There has continued to be fallout and embarrassment in the wake of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s angry tweet haranguing NATO allies during the Vilnius summit of last week. As we detailed, he threw a tantrum over NATO leaders’ ‘weak’ and ‘absurd’ reluctance to issue Kiev guarantees on NATO membership. He had complained that his country deserves more “respect” and that…
It’s unprecedented and absurd when time frame is not set neither for the invitation nor for Ukraine’s membership. While at the same time vague wording about “conditions” is added even for inviting Ukraine.
The Washington Post had in follow-up noted that this nearly backfired, given it was also a calculated effort to pressure NATO decision-makers to firmly declare a path to membership. Zelensky elsewhere lashed out at the UK while speaking to reporters at the summit.
Commenting on the negative impact the tweet had on policymakers gathered at the July 11-12 summit, the WaPo report suggested it nearly made NATO officials water down language on Ukraine’s eventual accession even further…
Three other senior policymakers, however, two of whom were direct participants in the talks, said their strong perception was that the United States was getting ready to water down the document’s language — to make it less welcoming to a speedy Ukrainian accession to the alliance.
“Some wanted to withdraw the reference to ‘invitation,’” or find another place to put that word, said one of the senior policymakers, a NATO diplomat who took part in the talks.
But the whole episode not only created friction among the Western allies, it unleashed rare criticism aimed at Zelensky from within his own government.
Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Vadym Prystaiko, had taken aim at some of Zelensky’s comments at Vilnius, in particular the following prior press remarks:
As of Friday, Prystaiko has been fired from his post for daring to criticize the president, per AFP:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday dismissed the country’s ambassador to the United Kingdom, Vadym Prystaiko, after he criticized the president’s response to a row over British military aid.
Prystaiko had criticized Zelenskyy’s sarcastic response to suggestions from British defense minister Ben Wallace that Ukraine should show more gratitude for arms supplies from its allies.
Zelensky’s newly published decree dismissing Prystaiko didn’t specify a reason for the removal, but it’s fairly obvious.
The UK’s Wallace had last week in the context of the summit and in response to Zelensky’s fiery tweet said the Ukrainian leader should show more “gratitude” for the abundance of arms and funds already received from Britain and the West.
Zelensky then responded at the summit during a press conference by saying he didn’t know how else to make clear Ukraine’s gratitude, and sarcastically quipped: “We could wake up in the morning and express our words of gratitude to the minister personally.”
As for Ukrainian ambassador to the UK Prystaiko, he was interviewed by Sky News over the fallout, wherein he appeared to agree with the interviewer that Zelensky’s remarks had contained “a little bit of sarcasm” directed at Wallace.
That’s when Prystaiko openly voiced his concerns, saying “I don’t believe that this sarcasm is healthy. We don’t have to show the Russians that we have something between us, they have to know that we are working together.” He asserted he was seeking to smooth over relations with London in the wake of Zelensky’s words. “If anything happens, Ben can call me and tell me everything he wants,” the diplomat said told Sky News.
Prystaiko is a very prominent career diplomat within Ukraine’s foreign service, having also been the country’s foreign minister from 2019 to 2020. He had been in his post as ambassador to the UK for three years before being sacked on Friday.
Prystaiko’s words seemed a relatively slight bit of censure directed at Zelensky, but which clearly angered the Ukrainian leader. The diplomat had, after all, expressed that his purpose was to improve strained relations with Kiev’s close ally Britain.This post was originally published at Zero Hedge
Senator Shocked By Classified Briefing On Ukraine: Warhawks Want Blank Check With No Victory In Sight
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), known for his efforts to force the Biden Administration to declassify information related to covid’s possible lab origins at Wuhan, exited a classified briefing this week on the situation in Ukraine and expressed a feeling of shock.
