Reprinted from Sputnik
Victoria Nuland Assistant Secretary State of Ukraine passes out cookies.
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A joke? Oh no; that really happened. Why?
Let's start with the official reactions. Karasin qualified the talks as "fruitful," while stressing Moscow does not approve of Washington becoming part of the Normandy-style (Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France) negotiations on Ukraine. Not after the relentless demonization not only of the Kremlin but also of Russia as a whole since the Maidan coup.
Ryabkov, for his part, made it known the current state of the US-Russia relationship remains, well, corrosive.
It's crucial to remember the Queen of Nulandistan went to Moscow only after meeting with certified Washington vassal President Poroshenko and her own, hand-picked Prime Minister, "Yats"; and that was before accompanying Secretary of State John Kerry on the full regalia State Department trip to Sochi on May 12.
The Minsk-2 agreement -- the actual product of the Normandy-style negotiations -- directly involved Berlin and Paris, who finally saw the realpolitik on the wall and were compelled to divert from Washington's monomaniac antagonistic approach.
Inside the EU, chaos remains on the key subject of sanctions. The Baltics and Poland toe the "Russians are coming!" Cold War 2.0 hysteria line, while the adults in Brussels are represented by Italy, Greece, Spain and Hungary.
So Germany and France are already in deep trouble keeping the messy EU house in order. At the same time Berlin and Paris know nothing the self-described "Don't Do Stupid Stuff" Obama administration pulls off will mollify Moscow to abandon its precise red lines.
Watch Those Red Lines
It's crucial to notice that Crimea does not seem to be on the table anymore; it's a fait accompli. But then there are those U.S. "military trainers" who have been deployed to western Ukraine only for a "six-month mission" (historical reminder; this is how the Vietnam war started). For Moscow, expansion of this "mission" is an absolute red line.
And then there's the ultimate red line; NATO expansion, which remains unabated in the Baltics, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. That won't stop; it's part of NATO's obsession in solidifying a new Iron Curtain from the Baltics to the Black Sea.
Thus, beyond all the talking, the next step to watch is whether the Obama administration will really refrain from weaponizing Kiev.
Ukraine for all practical purposes is now a massively indebted failed state turned into an IMF colony. The EU does not want it -- although NATO does. For Moscow, the -- ghastly -- show will only be over when Ukraine, with or without the people's republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, is neutral, and not part of a NATO strategic threat.
I have examined here the possibility that the Obama administration's strategic shift towards talking instead of cursing/threatening may signify that the real Masters of the Universe have finally understood the emerging New (Silk) World Order is bound to leave them behind.
President Putin knew that he was heading towards a major confrontation with the US after the dismemberment of Yugoslavia, the Georgian adventure, and NATO's ceaseless expansion violating all those empty promises to Gorbachev.
The difference is that now -- and the Pentagon knows it -- Moscow has amassed up to 10,000 tactical nuclear weapons. In the -- apocalyptic -- event of a war between Russia with NATO, the wet dream of many a US neo-con, these tactical nuclear weapons would knock out every commercial and military airfield of every NATO country in 20 minutes. That would leave no airfield for NATO combined air operations.
And then there's the S-500 missile defense system, which can protect Russia against any form of Pentagon/NATO nuclear missile retaliation. No US offensive weapon, including Stealth bombers, could get through the S-500 maze, and the Pentagon also knows it.