Information offensive against Russia is gaining momentum. Headlines are getting more and more frightening: “Biden warns Russia faces isolation”; “US troops will remain in Poland and the Baltic states to deter Russian aggression"; “US Army may station tanks in Eastern Europe”, and so on. So, does Europe really need to brace for another war?
Anna van Densky, political analyst and contributor to the "EU Reporter" in Brussels believes it is still a game of nerves:
I think, first of all, there should be a clear picture that there is a game of nerves. The point is that there is a certain buildup to get on the nerves of the Russian leadership, and to make them change their attitude.
So, there is a clarity that Washington will not engage in a military campaign. Why? Because they have already had a very negative experience, for example, in Iraq. After tens of billions spent on the creation of the Iraqi armed forces, today we see that the corruption is the biggest enemy of the American plans and Iraq is a dysfunctional democracy.
They invaded in 2003 with the huge plans, today they are very modest and puzzled, because they don’t know where to go further. If they help the Iraqi military with weaponry, they find these arms are in the hands of ISIL. And that is a huge problem, because there is a black market of weapons, for example, and there are sales internationally also.
It is also very well know that, for example, training of the military is also a very tricky issue, because even if right from the start they said that – we would send advisors, we would send trainers – finally, for example, countries like Norway, they quitted the project in Iraq. Why? Because it turned out that they were gangsters and bandits who were trained, and who used these skills for completely criminal activities.
So, in Ukraine, for example, there is the Right Sector. They are open fascists. So, it is a very complicated task to train the Ukrainian army, to supply it with weaponry and to reach the purpose, because what the Americans had in the past is not very encouraging. Basically, there is no other solution, than a political solution to the Ukrainian crisis. That is clear, but there is a certain buildup. And this buildup is with the purpose of scaring the opponent.
So, I wouldn’t consider it to be a serious preparation for the war, because Europe is not interested in a war. There already are conflicts in Europe that are not resolved. For example, there are more than 40 years, 50 years of the Cyprus problem. And there still is Kosovo that is not recognized by many of the EU member states. So, Europe has enough problems, they are not looking for more.
But, of course, now they went in Ukraine so far, that they have to resolve something. And if you read the newspapers today, you will see that, for example, the federalist solution is back on the table. And it is the incumbent President of the EU Council Mr. Van Rompuy, who before departing said that it is most probably a real tangible solution – a federal Ukraine.
And Mrs. Mogherini has been quoted as saying that, perhaps, the autonomy for the eastern parts of the country could be a solution.
Anna van Densky: I think that you can’t attach too much attention to the words and quotes, because the European political landscape is always an arena of fighting views and ideas. It is always a debate. So, it is flexible, it is changing. But I think that what she said previously and what was reflected many times in her statements is that Russia is part of a solution, that you can’t solve the Ukrainian problem without Russia.
So, in that sense, I think they are realistic, first of all. Second, I think that there are different participants. For example, the Lithuanian President who is taking a sort of very unexpected turn, because she became very hawkish on Russia. And there are the others, like, for example, the Prime Minister Renzi who is now the leader of the EU, because it is an Italian presidency, and he has a very realistic view. He thinks that without Russia as a strategic partner Europe cannot be the flourishing continent.
But the question is whether the US and the decision makers in the US are prone to listening to the European opinion.
Anna van Densky: The point is that they didn’t consider the European opinion when they started supporting the coup d'état or orchestrating the coup d'état in Kiev. And we remember the famous words from the telephone conversation of certain Victoria, who said – I don’t want to repeat the words, but basically she said that – we shouldn’t care much about the Europeans.
So, I think the US have already shown themselves to be very scornful towards the European point of view. That was also preceded by a very serious telephone spying scandal, including the telephone of Angela Merkel. So, Europe was humiliated previously. And I think that the US has to think now how to seriously include Europe in what they are doing in Ukraine, because if there is no such coordination, if Vice President Biden is coming is saying something on Ukraine joining NATO or the EU without consulting the European partners, it creates nothing but irritation.
And it doesn’t help the Americans to promote their ideas in Ukraine, because, if you have noticed, there was a bit of a scandal after Biden’s visit. Steinmeier has said completely different things. He said – no, it is impossible that Ukraine will join the EU in the foreseeable future, because they have huge problems and, first of all, they have to fight corruption, they have to be on a certain level and they have to fulfill the Copenhagen criteria to be able to join the EU, because the EU is not exactly the same thing as the UN Development Fund.
