Radical MPs bid to make Ukraine nuclear again, Rt.com : 6 Dec, 2016 The Radical Party faction of the Ukrainian parliament is seeking to withdraw Ukraine’s membership of the 1968 international treaty which bans the development of nuclear weapons and keeps nuclear technology in check.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) recognizes only five nations as legitimate possessors of nuclear weapons: China, France, Russia, the UK and the US. A handful of UN members are not signatories to the treaty, including Pakistan and India, which were never part of the NPT but have nuclear weapons of their own, and North Korea, which withdrew in 2003 to develop a nuclear arsenal.
Now Kiev may follow Pyongyang’s example if the Radical Party faction in parliament has its way. The party’s leader, Oleg Lyashko, has long called for the government to restore the country’s nuclear capability, which Ukraine briefly possessed in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The number of nuclear warheads deployed on Ukrainian territory by the USSR was only behind those possessed by Russia and the US. But by 1996, all of them had been handed over to Russia, which was busy dismantling a large portion of the costly Soviet nuclear stockpile.
In 1994, Ukraine was given security assurances by Russia, the US and the UK in the so-called Budapest Memorandum in exchange for its accession to the NTP. Similar documents were signed with Kazakhstan and Belarus, which were in a comparable position. China and France gave milder commitments to Ukraine in separate statements……..
Lyashko is a populist politician with a strongly nationalist voter base, and is well known for his publicity stunts. His bill to restore Ukraine’s nuclear status was registered in parliament Tuesday. A date for a committee discussion on the issue is yet to be set.
Ukraine’s ability to actually produce a nuclear weapon remains in question. While numerous research and production facilities based in what now is Ukraine were involved in building the Soviet nuclear arsenal, the country’s current economic troubles and technological backslide would make constructing even a simple nuclear device a major challenge – even if the Ukrainian government does undertake such a project.
Historically, only Pakistan and India have openly acquired nuclear capabilities without being alienated from the international community. …..https://www.rt.com/news/369363-ukraine-wants-nuclear-weapons/
Chernobyl reactor entombed in giant steel shield 30 years after worst nuclear disaster in history [Excellent photos] Mirror, 1 Dec 16 Thirty years after an explosion ripped apart the Chernobyl power plant and spewed radioactive dust across Europe, the devastated reactor number four has finally been sealed off. Built with bolts from Wrexham and overseen by a man from Bury, this gigantic steel shield encases the reactor responsible for the worst nuclear disaster in history.
Thirty years after an explosion ripped apart the Chernobyl power plant and spewed radioactive dust across Europe, the devastated reactor number four has finally been sealed off. Six years in the making, the 108-metre-high arch is the largest moveable land structure ever built. Its completion brings an end to a nightmare that has scarred two generations.
At a ceremony inside the radiation exclusion zone in Ukraine, British engineer David Driscoll, 66, told of his vital role as health and safety manager overseeing one of the most daunting construction projects ever undertaken….
The shimmering steel structure looms large over the frozen wasteland rendered uninhabitable by the catastrophe on 26 April, 1986.
More than 200,000 people were evacuated from their homes in the weeks afterwards as the then Soviet Union government slowly reacted to the poisoned legacy of the leak.
Deserted houses by the roadside in the exclusion zone have been slowly devoured by the forest.
In Pripyat, the Soviet city next to Chernobyl, the shells of deserted apartment blocks serve as a permanent reminder of the scale of the catastrophe.
At the top of one tower block is a faded Communist hammer and sickle………
Waterproof and temperature-controlled, the structure is fitted with an overhead crane to allow for the future dismantling of the previous, crumbling Soviet-era shelter and the remains of reactor four.
Igor Gramotkin, director-general of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, said: “We were not building this arch for ourselves.
“We were building it for our children, our grandchildren and our great-grandchildren.
“This is our contribution to the future, in line with our responsibility for those who will come after us.”
Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, said of the completion of the project: “The sliding of the arch over reactor four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant is the beginning of the end of a 30-year long fight with the consequences of the 1986 accident.” http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/chernobyl-reactor-entombed-giant-steel-9360959
Dangerous history of Chernobyl’s shattered nuclear power plant, and the latest effort to contain radiation
Giant new dome set to keep Chernobyl safe for generations http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/11/27/world/giant-new-dome-set-keep-chernobyl-safe-generations/#.WDtMp9J97Gh
AFP-JIJI NOV 27, 2016 CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE – The world’s largest metal moveable structure will be unveiled Tuesday over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant’s doomed fourth reactor in Ukraine to ensure the safety of future generations across Europe. The giant arch — nearly as long as two soccer fields and taller than New York’s Statue of Liberty — will edge into place over an existing crumbling dome that the Soviets constructed in haste when disaster struck three decades ago on April 26.
Work on the previous safety dome began after a 10-day fire caused by the explosion was contained but as radiation still spewed. “It was done through the superhuman efforts of thousands of ordinary people,” the Chernobyl museum’s deputy chief Anna Korolevska said. “What kind of protective gear could they have possibly had? They worked in regular construction clothes.”
About 30 of the cleanup workers known as liquidators were killed on site or died from overwhelming radiation poisoning in the following weeks. The toll from the accident caused by errors during an experimental safety check remains under dispute because the Soviet authorities did their best to cover up the tragedy.
Kiev held a May Day parade as invisible contamination spread over the city while then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev only admitted on May 14 that something had gone terribly wrong.
A United Nations estimate in 2005 said around 4,000 people had either been killed or were left dying from cancer and other related disease. But the Greenpeace environmental protection group believes the figure may be closer to 100,000. The authorities maintain a 30-kilometer-wide (19-mile-wide) exclusion zone around the plant in which only a few dozen elderly people live.
Concerns over the safety of the disintegrating concrete shelter — built by 90,000 people in just 206 days — prompted the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to spearhead a 2.1-billion-euro ($2.2 billion) project to install a new safety dome.
The numerous problems with the Soviet-era solution included the fact that the protective structure only had a 30-year lifespan. Yet its deterioration began much sooner than that. “Radioactive dust inside the structure is being blown out through the cracks,” Sergiy Paskevych of Ukraine’s Institute of Nuclear Power Plant Safety Problems said.
Paskevych added that the existing structure could crumble under extreme weather.“This would especially be a potential problem if there was a tornado or an earthquake,” Paskevych said.
The new arch should be able to withstand tremors of 6.0 magnitude — a strength rarely seen in eastern Europe — and tornados the likes of which strike the region once every million years.
Chernobyl’s dangers are real but Kiev complains Europe’s help took a long time coming. The EBRD found 40 state sponsors to fund a competition in 2007 to choose who should build a moveable dome the likes of which the world had never seen. A French consortium of two companies known as Novarka finished the designs in 2010 and began construction two years later.
The shelter was edged toward the fourth reactor in just under three weeks of delicate work this month that was interrupted by inclement weather and other potential dangers. It will later be fitted with radiation control equipment as well as air vents and fire protective measures.
That equipment inside the arch is due to start working by the end of 2017.
“And only then will we begin to disassemble the old, unstable structure,” the head of Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulation Inspections agency Sergiy Bozhko said.
But he said no time frame had yet been set for the truly hazardous work of removing all the remaining nuclear fuel from inside the plant or taking apart the old dome. “Those decisions will be made based on future studies,” Bozhko said.
Novarka believes that its arch will keep the continent safe from nuclear fallout for the next 100 years.
Energoatom expands cooperation with CNNP, NASA and IDOM Nuclear Services, WNN 08 November 2016 Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom has agreed to enhance its cooperation with Chinese, Argentinian and Spanish companies – respectively, China National Nuclear Power (CNNP), Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA (NASA) and IDOM Nuclear Services………
Representatives from CNNP, which is a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation, presented its strategy to upgrade units at the Tianwan nuclear power plant. Beijing-based CNNP operates 12 nuclear power plants with an installed capacity of 9773 MWe……..http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C-Energoatom-expands-cooperation-with-CNNP-NASA-and-IDOM-Nuclear-Services-08111601.html
Nuclear Regulation Inspectorate approves preliminary spent nuclear fuel storage facility safety report http://en.interfax.com.ua/news/economic/381495.html, 4 Nov 16, A panel of Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulation Inspectorate at a Thursday meeting approved a conclusion of the public examination of nuclear and radiation security under a preliminary safety analysis report for the centralized spent nuclear fuel storage facility.
