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.
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.