Donbass – Military-Political Aspects

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February 19, 2019

Donbass – Military-Political Aspects

By Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard
cross posted with 
https://www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko-donbass-military-political-aspects/ 
source:
 http://alternatio.org/articles/articles/item/67719-donbass-voenno-politicheskie-aspekty

 

Donbass, like any frontline territory with a non-determined status, is periodically covered by waves of rumours – the most improbable and the most absurd rumours, which nevertheless are spread with the speed of a virus. Despite their regular repetitiveness and regular falsifiability, they, appearing again and again, invoke trust again and again. The number of people living in Donbass who have a “friend who personally heard from Putin” the latest “artful Russian plans” concerning the fates of the People’s Republics concedes only to the number of those who “heard personally from Pushilin” the same thing.

Recently, in connection with the Ukrainian elections, rumours (which have periodically appeared over five years) became more active again that right now there is the desire to return the DPR/LPR into the structure of Ukraine. This rumour is absurd, since right now (before elections) it’s not only politically unprofitable (Russia doesn’t support Poroshenko) to return Donbass to Ukraine, but it is also technically impossible (there isn’t enough time to implement the necessary procedures).

It is obvious that the activisation of this rumour is partially connected to the recent statement of Medvedchuk, who proposed to Kiev, for the sake of ending the war and preserving Donbass as a part of Ukraine, to change the Constitution for the purpose of creating wide autonomy in Donbass. However, since Medvedchuk plays up to Tymoshenko against Poroshenko, it is clear that Kiev could start the implementation of these ideas no earlier than the elections will conclude if Tymoshenko becomes the president.

At the same time, it is necessary to consider that Yuliya Tymoshenko angrily condemned Viktor Medvedchuk’s proposal, because now she acts from a more radical nationalist position than Poroshenko in order to win the favour and support of nationalist radicals, who will indeed decide the outcome of elections. Therefore, nobody will be able to integrate Donbass anywhere either before presidential elections or immediately after them. And after this parliamentary elections will start. Thus, if there were indeed such plans, then starting their implementation earlier than a year and a half later would be practically unrealistic. For this, as a minimum, the position of Kiev must cardinally exchange. And what will happen to Donbass, Ukraine, and the world in a year’s time only God knows, and even this is with a known amount of conditionality, because he granted every person the right to make a free choice between good and evil, and the fates of countries and civilisations consist of millions of these free choices.

However, the constant sense of danger accompanying the inhabitants of Donbass is based not only on such inadequate interpretations of the bright speeches of Kiev or Moscow politicians. The main irritating factor is the non-determined status. People can’t understand why Russia didn’t take them following the example of Crimea, why the Kiev authorities were recognised in 2014, and for what purpose were the Minsk Agreements reached? Hence the wavering when the rumour about handing over Donbass “already tomorrow” is replaced by the rumour that right now Russia will not recognise the 2019 elections, will capture Kiev, and Donbass will at last enter the structure of the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, the military-political situation that predetermined the fate of Donbass for the nearest years developed in 2014 and hasn’t yet changed. In 2014 a window of opportunities was indeed opened and was far from being exhausted by the return of Crimea to the structure of Russia and the declaration of DPR/LPR.

Before the February coup of 2014 the possibility of the entry of all of Ukraine into the Customs Union was quite real. For this purpose Yanukovych needed to only disperse Maidan and jail all prominent politicians who supported the coup attempt. This decision completely depended on a subjective factor – the personal will of Yanukovych, the level of his intelligence, and his adequacy in his job.

After the coup, during February-April a campaign to Kiev of the uprising Southeast was possible, with the informal support of Russia. In such a variant, Western Ukraine, most likely, would’ve already been lost, Crimea would’ve left for Russia (as it already happened), and the other territories, with a new pro-Russian government, would’ve joined the process of Eurasian integration. A key role in the failure of this opportunity was played by both a subjective factor (the absolute lack of readiness of new, put forward by a popular uprising, leaders of the Southeast to think not in the scale of their region {Kharkov, Donetsk, Odessa}, but in the scale of the country), and an objective factor – the idealistic idea of the masses of a revolt based on the thought that it “will be like it was in Crimea” (we will stand two days, and then “polite tanks”will come and we will go home to go about our own business).

None of the representatives of the uprising mass of the Southeast and their new elites understood that the victory of any revolt is in Kiev (in the capital). Nationalists, by the way, understood well that until they take the capital, they are just rebels, but as soon as they capture government buildings – they are already the authorities, and the mutineers – their opponents. Every region of the Southeast hoped, having marked the revolt and having hid behind Russia, to solve the issue independently and let the neighbour decide for themselves.

Here, of course, a question arises that is often asked not only in Donbass, but also in all of Ukraine: and what, Russia couldn’t liberate Russian lands with Russian people from nominally Banderists, but in reality an American occupation? Evidently, it could. But Russia can “liberate” all of Europe up to the Atlantic (which, by the way, is also under American occupation).

Does this mean that Russia must urgently start “a liberating campaign” in Europe? The question seems to be absurd, but the topic of “a liberating campaign” in Ukraine, which according to its status differs little from Serbia, is constantly discussed by the Russian and the pro-Russia Ukrainian public. Yes, in Ukraine there was a coup. But international law doesn’t provide the possibility of an incursion into an independent state only because of a violent change of power. Yes, our western “partners” often carry out coups and/or interfere in independent states under the pretext of eliminating the consequences of the coup. Nevertheless, even now, when not only the spirit, but also the letter of international law is consciously ignored in most cases by the majority of countries, such invasions/interventions are outwardly given shape in accordance with international law. For example, some local oppositionist is found (or brought, like how the USSR brought Babrak Karmal from Czechoslovakia to Afghanistan), a real or fake resistance movement is formed around them, it then establishes control over some territories, provides the transition of some officials and military personnel to its side, and only after this do foreign troops appear in the country “for the purpose of stopping bloodshed”. The appearance of “polite people” in Crimea was given shape precisely like this. Civil standoff, the threat of mass bloodshed, the non-recognition of the Kiev coup by local parliament – only after this did Russia appear there officially. And everything that was unofficial was already in play.

The corresponding conditions didn’t develop anywhere else across the entire territory of Ukraine. Yes, there were rallies that gathered 1,000/2,000 people. Yes, the regional state administrations were taken by storm. Yes, “people’s governors” were proclaimed. But at the same time, except in Crimea, in no region did the official authorities refuse to recognise the legitimacy of the coup in Kiev. Thus, Russia found itself in front of the formally monolithic unity of a 45-million state, all the authorities of which, including regional ones in the Southeast, refused to recognise Yanukovych as legitimate. But counteraction was demonstrated by several tens of thousands of people over all the country. This counteraction was unorganised, they weren’t able to either reach an agreement among themselves or formulate their aims clearly.

So from the point of view of international law, in 2014 Russia had nobody to stand up for. Those abstract “we were waiting [for Russia to liberate us]” – who indeed were in the millions – couldn’t be considered, counted, and their non-publicly expressed will presented as a justification of a right to intervene by anyone.

Of course, there was an option to spit on the legal justification of actions and to act by the right of might. But for the sake of what? An overland corridor to Crimea? This issue was solved with the help of the Crimean Bridge. Meanwhile it was clear that it won’t be possible to capture all of Ukraine in 2014. In the West (and even in the center) most of the population would be against it. And an appeal to the US, EU, and NATO with a request for help will surely be expressed. And it will be heard.

