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Posts Tagged ‘Ukraine’

Monday I posted this: #WatchThis Space: Arctic Activity.  Well you really have to watch! Things are moving fast, and there are a lot of moving parts. This, from Michael Grunwald in Politico.

Rex Tillerson Tried to Get This Rule Killed. Now Congress Is About To Do It For Him

Should oil companies disclose payments to foreign governments? The GOP, and former Exxon CEO, think not.

February 01, 2017

… back in 2010, ExxonMobil’s then-CEO, Rex Tillerson, was deeply worried about Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms, a bipartisan amendment that required drilling and mining companies to disclose any payments they make to foreign governments. So Tillerson and one of his lobbyists paid a half-hour visit to the amendment’s Republican co-author, then-Senator Richard Lugar, to try to get it killed.

Tillerson argued that forcing U.S. oil firms to reveal corporate secrets—such as paying foreign governments—would put them at a competitive disadvantage. He also explained that the provision would make it especially difficult for Exxon to do business in Russia, where, as he did not need to explain, the government takes a rather active interest in the oil industry.

SNIP

Today, seven years later, Republicans confirmed Tillerson as President Trump’s Secretary of State, despite allegations that he’s too cozy with Russia. At the same time, the GOP is preparing to try to kill the disclosure rule created under Section 1504, despite warnings from international aid groups that the move would provide a wink-and-nod blessing to hidden corporate payments to petro-thugs. The House is expected to act this afternoon, and since the move relies on a special mechanism for reversing rules enacted late in a presidential term, Senate Republicans will need a mere majority rather than a filibuster-proof 60 votes to follow suit.

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As you probably could have guessed …

U.S. House Passes Resolution to Kill Extractive Anti-Graft Rule

Four years to the day since Hillary Clinton exited the State Department, Tillerson will occupy Foggy Bottom, and Congressional Republicans have blown smoke and fog over corporate payments to foreign governments. This in conjunction with the Arctic activity slips past much of the MSM while they occupy themselves with Trump thinking Frederick Douglass is still alive.

Just a reminder: The Benghazi-cum-server-cum emails Oversight Committee railed and wailed a lot in the course of their hearings about Hillary’s State Department initiatives promoting American businesses overseas.  That is part of the Secretary of State’s job, and all of those initiatives were transparent.

John Kerry’s successor enters with a cloak of invisibility ready made.

02-01-13-Z-08

Keep watching this space!  The war in Urkraine is escalating.  Remember that plank in the Republican platform that Trump had removed?

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We knew this was coming, of course.

Statement from Robby Mook on Trump Campaign Chair Pro-Kremlin Ties

After more reports of Donald Trump’s campaign chair’s ties to pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine, Hillary for America Campaign Manager Robby Mook released the following statement:

“On the eve of what the Trump campaign has billed as a major foreign policy speech, we have learned of more troubling connections between Donald Trump’s team and pro-Kremlin elements in Ukraine.  Given the pro-Putin policy stances adopted by Donald Trump and the recent Russian government hacking and disclosure of Democratic Party records, Donald Trump has a responsibility to disclose campaign chair Paul Manafort’s and all other campaign employees’ and advisers’ ties to Russian or pro-Kremlin entities, including whether any of Trump’s employees or advisers are currently representing and or being paid by them.”

statement-fact-sheet-2

STAND

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Michael Flynn, who spoke at the RNC last week, appeared with  Bill Maher and brushed off the “Lock her up” chants at the convention as just sloganeering.  Really? Here are some dots.

Once-intimate colleagues say they have not seen Manafort, 64, in years and hear from him only in occasional email missives. His most recent firm, Davis Manafort, functionally broke up shortly after the 2008 presidential election.

As that campaign was unfolding in the United States, the notorious political fixer emerged overseas, playing a familiar role in an unfamiliar place: advising Yanukovych, the pro-Russian strongman whose ouster last month has triggered an international crisis reminiscent of a Cold War spy novel.

