Mike Whitney on Ukraine, Russia and Putin

Below is an article by Mike Whitney published in Counterpunch. Whitney sums up very well the geostrategic considerations involved in the Ukraine situation. However, in my opinion, he drastically underestimates Vladimir Putin. I will add some comments at the foot of the Mike Whitney's article. (thanks to McJ for the link and insights)

Is Putin Being Lured Into a Trap?

“Russia … is now recognized as the center of the global ‘mutiny’ against global dictatorship of the US and EU. Its generally peaceful .. approach is in direct contrast to brutal and destabilizing methods used by the US and EU…. The world is waking up to reality that there actually is, suddenly, some strong and determined resistance to Western imperialism. After decades of darkness, hope is emerging.” – Andre Vltchek, Ukraine: Lies and Realities, CounterPunch

Russia is not responsible for the crisis in Ukraine. The US State Department engineered the fascist-backed coup that toppled Ukraine’s democratically-elected president Viktor Yanukovych and replaced him with the American puppet Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a former banker. Hacked phone calls reveal the critical role that Washington played in orchestrating the putsch and selecting the coup’s leaders. Moscow was not involved in any of these activities. Vladimir Putin, whatever one may think of him, has not done anything to fuel the violence and chaos that has spread across the country.

Putin’s main interest in Ukraine is commercial. 66 percent of the natural gas that Russia exports to the EU transits Ukraine. The money that Russia makes from gas sales helps to strengthen the Russian economy and raise standards of living. It also helps to make Russian oligarchs richer, the same as it does in the West. The people in Europe like the arrangement because they are able to heat their homes and businesses market-based prices. In other words, it is a good deal for both parties, buyer and seller. This is how the free market is supposed to work. The reason it doesn’t work that way presently is because the United States threw a spanner in the gears when it deposed Yanukovych. Now no one knows when things will return to normal.

Check out this chart at Business Insider and you’ll see why Ukraine matters to Russia.

The overriding goal of US policy in Ukraine is to stop the further economic integration of Asia and Europe. That’s what the fracas is really all about. The United States wants to control the flow of energy from East to West, it wants to establish a de facto tollbooth between the continents, it wants to ensure that those deals are transacted in US dollars and recycled into US Treasuries, and it wants to situate itself between the two most prosperous markets of the next century. Anyone who has even the sketchiest knowledge of US foreign policy– particularly as it relates to Washington’s “pivot to Asia”– knows this is so. The US is determined to play a dominant role in Eurasia in the years ahead. Wreaking havoc in Ukraine is a central part of that plan.

Retired German Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jochen Scholz summed up US policy in an open letter which appeared on the Neue Rheinilche Zeitung news-site last week. Scholz said the Washington’s objective was “to deny Ukraine a role as a bridge between Eurasian Union and European Union….They want to bring Ukraine under the NATO control” and sabotage the prospects for “a common economic zone from Lisbon to Vladivostok.”

Bingo. That’s US policy in a nutshell. It has nothing to do with democracy, sovereignty, or human rights. It’s about money and power. Who are the big players going to be in the world’s biggest growth center, that’s all that matters. Unfortunately for Obama and Co., the US has fallen behind Russia in acquiring the essential resources and pipeline infrastructure to succeed in such a competition. They’ve been beaten by Putin and Gazprom at every turn. While Putin has strengthened diplomatic and economic relations, expanded vital pipeline corridors and transit lines, and hurtled the many obstacles laid out for him by American-stooges in the EC; the US has dragged itself from one quagmire to the next laying entire countries to waste while achieving none of its economic objectives.

So now the US has jettisoned its business strategy altogether and moved on to Plan B, regime change. Washington couldn’t beat Putin in a fair fight, so now they’ve taken off the gloves. Isn’t that what’s really going on? Isn’t that why the US NGOs, and the Intel agencies, and the State Dept were deployed to launch their sloppily-engineered Nazi-coup that’s left the country in chaos?

