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A Pound of Flesh: Why is India trying to sabotage the Silk Road Initiative?

Ongoing conflicts between India and China are firmly rooted in Nahrendra Modi’s inability to compromise on the Silk Road Initiative. Read to find out why.

Haneul Na'avi

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Tarry a little, there is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are “a pound of flesh.”

—Portia, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene II

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has turned on his former One Belt, One Road (OBOR) allies, arrogantly demanding a pound of flesh from the People’s Republic of China.

As of late, Sino-Indian tensions have become inexplicably enflamed to pre-1962 levels, with border clashes erupting shortly after China began constructing an innocuous road through Bhutan.

“Diplomatic observers […] said they were surprised that China’s [project] in the Donglang area […] so quickly turned into the biggest military stand-off between the two armies in years,” SCMP noted.

The Washington Post also referenced the skirmishes as a pretext for rubber stamping ties with President Donald Trump, with Modi citing security fears to garner lucrative defence contracts.

“Beyond [defence] sales, however, the conversational landscape is bleak,” WP chided.

Following his US visit, Modi achieved historic lows as the first Indian PM to visit Israel, striking a 500 million USD arms deal with his counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu.

The two have been deepening cooperation between since Modi assumed office in 2014, and have been ramping up their effeminate bromance to epic proportions.

“According to Israeli media, the value of military exchanges between New Delhi and Tel Aviv amounts to one billion dollars each year,” PressTV mentioned.

Furthermore, in May 2017, Modi sloppily pieced together a One Belt, One Road ‘alternative’ with Japanese President Shinzo Abe after recoiling in indignation from the Chinese-led initiative.

“[…] it is still in the drafting stage and at least a year away from being committed to [and], there is no mention of any level of investment that would follow through,” Business Standard highlights.

Fortunately, these conflicts did not occur in a vacuum, and in order to fully understand India’s double-dealing, one must revisit events surrounding the May 15 Belt and Road Summit in Beijing.

29 countries attended, including delegates from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the United Nations; even the US. However India, the OBOR Initiative’s second-largest investor, boycotted the event.

His absence was a mum protest against People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping’s shrewd decision to deepen ties with Pakistani President Nawaz Sharif on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC); a vital trade route into the Middle East for the OBOR.

Reuters elaborates:

Among the 3.4 billion yuan ($492.95 million) [agreements] signed on Saturday were [two] worth 2.3 billion yuan for an airport in the southwestern town of Gwadar, [the] establishment of the Havelian Dry Port in Pakistan [and] economic and technical cooperation worth 1.1 billion yuan for the East Bay Expressway linking Gwadar to Pakistan’s existing highway system.

Despite India’s snub, Sharif voiced his appreciation to China. ”Such a broad sweep and scale of interlocking economic partnerships and investments is unprecedented in history,” he stated.

Modi’s presence, however, was felt amongst pro-independence demonstrations that erupted across Pakistan’s semi-autonomous Gilgit-Baltistan region in protest of the summit, reminiscent of the Umbrella Revolution of Hong Kong and others, whom attempt to undermine and balkanise China.

The Times of India reported:

Various students and political organisations including Karakoram Students Organisation, Balawaristan National Students Organisation, Gilgit Baltistan United Movement and Balawaristan National Front […] described the project as an illegal attempt to grab Gilgit and see it as a “Road of Gulami or Slavery for Gilgit-Baltistan” [for] China to take over their territory.

Their accusations and timing are questionable, if not subversive. Gilgit-Baltistan has sought to integrate into Pakistani territory since 1947, implying the ‘movements’ as unrepresentative of the region. In contrast, their actions directly correlate to recent events on the CPEC.

On 15 March, Pakistan’s Minister for Interprovincial Coordination Riaz Hussain Pirzada revealed that his government “recommended that Gilgit-Baltistan should be made a province of Pakistan”.

He also noted that “a constitutional amendment would be made to change the status of the region, through which the USD 46 billion [CPEC] passes,” the Hindustan Times reported.

To date, Pakistan had shelved development projects in Gilgit-Baltistan for decades to abide by UN Resolution 47 and its settlement with India over the Jammu and Kashmir conflict.

However, that changed after Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf assumed office in 2001. Chirayu Thakkar of South Asian Voices explains further:

With the manifestation of Gwadar Port, conceived through substantial Chinese investment in 2001, and subsequent rumination upon the [CPEC], it became increasingly inevitable for Pakistan to stabilize the region […] Pakistan’s waning enchantment with the United States and […] hostile neighbor like India makes it geo-strategically imperative for Pakistan to scale up its partnership with China by ensuring the smooth execution of CPEC.

