Viewpoint: What West must do in Ukraine

Viewpoint: What West must do in Ukraine

Members of the Ukrainian armed forces ride armoured personnel carriers as they pull back from Debaltseve region, near Artemivsk
  It wouldd be folly for the West to arm Ukraine, argues Prof Anatol Lieven in this personal viewpoint piece, but it must take a tough diplomatic line.
If the latest ceasefire in eastern Ukraine breaks down, then there will be increased pressure on President Barack Obama by hawks in Washington - Democrat as well as Republican - to provide arms to Ukraine, and on European leaders to acquiesce in this.
In the view of a range of analysts and former officials on both sides of the Atlantic, this seems a singularly ill-thought out strategy.
Lesson from history More importantly, the advocates of arming Ukraine do not appear either to have sufficiently analysed the actual balance of forces on the ground, or to have studied a key lesson from recent history: namely, what happened to Georgia when its government launched an offensive against separatist rebels and their Russian backers in South Ossetia in August 2008.
After brief initial gains, the Georgian army was crushed by new Russian forces.
This apparently lunatic Georgian move is only comprehensible if President Mikheil Saakashvili believed that the USA would intervene militarily to prevent Georgia's defeat.
Of course it did not, nor had any such promise ever been made by the Bush administration.
But the Georgians could have been forgiven for not realising that, given that they had received weapons, extravagant political support, and a promise of future Nato membership from Washington.
What happened in Georgia?
A Russian armoured troop-carrier moves next to a house set on fire by South Ossetian militia on August 18, 2008 in the Georgian village Kvemo-Achebeti A Russian armoured troop carrier passes a house set on fire by South Ossetian militia in August 2008
  • In August 2008, tensions between Georgia and Russia escalated into a full-blown military conflict after Georgia tried to retake South Ossetia by force after a series of lower-level clashes with Russian-backed rebels.
  • Russia launched an overwhelming counter-attack, ejecting Georgian troops from both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and subsequently recognising the two breakaway regions as independent states.
Against the background of this history, it cannot be emphasised too strongly that, for the foreseeable future, however many weapons the Ukrainian army receives from the USA, if it gets into an open fight with the Russian army, it is likely to lose, and lose catastrophically.

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Russia's leaders might want to reflect on the fact that by the same token, for the first time in history Russia has been under no real threat of attack from the West”
So far, very limited numbers of lightly disguised Russian troops have been enough to bring to a standstill the entire fighting strength of the Ukrainian army - last autumn, the Nato estimate was that a mere 3,000 Russian soldiers were present in the Donbas.
With massive US arms supplies, the Ukrainian army might well be able to launch an initially successful offensive against these forces and their local separatist allies. But what then?
All the evidence suggests that the Russian government simply cannot afford the humiliation of a Ukrainian military victory. In other words, as in August 2008 in Georgia, Moscow would respond with greatly increased military force.
In the highly unlikely event that the USA then sent its own troops to help Ukraine - which has already been repeatedly ruled out - we would be in a European war between nuclear powers. If it did not, the Ukrainian army would risk the high probability of defeat, and if so, the USA and Nato would be severely humiliated.
Territory struggle In August 2008, after smashing the Georgian army, Russia briefly occupied parts of Georgia proper - beyond the borders of the separatist territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia - and then withdrew.
Since neither Russia nor the separatists had any historical or ethnic claim on these strategically worthless Georgian territories, there was no reason for them to stay.
Russian attitudes to eastern and southern Ukraine are very different. If the Russian army ever marches into Kharkov and Dnipropetrovsk, they are very likely to stay.

Ukraine can survive without Donetsk, Lugansk and the Crimea. Indeed, it could be seen as a stronger and more homogenous state without them, as the election of President Petro Poroshenko demonstrated.
The loss of a third of the country would be a very different matter.
The partition of Ukraine would indeed mark a return to the Cold War, implying vastly increased European military spending, and colossally increased aid to Ukraine intended to prepare the country for early membership of the European Union - something for which the EU is utterly unprepared.
The duty of Western leaders therefore is to try to make sure that the present ceasefire works.
Despite the battle for Debaltseve, there is some chance that it may work - or at least, a better chance than that of previous attempts.
This is above all because it includes a critical element missing from those attempts: a political solution tied to a specific timetable, and one which allows all the main parties to the conflict to achieve their most important goal (with the possible exception of the separatist leadership in the Donbas).
Concurrently with the withdrawal of heavy weapons, dialogue is to begin on holding local elections in the rebel territories, in accordance with the Ukrainian law on provisional autonomy for the region.
Reopen economic ties The Ukrainian parliament has to pass a resolution on this within 30 days of the ceasefire.
Continue reading the main story

