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Over Easy: Putin, Poroshenko and Merkel Meeting in Minsk

4:45 am in Uncategorized by yellowsnapdragon

Minsk House of Government with a statue of Lenin in front

World leaders meet in Minsk to try to create Ukrainian peace.

Ukraine disintegrated into civil war partly over disagreement about whether to join the European Union’s economic integration program, the Eastern Partnership, or to join Eurasia’s new Customs Union (CU). Today, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia will hold CU talks in Minsk, and Ukraine’s President Poroshenko is expected to attend. The CU meeting will be the first formal meeting between Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko since the Ukrainian civil war began. Representatives of the EU will be included in the summit.

Although no agenda for the Minsk summit has been set, talks are expected to include diplomatic efforts to resolve the Ukrainian conflict. Poroshenko has indicated that he plans to ask that rebels be withdrawn from eastern Ukraine, while Putin will likely demand greater autonomy for the restive eastern provinces and protection of human rights there. The EU may pressure Poroshenko to make some kind of speedy resolution of the crisis before economic catastrophe spreads to Europe.

Angela Merkel, who traveled to Ukraine over the weekend, lacks confidence that the Minsk summit will yield meaningful results.

My talks in Kiev were aimed in part at preparing this meeting, which surely won’t produce the one big breakthrough in Minsk — just to curb expectations,

However, she has also just indicated that the EU is now willing to accept a decision by Ukraine to join Putin’s Customs Union if Ukraine chooses to do so. That’s an important shift. Meanwhile, Poroshenko dissolved parliament and called early elections for late October.

Off topic is welcome at Over Easy and everyone is invited to join the cat. Don’t be shy. See you in the comments.

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Over Easy: Ballistic Escalation in Ukraine

5:00 am in Uncategorized by yellowsnapdragon

A few days ago, CNN reported that the Ukrainian Army fired several short range ballistic missiles into rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, indicating a major escalation in the war. The exact location of the launch was undisclosed as was the intended target.

NATO confirmed the launch, then retracted after Kiev denied the launch. No damage has been reported from strikes of ballistic missiles in Ukraine.

Over at the Saker, Juan reports that 4 ballistic missiles were, in fact, fired toward East Ukraine and that two were aimed at the ring of territory that encircles a besieged segment of the Ukrainian Army near the Russian border called Saur Moglia. The presumed purpose of the attempted missile strikes was to open a corridor of escape for the trapped Ukrainian troops. Yesterday, more than 400 Ukrainian soldiers crossed the Russian border and became refugees after escaping encirclement.

How, then is it possible that missiles were fired but did not reach their targets? Again, from the Saker:

The 4 Tochka missiles were shot down over Novorossiya territory occupied by Ukraine Armed Forces before the missiles reached their programmed height. They were shot down from inside RF [Russian Federation] according to normally reliable sources. No visual evidence has been provided of RF shooting down the Tochka systems nor of the system used to shoot down the Tochka missiles.

However, separatists claim that parts of an unexploded ballistic missile warhead have been found in Luhansk.

To recap: Ballistic missiles were fired by the Ukrainian Army at the Novorussian forces in the east, but those missiles were intercepted by Russia. That’s a huge development if true.

Judge for yourself where the truth lies among the multiple conflicting accounts of the mysterious Ukrainian ballistic missiles. Maybe there were no launches. Maybe there were. Either way, there is likely a eventful backstory we haven’t been told that may for the first time include overt Russian military intervention. Nevertheless, there are reports that Kiev is amassing ballistic missiles in Donestk.

Off topic is welcome as always. Lurkers and newbies are encouraged to join in. See you in the comments.

Over Easy: False Choices and the New Cold War

4:45 am in Uncategorized by yellowsnapdragon

Caricature of John Brennan

Did the CIA’s John Brennan help foment Ukraine’s right-wing revolution?

Direct involvement of the US government in fomenting the Euromaidan protests has long been suspected. After all, that $5 Billion the US spent on democratizing Ukraine went toward some program there, right? Well, yesterday the White House confirmed that CIA Director John Brennan visited Ukraine over the weekend to meet with high level pro-Maidan factions in Kiev. According to Russian media,

Brennan landed in Ukraine on Saturday under an assumed name and held a ‘series of secret meetings’ with the country’s ‘power bloc’ Interfax reported, citing an unidentified official in the Ukrainian parliament. The unidentified official said that there were “unconfirmed reports” that the U.S. security official was behind the decision to use force in eastern Ukraine after pro-Russian separatist forces took control of the city of Slovyansk.

All is not going as planned for the neocons in charge of advising the new government in Kiev. There have been multiple instances of police, intelligence and military officials refusing to follow orders from Kiev to attack pro-Russian protesters occupying government buildings in major cities in the east. According to the Saker, “Everybody seemed to have refused: local cops, SWAT teams, SBU forces and even the anti-terrorist group ‘Alpha.’ This is quite amazing and extremely encouraging.”

The US government has taken a position diametrically opposed to the protesters in the east as it had to the ones in Euromaidan. The contradictory statements coming from the US about the protests are startling. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has asked the US to explain Brennan’s presence there.

‘We can remember when violence on Maidan (Independence Square in Kiev) that ended with dozens and dozens of deaths was called democracy, while peaceful protests that are ongoing now in southeastern Ukraine are called terrorism,’ he said.

‘The hypocrisy is off the scale.’

Even so, Russia has it’s own credibility issues on the matter and is likely the reason that the rag tag group of angry babushkas in the east has become a more organized, armed faction of political resistance. Which brings me to the main point of this post.

After the fall of Yanukovych, the annexation of Crimea, the entirely possible descent of Ukraine into civil war, and a new iron curtain falling between Russia and “the West”, who ultimately benefits?

This new Cold War isn’t about capitalism vs. communism because Russia and China are already capitalist. Is it our oligarchs against their oligarchs? Is it a resource war? Or is the New Cold War a war for the explicit purpose of an elite minority on both sides profiting from military industry?

In that case, alliance with either side — the US or Russia — is not only utterly pointless, it fuels the continutation of a political system whose purpose is the upward transfer of wealth and downward spiral of violence. No thanks. I’m on the side of peace and prosperity.

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