Tag Archives: Putin

Is Putin a Christian conservative? Dr. Chodakiewicz critiques Pat Buchanan’s thoughts

Some conservatives, encouraged by Vladimir Putin’s rhetorical defense of Christianity and tradition, have portrayed the president of post-Soviet Russia as the new great champion of Christendom. But is the “former” KGB Colonel sincere, or is he simply utilizing and cleverly exploiting the pathologies of Western social liberalism to fit his anti-American propaganda narrative? In his latest analysis, written for the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research, Dr. Chodakiewicz seeks to answer this question while critiquing the writings of Patrick J. Buchanan.

Putin’s Active Measures, Buchanan’s Grief
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz
SFPPR News & Analysis
28 April 2014

“In the culture war for the future of mankind, Putin is planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity,” Patrick J. Buchanan recently wrote. “The West’s capitulation to a sexual revolution of easy divorce, rampant promiscuity, pornography, homosexuality, feminism, abortion, same-sex marriage, euthanasia, assisted suicide – the displacement of Christian values by Hollywood values.”

Buchanan quotes Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post saying that “she was stunned in Tbilisi to hear a Georgian lawyer declare of the former pro-Western regime of Mikhail Saakashvili, ‘They were LGBT.’” He cites Masha Gessen, author of the bookThe Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, saying, “Russia is remaking itself as the leader of the anti-Western world.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s defense of decent civilization, however, is as legitimate as Lenin’s New Economic Policy was free market. Its salient point is reducing the West to LGBT. To oppose it is to claim a moral high ground in the world. Yet, it should be obvious that the Kremlin’s approach is absolutely relativistic. One should not be surprised when, sometime in the future, Russia invades Poland to free its oppressed sexual minorities.

To continue reading, please visit SFPPR News & Analysis.

Is it time to revisit Putin’s role in the Smolensk crash?

The article below is written by IWP student and Kosciuszko Chair researcher Pawel Styrna.  The full article can be found on the website of the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.

After the Smolensk plane crash, the speed with which the disaster became – not unlike Benghazi – relegated to “yesterday’s news” was stunning. An uninformed observer might conclude that what happened at Smolensk was but a minor incident, and didn’t involve the deaths of Poland’s president, and almost one hundred members of the military and political elite of a key U.S.-Central European ally on NATO’s border with Russia.

Four years ago the Soviet-built Tupolev 154M jetliner carrying Polish President Lech Kaczyński, his wife and First Lady Maria Kaczyńska, leading a delegation of 94 Polish government officials, including high ranking civilian and military officials, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre – crashed on April 10, 2010 killing all aboard before landing at Smolensk, Russia, just east of the Belarus border.

“They were supposed to attend a second memorial service,” wrote Professor Nicholas Dima at the time in his article “Katyn Tragedy Redux.” “The first one had been held three days earlier, but President Kaczyński was irritated because Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had invited only the Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, and the Russian leader had not mentioned the Polish officers massacred by the KGB (NKVD). Consequently, Kaczynski wanted a proper ceremony held at Katyn and was on his way to attend it.” There’s a school of thought that believes Kaczynski took the bait and fell into Vladimir Putin’s trap.

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“Minority rights” and post-Soviet imperialism

Following Russia’s invasion of the nation of Georgia in August 2008, Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz pointed out that Moscow will increasingly utilize the rhetoric of “minority rights” in its strategy of rebuilding its empire.

After all, Russia de facto annexed two Georgian provinces–Abkhazia and South Ossetia–under the pretext of defending the two ethnicities’ right to “self-determination” (i.e. secession). This amounted to their incorporation into the Russian Federation, the main successor state of the Soviet Union.

In 2014, the Kremlin is invoking its alleged right, and even duty, to protect ethnic Russians living in Ukraine from alleged Maidan “fascists.” So far, Vladimir Putin’s regime seized Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula, but what will Moscow do next?

There are ethnic Russians residing throughout the former Bolshevik empire, including in the southern and eastern parts of Ukraine and in the Baltic States. There are also disgruntled minorities in many other former Soviet republics, which means that the scenario may well again repeat itself. In its ideological warfare, the Kremlin hopes to exploit all the positive connotations that Western liberal elites associate with pro-“minority rights” phraseology.

