by Rick Rozoff
Writer, Dandelion Salad
April 25, 2014
A version of this feature will appear in the forthcoming volume Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks Global War, edited by Stephen Lendman and to be issued by Clarity Press. As more information becomes available it will be posted at Stephen Lendman’s website.
With almost 1,500 miles of land and sea connecting the two nations, the border with Ukraine is the longest along the western frontier of Russia, with that of Finland next in length.
Until the end of the Cold War only one member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization directly adjoined Russia: Norway, and that for only 135 miles, land and sea. (Though Turkey bordered other Soviet republics.)
The decade of NATO expansion beginning in 1999 brought four new members of the U.S.-dominated military bloc directly up to Russia territory: Estonia and Latvia to northwestern Russia proper and Poland and Lithuania to the non-contiguous Kaliningrad Oblast.
The acquisition of Ukraine as a full NATO member or even as it now is, a partner lending its territory, troops and general military assets to the alliance, would, with the likely prospect of Finland being enlisted in tow, cover the entire western flank of Russia from the Arctic Ocean and Barents Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south with NATO air bases, naval docking facilities, firing ranges and training grounds, airfields, radar installations, storage compounds, cyber warfare centers, interceptor missile batteries, armored vehicles, troops and tactical nuclear weapons.
Ukraine is and for decades has been seen as the decisive linchpin in plans by the U.S. and its NATO allies to effect a military cordon sanitaire severing Russia from Europe.
In 1995, just four years after the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Ukraine became the first member of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States to join NATO’s mechanism for the eventual absorption of all of Europe and the rest of former Soviet space not already in the bloc, the Partnership for Peace. The twelve Eastern European nations that joined NATO in 1999, 2004 and 2009 are all graduates of that program. (Waiting in the wings are 22 more members of the transitional program for military integration and full NATO membership; all fourteen European countries not already members, except for Russia, the three former Soviet republics in the South Caucasus and the five in Central Asia.)
Two years later the military alliance established the Charter on a Distinctive Partnership, out of which was created the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which is active to this day; in fact more so than ever before since the violent coup d’état in Ukraine in February of this year.
In December of 2008, four months after the Georgian government of Mikheil Saakashvili invaded South Ossetia and thereby triggered a five-day war with Russia, Ukraine and Georgia were both made the recipients of the first-ever Annual National Programs crafted by NATO. Earlier in the year, at the alliance summit in Bucharest, Romania, it was announced that, although the last stage before full NATO accession – the Membership Action Plan – would not immediately be granted to the two former Soviet republics, NATO was nevertheless committed to their eventual membership. One of the Ukrainian public officials pushing for a Membership Action Plan was then-chairman of the nation’s parliament, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, now the U.S.-selected (indeed, the U.S.-imposed) prime minister and effective head of the ruling junta.
In fact, the parliamentary opposition blocked the functioning of the Verkhovna Rada from January to March of 2008 – ahead of the NATO summit in early April of that year – in protest against the nation being dragged into the bloc. The main effort domestically to expedite the incorporation of Ukraine into NATO emanated from the duarchy emerging from the 2004-2005 “Orange Revolution,” President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Indeed, Washington and its European allies supported and directed the second so-called color revolution (after that in Georgia the preceding year) with just that intended effect in mind.
Ahead of the Bucharest summit President George W. Bush, fellow Republican and at the time candidate for his party’s presidential nomination (which he later secured) John McCain, and Democratic rivals for their party’s nomination, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, all fulsomely endorsed full NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia.
A year ahead of the “Orange Revolution,” Yushchenko’s predecessor, Leonid Kuchma, had attempted to appease the U.S. and NATO by providing 1,650 troops for the NATO-supported Multi-National Force – Iraq. A nominal contingent of Ukrainian troops has also been assigned to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, part of an over 50-nation integrated command. But as not only Kuchma has learned, total subservience, abject submission alone are accepted by NATO “partners” in Washington and Brussels.
Georgia would later supply 2,000 (the third largest deployment after those of the U.S. and Britain at the time), which were airlifted home by American aircraft during the August 2008 war with Russia. The “orange” regime of Viktor Yushchenko was accused of surreptitiously shipping weapons and allowing if not organizing the deployment of military and extremist nationalist paramilitary forces to Georgia during the fighting.
Immediately after the South Caucasus war ended, Yushchenko flew into the Georgian capital to join a rally with (and for) President Saakashvili and immediately upon returning to Kiev signed a decree demanding Russia notify his government of – in essence seek its authorization for – naval and air deployments from the Black Sea Fleet base in Sebastopol. He reserved the right to prevent Russian vessels from departing and returning to the complex; that is, a de facto selective blockade.
Starting no later than 2006, at first covertly and then quite flagrantly, directors and other officials of the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency visited Ukraine to discuss the stationing of interceptor missile components in the country, part of an initiative that has subsequently been embraced by all 28 members of NATO under the Barack Obama administration’s European Phased Adaptive Approach land- and sea-based missile shield being deployed along Russia’s western (and later southern) border.
Annual U.S.-led NATO Partnership for Peace military exercises code-named Sea Breeze have been held in Ukraine every year since 1996 – in the Crimea, near the headquarters of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet – except in 2006 when they were cancelled because of local protests.
Led by U.S. European Command, yearly Rapid Trident military exercises are also held in Ukraine with U.S., NATO and Partnership for Peace forces. In the words of U.S. Army Europe’s account of last year’s iteration, Rapid Trident “helps prepare participants to operate successfully in a joint, multinational, integrated environment with host-nation support…designed to enhance joint combined interoperability with allied and partner nations” as well as “support[ing] Ukraine’s Annual National Program to achieve interoperability with NATO and commitments made in the annual NATO-Ukraine work plan.”
