Friday, February 13, 2015

What does the Protocol (Etiquette and Formalities) of Minsk 2.0 tell us about the nature of the Minsk Deal itself?

While Minsk 2.0 was negotiated by Merkel, Putin, and Hollande, the document was signed, as with Minsk 1.0, on behalf of the "three-party contact group" by an OSCE envoy, Russia's Ambassador to Ukraine, and Kuchma as "the Second President of Ukraine." All these three have titles to their names (see the link). Below them, as in the case of Minsk 1.0, Zakharchenko and Plotnisky, the heads of the DPR and LPR, signed too, but without their official titles. The two-tier way of negotiating and signing spells and shows it clearly that, while Zakharchenko and Plotnisky are treated as an appendix to the process, Russia acts as part of the three-party "contact group" which is handing the demands and conditions agreed without the DPR and LPR participation in the negotiations to the latter for implementation--yet without the slightest recognition of the entities they represent. For, like Minsk 1.0, Minsk 2.0 is in its essence an act which stipulates dissolution and death of the DPR and the LPR.

This patently humiliating and low treatment of the representatives of the people's republics is a far cry from the way in which, for example, the Geneva talks and the Moscow talks were conducted between the Syrian government and the West-created opposition, which revolves around al Qaeda-organized armies.

PS: the claim that Zakharchenko and Plotnisky did not sign was lame disinformation, happily circulated by the usual disinformation channels.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Minsk 2.0 as a lesson in (Nazi) state and nation building

Some of the crystal ball readings of Minsk 2.0 assume without some good reasons for it that Minsk 2.0 was something, which Putin either initiated or demanded. I am aware of nothing notable which would support this idea. The parsimonious (simple) explanation is that Minsk 2.0 was initiated and imposed by the West 1) in response to the coming-to-be catastrophe for the junta troops in Debaltzevo, 2) the perceived need to bring to an end the "sabotage" of Minsk 1.0 on the part of Russia, and the DPR and LPR. The series of meetings between Poroshenko and the Western leaders were well sequeled and coordinated so were the sudden ultimatums and the renewed anti-Russian rhetoric. After all, Minsk 1.0 was an agreement on "certain principles" (however unprincipled I would see them), and the rest is tightening of the screws and presenting Minsk 1.0/2.0 etc. as the "only rational and viable option" left (I am citing by memory from Brzezinski's blueprint where this very strategy/tactic is emphasized). If in Spring, as some Russian commentators noted (was it El Murid?), Russia had a number of possible options and possible moves in front of herself, then the list or options left has since then been reduced significantly, while the uprising and resistance to the junta, which, last Spring, was rising from Odessa to Kharkov, has been effectively contained and cornered in a smaller portion of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions. The Nazi junta now has a firm grip on and control of the whole state apparatus mightily assisted by a new phenomenon of armed, trained, and very motivated Nazi paramilitaries, organizations, and their activists. Their professionalism has also dramatically increased and expanded. The insufficiently appreciated fact is that the Kiev regime with the help of all kinds of experts, helpers, and minders has been intensively working on a new "nation-building" and Nazi state-building, however perverse and criminal this process is. At the same time, nation- and state-building in the DPR and LPR has been often torpedoed or put on brakes. As a result, despite great odds, while the militia is being at last transformed into something that begins to resemble an army (which ought to be undone under Minsk), the building of institutions and the state is very behind. Should these partial and inadequate attempts be further aborted or exchanged for changing the would-be republics into regions, which the original junta's law on their special status was actually turning into zones under ATO military command, then anti-fascist resistance and opposition would be simply reduced to a state of organizational impotence, chaos and disorder.

A seemingly realistic, but politically dishonest and intellectually lazy response to the question about Minsk 2.0 and the apparent lack of other possibilities and good options would be to say that there are no good options left, that all are bad and that the one we are left with is the least bad under the given conditions. One can explore and find several objections to this. One from the more obvious and readily available is that this least bad option, though seemingly a clever one, is a result of the diplomatic and political initiative and offensive undertaken by the Empire. And while the flare of the visible diplomatic activity that led to Minsk 2.0 started seemingly only some two weeks ago, the present move has been in the works for months since last Spring.

When was the last time a Polish politician felt comfortable to threaten the Russians?

The ink on Minsk 2.0 which those who did not negotiate it were forced to sign has not dried yet and emboldened Tusk is already busy issuing threats to Moscow: Watch out, if you breach what you agreed to in Minsk! More punitive measures are in store for you!

When was the last time a Polish politician felt comfortable to threaten the Russians?

What happened in Minsk and what the EU thinks of what happened there is coming out rather very fast and without much ado, and it also shows what happened to the much hitherto cherished "partnership" and how Russia is treated by the leading capitalist elites. Poland's Donald Tusk as Chief of the European Council (EU President) has just issued an open threat to Russia: "The EU is ready to take further measures in addition to the sanctions it has already imposed if a new Ukraine peace pact is breached."

Despite what the Minsk apologists also claimed, Tusk also repeated the charge of "Russian aggression" against Ukraine.

What will Russia do if Kiev breaches the Minsk agreements and it Kiev continues Nazification of Ukraine, mobilization for war against Russia, and its terror against opposition?

Previously I said that the DPR and LPR representatives were held in a different room apart from Putin, Merkel, Hollande, and Poroshenko. More precisely, not just in another room, but also in another building.

Minsk 2.0: Post Scriptum

1. So far the fighting in the Debaltzevo cauldron continues unabated. The Ukrainian troops are encircled there despite Poroshenko's denials, but Kiev is trying to break the encirclement.
2. The Empire and the Kiev regime are putting much of hope into imposing on the breakaway republics "new local elections" which would change the republics' leadership and replace it with the junta's stooges or effective quislings.
3. For it is apparently under the new local "leadership" that the stipulated demilitarization and disarmament of the republics is to be carried out (Point 10: "Withdrawal of all foreign armed units, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under the supervision of the OSCE. The disarmament of all illegal groups.") The date of these new elections--for Kiev does not recognize the current republics or their leadership as legitimate--is, however, not defined except that all the required changes are to be achieved before the end of 2015.
4. Will the junta be willing to stop shelling Donetsk, Gorlovka and other cities, as implied under the stipulated withdrawal of heavy weapons by March 1?

The disbanding and disarming of the NAF, effectively described by Minsk 2.0 as "an illegal group" (for, according to Minsk 2.0, even the republics have no legal or political standing or status) can be hypothetically achieved in these ways:
1. voluntary self-disarming and dissolution under the current leadership and command
2. disarming and demilitarization after the "new local elections" (option evidently favored by Kiev and the West)
3. enforced and carried out by Russia
4. or by the Kiev regime or/and Kiev's allied enforcer (i.e., foreign de facto invasion)

Minsk 2.0 basically requires from Kiev only to behave nicely at least initially and to refrain from military actions, that is, to cease their pursuit at least temporarily.

