The war in Ukraine has been heating up. Novorossiya is on the verge of yet another victory. As usual their successes have been greeted with the usual hypocritical outcry of horror from western politicians. Kiev's constant shelling of civilians throughout the so called cease fire were completely ignored but as soon as a counter-offensive is launched to attempt to capture the towns from which this shelling is taking place then suddenly the west begins to pay attention to events in Ukraine. Early in the renewed conflict this hypocrisy was especially on display when Mauripol was hit by shelling. Suddenly it became an international news story despite the fact that the constant attacks on civilians in Donetsk and Lugansk had been completely ignored. A disgraceful selective blindness in the media which reveals them yet again acting as propagandists on behalf of empire and worse apologists for the fascists in Kiev. More importantly this latest round of Novorossiyan successes inspired Merkel and Hollande to try to negotiate with the Russians to put the conflict on hold. The US on the other hand seemed determined to escalate things with John Kerry openly arguing for the overt support of the fascist Kiev regime.
First let's turn to the newly intensified fighting in Ukraine. As I mentioned in my January article "Cuba Chechnya and Ukraine" after months of fighting during the illusory cease fire Donetsk airport was finally decisively captured an enormous symbolic blow to the Ukrainians who had mythologized it's forces there as cyborgs. Those interested in getting a feel for the tough battle for the airport should watch a great series of Documentaries on Kazzura's YouTube channel called Donbass Under Fire just click the playlists button and scroll down till you find them. The First and Third and last all feature long sections on the battle for the terminal. The second "The Separatists" is in many ways the best concentrating on the plight of the civilians under fire as they attempt to continue with their lives despite the constant shelling. One detail I hadn't thought of is how terrible it must be to have ones windows shatter because of shelling during the dead of winter. Repair brigades fight an endless battle to restore heat and electricity and to fix damaged houses. Truly a tragic and inspiring struggle to continue with life amidst war. To return to the battle for the Airport the Ukrainians were deep beneath the ground of the airport armed to the teeth and it was an extremely slow and dangerous process to clear them out. The two sides rarely saw each other and the Novorossiyan side mostly understood their enemy from the loot from each captured section the weapons and food they were forced to leave behind and the graffiti they scrawled all over the place. It was like fighting ghosts. After months of fighting they finally managed to clear the airport. Kiev panicked and sent a disastrous counter attack to attempt to recapture the airport which was completely destroyed the survivors paraded on TV and even before the enraged local citizens. Then Novorossiya announced it was going on the offensive. The NAF (Novorossiyan Armed Forces) attempted to capture the towns from which the shelling originated. However progress has been slow as the UAF (Ukrainian armed Forces) had plenty of time to dig in. Apparently these attempts have been very costly for both sides and the UAF have prevented much advance. However a Ukrainian offensive into Debaltsevo was gradually surrounded and is slowly being cut off with only a single road in or out the M103 that isn't cut off yet but vulnerable to NAF attacks. Yet again Novorossiya hopes to trap the Ukrainians in what is known as a cauldron. For those who haven't been paying attention Cauldron is a term popularized last summer for when the Ukrainians would launch an offensive that would then be surrounded and then cut off and mercilessly shelled until they were killed surrendered or often were eventually allowed to escape provided they left behind all their heavy weapons. No one knows exactly how many UAF forces perished last year in these massive cauldrons but it was thousands. Now in Debaltsevo the UAF is very close to suffering the same thing yet again. For the past couple of weeks the NAF has been successfully tightening the encirclement. Last week they managed to capture the town of Uglegorsk which provided a boost to morale. According to Colonel Cassad the Ukrainians have made the defense of Debaltsevo another huge symbolic point and apparently various commanders and Defense department officials will loose their jobs if what seems likely to happen does happen and the town is captured. Also another thing Colonel Cassad pointed out is that in this war both sides are much better at defense then offense. Thus it isn't surprising that Kiev's latest disaster is the result of it's own offensive falling into the same trap they did last year.
