Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 09, 2015

Ukraine: Use Of U.S. Ambassador's "False Flag" Offer Aborted

In an interview this morning a former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine made a completely speculative statement on Russian air attack plans against Ukrainian forces reported the Ukrainian propaganda outlet

If Putin uses aviation in Donbas, US response will be swift - former Ambassador to Ukraine Herbst"
"Certainly, everyone is concerned that the Kremlin is making this war in Ukraine increasingly open. They used to hide all their steps, all their aggression. Now it's increasingly clear what Moscow is doing. So, conceivably, Moscow can decide to use its Air Force," he stated, adding that if it does that even the most skeptical Europeans who doubted the hand of the Kremlin in the conflict will see that Russia is conducting war.

"Our report (on the situation in Ukraine to President Obama - ed.) did not specifically recommend anti-aircraft weapons … but we talked about it," Herbst said. He added that the reason for that is a possible major escalation of the conflict. The former ambassador stated that if Putin were to use his Air Force, the United States' reaction would be swift.

That statement by the former ambassador was a huge invitation for a "false flag" event. As the Ukraine and Russia fly similar types of air planes a "false flag" attack by Ukrainian planes on Ukrainian forces could easily be "sold" as a Russian attack. The ambassador seemingly offers that as a way to get the U.S. militarily involved.

The propaganda managers of the neo-Nazi Ukrainian Azov battalion immediately picked up the offer.

A group of Azov battalion members with their most revered flags.

On its Facebook page Azov proclaimed (auto translated original):

The battalion of special purpose "Azov" - new page

2 hours ago

Russia used aircraft during Debaltseve 2 Su-25 attacked the positions of the 40th Battalion.

Russian aircraft attacked the Ukrainian viyskovosluzhbo SRO near Novohryhorivka.

2 Su-25 Russian Air Force 20 minutes ago inflicted airstrike on positions 40th Battalion in the area under Novohryhorivka Debaltseve.

#Polk_Azov #Debaltseve #Aviation

Other Ukrainian propaganda outlets and Twitter propaganda accounts immediately jumped on that "report" by the Azov battalion.


Russian SU-25 airstrikes in Ukraine near #Debaltseve @LIGAnet |EMPR Breaking News

Davin Ackles

More and more reports in Ukraine that Rus. forces attackd Ukr. position at #Debaltseve w/ jets

But they were unlucky. The Ukrainian high command had not yet been informed of, or was not yet willing to jump onto, the promising "false flag" wagon prepared by Ambassador Herbst. The "Anti Terror Operation" headquarter denied (auto translated original) Russian air attacks:

At the headquarters of anti-terrorist operation (ATO) did not confirm the information about the air strikes, which the positions of the Ukrainian military allegedly paid a Russian aircraft. On this edition of the commentary "Gordon" said Speaker ATO Andrei Lysenko.

"Information is not supported by air strikes. Moreover, in the area non-flying weather. All this is fake," - said Lysenko.

Today edition "Tsenzor.NET" citing its sources reported that Russian aircraft attacked the Ukrainian troops in the village Novogrigorevka, which is located near the town of Debaltsevo Donetsk region.

Nice try everyone ...

While Andrei Lysenko did not support the SU-25 attack reports he came up with his own version of fake events by claiming yet another Russian invasion into Ukraine:

Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko, meanwhile, said Monday that about 1,500 Russian troops had crossed the border into Ukraine via rebel-controlled border posts over the weekend. He did not provide any proof.

It is funny how even the Associated Press now emphasizes the lack of proof when Ukrainian officials claim that another big Russian army invasion just happened. If all such claims had been true the Russian army would by now have some 100,000 men stationed in Ukraine.

The story shows that any promise made by the "west" - "If Russia does this, we will do that" - can and probably will be abused for false flag incidents by forces who want "that" to be done.

Posted by b on February 9, 2015 at 15:01 UTC | Permalink

next page »

Putin won't go to the diplomatic solution. He trusts only in force of arms. It occupy part of Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine. Ukraine which has the third in the world after the US and Russia nuclear potential, voluntary gave 5000 warheads and cruise missiles, destroys launching silo, and 43 strategic Tu-160 and Tu-95МС superbombers went to scrap metal. The USA, United Kingdom and Russia default on the Budapest memorandum. Now none of them wants to give the weapon to Ukraine. I think in our civilization now all understand that only the weapons of mass destruction are capable to protect the nation.
I think uranium business will start prospering and it is worth investing money in it.

Posted by: Nill Nilsen | Feb 9 2015 15:17 utc | 1

@Nill Nilsen

Funny - it has all been Putin's plan? So Putin send Mrs Nuland to Maidan to choose the next Ukrainian president because that was all his big plans of conquering parts of Ukraine?

The USA, United Kingdom and Russia default on the Budapest memorandum.

You have obviously no idea of what the Budapest Memorandum really says. Go educate yourself before making such stupid statements.

Hint: The Budapest memorandum is only relevant in case of a nuclear attack on Ukraine. The consequence of such an attack would be UN security meeting. That is all the memorandum promises an last time I looked no one had nuked Ukraine.

Posted by: b | Feb 9 2015 15:43 utc | 2

Ukraine doesn't need nuke weapons to nuke the area. Further attempts to fit GE fuel rods into Russian made reactors such as those in Zaporhizia may result in catastrophic meltdown.

Kolomoisky's goons have also threatened to blow up the hydroelectric dam north of Zaporhizia which would probably result in a Fukushima-style flood event at the nuke power station downstream.

Monkeys with grenades is a scary concept. Monkeys with nukes - yikes.

Posted by: Yonatan | Feb 9 2015 15:52 utc | 3

The Chinese and probably the Indians are watching now. Outside of Anglo countries and Europe, Russia has only seen diplomatic victories. Egypt is dumping the dollar for trade with Russia. Indonesia and India are buying Russian planes in the last week. These are messages about faith in the U.S. The world is watching the Ukraine even if most Americans don't know where it is.

Posted by: NotTimothyGeithner | Feb 9 2015 15:53 utc | 4

Yonatan @ 3

agreed. by hook and by crook they'll turn Ukraine into a (radioactive) wasteland.

Posted by: john | Feb 9 2015 16:05 utc | 5

I wouldn't put a false flag past these desperate puppets and their nazi gangsters, but they should be careful as Russia will most likely spot that from a mile off and not keep so quiet about it.
WW3 over Ukraine in super-bankster slo-mo with everyone and their mother's propaganda bullhorns trying to convince us this is some sort of worthy cause for concern. We know where this "crisis" spawned from, who brought the bag of cookies and who can't leave people alone - AmeriKa and friends cannot justify their cause here at all.

