President Trump made news on the eve of the G-7 by suggesting Russia be re-admitted in to the G-8. He was immediately joined by new Italian Prime Minister Guiseppe Conte. After more than 500 days of relentless Russia baiting Trump has finally put something on the table that isn’t an insult, threat or outright attack on Russia’s sovereignty.
So, nothing but the stick, it looks like Trump is beginning to dangle some carrots Russia’s way.
Add to this the noise about Trump and Vladimir Putin considering a summit sometime this year and we have a little meat to put on these geopolitical bones, anorexic though they may be.
I wouldn’t, however, get happy about this. We know that none other than Henry Kissinger was advising Trump on Russia relations to begin 2017. And I’m sure Trump took his advice to heart. Mr. Realpolitik himself is the ultimate pragmatist.
But if we go back to a report from The Independent at the end of 2016 we see the kind of non-starter offers Trump will put on the table when he and Putin finally sit down to break bread.
To resolve the civil war in Ukraine Kissinger recommended to Trump:
…the US accepting that Crimea, a Ukrainian territory that Russia seized in March 2014, now belongs to Moscow. In exchange, Russia would remove troops and military supplies to rebels in eastern Ukraine which have fighting a war against the Ukrainian government.
The report did not provide details, but claimed that “sources” said that Mr Kissinger was drawing up a “master plan” for Ukraine.
Ignore the typical inflammatory language about Russia “seizing” Crimea. The key is that this is a typical U.S. offer to negotiate after having taken egregious liberties and then offering crumbs in return.
So, this carrot of readmission into the G-8 is just another stick.
Since then we’ve seen nothing but escalation of the conflict as Trump signed off on sending Javelin anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.
1. Blowing up Ukraine and installing a failing puppet government which created the secession of the Donbass.
2. Attempting our own military takeover of Crimea using UAF troops and marines from the U.S.S. Donald Cook.
3. Millions of lives disrupted or ended
Trump is running a full-pressure campaign to conjure up a win in Ukraine out of the abject failure the operation ultimately is. When asked about Crimea recently Trump tooted his own horn saying that if he were President, Putin would have never gotten away with Crimea.
Korea Cum Crimea
That kind of bluster plays well in MAGA country but in the world of geopolitics not so much. Had Trump been president he may not have overthrown Yanukovich and therefore the whole point would be moot. But, it gives you an idea of what Trump is thinking.
To get an idea of how Trump will deal on Crimea, likely late this year or in 2019, let’s look at what’s about to happen in Singapore with North Korea.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un holds all the cards having not only Russian and Chinese support but a willing partner in South Korea, President Moon Jae-in.
Alistair Crooke outlined Trump’s plan to extend the U.S. Empire deeper into the 21st century through ‘energy domination.’ In effect, Trump wants to have his Imperial cake and eat it too.
His carrot is pulling back on the military part of the empire, which is to the betterment of the world. His stick is extending U.S. financial and economic control over the world through sanctions, tariffs and being the marginal producer of oil with the world’s strongest economy.
The only thing everyone needs to accept is his grace. Good luck with that Don. The market economy says you are on very shaky ground.
So, in Singapore the most likely deal is a staged denuclearlization of the peninsula on both sides. Trump will agree to wind down most of the U.S. occupation force in South Korea for Kim’s assurances of ending his nuclear weapons program.
John Bolton will argue for things North Korea can’t agree to in any version of reality, as he has done in the past to scuttle a settlement. Hopefully, he will be ignored.
To get this Trump will demand, behind the scenes, some meaningless trade concessions from China and for Russia to be barred from helping North Korea with energy, transport and electricity infrastructure.
He won’t get the last part. Trump will trumpet this as a major win for his platform, which it will look like. But, in truth, he will lose a major piece on the geopolitical game-board, North Korea to China and Russia forever.
Rebuilding North Korea will take a couple of decades. The U.S. empire doesn’t have that long. So, it is truly in no one’s best interests to accept anything Trump is offering besides bringing his troops home.