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For the ceasefire to hold and a political solution to be reached, the governments of France and Germany will have to show an unwonted degree of resolve and toughness over the next year”
By the end of 2015, Ukraine is to regain full control of its borders in the east; but also by the end of 2015, a new Ukrainian federal constitution has to be adopted incorporating special autonomous status for the Donbas.
In the meantime, the government in Kiev will reopen economic ties with the Donbas and resume paying official salaries in the region - thereby helping in the process of reintegrating it into Ukraine.
For Kiev and Western governments, this agreement secures their most important goal of preserving the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, minus Crimea, with a central government which preserves the ability to conduct desperately needed reforms.
This is a goal which could otherwise only be achieved through victorious war - and whatever hawks in the USA may think, any full-scale war between Ukraine and Russia will almost certainly result not in Ukrainian victory, but in a crushing Ukrainian defeat and the further dismemberment of the country.
Moreover, trying to turn Ukraine into a country capable of planning such a war would require a degree of authoritarian nationalism which would move Ukraine not closer to the European Union, but even further away from it.
President Vladimir Putin in a lift
For Russia, this deal preserves the Donbas as a distinct autonomous area within Ukraine. A federal constitution would also help guarantee the position of Russian-speaking areas of the country against any move to forced ukrainianisation from Kiev.
From Moscow's point of view, this would also make it much more difficult to move Ukraine into the West's military camp without a strong consensus behind this in Ukrainian society - a consensus which was present in central European countries during their move to join Nato, but which has never existed in Ukraine.
This is the main sticking point as far as hardliners in both Ukraine and the US are concerned: that the present deal will make Ukraine's membership in Nato and the EU impossible.
'Long and painful changes' In actual fact, however, these are non-issues. By repeatedly stating that under no circumstances will Nato troops be sent to defend Ukraine, Nato seems to have rendered the idea of Ukrainian membership an unlikely prospect.
As for EU membership, it's unlikely any West European leader has ever considered this as more than the remotest of prospects, decades in the future and dependent on a whole series of extremely long and painful changes.
This is a decision therefore which would in all circumstances have to be left to a future generation.
Moreover, given the economic reality of Ukrainian economic dependence on Russia, salvaging Ukraine's collapsing economy can only be done in co-operation with Russia, not against her.
Unless, that is, the EU is prepared to demand from West European populations enormous sacrifices for the sake of helping Ukraine. Anyone who believes that is likely should have a brief conversation with a Greek.
James Reynolds reports from Debaltseve, "a town almost too dangerous to live in"
For the ceasefire to hold and a political solution to be reached, the governments of France and Germany will have to show an unwonted degree of resolve and toughness over the next year.
On the one hand, they will have to make clear to Moscow that the relaxations of sanctions against Russia will only come as a result of clear and consistent pressure on the Donbas rebels to abide by the terms of the ceasefire and to pursue autonomy within Ukraine, and not independence.
On the other hand, they will need to make clear to the Ukrainian government and to hardliners in Washington that significant EU aid to Ukraine, and an eventual path to possible EU membership, both depend on Kiev honouring the promise of real autonomy for the Donbas.
The present ceasefire and the associated political process are not perfect, but they present the best chance so far of ending this conflict, preserving by far the greater part of Ukraine as a unitary state, and avoiding an escalation of the war that would most probably be very bad for Russia and the West, and absolutely disastrous for Ukraine.
Anatol Lieven is a professor at Georgetown University in Qatar and author among other books of Ukraine and Russia: A Fraternal Rivalry.

