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Ukraine passes Donbass ‘reintegration’ law, effectively terminating Minsk peace accord

With the best chance for peace effectively torn asunder, Kiev’s action heralds dark days ahead

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Long have the Minsk Agreements been dead in the spirit of the law, but now they are practically dead in letter as well

On 20 February Poroshenko signed off Law No. 7163 “On the peculiarities of state policy to ensure the state sovereignty of Ukraine over temporarily occupied territories in Donetsk and Lugansk regions” that had been a subject of concern even on the part of Ukrainian political analysts and human rights watchers.

Ukrainian military forces have already violated the ceasefire on a daily basis, and therefore it seems that they never had any intention to actually implement it. Poroshenko’s new law on “Donbass reintegration”, and how it violates the internationally accepted Minsk Agreements has been the topic of much discussion.

The law has also been criticized by the Russian foreign ministry as Sputnik reports:

“On February 24, 2018, a scandalous law on the so-called “reintegration of Donbass” came into force. Thus, in Kiev, they finally confirmed their commitment to a military solution of the conflict in the South-East of Ukraine. By signing the law, Petro Poroshenko actually crossed out the Minsk agreements,” its statement reads.

For those interested in the basic story, see the above links, as well as this video:

One thing not analyzed in depth, however, is WHY the new law violates Minsk II Agreement. It’s no surprise that the Kiev regime, which has always hated Minsk, would violate these accords, with their Neo-Nazi marches and rabid ultra-nationalism, but how specifically does the new law violate them?

Nazi march in Ukraine

Everyone, especially in the west loves to talk as if they are an expert on the matter, however, few people have actually read the accords. I myself am not claiming to be the world’s greatest expert, but with common sense and an internet connection, you’d be surprised what you can learn.

The core issue is the language used in the laws, as a Russian expert broke down the situation.

According to the Minsk II Agreement signed on 11 February 2015  the parties to the Ukrainian conflict as mentioned are solely Kiev and the regions of Lugansk and Donetsk. This is not our opinion, or Russia’s opinion, or Ukraine’s opinion, but the official agreements which all parties signed.

There is no mention of Russia as an aggressor, or defender, or even at all – Russia is not mentioned once in the official “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements” as found on the UN website. See for yourself, the word “Russia” does not even appear, and the word Russian only appears in the signature of the Russian ambassador, as well as the footnotes.

As a result, according to the Minsk Agreements, the conflict in East Ukraine is a civil war, a conflict within the territory of a single state.

Ukraine’s “revolution of dignity”, as it is now referred to in that country

In the context of the Minsk Agreements, there is no acknowledgment of Russians fighting Ukrainians, in Ukraine, and for all intents and purposes, Russia has nothing to do with anything.

Anyone with basic knowledge of Russian and Ukrainian history understands that Ukraine and Russia have been from the inception, and for centuries one people.

Anyone who understands Realpolitik knows there is more to it than that, but the point that must be stressed again for the third time is that:

According to Minsk II Agreement, Russia is not mentioned as a party to any conflict, and the parties of the conflict, which are expected to peacefully negotiate with each other are the Ukrainian government and the Donetsk and Lugansk regions.

So with that in mind:

The law, initiated by President Poroshenko, refers to the specified eastern regions of the Ukraine as “temporarily occupied territories” and defines Russia’s actions as “aggression against Ukraine.” Reports Tass news.

This law displays both a contradiction and a dangerous precedent. Let us put aside the right to Donbass people to live safely and defend themselves from extermination – which is completely worthy of our concern – and look at the legalistic language.

This is what the new laws justify

The regions are considered “temporarily occupied territories.” But in this case, occupied by whom? Their own citizens? No, generally speaking, when we speak of occupied territories, we are referring to territories occupied by another state.

But the Minsk agreement never mentions another state being involved, remember, according to Minsk, this is an internal Ukrainian issue, a civil war, not an invasion. But the new law considers Russia an “aggressor state”, recognizing her actions as “aggression against Ukraine”.

