Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Truth and Lies About Ukraine

 

Ukraine in context mapWe were repeatedly treated to lies about Ukraine during the first week of the Democrats’ congressional clown show “impeachment inquiry.” The central lie was that Ukraine was a key security partner against Russia for many years. It is a lie that Ukraine has ever been a key security partner and it is a further lie that Ukraine has been the focus of US policy intended to check Russian re-expansion. Everyone knows this, you know this, at least in your gut. Here are the facts, which do not care about anyone’s feelings:

1991: Ukraine votes for and declares independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist States. Ukraine has over 1,000 nuclear warheads, allegedly without the control and arming codes, but with significant technical knowledge in-house. Weeks before the independence vote, President George H.W. Bush delivers an infamous speech in Kiev, written by Russia and Eastern Europe expert Condoleezza Rice, in which he warned about “suicidal nationalism.” William Safire branded this the “Chicken Kiev speech.” Bush feared that small states declaring their independence would provoke the Russian population, destabilizing the supposedly democratizing new Russia.

The elder President Bush’s most memorable foreign-policy blunder took place in Kiev in 1991, then under Communist rule. With the Soviet Union coming apart, the U.S. president — badly advised by the stability-obsessed “realist” Brent Scowcroft — made a speech urging Ukrainians yearning for independence to beware of “suicidal nationalism.” His speech, which he now insists meant only “not so fast,” was widely taken as advice to remain loyal to Moscow’s empire.

I dubbed this the “Chicken Kiev” speech. That so infuriated Bush, who mistakenly saw the phrase as imputing cowardice rather than charging colossal misjudgment, that he has not spoken to me since.

[Note that famous Bush family behavior towards effective criticism from conservatives.]

1992: The United States establishes an embassy in Kiev. That is the last entry on the US State Department’s page on the history of diplomatic relations with Ukraine. Consider this State Department double-speak:

The United States has traditionally sought to promote Ukrainian political and economic stability since the Ukraine declared independence from Russia. U.S. relations with the Ukraine have, however, been complicated by Ukraine’s historical relationship with Russia.

1994: Ukraine agrees to give up all of its nuclear weapons in return for a non-treaty paper “guarantee” of territorial integrity, signed by Russia, the UK, and the US. Notice that we had zero interest in using Ukraine as any sort of check against Russia. President Clinton was president. We were hoping for cooperation with a new democratic Russia, just as our “experts” and “foreign policy consensus,” held that China was sure to liberalize due to economic development.

Harold Coyle writes an important alternative military history novel, The Ten Thousand, in which US and Russian special forces launch a coordinated strategic raid into Ukraine to seize nuclear warheads before they could be sold to an unknown third party. Things go rapidly, radically sideways. Ukraine is seen as a weak state, prone to dangerous corruption, not an important security partner to check Russia.

Through the rest of the Clinton administration, agreed-upon money flows to Ukraine, effectively a series of settlement payments for Ukraine giving up its nuclear arsenal.

2001: President Bush the Younger looks in Vladimir Putin’s eyes.

2001-2008: Payments to Ukraine drop under George W. Bush. It appears, from foreign assistance data, that payments to Ukraine dropped under the new US administration. There were real concerns about real corruption in Ukraine.

2008: President George W. Bush responds to Putin’s invasion of the country of Georgia with logistical and non-lethal support intervention, signaling the limits of American power or interests, even against a still recovering Russia.

2009: Vice President Joe Biden announces the “reset button” and the foreign policy establishment approves, if it goes far enough:

Three weeks ago, Joseph Biden, U.S. vice-president, made headlines by proclaiming the Obama administration’s intention to “press the reset button” in U.S.-Russian relations. Next week, Hillary Clinton, secretary of state, will sit down in Geneva with Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, to figure out what that metaphor means.

While there are plenty of specifics to talk about, the overarching concern in Washington and European capitals is that Russia is cracking down at home and throwing its weight around abroad. Not surprisingly, many are worried about a new cold war. However, that is not a useful way to think about what is happening.

President Obama makes this reset real in September, announcing the cancellation of a European missile defense system that was to be built in Poland and the Czech Republic:

Obama announced the reversal officially at a news conference today. “This new approach will provide capabilities sooner, build on proven systems to offer greater defences to the threat of attack than the 2007 European missile defence programme,” he said.

He phoned the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic last night to tell them he had dropped plans to site missile interceptors and a radar station in their respective countries. Russia had furiously opposed the project, claiming it targeted Moscow’s nuclear arsenal.

