Patrick Armstrong is a former political counselor at Canadian Embassy in Moscow
Kiev attacks. On Tuesday what remains of Kiev’s army, accompanied with threats of destruction, entered two eastern cities, Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. The soldiers soon switched sides (or as they say in Kiev "Russian terrorist sabotage groups have been captured six units of armored vehicles”), up went the Russian flags and St George ribbons and the townspeople fed them; I guess the American rations didn’t get to them. Interview. And another column stopped. Good news – especially when you think of what the rhetoric of easterners as "terrorists” and Washington’s enthusiastic encouragementcould have led to. Today will probably tell: if the attacks fizzle out, there’s still hope for a federalised Ukraine. I look forward to watching Washington, Brussels (and Ottawa, I am ashamed to include) try and spin their way out of this shattering confutation of their fantasies. Reminds me of the Ossetia War when Wikileaks revealed that the US Embassy had uncritically transmitted whatever nonsenseit was being fed by the Saakashvili regime.
Time to go? Staff in Kiev’s power ministries are changing sides,refusing to attack the protesters, melting away; there are more dismissals in the power organs. Kiev’s new rulers have, apart from the uncertain loyalty of the most extreme, little force available (vide Kramatorsk). Moody’s has dropped Ukraine to "default imminent with little prospect for recovery”. Their sponsors in Brussels and Washington have kicked in only a sum that would about cover what China is suing Ukraine for. Meanwhile conditions worsen for the ordinary stiff. Large areas of the east ignore Kiev and demand more autonomy or a referendum. And where’s Right Sector? Disarmed?Mobilising? Or beating up presidential candidates and demanding resignations in Kiev? Can’t think Yatsenyuk will be around for much longer: no power, no money, no support. A visit from the CIA head isn’t much comfort.
Snipers. It’s almost forgotten now, but the Ukraine crisis was negotiated to a satisfactory result on 21 February. The agreement collapsed thanks to the snipers on the Maidan. So who were they? The new people in Kiev, predictably, blame Yanukovych and hint at Russian involvement. However, the simple application of the principle of cui bono would query that. The Ashton-Paet interceptraised the possibility that the snipers were connected with the people now in power in Kiev. A German investigation supports this conclusion. This question is at the core of the nature of the regime now in Kiev and, Dear Reader, its coverage, or ignoring, will be another test of whether your local media outlet is reporting or re-typing. Original in German, English translation on JRL/2014/84/1or here.
Snippets. Far extreme anti Russia propaganda (but note what Tymoshenko said and how The Telegraph chose to frame the story.) Note thisphoto of Kiev’s Interior Minister; what’s the story on the flag patch on his guard’s uniform? You may be sure that people in south and east wonder. Here are some easterners stopping a lone tank. The "Russian colonel” video is a fake. These are former Ukrainian vehicles that switched sides.
And even bigger consequences?The "petro-dollar” is a pillar of US power. There are straws in the wind: the BRICS talking about setting up their own IMF. Russia, China and India thinking about by-passing the US Dollar in oil deals. Et Cetera. I wonder if the fall in the US stock market has anything to do with this. After all, Washington does not look like a good bet at the moment: hugely overextended, empty blustering, incompetent and destabilising interference. Time to bring it down? Or time to get yourself out from under the crash?
Russian massing. Finally NATO issued some pictures of the Russian forces "massing” along the border. Nonsense! all clearly bases: everything neatly lined up, fences around the edges, buildings, no tactical grouping. Not evidence at all. In some cases you can find same or similar photos on Google Earth from months ago; the airfield at Primorsko-Akhtarsk for example; same aircraft in different places. Holly finds no Russians.
Putin letter. Trying to inject some reality, Putin sent aletter to Russia’s European gas customers. It says: Ukraine’s economy is collapsing; Russia has been providing cheap gas, other money and discounts totalling about US$35 billion in the last 4 years; the EU has contributed nothing; Ukraine hasn’t paid anything for gas for several months. Russia is close to demanding payment in advance for deliveries; this "increases the risk of siphoning off natural gas passing through Ukraine’s territory and heading to European consumers”. We must all get together to figure out a solution. Merkel has indicated she is taking this seriously.