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India stands by Russia as US crosses ‘red line’ in Ukraine

By M K Bhadrakumar | Indian Punchline | December 21, 2017

In a highly significant diplomatic gesture, India showed solidarity with Russia in the UN General Assembly vote on Tuesday, which condemned the human rights situation in Crimea and Sevastopol. The resolution, which was proposed by Ukraine and backed by the western powers was passed by 70 votes, with 76 countries abstaining and 26 opposing.

Interestingly, India was the only country from South Asia to oppose the resolution – Pakistan and Sri Lanka abstained – and one of just three from Asia-Pacific to do so – the others being China and Myanmar. The line-up of voting had the ominous look of an epic ‘East-West’ battle of a bygone era. There is no issue that can be more important for Russian foreign policy today than Ukraine. And US pressure is building up on Russia lately. From the US perspective, there is no better way to whip up the enemy image of Russia and shepherd dispirited European allies behind its transatlantic leadership than by rekindling the embers in eastern Ukraine. (Read my earlier blog US-EU-Russia tensions spill over the Ukraine.)

This has been, therefore, a brilliant assertion of India’s independent foreign policies. Simply put, the Modi government took a deliberate decision to stand up and be counted as Russia’s friend – although President Trump had just the previous day issued a birth certificate to India as ‘global power’. This would have been a decision taken at a political level – probably even at the highest level — because these are extraordinary times when Nikki Haley keeps a note pad to jot down where individual countries stood on issues of vital interest to the American foreign policy and, presumably, she is under instruction to  report directly to the boss. (BBC)

India has traditionally taken a dim view of the intrusive western attempts to use the pretext of human rights to politicize regional issues. But then, this is not like any other issue. Nothing brings it home [more] than the curious coincidence that even as the UN General Assembly vote on Crimea got under way, the US state department disclosed in Washington that the Trump administration has decided to cross the ‘red line’ in Ukraine. (Canada, which usually does the foreplay for the US, took a similar decision last week.) Moscow has repeatedly warned Washington against precipitating a flare-up in Ukraine by arming the forces of ultra-nationalists and neo-Nazis who double as the ‘army’ in Kiev.

But Russia apparently anticipated the US move. In fact, there were far too many tell-tale signs that couldn’t be overlooked. Reports have been appearing of Ukrainian troop movements on the Donbas front. The Russian monitors within the OSCE group were being prevented from physically accessing the frontline. At a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on December 14, the Russian ambassador detailed the violations of the Minsk agreement protocol by the Ukrainian forces. (Transcript) On December 19, Moscow announced that it was withdrawing the Russian officers in the monitoring group, since “further work of the Russian Armed Forces’ mission at the Centre has become impossible.” (MFA)

A concerted attempt seems to have begun to ‘activate’ the front in Eastern Ukraine. Smarting under the humiliating defeat in the project to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria, Washington is blackmailing Moscow.

The US National Security Advisor HR McMaster recently hinted at a new doctrine of ‘competitive engagement’ of Russia. Possibly, the generals in the Trump administration see the situation in Ukraine through the Cold War prism with a zero sum mindset. That will be a catastrophic mistake. Putin recently warned of massacres worse than Srebrenica if violence flares up again in Ukraine. But then, if there is another refugee problem, it will be after all Germany’s headache – not Trump’s.

Now, what could be the Russian counter-move? For sure, President Vladimir Putin would have thought through a long time ago already what should be the next step and the step thereafter and the step even thereafter if Trump refuels the conflict in Ukraine.

December 21, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Trump’s approval of lethal arms to Ukraine is a sideways move to nowhere

By Jim Jatras | RT | December 21, 2017

The Washington Post reports President Donald Trump has approved providing lethal weapons to Ukraine’s armed forces.

Specifically, according to the report, the decision opens the door for delivery of items like Model M107A1 sniper systems and ammunition, plus associated parts and equipment, with a value of $41.5 million. At the same time, presidential approval is reportedly still being withheld from providing Javelin man-held anti-tank missiles, which Kiev also wants.

The decision to provide lethal “defensive” weapons comports with repeated Congressional authorizations, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support since 2014. While former President Barack Obama declined to act on those authorities, President Trump evidently has now done so.

With regard to the domestic political purposes of the decision, it seems to be another Trump effort to appear wisely Solomonic by “splitting the baby”: look “strong” by making a muscular judgment but don’t go all the way. It’s the same ploy he used in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (but not yet moving the US embassy, which he could easily do by switching the plaques of the US Consulate General in West Jerusalem with the current embassy in Tel Aviv) and by “de-certifying” the Iran deal (but not pulling the US out of it, yet).

For arming Ukraine, we can be sure Trump will be heaped with praise from the same domestic sectors that for more than a year have been denouncing him as “Putin’s puppet.” While there will be objections from antiwar dissidents – whose opinions don’t count – the only point of criticism from the establishment will be that he hasn’t yet gone far enough (the Javelins).