“Thus, the panel confirmed that the spent nuclear fuel storage facility project meets the nuclear and radiation safety requirements. According to a resolution of the panel, some project safety solutions shortly described in the project will be presented in details at the next designing stage,” the press service of national nuclear generating company Energoatom said.
The conclusion will be sent to the State Architectural and Construction Inspectorate of Ukraine.
Energoatom President Yuriy Nedashkovsky said at the meeting of the panel, the discussion of the issues linked to construction of the centralized spent nuclear fuel storage facility should be accelerated.
“Technologies and project solutions selected for construction of the facility meet international spent nuclear treatment requirements and ensure reliable and safe storage of spent nuclear fuel from Ukrainian nuclear power plants (NPPs). The feasibility study of the centralized spent nuclear fuel storage facility passed public environmental examination and obtained a positive conclusion. Today all organization and legal issues related to construction of the storage facility have been settled. A delay with the start of construction would entail further financial losses for Ukraine, while the launch of the facility would considerably increase the country’s energy security,” he said.
Head of State Nuclear Regulation Inspectorate Serhiy Bozhko said that construction of spent nuclear fuel storage facilities is permanent global practice, but today this solution is only an intermediate link in settling the issue of treading spent nuclear fuel in a long-term outlook.
Ukraine to stop paying Russia for nuclear waste disposal Rt.com : 21 Oct, 2016 From next year Ukraine is not going to pay Russia $200 million annually to remove spent nuclear fuel from the country, according to Ukrainian Energy Minister IgorNasalik.
The country will build its own spent nuclear fuel storage facility, the minister announced.
The storage site chosen is in the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl nuclear power, but it is not designed to store nuclear waste for a long time.
The exclusion zone is a 30-kilometer radius from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant established by the USSR soon after the 1986 accident.
Construction of the new central used fuel storage facility is expected to start in March 2017, according to a director of a subsidiary of the Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom.
European nuclear industry experts are concerned the Ukrainian project does not meet standards for nuclear safety and creates a risk of a radioactive accident.
In August, the former director of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant Mikhail Umanets warned of the rising number of emergency situations in Ukraine’s nuclear energy sector, stressing the country would face a “collapse” in the sector within seven years……https://www.rt.com/business/363655-ukraine-nuclear-waste-russia/
On the domestic front, opposition to nuclear decision-making is silenced. Our colleagues in Ukraine, who have been voicing safety concerns, were sued in 2015 by Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear operator, and the state nuclear regulator joined in later. Eventually, the court backed the plaintiffs, who argued the public critique of the nuclear revival programme was inappropriate. Meanwhile, EU institutions keep on paying to support Ukraine’s aging nuclear fleet and claim to support democracy and rule of law in the country.
New life for Ukraine’s aging nuclear power plants received a lease on life for an additional 10 years beyond their originally projected life-span. Units 1 and 2 at the Zaporizhska nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, are the fifth and sixth units to have their expiry dates extended by Ukraine’s nuclear regulator. This is a dangerous move, which violates international law and democratic principles.European institutions are helping Ukraine extend its already outdated nuclear operations — increasing short-term risks and halting energy alternatives for the future. In the past few weeks, two of Ukraine’s Soviet-era nuclear reactors
Nuclear proponents, Ukrainian governmental officials and the state nuclear power operator Energoatom argue these extensions are necessary. But is it really? And who benefits from the continued operation of Ukraine’s aging nuclear fleet? Continue reading
Despite Three Mile Island, Daiichi Power Plant in Japan and Chernobyl, the industry still poo-poos the danger. At Chernobyl, after the initial explosion, the 185 tons of melting nuclear waste was still melting down. When it reached the water a thermonuclear explosion would have occurred. It was estimated it would have wiped out half of Europe and made Europe, Ukraine and parts of Russia uninhabitable for 500,000 years. This was prevented when three workers volunteered to dive in the radioactive water and open the valves to drain the pool and prevent a second explosion, knowing it would mean death by radioactive poisoning. They succeeded in draining the pool, but died of radiation sickness within a few weeks. Their bodies remained radioactive and were buried in lead coffins.
Solar on the steppe: Ukraine embraces renewables revolution Former Soviet nation bids for independence from Russian fossil fuels. Nature Quirin Schiermeier 28 September 2016 Wind and solar power are wallflowers in oil- and gas-rich Russia. Not so in neighbouring Ukraine. With fears about Russian hegemony at a peak, the former Soviet republic is ready to join the renewables revolution.
