Are Ukraine’s Russian Separatists Being Abandoned by Putin?
by JBS President John F. McManus
The population of Eastern Ukraine bordering Russia is ethnically Russian. The same could be said of the Crimean peninsula in southeast Ukraine, the region absorbed by Russia earlier in 2014. After Russia’s successful (to date) absorption of Crimea, large Russian-speaking enclaves in other portions of the beleaguered country wanted the same absorption to occur for them.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin certainly gave the go-ahead for his forces to take Crimea, but he now seems to be backing away after initially supplying support in the bloody conflict being conducted by separatist forces in Eastern Ukraine. The Associated Press cites a pro-Russian separatist fighter in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk who wonders why expected help isn’t arriving: “What is Putin waiting for? We had hoped for help from Russia but we have been abandoned. Our strength is nearing an end and the Ukrainian army is advancing.”
Donetsk has seen 20 percent of its population of one million flee from fighting that has raged for several weeks. The ethnically Russian separatist forces have lately taken to confiscating vehicles, food, and any other useful resources from the people. But Putin seems now to have decided to ignore any more cries for help from the separatists he originally encouraged.
Without doubt, the Russian leader fomented the trouble engulfing the area. He took action after pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted by Ukrainian nationalists earlier this year. New Ukrainian leadership opposes separation of more of the country’s territory and newly elected President Petro Poroshenko even hinted at wanting to ally with Western Europe and the European Union, and even affiliate with NATO. Fancying himself as the equal of all of his opposition to the West, Putin sought to demonstrate a self-deluding major player stature with his moves against Ukraine. He instead brought a series of economic sanctions on his country that seem to have gotten his attention.
What the immediate future will bring to Ukraine is unknown. After debacles in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan, the American people have grown intensely disinclined to have our government get militarily involved in any more frays. We can only agree with that sentiment. America’s chosen role as policeman of the world has got to stop.
Oil, Ukraine, and a Sweet Deal for Putin
by JBS President John F. McManus
The Bakken energy field amounts to the largest domestic oil discovery since the one at Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay. Stretching over North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana (also into Canada’s Saskatchewan province), the amount of recoverable oil in this region could do away with any need to import the precious commodity. Small cities in western North Dakota have been overrun with eager job seekers who are benefitting greatly from the need for more and more workers. But there’s a need for a pipeline to transport this oil to refineries in states to the south.
Not only is the Bakken capable of releasing OPEC’s hold on our nation, additional discoveries now known to exist under the Rocky Mountain states hold an estimated three to four times what is being tapped in North Dakota and its neighbors. Shortly after beginning his second term in 2005, President George W. Bush gave the order for extracting this treasure. But nothing has been done.
The Keystone pipeline project proposes to ship crude oil from the Bakken and from Canadian oil sands projects to refineries in our nation’s southern states. But hurdles are still blocking its construction. If the Keystone pipeline were constructed, there would be no need for imports from unfriendly Venezuela and unpredictable Russia.. Yes, our nation does import oil from these two countries while also continuing to receive imports from the Middle East.
Environmental groups continue to block development of known resources and needed pipelines. Is it possible that nations who benefit financially and diplomatically from impediments placed in the way of energy independence are financing some of these environmental organizations? Also, why does our own government continue to be a hindrance rather than helping America to become independent?
On the other side of the globe, we see that energy starved Ukraine is highly dependent on Russia for natural gas. But Ukraine is also in dire financial straits, owing many billions for energy already received from its eastern neighbor. American foreign aid, supplied to Ukraine in response to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula, ends up in the coffers of Russia’s Vladimir Putin for natural gas payments. Is this why he ordered the occupation of Crimea? Should the American people fill Putin’s pockets?
The need for oil and natural gas is obvious. But, if our nation acts in proper self-interest, America can gain release from dependence on foreign energy suppliers. Will the Obama administration continue to drag its feet on energy matters? Will the environmentalists be told to get out of the way of progress toward energy independence? Time will tell. Energy independence can be had if U.S. leaders do what good sense calls upon them to do.
