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You're reading: Brian Bonner: Ukraine’s Friend & Foe Of The Week
Editor’s Note: This opinion feature separates Ukraine’s friends from its enemies The Order of Yaroslav the Wise has been given by Ukrainian presidents since 1995 for distinguished service to the nation. It is named after the Kyivan Rus leader from 1019-1054, when the medieval empire reached its zenith. The Order of Lenin was the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union, whose demise Russian President Vladimir Putin mourns. It is named after Vladimir Lenin, whose corpse is still rotting on the Kremlin’s Red Square, 100 years after the October Revolution he led. Mike Pompeo - the Order of Yaroslav the Wise It’s always good when Ukraine finds friends in high places. On April 13, U.S. CIA Director Mike Pompeo called out Russian dictator Vladimir Putin as a liar. In an appearance at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Pompeo dismissed the Kremlin’s credibility and painted Putin as a relentless foe of the West. When asked about Russia’s denials that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons to kill his own citizens, Pompeo said: “Russia has – I think they’re on their – I can’t remember, it’s their sixth or seventh story now, none of which have an ounce of truth to them.” Then he listed a few of Putin’s lies, such as his denial of responsibility for the July 17, 2014 shootdown of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing all 298 people aboard; his initial denial that Russian troops invaded Crimea; and his continuing insistence that Russia is not behind the war against Ukraine. “For anyone who for a moment thinks that this is a credible man, I’ll remind you what he said about the airplane that was shot down, the Malaysian airplane. Go look at his initial quotes. Go look at what he said about the fact that there were no ‘little green men’ in Ukraine, and the fact that he later actually said himself that, in fact, it was his team. And I think to this day he continues to claim that there are no Russians in eastern Ukraine. This is a man for whom veracity doesn’t translate into English.” He went on to call WikiLeaks “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia. In January of this year, our intelligence community determined that Russian military intelligence had used WikiLeaks to release data of U.S. victims...obtained through cyber operations against the Democratic National Committee. And the report also found that Russia’s primary propaganda outlet, RT, has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks.” He also called out Russia for interfering in other nations’ elections. “It’s been going on for decades. This is not a new problem,” Pompeo said. “I was in Europe this weekend, and they’re very worried about it...There are some tricky – important and tricky issues in a democracy to push back against these information wars, the set of active measures. But we’ve got to redouble our efforts to do so. We have to preserve the American democracy against this threat – this threat of misinformation and propaganda and the like that poses a real risk to our democratic values.” Ron Paul - the Order of Lenin This Kremlin stooge has been in our sights for a long time. He is a former member of the U. S. Congress from Texas, who claims he’s a non-interventionist in foreign policy. That is a defensible position, but not when combined with his undisguised drumbeat of propaganda for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and against Ukraine. He runs the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity. A lot of content is simply reprinted directly from the Russian state-funded RT (Russia Today) TV network or from goofy bloggers such as “Moon of Alabama,” who writes things like: “The Nazi volunteer battalions from west Ukrainian Galicia are spearheading the attack.” Paul promotes the fiction that the U.S. government engineered a coup in Ukraine that deposed ex-President Viktor Yanukovych. He denies that Russia invaded Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula or instigated the war in the eastern Donbas. The bloggers he puts on his website peddle such nonsense as this: “The Ukrainian government has so far avoided to fulfill the Minsk II agreement that would allow a reuniting of the country.” Reality has no place in Paul’s fairytale world. Here are the facts:  Ukrainians rose up in 2013 to stop the country from being robbed blind by Kremlin-backed dictator Yanukovych, who broke his promise of closer European integration. The United States was overly cautious and tried to negotiate a deal with Yanukovych right up to the end. The Kremlin took advantage of the chaos and Ukraine’s weak defenses, violating Russia’s commitments under the 1994 Budapest Memorandum  to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Its military invaded and seized Crimea. Then, in the Donbas, the Kremlin’s proxies would have been routed easily by Ukrainian forces had Russia not sent in its regular forces at key moments, most notably in Donetsk Oblast’s Ilovaisk in August 2014. Cliff Kincaid, director of the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism, tried to blow the whistle on Paul five years ago. He wrote: “I also noted that the (U.S.) Federal Election Commission dismissed my well-documented 2012 complaint about RT’s open support for libertarian Ron Paul in the 2012 Republican presidential primary. We cited evidence that RT was funded by the Kremlin and prohibited under law from intervening in U.S. elections. The FEC dismissed the complaint, saying RT was a legitimate press entity and a U.S. corporation with First Amendment rights.”  

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Brian, I enjoyed your piece about Ukraine, going to work, the hope people had after the revolution but still the country slowly slipping backwards. I have visited Ukraine a dozen times since 2014. I have taken thousands of photos of anything that can be photographed. But I have enjoyed the photos of the people the most. During my last trip in the underground shops at the heart of Kiev I was blessed to listen to a group of young people playing classical music. They were surrounded by people listening to the music. I've never seen such a large crowd at one of these performances. It was good, very good, and people filled the instrument cases as is the custom for such free music. Something was different this time for me. I wept as the music filled the area. People were silent when these young people played, applauding after each performance. It may seem nothing has changed as you said in your piece. But the same tough, resilient, humble attitude of these wonderful people was still there. It surrounded me and filled my heart as did the music. I decided not everything moves backwards in Ukraine.

Steven Griffin

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