N7bn Bribe: CAN says, Its Baseless, Worthless, Mischievous and Desperate

Posted by Ambassador T. Brikins

The Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) who was accused to have been bribed by the President of Nigeria denied claims that the association got the said  sum of N7billion from the Nigerian Presidency to support the ruling People’s Democratic Party(PDP) for the  country’s forthcoming general elections slated for March 28, 2015.
The association’s General Secretary, Musa Asake, CAN said, in a statement, “Our attention has been drawn to a report credited to one Musa Dikwa alleging that the leadership of CAN was given N7 billion by President Goodluck Jonathan to campaign for his re-elections.
“Ordinarily, we would have ignored this baseless and worthless allegation but for the vulnerable public which believes in anything, no matter how incredible the source could be easily especially in this era of politics.
“For the avoidance of doubt, CAN has no knowledge of any N7billion transaction as alleged by Musa Dikwa who claims to be the Executive Director of a non-existent group, Voice of Northern Christian Movement. CAN is not a political party, let alone getting involved in partisan politics. Christians who are members of CAN belong to different political parties. It is therefore surprising to hear that CAN is campaigning for one candidate.
Revered men of God including Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor,CAN President, Bishop David Oyedepo of Winners Chapel and Pastor Bosun Emmanuel(Secretary-General of National Christian Elders Forum) are too upright to be linked with such deal.
CAN is not surprised to see Musa Dikwa doing a yeoman’s job the next day through his allegations. This is the hands of Esau but the voice of Jacob. The allegation of Dikwa is masterminded by those who were not happy with our recent press statement in which we denounced the endorsement of the presidential candidate of APC, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) by a group of people using the name of different Christian organizations to perpetrate fraud.
We insist that Buhari has fallen into wrong hands because his endorsement for the March 28 general election by Northern Christian Leaders Eagle-Eye Forum led by Aminchi Habu is fraudulent.
The allegation is the height of mischief and desperation.
We are Christians and our candidate is Jesus Christ. So long as we believe that the church is under threat, we will speak for Jesus Christ and maintain the Wake Up Call to the Church.

8 Secrets Nigeria's Politicians Can Learn from Obama

Action  exposes intention.
Action exposes belief.
Action is a shaft of light in a vision less black night.
Action shows what you never know.

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 President Barak Obama @ the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

One action  that exposes a  politician's intention is public pilgrimage to Jerusalem otherwise called political pilgrimage.

Pilgrimage to the Holy Land of Jerusalem in Israel came into prominence and significance when Empress Helena visited Jerusalem in  326 .

Helena(c250-330)  who was abandoned by her husband in 292 for political reasons, rose to great influence when her son Constantine became Emperor of Rome in 306.She then  became a devoted protectress of the  christian church. It was during this visit that she founded the basilicas on the mount of Olives and at Bethlehem.

A pilgrimage is a journey to a shrine or sacred place as an act of religious devotion or obligation. It is also made sometimes to fulfill a vow. In earlier times a pilgrim would chant the songs of ascent or gradual palms(Psalms 120-134) as they approached Jerusalem. These psalms embody the important issues of protection, forgiveness, sin, help, pride, despair and wisdom.

Christian tourists to Bethlehem were  expected to reach a record 2 million in 2013, up sharply from the 1.18 million recorded in 2012, the Israeli Tourism Ministry said. 

Do you think Nigerian politicians need these unseen forces?

Forces of divine protection, forgiveness, sin, help, pride, despair and wisdom.

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria recognized this  when he visited Jerusalem   four months before elections in Nigeria, where he was  expected to seek reelections. Though he was at the Walling Wall with prominent Christian Leaders like Bishop David O. Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church Worldwide and Pastor Oritshejafor, President of Christian Association of Nigeria(CAN) to pray, his  prayer outline was not published as that of President Obama when he was in Jerusalem.

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  President Goodluck A.Jonathan of Nigeria @ the Wailing in Jerusalem

 Its fashionable  for christian politicians to visit Israel before elections.So, many Nigerian politicians have been trooping to the Holy Land too. President Barak Obama of the U.S. also fulfilled this ritual before he was elected President in his first  term.The road to the White House was daunting one.

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Donald Trump

About a year after Obama got into office,Donald J. Trump, a New York Times Bestseller said concerning him.
"Obama will have to be a great president because we're in serious trouble as a country.It hasn't been this way since 1929. So he doesn't have much choice-he will simply have to be great, because he has very good chance of being.

