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Ukraine: Putin Capitalizes on Western Identity Crisis (La Stampa, Italy)


"Today the West is no longer sure of itself, has no moral courage, and is bereft of the spirit of sacrifice and cultural pride. That explains Putin's gamble, which is why China stands by diffidently as the U.S. and E.U. swing inanely between democracy and an impossible military response. Anguished over the Kremlin's daring move, the West has suddenly been transported back to 1962 Cuba - light-years from Obama's 2008 Prague magic."


By Gianni Riotta



Translated By Francesca Sassi


April 1, 2014


Italy - La Stampa - Original Article (Italian)

Former Ukraine Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who was one of the leaders of the Orange Revolution, has announced she is running for office again - a sour prospect for the Kremlin.


BBC NEWS VIDEO: U.S. and Russia are deadlocked after Ukraine talks, Mar. 31, 00:02:32RealVideo

How much time has passed since April 2009, when President Barack Obama, enthused after being elected, declared in Prague that he seeks “the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”? And how many seasons has it been since April 2010, when in the Czech capital, he spoke alongside then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, referring to him as a “friend and partner … who shares a commitment to cooperation”? How quickly America, Europe and Russia have worn out hopes for the post Cold-War era, with Ukraine having witnessed the first boundary violation in Europe since the fall of the Berlin Wall.


Obama, a leader downsized by the forces of history, is no longer as infallible as the Dioscuri [Castor and Pollux]. Returning to Europe a “lame-duck” and experiencing a decline in political support, he was received with suspicion by allies who loathed his performance in the case of NSA metadata. At the end of his trip he will be received by the Saudis who were disappointed by the White House over Syria and Iran. And in the meantime, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is playing the same old bluff, testing the resolve of the U.S. and E.U. as he did in Georgia during the days of G. W. Bush, betting that the West will react with bureaucratic impotence disguised as “diplomatic wisdom.”


Moscow's Crimea annexation has not only provided historians with an end date to the "post Cold War" era, it has exposed the strategic weakness of Washington and Brussels. They have underestimated Russia, crushed beneath a castle of lies about the USSR, the “Evil Empire” criticized by Reagan, thinking they could expand NATO and hold a dialogue with Beijing while ignoring Slavic history and pride without fear.


In a book published by La Stampa in 1987 that would be worth publishing online, Caro Gorbaciov, caro Natta [Dear Gorbachev, Dear Natta], the great columnist and former communist Frane Barbieri argued against the ideas of Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.


“The West will be defeated, because it persists in confronting the USSR diplomatically, failing to understand how the Russian people, hostile to the Soviet Communist Party and the Kremlin, are their real interlocutors.” Barbieri is skeptical about the messianic message of the author of The Gulag Archipelago, but the dilemma remains unresolved. America and Europe are incapable of engaging with either “the Russian people,” or the Kremlin. They overestimate Moscow, as the CIA did in 1978, even after scholar Hélène Carrère d’Encausse spoke of the “implosion of the Soviet empire,” churning out astonishing figures on the USSR's production of armaments. Or they don't take the Russian bear seriously enough, as with Putin, discounting it and facing a furious reaction.


Neither Obama, nor the European Union, nor NATO, really know how to react to Putin’s attack against Ukraine. The 1994 Budapest Memorandums obliges the Americans and Europeans to preserve the territorial integrity of Ukraine (which was signed by Kiev in exchange for the removal of the Soviet nuclear arsenal). However, they oscillate between trying to bully and intimidate with sanctions - to little effect, and fearfully requesting that contracts for energy supplies be respected by Moscow, as German industrials have so shamelessly done with Chancellor Merkel (and with former Chancellor Schroeder working as Putin's lobbyist).


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NATO military chief General Breedlove warns that Putin is massing troops and tanks along the border with Transnistria. Other observers talk about Russian maneuvers on the border with Ukraine. Yet security expert Christopher Chivvis of the European Council of Foreign Relations confirms that a military response to support Kiev is impossible, and that it has been years since the Pentagon has even discussed such a contingency for fear of irritating Moscow.

Posted By Worldmeets.US


Europeans and Americans haven't had a common strategy since the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 2004, after the split over Iraq, the House International Relations Committee invited me and other analysts, including Radek Sikorski, who is now Poland's foreign minister, to discuss the Atlantic alliance. Rereading that debate, one is dismayed by the chasm that has opened. Europeans dream of prolonging the since 1945 status quo that has been lost. Meanwhile the Americans, deluded into thinking they can have an “pivot” to Asia, are incapable of covering two opposing frontiers.


What remains of the lackluster Washington-Brussels alliance has been exhausted during negotiations on the TTIP - the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, where no agreement has been signed. This isn't because of tariffs or duties, which are easily negotiable, but because of opposition to cultural products, education, and the market.


On Beppe Grillo's blog, the TTIP has been described as “pure madness,” and is depicted as an octopus with a top-hat and Havana cigar oppressing the world.

[Graphic from Beppe Grillo's blog]


In the U.S., anti-globalization activist Lori Wallach is certain that, “with the TTIP, they aim to kill us."


