EYELESS IN KYIV OR AMBASSADOR JACK MATLOCK AT THE PRINCETON CLUB
"I think he has quite mistakenly staked the relationship between Russia and Ukraine on a particular group: the industrialists and their colleagues in eastern Ukraine. There is a strong feeling in Moscow that those coming from western Ukraine are anti-Russian nationalists and it is not in Russia’s interest that they get full control of the Ukrainian government. I think also that, psychologically, relations with Ukraine are extremely important to Russians, because the relationship has historically been so close; there is so much intermarriage. It is evident that Putin can interfere without being condemned by the Russian public and [avoid] paying a political price at home....That’s why I think his strong interference- in backing Prime Minister Yanukovich- results from a misapprehension. Yushchenko and the nationalists from western Ukraine know that they have to live comfortably with Russia. I don’t think they are going to enact any stringent anti-Russian rules if Yushchenko is elected."Former Ambassador Jack Matlock quoted in: "Matlock: Putin 'Made a Big Mistake' Interfering in Ukraine Politics." The Council on Foreign Relations. 6 December 2014 in www.cfr.org
"I would like to say that it never pays, in my opinion, for one great power to take advantage of the momentary weakness or distraction of another great power in order to force upon it concessions it would never have accepted in normal circumstances. In the short term this may seem to have advantages. Over the long run it almost always revenges itself. The Russians are justly proud of their great war effort; and they will expect to see due recognition given to it in the dispositions that are under discussions today."George F. Kennan to John Lukacs, 12 May 1990, in Through the History of the Cold War: the correspondence of George F. Kennan and John Lukacs. Edited by John Lukacs. (2010), p. 189. On the 9th of April, former American Ambassador and career diplomat Jack Matlock spoke to a select group of people at the Princeton Club in Manhattan's mid-town. The following are some of the remarks of Ambassador Matlock as it relates to the current situation in Ukraine and Russian, European Union and American policies relating to the same and each other: That the Ukrainians suffered from a 'lack of historic sense [in] blaming everything on Vladimir Putin' and that 'everyone starting with the Ukrainians bears some fault' in what has occurred in the past few months in Ukraine. That 'Russia potentially [was] the big loser' in the eventual outcome. But the Ukrainians also. That Ukraine 'was granted independence' by Moskva. The Ambassador attacked the sudden American interest in the territorial integrity of Ukraine. That less than twenty-percent of Americans could identify Ukraine on a map. That the concept of 'foreign military bases' in Ukraine are an 'emotional' issue for Russia. Ambassador Matlock blamed the expansion of NATO post-1991, on the current Russian views and policies of the Ukrainian crisis. He approvingly cited his predecessor as American Ambassador in Moskva, George F. Kennan in opposition to NATO's expansion into Central and Eastern Europe in the beginning of the present century over Moskva's protests. Ambassador Matlock also made mention that American-NATO policies in the Bosnian war and the Kosovo war with Serbia were at variance with current American and EU policies. That present-day Ukraine was an 'economic disaster' and that most of the people in Crimea 'probably preferred Russian rule'. And that present-day Ukraine is disabled as a polity by the divisions between its Eastern and Western sections of the country. That the Western, pro-EU, Ukrainians are inheritors of the anti-communist, 'pro-Nazi' resistance. What is one to make of Ambassador Matlock's comments? From merely perusing his curriculum vitae, one immediately is aware of the fact that Jack Matlock is, notwithstanding his, provincial southern accent, a highly educated and cultured gentleman. With a deep historical awareness, as well as over forty-years active experience in the conduct of diplomacy and relations with the Soviet Union and or Russia. Unfortunately, the Ambassador's comments betray his deep learning and wide experience. One does not have to be a partisan of the 'Ukrainian cause', to rub one's eyes at some of his comments. Some of them (as per the Western Ukrainian leadership), are little more than present-day Russian propaganda, et rein plus. Something which is considerably at variance with his own comments little over nine years ago on the same subject 1. Similarly, while he cites the Western powers for hypocrisy in contrasting Western policy towards Kosovo with their current policies on Ukraine, one can similarly state that Russian policy is equally if not more hypocritical. After all, au fond, there was a humanitarian crisis in Kosovo and Western policy, however muddled did indeed put an end to Serbian atrocities therein. Whereas in the case of present-day Crimea, no one, I repeat no one, except for Kremlin stooges and propagandists, believes that there was active persecution of Russian-speakers or passport holders in Crimea before Russia intervened to annex that area. Without gainsaying the fact NATO's expansion into Central & Eastern Europe was a policy which was by its very nature going to cause, and did cause Moskva some anguish, that per se does not obviate the real source of Russian policy in both Crimea and Ukraine: Putinism. Meaning specifically, that it is the fear, a fear which was evident both in anno domini 2004 as well as in 2014 in Russia, that political upheaval in a democratic direction in Ukraine would have negative after shocks in Russia itself which are the real sources of Russian policy. Not, pace Ambassador Matlock, a wounded Russian amour proper. Unfortunately, in the current crisis in Ukraine, Ambassador Matlock is indeed truly 'eyeless in Kyiv'. 1. See: "Matlock: Putin 'Made a Big Mistake'", op. cit.