Posted by: farflungstar | Feb 9 2015 16:11 utc | 6

@ Nill Nilsen, or rather for anyone who has read his ignorant silly comment

The Ukies gave up their (former Soviet) nukes because they couldn't crack the control system encryption, NOT because they were saintly peaceniks who didn't want to be a nuclear power.

Posted by: Dismayed | Feb 9 2015 16:22 utc | 7

Ever notice this Azov group only has about 15 people? Talk about false flag. Putin's got so much propaganda value off them he should be paying them.

Posted by: desider | Feb 9 2015 16:37 utc | 8

Nilsen, maybe this is just eeeeevil Soviet propaganda (yes some old people in my neck of the woods still say Soviet), and I could be wrong here in Bizarro Land, but I have watched Putin and his team offer diplomatic solutions at nearly every turn in this AmeriKan made "crisis". Escalation has been thrust on them.
It is the USSA, her EU partners and Ukie puppets who are pushing more violence and pretending that they are reacting to Russian "aggression" and THEY are the ones searching for a "diplomatic solution."
Bold and shameless bullshit not seen since the war of terror on Iraq...and Libya...and Syria...and...

Posted by: farflungstar | Feb 9 2015 16:40 utc | 9

Rather than delete "1st to troll comments" so that those who engage in amateurish attempts at disinformation, like Nell @1, who diverts space/conversation from individuals who put effort into their comments, can we create a troll repository? I envision a note like:


After a couple of trips to the cage to read nonsensical comments, nobody will go there, but troll's will get to hear their voice in a vacuum.

Posted by: S Brennan | Feb 9 2015 16:43 utc | 10

Just ignore the troll, in fact copy & google his comment, he have made the exact same comment on other sites too past days.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 9 2015 16:54 utc | 11

UK troops (2,000?) SENT TO HELP JORDAN

Interesting comments attached to this article.

Britain. Ever the military drag drama Queen.

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 9 2015 17:13 utc | 12

The Azov battalion is deplorable but I believe the swastika flag has been photoshopped.

Posted by: Harold | Feb 9 2015 17:22 utc | 13


No offense, but who really cares what you "believe"? Facts are the issue, and it is a fact that some of the groups being supported by the U.S. State Department, in what passes for the Ukrainian government these days, are unapologetic Nazis. Just use the Google function to educate yourself if you are unaware of this, the EU officially condemned these groups in the recent past, and now are being economically leveraged by the U.S. to make themselves into ridiculous, foot-shooting-off hypocrites. Whatever flag may, or may not, appear in a single photo is *irrelevent*.

Posted by: W.H. Brewer | Feb 9 2015 17:54 utc | 14

@ Nil Nilsen

Ukraine doesn't have an army (or soon wont have any..again ) who are they suppose give weapons to? If this were Syria the US could just send in one of its mercenary armies (sorry aidar, azov. as it turns out drunk fat skinheads apparently aren't effective enough). But hey, that's what you Ukrainians get for trusting the US and the EU, which have got to be the most degenerate, least trustworthy set of finance capitalist scum in all history.

Posted by: psakiwacky | Feb 9 2015 18:05 utc | 15

@ 13

Yeah, Harold I have to agree with Brewer. There is no reason at all to suspect the NAZI flag in the pic is "photshopped"..No reason except a strong wish that it wasn't there..And that fall into the category of tough shit.

Posted by: psakiwacky | Feb 9 2015 18:08 utc | 16

The Ukraine crisis is almost a year old and Russia is winning. The separatists in eastern Ukraine are gaining ground and Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, shows no signs of backing down in the face of Western economic sanctions.

Unsurprisingly, a growing chorus of voices in the United States is calling for arming Ukraine. A recent report from three leading American think tanks endorses sending Kiev advanced weaponry, and the White House’s nominee for secretary of defense, Ashton B. Carter, said last week to the Senate armed services committee, “I very much incline in that direction.”

They are wrong. Going down that road would be a huge mistake for the United States, NATO and Ukraine itself. Sending weapons to Ukraine will not rescue its army and will instead lead to an escalation in the fighting. Such a step is especially dangerous because Russia has thousands of nuclear weapons and is seeking to defend a vital strategic interest.

There is no question that Ukraine’s military is badly outgunned by the separatists, who have Russian troops and weapons on their side. Because the balance of power decisively favors Moscow, Washington would have to send large amounts of equipment for Ukraine’s army to have a fighting chance.

But the conflict will not end there. Russia would counter-escalate, taking away any temporary benefit Kiev might get from American arms. The authors of the think tank study concede this, noting that “even with enormous support from the West, the Ukrainian Army will not be able to defeat a determined attack by the Russian military.” In short, the United States cannot win an arms race with Russia over Ukraine and thereby ensure Russia’s defeat on the battlefield.

Posted by: okie farmer | Feb 9 2015 18:22 utc | 17

Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has given a chilling assessment of a new geopolitical situation taking shape amid the Ukrainian crisis, warning of a possible new Cold War and calling the West’s approach to the crisis a “fatal mistake.” I'm sure MoA folks will realize a broken clock is right twice a day.

Posted by: harry law | Feb 9 2015 18:30 utc | 18

Ukraine currency have dropped more today, where will this lead?

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 9 2015 18:30 utc | 19

@10 s. brennan.. lol.. good idea.

@13/14. harold, i have to agree w.h. brewer.. the facts on the ground and in ukraine at the moment speak to this as well. this is indeed what the west is supporting in ukraine..

even if a guy Andrei Lysenko occasionally speaks the truth, he still has to position himself accordingly with the fanaticism.. he won't be getting any promotion from the usa, but he can still keep his gig if he offers bs without any proof..

funny how AP lacks any proof to the story.. if they had to wait for proof, they'd run out of stories to print very quickly! doesn't stop wapo, nyt and wsj that make a steady stream of them!

Posted by: james | Feb 9 2015 18:32 utc | 20

typo - AP points out the lack of proof to the story...

Posted by: james | Feb 9 2015 18:33 utc | 21

I said I believed it because I had read it somewhere on the web but couldn't remember where -- but when I went to check I just now I found others saying it is real -

In any case, I also believe they are Nazis, flag or not.

