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Merkel and Macron call for renewed dialogue on Ukraine as Trump sends Kiev lethal arms

An escalation in shooting in Donbass has Berlin and Pairs again blaming Russia for Ukraine’s war, while the White House sends the Kiev regime more weapons




(Forbes) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her French counterpart Emmanuel Macron called on the Russian government to do something about the recent escalation of rebel fighting in the Donbass region of east Ukraine on Friday.  The two requested both Russian backed separatists and the Ukrainian government get active on a prisoner exchange program, a move Merkel believes might ease tensions and help move the beleaguered Minsk peace agreement forward.

The Minsk Accord has had two rewrites and has gone nowhere fast. For their part, the Russian government has to stop supplying arms and logistical support to ethnic Russians and other rebels joining a fight for autonomy from Kiev. Ukraine’s government has also had to honor a regional vote in Donbass and Luhansk, but they have yet to do that. If such a vote were to be held, both would likely vote for full autonomy. As it is, at least one state in East Ukraine is now using the ruble instead of the Ukrainian hryvnia.

From Merkel and Macron’s joint statement yesterday:

“As an expression of their respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Chancellor Merkel and President Macron reaffirm the need for full implementation of the Minsk agreements. There is no alternative to an exclusively peaceful solution to the conflict.”

The U.S. government is looking to provide lethal military support to those fighting against the separatists in Donbass, setting Washington up for another defacto proxy war with the Russians.

The most famous U.S. vs Russia proxy war was the war in Afghanistan in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The war is largely seen as the brainchild of foreign policy chessboarder Zbigniew Brzezinski who has stated that  supporting anti-Soviet rebels there — known as the mujahideen (now part of the Taliban) — would draw the Soviet Army in for a fight.

Previously, President Barack Obama was adamant on staying out of a firefight with Russians in Ukraine. Senator John McCain, arguably the most vehemently anti-Russian figure in the Senate and a frequent voter of anti-Russian bills, promoted lethal military support for Ukraine every chance he can.

Merkel and Macron also “demanded” further opening of infrastructure between Donbass and Luhansk, another region sucked into the Russia-Ukraine imbroglio. The civil unrest there has led to sectoral sanctions against Russia, though the latest round of sanctions has more to do with Putin’s supposed election meddling in 2016 and his support for Syrian leader Bashar Assad, a long-time target of Washington’s regime change policy in the Middle East.

On Thursday, December 21, Russia’s official state media reported that Putin and Merkel discussed the situation in Donbass following Russia’s withdrawal from ceasefire coordination committee between Moscow and Kiev.

Putin told Merkel that “the Ukrainian authorities for a long time through various restrictions and provocations purposefully hampered the conditions” of the Russian government in the Donbass. A Christmas truce pact has been agreed upon, at the very least.

Activists have been lobbying Kiev against elections since 2014. The placards read: “Not voting November 2nd”, “No illegal elections on Donbass”, “Ukrainian Donetsk, Ukrainian peace.” The elections are a mandatory piece of the Minsk Accord. (AP Photo/Sergei Chuzavkov)

Last week, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that Russian diplomatic observers have vacated the war zone.

Russia and Ukraine used to be political allies.

Ukraine was the most important country member of the U.S.S.R. The two share much in common. It is the only large former Soviet state that shares the same religion, Orthodox Christianity.  Other larger Soviet republics, namely Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, are majority Muslim.

All hell broke loose between Russia and Ukraine after the 2014 so-called “Euromaidan” protest against president Viktor Yanukovych. The Russians discovered that U.S. officials were discussing who should lead Ukraine after Yanukovych. They liked Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who ultimately became the prime minister and ushered in an austerity program so unpopular that he was eventually — and somewhat literally — lifted out of parliament.

When Yatsenyuk took over, it is believed that the Russians convinced the autonomous republic of Crimea, a southeastern peninsula in the Black Sea, to hold a referendum on secession. The referendum to secede from Ukraine was held on March 14, 2014. A large majority voted in favor of leaving Ukraine. Russia officially annexed it two days later.

The United Nations does not consider Crimea part of Russia.