That is in principle, the issue with the new law. It completely reinterprets the conflict, from what was an agreed to be a civil war, to external aggression against Ukraine, and goes on to provide the legal framework for Kiev to reintegrate the Donbass territories with military force.

What is the point of the Minsk Agreements then, which begin by stressing a cease-fire, and withdrawal of heavy weapons, and dialog between Kiev and Donbass? According to the new law, Russia is the aggressor, Donbass is Ukraine, and Ukraine has the right to capture Donbass by military force.

The last time Kiev tried to reclaim Donbass. This still happens, but sadly, it’s not “newsworthy” enough for the MSM to cover it

The people of Donbass may consider themselves to be Russians, or even Ukrainians, or a combination, but it is clear that the majority of them consider themselves to be part of Russian civilization, along with Ukraine.

A vivid example thereof, is the life of Mikhail Tolstykh, a legendary commander of the Donetsk Republic’s army born in Ilovaysk, Ukraine, who had Georgian roots yet when asked about his ethnicity answered: “Well, I am Russian and that’s all”.

That does NOT make them Russian citizens, however, nor is Russia required by international law, or its own internal law to take any action.

Their actions are their own, and they must be recognized as a free, independent, and mature party, at a negotiation table with Kiev. They cannot be dismissed as mere “agents of Russia”, or worse, a non-party, whose position is irrelevant. Russia may or may not be present, but only as a mediator, not as a party to the conflict.

Kiev must talk to Donbass!

How much longer must this happen?

The new law considers Donbass merely an object to be won in battle, and the voices of Donbass people irrelevant.

This contradicts not only Minsk, but basic reality, designed at fooling foreigners unaware of it, and allowing Kiev to do as it pleases.

Regardless what your position is on the Ukraine conflict, no one is entitled to their own facts – facts are objective reality.

And the reality is the Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic are independent entities. Just as there are Ukrainians who don’t like that, there can also exist people who feel Donbass should belong to Russia, but in fact, the Russian Federation has not accepted Donbass either partially or entirely into Russia, nor even recognized the breakaway republics officially.

There were voices in Russia advocating for taking more action, like Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the leader of Liberal Democratic Party of Russia. The reality is, if Russia wanted Donbass or all of Ukraine at any cost, there would have been a tricolor flying over Kiev in less than a month back in 2014. Eventually, even some who hate Russia may wake up from their sleep and be happier. In any case, Russia has no desire to invade Ukraine.

On the Right, Ukraine after “democracy”

The parties to the conflict are the government of the Ukraine appointed as the result of Maidan coup, and the people of Donbass who have not recognized this government as legitimate, and Minsk II Agreement has made it clear that a dialogue should have been launched between them i.e. on modalities of local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”.

But the new law approved by the majority of the Ukrainian parliament deputies does not even mention the Minsk Agreements, tearing them asunder in letter, as Kiev’s actions already did so in spirit long ago. Furthermore, it gives the President special authorization to use military force within the territory of Ukraine in violation of the existing Ukrainian Constitution.

What does this mean in practice? Imagine in Transcarpathia or in Kiev, a riot against the government commences, so “Maidan 2.0”. Poroshenko (or whoever will be appointed as his replacement in 2019), may then announce that, according to “intelligence”, the protestors are led by Moscow, and this is an “act of armed aggression”.

There could even be a false flag, if the president feels like he is about to be overthrown and needs to consolidate popularity around a national tragedy. Then the Ukrainian president will be legally entitled to use the army against the citizens without the approval of the parliament. [A Russian article which further discusses this].

At the same time, while expressly defining Russia as an “aggressor” the law does not mention either a state of war with Russia, or termination of diplomatic relations – since this would  be highly disadvantageous for Kiev which intends to continue buying Russian gas and would hardly like over 2 million Ukrainian citizens permanently working in Russia back home expressing their discontent over failures to implement the required reforms in the Ukraine. [More information]

One can only hope this is mere sabre rattling by Poroshenko, to boost his steadily declining rating, and this does not herald the start of more bloodshed.

