Manafort case, arming Ukraine, the Holodomor

What Manafort’s indictment means for the U.S. and Ukraine by Anders Åslund, Atlantic Council, October 30 (http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/what-manafort-s-indictment-means-for-the-us-and-ukraine):

The most surprising thing about the 31-page indictment of Paul J. Manafort, Jr. and his business partner Richard W. Gates III by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is that it hardly contains anything that was not known to people who have observed Ukraine. …

the indictment states that “more than $75 million flowed through [his] offshore accounts.” …Since this money originated from the illegal funds of a foreign political party, [Viktor] Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act naturally applies to Manafort and his associates. Since the money was dishonestly earned, any amount taken to the United States amounted to money laundering, and the indictment claims that Manafort “laundered more than $18 million.” The money that Manafort did not take to the United States he did not report to the Internal Revenue Service, which means a third crime, namely, tax evasion to the order of $57 million. A fourth alleged crime was that Manafort and his colleague lobbied on behalf of then President Yanukovych with U.S. government agencies without registering as foreign agents. The indictment contains 12 counts.

Helping Ukraine defend itself, Kerch Strait, NATO

“We should help Ukraine defend itself,” by Stephen Blank, The Hill, August 18 (http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international/347125-why-we-should-help-ukraine-defend-itself):

The decision whether or not to provide Ukraine with weapons has now reached the White House. Both the State Department and Pentagon approved this policy and Kurt Volker, President Trump’s special envoy for Ukraine, has also done so. Nevertheless, opponents of this policy have again flooded the media arguing against giving Ukraine these weapons. …

Russia already is and will be provoked whatever we do. But doing nothing encourages it to continue escalating its aggression against Ukraine as it has done with relative impunity.

Russia loses control of Ukraine

“Putin Still in Denial over the Loss of Ukraine,” by Peter Dickinson, Atlantic Council, August 8 (http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/russia-still-in-denial-over-the-loss-of-ukraine#.WYxiiuGMUHs.facebook):

… The Kremlin clings to the idea that a silent majority of pro-Russian Ukrainians lies ready and waiting, poised to take over the reins in Kyiv at the right moment and steer Ukraine back into the Kremlin orbit. Such wishful thinking is nothing new. On the contrary, it is consistent with Moscow’s historic characterization of the Ukrainian independence movement as the work of an extremist minority and their foreign backers. However, the events of the past few years have left Kremlin notions of Slavic solidarity looking more anachronistic than ever. Although Putin refuses to admit it, the sun is setting on centuries of Russian preeminence in Ukraine, and he has only himself to blame.

Lethal weapons, new Cold War, myths about change

“A Trump card in Ukraine,” editorial, The Wall Street Journal, August 1: Vladimir Putin has assumed he can seize territory without endangering his grip on power at home, and he’s been right. But what if the U.S. changed that calculus by raising the cost of Moscow’s aggression in Ukraine? President Trump will soon have a chance to test that question when he receives an imminent recommendation from the State Department and Pentagon to sell Ukraine lethal, defensive weapons such as anti-tank Javelin missiles. These weapons would help Ukrainians defeat Russian armor and make it harder for Mr. Putin’s proxy forces to advance further into Ukraine’s eastern provinces, which the Russians invaded in 2014. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has sought this kind of help for years.

NATO membership, assassinations, political warfare

“Will Ukraine join NATO? A course for disappointment,” by Steven Pifer, Brookings Institution July 25 (https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2017/07/25/will-ukraine-join-nato-a-course-for-disappointment/?utm_campaign=Brookings%20Brief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm _content=54625936):

Following the visit to Kyiv by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg earlier this month, President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine would seek to meet the alliance’s membership criteria by 2020. …

Ukraine today is involved in an undeclared, low-intensity conflict with Russia in the Donbas. That is not a conflict of Kyiv’s choosing, but one forced upon it by Moscow. The Kremlin has organized, led, funded, armed and otherwise supported – in some cases with regular units of the Russian army – violent separatism in Donetsk and Luhansk of a kind that Russia itself would never tolerate …

Even if the Donbas conflict were settled, there would remain the issue of Crimea and its illegal seizure, occupation and annexation by Russia.

