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Kiev must understand there is no alternative to Minsk

By Dr Alexander Yakovenko | RT | January 27, 2016

Nearly a year has passed since the Minsk agreements on the settlement in Ukraine were reached. However, the ongoing crisis in south-east Ukraine and problems arising in the course of the implementation of Minsk-II are still a matter of serious concern.

Kiev has been very selective with respect to its obligations, especially as regards implementation of their key political points. Here are just two examples of the Minsk agreements being grossly violated.

First, on the day of the beginning of the withdrawal of artillery, Kiev had to engage in a dialogue starting consultations with Donetsk and Lugansk representatives on how elections were to be held in April on the basis of Ukrainian law and with OSCE oversight.

The second date outlined in the document is 12 March, i.e. a month after the signing of the Minsk agreements Kiev was required to enact a special status law by adopting a resolution designating the territory that this law was supposed to cover. However, this hasn’t been done. A law was passed, the territories marked, but the law said that it didn’t apply to Donetsk and Lugansk.

Let us also remember the amnesty, because the Minsk agreements clearly say that elections should be held in accordance with the OSCE criteria, one of which is to ensure that no one will be subjected to intimidation, harassment, etc. The statement by the Kiev authorities on “elections first, then amnesty” constitute a serious distortion of the sequence and logic of what was really agreed. In accordance with the OSCE elections criteria, the amnesty should be held before the elections.

While Kiev is not contributing to the implementation of the Minsk agreements, the situation in southeastern Ukraine aggravates. Shelling is often witnessed, including the use of weapons that are supposed to have been withdrawn. This leads to civilian casualties and the destruction of property. Regrettably, yet another appeal for a ceasefire made by the Contact Group on January 13 has not been heeded in full. All of this contributes to the growth of tension and complicates progress in other areas of the settlement.

We believe that there is no alternative to the Minsk-II that is the only recipe for a political settlement to the conflict in Ukraine. That’s why Russia and its international partners, including Germany, France and the US continue an active dialogue on ways to settle the crisis in Ukraine.

Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko

January 27, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , | Leave a comment

War Returns to Ukraine

Tensions escalate as Ukraine tries to regain international attention diverted by Syria

By Alexander Mercouris | Russia Insider | November 29, 2015

poroshenkoWhilst all eyes are on Syria there has been a steady deterioration of the situation in Ukraine.

In violation of the ceasefire, shelling of the territories of the two people’s republics has resumed, and the OSCE has confirmed that the Ukrainian military has moved heavy weapons back to the contact line.

The Ukrainians meanwhile have extended their ban of commercial flights to and from Russia by also banning transit flights.

Ukraine has placed Crimea under a food blockade. To the intense embarrassment of its Western backers (see this editorial in the Financial Times, headlined “Kiev should act to end the blockade of Crimea”) it has enlarged this to an energy blockade.

Ukraine claims the power lines to Crimea were destroyed by Crimean Tatar “activists” backed by Right Sector.

Even if this were true, the Ukrainian authorities have done little or nothing to take control of the situation, arrest and punish those responsible for what was after all an act of criminal damage, or carry out the necessary repairs.

Characteristically most Western governments have said nothing, save that there has been some muted criticism from Germany.

Contrast this silence with the furious – and wrong – accusations regularly made in the West against Russia for its supposed use of energy as a political weapon.

All of this is happening to a drumbeat of demands in the Ukrainian media for the country to renounce the Minsk II agreement.

The Russians for their part have responded by stopping coal supplies to Ukraine. Since Ukraine is again failing to pay for its gas, it seems the Russians intend to stop supplying Ukraine with gas on Tuesday.

The two people’s republics have also announced they are stopping their own coal deliveries to Ukraine.

These steps increase the prospects of severe power shortages in Ukraine during what is predicted to be a harsh winter.

The Russians are also due in January to impose sanctions on Ukrainian food imports to Russia. This is in retaliation to Ukraine joining EU sanctions against Russia, and imposing sanctions of its own.

Bizarrely, this systematic severing of trade links with Russia is being hailed in parts of the Western media as proof Ukraine is “successfully reorienting” its trade to the EU and away from Russia, and is becoming “less dependent” on Russia. This of course takes no account of the damage these actions are doing to Ukraine’s economy.

There has also been an orchestrated attempt in recent weeks on the part of some sections of the Western media to talk up Ukraine’s economic situation, with claims that it is “stabilizing”. The US credit agency Moody’s has joined in the game by upgrading Ukraine’s credit rating.

