Ukraine crashed in on Mr. Trump’s administration this week, in what appears to be a spoiling attack on any US-Russia rapprochement. With the economy going to hell, and the West getting tired of no progress with Ukraine reforms, what choice does Kiev have but to attack Donbass and claim the Russians are to blame.
With countless ceasefire violations under Ukraine’s belt and no political consequences for them, Ukraine’s patrons share the blame for the continued wanton cycle of destruction. The same can be said for the collective murder of Syria.
The Ukraine army moved heavy weapons into the neutral zone, and shelling began on the outskirts of Donetsk. The small industrial town of Avdiivka became the center of the storm. The Donbass forces replied and the fight was on, to the dismay of the 20,000 inhabitants, and to poor 60-year-old Katya Volkova, who was killed by grad rocket shrapnel while taking a walk to get out of the house, another wasted life in this horrible tragedy.
Few suspect the timing was coincidental, as the phone chat reports between Putin and Trump on Saturday covered a wide range of issues during its 55 minutes, and will be followed by both sides’ expert teams preparing for a summit meeting, where agreements are usually expected on some initial things to establish momentum to improve relations.
Is it time for war or peace?
I suspect Porshenko feared his future could have been on the trading table. By that I mean not being able to have Western money shoveled into Ukraine’s economy for the oligarchs and corrupt government officials to steal. The IMF itself signaled a few months ago that the stalled reforms in Ukraine’s Rada, while aid money disappeared, were not something it would continue to support, a not too subtle warning.
Western media gave us its usual biased coverage, some of the silliest saying that Putin had initiated the Donbass fighting while Trump was “distracted” with his flurry of executive orders, by his cabinet not all being confirmed by Congress, and with a controversial immigration plan that was poorly executed, as was his first military ground action in Yemen with American losses. Putin had nothing to gain from instigating fighting in Ukraine while preparing a summit with Trump. The claim was yellow journalism at its worst.
Poroshenko, on the other hand, had a lot of motivation to stir up the fighting now, as he knows his government has been subsidized as part of the US-EU-NATO sanctions scheme against Moscow. They were not able to snatch Russia’s Black Sea naval base to block its naval projection power into the Mediterranean and make the Baltic a NATO lake
France and Germany have also continued their sordid roll in the Ukraine coup. As guarantors of the Minsk2 agreement on Kiev’s behalf, they have done nothing to pressure Kiev to fulfill any of its obligations, and have gone even further off the rails by accusing Moscow of noncompliance itself.
Obama’s World is Gone
But February 2017 presents a totally different geopolitical situation than February two years ago. The Syrian War looked terminal for the Assad regime, with the Syrian army crumbling due to a Western and Gulf State terror war being conducted against it, at a huge cost in death and destruction. The NATO creep began toward the Russian frontier; the Russian economy was under great strain; and the smart money bet that Moscow’s bases in Syria would fall with Assad, as payback for Crimea.
On September 1st 2015, Veterans Today had a crisis team in Damascus at a midnight briefing with the Syrian Justice Minister reviewing the order of battle for the Islamic State. The Russians were coming… literally out of the blue, and turned the combat situation around 180 degrees, to the delight of most of the long suffering Syrian people.
Aleppo now has been liberated, a ceasefire is holding, and factions of the opposition have joined the peace process, after repeated American failures, and intrigues, such as the US bombing of the Syrians in Deir Ezzur.
US-Russia Rapprochement – fact of fantasy?
President Trump had signaled during his interest during the campaign in normalizing relations with Russia when his Republican opponents all supported the opposite. Hillary Clinton was so anti-Russian that the Ukraine oligarchs were openly funding her, but there were no charges of their “interfering in the election”.
There was no cheering in Kiev when Trump won, but wailing instead. Some of his campaign opponents have powerful Congressional offices now, and many have been long time Russophobes, with John McCain and Lindsey Graham among the worst. McCain sent a formal letter to Trump claiming that Putin was “testing” Trump, with his “aggression” in Ukraine.
The Trump team knows it will be challenged on the Russian rapprochement; but has the President been able reach a deal already with Congressional leaders to give him some leeway on Ukraine to see what he can do with Mr. Putin on the joint fight against terrorism, and maybe a nuclear arms reduction included?
Or, is it that the Trump team is taking some time to review what actually went on with the Kiev coup? If the new President found a solid case of Western malfeasance, would he keep that quiet or hang it around Obama’s neck?
Europe is reeling politically with Brexit in motion, France’s Le Pen claiming she will take France out if she wins the coming election, plus the failing Euro. With growing numbers of EU citizens becoming disenchanted with EU elitists and their plantation-owner attitude, Mr. Trump’s coming onto the scene was their worst nightmare. Would Trump want to hang the Ukraine and Russian mess around EU and Obama’s necks together?
The Ukraine coup is a huge scandal for the EU. It became the plan B after its bungling of the Ukraine association negotiations by handing an ultimatum to Yanukovych to accept the no cash offer and no real EU market access for over a decade. Ukraine was broke. What Yanukovych really wanted was to remain in the middle and be subsidized by both the EU and Moscow.
While Syria was Obama’s foreign policy disaster, Ukraine was the EU’s, with the Netherlands having played an especially sordid roll. Its shameful handling of the MH-17 shootdown is deserving of a criminal investigation of its own conduct in its flagrant attempts to frame Russia, when Kiev and the real coupmiesters are the number one suspects for the deaths of those innocent passengers.
Remember the BUK missile that no one saw from the ground or took a photo of, even though its plume would have hung in the air for an hour after the launch? It became the new hoax story to replace the bogus Iran nuclear weapons program one. The Dutch seem to be stalling the investigation results as their assigned part of keeping the sanctions going with the MH-17 still hanging over Moscow’s head.
The Dutch investigators never demanded that Kiev turn over its flight data records. And after Russia finally sent its own radar data, the investigators now tell us that it is not in a standard format they can read, but had never asked Moscow for assistance.
Veterans Today learned that the US Aegis radar in Romania had actually been active many months before the US admitted. It could see all the way to Minsk and surely would have recorded a BUK launch, yet the US never produced that “proof”.
Southfront published a recent article about the Russian special operations veteran contractors that have operated under the Ministry of Defense, so that cat is now out of the bag. They have been active in Donbass, helping to prevent the slaughter of the ethnic Russians there, as had been promised by the Right Sector members of the Rada, and with no protest in a single Western capital to their eternal shame. The U.S. Defense Dept. would have done exactly the same thing in a similar situation.
The Russians were just borrowing that concept from the West, where large numbers of special operation veterans moved into “contract” employment , and then found themselves on various regime change battlefields pursuing whose interests we were not always sure. Syrian intelligence discovered and monitored a number of them in command and operation centers in Syria, inside both the opposition and Islamic State held areas. One of these operation centers was amnestied out of Aleppo as part of the deal to free the city.
So if Trump wants to, he can spill the beans on what really happened in the Ukraine coup and start off with a clean canvas there; or he can just threaten to, which is historically the preferred route. He could use that to blackmail the EU into going along with dropping the sanctions and pay up on the NATO dues.
The Russians have already stated they don’t expect Mr. Trump to be the Tooth Fairy and waive his magic wand to make the sanctions go away. Any lasting improvement in relations can only be the result of sincere and pragmatic negotiations. As with the Syrian situation, the trick is to get them started while fighting off the deal killers, both foreign and domestic. We wish both parties God speed in their journey.
Jim W. Dean, managing editor for Veterans Today, producer/host of Heritage TV Atlanta, specially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.