Intimidated by this, India has fought to derail Sino-Pakistani ties, with tensions finally peaking at the May OBOR summit after Beijing and Lahore materialised groundbreaking deals.

Additionally, in order to antagonise Gilgit-Baltistan, the Modi government would need to crack down on Jammu and Kashmir—a region long opposed Indian imperialism. India’s anxiety at the OBOR summit is inextricably tied to its frustration to suppress Kashmiri independence.

A PressTV article palpably illustrates how India routinely jeopardises security in Jammu-Kashmir:

Tensions between Kashmiri students and government forces have intensified since April 15, when Indian forces raided a college in Pulwama […] to scare anti-India activists.

It continues:

The Muslim-majority region has witnessed an increase in mass protests and violent attacks since early July 2016, when Burhan Wani, a top figure in a pro-independence group, was killed in a shootout with Indian troops.

This is not the first time Pakistan has raised concerns about Indian-backed insurgents in Balochistan; Pakistan’s largest and westernmost province.

Pakistani Ambassador to the Republic of Korea Zahid Nasrullah Khan expressed this in a passionate rebuttal to the Korea Times:

Balochistan has been victim of subversive activities by India. On 3rd March 2016 Commander Kulbushan Yadav the RAW operative (Indian intelligence agency) was apprehended by our authorities when he was trying to enter in Pakistan illegally [whose] objective was to instigate Baloch insurgents and finance [the] Baloch Liberation Movement in order for them to carry out subversive activities in Balochistan resulting in the killing of Pakistani citizens.

In addition to causing security headaches, Modi also selfishly declined invitations to join the CPEC, after Pakistani Lieutenant General Aamir Riaz offered to deepen cooperation between them.

“India should ‘shun enmity’ with Pakistan and join the USD 46-billion CPEC along with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries and enjoy its benefits,” he continued.

Following the summit, Ding Gang of the People’s Daily stated the following:

If New Delhi joins […] this will help alleviate tensions and confrontations between India and Pakistan. More importantly, the initiative can enhance local people’s living standards […] Civilians in the Kashmiri area have suffered from poverty and armed conflicts for decades. A responsible government has no reason to keep these innocent civilians enduring such ordeals.

Furthermore, India arrogantly chastised the OBOR over potential debt burdens, citing the mantra of “Chinese debt slavery” in Sri Lanka; however, two discrepancies emerge.

Firstly, Sri Lanka still attended the May OBOR summit, along with Nepal and Pakistan. Additionally, China’s “debt burden” hasn’t deterred others from submitting their applications to join the bank.

The bank, which began with 57 ratifiers, has increased its membership to 77 countries, spanning from Europe, Eurasia, Latin America, and East Asia’s most powerful and influential economies.

“More and more countries are signing up to be members of AIIB because they see how internationalism can promote development in Asia, with far reaching benefits for the global economy.” AIIB President Jin Liqun highlighted.

Modi even received the AIIB’s first loan approval to begin the Andhra Pradesh – 24×7 Power for All project, was launched in 2014 to provide electricity to all participatory states on the subcontinent. This was, of course, done with Chinese approval and co-financed by the World Bank.

“I am delighted that AIIB is working closely with India, who is our second largest shareholder, in energy and other infrastructure sectors, and we expect the [project] to be the first of many projects AIIB invests in India,” President Jin expressed.

The project was approved on 2 May, 2017 by the AIIB Board of Governors— two weeks before India’s diplomatic gaffe.

Thankfully, India still has six proposed projects waiting in the approval queue, ranging from the Madhya Pradesh Rural Connectivity Project, Mumbai Metro Line 4 and India Infrastructure Fund, which will become subject to the very people Modi has snubbed.

Consequently, China can simply summon all shareholders to vote on downgrading India’s 8.36 bln USD in contributions and 8% voting power, and recapitalise with several countries—Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and later Turkey—all whom are infinitely more conducive, necessary, and enthusiastic to complete the Silk Road pathway into Europe, rendering India obsolete.

Re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, eager to initiate the Iran-Pakistan Gas Pipeline, extended his hand in friendship to his regional ally.

“We hope that the Pakistani side would also more seriously pursue the necessary measures to complete the project,” Rouhani asserted in a Geo TV article.

[Speaker of the National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq] assured Rouhani that Pakistan would never take any step that could go against the interests of the brotherly country of Iran,” it continued.

