Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ukraine Proxy War: U.S. vs Russia And The Dangerous Ramifications

It is becoming more and more apparent by the day that the situation in the Ukraine has become a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia, particularly as the EU's position becomes more ambiguous and distant from the U.S. This is a dangerous game and the stakes are very high, as shown below:

If the US were to supply Ukraine with ammunition and weapons, it would “explode the whole situation” in eastern Ukraine and Russia would be forced to respond “appropriately,” Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said.
“It would be a major blow to the Minsk agreements and would explode the whole situation,” TASS quoted Ryabkov as saying.
Moscow would not be able to remain indifferent “to such provocative actions,” he added. “We’ll have to respond appropriately.”
“Is that necessary for those who are allegedly calling for the normalization of the situation in Ukraine? I have serious doubts. People may be irresponsible in their actions, but there must be an end to this madness [of] indulging Kiev’s warmongering,” explained Ryabkov.
The deputy foreign minister's statement follows a renewed call by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko for the US to arm Kiev forces. Poroshenko made the most recent comments during a conversation with US Vice President Joe Biden.

The head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, told reporters on Monday that the US is already supplying Kiev with ammunition and weapons on a “large-scale basis,” noting that pro-government forces are not looking for peace.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated in his latest interview that the leaders of France and Germany genuinely want to find a compromise that would help end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

Speaking to Rossiya 1 TV channel on the conflict and the breakthrough of the Minsk agreement, Putin said that “it seemed to me [the leaders of France and Germany], have a genuine desire to find such compromise solutions that would lead to the final settlement [of the conflict]…”

When the Minsk II agreement was officially announced on February 12, 2015, there was, for the first time in many months, a real belief that a cessation of hostilities was at the very least possible, if only conceptually. It seemed that the parties to the conflict finally had a framework within which they could move toward a peaceful settlement to end the dreadful war that has claimed the lives of thousands of innocent civilians in Donetsk, Lugansk, and surrounding areas. But perhaps this was simply wishful thinking.

While the “Normandy 4” (France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine) were negotiating the terms of the agreement, developments on the ground in Donetsk and Lugansk told quite a different story. Ukrainian forces continued their criminal shelling of civilians in Donetsk, while the anti-Kiev rebels continued sporadic fighting around Debaltsevo. Of course a war is always messy, and one cannot expect fighting to halt, or even necessarily decrease, while political leaders sit around the table.

But the continuation of military hostilities was not the only issue. Rather, actions taken by Kiev’s military and fascist paramilitaries, in addition to their patrons in Washington, demonstrated that, rather than peace, the US-Kiev faction was interested in escalation.

But how is this possible considering the string of defeats the Ukrainian military suffered at the hand of the rebels? Simple. Under the cover of media darkness cast by the shadow of the Minsk talks, the US and Kiev quietly connived to escalate the war and, simultaneously, violate multiple key provisions of the agreement. In effect, Minsk II was null and void the moment the clock struck midnight on Sunday February 15, 2015, the appointed time at which the agreement allegedly took effect.

Although everyone was (and is) hopeful that the Minsk II agreement will lead to at least a temporary peace, the inescapable reality is that it is a political document designed for public relations, rather than a true agreement between equal parties. Moreover, Minsk II should be understood as the “peace” side of the Tolstoyan war and peace coin – a seemingly contradictory, but in fact quite complimentary, two-pronged approach taken by the US and its puppet regime in Kiev.

On one level, the strategy is to bring negotiations front and center, highlighting the West’s so called “commitment to peace” as evidenced by the much vaunted jet-setting diplomacy of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Indeed, Germany has much to lose given a continuation, and likely expansion, of the war in Ukraine; many in the German establishment correctly interpret the conflict as a proxy war between Washington and Moscow, a war in which Washington stands everything to gain, and Berlin everything to lose.

And so, the view from Berlin was that Europe had gambled on Ukraine and lost, and that conciliatory negotiations had become paramount both to ease tensions with Russia, and to pull Europe back from the brink of a wider, and far more dangerous war. However, at the very moment that Merkel was seated across the table from Putin in Minsk, her partners in Washington were pursuing a decidedly different, and much more aggressive and dangerous policy.

On Wednesday February 11, literally the very day that the Minsk talks were taking place, Reuters ran a story headlined U.S. army to train Ukrainians in March: commander U.S. army Europe which quoted U.S. Army Europe commander Ben Hodges as saying, “We will train [Ukrainian military] in security tasks, medical (tasks), how to operate in an environment where the Russians are jamming (communications) and how to protect (themselves) from Russian and rebel artillery.” So, at the moment that Western media were busily lauding Merkel and Hollande for offering an olive branch, US military officials were describing how Washington would be escalating the war.

Hodges’ declaration should be read as a carefully constructed statement designed to present the illusion that US military forces would be providing only “defensive” training and support. However, any serious political observer understands that such training will go far beyond simply teaching soldiers how to “protect themselves.” Rather, a more realistic interpretation of that statement would conclude that counterattack strategies and tactics are really the objective.

Naturally, the phrase “bolstering defenses” is really just a politically acceptable euphemism, coded language for providing lethal weapons. Translation: the US wants to escalate the war by providing more material support to Ukraine in hopes of forcing Russia to respond in kind, then blaming Russia for precisely the escalation Washington itself initiated.

So, on the one hand you have NATO allies Germany and France allegedly brokering peace, while the US foments war. While this should surprise no one who has followed the trajectory of the war in Ukraine, it does illustrate the degree to which US-NATO has come to accept the inevitability of a military defeat for Kiev. That is, unless the strategic calculus is altered significantly.

Taken in total, the case for US-NATO mercenary involvement in Ukraine is quite strong. But this somehow never makes it into the mainstream narrative about Ukraine in the West. Moreover, the media never seems to question the fact that the line between official US military, and unofficial mercenary forces, exists for a simple reason: Washington can disavow any knowledge of unofficial forces operating inside Ukraine.

And this is precisely the point. The US is able to simultaneously say it is “considering” arming Ukrainian forces, while already having other forces on the ground. With one hand the US holds the knife to the throat, and with the other it holds the gun to the temple. So much for Minsk and diplomacy.

While the politicians dance their danse macabre and talk of peace, withdrawal of heavy weapons, and demilitarizing the conflict, the US and its associated military and quasi-military appendages works diligently to escalate an obviously failed proxy war. In so doing, Washington undermines both the interests of its nominal European partners, and any prospects for peace. But of course, that’s precisely the point, isn’t it? The US is perfectly happy to pay its geopolitical tab in the currency of Ukrainian blood, while constantly pointing the finger at Moscow.

But it’s not Washington’s fault, is it? The Empire is doing what empires do. It is the fault of all those in the media, both mainstream and alternative, who refuse to examine the evidence, who choose to reduce everything into simplistic black and white terms – they are the ones who must be held accountable. For the blood of innocents in Donetsk and Lugansk stains all. And those stains will never be washed away.

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