These days everyone seems to be talking about a US war of aggression somewhere in the world. Oh yes, I know the United States never wages wars of aggression, or violates international law. It is the city of light on the hill and can do no wrong. But let’s say for a large part of the planet US wars look like wars of aggression. If you read «the news», it would seem that US policymakers can’t make up their minds where to strike next. Iran, DPRK, Syria, Venezuela, China, the Russian Federation; am I leaving anyone out?
The trouble with the Minsk accords is that they were never respected by the Kiev junta.
Well yes, there is one place, one hotspot, which seems to have slipped largely out of the media’s attention. That is the Ukraine. What is going on there? One still hears now and again about the so-called infamous Minsk accords. These agreements were supposed to bring about peace between the Kiev… «regime», or junta, which seized power in a neo-Nazi putsch in February 2014, and the so-called «rebels» in the Donbass. From the beginning, the trouble with the Minsk accords was that they were never respected by the Kiev junta.
Peace agreements only work if all sides are ready to respect them. This was never the case with Minsk. The Kiev putschists only agreed to the accords because the so-called rebels were beating the life out of the Ukrainian army and neo-Nazi militias and they needed time to resupply and refit. Nor did the putschists hide their intentions. But everyone, including Moscow, feigned not to notice. Even worse, the Russian government directed the opolchentsy, the Donbass militias, to stop their advance and to let the whipped Ukrainian forces get away. That was a strategic mistake.
One understands why the US and EU pretend not to notice Kiev’s failure to respect Minsk. They also pretend not to notice the fascists in the Ukraine who represent the backbone of the Kiev regime. Or they say the fascists are only «a few bad apples». You might wonder naively how the US and EU could support Ukrainian neo-Nazis. For the US anyway, it is really not a problem: the US government has a long history of supporting fascist regimes from Francesco Franco in Spain after World War II to Augusto Pinochet in Chile. Just ask the CIA.
But why does the Russian government pretend not to notice the fascists in Kiev, or the unwillingness of the Kiev junta to respect the Minsk accords? And how does anyone in Moscow really believe, after the murderous conduct of Kiev’s bravos targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure, that the people in the Donbass, who are Russians, would ever agree to submit to the authority of the Kiev putschist regime?
It is an odd situation because the Soviet peoples fought a bloody war against Nazi Germany and Russia celebrates the destruction of Hitlerite fascism on Victory Day, on 9 May. The present retainers of power in Kiev are direct descendants of the Nazis, of Nazi collaborators like Stepan Bandera, who is now a Ukrainian national hero. Russia celebrates the destruction of Nazism, but seems to turn a blind eye to its descendants re-establishing themselves in the Ukraine.
By the way, the Ukraine is not just any place or any region on the Russian Federation’s borders. It is the old heartland of Russia. It is the location of the first Russian state, Kievskaya Rus’, established in the 9th century. It is the foundation stone of Russian culture, the birthplace of Russian Orthodox Christianity; it is an integral part of Russian identity and history and of everything that is Russian. And yet the Russian government tolerates—that is the only word for it—a Russophobic, neo-Nazi regime in Kiev and looks the other way as it makes war on Russian people. The Russian government repeats like a mantra that it supports the Minsk accords. Implicitly, this means that the Russian government expects the Russophone population in the Ukraine to submit to the authority of the putschists in Kiev and thus to submit to the deprivation of life, liberty, culture and language which would without a doubt be the consequence of their recognition of Kiev’s authority. I remind you that the Kiev putschists have not nor will ever respect the Minsk accords. Since the people who control the Russian government are not naïve, one supposes that they are fully aware of the situation.
Quite apart from the issues of Russian people in the Ukraine suffering at the hands of Kiev’s banderovsty, fascists in effect, there are security issues for Russia. In his recent television interview with Oliver Stone, Russian president Vladimir Putin seemed to dismiss with a gesture of disdain any Ukrainian threat to the security of the Russian Federation. I am only a school teacher, a professor of history, so what do I know about issues of Russian security? I would not dare to gainsay the Russian president, but I merely raise some points of doubt.
The US and NATO are worming their way into the Ukraine
The Kiev putschists make no secret of their desire to obtain Ukrainian entry into NATO. If they do so, it will be the great buckling of the NATO encirclement of Russia underway since the collapse of the USSR. From the Ukrainian frontier NATO forces would be only 490 kilometres from Moscow. They are already on the Estonian border, only 150 or so kilometres from St. Petersburg. Of course, there is no reason for paranoia. In recent news, we learn that the US is building a «Major Planning And Operational Hub» on the Ochakov Naval Base. We hear that Dr. Strangeloves in Washington—and they are both Democrats and Republicans—want to send arms to the putschist regime. We know that US, British, Canadian and Polish troops serve as advisors and in training roles in the western Ukraine. Canadian special forces have been reported in the vicinity of the Donbass front. Canada has a proud Canadian-Ukrainian ultra nationalist foreign minister whose grandfather was a Ukrainian high-level Nazi collaborator. US advisors and spooks are well entrenched in Kiev. Clearly, the US and NATO are worming their way into the Ukraine.
