The West the hostage of a situation of its own making in Ukraine


Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko over the weekend was in Brussels to complain about Russian infiltration into Ukraine. The proof were ten Russian paratroopers captured by Ukrainian forces (and meanwhile released and sent back to Russia in a prisoner exchange) after they supposedly crossed the border ‘by accident’. Estimates of Russian volunteers fighting alongside the insurgents run into the one to two thousand, and some 400 casualties have already been buried in Russia. 


On a trip to France last week I saw on French TV a report of Russian volunteers driving off to join the fight, complaining that Putin was failing the rebels—otherwise the fight with the army of Kiev would have long ended, was their claim. They drove off in a white van into the dark summer night, in green fatigues but unarmed, and on arrival in the east of Ukraine were provided with weapons which are there in abundance. 


In his weekly column for the Amsterdam newspaper Het Parool, the Moscow-based media magnate and former socialist, Derk Sauer, concludes that the West has not learned from the Iraq debacle. Otherwise it would have known that regime change brings more problems than it intends to solve. He notes that Yanukovych certainly was corrupt and authoritarian, but he was also an Ukrainian and never intended to join Russia—which is why he had been elected in the first place. His presidency was the guarantee that the country would not break apart. However, the West decided to rush into the breach opened by the Maidan demonstrations, and drove Yanukovych out. What has changed are the more than 2,000 dead, a plane disaster, and some 800,000 refugees. That Russia would allow the new power-holders in Kiev to crush the rebellion in the east was always an illusion, just as it is an illusion to think the EU will rush to Poroshenko’s aid. The best we can hope for is a federal solution, Sauer writes —the one that Yanukovych had in mind too. All that has passed since could have been avoided had a more prudent policy been followed.
My claim throughout has been that whenever there was a chance for such a prudent policy, that is, an EU attempt (essentially by Germany) to settle the conflict, the neo-Nazi element in Kiev intervened with violence, and that in the background, there is good reason to suspect the hand of the war party in Washington and NATO. Their overwhelming power transpires from the deafening silence on the downing of flight MH17—at least until the NATO summit in Wales.
Now the neo-Nazi and ultra-nationalist elements of the Maidan revolt are anti-Russian, anti-Semitic, and so on, but they also challenged the corruption that produced the oligarchs, of whom the new president, Poroshenko, is the most visible one today. The ultras however are doing most of the fighting in the east as members of the National Guard of Ukraine. The Guard was abolished in 2000 by former president Kuchma, but reconstituted on 13 March of this year, shortly after the Maidan shooting that scuttled the EU agreement with Yanukovych.
The National Guard, writes Hélène Richard in the September issue of Le Monde Diplomatique, served to absorb the energy of the Maidan protest and put it at the service of fighting the federalists and separatists in the east. However, they have already threatened several times to turn back and settle matters in Kiev, since there is dissatisfaction with the continued rule by oligarchs. Some oligarchs, like Igor Kolomoiski, have formed their own units to fight the insurrection, but Poroshenko is obviously concerned about the remaining far right elements. Not all of them have been absorbed into the National Guard either—they are waiting for the arms promised by Obama. So even if Poroshenko would decide to stop the fighting, he will soon have the Maidan fighters back on his doorstep.
The Guardian’s economics editor, Larry Elliott, writes that the economic warfare the West has launched against Russia to punish it, is the end of the era following the collapse of the Soviet Union, when the elder Bush proclaimed the triumph of free markets. The EU plan to take the case of Russia’s countermeasures to the tribunal of the World Trade Organisation as a breach of its rules, reveals that Brussels apparently has not realised that sanctions are always a breach of free trade, so the side that introduces them first, theoretically at least, is also the first to be liable to WTO jurisdiction.
Now Russia is suffering and will suffer more, but the country in the end is probably better able to sustain a trade war than the EU, which is already struggling with a self-defeating austerity policy imposed by Germany and its allies. In France this led to a government crisis last week, and more shocks will follow as costs are mounting.
In the end there is only one winner—the United States, which directly and via NATO must keep Germany and the EU from joining forces with their most obvious raw material base, Russia. For Washington, it has become mandatory to stoke up conflict between the EU and Russia, and between Japan and China. In both cases the alternative would be economically stronger blocs that would inevitably bring down the house of cards that is the global dollar empire.

Kees van der Pijl

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