Prosecution of Ukrainian Opposition Leaders

June 24, 2011 by still4hill

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) shakes hands with former Ukrainian prime minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko as they meet in Kiev, July 2, 2010. Clinton told Ukraine on Friday that the door to entering NATO remained open and she backed the ex-Soviet republic’s efforts to secure a new deal with the International Monetary Fund. REUTERS/Alexander Prokopenko/Pool (UKRAINE – Tags: POLITICS)

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 24, 2011

The United States is aware of the opening of the trial against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and reiterates its concern about the appearance of politically-motivated prosecutions of opposition figures in Ukraine. When the senior leadership of an opposition party is the focus of prosecutions, out of proportion with other political figures, this creates the appearance of a political motive. We urge the Government of Ukraine to refrain from actions that create such an appearance and undermine the rule of law in Ukraine. We will closely monitor the legal proceedings against Yulia Tymoshenko and other opposition figures.

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Hillary Clinton on the Treatment of Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

May 1, 2012 by still4hill
Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 1, 2012

 


The United States is deeply concerned by the treatment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and other imprisoned members of her former government. The photographs of Mrs. Tymoshenko released by the Ukrainian Human Rights Ombudsman further call into question the conditions of her confinement. We urge the Ukrainian authorities to ensure that Mrs. Tymoshenko receives immediate medical assistance in an appropriate facility and request that the U.S. Ambassador be given access to her. We continue to call for her release, the release of other members of her former government and the restoration of their full civil and political rights.

Read more >>>>

Yulia Tymoshenko walks out of prison, and back into Ukrainian politics

The guy managing Trump’s campaign whose delegates shouted “lock her up” also managed the campaign of the guy who in fact locked up his opponent after his election.  She was not released until he was ousted and fled.  But you had connected those dots already.  Is this just a slogan?

Let’s make sure Trump is never in a position to put any political opponents behind bars.

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Speaking of Vladimir Putin Hillary says “hard men represent hard choices” and goes on to provide her analysis of him and how who he is informs his particular choices.  She says he views geopolitics as a zero-sum game where if someone is winning someone else has to be losing.

Her recommended strategy for managing a relationship with the Russians: work with them on specific issues; rally other nations to work with us against negative behavior as needed.

She betrays a clear preference for the vision Yeltsin had for Russia and mentions this moment when he turned back the forces of an old soviet-era coup.

We know Yeltsin kept a photo of her in his office.  There was mutual admiration, clearly.  For the heck of it I also share these.   They always make me smile.

We will never see anything like that from Putin.

Calling Russia the fourth most dangerous place in the world to be a journalist, she refers to this meeting with civil leaders where she spoke of press freedom and human rights.

Hillary Clinton at a Reception for Civil Society Leaders in Moscow

 Hillary Rodham Clinton
She also gave this daring radio interview on this trip and spoke of human rights.

Hillary Clinton’s Interview with Moskvy Radio

It was during the 2008 primaries here in the U.S. that term limits forced Putin to relinquish the presidency to Dmitri Medvedev whom Hillary found surprisingly conciliatory.

The approach, therefore, that was THE reset, was three-pronged:

  1. cooperation on aligned interests,
  2. firmness where interests diverged,
  3. engagement with the people.

She attributes the use of the term reset to Joe Biden who used it first.  As she looks back at her first official meeting with Lavrov,  we get a glimpse of the value she places on the use of humor in diplomacy.  Even funnier, in the book she relates how Philippe Reines tried to get the button back to correct the label, prevailed upon the Russian ambassador to Switzerland who said he would have to ask the minister, and Philippe said that his minister was going to send him to Siberia if he didn’t get it back.  Hillary said she was tempted.

Hillary Clinton’s Reset Meeting with Russian FM Lavrov

The next month the two new presidents would meet. It was a watershed moment – a very productive meeting.  Medvedev acknowledged that the U.S. was probably right about Iran nuclear intentions and the two decided that it was time to revisit the nuclear treaty our two countries share. START had expired, and nothing had been done to revise and renew it.  Hillary and Sergei Lavrov were about to be assigned what might have been their most important mission: a New START.  They, and their respective squadrons, would prove to be a close and impressive team.

A year later,  she and Secretary Gates introduced the New START Treaty.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks On The New START Treaty

The presidential signing took place in Prague in April 2010.

Immediately afterwards Hillary went on the offensive to get the treaty ratified.  In the book, Hillary manages to reduce the battle for ratification to about a page.  In real life, it took a year for the teams to hammer out the treaty (not bad considering the massive assignment) and then it took all of this to get it ratified.

