Steinmeier and the Oligarchs

KIEW/DNEPROPETROVSK/BERLIN (Own report) – Berlin is increasing pressure on Kiev that it enforces the cease-fire in eastern Ukraine. Observers consider the continuation of the civil war to be perilous. On the one hand, they see the risk of loosing even more territory to eastern Ukrainian insurgents, while on the other, it is unclear how the country’s total economic collapse can be avoided without ending the hostilities. Therefore, on the weekend, German Foreign Minister Steinmeier traveled not only to Kiev, but also to Dnepropetrovsk, the town of oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi. Even though Kolomoyskyi has recently stepped down as governor, he still wields significant influence over the – in some cases – fascist militias, which refuse a cease-fire. To put pressure on the fascists, who had helped execute the February 2014 Kiev coup, but are uncontrollable in the civil war, Berlin must make a deal with Ukrainian oligarchs. These same oligarchs had been the focus of the protests at the Maidan. Several times last year, Foreign Minister Steinmeier held personal consultations with powerful oligarchs – including President Poroshenko – or politicians directly dependent on them. The Ukrainian oligarchy has emerged unscathed from last year’s upheavals.

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War by Other Means (II)

BERLIN/KIEV/MOSCOW (Own report) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel is convinced that the West will be “victorious” in the power struggle with Moscow. Merkel told the Munich Security Conference on the weekend that the Ukraine conflict “cannot be won” with military means. That is why “a new way must be found.” Comparing the current power struggle to the Cold War, she reaffirmed, “I am a hundred percent convinced that, with our principles, we will win.” Earlier, Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, had expressed a similar view proposing that a “double strategy” be applied in the West’s power struggle with Russia. According to the journal of the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), the power struggle, which currently cannot won with military means, should be returned “from the military to the economic level.” To this effect, Berlin has launched a diplomatic offensive that should lead to talks in Minsk on Wednesday.

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Division of Labor for Aggression

KIEV/BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) – With informal talks on Ukraine at the Munich Security Conference approaching, German foreign policy makers are not ruling out their approbation for US arms deliveries to Kiev. Initiatives from within US government circles in Washington, to contemplate supplying anti-armor weapons and drones to the Ukraine’s military, are considered by Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, to be “appropriate and important.” German parliamentarians – in spite of the Chancellor’s negative announcements – have made similar declarations. Washington’s contemplations are based on the fact that Kiev has so far proven incapable of leading the West to victory in Ukraine’s civil war. Some of Kiev’s troops are in a desolate condition. Desertion is on the rise, as well as protests against the murderous combat. For western states, official delivery of lethal weapons to Ukraine is considered an option for turning the tide on the battlefield. Security Conference Director, Ischinger, finds a “division of labor” between Washington and Berlin conceivable.

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Out of Control

KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) – Accompanied by protest demonstrations, Kiev’s Prime Minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, will have talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel today, Thursday, on expanding German support to Ukraine. Yatsenyuk is pursuing an arms buildup by all possible means. Observers assume that Kiev is preparing a new offensive in Ukraine’s civil war. It was reported that several NATO countries are involved in arming the country’s military. The German government confirmed back in September that it had satisfactorily complied with Ukraine’s requests including “defensive equipment”. Even trans-Atlantic supporters of Kiev’s February 2014 putsch, are now warning that a considerable rise in the influence of fascist militias and certain oligarchs is threatening to establish an uncontrollable warlord system. Prime Minister Yatsenyuk’s party has particularly taken the lead in supporting right-wing extremist battalions. Yesterday, Yatsenyuk was ceremoniously received by German President Joachim Gauck.

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Blackwater.ru: The Future of Russian Private Military Companies

In Soviet times, Russian military professionals worked across the globe from Cuba to Vietnam, teaching, advising and sometimes just pointing Kalashnikov muzzles at the enemy for the sake of the proletariat.

Now Russian authorities want them to do so again, but this time, for profit — and, just possibly, as a governmental proxy.

A bill filed with the State Duma late last month would legalize private military and security companies (PMSCs) in Russia, an idea endorsed in 2012 by President Vladimir Putin. Continue reading

Washington and Moscow pulling strings to hold Ukraine combatants back from brink of civil war

The US and Russia, while trading the blame for pushing Ukraine to the brink of civil war, are nonetheless tugging at the leashes of the two players in the field, each jockeying for advantage in the quadrilateral meeting of senior US, Russian, European, Ukrainian and UN officials scheduled to take place in Geneva Thursday, April 17, debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report.

Expectations of fruitful results from the meeting are low. But the fact that all the parties are talking offers Ukraine its last hope of escaping a bloody civil war. To this end, too, late-night phone calls are being exchanged among Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel. Continue reading

Three EU countries back Ukraine’s use of force

BRUSSELS – Lithuania, Luxembourg and Sweden have explicitly backed Ukraine’s right to use force against pro-Russian separatists.

Lithuania’s UN envoy, Raimonda Murmokaite, and her Luxembourg counterpart, Olivier Maes, made the statements at a snap UN Security Council (UNSC) meeting in New York on Sunday (13 April).

“When the existence of the state is put in danger, we support the right of Ukraine to defend itself in the face of external aggression and to tackle militant separatism and continuous provocations,” Murmokaite said. Continue reading