“Energy independence has become a matter of national security for Ukraine,” says Sergiy Savchuk, head of the state agency on energy efficiency and energy saving in Kiev. “That’s why renewable-energy development is now a priority issue for the Ukrainian government.”
In July, Ukrainian environment minister Ostap Semerak unveiled plans to build a large solar power plant and a biogas facility in the wasteland around the former Chernobyl reactor.
The announcement came just two weeks after parliament reopened the state-owned exclusion zone around the shuttered nuclear site to development for business and science.
The Chernobyl energy project will cost around US$1.1 billion, a sum that means substantial foreign investment is required. It is part of Ukraine’s broader ambition to step up renewable-energy capacity. According to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan adopted in 2014, the government aims to almost triple capacity for electricity production, transport and heating by 2020 — from its current level of around 9.3 gigawatts to more than 26 gigawatts. Renewables would then supply about 11% of all energy consumed in Ukraine……..
Ukraine has significant untapped renewable-energy potential, finds a 2015 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates — enough to support the 2014 plan. The largest country to lie entirely within Europe (Turkey and Russia are mostly in Asia), it gets more sunshine than Germany, where photo-voltaic solar power now exceeds 40 gigawatts.
Ukraine also has good grid infrastructure, including high-voltage transmission lines between Chernobyl and Kiev, says Dolf Gielen, director of IRENA’s Innovation and Technology Center in Bonn, Germany…… http://www.nature.com/news/solar-on-the-steppe-ukraine-embraces-renewables-revolution-1.20690
HomeNews MediaBlogUkraine’s nuclear energy fixation puts its European financiers to a test http://bankwatch.org/news-media/blog/ukraines-nuclear-energy-fixation-puts-its-european-financiers-test
Ukraine’s nuclear energy fixation puts its European financiers to a test In a meeting today, the Espoo Convention’s Implementation Committee will again discuss Ukraine’s compliance with the Convention’s rules. A look back at the last months does not suggest a positive outcome.
Earlier this year Bankwatch approached the Commission’s Directorate General for Economic and Financial Affairs, and made a request for documents related to the EUR 300 million Euratom loan for the project. Specifically, we asked for the evidence used by the Commission in making the first EUR 100 million disbursement from the loan.
A decision in this case can take some time, but old nuclear power plants could soon see their lifetimes extended, not only in Ukraine but across the EU. Yet, as we argued in a recent letter to the Espoo Convention’s Implementation Committee, any decision on prolonging the operations of nuclear power units beyond their design lifespan should be subject to a transboundary environmental impact assessment (EIA) and transboundary public consultations.
The Committee is the only body with the power to rule on violations of the Espoo Convention. It is currently preparing a report for the June 2017 Meeting of the Parties on Ukraine’s adherence to the convention and will meet today, Monday, September 5, in Geneva to discuss the Ukrainian government’s progress (or lack thereof) with implementing the Committee’s requests.
And there is reason to worry. In April 2013 the Committee ruled that Ukraine’s decision to extend the lifetime of its two oldest nuclear units in the Rivne power plant was in breach of the convention and, as argued in our letter, this decision should be considered a precedent applicable to similar cases for the sake of legal certainty and equal treatment.
Unmet loan conditions
International treaties on their own are not the only reason Ukraine is expected to carry out transboundary EIAs before rewriting the expiry dates of its Soviet-era nuclear reactors. Each of the two EUR 300 million loans Ukraine’s nuclear safety upgrade program has received, from Euratom and from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, is explicitly conditioned on full compliance with international environmental law, include the Espoo Convention that obliges the engagement with neighbouring countries in decisions on matters related to nuclear energy, such as nuclear units’ lifetime extensions. The European Commission has reiterated this obligation on several occasions.
Nevertheless, so far neither the Espoo Convention ruling in the Rivne case, nor the conditions to the European loans, have stopped Kiev from going ahead with lifetime extensions for two more nuclear units in the South Ukraine station without applying international requirements.
One other nuclear unit, in the Zaporizhia power plant, could see its lifetime extended as early as next week, and the state nuclear regulator contends these decisions fall outside the jurisdiction of the Espoo Convention.
In fact, Ukraine does not even have proper legislation on EIAs at national level. This has allowed Energoatom to release an “EIA report” for the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant which ruled out any significant transboundary impacts from the plant’s operations.
