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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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Russia’s Lukoil Halts Oil Swaps In Venezuela After U.S. Sanctions

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades.

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Via Oilprice.com


Litasco, the international trading arm of Russia’s second-biggest oil producer Lukoil, stopped its oil swaps deals with Venezuela immediately after the U.S. imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s oil industry and state oil firm PDVSA, Lukoil’s chief executive Vagit Alekperov said at an investment forum in Russia.

Russia, which stands by Nicolas Maduro in the ongoing Venezuelan political crisis, has vowed to defend its interests in Venezuela—including oil interests—within the international law using “all mechanisms available to us.”

Because of Moscow’s support for Maduro, the international community and market analysts are closely watching the relationship of Russian oil companies with Venezuela.

“Litasco does not work with Venezuela. Before the restrictions were imposed, Litasco had operations to deliver oil products and to sell oil. There were swap operations. Today there are none, since the sanctions were imposed,” Lukoil’s Alekperov said at the Russian Investment Forum in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

Another Russian oil producer, Gazprom Neft, however, does not see major risks for its oil business in Venezuela, the company’s chief executive officer Alexander Dyukov said at the same event.

Gazprom Neft has not supplied and does not supply oil products to Venezuela needed to dilute the thick heavy Venezuelan oil, Dyukov said, noting that the Latin American country hadn’t approached Gazprom Neft for possible supply of oil products for diluents.

Under the new wide-ranging U.S. sanctions, Venezuela will not be able to import U.S. naphtha which it has typically used to dilute its heavy crude grades. Analysts expect that a shortage of diluents could accelerate beginning this month the already steadily declining Venezuelan oil production and exports.

Venezuela’s crude oil production plunged by another 59,000 bpd from December 2018 to stand at just 1.106 million bpd in January 2019, OPEC’s secondary sources figures showed in the cartel’s closely watched Monthly Oil Market Report (MOMR) this week.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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Germany Pulls Rank on Macron and American Energy Blackmail

Why France’s Macron, at the last minute, attempted to undermine the project by placing stiffer regulations is a curious question.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


It was billed politely as a Franco-German “compromise” when the EU balked at adopting a Gas Directive which would have undermined the Nord Stream 2 project with Russia.

Nevertheless, diplomatic rhetoric aside, Berlin’s blocking last week of a bid by French President Emmanuel Macron to impose tougher regulations on the Nord Stream 2 gas project was without doubt a firm rebuff to Paris.

Macron wanted to give the EU administration in Brussels greater control over the new pipeline running from Russia to Germany. But in the end the so-called “compromise” was a rejection of Macron’s proposal, reaffirming Germany in the lead role of implementing the Nord Stream 2 route, along with Russia.

The $11-billion, 1,200 kilometer pipeline is due to become operational at the end of this year. Stretching from Russian mainland under the Baltic Sea, it will double the natural gas supply from Russia to Germany. The Berlin government and German industry view the project as a vital boost to the country’s ever-robust economy. Gas supplies will also be distributed from Germany to other European states. Consumers stand to gain from lower prices for heating homes and businesses.

Thus Macron’s belated bizarre meddling was rebuffed by Berlin. A rebuff was given too to the stepped-up pressure from Washington for the Nord Stream 2 project to be cancelled. Last week, US ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell and two other American envoys wrote an op-ed for Deutsche Welle in which they accused Russia of trying to use “energy blackmail” over Europe’s geopolitics.

Why France’s Macron, at the last minute, attempted to undermine the project by placing stiffer regulations is a curious question. Those extra regulations if they had been imposed would have potentially made the Russian gas supply more expensive. As it turns out, the project will now go-ahead without onerous restrictions.

In short, Macron and the spoiling tactics of Washington, along with EU states hostile to Russia, Poland and the Baltic countries, have been put in their place by Germany and its assertion of national interests of securing economical and abundant gas supply from Russia. Other EU member states that backed Berlin over Nord Stream 2 were Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Greece and the Netherlands.

Washington’s claims that Nord Stream 2 would give Russia leverage of Europe’s security have been echoed by Poland and the Baltic states. Poland, and non-EU Ukraine, stand to lose out billions of dollars-worth of transit fees. Such a move, however, is the prerogative of Germany and Russia to find a more economical mode of supply. Besides, what right has Ukraine to make demands on a bilateral matter that is none of its business? Kiev’s previous bad faith over not paying gas bills to Russia disbars it from reasonable opinion.

Another factor is the inherent Russophobia of Polish and Baltic politicians who view everything concerning Russia through a prism of paranoia.

For the Americans, it is obviously a blatant case of seeking to sell their own much more expensive natural gas to Europe’s giant energy market – in place of Russia’s product. Based on objective market figures, Russia is the most competitive supplier to Europe. The Americans are therefore trying to snatch a strategic business through foul means of propaganda and political pressure. Ironically, the US German ambassador Richard Grenell and the other American envoys wrote in their recent oped: “Europe must retain control of its energy security.”

Last month, Grenell threatened German and European firms involved in the construction of Nord Stream 2 that they could face punitive American sanctions in the future. Evidently, it is the US side that is using “blackmail” to coerce others into submission, not Russia.

Back to Macron. What was he up to in his belated spoiling tactics over Nord Stream 2 and in particular the attempted problems being leveled for Germany if the extra regulations had been imposed?

It seems implausible that Macron was suddenly finding a concern for Poland and the Baltic states in their paranoia over alleged Russian invasion.

