Russia, Ukraine, and Donald Trump, by Stephen F. Cohen - The Unz Review
observes in his latest conversation with John Batchelor that the so-called
Impeachment inquiry, whether formal or informal, will make the new Cold War
even worse and more dangerous than it already is, noting that an inflection
point has been reached, because at the core of these allegations—most of which
are undocumented and a substantial number of which are untrue— revolving around
Russiagate and now Ukrainegate is an underlying demonization of Russia.
Relations between America and Russia will continue to deteriorate either due to
the fact that the entire political spectrum is engaging in a frenzy of
Russophobia or that President Trump, who ran and won on a platform of improving
relations with Russia, is now completely shackled, thus it is inevitable that
the new Cold War will continue to become more dangerous.
Attorney General Barr’s investigation into the origins of Russiagate, as Cohen
noted previously, Barr has made it clear that he’s investigating not the FBI
but the intelligence agencies, and Cohen is uncertain that even the Attorney
General of the United States can be successful in that line of inquiry. For
example, the young and politically inconsequential George Papadopolous, a young
aid to the Trump campaign, got four or five visitors, every one of them tied to
foreign intelligence, American or European, which makes it self-evident that
the Intelligence Agencies were running an operation against the Trump campaign.
Cohen says that even if Barr is a resolute man and says he wants to get to the
bottom of this, Cohen is not confident that he will be able to do so.
notes that the Russian press, which follows American politics closely, has
resulted in a consensus that all of this—Russiagate, Ukrainegate—was created to
stop Trump from having better relations with Russia. Thus, it is important that
Putin had been told the reason Trump cannot engage in détente is because of
Trump being shackled.
the recent American mission against Abu Baker al-Baghdadi in Syria, Cohen
stated Nancy Pelosi utterly disgraced herself when she complained Trump
informed the Russians about the success of the mission and its initiation,
considering the fact that this wing of Congress is so against Trump he had no
guarantee that one of them would not have leaked the mission before it began.
Russian intelligence in that part of the world is probably better than other
nation’s, so Cohen assumes Russia knew about the mission and that they helped
by providing information to America.
addition, Cohen has noted Putin discussed a partnership with America against
domestic terrorism starting with his approach to Obama and noted that even
considering the September 11 terror attack, Russia has suffered more victims of
domestic terrorism than America has. Obama thought about the proposal,
hesitated, and it never happened. These recent events are a reminder that the
United States and Russia are uniquely positioned to partner against
international terrorism, but this may be slightly beyond the grasp of President
Trump at the present time.
noted that expert opinion in Russia—which informs the Kremlin leadership,
including Putin—has soured on the United States; the older generation of
Russian America specialists who like America, who visit regularly and
appreciate American culture, have become utterly disillusioned and cannot
promote a Russian-American partnership given what has happened to Trump.
Ukraine, Cohen notes it shares a very large border with Russia, tens of
millions of intermarriages, language, culture and history, and although the
United States shares none of this with Ukraine, the United States has declared
Ukraine is a strategic ally, and this would be equivalent to Russia stating
that Mexico is its strategic ally, which is preposterous; the term “strategic”
clearly has military implications.
on the topic of Ukraine, despite its size and natural resources, it is the
poorest country in Europe. The new president, a comedian who starred in a TV
show portraying the Ukranian president and thus life imitates art, ran as a
peace candidate; that and his promise to fight corruption resulted in his
victory. Part of his pledge was to meet with Putin to try to solve the conflicts;
but he promised to end the hot war with Russia. American politics got in the
way and people are still dying: at last count, there were approximately
thirteen thousand dead, including women and children. And the peace candidate
has been dragged into American politics and the commentary on Ukraine has a
colonial tone. America speaking of Ukraine as a “strategic ally” is foolishness
and warfare thinking. What should be the American policy is to encourage
Zelensky to pursue these peace policies with Russia so the war doesn’t spread
and the killing stops and that Ukraine, which is a potentially rich country,
can recover. While Obama egged on the war policy, Trump seemed to have no
policy, other than to encourage Zelensky in his peace initiative. What isn’t known
in the conversation Trump had with Zelensky was whether he encouraged him in
his peace initiative; the transcript is a fragment, redacted and edited so that
it doesn’t mention the war but certainly it was discussed. The issue is whether
the United States should give Ukraine’s government $400 million dollars in
military equipment. Obama, who Cohen observes was not a good foreign policy
president refused to do so but Cohen concludes that was a wise decision. All
that providing weapons to Ukraine would accomplish is to incite the pro-war
forces in Kiev against the anti-war forces led by Zelensky; the military
advantage in any event lies with Russia.
the fact Zelensky is an actor, he did run on a program of peace and Cohen
believes that he is sincere; Cohen notes the problem is not Russia, but the
armed Nationalists who are opposed to peace—approximately 30,000—who have
publicly threatened Zelensky. Cohen notes Putin wants to end the war with
Ukraine and he has made efforts to help Zelensky, such as the recent prisoner
release, although he included people Russians consider terrorists. Thus,
Zelensky doesn’t have a lot of political power. While there are bad nationalist
actors—the Azov battalion, which threatened Zelensky with either removal or
death—nevertheless Cohen has asked where the regular army stands: will it back
him, will it be loyal? That answer now is unknown.
concluded to most Ukrainians Zelensky represented hope, hope in the war against
corruption and hope against the war. The Kremlin wants to end the war; Zelensky
has a chance, he’s supported by Germany and France, Putin is helping, but the
United States is not a party of the Minsk Agreement peace acccord. Trump has
intruded in his own unusual way but can be a factor for good. If Cohen were
advising President Trump, he’d tell him if he favored the negotiations for
Russian and Ukrainian peace, this would favor his historical reputation.