The Inconsequential G-7 Snub of Russia: Some History of the Ukrainians
by JBS President John F. McManus
Over many centuries, the country now known as Ukraine has for a time been considered part of Lithuania, Poland, Russia, or even Austria. Modern Ukraine became independent during a war that lasted from 1917 to 1921. No sooner had independence been won than communist Russia took control and Ukraine became the first of the many totally dominated nations in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). The Soviet-induced famine of 1932-33 then killed somewhere between six and eight million persons and certainly resulted in hatred of Russian dominance among many.During World War II, Nazi forces were greeted as liberators by Ukranians, especially in the country’s west. But there was always a desire on the part of many to reject both German and Russian dominance. Nevertheless, by the end of WWII, the Soviet Union acquired total dominance and Ukraine, along with nearby Belarus, was awarded a seat in the United Nations where both unfailingly followed USSR dictates.
When the USSR dissolved in 1991, Ukraine once again began to function as an independent nation. More than 90 percent of the people voted for complete autonomy in a 1991 referendum, but, in Crimea, the desire to separate from Russia won support from only 56 percent. That number in Crimea has eroded because a large proportion of those living in the peninsula are ethnically Russia and speak the Russian language. From then until now, Ukranians have been split over whether to look westward toward the European Union, or look to the east to Russia for their commerce and friendship. Only recently, as is well-known, Vladimir Putin’s Russia decided to retake the Crimean peninsula and Russian military forces backed up the move with a show of force. Many Crimeans seem happy about the development while those in other parts of Ukraine are not. A recent plebiscite in Crimea resulted in the residents choosing to be part of Russia, but the plebiscite’s result has been deemed rigged and a violation of the nation’s constitution.
To register their disapproval of Russia’s move into Ukraine, leaders of the economically powerful G-7 nations (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Canada and the United States) disinvited Russia to their latest gathering, which, in reality, had become the G-8 group that has more recently included Russia. Meeting in The Hague on March 24th, the G-7 leaders canceled their scheduled plan to meet with Russia for a June G-8 session in Sochi, Russia. This step, along with sanctions imposed by several nations to protest Russia’s Crimean takeover, was supposed to influence Putin. But expecting Russia to withdraw from Crimea seems improbable even though UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon condemned Russia’s action.
Now, the G-20 group consisting of the G-8 plus a dozen more emerging economic powers has entered the fray. Representatives of these 20 nations are scheduled to meet in Australia next November. When the possibility of excluding Russia from the G-20 summit was announced by an Australian official, G-20 members Brazil, China, India and South Africa immediately denounced the idea. They claimed that “hostile language, sanctions, and counter-sanctions” won’t lead to a peaceful resolution to the incident. Peace, it seems, will exist if the Putin takeover isn’t reversed. That is unlikely.
Incidents like what has occurred in Ukraine have the potential for starting world conflagrations. But chances that this will be an outcome are remote. Other nations might not like Putin’s retaking of Crimea, but it’s possible that the people who live there like what he has just done. If so, the rest of the world, especially the already overstretched United States, should mind its own business. We should hearken to the wise words of President George Washington given during his farewell address in 1796:
The great rule of conduct for us in regard to foreign nations is in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible …. It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.
Ukraine-related articles at The New American:
Borrowing Paves the Way Toward Servitude
by JBS President John F. McManus
Chapter 22, Verse 7, of Holy Scripture’s Book of Proverbs tells us what our nation can expect because of heavy indebtedness and consequent borrowing. It says very bluntly, “… the borrower is servant to him that lendeth.”
We can’t be sure that any Russian official has read Holy Scripture. But it is certain that some Russians didn’t need the Good Book to figure out that a borrower puts himself in a subservient position.
In the wake of the Russian occupation of the Crimean Peninsula, officials in Washington issued stern warnings to the Russian government. One key threat stated by President Barack Obama informed Moscow that assets held by Russians in U.S. banks could be frozen if the takeover continued. His warning was supposed to scare Vladimir Putin and various Russian plutocrats into canceling the takeover. But Mr. Obama’s not only didn’t frighten any Russian official, it made some of them angry. The blustering out of Washington had a reverse effect that could imperil the U.S. far more than anything waved in front of Putin and his team. On March 17th, the U.S. President made good on his threat and ordered the freezing of some Russian assets. Russian officials reacted with laughter. Putin is placing his own sanctions on U.S. Senators.
