War Of The Worlds Begins In Your Neighborhood “Because — German Chancellor Merkel Has Just Declared — Russia Was Never Pacified”

Yves here. John Helmer gives a deservedly caustic take on Angela Merkel’s admission that she deceived Putin in negotiating the Minsk accords, intended to resolve the conflict in the Donbass. The former German Chancellor has now said, in three different media venues, that the intent was to buy Ukraine time to arm and fight Russia later. Note that former French president Francois Hollande has confirmed that Minsk was a Western bad-faith exercise intended to weaken Russia. And he blames the US for it not having worked out as well as planned.

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

Angela Merkel (lead image),  the chancellor who destroyed the Christian Democratic party in German politics always hated Russia and President Vladimir Putin most of all.

She concealed this for as long as she calculated she needed to preserve the votes of East Germany, German businesses and unions for her re-election. But lie after lie she leaked through her staff to the German and English press.

She even tried to promote a German candidate to rule the Ukraine in her war against Russia – until Washington installed their own in Kiev, and told Merkel to fall in line. She did.

The outcome of Merkel’s rule between 2005 and 2021 is her 4-election failure to win a majority of votes or seats in the Bundestag; the defeat of every German voting bloc which had supported her in power in Berlin; the rebuilding of the Berlin Wall in the minds of the remaining Germans who disagree and who resist; and the return of Russia-hating and Adolf Hitler’s war aims for Germany against Moscow. They are also the war aims of Joseph Kennedy, father financier of the US Democratic Party whose fascist line was tolerated by the White House until the fighting war started in earnest in Europe and Kennedy was gotten rid of.

No comparable resistance to the alliance between German and American fascism exists today in the US, Europe, Berlin or London. The resistance, however, is worldwide; does not speak English as a native language; and the Russian armed forces are stronger than they ever were.   The problem for them is how wide and deep the demilitarized zone must be drawn to defend Russia for the foreseeable future – how far west of the Dnieper River? To the Oder and Neisse Rivers of Poland and Germany, or to the Berlin Wall?

With every new bombing, missile, and drone raid, the Stavka meeting daily in Moscow  conducts its experiment in drawing the lines westward to the last Ukrainian, then to the last German.

In the Russian Foreign Ministry’s final briefing for the year,  spokesman Maria Zakharova had not yet registered what Merkel said in Italian, in her interview with Corriere della Sera on December 27. That was:  “ We all knew that it was a frozen conflict, that the problem was not solved, but this gave Ukraine precious time…the Cold War never really ended because Russia was never pacified.”

For Merkel’s “problem to be solved” and “pacify Russia” read the US and NATO war to destroy Russia. “Today we act like this under the pressure of war,” she added, “which I approve of.”

According to Zakharova, referring to Merkel’s earlier interviews in German with Die Zeit and Der Spiegel, “Angela Merkel’s confessions that the Minsk agreements only served to buy “time for Ukraine” leads to an interesting situation. The Western countries prevented their media from visiting Donbass. At the same time, they needed time, as they say, for the Kiev regime to grow stronger. This is real evidence of what Russian leadership has been talking about. All this indicates that the Ukrainian army and the West are using unacceptable methods not only on the battlefield, but also in the information war that they have unleashed against Russia. The Kiev regime and its Western handlers are trying to hide their own crimes and the truth about what is really happening in Ukraine.”

From the American-Ukrainian gun platform aimed at Russia to the American-Australian gun platform aimed at China, this is der krieg der welten  — the war of the worlds. Listen to the discussion led by George Eliason from Donbass.

The history of the war of Russia-hating didn’t end in 1945 nor will it end in 2023.

“If you look at the Biden administration’s policies now,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Russian press last week,  “it becomes clear that they want the ‘end of history’ to take place, not just in the works of political analysts, scientists or pundits, but in real life as well. Everything that we are now witnessing in Europe in its broadest sense and on other continents, where US ‘messengers’ want every country to take an anti-Russia position, to join the sanctions and to keep from talking with Russian representatives reflects an attempt to establish the end of history and the final and irreversible dominance of the ‘golden billion.’… These vain attempts are anti-historical and are aimed at stopping and suppressing the objective formation of a multipolar world. The course of history cannot be stopped. There is no end to history and there never will be. Humanity has more than once gone through many attempts to subjugate it that were undertaken by different forces, which wanted to dictate everything to everyone. It will play out the same way this time as well.”


Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/


Source: http://johnhelmer.net/

“Many countries and politicians –,” Lavrov continued, “there are not many of them in the United States, but they do exist and are trying to make their point of view known publicly in a vocal manner — are aware of the dead-end nature of this kind of policy and the fact that there is no alternative to building neighbourly relations on this planet (which is a relatively small place) which implies taking into account each other’s interests, living side by side without trying to subjugate their neighbours or countries that are 10,000 miles away.”

Listen to the discussion on New Year’s Eve.

Source: https://tntradiolive.podbean.com/

Listen to the archive of George Eliason’s interviews.

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  1. John R Moffett

    The US has never negotiated honestly, we have abandoned treaties at every turn starting with Native Americans, and going through to today with the Minsk accords (and the Iran nuclear treaty). The rest of the world must understand this by now. The only way to deal with the US is to ignore what we say, and do what you have to do to live on the same planet as us. Eventually the US will be forced to back off, but there will be untold death and destruction until that day comes. Everyone in the US should write angry letters to their representatives on a regular basis. Keep the pressure up on them.

    1. timbers

      “The US has never negotiated honestly…The rest of the world must understand this by now.”

      Apparently Putin did not understand this or if he did, went along with the farce. Maybe he had good reason like Russia not being yet ready for increased confrontation with the West.

      When Merkel admitted Minsk was intended to fool Russia, it was a “we told you so” moment of confirmation for those of us who knew all along. The second (Poroshenko) and third (Hollande) feel more like “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, fool me thrice…” to painful to finish.

      The accounts of Donbass militia having defeated Ukraine and NATO troops and in a position to finish them off around 2014 but for Putin intervening to save the evil doers are painful.to listen to. Maybe the accounts are being exaggerated. Don’t know.

      But this may be Putin’s first huge blunder. His second being not calling up more troops to be placed in Donbass this past summer as contracts expired.

      Based on the past, my biggest concern is that Putin will halt military solutions before they reach their optimum point, for more worthless agreements with The West. Russia will pay dearly for that if she does enter into agreements with the West.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        You need to read his speeches over the past week. Putin is clearly embittered, speaks of the US and Europe as strategic opponents and enemies. He is most assuredly in “Fool me once, shame on thee, fool me twice, shame on me” mode.

        Plus I would argue with the benefit of a wider lens Putin’s approach worked out to tremendous advantage to Russia. Putin trying as hard as he possibly could to get on with the West made clear, even before the admission of Germany-French duplicity, that Russia was at the end of its rope. That is why China, India, Turkey, the Saudis, and the Global South defied America to support Russia (passively or actively) DESPITE Russia being an invader. This is highly unlikely to have wound up this way if Russia had more actively supported the Donbass separatists, who remember wanted to join Russia, so the end game would have been annexation say in 2015.

        The US would have imposed its shock and awe sanctions then. Putin’s approval rating in 2015 was close to 90%, so an overthrow would be extremely unlikely. But Russia as an economy and a power would have been diminished. The US might have succeeded in its plan to keep them apart and then go after China.

        The same is true of the SMO. Putin was careful to observe forms, recognizing Donbass, signing a mutual security pact, and then invoking Article 51. That may seem like a fig leaf but the US set that precedent with Kosovo. Again using a small scale conflict to drive Ukraine to the negotiating table made Russia’s approach tolerable to enough key parties for Russia to have important allies.

        After the collective West sabotaged the peace talks and showed indifference to the impact of their sanctions to supplies of grain and fertilizer to poor countries, support for Russia increased. I am sure they were also quietly appalled by the shelling of the Zaporzhizhia power plant, and even worse, the IAEA acting as if it had no idea who the perp was, the bombing of the Nord Stream pipelines (a NATO member being attacked by fellow NATO members), and perhaps also the Ukraine biolabs.

        Putin is continuing to slip in, “Well we are always willing to talk” but he is making clear there is no one to talk to. And he is having Lavrov play bad cop. Lavrov in the last week basically said there is no point in talking if proposals don’t reflect realities on the ground (and the Ukraine demands are delusional in light of that). The Russia military will determine outcomes.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          To add: Putin doggedly negotiating with the West (and others like China, Turkiye, the Saudis) and really being insistent that Russia be a reliable partner (where Russia is at least way better than the US) has established him and by extension Russia as being generally on the up and up, as in they explain their position, which can include exploiting leverage, and seek to get deals based on that. Mercouris goes on about how Putin and Ergodan have a very difficult relationship yet somehow manage to come to understandings in the end. The US is not capable of operating that way.

