I was supposed to have a debate with Taras Kuzio, but Kuzio was so offended by the first question from our Iranian hostess that he terminated the studio feed right after his answer, and even before I had chance to respond. Among Kuzio's titles is Head of Mission of the NATO Information and Documentation Centre in Kiev, and Marzieh Hashemi had asked him if Russia had a right to enter the Crimea. Do watch if you want to see this odd exchange, and much more. Iran's Press TV, 3/8/14:
Press TV has interviewed Linh Dinh, an author and political analyst from Philadelphia, to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
What follows is a rough transcription of the interview.
Press TV: Your take on that same question; of course, our guest [Mr. Taras Kuzio] said that the Russians, those who speak the Russian language are never threatened, but of course we did see that one of the first acts that the new government in Kiev actually started to do was to make illegal the Russian language. But going back to the original question, let’s look at why do you think, first of all, that Russia is even in Crimea?
Dinh: Another question to ask is does the USA have a right to interfere with the Ukrainians? As Victoria Nuland admitted, the US has spent five billion dollars in this regime change in Kiev. The USA is also heavily involved in this chaos.
As for Crimea, Sevastopol has been a Russian naval base going back to the 18th century, so they do have a history there. And most of the people there happen to be Russian – you know, Russian speakers. So if they want to be reincorporated back into Russia, then that’s an expression of the popular vote.
The US is calling that illegal, and yet it is supporting the protesters in Kiev. Why do they support the illegal deposing of the Ukrainian president in Kiev, and yet call the popular vote in Crimea illegal? There’s a hypocrisy there; there’s an inconsistency there.
It’s not as simple as Putin going into Ukraine and taking Ukrainian territory.
Press TV: Let me expand on something you just mentioned because you asked why was the US dealing with the protesters and supporting them? I want to look at that. Why was the United States, as coming from the other side, obviously, of the world – why were they so intent on supporting the protesters in Kiev? What do they want to gain?
Dinh: Well, you have to look at the big picture. Since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the US has been relentlessly trying to incorporate the countries of the former Warsaw Pact into its domain, into its sphere of influence, into NATO. You’re talking about Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania, on and on, and now it’s including Ukraine.
Georgia, a little while ago, the US also instigated a war to encircle and provoke Russia. This is part of the grander scheme of the United States to encircle, isolate Russia, and to place missiles right next to its border.
It’s not as simple as Ukraine’s internal issues are at stake here, but the US design on Russia.
Press TV: Do you think that if, for example, Moscow had not moved into Crimea, really do you think the United States would pose a threat to the Russians by actually having that sphere of influence expand?
Dinh: Certainly, also because of the Russian naval base in the Black Sea. That is a crucial Russian asset. There is no way Russia will allow that to be taken away.
This is very paradoxical because by moving into the Ukraine, the US has allowed Russia to take Crimea for free, so to speak, and to not pay the annual rent for using the naval base in Sevastopol.
So, this is already backfiring for the USA. Putin, by not firing a shot so far, by shedding no blood so far, is already gaining from this.
Press TV: You talked about backfiring; I want to look at that. We know that Moscow has already threatened Kiev with cutting off the gas. What would happen right now if that would actually take place, if Moscow would put the pressure on the Ukraine and demand all the back pay for the gas and basically cut off the supplies right now? Tell me the type of effect that that could have on Ukraine right now.
Dinh: Before I go on, I want to say that I’m not trying to make light of the Ukrainians’ genuine hatred of the Russians from the Soviet years. They have legitimate beef against the Russians.
But by joining NATO, they will not gain from this because they thought they were deposing a kleptocrat in their own president.
The Western bankers will come in and loot them, impoverish them much worse because the Western banks will loan them money but impose austerity plans which will hurt the ordinary Ukrainians.
So, the Western banks are not going to come in to save them. The Western countries are not going to come in to save them. Just look at what happened to Greece.
Ukraine will become a basket base, will become impoverished, and the regular people will suffer. That’s just from the Western side of the equation.
As for the Russians, they can retaliate also. They’ve been selling natural gas to the Ukraine at a 30 percent discount. They can take that back. That would hurt the Ukraine considerably.
They’ve also been lending the Ukraine a lot of money. They have a lot of economic leverage.
By siding with NATO, they’re hurting themselves.
Press TV: Your take, sir, is it all about Russia’s interests and also the United States’ interests, or are they genuinely concerned about the situation in Ukraine?
Dinh: The US is definitely not concerned about Ukraine because here you find it supporting neo-Nazis and fascists, just as in Syria they’re supporting terrorists. The US has no ideological foundation for this. It’s just using this situation to harass Russia and also for its own financial interests.
What the US really wants to do is to bring natural gas and oil from the Caspian Sea to Europe through the Ukraine, if possible - but that’s for the long term - and also to use its banks to loot yet another country. It has financial and military objectives in mind. It’s not about helping Ukrainians. It’s always talking about freedom and democracy, but the US is never about that because you find it supporting terrorists in certain situations, and now supporting neo-Nazis, which is highly farcical considering that Hillary Clinton actually called Putin “Hitler” when the US is actually supporting neo-Nazis.
