A curious controversy broke out over the January 26th call between US President Joe Biden and Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy. CNN reported based on a leak from a Ukrainian source supposedly in the Office of the President (OP) of Ukraine Volodomyr Zelenskiy , the former told the latter that a Russian invasion was certain and Zelenskiy should “prepare for impact.” Thursday night, when Biden — during a call with Zelensky that the Ukrainian leader had requested — urged Ukraine to better prepare for a potential invasion in February. It was a comment Zelensky found condescending and disagreed with, a source familiar with his thinking said.The call “did not go well,” a senior Ukrainian official told CNN. The White House disputed the official’s account, warning that anonymous sources were “leaking falsehoods.” They did state that Biden warned Zelensky that an imminent invasion is a “distinct possibility.” On Friday, Zelensky doubled down on his insistence that a Russian invasion is not “imminent,” as the US has repeatedly warned. “I’m the President of Ukraine, I’m based here, and I think I know the details deeper than any other president,” Zelensky told reporters when asked about his reported disagreement with Biden. “It’s important that the (US) President should know the situation from me, not from the intermediaries” (https://edition.cnn.com/2022/01/28/politics/us-ukraine-biden-zelensky/index.html). Biden also supposedly said that Kiev would be “sacked.” This was denied by both the White House and the Office of the President of Ukraine or Bankova, and the story was then pulled by CNN (https://twitter.com/MarquardtA/status/1486821462338064392 and http://www.theblaze.com/news/cnn-scrubs-ukraine-biden-leak).
However BussFeed’s Christopher Miller stood by the story, according to Blaze.com, which included a link to Miller’s Twitter account where he supposedly stood by his source in Zelenskiy’s office: “Christopher Miller of Buzzfeed News said that his source in Zelensky’s office confirmed that the comments claimed by the leaked report were an accurate depiction of what Biden said on the call.” However, the link opens a Twitter page that no longer exists” (https://twitter.com/ChristopherJM/status/1486833612251144193). Thus, it appears Miller pulled his claim insisting the story was real and that his source was from someone in Zelenskiy’s office. This raises some questions. This is not the first time that Miller has produced inside information from Kiev. Prior to this, he was the ‘first to report’ about the alleged planned 1-2 December coup against Zelenskiy that never occurred (https://gordonhahn.com/2022/01/02/zelenskiys-theater-of-simulacra-update-2/). And let us not forget the his Buzzfeed employers were the first to publish the fake Steele dossier of Russiagate infamy.
Are both the Biden and Zelenskiy administrations attempting to cover up the true contents of Biden’s remarks? If not who leaked the false report from the US White House and to whom, and who leaked it from Zelenskiy’s OP to Miller? I will speculate about the Ukrainian side of the equation.
As I noted in a previous piece, Miller is a Facebook friend with the neofascist Dmitro Yarosh, who is the neofascist Right Sector’s founder, leader of its Ukrainian Volunteer Corps (DUK), and an official advisor to the chief of the Ukrainian armed forces. Yarosh’s RS played a role in the 20 February 2014 snipers’ massacre falsely blamed on overthrown president. Viktor Yanukovych and the 2 May 2014 Odessa pogrom that killed at least 45 anti-Maidan picketers. Yarosh has been rooting for war on his Facebook page. If he wants war, he might try to provoke one. Did an associate of his in the OP leak this report on the call?
On his Twitter page, Miller posted on January 20th claiming he had just spent a week on the Donbass front near Avdiivka. He lauded the forces there, with whom he was “embedded” as “Ukraine’s next generation of forces.” Avdiivka is where some units of Yarosh’s DUK are based. The DUK commander there just received the Hero of Ukraine award
from President Zelenskiy. The commander, Dmitro Kotsyubailo, has acknowledged to the New York Times that he violates the Minsk ceasefire and speaks of his dog eating Russian children’s bones. See my “Zelenskiy’s Theater of Simulacra – UPDATE”:
Identifying himself as a journalist covering right-wing extremism, Miller seems little interested in exposing the extremism of Ukraine’s neofascists. He has produced no pieces focused on Ukrainian neofascism. Hobnobbing with neofascist terrorists on FB, Miller has his own FB page, maintains a job with Buzzfeed, and has ties to the Ukrainian president’s office. Miller like the White House and all US media are hyping the imminent invasion: families of staff at US embassy in Kiev evacuated, pumping in hundred of tons of weapons, leaks to newspapers about alleged blood supplies being sent to Russian troops near Ukraine (https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/exclusive-russia-moves-blood-supplies-near-ukraine-adding-us-concern-officials-2022-01-28/). No sources or documentation; just ‘sources’ in some US government agency.