Yet, Energoatom’s claims look even more invalid with the latest Espoo Implementation Committee’s ruling on the planned nuclear power plant Hinkley Point C in the UK, stating that a worst-case scenario should be taken into account when considering transboundary impacts.
Moreover, a recent incident in the 29 years old Khmelnitski nuclear power plant is but the latest reminder for the risks in Ukraine. Following a leak of radioactive water, the power station’s unit 1 was shut down for two months. This unit will reach the end of its projected lifetime next year.
According to the state nuclear regulator, the reason for the leak might have been a micro-crack in a tube in the heat exchanger. An expert report released in March 2015 by Bankwatch’s Ukrainian member group NECU has warned of the possible appearance of micro-cracks in the reactor vessel of unit 1 of the South Ukraine nuclear power plant which has been granted a lifetime extension earlier.
The dire financial troubles facing Ukraine’s nuclear operator Energoatom raise additional questions about the government’s blind reliance on this source of energy, and should be another warning sign for Ukraine’s European allies in Brussels and across its borders.
US-Ukraine Coproduction of Weapons to Boost Risk of Nuclear War, http://sputniknews.com/politics/20160830/1044759268/us-ukraine-weapons-production.htmlUS and Ukraine joint production of weapons would seriously boost the risk of nuclear war between the United States and Russia, global peace campaigner Helen Caldicott told Sputnik. WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Last week, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Valeriy Chaly proposed that Kiev and Washington should cooperate in producing weapons on Ukraine soil.
When and Why Will Ukrainian Power Grid Collapse – UA Nuclear Reform Group Fort Russ, August 29th, 2016 Translated by Tatzhit Mihail Umanets, co-director of the reform committee for the atomic-industrial complex of Ukraine, and the former director of Chernobyl nuclear power plant:
US Westinghouse gives no confirmation of decision to build nuclear fuel plant in Ukraine,
Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Nasalik earlier announced that Westinghouse and Kiev had reached a deal on building a nuclear fuel factory in Ukraine.
KIEV, August 16. /TASS/. The US-based Westinghouse has not confirmed a decision to finance the construction of a nuclear fuel factory in Ukraine as was previously announced by Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Igor Nasalik.
As Westinghouse Vice-President and Managing Director for Northern and Eastern Europe Aziz Dag told Deutsche Welle publication, surplus capacities for nuclear fuel production can be observed in the world at present and, therefore, the construction of a new factory won’t bring any considerable economic benefits for the country….. http://tass.ru/en/economy/894536
The Danger of Excessive Trump Bashing http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/38405-the-danger-of-excessive-trump-bashing , Consortium News 04 August 16
The prospect of Donald Trump in the White House alarms many people but bashing him over his contrarian views on NATO and U.S.-Russian relations could set the stage for disasters under President Hillary Clinton, writes Robert Parry. Widespread disdain for Donald Trump and the fear of what his presidency might mean have led to an abandonment of any sense of objectivity by many Trump opponents and, most notably, the mainstream U.S. news media. If Trump is for something, it must be bad and must be transformed into one more club to use for hobbling his candidacy.
While that attitude may be understandable given Trump’s frequently feckless and often offensive behavior – he seems not to know basic facts and insults large swaths of the world’s population – this Trump bashing also has dangerous implications because some of his ideas deserve serious debate rather than blanket dismissal.
Amid his incoherence and insults, Trump has raised valid points on several important questions, such as the risks involved in the voracious expansion of NATO up to Russia’s borders and the wisdom of demonizing Russia and its internally popular President Vladimir Putin.
Over the past several years, Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment has pushed a stunning policy of destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia in pursuit of a “regime change” in Moscow. This existentially risky strategy has taken shape with minimal substantive debate behind a “group think” driven by anti-Russian and anti-Putin propaganda. (All we hear is what’s wrong with Putin and Russia: He doesn’t wear a shirt! He’s the new Hitler! Putin and Trump have a bro-mance! Russian aggression! Their athletes cheat!)
Much as happened in the run-up to the disastrous Iraq War in 2002-2003, the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” allies bully from the public square anyone who doesn’t share these views. Any effort to put Russia’s behavior in context makes you a “Putin apologist,” just like questioning the Iraq-WMD certainty of last decade made you a “Saddam apologist.”