          Even when Russia pushed the margin on that with Nord Stream legalisms to justify cutting gas supplies, the West had behaved so badly with seizing Gazprom assets and allow Ukraine to violate contracts by shutting off supply with lame excuses that I don’t think the Global South took the EU “weaponizing energy” seriously, particularly since they announced their intent to break contracts, but only after they had sucked down a shit ton of Russian gas and oil first. And then the Nord Stream destruction…

          1. Skip Intro

            I don’t think Russia was ready, in 2014, to take on NATO any more than Ukraine was ready to take on Russia, so both sides bought time to prepare. I think the West showed its hand with the MH-17 episode, were international organizations were effectively corrupted and bullied into firing the first shots of the economic war. I assume Putin knew most of the real story of the MH-17 provocation, and could thus infer the shape of western battle plans, and prepare countermeasures from cheese to banking.
            In retrospect it seems clear that the AFU attack on Donbass that the SMO preempted was scheduled for 2018, when (a different) Clinton would bring Russia to heel (again), and maybe get a nice midterm boost.
            In this light, the neocon outrage at the clueless US electorate for saving Russia by electing Trump is more motivated, as Trump evidently didn’t go for the war, almost got Biden investigated, and even let an outsider running on a platform of reconciliation with Russia become President of Ukraine.
            Now the hubris of the Clinton campaign and their spectacular pied-piper backfire, has led the hubris of the neocons to launch a war that may end NATO or the EU or both, undermine dollar hegemony, wound globalization and the supply chains that bind us, or maybe just lead to nuclear war.
            I predict 2023 will be interesting.

            1. tevhatch

              NATO could not have done that much even in 2014. Russia was not in a world-trade and economic point to take on the West. China was securely in the USA camp, the pivot to Asia more electioneering than reality. 2014 is when Russia began to prepare. I use to believe NS2 was a serious mistake, where Merkel and the USA bated Russia into holding off on going East. I now see it as a head fake by Russia, that they’d have been happy to sell the gas to the EU if things went better, but that the real object was their negotiations with China who was trying to squeeze Russia very hard on gas prices. NS2 bought Russia leverage until the USA supplied China with the urgency to pay a better price for gas. It also gave the Neo-cons a fake lever they thought they could use at the right moment, and allowed Western Business Interest to stave off profit threatening sanctions in the belief that it would be enough. Merkel never was that bright, she was just good at beating German Politicians of a lower grade than they use to have.

              1. vidimi

                that’s an interesting take. I do think, however, that the chinese knew that their fates were intertwined with Russia’s at least fifteen years ago and have been strengthening their partnership since then. They knew that they were in america’s crosshairs and that they wouldn’t be safe without a strong ally. theirs is a very natural partnership so long as the global hegemon is around.

          2. timbers

            Agree all you say. My concern: Putin has a great talent for negotiation is true meaning of thr word, he knows this, and naturally is inclined to use his extraordinary talent. It just needs to put in a box until the optimal military outcome happens.

            1. Paul Damascene

              Agree, and the true measure of that talent for negotiations will not be the settlement in Ukraine but the extent to which Russia is able to break NATO and the EU, & ideally to push the US out of any country adjacent to Russia.

      2. Lex

        It was a huge blunder, but also unavoidable to some degree. Let’s say the militias routed the AFU in the east and then decided to go for Kiev. That is a situation where NATO could, and maybe would, intervene directly and one where NATO forces in Europe would be enough to defeat the militias. Would NATO forces ever leave? Could russia at that time fight NATO directly in Ukraine? Because if it doesn’t or loses, then NATO’s parked in Ukraine permanently. UFOR becomes a thing.

        Now whether he believed Merkel and Hollande is a different question we can’t answer. I suspect he wanted to and hoped. He did at least get Minsk through the UNSC and that matters now because it proves the point to most of the world that the west really cannot be trusted. It shows them he did try. Nobody wants this war or the effects, but now it can be seen as the last resort. It may have also become the final nail in the coffin of the west’s “rules based order”.

        1. timbers

          One quibble regarding Donbass militia going on to Kiev. The Donbass never struck me as having an interest in anything other the their own autonomy self government and to left alone and eventual reunion with Russia.

          1. Lex

            No disagreement on that. I think it’s difficult to predict and the militias’ intent might not have mattered. It would have been an excuse to put nato troops in Ukraine.

            Maybe what’s not being told is that the Obama admin was willing to put a coalition of the willing on the ground and Merkel / Hollande did Minsk to counter that?

            1. timbers

              “It would have been an excuse to put nato troops in Ukraine.” NATO troops were already in Ukraine, and surrounded by Donbass militia according to the accounts. So you may mean to say is it would have been (another) excuse to what they did and planned to all along regardless.

      3. Mrinal Ghosh

        I disagree with this “Putin blundered” argument. If it were a blunder, the russians would have been caught with the proverbial “pants down to the ankles and bend over the barrel” situation when the fight/war/SMO actually started. Or when the sanctions from hell were imposed.

        I think they “hoped against hope” for some decency and an honest resolution. Crimea was non-negotiable. You lose it, your entire south-western flank is bust open. But there was a possibility, a hope, that peace could be achieved in Donbass by constructing a federation of regions.

        But Putin and the russian think-tank were/are not naive. First, they scrimmaged the other potential “non-agreement compatible” actions, realized that the war of civilization is likely to be upon them, and prepared for it through fast forwarding their novel weapon development as well as making themselves autarkic. Not just in food but also critical weapons components. Consider for instance, around 2014/15 the turbines for their naval ships were made in the Ukraine. Now they are able to produce them in-house. To secure all that development and manufacturing expertise within 5 years can only be a result of a disciplined action plan.

        Second, rather than naively believing that peace will emerge organically because of Minsk I and II, when they saw the continuous bombardment of the Donbass, they saw the writing on the wall and started providing “tacit” military support to the breakaway republics. Remember Debaltsevo.

        Yet, he/they hoped that somehow and somewhere there could be light and it was worth pursuing. Otherwise, it would only end as a clash of civilizations. This is the mark of a rational but pragmaic peacekeeper. The December 2021 reminders to NATO/EU and the US about the principles of mutual security was, I believe, a sincere final plea to knock some sense. Alas!

        1. timbers

          I’m at a loss how allowing the Donbass militias to finish off trapped Ukraine and NATO soldiers who attacked them, would have brought about anything worse than followed given we know what did follow. Finishing off NATO and Ukraine invaders would have simply been what it is at its face value – a win. Maybe not great or maybe great. But a clear benefit.

          1. Paul Damascene

            Very good comments, but perhaps it might be clearer if we did not consider Putin’s ‘blunder’ as a result of his infatuation with the West but rather his vision of positioning Russia (and ultimately Ukraine) as the hinge between Europe and Asia. Russia would have been the central power, and would have had considerably more leverage with China as well, as the path to Europe.

        2. Eric Blair

          I agree that Putin did not blunder. Just as NATO bought time since 2014 to beef up its military capabilities, Russia bought time to beef up its economy against the “Shock & Awe” economic sanctions they had to know were coming.

          Even those of us who are against this war still exist inside the Golden Billion’s bubble where everything we care about has global importance and the concerns of the rest of the world merit little or no concern. Putin’s attempts at diplomacy come off as weakness inside our bubble, but are received very well by the rest of the world, and are having a positive coalition building effect.

          If our kind moderator would indulge me on New Year’s Eve, I offer my greatest unsubstantiated fear – the rabid western talk of the war going nuclear is cover for planned biological warfare against Russia and China (collateral damage amongst the globe’s black, brown, and yellow is a feature, not a bug). I’m still in awe of the level of population control brought on by COVID, so when Moderna (a Cambridge, MA company that popped into existence along with COVID) announced that each of the 5 Eyes are getting their own Moderna ‘vaccine’ plant, I can’t shake the thought that bio-war is what Gates and Fauci have been working on as their vision of the end of history.

          1. timbers

            “Just as NATO bought time since 2014 to beef up its military capabilities, Russia bought time to beef up its economy against the “Shock & Awe” economic sanctions they had to know were coming.”

            Please explain how Putin’s blunder of helping NATO and harming Donbass stopped The West from harming Donbass even more.

            Putin himself has said he was wrong. As are you.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Putin has to admit he was had.

              I do not for a second believe Russia backing Donbass in 2015, would have been a good idea. It would have led to Russian annexation, which would have isolated Russia and support EU paranoid claims that Russia was expansionist. It would have given a HUGE boost to NATO seriously arming, as opposed to arming lite via beefing up Ukraine’s fighting power.