Her allies on The Hill were Vice President Joe Biden, Harry Reid, John Kerry, and Richard Lugar.  Her companion in the trenches was Robert Gates.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on the Announcement of the Release of the Nuclear Posture Review

Smart START – Hillary Clinton Unveils Non-Proliferation Rationale @ McConnell Center Speaker Series!

Yes, it was and is that McConnell Center (a very smart move). She also published an international op-ed.

Our Giant Step Towards a World Free from Nuclear Danger

Video: Secretary Clinton on the New START Treaty

Video & Text: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on the New Start Treaty at the Senate Armed Services Committee

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks to Members of the U.S. Delegation to the New START Negotiations and Nuclear Posture Review Department Staff

Video & Text: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on the New START Ratification

Always keep smiling, even when the struggle is hard!

Secretaries Clinton and Gates on Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approval of the New START Treaty

When possible, wear pink.  It weakens resistance.

The New START Treaty: It’s Time for the Senate to Vote

But, as Hillary remarks, after the 2010 mid-term elections it appeared that ratification was going to be a tough battle.  Many Tea Party candidates had been elected to Congress and some seats had been lost in the Senate.   There was pressure from the far right that threatened to get in the way.

This is just me, not Hillary, but her analysis of Putin and what drives him could also apply to some Tea Party folks who believe in a zero-sum game and think our glory days lie in a past century.  One way Putin is more advanced than they is that he is less insular.  He intends to organize with his Pacific neighbors.

I do not believe New START would have been on the agenda, however, if he and not Medvedev were president.

Video: Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Richard Lugar on The New START Treaty

Powerhouse Pow-Wow: How to Jumpstart New START

Finally, right before Christmas, as if a gift, ratification!  It was a present – from Hillary and Sergei Lavrov to the world.  Thank you both and your industrious teams!

Secretary Clinton’s Statement on Senate Ratification of New START

Hillary Clinton’s New START: A Happy Beginning

The instruments of ratification were exchanged in February 2011.  Hillary was so happy that they finally had gotten this done that she remarked that she was having trouble signing her own name – a problem we have not seen on the book promotion trail.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks After Exchange of Instruments of Ratification for the New START Treaty

If anyone tries to tell you she accomplished nothing or that the reset did not work,  show them this page.  She worked very hard to get this treaty and to get it ratified.  We are lucky.  This protects us all.

But as 2011 began with this extraordinary bi-national victory,  the tone shifted with the year drawing to a close.  As Hillary recounts, Russian parliamentary elections in December were marred by fraud reports,  and Putin announced his intention to run for the presidency again.

Hillary expressed concern about these reports, and when folks in Russia hit the streets to demonstrate their disapproval, Putin blamed her for the unrest.

At this OSCE conference Hillary quotes herself.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the OSCE

The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted. And that means they deserve fair, free, transparent elections and leaders who are accountable to them.

Although she argued to Putin that it was unlikely that people woke up and went into the streets because they thought she wanted them to, she does not completely reject the idea that she might have inspired some courage to protest.

As Putin retrieved the presidency and rejected an invitation to the G-8  at Camp David, she warned President Obama that Putin’s “regional integration” was code for rebuilding the empire of the past.

The reset, she tells us was what you think it was.  It delivered or disappointed according to your expectations.  A Rorschach test of sorts.  It was meant, she states, as a recognition, not as a reward.

To illustrate the complexities of the reset she provides the example of supply routes to Afghanistan.  As we saw in the Pakistan chapter, one of these was over land.  But we also leased former Soviet air bases in both Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan for air transport.

Given the world-view Hillary assigns to Putin, it is not hard to see why he might perceive our presence on former Soviet military bases as a threat.  That, indeed, is what he warned the Kyrgys and Uzbeks of – a permanent U.S. presence on these bases (that we were leasing).

A long, but necessary land route for supplies crosses Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan by rail. The complex came to be known as the Northern Distribution Network and was crucial to the Afghanistan surge.  Medvedev signed off on our use of Russian rails for this purpose in 2009 (for a price).  The movement of lethal cargo across former Soviet land provided an opportunity for Russia to exert some muscle.