Europeans have been brought on board to mediate the ongoing, bitter divorce between Russia and Ukraine, now heading into its fourth year.

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Constantinople: Ukrainian Church leader is now uncanonical

October 12 letter proclaims Metropolitan Onuphry as uncanonical and tries to strong-arm him into acquiescing through bribery and force.

Seraphim Hanisch



The pressure in Ukraine kept ratcheting up over the last few days, with a big revelation today that Patriarch Bartholomew now considers Metropolitan Onuphy “uncanonical.” This news was published on 6 December by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church (running under the Moscow Patriarchate).

This assessment marks a complete 180-degree turn by the leader of the Orthodox Patriarchate of Constantinople, and it further embitters the split that has developed to quite a major row between this church’s leadership and the Moscow Patriarchate.

OrthoChristian reported this today (we have added emphasis):

A letter of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople to His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine was published yesterday by a hierarch of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in which the Patriarch informed the Metropolitan that his title and position is, in fact, uncanonical.

This assertion represents a negation of the position held by Pat. Bartholomew himself until April of this year, when the latest stage in the Ukrainian crisis began…

The same letter was independently published by the Greek news agency Romfea today as well.

It is dated October 12, meaning it was written just one day after Constantinople made its historic decision to rehabilitate the Ukrainian schismatics and rescind the 1686 document whereby the Kiev Metropolitanate was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, thereby, in Constantinople’s view, taking full control of Ukraine.

In the letter, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that after the council, currently scheduled for December 15, he will no longer be able to carry his current title of “Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine.”

The Patriarch immediately opens his letter with Constantinople’s newly-developed historical claim about the jurisdictional alignment of Kiev: “You know from history and from indisputable archival documents that the holy Metropolitanate of Kiev has always belonged to the jurisdiction of the Mother Church of Constantinople…”

Constantinople has done an about-face on its position regarding Ukraine in recent months, given that it had previously always recognized the Metropolitan of Kiev and All Ukraine of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate as the sole canonical primate in Ukraine.

…The bulk of the Patriarch’s letter is a rehash of Constantinople’s historical and canonical arguments, which have already been laid out and discussed elsewhere. (See also here and here). Pat. Bartholomew also writes that Constantinople stepped into the Ukrainian ecclesiastical sphere as the Russian Church had not managed to overcome the schisms that have persisted for 30 years.

It should be noted that the schisms began and have persisted precisely as anti-Russian movements and thus the relevant groups refused to accept union with the Russian Church.

Continuing, Pat. Bartholomew informs Met. Onuphry that his position and title are uncanonical:

Addressing you as ‘Your Eminence the Metropolitan of Kiev’ as a form of economia [indulgence/condescension—OC] and mercy, we inform you that after the elections for the primate of the Ukrainian Church by a body that will consist of clergy and laity, you will not be able ecclesiologically and canonically to bear the title of Metropolitan of Kiev, which, in any case, you now bear in violation of the described conditions of the official documents of 1686.

He also entreats Met. Onuphry to “promptly and in a spirit of harmony and unity” participate, with the other hierarchs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, in the founding council of the new Ukrainian church that Constantinople is planning to create, and in the election of its primate.

The Constantinople head also writes that he “allows” Met. Onuphry to be a candidate for the position of primate.

He further implores Met. Onuphry and the UOC hierarchy to communicate with Philaret Denisenko, the former Metropolitan of Kiev, and Makary Maletich, the heads of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” and the schismatic “Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church” respectively—both of which have been subsumed into Constantinople—but whose canonical condemnations remain in force for the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

The hierarchs of the Serbian and Polish Churches have also officially rejected the rehabilitation of the Ukrainian schismatics.

Pat. Bartholomew concludes expressing his confidence that Met. Onuphry will decide to heal the schism through the creation of a new church in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Orthodox Church under Metropolitan Onuphry’s leadership is recognized as the sole canonical Orthodox jurisdiction in Ukraine by just about every other canonical Orthodox Jurisdiction besides Constantinople. Even NATO member Albania, whose expressed reaction was “both sides are wrong for recent actions” still does not accept the canonicity of the “restored hierarchs.”