Once again, Putin played no part in any of this. All he did was honor the will of the people in Crimea who voted overwhelmingly (97%) to reunite with the Russian Federation. From a purely pragmatic point of view, what other choice did they have? After all, who in their right mind would want to align themselves with the most economically mismanaged confederation of all time (The EU) while facing the real possibility that their nation could be reduced to Iraq-type rubble and destitution in a matter of years? Who wouldn’t opt-out of such an arrangement?

As we noted earlier, Putin’s main objective is to make money. In contrast, the US wants to dominate the Eurasian landmass, break Russia up into smaller, non-threatening units, and control China’s growth. That’s the basic gameplan. Also, the US does not want any competitors, which we can see from this statement by Paul Wolfowitz which evolved into the US National Defense Strategy:

“Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.”

This is the prevailing doctrine that Washington lives by. No rivals. No competition. We’re the boss. What we say, goes. The US is Numero Uno, le grande fromage. Who doesn’t know this already? Here’s more from Wolfowitz:

“The U.S. must show the leadership necessary to establish and protect a new order that holds the promise of convincing potential competitors that they need not aspire to a greater role or pursue a more aggressive posture to protect their legitimate interests. In non-defense areas, we must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order. We must maintain the mechanism for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role.”

In other words, “don’t even think about getting more powerful or we’ll swat you like a fly.” That’s the message, isn’t it? The reason we draw attention to these quotes is not to pick on Wolfowitz, but to show how things haven’t changed under Obama, in fact, they’ve gotten worse. The so called Bush Doctrine is more in effect today than ever which is why we need to be reminded of its central tenets. The US military is the de facto enforcer of neoliberal capitalism or what Wolfowitz calls “the established political and economic order”. Right. The statement provides a blanket justification for the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and now Ukraine. The US can do whatever it deems necessary to protect the interests of its constituents, the multi-national corporations and big finance. The US owns the world and everyone else is just a visitor. So shut the hell up, and do what you’re told. That’s the message. Here’s Wolfowitz one more time:

“We continue to recognize that collectively the conventional forces of the states formerly comprising the Soviet Union retain the most military potential in all of Eurasia; and we do not dismiss the risks to stability in Europe from a nationalist backlash in Russia or efforts to reincorporate into Russia the newly independent republics of Ukraine, Belarus, and possibly others.”

Wolfowitz figured the moment would come when the US would have to square off with Moscow in order to pursue it’s imperial strategy in Asia. Putin doesn’t seem to grasp that yet. He still clings to the misguided notion that rational people will find rational solutions to end the crisis. But he’s mistaken. Washington does not want a peaceful solution. Washington wants a confrontation. Washington wants to draw Moscow into a long-term conflict in Ukraine that will recreate Afghanistan in the 1990s. That’s the goal, to lure Putin into a military quagmire that will discredit him in the eyes of the world, isolate Russia from its allies, put strains on new alliances, undermine the Russian economy, pit Russian troops against US-backed armed mercenaries and Special Ops, destroy Russian relations with business partners in the EU, and create a justification for NATO intervention followed by the deployment of nuclear weapons on Ukrainian territory. That’s the gameplan. Why doesn’t Putin see that?

Putin has agreed to a meeting this week with foreign Ministers from The United States, the European Union, and Ukraine. This is another mistake. Originally, Putin refused to acknowledge the coup-government as legitimate. Now he’s changed his mind. Now he’s agreed to meet with their representatives. This is a victory for Washington and a defeat for Russia. The Obama team will see this as a sign of weakness, which it is.
According to Al Jazeera: “The meeting will involve US Secretary of State John Kerry, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia, the EU said on Tuesday. A spokesman for Ashton said the talks were aimed at “de-escalating” the crisis in Ukraine.”

The meeting has nothing to do with “de-escalating” the crisis.” It’s a public relations stunt. These talks have all the credibility of the Israel-Palestine peace talks, which is to say, none at all.