I.e., the partition of Ukraine was possible, and it’s not a fact that it would be succeeded to take all of Novorossiya and to punch a corridor up to Transnistria. It is rather on the contrary – neither Kiev, nor western “partners” were obviously going to hand over Odessa, the strangling of Transnistria in a situation of military-political chaos was quite real, and it was possible to do it quickly, during a couple of days (so that Russia has no time to react). The most sad thing in this chapter is that a part of the gas pipelines + gas storages would all the same remain under the control of the Banderist government. Only it would speak rightfully about Russian aggression, and for our friends in the EU it would be almost impossible to defend the idea of “Nord Stream-2”.

Russia would thus receive a small territorial accretion with a population that is far from being ready to fit into the Russian political system (this is seen even in the example of the small and most Russian in Ukraine Crimea), but its economic partnership with the EU would be interrupted and political relations would reach a level close to a military confrontation. Those same US bases that so far have appeared in Europe in a very moderate quantity only because most Europeans are against the deployment of new American forces would appear there without problem.

It would be necessary to manyfold strengthen the Western grouping of troops, including in the attached territories. And besides this, for the creation of an effective system of management and control it would be necessary to send a large number of administrative staff from Russia to the attached territories, and also forces of the police and FSB (Ukrainian statehood was almost destroyed, the remaining officials in their majority are incompetent, and the system of management has been destroyed).

It would be a question of the need to resettle in Ukraine hundreds of thousands of people (1-2 million, if to count them with their families) for the long term. These people would be perceived there as “Varangians” who were sent to govern (but after all, we can do it ourselves) and who “prevents us from living” in the way that “we got used to”. Since this moment any problem would be a problem “caused by Russia”, which didn’t give, do, or provide something. After all, the governors are Russian. Soon the era of “European integration” would start being remembered with nostalgia, especially since sharply increasing the standard of living of 20 million people is almost impossible, but forcing everyone to pay taxes (only the lazy in Ukraine didn’t avoid paying them) is actually very easy. Besides this, the freezing in the Ukrainian (and in general in the Western) direction of a considerable (from a third to a half) of the entire military capacity of Russia would block the possibility of pursuing an active foreign policy (including in Syria). There wouldn’t be simply anything left that could offer support.

A hypothetical Ukrainian campaign didn’t correspond to the principle, according to Liddel Hart, requirement of a successful war: “Victory is such a post-war peace that is better than the pre-war one, at least for you”.

But maybe it was possible to integrate at least Donbass into Russia following the Crimean example? No, it wasn’t. As was already said, legitimate regional authorities didn’t support the revolt. Only about a third of the total area of two regions and a half of that territory on which an independence referendum was held appeared in the hands of the revolters. To recognise and integrate them into Russia (and they can’t survive independently) is possible only within the framework of the territory under its control today. Supporting an offensive of the DPR/LPR up to the borders of regions means to start a war that leads to the partition of Ukraine, but Russia will receive even less than the biggest part of Novorossiya – it will be just two regions. The other consequences, perhaps, are a little more soft, but in general they are the same. Besides this, it is necessary to understand that by making peace on the condition of the integration of Donbass, Russia would practically reconcile with the loss of the rest of Ukraine forever (or as far as it is possible to speak about “forever” in politics in principle). I.e., the losses are the same, and the profit is even less, if we avoid saying that there isn’t any in general.

In fact, this situation of a military-political stalemate that developed in the Ukrainian direction by the summer of 2014 forced Russia to opt to freeze the situation in this direction, having transferred the center of gravity of its efforts to more promising, from the point of view of the global standoff with the US, regions – in order to return to the Ukrainian question in general, and to Donbass in particular, in more favourable conditions.

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Nazi Racialist Ideology in Service to Trump Derangement Syndrome

February 14, 2019

by Norman Ball for The Saker Blog

 

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A full year ago, as it was dawning on most reasonable people the Trump-Russian Collusion narrative was a hoax drenched in donkey-fied Goebbelian misdirection, I noted with alarm (here on The Saker Blog) how Never Trumpism, in its manic excesses, was retracing a very dark chapter of Nazi racialist ideology.

 

goebbels on ww1

In a disturbing instance of enantiadromia, this very same faction was accusing half the nation (not themselves of course —the Other shadow-half) of harboring neo-Nazi fixations of their own towards Donald Trump. Millions of Americans’ watched their populist effusions get transmuted by the opposition into a Wolf Blitzkrieg-narrated version of Triumph of the Will.

Of course much can be said about Trump’s subsequent drift into the same old Neocon orbit. But without doubt, the early hostile reception attending his Russian overtures did little to encourage a pivot towards improved relations between the two countries. Still, one cannot help but wonder how things might have turned out absent sui generis ethno-racial antagonisms. The original McCarthyism was salutary for destroying lives solely on the basis of ideology. In the present climate, decent men and women rise in salute of Tail-Gunner Joe’s scrupulous avoidance of DNA samples.

teenage virusHere’s an extended excerpt of the March 2018 Saker essay:

“The term Russian collusion sounds like it walked off a Tavistock Institute clipboard with the usual aim of promoting fear and avoiding mass enlightenment. Knowledge is power. Enlightenment is the coveted reserve of the Few. Not surprisingly, power favors misdirection (ignorance) over enlightenment (empowerment). Dumb down and frighten — divide and conquer.

This is why the plebeian class is often referred to as the disorganized masses. Buffeted by successive waves of misdirection, society becomes a de-articulated echo chamber of movements, ideologies and belief systems. Horizontalized incoherence averts vertical assaults on those who preside on high. The Internet alt-narrative, a bottoms-up constellation of knowledge simultaneously disseminated and protected by its distributive architecture, is climbing the enlightenment ladder slowly. It needs to hurry.

We find an early Russophobic send-up in the zany 1966 movie The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! Trying desperately to stay under the radar of state actors (with their penchant for international incidents and Independent Counsels) a Soviet sub and its crew, having run aground on a Cape Cod sandbar, enlist the support of sympathetic Cape Cod villagers to regain open waters. Their Russian nationality is initially hidden (isn’t it always?) behind the guise of Norwegian fishermen. Everyone has the presence of mind not to call CNN. The movie instructs that, when encountered in everyday interactions, Russians are people too. Imagine that! This humanizing touch was a real coup in Cold War America.

The visceral and reflexive fear of a prior era is being resurrected. But as prelude to what? More on that later.

Russian collusion is also calculated to stoke primate fears. In essence, the colluders have acquired an infection from the main doctrinal source; Russia being a sort of Typhoid Mary. The resultant false doctrine (revived nationalism, multilateralism, Eurasianism, post-Bolshevism, Christian renewal) has the potential to visit a cognitive plague on the larger group, or should we rather say their doctrine poses a health threat to the prevailing narrative, the latter being an illness in itself that seeks the preservation of the Few at the cost of the Many.

https://dxczjjuegupb.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/word-image-1-300x223.jpg

So, a pervading illness erects the strawman of a secondary ailment in order to defend the primacy of its own pathology. Never mind that, for Americans, this secondary ailment is exactly what the doctor ordered. The truth is disguised as a disease. The emanation point is Russia.

Keeping the masses both joined to a common moral cause (the Straussian baton of Greatest Present Evil has clearly passed from Terror to Russia) and trained on their potent enemy (for what appears to be an imminent conflict), our Managers find the prospect of We the People—in our militarized permutation—inflicting a deathblow on Russia, while getting annihilated ourselves, a very tempting two-for-one proposition.

For the moment, until a cure is found (or a war is started in earnest) we are urged to please wash our hands thoroughly after handling all things Russian. Russian flags on Olympic grounds could spark an outbreak. Ban them. If you encountered a Russian-sponsored ad on Facebook during the election be aware the contagion may have survived on your PC screen for weeks, causing some to waste their vote even on the likes of Jill Stein. Now that’s sick! The political valence of the click ads–Trump or Clinton—didn’t matter either. Germs are agnostic and airborne. They can travel for miles disguised as competing worldviews.

