Within hours of the ceasefire taking effect in eastern Ukraine, Kiev’s forces were accused of breaching the truce with rocket attacks on civilian areas. The Western-backed Kiev junta, in turn, blamed pro-independence militia of breaking the ceasefire. However, video evidence of explosive damage to homes and vehicles indicated that the Kiev forces had in fact resumed their usual tactics of targeting civilians.
Nevertheless, there is still hope that a cessation of hostilities may yet take hold and allow for political dialogue between Kiev and the self-declared People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk so as to end the nearly five months of conflict in the eastern region of Ukraine.
But the success of any peace process will most likely depend not so much on the actions of the fighting partisans on the ground, but rather more on the conduct of the foreign powers sponsoring the Kiev regime.
The ceasefire was announced last Friday in the Belarus capital of Minsk after earnest discussions between the Trilateral Contact Group of Kiev envoys, independence leaders, and the Russian government.
The deal was brokered by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and was given impetus by a seven-point peace plan drawn up by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The three main points agreed were for a bilateral ceasefire, exchange of prisoners, and for the access of humanitarian aid convoys from Moscow to the mainly ethnic Russian civilian population of the eastern Donbass regions.
Kiev’s president Petro Poroshenko hailed the deal as a breakthrough and representatives of the Donetsk and Luhansk rebel regions also gave their commitment to the truce. Poroshenko said that the peace process would not alter the territorial integrity of Ukraine, while Igor Plotnitsky and Alexander Zakharchenko said that the deal would not preclude their regions’ determination to form independent republics. How those seeming diametric positions will be resolved remains to be seen in the course of dialogue.
But at least the conflicting parties appear to have reached a mutual understanding to halt the violence – which has so far claimed more than 2,600 lives since April and caused some one million refugees. Most of the victims have been civilians in this appalling episode.
The crucial factor, however, for a viable political settlement is how the United States and European Union respond. Unfortunately, that factor does not bode well. After all, it was the tacit support of these sponsors and in particular the sinister involvement of CIA director John Brennan last April that emboldened the Kiev regime to launch its military operations in the Donbass. Such involvement points to a callous disregard for civilian life and a genuinely peaceful resolution.
US President Barack Obama said on Friday at the close of the NATO summit in Wales that he welcomed the news of a ceasefire brokered in Belarus. But he immediately poured scorn on the deal by saying that he was «skeptical that the separatists would follow through and the Russians will stop violating Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity».
Once again Obama was reiterating inflammatory and specious accusations against Russia as being the aggressor in Ukraine. Moscow has consistently denied that it is supplying weapons or military personnel into Ukraine’s Donbass regions. Russia argues, with much reason, that the conflict in Ukraine is the result of the US and Europe destabilizing the country by its support for the illegal coup against the Ukrainian government that occurred on February 22 earlier this year.
The far-right reactionary regime that came to power went on to launch a military offensive on the pro-Russian populations in the east due to their refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the coup.
Western governments and their media have continually charged Russia with instigating and fuelling the unrest in eastern Ukraine without providing any evidence to support such tendentious claims.
Obama’s snide qualification about the latest ceasefire as being prone to failure because of Russia’s alleged violation of Ukrainian sovereignty is not merely an unhelpful slander; it also sets the stage for sabotage of the ceasefire from the Western-backed Kiev side, and the use of Russia as a convenient scapegoat.
The US insistence that Russia is violating Ukrainian territory without citing any supporting evidence for such a claim means that the claim will continue to be leveled.
Therefore, from the prejudiced Western viewpoint, the success of the ceasefire is already doomed because Russia is somehow illegally involved in Ukraine, and Russia will never be able to satisfy this Western prejudice that it is not involved. The Big Lie will just keep churning out.
The European Union’s top bureaucrats also displayed the same irrational mentality when they announced new harsher economic sanctions against Russia on Friday.
Presidents of the European Council and European Commission, Hermann Van Rompuy and José Manuel Barroso said that a new package of embargoes had been drawn up to restrict Russia’s energy, banking and defense sectors in order to «reinforce the principle that EU sanctions are directed at promoting a change of course in Russia’s actions in Ukraine».
Again, as the White House, the European Union has judged Russia guilty until proven innocent without adumbrating any evidence. That obtuse attitude means that Russia will hardly ever be able to convince these detractors otherwise. And with the reactionary anti-Russian Polish prime minister Donald Tusk elected to take over from Van Rompuy as European Council President it seems that the irrationality will become institutionalized.
During the two-day NATO summit in Wales, which closed just as the ceasefire pact was being announced in Minsk, Belarus, there was a torrent of invective against Russia over Ukraine and a host of calculated provocations.
NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen led the chorus of vitriol accusing Russia of «attacking Ukraine». Rasmussen clearly knows nothing about libel law, or, more sinisterly, he is acting consciously as a deceitful propagandist with an offensive agenda.
The NATO alliance of 28 members vowed solidarity with Ukraine in the face of «Russian aggression» and promised some EURO 15 million ($19m) in military aid to the reactionary regime in Kiev. There was also talk of fast-tracking NATO membership for Ukraine in truculent disregard of Moscow’s appeal on the importance of maintaining that country’s military neutrality.
The NATO gathering gave place of honor to Kiev president Poroshenko who addressed delegates with a plea for support because his country’s «stability and security was brutally undermined by Russian aggression».
Barack Obama and British premier David Cameron denounced Russia for forcing Ukraine «to abandon its right to democracy at the barrel of a gun».
Rasmussen then chimed in again with more slander to tell the conference that Russia had «not taken a single step towards peace» and that Moscow «wants protracted, frozen conflicts in the neighborhood» of Eastern Europe.
Poland and the rightwing Baltic states added to the doom-laden mood by repeatedly warning that their security was being infringed by a predatory Russia. «We are next on Moscow’s target list» was their lament, which predictably solicited brave declarations of NATO «collective defense» under the organization’s Article 5.
And so, the NATO narrative escalated seamlessly from alleged Russian hostility in Ukraine to imaginary expansionist designs in the Baltic region and beyond. And with this suitably grim background, the US-led military alliance announced that it was to set up a new Rapid Response Force based in Eastern Europe – in violation of the NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997. The new NATO force will comprise 4,000 troops and be able to deploy within 48 hours.
«It sends a clear message to any potential aggressor: should you even think of attacking one ally, you will be facing the whole alliance,» said Rasmussen with veiled reference to Russia. The Danish NATO cheerleader also explained that the spearhead force would be able to deploy anywhere in the world. So much for NATO supposedly being a defense alliance for the North Atlantic hemisphere. NATO is explicitly now going global and proud of it.
The setting up of this reactive battalion was again in defiance of Moscow’s expressed opposition ahead of the NATO conference because such a move would be in breach of past and existing NATO binding commitments to desist from establishing a military presence in Eastern Europe.
But before the summit closed, almost laughably, the NATO naysayers were proven wrong when the Minsk meeting produced a ceasefire between Kiev and the pro-independence rebels – largely thanks to Russian diplomacy. Unlike Russia, it is the US government, the EU and NATO that have not taken a single step towards ending the conflict in Ukraine. It is these parties who have evidently fomented and fuelled the bloodshed.
And as the Russian Foreign Ministry noted at the weekend the EU continues to ratchet up sanctions on Russia instead of providing any humanitarian aid to the suffering civilians of the Donbass regions.
To be fair to Poroshenko, his envoys did sign up to a ceasefire and a political dialogue. But Poroshenko is only a puppet. His commitment is far from reliable because it is not he who is calling the shots. The CIA-installed prime minister in Kiev, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has made clear his contempt for any peace deal. He denounced it as a «Russian ploy» before the agreement was even signed on Friday.
And, as we can see from the relentless NATO and EU aggression towards Russia, the puppet masters operating the Kiev regime have no interest in settling Ukraine politically.
For them Ukraine is just a psyops move in a bigger picture of adversity towards Russia. The US and its European allies want Ukraine as a whole vassal state from where they can menace Russia. They have already lost Crimea, and they are certainly not going to lose any further territory in the industrial east of Ukraine.
That’s why the US-led EU and NATO will try to make sure the latest ceasefire and dialogue do not amount to an equitable conclusion. Sabotage is the order of the day.
A genuine political peace in Ukraine will only come about when the US and its NATO and EU allies stop their criminal interference in that country and let the Ukrainian people determine their own future.
Finian CUNNINGHAM | SCF