TV Debate: U.S. Growing Aggressive Over Ukraine
March 16, 2014
Press TV has interviewed Rick Rozoff, manager at Stop NATO from Chicago, to discuss the US role in Ukraine’s crisis.
What follows is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: How do you see, first of all, Russia’s reaction after this referendum?
Rozoff: What do I anticipate Russia’s reaction to be? I think it’s fairly easily predictable. The referendum will pass overwhelmingly. Russia will recognize it. Steps may be taken for the eventual incorporation of Crimea into the Russian Federation. I think that’s fairly indisputable.
I might follow up on the point of my namesake, Dr. Weitz, who I’ve always known to be a very dispassionate if not an entirely disinterested commentator on international affairs. When he spoke about Crimea he drew the conclusion, without spelling it out in detail, to the five-day war in the South Caucasus in August of 2008 over South Ossetia, you know, I’ve one have always argued that Crimea in essence really is the fifth so-called frozen conflict in former Soviet space.
It’s important to recollect that the war in the South Caucasus occurred only in the few months after the NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, where Georgia and Ukraine were not given an open invitation for what’s called a Membership Action Program, that is they weren’t invited formally to join NATO as a full member, but they were assured that they could and would eventually become full members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but to do so, there are a couple of major preconditions that have to be met. Number one, there cannot be the basing of foreign troops on the soil of an aspirant nation to NATO; by foreign troops, really non-NATO troops, of course.
Secondarily, there cannot be any unresolved territorial disputes. Well, in 2008, Abkhazia and South Ossetia were unresolved territorial disputes standing in the way of Georgia’s accession to NATO and Crimea has been vis-à-vis Ukraine.
So, I believe the West is very interested in resolving, if you will, which is to say subduing the breakaway or the unresolved breakaway republics in Ukraine, as well as in former Georgia.
Press TV: Is it basically Washington that cannot do anything, or do you see Washington becoming more aggressive after the referendum?
Rozoff: It clearly has become more aggressive before the referendum. We’re talking about a geo-strategically vital part of the world, of course, but we’re also talking about a tinderbox that could be set aflame quite easily, and the matches are being thrown in that direction.
I’m referring of course to the fact that the United States has announced, the Pentagon has announced, Chuck Hagel has announced that the US is going to deploy 10 F-15s to an airbase in Lithuania as part of the now decade-old air policing operation run by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The US is rotating F-16 jet fighters into Poland from a base they’ve previously been stationed at in Italy. The US has a warship currently in the Black Sea engaged in naval drills with Bulgaria and Romania.
And the list goes on. The US is going to be holding a military exercise, Rapid Trident, in the nationalist stronghold of the Lviv, Ukraine, in July.
My concern is this brinkmanship, this saber-rattling by US and NATO. Let’s keep in mind that within hours, the highest body within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the North Atlantic Council, is to meet on Ukraine and immediately thereafter the NATO-Ukraine Commission will meet.
So my fear is this, that even if these are allegedly symbolic maneuvers or measures taken by the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization, matters of this sort have a way of getting out of hand.
We do have to recall this is the centenary of the beginning of World War I. I don’t believe anyone in the summer of 1914 anticipated what would transpire over the following four years. So we do have to be particularly cautious in this situation. It’s a volatile one.
Press TV: Are you concerned – do you really feel that this could break out into a full-fledged war, Mr. Rozoff?
Rozoff: There is absolutely a potential for that happening in any number of ways not immediately predictable.
Press TV: Mr. Rozoff, your takes on the comments out of Washington [by the previous guest speaker, Richard Weitz] that Moscow didn’t need to do this, and that the ethnic Russians were not under threat in Crimea.
Rozoff: With due respect to Dr. Weitz, the ten-point propaganda bullets, if you will, put out by the State Department were characterized by the Russian foreign ministry as low propaganda, and I would have to concur. This wasn’t terribly sophisticated either in content or presentation.
But I think one thing that Russia is definitely feeling, you know, I wrote an article roughly five and a half years ago about the Eastern Partnership – that is, the program of the European Union under which the Association Agreement with Ukraine that was rejected, I should say postponed, on November 21 of last year and was used as the pretense for the violent uprising and the bloody overthrow of an elected government in that nation – was part of a concerted effort by the West, the US in the first place through the European Union, to effectively destroy the emerging Customs Union or Eurasian Union projected by Russia, with Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and possibly Armenia.
But even more than that, it was meant to finish off the Commonwealth of Independent States, that is to destroy any economic or other organization that linked the former Soviet Republics minus the three Baltic States.
I think that is transparently the intention of Washington and Brussels, and what they want to do is isolate Russia entirely within former Soviet space as well as within Europe.
Press TV: Mr. Rozoff, your take on [previous guest speaker’s comments]. There seems to be double-standards that are taking place here if we look at, as I said, what takes place in the United States and how unpopular governments usually wait until the next election for the people to voice their perspective, and yet Mr. Weitz has even just admitted that the United States was involved in pushing the opposition, if we want to call it, and basically one of the main factors in bringing about this coup.
What will it take to end these double-standards? On the one hand, we see the United States and its allies condemning Moscow for this act but nothing is basically being said about the original coup that overthrew a democratically elected government.
Rozoff: If I may, Victor Yanukovich, his days were numbered as it were, seriously, because there was to have been a scheduled election 11 months from now; that is, February of next year.
I’m certain that in any other government on the face of the earth, at least one approved of by the State Department and the White House, if there was massive political opposition in the country, the opponents would be told to organize in the forthcoming election and defeat the incumbent.
That was certainly an option available to Ukraine and, by the way, the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, is much more diverse and reflective of popular political sentiment than the US Congress has ever been. It’s a multi-party parliament with representatives across the political spectrum as opposed to our own.
I would argue further more to develop more on your point, that I believe Mr. Yanukovich’s poll ratings, as bad as they may have been two months ago, were higher than Barack Obama’s currently.
And I’m sure that neither Dr. Weitz nor John Kerry nor Obama himself would urge that the Ukrainian model could be replicated in Washington.
But I think that even beyond that, we have to recall the infamous leaked audio tape between the State Department’s Victoria Nuland and the US ambassador to Kiev a few weeks ago, Geoffrey Pyatt, in which if anyone who’s heard this thing, it’s indisputable, the State Department’s Nuland – by the way, former US ambassador to NATO and former State Department spokesman for Hillary Clinton – pinpointed the precise man who would be running the Ukraine after the government of Yanukovich was overthrown.
And that man, even though he’s the prime minister and not technically president, is in Washington right now receiving his marching orders from Barack Obama and meeting with the World Bank and International Monetary Fund immediately on the heels of going to Brussels to hold a press conference with the Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. If you want any clearer evidence about the nature of who ordered the coup d’état in Kiev and who ordered the successor to Yanukovich, there it is.