By Theodore Shoebat
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, just recently declared in an interview with Time Magazine that Trump never threatened to withdraw aid from Ukraine. But he did take offense to what Trump said about Ukraine being a corrupt country, and he did not deny that Trump did prevent aid from being given to Ukraine. “Look, I never talked to the president from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing,” Zelensky said. “I don’t want us to look like beggars.” “But you have to understand. We’re at war,” he added. “If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.” While seated next to Trump at the United Nations meeting in New York, Zelensky affirmed, “Nobody pushed me”.
Its possibly Zelensky is telling the truth (Trump certainly thinks so, or at least is using his words to defend himself), or its possible that he is simply trying to please Trump.
What we do know for certain is that Ukraine is being used by nations more powerful than her. If this were not the case then Zelensky would have never said in his interview with Time: “First off, I would never want Ukraine to be a piece on the map, on the chessboard of big global players, so that someone could toss us around, use us as cover, as part of some bargain.”
Just recently President Zelensky signed the Steinmeier Formula which, if carried out, will allow regional elections in Donbass and then, in turn, allow for the formation of two autonomous states (Donetsk and Luhansk). Since these areas are inhabited mainly by ethnic Russians they would be essentially Russian satellites, giving Russia control of eastern Ukraine which would give Moscow even more power since it already controls Crimea. The Steinmeier Formula is being brokered by Germany; so then what this means is that both Russia and Germany want to see Ukraine get further carved out. Once Zelensky signed onto Steinmeier, it sparked a nationalist rally in Kiev which some found parallels with the Euromaidan demonstrations of 2014. By Germany and France getting Ukraine to sign onto Steinmeier, the patriots and nationalists of Ukraine see it as not only capitulation but allowing Russia to carve out the eastern part of their country. The anger towards Steinmeier is understandable, but it could escalate into something dangerous as radical Right-wing elements in Ukraine who have a lot of influence are using the situation to rile up their base. By Germany and France getting Ukraine to sign onto Steinmeier, the spark reaction could be a very dangerous radicalization of the country.
By the impeachment hearings making Zelensky look obeisant to Trump, the US is, to an extent, making Zelensky look weak and unfavorable.
We wrote a piece on our observations which I will present here:
Both conservatives and liberals are getting caught up in the hysteria surrounding the Trump impeachment hearings, with one side declaring the US president as worthy of being impeached, and the other side decrying the situation as an attempt to impeach their president. But there is something that mostly everyone is ignoring or not paying attention to: the elephant in the room that can be seen in Eastern Europe, with Russia wanting to control Ukraine, with the Americans making Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, look weak and submissive to outside influence, with the Russians and Germans working to carve out eastern Ukraine and with nationalism sparking in Ukraine.
Recent conversations between Trump and Zelensky have revealed how submissive the Ukrainian leader is to US power. This susceptibility to foreign power has not been good for Zelensky’s image. People in Ukraine have been disappointed with him as they see him as a puppet to outside influence. To make this worse, Zalensky capitulated to Germany by recently signing the Steinmeier agreement which would allow for elections in two areas of Donbass — Donetsk and Luhansk — which have been occupied by Russian-backed separatists, and if the elections are accepted, would permit the formation of two autonomous pro-Russian states in eastern Ukraine which would be, essentially, Russian satellites in the country. Zalensky’s signing of the agreement has caused a huge nationalist outrage against him. If Germany’s plan is carried out and two Russian-backed stated are formed, it would be similar to how the Third Reich and the Soviet Union carved up Poland.
Is it possible that Washington and other Western countries actually want to see Ukraine radicalize? It would not be that shocking, actually, since the US has a history of doing seemingly harmless actions knowing that they would spark chaos. The best example is the US moving the Shah of Iran to New York City to be hospitalized knowing that it would get Iranian nationalists and Islamists to be outraged against the monarch as a puppet for the Americans. A similar situation could be happening in Ukraine.