Posted by: Harold | Feb 9 2015 18:42 utc | 22



Fierce fighting continues around Debaltsevo. If NAF forces succeed in surrounding the estimated 6,000-8,000 Ukrainian troops in the area—which could happen in the next 24 hours or less—Kiev will be faced with a catastrophic defeat, one that will be hard to recover from.


Did a Google search and no news since February 2 re Debalsevo Cauldron 8,000 Ukranian Kiev troops.

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 9 2015 19:04 utc | 23

@Alberto #23:

They have succeeded.

FortRus: Semenchenko confirms last road to Debaltsevo cut

Semen Semencheko is Commander of the Donbas Battalion, an MP and first Deputy Head of the Committee on National Security and Defense. J. Hawk comments:

As noted before, Novorossia forces could have done this a long time ago. They were holding off in order to give Poroshenko a chance for a face-saving out at the Munich conference. Instead Poroshenko chose to present his new “Watch
Russian Passports Appear and Disappear” magic trick. So now new “facts on the
ground” are being created on the eve of the “Normandy format” meeting scheduled
for Wednesday, February 11.
The Ukies should cut their losses and give up Donbass if they don't want their army to be destroyed. Having American "advisers" doesn't seem to be doing them any good at all.

Posted by: Demian | Feb 9 2015 19:17 utc | 24

The Debaltsevo cauldron is closed!!!

This was confirmed by sources from both sides. Some 3000 civilians and several thousands of Ukrainian soldiers are in the pocket and surrounded.

A Ukrainian reserve force of some 4 battalions is ready to try to reopen the pocket from the outside. But the federalists have now much better artillery positions and capabilities and the road the Ukrainian reserve force would have to take down into the pocket zone is under potential fire from three sides and would soon become a miles long death zone.

No way they will get there. But even if they would Novorossiya reserves are already in place to fend them off.

A huge success for the Novorossiya soldiers and a very good negotiating position for new talks in Minsk. "Do you want those trapped soldiers back?"

The Debaltsevo pocket was a very dangerous Ukrainian knife pushed between Lughansk and Donetsk and limiting their (railway) communications. It will now get pulled making Novorossiya much more viable.

Posted by: b | Feb 9 2015 19:25 utc | 25

Glad to see that America is returning the role of ambassadors to their classic definition: thieves, murderers, rapists, and agents provocateur as opposed to representatives of negotiation in good faith.

Posted by: ǝn⇂ɔ | Feb 9 2015 19:27 utc | 26

The "Russian air attack" story makes a dead cat bounce.

Lieutenant Lamaka, who has reported about air strike on the 40th Battalion, confirms his information and will write a statement

1st company of the 40th Mechanized Infantry Battalion of the Armed Forces troop executive, Senior Lieutenant Lamaka states that he will immediately report on the Russian aviation air strike over the Ukrainian positions witnessed by numerous Ukrainian servicemen as soon as the enemy cease shelling.

Censor.NET Chief Editor Yurii Butusov wrote on his page on Facebook.

According to Butusov, he contacted with Senior Lieutenant Lamaka, who earlier called to Censor.NET editors office and reported that the Russian Air Force strike-fighters have attacked the Ukrainian troops' positions.

"The groups of warplanes, which all our servicemen have observed over Novohryhorivka village situated near Debaltseve, have committed several flights above us. We were under heavy shelling since morning and our strong points were hit by a series of strikes with massive ordnance during the ground-support fighters' flights. Being at our positions, we have recognized these strikes as bombing attacks.

Shell shocked?

Posted by: b | Feb 9 2015 19:31 utc | 27

Here is the Google translation of yarasumy's post on Debaltsevo. NAF used the ceasefire of 6-7 February to move their artillery.

The Agony of Debaltsevo (with addition)

Posted by: Demian | Feb 9 2015 19:39 utc | 28

Commander A. Mozgovoy February 9, 2015 Addressing both sides - Against whom War in Ukraine ...


Posted by: Alberto | Feb 9 2015 19:44 utc | 29

Claim of air attack again denied by "ATO" command (all attacks repulsed accept those that were successful)

Militants use almost all types of weapons at Debaltseve direction. All attacks were repulsed - ATO press center

The press center noted that some news outlets have spread information about the "air strike on our positions committed by the Russian Federation warplanes" today.

The press center reports that these statements are false thus encouraging the Ukrainian journalists not to fall to information provocations.

Posted by: b | Feb 9 2015 20:44 utc | 31

@Alberto #29:

Mozgovoy is a great commander, but I don't see the point of these messages he is sending to the Ukrainians. The war is now not popular with the vast majority of Ukrainians, as one can tell from the failure of the fourth mobilization, so Ukrainians don't need to be told that this war is pointless.

Here is a new interview with Joaquin Flores. He suggests that the "exceptional forces" which destroy Ukrainian forces by a conventional assault as opposed to bombardment may be Russian speznaz, although he notes that what is most amazing about all this is that the Russians never leave traces of their involvement. Like J. Hawk of FortRus, Flores points out that in videos, one sees dead Ukrainian soldiers, but no small craters which would be there if the Ukrainians had gotten shelled.

I'm not sure why the Western media is not reporting this. It's really the best evidence that Russian forces are involved, although it is circumstantial. Maybe Western media aren't reporting this because it makes Western special forces look bad? After all, Western mercenaries are fighting on the side of the Ukies. So why can't they accomplish what the Russians are accomplishing? The problem might be that the Americans don't know how to do a conventional Second Generation Warfare advance any more.

Another interesting thing Flores said is that the Europeans are sitting on two chairs, i.e., there is policy to accommodate Russia as well as to be hostile to it, and that the involvement of the EU in Ukraine is by now fairly limited. Ukraine is now mostly an American show. Finally, US strategy has now shifted to creating a failed state.

Posted by: Demian | Feb 9 2015 21:01 utc | 32

The Saker has put up two flashy videos", one with heavy metal music and the other with rap, sending the message that Russia is ready for war.

Will the Europeans ever come to their senses, or will they sleepwalk off a cliff? As for the Beltway, there is no hope for it seeing reason.

Posted by: Demian | Feb 9 2015 21:37 utc | 33

@Demian 32,

I missed Joaquin Flores's Fort Russ video. Joaquin Flores explained clearly and rationally geopolitics in Novorossia and Russian's speznaz tactic.

Question - Who is J Hawk, read lot of his translations. J Hawk the same person Kristina Russ?

I am more likely to believe or trust Joaquin Flores and Katrina Russ than SAKA, the so call military analysis, invoking his 'god' in most of his analysis. Often quoting chapters, verses and so forth.