"What he has done is  amazing. The fact that  he accomplished what he has-in one year and against great odds- is truly phenomenal . If  someone had asked me if a black man or woman could become president, I would have said yes, but not yet. Barak Obama proved that determination combined with opportunity and intelligence can make things happen-and in an exceptional way".

Donald Trump's  belief is tenable.  I also believe that the opportunity that a 'pilgrimage' offers is the unseen but powerful force behind his exceptional victory. In it he partnered with the divine. He was years ahead of the times because he exposed himself to the power of wisdom of the ages that has been, persisting  and are yet to come A truth that should guide his thoughts and actions.

Take a look at his prayer at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

 The Israeli Press got a piece of paper where Obama scribbled his prayers.Wow! How well orchestrated it was printed in the press.

This is the prayer.
" Lord- protect my family and me,
forgive me my sins, and help me guide against pride and despair.
Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just.
And make me an instrument of your will".

Jonathan Bribed Pastors With N7bn, Not N6bn – Cleric... Can It Be True?


He said the CAN got the said money (N7bn) on January 26, 2015 and disbursed N3m to each State Chairmen of the CAN across the country.

More facts appear to be emerging on the allegation by Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, that President Goodluck Jonathan gave pastors across the country N6bn to vote against the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in the presidential election.
A Borno-based Pastor, Kallamu Musa-Dikwa, said on Thursday that the money that was given to pastors by the President was actually N7bn and not N6bn as alleged by Amaechi, who doubles as the Director-General of the APC Presidential Campaign Organisation.
Amaechi had alleged that unnamed leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party paid N6bn to Christian clerics to campaign against Buhari and the APC.
The governor’s allegation caused a stir among the Christian clerics, with the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and the Northern State Christian Elders Forum asking Amaechi to name the church leaders, who collected the huge bribe.
But Musa-Dikwa, who is the Executive Director of the Voice of Northern Christian Movement, told journalists in Kaduna on Thursday that the said money was channelled through the Christian Association of Nigeria.
He said the CAN got the said money (N7bn) on January 26, 2015 and disbursed N3m to each State Chairmen of the CAN across the country.
Musa-Dikwa, who was an Associate Pastor with the E. Y. N. Church, Farm Centre, Dikwa Road, Maiduguri, Borno State, under Rev. Emmanuel Kwajihe between 2002 and 2004, said the CAN had started threatening Christians in the state (Borno) that they must re-elect Jonathan in the rescheduled election.
He said, “It was N7bn that was given to the CAN leadership by President Goodluck Jonathan. They (CAN) later disbursed N3m to the State Chairmen of the CAN.
“The money was handed over to the CAN Leadership on 26th January, 2015.”
“Actually, President Jonathan is using CAN President, and it was the CAN President who collected the monies and shared N3m to the CAN executives in each state.
“And some Pentecostal Bishops also collected their share. Actually, the money is not N6bn, it is N7bn. This is what I know. One of the CAN officials from Abuja told me that they have collected the money. The corruption in CAN is terrible. They are corrupting the body of Christ because of money.
“They are now threatening Christians in Borno State that they will deal with anybody, who refuses to vote for Jonathan. And the CAN officials are now campaigning that if Buhari emerges President, he will Islamise Nigeria; and that Osinbajo collected monies from Islamic world; and that the same Osinbajo will resign soon after Buhari wins to give way for Tinubu to emerge Vice President.”
Musa-Dikwa named some high-profile clerics, who had benefitted from the controversial largesse to actualise the re-election bid of Jonathan.

Either true or false, what does this portend for Nigeria?

President Jonathan Tells Christians To Pray for Violence-free election At lent.

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President Goodluck Ebele A. Jonathan of Nigeria

