The division of Ukraine since Kiev and Washington launched a civil war in the spring of 2014 against the Russian-speaking eastern provinces, has now created a predictable new economic crisis for that devastated country. The rogues in Kiev, by refusing any serious diplomatic resolution of the conflict for the past nine months, but rather opting to speak with bombs and terror, have now created for its citizens a desperate situation. The country now has dramatic power outages and heating crises as severe winter sets in.
In terms of its economic geography, the western parts of Ukraine are traditionally agricultural with some of the finest top soils in the world thanks to a relative lack of chemical spraying during the austere Cold War times in the Soviet Union. In 2011 western Ukraine was the world’s third largest grain exporter. Here in the west is the power base–if any at this point–of the Kiev government of President Petro Poroschenko and his Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The population, which in past history was a part of the Polish Empire, is overwhelming Roman Catholic and sometimes anti-Russian.
Western Ukraine is surrounded by NATO states while the historically ethnic Russian east with the energy resources borders Russia; source: Korean Times
The eastern parts of Ukraine—Donbas, Donetsk, Crimea (when it was still Ukraine), Luhansk—these parts are, historically, majority Russian-speaking Ukrainians, most of whom who are nominally Russian Orthodox. Eastern Ukraine, which was the main electoral base of ousted-President Viktor Yanukovich, is the heart of Ukraine’s coal and domestic gas and oil industry, as well of the Soviet-era nuclear power plants. Coal supplies some 40% of Ukraine’s power plants.
Democracy in the dark?
Now the stupidity of Washington’s war in east Ukraine hits painfully home. Of course not in far-away Washington where the militarist neo-con warhawks around Assistant Secretary of State Victoria ‘F**k the EU’ Nuland, Republican warhawk Senator John McCain, Vice President Joe Biden, CIA head John O. Brennan, relish every Ukrainian deprivation in hopes it will force Putin to invade and give the US and NATO military industrial complex their long-sought pretext for a new world war to re-form their global geopolitical chessboard.
Ukraine is in the midst of a critical electricity shortage as the hard eastern winter with below zero temperatures sets in. As this is being written the temperature in Kiev is 12 degrees centigrade below zero and winter has barely begun.
Kiev Energy Minister, Vladimir Demtschischin, is pleading with industry and citizens to sharply reduce electricity use in the peak hours between five o’clock and nine in the night. Cities across the Ukraine are reporting daily power blackouts more typical for a poor African country, with some cities experiencing daily outages up to six hours. The situation in Ukraine’s power plants is described as catastrophic according to Ukrainskaja Pravda online. They warn, “Kiev could freeze.”
The critical chokepoint is the coal-rich Donbas region in the east were Kiev’s and Washington’s war “against terrorists” in the east has brought coal mine supplies to a halt. No coal for the power plants, no electricity to light homes or power industry or provide heat. Then, because of rationing of natural gas by Kiev because of their break with Russia, her main gas supplier, homes are using energy-intensive electric heaters to avoid freezing, making the electricity crisis worse. Many cities in western Ukraine have turned off their street lighting to save electricity.
To add to the emergency, on December 28, the Kiev government announced that it had shut down one of the six reactors in its most powerful nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhia nuclear plant, for the second time in a month because of an apparent electrical malfunction. The plant is operating at only 40% power at present.
Who’s ready to help?
The interesting question in this growing disaster that is Ukraine today, is who is ready to help in this growing humanitarian and economic emergency?
The coup that ousted the democratically-elected President Yanukovich on February 22 and put in a hand-picked Washington marionette regime under Prime Minister and reputed high-ranking Scientologist, Arseny Yatsenyuk, was ostensibly done to sabotage Yanukovich’s decision to accept Russia’s offer and to instead bring Ukraine into a fuzzy wuzzy “associate EU member” status.
Had the elected Yanukovich regime remained, Ukraine instead would have joined what on January 1, 2015 will officially be called the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), together with Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and now Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and potentially Uzbekistan. Ukraine would have made a clear decision for the first time since the declaration of independence from the Soviet Union in 1990 to accept its destiny along with Russia and the east.
