Yves here. Reader DLG, Reality Czar, suggested that we re-run this April 2021 post by Raúl Ilargi Meijer, which we had crossposted back then. It shows that what was to come as far as the West, Ukraine, and Russia were concerned was visible in broad contours…if you were paying attention.
Some additional detail: it was in 2008 that NATO made what amounted to an invitation to Ukraine and Georgia to join, despite the objections of France and Germany (mind you, I’m not up on the term of art for the NATO welcome mat, so informed readers are encouraged to provide that and other relevant details). The Russo-Georgia war in 2008 and the exile of former president Mikheil Saakashvili in 2013 put kibosh on Georgia following through. Note that Saakashvili resurfaced in Ukraine, sacrificing his Georgia citizenship to become a Ukrainian, as governor of the Odessa oblast in 2015 and 2016.
Note also that in 2019, Ukraine under president Petro Poroshenko amended its constitution to commit it to joining NATO.
By Raúl Ilargi Meijer, editor of Automatic Earth. Originally published at Automatic Earth on April 21, 2021
Joe Biden declares a “national emergency”, calls Putin a killer, slaps more sanctions on Russia, for which he has his Foreign Secretary Antony Blinken declare that “Today, we announced actions to hold the Russian Government to account for the SolarWinds intrusion, reports of bounties on U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and attempts to interfere in the 2020 U.S. elections,” … and then “invites” Putin for a summit.
For the SolarWinds “intrusion”, the US has never provided any evidence at all, the Russian bounties story was -finally- fully debunked well before Blinken made his statement -which makes him look very incompetent-, and the election interference narrative is by now just too dumb to even get into. No evidence for it whatsoever after 2 years of the Mueller investigation, but now Putin’s at it again? Who did he want to win, then? Trump again, after apparently not even trying in 2016?
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky states that his country should urgently be made a full member of both NATO and the EU, and has his own proxy, Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, solemnly claim that not just “The only possibility for this [to prevent alleged invasion plans] is for Ukraine to finally become a NATO member”, but also that “Ukraine has no other choice: either we are part of an alliance such as NATO and are doing our part to make this Europe stronger, or we have the only option – to arm by ourselves, and maybe think about nuclear status again”.… And then Zelensky invites Putin for a summit. In the Donbass, no less.
These people are all as insincere as they possibly could be, but they trust that this doesn’t matter anymore. The western media have been planting the “Putin is a monster” seeds in their readers and viewers for many years now, and critical thought has long since left the building. Yes, that is the ultimate effect of what’s called propaganda, and as long as the sheeple “victims” don’t recognize it as such, it works like a charm.
I’ve been wondering for a long time why Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin as his successor in 1999, and I can’t find much information on it. Yeltsin was a US asset, and sold out his country to the CIA and a bunch of CIA-asset homegrown oligarchs. I’ve always suspected that when Yeltsin left, he felt a lot of regret for what he had done to Russia, and that maybe appointing Putin was his way to try and make up for that. I see people saying that Yeltsin thought Putin was pliable, but I think perhaps he knew exactly how Putin thought.
A “detail”: remember that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, male life expectancy for a period of time feel from a very steep cliff. And nothing Yeltsin did provided a solution to that crisis. Then, in August 1999, he appointed Putin as his prime minister, and didn’t leave a year later as planned, but 4 months later, in December. His chief of staff, Valentin Yumashev , who had hired Putin as his deputy in 1997, wrote his resignation speech:
Mr Yumashev was entrusted with writing Yeltsin’s resignation speech. “It was a hard speech to write. It was clear the text would go down in history. The message was important. That’s why I wrote the famous line ‘Forgive me’. “Russians had suffered such shock and stress during the 1990s. Yeltsin had to speak about this.”
Back to today. All economic -and other- sanctions against Russia since Putin first became president have led to one thing only: the country has dramatically increased its self-sufficiency. And in the process has upgraded its weapons arsenal to a level that no western country even comes close to, including the US, for maybe 10% of what the same US has spent on its own arsenal.
Russia’s latest generation of hypersonic missiles, against which no country has any defense, are far superior to what anybody else possesses. When they said recently they could take out a specific building in Kyiv if they wanted, they were not exaggerating. So yeah, look for Biden and Blinken and NATO et al to soon start using that superiority as a reason to incite more war vs Moscow.
A war they could never win, but that’s not the point any longer. One might argue of course that it never was after the advent of nuclear weapons. The whole point of NATO today, its raison d’être, is that it can create chaos wherever it goes and looks. It’s no longer capable of defending anyone from the Russian threat, but then that threat hasn’t been there for many years.
And NATO wants to continue existing, as does the Pentagon, and Boeing and Raytheon, it’s all about money, so they have to make up a threat, aided by their media brethren. That‘s why you see, from time to time, reports about Putin having yet another person “poisoned”, why governments in countries like the UK and Germany go along with the narrative, and why media in all other vassal states parrot these stories.
In that vein, the story this week out of Czechia, which expelled 18 Russian diplomats, kind of sets a new standard in absolute nonsense.
The Czech organised crime squad (NCOZ) said it was looking for two men using Russian passports in relation to the explosions. The passports bear the names of Alexander Petrov, born in 1979, and Ruslan Boshirov, born in 1978, and their holders are also wanted in Britain in connection with Skripal’s poisoning in Salisbury.