This has already begun, with Michael Carpenter, Barack Obama’s former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine, Eurasia, the Balkans, and conventional arms control, tweeting his approval of Secretary of Defense James Mattis for his role in the decision.

It’s reminiscent of the plaudits Trump received in April following his order to hit a Syrian airbase with cruise missiles in retaliation for a chemical attack that almost certainly was not committed by Syrian government forces. For example, at that time, CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, up to then uniformly a harsh critic who had derided Mr. Trump’s “rocking horse presidency” as a “circus,” intoned the next day: “I think Donald Trump became President of the United States last night.” Expect more of such hosannas in the coming days.

Carpenter’s mention of Mattis is significant. According to the Post report, Trump approved sending the arms to Ukraine by signing off on a decision memorandum presented by Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (It is certain that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster also concurred, or the memo would not have been given to the President.) As Carpenter would know (and as I would know, having had a hand in drafting State Department decision memoranda), the principal almost always signs off on the decision option preferred by the subordinates who drafted the memo. While Trump no doubt understands the gravity of the decision, his grasp of the details would be no more than what his underlings wanted him to know to point him to their favored outcome.

The Ukraine decision comes two days after the release of a US National Security Strategy (NSS) that could be best called confused. Pillar I (defense of American borders and tightening immigration controls to keep dangerous people out) and Pillar II (ending unfair trade practices and restoring America’s industrial base) are solid “America First” principles from Trump’s campaign and a repudiation of the Democratic and Republican establishments.

But Pillar III could have been drafted by any group of George W. Bush retreads – and no doubt was – or for that matter by Obama holdovers. It is little more than a rehash of the usual litany of “threats” from China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, etc. Still, in his speech unveiling the NSS Trump made a point of acknowledging Russian President Vladimir Putin’s thank you call for reportedly providing intelligence information from the CIA to thwart a terrorist attack on St. Petersburg’s Kazan Cathedral. (One can’t help but wonder if the whole story was intended as a cover for some backroom effort to improve Washington-Moscow ties. After all, since the American side would never abide “thanking the Russians” for anything, having the Russians thank the US for something would be a sensible approach.)

In short, as with his Jerusalem and Iran nuclear moves, Trump’s Ukraine decision was mainly calculated for domestic political effect in the United States. Read most optimistically, it could be intended as political “protection” for some kind of positive move concerning Russia. But in the meantime, it could have consequences. How serious they might be remains to be seen.

First, the very notion of “defensive” weapons is a myth. Weapons kill. The units approved for sale to Ukraine are designed for use as anti-materiel rifles, but they can also be used as anti-personnel weapons. Their very nature is offensive, though their tactical use can be either offensive or defensive. Trump’s decision to supply the sniper systems to Kiev will not have any impact on the strategic situation on the ground in eastern Ukraine. Its only likely consequence is that more people will die, as Ukrainian forces use their new equipment to probe for vulnerabilities on the line of control. Forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics will respond in kind.

Second, the decision will have no positive influence on the political stalemate over the Donbas. With no effort from Kiev to implement the political aspects of the Minsk 2 agreement and with sporadic killing continuing – and now possibly being stepped up – along the front line, a political solution will be farther away as ever. Instability in Kiev, fed by the antics of the clownish former Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in his effort to topple the unpopular President Petro Poroshenko, makes serious political engagement all but impossible. Inside Ukraine, the only direct political consequence of Trump’s action will be to convince the Donbas even more – if that is possible – that no rapprochement with Kiev is possible.

Jim Jatras is a former US diplomat (with service in the Office of Soviet Union Affairs during the Reagan administration) and was for many years a senior foreign policy adviser to the US Senate Republican leadership.

December 21, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Ukraine Leader’s Remarks on Minsk Pact Contradictory – Lavrov

Sputnik – 23.01.2017

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s recent remarks concerning the pace of the Minsk agreements’ implementation and security issues contradict the agreements themselves and highlight Kiev’s efforts to evade them, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Monday.

On Sunday, Poroshenko gave a speech during Ukrainian Unity Day celebrations, stating that the government will not proceed in implementing the Minsk agreements and amending the Ukrainian constitution until security issues are settled in war-torn eastern Ukraine. The latter includes restoring Ukrainian army control over the country’s border with Russia, which is currently controlled by the Donbas militias.

“We hope that these EU countries that act as guarantors of the Minsk agreements… in Paris and Berlin would pay attention to this inappropriate statement by President Poroshenko, who is trying to wriggle out of his commitments,” Lavrov said.

The Russian side had voiced its concern with Poroshenko’s remarks on Ukraine halting the implementation of political reforms needed to settle the east Ukrainian conflict, he added, stressing that such a position is in direct contradiction with the terms of the Minsk accords which state that control over the Russian-Ukrainian border can only be restored after Kiev gives a special status to the Donbas region.

In 2014, Kiev authorities launched a military operation against militias in the Donbas region. In 2015, the two sides reached a ceasefire deal brokered by the leaders of the Normandy quartet including Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine in Minsk. Throughout 2016, the Normandy Four and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) have been stressing the need to implement Minsk provisions but Kiev has stalled in giving a special status to Donbas as specified in the agreement. Ceasefire violations have continued.

