Will Ukraine hold referendum on NATO membership?

By Jan Oberg

Here is the background to an interview in which I question the validity of the opinion poll that President Poroshenko refers to as an argument for holding a referendum on NATO membership for Ukraine.

There are strong indications that it is a commissioned research, financed by neo-cons at the International Republican Institute, IRI, in the US of which Kiev mayor and Poroshenko ally, Vitali Klitschko is member of the international advisory board. IRI is funded by, among others, USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which is believed to be close to CIA.

The video interview, details and links here.

TFF PressInfo # 389: Ukraine as the border of NATO expansion

And why Russia doesn’t have to be a threat to the West

By Jan Oberg

TFF Series ”The New Cold War” # 7

If the Ukraine conflict is the centerpiece of the new 2nd Cold War, it is essential to ask: What really happened? What did NATO countries do to cause it? What did Russia do to cause it?
And – if you live in the West, in particular: Did we really have to end in this situation given Russia’s significant weakness over 25 years?
This article argues that the superior West could have played its cards differently and it’s time for self-critical soul-searching and just a little living yourself into the shoes of the other.
If peace rather than war is your true aim.

There was a beginning and a framework

The Ukraine conflict has a 25-years history. Instead of dissolving NATO, the alliance was expanded. Relieved from there being a Soviet Union and a Warsaw Pact, the alliance went as fast it could to do all it wanted. Remember, a series of WW III scenarios has been written in which that war would start with some uncontrollable event in Yugoslavia. Now it could be chopped up – freely and without risk. Serbia was bombed and Kosovo carved out without a UN mandate whatsoever (1999).

How did they think about that in the Kremlin at the time, one must wonder?

Clinton literally did not give a damn about all the promises made to Soviet leader Gorbachev by US leaders such as Bush, James Baker and German leaders including Hans-Dietrich Genscher. (Yes, they were not written down but confirmed by those involved and present).

He began the expansion of NATO in 1994 – in Georgia (see what I refer to elsewhere in this series). All around a Russia on its knees Americans were placed in the offices of prime ministers, defence and foreign ministers – I saw it myself in former Yugoslavia – and met CIA people in Croatia disguised as humanitarian workers. And had a long conversation with the representative of the US in Tblisi in 1994. Historical moment!

The bad Christians, the Orthodox, were the Serbs and Russians and Greeks – all should be antagonized and the good guys in Yugoslavia were those who had been on the fascist side in WWII – the leaderships in Croatia, Muslims in Bosnia and the Kosovo Albanians. The Serb minority that had lived 400 years as a minority in the Croatian republic were, in the common Western discourse, invaders masterminded by strongman Slobodan Milosevic – whom Clinton without hesitation called the new ’Hitler of Europe’.

Ukraine was – and remains – what its name says: the border areas (like Krajina in Croatia). This is where NATO can establish itself as little as Chruschev could get away with deploying nukes in Cuba – considerably further away from the US, but anyhow.

Imagine – with a little bit of empathy (not necessarily sympathy) how Washington would react if today Putin’s Russia was 12 times stronger militarily than the alliance-free US (NATO dissolved 25 years ago) and tried with his alliance of 27 other members to make Canada or Mexico the 29th member. Perhaps most people in the US and Europe would have some sympathy for the negative reaction of Washington. Rand remember, Trump wants to build a wall to Mexico…

The main reason, it is stated again and again, in the Western press, NATO and other political circles is: Ukraine and Crimea. The lie about Putin’s aggression on Ukraine is told so many times that it is becoming the truth. Just see these two recent articles by Newsweek as two of hundreds of articles.

Here’s the chosen story in politics and media alike

The narrative is simplified beyond recognition and goes like this:

Putin (there is always just one top guy in Western eyes and it is one leader at the top like Milosevic, Mohamed Farah Aideed, Saddam Hussein, Moammar Khaddafi, al-Assad) is a bad guy and you know that because out of the blue his suddenly annexed Crimea. By that he changes the borders of Europe and then he gets his disguised soldiers into Eastern Ukraine – a Ukraine that we, in contrast to Bush Senior, care very very much about today.

We care so much about it that Read More »

UN peacekeepers to Ukraine – Yes!

Jan Oberg

By Jan Oberg

Deployment of UN peacekeepers should be agreed with both sides of Ukrainian conflict, says Lavrov — RT Russian politics.

Ukraine has – wisely – suggested that UN Peacekeepers be stationed in Eastern Ukraine. Russia’s foreign minister sounds positive.

That is important and good news – the most constructive for a year.

To get the UN peacekeepers into the conflict zone has been one of TFF’s proposals since the fighting broke out.

