Trump Administration Fails To Back Ukraine

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Trump Administration Fails To Back Ukraine

Members of the Ukrainian armed forces ride on an armoured personnel carrier (APC) near Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, February 12, 2015.Gleb Garanich/Reuters

Written by Alexander Mercouris; Originally appeared at TheDuran

In telephone conversation US President Trump fails to give strong support to Ukrainian President Poroshenko, as other US officials also signal desire by US to put Ukraine crisis behind it in order to focus on detente with Russia and war against Jihadi terrorism and ISIS.

Though the White House has not yet published on its website a readout of US President Trump’s telephone conversation on Saturday with Ukrainian President Poroshenko, it is clear that it did not contain the strong support for Ukraine Poroshenko must have been looking for.

The conversation took place against the backdrop of intense fighting between the Ukrainian military and the eastern Ukrainian militia around the town of Avdeevka in eastern Ukraine.

The White House is reporting that Trump said to Poroshenko the following

We will work with Ukraine, Russia, and all other parties involved to help them restore peace along the border

This comment contains no criticism of Russia, it does not accuse Russia of initiating the fighting, and it makes no reference to “Russian aggression”.  Nor does it make any strong statement of support for Ukraine.

This has been the consistent pattern of Donald Trump’s statements to European leaders since he became US President.

Donald Trump has now met with British Prime Theresa May and German Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel, and he has had telephone conversations with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande.

If the White House readouts of these these conversations are to be believed, in not one of them has he said anything about Russia committing aggression in Ukraine.  His most substantive discussion of Ukraine with any European leader was his one with German Chancellor Merkel.  Here is the White House’s summary of the conversation

President Trump and Chancellor Merkel today held an extensive telephone conversation covering a range of issues, including NATO, the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, relations with Russia, and the Ukraine crisis.  Both leaders affirmed the importance of close German-American cooperation to our countries’ security and prosperity and expressed their desire to deepen already close German-American relations in the coming years.

Not only does this summary separate the issue of the “Ukraine crisis” from the question of “relations with Russia” – an idea that totally overturns the Western foreign policy orthodoxy of the last three years – but it lumps the “Ukraine crisis” – supposedly (according to Western leaders) the biggest crisis in Europe since the end of the Second World War – with those of the Middle East and North Africa, whilst mentioning it last in a way that seems to give it the least priority.

Contrary to what many are saying, I do not see any significant difference between Trump and other US officials on this issue.

In the hours following President Trump’s conversation with Poroshenko, Vice President Pence – often regarded as an anti-Russia hawk – appeared on ABC News’ “This Week”.  Here is how Bloomberg sums up what he said

We’re watching,” Pence said on ABC. “And very troubled by the increased hostilities over the past week in eastern Ukraine.”

Pence noted that Trump spoke about Ukraine with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Jan. 28. He said the question of whether sanctions on Russia remain in place if it continues to violate the cease-fire in Ukraine will depend on Russia’s actions and the opportunity to work together on matters such as defeating Islamic State.

“It just simply all depends on whether or not we see the kind of changes in posture by Russia and the opportunity perhaps to work on common interests

(bold italics added)

Again this is scarcely a resounding denunciation of Russia – such as might once have been expected from Obama administration officials – and it even appears to link the possibility of lifting the sanctions to Russia’s cooperation in fighting the Islamic State.

What of the statement made by US ambassador Nikki Haley to the UN Security Council, which is being widely reported as contradicting Donald Trump’s position, and which is supposed to have contained a stern denunciation of Russia?

In my opinion this interpretation is wrong, and to show why I herewith provide Nikki Haley’s full statement, which I shall then analyse

Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Under-Secretary-General Feltman, Under-Secretary-General O’Brien, and Ambassador Apakan for your useful and comprehensive briefings today.

