Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 02.02.2018
Ukraine is holding the line against Russia’s invasion of Europe in Crimea and Donbas. Stalled by the stubborn resistance of Ukrainians, Putin has expanded his war elsewhere. What started as a regional war with Russia’s invasion and occupation of Crimea has already expanded to a global hybrid war, with Russia bombing Syrian civilians and with Russia falsifying the US election of 2016. In recent weeks, there have been developments that remove constraints on Putin to expand his war against Ukraine. The war aim of Muscovy has always been to destroy the democratic spirit, the independence, the territorial integrity, and the sovereignty of Ukraine. Here are five signs that Russia’s invasion of Europe in Ukraine is about to get much worse:
Germany issued a permit for the construction of the NordStream2 pipeline. A 55-kilometre long section in German territorial waters of the Baltic Sea was approved. NordStream2 also received permission to commence construction on land in the vicinity of Lubmin near Greifswald. NordStream2 is a scheme by Russia’s Gazprom monopoly to subvert Europe’s energy security and deprive Ukraine of substantial gas transit revenues. NordStream2 is a campaign of Putin’s War against the West. Co-conspirators in this scheme are Uniper, Wintershall, Shell, OMV and Engie, as well as the German government. If NordStream2 is completed, Russia will no longer suffer the loss of gas export revenue if it annihilates Ukraine.
Russia completed a railway that bypasses Ukraine. An existing north-south line, running from Voronezh region to Rostov region in Russia, cuts across 28 kilometres of Luhansk region in Ukraine. Russian Railways has constructed a new line which skirts Luhansk region to the east. The new line will be a key asset for the Western Military District of the Russian armed forces. Russia will be able to move troops from central Russia to Rostov and to the Black Sea coast without any threat from Ukraine. Rostov is where Russia stages troops, armour, and equipment for its invasion and occupation army in Donbas.
Russia has withdrawn its officers from the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC). This is a ceasefire monitoring group which works closely with the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (OSCE SMM). Russian occupation forces in Donbas are now less constrained in their ability to violate the ceasefire which is supposed to be in effect. Since Russia withdrew from the JCCC, Russian occupation forces in Donbas have increased the number of attacks where they fire on populated areas in territory under their control as a way to concoct a ‘provocation’ for subsequent attacks on defenders and civilians in free Ukraine territory.
Belarus has ceased military co-operation with Ukraine. Belarus had previously expressed support for Ukrainian sovereignty, and agreed with the world community that Crimea is Ukraine. Now, Belarus is stopping military-technical co-operation with Ukraine as being “contrary to our interests” and it describes Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Luhansk and Donetsk regions as the “conflict in Donbas” – these are the words of Belarusian State Military-Industrial Committee, Chair Oleg Dvigalev. Belarus maintained a semblance of independence up until the “Zapad 2017” military exercise. At that time, it was established that Belarus is little more than a military colony of Russia, a staging ground for Russian mobilization, and a jump point for Russian attacks against Ukraine.
In the United States, Trump has shifted to open support of Russian aggression. Trump violated sanctions by allowing liquid natural gas (LNG) from Russia to land in Boston. An LNG carrier under long-term lease by Engie brought the gas from Yamal LNG – owned by sanctioned Russian concern Novatek – by way of the Isle of Grain LNG facility in the United Kingdom. This elaborate ‘laundering’ of the provenance of the gas was concocted to break the sanctions regime on Russian individuals and entities who are responsible for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Trump then refused to sanction Russian individuals and entities for their falsification of the US election of 2016. He did this in violation of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which was passed overwhelmingly by both houses of Congress. Trump then allowed the three top Russian spy chiefs to visit Washington: Sergei Naryshkin, the head of the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR); Aleksandr Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service (FSB); and Colonel General Igor Korobov, chief of Russian General Staff’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU). Igor Korobov and Sergey Naryshkin are on the US Treasury Department’s sanctions list, and are banned from travel to the US. Trump violated US law by allowing these sanctioned war criminals to enter the US. By breaking existing sanctions about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and refusing to implement asset freezes, travel bans, and other sanctions for Russia’s falsification of the US election, Trump gives aid and comfort to the enemy, Russia.
Apart from the Ukrainian armed forces, nobody is fighting Russia. Appeasement, collaboration, “no military solution” talk, and “deep concern” is all that other Western leaders have offered. Putin is thrilled that his reckless action by starting a war in Europe has been rewarded rather than punished. Four years of appeasement has encouraged Putin to expand his war without constraint. These five recent developments unleash the dogs of war from Muscovy.
The mood in Kyiv is that more war is coming.
On main photo: Ukrainian Army liberating Sloviansk, 05.07.2014