Moreover, this impeachment is not hurting Trump. Rather it is only empowering his base who see him as a leader being persecuted by the Democrats who simply want to take down the president. While the impeachment hearings are boosting Trump with attention and publicity, they are hurting Zelensky all the while a horrid storm of geopolitical chaos is brewing.
The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, was asked by a reporter if he was truly going to publicly announce an investigation into the natural gas company, Burisma, for President Trump:
“President Zelensky, is it true that you were ready to publicly announce an investigation into Burisma after your phone call with President Trump?”
Zelensky looked frustrated by the question and replied:
“I think everybody in Ukraine is so tired about Burisma … We have our own country. We have our independence, we have our problems and questions. That’s it.”
Zelensky’s answer indicated his hesitation and desire not to be in the spotlight of an American affair that could possibly ruin his image before the gazes of his people. Democratic Senator for Connecticut, Chris Murphy, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has been heavily active in American foreign policy towards Ukraine, expressed his regret on how the impeachment inquiry has been damaging to Ukraine: “What we’ve done to Ukraine is absolutely devastating and debilitating,” and he and other Democrats blamed Trump for taking advantage of Ukraine, a vulnerable country that has been, since 2014, in a war with Russia that has led to the deaths of nearly 14,000 people. The impeachment hysteria has forced Ukraine to endure the attention of the world, but this is a very negative attention. Heather Conley, director of the Europe program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, made mention of this:
“This has been an extraordinary distraction that keeps the United States and the world focused on Ukraine but in a very negative way”
Now it appears that Trump actually didn’t really want Zelensky to do an investigation on Hunter Biden and his role in Burisma, but that he simply wanted the Ukrainian president to make a public announcement of an investigation. In exchange, Zelensky would get a meeting with Trump in the White House. Gordon Sondland testified that “He [Zelensky ] didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it.” Daniel Goldman, the attorney and director of investigations for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, asked Sondland: “Giuliani and President Trump didn’t actually care if they did them, right?” to which Sondland replied:
“I never heard, Mr. Goldman, anyone say that the investigations had to start or be completed. The only thing I heard from Mr. Giuliani or otherwise was that they had to be announced. … President Trump presumably, communicated through Mr. Giuliani, wanted the Ukrainians on-record publicly that they were going to do those investigations.”
When Putin spoke at an energy conference in Moscow he said that he saw no indication in the phone calls between Trump and Zelensky that the US president demanded damning information on Biden or else he would prevent aid to Ukraine:
“I didn’t see during the telephone conversation that Trump demanded some compromising information from Zelensky at all costs, and threatened that he would [otherwise] not provide assistance to Ukraine”
So Trump didn’t even want an investigation, but simply wanted Zelensky to announce an investigation, according to Sondland. So what really was the objective? Its possible that the US simply wanted to set up Zelensky to become an object of humiliation for his country.
Regardless if any of this is true, all of the noise about the Ukrainian president being extorted by Trump does not look good on him. Jeffrey Edmonds, an expert on Russia and Eurasia with the Center for Naval Analysis, observed:
“He [Zelensky] wants Ukraine to be seen as an ally to the United States, not some cause of internal domestic strife… And I’m sure he doesn’t appreciate the fact that the president keeps saying that Ukraine was involved in meddling the election, which is completely untrue.”
Bringing Zelensky more humiliation is what David Holmes, a U.S. diplomat stationed in Ukraine, claimed about a supposed conversation between Trump and Sondland over the phone. Sondland, while in a restaurant in Kiev, told Trump that Zelensky “loves your ass” and “will do anything you ask him to do.”