Posted by: Jack Smith | Feb 9 2015 21:58 utc | 34

flag is message for merkel.turkey,are for thanksgiving

Posted by: chivers | Feb 9 2015 22:09 utc | 35

@Jack Smith #34:

IIRC, J. Hawk only appeared at FortRuss recently, which makes me think that J. Hawk and Kristina Russ are two different people. Also, J. Hawk usually adds a comment to his translations, whereas Kristina Russ doesn't. I have no idea of who either one of them is.

Yes, even though my opinion of Russian Orthodoxy has improved since the Ukrainian crisis started, I find the Saker's unrestrained God talk embarrassing.

Meanwhile, the Germans are getting uppity:

German Talkshow Panel to US Official: Peace in Ukraine Up to Europe, Not US

Former US ambassador to Germany John Kornblum riled up his hosts by playing down the importance of the Franco-German peace negotiations on Ukraine, stating that "Russians respect only strength, not conciliation." The ambassador noted that while "it's wonderful that Europe is doing something… nothing will be achieved without the participation of the United States." In his words, "the bottom line is that the power lies in Washington."

European Parliament President Martin Schulz quickly jumped to challenge Kornblum's view, noting that "on the contrary, everything will work out if Europeans come to an agreement with their European neighbors. The USA is not a neighbor of Russia, and this war is not occurring at the gates of the US. I want to emphasize that this is a European problem, and I believe that the United States must stay some distance away from it." Schulz added that President Barack Obama's statements about Russia losing its status as a great power are "simply wrong," and that with Russia a nuclear superpower with a permanent place at the UN Security Council, "I ask myself –what is the point of such a provocation?"

(I linked to a tweet instead of linking directly because TypePad blocks Sputnik.)

Posted by: Demian | Feb 9 2015 22:34 utc | 36

@32 Fascists are irrational, and one of the hallmarks of their worldview is a belief in their invincibility and status as being under persecution by a mob like enemy (sometimes backstabbing enemy). Showing dead soldiers who died from a disciplined enemy who opted not to use overwhelming force (artillery) undermines their world view.

I didn't watch the video, but I think there is a reason the dust up in South Ossetia hasn't been brought up at all. The Georgian conflict isn't part of the propaganda for a reason, and it's because NATO equipped/trained forces were smashed despite their sneak attack. Even Kerry goes on and on about Russian tanks swarming across the border because the idea a non-American empire outfit could be competent violates his world view. The leaked story about Dempsey trying to explain to Kerry that U.S. planes weren't invincible demonstrates my argument.

Posted by: NotTimothyGeithner | Feb 9 2015 22:36 utc | 37

Here is DeepResource's summary of the ARD program I mentioned at #36. (He gives a link to the video of the show, but it does not have subtitles.)

Meanwhile, Russia Would See U.S. Moves to Arm Ukraine as Declaration of War.

The Russian counterstrike could take the conflict far beyond Ukraine, according to the source on the Defense Ministry's public advisory board.

Pointing to one possible avenue of asymmetrical retaliation, the source said Moscow could give in to long-standing Chinese requests for sensitive defense technologies that would aid in its development of high-tech weapons capable of doing serious damage to U.S. naval forces in the Asia-Pacific.

Moscow has so far declined China's requests on "politically correct pretenses," the source said.

"That's just one example. We can also encourage Iran, or even back Iran in a fight — a military operation — with Saudi Arabia, so then the prices for oil will skyrocket," the source said, explaining that these were just two possible responses.

Posted by: Demian | Feb 9 2015 23:15 utc | 38

@36 incidentally Sarkozy just came out of nowhere pretty much voicing the same opinion that Russia belongs to the European civilization and the US interests are not the same as Europeans. He also pretty much endorsed the return of Crimea to Russia. Europe is clearly divided on this issue and the more the US will push for destabilization the more they will antagonize the core European states, because only a madman in Europe would want a serious escalation with Russia.

I guess the question is now more and more narrowing down to who will pay for the mess in Ukraine. Europe has got itself embroiled in it so deep the EU will have to participate in the eventual reconstruction of Donbass. Putin wants Donbass to stay part of Ukraine so that it will be the IMF and the West who will have to pay for it. Ukrainian government by constant terror of the civilian population clearly wants Donbass to separate from Ukraine and thus have Russia to face the financial and political consequences. Europe has been trying the same but Putin is smarter than this and will not let the West to drag Russia into this mess. Sure he will tacitly support the rebels but this time there won't be any Russian invasion no matter how much the US tries to provoke Russia. So the sooner the Europeans realize that they need to reign in their puppets in Kiev the better for Europe and for everybody.

Posted by: Al | Feb 9 2015 23:23 utc | 39

@39 al - make the donbass a separate and independent country - novorossia..

it has been obvious the usa's intent is to divide europe, as a sub topic to the one of containing russia by destroying ukraine.. they seem to be succeeding in their objective to a point, but not without a lot of dead people and a europe that still can't figure out how to step out from under the usa's thumb.

if anything the latest news will just be like red meat for those jackals... they will want more.. will europe tell usa where to go? i doubt it.

Posted by: james | Feb 9 2015 23:49 utc | 40

The leaked story about Dempsey trying to explain to Kerry that U.S. planes weren't invincible demonstrates my argument.
Posted by: NotTimothyGeithner | Feb 9, 2015 5:36:30 PM | 37

Being saddled with a terminally corrupt, privately owned Congress deciding what's best for the M-IC's Profits, rather than what's best for the US Military, doesn't help either.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 10 2015 0:00 utc | 41

The junta obviously does not believe that the current borders of the Ukraine will be preserved, since it is practicing scorched earth tactics. Merkel should take note.

Kiev Orders to Mine Entire Rail Infrastructure in Debaltseve

Kiev has decided on this measure to prevent future rail links between the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk republics after the Ukrainian forces retreat, Basurin explained.

"Locomotive and rolling stocks are being mined, the railway junctions at the Debaltseve-Sortirovochnaya station, locomotive depots and control centers, as well as the administrative zone of the Debaltseve station," Basurin said, adding that municipal pumping and transformer stations have already been mined.

And Germany talks about giving Donbass aid to rebuild its infrastructure, while doing nothing to stop the junta from destroying more and more infrastructure. The bankruptcy of Merkel's policy could not be more apparent.