Of course, no such “greater defenses” were afforded the Europeans. Russia got the message, and so did the countries that had once been under Moscow’s rule.

2009-2015: Non-lethal, development aid roughly doubles from President George W. Bush’s level of support, moving from the previous administration’s preferred level to the Obama administration’s preferred level.

2014: Putin uses “little green men,” Russian troops pretending to be private or Ukrainian partisan fighters, to seize Crimea from Ukraine.

Ukraine’s president flies to America to beg for sale of arms and ammunition:

[President] Poroshenko pleaded his case during remarks Thursday to a rare joint meeting of Congress. While he thanked the U.S. for the nonlethal equipment it is providing his country’s beleaguered military, he said more was needed to stop provocations near the Russian border.

“Blankets and night vision goggles are important, but one cannot win a war with a blanket,” he said during a 40-minute address that was repeatedly interrupted by applause from lawmakers.

Hours later, Poroshenko arrived at the White House for discussions with President Barack Obama, a meeting meant to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin about the West’s support for Ukraine.

“The picture of President Poroshenko sitting in the Oval Office will be worth at least a thousand words — both in English and Russian,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Congress passes and President Obama signs a bill authorizing but not mandating lethal aid to Ukraine. President Obama does not exercise this authorization, denying Ukraine needed weapons, leaving them heavily outgunned by the Russian proxy troops.

2015: A former George W. Bush administration official urges restraint in Ukraine as the only realistic policy, a position that supports President Obama:

Most important, being honest with ourselves, with our allies and with Ukrainians does not mean acquiescing to Russia’s conduct or giving up. On the contrary, it is the first step in building a policy that can work in protecting U.S. national interests and strengthening European security. Reckless rhetoric or—worse—reckless action helps no one but the Kremlin hawks looking for an excuse to escalate the fighting and a means to distract attention from their own failings. Washington should discourage Kiev from providing either.

2016: Politico pronounces President Obama’s Ukraine policy “in shambles“:

President Barack Obama’s effort to rescue Ukraine from Russia’s military grip has stalled, and turmoil inside Ukraine’s government may hand Russian President Vladimir Putin a victory in a conflict that Obama has said involves “the most basic principles of our international system.”

Two years after the pro-western protests that toppled Kyiv’s government, enraged Putin, and caused an international crisis, Obama’s Ukraine policy is foundering — the victim of Putin’s steely determination, the distractions of Syria and ISIL, and wavering support from European allies eager to move past the conflict.

2016: Still non-lethal US aid to Ukraine spikes up in the presidential election year.

2017: President Trump orders the delivery of real military support, of “lethal aid,” to Ukraine so they could fight back against Russian aggression:

Another senior Trump administration official said that Trump personally approved the decision to allow the issuing of the license after being presented a decision memo by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. While there was never a formal ban on such weapons transfers, the decision was discussed internally as a lifting of the de facto Obama administration restrictions, the official said.

The foreign policy establishment, the “experts,” and the “foreign policy consensus,” think that this is a very bad idea, sure to “contribute to escalated violence.” The same idea appeared in establishment publications like the National Interest:

In 2015, after spending several months in the frontline zone I wrote that Ukraine desperately needs a “lousy peace” and not an arms race. Two years and several thousand deaths later, the idea of supplying Ukraine with U.S. arms has resurfaced.

2018: President Trump orders the sale of effective weapons, anti-tank missiles that were needed from the first day of the “little green men” in 2014.

The U.S. State Department has approved the sale of anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, the first lethal weaponry the U.S. has sold to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014.

The State Department formally approved the sale Thursday of 210 Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, in a move long expected to upset Russia.

[…]

Kyiv has been asking Washington for lethal military aid since the Russian invasion, but the Obama administration offered only training and support equipment rather than contribute to escalated violence.

This timeline is limited in detail by space and the time I can impose upon your busy life. It does not consider non-military instruments of national power, especially the powerful energy market influences arising from US domestic and foreign policy. What this timeline should suffice to show is the balance that every American president has tried to strike since 1991, never once treating Ukraine as a serious check to Russian westward re-expansion. Nor has NATO done so, as you can discern from the volume of words and paucity of action since 1991, shown in NATO’s own timeline of relations with Ukraine.

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There are 20 comments.

  1. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Thank you for this timeline. I quite like, “…as you can discern from the volume of words and paucity of action….” 

    • #1
    • November 18, 2019, at 12:50 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  2. Jules PA Member

    Amen. Thank you for this timeline. 