“You embarrass President Zelensky by making those statements that you didn’t have to make,” said Rep. Mike Turner, an Ohio Republican on the committee. The story around the Trump impeachment mania makes Zelensky, in the eyes of Ukraine, look like an American puppet who is totally susceptible to being controlled by an outside government. As we read in a report from World Politics Review: “Zelensky finds himself in the unenviable position of looking vulnerable to outside manipulation.” Politico put out an article recently presenting the same concerns that Ukrainians have for Zelensky: he looks weak in the face of American pressure. As the report says:
“But for many Ukrainians, this week’s biggest revelation was how servile their president looked beside a leader like Trump.”
Vitaly Sych, chief editor of Ukrainian news magazine Novoye Vremya, described Zelensky as appearing submissive to Trump:
“He looks like a very weak negotiator. It’s very tough for him, it’s not his level. The only thing he did was agree with Trump. … He looks like a whipping boy … It will be tough for him to stand up for Ukraine’s interests with veterans like Putin.”
The fear within the Ukrainian government is that now that the country has been pushed into a highly intense American controversy, that the US will avoid helping Ukraine. This is what one senior security official, who spoke anonymously with Politico, expressed. “We are now being played in their personal interest. We are just small change in their games,” the security official said.
In a phone conversation between Trump and Zelensky, reportedly the US president told his counterpart: “Germany does almost nothing for you”, to which Zelensky agreed “not only 100 percent, but actually 1,000 percent.”
Why is the United States trying to dissuade Ukraine away from Germany? The German government has been wanting to help to broker a peace between Ukraine and Russia over the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine where there has been fighting between Ukrainians and Russian-backed rebels. What is happening in Donbass is a proxy war between Washington — backing the Ukrainians — and Moscow which is backing their rebels who want to carve the area out into two autonomous states. The Germans and French want to oversee a peace process between Kiev and Moscow. Hinging on this peace process is the Steinmeier Formula which Zelensky announced, on October 1st of 2019, that he had signed.
The Steinmeier Formula is a roadmap for peace, supposedly, and calls for local elections in the areas of Donbass occupied by the separatists and for these areas to be given recognition as special autonomous regions. This would be a major concession to Russia on the part of Ukraine, which is to the ire of Ukrainian nationalists of which there are legion. In fact, this is exactly what happened in the middle of October. Thousands of nationalists and Nazis gathered together in Kiev to rally against Zelensky’s signing of the Steinmeier agreement. Around 15,000 people, holding up their Ukrainian flags, assembled in one of several nationalist gatherings. “Glory to Ukraine!” they chanted. “No capitulation!”
“What price is Zelenskiy ready to pay? He’s ready to sell all of us out to make peace with Russia. And will not be silent,” said 46-year-old veteran Taras Volochko. “Withdrawing troops is a catastrophe for the country. Russia is using the situation to seize the territories we withdraw from,” Andriy Biletsky, head of the far-right group National Corps, told the Associated Press. The leader of one of the head organizations of the protests, Veterans’ Brotherhood, said that Zelensky had a closed door meeting with nationalists but noted that the president has “no plan.”
The nationalists are enraged at the idea of Zelensky capitulating to Russia and possibly allowing for Russian puppet states being carved out within Ukraine. Zelensky looks weak before the Americans, and on top of that, he looks weak in the face of the Russians. This perception of Zelensky is fanning the flames of the nationalists, and the current hysteria surrounding Ukraine could actually act as a catalyst towards a radicalization of the country.
It would not be shocking at all to find out that the Americans know this and understand that by using Zelensky as a political tool they would intensify the sparks of nationalism in Ukraine. Lets remember that when the Americans had the Shah travel to New York for medical attention they knew that it would spark an anti-American revolt amongst the masses in Tehran. Not just this, but Carter himself knew that militants would take the US embassy in Tehran if the Shah was brought to New York. Carter, pressured by Kissinger and David Rockefeller, reportedly asked the question, “What are you going to recommend that we do when they take our embassy and hold our people hostage?” Such words prove that the Americans knew the consequences of their actions. The question is, does the US understand that they are making Zelensky look weak and that this could give leverage to the nationalists?
The Steinmeier Formula goes back to the Minsk agreements which took place in September of 2014 and February of 2015, in which Russia and Ukraine held a peace meeting in Belarus, overseen by Germany and France. The Minsk agreements affirmed that both Ukraine and the Russian backed separatists would withdraw their troops and military equipment from Donbass and Kiev would grant amnesty to enemy combatants who did not commit egregious war crimes.
The Minsk agreements stipulated the pulling out of “all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries” from Ukrainian territory; and they called for the restoration of Kiev’s control over its border with Russia in that area. The Minsk agreements did lower the intensity of the fighting, but it did not stop it altogether. The reason for this was how ambiguous and vague the agreements were written, allowing for each party to interpret what was said to their own advantage. But in 2016, Frank-Walter Steinmeier — then Germany’s foreign minister, currently the country’s president — proposed for a simplified version of the Minsk agreements in order to really halt the fighting (supposedly). Steinmeier’s formula specifically advances the action of elections in separatist-held territories within Donbass; the elections would be superintended by Ukrainian legislation and supervised by the OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe). If the OSCE determines that the elections were duly done, then (in the words of Radio Free Europe) “a special self-governing status for the territories will be initiated and Ukraine will be returned control of its easternmost border.”
The agreement was signed on October 1 by representatives of Ukraine, Russia, the separatist territories of Luhansk and Donetsk, and the OSCE in Minsk. Zelensky agreed that the formula would allow for elections in Donbass but that this could only happen after Russia’s withdraws her forces and Ukraine regains control of its border with Russia. “There won’t be any elections under the barrel of a gun,” Zelenskiy said. “There won’t be any elections there if the troops are still there.” He added that “there will be no capitulation.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov,said that parties to the conflict had signed on to the Steinmeier Formula, and that the Russian government saw this as a positive sign that the peace process could actually happen. He added: “There is no doubt that this is an important step toward implementing the earlier agreements. … Hopefully, the implementation of the Minsk agreements will continue, since this is the only way to resolve the Ukrainian conflict in the country’s east”. What Moscow likes about the Steinmeier agreement is that it allows for elections in the areas occupied by forces backed by Russia which would then lead to a recognition of autonomous states within Donbass. In fact, Putin refused to meet with Zelensky unless he agreed to allow elections in Donbass. A person briefed on Zelensky’s thinking told Foreign Policy that the Ukrainian president signed on to the Steinmeier Formula as a political concession to France and Germany. Now, if Zelensky is willing to compromise with Germany, it makes sense that this is why Trump was trying to dissuade him from the Germans.
Berlin is on board to have the peace process commence. Now that Zelensky has signed for the Steinmeier agreement, Germany’s Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas sees a path for “further stages in the implementation of the Minsk Agreement”. This is the same Heiko Maas who wants Germany to become independent from American hegemony. Maas once said: “It is therefore essential that we strengthen European autonomy by setting up payment channels independent of the U.S., creating a European Monetary Fund and building an independent SWIFT system.” Maas has explicitly called for the formation of a European “New World Order” “In which we form a counterweight when the US crosses the line.” Maas also called for a Germany militarily independent from the US, writing: “Now it is important to build a European security and defense union step by step — as part of trans-Atlantic security and as a separate European project for the future.”
The Germans want to use Ukraine for their own geopolitical advantage, thus their own interests go counter to those of the Americans. Hence why Trump told Zelensky: “Germany does almost nothing for you”. The Americans want to control Ukraine, but the Germans are working to bypass American hegemony to control Ukraine themselves. The Steinmeier agreement would give Russia a further footing into Ukraine, thus if Germany gets its peace process it would be an advantage to Russia and a disaster for the American empire. We are currently seeing the attempt to crumble the American Empire.