This is my first appearance in this chamber as the Permanent Representative of the United States. It is an immense honor for me to sit behind the United States placard and to follow in the footsteps of so many giants of American diplomacy. It is humbling to be part of a body whose responsibility is nothing less than maintaining international peace and security. I look forward to working closely with each of you on this Council. The United States is determined to push for action. There is no time to waste.

I consider it unfortunate that the occasion of my first appearance here is one in which I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia. It is unfortunate because it is a replay of far too many instances over many years in which United States Representatives have needed to do that. It should not have to be that way. We do want to better our relations with Russia. However, the dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions.

The sudden increase in fighting in eastern Ukraine has trapped thousands of civilians and destroyed vital infrastructure. And the crisis is spreading, endangering many thousands more. This escalation of violence must stop.

The United States stands with the people of Ukraine, who have suffered for nearly three years under Russian occupation and military intervention. Until Russia and the separatists it supports respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, this crisis will continue.

Eastern Ukraine, of course, is not the only part of the country suffering because of Russia’s aggressive actions. The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea. Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine. The basic principle of this United Nations is that states should live side by side in peace.

There is a clear path to restoring peace in eastern Ukraine: full and immediate implementation of the Minsk agreements, which the United States continues to support. For the people in eastern Ukraine, the stakes are high. With each passing day, more people are at risk of freezing to death, or dying from a mortar blast.

The United States calls on Russia and the combined Russian-separatist forces to fulfill their commitments in the Minsk agreements and fully restore and respect the ceasefire. The Minsk agreements require the disengagement of forces and withdrawal of heavy weapons from both sides of the contact line. This is the formula for a sustainable ceasefire. Pulling back forces and taking heavy weapons out of this area will save lives. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Special Monitoring Mission must also be granted full, unfettered access. The presence of OSCE monitors can help calm tensions.

Cooperation on this issue is possible. Earlier this week, both Russia and Ukraine supported this Council’s unanimous call to return to a ceasefire. It was the first time in years that this Council was able to come together on Ukraine. The parties on the ground should heed this signal and hold their fire. The United States expects that those who can influence the groups that are fighting – in particular, Russia – will do everything possible to support an end to this escalation of violence. Thank you.

(bold italics added)

This is a very different statement from the one which might have expected from someone like Samantha Power.

It says that the US wants better relations with Russia.  It does not say that Russia or the eastern Ukrainian militia started the latest fighting.  It calls for full implementation of the Minsk Accords, which (as everyone knows) Ukraine is not implementing.  Lastly it calls for heavy weapons to be removed from “both sides of the contact line”, when everyone knows it was Ukraine’s decision to violate this provision by moving heavy weapons into the buffer zone (which includes Avdeevka) which caused the latest fighting.

As for the criticisms of Russia, not only do these have a ritual quality – with Haley simply repeating what is still official US policy – but she actually says she regrets having to do it.  Moreover it is difficult to avoid reading Haley’s comment about her having to do it being “unfortunate because it is a replay of far too many instances over many years in which United States Representatives have needed to do that” as being anything other than a veiled reference to Samantha Power, with the clear implication being that Haley wants to be different from her.

Lest anyone think that I am alone in reading Haley’s statement in this way, I should say that no less a person than Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, who was physically present in the Security Council chamber when Haley read her statement, is of the same view.

Immediately following the UN Security Council meeting on Thursday where Haley read out her statement, Churkin said that he had noted “a tangible change of tone”, and said that he found Haley “friendly enough, with the allowances for the circumstances and the subject.”

Churkin and Haley then met on the following day.  Interestingly, it was Haley who went to see Churkin, not the other way round.  The report of the meeting provided by the Russian news agency TASS reads as follows

Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin has held the first meeting with his newly-appointed US counterpart Nikki Haley. As the Russian missions’ spokesman Fyodor Strzhizhovsky said, Churkin and Haley agreed to maintain close cooperation in accordance with Moscow’s and Washington’s intentions.  “The Russian envoy received Nikki Haley at his residence. Both sides expressed the intention to cooperate tightly within the United Nations in accordance with their respective capitals’ intentions,” he said.

