Ukraine, Russia and the World:
Five Questions to Three Authors
Tlaxcala asked three authors — Dmitry Orlov, The Saker and Pepe Escobar — who have been accurately following the situation in and around Ukraine, five questions. Here are their answers. Tlaxcala doesn't share all their views but find them interesting enough to be shared.
1) Do you believe US (Obama) is using Ukraine to take revenge for Syria and make the EU "unfit for fight"? What would their strategic goals be?
Dmitry Orlov: Obama's goal was to stage a coup d'état to replace the Ukrainian government with a puppet regime. In this he has succeeded. But I doubt that his strategies go beyond that.
The Saker: The current crisis has been entirely the creation of the USA and to a lesser degree of the EU. The USA is locked in a Cold-War type mentality illustrated by the following two quotes. One by Hillary Clinton “There is a move to re-Sovietise the region ... It’s not going to be called that. It’s going to be called a customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that ... But let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it” (source), and one by Zbigniew Brzezinski [as reported by Dmitry Minin]: “without Ukraine Russia ceases to be empire, while with Ukraine — bought off first and subdued afterwards, it automatically turns into empire ... According to [Brzezinski], the new world order under the hegemony of the United States is created against Russia and on the fragments of Russia. Ukraine is the Western outpost to prevent the recreation of the Soviet Union” (source). Thus the USA is not trying to “get” the Ukraine for NATO or for any other purpose, what they want is to deny the Ukraine to Russia in a hope of preventing the latter from becoming a new Soviet Empire. This is thus a pure zero-sum game – any Russian loss is, by definition, a success for the USA. The fact that Russia is already a superpower capable of stopping the USA (as shown in the Syrian crisis) or the fact that Russia has no desire to become another Soviet Union or even any other kind of empire (empires are costly and the Russians have no desire to become another USSR) makes no difference: the US plutocracy believes this [that Russia wants to become a new Soviet Empire] and acts on this belief. Furthermore, the US elites have been humiliated in the Syrian crisis and they now want to show Russia and the rest of the world “who is boss”. Finally, add to this the influence of some very powerful ethnic lobbies who all share a common hatred for Russia (Jewish, Ukrainian, Polish) and you will get a policy whose sole aim is to make things as bad for Russia as possible. This is nothing new. During the war in Afghanistan the USA was willing to fully back the worst types of Wahabi terrorists only to hurt the USSR. Now the USA is giving its support to violent neo-Fascist nationalists. The sole condition for any terrorist group, no matter how evil and crazy, to get money from the CIA and its affiliates is to hate Russia. The wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo had no other purpose than “stick it to the Russians”. And if we look closer at the core of this maniacal hatred of the US elites for Russia we find that very little has changed in the West since the Middle Ages: the Western elites have always hated Russia for being Orthodox and for refusing to be conquered.
Pepe Escobar: Ukraine is definitely the Obama Administration's warped revenge playbook for not being allowed to bomb Syria (it was in fact saved from it, plus the horrible consequences, by Moscow). The only things that matter for Washington in Ukraine, in this order, are: (1) NATO bases. (2) Pipelineistan: US Big Oil controlling still unexplored oil and gas wealth. (3) US agro-business taking over fertile Ukrainian lands. The EU does not need and does not want Ukraine, because it would need to save it from bankruptcy with funds it does not have (moreover, the operation would further enrage millions of already destitute Europeans.)
2) What do you believe is Russia's (Putin's) strategic goal and the tactics to reach it?
Dmitry Orlov: Prevent further EU/NATO encroachment; guarantee the rights of Russian-speakers in what has for centuries been Russian territory; uphold international rule of law. Possibly avenge NATO actions against Serbia in Kosovo.
The Saker: For Russia the goal is simple: survival as a nation, country and civilization. In this sense, this is not a “Putin policy” but a “Russian policy”: except for the few tiny CIA-funded parties which represent no more that 1-2 percent of the Russian population, there is a consensus amongst all the major Russian political movements in support of the current Russian stance in this crisis, which Russians view as an existential threat. When NATO bombed the Serbs in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo, Russia was ruled by a drunken western-puppet, Yeltsin, and a clique of mostly Jewish oligarchs called the “semibankirshchina” (the seven bankers). Russia then was very much like the Ukraine today. But even then, most Russian people fully understood that the US rampage in the Balkans was a message to them: “watch what we can do to your allies – you are next”. This feeling was very much reinforced by the US covert war against Syria when most Russians understood that Assad was killing the exact same type of vicious Wahabi thugs in Syria which Putin had to crush in Chechnia. Many Russians at the time said “we ought to thank Assad for killing them there, so we do not have to do this here” and “if we let Assad be overthrown, we will be next”. What you hear nowadays in Russia is “it's not about the Serbs or the Syrians anymore, this time this is about us”. So for the vast majority of Russians — including Putin — the main strategic goal is simple: not let Russia become the next Bosnia, Kosovo or Syria. In other words: survival. The second strategic goal of Russia is to prevent all of the Ukraine from becoming a “Banderastan” and to protect the Russian-speaking population from being enslaved by an openly neo-Fascist and racist regime. The third strategic goal of Russia is to achieve the first two goals, if possible, without triggering a war with US/NATO. Notice that I have listed these goals in order of priority and that if a full-scale war is threatened by the US/NATO the Kremlin will not back down from its first two strategic objectives. Make no mistakes, Russia is willing to go to war over these, Putin is not bluffing.