              IMHO the path Putin wound up taking is enabling Russia to break US hegemony and usher in a new world order. This is a terrific long-term outcome for Russia. I don’t see how any other route could have produced such huge upside potential, which Russia seems to be midwifing well.

      4. Ton Jacobs

        The statements of Poreschenko, Merkel and Hollande, representing the character of the EU, that they betrayed Putin with regard to the Minsk Accords willingly, are clearly orchestrated and ordered by their boss, the USA. Aimed at for ever alienating Putin and the Russian people from the EU with the expectation that Russia will cut all commercial ties with Europe for decades to come.

        However, as always, the USA does not think its actions thoroughly through.

        First, Russia will not cut its commercial ties with the EU. Depending on Russia’s interests, it will steadily expand these where safely possible. Security conditions are a totally different chapter.

        Second, the statements of these leading US-lackeys in the EU have made it absolutely clear to the whole world (again, but now on a geopolitical scale), that any promise or written agreement with the USA, the EU and their politicians can never, never be trusted and relied on, just impossible. As argued by you and others very well.

    2. Felix_47

      Nothing that Biden and his administration is doing seems new here. If one looks at the papers published by the Center for European Political Analysis, as well as those funding it the US and much of the West has been at this project for a long time. Timothy Garton Ash, who is at Oxford, wrote a good summary (It’s Costing Peanuts for the US to defeat Russia) of the current western stance this November published by CEPA. The US is at war with Russia according to Ash. If the Russians follow our think tanks their attitude is very understandable. The article is on the CEPA website and it is well worth reading.

      1. schmoe

        That was indeed an interesting read and the families of 100,000+ Ukrainian soldiers must love their fallen being referred to as “Peanuts.”

  2. Quentin

    Poroschenko admitted before Merkel he had no intention of implementing the Minsk accords. The landscape of Ukraine is now strewn with rotting corpses because of these treacherous ‘leaders’. Their deception compounded by the brazen audacity to display it proudly in public can leave no one in doubt about their personal malign, filthy characters. Even Merkel, the backbone of Europe for so many years, just let that sink in good.

  3. Ignacio

    Where I live, the history of East Europe is widely ignored and now we are being dragged to something that we don’t understand in any sense. Because apart from the proxy war and the general landscape of West vs East confrontation there are too many other conflicts invisible to us and it seems there is an awakening of ancient and not so ancient nationalisms there of which the most notorious might be the Ukrainian banderites, Polish nationalism, German nationalism, Lithuanian, Magyar, Romanian etc. In the absence of genuinely attractive political ideas, dreams of past grandeur might be growing amongst the political elites everywhere. What in English is termed Galicia (in Spain we use Galitzia to avoid confusion with the Spanish Autonomous Community with the same name) might be good example of the messy history of the region with increasing probabilities of confrontations between several countries for its control. I am starting to believe that a big part of German stance has to do with the desire to meddle politically in the region even if this means potential confrontation with Poland. Otherwise I cannot understand. The political use of the EU by Germany as a tool to rebrand the East, gain influence there, sanction those who think different is something that shouldn’t pass unnoticed in countries like France, Greece, Italy, Spain and others, but so far I don’t see any kind of reaction. I particularly cannot understand French or Italian governments. For Spain the excuse is that we just don’t pay attention to the mess.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      Ignacio: Excellent points. It helps that Spain is behind the very real wall of the Pyrenees. It kept Spain and Portugal out of WWI and WWII.

      The publication of such a revealing interview in Corriere della Sera, which is thoroughly dominated by business-class and establishment thinking, is a sign of a split in Italian opinion that has been ripping apart since the beginning of the war.

      The most obvious case was Prof. Alessandro Orsini, who came out early against the war, was treated terribly by the orthodox media and good-thinkers, and whose name now can be mentioned in public. (Or at least by Lili Gruber.)

      The Five Stars are anti-war, as are the (not so many) members of the Sinistra Italiana. Unlike the United States, there is an anti-war movement.

      Yet: The Italian elites are always cautious. Italy sacrificed, and probably too much, ever since way back when the EU was the “coal and steel community”: The Six.

      Being part of a supranational organization placed pressure on Italian elites not to backslide into fascism.

      Italy has also sacrificed economically to keep the EU going. The euro has not been kind to Italy.

      Further, the Italian government is taking the path of least resistance: Send some munitions to Ukraine to keep the U.S. and Brussels from meddling in Italian politics. Meloni doesn’t want another Draghi parachute-dropped on her government (of incompetents, nutters, and business types).

  4. Lexx

    ‘The Western countries prevented their media from visiting Donbass.’

    No. Determined journalists* will always find a way in. A platform that is willing to broadcast what those journalists find is something different. That should read ‘mainstream corporate media’.

    *There’s a lot of folks calling themselves journalists these days. It was always a dangerous profession, now more dangerous depending on where they stick there noses and what questions they ask. Independent journalism is still alive. Frightened but alive.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Hate to tell you but overwhelming % of journalists are employees. Bosses have to approve foreign travel itineraries. And even if the reporters managed to go off the reservation, if they submitted copy at variance with the party line, it would be rejected or edited into flabby conformity, with any juicy “I was there” tidbits well buried and undermined by quotes from Serious People.

      Look at how Patrick Lancaster has limited reach despite his dogged and risky on the ground reporting, and the way Eva Bartlett has been threatened with prosecution in Germany, which = at a minimum her being forced into exile.

      1. Kouros

        Actually there is a German journo lady that was reporting from Donbas that was tried and sentenced in absentia and had all her accounts frozen by the German state.

        1. Scylla

          I think I read that they froze her mother’s accounts too. I believe they were both granted asylum in Russia. Alina Lipp, is the journalists’ name, I believe.
          Edit- Just noticed that Skip Intro directly below brought her up as well.

          1. Paul Damascene

            And, I think, Johnny Miller and Wyatt Read. Also facing administrative hassles in home countries…

      2. The Rev Kev

        I think that Eva Bartlett is already in exile. In an interview done with her several months ago she said that the last time she went back to Canada, she didn’t recognize the place and no longer fitted in to her own country. She also said that now she cannot go back, even if she wanted to and it may be why she decided to move to Russia.

        Just went looking for that interview and found it-

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVZXiDcqFuo (35:59 mins)

        1. Kouros

          I was permanently blocked on an electronic magazine, The Tyee, just for raising questions, in a polite way, about the situation in Ukraine. It is despicable. All the while the deputy prime minister gets photographed with the Blood & Soil banner of Ukrainian ultra-nationalists…

      3. Deschutes

        Eva Bartlett is from Canada, not Germany fyi. Alina Lipp is the German blogger who went to Donbass and reported that UAF were shelling non-military civilian infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, apartment buildings, shops, open markets, etc. killing thousands of civilians since 2014 right up to now. For this brave independent journalism which was totally contradicting the German mainstream media narrative, the German government froze Lipp’s bank account and she now faces 3 years in prison if she dares to return to Germany. Eva Bartlett faces a similar fate if she dares to return to Canada, so she resides in Russia and visits Donbass frequently.

    2. Skip Intro

      If a journalist reports from Donbass, but her stories are never published, does it make a sound? I think the suppression of the reporting may also reduce the motivation of reporters to enter the war zone. Alina Lipp is even facing criminal charges in Germany for the crime of reporting.

      1. cosmiccretin

        And note the word “crime” in that particular context. BUT, I seem to recall, she is not just “facing charges” in Germany for said “crime” (ie reporting the truth about the shelling of Donetsk) but: – a) has had the cash in her bank-account confiscated AND b) was convicted in absentia on said charges whilst being expressly disallowed from defending herself in person before the court by which she was indicted.

        Note too that the legal basis for the actions taken against her rests on legislation enacted by the Bundestag subsequent to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine which (I understand) is so framed as to make any genuinely eye-witness reporting of what is happening in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine a criminal act by definition.

        If any evidence were needed that today’s Germany is in imminent danger of regressing into fascism, this is it. Ironically, that fascism is emanating from the Greens and the social democrats (the so-called “traffic-lights” coalition) rather than from the classically “right-wing” AFD, some elements of which vociferously oppose the present German government’s policy towards Russia.

        (I may be wrong about some of those details – am relying on memory; I stand to be corrected if so).

      2. Deschutes

        To the contrary her stories are published and are but a mouse click away-

        Here she is at Max Blumenthal’s Grayzone website-

        Here she is on Youtube detailing Ukrainian shelling of Donbass civilian targets-

        Here she is on Rokfin, a much needed alternative to the horrible pro-NATO youtube-

        She is out there if you look for it. That said, the CIA/NATO scum censors at youtube have deleted most of her videos that used to be there. It is best for most content creators to leave youtube and switch to Rokfin, Odysee, Rumble or other youtube alternatives due to massive ongoing censorship of any videos that punch holes in Washington’s fictional narrative about Ukraine. Down with youtube censorship; up with independent journalists like Lipp, Bartlett, and Patrick Lancaster.