January 23, 2017 Posted by | Deception | , | Leave a comment

Ill-informed first words on Ukraine by Canada’s new prime minister

New Cold War – November 17, 2015

Canada’s new prime minister is sounding not-so-new when it comes to the civil war that has devastated the lives of millions of people in eastern Ukraine. CBC News reports that Justin Trudeau directed critical and ill-informed words to Russian President Vladimir Putin two days ago during the G20 summit meeting in Antalya, Turkey. Trudeau’s words portend badly for the people of Ukraine if continued.

CBC cites Trudeau speaking of his exchange with Putin: “I pointed out that although Canada has shifted its approach on a broad range of multilateral and international issues, we remain committed to the fact that Russia’s interference in Ukraine must cease; that we stand with the Ukrainian people and expect the president to engage fully in the Minsk peace process.”

The reference to the Minsk ceasefire agreement of Feb 12, 2015 (‘Minsk-2’) is ill-informed or malevolent. Russia was a key international sponsor and negotiator of the agreement, along with Germany and France. Canada and the United States were nowhere to be seen or heard from. The agreement was effectively a refutation of the aggressive egging-on of Kyiv’s civil war in which the U.S., Canada and Britain have engaged ever since Kyiv launched its civil war–‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’–in eastern Ukraine in April 2014.

Minsk-2 sets out 13 very specific clauses which must be met by the governing regime in Kyiv and the rebel, pro-autonomy forces in Donetsk and Lugansk. Kyiv has violated every single one of those clauses. Today, only the first two of the clauses are close to being met by Kyiv–a ceasefire, and a withdrawal of heavy weaponry from the front line of the conflict which runs through the heart of the Donbas region (Donetsk and Lugansk oblasts).

Clause four requires the holding of local elections in Donetsk and Lugansk which would recognize principles of local autonomy. Clauses 11 and 12 require constitutional changes that recognize autonomy for Donbas. None of this has happened. On the contrary, Kyiv has crafted new political measures which block and deny said autonomy.

Clauses five and six require Kyiv to provide amnesty to combatants who resisted its civil war and to conduct a full prisoner exchange with the rebel side. It has failed on the first count, and Kyiv continues to hold many combatants and political prisoners it refuses to exchange.

Clause eight requires Kyiv to end its economic sanctions (cutting of social payments) against the population of the east which it implemented in the summer of 2014 and to end its obstruction and blocking of economic transactions. This has not occurred. Indeed, in the the latest in a string of human rights reports critically examining the situation in Ukraine, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe Nils Muižnieks admonishes Kyiv for failing to end its economic blockade of eastern Ukraine. His report was issued on November 3.

Clause ten of Minsk-2 reads, “Pullout of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, and also mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under OSCE supervision. Disarmament of all illegal groups.” Yet Canada, the U.S. and Britain dispatched soldiers to Ukraine in the months following February 12, under the guise of launching “training missions” of the Ukrainian army. And as for the disarming of “illegal groups” (referring to the extremist paramilitary battalions fighting alongside the Ukrainian army), Kyiv has solved that little problem by incorporating the battalions into its National Guard. This effectively worsens the situation by legitimizing the battalions and giving them more formal access to training and weaponry, including from the aforementioned NATO countries.

So if Ukraine has violated the clauses of Minsk-2 so widely, and if the human rights commissioner of the European Union(!) effectively acknowledges much of this, what is Justin Trudeau talking about when he blames a foreign country, Russia, for violations of the agreement?

Trudeau is either being played by the governing regime in Kyiv, or he and his government have decided to play along.

Last summer, Kyiv began to face up to the fact that it could not longer openly flout Minsk-2 and continue its shelling of Donbas. The military setbacks it suffered during 18 months of civil war cannot be easily fixed. Polls of Ukrainians show very high numbers of people wanting an end to the fighting. Kyiv’s economic and social disaster at home is looming ever larger, including an impending default on its foreign debt. And Berlin and Paris decided last summer that a continued war in Ukraine was not in their interest; they had bigger problems requiring their undivided attention. So as of September 1, Kyiv largely ceased its shelling and it began to match the withdrawals of heavy weaponry already begun by rebel forces. This was and remains a significant political setback to Kyiv’s efforts to crush resistance to its pro-Europe, anti-Russia and pro-austerity program.

The one card that remains for Kyiv to play in order to avoid its obligations under Minsk-2 and obfuscate the real situation is the enduring myth of a Russian invasion and occupation of eastern Ukraine. This is what Trudeau is talking about when he speaks of Russian violations of the agreement. He is parroting the wording to this effect that was begun by Kyiv as it faced its forced climbdown on September 1.