Meanwhile, French philosopher Pierre Manent explains that distant manufacturers with access to cheap labor get lazy.


Europe, heir of De Gasperi, Adenauer, Schuman, democracy, trade, and peace, used to be well aware of its shared values. America, heir to Roosevelt, Kennan, Kennedy, democracy, trade, and security, was once equally rooted in its own tradition. Today the West is no longer sure of itself, has no moral courage, and is bereft of the spirit of sacrifice and cultural pride. That explains Putin's gamble, and is why China stands by diffidently as the U.S. and E.U. swing inanely between democracy and an impossible military response. Anguished over the Kremlin's daring move, the West has suddenly been transported back to 1962 Cuba - light-years from Obama's 2008 Prague magic.




Izvestia, Russia: New Russia: Becoming the 'Empire the World Needs'

Izvestia, Russia: Global Call to Arms Against 'American Exceptionalism'

de Volkskrant, Netherlands: Putin's Letter to Americans a Guilty Pleasure for the World

Huanqiu, China: Letter By Vladimir Putin Exposes 'Exceptional' American Inequality

Rzeczpospolita, Poland: A 'Puppet in Putin's Hands,' Snowden Paved Way to Ukraine Crisis

Diario De Noticias, Portugal: Russia and America: United in Flouting International Law

Carta Maior, Brazil: Venezuela and Ukraine: Upending Washington's Best Laid Plans

Le Quotidien d'Oran, Algeria: Crimea: The Latest Front for French Rambos

Vedomosti, Russia: From Hitler to Putin: Crimea is 'Not the First Time'

Reforma, Mexico: Crimea and Texas: Russia's Version of Manifest Destiny

Al Wehda, Syria: America's 'Destiny' of Invasion and Expansionism

FAZ, Germany: America and Germany: The 'Axis of Pragmatism'

BelTA, Belarus: Lukashenko Warns: Crimea Sets 'Dangerous Precedent'

Al-Madina, Saudi Arabia: Ukraine and Syria: May Allah Make Russia's Pain Severe!

tp24 Rubriche, Italy: America 'Too Young to Understand' Crisis in Crimea

Die Zeit, Germany: The Paler the West, the More Luminous Vladimir Putin

Moskovskij Komsomolets, Russia: A Grateful Nation Cheers President Putin's Triumph

Rzeczpospolita, Poland: Between Russia and the West: Ukraine's Insurmountable Task

Huanqiu, China: Crisis Over Ukraine Could Spell 'Disaster' for China

Asia Times, Hong Kong: Beijing to Kiev to Taipei: Why China Worries About Ukraine

Neatkariga Rita Avize, Latvia: Putin Clears Western Minds of Intelligence, Media 'Delusions'

Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany: Germans Must Now Back Sanctions - Even if they Hurt Us

Diena, Latvia: President Tells Lithuanians: Show Russia No Fear and be 'Ready to Shoot'

Izvestia, Russia: Crimea: 'We Will Never Give Up What We've Won'

de Volkskrant, The Netherlands: Recognize Russia's Legitimate Interests or Ukraine is Doomed

de Volkskrant, The Netherlands: Most Crimeans Don't want Ukraine Split

Gazeta, Russia: Annexing Crimea 'Too Costly for Russia to Bear'

Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany: Finding the Win-Win Scenario With Vladimir Putin

Sol, Portugal: Ukraine May Awaken 'Ghosts of the Great War'

de Morgan, Belgium: Putin Knows: No One in West is Willing to Die for Sebastopol

Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia: Crimea: the Next Puerto Rico?

Russia Today, Russia: VIDEOS: Roundup of Russian Reaction from Russia Today

European Press Agencies: European Reaction to Developments in Ukraine

Moskovskii Komsomolets, Russia: Report: U.S. to Help 'Oust' Black Sea Fleet from Crimea

Novosti, Russia: Looking Toward the West, Ukraine 'Lies' to the East

Yezhednevniy Zhurnal, Russia: Ossified Kremlin Misreads Biden Visit to Georgia, Ukraine

Rceczpospolita, Poland: Banish All 'Magical Thinking' Regarding the Russian Bear

Kommersant, Russia: The Kremlin Offers 'an Ultimatum' to America

Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland: 'Enormous Error' of Bush's 'Georgian Protege'
Cotidianul, Romania:
Georgia Can 'Kiss NATO Goodbye'
Financial Times Deutschland, Germany: Before Georgia - It is Europe that Needs Mediation
Rue 89, France: East Europe Best Not Depend on 'Obsolete' NATO
Liberation, France: Russian President 'Dictates His Peace' to Hapless Europe
Le Figaro, France: Between America and Russia, the E.U. is On the Front Line
Le Figaro, France: War in the Caucasus: Georgia 'Doesn’t Stand a Chance'
Le Figaro, France: A Way Out of the Georgia Crisis for Russia and the West
Le Figaro, France: A Way Out of the Georgia Crisis for Russia and the West
Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany: Did Russia 'Win' the Georgia Crisis? Not By a Long Shot




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Posted By Worldmeets.US Mar. 31, 2014, 4:19pm