    • #2
    • November 18, 2019, at 1:01 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    Love to hear the take on this by NTs

    • #3
    • November 18, 2019, at 3:12 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  4. ctlaw Coolidge

    The big problem with post Soviet Ukraine-Russian relations is that Russia has thoroughly penetrated Ukraine.

    At the highest levels of politics, there have been swings between political movements including an alliance of ethnic Russians and unrepentant communists, on the one hand, and several cult of personality Ukrainian nationalist movements, on the other. The former would thoroughly sell Ukraine out to the Russians. The latter are also well shy of modernity. Thus, Ukraine has a GDP per capita that would embarrass most sub-Saharan African countries.

    At the other end of the spectrum, at the level of individual fighters and up through the officer corps of the Ukraine military , plenty of ethnic Russians were for Anschluss. any military aid we gave would almost assuredly mostly have been stolen by Russian rebels or destroyed by Russian saboteurs.

    • #4
    • November 18, 2019, at 3:20 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  5. Judge Mental Member

    If the New York Times was still a newspaper, they would hire you and this would be on their website right now.

    • #5
    • November 18, 2019, at 3:33 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  6. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Good summary. One more item for then list.

    https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2019/11/the_department_of_defense_joins_the_coup_cabal.html?fbclid=IwAR3m_PljMkk-066hWuq_BT2AybD6QStjRg-uwOYx7FcWlXIxFUvOJ5EwAUY

    The peccadillos of today’s Army generals are, nevertheless, low hanging fruit. More ominous, Army political partisanship is bleeding into the ranks. The poster child for this kind of venality is Lieutenant Colonel, Alexander Vindman, on loan to the NSC. Yes, that’s the National Security Council at the White House. Seems Vindman is an egoist/linguist who is both indiscrete and treacherous.

    Vindman didn’t like, or misconstrued, something President Trump said to the Ukrainian president. Subsequently, Alex went off the DOD reservation to assist the press and Congress with the impeachment follies.

    Apparently, a commissioned US Army officer cannot be trusted to assist the Commander-in-Chief and respect the confidentiality of the Oval Office. If Vindman had violated command confidentiality in a combat zone, he might have been court martialed – or fragged.

    Vindman seems to me to be acting as a Ukraine agent and lobbyist. Not a role appropriate for a US Army officer.

    • #6
    • November 18, 2019, at 5:11 AM PST
    • 11 likes
  7. MichaelKennedy Coolidge

    Another good piece on the Ukraine thing.

    https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2019/11/revolt_of_the_ukraine_desk_bureaucrats.html

    The problem is that the “interagency” establishment’s attitude toward Ukraine has apparently now been transferred to domestic politics, where — led by the same foreign policy establishment, in a controversy not coincidentally involving Ukraine — Democrats are too cavalierly attempting to throw out a constitutionally elected president. It’s not a stretch to say this attitude provides the background music for the parade of Ukraine-desk bureaucrats [snip] currently appearing before cameras in Rep. Schiff’s impeachment hearings. They seem, almost reflexively, to be willing to do to their own country what they supported doing to Ukraine.

    This stuff used to be called “Clientitis” in which the FSO or State “analyst” becomes so dedicated to the client state they study that they become an advocate against their own country.

    • #7
    • November 18, 2019, at 6:15 AM PST
    • 12 likes
  8. Judge Mental Member

    MichaelKennedy (View Comment):

    Another good piece on the Ukraine thing.

    https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2019/11/revolt_of_the_ukraine_desk_bureaucrats.html

    The problem is that the “interagency” establishment’s attitude toward Ukraine has apparently now been transferred to domestic politics, where — led by the same foreign policy establishment, in a controversy not coincidentally involving Ukraine — Democrats are too cavalierly attempting to throw out a constitutionally elected president. It’s not a stretch to say this attitude provides the background music for the parade of Ukraine-desk bureaucrats [snip] currently appearing before cameras in Rep. Schiff’s impeachment hearings. They seem, almost reflexively, to be willing to do to their own country what they supported doing to Ukraine.

    This stuff used to be called “Clientitis” in which the FSO or State “analyst” becomes so dedicated to the client state they study that they become and advocate against their own country.

    The Brits just called it going native.

    • #8
    • November 18, 2019, at 6:26 AM PST
    • 10 likes
  9. Boss Mongo Member

    Outstanding. Thank you.

    • #9
    • November 18, 2019, at 6:37 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  10. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    It angers me that such easily available information is so obscured in D.C. and in supposedly professional news organizations.

