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Cutting Ties: The West, Ukraine, and the Russian Academy

Working with Russian academics and institutions. The attack upon Ukraine by Russia. These are two features playing out heavily in university discussions. As typifies such chitchat, nuance features rather less than cant and sanctimony. As writer and lecturer Paolo Nori of Milano-Bicocca University stated after discovering that his course on Fyodor Dostoevsky would be cancelled in response to the war, “Not only is it a fault to be a living Russian in Italy today, but also to be a dead Russian.” (Dostoevsky has since been reprieved; the course will now run.)

Throughout history, academic cooperation between universities and academic institutions, despite the political differences of states, has taken place. Even at the height of the Cold War, exchanges across several intellectual fields were regular occurrences. The cynic could see these as culture wars in the service of propaganda, but work was still done, projects started and completed.

The times have tilted, and now universities, notably in Western states, find themselves rushing with virtuous glee to divesting and banning contacts and links with the Russian academy. Russian President Vladimir Putin is deemed a monster of unsurpassed dimension; the Russian attack on Ukraine emptied of historical rationale or basis. There is simply no room for academic debate, in of itself a risible irony.

In Freedom’s Land, some US institutions have snipped and severed cooperation. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology has ended its long-standing association with the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Skoltech. The reasoning strikes an odd note: we will exclude you and ostracise you out of respect for your achievements. “We take it with deep regret,” MIT explained in a statement, “because of our great respect for the Russian people and our profound appreciation for the contributions of the many extraordinary Russian colleagues we have worked with.”

The university also makes it clear that the “step is a rejection of the actions of the Russian government in Ukraine.” It’s all well and good to reject those actions, but how logical is it to then make those profoundly respected Russian colleagues suffer exclusion?

Behind every virtuous condemnation is the encumbrance of self-interest. MIT may have severed ties with Skoltech, but that did not mean that MIT principal investigators, or students, would be affected. “The Institute is in close communication with the PIs to offer guidance and to make sure that the students involved can complete their research and academic work without interruption.”

Russian students have also been singled out for special mistreatment, notably by Californian Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell. “I think closing [the Russian] embassy in the United States, kicking every Russian student out of the United States, those should all be on the table, and Putin needs to know that every day that he is in Ukraine, there are more severe options that could come.”

To his credit, President Samuel Stanley, Michigan State University’s president, has sought to distinguish between individual and political decisions made by governments. The distinction is trite, but the Ukraine War has made it exceptional. “In times of crises and conflict,” he writes in a public letter, “it is important that we decouple individuals from adverse actions of their home countries and governments.” Emphasis should instead be placed on unity in “supporting one another with dignity, empathy and mutual respect.”

In Australia, a country with few ties to Russian or Ukrainian institutions, universities have been issuing statements of condemnation against, not merely the Russian state but Russian institutions and figures. The last thing on the minds of these academic bureaucrats is adopting something along Stanley’s lines.

The Australian National University has gone one step further, having officially announced the suspension of all ties and activities with Russian institutions on March 3. “We identify with those brave Russian academics and students who oppose President Putin’s unprovoked aggression.” Curiously enough, the decision was made as the Russian attack “threatens the peace, freedom and democracy on which freedom of inquiry and academic collaboration is based.”

Proceeding to show no inclination to follow those cherished principles of free inquiry, the authors of the statement explicitly note that only those Russian academics and students who opposed Putin’s “unprovoked aggression” would be taken seriously. For Ukraine, the support was unqualified, whatever its actions. “We stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people in their defence of sovereignty and freedom and offer our support for the universities of Ukraine.”

The ANU statement has little time for ethnic Russians, preferring to acknowledge “that this is a very difficult time for our Ukrainian staff and students and for those who have family members, friends and colleagues in Ukraine.”

The statement from La Trobe University is not much more nuanced either, though it openly promotes the work of one academic, Robert Horvath, given the task of demystifying Russian aggression and chewing over Putin’s numbered days. (Horvath’s referenced opinion, it should be said, distinguishes between Putin the ruler and Russia itself, something his university is less inclined to do.)

Having been approached by “a number of staff” as to whether La Trobe had “any active connections with Russian institutions,” management expressed a deep sigh of relief. “We can confirm that La Trobe does not have any formal education partnerships or partnerships with Russian research institutions.”

The university’s investment portfolio was also fairly liberated of Russian investment, a mere $20,000 in value. “We are liaising with our Investment Fund about divestment options for this exposure.”

Singling out Russia has a note of self-indulgence to it. In the case of Australian universities in particular, outrage expressed against Russia seems at odds with, say, the relationships with Chinese institutions. The reasons, in the end, are financial rather than principled: excoriating the Russian Bear only harms intellectual merit, not the budget. The same cannot be said about students and academics from the Middle Kingdom.

