Eric Zuesse, originally posted at The Saker
News has only gradually seeped out that the Minsk II agreement, to find a peaceful way to end the war between Ukraine and its breakaway far eastern Donbass region, collapsed on March 26th. It was an agreement which Francois Hollande of France and Angela Merkel of Germany had established with Vladimir Putin of Russia, on 11 February 2015, in Minsk, Belarus. U.S. President Barack Obama, the founder of today’s Ukraine, had opposed that Agreement, because he was encouraging the then-President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, militarily to retake both Donbass and Crimea by force — or at least to attempt to do so. The “Minsk Protocol” had set up a “contact group” of representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the OSCE (a peace-maintenance organization consisting of virtually all countries in the northern hemisphere). The agreement’s purpose was to establish direct talks between representatives of Ukraine and representatives of Donbass. Whereas Donbass was reluctantly willing to have such talks, Ukraine never was willing, at all, and signed the original document only in order to be able to qualify for more loans from The West (so as to be able to continue bombing Donbass). Ukraine bombed and has continued virtually ceaselessly to shell Donbass to conquer it, and the far-right in Ukraine control the country and have consistently threatened to assassinate Ukraine’s President if he signs any agreement to establish peace-talks with Donbass. So, the President of Ukraine has been trapped between, on the one hand, the U.S. President and Ukraine’s rabidly anti-Russian nazis — both of whom want the war to continue — and, on the other, Ukraine’s public (who overwhelmingly want the war to end).
The collapse of the Minsk process has been hidden from the publics in The West, but Russia’s Government provided a description of it on April 2nd:
The first written protocol with clear-cut tasks for the future was signed by Donetsk, Lugansk, Kiev and the OSCE on March 11 with the personal participation of the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Russian Presidential Executive Office Dmitry Kozak and Head of the Ukrainian Presidential Office Andrei Yermak.
Regrettably, strange things began to happen after the initial breakthrough. During telephone conversations, Berlin and Paris offered different excuses to hedge its support for the Kiev-Donbass agreements. Kiev also renounced these agreements at the Contact Group meeting on March 26. One gets the impression that the Ukrainian negotiators were put up to it. This rollback destroys the initial positive momentum.
Four days later, on March 30, the foreign ministers of German and France made an extensive statement with yet another helping of unfounded accusations against Donbass. They blamed it.
On March 23rd, Belarus’s Belta News headlined that the “Next meeting of trilateral contact group on Ukraine [is] to be replaced with video conference” (because of the coronavirus). The video conference was scheduled for March 23-25, but was held on March 26th, and promptly produced only mutual recriminations.
The United States Government, and especially its Deep State, are very opposed to any such peace-process. Jeff Bezos, a key person in the Deep State, owns the Washington Post, which reliably propagandizes for America’s takeover of any country that isn’t already a U.S. vassal-nation — especially Russia — and therefore for sanctions and other aggressions in order to attain such expansions of the U.S. empire. On March 19th it headlined “Ukraine’s Zelensky wants to end a war in the east. His problem: No one agrees how to do it.” Of course, it reported only from the U.S. side, and clearly against the Russian side. It opened: “KYIV, Ukraine — Oleg Sugorey’s first arrest in eastern Ukraine by Russian-backed separatist agents was terrifying,” and the newspaper blamed Russia for that “terror,” without even saying why it was supposed to be Russia’s fault. The reality was the opposite: the terrorism had always been by Obama’s Ukrainian regime against the residents in the area of Ukraine that had voted 90+% for the democratically elected Ukrainian President whom Obama had overthrown. Propaganda like this (and the credulous Western publics trusting it) makes extremely difficult any Ukrainian President’s attempt to end peacefully Ukraine’s war against Donbass (the region of Ukraine that had voted more than 90% for President Viktor Yanukovych, the Ukrainian neutralist, whom Obama overthrew in a coup). That propaganda is politically crushing. The recently elected President of Ukraine, Volodmyr Zelensky, who (unlike his predecessor, who had promised to retake both Donbass and Crimea by force) was seeking to end the war by compromise. Whereas Zelensky’s predecessor had championed the war publicly, and was enthusiastically cheered in the U.S. Congress for doing so, Zelensky was mocked in this ‘news’-report, as being “President Volodymyr Zelensky, a political dilettante and former TV comedian.” The prospect of a peace-agreement was described there as constituting a concession to an evil Moscow: “No deal can happen without agreement on some kind of special self-governing status for the regions, but some fear that is just what Moscow wants — an opportunity to retain influence and try to destabilize Ukraine.” To establish peace on Russia’s border was treated as being aggression by Moscow against Kiev. Only a fool could consider that as “news reporting,” but, after all, the public who read such reports trust them, and this is the real problem.
