THE ROVING EYE The US-Russia Ukrainian deal By Pepe Escobar
By the time you read this Russia will have invaded Ukraine. Well, that's what the Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove, is spinning. Breedlove Supreme says the Russians are "ready to go" and could easily take over eastern Ukraine. Western corporate media have already dusted off their Kevlar vests.
Now compare Breedlove Supreme with a grown-up diplomat, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who has called on NATO to please de-escalate the "unreasonable" warmongering rhetoric, which also includes officially ending all civilian and military cooperation with Russia and planning more military moves in Eastern Europe.
While NATO - shorthand for the Pentagon's European division - freaks out, especially via its outgoing secretary-general, Danish patsy Anders Fogh Rasmussen, let's see where we really stand on the ground, based on leaks from both Lavrov's and US Secretary of State John Kerry's camps.
The heart of the matter - obscured by a rainbow bridge of hysteria - is that neither Washington nor Moscow want Ukraine to become a festering wound. Moscow told Washington, officially, it has no intention of "invading" Ukraine. And Washington told Moscow that, for all the demented rhetoric, it does not want to expand NATO to either Ukraine or Georgia.
Whatever Washington's actions, they won't convince the Kremlin the putsch in Kiev was not orchestrated in large part by goons allied to Kaghanate of Nulands - aka US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nulands. At the same time, the Kremlin knows time is on its side - so it would be totally counterproductive to even contemplate "invading" eastern Ukraine.
Compound the vicious catfight among dodgy factions in Kiev, from fascists to Saint Yulia "Kill all the Russians" Timoschenko; Gazprom raising the price of natural gas by 80%; and the International Monetary Fund about to unleash some nasty structural adjustment that will make Greece look like Cinderella playing in a rose garden, and all that Moscow needs to do is sit back, relax and watch the (internal) carnage.
The same applies for the Baltics - which, as NATO hysteria would have it, might be invaded next week. As the Baltics are part of NATO, then we would really have the Brussels Robocops going ballistic. Yet only trademark arrogant/ignorant neo-cons believe Moscow will break complex political/trade relationships with Europe - especially Germany - risking a hot war over the Baltics. The Germans don't want a hot or cold war either. Even in the extremely unlikely event that would happen, what would macho, macho NATO do, under Pentagon's orders? Invade Russian territory?
That does not even qualify as a lousy joke. By the way, as bad jokes ago, it's hard to top Olli Rehn, vice president of the Kafkaesque European Commission, stressing that " in the interests to maintain peace and stability on our continent" the European Union is part of the 11 billion euro (US$15 billion) IMF/disaster capitalism package to plunder, sorry, "help" Ukraine, and this while EU citizens are unemployed and/or thrown into poverty by the millions.
As for Berlin's top priority, that is to at least try to steer the EU out of an almighty crash, which implies keeping the equally economically devastated Club Med and Central Europe on board while fighting off the rise and rise of nasty, "normalized" neofascism. "Massive undertaking" does not even begin to describe it. Why add a confrontation with Moscow to this indigestible bouillabaisse?
New axis in the house Moral high ground epiphanies such as this Guardian editorial ("he gained a peninsula but lost a country") are pointless. Same for minion Poland freaking out and asking for more "protection" from the Brussels mafia.
Predictably, Western corporate media is spinning Putin "blinked" when he phoned US President Barack Obama to try to set up a solution package - which includes, crucially, a federalization of Ukraine. The Obama administration - even staffed by astounding mediocrities - knows this is the only rational way ahead. And no amount of "pressure" will bend Moscow. Those go-go days of imposing whatever whim over serial drunkard Boris Yeltsin are long gone. At the same time, Moscow is a realist player - fully aware that the only possible solution for Ukraine has to be worked out with Washington.
So Ukraine is essentially a detail - and "Europe" is no more than a helpless bystander. Who are you gonna call in "Europe"? That Magritte-style nonentity European Council President Herman Van Rompuy? Anyone who's been to Brussels knows that "Europe" remains a glorified collection of principalities bickering in a smatter of languages. Machiavelli would easily recognize it as such.
To top if off, the Obama administration has no clue what it wants in Ukraine. A "constitutional democracy"? Moscow might even agree with that, while knowing, based on rows and rows of historical/cultural reasons, it's bound to be a failure. The red line though has been spelled out over and over again: no NATO bases in Ukraine.
Rational players in Washington - a certified minority - certainly have noticed that if you don't play ball with Moscow, Russia will play very hard ball within the framework of the P5+1 (the UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany) negotiations on the Iranian nuclear dossier.
Only the blind won't see that Moscow and Tehran are evolving towards a closer strategic partnership as much as Moscow and Beijing. There's a real strategic geopolitical axis in the house - Moscow-Beijing-Tehran - and the whole developing world has already noticed that's where the real action is. But as far as Ukraine is concerned, the stark fact is this is all about the US and Russia.