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US continues to try to corner Russia with silence on Nukes

Moscow continues to be patient in what appears to be an ever more lopsided, intentional stonewalling situation provoked by the Americans.

Seraphim Hanisch

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TASS reported on March 17th that despite Russian readiness to discuss the present problem of strategic weapons deployments and disarmament with its counterparts in the United States, the Americans have not offered Russia any proposals to conduct such talks.

The Kremlin has not yet received any particular proposals on the talks over issues of strategic stability and disarmament from Washington, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told TASS on Sunday when commenting on the statement made by US National Security Adviser John Bolton who did not rule out that such talks could be held with Russia and China.

“No intelligible proposals has been received [from the US] so far,” Peskov said.

Earlier Bolton said in an interview with radio host John Catsimatidis aired on Sunday that he considers it reasonable to include China in the negotiation on those issues with Russia as well.

“China is building up its nuclear capacity now. It’s one of the reasons why we’re looking at strengthening our national missile defense system here in the United States. And it’s one reason why, if we’re going to have another arms control negotiation, for example, with the Russians, it may make sense to include China in that discussion as well,” he said.

Mr. Bolton’s sense about this particular aspect of any arms discussions is correct, as China was not formerly a player in geopolitical affairs the way it is now. The now all-but-scrapped Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, was a treaty concluded by the US and the USSR leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, back in 1987. However, for in succeeding decades, most notably since the fall of the Soviet Union, the US has been gradually building up weaponry in what appears to be an attempt to create a ring around the Russian Federation, a situation which is understandably increasingly untenable to the Russian government.

Both sides have accused one another of violating this treaty, and the mutual violations and recriminations on top of a host of other (largely fabricated) allegations against the Russian government’s activities led US President Donald Trump to announce his nation’s withdrawal from the treaty, formally suspending it on 1 February. Russian President Vladimir Putin followed suit by suspending it the very next day.

The INF eliminated all of both nations’ land based ballistic and cruise missiles that had a range between 500 and 1000 kilometers (310-620 miles) and also those that had ranges between 1000 and 5500 km (620-3420 miles) and their launchers.

This meant that basically all the missiles on both sides were withdrawn from Europe’s eastern regions – in fact, much, if not most, of Europe was missile-free as the result of this treaty. That is no longer the case today, and both nations’ accusations have provoked re-development of much more advanced systems than ever before, especially true considering the Russian progress into hypersonic and nuclear powered weapons that offer unlimited range.

This situation generates great concern in Europe, such that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on both Moscow and Washington to salvage the INF and extend the Treaty on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, or the New START as it is known.

“I call on the parties to the INF Treaty to use the time remaining to engage in sincere dialogue on the various issues that have been raised. It is very important that this treaty is preserved,” Guterres said at a session of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on Monday.

He stressed that the demise of that accord would make the world more insecure and unstable, which “will be keenly felt in Europe.” “We simply cannot afford to return to the unrestrained nuclear competition of the darkest days of the Cold War,” he said.

Guterres also urged the US and Russia to extend the START Treaty, which expires in 2021, and explore the possibility of further reducing their nuclear arsenals. “I also call on the United States and the Russian Federation to extend the so-called New START Treaty before it expires in 2021,” he said.

The UN chief recalled that the treaty “is the only international legal instrument limiting the size of the world’s two largest nuclear arsenals” and that its inspection provisions “represent important confidence-building measures that benefit the entire world.”

Guterres recalled that the bilateral arms control process between Russia and the US “has been one of the hallmarks of international security for fifty years.”

“Thanks to their efforts, global stockpiles of nuclear weapons are now less than one-sixth of what they were in 1985,” the UN secretary-general pointed out.

The Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (the New START Treaty) entered into force on February 5, 2011. The document stipulates that seven years after its entry into effect each party should have no more than a total of 700 deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and strategic bombers, as well as no more than 1,550 warheads on deployed ICBMs, deployed SLBMs and strategic bombers, and a total of 800 deployed and non-deployed ICBM launchers, SLBM launchers and strategic bombers. The new START Treaty obliges the parties to exchange information on the number of warheads and carriers twice a year.