By entrusting Iran and Pakistan, the AIIB gains more pragmatic members who can secure future investments for all shareholders.

Furthermore, these shareholders could also cite Article 31 of the AIIB Banking Charter, which reiterates the organisation’s international character:

The Bank, its President, officers and staff shall not interfere in the political affairs of any member, nor shall they be influenced in their decisions by the political character of the member concerned. Only economic considerations shall be relevant to their decisions. Such considerations shall be weighed impartially in order to achieve and carry out the purpose and functions of the Bank.

As Modi’s political affairs jeopardise the ‘international character’ of the Bank, President Jin and AIIB shareholders can vote to limit or exclude India from future projects—including pending ones.

Outlined in the AIIB 2017 Business Plan and Budget Summary, one institutional goal—Continuing Institution Building—was noted as follows:

[In] its second year of operation, the Bank will continue to refine, deepen and enhance its institutional and policy frameworks and ensure their effective implementation […] A key priority will be preparing a mechanism for independent investigation of complaints regarding AIIB non-compliance with its policies [and] institutional arrangements to give effect to the newly enhanced Policy on Prohibited Practices (PPP), helping to keep its operations corruption free.

Finally, assuming that India follows through with its promise to develop itself outside the context of the OBOR initiative, it would need to overcome critical shortcomings to do so.

Manoj Joshi of the New Delhi Observer Research Foundation explains why:

New Delhi has two problems — first, India’s own hopeless internal infrastructure [and second] it lacks the structure of capable state-owned enterprises which can execute projects in quick time. The 19.2-km Kamchiq tunnel in Uzbekistan built by the China Railway Tunnel Group was completed in 2016 in exactly three years, the 756-km Addis Ababa-Djibouti railway in five years by the China Railway Group […] random examples of the accomplishments of Chinese companies.

India’s chauvinist aspirations in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as Gilgit-Baltistan, have no place in the AIIB and will endanger its future operations and Modi’s refusal to accept the CPEC corridor will turn his country into a regional pariah as Pakistan paves the way to the Middle East.

Modi will suffer a vague geopolitical mire that nationalist sentiments cannot remedy. As the world around India builds with China, 1.4 billion Indian onlookers will face an uncertain future.

India cannot hide behind its 7.1% GDP growth with a falling business efficacy rating. By sabotaging its future in the OBOR, Modi’s demands for China’s pound of flesh will come at a terrible cost.

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Ukraine Wants Nuclear Weapons: Will the West Bow to the Regime in Kiev?

Efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation are one of the few issues on which the great powers agree, intending to continue to limit the spread of nuclear weapons and to prevent new entrants into the exclusive nuclear club.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


The former Ukrainian envoy to NATO, Major General Petro Garashchuk, recently stated in an interview with Obozrevatel TV:

“I’ll say it once more. We have the ability to develop and produce our own nuclear weapons, currently available in the world, such as the one that was built in the former USSR and which is now in independent Ukraine, located in the city of Dnipro (former Dnipropetrovsk) that can produce these kinds of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Neither the United States, nor Russia, nor China have produced a missile named Satan … At the same time, Ukraine does not have to worry about international sanctions when creating these nuclear weapons.”

The issue of nuclear weapons has always united the great powers, especially following the signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The decision to reduce the number of nuclear weapons towards the end of the Cold War went hand in hand with the need to prevent the spread of such weapons of mass destruction to other countries in the best interests of humanity. During the final stages of the Cold War, the scientific community expended great effort on impressing upon the American and Soviet leadership how a limited nuclear exchange would wipe out humanity. Moscow and Washington thus began START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) negotiations to reduce the risk of a nuclear winter. Following the dissolution of the USSR, the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances persuaded Ukraine to relinquish its nuclear weapons and accede to the NPT in exchange for security assurances from its signatories.

Ukraine has in recent years begun entertaining the possibility of returning to the nuclear fold, especially in light of North Korea’s recent actions. Kim Jong-un’s lesson seems to be that a nuclear deterrent remains the only way of guaranteeing complete protection against a regional hegemon. The situation in Ukraine, however, differs from that of North Korea, including in terms of alliances and power relations. Kiev’s government came into power as a result of a coup d’etat carried out by extremist nationalist elements who seek their inspiration from Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. The long arm of NATO has always been deeply involved in the dark machinations that led to Poroshenko’s ascendency to the Ukrainian presidency. From a geopolitical point of view, NATO’s operation in Ukraine (instigating a civil war in the wake of a coup) follows in the footsteps of what happened in Georgia. NATO tends to organize countries with existing anti-Russia sentiments to channel their Russophobia into concrete actions that aim to undermine Moscow. The war in the Donbass is a prime example.