In October 1991, TFF was also the first to suggest that the UN be deployed to Croatia. It actually was a few months later thanks to Cyrus Vance, the former U.S. Secretary of State, who in his role as mediator was working on exactly that when he received our report and we then met him a late evening in Belgrade.

Conclusion: Never give up constructive pro-peace proposal-making. One day they do become relevant – when people find out that violence was not such a brilliant idea.

TFF PressInfo # 314: From preventing to making peace in Ukraine

By Jan Oberg

Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden, March 13, 2015

If the parties continue this way, there will be no peace in Ukraine but probably war in Europe. With a little out-of-the-box thinking, we could move in a safer direction.

You’ve heard everybody involved in the Ukraine conflict solemnly declare that there is no military solution.

And what do they all do? Right, they militarise the situation further, use bellicose language, speak bad about each other, take provocative steps, use propaganda and flex their military muscles. It’s thoughtprovokingly thoughtless.

These men – sorry, but the are all men – who are competent in war and other violence run our world. They are conflict and peace illiterates embedded with MIMACs – Military-Industrial-Media-Academic Complexes – which exist in both Russia, EU, NATO and the U.S.

It’s not about evil – they are probably all good spouses, nice to their children or grandchildren and enjoy literature, painting or music in their few hours of leisure. But the system they operate inside is as evil as it is dangerous for us all, for the world’s future.

Their problem – and thus your and my problem – is that they just don’t have a clue about peace-making. No education, institutions or advisers in civilian conflict-management.

And since they lack that they fall back on the convenient but proven illusion that peace will come if we just force “the other” to back down.

And since there is no lack of (tax payers’) money to fund weapons (only to fund social and cultural development) and these weapons are on the government shelves that’s what they use – instead of their intelligence and empathy. 

Far fetched?

If you think so, take a look at these facts:Read More »

TFF PressInfo 276 – Ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine: Now withdrawal by Russia, the UN in and NATO out

By Jan Oberg, TFF co-founder

Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden September 3, 2014 – 11:30 CET.

As announced just a few minutes ago, the Ukrainian and Russian president have agreed to what the first reports call a permanent ceasefire in Eastern Ukraine.
That’s indeed the best piece of news from that region.

It places the NATO Summit in Wales this Thursday and Friday in a new light.

The ceasefire must be solidified
However, an agreement over a phone is only a beginning; the devil is in the details. Secondly, there is no mention – yet – of the East Ukrainian fighters are on board this agreement.

Time for UN peacekeeping
Third, a credible ceasefire should be monitored by neutral observers and competent people. The only ones who can do that is the UN peace-keepers – perhaps with some staff also from Russia and Ukraine.Read More »

TFF PressInfo: Support Richard Branson’s Ukraine dialogue initiative

TFF PressInfo 273

By Jan Oberg, TFF co-founder

Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden August 22, 2014

We are drifting towards a new Cold War. The reason isn’t substance because there is no reason we should not be able to live in peace in Europe – if we want and educated ourselves in handling problems.

No, the reason is the woefully incompetent way in which politicians and media focus on violence and ignore the underlying conflict and civil means – yes yes, of course there are exceptions.

Escalation doesn’t create peace

Here is just one example – NATO S-G Anders Fogh Rasmussen and NATO’s supreme commander General Breedlove (funny name given his anything but loving views coming rather from a Strangelove …) in the Wall Street Journal.

They tell you about all the escalation they have already done Read More »

TFF PressInfo: Ukraine – Stop escalation and think peace

By Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden May 9, 2014

1. Welcome de-escalation
Vladimir Putin’s statements that separatists should not hold referendums on May 11, that he welcomes the elections in Ukraine on May 25 and that Russia is withdrawing troops from the border with Ukraine should be welcomed.

If he has been ”aggressive” and this is a ”turnabout” as many in the West believe, this turnabout is even more welcome.

If he hasn’t been aggressive but merely defensive, it is still helpful in terms of defusing the crisis.

2. Constructive response from the West
The only constructive approach so far seems to be OSCE chair Burkhalter’s “roadmap”. But it needs to get more concrete and detailed.

We now need some constructive response from the US, NATO and EU. It would be helpful if they announced that they will not try to include Ukraine in NATO or EU for that matter but respect the opinion of all Ukrainians. Read More »

TFF PressInfo: Dangerous reductionism about Ukraine

“We don’t see things as they are but as we are” – Anais Nin

By Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden – March 5, 2014

How can we begin to understand the events in Ukraine? Who are the conflict parties and elements?

Here is a quick checklist of 13, just a selection:

1. Ukraine – government (earlier/present), opposition (split), people (19 ethnic groups + Ukrainians abroad). Crimea with its diversity and Ukraine’s relations to neighbours – enough for a doctoral dissertation.