So, there are a lot of things Americans should do to improve the efficiency in promoting the ideas, influences and views. And of course, on the first level is improving their relationship with the European partners and treating them with respect.
So, do I get you right that you believe the US is not prepared for a direct military confrontation with Russia. How about indirect military confrontation?
Anna van Densky: Well, there are two different things. Of course, there was help to the Ukrainian Government. As we see now, for example, Dalia Grybauskaitė and President Poroshenko confirmed that they would have military cooperation, there would be some aid. There were no precisions whether it would nonlethal or lethal weapons.
But also there is a lot of information in the media, for example, about the weaponry that comes from the former Eastern Bloc countries, because when they reform their army, they change equipment and they probably sent it to the Ukraine’s armed forces. I mean, there already was something in this field, because the experts in military, they were pointing to some activities.
But I don’t think that this will be more than that, and most probably it will be even less, because the biggest problem the American global plans have now, the biggest challenge is the IS. It is not Russia, it is not Ukraine. I mean, they have to solve the Ukrainian problem, because it can’t become similar to Cyprus. It can’t go on for decades, because it will ruin Europe. And Europe is the biggest economic partner of the US.
So, if they would like to have the free trade agreement with Europe, they need prosperous Europe. And nothing exhausts any state more than a military campaign, because it is terribly expensive. So, in that sense, there can’t be a confrontation with Russia. There can’t be a large-scale confrontation in Ukraine. I think that the military buildup is sort of a backup for the political negotiations, because the sides in this process would like to show their strength, to add something tangible to their positions during the political talks.
Still, it looks like political talks, or seeking a diplomatic solution is something that the US top people are particularly keen about. A week after the US vice-president Joe Biden’s visit to Kiev, General Philip Breedlove, who is both, the head of US European Command and NATO's top military commander, came to Ukraine for talks with senior political and military leaders — in his US capacity, Reuters stressed.
Says German political analyst Christoph R. Hörstel:
If Mr. Breedlove is going to Ukraine, that doesn’t mean much in terms of discussions. That means that he is getting himself a picture of what Ukraine needs for the war. And he is a military guy, so he is interested not in the peace talks in Minsk or things like that. No! He is there to check out what kind of supplies Ukraine would need from the NATO partners, from the US, in order to perform against a potential Russian threat. This is what these people are talking about.
The reason is that they have an escalation in mind. They want to escalate the situation – this is my best guess from what I see – the situation in the eastern and southern Ukraine and try to draw the Russian forces into this conflict. And they are preparing for that. They are preparing for the further aggression against the people in the eastern and southern Ukraine. And then, they are, at the same time, preparing to beef up the Ukrainian military.
And what we have, in fact, is something that they do under the threshold of officialdom. If we look at the news that there are transfers of cash to the Ukrainian military people and if we understand the US policy of secretly supplying, secretly furnishing mercenaries from the security companies and things like that, then we do understand that the full range of covert actions, plus a little overt diplomatic action which can be seen and can be reported by the media (such as the visit by Mr. Breedlove, for example) – that is exactly the double strategy the US has in Ukraine: an open one and a covert one, and all of them do not mean anything good for the peace, for the reconciliation in Ukraine and in Europe.
In this case and in this huge range, like a nuclear war, intercontinental warfare and things like that, this is not the thing that can be hidden so easily. Russia is known to have a buildup behind it in these forces. This is a given fact. And due to the other facts, that the US had a broad supremacy in the past, Russia felt safer by overcoming this imbalance here. What we now have very clearly is an aggressive tone against Russia and aggression on the ground against the Russian people in Ukraine, the Russian-speaking people, the sympathizers to Russia in Ukraine.
And that is continuing, that is aggravating. Very clearly, the Kiev Government has shown that they do not care for this population on the humanitarian level. So, they are left widely to themselves and to the Russian aid convoys, which are then again attacked by Kiev. Attacked verbally, fortunately. But in the past, I will never forget the first convoy where we had the attacks on the ground, right to the hour when the convoy finally reached Lugansk. So, this has fortunately stopped, but politically the situation is still adverse.