However, Ukraine has been unable to subdue the rebels in the Donbass region, the conflict freezing into a stalemate and the popularity of the Kiev government falling as the population’s quality of life experiences a precipitous decline. The United States and the European Union have not kept their promises, leaving Poroshenko desperate and tempted to resort to provocations like the recent Kerch strait incident or such as those that are apparently already in the works, as recently reported by the DPR authorities.

The idea of Ukraine resuming its production of nuclear weapons is currently being floated by minor figures, but it could take hold in the coming months, especially if the conflict continues in its frozen state and Kiev becomes frustrated and desperate. The neoconservative wing of the American ruling elite, absolutely committed to the destruction of the Russian Federation, could encourage Kiev along this path, in spite of the incalculable risks involved. The EU, on the other hand, would likely be terrified at the prospect, which would also place it between a rock and a hard place. Kiev, on one side, would be able to extract from the EU much needed economic assistance in exchange for not going nuclear, while on the other side the neocons would be irresponsibly egging the Ukrainians on.

Moscow, if faced with such a possibility, would not just stand there. In spite of Russia having good relations with North Korea, it did not seem too excited at the prospect of having a nuclear-armed neighbor. With Ukraine, the response would be much more severe. A nuclear-armed Ukraine would be a red line for Moscow, just as Crimea and Sevastopol were. It is worth remembering the Russian president’s words when referring to the possibility of a NATO invasion of Crimea during the 2014 coup:

“We were ready to do it [putting Russia’s nuclear arsenal on alert]. Russian people live there, they are in danger, we cannot leave them. It was not us who committed to coup, it was the nationalists and people with extreme beliefs. I do not think this is actually anyone’s wish – to turn it into a global conflict.”

As Kiev stands on the precipice, it will be good for the neocons, the neoliberals and their European lackeys to consider the consequences of advising Kiev to jump or not. Giving the nuclear go-ahead to a Ukrainian leadership so unstable and detached from reality may just be the spark that sets off Armageddon.

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Mike Pompeo lays out his vision for American exceptionalism (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 158.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and International Affairs and Security Analyst via Moscow, Mark Sleboda take a look at Mike Pompeo’s shocking Brussels speech, where the U.S. Secretary of State took aim at the European Union and United Nations, citing such institutions as outdated and poorly managed, in need of a new dogma that places America at its epicenter.

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Speaking in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo unwittingly underscored why nobody takes the United States seriously on the international stage. Via The Council on Foreign Relations


In a disingenuous speech at the German Marshall Fund, Pompeo depicted the transactional and hypernationalist Trump administration as “rallying the noble nations of the world to build a new liberal order.” He did so while launching gratuitous attacks on the European Union, United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund (IMF)—pillars of the existing postwar order the United States did so much to create. He remained silent, naturally, on the body blows that the current administration has delivered to its erstwhile allies and partners, and to the institutions that once upon a time permitted the United States to legitimate rather than squander its international leadership.

In Pompeo’s telling, Donald J. Trump is simply seeking a return to the world that former Secretary of State George Marshall helped to create. In the decades after 1945, the United States “underwrote new institutions” and “entered into treaties to codify Western values of freedom and human rights.” So doing, the United States “won the Cold War” and—thanks to the late President George H. W. Bush, “we won the peace” that followed. “This is the type of leadership that President Trump is boldly reasserting.”

That leadership is needed because the United States “allowed this liberal order to begin to corrode” once the bipolar conflict ended. “Multilateralism has too often become viewed as an end unto itself,” Pompeo explained. “The more treaties we sign, the safer we supposedly are. The more bureaucrats we have, the better the job gets done.” What is needed is a multilateralism that once again places the nation-state front and center.

Leave aside for the moment that nobody actually believes what Pompeo alleges: that multilateralism should be an end in itself; that paper commitments are credible absent implementation, verification, and enforcement; or that the yardstick of success is how many bureaucrats get hired. What sensible people do believe is that multilateral cooperation is often (though not always) the best way for nations to advance their interests in an interconnected world of complicated problems. Working with others is typically superior to unilateralism, since going it alone leaves the United States with the choice of trying to do everything itself (with uncertain results) or doing nothing. Multilateralism also provides far more bang for the buck than President Trump’s favored approach to diplomacy, bilateralism.

