Kiev Shifts Goalposts as Merkel Skews Wide
Finian CUNNINGHAM | 18.03.2015 | WORLD

Kiev Shifts Goalposts as Merkel Skews Wide

Kiev President Petro Poroshenko unveiled a new dimension of international sanctions against Russia this week, while being royally entertained by German leaders in Berlin. The oligarch-turned-politician now wants the Western allies of the Kiev regime to boycott the 2018 World Cup Finals to held in Russia. 

Such a ban on the world’s premier sporting event would be a first, given that the soccer tournament – the globe’s most widely followed sports spectacle, exceeding even the Olympics – has never been boycotted before. Since its inception in 1930, the four-yearly FIFA World Cup has only been cancelled twice – in 1942 and 1946 due to the Second World War. But it has never been subject to an international boycott. 

Now the chocolate-tycoon Poroshenko wants to change all that by calling on the Western sponsors of his regime to not show up in Moscow for the World Cup in three years’ time. «The whole world needs to understand that Russia is waging war against Ukraine», Poroshenko told his German hosts, adding that «tens of thousands» of Russian troops are in his country. 

Poroshenko and his reactionary Kiev regime – which seized power in February last year in a Western-backed violent coup against a constitutionally elected government – have shown themselves to be shameless purveyors of the most outlandish claims over the Ukraine crisis. Their relentless assertions of Russian aggression – always cited without the slightest evidence – are gladly broadcast by the US-led NATO military alliance, Western governments and Western news media. Although the Berlin government has recently adopted a more wary attitude toward this «dangerous propaganda» – it still indulges the Kiev warmongering, as can be seen by the way Poroshenko and his reckless anti-Russian rhetoric were entertained in Berlin this week. 

The latest call from Kiev to boycott the Russia World Cup is rather appropriate because the Poroshenko-led regime has become something of «star team» in shifting the goalposts on any given political matter – most pointedly on the month-old Minsk ceasefire deal. 

While being received with full military honours at Berlin’s Bellevue Palace by German President Joachim Gauck, Poroshenko declared with stupendous cynicism that «no there was no alternative to the Minsk ceasefire». The ceasefire was brokered last month by Russian President Vladimir Putin, along with German and French leaders, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande. It came into effect on February 15, primarily in the form of a truce, but also with certain other political provisions, such as autonomy for the breakaway eastern Donbas regions of mainly ethnic Russian people, who refuse to recognise the legitimacy of the Nazi-adulating Kiev junta.

Well, if there is no alternative to Minsk, as the Kiev figurehead leader appears to assert, why then is his regime violating the deal at every turn? Or, to use the football analogy, moving the goalposts all over the place.

On March 14, that date was set out by the Minsk accord – and signed up to by the Kiev regime – as the deadline for special political status to be assigned to the Donbas self-proclaimed people’s republics of Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR). Kiev agreed at Minsk to concede political autonomy for the breakaway regions by March 14. The date came and went this week, yet the Kiev parliament is only now debating a move to grant «special status" that is conditional on all sorts of new provisos, such as disarmament and disbandment of the self-defence militia, whom Kiev labels as «terrorists». This is not what the Minsk documents specify. 

DPR and LPR spokesmen Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deneigo this week noted that the failure to implement regional autonomy – a key aspect of the ceasefire accord – is a «crude violation of the Minsk agreement».

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has previously called on the Kiev regime to open dialogue with the separatist leaders and to consult over the political future of the southeastern regions. But Kiev obdurately refuses to engage in any political dialogue with the Donbas leaders. This preclusion of consultation is in itself a violation of the terms of the Minks deal that, again, the Kiev regime signed up to in the Belarus capital last month.

Other goalposts that have been moved by the Western-backed Kiev regime since the signing of Minsk include:

Systematic breach of ceasefire: while the heavy artillery bombardment of cities and towns in Donetsk and Luhansk by Kiev’s forces may have largely ceased, there has been continual sporadic firing across the warring Contact Line. DPR spokesman Eduard Basurin said this week: «Sporadic fire on our militia has never ceased since February 15. No ceasefire has ever been reached since the Minsk agreement supposedly came into force.» On the other hand, Kiev claims that it is the rebels who have breached the ceasefire, citing 68 of its soldiers killed over the last four weeks. However, if that is the case then what is Kiev’s heavy artillery still in place for, while the militias have reportedly withdrawn theirs, as under the ceasefire terms?