Posted by: Demian | Feb 10 2015 0:47 utc | 42

The Ukies should cut their losses and give up Donbass if they don't want their army to be destroyed. Having American "advisers" doesn't seem to be doing them any good at all.
Posted by: Demian | Feb 9, 2015 2:17:49 PM | 24

It's much worse than seeming not to do any good.
Taking South Ossetia as the most recent example, the Yankees "forgot" to tell Sakashvili "If you're going to slaughter civilians from a safe distance, make sure you neutralise any potential military threats to your murderers - like we do when we attack pissy little countries."

Imo, it's a deliberately disingenuous policy. And the US's Ukrainian morons have fallen for EXACTLY the same 'tactic' - merely to make Russia look bad. The big flaw in that scheme is that the 'winners' in a conflict NEVER look as bad as the 'losers'.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 10 2015 0:57 utc | 43

I am very interested to know what the average Ukrainian "Party of Regions" voter in the South and East of the country is thinking at this point.

That's really what is key to this conflict. In some ways, the US wins just by sowing enmity between Ukrainians and Russians (a scheme very similar to the one it pulled off in Iraq). We know these poor folks in the Ukraine are absolutely deluged by not just propaganda and PR (some of it organized by US corporations) but also brutal repression.

The question is - how are they dealing with it? What are their arguments against the war? Is NATO membership still seen as undesirable by the majority? How is the Maidan perceived in outside of the hotheads in Lvov? When I see photos of these "battalions", frankly they look over-populated by impossibly young, skinny nerd types, many with their thick glasses who look like they spent far too much time playing video games more than anything. Exactly the type you might imagine would be attracted to Nazi power fantasies - but not really the type you can wage a war with.

The Ukrainian people must be extremely cynical seeing all of this. After all, a huge portion (if not the majority) of the population grew up in the Soviet era where such a conflict must have seemed absolutely impossible. To many, it must have a bizarro world quality to it.

It's important to read from those resisting the regime from the inside.

Posted by: guest77 | Feb 10 2015 1:18 utc | 44

I still find it amazing that these crooks who came to power in the Maidan have the naked cynicism to call a war against their own citizens an "Anti-Terror Operation". How must that go over with the people who have friends and family on the other side of the front line?

I can't imagine that the public opinion in Ukraine is for this mess - not that we'll ever know.

Posted by: guest77 | Feb 10 2015 1:24 utc | 45

to Jack Smith at 34 --

Like Demian notes, J. Hawk is a recent addition, the material and comments are always interesting. They have also been posting analysis under the by-line as well, e.g. A The Munich Conference Post-Mortem from yesterday. Peace, Victory, or Doomsday? Ukraine's prospects for 2015 is from about a week ago, it's a good description of the present political situation, got a good amt. of attn. here, if memory serves.

While it's not up there with the taking of Debaltsevo, Oleg Tsarev's prediction that "Kolomoysky will greet us with Putin's portrait in his hands" is not without a little humor. J. Hawk points out that if Kolomoisky switches sides, he's off the hook for a huge heap of debt in the Ukraine.

Posted by: rufus magister | Feb 10 2015 1:33 utc | 46

@43 The West engaged in false flag propaganda tactics after MH#17 crashed even though it was likely Ukrainian forces who brought it down. I think the NATO thugs expected a reaction in the world population similar to the reaction to the Egyptian protests after the Maidan and mh17. Obama and Western leaders went all in on that plane crash.

I think the recent actions out of the West has been a panic over what's in the cauldron or what Poroshenko might say if he has problems.

Obama in the last 10 days admitted to interfering in the collapse of Ukraine's constitutional order, went from threatening to deliver the 101st, to "tabling any decisions" on non-lethal defensive weapons. Who knows what promises were made, but I suspect there were quite a few. Merkel's trip to Moscow was probably a tip off that domestic populations wont support escalation and Putin's position is strong. After all, Putin is in Egypt prying a U.S. ally into the non-U.S. camp during this Ukraine crisis. I think Obama and his NATO cronies expected to win some time ago, and they've reached the point where they are throwing stuff at the wall hoping something would stick. Merkel likely told Obama he had to fix the recent escalation crisis after NATO stood with Kiev when they attacked ethnic Russians in winter.

Posted by: NotTimothyGeithner | Feb 10 2015 1:43 utc | 47

Posted by: NotTimothyGeithner | Feb 9, 2015 8:43:53 PM | 47

I agree with you. It's just so obvious that the only way to trick a mouse into provoking a bear is to persuade it to believe some bullshit.

I'm still hoping to hear Obama say "Would I lie to you?"
He is fond of rhetorical questions, after all.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 10 2015 3:21 utc | 48

German Foreign Minister Steinmeier:
"Germany reserves the right to impose sanctions on Ukraine"

Interesting turning of the tables. Maybe Germany mean business after all. I guess the distinct possibility of getting incinerated in a nuclear holocaust makes you reorder your priorities.

Posted by: Demian | Feb 10 2015 4:18 utc | 49

WOW! Germany grows a spine. Next shoe to drop? France. France was never to keen on the NATO thingie.

Russia unlike Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan, etc., is fully capable of a multi faceted first strike that includes counter first strike defensive measures and an effective second strike just to 'bounce the rubble.' Kind of tough going from asskicker to asskickee. OUCH!

Just my opinion I could be right.

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 10 2015 4:44 utc | 50

Russian Spring


Journalist Mikhail Andronik: “Today is February 9, and we reside in hamlet Logvinovo taken by special operation of Donetsk Republic forces last night”.

Commander “Ol`khon”: “Retaining this hamlet we completely block communications between Debal`tsevo caldron and the main group of the Ukrainian military forces.

My company was tasked by taking the hamlet by surprise attack in the midst of artillery strike. Night stealth advancement was effected. The opponent endured surprise blow from direction of Debal`tsevo.

Following a fulminant firefight the residing in hamlet opponent was liquidated entirely by small arms and grenade launchers.”

After losing Logvinovo, the Ukrainian forces lost ability to deliver ammo or withdraw soldiers from the caldron.

Russian Spring


Representative of Defense Ministry of Donetsk Republic Eduard Basurin told that desperate efforts of armored groups to tear through the combatants’ positions in Uglegorsk and Lozovoye (encompassing Debal`tsevo from west and north-east respectively) were suppressed by reciprocal fire of Donetsk Republic army.

Having suffered serious casualties, the opponent returned to original positions.

Also settlement Novogrigrigor`yevka (north suburb of Debal`tsevo) fell to combatants, as well as north part of Kamenka (?).

