to pressure the puppets out of the government. Then Kiev needs to grant federalization and stop attacking the East. Then there should be a treaty making a large demilitarized zone.

    The Western elite does not want to stop it. They know its an unwinnable frozen war so they just keep antagonizing Eastern Ukraine and keep it going to they can push ridiculous narratives about Russia.

    • chuck
      November 24, 2016 at 22:52

      Vlad baby will attack and destabilize further and further into Ukraine no matter what. Besides that the article starts off at a convenient time in recent history to support the conclusions of the author. The coup was in response to a totally rigged election that was perpetrated by the Russians. I’m waiting for this blog or anyone else to take seriously all of the Russian movements taking place on and near the border of Poland. There is nothing more hated in Poland than Russia. I have stated before and will do so again that if you do not know about the conduct of Russia toward Poland in WW2 you had better read up fast. Poland believed in an alliance coming to protect it once before. They will not wait again. Putin will receive a very extreme and swift reaction from Poland if he plays his games there. Poland knows it may receive a brutal response in return but it will not go down the way it did in WW2. They will draw massive blood from the Russians. I know Polish people in America to this day that spit on the ground when anybody mentions Russia.

      • Jeff Davis
        November 25, 2016 at 13:21

        Childish nonsense not related to reality.

        First, Russia has no interest in Poland. Polish frothing and the frothing of Polish supporters like Chuck are irrelevant. It’s just crybaby chest-beating time.

        As to Ukraine: if Russia wanted to, it could take all of Ukraine in two weeks. But Putin doesn’t want to, for several reasons. Aggressive military action, is inherently problematic, so Putin endeavors to employ the absolute minimum of military force. Second, Russia has obvious defensive interests which can be and have been satisfied with almost zero direct military involvement. Russia provided expert military intelligence, planning, and weapons to the breakaway east, enabling its successful defense against Kiev, and thereby creating a strategic buffer zone against NATO forces on the Russian border. Meanwhile, Crimea was restored to Russian control without so much as a paper cut, persuasively legitimized by the iconic Western standard electoral process. Simply put, Putin has won,… masterfully.

        Twice, the coup-installed govt of Ukraine attempted military action against the breakaway east, and in both cases they were decisively defeated. In each case, the territory of the breakaway east has been enlarged, and could easily have been more substantially enlarged. The result of this “schooling” of the Kiev coup govt, has been peace accords — the Minsk agreements — that essentially confirm Kiev’s defeat. Without the ceasefire and negotiations, Kiev would have continued to lose territory, so they accepted the reality, temporarily, and bit the bullet. They didn’t like it, but they had two unpleasant options: lose, or lose worse.

        The final factor in Putin’s policy of minimal intervention is the fact that Ukraine remains an economic basket case, and Putin would rather stick the US/EU with that albatross than hang it on Russia’s neck. Absolute strategic brilliance. Greater Ukraine will wither and die, and eventually be reconfigured into NATO-restricted autonomous zones. Just a matter of time. So Putin waits patiently — he’s already won — for the inevitable confirmation of his victory.

        Kiev didn’t like their defeat — well, duh! — so now they’re stalling on implementation of Minsk agreements, because they basically implement Kiev’s “surrender”. The neocons, defeated, also aren’t happy. So the neocons and Kiev have been holding out, pimping for a renewal of military action, this time backed by US/NATO. Not gonna happen.

        Trump’s election puts an end to that hope, and maybe even an end to neocon influence in US affairs. In which case the entire world can look to the possibility, even, that peace may break out. We shall see.

        • DV
          November 30, 2016 at 05:16

          Right to the point. The “solution” proposed in the article is the same “solution” proposed earlier. That is no solution at all ro rather a solution that should lead Trump into a trap with regard to his promise to restore the Russian/US relations.

          It should work much more simple than that. Trump should let US sanctions die in March, when those are to be renewed, stating the same thing he used to state in the election campaign – “it is a European problem”. In that case EU would have little choice, but to drop its sanctions too. Ukraine will then have no other choice, but to start a new war (Trump should make clear to Poroshenko that the US will let Russia win to discourage such adventure) or to settle according to Minsk accords. Crimea issue can be put aside for now, provided that US/EU remove most of the restrictions (visa issuance, port entry, supply of equipment, etc.). March sanctions renewal will be a litmus test of Trump’s willingness and ability to work constructively with Russia. Nothing will happen without the removal of sanctions, that is the starting point for any restoration of relations.

          For Trump this should not be a problem as he would be distancing himself from Obama’s failed polices. For the EU it is going to be a “capitulation”, but I do not think they really have much of a choice. If Trump ends sanctions, this will be the best moment to end the EU’s sanctions. The sanctions regime will collapse sooner or later (probably sooner than later), so the EU would be best advised to end it in orderly manner.

      • wootendw
        November 25, 2016 at 15:24

        “Putin will receive a very extreme and swift reaction from Poland if he plays his games there.”

        Poland belongs to NATO and Russia would not dare attack it. Russia may look big on a map but its population (145m) and GDP (about $2 trillion) are small fractions of NATO’s 900m people and $37 trillion GDP. NATO’s borders are 600m east of where they were when the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. Even without the US, the NATO countries of Europe have four time Russia’s population and 10 times its economy. As Putin has said, only in mad man’s dream would Russia attack NATO.

        On the other hand, if NATO attacks Russia, Russia’s only defense is its nuclear arsenal. They would most certainly use it if attacked rather than let the West do to them as it did to Libya – and Iraq and Afghanistan and Serbia, etc. That’s why they are putting up nuclear-capable missiles near Poland.

    • Karina
      December 3, 2016 at 22:29

      Crimea is as Russian as Uzbekistan or Kazakhstan or Georgia…. Crimea BELONGS to tatars,NOT Russians or Ukrainians… But Russia will never admit that.

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