Putin’s Diplomatic Gambit
by Stephen Lendman
Putin is polar opposite Obama. He represents responsible geopolitical leadership.
He wants Ukrainian crisis conditions resolved diplomatically. He does so despite knowing Washington’s hardline agenda.
It’s longstanding. It’s all take. It’s no give. Its rules alone matter. Unchallenged global dominance is sought. So is eliminating major rivals.
On Wednesday, Putin addressed ongoing Ukrainian crisis conditions. He did so forthrightly. He was candid, saying:
They’ve “tak(en) the worst direction in its developments lies with those who organised the coup d’etat in Kiev on February 22-23, and have not yet taken the trouble to disarm right-wing radical and nationalist groups.”
“(W)e must look for ways out of the situation as it is today. We all have an interest in ending this crisis, Ukraine and its people above all.”
“Thus I say that we all want the crisis to end as soon as possible and in such a way that takes into account the interests of all people in Ukraine no matter where they live.”
“Russia urgently appeals to the authorities in Kiev to cease immediately all military and punitive operations in southeast Ukraine.”
“This is not an effective means of resolving internal political conflicts and, on the contrary, will only deepen the divisions.”
“We think the most important thing now is to launch direct dialogue, genuine, full-fledged dialogue between the Kiev authorities and representatives of southeast Ukraine.”
“This dialogue could give people from southeast Ukraine the chance to see that their lawful rights in Ukraine really will be guaranteed.”
“…(W)e appeal…to representatives of southeast Ukraine and supporters of federalisation to hold off the referendum scheduled for May 11, in order to give this dialogue the conditions it needs to have a chance.”
“Let me stress that the presidential election the Kiev authorities plan to hold is a step in the right direction, but it will not solve anything unless all of Ukraine’s people first understand how their rights will be guaranteed once the election has taken place.”
“(D)irect dialogue between the Kiev authorities and representatives of southeast Ukraine is the key to settling this crisis.”
“But one of the essential conditions for getting dialogue underway is an unconditional end to the use of force, whether with the help of the armed forces, which is completely unacceptable in the modern world, or through the use of illegal armed radical groups.”
“Russia is ready to contribute as it can to resolving the Ukrainian crisis and playing an active and positive part in the Geneva process.”
He dismissed notions about Russia “hold(ing) the key to resolving” things.
“The responsibility…lies with with the people who carried out an anti-constitutional seizure of power, a coup d’etat, and with those who supported these actions and gave them financial, political, information and other kinds of support and pushed the situation to the tragic events that took place in Odessa,” he said.
“It’s quite simply blood-chilling to watch the footage of those events.”
“Russia will take every necessary step of course and do everything within its power to settle the situation.”
“I can understand the people in southeast Ukraine, who say that if others can do what they like in Kiev, carry out a coup d’etat, take up arms and seize government buildings, police stations and military garrisons, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to defend their interests and lawful rights?”
“(W)e are not a party to this conflict. The parties…are in Ukraine…”
“We were told repeatedly that our forces by the Ukrainian border were a source of concern.”
“We have withdrawn our forces and they are now not on the Ukrainian border but are carrying out their regular exercises at the test grounds.”
“This can be easily verified using modern intelligence techniques, including from space, where everything can be seen.”
“We must do everything possible to ensure that people in southeast Ukraine understand, feel and believe that after the Ukrainian presidential election on May 24 or 25 their lawful rights will be reliably guaranteed.”
“This is the real issue, not the presidential election, but ensuring that people in the southeast know that they won’t be abandoned and deceived.”
“This is the crux of the matter, and it is for this that we need the dialogue we have been talking about today.”
At the same time, Putin remains concerned about where he sees things heading. More Geneva talks aren’t “realistic,” he said.
Or internal ones with irreconcilable differences between putschists and elements wanting real democracy. Both sides are worlds apart.
Washington remains the main obstacle. It controls Kiev policy. Coup-appointed stooge represent it.
Putin “believe(s) that if we want to find a longterm solution…open, honest and equal dialogue is the only possible option.” Getting it is another matter entirely.
On May 8, Itar Tass headlined “Putin discusses Ukraine with Russia’s Security Council.”
His spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the meeting “urgent,” adding:
“Participants…discussed the ongoing matters of international policy.”