To that end Vice Chancellors and members of academic boards have been less forthright in their condemnation of Chinese foreign policy and the country’s human rights record. Money often wins out in the moral dilemma, a point that activist Drew Pavlou found to his cost at the University of Queensland. Suspended on disciplinary grounds, Pavlou was adamant about the reason. “It’s a calculated move to silence me. It’s because the University of Queensland wants to do everything possible to avoid offending its Chinese allies.”

In discriminating on the political and ideological standing of academics and students, a slippery slope presents itself. Putting all your institution’s eggs into one basket and cause is never a good thing, however meretriciously popular and virtuous it might be at the time. But the Academy, and the modern university, work in contradictory, self-defeating ways. Wars do not merely make truth a casualty but kill off intellectual inquiry.

 

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53 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    Funny how the Anglo-world condemns Russia for aggression when the USA (United States of Apartheid) has been the active aggressor and financial beneficiary of American provoked aggression in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, while conning then Australian governments into commit military personnel and lethal weapons to the front for little or no financial benefit to Australian voters.

    But then, the English had a similar role in the world, destroying the Indian economy and culture for the benefit of northern England spinning mills, pinching Indian boat design principles and ravaging natural resources for almost three centuries.

  2. King1394

    Not since the bans on French Fries in the 80s have we seen such irrelevant and idiotic measures taken against one side in a dispute, and with less reason. Whatever happened to reason, balance and neutrality?

  3. Jon Chesterson

    One should remember the Russian people, civilians who put their lives and freedom on the line to oppose and object to Putin’s war. Such people will be in many other nations bounds and doesn’t mean they should be treated the same way as Putin, pro-war supporters and advocates, and indeed those who bury their heads in the sand either in ignorance or reckless self preservation or interest. Sadly many in Russia have only one narrow field of news and information – Putin’s ruthless lies and propaganda. Academic studies surely would include Russian history, literary works and culture of liberation from and opposition to political and cultural oppression – would it not be a moral obligation not to shut such studies down, rather like silencing the holocaust – that might be considered unthinkable. I also think it is equal prejudice, ignorance and social/moral stupidity to throw everyone in the same basket when in our own country we have the power to show more moral, intellectual and social intelligence. There is indeed a huge difference between the actions of one man at the top, the behaviour of some Russian institutions and individual patriots, especially those oligarchs and people who are Russian simply by birth and don’t stand if not when they do, do so in shame of their own country’s aggression, and recognise or stand in support of immediate cessation of war, and support of the Ukrainean people who are being so abhorrently, violently hammered by their ‘so called’ compatriots.

    That said, we must do all we can to stop this war and condemn Putin, the Kremlin and those who protect and support this authoritarian regime. There is no excuse to run weak, no room for compromise by hypocrisy, false comparisons, nor indifference. We need to be intelligent and targeted, recognising power and influence alone is not the answer, it is how we use and apply it. There is no doubt in my mind Putin is foul of war crimes and crimes against humanity. His very threat to the world to obliterate anyone who opposes him, to threaten use of nuclear weapons is not mere deterrent, it is abuse, in my view and a war crime in itself – to put the whole of humanity and life on earth in jeopardy to serve his political abuses and ambitions. But then there are a few past leaders in the western world, who for lesser but major war crimes against humanity nonetheless, I’d like to see tried in the Hague, and I am sure they know who they are.

  4. A Commentaror

    Jon Chesterton makes a range of well considered points.
    The author of the lead article though, continues his wordy ” look over there!” line and tactics
    He ignores that (particularly given the restriction of independent reporting in Russia), it is vital that the Russian public understands international condemnation of the actions that the fascist Putin is taking in their name.

  5. Michael Taylor

    A C, you’re late.

    I expected you here four hours ago to provide us with your customary (and boring) snipe at Dr Binoy.

    You’ve obviously had a busy day.

  6. A Commentaror

    I presumed the purpose of writing a contentious article was to have it discussed. I am partly prompted by my recollection of the series of articles by this author that disparaged Australia for “wanting to play with the big boys” Apparently nuclear weapons are required to be entitled to voice an opinion on international issues, in his view. The articles were a contemporary version of the cultural cringe, and reflected a poor level of analysis and judgement that appears to continue
    However, I’m sure no one is bothered or offended by my humble opinion

  7. Michael Taylor

    Dr Binoy informs the reader on what others have said and done. If you take a thrill in cherry-picking sections to enforce whatever narrative it is that you are pushing on the day then so be it.

    But then, in the dozen or so years that I’ve known you I’ve never seen anything but.

  8. calculus witherspoon.

    Tired of its McCarthyite leanings. Open your mind, commentator

  9. Michael Taylor

    I must thank you though for the way you stood by me on an issue dating back to 2013. I won’t go into details here. Email us (theaimn@internode.on.net) if you want to know what it was.

  10. A Commentaror

    I’m always willing to be taken to task over my choice of words. It’s part of the stimulation of discourse.
    And as I said, it was the series of articles that I found poorly argued, and probably deliberately provocative.
    If someone chooses to write a provocative opinion, I’m willing to be provoked
    (I’ll send an email, because I don’t know that I’ve ever been intentionally kind hearted)

  11. Michael Taylor

    cw, not much chance of that happening. When A C gets a bee in his bonnet… it stays there.

  12. New England Cocky

    @Michael Taylor: Uhm ….. You have been a naughty boy, letting your personal experiences influence AIMN editorial policy. Now go into the Naughty Corner and say 100 times, ”I must allow people to hold their wrong ill-informed opinions”. AC seems to be a narrow minded born-to-rule alumnis from a private school, demonstrating that state funding of private schools is a great waste of taxpayer money.

  13. A Commentaror

    Above is an example of what happens when people have nothing coherent to say…

    “A straw man is a form of argument and an informal fallacy of having the impression of refuting an argument, whereas the real subject of the argument was not addressed or refuted, but instead replaced with a false one.”

  14. Michael Taylor

    It’s all good, NEC, A C and I have been at each other’s throats across a number of sites for over 12 years. I can attest that he just loves shit-stirring, of which he is a master of.

    Please feel free to bite back at him.

  15. Albos Elbow

    Russia v Ukraine
    I know which peoples are suffering the most, with the worst misery yet to come.

    Stop political nest feathering and think of the consequences of doing nothing to slow Russian agression.

  16. calculus witherspoon.

    Once they have presented a narrative,all else must conform.

    A top example .apart from Iraq or Yemen, would be the Julian Assange story. Once they have their story and stick to it, all else, down to the last factoid, has to conform to a complex web, like an Aggie Christie novel.

    Whether lies and misinformation are involved matters not a jot as far as the narrative is concerned- the owner’s story and they stick to it even in the face of all evidence to the contrary

    . The best local example of the phenomena is the Murdoch/Morrison alliance, where daily we are told black is white on a plethora of issues and expected to beleive the nonsenses due to today’s info bubble…yes, “Myth today, as Barthes might say.

    Other foreign powers do this also, but I was taught (brainwashed?) as a kid, to beleive “we” were better than that and (hardly) ever told even the ghost of a porky..

  17. Henry Rodrigues

    When all is said and done. all the arguments for and against have been debated, analysed and conceded or refuted, what remains are the stark facts, the terrifying images that could easily have been lifted out of a WW2 documentary, of millions of ordinary people, like me and you, most with young families, who are usually busy with their normal everyday lives, taking the kids to school and childcare, cooking the evening dinner and spending the weekend in the park just being out in the green surrounds of their cities and villages, now brutally uprooted and forced into long lines marching into exile in neighbouring countries. Their cities and villages and environment destroyed and made unlivable, all to satisfy the maniacal obsession of one man and his corrupt regime, where all dissent is crushed and order forcefully imposed, whatever the costs.

    It is not a question of why or who is more justified. It is, for me, a simple question of freedom or totalitarianism. It is not a question of brown children with black eyes or blond children with blue eyes. It is whether the children should give the opportunity, be free to choose how to live their lives.

  18. calculus witherspoon.

    This oil shutdowns stuff- does it mean Biden’s narrative is derailed?

    To me, this is out of left field, did other more intelligent people pick it?

  19. calculus witherspoon.

    Gotta admit this brings back memories of the Yom Kippur war and the nasty aftermath, which was coming anyway following Vietnam, and exacerbated by the oil shock that came with Yom Kippur.

  20. Henry Rodrigues

    Another Russian victory against NATO. They’ve just scored a direct hit on pregnant women and children.

    Ah. Such brave righteous Russians, fighting the Ukrainian devils, neo-Nazis and drug dealers.

    I am sure we’ll all sleep safe in our beds tonight, thanks to Putin.

  21. B Sullivan

    I would have thought that a country with Australia’s war criminal record would have a lot more sympathy for Russia. Do not forget that Australia also committed a war crime just like Russia when Australia joined the Coalition of the Willing and invaded Iraq on the false grounds that Iraq was a clear and present danger, deemed guilty by accusation alone (no need for proof) that it possessed weapons of mass destruction and intended to use them against the US and it’s allies.

    Public opposition in Australia to that war didn’t need to be suppressed by the Australian government because it melted away as soon as the ‘diggers’ were sent into Iraq and the public rallied behind them, just as PM Howard predicted. There was no real attempt to condemn Australia’s actions, no sanctions or any punitive measures were taken against Australia, it’s government, it’s leader, it’s oligarchs or it citizens even though Iraq’s infrastructure was utterly destroyed with a horrific death toll and untold misery and suffering with repercussions that will still be felt long into the future.

    Russia genuinely is threatened by NATO’s relentless expansion towards Moscow since the Unification of Germany. The pro Russian government of Ukraine was indisputably overthrown by a US backed coup which led in turn to Russia’s annexation of the Crimea and Ukraine’s civil war with the pro Russian eastern provinces. Since then Ukraine has been armed and trained by NATO and US drones have even been deployed along the Russian border. For years Russia and Putin have been subjected to a relentless and ludicrous propaganda campaign of vilification. Any accusation is all that is required to condemn Russia, padded with a little circumstantial evidence but never accompanied with any real actual proof of guilt.

    Putin has been designated as the villain by the Western media. A guest on last week’s Q&A who referred to Putin as a bogey-man (ie not a real danger) quickly felt the need to change that to ‘definitely a villain’ rather than incur the wrath of host Stan Grant and being vilified in turn and asked to leave for not sticking to accepted narrative. The number one rule of the Art of War is, “Know your enemy”, not, “assume your enemy is cartoon caricature of evil”. Putin has expressed his amazement and despair at the recklessness of the Western media in promoting these dangerous delusions. He has the advantage of knowing the truth of the accusations that are levelled against him and the disadvantage of knowing that there is nothing he can say or do that will alter the perceptions of those who are so set what they are told to believe. But even if Putin had dropped dead years ago it is foolish to image that any Russian leader other than a Russian equivalent of Neville Chamberlain would not stand up to NATO’s aggressive expansion into Ukraine.

    NATO has been led by the US to knowingly cross a line that Russia can not interpret as anything other than an existential threat. They have set a Ukrainian wolfhound to bait the Russian bear while they sit back and watch the carnage that ensues. The bear will savagely maul the hound and the NATO member states who have been lax in their defence budgets recently are already putting in big orders to the arms dealers to purchase weapons to defend themselves from a country that without US/NATO provocation would pose no threat at all. Elon Musk must be rubbing his hands with glee at the thought of all the money he’s going to make that he can use to build rocket ships to sell to the recently created US Space Force which is entrusted with the task of ensuring that the US dominates space. Manifest destiny. In the heavens as it is on Earth.

    Australia should be very alarmed at the way the US has cruelly and knowingly sacrificed Ukraine to provoke Russia. It’s no secret that the US wants to provoke China. According to the researchers of the TV show QI, In bear baiting, the bear will always win whether against a dog or a bull or even a lion, principally due to the extraordinary killing power it can wield with a single crushing blow of its claw to its tormentor’s skull. I don’t think any one has ever been so callous as to try to bait a panda with a blue heeler, but it looks very much like that’s what the US has in mind with its joint naval manoeuvres with Australia being expected to challenge Chinese bases in the South China Sea and interfere with China’s ambitions to reunify with Taiwan.

  22. Bob

    calculus, the destruction of the US & the West was planned decades ago. It has been a slow-mo train crash as large parts of the economy were offshored to China and other low-cost nations. The result has been the demise of local industries and a devolution of many secondary and tertiary industries. The unwarranted shutdown of commerce during the ‘pandemic’ (it never happened in Sweden) is salt in the wound and spells the end of many small-medium businesses. The WEF outlined its vision back in 2016 with its ‘8 Predictions for the World by 2030’, “US dominance is over. We have a handful of global powers”. It’s a controlled implosion. China is running to schedule and in the last year has amassed about 70% of the worlds corn, 60% of the rice & 50% of the wheat. Not bad forward-planning for a country with 20% of the worlds population. It has mammoth stockpiles of iron ore and other minerals as well. They also have their State digital-crypto ready to go. Russia, resource rich and holding some 2600 tons of gold as a buffer, is no slouch either and as of tomorrow 11/03/22 shuts down their connection to the internet. Hack that. The West has been sold out by politicians-media. We will not be saved by either the LNP or Labor, they are the problem. The media are however doing a great job of imitating a snake.

  23. calculus witherspoon.

    Bob (and B Sullivan), it is true that the media and press are certainly a symptom:

    The ABC’S Fog of War on Ukraine

    The hypocrisy has been at Morrison-level intensity.
    and the sheer idiocy of some comments has become foolishly ignorant..

  24. Bob

    calculus, true that, they all have a static narrative and are sticking to it – facts and alternate analysis be damned.

  25. A Commentaror

    Still we get comments about a 2014 coup in Ukraine.
    Many seem ignorant that the Ukraine legislature voted 380 to 0 (that’s ZERO!) to remove the former president.
    Apologists for the fascist Putin abound

  26. GL

    calculus,

    Like the latest movie version of Dune, the reporting of the invasion of Ukraine is all spectacle and virtually no substance.

  27. New England Cocky

    @ Michael Taylor: No. no Michael. We must allow ill-informed people the right to hold their wrong opinions. It breaks the monotony of the informative regular posts on AIMN.

  28. Jack Cade

    The USA scoffed at Russia’s allegations of a biological warfare lab being found in Ukraine. But in the US senate yesterday it was admitted that there were actually 37 US-funded such labs. A later ‘corrective’ statement suggested that they are actually ‘old’ places – although yes, some were new – and were Russian. But anyway, they’re all benign. Even the one on the Russian border. I make it my business to read EVERYTHING I can about issues like the Ukraine conflict, but an objective assessment is well-nigh impossible, because even the Guardian, formerly the ‘world’s greatest liberal newspaper’ just pumps out Langley propaganda. The only contrarian view I have found is George Galloway’s MOATS. At least he presents facts, generally substantiated, and is beholden to none.
    I don’t agree with everything Galloway says, particularly on Covid mandates, or religion, but I believe him to be honest and sincere.
    And courageous.
    AIMN is being noticed and making enemies. A Commentator, for example, appears not to present alternative views, his or her (or even ‘it’s’ ) function is merely to rubbish stuff he she or it doesn’t like. The 100% vote for the government imposed by the USA after it sponsored the ousting of the Russia- favouring government and the torching of the Ukraine government buildings was reportedly done at gunpoint, there being no Betty Battenberg to endorse the CIA demands.

  29. A Commentaror

    A shorter version of the above…”every media outlet is reporting that the Russian invasion is brutal and unjust, therefore they must all be wrong”
    And so far, despite all the claims of a coup, no one has explained how the US manipulated 380 members of the Ukraine legislature.

  30. Henry Rodrigues

    Just tell me in simple words.

    How does deliberately bombing maternity hospitals, childcare centers, schools, apartment blocks, using precision laser guided missiles legitimize Putin’s ‘special military operations against evil neo-Nazi Ukrainian drug dealers.?????

    Would the use of chemical/biological weapons also be legitimate ?

    After all Nato and the evil Ukrainians must be defeated. So say the defenders of the biggest threat to the civilized world.

  31. Jack Cade

    I don’t recall ANY poster on AIMN being an apologist for Putin.
    Every media outlet believed WMD.
    Every media outlet believed ‘Colon’ Powell had enough bio weaponry in the little test tube of washing up liquid he waved around at the UN.
    US and NATO allies routinely attack hospitals and citizens in Palestine and Yemen. Seemingly deliberately. Where is the world outrage at those daily atrocities? Where is Morrison’s inside lane for immigration for Afghans who were employed by the allies and are being hunted down by the Taliban?
    There are two sides to the Ukraine attack, and I actually believe that both sides stink. There are no goodies and baddies.

  32. Henry Rodrigues

    Yes, there’s Putin and pregnant women and children.

    But no goodies and baddies !!!!!

  33. Michael Taylor

    Jack, A C (I wish that whenever I type in Commentaror the spell-check would stop changing it to Commentator… I’m sure A C is doing that just to deliberately annoy us) has a bee in his bonnet and the argument will never be won, no matter how wrong he is.

  34. corvusboreus

    There are increasing trans-national aspects to the unfolding conflict over Russia’s multi-front invasion of Ukraine.

    To help lessen the atritional load of ‘benign liberation’ on Russian footsoldiery, Putin’s regime have not only recruited about 5000 Syrian soldiers (battle-hardened urban cage-fighters), they’ve also unleashed the Wagner Group, an oligarch fronted military/security firm specialising in plausibly deniable lethality with bonus service of flexible casualty-accounting. https://www.csis.org/blogs/post-soviet-post/band-brothers-wagner-group-and-russian-state.

    Meanwhile, Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy claimed that over 16,000 foreign nationals have answered their call for volunteers with basic combat training to join the ‘International Legion’.
    Reportedly, combat-competent (+/-) citizens have signed up from various NATO nations, non-aligned European countries, a few African nations, straya & even Afganistan.
    .https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-03-08/foreign-fighters-arrive-in-ukraine/100893264

    Stormy skies.
    Rising seas.
    Messy maelstrom forming.

