President Barack Obama is determined to ensure that one of his presidential legacies be that the United States finally sloughs off the remaining vestiges of its Cold War policy. He promised then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” to deal with Russia in a manner both parties would prefer in his second term. When the Russians took this pledge literally and promptly invaded Ukraine, Obama imposed new sanctions on Moscow and began to provide Ukraine with non-lethal aid in order to repel the invasion. All the while, Obama assured reporters that “it’s not a new Cold War.” The latest front in the president’s quixotic fight to move America beyond 20th Century precepts is his unilateral decision to extend diplomatic relations to the communist government in Cuba.
For some reason, the Russians never got the memo. Russia opened Obama’s second term by banning Americans from adopting Russian children. Moscow responded to Obama’s decision to repair relations with Havana by sending a Russian military vessel to dock in the Cuban capital’s port. Today alone, NATO has implicated Russia for complicity if not involvement in a new rocket attack on a Ukrainian city. This cheery development was compounded by the news that the FBI broke up a Russian spy ring in Manhattan that was seeking to infiltrate the American banking system. But it’s not a new Cold War.
The banker, identified in a criminal complaint as Evgeny Buryakov, is accused of working with agents of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, the SVR, as a “non-official cover” agent.
“Specifically, Buryakov is posing as an employee in the Manhattan office of a Russian bank,” the complaint, unsealed today, says.
Buraykov was arrested as part of an alleged spy ring that involved two other individuals, the Department of Justice said. The other two, identified as Igor Sporyshev and Victor Podobnyy, had worked in the U.S. before on behalf of Russia and were protected by diplomatic immunity. Sporyshev worked as a Trade Representative for Russia in New York until late last year and Podobnyy was an attaché to Russia’s Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations, the complaint says.
According to the FBI, Buraykov was an active participant in the spy ring that was charged with both collecting information and recruiting New York City residents to betray their country.
Meanwhile, violence between insurgents, euphemistically dubbed by politically correct Western media outlets as “pro-Russian separatists,” and Ukrainian forces has again exploded in that former Soviet Republic. The strategic port city of Mariupol erupted in violence over the weekend and was subjected to a rocket attack from unknown sources. On Monday, a NATO chief directly blamed Moscow for instigating the violence, equipping and supporting the pro-Russian combatants, and using civilians as “cannon fodder.”
For his part, Vladimir Putin blamed NATO for inflaming tensions in Eastern Europe. The Russian president insisted that the Ukrainian army “is not an army, but a foreign legion, in this case a foreign NATO legion, which, of course, doesn’t pursue the national interests of Ukraine.”
“The foreign forces in Ukraine are Russian,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Monday. “There are Russian forces in Ukraine, and Russia backs the separatists with equipment.”
If this isn’t a new Cold War, I don’t know what is.