In fact, about the only people in this dispute that seem to be in support of the “restored” hierarchs, Filaret and Makary, are President Poroshenko, Patriarch Bartholomew, Filaret and Makary… and NATO.

While this letter was released to the public eye yesterday, the nearly two months that Metropolitan Onuphry has had to comply with it have not been helped in any way by the actions of both the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Ukrainian government.

Priests of the Canonical Church in Ukraine awaiting interrogation by the State authorities

For example, in parallel reports released on December 6th, the government is reportedly accusing canonical priests in Ukraine of treason because they are carrying and distributing a brochure entitled (in English): The Ukrainian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State. The Attitude Towards the Conflict in Donbass and to the Church Schism. Questions and Answers.

In a manner that would do any American liberal proud, these priests are being accused of inciting religious hatred, though really all they are doing is offering an explanation for the situation in Ukraine as it exists.

A further piece also released yesterday notes that the Ukrainian government rehabilitated an old Soviet-style technique of performing “inspections of church artifacts” at the Pochaev Lavra. This move appears to be both intended to intimidate the monastics who are living there now, who are members of the canonical Church, as well as preparation for an expected forcible takeover by the new “united Church” that is under creation. The brotherhood characterized the inspections in this way:

The brotherhood of the Pochaev Lavra previously characterized the state’s actions as communist methods of putting pressure on the monastery and aimed at destroying monasticism.

Commenting on the situation with the Pochaev Lavra, His Eminence Archbishop Clement of Nizhyn and Prilusk, the head of the Ukrainian Church’s Information-Education Department, noted:

This is a formal raiding, because no reserve ever built the Pochaev Lavra, and no Ministry of Culture ever invested a single penny to restoring the Lavra, and the state has done nothing to preserve the Lavra in its modern form. The state destroyed the Lavra, turned it into a psychiatric hospital, a hospital for infectious diseases, and so on—the state has done nothing more. And now it just declares that it all belongs to the state. No one asked the Church, the people that built it. When did the Lavra and the land become state property? They belonged to the Church from time immemorial.

With the massive pressure both geopolitically and ecclesiastically building in Ukraine almost by the day, it is anyone’s guess what will happen next.

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Ukrainian leadership is a party of war, and it will continue as long as they’re in power – Putin

“We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.





Via RT…

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has branded the Ukrainian leadership a “party of war” which would continue fueling conflicts while they stay in power, giving the recent Kerch Strait incident as an example.

“When I look at this latest incident in the Black Sea, all what’s happening in Donbass – everything indicates that the current Ukrainian leadership is not interested in resolving this situation at all, especially in a peaceful way,” Putin told reporters during a media conference in the aftermath of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

This is a party of war and as long as they stay in power, all such tragedies, all this war will go on.

The Kiev authorities are craving war primarily for two reasons – to rip profits from it, and to blame all their own domestic failures on it and actions of some sort of “aggressors.”

“As they say, for one it’s war, for other – it’s mother. That’s reason number one why the Ukrainian government is not interested in a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Putin stated.

Second, you can always use war to justify your failures in economy, social policy. You can always blame things on an aggressor.

This approach to statecraft by the Ukrainian authorities deeply concerns Russia’s President. “We care about Ukraine because Ukraine is our neighbor,” Putin said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been soaring after the incident in the Kerch Strait. Last weekend three Ukrainian Navy ships tried to break through the strait without seeking the proper permission from Russia. Following a tense stand-off and altercation with Russia’s border guard, the vessels were seized and their crews detained over their violation of the country’s border.

While Kiev branded the incident an act of “aggression” on Moscow’s part, Russia believes the whole Kerch affair to be a deliberate “provocation” which allowed Kiev to declare a so-called “partial” martial law ahead of Ukraine’s presidential election.

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When Putin Met Bin Sally

Another G20 handshake for the history books.



Via Zerohedge

In the annals of handshake photo-ops, we just may have a new winner (much to the delight of oil bulls who are looking at oil treading $50 and contemplating jumping out of the window).

Nothing but sheer joy, delight and friendship…

…but something is missing…

Meanwhile, earlier…

Zoomed in…

And again.

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