By Ben Agande, Abuja.
President Goodluck Jonathan has called on christian in the country to use the period of Lent to pray for a successful and peaceful election.
In a message to christians to mark the Lenten period during which christian fast for 40 days, President Jonathan urged them to imbibe the virtues of lent.
A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr Reuben Abati quoted the president as calling on all “political leaders in the country, Christians and non-Christians alike, to rededicate themselves to the commitment they have made to peaceful, non-violent campaigns and elections, and do their utmost best to ensure that their supporters across the country uphold that commitment”.
The statement reads in part: “As they undergo the rites of the 40-day Lenten season which runs from today, Ash Wednesday, to Easter Sunday, with constant prayers, penitence, fasting and self-denial, President Jonathan urges Christians in Nigeria to pray fervently for peaceful, violence-free and successful general elections in the country on March 28 and April 11, 2015.
“The President also seizes the opportunity of the commencement of Lent to call on all political leaders in the country, Christians and non-Christians alike, to rededicate themselves to the commitment they have made to peaceful, non-violent campaigns and elections, and do their utmost best to ensure that their supporters across the country uphold that commitment.
“In the spirit of that commitment, President Jonathan further urges all those seeking political office in the coming elections to eschew hate speech, incitement to violence, divisiveness and the malicious denigration of opponents.
“He urges all political parties in the country to join the federal government in giving the fullest possible support and cooperation to INEC to ensure that it delivers free, fair and credible elections.
“As they observe Lent, President Jonathan urges the Christian community to reflect more on all the ideals of human existence taught by Jesus Christ during his ministry on earth.
“He calls on Christians to make those ideals, including piety, love for others, tolerance, humility, selfless service to others, honesty, fairness, justice and equity more manifest in their daily lives.
“President Jonathan prays that God Almighty will answer the prayers of all Nigerians and bless the country with successful elections, continued unity and further progress”.
Do you have a memorable lent experience to share?

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What Does Ash Wednesday Have to Do with Lent?

John Stonestreet | BreakPoint | Wednesday, February 18, 2015 

In many ways, today is one of the strangest days of the year. Everywhere—at work, the grocery store, shopping, exercising—we’ll see all kinds of people walking around with dark smudges on their foreheads.

Now whether or not their own church participates in this ritual, most Christians will know that the smudge is the sign of the cross, and that today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent.

To the unbelieving world, Ash Wednesday is at best quaint (it’s sort of cool to have traditions, you know). At worst, it’s somewhere between bizarre and even anti-social. After all, to a culture committed to the pursuit of self-fulfillment and feeling good about oneself, this whole fasting and self-sacrifice stuff is an existential smack in the face.

Think of how these words contrast with our contemporary illusions of autonomy and self-determination: I am not my own. And I will die one day. And so will you. As the minister tells us when he rubs the ashes on our foreheads, “remember thou art dust and to dust thou shalt return.”

And here’s the bolder statement still, a way-more-weird and counter-cultural claim—We are rotten to the core. We are sinners. So much so that God became a man and died on a cross in our place. He loved us that much! And then, get this: He came back to life. His body wasn’t eaten by worms in a tomb. He was resurrected from the dead.

What happened on that Resurrection Day, which we’ll commemorate 40 days from now, is the most important event in the history of the world. As Russell Moore has said, “Christians from all over the world, despite all this science and all this progress and all this technology, [still confess] what the earliest believers in the catacombs of Rome cried out: ‘Christ is risen indeed.’”

We confess it because what it says about God, the universe, and us is TRUE. On Ash Wednesday and during the season of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving called Lent, we redouble our efforts to heed Jesus’ call to pick  up our crosses and follow him. We meditate and remember with Paul that we have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us.

Crucified with Christ! Our hopes, desires, politics, intellect, and yes, even our sexuality—crucified with Christ. What a thing to say! Jesus, who redeemed us by His blood, lays claim to all of these things.

This is not the God of what sociologist Christian Smith has dubbed “moralistic therapeutic deism,” a god who demands nothing more than that people take it easy on themselves and be nice and fair to one another.

This is a God who says the two greatest commandments are to love Him with all of our hearts, souls, minds, and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves. And as Jesus said, to love Him is to obey Him (talk about counter cultural!) and to believe in the One He has sent. To love our neighbors, we preach the Good News of Jesus’ death and resurrection and His triumph over sin and death. We feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, take care of the widow and orphans.

Friend, what could be more authentic, more relevant, than to conform our lives to Jesus, who is the Way the Truth and the Life? Jesus did not and will not conform Himself to the culture. Why would we? How dare we urge others to? As Paul says, we were called to freedom in Christ, which is a freedom from conformity and from the desires of the flesh and a freedom to serve one another in love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5).

Now that’s a lot to swallow, which is one reason that for nearly two millennia, Christians have taken this long season of Lent as an opportunity to repent of our conformity to the world, draw near to Jesus, and prepare ourselves to celebrate the day that changed the universe.

Culled from