New York (GPA) – In opposition to statements made on the campaign trail by Donald Trump, the new US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley has condemned Russia’s ‘aggressive actions’ in Ukraine.
Nikki Haley made comments yesterday to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) concerning the rising tensions in eastern Ukraine and put a majority of the blame for the actions of Kiev and the rebels in the Donbas region on Russia. Haley did repeat Trump’s line that the US does “want to better our relations with Russia,” but “the dire situation in eastern Ukraine is one that demands clear and strong condemnation of Russian actions.”
Haley went on to carry the line of Kiev even farther saying that “the United States stands with the people of Ukraine, who have suffered for nearly three years under Russian occupation and military intervention.” Haley clearly now thinks that the Donbas is controlled by Russia but she also carried this line of thinking even farther.
Haley condemned the annexation (or in her words, the ‘occupation’) of Crimea by Russia despite being passed by a majority of voters on the peninsula in an open referendum. Haley spoke on Crimea just as if she was working under the Obama administration, saying “The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea. Crimea is a part of Ukraine.”
This is obviously ahistorical since Crimea was given to the Ukraine under the authority of the communist leadership in Russia in 1954. Crime remained soviet territory until the fall of the county in 1992. Yet even after this Crimea was primarily populated by ethnic Russians and maintained special status as an independent republic under the jurisdiction of Ukraine.
Crimea therefore, in some ways, had the right to vote for their status especially considering the contracts with Russia concerning defense and their primary warm water port in Sevastopol. Despite this, Ms. Haley supported the continuation of the sanctions first put on Russia in 2014 for the annexation of the peninsula “until Russia returns control.”
Haley’s interpretation of the situation in the Donbas is just as egregious. Russia released their own evidence, contrary to what the mainstream media put out after the fighting in the Donbas flared up. According to the Kremlin, the fighting was restarted by paramilitary groups aligned with Kiev, who were integrated into the country’s security apparatus until their ultra-nationalism became to controversial for some EU partners to support.
These militias usually lean far right and are incredibly anti-Russian. They’re main objective is to wipe out traces of the Russian nationals’ in the east culture, language and traditions in order to replicate all of Ukraine in the image of the most extreme elements of the Maidan. Haley warned that “the escalation of violence must stop” in the east and that all parties must abide by the ceasefire accords negotiated in Minsk.
There are two problems with Haley’s statements. One is that Kiev has constantly violated the Minsk ceasefire agreements, the other is that Russia doesn’t “control the rebels in Donbas.” Russia has only negotiated on behalf of the republics in Donetsk and Luhansk,therefore they can’t make them abide by anything.
The evidence against Russia in Donbas, at best, shows that Russian volunteers are fighting in the area and the republics have been provided with some non lethal military equipment such as armored jeeps. Russian President Vladimir Putin has even said he doesn’t wish to annex any of eastern Ukraine, despite some rebels hoping he would. If he were to incorporate the Donbas region into Russia this would leave the rest of Ukraine without any opposition to joining NATO and putting western military assets right on Russia’s doorstep.
Haley is playing a dangerous game with her loaded statements full of disinformation. She’s not alone in the Trump cabinet, as both the head of the Pentagon, James Mattis and new CIA director Mike Pompeo also said Russia was the number one global threatening in their confirmation hearings.
These new high ranking US officials seem to be parroting both the Obama administration and US media’s blatant lies about Ukraine despite President Trump saying he’d warm relations with Russia. If nothing else, these new leaders should at least show some concern for the actual people of Ukraine and not continue to use them as a sacrifice in a conflict they don’t really care about just to prove a point to Russia.
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James Carey is an organizer based in Detroit, Michigan, founder of Geopolitics Alert, and an experienced analyst on Middle Eastern affairs with a particular focus on Turkey. He also covers topics ranging from Latin America and Asia to Europe. You can also hear James in his weekly podcast; The Left is Dead which he co-hosts with investigative journalist Jake Anderson.