Trudeau can get away with uttering nonsense about Russia violating Minsk-2 because the Canadian population has been deeply misled and misinformed about the situation in Ukraine. Parliamentarians of all parties in Ottawa and the country’s corporate media are 100 per cent united behind a hostile, anti-Russia policy that blames all the ills in Ukraine on its large neighbour to the east. Much of the Canadian population knows of no other story of Ukraine than the one it has been aggressively fed for two years now. But the unfolding disaster of U.S., Canadian and European policy taking place in Syria and the Middle East, and the contrast to that of the apparent, early achievements of Russian diplomacy, have growing numbers of Canadians on full alert against more foreign policy deceptions and misadventures.

Justin Trudeau and his government, not to speak of the people of Ukraine, have nothing to gain and much to lose by a continuation of Stephen Harper’s aggressive and hostile policy towards Ukraine and Russia.

The Toronto Star report on Justin Trudeau’s encounter with Vladimir Putin explained, “Trudeau’s brief chat [with Putin] is in contrast with the lengthy discussion that unfolded here between Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama on the crisis in Syria.”

November 18, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Donbas is Returning to its Russian Roots’

By SERGEI BARYSHNIKOV | CounterPunch | July 1, 2015

The following is the transcript of a talk by Sergei Baryshnikov, professor of political science and former rector of the National University of Donetsk in the Donetsk People’s Republic. The talk was delivered on April 16, 2015 to a group of foreign writers and journalists visiting Donetsk at the invitation of the Russian/German media NGO ‘Europa Objektiv’. The transcript includes answers to questions from the audience. Translation and editing by NewColdWar.org.

***

During the events of spring 2014 [in eastern and southern Ukraine] known as the ‘Russian Spring’ (a metaphorical name first used by a Russian journalist), intellectuals in Donetsk, especially those in humanities studies, did not participate actively. Active participants could be counted on the fingers on one hand.

From the vantage point of classical theory, it is still difficult to explain the class or social character of these events. None of the classical theories proved with a suitable explanation.

As we look back today, one year later, there were two social forces driving events forward. One was young people with different professional backgrounds, including high school students, university students and unemployed youth. These were the most active participants due to their unstable social situations. The second was people of the so called third age–the elderly. These two polar groups were the most active, driving forces of the Russian Spring in Donbas.

Initial responses to the rise of the Euromaidan movement in Kyiv

The first timid and not well organized attempts to offer an alternative to the Maidan movement that was already a fact in Kyiv took place in November/December of 2013. At the time, we did not yet fully understand the degree of the threat emanating from Kyiv. We hoped that President Yanukovich would be a more firm and adequate leader. But after the beginning of the new year, during the first weeks of January, the picture became clearer. Authorities in Kyiv were reacting less and less adequately to events.

The starting point of our consolidation here was the 25th of January, 2014. On that day, activists of several dozens of organizations, not large, rather marginal by their size and influence, created the movement called anti-Maidan. Regardless of some contradictions and disagreements within the ‘pro-Russian’ movement here in the east of ex-Ukraine, including that each leader wanted to be the chief, common ground which united all was found. This was based on the ideological and political rejection of those values that were being promoted under the slogans of Maidan.

The first occasion of direct action was on March 1 when opponents of the self-proclaimed government in Kyiv gathered at the central Square in Donetsk city named after Lenin. They gathered at the fountain (then not working due to the winter season) wearing St. George ribbons as a distinctive feature of the pro-Russian movement. Some stayed at the square and continued with the rally while the most active ones headed in a column towards the regional administration building. There, authorities were trying to organize their own rally, neither in support of Kyiv nor in support of the outraged masses. They tried to maneuver and survive in the difficult situation that came to be. The rally was organized by former leaders from the Party of Regions and the former governor. All official representatives were there – representatives of the church, social organizations, and so on.

It was during the rally at Lenin Square that Pavel Gubarev was proclaimed people’s governor. The most active participants there were small networks such as the Donetsk Republic, Russian Bloc, the South-East Movement and, a little later, the Eastern Front, Donbas Rus’, the Patriotic Forces of Donbas and so on. We marched in columns with Andrey Purgin, one of the leaders of Donetsk Republic. Many people carried Russian flags or self-made banners. The main slogans were: ‘Russia’, ‘Putin’, ‘Referendum’.

There was also a slogan about federalization. With time, that slogan vanished because even then it was clear that any ‘federalization’ would be with the puppets in Kyiv who had seized power.

Why ‘Russia’, ‘Putin’, ‘referendum’? Because here we were all really inspired by the example of Crimea. We hoped that we would also organize such a quick referendum.

We basically drowned out the organizers of that official rally on March 1 because we were more numerous and because the ordinary people that were brought to the official rally joined us and began rallying under our slogans.

Demands for election, referendum

The referendum question for us was one of the most important ones then. We wanted to obtain approval from the Donetsk Regional Council/ deputies to hold a referendum, like the one held in Crimea. We counted on the deputies’ support because we thought that if they represented the interests of people or territorial community of the Donetsk Region, then they must listen to and support people’s demands.

Unfortunately, none of them turned out to be ready to take the people’s side. That’s why we began putting forward our own leaders, in place of relying on deputies who proved incapable of rising to the occasion.

