Rutgers political scientist Alexander Motyl has a perceptive decoding of Vladimir Putin’s “state of the union” address to Russia’s Federal Assembly from a few days ago. You can read it here.
The Ukraine Solidarity Campaign, which organizes solidarity in support of Ukrainian socialists and trade unionists, has issued an alert about the repression of social protests by paramilitaries in separatist-controlled areas of the Donbass region. The alert can be read here.
Also, a few weeks ago, the Donetsk National University issued an appeal to the international academic community to help protect them against the illegal seizure of the university by separatists.
in “Peering Through the Fog of War,” Observer Ukraine’s Marco Bojcun provides another solid analysis of the current situation of unannounced war between Russia and Ukraine.
“If on the one side we heard the apologists of the Kremlin insisting all this is just a Ukrainian civil war without Russian state intervention, from the other side we have had yet another kind of illusory and hopeful thinking: that the Ukrainian government can win the war in the east militarily, that with just a little more firepower the separatists can be defeated. And Russia would have to accept that fact and back off. The illusion in this line of thinking is twofold: first, that for Russia the goals of the war are limited to the subordination of Ukraine; and second, that the outcome of this war will be decided by the balance of brute force on the front.”
An Olympics-scale performance staged on August 9 in the Crimean military port of Sevastopol depicted the official Russian version of Ukraine’s Maidan revolution — complete with huge dancing human swastikas, lynchings, burnings, firings of Kalashnikovs, and symbols depicting the US (dollar signs, eagles, the Eye of Providence), the Right Sector, and the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics.”
Ostensibly organized by Russian biker club “Night Wolves” (Ночные волки) but clearly with a massive budget, the performance was broadcast nationally on the Rossiya-2 (Russia 2) state television network. Rather like Cirque du Soleil staging some Al-Qaedaesque millenarian nightmare, and bringing to mind Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will, it is a disturbing example of what happens when cultural institutions are harnessed in the name of wartime propaganda.
Mat Babiak, editor of the Euromaidan Press web site, provides a detailed analysis (with numerous still photos) here. The original show in its entirety can be viewed on Rossiya-2. The web site for the “Triumphant Bike Show,” which began in Moscow and ended in Sevastopol, is here. For some images of the bikers themselves, see Google’s image database.
While the comments on the Euromaidan site reflect the shock, dismay, and befuddlement of Ukrainian viewers, those on the Russian Twitter feed express the delight of many Russian “patriotic” viewers.
In his “Letter from Moscow: Watching the Eclipse,” Long-time New Yorker editor David Remnick provides a detailed and informative examination of Putinism and US foreign policy responses to it, with a focus on recent US ambassador Michael McFaul. The article is worth reading in full.
The Center for Society Research has released its extensive report analyzing protests taking place in Ukraine between November 21 of last year and February 23, 2014. The report, according to its authors,
“is the first attempt to analyze Maidan based on the results of systematic research on protests, repressions and concessions of protesters in Ukraine.”
It appears that conservative groups — including the self-proclaimed media “watchdog” Accuracy in Media (AIM) — are now using Russia to try to discredit western environmentalist’ opposition to fracked natural gas and shale oil production.
See AIM director Cliff Kincaid’s article “Moscow Mobilizes its American Agents.”
Here are some recent pieces, from a variety of political perspectives, helpful for understanding the geopolitical implications of the Russia-Ukraine (and effectively Russia-U.S.) conflict.
Most of these focus on the recent Russia-China gas deal, and together they underscore the importance of the Russia-China relationship in the unfolding multi-polar geopolitics of the post-2008 world economy.
In “Truths and Counter-Truths: The Front of Information and Misinformation,” Fourth International (Trotskyist) activist Murray Smith provides a detailed analysis of the Ukraine-Russia conflict from a left-wing perspective.
Smith is a Scottish socialist who has been active in leftist politics in various European countries since the 1960s. Since 2009 he has lived in Luxemburg, where is a leader of the party “The Left” (déi Lénk), its leadership representative in the Party of the European Left, and associated with the European United Left-Nordic Green Left.
The article is thoroughly referenced and includes a very good summary of the Russian misinformation campaign. I highly recommend it. It can be read here.
Readers of The Nation and listeners of Democracy Now — two of the leading U.S. venues for left-wing thought — have been subjected to a somewhat incessant drumbeat of views sympathetic to the official Russian side of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. As I’ve written here before, both Stephen Cohen and, more recently, his wife (and Nation editor/publisher) Katrina Vanden Heuvel have argued that the entire conflict should be blamed on the West — the U.S., its European and NATO allies, and pro-western and ostensibly right-wing Ukrainians.
In “Putin’s Pal,” Slate‘s Cathy Young summarizes the case against Cohen’s (and Vanden Heuvel’s) views, while astutely contextualizing it within Cohen’s history of scholarship and commentary on the Soviet Union and Russia. While some of Cohen’s and Vanden Heuvel’s worries cannot be brushed away — war has its casualties and some of these will be civilians, on both sides or on no side — their narrative of U.S. and Ukrainian responsibility and Russian victimhood is unfair and their assessment of western media coverage also inaccurate.
And there’s little point in casting that conflict as merely a Ukrainian civil war, as Vanden Heuvel does. Any analyst of Russian (and Ukrainian) media ought to see that it is clearly a war — something between a cold war and a hot one — between Russia and Ukraine.
While The Nation itself continues its one-sided coverage, Nation Institute fellow Lee Fang writes, in “How Putin’s American Fixers Keep America’s Sanctions Toothless,” about how US-Russian economic ties create an effective lobby against sanctions, rather like the Israel lobby does the same with US relations with that country and its neighbor, Palestine.