If the Steinmeier Formula is actually implemented, it would allow for the creation of an autonomous regions consisting of mostly ethnic Russians that would be a puppet for Moscow. It would essentially become a Russian territory. Now that Russia controls Crimea which borders with the Black Sea, a Steinmeier situation would give Russia further leverage over the Sea of Azov, and it would shut off the other main route into the Volga Basin, which is by way of Krasnodar Krai and it would shut off the main transportation rout to Volgograd, once known as Stalingrad where that infamous battle in which over a million Russians died fighting the Germans during the Second World War.
But here lies another thing to think about in regards to this Russo-Germanic deal over Ukraine: if the Steinmeier agreement gets actually carried out, and a new Russian puppet state is formed in Eastern Ukraine, the Germans and Russians would essentially be carving out Ukraine, kind of like how the Soviet Union and Germany carved out Poland. What is currently taking place in Eastern Europe is really presaging another ruthlessly dark era in that part of the world — we are talking about war within Europe, a third world war. But this is not only our estimation. In Poland, officials have in fact been warning about how Germany’s and Russia’s deal to have a natural gas pipeline between Russia and Europe could lead to a potential revival of the Third Reich’s and the Soviet Union’s agreement to control Poland.
In 2006, Poland’s Defense Minister, Radek Sikorski, compared a pipeline deal between Germany and Russia to the Molotov-Ribbentrop deal in which the Third Reich and the Soviet Union agreed on controlling and annihilating Poland:
“Poland has a particular sensitivity to corridors and deals above our head. That was the Locarno tradition, that was the Molotov-Ribbentrop tradition. That was the 20th century. We don’t want any repetition of that”
In 2017, Poland’s former Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned:
“Once Nord Stream 2 is built, Putin can do with Ukraine whatever he wants, and then we have potentially his army on the eastern border of the EU.”
If Germany and Russia can agree on a peace treaty in Ukraine, it would deepen the relationship between the two countries and it could, down the line, better economic ties between Moscow and Berlin, which could better guarantee the creation of the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline, which would bring natural gas from Russia to the European Union (ran by Germany). For decades the United States has been worried about European independence on Russia for energy.
Berlin has been pushing for pipeline deals with Moscow going all the way back to the 1970s. This consternation over a pipeline between Russia and Germany continued in both the Bush and Obama administrations. In the words of Jon Perr:
“While the Carter and Reagan administrations fretted then about the prospect of Soviet leverage over Bonn, Presidents Bush and Obama worried about a Russian economic stranglehold over Germany with the building of the first Nord Stream pipeline project which became operational in 2011.”
The Trump administration has also expressed worry about the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. President Trump himself said that “it really makes Germany a hostage to Russia.”
Just recently the Danish government gave its approval for the construction of the pipeline on her territory, which means that pipeline is months away from completion. With the pipeline fully established and running it would provide an economic security for Russia that would empower her. With Russia controlling Crimea and advancing on the Black Sea, and with her having expedient transport of her natural gas into the EU, Russia would have the confident position to further advance into Ukraine; and if the Steinmeier agreement is carried out, she would have eastern Ukraine under control. The geopolitical consequences of a gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, and the repercussions of a Steinmeier agreement would lead to only a violently moribund situation for Europe, and thus the whole world.
Alexandros Petersen wrote in the Wall Street Journal that the ultimate purpose of the pipeline is to detour around countries that Russia believes are within her geopolitical sphere influence: “the goal of the North Pipeline from the very beginning was to bypass countries that Moscow still considers part of its sphere of influence.”
Lets not forget that Ukraine was once part of Russia and so the Russians believe that they have a historical right to control that country. If they still hold Ukraine as being within their “sphere of influence” then they still deem the country as belonging to them. And since the Russians are using the pipeline to bypass Poland as well, and they once controlled Poland, then that means that the Poles are also under the Russian crosshairs.
This is not just about gas or money, but power and control. The hidden message “is that the North Pipeline will allow the Kremlin to cut gas supplies to Eastern Europe through existing pipelines without reducing energy supplies to Germany,” writes Peterson. Thus its about strangling the Eastern European countries while helping Germany. And since Germany once controlled half of Poland then that means that history could just repeat itself with a Russo-Germanic advancement into Poland.
