After Venezuela accused the United States of plotting another coup, State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki rejected the claim as “ludicrous.” She said, “As a matter of long-standing policy, the United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means.” The response from reporters may surprise you.
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Below is the response I received to the email I sent to my MP – David Hamilton, Labour – regarding David Cameron’s decision to send 75 military “advisers” to Ukraine, despite a new ceasefire having just been negotiated in the Normandy Four format (ie. between France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine). The text from my email can be found here. I have heard that France has distanced itself from Cameron’s plan, and that Hollande’s administration is still committed to reaching a diplomatic settlement. Yesterday President Putin met with Gérard Larcher – the President of the French Senate – in Moscow, further highlighting the conciliatory tone between the two nations. Read details from their meeting here.
Dear Ms Stephenson
Thank you for your email with your concerns on David Cameron’s position on Ukraine.
I am aware that David Cameron announced that UK military trainers are to be deployed to help Ukraine forces stave off further Russian backed incursions into its sovereign territory.
This decision has been under consideration by the UK national security council since late last year and it would be the first deployment of British troops to the country since the near civil war in eastern Ukraine began more than a year ago.
This is part of a training mission providing advice on medical training, logistics, intelligence analysis and infantry training. I understand that this is an action meant to alert the Russians that Britain does not approve of further large scale occupations of towns in Ukraine
David Cameron has also argued for tougher sanctions against Moscow if Russia backed militias in eastern Ukraine and failed to observe the provisions of a ceasefire agreement.
This is indeed a worrying situation and it may of course fuel Russia’s wrath with the EU and needs to be handled delicately.
I like you, agree it is not as black and white as it seems. We need to take a more even handed approach to what is happening. I was extremely disappointed that we were not there along with the Germans and the French at the summit that was held with Russia and the Ukraine.
I am also deeply concerned about the state of the other countries in the region. However for my part and my Party I will be keeping a very close eye on the situation.
Thank you for sharing your views.
DAVID HAMILTON MP
Member of Parliament for Midlothian
I was disappointed that Hamilton did not address my concerns regarding the contradiction between sending British soldiers and supporting the Minsk agreement, which requires all foreign troops to leave the country. It is also discouraging to see references to ‘Russian backed incursions’ and ‘Russia’s wrath with the EU’, but no mention of the will of the people of Eastern Ukraine, who have been living under constant shelling for almost a year now. It seems like there is little difference between Hamilton’s view of the situation and that of the PM. However, another member of the Labour Party – I’ve forgotten who – said in an interview to RT this week that there was a great deal of disapproval to Cameron’s maneuver in Parliament. This was due to its inflammatory nature, and because the announcement was made having only been decided by a few members of Cameron’s Cabinet – rather than following a debate in the House of Commons and with widespread support.
While John Kerry and Joe Biden insist that there’s been no split within the US/EU/NATO countries on how to approach the situation and ‘deal with’ Russia, it seems like this honeymoon phase of the coalition may truly be at an end now. While most of Europe seems to favour a rapprochement with Russia; the US, UK, Canada, Poland and the Baltic states are clamoring for more sanctions and won’t rule out sending weapons. Since Cameron’s announcement, Poland has declared that it will now send 100 trainers, with Canada likely to follow. At this rate Putin doesn’t need to do anything in retaliation, he can merely sit back and watch as the EU caves in on itself once and for all.
The following text is an open letter by former Ukrainian MP Elena Bondarenko, detailing her experiences in parliament. Written a few months ago, it’s an insightful reflection of the current political situation in the country. The grim reality is being covered up and glossed over by the Ukrainian press and the establishment media in the US and Europe, therefore it is vital that this information be disseminated widely via alternative sources.
My friends, here is my declaration. I ask that you share it to the extent possible. If you can translate it into other languages, please do!
I, Elena Bondarenko, People’s Deputy from the Party of Regions, finding myself in opposition to the current power in Ukraine, wish to declare that this administration has resorted to direct threats of physical elimination of the opposition in Ukraine; has resorted to suspending the right of freedom of speech, in parliament and out, and is implicated in complicity in crimes not just against politicians, but even against their children. The everyday life of an opposition deputy is this: constant threats, unofficial ban from the airwaves, targeted persecution. Everyone who calls for peace is immediately branded as an enemy of the people, just as in 1930’s Germany, or in McCarthyite US.
A few days ago, Arseniy Avakov, the Minister of the Interior, an ardent adherent of the so-called Party of War of the Ukraine, said the following: “When Elena Bondarenko comes to the podium to speak, my hand automatically reaches for my gun.” This, I emphasize, are the words of a man entrusted with the supreme police power of the country. Further: exactly one week ago, Alexander Turchinov the Speaker of the Ukrainian Parliament, deprived me of the right to speak from the podium as a member of the opposition Party of Regions, only for this: I declared “Any power that commissions its army to bomb its peaceful cities, is criminal.” After which, he magnanimously gave the radical parliamentarians the option to call for shooting the opposition. Considering that my car was shot at last year, when the extremists were already arming with weapons, [a fact on record with the police, on my complaint] such threats aimed at me must be taken seriously.
Further, I will inform everyone, who does not already know it, that the current leadership is covering up those who dared to raise a hand against the son of another opposition politician, Vladimir Oleinik. Ruslan Oleinik, performing his duties as regional prosecutor, was beaten up at his office, endangering his health, and even his life. Did they investigate the beating of a prosecutor performing his duty? No. Did they investigate the monstrous pressure on the leader of the opposition? No. Instead, this administration fired the prosecutor! Every day, from his colleagues I learn of beatings of their aides, of attacks on their companies, of threats, yes, even attacks, on their lives, their health, their property.
The Ukrainian media is completely sanitized from this information, and the typical Ukrainian has no idea that a criminal struggle is taking place against the opposition, and that the constitutional right of free speech is suppressed in every way. The journalists who overcome their fear and work honestly are subject to attack by nationalist mobs, but the organizers and participants of these pogroms are not punished, even when they are recorded on videos and photographs.
I call upon those international organizations that proclaim their support of democratic principles not just to notice this declaration, but to get involved in this struggle for the preservation and respect for the democratic rights and freedoms of the citizens of Ukraine.
The methods of the junta in their struggle for power, or rather, for the establishment of a Ukrainian dictatorship, have nothing to do with any concept of “democracy.” If the international community does nothing in the face of these egregious acts, it will look like complicity and silent approbation of all these crimes which are being committed in Ukraine. The free world will lose an outpost, Ukraine. All who fight for democracy, rule of law, and the rights of man, together, can achieve a lot. But only together can we stop the junta and the fratricidal war in Ukraine.
As Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s newly formed People’s Party ended up taking the largest number of votes at last month’s parliamentary elections – 22.2% to the Poroshenko Bloc’s 21.8% – we should also take a moment to recognise those responsible for Yatsenyuk’s appointed leadership, particularly The US Department of State’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland.
Nuland is a career neocon, who has worked for both Republican and Democrat administrations. Stephen Lendman has noted her previous roles:
Early in her career, she covered Russian internal politics at Washington’s Moscow embassy. She served on Washington’s Soviet Desk. She worked in the State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. She served in Guangzou, China. She was Deputy to the Ambassador-at-Large for the Newly Independent States of the Former Soviet Union. She directed a task force on Russia, its neighbors and an expanding NATO. She was Clinton’s Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott’s chief of staff. She was Deputy Permanent Representative to NATO. She was a National War College faculty member. She was Obama’s Special Envoy for Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. On September 18, 2013, she was appointed Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.
Her husband is Project for the New American Century (PNAC) co-founder Robert Kanan. He’s a neocon foreign policy theorist/hardliner. He advised John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. He served on Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board. The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) is PNAC’s current incarnation. He’s a board of directors member. He represents the worst of America’s dark side.*
Additionally, Nuland’s brother-in-law Frederick Kagan is a ‘resident scholar’ at neocon think tank The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, who along with Robert and their father Donald, are all signatories to PNAC’s manifesto Rebiulding America’s Defences. Frederick’s wife Kimberley founded the Institute for the Study of War, a foreign policy think tank funded through donations by defense giants such as General Dynamics and Raytheon. What a family! This is truly a shining example of the military-industrial-complex in action.
Nuland gained attention due to her prolific appearances at Kiev’s Independence Square earlier this year, where she and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt handed out cookies to protesters. However the full extent of her involvement in the Ukraine crisis only came about following the interception and leaking of the following phone conversation between herself and Pyatt:
Nuland: What do you think?
Pyatt: I think we’re in play. The Klitschko piece is obviously the complicated electron here. Especially the announcement of him as deputy prime minister and you’ve seen some of my notes on the troubles in the marriage right now so we’re trying to get a read really fast on where he is on this stuff. But I think your argument to him, which you’ll need to make, I think that’s the next phone call you want to set up, is exactly the one you made to Yats. And I’m glad you sort of put him on the spot on where he fits in this scenario. And I’m very glad that he said what he said in response.
Nuland: Good. I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea.
Pyatt: Yeah. I guess… in terms of him not going into the government, just let him stay out and do his political homework and stuff. I’m just thinking in terms of sort of the process moving ahead we want to keep the moderate democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok and his guys and I’m sure that’s part of what Yanukovych is calculating on all this.
Nuland: [Breaks in] I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the… what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in… he’s going to be at that level working for Yatseniuk, it’s just not going to work.
Pyatt: Yeah, no, I think that’s right. OK. Good. Do you want us to set up a call with him as the next step?
Nuland: My understanding from that call – but you tell me – was that the big three were going into their own meeting and that Yats was going to offer in that context a… three-plus-one conversation or three-plus-two with you. Is that not how you understood it?