Of course in the world of the Mass media the opposite reality is portrayed. According to the New York times for example the Rebels broke the Ceasefire. In reality of course there never was a ceasefire in the literal sense fighting continued and more importantly kiev continued to fire artillery and rockets at it's former citizens throughout the fall and winter. It's only real signifigance is that it saved the Ukrainian army which had been routed and it stopped the NAF from seizing more territory most notably Mauripol. Basically Russia wanted to avoid the diplomatic heat that what come with too great a Novorossiyan victory. Every time the NAF is too successful the west starts shouting about the regular Russian army invading Ukraine. Although in fairness Colonel Cassad admitted last year that this wasn't entirely without foundation during last falls massive victory at Illovask in paraphrasing his words the Voentorg ( a word signifying The mysterious process of supplying Novorossiya through private NGO's and covert support from the Russian government ) the Voentorg got angry and decided to fight. Although it was fun last spring to deny any Russian involvement and other then the captured APC last year there is little actual proof I doubt the state department would bother to to cite my blog as evidence and so I don't deny that there is covert support by Russia and on rare occasions they have actually sent reinforcements at certain vital times. In general though they prefer to maintain plausible deniability and most of the Russians fighting in Ukraine are volunteers (Although clearly the Russian army has adopted a policy whereby those wishing to fight in Ukraine are granted long leaves of absence so that they can join the NAF). The real issue is that Russia is sending volunteers to protect the people of Donbass while western countries are sending Fascist volunteers, Polish soldiers, Israeli volunteers (cynically fighting on behalf of Nazis because of Russia's support for Syria) NATO special forces, Academi (Formerly Blackwater) Mercenaries, CIA advisers, US Special forces etc are all there to help Ukraine commit mass murder of civilians aimed at ethnically cleansing the south East of the country. Russia isn't invading Ukraine it is helping to defend Novorossiya.
Thus the issue of "Russian Aggression" is simply a ploy that is brought up whenever the Ukrainian side is loosing to pressure Moscow in the hopes that they will put pressure on the NAF to halt their advance. It was quite successful last fall and the Minsk protocol was widely condemned by Novorossiya's supporters (including this blogger) for stopping the NAF for taking advantage of their victory last fall. However I think we may have overestimated the importance of the actual terms and I am now more sympathetic to the view that it served to somewhat legitimize the existence of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. Unfortunately it may probably take years before an independent Novorossiya is recognized by at least some countries (It might take decades for the US and Europe I'm reminded of how stubbornly the west refused to acknowledge the fact the The People Republic of China was the legitimate government of China giving that title instead to the Tiny drug Dealing dictatorship in Taiwan for over 20 years) It's almost more likely that Ukraine will completely collapse before Novorossiya is ever left in peace. Thus we should take the long view of the conflict in Ukraine this war may last years and the diplomatic games will last even longer. However every year that Novorossiya survives the more likely it is that it will someday be recognized. A new nation born out of resistance to Fascism, Oligarchy and Globalization.
The Diplomatic effort to put a halt to the escalated fighting has so far completely failed. Hollande and Merkel met privately with Putin but failed to come to an understanding. What exactly they talked about was secret and apparently they met in Moscow to avoid NSA wiretapping. A sad testament to their subservience to Washington. How amusing it would be to know just what is in those files the US uses to blackmail the various heads of state of the world. And what's in the files the intelligence agencies use to blackmail congress and the president. Oh well we can dream that some day there will some truly scandalous leaks. Of course now that I think about it It's not such a mystery what the files contain corrupt business deals, connections to organized crime, Affairs, Orgies, child molestation, Theft, bribery, Treason, epic levels of drug abuse, and of course murder. You just have to go by the intermittent scandals that rock our democracies on both the local and the national level.
