NATO’s sandlot team, the Atlantic Council, is off to the kind of grim start for 2016 that suggests it has given up hope, and reconciled itself to blowing the grant money on recreational drugs. Aaron Korewa’s non-stop nonsense piece for that august deliberative body sounds like the original was probably finger-painted on whatever parts of his body he could reach given the restriction of his leather restraints. I have to say, if that’s the best that Chevron’s, Lockheed Martin’s, Thompson-Reuters’, Bank of America’s, Raytheon’s, Boeing’s, Thales’, Conoco-Phillips’, Exxon-Mobil’s and Northrop-Gruman’s cash will buy, we’re in for a year of world-class flailing in the quicksand pit, and we will have a ringside seat.
A bit about the author, before we go on – Aaron Korewa is a Pole by ethnicity, who grew up in Stockholm and is an American citizen. With all those disparate foreign influences jangling around in him, he has never been to Russia, although it is his personal whipping-boy; his knowledge of it is that of the typical Atlanticist: constructed from ideology. He is also a former political adviser to Carl Bildt, the Swedish speed-bump who was that country’s former Foreign Minister. He was, in short, fated to be a Russophobe, and he has fulfilled his destiny early.
So let’s take a peek inside his love-letter to Ukraine, shall we?
If you like your crazy cobbler served up fresh and hot, this is the piece for you, because he gets straight to it. Ukraine united against ‘Russian aggression’ (the ‘must-mention’ buzzword of the Atlanticists) in 2015, he says, and proved to Russian President Vladimir Putin that it was no pushover. How do we measure the sobering effect of Ukraine’s fierce resistance? By Putin’s not mentioning Ukraine even once in his 2015 address to the Russian Federal Assembly.
Perhaps that was because Mr. Putin is becoming bored with the ongoing stalemate in Ukraine, and that’s why it did not rate a mention. It certainly was not due to the inspirational nature of its fierce union in resistance – Ukraine did not win a single victory in the whole of 2015, its advance on Donetsk was slowed, halted and then rolled back in 2014, and Kiev squealed for a ceasefire when it began to lose ground, culminating in the disaster of the Debaltseve cauldron. Kiev’s efforts throughout 2015 have been focused on defending Mariupol from being re-taken. I could be wrong, though, and invite Mr. Korewa to highlight for me examples of Ukraine’s spunky defense against ‘Russian aggression’ in 2015.
There were plenty of defeats, however; in the fall of 2014, several hundred Ukrainian soldiers walked over the border into Russia and surrendered. This, brilliant Ukrainian military tactician Colonel Andriy Lysenko confided to The Wall Street Journal, was part of a cunning plan. The soldiers had not deserted – oh, no; perish the thought. Instead, they had covered the escape of their comrades (escape? I thought the Ukrainian Army was always advancing) and then – hard luck, damn it – ran out of ammunition. So they destroyed their weapons – for which they had no ammunition, I guess out of spite since they were probably made in Russia – before crossing into Russia to carry out Lysenko’s mission. Which was apparently to eat and drink up Russian supplies, thereby leaving less for the Russians. Machiavellian, I’m sure you will agree. They certainly showed Putin they were no pushover.
Nor was that the only embarrassment; in 2015 the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s office admitted that some 8000 Ukrainian soldiers and law enforcement personnel had deserted to the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic. How many from the republics deserted to Ukraine? *Crickets chirping*.
The author goes on to speculate that not mentioning Ukraine is part of an eebil plan by Putin to ensure that Ukraine ‘disappears from the world’s attention’. Amazing. Merely by not talking about Ukraine, Putin prevents the rest of the world from discussing it. The power to cloud men’s minds, like The Shadow. Mr. Korewa follows this with the lame canard that President Putin has ‘admitted’ that there was a Russian military presence in Ukraine. He said no such thing; it would be surprising, considering there is a hot civil war going on right on its border, if there were not a military intelligence officer or two in the region of the conflict, but there has never, ever been any evidence of the thousands of regular Russian troops claimed by the Ukrainian security services and the Kyiv Post‘s ‘military expert’, Dmitry Tymchuk. And according to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Ukraine’s is one of the five strongest armies in Europe.
But enough about that – there’s more easily-debunked foolishness, but what I really wanted to talk about is his spectacular accusation that President Putin has ‘decided to try his luck at sea’, by pirating Ukraine’s oil rigs.