There’s no sense talking to people who don’t want peace. It just makes them look like they are being sincere, when they’re not. Obama and Co. don’t want peace. They want regime change. They want to weaken and dismember Russia. They want to reduce Moscow’s influence over energy-dependent states in Europe by disrupting the flow of gas through Ukraine. And they want to create a justification for carrying out their imperial agenda, which means they need to make Putin look like a dangerous aggressor. The coup government’s crackdown on ethnic Russians in Donetsk and Kharkiv could lead to a Russian intervention which would provide the justification that Washington is looking for. However painful it is for Putin to watch Russian speaking Ukrainians get beaten and perhaps killed by Nazi thugs and foreign mercenaries dressed up as Ukrainian Security Forces, he should avoid sending in the troops. It’s a trap.

At present, Ukraine’s currency plummeting, its debts and deficits are growing, and its economy is broken and near default. The IMF has promised to provide a $27 billion loan package that will be used to repay wealthy banks and bondholders in Berlin and Salzburg, but will do nothing to lift the economy out of the doldrums. None of the money from the IMF loans will be used to repay the $2.2 billion in unpaid gas bills to Gazprom or to compensate Russia for the more than $34.4 billion in subsidies Moscow has provided for its ailing neighbor in the last few years. Bondholders come first.

According to the World Socialist Web Site: “The “tough” measures required by the IMF in return for a $27 billion loan is already being spelt out by a 120 percent hike in gas and heating prices, the cutting of social benefits, including free medical assistance, and the closure of several hospitals.”

Naturally, the IMF’s conditions will involve more privatizing of public assets and services, more pension and wage cuts, more easing (“flexibility”) of labor protections, and more cannibalizing of the economy. Ukraine’s economy will undoubtedly slip into the same severe depression experienced everywhere that these failed policies have been implemented. At the same time, voracious investment banks and private equity speculators will make out like bandits skimming billions of dollars in plunder off the distressed and vulnerable country.

The US media has made a big deal out of the fact that Putin “has threatened to turn off the gas to Ukraine”. While the allegation is certainly true, we’ve seen no similar headlines about energy producers in the US cutting off the fuel for American families who are too broke to pay their gas bill and who’ve been “left to freeze to death in the dark.” Nor have we seen similar coverage of the 7 million Americans who were booted from their homes as part of a mortgage laundering scam that was concocted by crooked Wall Street bankers. Putin is actually looking for a way to avoid turning off the gas and has asked for help on the matter from leaders of the US and EU. Here’s what he said just last week:

“Russia is prepared to participate in the effort to stabilize and restore Ukraine’s economy. However, not in a unilateral way, but on equal conditions with our European partners. It is also essential to take into account the actual investments, contributions and expenditures that Russia has shouldered by itself alone for such a long time in supporting Ukraine. As we see it, only such an approach would be fair and balanced, and only such an approach can lead to success.”

Clearly, Putin doesn’t want to continue shouldering the burden by himself, which is why he made the statement to begin with. The new coup government has repeatedly missed deadlines for payment on its gas supplies. Some believe they have deliberately stopped paying so Putin will cut off the gas thus opening himself up to harsh criticism the western media. Whether it’s true or not is impossible to know, but so far, Washington has had little success selling the idea that Putin is “the new Hitler”. The US is still viewed as the country that poses the greatest threat to world peace, while the Russian president is widely admired as a sober and restrained leader. However, that could change quickly if Putin sends troops to defend protestors in Donetsk and Lugansk. Even so, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday that if the coup government uses force on the protestors who have seized government buildings then Russia will not participate in the upcoming four-party talks on the crisis. Lavrov added that “the acute political crisis in Ukraine in general and in its south-eastern regions in particular was caused by the present Kiev authorities’ failure to take into account the legitimate needs and interests of the Russian and Russian-speaking population.”

On Sunday, Ukrainian imposter-President Oleksandr Turchynov announced a plan to launch a “large-scale anti-terrorist operation” in Donetsk and Lugansk to avoid a “repeat the Crimean scenario in Ukraine’s east.” The operation will involve “military forces, anti-terrorist forces and law enforcement of Ukraine” and is scheduled to begin at 9 AM yesterday morning.

It’s clear, that Turchynov is trying to lure Russia into a fight, just as it’s clear that the president would not have approved the crackdown without a green light from Washington.