Kiev’s heavy weapons remain in conflict zone: according to several Donbas sources, at least 20 per cent of Kiev’s heavy artillery remains in place in the vicinity of the Contact Line. Under the terms of Minsk, all such high-calibre munitions were to have been withdrawn. Not only that, but Kiev’s remaining artillery has been carrying out live-fire drills near the Contact Line. One such place is near the rebel-held town of Gorlovka where over 100 civilians, including children, have been killed over the past year from Kiev’s indiscriminate shelling. Residents say that the ongoing live-fire drills is a form of psychological terror used by the Kiev regime.

A third violation of Minsk that Kiev has actively pursued is the ongoing economic blockade of the Donbas region. If anything, the Kiev regime seems to be tightening the embargo with the further cutting off of pensions and other state finances, gas supplies, communication networks and the restricted movement of civilians in and out of the region. 

It should be noted that these violations are not just breaches of the Minsk accord; they constitute ongoing war crimes committed by the Kiev regime against the civilian Donbas population. 

Lastly, while Poroshenko is vowing the upholding of Minsk, his regime is set to receive US and British military trainers this month to begin «war games» in Ukraine. Also an IMF loan to Kiev of $17 billion disbursed a first tranche of $5 billion this week. The IMF is in effect financing a warring party. This raises the suspicion that the Kiev regime only engaged in apparently signing up to Minsk last month in order to buy itself a political cover to access IMF funds to shore up its crumbling finances. With billions of dollars now flowing into Kiev, how long before it resumes its war of aggression on the Donbas?

The question is: what are the German and French governments doing about this systematic goalpost shifting by their sponsored regime in Kiev? They are supposed to be guarantors of the Minsk accord to ensure all parties abide by the terms. What is the Organisation of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) doing about it? The OSCE is charged with ensuring compliance of the ceasefire, yet when it comes to the above transgressions by Kiev, the organisation appears to turn a blind eye.

This week as Chancellor Merkel feted Poroshenko in Berlin, along with German President Gauck, she enjoined his cynical words that there is «no alternative to Minsk». Merkel also warned that there could be further European Union sanctions imposed on Russia – if Moscow does not fulfil the terms of the accord! 

Can you believe the audacity? Poroshenko accuses Russia of waging war on Ukraine, and he maintains – against all the evidence – that the Kiev regime is living up to every aspect of Minsk. Merkel, by his side, dignifies this absurd nonsense by adding that «pro-Russian separatists» have not yet fully complied. «There are considerable shortcomings in the separatists' compliance with the withdrawal of heavy weapons», she said. And all the while the talk is on what further punitive measures might be slapped on Russia. 

Then the Chocolate King seemed to go too far in his deranged thinking, even for his craven sponsor in Berlin, when he called for the boycott of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

Merkel pulled the reins on that unhinged idea, saying: «I am concentrating on the year 2015. We already have our hands full of things to do, firstly to implement the Minsk package», she added. (Maybe the soccer-loving chancellor has a bet on current world champions Germany wining the tournament for a fifth time in Moscow and hence her baulking at the chance.)

Shifting goalposts to 2018 is certainly not a feasible solution to find an urgent peace settlement to a conflict that threatens to engulf, not only Ukraine, but the wider Eurasian continent. Neither is shifting goalposts in the present. To that end, Merkel and other European leaders need to focus on who exactly is the party that is openly undermining the political process in Ukraine, and to stop tilting at windmills in Moscow. 

Unfortunately, the prognosis is that if Merkel cannot see the glaring truth of the situation by now and how the Kiev regime is an incendiary time-bomb for EU-Russia relations, then there is not much hope of the chancellor ever coming to a realistic political position on Ukraine. How can she not see that the Ukrainian time-bomb has been planted by Washington, aimed precisely at destroying European-Russian relations? Even with a proverbial penalty kick at an empty goal, the chancellor of Europe’s most powerful state still manages to miss the obvious and skews her aim over the crossbar. And, grimly, that means the outlook for further conflict is not good.