Is May scared of Putin? British showing double standards over Russia, says Ken Livingstone
While no punishment has been inflicted on the Saudi government and no diplomats were expelled over the murder of the journalist in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, we have still got Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May demanding action against President Putin’s government because of recent conflict with Ukraine.
Even though it is now nine months since the attempted murder of the Skripals in Salisbury, there has still been no conclusive evidence that President Putin’s government was involved in any way. So why does Britain’s prime minister have such a double standard in how she handles events? She cannot really believe that Russia is going to go to war against the West, but there seems an absolute determination to see the removal of Putin’s government.
To understand this hysteria about Putin we need to look at the history of Russia since the disintegration of the Soviet Union back in 1991. Once Boris Yeltsin had seized power one of his first actions was to bring in a group of economists from the neo-liberal Institute of Economic Affairs which is based in London.
The result of Yeltsin adopting the neo-liberal economic agenda was effectively the looting of Russia’s economy with devastating effects on the Russian people. There was widespread support from the US government for Yeltsin’s policy with the so-called Wolfowitz Doctrine which spelt out that no nation must ever again be allowed to rise to the stature of the Soviet Union and there should now be a unipolar world under the domination of the United States.
The looting of Russia’s economy was finally stopped and the neo-liberalist economists thrown out when Vladimir Putin was elected president in 2000 and began the reversal of the destruction of Russia’s industries. Putin firmly rejected the Wolfowitz Doctrine which led to several insurgencies in Russia’s Caucasus which Moscow suspected had the backing and instigation of British intelligence.
Although President Trump seems uncertain about what his policy should be towards Russia and China, his vice-president Mike Pence has no doubts. On October 4, Pence made a speech at the Hudson Institute in which he strongly denounced China. The host was Mike Pillsbury, a consultant with the US Department of Defense, who has a long involvement in America’s policy towards China. He said that Pence’s speech represents a “significant influential minority around Trump, but not a government wide position. There is a rising influence in Trump’s administration, by those who wish to provoke conflict with both China and Russia with its members still committed to the neoconservative doctrine of America’s global predominance.”
Similar views have been expressed by Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, who has constantly urged a hard line towards China and Russia. Bolton has opposed Trump’s policy towards North Korea and has been a key player in persuading Trump to get the USA to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which had been agreed between Reagan and Gorbachev in 1987.
To build support for this hostility to Putin’s administration the Western media has been filled with lies about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Up until 2014 there was a good relationship between Putin and the directly-elected president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych. That year Yanukovych announced a delay in reaching an economic agreement with the European Union because he wished to ensure it did not damage Ukraine’s economic relations with its biggest trading partner, Russia.
Almost immediately right-wing demonstrators started protesting in Kiev’s central square. These protests quickly evolved into violent clashes with radical nationalists and paramilitary groups echoing the fascist ideology of Stepan Bandera, chanting Nazi and racist slogans and demanding the ethnic cleansing of Russians from Ukraine.
No-one will be surprised that Britain, the US and EU officials supported the coup, and there is little doubt that Western intelligence agencies had been up to their necks in encouraging these far-right groups ever since the end of WWII.
Nowhere in the Western media do we see honest reporting about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. It is never mentioned that during the WWII, as Russian troops drove the Nazis out of Ukraine, many Ukrainians fought side-by-side with the Nazis against Stalin’s troops. This long-standing conflict has recently erupted following the Kerch Strait crisis.
The Western press constantly repeats the story that Russia has seized three Ukrainian ships in the Black Sea and their crews and dismisses Russia’s claim that these ships had illegally entered Russian waters. President Putin pointed out that “it was without a doubt, a provocation. It was organised by the president ahead of the elections. The president is in fifth place ratings-wise and therefore had to do something. It was used as pretext to introduce martial law.”Also on rt.com Tense standoff around Kerch Strait between Russia & Ukraine: How it developed
The Russian newspaper Izvestia cited sources in Ukraine’s leadership saying that they have been trying to persuade the US (unsuccessfully) to open a military base in Ukraine. The report cannot be confirmed but could well be true.
I believe that Ukraine’s President Poroshenko is deliberately talking up the so-called threat from Russia because at the elections in March he seems doomed to lose. But his imposition of martial law in several parts of Ukraine could be used to rig the forthcoming election and he has warned of the risk of full-scale war, claiming to have detected a build up of Russian tanks on the border which overlooks the fact that Moscow moved army units closer to the border four years ago.
The hardliners in Trump’s administration want him to increase his support for NATO and Kiev, while Ukraine itself wishes to become a member of the organization which would mean the frontier of the military alliance coming right up to the border of Russia.
Poroshenko has also claimed that Putin is planning to annex Ukraine. On November 29, he told the German newspaper Bild “Don’t believe Putin’s lies. Putin wants the old Russian empire back. Crimea, Donbass, the whole country… He believes his empire cannot function without Ukraine. He sees us as his colony.”
Poroshenko has been pushing for the West to increase economic sanctions against Russia and urged Germany’s Angela Merkel to drop a plan to cooperate with Russia on building a new gas pipeline. Poroshenko warned this would make the EU dependent on Russian energy and reduce Ukraine’s sales to the EU via its existing pipeline.
Given the enfeebled state of Ukraine’s economy it’s hard to see how Russia could benefit by taking it over. Back in August, in my first column for RT, I spelt out the truth about the history of tensions between Russia and Ukraine. From the beginning of the Soviet Union under Lenin, Crimea had never been a part of Ukraine and over ninety percent of its population were Russians. It was only in 1954 that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev changed the boundary to include Crimea in Ukraine.Also on rt.com ‘Kiev would get away even with eating babies’: Putin says Kerch Strait standoff is a provocation
After the overthrow of Ukraine’s government in 2014 the vast majority of Crimean residents decided to opt out of Ukraine and reunite with the Russia they had been part of for centuries before Khrushchev’s arbitrary decision. The whole of the Western media was screaming that Russia had gone to war to seize Crimea and this led to the US, UK and other European states imposing sanctions against Russia without recognising the right of Crimea’s people of to determine their own future.
Given the number of US satellites that circle the planet, spying around the world, it is surprising that America hasn’t been able to reveal the truth about whether or not Ukraine’s three ships deliberately crossed the boundary into Russian waters on November 25.
As Putin pointed out “Military vessels intruded into Russian territorial waters and did not answer [the border guards]… What were they supposed to do?” he said at a business forum in Moscow. “They would do the same in your country, this is absolutely obvious,” he told a foreign investor. “These territorial waters were always ours even before Crimea joined Russia.”
As I wrote in my first article for RT, my generation was lied to all our lives about the so-called threat from the Soviet Union, so don’t be surprised if I don’t always believe what our prime ministers tell us.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.