They “debated in detail the current situation in Ukraine, including in the context of talks between President Vladimir Putin and Swiss President and Chairperson-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Didier Burkhalter on the same day.”
Top officials attending included:
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Chief of Presidential Staff Sergei Ivanov, speakers of both houses of parliament Valentina Matviyenko and Sergei Naryshkin, Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev and his deputy Rashid Nurgaliyev, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Federal Security Service Director Alexander Bortnikov, Foreign Intelligence Service Director Mikhail Fradkov and permanent member of the Russian Security Council Boris Gryzlov.
On Wednesday, Putin met with OSCE chief Didier Burkhalter. According to Itar Tass:
“Burkhalter (said) the OSCE would propose a roadmap for the Ukrainian crisis settlement to all four parties, which signed the Geneva accords, soon.”
“The document offers concrete steps including ceasefire, de-escalation of tension, establishment of a dialogue and elections.”
On the one hand, Putin called planned Ukrainian presidential elections “a movement in the right direction.”
On the other, he said they’ll “settle nothing if all Ukrainian citizens will not understand how their rights will be guaranteed after” elections are held.
Expect Putin’s best efforts to fail. Washington is the main problem. It wants Ukrainian hardline rule institutionalized.
It wants democratic initiatives crushed. It wants ordinary Ukrainians exploited. It wants Ukraine made another pro-Western vassal state.
It wants it incorporated into NATO. It shares a near 1,500 kilometer border with Russia. Washington wants bases there.
It wants long range multiple warhead nuclear missiles targeting Russia’s heartland. It wants Moscow marginalized, weakened, isolated and co-opted.
It wants it eliminated as a major rival. It wants pro-Western governance replacing its sovereign independence.
It wants Russia’s resources plundered. It wants its people exploited. It risks potential war to achieve its objectives.
It bears repeating. Expect responsible Putin diplomacy to fail. Washington can’t be trusted. It systematically violated every important treaty, convention and agreement it signed on to.
It says one thing. It does another. It blames other countries and parties for its own lawlessness.
It scorns diplomacy. It prioritizes belligerence. It has hundreds of global military bases. It’s waging multiple direct and proxy wars.
US special forces infest over 120 countries. They’re trained killers. They’re not good will ambassadors. CIA agents operate everywhere. They do so covertly.
America deplores peace. It maintains a longstanding permanent war policy. It threatens world peace.
It’s the real evil empire. None in human history match its ruthlessness. None its lawlessness.
None its wickedness. None its contempt for fundamental human and civil rights. None its war on humanity. None its genocidal legacy.
Unchallenged raw power alone matters. Millions of corpses are a small price to pay. Ravaging one country after another continues.
Eliminating Russia and China as major rivals matters most. Washington responded to Putin’s diplomatic gesture as expected. It did so offensively.
A May 7 press secretary statement headlined “Statement by the Press Secretary on the President’s Notification to Remove Certain Trade Benefits from Russia,” saying:
“The President notified Congress today that he intends to withdraw Russia’s eligibility for trade benefits under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program because Russia is sufficiently advanced economically that it no longer warrants preferential treatment reserved for less advanced developing countries, consistent with the requirements of the GSP program.”
“Once Russia’s eligibility is withdrawn, which would be effected via a presidential proclamation, US imports of GSP-eligible goods from Russia will be subject to normal, non-preferential rates of duty.”
A same White House Office of the Press Secretary headlined “Message to the Congress – With respect to Russia’s status under the Generalized System of Preferences,” saying:
“TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:”
“Consistent with section 502(f)(2) of the Trade Act of 1974 (the ‘1974 Act’) (19 U.S.C. 2462(f)(2)), I am providing notice of my intent to withdraw the designation of Russia as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program.”
“Sections 501(1) and (4) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2461(1) and (4)), provide that, in affording duty-free treatment under the GSP, the President shall have due regard for, among other factors, the effect such action will have on furthering the economic development of a beneficiary developing country through the expansion of its exports and the extent of the beneficiary developing country’s competitiveness with respect to eligible articles.”
“Section 502(c) of the 1974 Act (19 U.S.C. 2462(c)) provides that, in determining whether to designate any country as a beneficiary developing country for purposes of the GSP, the President shall take into account various factors, including the country’s level of economic development, the country’s per capita gross national product, the living standards of its inhabitants, and any other economic factors he deems appropriate.”