Putin will not allow Russian-speaking people to be killed in Ukraine, that’s the red line the junta government must not cross if they want to avoid a confrontation with Russia. Unfortunately, Washington wants Russia to invade so it can put its “proxy war” plan into motion.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

Mike Whitney correctly states that the US administration is setting a trap for Putin in Ukraine. As I said in my article, The Reality Behind Gold Backed, Oil Backed and Fiat Currencies , ". . So on the face of it, it doesn't look good for the Ukrainians as the options the bankers leave them involves bloodshed and the loss of lives. But the Russians have made a habit of coming up with the unexpected, as in Syria and the Crimea, that has not only given them a further advantage over the banker run US but has also saved lives.
Here's hoping that pattern continues."

I'll go further and state that I'm sure this pattern will continue. President Vladimir Putin has shown time and again to be at least one step ahead of the criminals running the US. I see absolutely no reason for him to not see the obvious trap intended for Russia and I have complete confidence that he will counter the US' moves in Ukraine in a way that minimises bloodshed and maximises justice, both economic and legal, for the Ukrainians.

Mike Whitney is correct in stating that the US wants a confrontation in the Ukraine. But if Whitney can see that, surely he must acknowledge that Putin can see that, too! Putin has said time and again that Russia will protect fellow Russians outside the Russian homeland. And he will. But he will do it in such a way as to not give the US what it wants. He has proven to be a creative strategist and he has a very able team around him who are equally aware and committed.

To illustrate this point, take the time to watch this assessment of the struggle over Ukraine and the geopolitical agenda behind it by Evgeny Fedorov, a deputy in the Russian parliament. The link comes via New Insight from a comment left at the Vineyard of the Saker.


That the US administration is 'setting a trap for Russia' is not an indication of their strategic prowess. It is instead a desperate attempt to make the best of a bad situation and the subterfuge and sophistication is sadly lacking. The US are on the backfoot and have been for some years now. They are lurching from one blunder to the next. This is going to continue. As I have said before, the US (and the bankers that are running the show) are like snakes in quicksand - the more they twist and turn, the deeper into the morass they sink.

It is hard for pundits and commentators to get a grasp on who Putin is because he is not like the politicians we are so used to in the West. He is law abiding for a start. He doesn't bluff nor does he bullshit anyone. And he is genuinely looking out for Russia's interests and not his own. This is clear from his actions which are plain enough for everyone to see.

If he was interested in advancing his own interests, he would not have told the oligarchs to butt out of politics when he became president of Russia. He would not have pursued them legally when they chose to ignore his warning. Had he played ball with them, he could have named his own price and retired an extremely wealthy man. But he clearly didn't do that and the significance of his actions then and since need to be pondered and understood if we are to appreciate the new era of international politics that Vladimir Putin has ushered into the world.


newjesustimes's picture


i do hope you're 100% right about Putin. What do you make of the news today that there are leaflets being distributed that tell Jews to register in East Ukraine? http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2014/04/17/jews-ordered-to-regi... It's funny how in the article the Americans quoted seem quite eager to take these very seriously (U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt called the leaflets "the real deal.") Whereas the locals seem to be taking a more reasonable approach.

Written and published by the US State Dept.

Hi NJT! We can tell this because-
1. US Ambassodor, Jeffrey Pyatt went to the trouble of calling the leaflet, "the real deal", as you pointed out. He couldn't know whether it was or not in the time available which is always your first indication of any false flag operation "in play" (to use his own words!).

2. The Jews on the spot have serious doubts about it's veracity. The woman quoted, Olga Reznikova, said she didn't know who distributed it despite the official attribution and that she had never experienced anti-semitism in that city.
Also from the article - "The Jewish community in Donetsk issued a statement saying the leaflet distribution "smells like a provocation." The chief rabbi of nearby Dnipropetrovsk, Shmuel Kaminezki said, "Everything must be done to catch them."
It is clear from the Rabbi's statement that he, too, believes it wasn't any legal or quasi legal authority responsible.

3. The man whose name is on the leaflet claims he was not the author. If he did write it, why would he sign his name to it and then deny it? That doesnt make sense.