“If there is some path to victory in Ukraine, I didn’t hear it today. I also heard that there’s going to be no end to the funding requests…”
Hawley went on to indicate that Americans will be asked to spend hundreds of billions more dollars in the region with an indefinite blank check in place to protect “US standing” on the world stage. Zelensky asked Biden and Congress for another $24 billion during his latest visit, stating that if Ukraine doesn’t get the aid, they will lose the war. The information at hand suggests that Ukraine is going to lose the war anyway.
Hawley also revealed that the public is being lied to about the war footing in the region and that Ukraine is definitely ‘not winning.’ This information confirms what many Americans already suspected, with 55% of the public now in opposition to more aid according to recent polls.
The corporate media blitzkrieg bombarding the populace with tales of imminent Ukrainian victory against Russian forces has lost its momentum and reality is starting to set in. Though, this did not stop journalists from trying to insert their list of debunked talking points into the interview as they seemed to debate Hawley more than ask him questions.
These debate points have long been a part of the media’s narrative but none of them have held water so far. Assertions of an inevitable “domino effect” leading to a Russian invasion of Europe should Ukraine fall are reminiscent of the same false claims made during the Vietnam War. There is no evidence to indicate Russia has plans to attack Poland or any other NATO member, with Putin obviously aware of the danger of nuclear conflict. As Hawley points out, the warhawks can’t have it both ways – They can’t claim that arming Ukraine has led to the degradation of Russian forces “on the cheap”, and at the same time claim that Russia is strong enough to then overrun Europe should Ukraine lose.
Another disturbing takeaway from this argument is the notion that Ukrainian citizens need to be used as cost effective human shields to prevent a wider war between Russia and NATO. It is the same claim that Zelensky has been making for the past year in order to frighten the western populace into throwing billions more dollars into Ukrainian coffers – “$100 billion and hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian lives will buy you the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Russians. A proxy war is lot cheaper than engaging in a direct war with them…”
But why entertain a war with Russia at all? A false choice has been presented – Either Americans support a proxy war against Russia, or be forced to fight a direct war.
So far, there has been no quantifiable benefits for the western public. It is clear, however, that there are elements of the establishment that desire an ongoing conflict with Russia. The anti-Russian rhetoric began in 2016 well before the war in Ukraine. Propaganda surrounding Donald Trump and “Russiagate” has been thoroughly debunked. Most of the “evidence” presented to prove that the 2016 election was manipulated by Russia was in fact fabricated by groups under the watch of Democrat operatives and some Neo-cons. Of course, the aftermath of the propaganda convinced a large portion of the public (most of them on the political left) that Russia was a predator lurking at their door waiting to strike.
Hawley also notes that while public attentions have been directed at Russia, China is a much more viable threat and any effort to prevent them from invading Taiwan would at this stage be futile. The truth is, neither war is a winnable prospect for the US or NATO given the economic instability at play; a conflagration between East and West would be disastrous for both sides, but western populations have the furthest to fall. Clearly there are people within our government that see this as a good thing as they continue to press geopolitical tensions closer and closer to WWIII.This post was originally published at Zero Hedge
Video: Rand Paul Slams “Corrupt” Zelensky “Begging For More Money”
Ukraine “isn’t a democracy. It’s a corrupt regime.”
Senator Rand Paul doubled down on his staunch opposition to further funding for the war in Ukraine Thursday, blasting the visiting President Zelensky as a leader of a corrupt regime “begging for more money.”
“It’s not even just going to armaments. You realize we’re funding the pension of their government workers and we complain about bloated government here. They’ve got bloated government and they’ve got corruption. And the American taxpayer, people are struggling in our country, are asked to fund it. I think it’s wrong. And I think most of the American people, frankly, are with me,” Paul said during a Fox Business interview.
Paul also noted that Zelensky has cancelled Democracy in the country.
“They’ve cancelled the elections. What kind of democracy has no election?” he noted, adding “next year, Zelensky said he’s not going to have an election because it would be inconvenient during the war and would be expensive.”