    • #10
    • November 18, 2019, at 8:33 AM PST
    • 7 likes
  11. Misthiocracy grudgingly Member

    < devil’s advocate mode = on >

    The European Union manufactures weapons, and the EU has a healthier debt-to-GDP ratio than the United States. If the EU isn’t worried enough about Russia to provide Ukraine with lethal military aid, why should the USA?

    < devil’s advocate mode = off >

    • #11
    • November 18, 2019, at 9:59 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    Misthiocracy grudgingly (View Comment):

    < devil’s advocate mode = on >

    The European Union manufactures weapons, and the EU has a healthier debt-to-GDP ratio than the United States. If the EU isn’t worried enough about Russia to provide Ukraine with lethal military aid, why should the USA?

    < devil’s advocate mode = off >

    The EU does not manufacture weapons. Countries within the EU do, sometimes jointly and sometimes in competition. The rest of your point is exactly what President Trump has said repeatedly.

    • #12
    • November 18, 2019, at 10:21 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  13. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    Misthiocracy grudgingly (View Comment):

    < devil’s advocate mode = on >

    The European Union manufactures weapons, and the EU has a healthier debt-to-GDP ratio than the United States. If the EU isn’t worried enough about Russia to provide Ukraine with lethal military aid, why should the USA?

    < devil’s advocate mode = off >

    Did the devil make you do this?

    Anyway kidding aside, that is one great point to make.

    • #13
    • November 18, 2019, at 3:52 PM PST
    • Like
  14. Skyler Coolidge

    I remember a Marine Reserve battalion that I had an affiliation with (was once in) sent a detachment to the Ukraine for some sort of exercise. I don’t remember what year it was, but it was within the last ten years, I believe.

    They finished their training and got stuck. They weren’t allowed to leave the country for a time, and finally, I’m told, they had to leave a lot of their gear behind. This includes trucks, tents, etc.

    I don’t know how true it is, but people I know were telling me. I might be spreading a rumor, and my memory is hazy, but that place is a lot of trouble.

    • #14
    • November 18, 2019, at 5:35 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  15. ToryWarWriter Thatcher

    Russia sees Ukraine as essential to its core being as the USA considers the North Eastern States.

    And yet we continue to act as if its like Puerto Rico.

    The USA blundered into a policy that has led to a major conflict in the region and a lot of hand wringing and no commitments to do anything about it.

    I remember being heavily criticized for pointing out these facts during the outbreak of the war on Ricochet for pointing out the facts.

    • #15
    • November 19, 2019, at 5:40 AM PST
    • 1 like
  16. ctlaw Coolidge

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):
    Russia sees Ukraine as essential to its core being as the USA considers the North Eastern States.

    How does that dynamic apply to:

    1. Crimea and eastern Ukraine;
    2. the rest of Ukraine proper;
    3. Transnistria;
    4. Belarus?

    1 makes sense because those areas were not part of Ukraine historically but were a Soviet political adjustment.

    2 makes a bit less sense.

    3 is interesting. I regard it a s a bit of a particularly ill gotten gain. Like a dog will fight to protect stolen food, but will let you take away the bowl of food you just put down for it.

    4 isn’t Belarus more Ruskkii than western Ukraine?

    • #16
    • November 19, 2019, at 7:04 AM PST
    • 1 like
  17. Skyler Coolidge

    ToryWarWriter (View Comment):
    And yet we continue to act as if its like Puerto Rico.

    I think Ukrainians don’t see themselves as Puerto Rico. All Ukrainians I know are very proud, and hate the USSR, whom they regard as occupiers.

    I especially remember my very good drunken math professor in college. He was from the Ukraine and would get quite angry if someone called him a Russian. He also thought Americans were bad at math.

    • #17
    • November 19, 2019, at 7:50 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  18. ctlaw Coolidge

    IMF lists Ukraine at #127 in GDP per capita.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita

    Does that even get them up to the “outhouse country” level?

     

    • #18
    • November 19, 2019, at 9:13 AM PST
    • Like
  19. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    IMF lists Ukraine at #127 in GDP per capita.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita

    Does that even get them up to the “outhouse country” level?

     

    How well would the state of Massachusetts rank, in terms of economy, if a sizeable portion of it had experienced a major war in the last 6 or 7 years?

    • #19
    • November 19, 2019, at 12:16 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  20. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown Post author

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    IMF lists Ukraine at #127 in GDP per capita.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita

    Does that even get them up to the “outhouse country” level?

     

    Massive corruption and meddling by Moscow.

    • #20
    • November 19, 2019, at 12:56 PM PST
    • Like