It's hardly a match between equals - as one is playing Monopoly while the other plays chess. It's as if Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has been postponing his checkmate, while US Secretary of State John Kerry increasingly realizes he's facing the inevitable.
Lavrov has explained over and over again, a loose federation is the only possible solution for Ukraine, as part of a "deep constitutional reform". That would imply ethnic - and even sentimentally - Russian eastern and southern Ukraine would be largely autonomous. Kerry gave signs of agreeing around two weeks ago that Ukrainian regions need more decision power; but then the White House recharged its moral blitzkrieg - coinciding with President Barack Obama's trip to The Hague and Brussels. Still, even after an inconclusive four-hour Kerry-Lavrov chess match in Paris, there will be a checkmate.
The Russian solution is the same plan proposed by Moscow already a few weeks ago, and again discussed on the phone by Obama and President Vladimir Putin on Friday - which prompted Kerry to redirect his flight to Paris. Each Ukrainian region, according to Lavrov, would be able to control its economy, taxes, culture, language, education and "external economic and cultural connections with neighboring countries or regions". That's such a sound plan that even former - or perennial, depending on spin - cold warriors such as Henry Kissinger and Zbig Brzezinski reasonably agree.
The key problem is that Washington immovably considers the present Kiev set up - also known as the Khaganate of Nulands, as in State Department Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nulands - as legitimate. Moscow sees them as a bunch of putschists and fascists. And Washington still refuses to press Kiev to accept a federal system - thus allowing, among other things, Russian as an official second language.
The latest American stunt is a massive propaganda drive of "The Reds are coming" kind, about Russian troops massing at the border(pliant corporate media spins numbers over 100,000).
Kerry, for the moment, is at least refraining from hysteria; he admits Washington and Moscow agree a diplomatic solution is a must, just to revert to the new meme - the artificial, Pentagon/NATO-spun "prelude to an invasion".
Washington's official position remains that Moscow must disarm its forces in Crimea (it won't happen); admit international observers (it might happen); and pull troops back from the eastern border (Moscow argues these are exercises, with the same number as usual - fewer than 20,000). Lavrov having to stress over and over again there are no Russian plans to invade eastern Ukraine sound almost like a punch line in stand-up comedy.
Beware The Empire of Chaos Then there are the upcoming presidential elections. Rivers of vodka may be bet that that will be an extremely dodgy operation. The Svoboda and Right Sector goons currently in positions of power will do everything to tamper with the results (as they are not exactly popular). After German Chancellor Angela Merkel's horse - former boxer "Klitsch" - decided to abandon the race, the leader is - what else - an oligarch: billionaire chocolate tycoon Petro Poroshenko. He already dismissed the federal solution, as in "somebody in the Russian government trying to tell us what type of governmental system we should have".
And there's nothing about "democracy" to start with, as the regime changers, as reported by Kommersant, are in full speed already rewriting the Ukrainian constitution, with Prime Minister "Yats" Arseniy Yatseniuk urging them to come up with the final redaction within the next two weeks.
The unspoken Siberian tiger in this room is a Russian unconditional. Kiev must officially pledge that Ukraine will not join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. And we all know, since the Khaganate of Nulands was installed, this was always about the Pentagon-led expansion of NATO.
Putin's "carrot" to Obama is something that he also told him on the phone: the future of Transnistria in Moldova, on Ukraine's south-west border, should be solved by talks in a 5+2 format; Moldova, Transnistria, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Russia and Ukraine, with the European Union and US as observers. Once again, no "invasion" involved.
Glaring in all this is an already immovable fact - Crimea joining the Russian Federation. And there's no turning back, whatever the US, the EU and Kiev may spin.
But that poses an ulterior problem. Putin's rationale to move on Crimea - after Russian intelligence uncovered a plot to replicate in Simferopol the coup in Kiev - was that Crimea's autonomy was not enough to protect it from the regime changers. The same could be argued later about ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in eastern and southern Ukraine. So the autonomy conditions - and the constitutional reform - would have to be ironclad. They probably won't.
Still, the stark fact is that no one gives a damn about "the Ukrainian people", be it the US, the EU or the International Monetary Fund (Russia at least cares for Russians in Ukraine). Another even more sensitive ulterior problem, assuming Washington and Moscow reach a deal, is how far can you trust the "word" of the United States government. Russia has first-hand experience on the matter, as in Bush father promising Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand across eastern Europe. It did - like a blob in a cheap horror flick.
We should never forget the Big Picture; as with the NSA Orwellian-panopticon complex, this is most of all about the application of the Pentagon's Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine, which implies encirclement of Russia (via NATO), coupled with the pivot-style encirclement of China. And the overarching logic remains the same; this is The Empire of Chaos in action.