The Donbass Struggle
This brings me back to The Donbass. We know the UAF is gearing up for a major offensive which will likely commence a few days after the World Cup is over, similar to the putsch to oust Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich occurred just after the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Putin and Ukrainian President Poroshenko spoke on the phone for the first time in years over the weekend. Putin’s public statement that any attack on the Donbass during the World Cup by Kiev would have “serious consequences for Ukrainian statehood.”
That statement was pointed squarely at Washington, not Kiev. The situation in the Sea of Azov is very tense with Ukraine attempting to blockade it via training exercises while the Russian coast guard has increased patrols.
Ukraine seized a fishing vessel earlier this year in a pure act of war provocation which Putin refused to respond to. With reports that Poroshenko’s government is on shaky ground, the time frame for a final showdown on Ukraine is approaching fast.
Poroshenko has been invited to the July 11-12th NATO summit. Again, this is simply yet another bit of ‘hard negotiation’ that Kissinger and his National Security Advisor John Bolton would offer up to Trump to scare Putin into signing a bad deal for Russia and himself.
But Putin cannot betray the Donbass anymore than Trump can betray Texas.
So, the opposite result is more likely the case: Ukraine attempts to retake The Donbass. Putin responds with a measured response that secures the new Kerch strait bridge and the Sea of Azov for The Donbass and Russia, thus ending any discussion about the border.
The U.S. will scream about Russian aggression. Nikki Haley will bang her shoe on the table at the U.N. It’d be hilarious.
If you think Russia ‘annexed’ Crimea, wait until you see Trump push Putin to securing the land bridge between the Donbass and Crimea. Because that cannot be ruled out here.
The European Muddle
The big issue here is that the European Union’s sanctions over Crimea expire at the end of this month and requires unanimous consent from all the foreign ministers to be reauthorized for a minimum of six months.
And the goal is to keep the Russians as the bad guys support the narrative of Russian aggression. That precludes any kind of face-saving agreement between Putin and Merkel over Crimea. She wants out of this situation now but can’t do so if the U.S. provokes a Russian military response. After the G-7 meeting French Poodle Emmanuel Macron reiterated the inane requirement of the Minsk process for lifting sanctions, putting the ball in Russia’s hands.
When none other than Poroshenko announced this week the Minsk process is dead, because he’s looking to attack The Donbass on behalf of U.S. neoconservatives. So, Macron is looking like an irrelevant jerk, as always.
This is the kind of muddy realpolitik that guys like Kissinger live for. It makes simple problems look like Gordian knots. But ultimately it has a real cost politically. And that cost is the rising populism across Europe that nearly deposed Merkel and has deposed governments all over Europe.
After four years of destroying trade between the EU and Russia the sanctions have cost Europe far more than Russia. Most European countries are chomping at the bit to end them. It’s one of the issues tearing at the political fabric of the EU.
But, doing so would incur the wrath of Trump at a time when the EU itself is on the verge of a sovereign debt collapse. Trump has done nothing but boast recently about how hard he’s been on Russia. And his foreign policy staff keep egging the Ukrainians on. In his remarks about adding Russia back to the G-8 he made that very point, saying, “I think Putin is probably going ‘man I wish Hillary won’ cause you see what I do, but with that said, Russia should be in this meeting.”
Europe wants a way forward that asserts its independence but retains its dominance over U.S. policy. But Macron is too weak a leader to actually effect that change. So is Merkel. Trump knows this.
The politics are deeper than the D.C. swamp. So, while it is unlikely that Europe will ultimately stand up to Trump on anti-Iran sanctions, there could be an opening for ending Russian sanctions.
And that means Italy. It will be up to the Italians to burn a few more bridges in Brussels. But, they would also burn some with D.C. at the same time. German Chancellor Angela Merkel needs to gain political capital fast and lifting the sanctions on Russia over Crimea would help her.
This weekend’s fractious G-7 meeting was beautiful. Trump is a great Loki figure, exposing the worst divisions of the globalist cabal that it is. That was the main reason behind his inviting Russia back into the G-8, to poke them in the eye and dare them to stand up to him.
The irony is that Crimea is a piece already captured by Putin. All Trump is doing is complaining about the state of the game board.