The Kiev regime makes no secret of its intention to retake by force of arms the Donbass. Even the so-called Ukrainian prime minister has said it. Just recently, there was story on Sputnik about Kiev putschists boasting of plans for a Croatian Krajina type operation in the Donbass to cleanse these territories of the Russian population. Ukrainian armed forces are constantly shelling and probing for weaknesses in the Donbass defences. War is full of the unexpected: it only takes one mistake, one failure of defensive lines to provoke a crisis. Could the Russian government stand such a failure? What would be the impact of the fall of the Donbass on the security of the Crimea? With wind in their sails who knows what the putschists in Kiev might then try to do? The Kerch Straits bridge could become a target for banderovtsy attacks.
Of course, Russia cannot do whatever it likes in order to deal with the fascist threat emanating from Kiev. It is constrained by NATO and EU hostility and the threat of more economic sanctions. Just recently the EU imposed additonal sanctions on Russian individuals and companies because Siemens (German) turbines were apparently sent to the Crimea for use in the production of electricity. The sanctions were imposed, according to the EU, because «establishing an independent power supply for Crimea and Sevastopol supports their separation from Ukraine, and undermines the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. Gas turbines are a substantial element in the development of new power plants.» What the EU fails to mention is that Ukrainian banderovtsy blew up electrical power lines from the Ukraine to the Crimea in November 2015. This was an act of terrorism. The Russian authorities had to undertake emergency measures to supply electricity from the Russian mainland. The EU did not even blink when the banderovtsy cut off power to the Crimea. The implication of the EU statement is that the Crimea will be returned to Ukrainian control. No, it will not. The people who live in the Crimea will not tolerate it, nor would a Russian government worthy of the name. The Crimea is part of Russia and has been since the 18th century. There is only one way that the Crimea will ever fall under Ukrainian authority again and that is in the case of Russia’s defeat in a world war. That eventuality is unlikely. The success rate of western invaders of Russia over the last 800 years or so is close to nil.
The Russian government is trying to avoid further trouble with the EU over the Ukraine, especially because new US sanctions though ostensibly targeting the Russian Federation are also targeting the EU itself. That is, the US is attempting to exert extraterritorial rights over non-US, European companies working in Russia or with Russian firms in order to force the replacement of Russian natural gas with far more expensive US supplies. The Russian government would no doubt like to see the Europeans, notably Germany, defend their sovereignty against US domination, and so it seeks to avoid trouble with the EU over the Ukraine. This is understandable.
Hence, Russia does the minimum necessary to protect the Donbass from a Ukrainian Krajina-type operation, which has been quite a lot in fact, since the Donbass could not continue to exist without important Russian economic and military aid. But Russia also continues to repeat nonsense about respect for the Minsk accords and turns a blind eye to various adverse Ukrainian developments. Relative Russian weakness necessarily obliges sinuosity in dealing with the EU and US.
Supporters of Nazi ally Bandera in the modern-day Ukraine
One has heard ever since 2014 that Russia is «playing the long game» in the Ukraine, that President Putin «knows what he is doing and has a plan», that Russia believes the banderovsty in Kiev will fall. If President Putin has a plan, it does not seem to be working. Just recently there was an article in Sputnik to the effect that «good» Ukrainians in Kiev «will eventually be forced to do something with… ultra-radicals, whose arms are ‘steeped in blood up to the elbows’». Even Sputnik prefers the use of the cleaner word «ultraradicals» rather than the plainer speaking terminology of fascists and Banderovite neo-Nazis. The division between good and bad Ukrainians in Kiev however is a fallacy since the «good» Ukrainians can only remain in power because of the «bad» Ukrainians. Without the banderovtsy, the «good» putschists are finished unless they can be propped up by the EU, US and yes, even the Russian government. The fascist militias are the backbone of the Kiev junta. This regime is just as guilty of war crimes as the fascists. Some of the so-called experts interviewed by Sputnik either don’t know what they are talking about or live in an alternate universe of wishful thinking and fairy stories. One dares to hope that they have no influence in Moscow and that the Russian government is acting, however clandestinely, to protect the interests of Russia and Russians in the Ukraine. It is long since time.