Was Macron trying to garner favors from the Trump administration? His initial obsequious rapport with Trump has since faded from the early days of Macron’s presidency in 2017. By doing Washington’s bidding to undermine the Nord Stream 2 project was Macron trying to ingratiate himself again?

The contradictions regarding Macron are replete. He is supposed to be a champion of “ecological causes”. A major factor in Germany’s desire for the Nord Stream 2 project is that the increased gas supply will reduce the European powerhouse’s dependence on dirty fuels of coal, oil and nuclear power. By throwing up regulatory barriers, Macron is making it harder for Germany and Europe to move to cleaner sources of energy that the Russian natural gas represents.

Also, if Macron had succeeded in imposing tougher regulations on the Nord Stream 2 project it would have inevitably increased the costs to consumers for gas bills. This is at a time when his government is being assailed by nationwide Yellow Vest protests over soaring living costs, in particular fuel-price hikes.

A possible factor in Macron’s sabotage bid in Germany’s Nord Stream 2 plans was his chagrin over Berlin’s rejection of his much-vaunted reform agenda for the Eurozone bloc within the EU. Despite Macron’s very public amity with Chancellor Angela Merkel, Berlin has continually knocked back the French leader’s ambitions for reform.

It’s hard to discern what are the real objectives of Macron’s reforms. But they seem to constitute a “banker’s charter”. Many eminent German economists have lambasted his plans, which they say will give more taxpayer-funded bailouts to insolvent banks. They say Macron is trying to move the EU further away from the social-market economy than the bloc already has moved.

What Macron, an ex-Rothschild banker, appears to be striving for is a replication of his pro-rich, anti-worker policies that he is imposing on France, and for these policies to be extended across the Eurozone. Berlin is not buying it, realizing such policies will further erode the social fabric. This could be the main reason why Macron tried to use the Nord Stream 2 project as leverage over Berlin.

In the end, Macron and Washington – albeit working for different objectives – were defeated in their attempts to sabotage the emerging energy trade between Germany, Europe and Russia. Nord Stream 2, as with Russia’s Turk Stream to the south of Europe, seems inevitable by sheer force of natural partnership.

On this note, the Hungarian government’s comments this week were apt. Budapest accused some European leaders and the US of “huge hypocrisy” in decrying association with Russia over energy trade. Macron has previously attended an economics forum in St Petersburg, and yet lately has sought to “blackmail” and disrupt Germany over its trade plans with Russia.

As for the Americans, their arrant hypocrisy is beyond words. As well as trying to dictate to Europe about “market principles” and “energy security”, it was reported this week that Washington is similarly demanding Iraq to end its import of natural gas from neighboring Iran.

Iraq is crippled by electricity and power shortages because of the criminal war that the US waged on that country from 2003-2011 which destroyed much of the country’s infrastructure. Iraq critically needs Iranian gas supplies to keep the lights and fans running. Yet, here we have the US now dictating to Iraq to end its lifeline import of Iranian fuel in order to comply with the Trump administration’s sanctions against Tehran. Iraq is furious at the latest bullying interference by Washington in its sovereign affairs.

The hypocrisy of Washington and elitist politicians like Emmanuel Macron has become too much to stomach. Maybe Germany and others are finally realizing who the charlatans are.

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Russia Readies Own Web To Survive Global Internet Shutdown

Russia is simultaneously building a mass censorship system similar to that seen in China.

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Via Zerohedge


Russian authorities and major telecom operators are preparing to disconnect the country from the world wide web as part of an exercise to prepare for future cyber attacks, Russian news agency RosBiznesKonsalting (RBK) reported last week.

The purpose of the exercise is to develop a threat analysis and provide feedback to a proposed law introduced in the Russian Parliament last December.

The draft law, called the Digital Economy National Program, requires Russian internet service providers (ISP) to guarantee the independence of the Russian Internet (Runet) in the event of a foreign attack to sever the country’s internet from the world wide web.

Telecom operators (MegaFon, VimpelCom (Beeline brand), MTS, Rostelecom and others) will have to introduce the “technical means” to re-route all Russian internet traffic to exchange points approved by the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor), Russia’s federal executive body responsible for censorship in media and telecommunications.

Roskomnazor will observe all internet traffic and make sure data between Russian users stays within the country’s borders, and is not re-routed abroad.

The exercise is expected to occur before April 1, as Russian authorities have not given exact dates.

The measures described in the law include Russia constructing its internet system, known as Domain Name System (DNS), so it can operate independently from the rest of the world.

Across the world, 12 companies oversee the root servers for DNS and none are located in Russia. However, there are copies of Russia’s core internet address book inside the country suggesting its internet could keep operating if the US cut it off.

Ultimately, the Russian government will require all domestic traffic to pass through government-controlled routing points. These hubs will filter traffic so that data sent between Russians internet users work seamlessly, but any data to foreign computers would be rejected.

Besides protecting its internet, Russia is simultaneously building a mass censorship system similar to that seen in China.

“What Russia wants to do is to bring those router points that handle data entering or exiting the country within its borders and under its control- so that it can then pull up the drawbridge, as it were, to external traffic if it’s under threat – or if it decides to censor what outside information people can access.

China’s firewall is probably the world’s best known censorship tool and it has become a sophisticated operation. It also polices its router points, using filters and blocks on keywords and certain websites and redirecting web traffic so that computers cannot connect to sites the state does not wish Chinese citizens to see,” said BBC.

The Russian government started preparations for creating its internet several years ago. Russian officials expect 95% of all internet traffic locally by next year.

As for Russia unplugging its internet from the rest of the world for an upcoming training exercise, well, this could potentially anger Washington because it is one less sanction that can keep Moscow contained.

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