Sometimes the drumbeat can carry us into the most surreal byways. Take the positively eerie instance of a CNN correspondent venturing onto an elderly pro-Trump Floridian’s front lawn to question her patriotism and Russian sympathies.Throwing caution to the wind, he fails to don the official CNN gloves and surgical mask. What is he in this instance: a journalist, a stalker, an ideological ambulance-chaser, a proto-Soviet Precinct Captain?

More linguistic mischief. We encounter the nefarious The dozens of times a week as in The Russians. Deployment of the definite article as preface to an ethnic group, people or tribe is another tactic aimed at suggesting members of a particular group can no longer be referenced as autonomous individuals, having become hive-minded Stepford Wives lashed to an agenda injurious to the larger group. The The’s are behind the recent ramp-up of crime! No sooner do the The’s move into the neighborhood than property values take a dive. The The’s control the world!

The perils of ethnic scapegoating are a matter of historical inspection. Why then are they being so systematically courted? The indignation of our nation’s 2.9 million Russian-Americans is entirely too muted, certainly under-televised. Perhaps Wolf Blitzkrieg can look into this.

In a recent tweet, Hillary Clinton stoops yet again to Russia-baiting. Then there’s the thirteen Facebook trolls who happen to be Russian nationals engaged in a strictly business venture with no evidence of a state actor role and no overt political leanings. None of this prevents Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein from alluding by sly inference to the Russians during his press conference (here at 3:19) as though King Bee Putin himself was supplying the company with kitty and puppy clickbait pics from the depths of the Kremlin’s basement.

How does national origin warrant even a cursory mention unless a larger point is being made? The indicted will never see a court of law anyway. The slur was the thing. It was lodged. Mission accomplished.”

*****

Today, as the Trump-Russia Collusion hoax collapses in an exhausted heap, hopelessly discredited by the anticipated broadly bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report as well as the recent (and quite riveting) ABC News interview of former Trump (and long-time DOJ) attorney John Dowd, we can only look back in horror and beg the forgiveness of our Russian-American friends who, it seems even now, continue to weather an Anti-Slavism onslaught surpassed only in intensity by Nazi Germany itself.

So, what exactly is Anti-Slavism or Slavophobia? The insert below offers both definition and harrowing genealogy.

antislavism

For a televised rendition of manufactured Anti-slavic consent, The Jimmy Dore Show recently captured a Rachel Maddow installment in all its monomaniacal splendor. Captain Ahab would drop his harpoon in a fit of obsessive-compulsive inadequacy beside Maddow’s unmodulated intensity. Remember, this is culled from just one show. The mash-up mayhem begins here at 0:15. For those with bad earbuds, relax. The audio never strays far from Russia-Russia-Russia-Russia-Russia:

Maddow.png

Did media luminaries travel the globe systematically exploring and discarding potential instances of, say, Finnish and Indonesian collusion before stumbling across—and belaboring mightily—the Russian brand? Nyet. It was Russia Russia Russia from the get-go.

It’s high time Neo-Nazi revivalists such as Maddow either provide evidence of Slavic genome deficiencies and incontrovertible Untermenschen status or cease, desist and apologize profusely to this large and significant segment of American society.

If such evidence does exist, then all that remains is to determine as a society how this beleaguered genome in our midst can best be addressed from a public policy standpoint. Better to ask Maddow, but ideas include sequestering all Russians in Idaho, affording them spotty civil liberty protections or pursuing barbed-wire internment (ala Americans of Japanese descent in WW2), etc.

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From a purely American standpoint, the opportunity cost implicit in this unwarranted (and perilous) derailment of a Trump-telegraphed US-Russian rapprochement has been nothing short of ruinous for a reprised Kissinger-esque triangulation strategy, while wildly beneficial to accelerated Eurasian integration.

The double-helix China-Russia alliance (postulated in 2014 by Saker blog frequenter Larchmonter445) has been allowed two further years of unanswered fermentation, increasing the likelihood the US will face a two-front world war —something the Pentagon itself has recently conceded.

Thus, what may have started as a Hillary-Clinton-in-defeat face-saving campaign (if not an outright Obama-initiated GCHQ/Five Eyes coup) could well reap the bitterest fruit of all: a world-ending conflagration. It’s enough to want Heil Hillster back.

Not really.

Petro Poroshenko and the Spanish Toad

February 14, 2019

By Rostislav Ishchenko

Petro Poroshenko and the Spanish Toad
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard
cross posted with 
https://www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko-petro-poroshenko-and-the-spanish-toad/
source: 
https://ukraina.ru/opinion/20190214/1022682814.html

 

There is an old Spanish fairy tale about a “hurrying toad”. It spent 7 years climbing the high stairs to a house, having a rest after each overcome step. It fell from the last one and started to complain: “Why am I in a hurry every time”?

The descendants of Visigoths and Moors laugh together at the stupidity of this amphibian, which took its extraordinary sluggishness for haste. Meanwhile, the small animal isn’t so stupid as it seems. It is quite possible that before the last step the toad didn’t rest sufficiently. As a result, 7 years of work was for nothing. So the statement of the Spanish toad isn’t as direct as it may seem at first sight. In addition, the fact that it pondered the reasons for its defeat and tried to analyse them to the best of its ability (obviously in order to not repeat a mistake) characterises the Spanish toad as intellectual, even if it is ugly and slippery.

Unlike the mentioned fairytale Pyrenean small animal, Ukrainian politicians and “intellectuals”who try to develop a strategic course for the state never once thought about why every time when they want to do something better, things turns out as always.

I understand that for them their personal interests always prevail over the state’s interests, and that they are ready to sell, buy, and again sell their Motherland, but for a higher price. However, even the racketeers of the 90’s, who didn’t go very far from Pithecanthropus (both in terms of appearance and intelligence level), quickly realised that during their lives it is more favourable to milk a prospering point than to milk protected businesses dry one-two times and then tighten one’s belt. Those who didn’t understand this very quickly found themselves six-feet under. I.e., it must be clear to Ukrainian politicians that “stealing from profits” (as Igor Valeryevich Kolomoisky teaches) is more favourable and safe than from losses. And in a prosperous country the situation is stabler, profits are higher, and thus the income is steadier.

And after all, one can’t say that Ukrainian politicians didn’t worry at all about the prosperity of their country and thus business, which they do at the expense of this country. The vast majority of them, not just “Euro-integrators”, sincerely believed that EU accession will bring prosperity to the country, that NATO will defend it from any threats, and in order to achieve these two treasured objectives it is necessary to just regularly follow the instructions of the US, both directly (through the Embassy) and through affiliated structures (for example, the IMF).

They still aren’t confused by the fact that the more zealously and fervently the recommendations of Washington are implemented, the poorer and more insolvent Ukraine becomes. This is a state that 25 years ago laid claim to the title of “the second France”, which participated in the G7+1 format (besides Ukraine, such a format was used around the world by the West on a regular basis only for negotiations with Russia), but turned into a poor excuse of Haiti, and doesn’t just slip deeper into the abyss, but simply nosedives, rejoicing that “the bottom hasn’t been reached yet”.

Here, for example, is the US, which longly and persistently advised [Ukraine – ed] to “diversify”, but in practice to cut strategic trade and economic ties with Russia. Ukraine moved in this direction in the middle of the 90’s. And the further it traveled along the way of “diversification”, the more strongly the economy collapsed. And lastly, by signing the agreement on association with the EU and severing its last ties with Russia (under the pretext of a war that only Ukraine sees and wages), the final blow was dealt to the economy. It won’t be possible to reanimate it any more.