To the very limited extent this is true, it is wholly the consequence of the August ceasefire, which stopped the drain of fighting the war on the civilian economy.

The actions the Ukrainian government and “activists” have been taking over the last few weeks puts this in jeopardy.

What is causing this sudden deterioration in the situation?

At its simplest, it is growing alarm in Ukraine that Western – especially European – support for Ukraine is flagging.

It is now widely accepted that Merkel and Obama are becoming increasingly isolated in their insistence that the sanctions against Russia be extended.

In France Nicholas Sarkozy, Hollande’s likely conservative opponent at the Presidential election, has clearly signaled his opposition to sanctions, aligning himself on this issue with Marine Le Pen.

More to the point, in Germany, Merkel’s coalition partners – the SPD and the CSU – are both becoming openly critical of a sanctions policy with which one senses they both privately always disagreed.

Russia Insider has already discussed the increasingly rebellious line being taken by Sigmar Gabriel, the SPD’s leader and Germany’s Vice Chancellor.

Possibly even more important is the call from Horst Seehofer, leader of the CSU – the CDU’s right wing coalition partner in Merkel’s coalition – for a rapprochement with Russia.

Whilst Seehofer’s comments seem to have been specifically triggered by the migrant crisis and the conflict in Syria, their tone suggests a wider rapprochement.

Interestingly, Seehofer has been forging increasingly close links in recent weeks with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban – a bete noir in Washington – who is known to be a strong advocate of good relations between Europe and Russia.

Back in September – as the migrant crisis was starting to spiral out of control – Orban made another call for a new relationship between Europe and Russia.  Significantly he did this straight after a meeting with Seehofer.

The mounting opposition in Europe to the sanctions is being picked up by the “realists” in the US.

Russia Insider recently republished an article in The National Interest – the main publication in which the US foreign policy “realists” express their views – which should be read as a call to the Obama administration to take the lead in diplomatic discussions with Moscow before the sanctions regime collapses, leaving the US looking isolated and humiliated.

A number of our readers misunderstood this article, taking literally its ritual claims about the sanctions’ effectiveness and Putin’s supposedly “desperate situation”.

The sad truth about policy debate in the US today is that it cannot admit defeat, so that even when it retreats it has to claim “victory”.

The key point about the article in The National Interest is not what it says about Putin and Russia.

It is its call for the US to initiate diplomatic negotiations with Moscow to find a face-saving way to end the sanctions before Europe splits away and they fall apart.

The gradual shift towards an improvement in relations with Russia began before Russia’s intervention in Syria.

In fact it has been underway ever since the Minsk II agreement was reached in February. We have discussed the process at length in various articles here on Russia Insider.

However the Russian intervention in Syria and the Paris attacks have markedly accelerated the process, with Western public opinion showing increasing signs of backing Russia.

All of this is causing in Ukraine growing alarm. The Ukrainians must be seething as international attention is refocusing away from them, and as Russia shows signs of winning over Western public opinion to its side.

The consistent response of the Maidan movement whenever it senses it is losing is to double down and escalate and that is what we are now seeing.

A way to rationalise it would be to say that the Ukrainians are trying to provoke Russia into an overreaction, so as to reignite the conflict in order to shore up Western support and get the sanctions – due for renewal in December – extended.

Though this is at a certain level true, it seriously underestimates the purely visceral aspect in Ukrainian behaviour.

For the Maidan movement any sign Russia is gaining credit with the Western public is like a red rag to a bull. There is no need to look for calculation in Ukrainian behaviour in order to understand it.

The underlying problem – as we have said many times – is that the Maidan movement is inherently incapable of the sort of compromise that Minsk II envisages.

To see how that is so, consider what has happened since the October summit in Paris where the Europeans in effect ordered Poroshenko to implement Minsk II within a revised timetable.

The Ukrainians have done nothing of the sort, and the new timetable for carrying out the terms of Minsk II is already slipping.

Any discussion of the internal aspect of the Ukrainian conflict – as opposed to its external aspect – has to proceed from the fact that the present Ukrainian government is simply incapable of compromise unless overwhelming external pressure is brought upon it.

The Russians long ago grasped this. Over the last few weeks there are clear signs the Europeans belatedly are starting to grasp it as well.

The question that remains is for how much longer the Europeans will be prepared to go on making their relations with Russia hostage to the ideological obsessions of the Maidan movement and its neocon supporters.

The mounting evidence – judging from comments by people like Sigmar Gabriel and Horst Seehofer in Germany, Sarkozy in France, and from what happened during the summit in Paris – is that European patience is wearing thin.