Dr. Chodakiewicz’s article from August 29, 2008, “Minority rights and imperial reintegration,” is thus as relevant now as it was back then. His analysis is available here.

Gen. Walter Jajko: Arm Ukraine

USAF Brigadier General (Ret.) and IWP professor of defense studies, Gen. Walter Jajko, published an article on the rapidly escalating situation in Ukraine. His analysis is the cover story of the March 5 issue (No. 10) of the Polish weekly, Gazeta Polska.

In the article, Gen. Jajko argues that “the US should deliver as quickly as possible anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, artillery, small arms, and helicopter gunships to western Ukraine. The long-term effects of subordinating Ukraine-a country of fifty million-to Moscow gives the Kremlin the ability to exercise hegemony over Eurasia, dictate terms to the European Union, and to systematically weaken NATO.”

Below is an English version of the article.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by Brig. Gen. Walter Jajko are strictly his own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense or The Institute of World Politics. .

For US and EU warmed-over Chicken Kiev?

Walter Jajko

Even before Russia’s invasion of the Crimea, I argued that the widespread popular nationalist revolt in Ukraine has the potential for a tectonic geostrategic transformation.*  Depending on the outcome, there could be a permanent shift benefiting either Russia or the West.  Based on the West’s record of talk and no action, the odds favor Russia.

Putin and his ilk believe that Ukraine is forever attached inseparably to Russia.  If Putin can hold Ukraine, Russia can rebuild its empire.  Without Ukraine there can be no reconstructed Russian empire.  Then, in the long term, Russia would be able to dominate Eurasia, subordinating the EU and hollowing out NATO.  In the near term, Russia can continue to threaten the Baltic States and Poland directly with force, as it has repeatedly, and Germany and Poland with nuclear missiles from its illegally occupied Kaliningrad.

If the West secures Ukraine, its independence and sovereignty – and ultimately its prosperity – will be solidified, the EU and potentially NATO would abut the very heartland of Russia, Belarus would collapse, and Europe genuinely would be whole and free and its eastern border secure.  Poland for the first time in its history would have a secure border widely separated from a diminished Russia by fundamentally friendly allied states.  Russia, with its declining population, notwithstanding its nuclear weapons and increasing oil and gas reserves, would be left a landlocked lesser power ruled by spooks and crooks, or as the Russians call them “thieves in law”, caught between the US and an assertive, much stronger China reclaiming its lost territories.

So far for the US, the Ukrainian revolt is, at heart, nothing more than an internal political dispute exacerbated by the regime’s Soviet-style gross human rights violations and protesters resorting to violence, though the US fears a Ukrainian civil war and or a Russian military invasion.  Still, the US would prefer to return to its quixotic pursuit of a strategic relationship with Russia  – even though its failed one-sided “reset” has bought only Russian active opposition to US policy on defensive missiles in Poland, Libya, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Venezuela, and nuclear disarmament – and now Ukraine.  Obama continues to delude himself that there can be some sort of partnership while Russian principles, values, objectives, and methods are implacably hostile to the West.

Thus far, the US and EU have played a weak and marginal role in Ukraine, although their primary national security interests are at stake; their misperception of this stake is sustained by fear and wishful thinking.   Neither of them have the courage, resolve, and imagination to confront Russia directly with action.  Putin knows this.  The EU is deathly afraid of anyone raising the issue of force and Obama will not use force.  The US and EU have not taken sides forcefully supporting the pro-European Ukrainians.   So far, they have done no more than spout empty words – including Obama’s latest announcement of another useless “line” not to be crossed.  The EU and US did not even treat Yanukoyych as a dictator like Lukashenko.  That the US and EU, including Poland with the most to lose, urged only negotiations and mediation between Ukrainian freedom fighters and Yanukovych’s gangsters meant that Ukraine is not a security issue for them.