He continued, “if you don’t have elections, who in the world will be supporting a country that’s not a democracy? They’ve banned the political parties, they’ve invaded churches, they’ve arrested priests. So, no, it isn’t a democracy. It’s a corrupt regime.”
“The Russians are worse,” Paul noted, adding “But at the same time, we don’t always have to pick some side to be on. But the ultimate reason I’m against this is we don’t have the money. And when we borrow more money, it leads to more inflation, leads to more likelihood of recession in our country. And so we just can’t keep doing it.”
“We are about $1.5 trillion dollars in debt for this year. Over the last three months we’ve accumulated almost a trillion dollars in three months. The total is $33 trillion, so we don’t have like an extra rainy day fund or a surplus we can send them,” Paul further urged.
The Senator added, “We have to borrow the money from China to send to Ukraine, so no matter what your sympathies are in the war, and I am sympathetic to Ukraine fighting off the Russian aggressors, but at the same time I think it’s irresponsible to think about their country before I think about my country.”
Earlier this week in the Senate, Paul said that he will hold up any spending bill to fund the government beyond September 30 to avert a shutdown if it includes aid to Ukraine, asking “When will the aid requests end? When will the war end? Can someone explain what victory looks like?”
Several Biden officials provided answers to Paul’s questions Thursday, basically saying the funding will go on “as long as it takes.”
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NATO Fractures: In U-Turn, Poland Announces It Will No Longer Arm Ukraine
The dam is breaking on unified Western support for Ukraine.
The dam is breaking on unified Western support for Ukraine, and the timing couldn’t be worse for Zelensky, given tomorrow he’s expected to meet with President Biden at the White House. On Wednesday evening there is monumental news out of Poland which could potentially change the entire course of the war.
“Poland will no longer arm Ukraine to focus on its own defense,” Polish prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced just hours after Warsaw summoned Ukraine’s ambassador related to a fresh war of words and spat over blocked grain, according to the AFP. Warsaw has throughout more than a year-and-a-half of the Ukraine-Russia war been Kiev’s staunchest and most outspoken supporter.
Will this massive and hugely significant about-face mark the beginning of the end? Are peace negotiations and ceding of territory in the Donbas inevitable at this point?
Within the last 48 hours relations between Poland and Ukraine quickly spiraled to their lowest point since the Russian invasion, and it is directly related to Warsaw leading a handful of EU countries to extend a grain export ban on Ukraine, amid continuing anger and outrage from Polish farmers who are suffering due to their country being flooded with cheap Ukrainian wheat.
Crucially, Poland will hold parliamentary elections on Oct.15. The prior atmosphere of enthusiastic pro-Kiev rhetoric has drastically changed, now with comparisons likening Ukraine to a “drowning man”. As The Associated Press explains:
Polish leaders have compared Ukraine to a drowning person hurting his helper and threatened to expand a ban on food products from the war-torn country. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy suggested that EU allies that are prohibiting imports of his nation’s grain are helping Russia.
Now, Polish officials, who are trying to win parliamentary elections next month with help from farmers’ votes, are expressing dismay over some of Ukraine’s latest moves, including a World Trade Organization complaint over bans on Ukrainian grain from Poland and two other EU countries.
Poland’s elections are Oct. 15… https://t.co/DRwG37xGut— Mark MacKinnon (@markmackinnon) September 20, 2023
In surprisingly blunt and terse words given to reporters on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, Polish President Andrzej Duda said on Tuesday: “Ukraine is behaving like a drowning person clinging to anything available.”
He then said, “A drowning person is extremely dangerous, capable of pulling you down to the depths … simply drown the rescuer.” Given Ukraine’s battlefield losses and as it’s currently bogged down in a failing counteroffensive, the words no doubt stung. But as The Hill notes further of the domestic political context in Poland:
Public sentiment around the issue, however, has started to deteriorate, putting the ruling party in a difficult position ahead of a close October election. The far-right Confederation party is hoping to capitalize on the waning support in the country.