2. Russia – the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia and Russia’s more or less strong partners such as Syria.

3. Europe – the EU and European non-EU countries such as e.g. Turkey

4. The United States – the world’s only empire, with a foreign policy establishment in Washington deeply split in neo-conservatives on the one hand and Obama and the rest on the other.

5. China – with an increasing influence worldwide, including conspicuously in Ukraine

6. BRICS – Brasil, Russia, India, China and South Africa

7. World financial organisations such as the International Monetary Fund, IMF, finance institutions, banksters and those others who influence and can ”pay the bills” (and get to own the property) in Ukraine

8. Inter-governmental organisations – the UN, NATO, OSCE and othersRead More »

TFF PressInfo: Ukraine – What Would You Like to Know About It?

By Jan Oberg

I’m no expert on Ukraine, haven’t even visited it. Like millions of other citizens, I rely on media reports to understand at least some of what looks like potentially very serious developments.

Why do I feel so frustrated at what I get? Why do I have so many questions still after weeks of coverage? And how much will fellow-citizens who have just a few minutes per day to acquaint themselves with issues such as this understand (except that Putin is a bad guy)?

It’s a conflict, isn’t it?

I would like to know what are the internal Ukrainian dimensions, the regional East-West European and EU/NATO aspects and what has all this to do with global developments e.g. U.S. foreign policy, NATO’s expansion since the end of the Cold War, strategic interests of Russia and Russia-NATO relations. And where is China and BRICS countries in all this?

Internally, I’d like to learn about the ethnic composition and geography, the role of Russians and – not the least the Jews – and the historic relations between Russia and Ukraine.

In a shorter perspective, when did the West begin to see Ukraine as an interesting country? Why did George Bush Sr. and James Baker promise Mikhail Gorbachev that the West would never expand up to Russia’s border – and anyhow NATO began being an issue in Ukraine in 1995.

It would be great to learn from media about how – as everywhere else – economic mismanagement and overall crisis caused both neo-Nazism, rampant anti-Semitism and general dissatisfaction? And why is it that anti-Semitism is covered so little anywhere in the Western press

How come that important background aspects like these so easily translate into simplifying anti- versus pro-Russian attitudes?Read More »

TFF PressInfo # 436: The Prince of human rights got it all wrong and we are still waiting

By Jan Oberg

General Ratko Mladic has finally been sentenced – to life – for crimes committed in Bosnia during the Yugoslav dissolution wars in the 1990s.

That motivated Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to make a statement to the effect that “Mladic is the epitome of evil, and the prosecution of Mladic is the epitome of what international justice is all about.”

But that statement is, if anything, the epitome of exemplary nonsense, pro-Muslim bias and something the UN S-G ought to distance himself from since it is a purely political statement.

The media – in the West in particular – have of course lapped it up. Most media people today are too young to have any personal experience of the events some 25 years ago and would have to read thick books to understand some of it.

The verdict’s political effect – whether intended or not – is to justify the horrible way the so-called “international community” intervened in the Yugoslav complex of intertwined conflicts with an inverse proportion between its intellectual understanding and its brutality.

Now, if you think I am thereby defending Mr. Mladic, let me say that there are strong reasons to believe that he is guilty of much including some of the killings in the massacre of Srebrenica.

Essentially, the argument of this article is not about Mladic. It’s about the Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s unacceptably politicized – but hopefully well-intentioned – statement.

But the Jordanian prince – who was with UNPROFOR in Yugoslavia at the time and should know better – anyhow got it all wrong because:

• The human evil card is a cheap one to play that doesn’t explain anything. Any serious intellectual knows that there are very complex economic, political, historical and other factors associated with crimes of this type. What happened in Srebrenica can’t be reduced to one man’s evil as little as the Second World War can be reduced to the single person Hitler.

• What made Srebrenica happen was, among other things, that the six safe zones the UN Security Council had established was never made safe by the UN members. Then UNPROFOR top General Wahlgren of Sweden whom I knew very well had required around 30.000 more UN troops to make those zones safe for refugees to be in; the international community gave him only 1200 Turks with a Turkey firmly sympathising with the fundamentalist Muslim leadership in Bosnia under Alija Izetbegovic.

• Interestingly, the safe zones were not de-militarised. The international community – the US? – had permitted Izetbegovic’s government to place its ammunition depots and troops inside these zones – from which they could then make excursion out and fire into Serbian villages while Serbs obviously could not fire into safe zones filled with refugees.

• In addition, the UN as such was bankrupt at the time – member states such as the US having ignored to pay its dues to the organisation.Read More »