However that would threaten Washington’s role as Sole Superpower and some like David Rockefeller’s old pal, Zbigniew Brzezinski, would not be happy with that. In his 1997 geopolitical book, The Grand Chessboard, Brzezinski wrote,
“Ukraine, a new and important space on the Eurasian chessboard, is a geopolitical pivot because its very existence as an independent country helps to transform Russia. Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be a Eurasian empire. However, if Moscow regains control over Ukraine, with its 52 million people and major resources as well as access to the Black Sea, Russia automatically again regains the wherewithal to become a powerful imperial state, spanning Europe and Asia.”
The Jesuit-trained Brzezinski, who today is a virulent proponent of arming the NATO-Ukraine war against Russia, went on in his book to define pivot states in the lexicon of geopolitics: “Geopolitical pivots are the states whose importance is derived not from their power and motivation but rather from their sensitive location…which in some cases gives them a special role in either defining access to important areas or in denying resources to a significant player.” (emphasis mine).
So the entire crisis in Ukraine initiated by Washington’s “democracy” NGO’s like National Republican Institute, National Endowment for Democracy and the funds of George Soros, in alliance with a gaggle of rag-tag neo-nazis and criminals, to oust the democratically-elected government of another country, Ukraine, is not at all about spreading peace, love and modern Washington democracy. It’s about pivots and geopolitical power calculus.
And now, as a result of those Brzezinski power chess games, Ukraine is in a living hell economically. Instead of imagined billions of Euros in Brussels aid that some of its citizens fantasized about when they protested against Yanukovich last winter on Maidan Square and in favor of joining the EU, Ukraine gets literally raped with IMF austerity and conditionalities that open up its resources to plundering by western banks and multinationals like Monsanto.
Economically, most of the Ukraine economic infrastructure and trade flows existed since the days of the Soviet era when all were part of one USSR. Had that joining with Russia and turning east taken place in November 2013–which Washington’s warhawks around Brzezinski and Nuland were determined to prevent at all costs–Ukraine would have had no civil war. Ukraine would have been receiving Russian gas supplies at a 33% discounted price and billions of Euros of Ukraine state debt would be purchased by Russia, easing her economic plight.
But Washington preferred its war to give Ukraine democracy instead. There is a dis-connect in that picture from where I see things. Could it be that Washington politicians lie not only to the American people but to the rest of the world as well? Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and a Tooth Fairy, but there is no true democracy for Ukraine.
Junker and Brussels to the Rescue?
Some more naïve Ukrainians might expect that their new economic partners in Brussels, the European Union, might extend a friendly hand of help in this crisis.
Nope. That’s not at all what the EU associate Ukraine membership is all about.
Now in the acute power outage crisis, the EU tells Kiev its coffers are empty. New EU Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, a savage austerity promoter, told Kiev the EU is “close to its limits” to give any more help to Ukraine economically. Juncker said that Brussels “can only help Ukraine within its budget. The relevant EU budget line has been squeezed. There is only a small margin of flexibility for additional financing next year. And if we fully use our margin for Ukraine, we will have nothing to address other needs that may arise over the next two years.”
Putin offers help
Yet there is a hand of help being extended to power-short Ukraine. It comes from that ‘arch-demon’, Brzezinski’s nemesis, that sly Evil Knievel, Vladimir Putin. If Juncker or Brzezinski are The Joker, Putin can be called Batman in this unfolding tragedy called Ukraine today.
On December 27 the Russian government announced that Russia will supply coal and electricity to Kiev without advance payment as a goodwill gesture from President Vladimir Putin, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS. Peskov added, “Putin made a decision to start these supplies due to the critical situation with energy supplies and despite a lack of prepayment.”
Russia plans to supply 500,000 tons of coal to Ukraine per month, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak told Rossiya 24 television. It is ready to supply another 500,000 tons per month if an additional agreement is reached. Ukraine’s coal reserves are officially 1.5 million tons compared with normal winter stocks of 4-5 million tons, according to Energy Ministry data.
Before Kiev launched its Washington-instigated war instead of diplomacy this past spring, Ukraine was self-sufficient in electricity. But the ridiculous neo-cons around Nuland and Brzezinski have no interest in Ukraine. Their interest is to pivot Russia and make a new world war if they were to be truthful.
F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.