Much of Pompeo’s address was a selective and tendentious critique of international institutions that depicts them as invariably antithetical to national sovereignty. Sure, he conceded, the European Union has “delivered a great deal of prosperity to the continent.” But it has since gone badly off track, as the “political wake-up call” of Brexit showed. All this raised a question in his mind: “Is the EU ensuring that the interests of countries and their citizens are placed before those of bureaucrats and Brussels?”

The answer, as one listener shouted out, is “Yes!” The secretary, like many U.S. conservative critics of European integration, is unaware that EU member states continue to hold the lion’s share of power in the bloc, which remains more intergovernmental than supranational. Pompeo seems equally unaware of how disastrously Brexit is playing out. With each passing day, the costs of this catastrophic, self-inflicted wound are clearer. In its quest for complete policy autonomy—on ostensible “sovereignty” grounds—the United Kingdom will likely have to accept, as the price for EU market access, an entire body of law and regulations that it will have no say in shaping. So much for advancing British sovereignty.

Pompeo similarly mischaracterizes the World Bank and IMF as having gone badly off track. “Today, these institutions often counsel countries who have mismanaged their economic affairs to impose austerity measures that inhibit growth and crowd out private sector actors.” This is an odd, hybrid critique. It combines a shopworn, leftist criticism from the 1990s—that the international financial institutions (IFIs) punish poor countries with structural adjustment programs—with the conservative accusation that the IFIs are socialist, big-government behemoths. Both are ridiculous caricatures. They ignore how much soul-searching the IFIs have done since the 1990s, as well as how focused they are on nurturing an enabling institutional environment for the private sector in partner countries.

Pompeo also aims his blunderbuss at the United Nations. He complains that the United Nations’ “peacekeeping missions drag on for decades, no closer to peace,” ignoring the indispensable role that blue helmets play in preventing atrocities, as well as a recent Government Accountability Office report documenting how cost-effective such operations are compared to U.S. troops. Similarly, Pompeo claims, “The UN’s climate-related treaties are viewed by some nations simply as a vehicle to redistribute wealth”—an accusation that is both unsubstantiated and ignores the urgent need to mobilize global climate financing to save the planet.

Bizarrely, Pompeo also turns his sights on the Organization of American States (OAS) and the African Union (AU), for alleged shortcomings. Has the OAS, he asks, done enough “to promote its four pillars of democracy, human rights, security, and economic development?” Um, no. Could that have something to do with the lack of U.S. leadership in the Americas on democracy and human rights? Yes. Might it have helped if the Trump administration had filled the position of assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs before October 15 of this year? Probably.

Equally puzzling is Pompeo’s single line riff on the AU. “In Africa, does the African Union advance the mutual interest of its nation-state members?” Presumably the answer is yes, or its members would be headed for the door. The AU continues to struggle in financing its budget, but it has made great strides since its founding in 2002 to better advance security, stability, and good governance on the continent.

“International bodies must help facilitate cooperation that bolsters the security and values of the free world, or they must be reformed or eliminated,” Pompeo declared. Sounds reasonable. But where is this “free world” of which the secretary speaks, and what standing does the United States today have to defend, much less reform it? In the two years since he took office, Donald Trump has never expressed any interest in defending the international order, much less “returning [the United States] to its traditional, central leadership role in the world,” as Pompeo claims. Indeed, the phrase “U.S. leadership” has rarely escaped Trump’s lips, and he has gone out of his way to alienate longstanding Western allies and partners in venues from NATO to the G7.

When he looks at the world, the president cares only about what’s in it for the United States (and, naturally, for him). That cynicism explains the president’s deafening silence on human rights violations and indeed his readiness to cozy up to strongmen and killers from Vladimir Putin to Rodrigo Duterte to Mohammed bin Salman to too many more to list. Given Trump’s authoritarian sympathies and instincts, Pompeo’s warnings about “Orwellian human rights violations” in China and “suppressed opposition voices” in Russia ring hollow.

“The central question that we face,” Pompeo asked in Brussels, “is the question of whether the system as currently configured, as it exists today—does it work? Does it work for all the people of the world?” The answer, of course, is not as well as it should, and not for nearly enough of them. But if the secretary is seeking to identify impediments to a better functioning multilateral system, he can look to his left in his next Cabinet meeting.