The whole power structure was paralyzed and that’s why it was not capable of using force against the protestors during those first days. Essentially, Donetsk became one permanent rally. Every day, during weekdays and weekends, people would come to Lenin Square for rallies. There were tens of thousands of people. It was a scale of activism I have never seen ever before.

Not a single participant of the rallies and meetings was armed. It was a peaceful, mass, civic protest. But Kyiv authorities had more or less settled in and become stronger over time and they did not wish to hear or notice us. They used the most primitive and ineffective methods of repression – terror. Those who rose as leaders during March were arrested, including the previously mentioned Pavel Gubarev (a former student of mine and a graduate of the Faculty of History, he has three young children) and Mikhail Chumachenko (my good friend).

Later, these two were freed through a prisoner exchange and returned after the Donetsk People’s Republic was formed. However, during those days, their destiny was an example of what could have happened to any of us, that any of us could have been administratively punished or repressed by the authorities.

The culminating point of this first stage of the development of the events was the night of April 6-7, when people lost hope in the capabilities and willingness of the authorities to negotiate and hold peaceful dialogue. For the third time since March 1, they entered the building of the former state regional administration. This time for good.

Donetsk Peoples Republic

Myself, I did not take part in these events in the late evening of April 6 because by request of Purgin, I was preparing for a meeting that would take place on April 7 with a representative of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, to whom I was to explain our position, our issues and our version of events. This was a political-diplomatic mission.

After that meeting with them, around 12 pm, I entered the building and saw a picture of mass, revolutionary activity. There were young soldiers of the internal security forces with frightened faces who were huddling on the staircases. No one hurt them and they realized that it was useless for them to do anything.

At 12 pm, elections took place, based on the decisions made during rallies by the participants of the first revolutionary authority, which was first called People’s Council and later renamed Supreme Council. And this People’s Council of approximately 150 people proclaimed the Donetsk People’s Republic.

During the overnight and early morning of April 7, in accordance with international legal acts and other documents, the declaration of independence of the DPR was drawn up and proclaimed. This is how the first political, institutional representative organ of the self-proclaimed republic began its work.

Development of the DPR

In April, our events began attracting attention. Political activists and leaders began appearing here who, in Ukraine, expressed support for developing relations with Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union. One of the most prominent figures who got ambiguous reactions from the activists of the first wave was the then-deputy (not any longer) of the Supreme Council of Ukraine (Verkhovna Rada), Oleg Tsarev. He became a prominent figure in April. Tsarev’s situation was a little ambiguous, because he is not from Donetsk region but from the neighbouring Dnepropetrovsk region.

It was unavoidable that people began appearing from other regions or other places because the Party of Regions and its leaders had fully discredited themselves as politicians and people’s servants. The visitors tried to become prominent figures and even lead the protest movement here.

Konstantin Dolgov showed a lot of interest. He is from Kharkov. Representatives of Kharkov came here regularly, as did representatives of large southern centres, including Nikolaev, Kherson, Crimea and, until their tragic events in May, Odessa.

Gradually, a common political course of the young DPR developed. It is still in the stage of development.

The process of forming political and government structure here turned out to be very long and uneasy. There was lack of experience and a lack of true leaders with sufficient charisma and capability for serious, positive action. It is a problem when people are active and there is an absence or lack of true leaders. It is still a serious problem. That is why support from Moscow and Russia was very important to us. But only political and ideological support, not military.

In May, also due to lack of experience, we didn’t stop Kyiv’s landing operation in the airport area. (Maybe we couldn’t have stopped them, regardless of the lack of experience.) Military action started in Donetsk itself. Even earlier, as of April 12, in the north of Donetsk region, military actions started around Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, and then Druzhkovka. Gradually, the DPR was being drawn into military confrontation.

The events at Slavyansk are associated directly with the name Igor Strelkov, who was at that moment the most known and most popular military leader. However, he didn’t have the necessary experience, he is mostly a theorist-idealist, not a politician or military. I, for example, would never take on leadership in a military campaign because I am also a theorist-idealist. I can only lecture or give talks and make speeches.

Reactions at the university

All this time, the DPR didn’t have enough time to reach out to higher educational institutions. Even though at the end of May, beginning of June, I tried explaining to Purgin that we needed to enter the university and take control because students could potentially rally to either side–Kyiv or the Donetsk people. It would all depend upon what DPR could offer them and how it could show itself. But no one would listen to me. Everyone was occupied with other issues, they didn’t have time for this.[1]

During June-July the situation would exacerbate with each day. Unexpectedly for us, Igor Strelkov and his military forces withdrew from Slavyansk and came here to Donetsk. Along with the insurgency troops and their families and wives came refugees. In the beginning of July, they inhabited the whole of the university residencies.

The previous university authorities could do nothing better than to call upon all professors and university staff to leave for ‘vacation’, in other words leave the city.

