Truthout: Former US Ambassador to USSR says: To Resolve Ukraine Crisis, Address Internal Divisions and Russian Fears of NATO
Jack Matlock, US ambassador to the former Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991, on the Democracy Now radio show:
“I think one of the most important things to understand is that, practically speaking, the Ukrainians and the Russians have to agree on what would be an acceptable way to proceed within Ukraine. That is the fact of the matter. And one can, you know, talk all one wishes about how impermissible it is for Russia to intervene, but the fact is they are going to intervene until they are certain that there is no prospect of Ukraine becoming a member of NATO. And all of the threats by NATOand so on to sort of increase defenses elsewhere is simply provocative to the Russians. Now, I’m not saying that’s right, but I am saying that’s the way Russia is going to react. And frankly, this is all predictable. And those of us who helped negotiate the end of the Cold War almost unanimously said in the 1990s, “Do not expand NATO eastward. Find a different way to protect eastern Europe, a way that includes Russia. Otherwise, eventually there’s going to be a confrontation, because there is a red line, as far as any Russian government is concerned, when it comes to Ukraine and Georgia and other former republics of the Soviet Union.”
“. . . there needs to be an understanding between Russia and the Ukrainians as to how to solve this problem. It is not going to be solved militarily. So the idea that we should be giving more help to the Ukrainian government in a military sense simply exacerbates the problem. And the basic problem is Ukraine is a deeply divided country. And as long as one side tries to impose its will on the other—and that is what has happened since February, the Ukrainian nationalists in the west have been trying to impose their will on the east, and the Russians aren’t going to permit that. And that is the fact of the matter. So, yes, there simply needs to be an agreement.
“And most of the—I would say, the influence of the West in trying to help the Ukrainians by, I would say, defending them against the Russians tends to be provocative, because—you know, Putin is right: If he decided, he could take Kiev. Russia is a nuclear power. And Russia feels that we have ignored that, that we have insulted them time and time again, and that we are out to turn Ukraine into an American puppet that surrounds them. And, you know, with that sort of psychology, by resisting that, in Russian eyes, he has gained unprecedented popularity. So, it seems to me that we have to understand that, like it or not, the Ukrainians are going to have to make an agreement that’s acceptable to them, if they keep their unity.”
At this week’s summit in Newport in Wales, Nato heads of state will agree on a Readiness Action Plan. It will involve setting up a new spearhead force of 4-5,000 troops, ready to deploy within 48 hours.
The alliance is also committed to boosting its intelligence gathering and sharing with the use of spy planes and unmanned drones.
Ali Hussein Kadhim, an Iraqi soldier and a Shiite, was captured with hundreds of other soldiers by Sunni militants in June and taken to the grounds of a palace complex in Tikrit where Saddam Hussein once lived.
The militants, with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, separated the men by sect. The Sunnis were allowed to repent for their service to the government. The Shiites were marked for death, and lined up in groups.
Mr. Kadhim was No. 4 in his line.
As the firing squad shot the first man, blood spurted onto Mr. Kadhim’s face. He remembered seeing a video camera in the hands of another militant.
He felt a bullet pass by his head, and fell forward into the freshly dug trench.
“I just pretended to be shot,” he said.
His is one of a very few witness accounts, and perhaps the most detailed, to emerge after the June massacre of Iraqi soldiers stationed at Camp Speicher, a former American army base in Tikrit, Mr. Hussein’s hometown.
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