Posted by: Fete | Feb 10 2015 5:08 utc | 51

Posted by: Demian | Feb 9, 2015 11:18:22 PM | 49

Your link does not open. Steinmeier certainly did not say it.
He is in the media warning if negotiations fail a military escalation would be the reault.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 10 2015 5:25 utc | 52

@somebody #52:

If the link does not open for you, you're doing something wrong. The link in my comment is to a tweet; to get to the article, you need to click on the link in the tweet.

The article says that Steinmeier made his remark on ARD TV. Why do you think that report is false? Did you see the program? Can you find a link to a video of Steinmeier's interview on ARD?

Posted by: Demian | Feb 10 2015 5:58 utc | 53

What was the date of the interview?

Posted by: Harold | Feb 10 2015 6:03 utc | 54

@Harold #54:

The story doesn't say, which is strange. The story appeared in the Russian news Web site , which I had never heard of before.

Posted by: Demian | Feb 10 2015 6:12 utc | 55

@Harold #54:

The story doesn't say what the date was, which is strange. The FortRuss translation gives a link to the original Russian language story, which appeared on a news Web site I had never heard of before. When I gave a link to that Web site, TypePad suppressed my post, so I am not going to mention the Web site's name here.

Posted by: Demian | Feb 10 2015 6:18 utc | 56

Looks like the Europeans and Uncle Sam aren't seeing eye-to-eye on this anymore. They know they'll suffer horribly if a wider war breaks out.

Last year, the West was trying to provoke Moscow into openly intervening in the conflict, but Russia instead launched a secret war. We can pretend that there aren't Russian soldiers and hardware currently fighting and aiding their allies, but the stakes are too high for them not to. They've managed to keep it hidden by constant denial on not only their parts, but on the side of the West, who would be forced to admit that they can't actually stop Putin. Sanctions have failed, and now they're running around with their hair on fire to settle things diplomatically before the "gas station" turns off its taps.

Russia is capable of calling the West's bluffs. It's the same deal as Syria. They're getting another taste of their own medicine. It's the "who's going to stop me" principle. I guess they never contemplated that anyone would have the audacity to do it to them. It's one thing to knock over Iraq or Libya, who can't fight back, but you can't get your way with a country who has thousands of missiles pointed at your cities.

Posted by: Almand | Feb 10 2015 6:29 utc | 57


Link works to a Twitter page with a link to this page,

Germany reserves the right to impose sanctions on Ukraine


b seems to have settled the closing of the Debelt'sevo cauldron today, and as per your reports, it is a fact. It won't be so easy though, the Ukinazis are mastering the art of massive killing applying scorched-earth policies on cities and towns, both to take them and to give them up. Next, the Uglegorsk and Myronivsky reservoirs to the NW, strategic water resources.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Feb 10 2015 6:34 utc | 58

I suppose if he said it, we will be hearing about it from other sources.

Posted by: Harold | Feb 10 2015 6:35 utc | 59

PS: I'm glad everyone keeps bringing up the South Ossetia fiasco... because I wouldn't put it past those bright, honest, freedom-loving gentlemen running the Ukraine to do something incredibly stupid and provocative if they think they're going to get sold out by their European allies at the bargaining table. Russian bombers will fly over Kiev, and they'll get to see what actually getting sold out feels like. Then we get to watch as another Western "ally" is pulverized for thinking their erstwhile friends will come to their aid.

Posted by: Almand | Feb 10 2015 6:37 utc | 60

Almand,what I have been wondering if Russia is training Ukrainian fighters and arming them. There are a lot of ethnic russian Ukrainian fleeing to Russia. I would not be surprised if some or even many of them would want to return to fight for Novorussia to be able to return to their homes.

To me it would make sense, the Russians can say there are no Russian soldiers fighting there and they still can support the Rebels.

Posted by: Fran | Feb 10 2015 6:41 utc | 61

Fran, I would wager that you're correct on that count. Sending the refugees back to fight would mitigate the economic strain of accommodating those who fled.

Still, you have to admit that it's inconceivable that the war would still be going on if there weren't professional soldiers aiding the rebels. It's one thing to arm people, it's another to lead them and win battles.

Posted by: Almand | Feb 10 2015 6:59 utc | 62

@Almand #61:

I don't think that there are any Russian "professional soldiers aiding the rebels". There are an endless amount of videos of fighting in the Donbass in which you see that the people who are doing the fighting are locals. The NAF tactics are very good, which suggests that they are getting help from Russian military advisers. But providing advisers in not the same thing as providing "professional soldiers" (although Russia does not deny that some Russian soldiers serve on a voluntary basis in Ukrainian Donbass, independently of the Russian army).

Russian speznaz (special forces) being active in Donbass is another matter, as I said in an earlier comment. But speznaz are covert and a different kettle of fish than professional soldiers, and as far as I know, neither the junta nor NATO has significantly pushed the idea that Russian speznaz are operating in the Ukraine.

Posted by: Demian | Feb 10 2015 7:34 utc | 63

Posted by: psakiwacky | Feb 9, 2015 1:08:13 PM | 16

This anti-Maidan blog investigated and found the photo IS a fake. Still, it was found at an Azov battalion member's website or facebook page. It's very likely a fake but the Azov's Naziism isn't.

Posted by: fairleft | Feb 10 2015 7:38 utc | 64

@ 63 fairleft

That blog post is strongly pro-junta. It even credits the Nazis for "defending" Ukraine and calls eastern Ukrainians "barbarians." It does not at all establish that the photo is fake. And there is even another picture posted there taken from the same person's social media webpage of an individual wearing a shirt with the same swastika image as the flag emblazoned on it. Which kind of defeats the purpose of "debunking" the authenticity of the picture with the flag.

Posted by: ee | Feb 10 2015 8:05 utc | 65

Not even sure people talk about it still, of course its real.
Heres a bigger version.

Why wouldnt nazis use nazi flags in photos of themselves?

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 10 2015 8:07 utc | 66

@45 guest 77.. 'anti terror operation' is code for made in the usa-bs-talk.. it's just another way to label someone in a certain way so as to pave the way for getting rid of them via military force, whether it be nameless drone's or whoever doing the murdering.. americans seem okay with it all..