  5. LawnDart

    Russian attitudes; author is from RIA, a Russian state agency, but the anger of the Russian public (and others in the world) has been noted in independent media:

    Russian ‘patriots’ will not allow Moscow sign a hasty peace treaty with the West

    There is a noticeable change in the public attitude towards the Russia-Ukraine war. The recent surveys shows that the numbers of those in favour of peace negotiations are going down rapidly, while those who want Moscow to strike harder are getting more numerous


    There may be talks, but there will be no negotiations until Russia has secured a commanding victory.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Back in 1941, Japan attacked America and declared war. Overnight Americans realized that they were in an existential fight and no way would there be a negotiated settlement to the war which the Japanese diplomats were counting on. Admiral Yamamoto tried to warn that the only way that the Japanese could win the war was to land in America and march across the country to make their demands in the White House but was ignored.

      I think that we are seeing something similar in Russia as they too have come to realize that they are in an existential fight. The vilification and hatred shown by Europeans & others against anything Russia must have come as a shock to them. But like Americans in ’41, they too are meeting the challenges and are in fact volunteering for this war. They are going to see this through and there will be no Minsk 3 to save the Ukraine this time. The sight of all those Nazis in the Ukraine has stirred ancestral memories and they know how to respond. This has probably been made easier by the fact that the sunshine patriots and the usual protestors fled out of the country months ago.

      1. synoia

        Japan attacke the US after the US Sanctions on Oil from the Middle East.

        Sanctions are considered an Act of War.

        Considering Sanctions puts the US at war with much of the planet.

        1. Mikel

          “Considering Sanctions puts the US at war with much of the planet.”

          More like an announcement of a more official war with much of the planet.

        2. Dane

          And cut off all the scrap metal that Japan needed to function as an industrial society. FDR wanted war, that’s why the incoming bombers were ignored on Dec 7th and Lend Lease occurred.

          I hope Putin kicks ass, as do many Americans who are wise to what’s happening.

          I bet the 1/3 of Britons facing freezing or homelessness from their “leaders” choice to boycott cheap Russian energy might be so inclined.

          1. spud

            the reality for america was the rape of nanking, and that russia had beaten the japanese attempt to get what they needed for war, from captured lands in siberia. that meant japan was going south.

            so if you think that FDR cutting them off was a blunder, nope, he could see they were coming, so why sit back and hope for peace. just as putin see’s it today.

      2. tevhatch

        “Back in 1941, Japan attacked America and declared war. Overnight Americans realized that they were in an existential fight and no way would there be a negotiated settlement to the war which the Japanese diplomats were counting on. ”

        Anything but, according to “How To Hide An Empire” Daniel Immerwahr. FDR was at a loss on how to write the speech, draft after draft, because the Japanese had not attacked American soil, but rather colonial dispositions that were considered an embarrassment, full of non-citizens of “dubious ethnicity”, many of who were until the previous world war deigned immigration rights. If Japan had not aligned with Hitler and Hitler not declared war, then it’s quite possible that Japan might have gotten an agreement along the lines of America’s Jay Hay Open Door Policy (on keeping China poor and enslaved to corporate interests).

  6. David

    I think that Helmer is basing effectively an entire argument on his understanding of the word “pacified.” I don’t know which language was the original of the text he’s working from (does he speak German?) , but I suspect that the sense of the original was probably “appeased” or “happy.” In other words, Russia was very unhappy with the post Cold War settlement, and, as Merkel says in her interview, more account should have been taken of that. Subsequently, and especially after Georgia in 2008, western states worried that a revived Russia would try to recover the lands lost in 1991 by force. That belief–for all that it seems to be wrong– is clearly what was animating western governments at the time. Just as in the Cold War the two sides were talking past each other; I’ve looked at the Corriere article, unfortunately only in English, and what Merkel says is:

    “The start of a possible accession of Ukraine and Georgia to NATO, which was being discussed in 2008, was, in my opinion, wrong. The two countries did not have the requirements and had not even been fully reflected on what consequences such a decision would have, both in terms of Russia’s reaction against Georgia and Ukraine and for NATO and its aid rules. And the 2014 Minsk Agreements represented an attempt to give Ukraine time. Ukraine has used this period to become stronger, as we can see today. The country of 2014/15 is not the one of today. And I doubt that NATO could have done a lot to help Ukraine, as it does today.’

    There is then what seems to be an editorial interjection: (The Minsk agreements provided for a series of agreements for the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, under Russian influence, which had expressed their willingness to separate from Ukraine. The goal was to gain time through an armistice, and then later reach peace)

    So from the western perspective (and as far as I can tell Hollande has said the same thing) the fear was of a renascent Russia threatening Ukraine, and the solution was a cease-fire, followed by an increase in Ukraine’s defensive capability to make a Russian attack less likely. (A Russian attack would also, of course, have directly affected the security of NATO states.) For various political and technical reasons, Ukraine could not have been allowed to enter NATO then, but assistance could nonetheless be given.

    Whether you think this is an accurate summary of events is beside the point, because it’s the one that western governments were clearly working from. Likewise, even if you think the Russians are now behaving a bit theatrically, as though they didn’t know this all along, that’s irrelevant too. The situation is especially dangerous because each side has a partial version of events, and the two, as was the case in the good old Cold War, are talking past each other again.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      David: I managed to get to the Italian interview, and the word is pacificata. Pacified.

      I was expecting pacata, which means placated or calmed, as you write. No: pacificata.

      I’m not sure what to think. Merkel doesn’t speak Italian fluently, so I’m wondering where the German transcript is.

      From Corriere della Sera: Ma voglio parlarle di un aspetto che mi dà da pensare. È il fatto che la Guerra Fredda non è mai realmente finita, perché in fin dei conti la Russia non è mai stata pacificata. Quando nel 2014 Putin ha invaso la Crimea, è stato escluso dal G8. Inoltre la Nato ha dislocato delle truppe nella regione baltica, per dimostrare di essere pronta a intervenire. E anche noi abbiamo deciso di destinare il 2% del Pil alle spese militari per la difesa. Cdu e Csu erano le uniche ad averlo mantenuto nel programma di governo.

      1. David

        That’s … interesting. I’m not sure what to think, either. I’m going to pop down the thread and ask Michael, who seems to have had access to a text in German, if that’s the language she was speaking.

    2. Ignacio

      Thank you for this, i find it refreshing, commentary. NC and it’s commentariat is still refreshing in this sad landscape in which it is nearly impossible not to misinterpret events, speeches, articles etc.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      What did Ukraine need time for back in 2014? The Minsk agreements made it clear that Russia did not want any part of the Donbass becoming part of Russia. The Donbass was to remain part of Ukraine with limited autonomy, ie Ukraine couldn’t ban the Russian language in schools, etc.

      If the West was afraid of Russia taking back Ukraine despite Russia saying it has no interest in doing so and putting it in a treaty, perhaps it was projection on the West’s part given its constant and unceasing encroachment on Russia’s borders and its explicit intention to incorporate former Russian states into NATO, despite there being no reason for NATO’s existence once the Soviet Union disintegrated. The Russians must be thinking of taking over more territory because of course that’s what the West and specifically the US is constantly trying to do itself. Those Project for a New American Century neocons are the ones calling the shots right now after all.

      Maybe we’re just talking past each other too, but I feel like you are giving the US too much credit for being reasonable. The US is run by nutters.

      1. David

        I wouldn’t describe the behaviour of the US and its allies as “reasonable”, particularly, though I wouldn’t describe it as run by nutters either. In fact, western policy at the time is entirely explicable, even if you think the explanations are bad ones, and is typical of how states approach such situations.

        There was a lot of fear, inherited from the Cold War, about a revanchist Russia trying to reclaim some of the old Soviet territory. (Whether this fear is reasonable is not the point.) I think there was also an uncomfortable realisation that Russia had been humiliated in the 90s, and would be looking to reverse that humiliation somehow. Now it was true that there was an agreement, but what did that mean in practice? (Someone would have pointed out that Munch was also an agreement.) And in various western capitals, it would have been argued that, even if the Russian government of 2014 was committed to a peaceful approach to the Ukraine problem, how could anyone be 100% sure that a future Russian government, in, say, 2024, would be? (And of course there were parallel questions being asked in Moscow about whether a Ukrainian government in 2024 would necessarily see itself as committed either.) This is how international politics works, and Minsk is another example of what happens when you try to solve problems with artificial agreements that have no enforcement or guarantee mechanisms, and where everything is dependent on the goodwill of future governments whose composition you have no idea about.