The shelling of the city began from the other side of the airport, an area that we missed and were not capable of forcing out the paratroopers of the Ukrainian Army. They began getting on our nerves and getting in the way of everything by shelling even some areas in the centre of the city.

But the technical staff of the university–workers, mechanics, plumbers and janitors–continued to work here all this time. The infrastructure of the university, which is a complex unit, had to be maintained.

(Professor Baryshnikov explained more of how the university functioned during the summer of 2014, including how he came to be appointed rector.)

The staff that worked throughout the whole summer didn’t get a penny of their wages for July, August and September. For three months, people didn’t get any pay. Only in October did we manage to get funds, but we could not pay salaries, only social allowances of some two, three or four thousand hryvnia [in the few hundreds of dollars]…

Today, we are transitioning to a dual currency system of rubles and hryvnia. Our students have begun getting their first bursaries. We are gradually entering, de facto, the Russian financial and economical space. This is more important, even, than our international recognition. Even though we are waiting and hoping that soon we will be both officially and legally recognized. But in order for this to happen, we need to strengthen our potential and expand our borders to those administrative borders that Donetsk Region previously had.

The Minsk ceasefire agreement of February 12, 2015

The agreement is not being respected either way. There wasn’t a day when its conditions were fulfilled. Primarily, it is the Ukrainian side which is failing to do so.

We are inevitably committed to expansion to regain the historic territory of Donetsk and Lugansk presently occupied by Kyiv forces… I want you to understand and pass on to your readers and your audiences that the objective picture, the objective reality, forces us to begin the liberation of those territories. You can call that expansion, but we must do it.

We need to control our water resources, which are in our north. We have deposits of salt, a strategic product which will help us enter not only the Russian market but the world market. The Severskiy Donetsk Channel supplies our whole former territory with water, and near Artemovsk there are huge deposits of salt. We could have a monopoly in the whole of Eurasia. And, of course, in the south we have the metallurgical plants and an exit to the sea through Mariupol.

Ideally, we need to consolidate all of Donbas. During June and July of last year, the first attempts were made to consolidate the DPR and Lugansk People’s Republic. Oleg Tsarev proposed a scheme to create a coordinating representative body that would act on behalf of both republics. Later, if everything went well, it could act on behalf of other republics. It was named the Parliament of Novorossiya.[2]

Political parties in Donetsk

There isn’t a single political party in DPR today. Today we have only social movements and socio-political associations—’proto-parties’. Based on the social organization called ‘Donetsk Republic’, it has been decided to create a party which would probably dominate here. Some leaders of the DPR have such plans in mind. They are planning a project to create a party similar to the Communist Party of Soviet Union during Soviet times. It will be a leading party called ‘Donetsk Republic’.

I am personally against this project. Because we will repeat the same mistakes and repeat the sad experience and therefore the unfortunate destiny of the late Soviet epoch and the fairly recent experience that we had here of one party [Party of Regions] monopoly and domination.

The intellectual level is not sufficient. There are not enough experts and professionals. A lot of former activists of the Party of Regions are already in Donetsk Republic taking leading or secondary positions.

I would, instead, like to see a truly democratic system, so that initiatives would come from the bottom, from territorial communities and even from working collectives. There should be political representation of all basic social groups of the population–from businessmen to farmers and workers. Otherwise, we will once again have a monopolist party which will control the main trade unions and professional associations–where all people will be administratively ‘invited’ to be members–and it will be in charge of youth movements. There will be a vertical range of power but not a horizontal one.

To follow the Chinese path [of one party rule], we need to be Chinese. The whole world divides into the Chinese and the rest. No, we are not trying to adapt the Chinese system. We need a democracy which, according to the before-revolution experience, will have horizontal lines of power and representation of territorial communes as well as vertical power representing those of the political right, left and centre.

State intervention in the economy

At the beginning of the events I have mentioned, socialist and semi-socialist ideas were very strong. But as of now, I believe that a mixed economy will be developed because that’s the only option. Private property and private business within certain borders are essential in the modern world.

We managed to achieve military success. Not victory, but certain success. We have resisted. We all understand that it would not be possible without Russia’s help. But Putin’s politics, I mean politics by Putin personally, turned out to be so unique, exclusive and subtle that Russia is not a direct participant of the conflict. And at the same time, it provides us with protection. We are under Russia’s protection. This is a very interesting fact for future historians.

Donbas as part of Ukraine?

In conclusion, I would like to say and emphasize, and maybe you can pass this on to your readers, that almost 24 years ago, Moscow, as the capital of the Soviet Empire, let Ukraine go and obtain its sovereignty: That was done without a single drop of blood spilled.

Therefore, Ukraine, the Ukrainian people, should treat Donbas as they were treated 24 years ago. They should act peacefully. If Donbas wants to live without Ukraine, either as part of Russia or with its own sovereignty, let it be. There is no point in trying to forcefully keep us as part of Ukraine.