Whatever their secrets Hollande and Merkel sought try to make some sort of deal to stop the escalation of the conflict. On a Geostrategic level this conflict is ironically aimed just as much at Europe as at Russia or rather the whole point of it is to force Europe and Russia to cut off their business ties under the theory that what is bad for the EU is good for the US. It also serves to reassert US dominance over Europe's foreign policy. It all happened before when after World War 2 under the guise of protecting Europe from Soviet aggression the US basically colonized the continent although back then western Europe was far more independent with trouble makers like De Gaulle. The US views Europe as both an ally and a competitor. Thus smashing French and German ties to Russia is in US interests especially since it damages both Russia and Europe. However French and German business interests aren't happy about this cold war 2.0 and so Merkel and Hollande's visit was a desperate effort to reverse the process of using the war in Ukraine to fuel a cold war 2.0. Clearly however they weren't ready to make the necessary concessions and it all came to nothing. The West crazily thinks that even though Ukraine is loosing once again it can make even more demands then it did in Minsk and I've seen the idea floating around in western policy circles that the ceasefire should include allowing Ukraine to assure that Novorossiya is cut off from the Russian border which is highly unlikely. Another example of what Pepe Escobar calls the Drop Dead school of diplomacy. Instead Europe needs to rein in Poroshenko. Just as every passing month will give Novorossiya more legitimacy every passing month will make Kiev more illegitimate as more people discover that Ukraine actually is a Fascist state and that it's waging war on it's own citizens. There is only so long the narrative can be kept under control in the internet age. Of course from the military side the failed negotiations are a good thing. Novorossiya is on the verge of inflicting yet another major disaster upon Ukraine and really the only thing that can stop them is yet another Ceasefire. Furthermore Ukraine is foolishly committed to pouring more resources into the Debaltsevo cauldron if the NAF are lucky a victory here could weaken the UAF enough for them to be pushed back out of range of Donetsk.
While France and Germany were seeking peace the US was in full on Empire of Chaos mode openly announcing that it was considering sending offensive weapons to Ukraine. In typical Orwellian fashion defensive weapons include things like stinger missiles and anti-tank tow missiles. Not exactly defensive at all. In reality like all US proxy wars whether the US itself covertly sends weapons itself is irrelevant it always has it's allies supply the weapons instead. Thus whatever the west says it has been funneling weapons into Ukraine from the start Poland being the most obvious example. The US itself is already sending weapons and advisers however. In fact it's worth remembering the infamous visit of the head of the CIA John Brennan just as the hostilities began. Last year according to the NAF an American adviser was actually killed. The major point of the announcement was actually intended just to throw gasoline on the fire and to sabotage the possibility of negotiations. However US policy seems to be backfiring as the announcement seemed to alienate the Europeans. Increasingly it is clear that their interests are opposed to US interests however it is equally clear that they lack the courage to act independently. Really it is a fitting punishment that after colonizing the planet Europe should find itself little more then a colony of the US.
The only agreement so far has been a brief ceasefire to allow the citizens of Debaltsevo to flee but apparently only 3000 actually left. They were worried about being attacked on the road like the bus that hit a Kiev Junta which was then falsely blamed on the NAF. Some doubtless are willing to risk staying in the war zone in the hopes of being liberated by the NAF. They were supposed to be given a choice of evacuation routes but according to the NAF were only told of the option to flee towards kiev controlled territory. Those sympathetic to Novorossiya were trapped. Of course the UAF used the opportunity to resupply their forces and evacuate their wounded. On the diplomatic front the most recent action was another of Lavrov's priceless speeches. In which he summed up the past 20 years of history under the theme of when will you learn. But of course no one is likely to listen to reason any time soon. Barring some diplomatic surprise the current conflict will continue until Kiev suffers another major defeat and agrees to make peace simply because it is unable to make war until it can regroup again for the next attack of course. One could hope that they would learn not to launch these major offensives at Novorossiya which always seem to end in disaster but it is doubtless Washington that actually decides when these attacks will be launched and they are quite willing to see Ukraine destroyed so long as it weakens Russia in the process. Ukraine is only one theater in the US war on the planet another success story in the attempt to create an Arc of crisis around the world.
For the moment however on the local level Ukraine has been handed yet another defeat and Novorossiya can hope for more victories in the near future provided diplomacy fails. The hope is that one day Ukraine's military defeats can be turned into an anti-fascist revolution at least in areas like Kharkov or Odessa. Of course there is equally a danger that Poroshenko may be discredited by defeat and overthrown by the more overtly fascist elements in Svoboda and Right sector doubtless they would. If only the Ukrainians could learn to switch off their TV sets and come to their senses. If only we all could. One day we in the west will face the same choice either this continued slow slide into fascism (a sort of neoliberal fascism lite authoritarian and militaristic in the name of "Freedom and "Peace") or revolution.
Colonel Cassad in English provides an excellent account of the recent fighting and should be followed regularly by those looking for an in depth account. Here is the most recent piece.
Pepe Escobar on the latest round of diplomacy
The Lavrov Speech
The Latest Donbass under Fire Documentary
The Donbass under fire episode about the plight of civilians
The Saker on the Danger to civilians in Debaltsevo