        To respond to a couple of points below, neither Merkel nor Hollande see themselves as saying anything scandalous or revealing. Their argument is that some form of action by the Russians against Ukraine, or part of it, was quite possible at some stage in the future, and Ukraine in 2014 was too weak to withstand an attack, or even just intimidation. Therefore, on the one hand try to settle the issue through Minsk, but on the other build up Ukrainian capabilities as an insurance policy, in case Minsk didn’t work. The two leaders are trying to avoid accusations that try “did nothing” to deter Russia. You don’t have to agree with them to accept that they do actually believe that.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Well now I’m even more sure we’re just talking past each other ;) The fears over what might happen 10 or 20 years down the road could be said of any countries signing any treaty. Nobody on either side has a crystal ball.

        2. juno mas

          David, the parties involved with Minsk agreement(s) were heads of state. These people do not get to “make stuff up”, they are supposed to recognize reality and speak to those issues. If Merkel thought that Russia needed to be appeased/pacified she needed to say it directly to Putin; and not feign agreement with Minsk.

          Merkel has shown herself to be as duplicitous as the US. That is the reality whether she “believes” it or not. No wiggling allowed.

          1. David

            I’m not sure what your point is. No-one, so far as I know, is “making stuff up.” Two different things seem to be involved here. If you read the interview, Merkel is clearly saying that she believes that, after 1991, Russia’s concerns were not taken seriously enough. (As I recall, the Germans were particularly sensitive about German concerns in the years after 1991, so she would be expressing something of a consensus.) But she is talking about a point where neither she nor Putin were in power, and she may well be guilty of the kind of creative hindsight that tends to afflict retired politicians. She clearly thinks that this began a chain of circumstances that led through Crimea and Maidan to where we are today. She then says that she attempted to deal with the way the situation had developed by what you could call a “twin-track” approach: a political settlement but with a military backup in case it failed.
            I actually don’t think this is difficult to understand. Whether it reflects Merkel’s feelings at the time, whether it’s a post-hoc rationalisation, I simply don’t know. But what is clear is that she’s seeking to defend her actions, and she doesn’t feel she has anything to apologise for. Others, of course, may disagree.

            1. The Rev Kev

              ‘She then says that she attempted to deal with the way the situation had developed by what you could call a “twin-track” approach: a political settlement but with a military backup in case it failed.’

              Not so. As far as the Ukrainians were concerned, there was only ever the military track. And the fact that NATO was training & equipping them up to NATO standards shows that they wanted the military track too. This is just Merkel being duplicitous again and trying to pretend that the military option was only an ‘insurance policy.’ We both know that it is Nazis running the Ukraine right now and Nazis don’t do peace deals, only conquest.

        3. NN Cassandra

          Problem with this is that even if they though Putin will invade in some distant future, it would still be advanteguous to implement the Minsk agreements. In fact it is extremly stupid to torpedoe them especially if you think there will be war anyway. Because what these meant in practice was that the militias lay down arms, Ukraine army takes over the border and in exchange there will be something added to constitution about autonomy. It should be obvious that boots on the ground mean wastly more than couple of articles, especially if you are the one who has the power to interpret what they mean with your supreme court.

          IMO it’s not just that western leaders are merely duplicitious, the bigger issue is that even if Putin gives them Donbas on silver plate, they self-sebotage it with their hubris, fanaticism and stupidity. Perhaps that is the ultimate state of being agreement incapable – no matter how great terms you offer, the other guy will manage to kill the deal anyway. Basically Putin could sign unconditional surrender tomorrow and the west would find a way to wiggle out of that.

        4. Keith Newman

          @David, 10:37am
          When does not “reasonable” become nutty?
          Some 75 Western diplomats and senior analysts had warned over 20 years, beginning in 1998, that incorporating Ukraine into NATO was completely unacceptable for Russia. Meirsheimer, for instance, repeated this in 2015 and later.
          It’s very hard to see the Western actions re Ukraine as anything other than a deliberate provocation with the hope Russia would be bled dry and possibly break up. Post hoc rationalisations by Merkel and Hollande are not convincing.
          It’s still hard to tell how it’s turning out for the U.S.elites (MIComplex is doing great, not one US soldier involved) but its hegemonic position is being challenged around the world and Russia seems to be handling the effects of the war very well, at least so far. Still, it’s not over yet, so who knows for sure at this stage.

          1. David

            What you have to understand is that western policy-making is a massive supertanker that plows on along essentially the same course. There’s a committee that tries to run the ship, some more influential than others, but it’s hard to make significant changes in speed or direction. Vague warnings of an iceberg up ahead are not acted upon because there’s no consensus about how to avoid it, and in the end you wind up sticking with what you are already doing, and engaging in self-congratulatory group hugs

            Almost certainly the 75 people you mentioned, had no influence. Remember, there were thousands of people saying the opposite, and they were believed There are always comforting arguments for doing nothing, especially when nobody can agree on what to do instead. The real horror though –and I watched this in disbelief over several decades— is the western belief that whatever the West does will have no consequences. After all, as more than one puffed-up western diplomat said at NATO, what are the Russians going to do if they don’t like it? We can simply ignore them.

            1. Keith Newman

              @David, 2:51 pm
              Thank you for the response. I always appreciate your analysis even when I am not entirely convinced. On this one I do take your point, as disturbing as it may be.
              As an aside I really liked your blog post at aurelien re the quasi-religious nature of the radical social liberalism the PMC is imposing on the West.

            2. upstater

              This goes back to the ultimate primacy of monsters like Cheney and Wolfowitz in the Bush 1 years. Baker could verbally promise “not one inch” east, but the neocons were already in control. There has been continuity of having neocon demons in control of US foreign and defense policy for 6 administrations now. That is a long time!

              Plenty of rice bowls being filled. I don’t think in 1990 that 6 of the 10 most prosperous counties in the US were DC suburbs or that all the MIC contractors like Boeing would relocate HQs there.

              Yes, it is like a supertanker, but aircraft carrier is more apropos.

              1. spud

                it was bill clinton that broke the promise. Kosovo was the warning.

                there is no use trying diplomacy with a hitler, musolinni, or a tojo type. no one ever won, and many ended up dead trying to appeaes them.

                FDR could see the hand writing on the wall with the rape of nanking.

                those that think that diplomacy with the japanse when they turned south was doable. just need to see what japan was doing to those they viewed as sub humans. think they would have ignored us after we made nice with them!, HA!

        5. Kouros

          The hypocrisy comes through in the fact that ok, yes, Ukraine had time to strengthen its military, which is fair and fine.

          But the show of no interest to solve the situation of ethnic Russians in Ukraine and accommodate in some basic levels shows that Ukraine is on this ultranationalist path, ready and willing to absorb all minorities and forever erase them and the danger of neighbours reclaiming their not that long lost territories to Soviet Union and RSS Ukraine respectively.

          Basically, if the west wanted Ukraine stronger, they didn’t care a rat’s ass if that comes at the expense of the ethnic Russian minority in Ukraine. Racist much?!

        6. c_heale

          There was no fear of a revanchist Russia. This is projection, since US policy is unashamedly revanchist to the extent that it wants to become the sole government and economic power for the entire planet.

          After the end of the Soviet empire, it was business as usual for the USA. However, they were too overconfident. Putin (imo one of the greatest leaders of the 20-21st centuries).

          Biden, Obama, Bush, and most of all the Clintons bear immediate responsibility for the current situation.

    4. David in Santa Cruz

      The Corriere della Sera article is of course available online in the original Italian — which Merkel was apparently speaking fluently. The quotation that has Helmer up in arms is quite clear:

      È il fatto che la Guerra Fredda non è mai realmente finita, perché in fin dei conti la Russia non è mai stata pacificata.


      The Google translation lacks idiom, but I’ll use it:

      It’s the fact that the Cold War never really ended, because ultimately Russia was never pacified.

      Merkel goes on to discuss the “invasion” of Crimea and the counter-movement of NATO troops into the Baltics. She fails to acknowledge that the 1991 secession of the “Ukrainian” SSR left unresolved the issue of Sebastopol or that the so-called “invasion” of Crimea was largely carried-out by the 24,000 Russian sailors and marines legally stationed there.

      Only Angela Merkel can tell us why she used the phrase “stata pacificata” in regard to post-Soviet Russia, but much revolves around the status of Sebastopol and the Black Sea Fleet.

      To suggest that Helmer’s concern about Merkel’s reference to Russia not being “pacified” is some sort of mis-translation is the worst sort of straw-manning. Pacificare can be translated as “appeased” or “reconciled” but Merkel was quite clear in expressing her view that the Cold War never really ended.