That Jeff Bezos “report” went on:
Bohdan Bondarenko, an analyst with the Center of Policy and Legal Reform in Ukraine, said there was no consensus in the country on what status the separatist regions would have and how to reintegrate them.
“Zelensky has a real desire to solve the problem. Let’s imagine that Zelensky gets agreement with Putin. Ukrainian society will not accept it. Our society will not agree. Society is very divided,” Bondarenko said.
But he said Russia is losing its appetite to support Donbas and would prefer to see it returned.
“They don’t need this Donbas. It’s costing them a lot of money. At this point, Donbas is more negative for Putin then [than] positive. For Russia, the best thing would be if Donbas was inside Ukraine but with a special status. It would be an instrument for destabilization.”
Not reported by the Washington Post there, was who funded the Center of Policy and Legal Reform in Ukraine — whom it actually represented. Its main funders included not only the U.S. Government’s USAID (CIA-affiliated), but George Soros’s Open Society Institute, and International Renaissance Foundation, and the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine, and other agencies of U.S. imperialism, such as the European Commission. All of it is anti-Russia. That ‘news’-report was propaganda.
And it’s not just the ‘news’-media that want the war to continue; so too do the well-funded academics and other ‘experts’.
The Warsaw Institute has an office in anti-Russian Poland but is actually based in the United States, as a shell nonprofit in Richmond Virginia and bank-account in Winston-Salem North Carolina, and no publicly available financials other than “0,” so that supposedly they don’t pay anybody for anything. On March 31st, they headlined “Kozak-Yermak Plan on Donbas: A Trap for Ukraine”, and reported that
At the Contact Group’s meeting, on March 11, in Minsk, Belarus, Russia’s presidential envoy, Dmitry Kozak, and the Ukrainian presidential envoy, Andriy Yermak, agreed to establish what they named the Consultative Council, or a platform that would officially cast the Ukrainian side and Russia’s proxies in Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia is positioned officially as an impartial observer, and so are Germany and France, while the OSCE would mediate in talks. Once it takes effect, the solution will mean a great deal for the Kremlin. Namely, Kyiv will pull out of its current rule of not holding direct talks with the separatists. …
Though agreed back on March 11, the documents were kept secret, pending the final approval that was expected on March 25 but did not emerge. However, the documents’ full text leaked to the Ukrainian media, sparking general turmoil. Ukraine’s opposition parties have accused Zelensky and Yermak of betrayal, while some presidential officials are against holding talks with separatists. While Yermak defended the plan, Zelensky remained silent. Another factor is the fast-moving coronavirus crisis, with the entire case having been put aside amid concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. The March 25 did not take place, while, during a videoconference, the Ukrainian negotiating team said it would not confirm the deal, at least for the time being. Although Zelensky bought some time, it is not sure whether he will pull out of the controversial agreement. With the crisis and plummeting prices, the Ukrainian leader is setting eyes on tremendous success, and he is still dreaming of bringing peace back to Donbas. This is also what most Ukrainians still want to materialize. But in order to push constitutional amendments, the president’s party needs to find a credible ally. What may seem obvious choice is Medvedchuk’s Opposition Platform-For Life, whose leader is Putin’s top key ally in Ukraine. On the eve of the Yermak-Kozak meeting in Minsk, a delegation of Ukrainian opposition deputies, headed by Medvedchuk, paid a visit to Russia’s State Duma and the Kremlin. While in Moscow, the pro-Russian politician put forward some ideas on behalf of his country’s parliament that yet go far beyond his powers. But Ukraine’s president seems to have turned a blind eye on Medvedchuk’s proposals as it needs to side with pro-Kremlin deputies to gain a majority in the Verkhovna Rada. And yet there is no doubt that this will be a costly business for the president.