Minsk 2.0: Putin Fulfilled His Purpose

Minsk 2.0 (just like Minsk 1.0) de iure (as opposed to de facto for now) buried the existence not only of Novorossiya, but also of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics and effectively makes their referendums nil and void.

It re-establishes Kiev's sovereignty and stipulates that Kiev ought to re-establish full control over all the borders with Russia by the end of 2015. According to Poroshenko, no federalization or autonomy is part of Minsk 2.0. Some sort of "special status" can mean many things, that is to say, very little, if anything. The status of these regions is to be prescribed by a law made by Kiev, merely with some possible coordination or input from the regions. Nothing more.

The crux of the dictate in the form of the agreement is point 10 of the "Set of Measures for the Implementation [of Minsk 1.0]": "Withdrawal of all foreign armed units, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under the supervision of the OSCE. The disarmament of all illegal groups." The text makes the Army of Novorosssiya an illegal group that needs to be "withdrawn." Moreover, the use of the word "withdrawn" as opposed, for example, disbanded or removed, implies that these "illegal groups" are be withdrawn from the territory of Ukraine, but, once outside of Ukraine, they don't need to be disbanded or dissolved--all this helps to paint these forces as Russia's forces--one of the crucial points which seem to have eluded Russian diplomats.

It is also helpful to compare the text with the attempted positive spin put on it by RT.

Here is the text itself, point 4:

"On the first day following the withdrawal to begin a dialogue with respect to the modalities of the local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the Law of Ukraine “On the temporary order of local government in certain areas of the Donetsk and the Lugansk regions,” as well as with respect to the future operation of these areas on the basis of the Law.
Immediately, and not later than 30 days from the date of signing of this document, to adopt a resolution of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine with the specification of the territory covered by the special regime provided for in the Law of Ukraine “On the temporary order of local government in certain areas of the Donetsk and the Lugansk regions”, [such territory] to be based on the line set out in the Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014."

Compare with RT's "Point 4":

4. "Kiev and the rebels will negotiate the terms for future local elections in the rebel-held areas, which would bring them back into Ukraine’s legal framework. Kiev would adopt legislation on self-governance that would be acceptable for the self-proclaimed republics."

Telling is also (with others) the difference between what the text actually says and how RT presents it in Point 11.

Point 11 as it is:

"Passing of a constitutional reform in Ukraine with the entry into force by the end of 2015 of a new constitution, which shall incorporate decentralization as a key element (taking into account the characteristics of certain areas of the Donetsk and the Lugansk regions, to be agreed upon with the representatives of these areas), as well as, before the end of 2015, adoption of permanent legislation with respect to the special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and the Lugansk regions in accordance with the measures specified in Note [1]"

Note 1: .... participation of local governments in the appointment of the heads of prosecutorial bodies and the courts in certain areas of the Donetsk and the Lugansk regions; ... establishment of units of People’s Militia by order of local councils with the goal of maintaining public order in certain areas of the Donetsk and the Lugansk regions;
the powers of local council deputies and officers elected in early elections, to be set by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in accordance with this law, may not be terminated."

RT's "Point 11": "Keiv will implement comprehensive constitutional reform by the end of the year, which would decentralize the Ukrainian political system and give privileges to Donetsk and Lugansk. The privileges include language self-determination, the freedom to appoint prosecutors and judges, and to establish economic ties with Russia."

In his brief press conference after the talks, Putin confirmed that Kiev categorically refused as a matter of principle to have any direct talks with the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics, limiting itself to talks to Russia with the help of its allies, Germany and France.

Importantly, in his statement for the press, Putin pointed out that, at this very moment, the most critical issue is the fate of the encircled 6,000-8,0000 Kiev troops in the Debaltzevo cauldron. Poroshenko denies that they are encircled. The Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics demand their surrender and disarmament.

According to Oleg Tzarev, the best that may be said about Minsk 2.0 in favor of Putin and Russia is that 1) "Russia has moved out of the frame of the conflict; It will be now hard to present the war in the eyes of Western society as a conflict between Ukraine and Russia;" (Россия вышла за рамки конфликта. Войну в глазах западного общества теперь очень сложно представить как войну Украины и России.), and that 2) Russia is now "playing on the same team within the European concert" (страна выступает в одной команде с европейским концертом).

Putin as the chess champion he is played his moved brilliantly. He foresaw a long time ago what the junta and its Western allies would want to see Russia committed to and, planning his agreement with it several moves ahead, he pulled off precisely that.

It would be also fitting if Moscow now invites Poroshenko and the representatives of the Kiev regime's troops for the Victory parade at the Red Square on May 9. It would not even be amiss if the celebration of Victory Day were then renamed in the way in which Kiev wants to see it as a Day of "Reconciliation." As Oleg Tzarev put it, Russia is "on the same team" and this partnership of the elites has been reconfirmed.

Back in the 1990s, Brzezinski identified Ukraine as the US designated "bridgehead" into Eurasia or the Eurasian Balkans which is to lead to Russia's disintegration. And since the masters of the universe are also dabbing into occult, it was not without a bit of irony or inside joke that they chose as a lever for securing this bridgehead to use not only an updated tactic already tried with Slobodan Milosevic, but they also called the tool to achieve "the Normandy format" or the "Normandy group" called so after the US-led formation of a bridgehead into Europe in June of 1944 and the celebration of this feat last year where Putin was made to recognize the legitimacy of Poroshenko and the Nazi junta, which he represents. The New "Normandy" was, moreover, completed in Belarus where the unconstitutional dissolution of the Soviet Union was signed on December 25, 1991 by a troika of then still formally Soviet leaders, who were in fact by virtue of the very act fully anti-Soviet already.

If Minsk 2.0 were to be Minsk 1.0, but not just somewhat repackaged, but at this time also enforced and implemented, then the Kremlin (taking a cue from Starikov, for example) would have to declare Russian patriots, including Strelkov, to be "the outlaw party of war" and change the regime in Russia to make it compatible with (the restored "partnership" with) the Kiev junta (and the Empire), possibly in the spirit of Ivan Ilyin's right-wing "conservatism." 