“Having considered the factors set forth in sections 501 and 502(c) of the 1974 Act, I have determined that it is appropriate to withdraw Russia’s designation as a beneficiary developing country under the GSP program because Russia is sufficiently advanced in economic development and improved in trade competitiveness that continued preferential treatment under the GSP is not warranted.”
“I intend to issue a proclamation withdrawing Russia’s designation consistent with section 502(f)(2) of the 1974 Act.”
So much for diplomacy. Hardline policy persists. More US sanction are expected. Ones imposed are illegitimate. They have no legal standing whatever.
Likely tougher ones are coming. Russia bashing remains intense. On May 7, US-led NATO reacted as expected.
Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a convenient US stooge. He justified deploying NATO forces in Eastern Europe irresponsibly, saying:
“Russia’s illegal and illegitimate aggression against Ukraine is the greatest challenge to Europe’s security in a generation.”
“So we have rightly reinforced the defence of our Allies, including Poland.”
“NATO’s greatest responsibility is to protect and defend our populations and territory,” he added.
He demanded Russia deescalate Ukrainian crisis conditions, observe is international obligations, and stop supporting “separatists.”
Fact: NATO is a US-led global killing machine.
Fact: It’s for offense, not defense.
Fact: It threatens world peace.
Fact: Washington bears full responsibility for Ukrainian crisis conditions.
Fact: It toppled Ukraine’s democratically elected government.
Fact: It installed illegitimate fascist putschists replacing it.
Fact: It spurns diplomacy.
Fact: It prioritizes conflict and instability.
Fact: Putin represents responsible geopolitical leadership.
Fact: Obama is polar opposite.
Fact: World peace hangs by a thread.
Fact: Current conditions should scare everyone.
Putin understands what he faces. He’s preparing for the worst. According to Russian Lt. General Yevgeny Bushinsky:
“Russia is a nuclear power. If NATO becomes more active, we will deploy a division of Iskander missiles in the Kaliningrad Region.”
He responded to NATO head General Philip Breedlove’s day earlier comment. He said he’ll consider permanently stationing NATO forces in Eastern Europe close to Russia’s borders.
“We need to look at our responsiveness, our readiness and then our positioning of forces to be able to address this new paradigm that we have seen demonstrated in Crimea and now on the eastern border of Ukraine,” he claimed.
At the same time, ongoing NATO exercises in Estonia are the largest since 1991. Russia’s permanent NATO representative was clear and unequivocal saying:
They’re “accompanied by bellicose rhetoric and only encourage Kiev to continue the punitive operation against its own people.”
NATO provides coup-appointed putschists with enhanced support, he added.
Doing so shows it’s “responsible for the criminal actions of its (so-called) ‘partner for peace.’ “
It bears repeating what earlier articles stressed. Ukrainian crisis conditions suggest much worse ahead.
The threat of a major East/West confrontation remains. Nothing so far defused things.
Washington bears full responsibility. Obama’s agenda reflects madness. He risks the unthinkable. The worst of all possible outcomes may follow.
A Final Comment
Putin urged Eastern Ukrainians to delay their referendum initiatives. Donetsk and Lugansk intend holding theirs as planned.
They’re scheduled for Sunday, May 11. According to Donetsk People’s Republic leader Andrey Purgin:
“This is not our decision. This is the decision of the people of Donbas region. (They) got their chance to make a heroic deed, and we can’t deprive them (of) this chance.”
Donbas self-defense force leader Miroslav Rudenk added:
“People don’t trust Kiev authorities. Also the reaction of (coup-appointed prime minister Arseny) Yatsenyuk to (Putin’s diplomatic proposal) was inadequate.”
Lugansk press service representative Vasily Nikitin said its “referendum will take place as planned. The ballots have already arrived at the polling stations.”
Self-defense force leader Denis Pushin said “the region’s people are determined to organize the referendum. There are millions of people who are ready to cast their votes.”
They’ll be asked whether or not they support independence. Yes or no. On Monday, results will be announced.
On Thursday, coup-appointed National Security and Defense Committee head Andrey Paribiy said lawless aggression will continue regardless of how Donetsk and Lugansk residents vote.
“The counter-terrorism operation will continue unhindered, despite the presence of terrorist and insurgent groups in the Donetsk region,” he stressed.
So-called “terrorists” are Ukraine’s best and bravest. Their heroic freedom fighters. They deserve worldwide support.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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