Press TV: What do you think, in general – we have seen for example during the demonstrations in Kiev several protesters killed, and now we have heard this leaked conversation between EU Policy Chief Catherine Ashton and the Estonian foreign minister saying that the former President Viktor Yanukovich was not responsible for the killing of protesters.
I want to look at this modus operandi because it appears that if we look at countries around the world, where there are some local demonstrations, usually the turn of event comes when individuals start getting killed and then the Western media has its play on actually that particular government trying to kill its own people. Do you see this as an MO that seems to be repeated when we see it time and time again in different parts of the world?
Dinh: Yes, just like in Syria with the poison gas, here you have it again. They want to escalate the situation. Some protest leaders had snipers shooting at protesters and also the police to escalate the situation and to place blame on the incumbent government.
Who does this serve? This serves the US media, serves US interests; it gives them a pretext to come in to intervene here.
There’s no proof of the CIA involvement, but it certainly looks like there are CIA fingerprints all over this.
Press TV: I just want to say really quickly to our viewers that our previous guest, Mr. Taras Kuzio, who was in Kiev, actually left the program and refused to speak because he felt that it was biased. It was unfortunate that he didn’t stay so we could really have a debate about this subject.
Mr. Dinh, what happens now? We know that now in Crimea they’re calling for a referendum in eight days. What happens if that takes place and in eight days the people say they want to become a part of Russia? Tell me possible scenarios coming from the EU and the United States at that point.
Dinh: It looks like it’s going to go back into Russia. -But what about other Russian-speaking regions in Ukraine? Ukraine is definitely going to lose Crimea, it appears. It’s running the risk of losing other parts of its country as well.
Already it’s losing its territory and it will not benefit from an incorporation into the European Union...
Press TV: You don’t think Washington will prevent that from happening?
Dinh: What can it do? I mean, it’s threatening sanctions.
The Russians also have economic leverage against the USA. China and Russia are united in this. They can devalue the US dollar.
The US is indebted to these countries. By dumping US bonds, they can devalue the US dollar and really hurt the US economy.
Europe is also not on board Washington’s threat of sanctions because Europe is very dependent on Russian natural gas. The Germans are not speaking as belligerently as Washington, and even the English, even the UK is not speaking as -
Press TV: We know that President Francois Hollande, in talking to US president Obama, is saying it appears that he is on board with putting more pressure on Moscow. Your take on that and on Holland’s perspective in general; could it backfire on Paris?
Dinh: Of course it can backfire on Paris because Hollande is not even that popular in France. Your regular French citizens are not behind this.
Some of the European leaders are giving a bit of lip service to Washington.
But there is nothing to gain for regular citizens in the European Union because why do they want Ukraine in the European Union?
Ukraine is already a struggling country. There is nothing to gain by the European Union incorporating Ukraine. So, I think this is a lot of hot air.
Most of the hot air is coming from Washington DC itself. But, it has to be careful because Washington [a slip of the tongue here. I mean Russia] can retaliate, and China is behind Russia.
Even Japan, normally very much behind Washington, is being very cautious.
Instead of isolating Russia, Washington might find itself more isolated after this incident and during this incident.
It’s very funny because Putin is so composed during this whole episode, and Washington is talking so hysterically.
There are very few options it can resort to short of outright war, which would be suicidal for everybody. I don’t think that would happen but you never know because the leadership in Washington DC is so insane right now, so psychotic right now.
Press TV: This whole event, the situation now with Russia and, of course, we have seen over the last three years, up and down, with Washington dealing with Syria and saying they’re going to have war, and then not, and then again threatening, tell me about, as far as Washington’s global image right now, do you think that it has taken a beating, that perhaps the majority of people around the world no longer see Washington, as Washington likes to believe it is, in taking the lead in the world? Do you think that Washington has lost its credibility?
Dinh: Certainly. A lot of this posturing is played up for this domestic audience. You know, it’s to convince the people back here that the US has a lot of leverage.
But worldwide, every time it starts to bluster and talk like this, people simply laugh because it does not back up anything and it just shows how out of touch the Washington leadership is.
A lot of this posturing is done for the American audience.
Press TV: Just one minute left, I want to know your perspective, your take on the future of Moscow-Washington relations. We have seen not that long ago Hillary Clinton with Sergei Lavrov pushing the reset button. It seems that button is stuck now. Where do you see it going from here?
Dinh: Russia knows full well Washington’s bad intentions. I think more consolidation between China and Russia, and former US allies moving closer to China and Russia, because it realizes that by being Washington’s puppets there is very little to gain.
The US is a sinking empire. Moving forward, it would drag its allies down.
I think many of these countries are already hedging their bets. They’re trading with China, for example, in their own currencies.
I just mentioned Japan and Russia, Japan is also dependent on Russian natural gas and oil. These countries are rethinking their alliance with Washington.
Press TV: We are sorry that Ukraine’s expert, Mr. Taras Kuzio out of Kiev, decided not to participate in this program because we at Press TV pride ourselves in having a debate, and pride ourselves in actually having two very different perspectives on every subject. Perhaps another time Mr. Kuzio would like to join us here on Press TV.