Since Kyiv has not done this, which should have been done in the spring or beginning of summer one year ago, now we are objectively interested in the disintegration of Ukraine and a construction of Novorossiya on part of its former territories…

I, personally, was dissatisfied with the whole 23 years of our existence within Ukraine. I didn’t conduct any kind of subversive activities, didn’t form any subversive organizations, but I always believed that we would not stay as part of Ukraine for long.

Overall, the territory of current Ukraine–more precisely, Ukraine before Euromaidan–is a result of totalitarianism, of Bolshevik, communist, totalitarian policy. They are destroying monuments of Lenin, but he created Ukraine in its modern borders. One hundred years ago, Lenin said that Donbas should forget about being Russian. There is documented evidence of this, But the events we discussed before simply confirm that even after 100 years, Donbas hasn’t forgotten that it’s Russian.

This is not about ethnic purity or belonging, it is about historical truth. Donbas appeared as an historical product of the politics of Russia, as its economic, geopolitical and geographic product. Now Donbas is going through a difficult process of returning back to Russia, of that I am sure.

Sergei Baryshnikov is a professor of political science and former rector of the National University of Donetsk in the Donetsk People’s Republic.

Notes:
[1] The National University of Donetsk formerly had around 16 000 students. Today, there are some 8,000. The largest decline of enrolment was in the departments of the humanities.

[2] Read more about the Parliament of Novorossiya in an April 2015 interview with one of its deputies, Aleksander Kolesnik.

July 1, 2015 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , | Leave a comment

All-Out War in Ukraine: NATO’s ‘Final Offensive’

By James Petras :: 11.20.2014

Introduction

There are clear signs that a major war is about to break out in Ukraine: A war actively promoted by the NATO regimes and supported by their allies and clients in Asia (Japan) and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia).

The war over Ukraine will essentially run along the lines of a full-scale military offensive against the southeast Donbas region, targeting the breakaway ethnic Ukraine- Russian Peoples Republic of Donetsk and Lugansk, with the intention of deposing the democratically elected government, disarming the popular militias, killing the guerrilla resistance partisans and their mass base, dismantling the popular representative organizations and engaging in ethnic cleansing of millions of bilingual Ukraino-Russian citizens. NATO’s forthcoming military seizure of the Donbas region is a continuation and extension of its original violent putsch in Kiev, which overthrew an elected Ukrainian government in February 2014.

The Kiev junta and its newly ‘elected’ client rulers, and its NATO sponsors are intent on a major purge to consolidate the puppet Poroshenko’s dictatorial rule. The recent NATO-sponsored elections excluded several major political parties that had traditionally supported the country’s large ethnic minority populations, and was boycotted in the Donbas region. This sham election in Kiev set the tone for NATO’s next move toward converting Ukraine into one gigantic US multi-purpose military base aimed at the Russian heartland and into a neo-colony for German capital, supplying Berlin with grain and raw materials while serving as a captive market for German manufactured goods.

An intensifying war fever is sweeping the West; the consequences of this madness appear graver by the hour.

War Signs: The Propaganda and Sanctions Campaign, the G20 Summit and the Military Build Up

The official drum- beat for a widening conflict in Ukraine, spearheaded by the Kiev junta and its fascist militias, echoes in every Western mass media outlet, every day. Major mass media propaganda mills and government ‘spokesmen and women’ publish or announce new trumped-up accounts of growing Russian military threats to its neighbors and cross-border invasions into Ukraine. New Russian incursions are ‘reported’ from the Nordic borders and Baltic states to the Caucusus. The Swedish regime creates a new level of hysteria over a mysterious “Russian” submarine off the coast of Stockholm, which it never identifies or locates – let alone confirms the ‘sighting’ of. Estonia and Latvia claim Russian warplanes violated their air space without confirmation. Poland expels Russian “spies” without proof or witnesses. Provocative full-scale joint NATO-client state military exercises are taking place along Russia’s frontiers in the Baltic States, Poland, Romania and Ukraine.

NATO is sending vast arms shipments to the Kiev junta, along with “Special Forces” advisers and counter-insurgency experts in anticipation of a full-scale attack against the rebels in the Donbas.

The Kiev regime has never abided by the Minsk cease fire. According to the UN Human Rights office 13 people on average –mostly civilians –have been killed each day since the September cease fire. In eight weeks, the UN reports that 957 people have been killed –overwhelmingly by Kiev’s armed forces.

The Kiev regime, in turn, has cut all basic social and public services to the Peoples’ Republics’, including electricity, fuel, civil service salaries, pensions, medical supplies, salaries for teachers and medical workers, municipal workers wages; banking and transport have been blockaded.

The strategy is to further strangle the economy, destroy the infrastructure, force an even greater mass exodus of destitute refugees from the densely populated cities across the border into Russia and then to launch massive air, missile, artillery and ground assaults on urban centers as well as rebel bases.