Mark Ames’ reaction to this on Twitter is so good, I’m not going to try to beat him to it: : “If I understand this right, apparently GRU thought it’d be smart to use the same 2 spies to carry out 2 separate deadly operations in NATOland – 2014 bombing in Czech Rep, 2018 Skripal poisoning – using exact same aliases & fake passports in both operations.”
Now that the west has lost its military superiority, all that’s left for it to claim is some sort of “intelligence superiority”, so it portrays Russians as really dumb people. Putin tries to poison one person after another, invariably people who are no threat to him at all, with the deadliest poisons on the planet, and fails time and again. Navalny is a US asset who gets 2% max of votes in a poll, Skripal is a former military intel officer who was allowed to go to the UK after being exposed as a double-agent (!), but they fit the 20+ year old narrative of Putin as Pol Pot. Stories. They are all that counts. Reality, not so much. Bernays and Goebbels are having a ton of fun in their own private hells.
So how will the Ukraine episode be resolved? Not easy. Making the world’s 2nd-most corrupt country a full member of NATO is out of the question, Russia will never accept that. Which is why the west is pushing it. Ukraine with nukes is even more preposterous, if that is possible (hard call). Dmitry Orlov suggested a “solution” the other day about which I have major question marks, but he’s Russian and I’m not, so take a look:
The answer, I believe, is obvious: evacuation. There are around 3.2 million residents in Donetsk People’s Republic and 1.4 million in Lugansk People’s Republic, for a total of some 4.6 million residents. This may seem like a huge number, but it’s moderate by the scale of World War II evacuations. Keep in mind that Russia has already absorbed over a million Ukrainian migrants and refugees without much of a problem.
Also, Russia is currently experiencing a major labor shortage, and an infusion of able-bodied Russians would be most welcome. Domestically, the evacuation would likely be quite popular: Russia is doing right by its own people by pulling them out of harm’s way. The patriotic base would be energized and the already very active Russian volunteer movement would swing into action to assist the Emergencies Ministry in helping move and resettle the evacuees.
The elections that are to take place later this year would turn into a nationwide welcoming party for several million new voters. The Donbass evacuation could pave the way for other waves of repatriation that are likely to follow. There are some 20 million Russians scattered throughout the world, and as the world outside Russia plunges deeper and deeper into resource scarcity they too will want to come home.
While they may presently be reluctant to do so, seeing the positive example of how the Donbass evacuees are treated could help change their minds. The negative optics of surrendering territory can be countered by not surrendering any territory. As a guarantor of the Minsk Agreements, Russia must refuse to surrender the Donbass to the Ukrainian government until it fulfills the terms of these agreements, which it has shown no intention of doing for seven years now and which it has recently repudiated altogether.
[..] The West would be left with the following status quo. The Donbass is empty of residents but off-limits to them or to the Ukrainians. The evacuation would in no sense change the standing or the negotiating position of the evacuees and their representatives vis-à-vis the Minsk agreements, locking this situation in place until Kiev undertakes constitutional reform, becomes a federation and grants full autonomy to Donbass, or until the Ukrainian state ceases to exist and is partitioned. The Ukraine would be unable to join NATO (a pipe dream which it has stupidly voted into its constitution) since this would violate the NATO charter, given that it does not control its own territory.
Further sanctions against Russia would become even more difficult to justify, since it would be untenable to accuse it of aggression for undertaking a humanitarian mission to protect its own citizens or for carrying out its responsibilities as a guarantor of the Minsk agreements. The Donbass would remain as a stalker zone roamed by Russian battlefield robots sniping Ukrainian marauders, with the odd busload of schoolchildren there on a field trip to lay flowers on the graves of their ancestors. Its ruined Soviet-era buildings, not made any newer by three decades of Ukrainian abuse and neglect, will bear silent witness to the perpetual ignominy of the failed Ukrainian state.
Dmitry suggests 4.6 million people leave the Donbass so peace may be restored. But most of those people grew up there, and so did their families. And largely peacefully so, until the US and NATO, John McCain and Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Pyatt, tried to take over Ukraine. Why should Russia, instead of protecting these people where they live, migrate them and protect them in Russia? Anyone ask for their own opinion?
There would be a giant empty piece of land where they once lived, in a kind of demilitarized zone? And what then? Nobody in Ukraine would come up with the idea to move into the empty land? And if they did, Russia would have to shoot them from Russian territory? I sort of see the reasoning of course, but not all of it. It only seems to work if you see Russia, and the Russians in the Donbass, as the aggressors.
Were they? Are they? Russia only sprung into action when the west tried to take away their sole warm water port, Sevastopol in Crimea. An election was held, and 97% of mostly Russians voted to be part of Russia. Yeah, that upset NATO and the other usual suspects, but that doesn’t make Russia an aggressor.
Russia has no reason to “invade” Ukraine. They don’t need even more territory, they’re already by far the largest nation on earth. Moreover, they don’t have the military to occupy large swaths of land. They only have the capacity to protect their own.
Thing is, they really got that down. So the only thing NATO can do, in its quest to prove it has reason to exist, is to create chaos, as I said before. But there is a problem with consciously creating chaos between nuclear powers, instead of maintaining communication channels, as the US and USSR always did during the Cold War. Do we all understand this means we are in a worse situation today than back then? That all those expulsions of diplomats only make the situation worse?
And that some fool could actually fire a nuclear missile because of that? Me, I’m not so sure anymore. Between the Covid virus and the US cancel culture, there are not that many western people paying attention to warmongers and NATO aka warheads. Not a good idea.