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Ukraine, Russia and China

Why is Putin in Washington’s Crosshairs?

by MIKE WHITNEY

“Washington wants to weaken Moscow economically by slashing its gas revenues and, thus, eroding its ability to defend itself or its interests. The US does not want an economically-integrated Europe and Asia. The de facto EU-Russian alliance is a direct threat to US global hegemony.”

US provocations in Ukraine cannot be understood apart from Washington’s “Pivot to Asia”, which is the broader strategic plan to shift attention from the Middle East to Asia. The so called “re-balancing” is actually a blueprint for controlling China’s growth in a way that is compatible with US hegemonic ambitions. There are different schools of thought about how this can be achieved, but loosely speaking they fall into two categories, “dragon slayers” and “panda huggers”. Dragon slayers favor a strategy of containment while panda huggers favor engagement. As yet, the final shape of the policy has not been decided, but it’s clear from hostilities in the South China Sea and the Senkaku Islands, that the plan will depend heavily on military force.

So what does controlling China have to do with the dust up in Ukraine?

Everything. Washington sees Russia as a growing threat to its plans for regional dominance.   The problem is, Moscow has only gotten stronger as it has expanded its network of oil and gas pipelines across Central Asia into Europe. That’s why Washington has decided to use Ukraine is a staging ground for an attack on Russia, because a strong Russia that’s economically integrated with Europe is a threat to US hegemony.  Washington wants a weak Russia that won’t challenge US presence in Central Asia or its plan to control vital energy resources.

Currently, Russia provides about 30 percent of Western and Central Europe’s natural gas, 60 percent of which transits Ukraine.  People and businesses in Europe depend on Russian gas to heat their homes and run their machinery. The trading relationship between the EU and Russia is mutually-beneficial strengthening both buyer and seller alike. The US gains nothing from the EU-Russia partnership, which is why Washington wants to block Moscow’s access to critical markets. This form of commercial sabotage is an act of war.

At one time, the representatives of big oil, thought they could compete with Moscow by building alternate (pipeline) systems that would meet the EU’s prodigious demand for natural gas. But the plan failed, so Washington has moved on to Plan B; cutting off the flow of gas from Russia to the EU. By interposing itself between the two trading partners, the US hopes to oversee the future distribution of energy supplies and  control economic growth on two continents.

The problem Obama and Co. are going to have, is trying to convince people in the EU that their interests are  actually being served by paying twice as much to heat their homes in 2015 as they did in 2014, which is the way things are going to shake out if the US plan succeeds. In order to accomplish that feat, the US is making every effort to lure Putin into a confrontation so the media can denounce him as a vicious aggressor and a threat to European security.  Demonizing Putin will provide the necessary justification for stopping the flow of gas from Russia to the EU, which will further weaken the Russian economy while providing new opportunities for NATO to establish forward-operating bases on Russia’s Western perimeter.

It makes no difference to Obama whether people are gouged on gas prices or simply freeze to death in the cold. What matters is the “pivot” to the world’s most promising and prosperous markets of the next century.  What matters is crushing Moscow by slashing gas revenues thus eroding its ability to defend itself or its interests.  What matters is global hegemony and world domination. That’s what really counts. Everyone knows this. To follow the daily incidents in Ukraine as though they could be separated from the big picture is ridiculous. They’re all part of the same sick strategy.  Here’s a clip from former US national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in Foreign Affairs explaining how–as far as Washington is concerned–it makes no sense to have separate policies for Europe and Asia:

 “With Eurasia now serving as the decisive geopolitical chessboard, it no longer suffices to fashion one policy for Europe and another for Asia. What happens with the distribution of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive importance to America’s global primacy and historical legacy.” (“The danger of war in Asia“, World Socialist Web Site)

It’s all about the pivot to Asia and the future of the empire. This is why the CIA and the US State Department engineered a coup to oust Ukrainian president Viktor Yonuchovych and replace him with a US-stooge who would do Obama’s bidding.   This is why the imposter prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, has ordered two “anti-terror: crackdowns on unarmed activists in East Ukraine who oppose the Kiev junta.  This is why the Obama administration has avoided engaging Putin in constructive dialog aimed at finding on a peaceful solution to the present crisis. It’s because Obama wants to draw the Kremlin into a protracted civil war that will weaken Russia, discredit Putin, and shift public opinion to the side of the US and NATO. Why would Washington veer from a policy that clearly achieves what it’s supposed to achieve?  It won’t. Here’s an excerpt from an article on antiwar.com:

“Reports out of Moscow say that President Putin has “shut down” all talks with President Obama, and say they are “not interested” in speaking to the US again under the current environment of threats and hostility.

