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December 09, 2022

'Minsk II Was Agreed On To Arm Ukraine' - Did Merkel Really Say That?

Helmholtz Smith, Andrew Korybko and Andrei Martyanov have some thoughts about a recent interview the former German chancellor Angela Merkel gave to the German weekly broadsheet Die Zeit.

Smith says it shows that the 'West' is not trustworthy. Korybko thinks the interview will prolong the conflict in Ukraine. Martyanov says that Merkel is stupid. She isn't.

In the interview Merkel seems to claim that the Minsk agreements between the Ukrainian government and the Donbas region, which she negotiated and co-signed as guarantor, was never meant to be fulfilled. It was only meant to give time to build up the Ukrainian military.

I however think that such an interpretation is wrong. Merkel is under very harsh critique not only in the U.S. but also in her own conservative party. She is now out to justify her previous decisions as well as the current bad outcome in Ukraine. My hunch is that she is making things up. Unfortunately she also creates serious damage.

The relevant passage of the interview is longer than the one paragraph Helmholtz Smith and other cite. The context is important. Here is my translation of it:

ZEIT: Do you ask yourself if the years of relative calm were also years of omissions and if you were not only a crisis manager, but also partly the cause of crises?

Merkel: I would not be a political person if I did not deal with that. [...some stuff about climate action ...] Let us look at my policy towards Russia and Ukraine. I come to the conclusion that I made the decisions I made back then in a way that I can understand today. It was an attempt to prevent just such a war. The fact that this was not successful does not mean that the attempts were wrong.

I think the above is genuine. The Minsk agreements were a serious attempt to prevent war by reintegrating Donbas into a federalized Ukraine.

Cont. reading: 'Minsk II Was Agreed On To Arm Ukraine' - Did Merkel Really Say That?

Posted by b at 17:41 UTC | Comments (229)

December 08, 2022

Ukraine Open Thread 2022-220

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 15:51 UTC | Comments (421)

Open (Not Ukraine) Thread 2022-219

News & views not related to the war in Ukraine ...

Posted by b at 15:50 UTC | Comments (129)

Green-washing The Trade War With China

Under the Trump administration the U.S. launched a trade war against China. It started with various tariffs on Chinese products. The Biden administration topped that by using the flimsy pretext of alleged 'forced labor' in Xinjiang to make it more difficult to import goods from China. This contradicted Biden's plan for climate change as nearly all solar panels are made from raw materials found in Xinjiang. The trade war continued with the chip war against China's technological progress.

The tariffs and restriction run counter to the World Trade Agreement which the U.S. is increasingly willing to ignore.

The administration has now developed a new scheme that will use the pretext of climate change to wage an economic war against China's and other countries' steel and aluminum industries. To be more effective it is trying to get the European Union on board:

The Biden administration on Wednesday sent a proposal to the European Union suggesting the creation of an international consortium that would promote trade in metals produced with less carbon emissions, while imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum from China and elsewhere, according to a copy viewed by The New York Times.
...
The proposed group, known as the Global Arrangement on Sustainable Steel and Aluminum, would wield the power of American and European markets to try to bolster domestic industries in a way that also mitigated climate change. To do so, member countries would jointly impose a series of tariffs against metals produced in environmentally harmful ways.

This is clearly not a policy to mitigate climate change but to limit free trade to the advantage of domestic industries.

The target of this effort is obviously China:

Cont. reading: Green-washing The Trade War With China

Posted by b at 15:47 UTC | Comments (106)

December 07, 2022

Ukraine Open Thread 2022-218

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Yesterday I noted that Sec State Blinken had blinked with regards to Crimea. The State Department spok more or less confirmed the shift:

It was unclear whether Mr. Blinken’s mention of the Feb. 24 lines was deliberate. Before its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on that date, Russia already occupied much of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, as well as Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, which the Kremlin annexed in 2014.

Asked on Tuesday whether Washington drew any distinction between Ukrainian land seized by Russia after its Feb. 24 invasion of the country and territory it was occupying previously, Mr. Price demurred.

“It’s a question for the Ukrainian government. It is not a question for the U.S. government,” he said.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 16:52 UTC | Comments (289)

China Shifts Covid Policies As Previously Announced - NYT Falsely Claims Protesters' Victory

When the New York Times predicted doom for China over some 'western' directed Covid protests I noted that China had already released new Covid guidelines and would further open up while keeping the pandemic under control:

China can, as Peter Lee predicted, modify its current policies.
...
Two weeks ago the Chinese National Health Commission had already announced 20 new guidelines.

