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And to Russia I asked the Question…

U.S. sanctions Ukrainians accused of spreading Russian disinformation Biden administration targets Ukrainian nationals, including two lawmakers, it accuses of working to destabilise country.

Washington/Kiev/Berlin (21/1 – 14.29). The United States has imposed sanctions on four Ukrainian nationals, including two lawmakers, accusing them of working on behalf of Russian intelligence services to “destabilize” Ukraine in advance of a possible Russian invasion of the country.

Summarizing the events in the past weeks here an overview of the increase in tensions that expert warn are the signs of war on the fringes of Europe:

  • Russian army completes the movement of material and supplies prior to Christmas.
  • Russia committs approximately 60 Battle Combat brigades to the Ukrainian, Russian border
  • Russia continues to conduct train and overland train movements to build up force reserves
  • Russian troops are relocating to Belarus
  • Russian non-essential diplomatic personnel and families are leaving Kyiev
  • Bilateral and EU, NATO Russian talks are not successful
  • President Biden annouces Russian could attack Ukraine any moment.

Although publically the United States announced it will not deploy combat troops to Ukraine military lethal aid was approved and is arriving in theatre. The Al-Jazeera report from the front lines summs it up. “Russia, I want to ask a question. Why do you need this?”

Like so many young men and woman before him the bizarre futility of war is settling in. Russia is bend to go to war, the hawks in the Kremelin flex the muscle to ensure NATO and the west, its culture, its wokeness, culture wars and extremist liberal culture is contained. How many are yet to loose their lives over some bizarre yester-year ideology is unclear. But as U.S. General Grant once said, “war is hell”, it seems the lesson of war are lost on the leaders of today.

In defense of Putin, the claims of Russia were ignored since 1991 the year the communist fantasy collapsed. Today 30 years later, the west has still not gotten the memo of the Russian side leaving the Kremelin little choice to do what Moscow knows best: active measures, propaganda and disinformation.

Increasingly the critical voices within the EU space highlights the rift between the top tier “management” of the EU leadership. According to the Presse, on of the leading papers in the EU argues that Van der Leyen is playing a sideshow much to the delight of the Kremelin.

The incredible irrelevance of the EU in world politics is relentlessly apparent these days. While the diplomatic channels between Washington and Moscow are running hot, Europe is being reduced to a mere spectator in the negotiations over the escalating conflict in Ukraine. Russia’s leaders do not see European actors as serious dialogue partners – and this is largely their own fault.

Ukrainians working at the direction of Moscow. Whats new?

Washington announced the measures on Thursday, promising to coordinate with Kyiv to “identify, expose and impose costs” on Ukrainians working at the direction of Moscow.

The US sanctions targeted Taras Kozak and Oleg Voloshyn, two current members of the Ukrainian parliament, as well as Vladimir Sivkovich and Volodymyr Oliynyk, two former officials.

“This action is intended to target, highlight, and undercut Russia’s ongoing destabilization effort in Ukraine,” the Department of State said in a statement.

“It is separate and distinct from the broad range of high impact measures the United States and its allies and partners are prepared to impose in order to inflict significant costs on the Russian economy and financial system if it were to further invade Ukraine.”

The Biden administration refers to a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine as a “further invasion” because Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and shortly thereafter supported a separatist rebellion in the country’s east.

The Russian military has been amassing troops near the country’s border with Ukraine, sparking US and European fears that Russia may be preparing for an imminent invasion of its neighbour.

Washington has warned Moscow of “massive consequences” if it goes through with an incursion.

Russia has denied that it is planning to invade Ukraine, but it has vehemently opposed the country’s efforts to join NATO. Moscow is seeking security guarantees that the US-led military alliance will halt its eastward expansion into former Soviet republics – a demand Washington has rejected as a “non-starter”.

Talks between US and Russian officials and separate negotiations between Russia and NATO earlier this month failed to resolve the impasse. US officials have said they are continuing to seek diplomacy with Russia to end the crisis.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday. Blinken warned on Thursday that any “new acts of aggression” from Russia towards Ukraine would meet a “swift, severe, united response” from the US and its partners.

Meanwhile, in its own statement on Thursday’s sanctions, the US Treasury accused Kozak – one of the two current members of Ukraine’s parliament – of spreading disinformation through several news channels that he controls in Ukraine.

It said Voloshyn “worked with Russian actors to undermine Ukrainian government officials and advocate on behalf of Russia” and accused Oliynyk of gathering information on critical infrastructure in Ukraine on behalf of Russia.

For his part, Sivkovich “worked with a network of Russian intelligence actors to carry out influence operations”, including efforts to get Kyiv to officially cede Crimea to Moscow, the US Treasury alleged.

The sanctions freeze the targeted individuals’ assets in the US and make it a potential crime for American citizens to do business with them.

Source :
AJ, Yasmin Singh