You’ll have a hard time finding any mention of it in the left-wing mainstream media, but last Saturday former U.S. President James Earl Carter flew into the northern Russian city of Murmansk on a Gulfstream private jet for a little luxury fishing expedition (Russian-language link). It seems Mr. Carter would like to do all he can to legitimize Russian aggression in Ukraine, and if he can combine doing so with a gold-plated vacay, so much the better.
At almost the same moment, Ukrainian government troops were triumphantly raising the national flag over City Hall in the Eastern Ukraine city of Slaviansk, ejecting pro-Russian rebels from their main stronghold. An even more furious battle lies ahead in Donetsk, where the rebel cadre fled following their ouster. Throughout this struggle, human rights atrocities by the pro-Russian forces have been as relentless as they have been legion.
Even as the battle raged, the Putin regime was enacting tough new laws to ban separatist activity (Russian-language link) within Russia, one of the more amazing acts of suicidal political hypocrisy so far this century. And a famous Czech leader of the anti-Soviet struggle in his country was branding Vladimir Putin a war criminal for his frenzied acts of aggression against his smaller neighbors.
But none of that mattered to former President Carter. Nor did he care about Russia’s systematic efforts to “divide and conquer” the U.S. and her allies in Europe, or about Putin’s increasingly brutal crackdown on civil society, with special emphasis on the Internet. He blithely allowed his visit to be used by the Putin regime as clear proof that America doesn’t really oppose Putin’s naked imperialism in post-Soviet space, and in so doing encouraged even more such aggression from Russia.
One can’t help but recall Carter’s limp-wristed response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan during his presidency, when all the gumption he could muster was an Olympic boycott. Combined with his gross mismanagement of the economy and his humiliatingly failed policies in Iran, it’s easy to understand how desperate Carter is to somehow remain relevant.
Russian journalist Dmitry Shipilov believes that Putin’s actions in Ukraine are designed for one purpose: to frustrate any attempt to establish a democratic, freedom-focused government in post-Soviet space out of fear that such a contagion could spread to Russia itself. It’s clear that Russia’s policy towards Ukraine is that it must be poor and energy starved, permanently servile and dependant upon Russian mercy for its existence.