For Putin, Ukraine is a primary national security interest.   Putin certainly will not accept the loss of the Russian naval bases in the Crimea.   Putin also has limited, temporary use for a partitioned Ukraine, even if the Ukrainians themselves, east and west, agree to separate.  These will be strong indicators of an imminent Russian invasion.  Yanukovych’s flight to Kharkiv and attempt to fly out of Donetsk to Russia indicate that he cannot return to Kiev and is of limited value as a Putin puppet even in Left Bank or eastern Ukraine.   Yanukovych may return as a front man on the bayonets of the Russian Army only if Ukraine, at least Right Bank or western Ukraine, rejects any tie to Russia or a civil war begins.   Putin then almost certainly will render “fraternal assistance” on the “invitation” of Ukrainian “legitimate” authorities against “terrorists” supported by US “interference” in Ukraine’s internal affairs.

There are some practical steps that the US and EU can take immediately:  They can warn the Ukrainian Army to stand by its people and against the Russian Army, jointly with the IMF and European Central Bank raise $50-$100 B as a grant to Ukraine, and establish a strong covert action program, especially with Poland, as was done for Solidarity and Riukh, against Jaruzelski and the Soviet regimes.  The US separately could begin shipping anti-aircraft and anti-armor missiles, artillery, small arms, and helicopter gunships to western Ukraine.

*   Since events transpired very quickly, a few comments are in order to update the article: 1.  Yanukovych is finished.  He is of no use to Putin even as a Russian stooge.  2.  The US (Secretary of State and National Security Advisor) finally has warned Putin that restitution, partition, and invasion are all unacceptable, although the US has made it clear that it will not send troops. 3.  Notwithstanding wishful thinking, the Ukrainian rising will not spread to Moscow.

The problem for Ukraine’s winning opposition is to rapidly restore public order, organize an effective government, and secure cash from the West.  Organizing political parties and the electoral process for 25 May elections is a formidable task.

Even if all this succeeds, the Kiev government and western Ukraine will have to work out a modus vivendi with Crimea and eastern Ukraine.  This will mean some kind of continuing relationship with Russia.

Between Scylla and Charybdis: Ukraine, Russia, and the EU

In an article for the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research, Kosciuszko Chair Research Assistant and IWP student Pawel Styrna discusses the current situation in Ukraine.  Read the full article here.  

Between Scylla and Charybdis: Ukraine, Russia, and the EU
by Pawel Stynra

Ukraine-like so many of the other former “captive nations” of the Central and Eastern European Intermarium-faces a choice between Scylla and Charybdis: an increasingly bold and aggressive post-Soviet Russia, and a socialist-liberal EU hostile to the sovereign nation-state. Meanwhile, Obama’s America is indifferent to the region, and visions of a CEE geopolitical bloc are stalled and obstructed.  

Ukraine’s decision to forego the signing of a “free trade” agreement with the European Union in favor of the Russian-dominated Eurasian Customs Union came as a shock, but only to those who haven’t been paying attention to the larger geopolitical trends in Central and Eastern Europe. Not surprisingly, supporters of European “integration” are irked and disappointed by this admittedly significant setback to the EU’s heretofore smooth eastward expansion. In the large Central-Eastern European country, dismayed and angry pro-EU Ukrainians protested in the capital of Kyiv, even demanding the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, while the pro-Moscow, post-Soviet government resorted to unleashing hundreds of hooligans-bussed in by the ruling Party of Regions-on the pro-European demonstrators.

The situation has now spiraled into a full-blown political crisis-the biggest in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution of 2004-with the masses of pro-Western demonstrators turning Independence Square-now dubbed Euro-Square (Euromaidan)-into a de facto fortified camp and repelling attempts by the regime’s riot police (the elite Berkut unit) to disperse them. In response, the post-Soviet government sought to erect a tent city of its own supporters. However one views EU “integration,” the determination and fighting spirit of theEuromaidan protesters is quite impressive, no doubt because they are fueled by nationalism. The crisis may quite easily become a second Orange Revolution and lead to regime change; unless the Yanukovych-Azarov oligarchy is willing to spill much blood to crush it. As Homini Sovietici they might not be at all averse to such brutal measures, but they are also aware that it would further weaken their bargaining position vis-à-vis Putin’s Russia.

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The Red October Virus: A pretext for Putin’s crackdown

Recent revelations of the damage inflicted on computer systems in 39 of the world’s countries—including the United States and Russia—by the spy virus “Red October” have generated a storm, as described in Dr. Marek Chodakiewicz’s analysis for the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research (SFPPR).