But this new mindlessness – now justified in part to block Trump’s path to the White House – could very well set the stage for a catastrophic escalation of big-power tensions under a Hillary Clinton presidency. Former Secretary of State Clinton has already surrounded herself with neocons and liberal hawks who favor expanding the war against Syria’s government, want to ratchet up tensions with Iran, and favor shipping arms to the right-wing and virulently anti-Russian regime in Ukraine, which came to power in a 2014 coup supported by U.S. policymakers and money.
By lumping Trump’s few reasonable points together with his nonsensical comments – and making anti-Russian propaganda the only basis for any public debate – Democrats and the anti-Trump press are pushing the United States toward a conflict with Russia.
And, for a U.S. press corps that prides itself on its “objectivity,” this blatantly biased approach toward a nominee of a major political party is remarkably unprofessional. But the principle of objectivity has been long since abandoned as the mainstream U.S. media transformed itself into little more than an outlet for U.S. government foreign-policy narratives, no matter how dishonest or implausible.
To conform with the neocon-driven narratives, much recent history has been lost. For instance, few Americans realize that some of President Barack Obama’s most notable foreign policy achievements resulted from cooperation with Putin and Russia, arguably more so than any other “friendly” leader or “allied” nation.
For instance, in summer 2013, Obama was under intense neocon/liberal-hawk pressure to bomb the Syrian military supposedly for crossing his “red line” against the use of chemical weapons after a mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2103.
Yet, hearing doubts from the U.S. intelligence community about the Assad regime’s guilt, Obama balked at a military strike that – we now know – would have played into the hands of Syrian jihadists who some intelligence analysts believe were the ones behind the false-flag sarin attack to trick the United States into directly intervening in the civil war on their side.
But Obama still needed a path out of the corner that he had painted himself into and it was provided by Putin and Russia pressuring Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons, a clear victory for Obama regardless of who was behind the sarin attack.
Putin and Russia helped Obama again in convincing Iran to accept tight restraints on its nuclear program, an agreement that may mark Obama’s most significant foreign policy success. Those negotiations came to life in 2013 (not coincidentally after Secretary of State Clinton, who allied herself more with the bomb-bomb-bomb Iran faction led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had resigned and was replaced by John Kerry).
As the negotiating process evolved, Russia played a key role in bringing Iran along, offering ways for Iran to rid itself of its processed nuclear stockpiles and get the medical research materials it needed. Without the assistance of Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the landmark Iranian nuclear deal might never have happened.
Obama recognized the value of this Russian help but he also understood the political price that he would pay if he were closely associated with Putin, who was already undergoing a thorough demonization in the U.S. and European mainstream media. So, Obama mostly worked with Putin under the table while joining in the ostracism of Putin above the table.
But Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment – and its allied mainstream media – check-mated Obama’s double-talking game in 2013 by aggressively supporting a regime-change strategy in Ukraine where pro-Russian elected President Viktor Yanukovych was under mounting pressure from western Ukrainians who wanted closer ties to Europe and who hated Russia.
Leading neocon thinkers unveiled their new Ukraine strategy shortly after Putin helped scuttle their dreams for a major bombing campaign against Assad’s regime in Syria. Since the 1990s, the neocons had targeted the Assad dynasty – along with Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq and the Shiite-controlled government in Iran – for “regime change.” The neocons got their way in Iraq in 2003 but their program stalled because of the disastrous Iraq War.
However, in 2013, the neocons saw their path forward open again in Syria, especially after the sarin attack, which killed hundreds of civilians and was blamed on Assad in a media-driven rush to judgment. Obama’s hesitancy to strike and then Putin’s assistance in giving Obama a way out left the neocons furious. They began to recognize the need to remove Putin if they were to proceed with their Mideast “regime change” dreams.
In late September 2013 – a month after Obama ditched the plans to bomb Syria – neocon National Endowment for Democracy president Carl Gershman wrote in The Washington Post that Ukraine was now “the biggest prize” but also was a steppingstone toward the even bigger “regime change” prize in Moscow. Gershman, whose NED is funded by Congress, wrote:
“Ukraine’s choice to join Europe will accelerate the demise of the ideology of Russian imperialism that Putin represents. Russians, too, face a choice, and Putin may find himself on the losing end not just in the near abroad but within Russia itself.”