(bold italics added)

The talk about “close” and “tight” cooperation “within the United Nations” suggests discussion about jointly sponsored Resolutions aimed at defeating Jihadi terrorism and ISIS, which is quite clearly the new administration’s priority.

Of course this is all very tentative.  The difficulties in the way of a detente between the US and Russia are so great they may prove insurmountable.  The opponents of such a detente are legion, and they have not gone away.  Besides it is far from clear upon what terms Trump wants such a detente, and whether they are terms the Russians feel able to concede to him.

However it is wrong to say that on this subject the new administration is not speaking with one voice.   On the contrary all its senior officials – including of course most importantly President Trump himself – are saying they want a detente with Russia, and all the administration’s statements – including Trump’s in his telephone call with Poroshenko, and Haley’s in her statement to the UN Security Council – suggest the new administration wants to put the Ukrainian crisis behind it so that it can concentrate on the fight against Jihadi terrorism and ISIS, for which it obviously feels it needs Russia’s help.

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  • Burt the Merciless

    Excellent

  • ‘Sup Bruh!

    I don’t see any difference personally. For the sake of getting rid of sanctions; Putin better not give away something serious.

    • Kenw6

      I really don’t think the Russians themselves are in that much of a rush to get rid of sanctions. The sanctions seem to be one of the best things to happen to Russia since the end of the USSR. Russia is now the top grain producer in the world. Its forced Russia and China closer together economically and militarily, which even President Trump says was a big mistake. Russia’s agricultural sector is growing like rabbits and they are the worlds largest producer of Non GMO food. There is an overwhelming amount of opinion from Russian businesses themselves that the sanctions are helping Russia to become much more self sufficient. John McCain said that they were just one big gas station, well the sanctions are forcing a very beneficial change.

      • waky wake

        @Kenw6:} You said; “Russia’s agricultural sector is growing like rabbits and they are the worlds largest producer of Non GMO food. There is an overwhelming amount of opinion from Russian businesses themselves that the sanctions are helping Russia to become much more self sufficient. John McCain said that they were just one big gas station, well the sanctions are forcing a very beneficial change.”

        This [cause & effect] eventuality is exactly what I posted would happen as far back as late 2014, in a number of article comments. Back then, western MSMs were publishing nonsensical reports about how Russia would suffer without imports of western finished goods like ‘blue-jeans’ and ‘Norwegian salmon’, etc-etc-etc. In response, I commented how Russia has some of the most pristine fresh waterways left on the planet in its Siberian region and they are chocked full of untainted salmon and how most western apparel products are actually produced in places like Vietnam, India and “CHINA” for common sense sake. And how none of these nations went along with any such sanctions against the Russian Federation and how their manufacturers are willing to sell such goods, with and/or without an unauthorized brand-name sticker on them, to whom ever has the cash and is willing to pay them. Further, I mentioned how since as for back as the late 1980s, contracted U.S. and Canadian cattlemen and agriculturalists had been working with Russian producers, to help them enhance and increase their yields and quality, in their perspective products. This is well documented in archived publications of some of these self-same western MSMs. Funny, isn’t it? Track my posts back to late 2014, you’ll eventually come across said comments.

        • Robert Ferrin

          Yes your right for a number of people went from here (upstate N.Y.) to Russia to help them set up large dairy operations ,where now they have some of the most modern in the world, where the milk goes from the milking parlors to the cold tanks then to the processing plant where it bottled (all at the same location) and by morning is on the selves of their super markets…

      • Brad Isherwood

        http://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-iran-idUSKBN1531TO

        Sanctions on Iran and Syria enable both to move in new opportunity.
        Assad also refused GMO……Lots of frustrated corporations saying Assad must go.