Zelensky had won 73% of the vote in Ukraine’s 21 April 2019 Presidential election because he was promising to end peacefully the war between Ukraine and Donbass. Back until 19 September 2014, all of the propaganda in the U.S. and its vassal nations had alleged that the problem in Donbass was that Russia was trying to ‘seize’ that land, in order to expand Russia (already the world’s largest country), and on that day I headlined “Russia’s Leader Putin Rejects Ukrainian Separatists’ Aim to Become Part of Russia” and submitted this news-report to all news-media in The West, but it was published by only a few non-mainstream or ‘alternative news’ ones, because such truth was prohibited by all of The West’s mainstream ‘news’-media. It disproved the ‘news’-reports that had been issued by all of The West’s mainstream ‘news’-media, so they refused to publish it. This truth — that on 19 September 2014 Putin declined Donbass’s request to become part of Russia — has never yet been published in the mainstream Western media, and therefore new lies needed to be created by Western Governments and media in order to continue to ‘justify’ Ukraine’s ongoing war against Donbass.
When Obama seized Ukraine in February 2014 so that ultimately U.S. missiles will be stationed all along the 1,625-mile Russian-Ukrainian border (not 94 miles away from America, on just an island — Cuba — like the Soviet Union had planned against the United States in 1962, but instead actually on Russia’s longest European border), the ultimate target was actually Russia, not Ukraine. That’s why Obama had grabbed, and Trump keeps, Ukraine. Russia remained the target even after Putin said no to Donbass. In fact, by no later than June 2013, Obama was even planning to oust Russia from Russia’s largest naval base, which is in Crimea, and to establish a U.S. naval base there. (That part of his coup-scheme failed.) So, all of this is really just preparation to conquer Russia. And all mainstream ‘news’-media in The West ban this fact, too, from publication, and present Russia as being the aggressor: “Russia is moving too close to NATO.” The absurdity is blatant, but the public are stupid. That fact is blatant. But the press ignore it. They ignore it because they keep the public stupid. It’s essential to their function in a dictatorship. For example: U.S. ‘news’-media hide truths so that the U.S. public will support invasions and sanctions against a country — stupidity.
On March 23rd, the Jamestown Foundation — rabidly anti-Russian ever since its Cold War start in 1984 — issued their alarm, “Russia Pushes to Drastically Expand Its Influence Over Ukraine, Rest of Post-Soviet Space”, and opened:
In recent months, the Kremlin dramatically stepped up efforts to push its interests and political agenda across the post-Soviet space as part of various “negotiations” and “conflict resolution procedures.” A particularly striking example of this can be seen in the results of the most recent Minsk negotiation process pertaining to the war in eastern Ukraine.
(To understand how much of an insult that is to the intelligence of its readers, consider if Russian propagandists had headlined “U.S. Pushes to Drastically Expand Its Influence Over North America,” and published: “In recent months, the U.S. dramatically stepped up efforts to push its interests and political agenda across Mexico and Canada as part of various ‘negotiations’ and ‘conflict resolution procedures.’” Would Americans find frightening if Russia were to be surrounding America by placing its troops and weapons in anti-U.S. nations that are on America’s border, and which have allied with Russia? Of course, they would. Any nation in that type of situation would. America’s seizure of Ukraine is therefore quite scary to Russians.)
On March 24th, the rabidly neoconservative (i.e., U.S.-expansionist or pro-U.S.-global-empire) Institute for the Study of War issued their alarm, “PUTIN ACCELERATES UKRAINE CAMPAIGN AMID CONVERGING CRISES”, and opened with
Russian President Vladimir Putin is using multiple ongoing crises, including the COVID-19 outbreak, to advance his strategic objectives in Ukraine without drawing attention from the West. Ukrainian officials agreed on March 11 to the Kremlin’s demands to consider direct discussions with the Kremlin-controlled proxies in Donbas. This agreement for further talks could launch an irreversible process of internationally legitimizing Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine – one of Putin’s core objectives.
Zelensky is trapped, between, on the one side, Ukraine’s nazis and America’s Deep State, which want him to continue the war; and, on the other side, his voters’ desire to end the war. That’s why, as the Russian Foreign Ministry put it, on April 2nd, “strange things began to happen after the initial breakthrough.” It wasn’t actually strange, just more of the same: Zelensky in that trap.
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.