Ukraine: Despite Ceasefire, U.S. Craves Conflict
by Will Porter
USA Today – “Biden cracks door to lethal aid to Ukraine”
They simply can’t help themselves. Despite the “Minsk II” ceasefire agreement, signed February 11, 2015, U.S. officials continue to agitate for military aid to the Kiev-based government in western Ukraine. Although the Minsk agreement hasn’t held perfectly, it has at least tentatively deescalated the conflict from what first appeared a prelude to a drawn out, bloody civil war.
Much like the ongoing Syrian conflict, in Ukraine the U.S. government has cynically exploited a genuine protest movement, commandeered it from the get-go, and transformed it into a pawn on the grand chessboard of imperial proxy warfare. While in Syria the Western/Gulf strategy is to “isolate” the Syrian regime in hopes of harming Iran’s key ally in the region, in Ukraine the United States and NATO clearly seek to alienate Russia, leading to what many have called a new Cold War.
U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden, says Russia’s “aggression” in Ukraine (more on this shortly) amounts to opportunism, not a pre-determined strategy. However, it seems more appropriate to term Russia’s behavior as “counter-strategy,” countering the U.S. move to incite and back an essentially anti-Russian coup d’état in Russia’s backyard, coupled with the attempt to sway Ukraine over to NATO. If it were opportunism, this author would ask: Who provided the opportunity?
The Russian annexation of Crimea, historically a Russian territory, has been touted as a prime example of “Russian Aggression,” despite the fact that it was pulled off with almost zero bloodshed. Skepticism toward the results of the 2014 Crimean referendum, which showed overwhelming support for annexation, is probably justified, yet that same skepticism was much harder to come by during the presidential election for the Kiev-based Ukrainian government. Double standards, much? Besides, after some time under Moscow’s thumb, the Crimeans aren’t exactly unhappy with the situation. Out of 500 Crimeans surveyed, a 2014 Gallup poll shows that 82.8% believe the results of the 2014 status referendum reflect the genuine views of Crimeans.
A primary Russian interest in Crimea is its naval base in Sevastopol, which has been the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea fleet since the late 1700s. I’m not very fond of Russian military bases in even nominally foreign territory, but U.S. criticism of Russia for the annexation, coming from a government with hundreds of bases worldwide, which regularly uses the presence of such bases to justify foreign intervention, is beyond hypocritical—it’s deranged arrogance. Considering the circumstances, one must admit that Putin has had a cool head in this debacle, which, with a more belligerant party, might have led to a direct military showdown already. You don’t have to be a Putin-lover to recognize this.
Besides Crimea, there are the breathless reports from Western media of Russian troop buildups, as well as military exercises, on Russia’s western border. But, ask yourself, if the roles were reversed, and Russia sponsored (nay, orchestrated) an anti-American coup, say, in Mexico, and afterwards sent neo-Nazi “national guard” militants to crush a U.S.-sympathetic, English-speaking opposition, perhaps in the northern part of Mexico that shares a border with the U.S., how would the Americans respond? (The fact that America covertly and overtly supports neo-Nazis in Ukraine makes the preposterous suggestion that Putin is the new Hitler all the more hilarious.)
To say the least, it would go far beyond mere military exercises inside U.S. borders. Within the week, we would witness some rapid deliberations in the UN Security Council, or unilateral hostility from America, or the escalation and intensification of economic sanctions on Russia, or—hell, why not?—a full blown “kinetic action” that leads to the extinction of mankind in thermonuclear warfare. Come to think of it, the American government would probably love it if Russia organized a putsch in Mexico!
However, instead of the predicted Russian invasion of Ukraine, we see ever-growing American military aid and involvement in the country. According to a recent draft law introduced to parliament by president Petro Poroshenko, there are now three joint Ukrainian-American military exercises scheduled for 2015: “Fearless Guardian,” “Sea Breeze,” and “Saber Guardian/Rapid Trident.” The law sanctions participation of up to 1,000 American soldiers in the drills, as well as soldiers from other NATO countries.
Mind you, I don’t necessarily deny that Russia has given aid to the eastern Ukrainian “separatists.” In fact, I would expect them to, just as I would expect the U.S. to back the “northern Mexican rebels” in the analogy given above. The Russian-speaking eastern Ukrainian opposition, even though they are now tainted by the brutality of war, began with precisely the same aspirations as the Euromaidan protest movement: a desire for political autonomy, and to oust a corrupt regime which acted against their interests.
But as soon as the U.S.-backed coup in Kiev successfully took control of the government, it immediately sent Nazi death squads clear across the country to quell the evil “terrorist,” “separatist,” “pro-Russian” uprising in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Lugansk. The new Kiev regime, touted as wonderfully democratic by the West, is guilty of the same oppression as the previous government. The man that takes the tyrant’s head becomes a new one in his stead.
Ultimately, I don’t see any of this ending well for Ukraine, the U.S., or Russia. Tension between the two largest hydrogen bomb arsenals is always disconcerting, yet the U.S. continues to egg on the conflict. What’s the desired outcome? Put Ukraine into NATO? Then what? I can’t help feeling that all of this maneuvering is anything but a preparation for war with Russia.
Indeed, a February 1, 2008 State Department cable, released by Wikleaks (thanks to Pvt. Chelsea/Bradley Manning), proves that the U.S. knew exactly what to expect from Russia regarding any attempt to add Ukraine to NATO. In that cable, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia, William Burns, states that “Russia would view further eastward expansion as a potential military threat. NATO enlargement, particularly to Ukraine, remains ‘an emotional and neuralgic’ issue for Russia,” and that “[i]n Ukraine, [there are] fears that the issue could potentially split the country in two, leading to violence or even, some claim, civil war, which would force Russia to decide whether to intervene.” [Emphasis added]
The U.S. knows precisely what it’s doing; a fairly similar policy is pursued in Syria. America involves itself in conflicts it has no business meddling in, knowing full-well that the result will be to escalate and expand the hostilities. Decades from now, we may reflect on these events in a similar way we do the 1907 formation of the Triple Entente, a prelude to the first World War. Lines are being drawn, tensions are building between major powers. Only time will tell, but the more the hubristic American Empire ignores the lessons of history, the greater the possibility a third World War becomes, heaven forbid.