        Sanctions on Russia are cover for deeper interests which Russia is not complying with.
        Having the Crimea vote to join Russia was an outcome of the Gambit in the Kiev Coup.
        I’m thinking the core reason is Russia and BRICS lead in uncouple from US oil
        Dollar to international currency exchange and the new Russian credit brokerage
        Transfer system.

        NATO pushing it’s missile shield over the years closer and closer resulted
        In Putin flipping Empire the finger and walking away.
        Then BRICS and new credit transfer system appeared.

        • waky wake

          You’re good!!! Sometimes it seems I’m the only westerner keeping up with the BRICS and their developing new international trade and currency exchange systems. And although you’re also on target with Assad, Iran and others refusing to except GMO [monsanto] food stuffs, the real motivation behind the western mega-corp alliance efforts to remove Assad was to create an ease-way for an oil/gas pipeline from their GCC princesses [saudi/qatar/kuwait/etc], to southern Europe and blocking a Russian pipeline in the process. And since Assad/Syria was already allied with Putin/Russia and Iran, that could only be accomplished via a quasi-Arab-spring labelled regime-change in Syria. Another plus for Russia in Syria and that region in general is it’s high quality, non-GMO agricultural offerings. Syria, Iran, Iraq and even Turkey and Saudi Arabia are buying up Russian grain, cattle and poultry products by the mega-tons. So, the Russian Federation ain’t just selling fuel and weapons anymore and that has to scare the caaar-rap out of monsters like monsanto.

          • Brad Isherwood

            https://southfront.org/what-is-syrian-army-going-to-do-after-liberation-of-aleppo/

            My post on the Syrian oil nat/gas concessions map.

            My past 2 decades+ career in Oil Nat/gas process build.
            We even built Frac modules for Iran before Gulf War. ..
            Then ban on shipping meant Iran’s contract was ended with the finished
            Modules rusting in the shop yard for years until sold to another buyer.
            I’ve built for North Slope Alaska. ..to Well head blowout presenters and rigs in Gulf of Mexico,
            ….all over the world. …..even the outback of Australia (Legrand Industries Pump Jacks)

            The Oil dollar after Nixon created the opportunity for the MIC to March like the Old
            British Empire.
            USA went crazy with conflicts and build weapons systems.

            So…it’s all slowed down now….. to the circling opponents…

            My Union…. Boilermakers AFL/CIO. …we build America’s Warships and submarines.
            America does not have the extensive builder yards of decades ago.
            In fact. …much of US in port is stuffed into a few Naval Annexes.

            If these get hit by Cruise missile or Ballistic attack,
            Even the new Russian Torpedo which can power down and lurk…
            Has Cobalt 60 casing…
            These bases will be death zones to anyone entering…even the nearby Naval
            Airstation of Oceana near Norfolk. ..
            The Cobalt decay rate will be fatal,
            And now. …the navy bases and ship yards…are death zones.
            If you loose your builder ability….you eventually loose on attrition,
            This is war……As Germany and Japan experienced.

            America had 2 oceans to guard it,
            Those 2 oceans now enable opponents to target USA from standoff.

          • waky wake

            What else can I say? You are well aware of these “under-tow” schemes by the western energy mega-corps and their government minions. I too have be tracking the activities of this despotic bunch of bankster/oligarchs, western-MIC-hawks and their government pawns for years now. The poignant putrid stench of their filthy money-vaults will betray them one day, when enough common folk realize that they can continue raping the world, only if we, the people continue allowing it.

          • Al Hope

            Glad to have you watching them!

            You know, we have a 1,000 laws to stop shop lifters, but no laws for tracking the influential people who can push the world into nuclear winter! Who are they? What are they doing politically?

            In banking the “Systemically Important Institutions” are regulated, monitored, and punished. Humanity needs laws to regulate “Systemically Import Persons.” The most powerful must come out of the shadows, have them report on wealth, political reach, and political affiliations, including the politicians they have direct influence over.

          • AMHants

            Do you remember, back in June 2014, President Putin said he was will to go to WWIII, should Monsanto get close to the Russian borders?

