11:37 AM, Jan 29, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
Ever since March 2014 when President Obama referred to Russian aggression against Ukraine as an "invasion," administration officials have avoided that word in conjunction with the ongoing conflict. In fact, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey R. Pyatt's declared on April 29, 2014, that "Russian troops crossing Ukraine's borders would be a major escalation, and would draw an inevitable, sharp reaction from the United States," implying that, President Obama's March remarks notwithstanding, no Russian troops had "invaded."
Even as recently as this week, Ambassador Samantha Power at the United Nations charged Russia with training, supplying, aiding, and arming separatists in Ukraine, but stopped short of saying that Russian troops were engaged across the border in Ukraine. And Wednesday, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, in Kyiv for a meeting with Ukrainian finance minister Jaresko referred to the "ongoing military offensive... being carried out by Russia-backed separatists," but made no mention of Russian forces.
However, when asked to comment on remarks by a U.S. Army general that suggested Russian special operations forces are playing an active role in the conflict, a State Department spokesperson replied:
We cannot confirm specific numbers, but the Russian military has a significant presence in Ukraine. In late December, Russia transferred more than one hundred additional pieces of Russian military equipment and material to pro-Russia separatists. The latest transfer complements the previous transfer of hundreds of pieces of Russian military equipment provided to pro-Russia separatists since the September 5 Minsk ceasefire agreement, including tanks, armored personnel carriers, heavy artillery pieces, and other military vehicles.
There are several sites near the Ukraine border, which serve as staging points before transporting Russian military equipment to pro-Russia separatists in Ukraine. Russian combat forces remain deployed near the Ukraine border, and Russian military forces still operate in eastern Ukraine, where they play a coordinating role and provide ongoing tactical support to pro-Russia separatists.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has been more vocal about Russian military activity in eastern Ukraine beyond simply supplying and training separatists. In remarks Tuesday at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium, Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel suggested that Russian special operations forces are active in the conflict:
[A] resurgent Russia is now employing coercive techniques against its neighbor using [special operations] forces, other clandestine capabilities, information operations, other cyber operations and groupings of ethnic proxies and surrogates to drive wedges into our key allies in East Europe.
General Votel seemed to distinguish between the activities of Russian forces and "groupings of ethnic proxies and surrogates," presumably the separatist forces in Ukraine that have been fighting Ukrainian forces in the eastern part of that country since early 2014. When asked for comment, a DOD spokesperson said, "The general referred to the use of Special Operations Forces and Information Operations. In the US military, Special Operations Forces is an umbrella term for all special operations units to include units that conduct Military Information Support Operations or MISO. MISO, also referred to as Psychological Operations, is a subset of Information Operations and has nothing to do forces on the ground."
A second DOD spokesperson's comments mirrored those of the State Department, and also called on Russia to fulfill the Minsk agreement by "withdrawing all troops and weapons from eastern Ukraine":
11:42 PM, Jan 20, 2015 • By DANIEL HALPER
MNSBC's Andrea Mitchell knocked President Obama's description of the world in the State of the Union address as "not close reality":
"I think that on foreign policy, his projection of success against terrorism and against ISIS, in particular, as I said, is not close to reality," said Mitchell.
7:13 AM, Jan 15, 2015 • By JERYL BIER
In April, the Obama administration announced plans for financial aid, advisers, and 'non-lethal' security assistance for Ukraine in its struggle against Russian encroachment on its territory. Eight months later, citing the "urgent and compelling need to establish security and stability," the White
And the ruble is in free-fall.Dec 22, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 15 • By CATHY YOUNG
A year ago, Ukraine’s “Euro-maidan” protests, spurred by then-president Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to reject a promised trade agreement with the European Union and rush into the well-paid embrace of Vladimir Putin, began to escalate in Kiev, turning to violent clashes with government forces. A Ukrainian revolution, a Russian land grab, and months of undeclared war later, we still don’t know whether these events signaled the beginning of a revival of Russian power or the beginning of the end of the Putin regime.
11:38 AM, Nov 20, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Europe is experiencing increased, and threatening, intrusions by Russian aircraft and:
NATO war planes have had to scramble 400 times this year in response ... a rise of 50 percent over last year, the new secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said on Thursday.
7:29 AM, Oct 23, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
While some in Congress have warned that Russian involvement in Ukraine portends a "looming" new cold war, Obama administration officials have for the most part brushed off the comparison.
2:40 PM, Oct 7, 2014 • By JEFFREY GEDMIN
"Even wallpaper has a better memory than human beings," says protagonist Oskar in Guenter Grass's acclaimed 1959 novel, later an academy award winning film, the Tin Drum.
Putin’s success has been exaggerated.Sep 29, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 03 • By CATHY YOUNG
The conflict in Ukraine took some dramatic turns this month that led many observers to conclude that the Kremlin was succeeding in its effort to keep Ukraine under Russia’s thumb, with the collusion of a spineless West. Actually, while Russia has wrested some concessions, the handwringing is largely unwarranted—so far. But much depends on the West’s willingness to continue applying pressure to Russia and offer meaningful aid to Ukraine. And, even in the best-case scenario, a “frozen conflict” zone in eastern Ukraine is a likely and troubling outcome.
12:00 PM, Sep 10, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
House Speaker John Boehner has invited Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko to address a joint session of Congress. The speech is scheduled for September 18.
Hosted by Michael Graham.4:14 PM, Sep 5, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior writer Stephen F. Hayes on why you shouldn't bet on President Obama using any muscle on his foreign policy.
No U.S. leadership, no NATO.Sep 15, 2014, Vol. 20, No. 01 • By JOHN R. BOLTON
Vladimir Putin’s efforts to establish hegemony over Ukraine may now have reached a decisive point both for the balance of power in Central and Eastern Europe and for the NATO alliance. Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko warned on August 30 that Russia’s invasion of his country and extensive aid to pro-Moscow separatists could soon “reach the point of no return,” becoming a generalized conflict. German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said that “the situation is increasingly getting out of control.”
2:10 PM, Aug 29, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
New rule for investors: Don’t listen to stock tips from White House flacks. As Steven Dennis of Roll Call writes, then White House press secretary Jay Carney said at the March 18 daily dog and pony show, when asked about the effects of sanctions on Russia:
9:10 AM, Aug 29, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Russia has "outright lied" to the United Nations about its actions in Ukraine, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power charged during an emergency meeting Thursday of the Security Council. "At every step, Russia has come before this Council to say everything except the truth," Power said. "It has manipulated. It has obfuscated. It has outright lied.