Kiev acted similarly on the gas front. The almost annual, since 2005, “gas wars” (diversification of the gas supply and the transfer of relations with Moscow in this sphere to “European groundwork” was declared as their purpose) led to a 5- to 6-fold (and at peak even more) rise in the gas price for Kiev, which made Ukrainian industry noncompetitive. Of course, at first several people were able to steal many times more than they initially assumed on the back of the growth of gas prices.

But the oligarchy as a whole in this case suffered huge losses, because at first separate enterprises, and then even whole industries – the competitiveness of which was defined by a rather low price of gas – reduced production and then completely stopped their work. Finally, with the death of the industry, the gas consumption also reduced, so even those who sat on dividends from trade in “blue gold” was suffered losses.

One doesn’t need to be a genius in order to guess that the US, pitting Ukraine against Russia, doesn’t at all think about the prosperity of the Ukrainian state, the people, and the oligarchy, but seeks to solve its own problems at someone else’s expense. In their calculations Kiev plays a role of expendable material. Its main task consists of blocking economic ties with Russia and the EU, where an important (and recently, even critical) role is played by the supply of gas, because until recently 80% of gas transit from Russia to the EU went through Ukraine, so Ukraine was a key link in the implementation of the American plans for holding the Old Continent under its economic and political control. What will thus happen to Ukraine didn’t bother the Americans at all.

That’s why, for example, in 2014, after the return of Crimea to Russia, the US for a few months more strenuously signalled to Moscow that they wouldn’t at all be against Russia capturing all of Ukraine. Washington reasonably believed that in this case nothing else will remain for the European Union except to sever all ties with Moscow.

During the last five years since the putsch the US indifferently observes how the pro-American regime that came to power loses internal stability because of the banal lack of funds for the maintenance of the state. At the same time, the maintenance of Ukraine at the level of “so that things don’t become worse” costs about $10 billion of external financing per year. With $30 billion per year it is possible to create a feeling of full wellbeing and absolute happiness among the population. This is not peanuts, but it is about 1/25th of budget of the Pentagon (not taking into account indirect military expenses). For comparison, for rescuing the financial system of Greece (in order to not allow its exit from the Eurozone) the West in two years found more than €300 billion (about $500 billion).

Taking into account the strategic importance of Ukraine in American geopolitical planning, if its integrity (even not prosperity) was recognised as a boundary condition for a solution, then money would be found without problems. If it’s not found, so it means that the US is satisfied with any option: if it will remain intact – okay, if it will collapse – this also okay. But it must do it itself.

Nevertheless, Kiev continues to pick up any American initiative with enthusiasm. Now Ukraine actively fights against “Nord Stream-2”. Moreover, its confidence in the beneficence of American recommendations and their obligatoriness for implementation reaches such a level that the government officials of Kiev (including the Minister of Foreign Affairs) are publicly surprised by, and indignant at, how Germany dares to continue the construction of “Nord Stream-2” if the US already several times repeated that the project is wrong and must be closed? About what such “national interests” do the Germans murmur? Their national interests are better seen from Washington.

Let’s imagine that the pipe dream of Ukrainian politicians comes true and the construction of “Nord Stream-2” is stopped. We won’t try to find out who will lose however much already invested money from it, and also who will owe how much to who. Politics is a severe thing – investments are often lost and debts are rarely paid back. Great Britain, when it was the empress of the seas, often consciously opted for severe financial losses for decades just in order to strangle a dangerous enemy.

But let’s assess the situation from the point of view of the interests of Ukraine. It would seem that everything is all right — the bypassing gas pipeline hasn’t been completed; there is no alternative to Ukrainian transit. Kiev will earn a further 2-3 (and in the long term, maybe, more) billion per year from transit and at the same time terrorise Russia with constant legal proceedings and demands to revise in its own favour the signed contracts. Here is happiness!

However, everything isn’t so benevolent. As we remember, the US fights against “Nord Stream-2” not for the sake of Ukraine and not because of a love for art, but in order to leave its economic competitors in the EU without cheap gas (with the prospect of the death of the primary export branches of European industry) and also to deprive its geopolitical competitors in Russia and China of the European sales market and source of technologies. I.e., with one blow Washington tries to achieve the simultaneous, critical weakening of their three economic and geopolitical competitors, creating the conditions for their return to the position of the world hegemon. More bang for their buck.

This strategy doesn’t at all assume that Russian gas will go through Ukraine. It assumes that gas won’t get to Europe at all. Unless its American liquefied, and in insufficient quantities and at an ultra-high price. Therefore, it is necessary to stop Ukrainian transit after “Nord Stream-2”. There are three ways of solving this problem.

The first option – hope that Russia will take offence, sulk and, as certain “hyper patriots” advise, will stop delivering gas to Europe through Ukraine. This option would be the cheapest and most effective for the US, but Washington already in the 90’s understood that it won’t have such an option.

The second option – provoke a full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia. Fleeing nationalists will have the time to destroy if not all the gas transit infrastructure, then at least a major part of it. And again, it will be possible to put pressure on Europe, demanding to stop any relations with the “aggressor”. This option also allows to solve the American problem mainly at the expense of the geopolitical opponents and allies of Washington. But as the practice of 2014 and the subsequent years showed, this is also not realistic. Russia avoids the “honour” of solving the Ukrainian problem alone, persistently involving leading EU countries in process. So the provocations of Kiev even assist in the gradual political rapprochement of Moscow and Berlin (and also some other European capitals).

The third option assumes the disintegration of the Ukrainian state into conflicting uluses – the Americans will hint to their leaders that the destruction of the gas transit infrastructure will relieve them of many dangers and will create problems for their neighbour. The average Ukrainian politician will easily understand that if the gas going through their territory to the neighbouring hostile region (controlled by a competing oligarch or alternative gang) is used to heat houses and maintenance the work of industry, then there is a need to blow up the gas pipeline. Well, and for those who won’t understand or will decide to play their own game, there are the snipers of the CIA.

Thus, if “Nord Stream-2” is stopped, Russia and the EU will indeed suffer very serious financial-economic and geopolitical losses. But the definitive realisation of American interests doesn’t assume that after this a Ukrainian state will exist. On the contrary, the more victims and destruction there will be, the longer and deeper the chaos on the territory of Ukraine will be, and the better it will be for the Americans. If this territory will turn into an uninhabitable desert, then for Washington it will be a celebration even more so.

So instead of assenting to Americans and dreaming about the crash of the bypassing streams project, Ukraine should cherish it as the apple of their eye, propel “Nord Stream-2”, and even insist that “Nord Stream 3” and “Nord Stream-4” are built.

In such a case, a Ukraine that is growing poor, needed by nobody, forgotten by all, and missing two thirds of its population will be able to survive in the form of an agrarian single-crop Bantustan. The crash of the streams project brings death and destruction to Ukraine and its population. And no other prospect. But for Americans in this case, it’s “nothing personal, just business”. So it isn’t necessary to hurry to jump onto the last step. The Spanish toad can vouch for it.

A Trap in the Name of Peace – a Mechanism For the Transformation of the Nontransformable

February 09, 2019

By Rostislav Ishchenko

A Trap in the Name of Peace – a Mechanism For the Transformation of the Nontransformable
Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
cross posted with https://www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko-a-trap-in-the-name-of-peace-a-mechanism-for-the-transformation-of-the-nontransformable/ 
source: https://ukraina.ru/opinion/20190208/1022621728.html

On February 8th 1994, 25 years ago, Ukraine joined the “Partnership for Peace” (PFP) NATO program.

It happened practically immediately after the establishment of the program in January, 1994. It is characteristic that also then, in 1994, a similar plan of interaction between the EU and the post-socialist space was put forward by the French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur of that time. This was the first project that received the informal name “Balladur plan”. In 2007 he also voiced the idea of unification into one structure of the US and the EU, which also received the name “Balladur plan” in daily use. But unlike the project of 1994, nobody ever tried to realise the idea of 2007.