Sergei Glazyev is a top advisor to Putin. On March 4th, according to a report published by the Russian news agency Novosti – and reported in the U.S. by Barron’s – Glazyev showed very clearly his belief that considerable leverage in this confrontation is held by his country, not by the United States. With the blessing of Vladimir Putin, he thundered:
We hold a decent amount of Treasury bonds – more than $200 billion – and if the United States dares to freeze accounts of Russian businesses and citizens, we can no longer view America as a reliable partner. We will encourage everybody to dump U.S. Treasury bonds, get rid of dollars as an unreliable currency, and leave the U.S. market.
Japan and China each hold far more U.S. Treasury bonds than does Russia. Looking at the amounts realistically, Russia’s $200 billion is almost pocket change compared to what these two Asian governments possess. Should the U.S. offend either of them, or should they follow the course laid out by Glazyev, or should either or both simply decide to pull the plug on the dollar, one or the other could dump their holdings and cause the dollar to resemble the worthless Zimbabwean currency of only a few years ago. According to Glazyev, Japan and China may indeed be prodded by Russia to do so.
Right now, the admitted U.S. national debt stands at approximately $17.5 trillion dollars. Much of it has been “serviced” by foreign purchases of U.S. bonds. Another large portion has resulted from the Federal Reserve creation of dollars out of thin air, new dollars to cover domestic deficits and to bail out shaky banks both here and overseas. Yet, deficit spending continues and the sacrosanct “independence” of the Fed remains unaudited and uncontrolled.
U.S. leaders have placed our country’s neck in a noose. Instead of working to extricate America from its predicament, a merry march toward insolvency and loss of sovereignty continues as if there will always be a lender. Congress recently passed legislation to allow the national debt to rise and, while at it, members didn’t even place a ceiling on how high it could go. Blame for this outrage should be directed at Republican leaders and most Democrats who arranged also to keep government debt much less of an issue during the 2014 election cycle.
Will American awaken in time to keep our country free of servitude to its lenders? Only God Himself knows for sure, but we can all be certain that what was stated in His Book of Proverbs can’t be denied.
Ukraine: U.S. Should Stay Out
by JBS President John F. McManus
As Ukrainians well know, being Russia’s neighbor can be frightening. One doesn’t have to go back too far in history to know that the 1930s saw Stalin’s forces led by Nikita Khrushchev create a famine in Ukraine that killed upwards of seven million. Food was either shipped out of the country or destroyed in one of the more barbarous crimes ever committed by man against man. It was even remarkably horrible for the Soviet Union’s monsters.
Against the desires of a vast majority of the Ukrainian people, their country existed for most of the 20th century as one of the dozen Soviet satellite nations totally controlled by the Kremlin. At the founding of the UN in 1945, Stalin even inveigled a General Assembly vote for the Ukrainian SSR, something that would have been akin to awarding a vote for Puerto Rico that would, of course, have been controlled by the United States.
The southeastern portion of Ukraine contains the Crimean peninsula jutting out into the Black Sea. It is, for history buffs, the home of Yalta, the resort community where Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin met early in 1945. The three carved up Europe and the Far East precisely as Stalin wanted. Roosevelt aide Alger Hiss, a U.S. citizen who was a secret Soviet partisan, helped obtain for Stalin (his ultimate boss) everything the bloody-handed dictator wanted.
The two million living in Crimea today are more than 50 percent Russian-speaking. They would likely be happy to see their peninsula become part of Russia while the rest prefer to leave things as they have been for many years. But when the corrupt and ineffective Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich was forced out of office only a few weeks ago, factions within the country saw their chances to prevail. So, too, did Russian leader Vladimir Putin, the former head of the Soviet Union’s dreaded KGB, see an opportunity to seize control. He sent more than 100,000 Russian soldiers to boost his chances.
U.S. media tell us of grave concern emanating from President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senators McCain and Graham (both of whom have long indicated their preference for using America’s military power almost anywhere), and others. Troops from Russia have moved in Crimea and a non-shooting face-off developed immediately between them and some outnumbered Ukrainian soldiers.
What should the United States do about this crisis on the other side of the world? How about nothing? How about merely expressing hopes that there be no shooting, that common sense will prevail, and that maybe the people who live there will end up deciding for themselves which country they belong to and who their leader will be.
The last thing needed is for the U.S. to flex its military muscles once again. American policing of the world has got to stop. Announcing such a new policy would be welcomed by the people of our country and by most of mankind. We believe it would also lead to a more peaceful world, not only in the Crimea but everywhere.
To learn more about the Ukraine’s inside players, visit this article from The New American.
To learn more about The John Birch Society, visit JBS.org.