The confident position to, if the Steinmeier agreement is carried out, either advance a physical Russian presence into eastern Ukraine or control her as a proxy state, forming a physical barrier between her and US attempts to interfere with the flow of petroleum from the Volga region. The geopolitical consequences of a gas pipeline between Russia and Germany, and the repercussions of the successful implementation of the Steinmeier agreement would lead to a radical strengthening of Russo-Germanic ties and to the direct detriment of US interests and investments into the region.
Ukraine currently benefits financially from there not being a natural gas pipeline between Russia and Europe. Russia has to go through Poland and Ukraine to transport gas to Europe and has to pay transit fees. In 2017, Ukraine earned around $3 billion in transit fees from Russia. A pipeline bypassing Ukraine would be a huge loss to the country. As we read from Reuters:
“Moscow is building new pipelines to Europe, such as Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream, to bypass Ukraine, which is now a major route for Europe’s Russian gas supplies. Following the completion of the new pipelines, Russian gas transit via Ukraine will shrink to a trickle.”
Reading this, it is not a shock as to why Zelensky affirmed that the only solution to prevent this from happening would be the Trump administration:
“The only solution to this issue is that I will have a meeting with the U.S. president. This is the only person who, I am sure, will resolve this issue in the interests of Ukraine.”
The United States has been adamantly against the Nord Stream 2 Pipeline. Officials within Washington want to in fact sanction European companies involved in the engineering and establishing of the pipeline. As we read in a report from Defense News:
Congress’s must-pass defense policy bill will be the vehicle to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin’s $11 billion project to deliver natural gas to Europe via a new pipeline from Russia to Germany, a top U.S. lawmaker revealed Friday.
Sanctions on companies involved in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline have been added to the draft 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jim Risch told Defense News on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Forum.
The inclusion of the sanctions in the bill is a strong sign, but House and Senate lawmakers have yet to reach a final deal on the massive bill.
“The reason for the push is that this window is closing. A lot of Nord Stream is done already,” said Risch, R-Idaho, adding he believes the sanctions will persuade the construction firms involved to stop work on the project.
“It will cost them dearly. I think if those sanctions pass [the companies] will shut down, and I think the Russians will have to look for another way to do this, if they can do this,” Risch said.
Imagine if the US sanctioned European companies, how different that would be from what we are so commonly used to. We do not feel shocked at all if the US sanctions Iran or Russia or some very poor and despotic country. But European companies? Just imagine what that would result in geopolitically. It would lead to a most intense polarization between Washington and Berlin.
The impeachment hearings has supposedly revealed information that shows Zelensky bowing before American power, giving the perception that he is weak to outside influence. This perception is accentuated by the fact that Zelensky agreed to the Steinmeier Formula of Germany which could allow Russia to carve out eastern Ukraine for itself. This, in turn, has resulted in nationalist rage against Zelensky and a potential empowering of the racialist and tribalist elements which have tremendous influence in Ukraine, which could commence a radicalization of the country. In addition to this, Russia wants to bypass Ukraine and Poland by having a pipeline connect Russia with Germany. This is to the exasperation of the Americans who are planning on sanctioning European companies involved in the pipeline. This would further polarize Washington and Berlin and we would begin to see Germany growing more independent of American international power. Russia, having bypassed Ukraine and Poland, would only then see those countries as being part of her sphere of influence and thus belonging to Moscow.
While Germany is becoming more independent from the US, Turkey is also working to becoming completely technologically and militarily independent by 2023. Germany, Russia and Turkey all want to revive their old empires.
The Trump impeachment hearings are deeper than just American political hysteria — with conservatives calling it a conspiracy against Trump and liberals calling for Trump to be impeached, but rather there is the fuller picture of a European implosion that could lead to something very horrifying: another great European war.