Putin and Obama had been speaking regularly on the phone about Ukraine in March and early April, but Putin has not directly spoken to him since April 14, and the Kremlin says that they see no need to do any more talking.” (“Putin Halts Talks With White House Amid Sanctions Threats”, antiwar.com)

There’s nothing to be gained by talking to Obama. Putin already knows what Obama wants. He wants war. That’s why the State Department and CIA toppled the government. That’s why CIA Director John Brennan appeared in Kiev just one day before coup president Yatsenyuk ordered the first crackdown on pro Russian protestors in the East. That’s why Vice President Joe Biden appeared in Kiev just hours before Yatsenyuk launched his second crackdown on pro Russian protestors in the East. That’s why Yatsenyuk has surrounded the eastern city of Slavyansk where he is preparing an attack on pro-Russian activists. It’s because Washington believes that a violent conflagration serves its greater interests. It’s pointless to talk to people like that, which is why Putin has stopped trying.

At present, the Obama administration is pushing for another round of sanctions on Russia, but members in the EU are dragging their feet. According to RT:

 “At the moment there is no consensus among the EU members on which economic measures against Russia would be acceptable, or even if they are needed at all,” a European diplomatic source told Itar-Tass.

The diplomat, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said only an open military invasion of Ukraine or irrefutable proof of Russian clandestine military presence in Ukraine would tip EU’s stance toward economic sanctions. So far every piece of evidence that Kiev and Washington made public of alleged involvement of Russian agents in Ukraine was either inconclusive or simply false.” (“US failing to push economic sanctions against Russia through EU allies”, RT)

Once again, it appears that Washington needs to draw Russian troops into the conflict to achieve its objectives.

On Sunday, RIA Novosti published satellite images showing a large buildup of troops outside the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk. According to a report in Russia Today:

“160 tanks, 230 APCs and BMDs, and at least 150 artillery and rocket systems, including “Grad” and “Smerch” multiple rocket launchers, have been deployed to the area. A total of 15,000 troops are positioned near Slavyansk, he said….

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said the large buildup of Ukraine troops, as well as war games and additional deployments of armed forces to the NATO states in the region have “forced” Russia to respond with military drills of its own…..If Kiev choses to escalate the crackdown on the protesters by using heavy arms against them Russia says it reserves the right to use its own military to stop bloodshed.” (“Tanks, APCs, 15,000 troops’: Satellite images show Kiev forces build-up near Slavyansk”, RT)

Putin has stated repeatedly that he will respond if ethnic Russians are killed in Ukraine.  That’s the red line. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov reiterated the same message in an interview last week with RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze. The usually soft-spoken Lavrov, condemned  Yatsenyuk’s  attack on Ukrainian civilians as “criminal” and warned that “an attack on Russian citizens  is an attack on the Russian Federation.”

The statement was followed by ominous reports of  Russian troop movements near Ukraine’s border indicating that Moscow may be preparing to intervene to stem the violence against civilians. According to Russian Russia’s Itar Tass “Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, “As of today exercises of battalion tactical groups has begun in the border areas with Ukraine.” Also aviation will conduct flights to simulate the actions near the state border.”

So there you have it: It looks like Obama’s provocations WILL draw Putin into the fray after all. But will things turn out the way that Obama thinks they will?  Will Putin follow Washington’s script and leave his troops in the east where they’ll be picked off by US-funded paramilitary guerillas and neo Nazis or does he have something else up his sleeve, like a quick blitz to Kiev to remove the junta government, call for international peacekeepers to quell the violence, and slip back over the border to safety?

Whatever the strategy may be, we won’t have to wait long to see it implemented.   If Yatsenyuk’s army attacks Slavyansk, then Putin’s going to send in the tanks and it’ll be a whole new ballgame.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.