In the same month as NATO initiated its Annual National Program with Ukraine, December of 2008, Washington launched the United States-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership, the founding document of which asserts and identifies among other objectives:
“Deepening Ukraine’s integration into Euro-Atlantic institutions is a mutual priority. We plan to undertake a program of enhanced security cooperation intended to increase Ukrainian capabilities and to strengthen Ukraine’s candidacy for NATO membership.
“Guided by the April 3, 2008 Bucharest Summit Declaration of the NATO North Atlantic Council and the April 4, 2008 Joint Statement of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, which affirmed that Ukraine will become a member of NATO.
“Recognizing the persistence of threats to global peace and stability, the United States and Ukraine intend to expand the scope of their ongoing programs of cooperation and assistance on defense and security issues to defeat these threats and to promote peace and stability. A defense and security cooperation partnership between the United States and Ukraine is of benefit to both nations and the region.
“Working within the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Commission, our goal is to gain agreement on a structured plan to increase interoperability and coordination of capabilities between NATO and Ukraine, including via enhanced training and equipment for Ukrainian armed forces.”
In 2010 Ukraine became the first NATO partner state to provide a warship for the alliance’s Operation Active Endeavor, a permanent naval surveillance and interdiction campaign throughout the entire Mediterranean Sea inaugurated in 2001 with the activation of NATO’s Article 5 mutual military assistance provision.
In 2013 Ukraine complemented the above contribution by becoming the first NATO partner to assign a warship to the bloc’s Operation Ocean Shield, a now five-year-old (and also intended to be indefinite) maritime mission off the Horn of Africa in the Arabian Sea and further into the Indian Ocean.
Before the onset of civil unrest in the country last November, NATO was already touting Ukraine as one of four partners to join the global NATO Response Force. (The other three being Georgia, Finland and Sweden.)
Now with a U.S.-NATO proxy regime in place in Kiev, the prospects for Ukraine being turned into a veritable gargantuan forward base for the Pentagon’s and NATO’s inexorable, now generation-long, drive to the east, overrun with Western military advisers and intelligence agents and hosting warplanes, warships, armor, troops and missiles, are being entertained by Western leaders with a degree of ambitiousness and recklessness surpassing anything hitherto contemplated.
Global Economy Confounds Washington’s War Mentality by Finian Cunningham
Ukraine: Anti-fascists Resist U.S.-backed Offensive by Greg Butterfield
Michael Hudson: This Is Risking A Threat Of War
USAID and “Democracy Promotion” in Ukraine by Rick Rozoff
Robert Parry: Evidence for Russian Involvement in East Ukraine Based on Shoddy Journalism
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thank you so much for providing the side of the story north American news doesn’t . . .
You are most welcome. Thanks for taking the time to comment.
It’s so obviously the true story. It’s interesting how obvious the truth can be when you hear it, but how you’d never know until you do, isn’t it?
It certainly is.
The corporate media is lying to us by omission. If you haven’t seen this post, please check it out: https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/2014/04/17/michael-hudson-investigation-finds-former-ukraine-president-not-responsible-for-sniper-attack-on-protestors/
Pingback: Chris Hedges: There are No Winners When People Don’t Know the Truth | Dandelion Salad
This is going to be not that easy for EU and Washington. Their schemes will fail, for they underestimate the other forces. The Western two-dimensional worldview is not going to prove itself.
The entire Ukraine crisis is about preventing EU, and especially Germany, from allying trade-wise with Russia and through Russia, China. The threat to American imperialism is the unification of the World Island of Eurasia, and eventually Africa, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Shanghai to Berlin. This would leave US imperialism on the outside looking in, and thus sideline and marginalize it. So the US is trying to create a Cold War 2 between Russia and the EU.
In a piece in Counterpunch this morning, Whitney argues that this can only be done by a hot war between Ukraine and Russia, and who ever else enters it. Rozoff argues in the above piece that the US wants to absorb Ukraine into the west. This can only be done by war.
This war is strongly against the interests of Russia, Putin, and the countries and people of the EU. It is especially against the interests of the Ukrainian people, since it will devastate a country that is already an economic basket case.
But devastation is what American imperialism does. A devastated country is a powerless country and can be plundered and manipulated politically. The US has devastated Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria recently to serve imperialist and oligarchical interests. Ukraine appears to be next. The hot war appears to be necessary to maintain the Cold War.
This must be blamed on Putin. He has been demonized in the American media in terms that Rocket referred to, that he is ‘absolute evil.’ Hillary Clinton referred to him as a ‘Hitler,’ Proclaiming that it is really the Russians who are Nazis, not the Ukrainian leadership. The US is sanctioning Putin’s political allies to bait him, and Right Sector is attacking Russian speaking activists, recently shooting the Kharkhiv mayor. The attacks may well increase in order to increase the tension, and eventually hot war would break out.
Unless, somehow, the EU countries effectively object.
There is Fascism on both sides –The Americans and the Russians . let us have no illusions . let all men and women of good conscience not side with either side . this is what Ghandian ”Non cooperation” is all about. Both countrys want Eurasian Hegemony, it is just that Putin plays smarter chess and will move when the time is right .
America is exactly where Putin wants them . That was their first blunder . When a chess grandmaster plays another grandmaster , you don wait or he other guy to blunder . but when a grandmaster plays a rookie like Obama , all you have to do is sit back and wait for another blunder and it will be checkmate . Putin will get what he wants . In fact it is Putin that is the most happy that America and its stupid Imperialism has made such a stupid move . why ? because when he retaliates in FULL FORCE , i will look like defence to the world .
when in reality it is Putin’s plan all along . same goes for the es of the area. Why / because Putin is a landgrabbing Fascist that really knows what he is doing . the American Fascist dont have a clue .