LIBERAL COLUMN: Are Russia and the U.S. playing the same game in Ukraine?

BY JOSH MERLO
Liberal Columnist

In recent weeks, international news has centered on the growing crisis in Ukraine. Civil unrest, overthrowing the president, violent clashes between protesters and police and the looming threat of Russian military intervention have colored what was a nasty political fight over joining the European Union as much more.

As Russian forces move into Crimea, the ethnically-Russian portion of the Ukraine, memories of anschluss have been dredged up. The world looks with growing unease as the head of the former U.S.S.R. invades — for all intents and purposes — a former Soviet satellite state.

Tensions are growing, and the possibility of hostilities with them. While analysts have been looking at the Mid-east as the “powder-keg” that could ignite into war, they have ignored a vicious storm brewing in Eastern Europe.

Where does our beloved United States come into this picture? Disappointingly, the U.S. is very much involved in the Ukrainian issue. To reference a certain transcript of a conversation that was tapped by Russian intelligence, the U.S. is far too involved in the Ukrainian issue.

The conversation referred to above was between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt. In said conversation, besides berating the E.U. and offending most of America’s allies, Nuland reveals a plan for the U.S. to manipulate events in Ukraine in favor of the opposition parties.

Specifically, Nuland asks Pyatt to bring the opposition camps together in a way that provides for a stable arrangement of power, one that would allow for a pro-Western administration to be established.

Although the “when” of this conversation is unclear, it can be tentatively dated as sometime before the overthrow of President Yanukovych. Nuland’s instructions to Pyatt seem to support this. She specifies to him which of the opposition leaders should be allowed access to Yanukovych, which should be kept outside the inner mechanisms of government as advisors only, and which should be allowed to seek positions of prominence.

The implications of this intercepted phone-call are clear:  the United States is definitely active in the Ukrainian conflict.

The reader, at this point, might recall an earlier column by the author regarding the Syrian civil war. In such, it was advocated that the U.S. stay clear of a regional crisis that would only be escalated by the intrusion of foreign superpowers.

Alas, it is now too late for such advice to be given regarding Ukraine. As anyone can observe, the situation has escalated.

The point is, Nuland messed up badly. She played around in the Ukraine to secure U.S. interests and ended up worsening the political conditions. The overall point, however, is even larger and broader than a singular official meddling. The overriding theme of the U.S.’s failure in Ukraine is one of misplaced involvement.

In a way, we should not be there at all. Since when did furthering democracy involve plotting behind elected representative’s backs to control their own country? Since when did secret meetings of U.S. appointees — well, not-so-secret meetings because of phone-tapping; thanks, N.S.A., for forcing everyone to join in the fun —– determine the fates of autonomous powers? Is this the America that we want to believe in, or is it the fascist Orwellian Party that believes in control, subjugation, and crushing power?

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