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      Per David in Santa Cruz’s comment above, I am done you with relentlessly attacking every Helmer post on spurious grounds.

      You were ENTIRELY capable of finding the article and determining whether Helmer was out over his skis. Instead, Merkel not only did use “pacified” but her entire remark makes explicit she saw the Cold War as still on.

      You do not get to use the cred you have established here to wage some sort of bizarre vendetta disguised as “oh so reasonable” assaults. You made an argument that Helmer’s entire case was off base when you didn’t even remotely have the goods.

      Your campaign against Helmer amounts to a direct assault on the credibility of this site. I will not tolerate it.

      I put you in moderation before over this. You don’t get that I am serious. I have worked too hard to build a reputation to have you undermine it by persistently trying to undermine a regularly featured writer. Back into moderation you go.

      1. Savita

        Thanks Yves, but who are you replying to? It’s often hard for me to tell who a reply is directed at because several replies can be linked in down the thread. I’ve read back over the chain and can’t find who you are explicitly writing to as having ( and consistently) attacked Helmer. (Personally I make a point of naming the commenter when I reply so its clear. )

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          To the originator of the attack on Helmer. Search on “pacified”.

          It’s done in a polite veneer. You nevertheless see next few comments accepting the viewpoint, when there is no reason to. The USSR chose to break up, FFS. What Russia was unhappy about was the US/NATO reneging on its deal and threatening Russia!

    6. cosmiccretin


      “So from the western perspective (and as far as I can tell Hollande has said the same thing) the fear was of a renascent Russia threatening Ukraine, and the solution was a cease-fire, followed by an increase in Ukraine’s defensive capability to make a Russian attack less likely. (A Russian attack would also, of course, have directly affected the security of NATO states.) For various political and technical reasons, Ukraine could not have been allowed to enter NATO then, but assistance could nonetheless be given.

      “Whether you think this is an accurate summary of events is beside the point, because it’s the one that western governments were clearly working from”.

      Taking this as a paraphrase of what you interpret Merkel’s current, retrospective, statement of her position circa 2014 to have been, it seems to me that you are bending over backwards to be “fair”. Given that Helmer’s article is unashamedly polemical I don’t have an issue with that.

      What I do have an issue with, however, is that in the process you appear to me to be playing-down (unintentionally no doubt, but all the same…) the true, glaring, duplicitousness of the policy pursued by NATO – by its (self-declared) hegemon the USA, effectively – up till then and subsequently which had among other things led directly to the crisis which Merkel was (according to her account, you suggest) seeking to de-fuse.

      The uncomfortable fact remains that “the western perspective” always was a preposterous (but, on the part of key actors such as Nuland and her ilk – not excluding then VP Biden – deliberate) falsification of Russia’s foreign policy under Putin’s leadership, repeatedly and unambiguously expounded (to willfully deaf ears). NATO was deliberately converted by the USA into an offensive military alliance directed against Russia, beginning in Yugoslavia (although the intent was conceived in principle much earlier). IMO there was and is no conceivable or credible excuse for that, and all the death and destruction which has befallen Ukraine since 2014 has been the direct result of that policy – a fact which ought never to be downplayed.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        It is one thing, and perfectly fair grounds, to criticize Helmer for painting in overly bright colors.

        It is another to level a fabricated charge against the substance of what Helmer wrote.

  7. Lex

    What amazes me is that Merkel has said this out loud, now multiple times, when she didn’t need to. Same goes for Hollande. In the current political-media climate she could easily have framed the same statement as a good faith effort undermined by Putin because he’s the untrustworthy and historical evil. Everyone would have nodded along. The framing could even make her look wise in the “we armed Ukraine all along because we didn’t trust Putin” vein.

    I’ve been turning this over for a while and can’t figure out why she said what she said how she said it and when. On her position you’d at least wait until it was nearly sure Ukraine would win to get in on that glory train. Does she believe the propaganda and think now is the time? She’s obviously wrong and if/when Ukraine losses the defeat becomes her fault to a large degree because history will write that the whole thing could have been avoided with a diplomatic solution that was favorable for Ukraine … except for Merkel, Hollande and Obama/Biden.

    1. .Tom

      I’ve been wondering about this a lot too. The war serves various interests beyond geopolitics. Vast amounts of money are in play and for some interests the best thing is to keep the conflict going as long as possible. Perhaps that’s what she’s working on now. So if there is to be a forever war between NATO and RF in Europe, perhaps Merkel figures that if she can make this version of the story stick then she can write her way into history as the great statesman that led the West to it. From our point of view it would take a maniac to want to do that but in recent decades Western politicians have claimed pride in their wars. Maybe she’s the same kind of war maniac as, say, Tony Blair.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe both Hollande and Merkel are trying to prove their anti-Russia credentials so that nobody thinks them soft on Putin because of past events. Trying to protect their “legacy” which has an effect on their present employability with speakerships and the like. Certainly Hollande was saying how tough he was on Russia, much more than Obama, Trump & Biden-


        1. Lex

          That’s a reasonable take on the behavior and probably the correct one. I’m still left with how they’ve said it because they could achieve that goal without openly saying they lied. “I didn’t believe Putin could be trusted. So while we pursued the diplomatic track of Minsk we made sure Ukraine was well armed. I thought Putin would eventually invade and I was right. If we hadn’t armed Ukraine all these years Putin would have won.”

          1. Keith Newman

            @Lex: Interesting alternative discourse for Merkel, but I think the Rev has it right.
            Merkel has burnished her anti-Russian cred in a rabidly anti-Russian country. Trying to cover her betrayal with talk of actually wanting Minsk but not trusting the Russians doesn’t work in my opinion. There were many years to implement Minsk but it was never even tried.
            This entire mess is appalling and would have been avoided if Ukraine had become neutral like Austria and given Russian speakers the language and cultural assurances Quebec has in Canada. Apparently the Ukrainian negotiators offered that to the Russians but it was nixed by the U.S./U.K.

            1. JEHR

              Well, Canada is a bit different; she doesn’t have a large foreign French-speaking country right on her border demanding things for Quebec.

              1. Keith Newman

                Well, my point is that Minsk-like accords are not unusual, they already exist in the West. They exist for Quebec where I live and maybe there are similar arrangements in Switzerland and Belgium?
                In any case the Minsk accords were a pretty obvious compromise given that the Ukrainian government had banned the Russian language in schools and elsewhere. So demanding respect for the language and culture of at least one third of the Ukrainian population was hardly very radical.
                With respect to Russia it wasn’t a signatory to the agreements. In fact the accords were a way to get the Russian speaking areas to stay in Ukraine and ultimately keep Russia out of Ukrainian problems. Russia relied on Germany and France to implement the compromise but was betrayed.

          2. Kouros

            This argument doesn’t stand, since absolutely nothing was done to implement the Minsk 2 and none of the Steinmeier steps were taken by Ukraine to implement it, and France and Germany similarly obfuscated.

            The rights demanded for Ethnic Russians are more or less in line with EU type legislation, but that didn’t matter for the “rules based international order” crowd (one rule for me and another rule for thee more likely).

            The proof is in the pudding!

    2. wendigo

      Pretty good chance that in the west it will be framed as a failure to arm Ukraine well enough and early enough to defeat Russia.

    3. anon in so cal

      They are emboldened. They probably do believe their own propaganda. And there is no limit to their treachery. Have to hope the Pentagon can rein in the most psychopathic as in some quarters there is the deluded belief that the attacks on Engels indicate that additional drone and missile strikes inside Russia are possible, or, even more psychotically, that a first strike is feasible. It’s hard to fully grasp their depravity.

      MoA posted the latest corporate media lies, which are 180 opposite the truth. These escalating lies suggest the US does not have and does not want an offramp.

    4. tevhatch

      My guess, just like NS2 terrorist attack by terrorist state, the function of the statement is to poison the well, to salt the land, so that any future German, French (and therefore the EU) leadership will only find a prohibitively expensive path back to getting into bed with Russia, as Putin will have to face an angry electorate. That’s the function. The purpose for Merkel is to burnish her credentials in Washington, not Berlin. She still hopes to be rewarded with the sinecure of President, World Bank, or similar.

  8. .Tom

    It seems as though Merkel is bragging about her role in starting the war in UA. How is this presented in mainstream news in the various domestic European countries?

    1. Michael

      I read the German text. Merkel said that the Minsk accords were inteded to buy time, but it is implied that this is because shew knew that Putin would eventually break them.

