Europe, US and Russia haggle over Ukraine’s convulsing body; Russians and Americans press on for an all out civil war

On 16-17 October 2014 the 10th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM10) took place in Milan, hosted by The European Union. Snapshot of the high level meeting with Russia and Ukraine. From left to right: François Hollande, President of France, Vladimir Putin President of Russia, Matteo Renzi, Italian Prime Minister, Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine and Angela Merkel, German Federal Chancellor. (European Council, Council of the European Union, Audiovisual Services, Shoot date: 16/10/2014).

On 16-17 October 2014 the 10th Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM10) took place in Milan, hosted by The European Union. Snapshot of the high level meeting with Russia and Ukraine. From left to right: François Hollande, President of France, Vladimir Putin President of Russia, Matteo Renzi, Italian Prime Minister, Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine and Angela Merkel, German Federal Chancellor. (European Council, Council of the European Union, Audiovisual Services, Shoot date: 16/10/2014).

Germany and France are alarmed at the prospect that the Americans could turn Ukraine into an unbelievable inferno, by overtly delivering heavy armaments to Kiev. In such an event implications on Europe’s security will be vast. The French President François Hollande and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel rushed to Moscow last Friday and met the Russian President Vladimir Putin for five hours to unsuccessfully propose a peace plan to him. Before that, the two made a brief stop-over in Kiev to see Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

With the ‘Minsk Agreement’ if not dead at least on its last legs, the latest military developments in South Eastern Ukraine sounded the alarms all over Europe and further afar. The successful winter offensive of the pro-Russian separatists, obviously supported by Moscow, if not waged by the Russians themselves, has come really close to gaining a strategic advantage by capturing Debaltseve. This is a key railway hub town connecting Donetsk and Luhansk, the two main strongholds areas of the separatists.

The West deeply divided

In view of that, the US said last week they are ready for the first time to openly supply Kiev with heavy weaponry, cunningly termed as ‘defensive’, in order to reverse the territorial gains of the other side. Until this day though the West, the European Union including Britain and the US alike have denied equipping the Kiev military forces with heavy armaments. In this way the West reserved the argumentative right to forbid Russia from doing the same for the pro-Russian separatists and at the same time obliged Moscow to support its side only covertly.

Understandably, if this stage is surpassed and the two sides of the Ukrainian civil war are overtly armed by the West and Russia respectively, the conflict would immediately take a much more explosive character. The whole affair will then assume the shape of a military confrontation between the West and Russia albeit indirect, but enough to remind the whole world of the bad old days of the Vietnam War. In such a case the ‘new not so cold war’ in Europe will be a frightening reality. Europe will suffer again a destructive East-West division at a great economic and otherwise cost.

Who wants Europe divided?

At the same time the US will assume again the role of super ‘protector’ of the western and central European countries against the Russian threat. This will deprive the EU from its painstakingly won independent role in global affairs at an immeasurable cost, and alleviate again the US at the apex of the only super power. Russia is not and cannot pretend to be a new USSR.

The plain truth however is that Europe cannot accuse the US of forcing things towards this direction. The initial pact, which started interfering in Ukraine’s internal affairs some ten years ago, comprised an eager EU and a not so much enthusiastic US. That accord cannot be relinquished now. After 1995 it was probably Europe rather than the US behind the forces which drove Ukraine to its present abysmal state. On the other side of the fence, Russia and Putin cannot back off from supporting the ten million of Russian speakers in Eastern Ukraine and let them be crushed under the revengeful intentions of Kiev’s nationalists. No Moscow government can do that and remain in power one more day. In many ways all sides are now hooked in a conflict that may take uncharted ways.

Europe ready to compromise

In view of all that, Merkel and Hollande rushed to Moscow last Friday to discuss with Putin a new map of Ukraine. After the latest advances of the pro-Russian forces on the ground though, the Kremlin’s demands for quasi-independence and new geography in the eastern parts of Ukraine have been grossly inflated.

The Merkel-Holland proposal was then briefly rejected by Putin. Of course Kiev’s views on geography and self-rule in the eastern provinces are pivotal and Petro Poroshenko’s ideas may differ widely from what the EU duo can generously accept as a final settlement with Moscow. On top of that, Kiev’s demands may be boosted by the Americans serving their own strategy against Russia.

It is also true that differences may exist even between the France – Germany pair. Berlin shows an unbending intransigence in rejecting the American plan to supply Kiev with more arms. Angela Merkel went in details arguing why such a move can lead Europe to a dreadful dead-end. So strong were her arguments against the US proposal, that some American politicians accused her of turning her back to an ally, the Kiev government, in distress. Paris from its side doesn’t say much against the American plans.

The Munich Conference

All that took place last Saturday in Germany, at the 51st Munich Security Conference. This is an annual gathering of world leaders to discuss global security. Nevertheless this time it became an anti-Russian parade. The Munich gathering gave the Europeans a good indication where the US wants to drive the Ukrainian civil war. If Petro Poroshenko supports the American strategy, Europe would pay a very dear price for a very long time and Germany even more so.

Unfortunately, all those dealings are taking place on the ruins of lives of millions of people and on thousands of graves. What Russia and the West are bargaining for now is large chunks of Ukrainian home-land. At the end of the day, Europe and more so Germany, is now ready to pay a price for peace, at the expenses of Ukraine’s map. Nonetheless, the Americans appear quite aggressive and want a continuation of the conflict. Alas, Kiev is incapable to come up with a compromise to end the carnage.

It’s not the first time in history the poor Ukrainians are encouraged to kill each other, as if the Dnieper River divides them in two different nations.

 

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