Monday’s ruthless attack by the Ukrainian government in Donetsk in which up to 100 people were killed was a clear indication of this. Although the government labeled the offensive as an “anti-terrorist” operation, the reality is that it was either a case of Ukraine killing its own people, or it was a military assault against a sovereign population, depending on one’s interpretation of the Donetsk People’s Republic referendum of May 11 in which the people overwhelmingly voted for independence from Ukraine.
Either way, given that the past two weeks have been filled with bad news for the US and its puppet government in Kiev, we should be on the lookout for more of these types of violent provocations. That’s what desperate, crumbling powers do when things don’t go their way.
The first bit of recent devastating news for the US were the aforementioned May 11 referendums in which almost 90 percent of voters in Donetsk Region and 96 percent of voters in Lugansk Region endorsed political independence from Kiev.
No matter what happens from this point forward, now that the Donetsk and Lugansk Regions have joined Crimea in voting for self-rule, there are 9.1 million fewer people, and approximately 30,000 fewer square miles the US can have in its “sphere of influence.” Knowing that the grand prize of owning control of Ukraine has just been reduced by 20 percent has got to hurt Washington’s empire builders.
And then there was the bombshell announcement on May 21, that after a decade of tough negotiations, Russia and China agreed to a $400 billion deal that will link Russia’s natural gas fields to China’s pipeline system. The deal “establishes possibly the most important gas benchmark in decades,” said Francisco Blanch, Bank of America’s global head of commodities research.
Though media in the US was obviously told to downplay the significance of the agreement, even countries like Australia – a willing participant in many recent US imperial ventures – are lamenting the deal. “We can’t afford to underestimate the significance of last week’s development for the Pacific gas market,” specialist gas industry consultant Graham Bethune of EnergyQuest said. “The negative impact for Australia’s [liquefied natural gas] competitiveness and future market share from this new market dynamic is serious.”
Didn’t anyone in Washington think this could happen, given its hostile behavior towards Russia? Did the global bully think it could just continue to punch without being hit back? “The US-British attempt to wound Russia’s economy and punish Putin for disobedience had just blown up in their red faces,” wrote Eric Margolis. “Russia has thus given its economy a big boost and made western sanctions look inconsequential. Chinese funds will allow cash-strapped Russia to modernize its oil and gas industry.”
The only bit of recent good news for the US in Ukraine was the election of the pro-EU Petro Poroshenko – known as the “Chocolate King” – who was voted in as Ukraine’s new president on Sunday.
But the election results will not change things on the ground. If anything, the legitimate protesters in Ukraine will become even more disillusioned now that another oligarch will be in charge – something that led them to hit the streets in 2004 and again this year. The people of Ukraine are politically astute, but even those who don’t pay attention to politics know exactly who Poroshenko is: He is Ukraine’s seventh richest man who owns one of the country’s largest television stations, and has made his main occupation as a politician since the failed Orange Revolution.
“Oligarchs are part of Ukraine’s problems; on that, pretty much everyone agrees. So why is [the new president, Poroshenko] being presented as Ukraine’s solution?” wrote Sarah A. Topol in Politico.
Immediately following his victory on Sunday, Poroshenko displayed some sensibility in saying that he wants to start talks with Russia once he’s in office. Russia agreed to the talks, as long as the US and EU are not involved. But Poroshenko must have had his hand slapped because the next day he ruled out discussions with the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in the east, calling them “bandit states,” “murderers,” and “terrorists.”
Poroshenko went on to say that he supports a continuation of the military attacks in the east and south, but believes “it must be shorter and it must be more effective, military units must be better equipped.” Analyst Daniel Patrick Welch told RT that “what that means today is [more] shelling against civilians, bombs that fall near occupied apartment blocks, fighter jets, and helicopter launches against an urban population.”
So there it is. We can expect more of the same when it comes to the US trying to win hearts and minds in Ukraine. They’ll continue to try and paint the pro-federalist opposition in Ukraine as “pro-Russian” rebels or as “little green men” from Russia. They’ll come up with a follow-up ruse to the “anti-Semitic flyers being distributed by pro-Russian separatists.” And they’ll try things like having Victoria Nuland tell everyone that protesters in eastern Ukraine wear “baklavas” on their face.
But when those efforts are met with laughter and are exposed as a hoax, the US will fall back on the one thing it knows it can always count on – unleashing violence in the name of fighting “terrorists.” This is especially convenient because it has the Ukrainian government and its militia of neo-Nazis to do the dirty work for them.
In the meantime, everyday people in Ukraine will begin to feel the impact of suffocating IMF loans and austerity measures, and will be burdened by the increased cost of everyday items that Russia previously gave them at a discount, namely natural gas.
It won’t take long for them to be back on the streets, and it won’t take long for others in the region to seek independence or alignment with Russia, as could soon be the case in Transnistria.
The US knows these things are just around the corner, and given its insatiable appetite for global primacy, they are not just going to sit back and watch as they lose their grasp on Ukraine and the rest of Eurasia.
Chris Ernesto is cofounder of St. Pete for Peace, an antiwar organization in St. Petersburg, FL that has been active since 2003. Mr. Ernesto also created and manages OccupyArrests.com and USinAfrica.com.