The Minsk ceasefire agreement announced on the 12th February must be considered in the context of the concrete reality of the situation in Ukraine and Nato’s ambitions in Eurasia. Some hope that this agreement is evidence of a split between the United States and its Nato allies, particularly Germany and France, but the German-French meeting with Putin in Moscow, and the Obama-Merkel press conference held in Washington one day before the Minsk meeting began, buried any hopes that the European countries in Nato would separate themselves from their common objective, the domination of Russia.
Merkel made it plain in Washington that there were no differences in the ultimate objective, only differences over tactics and timing. American leadership in the alliance remains firm as Merkel showed dramatically when asked a question, by a German reporter, about the Ukraine, and whether the scandal of Americans spying on her affected her views. Instead of directly answering these questions she acted like a courtier before a king and indicated with her head and a hand movement that she was asking Obama if it was all right for her to address the questions. Obama politely nodded his head yes and with a flick of his hand released his underling so she could respond and mumble phrases that totally evaded saying anything. She might as well have kissed his ring.
The Minsk agreement does nothing to relieve the pressure on Russia. Indeed Sputnik News Agency, citing German media reports, states that, on the same day that Obama met with Merkel, he threatened President Putin in a telephone call, that if Russia did not stop its alleged involvement in Ukraine the “costs for Russia will rise.”
Point 10 of the Minsk agreement illustrates the problem. It requires the withdrawal from Ukraine of all foreign armed forces. Since Russia does not have any forces in Ukraine and since Nato keeps stating it does and will continue to do so no matter what Russia’s position, it gives the Nato alliance the flexibility to mount another offensive when the Kiev forces are reorganised and resupplied. There is no doubt that the Nato forces now operating in Ukraine will remain and will be increased under the guise of “advisers” and “trainers” and there is little doubt that but for the complete failure of the Nato ordered offensive begun in January, in violation of the September Minsk agreement, and the debacle of the Kiev forces trapped in the Debaltsevo pocket that these talks would not have taken place.
The question then must be asked why Germany, the most powerful country in the EU, acts essentially in accord with the Americans at every new phase of the aggression against Russia, though, from time to time, voicing publicly some differences of opinion on questions of tactics. Part of the answer lies in the fact that Germany is still an occupied country, but it also can be found in the German and Nato response to the changed political conditions in Russia that took place in 1989-93, changes that immediately weakened Russia economically, militarily and politically.
German finance capital and industry have never lost their hunger for the resources of Russia which they last tried to satisfy in June 1941 when they launched Operation Barbarossa against Russia but succeeded only in achieving Germany’s complete destruction. The German defeat resulted from a miscalculation of the political conditions in Russia, the spirit of its people and the strength of the socialist and patriotic forces that together proved a rock that could not be broken. Hitler and his advisers failed to understand that the changed conditions in Russia had released new means and new forces that were more dynamic and superior to those in Germany and that these new conditions resulted in an energy in the Soviet response to the invasion that was irresistible
But the disappearance of the Soviet Union and the surrender by the successor state of the buffer zone in eastern Europe, though undertaken in the hope and on the false promise of Nato that peace would rein, only served to revive the German and western appetite for the territories of the Russian Federation. They quickly realised the new conditions in Russia had deteriorated to such a low state that they could move into the former socialist countries in the east of Europe without opposition and absorb them into the Nato system before Russia could pull itself together and resist. One country after another fell into the grips of the war alliance, either as voluntary dupes, or, where it was resisted, as in the case of Yugoslavia, by direct and overwhelming force.
This gangterism is now being employed against Russia itself and Obama openly bragged about it when he stated in an interview on Vox.com on January 23rd that “we occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do if it weren’t for the various economic or diplomatic or, in some cases, military leverage that we have.” Such people do not engage in negotiations with equals. Gangsters never do.
International law has been dispensed with, the United Nations Charter spat upon, and all means; economic, political, psychological, moral and military, have been engaged to achieve their objective. The Nato penetration into eastern Europe was never about “justifying its existence,” as some claim, but about war against Russia. Nato is a military alliance that supplies the physical force necessary to secure the prime political objective of the west, the total subjugation of Russia to their will, one way or another.