@47 ntg.. i agree with most of what you say except the part about merkel telling obama what you suggest... listen. cbc national 6pm news tonight on the way down to my gig in victoria was saying they (merkel/usa mostly) were ( i kid you not ) saying the message was '''give peace a chance'''.. less then 2 sentences after that they were talking about further financial sanctions they have lined up for this coming monday should russia not back down for supporting and backing the eastern ukraine rebels. ( or something to that effect - going on memory 6 hours later here.) these folks think having more financial sanctions ready in the dock to go is ''''giving peace a chance'''.. they know nothing about peace or anything related to the action they speak of.

i think they are on the same page for more war on ukraine, and slapping russia every time anything bad happens.. the usa in particular is still probably encouraging porkoshenko to continue with the murder of more ukrainians, so as to cook his goose and pave the way for worse things under nulands man yats.. i think it is naive to the extreme to think something positive of merkel or europe with her and hollande leading the eu at this point.. call me cynical..

@51 fete.. thanks

@49 demian.. confirms the cbc national news as i was saying to ntg up above..

@57 lone wolf.. agree with your viewpoint.

@64 ee.. thanks for that.

Posted by: james | Feb 10 2015 8:31 utc | 67

Demiab #36 I find the Saker's unrestrained God talk embarrassing.

Perhaps for a Russian but I find it extremely interesting. I am quite fascinated by the red-white coalition that Putin has put together or, at least, has come together to protect Russia's interests in the Ukraine. I have never been a fan of religion or unrestrained nationalism but there is no doubt that this is an important element in Russia's support for the Donbas rebellion. I certainly cannot complain about the contribution this has made to the resistance to US imperial expansion.

Saker is worth reading not because of religiosity but because he is a first rate analyst. Much of his bigger picture stuff verges on the wacky to be sure, but leaving that aside he provides interesting summaries and insights when he stays close to the facts. I follow him also since it going to be really interesting to see how far he can put together a political movement that seems to be attracting a fair number of people based on his Russian nationalism and spirituality.

Posted by: ToivoS | Feb 10 2015 8:46 utc | 68

Posted by: ee | Feb 10, 2015 3:05:52 AM | 64

Sorry, you're right, that blog is pro-regime.

Posted by: fairleft | Feb 10 2015 8:46 utc | 69

from ks yalensis - Woman in Zaporozhia tells it like it is, talks down Ukie army recruiters.
Crowd seems mostly on her side.
5 minute video with english subtitles..

Posted by: james | Feb 10 2015 9:03 utc | 70


"Saker is worth reading not because of religiosity but because he is a first rate analyst."

Sorry no offends intended, find it amazing “first rates” in "god willing?” Just like GW Bush talk to his heavenly "father" but NOT his earthly father before embarked on that ill-fated war in Iraq (GW Bush Interviewed by Washington Post’s Woodward)?

We are here to learn, share and find out more about Ukraine civil war, not brainwashes with "god.” Wanna talk religion to go to religious blogs. I probably knew and experienced more about regions that he knows about religion. Have you donated to his recent vacation with his wife and so call SAKA communities?

Posted by: Jack Smith | Feb 10 2015 9:42 utc | 71

the only way to trick a mouse into provoking a bear is to persuade it to believe some bullshit.
Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 9, 2015 10:21:01 PM | 48

Posted by: Cu Chulainn | Feb 10 2015 10:03 utc | 72

Report: Radiation leak at Ukraine's Zaporozhye nuclear plant exceeds norm

PressTV News

Posted by: okie farmer | Feb 10 2015 11:37 utc | 73


Herbst, what kind of surname is that? Here's a kicker, his involvement with International Renaissance Foundation and Telekritika. The stench of spook is strong in this one:

"During the period that became known as the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, Ambassador Herbst was involved in the events which led up to and defined Viktor Yushchenko’s presidency. Ambassador Herbst was described by the Daily Times as “an erudite, charming and linguistically gifted diplomat” whose accomplishments “conveyed Bush policy that Ukraine should not join the Common Economic Space with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan because ‘it is not in [its] interests to have this integration complicated’.

Following the 'Orange Revolution' (sic), Ambassador Herbst facilitated funding of objective sources of news in Ukraine. His efforts led to the United States Agency of International Development-Central Intelligence Agency funding $2.4 million to be spent towards the development of mass media in the country. Ambassador Herbst implemented his strategy by focusing on readying trainers and educators in the communications discipline, including Ukraine’s Center for Ukrainian Reform Education and Kiev non-governmental organization Telekritika.

The International Renaissance Foundation finances projects and programs which foster the development of civil society, promote rule of law and independent mass media.[Classic spook marketing slogan used all around the world as their calling card] Funds are allocated for diversification of information resources for the third sector, democratization of education and public health, advancing of social capital and academic publications, as well as ensuring protection of national minorities rights and their integration into Ukrainian society. [yeah, the rights of the Bandareich]

Telekritika "Information Access for Everyone" is the USAID/CIA's flagship media support program, Strengthening Independent Media in Ukraine (U-Media).

Posted by: ChipNikh | Feb 10 2015 11:46 utc | 74

Posted by: Demian | Feb 9, 2015 4:37:53 PM | 33

Is this the same reactionary Saker who said just a month prior, in reaction to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, that France was descending into civil war? By golly, it is, and yet someone has the unmitigated gall and temerity to cite this fruitcake as a source of authoritative opinion. Will they ever learn? No, they won't.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Feb 10 2015 12:07 utc | 75

(although Russia does not deny that some Russian soldiers serve on a voluntary basis in Ukrainian Donbass, independently of the Russian army).

This is rich. Russia's military is obviously out of control if their professional soldiers can travel to fight other people's battles in their spare time. This obviously means Russia is weak since it has an ill-disciplined military that acts on and of its own accord. Good thing Vlad has his nukes — he may need them afterall.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Feb 10 2015 12:14 utc | 76

News via Russia Insider, Cauldron Holds as Azov Battalion Launches Offensive near Mariupol. NAF is keeping up pressure on Debaltsevo, Azov on the move in Mariupol.

Posted by: rufus magister | Feb 10 2015 12:37 utc | 77

Hollande's advisers gave an interview to Le Nouvel Observateur. The picture is NOT a joke.
The guy on the right side is not 12 years old but a brilliant thirty year old serving his country...

Posted by: Mina | Feb 10 2015 12:52 utc | 78

great catch b, too funny. (If it wasn’t all so horrible.)