            Monsanto, before Ukraine kicked off, were also up, running and sniffing the rich black soil of Ukraine and advertising for Senior Management teams, to be in place.

            I did not realise that they were also sniffing around Syria, but, it all makes sense. Including the fact that Biden placed his son in a senior management position in Burisma Holdings, and energy organisation in Ukraine, together with John Kerry’s step-son and financial adviser. They are also heavily involved in the ‘Feed the World’ con.

            Strange it is the same players and same teams, that are causing chaos wherever they go? Whether it is for agriculture or petro-chemical desires. Then you also have the pharmaceutical industry, in Russia, that also seems to be doing well, thanks to the sanctions. Who wants a Gates Vaccine, when Russia might provide a more organic version?

            June 22, 2014

            Putin Orders War Alert, Tells Obama: “Stop Monsanto, Or We Will”… http://www.whatdoesitmean.com/index1778.htm

            Monsanto Protection Act Signed By Obama, GMO Bill “Written By Monsanto” Signed Into Law… http://www.globalresearch.ca/monsanto-protection-act-signed-by-obama-gmo-bill-written-by-monsanto-signed-into-law/5329388

          • waky wake

            Wow!!!! Now you’re getting it, but don’t leave out the clintons. You can consider them middle management as it were. And although I unknowingly voted for him, obama was, is and always will be no more than a gold-plated pawn for the ones who are really running the show in the US and EU. Who might they be, you might ask? Well, keep digging and you’ll undercover them just below the surface. I’ll give you a hint. They hold duel citizenships and one of them is for the U.S., but they don’t do well getting elected. Appointments are their bread-n-butter way into power.

          • AMHants

            I have not just woken up, but, learnt a lot, following what was happening in Ukraine and all the threads around the narrative.7

            If you check out the Clinton Foundation Donors, you will also see the players involved, in all parts. Then you follow her main supporters. Soros was Obama’s financial mentor, when he was running for Presidency. The same Soros, who has teamed up with Gates, to help Zuckeberg, to censor Facebook, with the’Prop or Not’ list of fake news sites. Now what does Gates get, for a donation of over $25,000,000 to the Clinton Foundation?

            Contributor and Grantor Information

            Donor Name Donations Greater Than $25,000,000
            Donor name
            Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
            Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (Canada) *
            Fred Eychaner and Alphawood Foundation *
            Frank Giustra, The Radcliffe Foundation
            Nationale Postcode Loterij
            The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
            UNITAID

            Donor Name Donations Between $10,000,001-$25,000,000
            Donor name
            AUSAID **
            Stephen L. Bing
            Commonwealth of Australia **
            COPRESIDA
            Tom Golisano ^
            J.B. and M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation
            Kingdom of Norway [Government of Norway] **
            Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
            Denis J. O’Brien and Digicel *
            Cheryl and Haim Saban & The Saban Family Foundation
            Susie Tompkins Buell Fund of the Marin Community Foundation
            Swedish Postcode Lottery [The Swedish Postcode Lottery]
            The Elma Foundation
            The Hunter Foundation *
            The Rockefeller Foundation *
            The Victor Pinchuk Foundation
            Tracfone Wireless, Inc. *
            Theodore W. Waitt

            Donors $5,000,001 to $10,000,000

            Donor name
            S. Daniel Abraham
            Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi
            C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, Inc.
            Elton John Aids Foundation
            Government of the Netherlands **
            Irish Aid **
            John D. Mackay
            Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) **
            OCP Corporation
            Michael Schumacher
            State of Kuwait
            The Clinton Family Foundation
            The Coca-Cola Company
            The Wasserman Foundation *