In 1994, within the framework of the “Balladur plan” numerous events (round tables) were held, and in their course a number of Eastern European countries was defined, which in the future, during the waves of expansion in 2004 and 2007, became a part of the EU. 10 years were spent for their preliminary adaptation to European structures. However, even now, 10-15 years after their accession, it is difficult to call these countries fully-fledged members of the EU. The stability of their budgets and financial systems directly depends not only on the financial aid of the EU as such, but also on the preservation of its volumes. Without permanent annual multi-billion injections from the EU, these states as economic systems are unviable.

The “Partnership for Peace” program was some kind of NATO analog of the “Balladur plan”. Removing the concerns of those post-socialist states that will never become NATO members, as well as the preparation for NATO membership of those who it was decided to accept, were its main tasks. At the same time, like in the case with accession to the EU, the achievement of the criteria that grants the right to become a NATO member was decided randomly, and the opinion of Washington played a decisive role in it.

Thus, for example, Romania – which was considerably inferior to Ukraine until 2014 in terms of economic and in military-political weight, in terms of the question of the development of democracy, and even in terms of the amount of corruption – nevertheless became a NATO member in 2004 and an EU member in 2007. In 2009 Albania – in the boondocks of Europe – was accepted into NATO (now it one of the first in the queue for EU membership). Washington tried only once, in 2008, at the Bucharest NATO summit, to push forward the Membership Plan of Action for Ukraine and Georgia (which would make them official candidates for membership in NATO), but this American initiative was blocked by France and Germany, who didn’t want to spoil relations with Russia. But the question of the reception of Kiev in the EU was in general never on the agenda.

At the same time, it must be kept in mind that the Ukrainian authorities did everything that depended on them to achieve at least the status of a candidate for NATO membership. In 2002 the NATO-Ukraine Action Plan – the highest form of cooperation within the framework of the “Partnership for Peace” (PFP) – was adopted. In April 2004 the Verkhovna Rada adopted the law on free access to the territory of Ukraine for NATO forces, and in June 2004 president Kuchma approved the military doctrine that determined the entry of Ukraine in NATO as the ultimate goal.

This, by the way, will be useful to grasp for those who consider that the danger of NATO bases appearing in Ukraine arose only in 2014 and only because Russia didn’t send tanks to fight against Banderists. By the way, the introduction at the initiative of Poroshenko of the amendments to the Constitution canceling the non-bloc status of Ukraine and determining NATO accession as the ultimate goal is also secondary. 15 years prior Kuchma, quietly, without excess noise and without paying attention to the Constitution, solved the same problem with his decree (which approved the military doctrine). In general, by the middle of 2004, half a year before Maidan, and seven months prior to Yushchenko coming to power, Ukraine was quite ready for NATO accession. Since then Kiev has been in the starting blocks during all this time, but it isn’t invited anywhere.

PFP for NATO played the same role that the “Balladur plan”, and then the “Eastern Partnership”, played for the EU. In fact, they were complementary programs. In 1994 the West still hadn’t made a final decision on what to do with the post-socialist space. Meanwhile, the former countries of socialist camp and the former federal republics were actively rushing into western structures, thinking that joining them would give them the opportunity to solve both their social-economic and military-political problems.

Originally the PFP program was supposed to bring down the heat of Eastern European emotions, busying the countries that were rushing into NATO with mastering a certain mechanism that allowed to “prepare” them over decades for “compliance to criteria” of membership. The criteria are extremely indistinct. PFP members are required to observe the UN charter and international law, to refuse to threaten with the use of force, to meet democratic standards of the West, to carry out military reforms, and to provide civil control over the armed forces. In general, “for everything good and against everything bad”. At the same time, the worthiest one – i.e., the US – had to decide who is most worthy for membership.

Another important point was that within the framework of PFP a country cooperated with NATO on an individual basis. Thus, the West prevented the creation of lobbyist groups, such as the Visegrád Four, which already existed back then (and which was originally considered by the countries that created it as a mechanism for joint accession to the EU and NATO).

In general, thanks to PFP the West received time to decide on a strategy concerning the countries of the former socialist camp. At the same time, their wishes weren’t rejected straight off. Moreover, a mechanism was created, and with its help it was possible to accept any country into NATO at any time and to reject any country under a specious excuse. This same thing also concerns the mechanisms that were created in order to regulate the process of the EU’s expansion.

Within the framework of PFP obligations were taken only by partner countries, while NATO agreed only to the emergency carrying out of consultations if a partner country feels that its territorial integrity is under threat. It is necessary to say that these consultations haven’t helped anybody to date; they created the mechanism of NATO (and de facto the US) interference in any inter-state conflict whereby at least one partner country is involved.

Today’s attempts to actualise the topic of accession to NATO undertaken by Kiev (in particular, the introduction of the corresponding amendments to the Constitution), which have a pronounced propaganda character and have no practical value, are indeed caused by the understanding of that fact that within the framework of PFP Ukraine is perhaps indeed a partner of NATO, but NATO isn’t a partner of Ukraine. Kiev can’t speak with Brussels as equals, it also can’t leave the PFP program, since it would be regarded as the largest foreign policy failure of the current authorities. At the same time, within the framework of PFP Ukraine can only follow the instructions of NATO (in reality, the US) while receiving nothing in exchange.

In general, PFP, which was originally presented as a mechanism for the adaptation of potential candidates to NATO requirements, quickly turned into a trap that keeps those countries that the bloc doesn’t intend to bring into its structure in the orbit of NATO in the quality of “junior partners”.

Terrorism at the Service of ‘Regime Change’. How the West Gets Hit by Its Own Former ‘Useful Freedom Fighters’

Terrorism at the Service of ‘Regime Change’. How the West Gets Hit by Its Own Former ‘Useful Freedom Fighters’

Terrorism at the Service of ‘Regime Change’. How the West Gets Hit by Its Own Former ‘Useful Freedom Fighters’

The Times of London recently published an apologetic story about some “Chechen battalion” that it likes. This special military unit is fighting on the side of Ukrainian troops near the port of Mariupol on the Azov Sea and is headed by a bearded Chechen with a huge dagger inscribed with the words “Death to Separatists.” The Times describes this seemingly bloodthirsty gentleman in a positive light.

An enemy of my enemy

There is one good reason for that. The author of the story, British journalist Marc Bennets, and the commander of the “anti-separatist” battalion, named Muslim Cheberloevsky, have one common enemy. This enemy is the Russian president Putin. In the story, Cheberloyevsky explains to Bennets that he kills the Ukrainian “separatists” (i.e. mostly the Russian-speaking people of Donbass, who refused to live under the crudely nationalist regime of Petro Poroshenko), because he sees them as allies of president Putin. And “Putin is our enemy too,” explains Cheberloyevsky his affinity to Ukrainian nationalists, who normally look down on anyone who was born in Russia. Good enough for The Times. On its pages, Mr. Cheberloyevsky becomes a “freedom fighter.”

The fact that Mr. Cheberloyevsky holds Islamist views and that in an interview to Ukrainian TV he had admitted having trained with the so called Islamic State (formerly ISIS) in Iraq and Syria – this information does not deter The Times in the least. So what, if this useful Islamist “waged jihad” in Syria? Obviously, the UK’s mainstream media shares the establishment’s opinion that the West has a bigger fish to fry with the likes of Mr. Cheberloyevsky – fighting Putin. The perspective of spoiling the day for “Vlad the Bad” is enough for The Times to forget how the anti-Putin and anti-Assad jihadists, having received Western aid, committed terrorist acts in Western Europe and the US. For example, the Boston marathon bombing in 2013 or the Bataclan massacre in Paris in 2015 were both masterminded by Islamist recipients of Western aid for “freedom fighters,” who had radicalized themselves in the same places as Mr. Cheberloyevsky.