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, 1928-2017

The following was released on May 30 by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, a Washington-based, non-profit educational and human rights organization devoted to commemorating the more than 100 million victims of communism around the world and to the freedom of those still living under totalitarian regimes. It is with deep sorrow that the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation marks the passing of Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a renowned academic, an implacable foe of tyranny and an important advisor to our foundation at its beginning. Zbigniew Brzezinski spent his early childhood in Germany in the 1930s, witnessing firsthand the rise of fascism. Serendipitously escaping the Nazi invasion of Poland due to his father’s diplomatic posting to Canada, the Brzezinski family emerged from World War II to discover that the Soviets had used the family’s aristocratic lineage as an excuse to expropriate their property in Poland. Brzezinski became a United States citizen in 1958.

The G-7, Russia and Ukraine

“G-7 must face down Russia or suffer disaster,” by Petro Poroshenko, Politico, May 26 (http://www.politico.eu/article/g7-must-face-down-russia-or-suffer-disaster-ukraine-president-petro-poroshenko-opinion/):

…The Western world needs to commit to joint action and stand together to protect its values and respect for international law. Today, like on the eve of World War II, time is against us. The violence in eastern Ukraine is taking lives every single day. Delays and soothing half-measures are not only ineffective but dangerous. Russia’s new generation of hybrid warfare is gaining momentum.

Threats to RFE/RL journalists multiply in 2017

WASHINGTON – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) journalists have been targeted in hostile incidents in at least 10 countries in 2017, in what the company called “relentless pressure” on its journalistic mission. Speaking on World Press Freedom Day, May 3, RFE/RL President Thomas Kent said that “today we celebrate the courage of our journalists, who work under relentless pressure.” Mr. Kent continued, “Attacks against them are attacks on the universal value of press freedom.”

The actions targeting RFE/RL are as diverse as the environments in which its reporters work, but reflect a common intent to thwart independent media. A court in Symferopol on May 3 adjourned for the third time the trial of Crimean journalist Mykola Semena, who is facing separatist charges for an opinion piece he wrote opposing Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Also on May 3, the Azerbaijani government continued to press for a court-approved ban on RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani Service website for content that “poses a threat” to Azerbaijan’s national security. In other cases this year, an RFE/RL reporter in Belarus was arrested for covering mass protests, and journalists were physically assaulted while on assignment in Russia, Armenia and Macedonia.

On the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge

The following text was released by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress on April 9. The Ukrainian Canadian community joins all Canadians in commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge. “Several thousand Ukrainian Canadians fought in World War I with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Many were recently arrived immigrants to Canada who served their new homeland with distinction and honour,” stated Capt. (ret.) Andre Sochaniwsky, CD, president of the Ukrainian War Veterans Association of Canada. “Today we pause to remember the enormous sacrifices Canadians have made to the cause of freedom.”

On April 9, 1917, the four divisions of the Canadian Corps attacked German positions on Vimy Ridge in northern France.

Crimea, fake news, potential of new Russian invasion

“Three Ways the West Can Get Tougher on Russia for Crimea Land Grab,” by Taras Kuzio, Atlantic Council’s “Ukraine’s Alert,” April 3 (http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/ukrainealert/three-ways-the-west-can-get-tougher-on-russia-for-crimea-land-grab):

Russia’s occupation of Crimea has reached its third anniversary, and there is no evidence in sight that President Vladimir Putin will withdraw his occupation forces. Both the United States and Canada have reiterated their support for continued sanctions against Russia as long as Crimea continues to be occupied. Still, ending Russia’s illegal occupation could take decades. To increase the effectiveness of Western pressure on Russia, three additional policies are necessary. First, Ukraine must stop expecting the West to assume the heavy lifting of sanctions against Russia while Ukraine itself continues to trade with Crimea and the two Russian proxy enclaves, the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR).