Feb 23Liked by Andrew Van Wagner

Great and well balanced summary of this tragic situation. The US is willing to fight down to the last Ukranian and any voice for a pragmatic settlement is pro-Putin treachery!

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Mar 1Liked by Andrew Van Wagner

Excellent article that provides insight into many of the historical, cultural and geographical factors that led up the current conflict in Ukraine. Learned a lot from reading it and now look at this whole situation with a more informed perspective.

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Mar 1Liked by Andrew Van Wagner

The idea that Euromaidan was a coup is patently absurd. A coup involves the armed forces of a country seizing power. No such thing happened in Ukraine. What happened was that in his brutal attempts to suppress protests, Yanukovych alienated even his own party to the point that his position became untenable. As such, he clearly decided that there wasn't a future for him in Ukraine and thus left the country, after which he was formally removed from office by the Ukrainian Parliament. How exactly that constitutes a "coup" is beyond me. The leader of a country can hardly expect to remain in power when he has fled to another, especially after massacring dozens of people.

I also love how you seem to think that only the Ukrainian election of 2010 was valid - not the elections of 2014 or 2019, in which the regional divisions were far less noticable than in previous ones. Of course, Ukraine was only a democracy from 2010-2014. Everything before and after was fascist despotism.

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May 6Liked by Andrew Van Wagner

Only got around to reading this and a couple of core criticisms and suggestions.

The overall gist of this piece suggests that the core reasoning for the invasion of Ukraine is security dominated. It seems to me that many of the claims here overlook significant factors, most significantly Putin and his advisor’s irredentism. Additionally, many of the claims upon which the article is based include factual errors or half-truths which weaken its argument.

I'm not going deconstruct every single argument in detail, rebuttals to each of them have been made. I think that commenting that these commentaries reflect the "the actual record" is ignoring many of the inaccuracies pervasive in some of these accounts. Matlock, for example, claimed in his piece that the whole discourse surrounding the invasion of Ukraine was an American hoax designed to "serve a domestic political end" and to bolster Biden's domestic support. I think taking viewpoints of people who have been so unbelievably wrong as Matlock and Chomsky in their analysis as "the actual record" is a misstep. I will hit on some of the key areas.

Abelow’s commentary is the most recent and extensive on the practical security reasons so most of this response will be related to him.

Firstly, his (and Greene’s) characterisation of the 2014 uprising as a “far-right coup” is laughable at best and disingenuous at worst. Svoboda, the main far-right party at the time of Euromaidan, failed to surpass the electoral threshold in 2014 right after the uprising, losing all representation. This severely damages the claims that the uprising can be characterised as ‘far right’. Whilst there was obviously a far-right movement in Ukraine, attempts to claim that the Maiden was far-right in character fall apart significantly when analysing the political landscape in greater detail. The involvement of some far-right elements is more indicative an alliance of circumstance, not a movement driven by far right proclivities. The strong right-wing ideology central to many of the separatist republics ideologies also undermines the inevitable depictions of the event as far-right neo-nazi fascist vs Russian speakers who merely wanted to live in peace. Neo-Nazis such as Alexei Milchakov rose to prominence and fame in Russia and the Separatist provinces. A detailed and balanced analysis of the Far right in Ukraine over that period can be found here: https://www.ifri.org/sites/default/files/atoms/files/rnv95_uk_likhachev_far-right_radicals_final.pdf

Abelow’s claim that Ukraine’s armed forces were being armed and trained up to NATO standards is correct. But he fails to acknowledge the fact that all of this occurred AFTER the initial Russian invasion in 2014. Additionally, whilst NATO adopted a position of ‘full support’ for Ukraine after the Russian invasion in 2014, that does not equate to membership of NATO. The main threat of NATO to Russia is Article 5. The NATO Comprehensive Assistance Packages which included arming and training core units only occurred after the 2014 Russian invasion and provided an emphasis of defensive technology and training. These focused on C4 capabilities, Medical Rehabilitation, and precession development, as well as EOD. It was quite clear that the CAP did not provide Ukraine with offensive capabilities against Russia, merely provide them with the tools necessary to withstand further Russian aggression.

Additionally, Abelow’s repetition of the Kremlin’s claims that the US/NATO AEGIS Ashore launchers pose an escalatory threat to Russia due to nuclear Tomahawks (TLAM-Ns) is ridiculous. The US disposed of all TLAM-Ns in 2010. Since 2005 the US has only forward deployed B61 gravity bombs, with them held at bases in the Netherlands, Belgium, West Germany, Italy and Turkey. There are no forward deployed nuclear weapons on the European continent further east than Düsseldorf in the North, and Milan in Italy. Of note, in February 2022 the US offered Russia an extensive transparency mechanism to inspect the AEGIS Ashore sites in Romania and Poland to ensure there were no conventional TLAMs, only standard 3 SAMs.

This not only counters Abelow’s claim, but also Greene’s claim that having AEGIS Ashore launchers in Poland “give[s] the United State the capacity to launch a nuclear-first strike without retaliation” which, once again is blatantly untrue given the US has not possessed any TLAM-Ns since 2010. Greene merely repeats the Russian claims that there are nuclear weapons stationed in the Baltics, a claim which the most basic level of research would show to be untrue. These claims are fundamental factual errors which both Greene and Abelow make. To claim that US nuclear force posture was escalatory, especially in light of consistent Russian development in tactical nuclear capabilities starting from the 1990s, when the US was disarming tactical devices, is ridiculous.

Regarding Matlock and others’ claims that “Ukraine has been deeply divided along linguistic and cultural lines”, it is worth noting that linguistic usage is not binary, nor is linguistic preference a proxy for political purposes. Ukrainians are bilingual and often use both languages. Indeed, Kyiv remains the largest Russian-speaking city outside of Russia. Moscow learned in 2014 that language is not a proxy for political views when Russian-speaking Ukrainian parties in Kharkiv and Odesa Oblasts. Indeed, the two maps you provide do show language/political correlation, but the sample size of a single election cycle is misleading and earlier and later elections (such as 1994, 2009, 2014 and 2019) dispute the concept of a clear linguistic and political divide within the country.

Evidently, many of the authors which have been cited to provide an account of "the actual record" fall short in providing an accurate depiction of events, and even on the most basic and core factual aspects. Additionally, for writers like Greene to take Putin’s word at face value, despite significant evidence and his own actions being to the contrary, and claiming that Putin would have deescalated had the US not provided weapons to Ukraine, is naive and misinterpret's Putin's intentions. The fact that the US took the unprecedented decision to send the CIA director to show detailed their intelligence to Putin himself, blows any claims that the US was not trying to deescalate out of the water. Revealing valuable military intelligence to a foreign leader preparing for war is not the action of a state with a fundamentally escalatory stance.

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Hi Andrew, apologies this is off topic, I've been looking for a recording of the Chomsky-Gzowski interview and followed a trail of breadcrumbs through your youtube page to here, which seems like your most active page. Did you ever manage to get that interview processed and uploaded anywhere? I've always wanted to see it and I'd be happy to contribute in some way to that or getting any other historical chomsky content uploaded.

If you prefer you can email me at my firstname dot lastname at gmail, or dm me on twitter @garethdmm!

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