Friday 28 January 2022

Alexander Vindman risked his career to make public Donald Trump’s extortion of the Ukrainians.  He is the former director of European Affairs for the U.S. National Security Council.

He was interviewed on Chris Hayes, MSNBC.  These are excerpts.

•        “I think we saw this buildup (on the border of Ukraine) start to occur really at the beginning of 2021. And I think that it was on the expectation that Russia had to act. Ukraine was slipping through its fingers.”

•        “Back in 2014 when this confrontation started, when Russia launched its military offensive against Ukraine, it did so because it saw a country choosing its own destiny, asserting its sovereignty, choosing a path towards European integration, towards democracy. And really, this is a continuing enterprise in a lot of ways.”

•        “But the question is why now and it`s mainly because of a sense of opportunity, a sense of weakness within the United States. I have every reason to believe that if we had not had an insurrection on January 6….President Putin would not believe that there`s an opportunity, there`s a vulnerability within the United States.”

•        “…it’s going to be a human catastrophe.”

•        “It`s better to prevent and to do everything to avoid this catastrophic outcome rather than deal with the consequences of a reshaped geopolitical landscape.”

•        Hayes asked: “What`s the diplomatic off ramp?”

•        “It`s not that easy to take pieces off the off the table right now. I think frankly, it`s one of the places where this administration fell short. They thought maybe — they thought this was diplomatic coercion.”

•        “…we shouldn`t be just considering a diplomatic track. There`s also a track — a pressure track that makes a lot of sense right now. We have very anxious allies along Ukraine`s western border. Those allies are going to want some assurances that Article Five actually still means something.”

•        “I think we should be positioning — we talked about reactionary measures, positioning troops in Europe after an escalation. That is the wrong — a wrong way to look at it. We should be doing things now.”

•        “Right now, we don`t have a war yet. If we position troops in Europe and say this NATO Article Five is ironclad, will protect NATO interests. How much more benign does that seem that positioning many troops in in Eastern Europe when shots are fired when there`s — you know, when there`s Russian blood being spilled?

MSNBC’s Jose Diaz-Balart interviewed Rep. Jayapal 1/28/22

Jayapal is on television arguing that the U.S., by responding to the threat of the Russians is playing into escalating tensions.  Troop deployments and arms sales, risk “escalating the process” and putting negotiations in a worse place.  “Let the diplomacy do it’s work,” Jayapal stated.  “Focus on a diplomatic strategic.”  Don’t “rush to another war.”  Sanctions have a way of  “hurting the people of the country not the autocrats.” 

We can’t go in “without knowing what the situation is.”

CNN Anchor 1/28/22

The CNN anchor asked a guest if there would be a full Russian invasion or an incursion, not the “main cities, but just rural areas where there are native Russian speakers?”  This has been a theme lately, the assumption that a “minor incursion” into those regions where the people are primarily “Russian speaking” would not be considered so serious.  There is a distinction made between the “populated urban areas” and the rural areas where there are primarily Russian speakers.  This line of argument is taken directly from Russian propaganda which argues that Russia has a right to those areas where they have consciously populated the region with separatists and conducted a campaign to convince the population that the area “belongs” to Russia.

Article from Foreign Affairs. 1/27/22

•        The current crisis between Russia and Ukraine is a reckoning that has been 30 years in the making. It is about much more than Ukraine and its possible NATO membership. It is about the future of the European order crafted after the Soviet Union’s collapse.

•        The core element of this doctrine is getting the West to treat Russia as if it were the Soviet Union, a power to be respected and feared, with special rights in its neighborhood and a voice in every serious international matter.

•        The doctrine holds that only a few states should have this kind of authority, along with complete sovereignty, and that others must bow to their wishes. It entails defending incumbent authoritarian regimes and undermining democracies. And the doctrine is tied together by Putin’s overarching aim: reversing the consequences of the Soviet collapse, splitting the transatlantic alliance, and renegotiating the geographic settlement that ended the Cold War.

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