        1. Acacia

          Merkel’s interview with Die Zeit can be found here:


          I take it this is the relevant passage:

          Merkel: Die 2008 diskutierte Einleitung eines Nato-Beitritts der Ukraine und Georgiens hielt ich für falsch. Weder brachten die Länder die nötigen Voraussetzungen dafür mit, noch war zu Ende gedacht, welche Folgen ein solcher Beschluss gehabt hätte, sowohl mit Blick auf Russlands Handeln gegen Georgien und die Ukraine als auch auf die Nato und ihre Beistandsregeln. Und das Minsker Abkommen 2014 war der Versuch, der Ukraine Zeit zu geben.

          Sie hat diese Zeit hat auch genutzt, um stärker zu werden, wie man heute sieht. Die Ukraine von 2014/15 ist nicht die Ukraine von heute. Wie man am Kampf um Debalzewe (Eisenbahnerstadt im Donbass, Oblast Donezk, d. Red.) Anfang 2015 gesehen hat, hätte Putin sie damals leicht überrennen können. Und ich bezweifle sehr, dass die Nato-Staaten damals so viel hätten tun können wie heute, um der Ukraine zu helfen.

          ZEIT: Beim ersten öffentlichen Auftritt nach dem Ende Ihrer Kanzlerschaft haben Sie erklärt, Sie hätten schon 2007 erkannt, wie Putin über Europa denkt, und dass die einzige Sprache, die er versteht, Härte sei. Wenn diese Erkenntnis so früh da war, warum haben Sie eine Energiepolitik betrieben, die uns von Russland so abhängig gemacht hat?

          Merkel: Es war uns allen klar, dass das ein eingefrorener Konflikt war, dass das Problem nicht gelöst war, aber genau das hat der Ukraine wertvolle Zeit gegeben.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          You were ENTIRELY capable of finding it. You attacked Helmer with NO evidence and keep demanding other do the work you should have done before waging war on Helmer’s and derivatively my credibility.

          You are engaging in multiple violations of site rules: Making Shit Up, straw manning, and broken record.

          I am done with this sort of thing. You do not get to attack a piece on completely fabricated grounds and then keep extending your argument to try to legitimate the original false charge.

      1. Kouros

        Nobody asked her to show any proof for Putin breaking the accord or confronted her with why there was no evidence for Ukraine doing anything in that regard and plenty of evidence of France and Germany obfuscating (remember the confidential emails exchanges published by the Russian Foreign Ministry a couple of years ago putting to shame the duplicitous French and German behaviour on Minsk?)?!

        1. Scylla

          Well- remember back in 2014/15, the LDNR militias were mopping the floor with the Ukrainian military. The militias did not stop rolling up the Ukrainians because they were afraid of Germany, France, NATO, or the US. They stopped because the Russian government asked/told them to knock it off. To me, that right there demonstrates that the Russians had no intentions to retake lost Soviet territory. The people making the argument that Russia had/has imperialist intentions do not have a leg to stand on.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            To add, the separatists wanted to join Russia. Putin had to push them hard to accept the Minsk scheme of more legal rights in a federalized Ukraine.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Actually wasn’t that hard to pull back on the Donbass Republics. All the ammo lines and support went back through Russia so they would just throttle the ammo supply to give them the word.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Please do not Make Shit Up even if unintentionally.

                Jacques Baud, who did small weapons control as a Swiss designee to NATO, was tasked to find Russian arms going to Donbass. NATO didn’t find any in 2014.

                Recall Ukraine troops asked to contain the separatists either abandoned their posts (and equipment) or defected to the separatists. The separatists started out with a shit ton of Ukraine military hardware.

                Russian support may have started in 2015 but my impression was the West greatly exaggerated how much. This was aggressively promoted by the likes of Bellingcat. Putin was Not Happy about the separatist project, even while understanding and sympathizing with their grievances and recognizing it as a US/NATO provocation. It set back his (we now know destined to fail) efforts to normalize relations with the West even if it did allow him to secure Crimea as a way to put the West on notice that Russia was not going to sit back and let the West control the Ukraine chessboard.

                It is entirely plausible that there was a lot of wink and nod Russian support, like Russian troops being allowed to go help out in Ukraine. Remember many would have had family in Donbass.

          2. Polar Socialist

            Well, at the time Ukrainians were making a lot of noise that it had to be the Russians that beat them so thoroughly – couldn’t have been the militias.

            To this day this causes serious annoyance among the militia members, but for The West it obviously was and is a plausible explanation. Even now after they’ve seen what it means to have Russian military actually involved.

  9. The Rev Kev

    In the end this is all about trying to knock off a country for its resources like was done to Iraq so it is all about money and power – and prestige. The other day I gave a link to the 2nd Forum of the Free Nations of Russia which displayed a map of how the Russian Federation would be broken up into about three dozen countries. This, in fact, is the game-plan that the collective west has been working towards. Here is that link-


    Just yesterday I played a hunch and called up a map showing the oil and natural gas fields in Russia to see how they compared and dagnabit, some “countries” are a pretty good match for where those fields are. Add some fiddling around for geopolitical reasons and it is still not a bad match. How about that-


    1. Nicola Avery

      A few years ago I watched a West Point presentation where they outlined how much fossil fuel was in the Russian Arctic. At the time it was more than a little eyebrow raising to find the US military so deeply interested in the specifics.

    2. Polar Socialist

      If you’d like to see some crazy stuff, this is allegedly a map on the wall of the head of the Ukrainian Foreign Intelligence service, Kirill Budanov.

      In it Russia has been dismembered between Ukraine, Finland, China and Central Asian republics. Apparently also Poland and Belarus have been dissolved into Ukraine and Germany.

      “Drang nach Osten” seems to be the winning bet at least for this branch of the Ukrainian security apparatus.

  10. David

    Map of proposed DMZ

    The north line needs to be within 50 miles of Kiev so that there is no margin for Ukie aggression before the retaliatory strike – Cross the line and your gone – whether satellite or lasers detection – instantaneous

    “The DMZ is a no-man’s land about 30 miles north of Seoul that was established in the 1953 Korean War Armistice Agreement”

  11. Keith Newman

    @ Rev: great catch! I had never heard of this organisation. Totally barefaced in its calling for the dissolution of Russia. I googled it but was unable to find who puts the money up for it.
    One has to assume it’s the U.S., probably via proxies.

  12. Justice James

    All these sounds reasonable and very logical, but why depend so heavily on Russian energy then?

    1. Altandmain

      Germany would not be competitive as a manufacturing power otherwise. LNG costs many times more than pipeline gas.

      All of Germany’s prosperity is reliant on the imported gas. Without it, the industry leaves and Germany becomes a much more poor nation. Likewise, there are a lot of doubters now about the future of the European welfare state for similar reasons.

      It also highlights that the Energiewende was a failure. The effort to transition Germany still made it highly reliant 9j the Russians and most of the renewable manufacturing sectors are dominated by China.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      It looked like a no lose play. Germany gets cheap gas. If Russia is dismembered or regime-changed, Germany still gets cheap gas because pipelines.

      No one envisaged that Russia would fight back effectively v. NATO encroachment.

      1. chris

        I think that’s right. I also think it’s the question that is begged by Merkel’s revelations.

        If the plan was to prepare for gutting Russia, then why didn’t anyone prepare? Why didn’t people in Europe actually prepare by making sure things like all the French nuke plants were running? Or why weren’t there more gas storage options instead of the UK and others shuttering them between 2014 and 2022? Why weren’t more weapons staged in Germany? If Ukraine was supposed for arm and NATO was supposed to prepare, where the hell was all the preparation?

        It appears that in addition to not expecting Russia fighting back effectively, they had to be counting on Russia collapsing so quickly that there would be no economic impact from the sanctions.

        1. vao

          Why didn’t people in Europe actually prepare?

          Those are the same people who did not prepare for an epidemy like covid (instead reducing hospital beds, eliminating stocks of masks, not stocking up on desinfectants, cutting research on SARS-1 and other coronaviruses, etc).

          And have similarly not prepared for the following epidemics of simian flu and bronchiolitis.

          And who have not prepared for yet another wave of avian flu, despite numerous previous outbreaks.

          And who are not preparing for yet another financial meltdown, despite the 2007-2010 experience and the repeated warnings about never-ending systemic risks and drawn-out collapse of banks like Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Monte dei Paschi…

          And who never prepared for climate change, and were suprised when rivers in Spain, Italy, France, Germany, Czechia, etc, ran dry — with devastating consequences for waterway transport (e.g. Rhine) and agriculture (e.g. Po).

          As far as the French nuclear power plants go, well, most of those that were shut down belonged to models using the same technology and experiencing the same corrosion problems; since they are all about the same age (and they are not new), the same problem is occurring with all of them simultaneously.

          1. Acacia

            Why didn’t people in Europe actually prepare?

            Or to what extent was it simply “I got mine… F.U…. every crumb fer himself!”