When Hillary visited Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, and Uzbekistan in 2010, she was asked where they stood in the reset.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

QUESTION: Where does Kyrgyzstan come in in your reset with Russia?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Russia and the United States, we think, have to work hard to overcome a legacy of mistrust, and try to chart a new course. So when the Obama Administration came in, President Obama and I said we’re going to try to reset relations with Russia. That doesn’t mean we will always agree, because we will not. But it does mean, where we can agree, we should. And we should try to make the world safer and more secure, fewer conflicts, fewer problems.

… But what’s important for us, for the United States, is that Kyrgyzstan be left alone to make its own decisions about what is best for Kyrgyzstan, and that no country interfere with or undermine the legitimate aspirations of the people of Kyrgyzstan to have a democracy that will fulfill the aspirations of you, and no one else. That is our hope.

QUESTION: And is there any rivalry going on between Russia and the U.S., I mean, in the region, particularly in Kyrgyzstan?

SECRETARY CLINTON:… I think it’s important for you to have relations with many, but not be dependent on any. Try to balance off all the different relations you have, and get the best help you can from other countries that wish to participate with you.

The entire transcript is here.

Secretary Clinton’s Townterview in Kyrgyzstan

 

Strategy to counter Putin’s neo-colonial agenda included helping Europe,  eastern Europe in particular, secure alternative sources of fuel and energy and reduce dependence on Gazprom since  Russia could shut down those supply lines at will.

With Cathy Ashton she initiated the U.S. – E.U. Energy Council.  Although, as she says, these efforts did not make headlines here at home, they forced Gazprom to compete and influenced Ukraine’s desire for closer ties to Europe (and freedom from Gazprom) which, in turn, relaxed Putin’s grip on the former Soviet state and emboldened Ukrainians to stand firm in their intent to join with Europe.

Joint Statement Following the U.S.- EU Energy Council Ministerial, Lisbon

 

As she brings this Russian chapter to a close she shares some personal insights and moments with Putin, including the invitation for Bill Clinton to tag polar bears with him.

Another involves her attendance at APEC in Vladivostok in September 2012.

Hillary Clinton at APEC in Vladivostok

She mentions that President Obama could not attend because of his campaign schedule here at home.  Both Putin and Lavrov resented  1) that President Obama was not there and 2) remarks she had made about Russia’s support for Bashar Al-Assad and therefore resisted a meeting with her. Protocol dictated that the former APEC host (U.S.) be seated beside the current host at the ceremonial dinner.  As the president’s representative, the U.S. CEO was Hillary and she was seated beside Putin at the dinner.  Not only did they socialize and talk issues and strategy, but Putin shared a story about his parents that no one had ever heard.

She does not mention, so I shall, that at this APEC Summit she signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation on Cooperation in the Antarctic and a Joint Statement on Strengthening U.S.-Russian Inter-Regional Cooperation with Sergei Lavrov.   So the reset continued to succeed.

Hillary Clinton At Signing Ceremony With Russian FM Lavrov

Prior to leaving the department she sent President Obama an analysis of relations with Putin’s Russia and some recommendations that some thought extreme at the time.  More recent events have shown her assessment to be on target.

As was the case with some previous chapters, the final paragraphs seem directed to Putin and the Russian people more than to us.   It is excellent advice and they all should attend to it.

_____________________________________________________________

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>

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She does not mention this, so I shall even though it is off-topic.  The APEC  summit in Vladivostok came at the end of this trip for which she cut short an already brief vacation.

Just Confirmed: Hillary Clinton to Visit Cook Islands, Indonesia, China, Timor-Leste, Brunei, and Russia

August 28, 2012 by still4hill

She had been away and working non-stop for eleven days.  There are no “weekends” for a traveling secretary of state.  It was eleven solid days packed with work.  She had  been in six countries. She was in Vladivostok through the September 9, flew home and was at the State Department for a 9:15 meeting on September 10.

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Public Schedule for September 10, 2012

Take note of the date.  She came home to more than a dozen embassies and consulates under siege and was at her office late the next evening as tragic events unfolded.

To those who question where she was and what she was doing, I can answer that she was working as she had been for two solid weeks with no break.  I would also ask them when the last time was that they worked through two weeks straight for the long hours that she worked without a day off.  To imply or assert that Hillary Clinton ever shirked any aspect of her duty as secretary of state, especially with our embassies and consulates in danger, is a reprehensible assault on a dedicated public servant – particularly when the agenda is purely political.

