Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 27.05.2018
This week the President of France went to Russia and did not tell Putin to stop his war against Ukraine. The French company Total signed a deal with the Russian company Novatek even though Novatek is sanctioned by the United States for being a grave threat to international peace and security. The German company Uniper signed a deal with the Russian company Gazprom even though Gazprom and its chief Alexey Miller are sanctioned by the US. The German government is forging ahead with the Nord Stream 2 project even though Nord Stream 2 is a political project of Putin at war to bypass gas transit for Ukraine and to wreck European energy security.
Russia is invading Europe in Ukraine. All investment and trade with Russia feeds Putin’s war machine and leads to the death, injury, and suffering of Europeans who live in Ukraine. That is why sanctions were imposed on some Russian individuals and entities. The logic of sanctions is that they are an attempt by Western democratic countries to do peacefully what they are unwilling to do militarily: stop Russian aggression. But France and Germany are breaking the spirit of sanctions, actively trading with and investing in Russia, and doing absolutely nothing about the constant violations of the Minsk Agreement ceasefire by Russia.
France and Germany are guarantors of the Minsk Agreement. As such they promised to see that the terms of the accord are carried out. Ukraine is fulfilling its part of the Minsk Agreement one-sidedly. Russia breaks every aspect of the Minsk Agreement: Russia has not withdrawn its troops from Donbas or stopped is support of the so-called “DPR” and “LPR”; Russia has not returned control of the international Ukraine-Russia border to Ukraine; Russia violates the ceasefire every single day, including with heavy artillery which is proscribed for use by the Minsk deal. The guarantors, France and Germany, do nothing to fulfil their responsibilities and do nothing to hold Russia to account. Occasionally, the foreign ministries of those countries issue a tepid call for “both sides” to respect the ceasefire.
Putin’s war aim is the destruction of the freedom and independence of Ukraine. To achieve that, he must first free Russia from its dependency on Ukraine for natural gas transit to European markets. The Nord Stream 2 pipeline through the Baltic Sea is the means by which Russia can bypass Ukraine for gas transit and be released for unrestricted invasion and annihilation of the whole of Ukraine. Putin is wielding Nord Stream 2 as a weapon of war to move his invasion of Europe battlefront from the Siverskyi Donets River to the Dniester River. Allies of Russia against Ukraine in the Nord Stream 2 war campaign are the German government, the Austrian government, and the energy companies Engie, OMV, Shell, Uniper, and Wintershall.
The European Commission (EC) wants to stop Nord Stream 2 to save Europe’s energy security diversity of natural gas supply. Unfortunately, the EC has been forced to admit that it doesn’t have the tools to stop the reckless and self-destructive course of action Germany has chosen. The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Volodymyr Groysman, was in Brussels to urge the EC move heaven and earth to stop the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. He asked his colleagues to consider the experience of Ukraine in fighting for survival against Russian aggression for over four years. Ukrainians know what they are talking about when they say to their fellow Europeans, as Prime Minister Groysman did, that Moscow is using a “new type of weapon in its hybrid war” and is trying to blackmail Ukraine.
It is becoming increasingly clear that France and Germany foisted the Minsk Agreement on Ukraine as a way allow Russia to consolidate the gains it had made already in the invasion of Ukraine, which were all of Crimea and part of the territory of Luhansk and Donetsk regions. France and Germany anticipated that their intervention would lead to a frozen conflict, much like then French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s intervention in Russia’s invasion of Georgia consolidated Putin’s hold over Tskhinvali Region and led to a frozen conflict. What France and Germany do not understand is that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not like Georgia (or Moldova). Putin knows the only way he will survive as a tsar over slave-nation Russia is if Ukraine ceases to exist as the peaceful, democratic, European, and thoroughly Western nation that it is.
France and Germany have made a terrible mistake. The old guard in those countries are stuck in a mindset that regards Russia as a natural partner in eastern Europe. They cannot grasp that the Russia (or Soviet Union) of their imagination does not exist and never will again. Rump Muscovy is invading the largest country that lies wholly within Europe, Ukraine, and it is implacably opposed to every decent and humane value of the European Union. It is Ukraine that is the natural partner of France and Germany in eastern Europe. But until the old guard in Paris and Berlin retires, great harm is being done to the fabric of European unity and to the ideals of the European Union. France and Germany are trading with and investing in Russia, the invader of Europe in Ukraine. Dark days are ahead for Europe because French and German governments and big business are betraying Europe’s sole fighting defenders, the Ukrainian people.
Photo: heads of Germany's Uniper and Russia's Gazprom, Klaus Schaefer and Alexey Miller feeling great in Petersburg on May 24, 2018