        2. upstater

          France partially privatized EDF and fully privatized Areva. The “thought” of the elites is to induce the competitive animal spirits of the marketplace into these stodgy enterprises that over 50 years built out the nuclear generation fleet, transmission and distribution. Like the US, the results are predictable when engineering becomes a stepchild and MBAs rule.

          For the EU, there was no way to prepare prior to the SMO after a decade or more of deferred maintenance and cost cutting in the energy industry. Germany or Switzerland can’t flip a switch and turn on shuttered or planned closings of nuclear plants. LNG terminals are not pop up retail kiosks.

          Ukraine certainly prepared for war, that is exactly what Merkel and Poroshenko said. US trained tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and equipped same. Their Soviet era equipment stocks were massive and dwarfed those of any European country. The fortifications are massive in Donbas.

          The US and EU are victims of two sides of the same coin: hubris and nemisis.

    3. Michaelmas

      Why didn’t people in Europe actually prepare?

      “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

      Sun Tzu

      The West’s elites expected the sanctions to drive Russia’s oligarchs — the equivalent of the US’s all-powerful Owner class and thus the real People Who Matter in Russian society, they reckoned — to rise up and depose Putin. Besides saying everything about how comically little the West’s elites understand Russia — and how likely they therefore are to lose their war — that also tells you much about how much the West’s “Democracy” is only a facade for oligarchical and corporate ownership of governance in the West

  13. Carolinian

    A telling bit

    They are also the war aims of Joseph Kennedy, father financier of the US Democratic Party whose fascist line was tolerated by the White House until the fighting war started in earnest in Europe and Kennedy was gotten rid of.

    There are books out lately about the Kennedys and Joe in particular. If today’s leftists often seem to have starry eyed views toward Biden the same could be said of the Boomers and the Kennedys. Bobby in particular was transformed in the national narrative from thuggish family enforcer to sainted martyr even though we have no idea what he might have done if elected president. Shorter: nothing new under the sun.

    Still compared to Biden perhaps Boibby Kennedy was some kind of saint.

  14. John k

    Helmer’s map of what Russia will end up with is smaller than what seems likely to me.
    I hadn’t thought of Russia taking out Ukraine’s electric grid before they began to do it. It seems Ukraine cities will quickly be unlivable as winter deepens, forcing residents to leave, mostly to eu. This, plus Ukraine running out of ammo/missiles, makes me think Ukraine is/will collapse by spring, russia will mop up, and simply explain what the post-war conditions are/will be in Ukraine. What would be optimum from their view?
    First, Russian pop would expect the other 4 Russian speaking oblasts to be inc into russia, which would add Odessa and Kharkov plus 2 intermediate oblasts.
    Second, how large a no-man’s land is required to be out of range of west conventional weapons? 200k? 300k? Only Russia makes the transformers, maybe just leave the buffer region without power.
    Either range seems to imply Kiev would be in the no-man’s land and might simply remain empty. Perhaps Lviv would be capitol.
    As far as Poland acquiring part of Ukraine, don’t see why Russia would allow it since it brings nato closer.

    1. tevhatch

      “…be out of range of west conventional weapons?

      Such a range does not exist on this planet. What the DMZ does is create a slaughter field & anti-smuggling/terrorist barrier. It is one way barrier if one side has both a treaty de-militarizing the other party and is able and willing to suppress any efforts by the other side to re-militarize/fortify it’s side. Just like North Korea Armistice, suppression of long range fire is done by long range fire in the other direction. Terms thus may specify any attempt to hit at civilian targets east makes all civilian targets west into military targets. Plans to remove the Capital of South Korea from Seoul and place it South of gun range in the late 1980s were perceived as a threat which speed up nuclearization and missile development by the North, hence a DMZ itself is only a simple tool behind which a complicated strategy is deployed.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I am still of the view that Russia could create a de facto DMZ by completely de-electrifying territory. The only people who could live there would be hardy preppers, like the beardos, as they are called in Maine, in its Unorganized Territories. It would be hard to move any troops or equipment in due to lack of rail and Russia could keep tabs of substantial movements of people via drones and other means.

      Not sayin’ this is likely but it is an option.

      1. Michaelmas

        A de facto DMZ such as you describe is a definite scenario, and maybe the most cost effective and least vulnerable one from Russia’s POV. Not incidentally, it’s also a scenario that the US MIC would be happy with, since it means continual and increased funding for R&D for technologies like drones, counter-drones, electronic warfare, etc.

        Though David makes a worthwhile point upthread about how the northern line of any proposed DMZ needs — from Russia’s POV again — to be within 50 miles of Kiev “so there is no margin for Ukie aggression before the retaliatory strike – Cross the line and your gone – whether satellite or lasers detection.” Same principle as Korea’s DMZ. As tevhatch says, a DMZ is simply a tool around which complex strategies can be developed.

      1. chris

        Woof. That’s rough. The comments are even worse. The people carrying water for NATO really can’t handle the idea that other countries can have legitimate security concerns.

        1. tevhatch

          Maybe people, but sometimes it’s just Bots/Troll farms/NAFTO equals CIA money, not people.

          1. Keith Newman

            @tevatch, 9:34.
            AI trolls also came to my mind as well.
            The Saker observed very recently that many of the comments he thought were by trolls turned out to be AI since they kept on coming long after they had been banned.
            I’m not an expert on this but it seemed like a reasonable conclusion to me, coupled with the fact that spy agencies are very active flooding the media with comments sympathetic to their masters’ views.

    1. berit

      One comment made me laugh. He – Jens Stoltenberg – does not have an accent. He talks that way, be it in Norwegian or in English. True,
      But it pains me to listen to Stoltenberg of today, this warmongering agitator, having sold his soul to TPTB when he as PM of Norway had our then minister of foreign affairs Jonas Støre, PM today, telephone ministers only hours after a full government session, to get them aboard for Norwegian bombers and pilots on NATO/US bombing missions on Libya. Støre got them, one after one, till they were all responsible for ruining Libya.
      Stoltenberg’s ambition is what’s left of a once “promising” politician. Maybe like Merkel and Holland. Unmasked. Deshabillee … Tragic for victims of US/NATO aggression, potensially us all. Not a happy new year in sight, though interesting.

      Thank you, Yves, for an excellent thread, and best wishes to all!

  15. WillD

    Well, it’s Merkel and Germany that have now been ‘pacified’, without any help from Russia, and thanks to her US puppet masters.

    All her hard work for nothing, and her political legacy just hit rock bottom, revealing herself as devious and duplicitous as the US. She will be remembered mainly for these admissions.

  16. Eshi

    The main initiator of this war will never,I repeat never,accept that the quality of one of its main export products,being weapons,will be turned into a laughing stock by its main competitor the RF.during this SMO.
    So apart from all other relevant considerations,in my opinion this SMO will turn into a real(catastrophic)war.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      So pray tell what can a country with both inferior and too weapons do, particularly when their economic sanctions have also backfired? The EU has admitted they are out of sanctions.

  17. dean 1000

    If western-policy making is like a massive supertanker that can’t quickly determine if an iceberg is ahead or not it is too bureaucratic to determine if its policies are likely to increase the likelihood of nuclear war. NATO shouldn’t just be downsized it should cease to exist.
    Any policy making group worth its salt can determine if its policies increase the likelihood of conventional war. The world needs puffed-up diplomats who refuse to keep up with the military capabilities of other countries like it needs nuclear fallout.
    Your comments are needed even though I don’t agree as they give pause for thought.

  18. Roland

    Looking at Stoltenberg in that clip: all emotion, no reason. Look at his body language and eye movements, and hear his tone of voice. The guy looks and sounds like he’s frightened. From that speech, it seems like Stoltenberg needs rescue more than Ukraine does!

    It’s a weird contrast to the Coffey piece from the Hudson Institute, which is the best example I’ve ever seen of, “assuming the conclusion.” The author believes that RF will somehow magically shatter, just because they lost a couple of battles. To Coffey, a nuclear arsenal is just an abstract, passive, thing vaguely referred to as WMD. I’m not sure that Coffey understands what weapons are, or what people can do with them. Again, no logic, just a fantasy of future history becoming a perpetual replay of the 1990’s, complete with a Super-Duper version of Yugoslavia. It never occurs to Coffey that no Russian leader today would ever repeat Gorbachev’s experiment; instead, they’ll experiment with escalation.

    But there’s a link between the contrasting fears and fantasies of the two men. I think that Stoltenberg and Coffey both exhibit the infantile wish-fulfillment metaphysics that has become widespread among the upper classes in today’s West–an earnest conviction that existence itself must ultimately conform to one’s own desires. Coffey, then, shows the sort of world they wish for, while Stoltenberg shows how anxiously they wish for it.

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