Weaponizing Islamism – at your own peril

George Galloway, a former British MP and a prominent critic of British establishment, cites The Times’ story in order to prove his point: “It was always thus.” For several decades, the United States and its allies inside the EU continuously tried to weaponize the Islamist radicals against what the Western establishment saw as much more important adversaries – against Russia, China, Libya, Syria, Iran, etc. It is enough to mention the admitted facts of American and British financing for Osama bin Laden and his proxies during their anti-Soviet campaign in Afghanistan in the 1980s and 1990s. Among more recent cases, one could cite the political asylum provided in the US and in the EU to the anti-Russian terrorists, such as the Tsarnaev brothers, who on their own killed and maimed several dozen people by exploding a bomb in Boston, Massachusets, during the traditional annual marathon in 2013. The Russian security services warned their American colleagues BEFORE the attack, that the future main perpetrator of the “marathon massacre,” Tamerlan Tsarnaev, had taken part in the anti-Russian terrorist activities in two of the Moslem regions of Russia – the autonomous republics of Chechnya and Dagestan. But this warning went unheeded, with 3 Bostonians killed and 16 losing their limbs as a result.

This time again, the British media is undisturbed by the dangers of the alliance with the likes of Mr. Cheberloyevsky.

“There was more interest in Strictly Come Dancing than the long-bearded Islamist extremists, who were now, once again, our partners in crime,” former MP George Galloway writes, and one could not agree more.

We have seen it all – in Syria

Somehow, a lot of the arms and so called “non-lethal equipment” provided by the US and its allies to the “moderate armed opposition” (what an oxymoron!) fighting the Syrian president Bashar Assad ended in the wrong hands. Even Western journalists admitted on many occasions, that a lot of this deadly stuff was ultimately used by the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in the region, such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Jaish al-Islam. Even The Guardian, normally subservient to the globalists, had to report that the “wrong” terrorists quite logically got hold of American gifts to the “right” terrorists, with gifts ranging from Humvee armored vehicles to the should-launched anti-aircraft missiles. Later these arms were used against citizens of Western countries, among many other victims. But the mainstream Western press never criticized its governments’ decisions to supply such weapons to “moderate Syrian opposition,” concentrating instead on the crusade against Putin and Assad. In 2011-2015 the supposedly “pluralist” American, British or French media machines were not different from the supposedly “unfree” Saudi or Turkish ones in that they all viewed the Islamists as a “lesser evil” than the secular Syrian government or, heaven forbid, Russian military contingent legally invited by this government to Syria.

Bigger evil – lesser evil

“The logic of Western political leaders is simple and cynical,” explains Mikhail Delyagin, the head of the Moscow-based Institute for Globalization Problems. “How many Western citizens can terrorists kill? Not more than a few hundreds, at worst a thousand or two, as it was the case during the 9/11 terrorist act in the United States, in 2001. Such a situation is most unfortunate, but it cannot be a threat to the power of globalist clans which now control the US and the EU. Meanwhile, Russia’s or China’s counteraction can be a limitation on their power, it can thwart their plans of spreading the globalist, so called “liberal” ideology to the largest possible number of countries. So, the main enemies of the modern West crack up to be Russia and other sovereign countries, not the terrorists.”

The proof that this kind of attitude dominates on the side of Western elites can easily be obtained from their own loyal “free” press, if only one takes the trouble to memorize how the headlines (and the affiliations!) of, say, the New York Times change over the course of the wars which the US assisted in unleashing.

From the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011 to the year 2013, the New York Times has been describing the insurgents operating against president Assad as “moderate,” denying the reports about their ties to the international jihadist movement or their attempts to impose medieval Islamist laws on Assad’s Syria. And then, suddenly, in 2013, we read the following in an article by the NYT’s Anne Barnard and Eric Schmitt:

“Known as fierce fighters willing to employ suicide car bombs, the jihadist groups now include more than 6,000 foreigners, counterterrorism officials say, adding that such fighters are streaming into Syria in greater numbers than went into Iraq at the height of the insurgency there against the American occupation.”

“Too little” crime, “too late” deaths

Later in the article, the NYT’s authors voice some very controversial criticism of the policy directed at arming those very sinister international terrorists in Syria: “Even Congressional supporters of the C.I.A.’s covert program to arm moderate elements of the Syrian opposition fear the delivery of weapons, set to begin this month, will be too little, too late.”

Isn’t that great? The NYT is not criticizing something clearly illegal: a covert (like almost any intentional crime) CIA program to supply deadly weapons to terrorists fighting a sovereign country’s government. They criticize this criminal act for coming too late and lacking in scope!

“Spooky parallels” of terror

The Washington Post’s shameless veteran-columnist David Ignatius, who recently got famous for reporting to the authorities, Stalin style, on Michael Flynn’s unauthorized contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, had a rare moment of writing something critical of globalists in 2012. At the moment, president Obama’s line on using the Islamists as “work horses” for the regime change in Syria became apparent. And Ignatius produced a parallel that just asked to be made – the parallel between modern Syria and the American involvement in Afghanistan of the 1980s.

“The parallels are spooky. In Syria, as in Afghanistan, CIA officers are operating at the borders (in this case, mostly in Jordan and Turkey), helping Sunni insurgents improve their command and control and engaging in other activities… There’s even a colorful figure who links the two campaigns: Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who as Saudi ambassador to the US in the 1980s worked to finance and support the CIA in Afghanistan and who now, as chief of Saudi intelligence, is encouraging operations in Syria… There is a negative element to this parallel too, however: this CIA-backed victory opened the way for decades of chaos and jihadist extremism that are still menacing Afghanistan, its neighbors and even the United States.”

This “even” in the article by Ignatius can be a target for sarcasm: after all, even according to the official American version, the 9/11 mass murder was planned in Afghanistan “liberated” with the help from the CIA. So, George Galloway probably has a point, when he advises the Western governments in his article: “Read Mary Shelley, read Frankenstein, and read it to the end.” Alas, the end may be too awful, too near – and not only for the Western sponsors of Islamist terrorism.

Talk of Western intervention in the Black Sea is pure fantasy

January 19, 2019

by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with The Asia Times by special agreement with the author)Talk of Western intervention in the Black Sea is pure fantasy

Crimea is essential to Russia strategically and economically, but speculation over Ankara helping to boost the US presence in the Black Sea is far-fetched given Turkey’s energy deals with Moscow.

A power struggle over the Black Sea between Russia and the US plus NATO has the potential to develop as a seminal plot of the 21st century New Great Game – alongside the current jostling for re-positioning in the Eastern Mediterranean.

By now it’s established the US and NATO are stepping up military pressure from Poland to Romania and Bulgaria all the way to Ukraine and east of the Black Sea, which seems, at least for the moment, relatively peaceful, just as Crimea’s return to Russia starts to be regarded, in realpolitik terms, as a fait accompli.

After a recent series of conversations with top analysts from Istanbul to Moscow, it’s possible to identify the main trends ahead.

Just as independent Turkish analysts like Professor Hasan Unal are alarmed at Ankara’s isolation in the Eastern Mediterranean energy sphere by an alliance of Greece, Cyprus and Israel, Washington’s military buildup in both Romania and Bulgaria is also identified as posing a threat to Turkey.

It’s under this perspective that Ankara’s obstinance in establishing a security “corridor” in northern Syria, east of the Euphrates river, and free from the YPG Kurds, should be examined. It’s a matter of policing at least one sensitive border.