  35. A Commentator

    #. Recently I was challenged to check Wikipedia regarding the Ukraine “coup” of 2014. In return, I suggested that anyone was welcome to critique this Wikipedia article- https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolution_of_Dignity

    #. I have asked how a “US led coup” in 2014 could have resulted in a 328 to ZERO vote of the Ukraine legislature to remove the former president.

    #. Reference had been made to Russia’s discovery of biological weapons facilities. No one is able (or willing) to explain a rationale as to why the US would conduct their biological warfare research in Ukraine? Given it has been engaged in a lengthy civil war, it is close to the Russian border, it is not a long term ally of the US, it does not have a history of stable government… It appears to be just too convenient for the fascist Putin propaganda machine

    #. I don’t recall any occasion that I have been wrong, and my views about the invasion of Ukraine by the fascist murderer Putin are unlikely to be the first time

    #. It’s – A Commentator – from here on. Spelling in important

  36. Harry Lime

    Just been reminiscing with some old Dylan shit,and “a hard rains a gonna fall” seems to fit the Zeitgiest.Some things never change,the pursuit of money and power continue to fuck the world,and here we are again.I feel so depressed for my grandchildren’s future.we’re wasting our time taking sides,when the future is now.

  37. B Sullivan

    Henry Rodrigues,

    I could speculate on how the US got the Ukrainian Legislature to unanimously remove the former President, but I don’t know. The US does have the NSA at its disposal which would have collected detailed intimate profiles on all of them. We are not talking about persuading the entire Demos, just a few hundred representatives. They could get them onside by applying whatever pressure or inducement was required, including providing them with evidence of the President’s corruption and appealing to them to do the right thing and remove him.

    The issue you are dodging is that there was a US backed coup in a country that was friendly to Russia and after the coup the country was hostile to Russia. The issue you are dodging is that the US interfered in the affairs of a sovereign nation knowing that this would be received as a hostile act by Russia. They knew that NATO actions in arming and training Ukrainian forces would be received as a hostile act by Russia. They knew that providing Ukraine with US Strike Drones deployed along the Russian border would be received as a hostile act by Russia. And they knew that no Russian leader would tolerate the Ukraine joining NATO which would allow the deployment of NATO missile systems which would threaten the very existence of Russia. (Do not forget that the US is still punishing Cuba sixty years after it deployed nuclear missiles within its own sovereign territory, not as a threat but to deter the US from their persistent attempts to invade and control Cuba)

    The issue you are dodging is that the US led NATO incited Russia, which they knew posed no significant military threat (certainly not the biggest threat to the civilised world), to commit a war crime. Their motive being to manufacture a threat where none previously existed in order to promote weapon sales to NATO member states in Europe. Inciting a crime is a crime isn’t it? inciting a war crime must also be treated as a war crime.

    The blood being shed in Ukraine isn’t just on Putin’s hands. Biden, and all the other profiteers of this bear baiting are just as guilty of the cruelty and outcome of their sport.

    I am not apologising for Putin’s crime. I just want all the other war criminals who are responsible for this obscenity to be prosecuted along side him, including Zelensky who looks more and more like Putin every day as he sends untrained civilians off to face certain death at the hands of hardened Russian soldiers.

    George W, Tony Blair, and especially John Howard, who according to Bush persuaded him not to give up his plan to invade Iraq, must be brought to account for their crimes as well. If war criminals can escape punishment merely because they are on the winning side, how can we ever hope to deter others from inflicting death and suffering in the name of so called freedom, nationalism and justice?

  38. B Sullivan

    Henry Rodrigues

    Sorry, I got your comment about the biggest threat to the civilised world mixed up with A Commentator’s question How did the US coup manage to persuade the Ukrainian Legislature to vote out the former president?

    My sincere apologies. It was A Commentator who was dodging the issue.

  39. A Commentator

    I don’t think your speculation adds up to enough to be persuasive.

    #. You’re ignoring that the Ukraine legislature voted in 2014 to seek to join the EU. But that the former president vetoed this and sought to join the Eurasian Economic Union (former Soviet Union block).

    You have presented no evidence that the mass protests were the result of anything other than people wanting a future with a western democracy orientation rather than a Russian brutal fascist orientation. Who wouldn’t

  40. calculus witherspoon.

    No way were the Russians going to tolerate missiles next door, any more than the US over Cuba.