It certainly cannot be ruled out that Biden told Zelenskiy that a Russian invasion is imminent and Kiev will be sacked. We are talking about a 21st century US president after all and Joe Biden to boot. Perhaps Joe is trying to provoke the Ukrainians either to start preemptive operations or to get them to negotiate with Putin.
But what are those Ukrainians who leaked this information to Miller up to? Harm relations with Ukraine’s main protector? Unlikely. Contradict the calm being urged by Zelenskiy? Possibly. But why? To motivate or inspire those hotheads who might attempt to provoke a little war? Would that include Miller’s Right Sector/DUK comrades in Avdiivka? Recall Russian defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s claim that US mercenaries were in Avdiivka and were preparing a chemical attack provocation to draw Russia into Donbass. Recently, the US government tells us Russia is planning a video of a fake Ukrainian attack on Russia or ethnic Russians as a provocation to justify a Russian invasion. Where? In Avdiivka? Perhaps Mr. Miller knows what is going on in Avdiivka. Perhaps he will tell us what is going on in Avdiivka? It is also important to remember that Ukraine’s ultranationalist/neofascist wing is little more enamored of the West than Russia. The former is useful for defending against the latter, but the ultimate goal of many is a Ukrainian superpower centering an eastern European ‘intermarium’ running between the Black and Baltic Seas and independent of both Russia and the West.’ Driving a wedge between Kiev and the West, insinuating suspicion of the West in Ukrainians’ minds is desirable and perhaps more so if the West is ‘holding back’ Ukraine from restoring its sovereignty over Donbass and Crimea.
But perhaps the ultimate cause of this little rift is the nature of the relationship between an imperial center (Washington) and a client state placed on a front line facing against the empire’s foe. Ukraine was made a frontline state as a result of the empire’s NATO expansion and enticements it offers with membership; something opposed by its great power neighbor, Russia, because of several centuries-long pattern of invasions of Russia from the West, some going right through what today is the territory of the Ukrainian state. This has led to an intensifying standoff between Moscow and Washington. The latter has declared an inviolable ‘Open Door’ policy under which any country can enter NATO, and the present Ukrainian administration would like nothing better but to join. But as Washington and Moscow’s relations break down, with both sides deploying military elements closer to the other side, Ukraine is caught in the middle but also required to fulfill certain NATO political, administrative, governance, and rule of law standards. This means Ukraine will not be allowed to enter the golden open door for many. many years. But at the same time, the NATO empire continues to antagonize Russia with declarations at its annual summits, other meetings, and in official documents that Ukraine will some day be a NATO member. And, moreover, now that Moscow is pressing the NATo and Ukrainian issues with coercive diplomacy, the West is claiming an imminent Russian invasion while stating it will do nothing militarily to ‘save Ukraine.’ This has left Ukraine exposed in a very difficult position; one not primarily driven by Russian imperialism but constant attempts led by faraway Washington to establish pro-Western leadership in Ukraine at Russia’s expense, given Moscow’s opposition to NATO expansion. So Ukraine is being placed at risk and the window of risk is being kept open by Washington’s NATO policy. We know that the West is more to blame for this dangerous tectonic because Russia is prepared to accept steps that remove this problem: a neutral Ukraine on the Austrian or Finnish models. It is NATO that has chosen to ignore such solutions and demanded its door remain ‘open’ while keeping it closed, seducing Ukraine to come close but leaving her out in the cold of NATO’s making.
About the Author – Gordon M. Hahn, Ph.D., is an Expert Analyst at Corr Analytics, http://www.canalyt.com and a Senior Researcher at the Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, www.cetisresearch.org.
Dr. Hahn is the author of the forthcoming book: The Russian Dilemma: Security, Vigilance, and Relations with the West from Ivan III to Putin (McFarland, 2021) He has authored four well-received books: Ukraine Over the Edge: Russia, the West, and the “New Cold War” (McFarland, 2018); The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland, 2014), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), and Russia’s Revolution From Above: Reform, Transition and Revolution in the Fall of the Soviet Communist Regime, 1985-2000 (Transaction, 2002). He also has published numerous think tank reports, academic articles, analyses, and commentaries in both English and Russian language media. Dr. Hahn taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, and San Francisco State Universities and as a Fulbright Scholar at Saint Petersburg State University, Russia and was a senior associate and visiting fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Kennan Institute in Washington DC, and the Hoover Institution.