November 29, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment

Obama Regime Gives Up on Ukraine, Western Press Ignores It

By Eric Zuesse | Dissident Voice | May 18, 2015

On Tuesday, May 12, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was asked at a press conference in Sochi Russia, to respond to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s recent statements promising renewed war against Donbass, which were made first on April 30, “The war will end when Ukraine regains Donbass and Crimea,” and which were repeated on May 11th, by his saying, “I have no doubt, we will free the [Donetsk] Airport, because it is our land.” In other words, Poroshenko had repeatedly made clear that he plans a third invasion of Donbass, and, ultimately, also to invade and retake Crimea. (The Western press, however, had not reported any of these threats that were being made by Poroshenko.)

Kerry responded:

I have not had a chance – I have not read the speech. I haven’t seen any context. I have simply heard about it in the course of today [which would be shocking if true]. But if indeed President Poroshenko is advocating an engagement in a forceful effort at this time, we would strongly urge him to think twice not to engage in that kind of activity, that that would put Minsk in serious jeopardy. And we would be very, very concerned about what the consequences of that kind of action at this time may be.

None of this was reported by Western ‘news’ media. Even Russia’s own Sputnik News, which was Russia’s main English-language medium reporting on Kerry’s comment, ignored this shocking assertion by the U.S. Secretary of State contradicting the nominal leader of the Ukrainian Government that the U.S. itself had installed in February 2014.

The Obama Administration now had slammed Poroshenko down on the key issue of whether to resume the war against Ukraine’s former Donbass region, and also slammed him on whether Ukraine should invade Crimea, which is Russian territory and would therefore mean a war against the Russian armed forces. America’s stooge-regime in Kiev was here being publicly taken to the woodshed about the advisability of yet another Ukrainian invasion of Ukraine’s former southeastern breakaway regions, Donbass and, even Crimea.

Sputnik didn’t quote any of this from Kerry. Instead, they headlined, “Kerry: Poroshenko Should ‘Think Twice’ Before Using Force in Donbass,” and they opened their news-report by saying: “Following an extensive six hour discussion between US Secretary of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and President Putin, Kerry stressed that any Ukrainian efforts to seize the Donetsk Airport through force would violate the Minsk Protocol and would face strict opposition from Washington.” That assertion was true, and important, but all that was quoted from Kerry was the nondescript: “What is important is to make sure that both sides are moving forward in implementing the Minsk accord in its full measure.” Even Kerry’s stunning “think twice” statement, which was actually Washington’s first-ever verbal slam-down of the stooge-regime the U.S. itself had installed in Ukraine in February 2014, in an extremely bloody coup, wasn’t being quoted at all by Sputnik. (Only that two-word phrase was in the headline, but it — and its surrounding passage and context — were entirely absent from the report itself.) Nor was the significance of Kerry’s remark there discussed, at all. Their news-report was a total botch.

Western ‘news’ media were far worse than a botch; they were outright dishonest. Typical was BBC, which headlined on May 12, “Ukraine Crisis: Kerry Has ‘Frank’ Meeting with Putin,” and their article said nothing whatsoever about Kerry’s shocking slam-down of his Ukrainian stooge. To that ‘news’ report was also appended an “Analysis: Bridget Kendall, BBC News, Sochi,” which simply blathered, and concluded, “There was no breakthrough on anything.” That statement was the exact opposite of the truth.

The one good, and, really, brilliant, news-analysis on this important matter, was from the legendary specialist on “the Empire’s [Washington’s] War on Russia,” the anonymous blogger who goes by the name, The Saker. His was not really a news-report, because he, too, failed to quote Kerry’s path-breaking and shocking statement. He didn’t even quote the insignificant squib that Sputnik itself had quoted from Kerry’s remarks. Instead, he merely paraphrased Kerry, which is far less reliable than a quotation, and also far less informative than the packed shocker that Kerry actually delivered. Saker’s paraphrase was far briefer than was Kerry’s statement which is quoted here; it was merely: “Kerry made a few rather interesting remarks, saying that the Minsk-2 Agreement (M2A) was the only way forward and that he would strongly caution Poroshenko against the idea of renewing military operations.” That’s all there was to it. So, The Saker failed to provide a news-report on Kerry’s shocker. But his news-analysis of its significance was superb, and it’s extremely worth reading. That analysis was dated May 13, and it was bannered, “Yet Another Huge Diplomatic Victory for Russia.”

But also there was just a slice of real news in The Saker’s article, when he said, only in passing (as if it were insignificant, which it was not), “Then, there was the rather interesting behavior of [Victoria] Nuland, who was with Kerry’s delegation, she refused to speak to the press and left looking rather unhappy.” Nothing more than that, but that’s plenty. In other words: Nuland, the agent whom President Obama had placed in charge of arranging the February 2014 coup in Ukraine, and of selecting the leader of the junta that would be imposed upon Ukraine (“Yats” Yatsenyuk), and who told the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine what to do and how to do it, was now exceedingly disturbed to find herself overridden at this late date in her Ukrainian escapade, publicly overridden by her own immediate boss, Secretary of State Kerry.

In other words: she is now sidelined. That’s important news, but The Saker there merely hinted at it, and only in passing. So, as a news-report, The Saker’s article was poor but perhaps the best around; but as a news-analysis, it was excellent, and by far the best.

Nuland now knows that she has lost, and that Obama has thrown in the towel on the original plan for Ukraine, which had been for an all-out military conquest of the region, Donbass, where the people had voted over 90% for the man whom Nuland’s team had overthrown on 22 February 2014, Viktor Yanukovych, and so Obama had wanted those people to be either killed or else expelled from Ukraine (so that they’d never again be able to vote in a Ukrainian national election and thus possibly restore a neutralist leadership of Ukraine, such as had existed under the man Obama deposed, Yanukovych).

Consequently, clearly, now, Obama is on-board with the “Plan B” for Ukraine, which Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel had put into place, the Minsk II Agreement, which brought about the present ceasefire, which now has become clearly the utter (even accepted by Kerry) capitulation of Obama’s Plan A on Ukraine, which plan Nuland had been carrying out. Kerry’s public statement there was a public slap in the face to his own #2 official on Ukraine; and it could not have been asserted by him if he were not under Obama’s instruction that the previous plan, to exterminate or drive out all the residents of Donbass, was no longer worth trying, and that the Hollande-Merkel plan would be America’s fall-back position.

Obama’s message in this, through Kerry, to Ukraine’s President Poroshenko, and indirectly also to Ukraine’s Prime Minister Yatsenyuk (the leader whom Nuland herself had selected), is: we’ll back you only as long as you accept that you have failed our military expectations and that we will be stricter with you in the future regarding how you spend our military money. We’re getting in line now behind the Hollande-Merkel peace plan for Ukraine.

Dmitriy Yarosh, and the other outright Nazis who had been threatening to overthrow Poroshenko if he doesn’t renew the war against Donbass and seize Crimea; Dmitriy Yarosh, who was the man who had led the Ukrainian coup for the U.S., and whose thugs had dressed as Yanukovych’s security forces when gunning down both police and demonstrators in the February 2014 coup, in order for Yanukovych to become blamed for the bloodshed on that occasion; is now, in effect, being told: if you will try another coup, this time to overthrow our own stooges in Ukraine, then you’re finished, Mr. Yarosh. Don’t do it.

Merkel and Hollande thus won. Putin had decidedly won. Obama and the Nazis he had empowered in Ukraine have now, clearly, been defeated. But the mess that Obama’s people have created in Ukraine by their coup and subsequent ethnic-cleansing to eliminate the residents of Donbass, will take decades, if ever, to repair.

Western ‘news’ media can cover it all up, but they can’t change this reality, which, increasingly as time goes by, will expose the press’s failure to have even reported on this historically important U.S. coup in Ukraine and its ultimate failure. As a story about the press, it is about yet another system-wide press-deceit upon the public, comparable to their ‘news coverage’ of ‘Saddam’s WMD,’ and other lies, in 2002 and 2003.

More and more people are coming to know what utter rot the Western press are. The news-report that you are now reading here, has been submitted to all of them, but they’ll probably all reject it like they’ve all refused to report the truth that it and its predecessors report and reported about Obama’s Nazi (i.e., racist-fascist) takeover of Ukraine. How the Western press will get out of their cover-ups and outright lies, yet again, is hard to imagine. But maybe they’ll just not report it at all — yet again. Obama has thrown in the towel on Ukraine, and still the press hasn’t yet reported it. But now I have, and you’re reading it here, perhaps for the first time, even though Kerry’s sensational remark was made a week ago.

Thus, major historical events (like Kerry’s statement here) occur, in broad daylight, which never were even reported by the Western press — they were instead covered-up, not covered at all, by ‘our’ ‘free’ press.

May 21, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment