In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Grandmaster takes on novice

Posted by seumasach on March 2, 2014

Cailean Bochanan

2nd March, 2014

What exactly the EU leadership thought they were doing in Ukraine is a puzzle for the historians to grapple with. Even though  Manlio  Dinucci has pointed to networks involving the likes of Barroso centered round a leading Ukrainian oligarch as likely suspects in the Western backed attempt to destabilize Ukraine, the question remains why would they activate such a programme at time when its likelihood of success was minimal. Were they not aware of a growing interdependence of US and Russian foreign policy evident in the resolution of the outstanding issues of the Middle East from Syria and Iran to the Palestinian question itself? Perhaps they were and wanted to roll history back fearing that a final end to the cold war would also see an end to their own political usefulness.

Anyway this is a fine mess they have got themselves into and their instinctive response is to condemn Russian intervention. This is a good moment for cold-war relic NATO to strut its stuff- perhaps for the last time. Of course, that Russia would secure at any costs its bases and ports in the Crimea goes without saying. But it would be wrong to see Russia’s response as aggressive interventionism. As Bonaparte said,” Never disturb your enemy when he is making a mistake”. The New Cold War faction in the West are certainly enemies of Russia, as well as enemies of global peace, and they are certainly making a mistake. Vitaly Churchin outlined Russia’s position at the UN last night in the  sobre manner of a man who needs go no further than a simple recapitulation of the facts. Russia wishes to curb the extremists in Kiev and return to the agreement signed by the France, Germany and Poland with the “opposition” nine days ago. For all the rhetoric of Samantha Power and the representative of the ” Ukrainian government” it’s hard to see that they could have disagreed with that. After all, events in the Ukrainian capital are so embarrassing to the West that they can’t even bring themselves to cover them in the media. Russia is actually doing them a favor in providing a diversion from dwelling on the outcome of their ill-conceived machinations. Putins’ claims to represent the interest of Russians in Ukraine and the demonstrations there in response also highlight the fact that a huge swathe of Ukraine is not supportive of the government and that the conditions holding elections don’t exist. It has also lead to the call up of army reservists  and the placing of the Ukrainian army on alert. As in any fascist coup the army poses a problem: Yanukovitch didn’t deploy them against the Maidan mob fearing, no doubt, a civil war. It doesn’t follow from this that the those now in power in Kiev can safely mobilize them. The army may not be overly impressed by what they have seen so far from those who have presumed to take power, or wish to wait passively while extremist elements try to take control of the army. They may choose instead, at a timely moment, to purge Kiev of extremists and instigate a government of national unity in preparations for eventual elections. By doing so they would be effectively “persuading” the Kiev provisional government to return to the agreement of 21st February and at the same time fulfilling their constitutional obligation to protect the sovereignty and unity of Ukraine a goal shared by the international community including Russia.

This whole scenario looks like a match, or rather mismatch, between grandmaster Putin and an opponent who I regret to say can only be categorized as a complete novice: I refer , of course, to EU representative for foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton.

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