NATO Nations Train, Arm Ukrainian Military for War with Russia
Rick Rozoff / Anti-Bellum
“Only one thing to it: a strong stomach. The guts to glad-hand a man you’re going to stab in the back; pledge allegiance to principles you stomp on every day; righteously denounce some despot in the press and sell him arms under the table. The talent to whip up the voters’ worst passions while you seem to call on their highest instincts, and the sense to stay wrapped in the flag. That’s politics: I’ll take the simple life.” — Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro
(April 16, 2021) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently granted a lengthy interview to the French newspaper Le Figaro, in which he lobbies for his country to be taken into NATO and the European Union, fulsomely fawns over French President Emmanuel Macron (they have a special affinity; they both like the theater — but apparently not Beaumarchais) and offers him commiseration and common cause with, in what appears to be a reference to last year’s strikes over pension changes and perhaps also to the Yellow Vest protest movement, the words “I do not know one hundred percent whether Russia was involved in these conflicts, strikes in France, or not.” The last comment was printed in one of France’s leading newspapers.
He dwelt, as would be expected, on the status of the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in the Donbass and Crimea, which he referred to as occupied territories. (That is the translation of his words on his presidential website.)
Russia, of course, is the implied or explicit occupier in all three instances. He additionally compares the three to what for decades have been referred to as the frozen conflicts in the former Soviet Union: Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transdniester. (He neglected to add South Ossetia; mere oversight no doubt.)
Wars have been fought in and against those four republics, most recently the Turkish-supported attack by Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh last year. To suggest that he wouldn’t be averse to seeing Turkey reprise that role, he praised Turkish-Ukrainian cooperation, which includes a joint approach to “the issue of Crimean Tatars or Crimeans who were deprived of their home and left after the occupation.” He also said, ” For me, Crimea and Donbas have never left, these are definitely our territories.” They, like Nagorno-Karabakh and Crimean Tatars, will have to be “liberated.” By force of arms.
By way of comparison with examples preceding the division in Ukraine he said that “in the territories where there is occupation” — he mentioned Abkhazia and Transniester — there are no skyscrapers (“like in Hong Kong”), no scientific breakthrough, no cool (his word) businesses and no happiness. No happiness.
Transdniester has a population of 469,000 people and Abkhazia of 245,000. And they have no skyscrapers. No Disney Worlds. No Microsoft and Amazon and other cool businesses. No happiness. The fact that the U.S. and the EU don’t recognize their existence and cut them off from all connection with the outside world except for Russia in Zelensky’s mind would have nothing to do with why there are no Eiffel Towers or Trump Towers in Tiraspol and Sukhumi.
In referring to Abkhazia and Transdniester as occupied territories he again implies that Russia is the occupation force as it has a small contingent of peacekeepers in Transdniester and has reinforced troops in Abkhazia after the Georgia-Russia war of 2008. Transdniester is squeezed between Ukraine and Moldova; perhaps Zelensky intends to “liberate” it as he does Crimea with Turkish assistance.
He said that if the Donbass and Crimea share the fate of those others, they will be “dead” territory. “It will be worse than Chernobyl. Because there are tourists even in Chernobyl. And these will be just ‘dead’ regions, unfortunately.”
When asked about the proposed Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, he transformed that as he does most everything into a casus belli: “Nord Stream is another blow, an energy one. Modern wars are called that way. Hybrid wars. This is an information war, an energy war. The same with gas, the food war. We know how countries are blocked and they do not receive food. Similarly, there is a vaccine war, when there is no supply of vaccines to a country, and you are blackmailed. This is a hybrid war.
“So what’s the difference which troops are fighting against you? Remember, this (Nord Stream — ed.) is not a business issue. Business of Europe and Russia. No, it’s a matter of war.”
On March 24 Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a press conference in Berlin after meeting with the German foreign minister: “I made clear that firms engaged in pipeline construction risk U.S. sanctions. The pipeline divides Europe, it exposes Ukraine and central Europe to Russian manipulation and coercion, it goes against Europe’s own stated energy goals.”