It is Mr. Korewa who is completely at sea, I’m afraid, and there’s a good and obvious reason for it – look at his source. Euromaidan Press.
Euromaidan Press is partnered by the BBC, Kyiv Post, The Guardian, New Republic and Forbes, among others. The Managing Editor is Alya Shandra, seen here firing up activists to join in a seminar at Cambridge featuring comedians and movie producers who will teach civic activists how to keep Ukraine on the front pages in the information war, so more people will be hip to “this horrible, horrible thing Russia is doing to our country”. The same Alya Shandra who is a cheerleader for the UPA, and buddies up with Anna Nemtsova of The Daily Beast to helpfully explain why the resurrection of the swastika in Ukraine is nothing to get upset about – it’s just branding, and it worked like a hot damn, because as soon as they adopted it, “ we immediately grew popular among young people. Those who join us know exactly what they want, and they are ready to go to the very end. … A yellow swastika on a black field stands for power and spirit.”
Euromaidan Press, as well as quite a few Ukrainians, as well as Aaron Korewa are under a mass delusion that the reunification of Crimea with the Russian Federation is illegal, and insist upon referring to it as “Occupied Crimea”. Such an entity would presumably not have a maritime exclusion zone. Once more, several nations – Russia foremost among them – warned NATO that Kosovo would come back one day with a big roll of western ass in its jaws, and now it has. Western nations welcomed the unilateral independence of Kosovo and energetically defended its statehood. Prevailing legal opinion was that a unilateral declaration of independence was a matter outside international law, and that statehood was a quality most accurately captured in existing autonomy; a distinct population, say, the existence of infrastructure, a banking system, the means to live apart. Crimea was pretty much the poster-boy for that concept, was even titled The Autonomous Republic of Crimea, and since its secession Ukraine has only worked harder to make it more independent, by cutting off its electricity and water supply. Never mind that those actions are illegal under international humanitarian law, because the west defends the principles of international law on a convenience basis.
The whole issue hinges on whether or not the incorporation of Crimea into the Russian Federation was illegal. If it was, objectors are waiting the dickens of a long time to take it to court. It is the opinion of the International Court of Justice at The Hague that the process by which Crimea seceded from Ukraine was not illegal, which is why Ukraine’s defenders focus exclusively on the referendum which resulted in Crimea’s reunification with Russia, attempting to portray it as coercion by Moscow. Subsequent events have made that pretty unlikely. Although Ukraine throws a screaming fit every time anyone acknowledges that Crimea is a part of Russia, that’s merely an acknowledgement of reality, and Kiev is fighting a losing battle against reality – comforted by its chief sponsors, who likewise refuse to recognize reality.
That being the case, international law on the subject prescribes that countries with sea frontage are entitled to claim a maritime exclusion zone of 230 miles from their shores. Russia announced immediately upon accepting Crimea into the Russian Federation that international law would govern the seabed boundaries, which the New York Times characterizes as ‘a single bland sentence buried in the document’, as if that sneaky Vladimir Blackbeardinov were somehow affirming his bastard pirate roots by relying on international law. How dare he, damn him! Maps helpfully included in the reference detail Ukraine’s maritime boundaries ‘pre-annexation’ and ‘post annexation’, and what is left in the latter example is a narrow swath just off Odessa.
Oops! Euromaidan Press stipulated that the gas field in question, from which the drill rigs were removed, lies 120 km offshore of ‘occupied Crimea’. A few quick stabs at the calculator tell us that is 74.5 statute (land) miles, so seabed territory extending 155.5 miles beyond that point is still claimable by Russia. Also, the rigs in question are the property of Chernomorneftegaz, which is a nationalized company of Crimea and not a ‘part of Naftogaz Ukraine’ as Ukraine Today claims; the United States government promptly confirmed that by slapping sanctions on it. The concept of nationalization should not be a new one; prevention of it was the motive behind the 1953 CIA-instigated coup in Iran which removed democratically-elected Mohammed Mossadegh, because he nationalized the Iranian oil industry – which was owned lock, stock and barrel by the British.
Nobody, least of all Ukraine, made any effort to reassure Russia that Ukraine’s ‘turn toward Europe’ would not harm Russian interests, and quite to the contrary, Ukraine’s nationalist element and its western enablers were so jubilant at the prospect of an easy victory that they could not resist gloating publicly over how they had kicked Russia in the sack. Ukraine now has only itself and its western friends to blame for its ruin.
“Hain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And hain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”
Mark Twain, from “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”