As for the tactic chosen by Russia, it is a sophisticated one. As the expression goes “when Russia is threatened, she does not get angry, she concentrates”. This is what is happening today. The essence of the Russian tactic is the following: First, militarily protect the Crimea to allow it to break off from the current Banderastan and thereby set a precedent and an example: While in half of regions currently controlled by the neo-Fascists the pensions are not paid at all, and while the revolutionary regime in Kiev has already indicated that it plans to slash all pensions by 50%, in Crimea all salaries and social services will be paid in full to everybody, even to those people who resigned rather than recognize the Crimean authorities. The folks in Banderastan are about to find out that there is more to running a country than beating unarmed cops and singing the national anthem. Second, Russia has threatened to use military force should the Banderist forces try to subdue the south (Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson) and the east (Donetsk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk, Lugansk) by violence. This threat both deters the Banderists from going overboard with violence while giving the Russian-speakers somewhat of a “safety net” for their protest and civil disobedience actions. Third, the Kremlin knows that the newly created Banderastan is broke and that the US and EU will never come up with anywhere near the kind of money needed to bail it out. Not only has Russia stopped sending money to the Ukraine, but Gazprom has declared the previous agreement reached with Yanukovich has been violated by the new regime, thus the price of gas for the Ukraine will now rise sharply. Finally, the richest parts of the Ukraine are, precisely, the east and the south of the country which are now attempting not to pay taxes to the illegal regime in Kiev. And if the Banderites succeed in taking over the east, then its entire industry will instantly collapse (it fully depends on Russia). Thus time is on Russia's side and the new Banderastan is simply not viable. With no money, no energy and without the possibility to rule by terror (at least in the south and east), the new regime will inevitably collapse. Russia will only re-engage the rump-Ukraine once the neo-Fascists are gone and a civilized regime comes back to power in Kiev.
Pepe Escobar: Number one strategic goal is to prevent NATO bases in Ukraine. Russian intel foiled a coup in Crimea that would replicate the coup in Kiev. That would lead — in the long run — to the regime changers in Kiev tearing up the Russia-Ukraine treaty in Sevastopol, thus opening the way to NATO. That's what precipitated sending the Spetsnaz to Crimea. Putin weighed the pros and cons. This is a chess move. He might lose in the West, but he wins internally (more popular than ever), he keeps Sevastopol, and if Crimea rejoins Russia, Gazprom exploits immense oil and gas deposits in the peninsula, and not US Big Oil.
3) Do you believe the usual "puppets" (Germany & Saudi Arabia) of the US are trying to become independent of their masters? And has Merkel a real own politics toward Ukraine and Russia? And has Saudi Arabia a real one toward Syria, Egypt and Iraq?
Dmitry Orlov: Not sure how much of a puppet Germany is going to be. It is already much closer to Russia than anyone imagines and is quite unhappy with the US. Saudi Arabia wanted to use US forces as mercenaries in Syria; when that didn't work they became very unhappy with the US as well.
The Saker: The EU is in a deep systemic crisis from which it has no possibility to recover without some dramatic changes which the EU bureaucracy categorically refuses to even contemplate. For the EU, the Ukraine was an opportunity to acquire a market for its goods and services and a chance to try to appear relevant in international affairs. Frankly, the EU needs the Ukraine to boost its much damaged image and ego, thus the vapid promises and the constant stream of EU politicians to the Maidan. And if that means supporting overt neo-Fascists and racists – so be it! The problem for the EU is that it does not have the means for implementing its policies. Sure, Klitschko is seen by some as a German puppet, but neither he, not Tiagnibok or even Yatsenuik or Timoshenko really matter. The folks that matter today in the Ukraine are the members of Dmitri Yarosh's Right Sector – the hardcore crazies, the west-Ukrainian version of the Taliban. Only they matter because they currently hold a monopoly on violence. True, Timoshenko has the support for the oligarchs and they have a lot of money, but in the short term, at least, a shotgun has more power than a suitcase filled with dollars. Unlike the “official opposition leaders”, the real thugs of the Maidan are fully paid for and run by the USA, hence Ms Nuland's crude but accurate assessment of the EU's role in the current crisis. Of course, some EU politicians are getting nervous, after all, having a large Banderastan in the middle of Europe is a very dangerous thing, but no European politician will ever overtly challenge the USA over its policies. In the EU, the US “is boss”, and the EU politicians all know it. The fact is that there is no “EU policy”. The EU is the USA's bitch, and it will do whatever Uncle Sam tells it to do. Of course, EU politicians can make speeches, have something vaguely reminiscent of a personal opinion, but when push comes to shove, they are all irrelevant, and they know it.
Pepe Escobar: Puppets are starting to think for themselves — but that needs qualification. Germany and Russia — in terms of energy and investment — already have a strategic partnership; ask any relevant German captain of industry. Berlin IS fed up with Washington; one of the meanings of Victoria Nuland's "F**k" the EU" outburst is that the US wanted regime change now, with their own puppet ("Yats") in place — even if helped by neo-nazis (Svoboda, Right Sector) instead of maybe later, with the inexperienced German puppet (Klitschko) in place.
The House of Saud's ONLY policy is their own survival — especially now, when the succession of Abdullah is still open. That, compounded with paranoia, and irrational Wahhabi hatred of Shi'ites, informs their "strategy". They bought the Sisi junta in Egypt, a small price to pay to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood. They would love some sort of emirate in Syria — and their plans have been frustrated even with Bandar Bush deploying heavy artillery (no wonder he was replaced). And in Iraq they want regime change as well, because they see Maliki as an Iranian puppet. House of Saud is THE number one source of trouble all across the Middle East.
4) Back to Ukraine: Do you agree with Christopher Westdal's analysis? Ukraine should let Crimea go. But Putin shouldn’t take it. What are your comments?
Dmitry Orlov: Ukraine has no choice in the matter, and whether it will join Russia is up to Crimean people and up to Russian legislators. Putin's view is likely to revolve around what will most help his popularity with the Russians, and I would guess that absorbing Crimea will help it the most.
The Saker: Westdal's analysis is fundamentally flawed because it overlooks two basic facts: first, Russia is not a dictatorship and the Crimea is sacred Russian land for which a huge number of Russians died over hundreds of years. If Putin decided to hand over the Crimea to the Banderites he would face a very ugly situation at home with an outraged public opinion. Westdal second mistake is that he believes that Russia needs a “hook” to somehow control the Ukraine. There is no “Ukraine” any more, this experiment is over, all we have now is a Banderastan in central and western Ukraine, a region that will be fought over in one manner or another in the east and south, and a Crimea which has gone from the Ukraine forever. As for the current neo-Fascist regime in Kiev – it is not viable anyway, and Russia has plenty of other “hooks” to negotiate with any future rump-Ukraine which will succeed the current Banderastan. Bottom line: if the Crimeans want to join Russia Putin has no option but to agree to this.
Pepe Escobar: Essentially that [Christopher Westdal's analysis] is correct; Crimea is much more useful (and cheaper) to Putin inside Ukraine — with a huge degree of autonomy — than re-attached to the Russian Federation. It remains to be seen how the result of the referendum can be used/steered by the Kremlin to get "concessions" from Kiev, assuming Kiev and Moscow start talking (they will have to). What matters most to Russia is the sanctity of Sevastopol and the certainty there will be no NATO bases. I doubt Kiev can assure them in either case.
5) What advice, based on your experience, could you give to people fighting despotic regimes to avoid falling into the trap of a color revolution?
Dmitry Orlov: Don't accept help from the US or the EU. Do your best to discredit the work of Western NGOs and run them out of the country as soon as possible.
The Saker: Never take any empire's money or support. Never accept in your ranks anybody who is willing to get any empire's money or support. And always remember that a bad state and a bad regime are always preferable to no state and no regime. That means, do not use violence to overthrow a regime you hate, even if it oppresses you. First, violence always generates fear and more violence. But even more importantly, violence often leads to the collapse not only of the hated regime, but also of the state itself. And when anarchy breaks loose, the most violent and ruthless gangs always come to power. When you fight against a hated oppressive regime – fight against its ideology, against its authority, show it no respect, openly make fun of it, but do not use violence and never fight against your own compatriots. Fight against ideas, not people. You can win a national liberation war against a foreign occupier, but you cannot win a civil war. Seek reconciliation, never revenge, show compassion to the “other one” and never ever ignore the voice of your own conscience. Always discriminate between right and wrong, but never between “our people” and “their people” as all humans are equally precious in the eyes of God. Give your allegiance only to God and “Trust not in princes, nor in the children of men, in whom there is no safety. “ (Psalm 145). If you keep your heart and conscience pure, then no empire will make you its puppet.
Pepe Escobar: Keep a very informed close eye on NGOs of the NED and Freedom House kind, and how they instrumentalize any dissent to their own regime change purposes. Same for State Department maneuvers, including dodgy US ambassadors of the agitator kind. Follow the money, follow the propaganda, follow who's behind your "support".
This article first appeared on 2014-03-16 on the Taxcala website.
Selected articles about the Ukraine by The Saker:
- Ukraine's "civilizational choice" — a Pyrrhic victory for Russia? (2013-11-24)
- The gates of Hell are opening for the Ukraine (2013-11-30)
- The geopolitics of the Ukrainian conflict: back to basics (2014-02-20)
- Ukrainian nationalism — its roots and nature (2014-02-24)
- Follow up to my post about the roots and nature of Ukrainian nationalism (2014-02-26)
- The Kremlin's response to the events in the Ukraine gradually becomes more apparent (2014-02-27)
- Obama just made things much, much worse in the Ukraine — now Russia is ready for war (2014-03-01)
- The Self-defeating Fuite en Avant of the US in the Ukraine (2014-03-03)
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