“Principled realism” is the label Pompeo has given Trump’s foreign policy. Alas, it betrays few principles and its connection to reality is tenuous. The president has abandoned any pursuit of universal values, and his single-minded obsession to “reassert our sovereignty” (as Pompeo characterizes it) is actually depriving the United States of joining with others to build the prosperous, secure, and sustainable world that Americans want.

“Bad actors have exploited our lack of leadership for their own gain,” the secretary of state declared in Belgium. “This is the poisoned fruit of American retreat.” How true. Pompeo’s next sentence—“President Trump is determined to reverse that”—was less persuasive.

 

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Russia calls on US to put a leash on Petro Poroshenko

The West’s pass for Mr. Poroshenko may blow up in NATO’s and the US’s face if the Ukrainian President tries to start a war with Russia.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Russia called on Washington not to ignore the Poroshenko directives creating an active military buildup along the Ukrainian-Donbass frontier, this buildup consisting of Ukrainian forces and right-wing ultranationalists, lest it “trigger the implementation of a bloody scenario”, according to a Dec 11 report from TASS.

The [Russian] Embassy [to the US] urges the US State Department to recognize the presence of US instructors in the zone of combat actions, who are involved in a command and staff and field training of Ukraine’s assault airborne brigades. “We expect that the US will bring to reason its proteges. Their aggressive plans are not only doomed to failure but also run counter to the statements of the administration on its commitment to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine by political and diplomatic means,” the statement said.

This warning came after Eduard Basurin, the deputy defense minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic noted that the Ukrainian army was massing troops and materiel for a possible large-scale offensive at the Mariupol section of the contact line in Donbass. According to Basurin, this action is expected to take place on 14 December. TASS offered more details:

According to the DPR’s reconnaissance data, Ukrainian troops plan to seize the DPR’s Novoazovsky and Temanovsky districts and take control over the border section with Russia. The main attack force of over 12,000 servicemen has been deployed along the contact line near the settlements of Novotroitskoye, Shirokino, and Rovnopol. Moreover, more than 50 tanks, 40 multiple missile launcher systems, 180 artillery systems and mortars have been reportedly pulled to the area, Basurin added. Besides, 12 BM-30 Smerch heavy multiple rocket launchers have been sent near Volodarsky.

The DPR has warned about possible provocations plotted by Ukrainian troops several times. Thus, in early December, the DPR’s defense ministry cited reconnaissance data indicating that the Ukrainian military was planning to stage an offensive and deliver an airstrike. At a Contact Group meeting on December 5, DPR’s Foreign Minister Natalia Nikonorova raised the issue of Kiev’s possible use of chemical weapons in the conflict area.

This is a continuation of the reported buildup The Duran reported in this article linked here, and it is a continuation of the full-scale drama that started with the Kerch Strait incident, which itself appears to have been staged by Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko. Following that incident, the president was able to get about half of Ukraine placed under a 30-day period of martial law, citing “imminent Russian aggression.”

President Poroshenko is arguably a dangerous man. He appears to be desperate to maintain a hold on power, though his approval numbers and support is abysmally low in Ukraine. While he presents himself as a hero, agitating for armed conflict with Russia and simultaneously interfering in the affairs of the Holy Eastern Orthodox Church, he is actually one of the most dangerous leaders the world has to contend with, precisely because he is unfit to lead.

Such men and women are dangerous because their desperation makes them short-sighted, only concerned about their power and standing.

An irony about this matter is that President Poroshenko appears to be exactly what the EuroMaidan was “supposed” to free Ukraine of; that is, a stooge puppet leader that marches to orders from a foreign power and does nothing for the improvement of the nation and its citizens.

The ouster of Viktor Yanukovich was seen as the sure ticket to “freedom from Russia” for Ukraine, and it may well have been that Mr. Yanukovich was an incompetent leader. However, his removal resulted in a tryannical regíme coming into power, that resulting in the secession of two Ukrainian regions into independent republics and a third secession of strategically super-important Crimea, who voted in a referendum to rejoin Russia.

While this activity was used by the West to try to bolster its own narrative that Russia remains the evil henchman in Europe, the reality of life in Ukraine doesn’t match this allegation at all. A nation that demonstrates such behavior shows that there are many problems, and the nature of these secessions points at a great deal of fear from Russian-speaking Ukrainian people about the government that is supposed to be their own.

President Poroshenko presents a face to the world that the West is apparently willing to support, but the in-country approval of this man as leader speaks volumes. The West’s blind support of him “against Russia” may be one of the most tragic errors yet in Western foreign policy.

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