The infection’s provenance cannot be determined at this point, nor can the exact scope and nature of its harvest. It is evident, however, that the virus provided the Kremlin a pretext to facilitate the reintegration of the post-Soviet sphere, which is Putin’s geostrategic goal, and to further crack down on freedom. After all, the successors of the KGB have been learning from their Chinese communist secret police counterparts about internet censorship. Thus, Dr. Chodakiewicz concludes, one should not discount “Red October” as an FSB provocation.

To read Dr. Chodakiewicz’s article, please visit the SFPPR website.

Paweł Styrna delivers lecture on Smolensk Plane Crash

On January 30, as part of our ongoing series on the Intermarium, the Kościuszko Chair’s research assistant, Mr. Paweł Styrna, spoke about recent developments regarding the Smolensk Plane Crash of April 2010. He has written two substantive articles on the disaster and delivered a previous lecture about it at IWP in May 2011.

The crash claimed the lives of all the 96 passengers on board—including the Polish presidential couple and many members of the nation’s political and military elite—who were heading to Russia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Katyn Forest Massacre, where the Soviets had slaughtered 25,000 Polish officers and members of other social leadership strata in 1940. The circumstances of the crash were highly suspicious. Moscow’s stone-walling and Warsaw’s docility only helped fuel the impression that the catastrophe was more than just a tragic accident.

The Kremlin released its official report on the crash in January 2011 (the MAK Report), which pinned the entire blame on the Poles. The government in Warsaw—apparently fearing to displease Moscow—published its own report (i.e. the Miller Commission Report) in July 2011, which pointed out some Russian shortcomings but generally did not challenge the MAK narrative. Since the crash and the publication of these documents, the official version has been debunked by an independent commission in the Polish parliament (the so-called Macierewicz Commission) and several scientists and experts. IWP professor Gene Poteat made the initial investigation of the crash that questioned Russia’s claim the crash was pilot error, leading others around the world to take a second look. Poteat was not clairvoyant, but he understood Communism’s murderous history, much of what he acquired as a student at IWP. University of Ohio engineering professor Wiesław Binienda proved that a birch tree could not have possibly snapped off the tip of the plane’s left wing. He also emphasized that the disintegration of the wreckage coupled with the lack of a crater show that the plane did not crash. Kazimierz Nowaczyk and Grzegorz Szuladziński, in turn, pointed to two explosions as the most probable culprits.

Yet, many new revelations surfaced since these discoveries. For instance, the Russians clearly mixed up the bodies of the crash victims which they had thrown into coffins that were riveted shut and sent them to Poland. Since the families of the victims protested that they were never even allowed to see the bodies of their loved ones, the Polish government eventually agreed to exhumations. In one case (in September 2012), the family of the “Mother of Solidarity,” Anna Walentynowicz, was unable to recognize her. Even more disturbingly, in late October the Polish public learned that forensic experts working for the Polish prosecutor’s office discovered traces of TNT on the wreckage of the aircraft (which remains in Russia to this day due to Moscow’s refusal to return it). This eventually led to a recent request by the European Union to return the wreckage. On the other hand, in early December, the Obama administration turned down a petition to support an independent and international investigation of Smolensk. Since much of the evidence points in the direction of foul play, Smolensk has, after all, become a quite inconvenient issue. That, however, shouldn’t mean that the inquisitive should refrain from researching it.

Mr. Styrna concluded by pointing out that the Smolensk Plane Crash changed the geopolitical situation in the Intermarium. Warsaw abandoned Lech Kaczyński’s policy of rallying Central and Eastern European/post-Soviet nations around Poland. The states of the region fell in line to accommodate the Kremlin, which, under Putin, has been attempting to reintegrate the post-Soviet sphere. Now that Kaczyński is dead and Obama has shown disinterest in Central and Eastern Europe, there is little to stop the reintegration.

For the historical context and further details, please see Paweł Styrna’s articles on Smolensk on the website of the Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research (SFPPR).

Note: The views and hypotheses expressed by Mr. Styrna in his lecture are purely his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute of World Politics or the Kościuszko Chair.