As I said, it is off-topic, parenthetical, and it is just me.
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Speaking to the Montreal Board of Trade last night, Hillary Clinton warned the audience of increased Russian activity in the Arctic and hung responsibility for another Cold War on Vladimir Putin’s doorknob.

As Secretary of State,  Hillary was an active participant in the Arctic Council and repeatedly echoed the message that we are an Arctic nation.  The concerns she voiced in Canada are as much an issue for the U.S. as they are for Canada.

Along with the disquiet she expressed regarding Russia’s activities in the north came further comments about recent activities in Europe.

Some video compliments of the Montreal Gazette.

Hillary Clinton: It’s up to Putin whether there’s 'another Cold War'
March 18th, 2014

Hillary Clinton: It’s up to Putin whether there’s ‘another Cold War’

Montreal (CNN) – Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday that the conflict between Russia and Western allies over Crimea is a “clash of values” and that it’s up to Russian President Vladimir Putin whether there’s “another Cold War.”

“I hope there is not another Cold War,” Clinton said during the question and answer portion of an appearance in Montreal. “Obviously, nobody wants to see that. I think that is primarily up to Putin.”

Clinton added that Putin’s annexation of Crimea, a move that has rankled Western allies and led the United States to sanction some Russian leaders, is an effort by the Russian leader to “rewrite the boundaries of post-World War II Europe.”

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The Alberta crowd today was somewhat differently preoccupied than the British Columbia audience last night.  Not a lot of tweets chirped forth except a string of repetitive ones on two subjects suggesting at least one preoccupation.

A.  Putin is using resources as weapons.

B.  Avoidance on commenting on the Keystone pipeline.

Nevertheless,  the Clinton charm claimed them in the end.  Of course she can do that blindfolded with her hands tied behind her back.  Here is the one twitpic I found followed by an excellent summary of the event.

03-06-14-TW-01

Hillary Clinton charmingly avoids impolitic answers in front of Calgary crowd

By Valerie Fortney, Calgary Herald March 6, 2014

Hillary Clinton charmingly avoids impolitic answers in front of Calgary crowd

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, speaks to students at the University of California Los Angeles campus on the subject of leadership Wednesday, March 5, 2014, in Los Angeles. Clinton is delivering a speech Thursday morning in Calgary.

Photograph by: Nick Ut , AP

It was the billion-dollar question, saved, of course, for the final minutes. “Is this politics or this process?” Frank McKenna asked one of the most recognizable female faces on the planet.

Hillary Clinton explained that during her four-year tenure as U.S. secretary of state, she was indeed involved and apprised of every aspect of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline deal.

Then, in her next breath and with a demure smile, she shut the door. “I can’t comment any further on that,” she went on to say, “Because it is still an ongoing process.”

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Arriving to a standing ovation, and departing to another as admirers rushed the stage to touch her,  Hillary Clinton made a rock star impression on her Canadian audience last night.  Speaking, as usual,  without benefit of notes or teleprompter, she addressed the Vancouver Board of  Trade on the issue of women in business and the benefit to all when women fully participate in all facets of society – business included.  Societies hurt themselves when women are not given full opportunity for participation, she told them, and advised that women should be empowered as peace-makers.  Not nurturing any illusions among female listeners,  she told them to dare to compete,  to expect to fall down, but to be ready to get up and continue the climb.

At a more general level,  she explained that the U.S. has a robust – even boisterous political system.   She took a swipe at the 24/7  news marathon saying it thrives on bombastic conflict and counseled her audience not to vote for candidates who will not compromise.  While asserting that our countries need to work together  – with Mexico as well – on climate change, she avoided comment on the Keystone pipeline.

Briefly addressing foreign policy and events in Ukraine in particular, she provided a quick  history of events leading to the current situation and mentioned that she and Bill Clinton attended a conference in Ukraine last fall.  She said she had worked cooperatively with Yanukovych as secretary of state but that he was not a visionary leader.

Ending her visit with affirmation of our long amicable relationship with our neighbors above the border, she could not resist mentioning the exception: ice hockey – and the crowd roared.

Here are some twitpics I snagged.

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Hillary didn’t say this but note silver medal winners:  There’s no crying in ice hockey.  Just dust yourselves off and try again.

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