            Donors $1,000,001 – $5,000,000

            100 Women in Hedgefunds
            Absolute Return for Kids (ARK)
            Acxiom Corporation
            Jay Alix
            Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa *
            Nasser Al-Rashid
            American Federation of Teachers
            Angelopoulos Foundation ^
            Gianna Angelopoulos ^
            Anheuser-Busch Foundation
            Smith and Elizabeth Bagley
            Banc of California ^
            Barclays Capital ^
            Barclays plc
            Mary Bing and Doug Ellis
            Bloomberg Philanthropies
            Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina ^
            Richard Blum and Blum Family Foundation *
            BMU – Federal Ministry for the Environment **
            Booz Allen Hamilton ^
            Carlos Bremer
            Richard Caring
            Gilbert R. Chagoury
            Cheniere Energy, Inc.
            Christy and John Mack Foundation
            Cisco ^
            Gustavo Cisneros & Venevision
            Citi Foundation ^
            Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund
            Stephen J. Cloobeck
            Roy E. Cockrum
            Victor P. Dahdaleh & The Victor Phillip Dahdaleh Charitable Foundation
            Delos Living ^
            Desert Classic Charities Inc
            Robert Disbrow
            Dubai Foundation
            Duke Energy Corporation ^
            EKTA Foundation
            Entergy
            Exxonmobil ^
            Issam M. Fares
            Raj Fernando
            Ferraro Family Foundation
            Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund
            Joseph T. Ford
            Wallace W. Fowler
            Friends Of Saudi Arabia
            Fundacion Telmex
            Mala Gaonkar Haarman
            GEMS Education

          • Al Hope

            Meme: Isolationism is bad
            Truth: Isolationism is bad for Marxist Overlords and Gate Openers.

  • Douglas Houck

    President Trump became the first US President ever to not equate America with “Goodness” and Russia with “Evil”. That is huge. It is about the only issue for which his base (I attended a Falcon’s Super Bowl party in GA) has not backed him on. It is very troubling for them. Depending on how rapprochement with Russia is given, he will be able to do it. Both sides are working to make it happen. The fact that the sanctions have backfired is becoming obvious as Russia’s agriculture and IT industries become successful. Russia has gone to Germany to teach them how to become entrepreneurs. Long term, Russia needs to transition off of energy exports as a major source of income. They have some time to learn it and practice with other nation-sates. Any rapprochement needs to meet President Putin’s stated needs such as to be treated as an equal, no internal interference in other nation-states, and allow each country to investigate political solutions to their internal issue other than the Wests, with the UNSC being a legitimate final arbitrator. I liked the concept of eliminating nuclear weapons for the lifting of the sanctions. Something the Russians would love to do. Other ideas?

    • Kenw6

      Agreed 99.9999%
      Everything you’ve said, especially the first part is right on. I just dont think they have to transition OFF of energy. Just Off making it the sole source of income. Anytime someone wants energy from Russia, they should sell it.(The best and safest Nuclear reactors in the world) But not at the expense of developing all the other resources they are presently expanding (like they did before). They should still expand Agriculture, Manufacturing, etc. I hear they have 2 more small frigates that are behind schedule, waiting on the Russian replacement for the engines they use to get from Ukraine. (Sorry Porky) They should be in service by the beginning of next year. Things like this make me feel hopeful.

  • Lord Humongous

    There is no “fail” regarding Ukraine. Mr. Trumps decision regarding not supporting the government is deliberate, and long past due. I fully support the integration of Ukraine into greater Russia. The world was a safer place when the USSR and the USA stood nose to nose in a stalemate. I lived through it and remember it well. A strong and stable Russia is good for the United States as a counterbalance.

  • Bob

    Poroshenko like bulk of western political class took it as guaranteed Clinton would become POTUS, and she would carry on with the Neo-Con’s foriegn business as usual.
    Clinton wanted to keep Nuland in place, and Clinton herself was easy enough to buy – few million into Clinton Foundation and foreign states got her attention and their particular problems addressed.
    For current regimes like Ukraine and Kosovo, that are essentially Neo-Con political projects, and require complete US political and economic patronage – in both the UN and the IMF – any reduced US sponsorship or policy interest is enough to send their prospects into death spirals.