The originally Norman invasion of England in 1066 (thus going in the opposite direction than that of 1944) was also important in that respect that it brought feudalism (or a new, "modern" form of serfdom or slavery) to the country.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

As in Minsk 1.0, US diplomacy is skilfully orchestrating and controlling the Minsk talks by leading and pulling the strings from behind

El Murid​ does have a point when, like others, he also emphasizes the elementary political and geopolitical fact that neither the Kiev regime nor the people's republics of Donbass are really sovereign or independent, which the "Normandy format," which officially excludes the people's republics also shows and confirms. The fact that Moscow agreed or had to agree on this, thus making the fact of absent sovereignty all but self-evident, also says a lot about the character of the Minsk process and the agreements that are being made. In this connection, El Murid also emphasizes (again) the interesting fact that the real boss and power broker behind the Kiev regime (and also behind EU vassals, Germany and France) is officially missing in Minsk as well. It is the US. But the apparent absence of the US there has different reasons than the ostensible slighting and demotion of the people's republics of Donbass, which are for the Kiev's Banderite regime "terrorist entities." The apparent absence of the US is allowing 1) the West to drive home their meme that the conflict is really just between Ukraine and Russia with France and Germany just trying to be good, concerned mediators and 2) to reserve for the US freedom of action, for, unlike Russia which is a signatory of the Minsk Agreements and thus obliged to fulfill them, the US is not bound by anything which it made and makes its vassals, Germany and France, and its colony, Ukraine, sign in Minsk or impose on Russia and, via Russia, on the republics of Donbass. US diplomacy is and remains the best imperial diplomacy money can buy today.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

On the splendid idea of demilitarization of much of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics under Minsk 2.0

RT reports: "The creation of a demilitarized zone in southeast Ukraine and the start of a peace dialogue between Kiev and the rebels are to top the agenda of the ‘Normandy Four’ talks in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on Wednesday, a source told RIA Novosti. During the talks, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Germany and France are expected to insist on Russia taking responsibility for controlling the establishment of the demilitarized zone in southeast Ukraine, the source added. Meanwhile, Russia believes that it’s the OSCE that should be responsible for the establishment of the demilitarized zone. Those proposals were voiced by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande during talks with Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Friday, the source said. Russia’s permanent representative to the OSCE, Andrey Kelin, told RT that the idea of a demilitarized zone in southeast Ukraine “does exist.” But we need more specification: How large will it be? What kind of weapons may be kept inside this zone? I feel that one may come to a result that it should be totally weapon-free zone with only police or those who are having sidearms,” he said."

The West dusted off the idea of "demilitarization zone," which were used to a great effect against the Serbs in Bosnia and is applying it to Donbass. Those who remember might recall the "demilitarization" of Igman Mountain, that is, undoing the effects of the almost decisive Serbian offensive. As I was told back then from a Serb working for the Bosniaks, if the gains of the Serb offensive had not been reversed in that way, the Serbs would have won the decisive battle of Sarajevo.

Back then, of course, the West insisted that the Serbs withdraw their heavy weapons from around Sarajevo, which greatly facilitated the later Bosniac offensives. Now, the "peace" idea is that the defenders of the cities (Donetsk, Gorlovka, and Lugansk ) withdraw their heavy weapons from around these cities. One has also to admire the additional cleverness of the Western initiative, which is that Russia should be the one who would enforce such demilitarization zones on the Donetsk and Lugansk Poeple's Republics--obviously in the interest of Kiev and NATO. Judging from the news, Russian diplomats seem to like the idea as much as they supported similar initiatives with respect to the Serbs back then in the 1990s. History is ironic.

When it comes to demilitarization (of much of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics), one needs only to ask very simple, basic questions:
1. To whom is such demilitarization in this case (in this case, complete withdrawal from positions) more advantageous--to the defender or to the side preparing for eventual attack and offensive?
2. Would such demilitarization stop the ongoing Nazification of the Ukrainian state or would allow it to continue?
3. If one looks at the size of the territories at stake and if one considers the question of the viability of the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics as functioning entities, who would benefit more from such demilitarization (with the DM zones being possibly as wide as 70 km)?
4. Is it necessary in order to prevent the continuous shelling of Donetsk, Gorlovka and other towns by the junta that the militia, which defends these cities, withdraw from these cities and leave them undefended?
5. Did not Yanukovich also demilitarize and remove his forces first and before he was removed--and also under an agreement and guarantees of the same Germany and France?

Politics never canceled this basic axiom: who has boots on the ground and the monopoly on violence on the given territory also holds power over the given territory.

Demilitarization does make sense in certain cases an example of which is Korea where the demilitarized zone marks not only an effective border between two states, but also a defensible border without being or amounting to effective demilitarization of either of the two states.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Empire strikes back with its Ultimate "Peace Plan" against Lavrov's Munich speech, telling the audience to laugh and boo at the valiant gladiator

Bloomberg published two very similar articles in response to Sergey Lavrov's Munich speech, which indicate some of the US position and thinking--"Europeans Laugh, Boo as Lavrov Talks Ukraine" and "Putin Can't Have the Last Laugh in Ukraine." The response to Lavrov's speech is one of open derision,scorn,  contempt, and mockery, which is not only a mirror image of Saker's reading of Lavrov's "tone" or yet another clear sign of escalating pressure. Importantly, these are clear indications of escalating hostility that show that, whatever US minions in Europe (Merkel or Hollande) might be trying to say, the US goal is and remains Russia's utter defeat or finishing off of the supposedly unfinished leftover from World War II and the Cold War. "Carthago delenda est."

While the Russians at times saw themselves as a new Rome in the form of a new spiritual center of Western civilization (without ever duly diagnosing the West first, where Dostoevsky or Lenin--each in his own way--went further than anyone else--and without succeeding to turn the Russian soul into an understandable Logos, message or speech), the US is the real heir of Rome in its political and military sense, having most thoroughly understood and developed its Machiavellian imperialist politics and technology. In this respect, the aspiration of Moscow was to do what Christ and Christianity did to the Roman Empire. But, with the significant exception of the communist and workers movement, Russia no longer possesses the power and enthusiasm of such an organizational power, energy and genius from below, and, as I said, there is no longer (after deadening and then discarding communism) any universal message or "religion" either. Multipolarity and/or "partnership with the West" don't cut it. Yet the message is there and is trying to come out from apparently "low places"--just like genuine voices usually do. The one that carries this gift more than others is certainly Alexey Mozgovoy, but for him West-educated "scientists" (not to mention liberals of various stripes) are spirit and soul-deaf by definition, by profession, by job prescription, and by selection and, similarly, the Towers of the Kremlin and the advisers occupying them are also "too high" for understanding and appreciating what people like Mozgovoy represent, know and say. The US, the Rome of our time, does, however, understand the one imperial imperative: "Carthago delenda est"--Carthage must be destroyed, and Carthage is Russia. Nearly everything the Empire does is directed toward this objective. Russia was and remains the key obstacle to the Empire's reaching its apogee--its Augustinian "Peace." In this regard, rather than trying to be a new Rome of the West, Moscow should have perhaps tried to be new Athens or new Jerusalem instead. But that's a bit of detour so let's go back to the Empire's Carthage is Russia. Nearly everything the Empire does is directed toward this objective. Russia was and remains the key obstacle to the Empire's reaching its apogee--its Augustinian "Peace." In this regard, rather than trying to be a new Rome of the West, Moscow should have perhaps tried to be new Athens or new Jerusalem instead. But that's a bit of detour so let's go back to the Empire's "Carthago delenda est" (anti)Russian strategy, as seeping through the derision and hostility heaped upon Lavrov.

In this regard, the second aforementioned Bloomberg article does reveal what the ideal or real objective of the US is--"to do whatever it takes to defeat him [Putin; read: Russia] in Ukraine." Bloomberg then describes what such an effective anti-Russian "united strategy" ought to look like (hence what the US would like to see as  the "peace plan" and toward which the US is trying hard to get Putin and Russia through Putin as close as possible):

"It's easy enough to say that the West needs a unified strategy. What might it look like? Harsher sanctions would be a start, creating a cost for further Russian escalation beyond that already exacted by existing sanctions and cheap oil. A stronger commitment to spend whatever it takes to keep Ukraine financially solvent while defending itself is just as important, accompanied by a promise from Ukraine that it will not join NATO. In return, Putin should be required to withdraw Russian troops, allow an international force to seal the border and accept that Ukraine gets  to choose its own government [read: getting the Ukrainians choose the government the Empire chooses for them, which happens to be a Nazi, anti-Russian government] and trading partners."

The key part is this one: "to spend whatever it takes to keep Ukraine financially solvent while defending itself is just as important." The Empire succeeded (due to a set of reasons) to pre-empt Russia's pre-emptive strike in Ukraine (similar to the one Russia undertook in Crimea) and was thus able to shelter its ugly bastard--the Nazi Maidan regime when it was at its weakest--and even saved it from a near death and total rout in late August by the Minsk Deal. Now, the monster baby is already standing on its feet so to speak (and no longer merely crawls). The purpose of the state under the junta is clearly just one--waging war against Russia and any antifascist resistance on the way. Bloomberg is now affirming that the US is set to do "whatever"--"to spend whatever"--is needed to defeat Russia, while using the 40 million-people state under the consolidated Nazi rule as its battering ram.

However, one other important thing needs to be noted and emphasized. In all its mockery, contempt, and scorn, Bloomberg was careful to avoid the most important important part in Lavrov's speech--the part which included some serious evidence that the Kiev regime is, indeed, not merely anti-Russian, but by its nature and design a Nazi one.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

On Sergey Lavrov's Guarded and Late Munich Admission that the Kiev Regime is Nazi (But Where Else Ought This Recognition to Be Made than in Munich?)

In yesterday's speech, Lavrov made a significant progress and came very close to recognizing the Kiev junta as a Nazi regime. In particular, Lavrov boldly declared: "Regretfully, our western colleagues are apt to close their eyes to everything that is said and done by the Kiev authorities, including fanning xenophobic attitudes. Let me quote: “Ukrainian social-nationalism regards the Ukrainian nation as a blood-race community.” Which is followed by: “The issue of total Ukrainisation in the future social-nationalist state will be resolved within three to six months by a tough and balanced state policy.” The author of those words is Andrey Biletsky, the commander of the Azov regiment, which is actively engaged in the military activities in Donbass. Some other activists who gained a position in politics and power, including Dmitry Yarosh, Oleg Tyagnibok and the leader of the Radical Party in the Verkhovna Rada Oleg Lyashko, publicly called a number of times for an ethnically clean Ukraine, for the extermination of Russians and Jews. Those statements failed to evoke any reaction in the western capitals. I don’t think present-day Europe can afford to neglect the danger of the spread of the neo-Nazi virus. ... Yet regardless of all that, more loud calls are being made in some western countries to step up support of the Kiev authorities’ vector towards militarisation of society and the state ... "!OpenDocument

In this, it seems that the Russian Foreign Minister drew on the recent article by Eric Zeusse:

This truthfulness comes at a time when the new Minsk peace plan is being formulated in the form of the "implementation" of the previous Minsk Agreements, but now with talks about broader demilitarization and even a deployment of a peacekeeping force.

Although Lavrov did not use the term Nazism, he all but stated it with the help of such terms as "social nationalism," "Ukranization," "an ethnically clean Ukraine," "extermination of Russians and Jews," "the neo-Nazi virus," and "militarization of society and the state." He, however, stopped short of extending this Nazification to the regime or the junta as a whole. Yet, after a year (almost precisely), Russian diplomacy and official policy toward Ukraine all but broke its previous official taboo.

This step forward, however, only further underscores the problem of Russia's hitherto approach and policy. For, now it is all but official or almost official that the Kiev junta is Nazi, as far as Moscow is officially concerned. This means that conflict resolution is no longer merely a question of how to reconcile two parties in general, but two parties, one of which is self-consciously and decidedly not only or merely anti-Russian, but above all Nazi, in fact. And the other one is anti-Nazi resistance. In other words, the problem and question is how to settle a war, a fundamental conflict, with Nazism, but one which has the adamant and much unified support of the US, the EU, and NATO? In this regard, Lavrov repeated the old, previous mantra, which was used when Moscow did not dare to call the Nazis in Kiev Nazi.  Thus, in the same speech, Lavrov also said after he described the regime to a great extent as "national socialist" (or Nazi): "The Ukrainian crisis cannot be settled by military force. This was confirmed last summer when the situation on the battlefield forced the participants to sign the Minsk Accords. It is being confirmed now as well, when the next attempt to gain a military victory is failing."

Along the same lines, Lavrov also stated again that the conflict (with Ukrainian Nazism) ought to be settled through direct talks (with the Nazi regime) and constitutional reforms, which would also be acceptable to the same regime (and in which neither the junta nor the West is showing any  interest).

In this regard, Lavrov also stated again that the Russian government is calling for "practical steps [on the part of Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk] to restore the common economic, social and political space within the territorial integrity of Ukraine."

Here, as El Murid correctly pointed out (and as I was consistently and continuously arguing), the real and fundamental political (and also existential) problem of the conflict and the war in Ukraine is the Nazi  character of the junta and its regime. ( No ceasefire, "bad peace" or bending backwards in front of the Empire and the junta (see the recent article by Israel Shamir), no pacifying or appeasing Nazism is solving or even remotely addressing this fundamental problem.  One does not cure cancer by telling the cancerous tumors diplomatic lies or by disarming the body or putting off its resistance.

And so the question is, if the question is meant in earnest (and not just to placate the critics and put them asleep again) how do you construct a "common political space"--common both to Nazism and the antifascist forces with the Nazis to keep "state sovereignty" and to remain in control of the state and its security forces (and nearly all the media)?

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Mercouris on Strelkov: When Mercury is retrograde, one descends back to the Cave to shine a light on those within

AlexanderMercouris​ published in Russia Insider what he (somewhat bombastically--on the account of the adjective "definitive" ) calls his "definitive, but ultimately favorable take" on Igor Strelkov, if a sly attempted character assassination can be assumed to be a "favorable" take on another person. In reality, his piece is a spin on a spin in the form of a Bloomberg piece, which he attaches to his own spin and which he calls without even winking "a reproduced interview" of Strelkov. The Bloomberg piece is, in reality, a Strelkov's interview torn into pieces and assembled in such a way as to produce a biased spin.

Mercouris quickly shows that he actually knows about Strelkov or researched about Strelkov very little, and that he is basing what he knows mainly on Western sources: "Remarkably little is known about him or about his private life or about his previous career. Claims ... appear to originate in Ukrainian sources ... Western governments and the Maidan government in Ukraine say .... Ukrainian and Western reports ... He probably did fight in some of these earlier wars but details are sketchy and the reports do not seem very reliable." This sums up Mercouris' stated research (besides the one that, in its depth and spin, might not differ that much from these and which is not mentioned in the article anyway). The key word in this introduction, which sets the basis for Mercouris' "definitive take" is well captured in the very word, which also came to his mind--"sketchy."

Mercouris' sloppiness comes out well here: "Some have called him a monarchist though whether that is because of things he has actually said or because of ideas and assumptions others project on him is unclear." Had Mercouris known better, he might have known that Strelkov did state his political ideal quite clearly in his interviews. However, it would or might (let's stay with the word "might") be also clear that Strelkov does not fit into any of the old, stereotypical boxes and cliches. But that might also be part of the problem: to see that one would need to emancipate oneself from pre-existing or received cliches.

Mercouris then concludes on the basis of his sketchy and cliched view that "[o]f a coherent political programme [on the part of Strelkov] there is little evidence." A support for this Mercouris finds in this: "Strelkov himself seems to realise that and that he is simply not cut out to be a politician. He has consistently refused to involve himself in politics." The trouble with this is that Mercouris clearly fails to understand and realize that Strelkov does not want to be like all those "politicians' who justly gave politicians and politics their bad name. There is politics, and then there is other politics or a different political art. In his poorly received joke to Merkel, Putin famously said that it does not matter how one does it at the wedding night, the result is the same. Well, the fact is that it is not. The scale and big differences between love-making and fucking, not to mention rape, are vast. But when analysts fail to make distinctions, it is rather embarrassing.

Mercouris' ad hominem, key false claim in his "ultimately favorable take" comes soon enough: "During the time he was in charge first in Slavyansk and then in Donetsk, Strelkov fell out with almost everybody he worked with. News coming out of Slavyansk and Donetsk during this period was one of a seemingly endless succession of dismissals, arrests and forced “resignations”, which must have made Strelkov many enemies within the rebel leadership." Being a commander is not a popularity contest, but the fact is that Strelkov is and remains second to none as the most respected, beloved, and popular Novorosssiya commander and leader. Moreover, Mercouris happens to acknowledge this very fact himself in the very title of his piece—“Insight and Limitations of Russia’s MOST POPULAR MILITARY HERO (Igor Strelkov).” Does Mercouris measure "almost everybody" by Kurginyan? As far as I am concerned, in these few lines Mercouris managed to destroy the last respect I had for him as a reasonably spinning commentator.

Mercouris then takes a spin on Alexander Borodai's spin and turns it into an insinuation that Strelkov might be irrational, if not mad: "One of his former associates, Alexander Borodai, has questioned Strelkov’s hold on reality."

Mercouris continues and tries to present Strelkov's and his soldiers' struggle for Novorosssiya and against the Nazi junta as some Strelkov's own personal ego trip: "To Strelkov’s obvious bewilderment, his “strategy” failed as Putin resisted calls to come to HIS [my emphasis] rescue. Unlike Gordon - and to Strelkov’s great credit - when it became clear his strategy had failed, he had the wisdom to withdraw from Slavyansk, preserving his forces intact." Strelkov had to fight the way out of encircled Slavyansk, and what Mercouris now calls "wisdom" (for a man with a supposedly faulty "hold on reality"), Saker then called a political disaster. Mercouris is adamant that Strelkov's "strategy failed" and that the meaning of Strelkov's "wisdom" is that Strelkov came to see in the last moment that his "strategy had failed." What failed was Moscow's then already ongoing attempt to trade Donbass for a never-to-come acquiescence of the US and the junta in losing Crimea to Russia. Moreover, while Slavyansk was lost to the junta (besides Mozgovoy, no one bothered to mount effective resistance to the junta and to fight it in earnest at that moment, including the Russian government), Strelkov's dash to Donetsk saved the city and Donbass from its prepared surrender and thus played a critical role in reversing the tide of the war.

Mercouris, however, is keen on creating a notion and inserting it into the reader's mind that Strelkov and his strategy were alleged "failures." So, for effect, he repeats the claim at least twice more (does it make it three?), while making what he accuses Strelkov of--"sweeping claims": "In the various interviews Strelkov has given since he was ousted from his post as defence minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, including the one we reproduce below, he continues to defend his original strategy despite its failure. As is often the case when people try to justify a strategy that has failed, he does so by making claims ...
His interview therefore makes sweeping claims ..."

Mercouris' then sums up his "definitive, but ultimately favorable take" on Strelkov by issuing to Strelkov a diagnosis of possessing "little understanding and awareness." “Of the problems a ‘victory’ achieved in this way might have made for Russia, he shows little understanding or awareness.”  Too bad that Mercouris was not the Donetsk defense minister; his awareness and understanding would, by definition, tower over that of Strelkov.
To soften the impact, Mercouris then pens one of his characteristic sentences following a device, which one English scholar once described to me as a “shit sandwich”: putting what stinks in-between a cover, i.e., in-between a seeming compliment: “This is not to say that Strelkov’s claims are without insight. He is surely right … “

Then, for some reason, whom Strelkov sees as anti-patriotic liberals in the Russian government, Mercouris sees as “realists: “It is the ‘realists’ in the Russian government rather than Putin himself who provoke Strelkov’s ire.” The fact is that Strelkov never called these anti-patriotic liberals or the fifth column “realists.”

Mercouris’ “sketchy” spin reaches its extreme here and its unprofessionalism: “Strelkov’s self-image is that of a Russian soldier obedient unto death, even though it seems that he has no professional background or history in the Russian army.” The war in Ukraine is Strelkov’s fifth war, and his service included both Chechen wars in the ranks of the Russian army. Strelkov is also a colonel, and he clearly had to earn it. But why should anyone or any fact or consideration get into the way of the spinner and his happy “definitive, but ultimately favorable” spin?
If Mercouris denies to Strelkov any “professional background or history in the Russian army,” he himself must have a military background or he is himself convinced that not having it does not matter, when he feels competent to state the following: “[Strelkov’s] skill is however very much in small unit operations and what might be called partisan war. In the brutal conventional fighting that has been the hallmark of the conflict in Ukraine since July, he is out of place. As he says in the interview, ‘There’s no glory. Nothing but damage.’” Of course, quoting to Strelkov’s brief sentences does not prove any of what Mercouris asserts except for a flabby attempt to fake logic and proof with the little word “as.” Otherwise no connection or relevance.

Too bad that Mercouris does not have what he praises Strelkov for: “Strelkov has enough wisdom to understand his limitations.” If Mercouris’ spin “definitive” spin is to be a standard and criterion for “professionalism” and “depth,” then we would become limited to this: “… in the conventional war the conflict in Ukraine has now become [Strelkov] was increasingly out of his depth. His removal was essential to make way for the more professional political and military leaders who have taken his place.” Just before this Mercouris, however, himself indicated the actual reason behind Strelkov’s removal—Strelkov’s opposition to what Mercouris dubs as “the Minsk PEACE process.” Does this then mean that Strelkov’s opposition to the Minsk Deal (also denounced by Boris Rozhin and over 90% of the Novorosssiya militia), i.e., to the Minsk Protocal, which Mercouris himself once called a “piece of toilet paper,” is now  a sign of Strelkov’s supposed lacking professionalism and his being “out of depth,” whereas the Minsk Protocol, a supposed “toilet paper,” would be a sign of professionalism and depth?

Then Mercouris ends and appends a spin piece from Bloomberg.

Ecce homo!

Friday, February 6, 2015

"Minsk Warmed Over" (Stolen from Dan Welch, btw) or My First Impression from the Talks in Moscow on the Fate of Donbass' Anti-Fascist Revolt

On the talks in Moscow between Putin, Merkel and Hollande: the key result is an agreement to try to hammer out an "agreement on the IMPLEMENTATION of the Minsk Agreements." The wording and editing is planned for tomorrow, and the possible agreement might be published (at least in its public portion) on Sunday, if the work succeeds. However, it seems that there is a basic understanding of the will of Moscow and the West to enter a new, somewhat modified phase of the "implementation" of the Minsk deal. The implementation document is said to be based on the proposals of Poroshenko and Putin, which means that it is based on som form of Western demands as mediated and communicated by Merkel and Hollande.

Importantly and tellingly, the negotiations of this new implementation of the Minsk agreements are to be in the Normandy format and NOT in the Minsk format. What it means is that Moscow agreed to exclude the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics from having any part in ironing out the "implementation" of the deal, which could seal the life and status of the two break-away republics. In this way, as before, Moscow signed and gave away even the idea that the two republics are any independent or politically relevant subjects, not to mention "equal partners" in talks with Kiev.

In fact, already in the Minsk process, the two republics were merely treated as added witnesses to the decisions made for them by others, and their representatives were asked to sign on the documents only with their personal names without any titles or names of the republics, which they represent.

From the ongoing buzz, one new idea, which Merkel and Hollande brought with themselves to Moscow, also seems to be a proposal to deploy an "international peacekeeping force" (definitely not a Russian or pro-Russian force) in the two breakaway republics, certainly for the eventual benefit of the West and the junta. If true, this too reminds me of the tactic or a part of the tactic, which the US and NATO used in Kosovo. The two republics would effectively become an international or quasi-Western protectorate. The West's and the junta's key demand is to block any assistance coming from Russia, thus to cut off the two republics and sooner or later dismantle them. The other objective along these lines is the demand to bring back Kiev's control (or international pro-Kiev control) over the borders between Russia and the two republics. All other ostensible concessions and promises are being made in order to obtain at least one of these two "'commanding heights," which would allow the West and the junta to change the situation on the ground with Moscow's consent.

Judging from what I've seen in the Russian sources on the subject, there also appears to have been some speculation about the "need" (and the Kremlin's inclination) to run a new "referendum" in Donbass in the place of the original one organized in Donetsk and Lugansk on May 11, 2014, which Putin himself asked not to be held (when already trying obviously to "negotiate a deal" or "a diplomatic solution," as they say) and which Moscow failed to recognize unlike the patently falsified and staged presidential elections in May or the early parliamentary elections in October, the results of which were dictated via the US Embassy in Kiev.Part of the Minsk Faustian Deal does appear to have been some speculation about the "need" to run a new "referendum" there in the place of the one, which Putin himself asked not to be held (when already trying obviously to "negotiate a deal" or "a diplomatic solution," as they say) and which Moscow failed to recognize unlike the patently falsified and staged presidential elections in May or the early parliamentary elections in October, the results of which were dictated via the US Embassy in Kiev.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Empire is scrambling to save the Faustian Minsk Deal

Merkel and Hollande are quickly heading to Moscow, Kerry is in Kiev and also about to meet Lavrov, and the coming Munich conference is looming, while the junta facing a possibly crushing defeat in the Debaltzevo cauldron.

One can sense and detect a new kind of commotion in the force and in the universe.

Thanks to the Minsk Deal, which Michael Kofman appraised as the West's "brilliant" political and diplomatic success and Russia's "political capitulation," the West did start talking in December about "reparations" and Russia's and Putin's "defeat" in Ukraine (dutifully recorded at that time on my timeline and also noted in my twitters). In exchange, Moscow wanted basically only two or three things in return: 1) agreement that Crimea is Russia's, 2) some assurance (like that one given to Gorbachev?) that Ukraine will stay neutral--hence no more expansion of NATO, and 3) no visible humiliation of Russia. Thinking that this is already a home run, the US, NATO, and the EU effectively rejected all these "minimum" demands or requests of Moscow.

1) With respect to Crimea, the most the West was willing to do was "recognizing" Crimea's current de facto status for NOW, but nothing de iure and nothing really obliging. More like, OK, we agree that for now we will not necessarily talk about it, but you know that our position is principled (unlike yours, obviously), and we can never change it or say publicly that we could or even should. And you are not exactly doing anything to make us change our mind. Briefly, it is a no barely masked as "well, maybe." But "not really." Otherwise, "sure; don't worry about it; read our lips/take our word for it."

2) Again neither the US nor NATO would ever honestly and seriously commit themselves to anything like compromising on its Drang nach Osten and expansionism. It is like asking a devil to promise to do something good at least once.Expansion and the attempt to finish off Russia is in NATO's DNA. Moreover, in the eyes of the US and NATO, it was Russia that was or would be thus losing, and the winner is entitled to all that comes with the win, which brings us to point 3.

3) Defeat and humiliation of the other (Russia) has been part of the Empire's quest, program and war plan from the beginning. Such humiliation is also seen as indispensable for the West's Shadefreude and the sense of its entitlement (what makes the winning ultimately for them so spicy and worth it i the end), but, politically even more importantly, indispensable for the next step and goal, which is the overthrow of the Russian government and a new, undoubtedly also Naziod regime change in Russia or/and on its disintegrated territories. In Moscow, after months of trying, they started to see what Strelkov and few others (no need to mention names) saw from the beginning--that they cannot afford such a great Mephistophelian/Faustian deal unless suicide and self-effacement is their new existential wish, overriding any other concerns, oaths, and sense of self-preservation. In addition, at that moment--to deliver a further nudge in sealing the deal--the US ordered its Kiev Banderite puppets into a very short-lived offensive the very next day after Lavrov recertified his faith in the Minsk deal at the meeting in Berlin.

Now, the West is realizing that, in its hubris and imperial exuberance, they overshot a bit and so Western leaders and diplomats are scrambling to salvage as much of Russia's would-be "capitulation" and Minsk as possible,  trying as a good car salesman to throw some quick and inessential teasers and extras.

And, of course, the West and Western liberals and even faux lefties do approve of Putin's apparent approval of someone like Ivan Ilyin who deeply admired the anti-Bolshevik "greatness" of Nazism. Of course, esoteric "conservatives" (or secret friends and fellow-travelers of the Right Sector) also find in Ilyin their kindred (and somewhat safely more widely unknown) spirit.

Furthermore, Putin and his advisers (Glazyev excepted) did believe--much like the West--that they did have a deal. Selling it to Moscow was one thing. Selling it to the Russian people was a circle that did not quite submit itself to being squared.

The gist of the "new (and allegedly final) peaceplan" which Hollande and Merkel are bringing to Moscow (and of which the US conveniently claims that it is not in any way involved in it) consists of trading new added-on for-now promises ("federalization," language status, "France's opposition to Ukraine joining NATO") for Russia's commitment to stop assistance to the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics and for Russia's and the two breakaway republics's recognition of the Nazi, anti-Russian junta's sovereignty over (the whole of) Ukraine and Donbass. The US insistence that it has nothing to do with the latest/last bid to "save peace" (to save the junta and the programmed Drang nach Osten) means that the US is reserving for itself to disregard and dismiss whatever promises (mistaken as agreements) Merkel and Hollande can make in the name of the West.

US Washington-based strategist sees the US strategy in Ukraine as a continuation of strategies in Iraq, Libya, and Syria by the same means, but with different local agents

A US Washington-based strategist sees the US strategy in Ukraine as a continuation of the same disastrous (and chaos- and destruction-breeding) strategies in Iraq, Libya, and Syria by the same means, but with different local agents, in his concluding line, he observes:

"Sending weapons without an overall strategy is not a hard choice, but it is one that the United States has readily made before, often with adverse results. Providing anti-tank missiles to the Free Syrian Army did not change Syria’s or Russia’s calculus, but rather prolonged the demise of the FSA at the hands of Assad’s forces. Russia continues to arm Syria, the conflict continues to cost hundreds of thousands of civilian lives and the FSA is almost completely destroyed, but with no resolution in sight. Arming the militias of Libya and conducting air strikes on their behalf, with no strategy to create a Libyan nation or a Libyan army post-Qaddafi has resulted in one of the most disastrous American foreign policies in the region. Iraq is another example that providing weapons does not a fighting, or a successful, army make. Now ISIS forces drive around in American Humvees, while Shia militias have access to M1A1 Abrams tanks and MRAPs. It is important that the United States learn from these mistakes and seek a better outcome for Ukraine."

Michael Kofman in the National Interest makes several factually correct or almost correct observations, while he still repeats and recycles a bulk of the other anti-Rusian propaganda (i.e. concerning MH-17). He also understands correctly that the Minsk Deal was the West's frank attempt at achieving a barely disguised (except for the most unconditional admirers of Lavrov and Putin) Russia's political capitulation and that, in its boldness and success in making Moscow sign unto the Minsk accords, both the public and the secret ones, Washington and its allies considered Minsk to be a "politically and diplomatically brilliant" move on their part with the fifth and sixth columnists and other implants merely left to present it and sell it to the public and their blind fans as either a success, if not victory, of Russian diplomacy, or, if not, then as a totally insignificant piece of paper. Lavrov took the pain to keep praising the Minsk Deal as Vladimir Putin's own initiative and achievement. 

But Kofman is no fan of US adventurism; though, while he is rejecting some lies of the US establishment, he keeps and adheres to others. Apparently, he is one of those who came to believe that, as one needs to pick one's battles, one also needs to pick one's lies--if only to survive and continue working in an environment such as Washington D.C.

Among the things where he decided to make courageously and factually rather correct statements stand out these:

1. Moscow's "previous references regarding the Russian world, or Novorossiya, have already been eliminated from official rhetoric."
2. "The only visible agreement between NATO and Ukraine on the composition of separatist forces appears to be that the overwhelming majority of fighters are locals and likely Ukrainian citizens, which completely undermines the premise of the entire report that Russian forces are the key participants and their casualties will prove a deterrent."
3.  "It is widely recognized in Moscow that signing the Minsk ceasefire was a wholly unforced strategic mistake, as it achieved none of its stated political objectives, while making Russia a party to the conflict with obligations that could subsequently be pointed to by the West."
4. "After Minsk, the West keenly levied economic and diplomatic pressure for Russia to implement provisions of the ceasefire agreement, while Kyiv had to do essentially nothing except hold the existing line of control. This presented Moscow with either POLICY CAPITULATION, or continued suffering under the sanctions regime. Either way, the WEST HAD TIME TO WAIT, and Russia did not. For the West, politically it was brilliant, diplomatically it was brilliant, but militarily it was dangerous. Russia has undertaken its only viable option, to launch another offensive, defeat Ukraine and erase the Minsk agreement by forcing Kyiv to sign a new one."
5. Needless to say, Kofman is careful not to mention Ukrainian Nazism and the Banderite ideology and war program of the US-supported junta.