  41. Jack Cade

    I recommend you all Google ‘Zelensky – Pandora Papers’, and then work out how he got elected. Clue: he was backed by the USA; and also by a local magnate who is accused of stealing $5.5 billion from the people. Either comedy pays more in Ukraine than anywhere else or – more likely – he is just another oligarch supported by an unpleasant gang, taking us all for a ride.Like Putin, in fact.
    He campaigned on rooting out graft and corruption, and -ffs- he even owns property in Londonstan. May even be contributing to the Conservative Party with an eye to scoring a British Passport and a seat in the House of Lords. Sadly, ownership of a football team has now been outlawed – that is open only to Saudi butchers. But of course the foregoing is just ‘look over there’ stuff.

  42. calculus witherspoon.

    B Sullivan, the adults are with you and dont be put off by a few nits.

  43. Henry Rodrigues

    Calculus…….. There is no need to insult me by roping me in with “nits”

    Stick to your point of view if you want, and I’ll stick to mine.

    I care very little into getting into a verbal with you or anyone else. You’re not worth the trouble..

  44. A Commentator

    #. Zelendkiy established a successful television production company. Maybe that was profitable? Only the ignorant point to “comedy”

    #. Comments starting with “he may” are fascinating, but hardly compelling

    #. As if any of that is justification for an invasion by the fascist Putin

  45. Fred

    Dr Kampmark: Why are you surprised? Perspective check please – lots of innocent Ukraine civilians are dying due to Russia’s unprovoked invasion and you are lamenting the loss of ties between universities? Yes… so unfair, but until enough Russians oppose Putin to the point where he is incapable of continuing the war, an unlikely scenario, the only avenues available and being used are sanctions, cutting of ties etc. . Broad sanctions that affect all Russians may lead to a consensus dislike of him and subsequent removal. (Miracle needed – maybe ScoMo can wear out some more carpet and pray on it.)

    Two wrongs do not make a right. Endless pointing to other wars, skirmishes, genocide, historic state boundaries, behaviour of leaders, etc. does NOT justify this war as started by Putin. Assassination of Putin by an aggrieved oligarch would be economic use of ammunition. One round or clip is better than the tons of lead being spread in the Ukrainian environment.

    Putin appears to be using the same play book as employed in Chechnya, which saw hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians killed and cities razed. The war was brutal with war crimes committed.

    A profile of Putin provides some insight of how dangerous he is: “There can be little doubt that his brain has been neurologically and physically changed so much that he firmly and genuinely believes that without him, Russia is doomed. Absolute power for long periods makes you blind to risk, highly egocentric, narcissistic and utterly devoid of self-awareness. They also make you see other people as objects and the emotional-cognitive consequence of all this is… contempt”. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-winner-effect/201403/the-danger-lurks-inside-vladimir-putins-brain

    Jack C: If the change of govt was as a result of a US plot but the population’s true allegiance is with Russia rather than the west, then why are 95%+ of the refugees escaping the destruction heading west rather than east – is that a US plot as well? The numbers speak for themselves – ousting of the pro-Russian president was valid without US involvement.

  46. B Sullivan

    Fred,

    The US was involved backing a coup in the Ukraine that they knew would be received as a hostile act by Russia. Russia knew that the US was aware that backing the coup would be received by them as a hostile act. What the Ukrainian people did as a consequence does not alter the fact that the Russians took it as a hostile act perpetrated by the US against Russia.

    The US knew that they would take it as a hostile act. That is why they did it. They don’t care about the will of the Ukrainian people. They knew that they could take advantage of the Ukrainian people. The US knew that there would be opposition from the Russian speaking provinces in the east. They knew there would be an escalation and civil war. They knew that the Russians would move to annex Crimea in response, giving them the opportunity to accuse Russia of imperial expansionism. They knew but they kept on provoking and provoking Russia with acts that they knew Russia would take as hostile acts.

    How do we know that they knew all this? Because just like Climate Change they were warned about what would happen. Political strategists have been discussing this for years. And Russians leaders going back to the reunification of Germany have made it perfectly clear to western leaders what they would regard as hostile acts by NATO. You can find the evidence that the West knew what the consequences of their actions would be, just like you can find evidence that we we were warned long, long ago what would happen if we kept releasing carbon emissions into the atmosphere at such a massive rate.

    Do you remember Detente? Like many military terms it comes from the French and essentially means ‘relax the finger on the trigger. Detente was an attempt to lessen the tensions of the Cold War and avoid a nuclear exchange. There has been no attempt by the US to lessen the tensions being caused by NATO expansion, just a relentless determination to provoke Russia to go to war. Motive? Trillion of dollars in arms deals as nations rush to join NATO and buy the armaments that NATO obliges them to buy as members, all to to protect themselves from a threat manufactured by NATO expansion. The US knew that Russia was no threat to world peace. All of the world’s problems could be solved peacefully. But peace doesn’t sell weapons, and the US economy is dependent on arms sales.