Reuters reported that a recent poll showed support for Ukrainian refugees fell from 91 percent when the war started to just 69 percent recently. The same survey showed a quarter of Poles are against supporting refugees, compared to 4 percent in early 2022.
In response to the grain ban, Zelensky during his UN speech had condemned the “alarming” behavior of allies regarding the import ban, but without naming Poland specifically. Further, Kiev has announced plans to sue Warsaw in the World Trade Organization while also holding out the possibility of its own embargo on Polish foodstuffs, including onions, tomatoes, cabbage, and apples. Again, all of this amounts to a full-blown diplomatic crisis for Zelensky which couldn’t come at a worse time, as he’s in D.C.
To review, these are some of the major developments and setbacks in only the last few days:
- Zelensky fired at least 6 top-ranking defense officials over corruption, after recently firing longtime Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov amid a graft probe.
- American transgender spokesperson for Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces Sarah Ashton-Cirillo was suspended indefinitely by the Ukrainian military in an embarrassing debacle.
- The New York Times ran an article which said a missile fired by Ukraine –not Russia – struck a busy civilian market …marking an unexpected establishment media about-face.
- Biden has yet to pledge any new weapons for Ukraine as Zelensky is in the US, and there are reports that ATACMS long-range missiles will not be approved.
And most importantly, there’s this per Politico…
New: Senators are bracing to give Zelenskyy some tough news tomorrow— Ursula Perano (@UrsulaPerano) September 20, 2023
That in the face of GOP opposition to aid — and a guv shutdown — they might be sending him home empty handed
W/ @burgessev https://t.co/tBolo3TcMX
According to the fresh Wednesday report:
Delivering any new aid to help defend against Russia, even later this year, is looking tougher than ever.
The obstacles are piling up: House Republicans are skeptical of any new money at all. What’s more, their dysfunction threatens to push the government into a shutdown — a move that certainly gets Zelenskyy no closer to getting the billions requested by the Biden administration. Senate Republicans, meanwhile, are divided over whether to continue providing humanitarian aid, arguing the rest of Europe needs to step up.
As if fully aware that the tap at the expense of the US taxpayer may run dry, Zelensky has been meeting in New York with a who’s who of leading banks, hedge funds, and private investors. Fox Business, which broke the story, says the ongoing meetings are part of broader efforts to secure investment for rebuilding Ukraine and fixing destroyed infrastructure:
The meeting was put together by JPMorgan, the big bank serving as Zelenskyy’s financial adviser to attract private capital for a new investment fund to rebuild Ukraine’s infrastructure destroyed in its war with Russia, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Earlier in the afternoon, Zelenskyy met privately with BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, the sources say. BlackRock is the world’s largest asset manager and has also been advising Zelenskyy on how to attract U.S. private sector money for the rebuilding effort.
The list of invitees, according to sources, includes William Ackman, the head of hedge fund Pershing Square Capital; Ken Griffin of the Citadel investment empire; Jonathan Gray, president and chief operating officer of private equity powerhouse Blackstone; Philipp Hildebrand, a vice chairman at BlackRock; Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and founder of Bloomberg LP; and Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google and now head of the Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic organization.
Ken Griffin and Bill Ackman meeting with Zelensky to ensure they get first dibs on the juiciest deals in the rebuilding of #Ukraine post war.— CEO Technician (@CEOTechnician) September 20, 2023
Tomorrow’s White House visit, and Zelensky’s planned meeting with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy will surely be interesting.
Meanwhile, for a foretaste and indicator of how much the tide is turning – and the very different, subdued optics – especially compared to Zelensky’s last trip to Washington (in Dec. 2022) when he was received with rockstar status, there’s this…
Speaker Kevin McCarthy, facing a right-wing rebellion in his ranks and mounting GOP resistance to aiding Ukraine, has declined to convene a forum for President Volodymyr Zelensky to address members of the House on Thursday during a visit to Capitol Hill. https://t.co/mDEH1yGpJS— The New York Times (@nytimes) September 20, 2023
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