Still, in the chessboard from Syria and the Eastern Mediterranean to the Persian Gulf, Turkey and Crimea, the specter of “foreign intervention” setting fire to the Intermarium – from the Baltics to the Black Sea – simply refuses to die.

Ukraine Russia map

‘Russian lake’?

By the end of the last glacial era, around 20,000 years ago, the Black Sea – separated from the Mediterranean by an isthmus – was just a shallow lake, much smaller in size than it is today.

The legendary journey of Jason and the Argonauts, before the Trojan war, followed the Argo ship to the farther shore of Pontus Euxinus (the ‘Black Sea’) to recover the Golden Fleece – the cure for all evils – from its location in Colchis (currently in Georgia).

In Ancient Greece, steeped in mythology, the Black Sea was routinely depicted as the boundary between the known world and terra incognita. But then it was “discovered” – like America many centuries later – to the point where it was configured as a “string of pearls” of Greek trading colonies linked to the Mediterranean.

The Black Sea is more than strategic, it’s crucial geopolitically. There has been a constant drive in modern Russian history to be active across maritime trade routes through the strategic straits – the Dardanelles, the Bosphorus and Kerch in Crimea – to warmer waters further south.

As I observed early last month in Sevastopol, Crimea is now a seriously built fortress – incorporating S-400 and Iskander-M missiles – capable of ensuring total Russian primacy all across the eastern Black Sea.

A visit to Crimea reveals how its genes are Russian, not Ukrainian. A case can be made that the very concept of Ukraine is relatively spurious, propelled by the Austro-Hungarian empire at the end of the 19th century and especially before World War I to weaken Russia. Ukraine was part of Russia for 400 years, far longer than California and New Mexico have been part of the US.

Now compare the reconquest of Crimea by Russia, without firing a shot and validated by a democratic referendum, to the US “conquests” of Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya. Moreover, I saw Crimea being rebuilt and on the way to prosperity, complete with Tatars voting with their feet to return; compare it to Ukraine, which is an IMF basket case.

Crimea is essential to Russia not only from a geostrategic but also an economic point of view, as it solidifies the Black Sea as a virtual “Russian lake”.

It’s immaterial that Turkish strategists may vehemently disagree, as well as US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker who, trying to seduce Turkey, dreams about increasing the US presence in the Black Sea, “whether on a bilateral basis or under EU auspices.”

Under this context, the building of the Turk Stream pipeline should be read as Ankara’s sharp response to the rampant Russophobia in Brussels.

Ankara has, in tandem, consistently shown it won’t shelve the acquisition of Russian S-400 missile systems because of American pressure. This has nothing to do with pretentions of neo-Ottomanism; it’s about Turkey’s energy and security priorities. Ankara now seems more than ready to live with a powerful Russian presence across the Black Sea.

It all comes down to Montreux

Not by accident the comings and goings on NATO’s eastern flank was a key theme at last summer’s biennial Atlanticist summit. After all, Russia, in the wake of reincorporating Crimea, denied access over the eastern Black Sea.

NATO, though, is a large mixed bag of geopolitical agendas. So, in the end, there’s no cohesive strategy to deal with the Black Sea, apart from a vague, rhetorical “support for Ukraine” and also vague exhortations for Turkey to assume its responsibilities.

But because Ankara’s priorities are in fact the Eastern Mediterranean and the Turkish-Syrian border, east of the Euphrates river, there’s no realistic horizon for NATO to come up with permanent Black Sea patrols disguised as a “freedom of navigation” scheme – as much as Kiev may beg for it.

What does remain very much in place is the guarantee of freedom of navigation in the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits controlled by Turkey, as sanctioned by the 1936 Montreux Convention.

The key vector, once again, is that the Black Sea links Europe with the Caucasus and allows Russia trade access to southern warm waters. We always need to go back to Catherine the Great, who incorporated Crimea into the empire in the 18th century after half a millennium of Tatar and then Ottoman rule, and then ordered the construction of a huge naval base for the Black Sea fleet.

By now some facts on the ground are more than established.

Next year the Black Sea fleet will be upgraded with an array of anti-ship missiles; protected by S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems; and supported by a new “permanent deployment” of Sukhoi SU-27s and SU-30s.

Far-fetched scenarios of the Turkish navy fighting the Russian Black Sea fleet will continue to be peddled by misinformed think tanks, oblivious to the inevitability of the Russia-Turkey energy partnership. Without Turkey, NATO is a cripple in the Black Sea region.

Intriguing developments such as a Viking Silk Road across the Intermarium won’t alter the fact that Poland, the Baltics and Romania will continue to clamor for “more NATO” in their areas to fight “Russian aggression”.

And it will be up to a new government in Kiev after the upcoming March elections to realize that any provocation designed to drag NATO into a Kerch Strait entanglement is doomed to failure.

Ancient Greek sailors had a deep fear of the Black Sea’s howling winds. As it now stands, call it the calm before a (Black Sea) storm.

25 Years Ago an Agreement on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine Was Signed

25 Years Ago an Agreement on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons in Ukraine Was Signed

January 16, 2019

By Rostislav Ishchenko
Translated by Ollie Richardson and Angelina Siard
cross posted with 
https://www.stalkerzone.org/rostislav-ishchenko:-25-years-ago-an-agreement-on-the-elimination-of-nuclear-weapons-in-ukraine-was-signed/
source: 
https://ukraina.ru/history/20190114/1022320495.html

On January 14th 1994 in Moscow the presidents of Ukraine, Russia, and the US signed the tripartite declaration for the liquidation of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Under the treaty 176 intercontinental missiles and 1500 nuclear warheads on the territory of Ukraine had to be liquidated.

One might ask what has Donbass got to do with this?

When today Ukrainian radicals say that if Ukraine had preserved the world’s third biggest nuclear arsenal nobody could stop Kiev strangling an anti-fascist uprising not only in Donbass but also in Crimea, this is the absolute truth. People generally don’t joke about such things. Despite the fact that it’s unlikely that Kiev could’ve created a fully-fledged system of controlling, servicing, and using in combat all the missiles it inherited, even the existence of this arsenal made Ukraine almost invulnerable in relation to any external pressure. Taking into account the fact that Ukraine, in principle, could bring a considerable part of its available weaponry (except intercontinental missiles) to combat readiness (today, 23 years after the last warhead left the territory of “independent” Ukraine, it is possible to talk about it openly), nobody would start to clash with a monkey armed with a nuclear “grenade”.

Ukraine relinquished nuclear weapons only because its leaders attached too much value to diplomatic tinsel under the name “recognition of independence”. It is exactly what we regularly hear from patriotically dilettanti, crying out: “Why hasn’t Russia recognised Donbass yet?”

I can understand people who suffer from the fact that units of the 1st Guards tank army still haven’t come to the Dnieper, Vistula, Oder, Rhine, and, finally, the Atlantic. The desire to capture everything, to kill all enemies, and to throw internal opposition into jail – cleaning snow in Siberia – is the natural reaction of small children and infantile adults concerning the complicated and unclear to them world that surrounds them. But I am surprised by the ritual surrounding abstract recognition [of the DPR/LPR – ed] by the people who don’t understand its significance.

Here is a simple example: Russia did not recognise Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This did not prevent it from dispersing the Georgian army in one week when Saakashvili tried to restore the control of Tbilisi over these territories via armed force. Russia does not recognise Transnistria, but everyone perfectly knows that in a similar situation the reaction of Moscow will be the same. Russia never presented territorial claims to Ukraine, recognising its territorial integrity, but one month hadn’t even passed after the coup in Kiev and Crimea reunited with its Motherland. On the other hand, Japan does not recognise the Southern Kuril Ridge as Russian, but does this strongly help it? Up to the 70’s the US did not recognise the People’s Republic of China, considering the Taiwanese Kuomintang as the legitimate authority of China. And what?