What it can further do to avoid more demonstrations and unrest is to apply sensible zero-Covid measures in a less restricting way.

Today the Chinese government did exactly that:

China rolled back rules on isolating people with COVID-19 and dropped virus test requirements for some public places Wednesday ...

The move adds to earlier easing that fueled hopes Beijing was scrapping its “zero COVID” strategy, which is disrupting manufacturing and global trade. Experts warn, however, that restrictions can’t be lifted completely until at least mid-2023 because millions of elderly people still must be vaccinated and the health care system strengthened.

In total the new control measures can be characterized as less of everything:

Cont. reading: China Shifts Covid Policies As Previously Announced - NYT Falsely Claims Protesters' Victory

Posted by b at 16:38 UTC | Comments (145)

December 06, 2022

U.S. No Longer Supports Fight For Crimea

The U.S. seems to have changed its position with regards to Crimea.

Blinken in August 2022:

Secretary Antony Blinken @SecBlinken - 16:46 UTC · Aug 23, 2022
United States government official

In my remarks to the Crimea Platform Summit, I urged the international community to keep raising the costs and pressure on President Putin and his enablers until all Russian troops leave Ukraine. Crimea is Ukraine. That was our position in 2014, and it remains in 2022.
Embedded video

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Same dude, yesterday:

Secretary Antony J. Blinken With Editor in Chief Matt Murray At The Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Our focus is on continuing to do what we’ve been doing, which is to make sure that Ukraine has in its hands what it needs to defend itself, what it needs to push back against the Russian aggression, to take back territory that’s been seized from it since February 24th, to make sure as well that it has the support economically and on a humanitarian basis to withstand what’s happening in the country every single day. That’s our focus.

"Territory that’s been seized from [Ukraine] since February 24th" obviously does not include Crimea which Russia 'seized' in 2014. This then is a significant shift in the position Blinken had earlier underlined.

Posted by b at 13:11 UTC | Comments (515)

December 05, 2022

Ukraine - Crimea Bridge Repaired, No Ammunition, Drone Attacks In Russia

On October 8 a Ukrainian bomb destroyed the southern part of the car bridge to Crimea. The northern part was also slightly damaged, a passing train on the rail bridge next to it burned out. Some people in Kiev were quite happy about it:

Syricide @Syricide - 8:33 UTC · 10 Oct 2022 #Kiev yesterday.

bigger

But the train traffic resumed a day later. The northern part of the car bridge was checked and car traffic in both directions was allowed. Repair preparations for the broken southern part immediately began.

Two days later the Russian military responded to the attack with the first intense strike against Ukraine's electricity infrastructure.

Now, less than two month later, the work is already done. Four damaged bridge spans have been replaced and a new tar cover has been laid on them. Today the Russia president drove a car over it:

Putin, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, was shown on state television behind the wheel of a Mercedes, asking questions about where the attack took place.

"We are driving on the right hand side," Putin said, as he drove across the bridge. "The left side of the bridge, as I understand it, is in working condition, but nevertheless it needs to be completed. It still suffered a little, we need to bring it to an ideal state."

Putin also walked along parts of the bridge, Europe's largest, to inspect sections that are still visibly scorched.

Bidirectional traffic will now run on the southern span while the slightly damaged northern span will be repaired. This is likely to be finished before the end of the year.

Cont. reading: Ukraine - Crimea Bridge Repaired, No Ammunition, Drone Attacks In Russia

Posted by b at 17:51 UTC | Comments (288)

December 04, 2022

Ukraine Open Thread 2022-217

Only for news & views directly related to the Ukraine conflict.

The current open thread for other issues is here.

Please stick to the topic. Contribute facts. Do not attack other commentators.

Posted by b at 14:44 UTC | Comments (390)

The MoA Week In Review - (Not Ukraine) OT 2022-216

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

BBC is designating targets:

BBC News (World) @BBCWorld - 13:32 UTC · Dec 3, 2022
New images show Russian army base built in occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol

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The building is a civilian hospital:
- Donbass | Medical center in Mariupol: from scratch and turnkey - in just 85 days (video) - VSK

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Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - (Not Ukraine) OT 2022-216

Posted by b at 14:42 UTC | Comments (323)