4. The leaflet was handed out by masked men. It orders people to report to the "Commissioner for Nationalities in the Donetsk Regional Administration building". Presumably this is a legitimate govt dept. If this was legitimate, why would the leaflet need be handed out by masked men? Again, this doesn't make sense. Unless . . .

5. The govt. office mentioned will be closed for days so no one can go there and find out that it is a hoax. Notice that the Jews were handed the flyer as they emerged from their Synagogue after Passover Eve prayers. The jews are on holidays for Passover and the Christians are on holidays as well for Easter.

6. Notice also that the people quoted first in the article are in reverse order to their proximity to Donetsk and so their information will be third, fourth or even fifth hand. Lots of plausible deniability there. We start with the known liar, John Kerry, and move on to the known spy and coup plotter, Jeffrey Pyatt. Next comes an israeli in israel. Mixed in the middle are references to the israeli Ynet, that paragon of truth. Ukraine's Donbass News agency is mentioned but there is no context. So we don't know what their take on it is.
After these people (and if the readers are still reading) we get to hear from Jews on the ground and their words run counter to all the alarmist and fact-free pronouncements from US State Dept officials. Then, to finish off, we hear from the spokemen for organised jewry in America whose final comments leave the 'after-taste' for the uncritical and unsuspecting reader.

Taking in all the above points and fitting them into the context of what antisemitism exists in Ukraine comes from the west of the country where the coup imposed govt and their baseball bat weilding strong-arm force, the Right Sector and Svoboda, hail from, we can confidently say that this is a false flag operation sponsored by the coup government and supported whole heartedly (if not designed) by the US State Department. It is typically stupid and clumsy and, going from the statements quoted of the Jews in the article in the East of Ukraine, has backfired already.

Those are my initial thoughts anyway, NJT smiling

The American Corporation

The idea that America is moving to rule Europe doesn't hold much water. How can this be when social security numbers are cut in the London Corp, dollars are printed by the London Corp for America, Australia and Canada. All US alphabet agencies draw their paychecks from the London Corp which answers to the vatican.


It might be more accurate to say the UN and the IMF wish to make it appear their American mercenaries wish to take over Europe. America is 17 trillion in debt, they have no foreign policy that is not dictated from the crown heads of Europe.

Lendman and Paul Craig Roberts always push the America is running the EU meme. It is a straw man and as far as I am concerned Roberts is still shilling for the republicans when he pushes this.

8. There are no Judicial courts in America and there has not been since 1789. Judges do not enforce Statutes and Codes. Executive Administrators enforce Statutes and Codes. (FRC v. GE 281 US 464, Keller v. PE 261 US 428, 1 Stat. 138-178)

9. There have not been any Judges in America since 1789. There have just been Administrators. (FRC v. GE 281 US 464, Keller v. PE 261 US 428 1Stat. 138-178)

10. According to the GATT you must have a Social Security number. House Report (103-826)

11. We have One World Government, One World Law and a One World Monetary System.

12. The UN is a One World Super Government.

13. No one on this planet has ever been free. This planet is a Slave Colony. There has always been a One World Government. It is just that now it is much better organized and has changed its name as of 1945 to the United Nations.

14. New York City is defined in the Federal Regulations as the United Nations. Rudolph Gulliani stated on C-Span that "New York City was the capital of the World" and he was correct. (20 CFR chapter 111, subpart B 422.103 (b) (2) (2)

America is a British Colony. (THE UNITED STATES IS A CORPORATION, NOT A LAND MASS AND IT EXISTED BEFORE THE REVOLUTIONARY WAR AND THE BRITISH TROOPS DID NOT LEAVE UNTIL 1796.) Respublica v. Sweers 1 Dallas 43, Treaty of Commerce 8 Stat 116, The Society for Propagating the Gospel, &c. V. New Haven 8 Wheat 464, Treaty of Peace 8 Stat 80, IRS Publication 6209, Articles of Association October 20, 1774.)

23. Britain is owned by the Vatican. (Treaty of 1213)

24. The Pope can abolish any law in the United States. (Elements of Ecclesiastical Law Vol.1 53-54)

25. A 1040 form is for tribute paid to Britain. (IRS Publication 6209)

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