BY TYLER DURDEN, January 29, 2022
At a moment Ukraine’s top defense leadership, as well as President Volodymyr Zelensky himself, is urging the Biden administration to calm its dangerous and hyped rhetoric regarding a possibly “imminent” Russian invasion of Ukraine (Kiev has said all week that all indicators suggest this just isn’t so), it seems the Zelensky government will at least use the occasion to get what it wants from Washington. Or, put another way, perhaps the quid pro quo now emerges after the Ukrainians long kept mum on the Biden family and Burisma scandal.
We could add that Kiev is now so openly pushing back against White House assessments as to the actual level of the ‘Russia threat’ on Ukraine’s borders, that it’s proving quite awkward and embarrassing for team Biden. As Northeastern University political science professor Max Abrahms put it this week (while generally addressing mainstream media and pundits), “You guys aren’t making a big enough deal of this weird dynamic that American leaders are more worried than Ukrainian leaders of Russia invading Ukraine. This needs to be explained.”
Now Axios is reporting in an exclusive: “The chairman of Ukraine’s parliament has sent a letter to eight U.S. senators outlining four specific requests for security assistance and sanctions that Kyiv believes will help deter a Russian invasion.”
Again, it appears the logic for Ukraine’s government is that it might as well make use of the tense situation, understanding full well the “threat” is hugely inflated, to get what it wants out of the US hawks. After all, the opportunity for US billions to pour in has never been hotter.
Thus far Biden has only prepared far-reaching anti-Russia sanctions only in the scenario of a Putin-ordered offensive into Ukraine. As Axios observes…
- Like the Ukrainian government, Republicans are pushing for the bill to impose some sanctions now, before Russia invades.
- But Ukraine’s intervention in yet another U.S. legislative fight is unlikely to please a Biden administration already frustrated with President Volodymyr Zelensky.
The awkward but advantageous quid pro quo is fast becoming apparent to many…
CNN’s White House correspondent Natasha Bertrand cited a top admin official who complained that Zelensky is contradicting Biden’s assessment of the Russia threat, “But at the same time” is busy “asking for hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons to defend against one.”
Here are the four specific requests in the new letter sent by Ukraine to the US administration, said to be approved by Zelensky’s himself, according to Axios sources:
- “Expedited and higher-impact security assistance, including air defense, anti-ship and anti-armor capabilities, and flexible loans and financing mechanisms.”
- “Immediate, mandatory sanctions” against the operator of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which the letter calls “no less an existential threat to Ukraine’s security and democracy than the Russian troops on our border.”
- “A clear trigger” for sanctions based on Russia’s actions, with a lower threshold than what has been outlined in the current Democratic-sponsored legislation under consideration.
- “Mandatory pre-trigger and post-trigger sanctions against all of Russia’s most significant financial institutions.”
The eight senators who were directly appealed to (all Russia hawks, it should be noted), are as follows: Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.)
Sen. Menendez, it should be noted, is pushing his “mother of all sanctions” bill as a threat to hold over Putin’s head.
Ukraine’s letter can be read here.