By late 2013 and early 2014, with Gershman’s NED financing Ukraine’s anti-government activists and journalists and with the open encouragement of neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and Sen. John McCain, the prospects for “regime change” in Ukraine were brightening. With neo-Nazi and other Ukrainian ultra-nationalists firebombing police, the political crisis in Kiev deepened.
Meanwhile, Putin was focused on the Sochi Winter Olympics and the threat that the games could be disrupted by terrorism. So, with the Kremlin distracted, Ukraine’s Yanukovych tried to fend off his political crisis while limiting the violence.
However, on Feb. 20, 2014, snipers fired on both police and protesters in the Maidan square and the Western media jumped to the conclusion that Yanukovych was responsible (even though later investigations have indicated that the sniper attack was more likely carried out by neo-Nazi groups to provoke the chaos that followed).
A Successful Coup
On Feb. 21, a shaken Yanukovych agreed to a European-brokered deal in which he surrendered some of his powers and agreed to early elections. He also succumbed to Western pressure that he pull back his police. However, on Feb. 22, the neo-Nazis and other militants seized on that opening to take over government buildings and force Yanukovych and other officials to flee for their lives.
The U.S. State Department and its Western allies quickly recognized the coup regime as the “legitimate” government of Ukraine. But the coup provoked resistance from the ethnic Russian populations in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, political uprisings that the new Kiev regime denounced as “terrorist” and countered with an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” or ATO.
When Russian troops – already in Crimea as part of the Sevastopol naval basing agreement – protected the people on the peninsula from attacks by the Ukrainian ultra-nationalists, the intervention was denounced in the West as a “Russian invasion.” Crimean authorities also organized a referendum in which more than 80 percent of the voters participated and favored leaving Ukraine and rejoining Russia by a 96 percent margin. When Moscow agreed, that became “Russian aggression.”
Although the Kremlin refused appeals from eastern Ukraine for a similar arrangement, Russia provided some assistance to the rebels resisting the new authorities in Ukraine. Those rebels then declared their own autonomous republics.
Although this historical reality – if understood by the American people – would put the Ukrainian crisis in a very different context, it has been effectively blacked out of what the American public is allowed to hear. All the mainstream media talks about is “Russian aggression” and how Putin provoked the Ukraine crisis as part of some Hitlerian plan to conquer Europe.
Trump, in his bumbling way, tries to reference the real history to explain his contrarian views regarding Russia, Ukraine and NATO, but he is confronted by a solid wall of “group think” asserting only one acceptable way to see this complex crisis. Rather than allow a serious debate on these very serious issues, the mainstream U.S. media simply laughs at Trump’s supposed ignorance.
The grave danger from this media behavior is that it will empower the neocons and liberal hawks already nesting inside Hillary Clinton’s campaign to prepare for a new series of geopolitical provocations once Clinton takes office. By opportunistically buying into this neocon pro-war narrative now, Democrats may find themselves with buyer’s remorse as they become the war party of 2017.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Westinghouse To Build Nuclear Fuel Production Unit In Ukraine, Oil PriceBy Zainab Calcuttawala – Aug 04, 2016 The American firm Westinghouse will be building a nuclear fuel production unit in Ukraine in order to help the country reduce its reliance on Russia, according to officials who announced the project on Thursday.Ukraine, which was formerly a Soviet Republic, has been trying to sever ties with Russia since the February 2014 revolution that tore the country apart. The Kremlin-backed president is now in self-imposed exile in Russia, while pro-European Union forces rule the country…….
Nasalyk visited the United States two months ago in an effort to find new sources of fuel and new forms of energy. Towards the end of his visit, he told reporters that Westinghouse would build a nuclear production factory in Ukraine in the future.
Russia has argued in the past that American fuel would be unsafe for nuclear plants built by Soviet scientists who operated under their own guidelines and standards.
“We have agreed to diversify our sources of fuel delivery to nearly half of our nuclear blocks,” Nasalyk said. “And we agreed (for Westinghouse Electric Sweden) to construct a nuclear fuel production facility on the territory of Ukraine.”
Ukraine’s relationship with Russia has been falling apart further in recent days……http://oilprice.com/Latest-Energy-News/World-News/Westinghouse-To-Build-Nuclear-Fuel-Production-Unit-In-Ukraine.html
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