The Kiev junta has launched an all-out military mobilization in the Western regions, accompanied by rabid anti-Russian, anti-Eastern Orthodox indoctrination campaigns designed to attract the most violent far right chauvinist thugs and to incorporate the Nazi-style military brigades into the frontline shock troops. The cynical use of irregular fascist militias will ‘free’ NATO and Germany from any responsibility for the inevitable terror and atrocities in their campaign. This system of ‘plausible deniability’ mirrors the tactics of the German Nazis whose hordes of fascist Ukrainians and Ustashi Croats were notorious in their epoch of ethnic cleansing.

G20-plus-NATO: Support of the Kiev Blitz

To isolate and weaken resistance in the Donbas and guarantee the victory of the impending Kiev blitz, the EU and the US are intensifying their economic, military and diplomatic pressure on Russia to abandon the nascent peoples’ democracy in the south-east region of Ukraine, their principle ally.

Each and every escalation of economic sanctions against Russia is designed to weaken the capacity of the Donbas resistance fighters to defend their homes, towns and cities. Each and every Russian shipment of essential medical supplies and food to the besieged population evokes a new and more hysterical outburst – because it counters the Kiev-NATO strategy of starving the partisans and their mass base into submission or provoking their flight to safety across the Russian border.

After suffering a series of defeats, the Kiev regime and its NATO strategists decided to sign a ‘peace protocol’, the so-called Minsk agreement, to halt the advance of the Donbas resistance into the southern regions and to protect Kiev’s soldiers and militias holed-up in isolated pockets in the East. The Minsk agreement was designed to allow the Kiev junta to build up its military, re-organize its command and incorporate the disparate Nazi militias into its overall military forces in preparation for a ‘final offensive’. Kiev’s military build-up on the inside and NATO’s escalation of sanctions against Russia on the outside would be two sides of the same strategy: the success of a frontal attack on the democratic resistance of the Donbas basin depends on minimizing Russian military support through international sanctions.

NATO’s virulent hostility to Russian President Putin was on full display at the G20 meeting in Australia: NATO-linked presidents and prime ministers, especially Merkel, Obama, Cameron, Abbott, and Harper’s political threats and overt personal insults paralleled Kiev’s growing starvation blockade of the besieged rebels and population centers in the south-east. Both the G20’s economic threats against Russia and the diplomatic isolation of Putin and Kiev’s economic blockade are preludes to NATO’s Final Solution – the physical annihilation of all vestiges of Donbas resistance, popular democracy and cultural-economic ties with Russia.

Kiev depends on its NATO mentors to impose a new round of severe sanctions against Russia, especially if its planned invasion encounters a well armed and robust mass resistance bolstered by Russian support. NATO is counting on Kiev’s restored and newly supplied military capacity to effectively destroy the southeast centers of resistance.

NATO has decided on an ‘all-or-nothing campaign’: to seize all of Ukraine or, failing that, destroy the restive southeast, obliterate its population and productive capacity and engage in an all-out economic (and possibly shooting) war with Russia. Chancellor Angela Merkel is on board with this plan despite the complaints of German industrialists over their huge loss of export sales to Russia. President Hollande of France has signed on dismissing the complaints of trade unionists over the loss of thousands French jobs in the shipyards. Prime Minister David Cameron is eager for an economic war against Moscow, suggesting the bankers of the City of London find new channels to launder the illicit earnings of Russian oligarchs.

The Russian Response

Russian diplomats are desperate to find a compromise, which allows Ukraine’s ethnic Ukraine- Russian population in the southeast to retain some autonomy under a federation plan and regain influence within the ‘new’ post-putsch Ukraine. Russian military strategists have provided logistical and military aid to the resistance in order to avoid a repeat of the Odessa massacre of ethnic Russians by Ukrainian fascists on a massive scale. Above all, Russia cannot afford to have NATO-Nazi-Kiev military bases along its southern ‘underbelly’, imposing a blockade of the Crimea and forcing a mass exodus of ethnic Russians from the Donbas. Under Putin, the Russian government has tried to propose compromises allowing Western economic supremacy over Ukraine but without NATO military expansion and absorption by Kiev.

That policy of conciliation has repeatedly failed.

The democratically elected ‘compromise regime’ in Kiev was overthrown in February 2014 in a violent putsch, which installed a pro-NATO junta.

Kiev violated the Minsk agreement with impunity and encouragement from the NATO powers and Germany.

The recent G20 meeting in Australia featured a rabble-rousing chorus against President Putin. The crucial four-hour private meeting between Putin and Merkel turned into a fiasco when Germany parroted the NATO chorus.

Putin finally responded by expanding Russia’s air and ground troop preparedness along its borders while accelerating Moscow’s economic pivot to Asia.

Most important, President Putin has announced that Russia cannot stand by and allow the massacre of a whole people in the Donbas region.

Is Poroshenko’s forthcoming blitz against the people of southeast Ukraine designed to provoke a Russian response – to the humanitarian crisis? Will Russia confront the NATO-directed Kiev offensive and risk a total break with the West?

James Petras latest book is THE POLITICS OF IMPERIALISM:THE US,ISRAEL AND THE MIDDLE EAST (CLARITY PRESS:ATLANTA)

November 21, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments