EU Backtracking, US Belligerent

The EU is recently backtracking somewhat from its confrontational stance against Russia. Not only has JC Juncker recently announced that he is actually for building South Stream after all, the German language version of Reuters reports that “Berlin is sending conciliatory signals to Moscow”.

The reasons for this more conciliatory stance are easy to discern. For one thing, the truce in Eastern Ukraine is holding up quite well now. A complete split of Donetsk and Lugansk from the Ukraine is no longer on the agenda, at least it doesn’t appear to be. At the same time, we can be absolutely certain that Ms. Merkel has been getting more than an earful from German industrialists and bankers, all of whom are suffering Russia-related losses now and are afraid that more losses are in the pipeline. The sanctions have destroyed what was a major new market for many companies in Europe, and especially in Germany. German capitalists have been major investors in Russia during Czarist times already, and commercial relations have smoothly resumed and expanded greatly after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The exact opposite is happening in the US, which isn’t suffering economically from Russia sanctions. We refer you to this report on how another round of sanctions has just been imposed due to actions taken by a mere three Congressmen:

 

“Late Thursday night, the House of Representatives unanimously passed a far-reaching Russia sanctions bill, a hydra-headed incubator of poisonous conflict. The second provocative anti-Russian legislation in a week, it further polarizes our relations with Russia, helping to cement a Russia-China alliance against Western hegemony, and undermines long-term America’s financial and physical security by handing the national treasury over to war profiteers.

Here’s how the House’s touted “unanimity” was achieved: Under a parliamentary motion termed “unanimous consent,” legislative rules can be suspended and any bill can be called up. If any member of Congress objects, the motion is blocked and the bill dies.

At 10:23:54 p.m. on Thursday, a member rose to ask “unanimous consent” for four committees to be relieved of a Russia sanctions bill. At this point the motion, and the legislation, could have been blocked by a single member who would say “I object.”  No one objected, because no one was watching for last-minute bills to be slipped through.

Most of the House and the media had emptied out of the chambers after passage of the $1.1 trillion government spending package.

The Congressional Record will show only three of 425 members were present on the floor to consider the sanctions bill. Two of the three feigned objection, creating the legislative equivalent of a ‘time out.’ They entered a few words of support, withdrew their “objections” and the clock resumed. 

According to the clerk’s records, once the bill was considered under unanimous consent, it was passed, at 10:23:55 p.m., without objection, in one recorded, time-stamped second, unanimously. Then the House adjourned.

 

(emphasis added)

This is how “democracy” works in practice? Interesting. Allow us to point out that this fits well with the hysterical NATO announcements we received a few months ago almost on a weekly basis. Readers may remember that NATO spokespersons from Anders Fogh Rasmussen down (a well known liar and war propagandist as anyone who recalls his statements prior to the Iraq war knows) a “Russian invasion of Ukraine” was allegedly “imminent” at any moment. Obviously assorted hawks were gravely disappointed by Russia’s steadfast refusal to invade.

We imagine they are equally disappointed by the fact that the truce in Eastern Ukraine seems to be holding. So their aim is evidently to undermine it by any means possible. If Putin is playing nice and this is what he gets in return, how is he supposed to react? This is the calculation behind this odious piece of legislation, which will only serve to enrich political cronies (i.e., the military industrial complex) to the detriment of tax payers.

 

Petro Poroshenko,Arseniy Yatsenyuk

Pragmatist Poroshenko and US backed “technocrat” Yatsenyuk (i.e., the chocolate king and the rabid chihuahua). Just before the recent election, Yatsenyuk has allied himself with some of the worst right-wing nationalists in Ukraine. The two may be in the same government, and they probably agree on a great many issues, but there are clearly also important differences between them. If not for Poroshenko, there would probably be no Minsk agreement and no truce in Eastern Ukraine.

Photo credit: Sergei Chuzavkov / Associated Press

 

Instituting a “Military State”

As Dennis Kucinic reports further:

 

“The Russia Sanctions bill that passed “unanimously,” with no scheduled debate, at 10:23:55 p.m. on Dec. 11, 2014, includes:

 

  1. Sanctions of Russia’s energy industry, including Rosoboronexport and Gazprom.
  2. Sanctions of Russia’s defense industry, with respect to arms sales to Syria.
  3. Broad sanctions on Russians’ banking and investments.
  4. Provisions for privatization of Ukrainian infrastructure, electricity, oil, gas and renewables, with the help of the World Bank and USAID.
  5. Fifty million dollars to assist in a corporate takeover of Ukraine’s oil and gas sectors.
  6. Three hundred and fifty million dollars for military assistance to Ukraine, including anti-tank, anti-armor, optical, and guidance and control equipment, as well as drones.
  7. Thirty million dollars for an intensive radio, television and Internet propaganda campaign throughout the countries of the former Soviet Union.
  8. Twenty million dollars for “democratic organizing” in Ukraine.
  9. Sixty million dollars, spent through groups like the National Endowment for Democracy, “to improve democratic governance, and transparency, accountability [and] rule of law” in Russia. What brilliant hyperbole to pass such a provision the same week the Senate’s CIA torture report was released.
  10. An unverified declaration that Russia has violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, is a nuclear “threat to the United States” and should be held “accountable.”
  11. A path for the U.S. withdrawal from the INF Treaty, which went into force in 1988. The implications of this are immense. An entire series of arms agreements are at risk of unraveling. It may not be long before NATO pushes its newest client state, Ukraine, to abrogate the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Ukraine signed when it gave up its nuclear weapons, and establish a renewed nuclear missile capability, 300 miles from Moscow.
  12. A demand that Russia verifiably dismantle “any ground launched cruise missiles or ballistic missiles with a range of between 500 and 5,500 kilometers …”— i.e., 300 and 3,300 miles.

 

Read the legislation , which Congress apparently didn’t.

As reported on GlobalSecurity.org , earlier that same day in Kiev, the Ukrainian parliament approved a security plan that will:

 

1   Declare that Ukraine should become a “military state.”

2   Reallocate more of its approved 2014 budget for military purposes.

3   Put all military operating units on alert.

4   Mobilize military and national guard units.

5   Increase military spending in Ukraine from 1 percent of GDP to 5 percent, increasing military spending by $3 billion over the next few years.

6   Join NATO and switch to NATO military standards.

 

Evidently the title of Kucinic’s article (Three Members of Congress Just Reignited the Cold War While No One Was Looking) is no exaggeration. We must admit, this is a bit of a wild card, also with respect to the ruble.

The faction of prime minister Yatsenyuk has magically received far more support in the parliamentary election in Ukraine than polls indicated beforehand, to the detriment of the more neutral oligarch Petro Poroshenko, who pushed through the Minsk agreements against the wishes of Ukraine’s nationalist radicals. With the Eastern Ukraine de facto excluded from the election, it was apparently easy to for this result to come about.

 

USDUAH(Monthly)Ukrainian Hryvnia, monthly. The ruble isn’t the only currency that’s tanking in the region, via investing.com, click to enlarge.

 

We would note that we are taking a far more relaxed and positive view of the nomination of three non-Ukrainians to important government posts than many other observers who have decried it as some sort of sell-out. Ukraine needs to deal with its corruption, which is several orders of magnitude greater and more pervasive than anyone in the West can even imagine. It therefore makes sense to bring untainted outsiders into the government.

Making the Ukraine a “military state” meanwhile smells of a Yatsenyuk initiative. As is well known, he is the US paladin in the new Ukraine and he has thrown his lot in with radical nationalists before the recent election. One can only hope that the EU will carefully consider what steps it should take next. Europe should definitely not be an enforcement arm of US neo-cons, whose only claim to fame is so far that they are bringing chaos, death and destruction to everything they touch.

 

Conclusion:

In conclusion to the above we want to add that we are certainly not unsympathetic to the desire of many Ukrainians to move closer to Europe. The above-mentioned corruption in Ukraine is a typical post-Soviet disease that has beset all of the Soviet Union’s successor states, including the Russian Federation itself. There are no doubt a great many honest and hardworking citizens in the Ukraine who deserve better and in whose minds the close association with Russia and the political corruption in Ukraine were two sides of the same coin.

The problem is though that only one half of the country holds this view, while the other half prefers close ties with Russia (see “Mapping the Conflict in Ukraine” for details on this). Many Russians in turn see Ukraine as a close cousin so to speak, and its geopolitical strategists see it as an important buffer state.

Readers who are interested in some additional background information should check out two articles from mainstream sources that are actually adding some valuable color. We don’t necessarily agree with every word in them – as always one should read such articles with a modicum of critical detachment. Nevertheless, they shed some light on things that are often not known or misunderstood by Western observers. The first is a slightly dated article in Der Spiegel about how the EU botched the association agreement with Yanukovich, entitled “How the EU lost Russia over Ukraine”. Apparently no-one in the EU considered the possibility that Russia’s government might have an interest in the outcome.

The second article is a recent missive by George Friedman at Stratfor, entitled “Viewing Russia From the Inside”. What makes this contribution so extremely interesting is that it attempts to explain how Russia’s decision makers themselves see the Ukraine conflict, a viewpoint that is generally not understood in the West. In turn, the Russians seemingly don’t have a firm grasp of US motives – they don’t understand them and so they think about the entire problem in completely different terms. This is why one so often gets the impression that the Russian government and Western governments are talking past each other.

Lastly, we simply don’t understand why the obvious solution has evidently not been considered by anyone. Why are Europe and Russia always framed as “either – or” propositions for Ukraine? Why can the country not be a neutral go-between? That would be a win-win for all concerned one would think.

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Renewed Sanctions Against Russia”

  • Viator:

    Russia is viewed through the old cold war lens, which is less than helpful to say the least. Russia at this time is like many old communist sovereigns, protocapitalist and mercantilist.

    As far as ideology is concerned it is rapidly becoming a conservative christian Russian Orthodox society.

    The US is pushing Russia into the arms of China. If Russia moves into the Chinese orbit and Europe follows Russia we will live to regret that development. The other BRICs may join them (see Putin and Modi’s love-fest recently). They may all get together and form a new reserve currency union including replacements for SWIFT and CHIPS.

    For a nation $18 trillion in debt that is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend we Americans are either really stupid or are being sold down the river.

  • jimmyjames:

    At the same time, we can be absolutely certain that Ms. Merkel has been getting more than an earful from German industrialists and bankers, all of whom are suffering Russia-related losses now and are afraid that more losses are in the pipeline.

    ************

    Not only getting an earful from businesses .. also from the political end ..
    She took a few good swipes at obama too ..

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