7th November 2014. “We are aware of the reports of Russian troops and tanks crossing the border between Ukraine and Russia,” a NATO military officer told Reuters. “If this crossing into Ukraine is confirmed it would be further evidence of Russia’s aggression and direct involvement in destabilising Ukraine.”
NATO, having itself made use of it in the Balkans and in Libya, has good reason to anticipate Russia’s exercising the R2P (Right to Protect) clause in Eastern Ukraine. However, in an age when eyes in the sky can tell analysts the brand of a packet of cigarettes, NATO, according to its spokesman, has “yet to confirm” the presence of the alleged armoured column of thirty two tanks and “truckloads of troops” in either rebel held or government controlled areas. Either NATO is extremely incompetent or is dishonestly trying to deceive the Western public . As it cannot possibly be that incompetent, I would opt for dishonest.
It would appear that there is a deliberate attempt being made, not only by the Kiev government, but also by the western military alliance, to ramp up the perception of Russian aggression in the minds of the EU public. What could be the purpose of such a deceit?
There are two main schools of thought, a longer and a shorter term view, as to the motivation behind the USA’s recent successful overthrow of the legitimate government of the Ukraine and the subsequent dragging of its European allies into an economic war on Russia.
Google ‘Steve Weissman Ukraine’ for more of the same.
This blog will deal mainly with the shorter term view: the isolation of Russia from the rest of Europe. This analysis has it that the USA regards Western Europe as its natural bailiwick. In this vision, the oil and gas funded resurgence of an economically powerful Russia has enabled it to become too influential in EU affairs. Not only does Russia supply over 30% of Europe’s energy needs, but it has been using its profits to buy strategic shareholdings in major European companies.
Soviet Russia was capitalist America’s natural enemy. The triumphant end of the Cold War and collapse of the Soviet Union did not dispel that hostile mind-set in much of the USA’s decision making apparatus – (especially in that inflated sector of the security state that requires natural enemies as a justification for its existence.) The last thing the USA wished to see was a rapprochement between Russia and the more influential states within the EU. The possible future emergence of a Russo-German axis had to be nipped in the bud.
In such an endeavour, Britain was the USA’s natural ally. Ever since the Plantagenets lost France, deep in the sub-conscious recesses of the British collective memory of foreign affairs, has been the need to prevent the growth of a major power in continental Europe. (Some argue, as did De Gaulle, that Britain only joined the EU to ensure that it would remain politically incoherent.)
For the remainder of Europe, this renewal of the Cold War has no advantages. At a time when the Eurozone is in deep economic strife, the Europeans are being asked to face the additional burden of both Russian and American imposed sanctions, requests to prop-up the fast failing Ukrainian state, increased insecurity to their natural gas supplies and, as icing on the cake, a flight of capital from the Euro into the US Dollar. The slowly emerging alternative possibility of a Silk Road enabled trading zone, stretching from the French Atlantic coast to the Yellow Sea, might at some point become irresistible. That is, unless America can arrange for all such thoughts to be dispelled – but, in the longer term, only a Western take-over of the Russian political system could achieve that.
In that longer term, perhaps to be seen as a Phase II of the Ukrainian operation, a more ambitious Washington think-tank strategist would not only separate Western Europe from Russia, but would then move to destabilise Russia itself. In this vision, the USA would have first to isolate the Western Europeans from their most convenient energy supplies. This would be done by replacing Russian gas with a gas-pipeline running from Qatar through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, a friendly, Sunni-governed Syria and Turkey. As Assad’s Shia-sympathetic government in Syria is allied to Iran and Russia, it would have first to be removed before this ambition could be realised. The recent rise of IS, which frightens all parties, appears to have changed the equation.
Now, as the only effective counter to IS expansion, Assad’s removal has become more problematical. An alternative would be to manipulate global energy prices downwards to the point where budgetary constraints severely reduce the Russia government’s ability to guarantee its defence and lead to general discontent among the Russian electorate. With the twenty-five percent drop in global oil prices, subsequent to Kerry’s visit to Riyadh in September, this now appears to be a favoured option. This tactic will at least be of help to the struggling EU economies.