It's said that hopeless causes are the only ones worth fighting for. At first blush, that's Ukraine. On a recent visit to Kiev, we heard account after account of the problems facing Ukraine, the two most serious being corruption and the ongoing conflict with Russia. Two doozies, to be sure.
Corruption is ubiquitous. Famously, Ukrainian oligarchs have stolen massive amounts of the country's wealth and used that wealth to control Ukraine's political order. But corruption is pervasive in daily life as well. It's not uncommon for university students to pay to take their exams, defend a thesis, or obtain their diploma.Read more
On October 22, Ekho Moskvy radio station in Moscow reported that in an act of desperation a local political activist in the Ural Mountains region, Vladimir Chukavin, managed to have a thoroughfare renamed “Putin Straße.” The new name is now written on street signs in Germanic Latin script above its former name, still shown in the original Cyrillic.
In defending the Iran nuclear deal to Congress, President Obama and his staff argued repeatedly that rejection would leave America in dire isolation at the United Nations. Obama can now relax. Having used slash-and-burn executive tactics to roll right over a dissenting majority in Congress and a disapproving American public, he can look forward to celebrating this deal with those more likely to applaud it, when he speaks September 28 at the 70th annual General Assembly in New York.Read more
It is late evening as we approach the second of three checkpoints on the road to the frontline city of Mariupol, in southeastern Ukraine. A vital port on the Azov Sea, Mariupol is heavily fortified by land and by sea.
“I try not to drive these roads after dark,” says Gena, who is taking me and my cameraman from Zaporizhia to visit the Jewish community of Mariupol. “It’s more dangerous at night.”Read more
Has NATO become a paper tiger, trying (and failing) to stand up to a resurgent Russian bear? A speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Wednesday addressed this issue, discussing both the challenges facing the 66-year-old alliance, and Stoltenberg’s vision for its future in what he termed a “changed” security environment.Read more
A month and a half has passed since Boris Nemtsov, the Russian political activist who rose to prominence as a dynamic young reformer in the 1990s and later became one of the fiercest critics of Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian rule, was shot dead a few blocks from the Kremlin. The shocking murder, which quickly raised questions about the Putin regime’s culpability, has largely faded from the headlines in the Western press.Read more
Last week’s Minsk agreement, by which France and Germany in effect codified the cession to Russia of Kiev’s sovereignty over southeastern Ukraine, has temporarily taken the issue of Russia’s aggression in Ukraine off the table and thus off the conscience of the West. But the question whether the United States and its allies should arm Ukraine (and later Georgia? Moldova? Estonia? Latvia?) is going to arise again and again in the months and years ahead.Read more
The CBC reports that:
Ukraine's deputy foreign minister says he is preparing for "full-scale war" against Russia and wants Canada to help by supplying lethal weapons and the training to use them. Vadym Prystaiko, who until last fall was Ukraine's ambassador to Canada, says the world must not be afraid of joining Ukraine in the fight against a nuclear power.Read more
Former Texas governor Rick Perry is taking on Russian president Vladimir Putin. The possible presidential candidate says that the "peace and security of the world" depends on how America deals with Russia.
Here's what Perry recommends doing to counter Putin's recent aggression:Read more
The 2001 film Conspiracy reconstructs the infamous January 20, 1942, Wannsee conference, during which the following exchange supposedly took place between Rudolf Lange, a Nazi extermination unit commander who liquidated Latvia’s Jewish population of 250,000 in six months, and Friedrich Wilhelm Kritzinger of the Reich chancellery:
Vice President Joe Biden had an interesting exchange with the president of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko. The two were speaking in front of reporters at the Munich Security Conference.
The exchange was captured by the on-site pool reporter:
As the pool came in, Mr. Biden and Mr. Poroshenko made small talk over the press pool and their handlers.Read more
Vice President Joe Biden is in Europe today where how spoke out against Vladimir Putin's aggression toward Ukraine.
"Ukraine is fighting for its very survival right now. Russia continues to escalate the conflict by sending mercenaries and tanks and as we euphemistically say in the United States, Little Green Men, without patches in, and very sophisticated special operation soldiers," Biden said at the European Council building in Brussels.Read more
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.Read more
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 WhiteRead more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
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.”Read more
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