Returning to Crimea. Not many people in the world recognised Crimea’s transition to the structure of Russia. But, besides the Kiev provokers, nobody tries to challenge the right of the Russian border guards to control the territorial waters of the peninsula.

In international law there is the concept of “an authority that actually controls the territory”. Irrespective of whether or not this authority is recognised by someone, or whether or not it was formed as a result of a coup, separation, or the voluntary division of the former state (as an option of merging two or several former ones), what’s important is not the fact of its international recognition, but the fact of its ability to support military-political control over a certain territory. If you have such an ability, then people will interact, trade, and even conclude quite official agreements with you. But if you formally own something but are not capable of controlling this ownership, then people will only sympathise with you whilst reaching agreements with those who control the territory.

In fact, this is what the Minsk process is based on. For several years Russia, France, and Germany have tried to explain to Kiev that it must speak and agree with the real authorities in Donbass. If it will reach an agreement on maintaining unity, then nobody will interfere, and if it won’t be able to reach an agreement, then it will be obliged to reach an agreement about a civilised divorce. But Ukrainian politicians, like 25 years ago, drag its heels concerning the question of formal recognition and demand that Donbass is returned to them under the Christmas tree either by Ded Moroz [Russia – ed], Santa Claus [America – ed], or Père Noël [France – ed].

But they could’ve learnt at least something from the story with nuclear disarmament.

Ukraine likes to remember the Budapest memorandum in connection with Crimea and Donbass. On Russian talk shows it as a rule is presented as a piece of paper without meaning (like saying: the memorandum is not a treaty and doesn’t oblige anyone to do anything). This isn’t true. A memorandum is a publicly given word of honour to follow certain rules. In some sense it is even more than a treaty. The latter, as a rule, is concluded over a certain period of time. But even termless contracts can be denounced (or just stop working) if the situation changes. But a memorandum indeed is not a binding document, it is not ratified, thus it cannot be denounced, but violating it is also not comme il faut [as it should be – ed]. This is like publicly promising a girl that you’ll marry her, and then, also publicly, bragging that you deceived her.

But notice that, unlike Kiev, the US and Great Britain, which together with Russia signed the Budapest memorandum, and also France and China, which gave Ukraine similar guarantees in special separate declarations, do not see any violations of the mentioned document. The answer to the question “Why?” is in the mentioned Tripartite declaration, the 25th anniversary of which we celebrated on January 14th. The following provisions were a part of the Budapest memorandum in an unchanged form. Ukrainian diplomacy likes to refer to them, but in practice they haven’t been violated:

“- reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act, to respect the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine;

– refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in selfdefense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

– reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the CSCE Final Act, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind;

– reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a nonnuclear weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used;

– reaffirm, in the case of the Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a state in association or alliance with a nuclear weapon state”.

It is not difficult to notice that exactly the same obligations that were given to other states that joined the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as non-nuclear states also apply to Ukraine. Help to Ukraine (including via immediate actions of the UNSC) is promised only if Kiev becomes a victim of aggression or the threat of aggression with the use of nuclear weapons. I.e., in the event of non- nuclear aggression, nobody owes Ukraine anything. It was promised to Ukraine to not use economic coercion against it. But even now, despite all the unfriendly steps made by Kiev, Russia did not tear up any treaty or any agreement on the initiative. Economic ties were torn up only where Ukraine tore them up.

Concerning territorial integrity, guarantees are given only within the framework of the CSCE final act. At the same time, peacefully changing the borders is allowed (who will say that Crimea was conquered? And, by the way, it is precisely for this reason that Turchynov demanded war in March 2014 – back then it was possible to try to record a violation of the Budapest memorandum). Moreover, even the obligation not to use armed force against Ukraine has no absolute character, the vague formulation “except in selfdefense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations” was used. Let’s note that the UN did not record a violation of the Charter by Russia (only the UN Security Council has the competence to do this).

So formally the Memorandum hasn’t been violated.

Let’s be frank, it is indeed formulated in such a way that it is impossible to violate it whatever may happen. And Ukraine knew this. Pay attention: the Tripartite declaration is dated January 14th 1994 (it was signed by Kravchuk), and the Budapest memorandum was signed on December 5th (practically one year later) by Kuchma. During all this time Ukrainian diplomacy tried to squeeze out the best conditions from the guarantor states. But it didn’t squeeze them out, and couldn’t have.

A critical mistake was made by Kiev on May 23rd 1992. On this day Russia, the US, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan signed the Lisbon protocol on the basis of which, Kiev, Minsk, and Astana joined the NPT as non-nuclear countries. Kazakhstan and Belarus also did not apply for nuclear status. For them, the signing of this document was natural. However Ukraine tried to keep its nuclear arsenal. But Kiev decided that it would be possible to bargain later, and that the most important thing at the time was international recognition. And Ukraine was frankly blackmailed with the refusal to recognise it as a nuclear state.

Kiev did not understand that a country with the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal would be recognised anyway. Even if it doesn’t happen immediately, it will be possible to wait for however long is necessary – agreements will be made with it all the same and its opinion will be taken into account in international affairs. Kravchuk was afraid that the people [of Ukraine – ed] won’t treat the “sovereign” government seriously if it isn’t internationally recognised. His Minister of Foreign Affairs (Zlenko) hurried to report on recognition by “the whole world” (to start with – by “all the civilised world”) and open embassies everywhere where it was possible. And he signed the Lisbon protocol in which Ukraine unambiguously took upon itself the obligation to relinquish nuclear weapons. All the rest is two years of floundering in an attempt to get out of the already undertaken obligations or to at least squeeze out at least some dividends from this.

In fact, the issue of Kiev’s relinquishment of its nuclear status was decided by the Minister of Foreign Affairs (not the Rada, not the government, and not the president). Of course, Zlenko had the correspondingly issued powers, but it is his signature that is underneath the protocol, and, most importantly, it is he and his department who developed recommendations for decision-making bodies. Ukraine at the time had no other experienced foreign affairs specialists.

The fact of recognition and having their own diplomatic missions played the same role for the Ukrainian authorities that pieces of glass, beads, and broken guns played for African savages in the 15th-16th centuries, or blankets and whisky for Indians a couple of centuries later. It was a fetish for which it is possible to give everything. And they indeed gave. And thank God. It is difficult to imagine what would’ve happened to the world if Ukraine had kept its nuclear weapons. In any case, Kiev would’ve for sure launched a war against Russia in the 90’s.

Since the clever learn from the mistakes of fools, it is worth remembering the story of Ukrainian nuclear disarmament and not to make a fetish out of the recognition of someone’s independence and sovereignty. This is a little more than a mere formality that sometimes others try to flog expensively. The fact of recognition does not give anything other than the right to officially maintain diplomatic mission in the countries that recognised you. But, for example, Taiwan, after most of the world recognised the People’s Republic of China and severed diplomatic relations with Kuomintang, simply renamed its embassies into trade missions. Nothing else changed and won’t exchange until Taipei is able to keep the island under control. But as soon as the unity of China will be restored, even those ten countries that still recognise not the People’s Republic of China, but the Republic of China (Taiwan), will absolutely quietly accept the new reality.

What’s important is the actual state of affairs, and not the theoretical one. Imagine that Zlenko didn’t sign the Lisbon protocol, Kravchuk didn’t sign the Tripartite declaration, Kuchma didn’t sign the Budapest memorandum, and Ukraine would’ve kept its nuclear arsenal. Do you think that it would’ve remained unrecognised for long? Right. And now let them kick themselves.

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