Atlantic Council Takes the Lead in Bashing Putin
The Atlantic Council, now housed in their large quarters on 15th Street, has become the venue for beating the drums against Russia.
Two days ago they hosted outgoing NATO chief Per Rasmussen, and today it was Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, who has been something of an architect of the Eastern Partnership policy of bringing the Eastern European countries into the free-trade orbit of the London financial center. In his comments, Rasmussen called for strengthening the Transatlantic Alliance on all fronts and made a special plea for the TITP free- trade treaty between Europe and the U.S.; unusual for a NATO official to harp on economic policy.
While Rasmussen admitted that there would be no NATO expansion at the upcoming NATO summit in Wales this year, he said that the door was open to all. He decried the alleged Russian “hybrid” warfare of interference against Ukraine and against Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. He also indicated that NATO was utilizing their Partnership agreement with Ukraine to :modernize” the Ukrainian military. He also indicated that intensified discussions would be conducted with Montenegro, groomed to be the country closest to meeting the requirements of NATO membership.
Bildt was a bit more circumspect, but nonetheless adamant, that the West should never accept the annexation of Crimea. He was not as eager as some of the Atlantic Council crowd to increase sanctions on Russia, also, perhaps, reflecting some of the European reticence of endangering their own anemic economies in the process.
“It’s more important,” Bildt said, “to help Ukraine than to crush Russia. If we increase the sanctions on Russia without aiding Ukraine, Ukraine may suffer more than Russia.” Bildt’s strategy was a bit more devious. The concern expressed both by Belarus and Kazakhstan should rather be utilized to try to bring them closer to the West, which would help undermine the envisioned Eurasian Economic Union of President Putin. “We should work on Minsk and Astana in order to draw them closer to us,” he said. He also made reference to the recent Moscow conference which targeted the “color revolutions” as a strategic threat. Bildt said: “If we succeed in rebuilding Ukraine as a viable nation…this would have the greatest effect in changing Russia.”
Bildt, like Rasmussen, also underlined the importance of the Transatlantic Alliance in conducting the same policy. It was also important, Bildt noted, in keeping the European nations singing from the same song-sheet. “If the European Union fractures,” he warned, “we would lose.”
Freedom House: Putin Is the “Enabler of Repression.” Calls for New Cold War
Arch Puddington and David J. Kramer, the VP and president, respectively, of Freedom House, the U.S. center for the deployment of neo-nazi movements in Ukraine and elsewhere, report today in The American Interest that they have released a study called Nations in Transit, proving that Putin is the root of all evil. They claim that the former Soviet states are once again living under “authoritarian rule,” without press freedoms, with a decline in democratic standards and judicial independence – and all because of Putin, who is the “model and enabler for the region’s fellow autocracies.”
The worst crime of Putin, they claim, was his law to declare foreign funded NGOs as foreign agents, and the “reprehensible 2013 law that prohibits LGBT ‘propaganda.'”
Praising “the gradual expansion of NATO and the European Union,” they conclude with a war cry: “The United States was inspired to wage the Cold War for more than four decades by the proposition that freedom belongs to all people. The outcome of that struggle remains incomplete as long as Eurasia overwhelmingly remains a vast expanse of injustice, corruption, and repression, and as long as the Russian leadership claims the right to deny freedom not just to its own people but to its neighbors as well.”