The new START Treaty will remain in force during 10 years until 2021, unless superseded by a subsequent agreement. It may be extended for a period of no more than five years (that is, until 2026) upon the parties’ mutual consent. Moscow has repeatedly called on Washington not to delay the issue of extending the Treaty.

 

 

 

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Ariel Cohen exposes Washington’s latest twist in anti-Russia strategy [Video]

Excellent interview Ariel Cohen and Vladimir Solovyov reveals the forces at work in and behind American foreign policy.

Seraphim Hanisch

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While the American people and press are pretty much complicit in reassuring the masses that America is the only “right” superpower on earth, and that Russia and China represent “enemy threats” for doing nothing more than existing and being successfully competitive in world markets, Russia Channel One got a stunner of a video interview with Ariel Cohen.

Who is Ariel Cohen? Wikipedia offers this information about him:

Ariel Cohen (born April 3, 1959 in Crimea in YaltaUSSR) is a political scientist focusing on political risk, international security and energy policy, and the rule of law.[1] Cohen currently serves as the Director of The Center for Energy, Natural Resources and Geopolitics (CENRG) at the Institute for Analysis of Global Security (IAGS). CENRG focuses on the nexus between energy, geopolitics and security, and natural resources and growth. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, within the Global Energy Center and the Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.[2] Until July 2014, Dr. Cohen was a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. He specializes in Russia/Eurasia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Cohen has testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, including the Senate and House Foreign Relations Committees, the House Armed Services Committee, the House Judiciary Committee and the Helsinki Commission.[4] He also served as a Policy Adviser with the National Institute for Public Policy’s Center for Deterrence Analysis.[5] In addition, Cohen has consulted for USAID, the World Bank and the Pentagon.[6][7]

Cohen is a frequent writer and commentator in the American and international media. He has appeared on CNN, NBC, CBS, FOX, C-SPAN, BBC-TV and Al Jazeera English, as well as Russian and Ukrainian national TV networks. He was a commentator on a Voice of America weekly radio and TV show for eight years. Currently, he is a Contributing Editor to the National Interest and a blogger for Voice of America. He has written guest columns for the New York TimesInternational Herald TribuneChristian Science Monitor, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, EurasiaNet, Valdai Discussion Club,[8] and National Review Online. In Europe, Cohen’s analyses have appeared in Kommersant, Izvestiya, Hurriyet, the popular Russian website Ezhenedelny Zhurnal, and many others.[9][10]

Mr. Cohen came on Russian TV for a lengthy interview running about 17 minutes. This interview, shown in full below, is extremely instructive in illustrating the nature of the American foreign policy directives such as they are at this time.

We have seen evidence of this in recent statements by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Russia’s “invasion” of Ukraine, and an honestly unabashed bit of fear mongering about China’s company Huawei and its forthcoming 5G networks, which we will investigate in more detail in another piece. Both bits of rhetoric reflect a re-polished narrative that, paraphrased, says to the other world powers,

Either you do as we tell you, or you are our enemy. You are not even permitted to out-compete with us in business, let alone foreign relations. The world is ours and if you try to step out of place, you will be dealt with as an enemy power.

This is probably justified paranoia, because it is losing its place. Where the United Stated used to stand for opposition against tyranny in the world, it now acts as the tyrant, and even as a bully. Russia and China’s reaction might be seen as ignoring the bully and his bluster and just going about doing their own thing. It isn’t a fight, but it is treating the bully with contempt, as bullies indeed deserve.

Ariel Cohen rightly points out that there is a great deal of political inertia in the matter of allowing Russia and China to just do their own thing. The US appears to be acting paranoid about losing its place. His explanations appear very sound and very reasonable and factual. Far from some of the snark Vesti is often infamous for, this interview is so clear it is tragic that most Americans will never see it.

