Russian influence operations in Washington, D.C. have not been affected by the weak sanctions imposed on some members of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle (but not Putin himself) in Moscow. The “World Russia Forum” will be held June 16th and 17th in the Hart Senate Office Building and features Sergei Kislyak, the Russian Ambassador to Washington; James Carden, Contributing Editor of Pat Buchanan’s The American Conservative magazine; and Mark Ritchie, the Secretary of State of Minnesota.
Analyst Trevor Loudon has described Ritchie as “the Secret ‘Communist Party Friend’ Who Gave Al Franken His Senate Seat.” He notes, “One of the Senate’s most radical members, Minnesota’s Al Franken, won his seat after a highly controversial re-count, supervised by Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie.” Franken is up for re-election this year.
Loudon has published confidential documents showing Ritchie attended and addressed a Communist Party meeting, and was described in a written report on the meeting as a “non-party friend.” The report was marked “not for publication.”
Ritchie won his own office after the Democracy Alliance, a leftist group funded by George Soros, among others, launched a “Secretary of State” project to capture the secretary of state offices in 11 of 13 critical states.
Although Putin continues to destabilize Ukraine, the theme of the upcoming Washington, D.C. conference is, “Towards Constructive Agenda for U.S. – Russia Relations.” It says the current policy of “threatening and implementing sanctions” will “not achieve its ultimate results but most likely will be no less damaging to the Western geopolitical, security and economic interests.”
In short, the U.S. ought to accommodate Russia’s interests and forget about freedom and independence for Ukraine.
Even after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Ritchie went ahead with a U.S. Russia Innovation Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota. The event included a special “matchmaking” session to “explore mutually beneficial partnerships between U.S. and Russian companies, universities, non-profits and entrepreneurs.”
But Russian influence operations continue on many fronts. On May 9, a group called Russia House took out a full-page advertisement in The Washington Times under the headline, “America Salutes Russia on our joint Victory Day over Nazi Germany,” adding, “We were allies then and need to be allies now to meet the global challenges of the 21st Century.”
The ad made no mention of the Hitler-Stalin Pact that started World War II.
Another speaker at the June 16 event is Thomas Graham of Kissinger Associates, named for the former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. Graham has written that “Russia is indispensable to our interests.” Graham, senior director at Kissinger Associates, served as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russia on the National Security Council Staff from 2004 to 2007, and Director for Russian Affairs on the National Security Council Staff from 2002 to 2004.
In another article, “Resurgent Russia and US Purposes,” Graham writes, “In order to become a genuinely developed and modern country, in the coming decade Russia will need to invest at least one trillion dollars in modernizing its infrastructure. America and the West in general have a vital interest in seeing the modernization of Russia succeed. The lion’s share of the technologies, know-how, and a substantial proportion of the investment, needs to come from Europe and the USA.”
Kissinger was on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” show on May 11, arguing that Putin should be accommodated in his drive to take over Ukraine, by the West agreeing to keep Ukraine out of NATO, the one-time anti-Soviet alliance. He said, “A Western strategic frontier 300 miles from Moscow is unacceptable to Russia. So the question is, can one create a kind of—you can say perfect state or an area of cooperation in which Ukraine will be free to participate in European economic relationships but not join NATO.”
CNN noted in a quick on-air description of Kissinger that his company does business in Russia. But no details or figures on the financial relationship were provided.
Zakaria’s other guest, Karl-Theordor Zu Guttenberg, a former German Defense Minister, insisted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel is “totally committed to the Western alliance and has so often quoted values connected to it.” Guttenberg ignored evidence about her secret ties to the former Communist East German regime. Putin had served as a KGB spy in East Germany.
Obama had his own communist ties, of course, but waited until 2010 to push hard for deeper U.S-Russia ties, declaring in 2010,
“Let me be clear: America wants a strong, peaceful, and prosperous Russia. This belief is rooted in our respect for the Russian people, and a shared history between our nations that goes beyond competition. Indeed, despite our past rivalry, our people were allies in the greatest struggle of the last century. As we honor this past, we also recognize the future benefit that will come from a strong and vibrant Russia.”
We are seeing that strength in Ukraine.
Obama pushed Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) for Russia through the Congress in 2012, giving Russia access to billions of dollars of Western capital. PNTR passed the Senate by a 92-4 vote, and the House by 365-43.
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, and can be contacted at [email protected].