Michael Kofman is a Public Policy Scholar at the Kennan Institute, Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Whenever you want to improve your PR, hire a Czech as your speaker

The head of the Czech General Staff, elected as the next chairman of the NATO Military Committee--the principal military adviser to the secretary general of NATO (and as the first East European in that position), Petr Pavel stated that NATO has “SLIGHTLY” failed to communicate that it doesn't see Russia as an enemy “in principle,” which it does.

Pavel also accused Russia of wanting "to create some sort of buffer between themselves and NATO." Apparently, in its Drang nach Osten, NATO no longer wants to have or recognize any buffer in-between Russia and Eastern Europe redefined now by NATO as NATO's "frontline states."

Pavel also stated there is a need to "solve the Islamic State threat before it becomes uncontrollable,” thus implying that, as of now or hitherto, ISIS has been somehow controllable.

Whenever you want to improve your PR, hire a Czech as your spokesman. Success is all but guaranteed.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Strelkov versus Starikov debate

The Strelkov and Starikov debate (January 22) has attracted (justifiably) new or renewed attention. One reason for this is that the debate has been now rendered into English:

For the record, here are the highlights are posted on my Facebook page on January 24 (the time markers refer to the original recording):

1. Basic difference between Igor Strelkov and Nikolay Starikov: 1) for Strelkov, there is a war going on against the Russians and Russia; avoiding a war that has been unleashed is impossible, no matter what one may wish for unless the wish is capitulation; the war has to be won, there is no other way--by completely defeating the junta; 2) according to Starikov, the war is against the Russian people, but there is no military way for resolving the conflict; Novorossiya needs to receive only as much as aid as necessary for preventing its military defeat; and Russia should try to make Ukraine "unattractive (or uninteresting)" to the US, i.e., by decreasing the importance of gas transition via Ukraine. According to Starikov, Russia should help liberate Ukraine from US control without war.

2. At 0:57 of the debate, Strelkov read Nikolay Starikov's assessment of the situation in Ukraine just about a week before Yanukovich was overthrown, in which Starikov praised Yanukovich's "brilliance," claimed that the Maidan was defeated by the anti-fascist and pro-Russian forces and that Yanukovich clearly had excellent advisers the identity of which would be revealed one day perhaps in his memoirs. 

Strangely, Starikov sounds very familiar to me, like some other eulogists of utter brilliance and the enemy's helplessness with the result of inverting and subverting both the knowledge of the self (indecent flattery and overestimation) and the knowledge of the enemy (consistent distortion and underestimation). 

3. Nikolay Starikov accused Igor Strelkov of saying during their debate that "the Russian troops came to Mariupol" in August of 2014 and that the recording will confirm Starikov's claim (at 30:36, and especially 34:00). Indeed, the recording proves that Starikov made it up, that he lied as in some of the other instances, though this one was the most blatant.

4. In the first 15 minutes of the "match" with Nikolay Starikov, Igor Strelkov said that, in the first phase of the war in Donbass, Surkov's plan was to have Strelkov and his soldiers die in Slavyansk, which would then leave Donetsk exposed and prepared for surrender. Strelkov thwarted this plan by breaking through the encirclement of Slavyansk on July 4. In this way, Strelkov would have been made a "sacrificial lamb." Starikov praised Strelkov's account and called it "sober."

To these FB postings, I would further add here that, at 33:00, Starikov lunges into openly false, ad hominem claims utterly distorting and twisting Strelkov's record and actions as the Defense Minister of the Donetsk People's Republic, including the circumstances of Strelkov's forced departure. Strelkov responds to Starikov's attempt at character assassination at 36:08: "As to [this kind of allegations], I will not comment. They are simply shameful."

52% of viewers declared Strelkov the winner of this debate, 25% sided with Starikov, and the rest voted for a tie. 

While I am completely with the clear majority of the Russians on this--on the side of Strelkov--and for reasons which ought to be quite obvious, others do have their own reasons to side with Starikov and his cunning sophistry.

Deja Vu Struck Back: "We plan no [more] offensives and we are ready to stop ... without betraying the memory of the dead [and the living]"

The clever plan is working! And by "working" I don't necessarily mean that it is working teleologically in the sense of being purposeful or achieving a rational purpose (or telos).

In the middle of their offensive around Debaltzevo (and after announcing an offensive on Mariupol and then disclaiming it two hours later--a week ago), Zakharchenko shouldered by Plotnisky has stated that they "plan no offensive" and that they now "demand that Kiev sit down at the negotiating table," after saying that the Minsk talks are over.

As at the end of last August, Moscow now demands "immediate cessation of combat operations," with no clear principled denunciation of the intensive shelling and attacks on the civilian population of Donbass by the Kiev junta alias "partners." The trouble is that, without pushing the junta troops away from the population centers of Donbass, no deals will make the junta stop its artillery attacks on the cities.

The fact is that the Minsk deal saved the junta troops from two underreported cauldrons, from which the deal extracted them. One was near Volnovakha (easily checked on the military maps from then) and the other was south of Gorlovka, which later merged with the Debaltzevo salient and where, as Bezler later stated, 4000 Kiev soldiers were trapped. Remember (and it can be easily checked) that, back then in late August), Putin demanded that the Army of Novorossisya give "humanitarian corridors" to the junta troops. I doubt that the Soviet generals knew about this strategic invention. Unfortunately, this humanitarianism has been lost on the Kiev troops who, from the very start, made it clear that they are not going to distinguish between civilians and "terrorists," as they call all those whom they don't control.

Giving an almost defeated army a way-out in the form of "humanitarian corridors" in order to let it rearm, regroup, and reload and continue its intended genocide is an unorthodox move, which it would be futile and senseless to expect as being ever returned as a favor or as a reciprocal measure.

One may certainly argue that such concern for the fascist army is either a sign of unfathomable strategic cleverness or by unmatched humanitarianism and moderation as opposed to being exacted under pressure and threats. However, it is worth bearing in mind that, in exchange for this unprecedented willingness to reject one's own hard-won victory and such "humanitarian corridors," the ensuing Minsk deal was stipulating a "corridor" for Novorossiya out of Novorossiya and back into the fold of the "one, united and undivided"--instead of a "humanitarian corridor" out of the Nazi, Banderite tyranny,

The new initiative appears to intend to do something similar with the current Debaltzevo cauldron.