    So they incited a war. Putin committed a war crime, and before the war is over many more war crimes will ensue and the Oligarchs in the West will grow richer from the profits of war, but none of this would have happened if the US and NATO had not incited the crime. When are people going to recognise that deliberately inciting a war is an unforgivable war crime instead of trying to justify it with jingoistic cant about freedom and choice for people who are callously being sacrificed for nothing more than profits and vain glory sentiments?

    Iraqis, Afghanistanis, Ukrainians and who’s next to be sacrificed for the armaments industry? Australians? If Australia does the US’s bidding and challenges China with Australia’s newly purchased US nuclear submarines how do you think China will react to that act?

    Be aware, if you don’t condemn the US and it’s allies for inciting this war, you are supporting a war crime, and encouraging more. Indeed, I can even say you are knowingly supporting a war crime. Willful blindness is no excuse. Two wrongs do not make a right, nor does pretending that only one protagonist is committing a criminal act.

  47. Fred

    B S: Your premise that the US incited the Ukraine war is not valid. This war has been started purely by Putin. You assert “The US was involved backing a coup in the Ukraine that they knew would be received as a hostile act by Russia. Russia knew that the US was aware that backing the coup would be received by them as a hostile act.”

    Given how useless the US is at organising anything significant with the locals of foreign countries (endless examples around the planet: Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.), it is ridiculous to think they organised mass protests in the Ukraine of the scale seen in 2013-14, the time of your “coup”. The coup which is better described as a rebellion against the sudden decision by President Yanukovych’s to not sign a political association and free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) as backed by the majority of parliament, instead choosing closer ties to Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union. Clearly if the overwhelming majority of the population wanted closer ties with the EU, then a govt backing Russia is out of touch with the people, therefore it had a short time to run. What happened 8 years-ago is NO justification for going to war now.

    Putin has made statements, threats and told lies of all sorts including faux “being threatened by NATO”. Remember when the USSR was intact, well it had borders with NATO countries. Since the collapse of the USSR, Russia

    He has expressed his desire to see the reunification of the USSR and a few weeks ago that he would not attack the Ukraine, while moving a substantial portion of Russia’s military forces to the border. Because the “West” didn’t mobilise troops in reply, he thought the “West” was weak and he could do what he did in Crimea. He clearly has miscalculated the unity shown.

    We know he lies and is happy to repress his own people. I hope he is lucid enough to understand the concept of MAD (mutually assured destruction) and is lying about using nukes, as any use by either side will end life as we know it. This entirely on Putin’s head alone

    As for the subs, I hope we will cancel the order and buy long range “Unmanned Underwater Vehicles” which are cheaper, smaller and not nuclear powered.

  48. randalstella

    Good on you Fred. Well done.
    And thanks again to A Commentator and Henry Rodrigues.
    You need support.
    It is a fight for democracy – right here. Right in this country.
    It should not be assumed.
    Just have a look here.

  49. A Commentator

    Yes, it is deeply concerning that some are apparently so disaffected with western democracy, that they are sympathetic towards the fascist Putin.
    Regardless of the numerous failures of democratic nations, Ukraine liked the look of western values rather than those overseen the murderous fascist Putin

  50. calculus witherspoon.

    Iwonder how the oil crisis is to be resolved.

    Looks a real and unforseen mess, a real kick in the guts for the US from unexpected quarters and, without a VERY quick rabbit out of the hat from Biden, an slo mo train wreck for the Presidency.

    Trump must be rofl, but few others are.

    Thanks, idiots.

  51. L Ballaam

    Henry RodriguesMarch 10, 2022 at 5:23 pm
    Just tell me in simple words.

    I notice you assume the Geneva Convention applies, Putin is a master of chaos, and like Genghis Kahn is also a master in psychological warfare, so is playing to win, brutalise the enemy before you engage.
    You may recall he gave himself immunity to crimes etc.
    The next decade seems to be the most brutal in recorded history.

  52. randalstella

    Thanks A Commentator.

    Well, they go on as if they are disaffected.
    But can they be believed? Maybe they just like fascism.
    It has certainly a far greater scope for lies. They show that they love lies.
    They particularly adore very damaging lies.
    Even if they are transparent, lies that can destroy seem worth it for these hobbyists.
    They could as easily tub thump for WMD, another fascist imperialism of course.
    But as emotional beasts, they have their brand loyalty.
    And the Americans are too messed up in democracy for their liking.

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