The situation in Ukraine today was foreseen or perhaps planned by Germany and the United States years ago. The journal German-Foreign-Policy.com published a paper dated 2009, reprinted from an Austrian military journal, written by Colonel Heinz Brill, a former adviser to the German Army, who wrote that German military circles were then discussing the expansion of Nato further east and foresaw a situation in which Ukraine would be split into two parts; a Nato controlled west and a small eastern state “like Abkhazia” outside the Nato alliance. According to Colonel Brill the cordon sanitaire that the Allies ceded to the Soviet Union after World War Two has been eliminated, every one of Moscow’s red lines crossed and Russia now finds itself on a historical defensive whose only way out is the Russian hope expressed in 1989, for a Berlin-Moscow axis, a hope now illusory unless there is a fundamental shift in German politics.
Colonel Brill confirmed that the Nato allies agreed not to expand Nato into the former East German state nor beyond it and that its presence in Germany at all was only acceptable to Russia on the assumption that there would be positive relations between Russia and Germany. Brill states that the first call for Nato to move into eastern Europe was made by the German Defence Minister, Volke Ruhe, in March, 1993 and that at first the Americans were sceptical. But they were quick to take the hint and changed their global strategy for control of Eurasia accordingly. Brill further states that differences in tactics between Germany and the United States arose during 2008, when the Americans used Georgia to attack Russian forces in South Ossetia, but it is clear the differences arose because the Germans understood that the quick and determined response of Russia in Georgia, crushing the attacking force within a few days, meant that political conditions in Russia had changed. This explains the German caution about scaling up the military campaign in Ukraine now. The Germans recognise that the Russia of Putin is not the Russia of Yeltsin. There has been a shift in the political and economic conditions in Russia that has revived the immense potential in the country and among its people. Russians have seen the abyss that the west wants them to descend into and they have no wish to return there.
But we return to the fundamental point, that the interests of all the Nato countries are aligned. The Germans realise that pushing the military option in Ukraine can be costly and lead to a European war and so are encouraging Obama to increase the economic warfare against Russia instead of relying on the military option. Further “sanctions” are already being considered depending on what happens after the Minsk agreement. According to the same journal, Merkel even announced that she is convinced that the “West will be victorious in the power struggle with Moscow” but she prefers economic warfare instead of the use of arms.
However, the Germans know that if economic means do not bring Russia to her knees, and they will not, there is, as Obama would say, only one other way to “twist” Russia’s arm, the direct use of military force. And so, what the Germans are calling the “double strategy” will be used, diplomatic actions initiated by Germany and France, proceeding under threat of increased economic warfare, coupled with the build up of forces and continued conflict in the Ukraine.
In January, Wolfgang Ischinger, the Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, stated that in the “power struggle with Russia, it is necessary to negotiate from strength” and referred to the recent creation of the Nato “spearhead” rapid reaction force for possible combat in eastern Europe. There can be only one mission for such a force, a lightning thrust into the Donbass to crush the republics of Lugansk and Donetsk and even an attempt to seize the Crimea peninsula. It is likely that the large amounts of weapons and ammunition being moved into Ukraine by the Americans, Germans, Canadians, Poles and the rest is not meant to be all thrown away arming the Nazi battalions in east Ukraine, but are to be placed, in advance, in staging areas for the use of the Nato spearhead force. The recent announcement that the Americans will send 12 A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft to eastern Europe confirms this analysis since those aircraft are used for ground support especially against enemy armour, artillery and troop concentrations.
The only way forward is to resolve the conflict at the political level on the basis of the recognition of the right to self-rule and autonomy for the Donbass republics, a federal state to assure ethnic stability, and the commitment by Ukraine that it will be a neutral state and not part of any plan to “contain” Russia, a plan that can only lead to world war.
Consequently, the EU countries, to show good faith, should immediately abandon the sanctions against Russia, create a foreign policy independent of the United States and arrive at an agreement with Russia on a completely new European framework. Only then can the Minsk ceasefire lead to a peaceful resolution of the conflict. But unless the political situation in Germany, France, and an increasingly irrelevant Britain, changes in a fundamental way, so that war is abandoned as a means of diplomacy, that may be a hope too far.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, he is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and he is known for a number of high-profile cases involving human rights and war crimes, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.