By Patrick Boylan, Pressenza
The Ukrainian government, like Israel in Gaza, relentlessly goes on bombing residential areas in the eastern regions "to kill the terrorists hiding out there" (but also the civilians living there). The separatists, called "terrorists", are in a siege; to break it, they have launched a bloody counteroffensive to the South, with civilian casualties there, too. Tension has spiked with rumors (later debunked) of a full-scale Russian invasion underway. And yet, in spite of it all, a glimmer of hope for peace has finally appeared. Or is it just an illusion?
After denouncing for months "Putin's covert aggression" against Ukraine, the media have at last produced the smoking gun: satellite photos of alleged Russian Army armored vehicles inside Ukraine (although no GPS coordinates have been given).
In stark contrast to this inflammatory rhetoric, five reputable authorities have invited us to stay calm and rethink the media account of what is happening in Ukraine, reminding us that, behind the scenes, NATO is active there, too. And that its goal is not just to install a few missiles on the Russian border but, more importantly, to block the recent rise of multipolarity and plunge us all back into the bipolarity (duopoly) of the Cold War. Is this what we want?
Thus the events in Ukraine go far beyond the Donets Basin in the east and touch us all. Let us try to understand them better.
Last July, Henry Kissinger, the highly-conservative former U.S. Secretary of State, shocked officialdom with an op-ed in the Washington Post . In it he called for an end to the hostilities in eastern Ukraine and between Washington and Moscow. "Showdowns" and the "demonization of Vladimir Putin" are not policies, he admonished; they are "alibis for the absence of one." It is time to negotiate.
Then, in August and September, three more opinion pieces on the Ukrainian crisis appeared, all of the same tone and all by authorities in the American and European establishments.
- "The West on the wrong path ", an editorial by Gabor Steingart, publisher of Germany's leading financial newspaper, Handelsblatt , written in English to obtain the widest audience and appearing on August 8 th , 2014;
- " Why the Ukraine Crisis Is the West's Fault ", a study by John J. Mearsheimer, distinguished academic at the Council on Foreign Relations, in the September 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs , which appeared on-line beginning August 23 rd ;
- " The Way Out of the Ukraine Crisis : U.S. leaders need to talk to the Russians, not threaten them. ", an article appearing in the September 2014 issue of The Atlantic by contributing editor Jeffrey Tayler, based in Moscow.
These authorities, and others as well (such as the award-winning investigative journalist Robert Parry in this August 10 th report ), go even further than Kissinger and debunk completely the mainstream narration of events in Ukraine, repeated over and over by our mass media. According to which it is Putin -- who supposedly wants to rebuild the old Tzarist empire by grabbing country after country -- the aggressor to be isolated and castigated.
We now learn, much to our surprise, that it is the West (through NATO) the real aggressor in Ukraine. Indeed, it is the West that engineered an armed coup in Kiev on February 22 nd , 2014, behind the smoke screen of the street protests, using Ukrainian neo-Nazi militias trained in NATO bases in Poland to attack the presidential palace and force President JanukovyÄ to flee. That put the country into the hands of the West which promptly brought to power, not the leaders that the EuroMaidan protesters had been fighting for, but the leaders that the Pentagon and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) wanted and had been grooming for some time. In other words, the EuroMaidan movement got hijacked. Pro-NATO neo-Nazi goons remained camped out in the central square for months, to make sure no one objected.
The purpose of the coup was: (1.) to permit NATO to install missiles along the Russian frontier -- an objective that Kiev and Washington deny but that NATO-Ukraine Commission declarations and U.S. Missile Defense Agency visits confirm; (2.) to interrupt exports to Russia from the specialized industries in Eastern Ukraine (in the USSR, Eastern Ukraine had been assigned the production of those goods and the Russian army continues to this day to depend on them); (3.) to deprive Russia of its vital naval base in Crimea and perhaps install a NATO naval base there; (4.) to permit the IMF to apply its infamous "cure" to the Ukrainian economy, thus impoverishing the population still further and creating, at the doorstep of Western Europe, a vast workforce as cheap as that in Southeast Asia but much closer and better schooled. And at no burden to European Union members, with respect to benefits and rights, since Ukraine is not to be admitted fully as a EU member, but only as an economic-exchange partner (goodbye EuroMaidan dreams). This cheap labor will permit Western subsidiaries and shell corporations in Ukraine, which is a CISFTA member, to conduct, among other things, economic war on Russia through dumping.
It is thus clear that the Ukrainian crisis has been provoked, not by Russia, but by the West in order to put Russia into difficulty, militarily and economically. It is also clear that, in doing so, the West committed two illegal acts: first, in violation of the U.N. Charter, it engineered a coup to overthrow another country's elected government; secondly, in violation of the 1997 Founding Act which calls for a neutral Ukraine (not in any military alliance), it did so to draw Ukraine into NATO.
Given all this, Putin's reaction -- i.e. , annexing Crimea to safeguard the Russian naval base there and supporting the separatist movement in the Donets region of eastern Ukraine to safeguard the vital industries there and conserve a minimal buffer zone -- should be seen less as a "reprehensible grab" by a "voracious Russian bear" and more as an attempt to save the day and salvage whatever possible, after the reprehensible grab of the entire Ukrainian territory carried out last February by NATO and the West. This concept is illustrated below in a poster created by the NoWar Network in Rome, Italy, and displayed at a demonstration outside the Ukrainian embassy in Rome on May 17 th , 2014. The poster reads: "Ukraine: who is the invader?"
Debunking the mainstream narration of the events in Ukraine, as the five authors cited above have done, represents a huge step forward: it empowers us to find a solution to the conflict. We no longer see military confrontation as inevitable. Instead, we see very real possibilities for a negotiated armistice and peace treaty -- for example, ones along the lines suggested by Kissinger in July and reworked in August and September by other authors.
Piecing together all the suggestions, a workable armistice/treaty might look like this: the West forgoes its plans to install NATO bases in Ukraine and Kiev forgoes impeding or conditioning commerce between the industries in eastern Ukraine and Russia; in exchange, Russia stops supporting the rebellion in eastern Ukraine and cedes Crimea back to Kiev -- with the provision that the naval base there remains leased to Russia as before, although with better safeguards. The armistice/treaty might also contain specific provisions that bind Russia not to hinder Ukraine's entry into the European economic zone and that bind Ukraine to: (a.), remain neutral politically and militarily ("Finlandization") and (b.), prevent dumping in Russia by the corporations it regulates. Finally, the armistice/treaty could conceivably concede to the people of eastern Ukraine, in place of independence, substantial regional autonomy, not only cultural (local regulation of linguistic and religious questions) but also economic (for example, local regulation of exports) and military (a Regional Guard in place of the dreaded National Guard, rife with anti-Russian neo-Nazis).