The tragedy for the US leadership that buys this strategy is that they appear to be blinded so much by their own passion that they cannot break free of it to save themselves.

This is not the first time that such events have happened to an empire. It happened in Rome; it happened for England; and it happened for the shorter-lived empires of Nazi Germany and ISIS. It happens every time that someone in power becomes afraid to lose it, and when the forces that propelled that rise to power no longer are present. The US is a superpower without a reason to be a superpower.

That can be very dangerous.

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Even a Vacuous Mueller Report Won’t End ‘Russiagate’

Too many reputations and other interests are vested in the legend for it to vanish from American politics anytime soon.

Stephen Cohen

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Authored by Stephen Cohen via The Nation:


Russiagate allegations that the Kremlin has a subversive hold over President Trump, and even put him in the White House, have poisoned American political life for almost three years. Among other afflictions, it has inspired an array of media malpractices, virtually criminalized anti–Cold War thinking about Russia, and distorted the priorities of the Democratic Party. And this leaves aside the woeful impact Russiagate has had in Moscow—on its policymakers’ perception of the US as a reliable partner on mutually vital strategic issues and on Russian democrats who once looked to the American political system as one to be emulated, a loss of “illusions” I previously reported.

Contrary to many expectations, even if the Mueller report, said to be impending, finds, as did a Senate committee recently, “no direct evidence of conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia,” Russiagate allegations are unlikely to dissipate in the near future and certainly not before the 2020 presidential election.

There are several reasons this is so, foremost among them the following:

  1. The story of a “Kremlin puppet” in the White House is so fabulous and unprecedented it is certain to become a tenacious political legend, as have others in American history despite the absence of any supporting evidence.
  2. The careers of many previously semi-obscure Democratic members of Congress have been greatly enhanced—if that is the right word—by their aggressive promotion of Russiagate. (Think, for example, of the ubiquitous media coverage and cable-television appearances awarded to Representatives Adam Schiff, Eric Swalwell, and Maxine Walters, and to Senators Mark Warner and Richard Blumenthal.) If Mueller fails to report “collusion” of real political substance, these and other Russiagate zealots, as well as their supporters in the media, will need to reinterpret run-of-the-mill (and bipartisan) financial corruption and mundane “contacts with Russia” as somehow treasonous. (The financial-corruption convictions of Paul Manafort, Mueller’s single “big win” to date, did not charge “collusion” and had to do mainly with Ukraine, not Russia.) Having done so already, there is every reason to think Democrats will politicize these charges again, if only for the sake of their own careers. Witness, for example, the scores of summonses promised by Jerrold Nadler, the new Democratic chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
  3. Still worse, the top Democratic congressional leadership evidently has concluded that promoting the new Cold War, of which Russiagate has become an integral part, is a winning issue in 2020. How else to explain Nancy Pelosi’s proposal—subsequently endorsed by the equally unstatesmanlike Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, and adopted—to invite the secretary general of NATO, a not-very-distinguished Norwegian politician named Jens Stoltenberg, to address a joint session of Congress? The honor was once bestowed on figures such as Winston Churchill and at the very least leaders of actual countries. Trump has reasonably questioned NATO’s mission and costs nearly 30 years after the Soviet Union disappeared, as did many Washington think tanks and pundits back in the 1990s. But for Pelosi and other Democratic leaders, there can be no such discussion, only valorization of NATO, even though the military alliance’s eastward expansion has brought the West to the brink of war with nuclear Russia. Anything Trump suggests must be opposed, regardless of the cost to US national security. Will the Democrats go to the country in 2020 as the party of investigations, subpoenas, Russophobia, and escalating cold war—and win?

Readers of my new book War With Russia?, which argues that there are no facts to support the foundational political allegations of Russiagate, may wonder how, then, Russiagate can continue to be such a major factor in our politics. As someone has recently pointed out, the Democrats and their media are now operating on the Liberty Valance principle: When the facts are murky or nonexistent, “print the legend.”

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