Pyatt: No. I think… I mean that’s what he proposed but I think, just knowing the dynamic that’s been with them where Klitschko has been the top dog, he’s going to take a while to show up for whatever meeting they’ve got and he’s probably talking to his guys at this point, so I think you reaching out directly to him helps with the personality management among the three and it gives you also a chance to move fast on all this stuff and put us behind it before they all sit down and he explains why he doesn’t like it.
Nuland: OK, good. I’m happy. Why don’t you reach out to him and see if he wants to talk before or after.
Pyatt: OK, will do. Thanks.
Nuland: OK… one more wrinkle for you Geoff. I can’t remember if I told you this, or if I only told Washington this, that when I talked to Jeff Feltman [United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs] this morning, he had a new name for the UN guy Robert Serry did I write you that this morning?
Pyatt: Yeah I saw that.
Nuland: OK. He’s now gotten both Serry and Ban Ki-moon to agree that Serry could come in Monday or Tuesday. So that would be great, I think, to help glue this thing and to have the UN help glue it and, you know, Fuck the EU.
Pyatt: No, exactly. And I think we’ve got to do something to make it stick together because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude, that the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it. And again the fact that this is out there right now, I’m still trying to figure out in my mind why Yanukovych (garbled) that. In the meantime there’s a Party of Regions faction meeting going on right now and I’m sure there’s a lively argument going on in that group at this point. But anyway we could land jelly side up on this one if we move fast. So let me work on Klitschko and if you can just keep… we want to try to get somebody with an international personality to come out here and help to midwife this thing. The other issue is some kind of outreach to Yanukovych but we probably regroup on that tomorrow as we see how things start to fall into place.
Nuland: So on that piece Geoff, when I wrote the note [US vice-president’s national security adviser Jake] Sullivan’s come back to me VFR [direct to me], saying you need Biden and I said probably tomorrow for an ‘atta-boy’ and to get the deets [details] to stick. So Biden’s willing.
Pyatt: OK. Great. Thanks.
Unsurprisingly, Washington’s response to this conversation was to criticise Russia, with State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki calling it “a new low in Russian tradecraft.” White House Spokesman Jay Carney noted that “it says something about Russia,” that they would tap the phone call (obviously the CIA are above such ploys). Similarly, BBC diplomatic correspondent Jonathan Marcus commented that “The clear purpose in leaking this conversation is to embarrass Washington and for audiences susceptible to Moscow’s message to portray the US as interfering in Ukraine’s domestic affairs.” The media also chose to focus on Nuland’s “fuck the EU,” rather than the blatant brokering of a post-coup government that made up the rest of the conversation. The utter failure of the corporate media to conduct any analysis of the exchange’s substance once again proves its disinterest in questioning our governments and holding them to account.
It should be noted that the call took place more than two weeks prior to the ousting of President Yanukovych, showing that the 22 February coup was planned well in advance. It is also another example of the increasingly questionable role that embassies and ambassadors play in America’s quest for global hegemony.
Referring to embassies as ‘imperialist outposts’, Norman Pollack states:
Lines are becoming blurred in the table of organization—the State Department, CIA, Pentagon, White House—all, with some rubbing of elbows, have been pressed in the service of imperialism, less cohesive than POTUS would like, but sufficiently unified as to make US embassies active weapons, stalking horses, outposts (whichever you prefer) in establishing, solidifying, and focusing the power of America’s presence in a global geopolitical strategy of military-economic-ideological dominance, loathe, on Obama’s watch, to be relinquished as the world structure itself is in process of decentralizing.
While Pollack’s essay makes reference to the Benghazi embassy incident – where diplomacy functioned as cover for a covert CIA gun-running operation to Syria – his words can easily be applied to the situation in Ukraine, and no doubt in many other countries. In 2009 the US opened its largest embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, which is currently said to employ around 5,500 staff – down from 11,500 in January 2013; it contains a six lane swimming pool, indoor basketball court, and outdoor football pitch. The Green Zone in which this so-called ‘mega-bunker of Baghdad’ is located, is off-limits to most Iraqis. With the US having now “officially” left Iraq, the size of its embassy and its huge number of staff, working inside the sprawling Green Zone, has led Iraqis to question who is actually running their country, the Iraqi government, or America?
Facing an increasingly multipolar world, it is likely that embassies will continue to serve as outposts for espionage and subterfuge, with many new countries seemingly now appearing in line for a dose of Washington’s regime change. These include Russia, Venezuela and Hungary. While America is currently pursuing the opening of diplomatic ties with Cuba, and is hoping to open an embassy in Havana fairly soon, the State Department has said that their policy to overthrow the Castros has not changed, and they will continue to fund covert “democracy promotion” operations in the country.
While Republicans and Democrats come and go, the neocons in the State Department stay the same.
*Stephen Lendman, Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III