So, the small theatre is not okay and the big theatre, the intercontinental theatre with the buildup of arms, that is also not okay. NATO is asking all its partners to increase their military buildup. Russia is doing a military buildup from a very low level. So, this is the situation we have and this is all due to an unimpeded and continuing aggression eastwards from the ME and Europe to the Russian border. We know that in Estonia they are training a war against a big country attacking. This is a scenario addressing in fact a potential NATO-perceived Russian attack on Estonia.
But this is of course nothing real. Russia has no plans for that, it doesn’t want to do that. That is very clear to be seen anywhere. But in fact NATO is doing a double-pronged policy, doing both propaganda and a military preparation at the same time. And in this regard we have to judge this visit of General Breedlove.
You are now talking about NATO, but the latest reports have been refocused on the US. Why?
Christoph R. Hörstel: That’s correct. Because the US is the main driving force. The other countries are not doing that. Europe is still split apart on the NATO question and the question of Ukraine access to NATO. Poroshenko is now planning to put pressure on those Europeans who oppose Ukraine’s access to NATO by a popular vote, by a referendum, because they know that this is disturbing the peace and the balance in the Eastern Europe.
So, this is a very difficult situation right now. And what we see is that it is mainly the US furnishing the military goods, even the lethal weapons to Ukraine. I'm quite convinced that this is already going on. We have the news that they are deploying tanks and all kinds of other materials to other countries, except for Ukraine. But I'm quite convinced that the news that the lethal weapons were secretly or covertly put into Ukraine is quite substantial. I think this is the case. They are preparing something all the time.
But Ukrainian authorities are known to be utterly corrupt.
Christoph R. Hörstel: I do think that the US is using that. They are buying their people. This is a very usual business for the US worldwide. The US is a country with 155 international troops’ deployments. So, this is quite a lot. Ukraine is just one of them, though it is unofficial.
So, what we have here is that the US is making sure that they have very close friends and followers inside the Ukrainian military. And that is necessary for the typical procedure by Washington. And that is – false-flag attacks, all kinds of pretexts to step up. The official aid and using a raised hurdle, a raised barrier for this kind of aid. And under a cover they also do more. So, this is the situation we have. They are just preparing the ground. All of these activities are very-very dangerous to the European peace.
And then lethal weapons will get “into the wrong hands” the way it is now in the ME now. So, this scenario is not exactly new?
Christoph R. Hörstel: That is correct! We must be aware and very careful where a possible false-flag scenario could take in. We must be aware that maybe, because there is the equality in the types of weapons, in the types of tanks, that some tank groups will roll through the eastern or southern Ukraine and Washington will shout – these are the Russian troops! But in fact, these are just the Ukrainian troops running in the Russian gear and using this as a pretext to start up the NATO measures to so to say defend Ukraine against this Russian attack, perceived Russian attack.
So, this is one of these potential false-flag operations I can think of. But all other types are of course possible. And we look at Syria and how this chemical weapons attack was faked and then led to the terrible consequences. This is all in the open. The US is doing these kinds of things. They are supporting it. They have opened the gates for the IS to lay hands on the chemical weapons and to lay hands on the potential even supplies of chemical weapons from the outside. All this is already there in the ME. So, why not in Ukraine?
So, this is a perfect strategy for the destruction not only of Russia, but of Europe. Isn’t it really time for the European community to oppose that?
Christoph R. Hörstel: Yes, since long. Since in fact the coup d'état in February this year, it would have been time for the Europeans to say to their Washington friends – okay, now it is enough, we know what you can do, we are deeply respective of all your power, but, please, don’t play your games in Europe. So, this would have been one way. They have not done that. We know that the European leaderships are utterly dependent on Washington, this is Washington’s policy since many years. In fact, since our German Chancellor Schröder and the French President Jacques Chirac stood up against the illegal Iraq invasion in 2003.
Washington has a secret oath of all the officials that that will never happen again –any kind of new alignment of something like Paris, Berlin and Moscow and Beijing against this kind of American procedure. So, they’ve made sure that there is not going to be a repeat. And now they are trying Ukraine.
And, as I see it, Germany is of course trying to stop the most dangerous things, but in fact they are not blocking America, and that is very dangerous.