In Zelensky’s Le Figaro interview he connected the war for energy with the war over “occupied territories” with these stark words: “If the Nord Stream 2 is completed, not only Ukraine will lose. This is a precedent, it means that it is allowed. And this is the same as with our occupied territories. If people recognize and get used to it, live with it, then it means this is allowed. Starting from Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, and now Crimea, Donbas…..Crimea and Donbas would not be the case if the world had said ‘it is not allowed’ back then.”
Western governments and the Western news media are providing an oversimplified if not entirely inaccurate narrative about what’s involved in Ukraine’s campaign to pit the West against Russia. The Western public may want to read Zelensky’s own words.
Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. He is the manager of Stop NATO. This originally appeared at Anti-Bellum.
Ukraine’s Zelensky appears to be guided by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
NATO Nations Train, Arm Ukrainian Military for War with Russia
(April 17, 2021) — As the Ukrainian government and pro-government press is busily and dutifully terrorizing the domestic populace, and equally attempting to stampede the Western public into a “humanitarian intervention” moral panic, with headlines like Over 103,000 Russian troops currently stationed near border with Ukraine and Russia deploys attack aircraft in occupied Crimea, it is also reporting on assistance from NATO nations in preparation for an armed conflict with Russia.
Yesterday NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu tweeted in response to Russia’s announcement it will bar U.S. and NATO warships from parts of the Black Sea near its coast, including American anti-ballistic missile destroyers which have established permanent residence there. To repeat, near Russia’s own coast. American guided-missile destroyers near Russia’s coast. Without any pretense of balance or restraint, she wrote:
“We are concerned by reports that Russia plans to restrict access to parts of the Black Sea and the Kerch Strait. This would be an unjustified move, and part of a broader pattern of destabilising behaviour by Russia. We call on Russia to ensure free access to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov, and allow freedom of navigation.”
The Kerch Strait connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov. With Crimea part of Russia again, the land on either side of the strait is Russian territory. As the land on both sides of the Dardanelles and Bosporus is Turkish. Russia has said nothing about preventing Ukrainian vessels from entering and leaving the Sea of Azov. Instead it announced that it would temporarily bar vessels from part of its coast near the Kerch Strait while it conducted exercises nearby.
As though Lungescu had not already made her tendentious and bellicose sentiments sufficiently obvious, she added this:
“We call on Russia to de-escalate immediately, stop its pattern of provocations, and respect its international commitments. NATO Allies do not and will not recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. We fully support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.”
As to Russia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within itsinternationally recognized borders, Washington and NATO for some fifteen years have respected them by turning the Black Sea into a training ground for naval warfare with almost constant exercises and port visits to all the Black Sea littoral nations but Russia. (Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine.) So far this year the U.S. has dispatched three anti-missile destroyers and a cruiser to the sea, often two at a time.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba recently boasted that “Western partners” — NATO member states — will provide his nation’s armed forces with military equipment, especially weapons he pointed out, in the event Russia “mounts a further, full-scale military invasion.” It is not at all clear which previous full-scale military invasion or invasions his comments imply.
In words that could have come from a movie version of Hector at Troy or David Crockett at the Alamo, Kuleba stated:
“If, God forbid, active, large-scale hostilities resume, we will be provided with specific, substantive military equipment assistance by a number of our partners, which will significantly strengthen Ukraine’s defense capability and help us repel the aggressor’s offensive.”
We have not yet begun to fight. Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes. The shot heard around the world. Couldn’t his American partners have provided him with rhetoric better than “repel the aggressor’s offensive”? On the American theme, he also urged Ukrainians not to trust and further circulate rumors that “an American brigade would come to fight [on the side of Ukraine].” That, he claimed, was Russian propaganda. A variant of “hybrid warfare” or exercising “malign influence” surely.
Ukraine’s defense minister, Andriy Taran, recently met with British ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons and afterward said that the British military will continue to train Ukrainian armed forces “as part of the ongoing mission in support of the country in the face of Russian aggression.”
The British training program, Operation Orbital, has trained over 17,500 Ukrainian service members since its inception in 2015. Last year British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed that the training mission would be extended until 2023. It is explicitly designed to transform the Ukrainian military in order to meet NATO standards: to be a NATO proxy army on Russia’s western border.
If a war between Ukraine and Russia should ensue, NATO has already identified itself as a belligerent in the conflict.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes