Reposting a thread by Anders Aslund on Jeffrey Sachs’ attack of democratic Ukraine and the West in favour of Putin’s authoritarian kleptocracy

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Per Anders Åslund is a Swedish economist and former Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council. He is also a chairman of the International Advisory Council at the Center for Social and Economic Research. His work focuses on economic transition from centrally planned to market economies. Wikipedia

Jeffrey David Sachs is an American economist, academic, public policy analyst, and former director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University, where he holds the title of University Professor. He is known for his work on sustainable development, economic development, and the fight to end poverty. Wikipedia

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I am sad to see that Jeffrey Sachs, my old friend & partner in advising the Russian reform government, 1991-94, now has gone all out in attacking democratic Ukraine & the West in favor of Putin’s authoritarian kleptocracy. I can no longer stand aside.

In the end, the interviewers ask: “To be clear, Professor Sachs, you’ve denounced Russia’s invasion as violent, of Ukraine? Sachs: “I am sorry, Amy, I missed the opening.” “You’ve denounced Russia’s invasion of Ukraine?” [Not done before in the interview.]

Sachs: “Of course. Absolutely, this was a collision that is disastrous, and the cruelty of the Russian invasion is enormous. But the foolishness, recklessness of the U.S. neoconservatives to push to this point is also something that needs accounting.”

This is a morally disastrous answer. Only when prompted by a sympathetic interviewer can Sachs say that the Russian invasion was cruel, but he does not blame Russia or Putin for their invasion of Ukraine. He justifies Russia’s war of aggression & genocide (not mentioned).

Sachs has one aim: to blame the US, the West, NATO & in particular the neocons. But what are his specific arguments: “NATO as Ukraine’s security doesn’t work. It’s an explosive brew.” (=no argument, only emotions: Sachs does not like NATO).

An elementary observation is that the East European countries that managed to become members of NATO in time have been safe from Putin’s aggression, while Ukraine & Georgia who failed to flee into safety in time were attacked by Putin in 2008, 2014, and 2022.

Sachs makes a passionately pro-Russian statement about Crimea: “Crimea has been historically and will be in the future, effectively, at least de facto Russian.” This sounds like a justification of Stalin’s deportation of the Crimea Tartars in 1944. They were live there longer.

Is Sachs justifying the Soviet & Russian policy of offering retired military officers retirement in Crimea? Presumably he does know of such a policy.

Then he comes to the kleptocratic Ukrainian President Yanukovych, whom he incredibly defends. He “was negotiating with Russia to give, essentially, a long-term lease to satisfy Russia’s security desires and needs as a balancing…” Sachs reveals his ignorance.

In 1997, Ukraine leased Sevastopol to Russia for 20 years through a bilateral agreement with Russia. In 2010, Putin’s underling Dmitri Medvedev pressurized pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych to lease Sevastopol for another 25 years for dubious gas price discounts. He did so.

Russia could easily occupy Crimea in 2014.because Ukraine had allowed Russia to lease the Sevastopol naval base on Crimea. The lesson from Russia’s occupation of Crimea in 2014 is that Ukraine needs to seize full control also of Sevastopol.

But Sachs, who does not know much about Russia or Ukraine, claims: “But the United State, very unwisely and very provocatively, contributed to the overthrow of Mr. Yanukovych in early 2014,setting in motion the tragedy before our eyes.” This is a truly outrageous statement.

First, on January 16, 2014, Yanukovych adopted the so-called “dictatorship laws” that just about passed through the Ukrainian parliament. They corresponded to Putin’s anti-democratic laws of 2005. The Ukrainian people & parliament rebelled & ousted Yanukovych the next month.

Second, this happened because of Ukraine’s strong civil society & democratic feelings, which Sachs could not care less about. Third, the US did not play any role in Yanukovych’s ouster.

What I most of all cannot understand about Sachs is that he refuses to criticize Putin in any way. Does Sachs prefer dictatorship (Russia) over democracy (Ukraine & the West)? He had better clarify his preferences after even Democracy Now! ask him so!

In no way does he criticize Putin’s, or even Yanukovych’s, kleptocracy. Is he now all anti-Western, anti-US and prefer any vile authoritarian kleptocrat over a Western-oriented democrat?

I could go on, but the case is so obvious. Has Sachs stopped thinking and become a simplistic Putin propagandist? Shape up, Jeff! Are you a serious intellectual any longer? Are you for democracy? Are you against kleptocracy?

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