Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 20.07.2018
Fears about the Putin-Trump summit in Helsinki were that it would turn into Yalta II. But it may be that what emerged from the disastrous meeting was a Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact II. Putin and his compromised asset Trump seem to have agreed to throw Ukraine under the bus. As a result, the world is in as perilous a time today as it was in August 1939: on the brink of expanded international war.
The secret protocols of the Appeasement Summit in Helsinki are coming out. Trump is silent – stunned and confused by having been so completely over-mastered by Putin. Totally in control, Putin had the unchallenged opportunity to push his twisted, evil, war-mongering agenda. The focus of Putin’s fear and hatred is Ukraine. Putin launched an unprovoked war against Ukraine over four years ago. Putin revealed at Helsinki that one of the next steps he would like Russian aggression against Ukraine to take is a third fake referendum, to be held only in the Russian-occupied part of eastern Ukraine. The Russian dictator will do anything it takes to carve up and annihilate Ukraine.
On July 19, Putin told Russian diplomats what he proposed in the closed-door meeting with Trump. Putin proposed to hold a ‘referendum’ in the part of eastern Ukraine that is occupied by the Russian armed forces. Putin did not say that he would keep any of the promises he made in the Minsk Agreement, such as withdrawing Russian troops from Donbas. He did say that he thought such a referendum should have international observers, but what he had in mind was the motley crew of European fascists who rubber-stamped the two other fake referenda that have already been held under the guns of Russian soldiers in occupied Ukraine.
The so-called ‘referendum’ in Russian-occupied Crimea on 16 March 2014 was illegal and fake. The so-called ‘referendum’ in the parts of Luhansk and Donetsk regions that are occupied by Russia, that was held on 11 May 2014, was illegal and fake. Any third vote held in Russian-invaded and occupied Ukrainian territory would be just as bogus and illegitimate as the first two.
Russia is obliged under the second Minsk Agreement of 11 February 2015 to withdraw all its troops from Donbas, but keeps at least 35,000 regular troops of the Russian armed forces there. Russia is obliged to cease fire, but the Russian occupation army bombards and assaults Ukrainian defenders and civilians dozens of times every day. Russia is obliged to withdraw all artillery with a barrel diameter greater than 100 millimetres to a distance of 50 kilometres away from the 447 kilometre-long invasion battlefront, but it fires heavy artillery from among the houses and apartment blocks of the captive Ukrainian population. Russia is obliged to return to Ukrainian jurisdiction all 409 kilometres of the international Ukraine-Russia border that it currently controls exclusively, but it refuses to take any steps to do so. Russia is obliged to do an “all-for-all” prisoner exchange with Ukraine, but the Putin regime still holds over 160 Ukrainians hostage in Russian-occupied Ukrainian Donbas and over 70 Ukrainians hostage in the Russian Federation and in Russian-occupied Ukrainian Crimea. All of these provisions of the Minsk Agreement are violated by Russia. The Putin regime has no intention of ever keeping the promises it made at Minsk.
Putin blundered at the Helsinki summit on July 16 when he confessed that the so-called ‘referendum’ in Crimea was held by Russia. Until then, Russian propaganda had been that it was held by the residents of Crimea. Putin’s admission that he held the ‘referendum’ – not wannabe Russians in Crimea – strikes to the very heart of his legitimacy as president of the Russian Federation.
In the case of the two fake referenda that have already been held, plus the fake one that Putin proposes to be held now, the language autocratic Muscovy uses is the same as is used in democratic countries, but the practice is one hundred percent Soviet. To a tired, limited, old Chekist like Putin, elections and referenda are nothing but affirmation exercises, where the slave-nation pays obeisance to the tsar or the commissar or the oligarch or the silovik or whatever. The kind of referendum he wants in Donbas will never be acceptable to Ukraine or to any other democratic Western country.
The only news about the secret protocols of the Appeasement Summit in Helsinki have come from the Russians – half-truths and lies as the certainly are. No news has been forthcoming from Trump. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has demanded explanations from the US State Department about the alarming statements from Putin about what was agreed in the closed-door session.
But even if – as seems likely – Trump sold out Ukraine, it doesn’t make any difference to what Ukraine will do. Even if Trump agreed to accept Crimea as Russia and agree to the Kremlin theatre of a ‘referendum’ in Donbas, Ukraine will fight the Russian invaders and eventually liberate both Crimea and Donbas. Trump is unlikely to carry the American establishment with him in his betrayal of US interests. Putin weakened himself badly with his admission that Russia conducted the fake ‘referendum’ in Crimea. Even if Trump backs Putin’s third, fake ‘referendum’ in Ukraine, nobody else will.
There is no chance that Ukraine will back any referendum except one that is conducted under Ukrainian law. The only referenda that are legal in Ukraine are national ones. No legitimate international organization will monitor or observe a referendum held under the guns of Russian soldiers.
Russia will not carve up Ukraine. The Ukrainian people have fought trench warfare against the Russian invaders for four long years and they will continue to fight. Ukrainians are fighting on home soil and defeating the invaders from Muscovy is a matter of national survival.
The United States will not help Russia carve up Ukraine. Even though Trump is firmly pro-Russian, that doesn’t do Putin any practical good with his obsession to destroy Ukraine. Putin blundered when he confessed that Russia held the Crimean ‘referendum’ and he blundered when he blabbed about the secret protocol for another Donbas ‘referendum.’ It’ll never happen: such a grotesque made-for-TV spectacle masquerading as democracy will not take place in Russian-occupied Donbas. Instead, Putin will get increasing unity and resolve of the Ukrainian people to fight Russia, and increasing support by friends of Ukraine.
After the Appeasement Summit in Helsinki, Trump’s legitimacy as president of the US is finished. Putin’s legitimacy as president of the Russian Federation is weakened by his admission about the fake ‘referendum’ in Crimea in 2014, by his complete incompetence in prosecuting Russia’s war against Ukraine, and by his announcement on July19 that he will give a feeble stab at conducting another fake ‘referendum’ in Donbas.