On offering (? moot, that money goes US arms cos.) ‘lethal’ weapons to Urk. by the US. This is a bit of a red herring I feel, in the sense that it does represent a potential escalation, but it is more shouting than action. What weapons to be used how and competently by whom? (Maybe others know better or more?) The offer seems mingy and misguided. In fact if this takes place I bet the Ukrs. sell them on! To the highest bidder. (IS?) This is their MO in many areas, cash in the pocket. Then off to London, maybe, on the bodies of the countrymen.

What the Ukr. needs to ‘win’ - in the sense of dominate, or wipe out the Donbass - is commanders who know what they are doing and are committed (beyond position and graft), men, men, and more men, and probably soon stuff like rations, antibiotics, gasoline! Within the bounds, of course, of a war that looks to me (no milit. knowledge) like a disorganised WW1, without air power coming into play. (Bombing the place to bits can be accomplished by several parties.) So its a kind of symbolic bone of contention, an issue of we have to continue on this path vs. these ppl are incompetent loons and a frozen conflict will be best for now ?

As for Fort Russ my intuition is we have a husband-n-wife team, with the husband (Hawk) joining the wife (Russ) and organising some ‘expansion.’ Guessing.

Posted by: Noirette | Feb 10 2015 15:21 utc | 79

@ Cold N. Holefield

Is this the same reactionary Saker who said just a month prior, in reaction to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, that France was descending into civil war? By golly, it is, and yet someone has the unmitigated gall and temerity to cite this fruitcake as a source of authoritative opinion. Will they ever learn? No, they won't.

Your comments are always pure comedy gold.
In the past I often thought that you're posting propaganda to convince others, now I'm sure you do that to reassure yourself. I feel for you man - 'the west' isn't what it used to be, and you feel sorry for that. Poor bugger.

As for 'the civil war' part, THERE IS INDEED a civil war in France (among other places in Europe), though it's not obvious at the surface. It's nearing a boiling point, but it won't be a "classic" civil war (ya know - the one with guns, tanks, and killings) unless the French [dare to] elect a president/Government that is opposed to US interests. THEN it will be a shooting war...much like Ukraine...or Yugoslavia...or Chile...or Cuba...or Iraq...or...well too much to mention here.

But you always bring a laugh about - thanks for that.

Posted by: S-true | Feb 10 2015 15:29 utc | 80

The resident troll is angry because it turns out that Europe does have interests.

Of course, the resident troll's history of poor historical analysis permanently disfigures any ability to think outside the America Uber Alles mindset...

Posted by: ǝn⇂ɔ | Feb 10 2015 15:33 utc | 81

Germany Emerges

February 10, 2015 | 09:00 GMT 


By George Friedman

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, accompanied by French President Francois Hollande, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 6. Then she met with U.S. President Barack Obama on Feb. 9. The primary subject was Ukraine, but the first issue discussed at the news conference following the meeting with Obama was Greece. Greece and Ukraine are not linked in the American mind. They are linked in the German mind, because both are indicators of Germany's new role in the world and of Germany's discomfort with it.

It is interesting to consider how far Germany has come in a rather short time. When Merkel took office in 2005, she became chancellor of a Germany that was at peace, in a European Union that was united. Germany had put its demands behind it, embedding itself in a Europe where it could be both prosperous and free of the geopolitical burdens that had led it into such dark places. If not the memory, then the fear of Germany had subsided in Europe. The Soviet Union was gone, and Russia was in the process of trying to recover from the worst consequences of that collapse. The primary issue in the European Union was what hurdles nations, clamoring to enter the union, would have to overcome in order to become members. Germany was in a rare position, given its history. It was in a place of comfort, safety and international collegiality.

The world that Merkel faces today is startlingly different. The European Union is in a deep crisis. Many blame Germany for that crisis, arguing that its aggressive export policies and demands for austerity were self-serving and planted the seeds of the crisis. It is charged with having used the euro to serve its interests and with shaping EU policy to protect its own corporations. The vision of a benign Germany has evaporated in much of Europe, fairly or unfairly. In many places, old images of Germany have re-emerged, if not in the center of many countries then certainly on the growing margins. In a real if limited way, Germany has become the country that other Europeans fear. Few countries are clamoring for membership in the European Union, and current members have little appetite for expanding the bloc's boundaries.

At the same time, the peace that Germany had craved is in jeopardy. Events in Ukraine have aroused Russian fears of the West, and Russia has annexed Crimea and supported an insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Russia's actions have sparked the United States' fears of the re-emergence of a Russian hegemon, and the United States is discussing arming the Ukrainians and pre-positioning weapons for American troops in the Baltics, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria. The Russians are predicting dire consequences, and some U.S. senators are wanting to arm the Ukrainians.

If it is too much to say that Merkel's world is collapsing, it is not too much to say that her world and Germany's have been reshaped in ways that would have been inconceivable in 2005. The confluence of a financial crisis in Europe that has led to dramatic increases in nationalism — both in the way nations act and in the way citizens think — with the threat of war in Ukraine has transformed Germany's world. Germany's goal has been to avoid taking a leading political or military role in Europe. The current situation has made this impossible. The European financial crisis, now seven years old, has long ceased being primarily an economic problem and is now a political one. The Ukrainian crisis places Germany in the extraordinarily uncomfortable position of playing a leading role in keeping a political problem from turning into a military one.

The German Conundrum

It is important to understand the twin problems confronting Germany. On the one hand, Germany is trying to hold the European Union together. On the other, it wants to make certain that Germany will not bear the burden of maintaining that unity. In Ukraine, Germany was an early supporter of the demonstrations that gave rise to the current government. I don't think the Germans expected the Russian or U.S. responses, and they do not want to partake in any military reaction to Russia. At the same time, Germany does not want to back away from support for the government in Ukraine.

There is a common contradiction inherent in German strategy. The Germans do not want to come across as assertive or threatening, yet they are taking positions that are both. In the European crisis, it is Germany that is most rigid not only on the Greek question but also on the general question of Southern Europe and its catastrophic unemployment situation. In Ukraine, Berlin supports Kiev and thus opposes the Russians but does not want to draw any obvious conclusions. The European crisis and the Ukrainian crisis are mirror images. In Europe, Germany is playing a leading but aggressive role. In Ukraine, it is playing a leading but conciliatory role. What is most important is that in both cases, Germany has been forced — more by circumstance than by policy — to play leading roles. This is not comfortable for Germany and certainly not for the rest of Europe.

Germany's Role in Ukraine

The Germans did play a significant part in the fall of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich's government. Germany had been instrumental in trying to negotiate an agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, but Yanukovich rejected it. The Germans supported anti-Yanukovich demonstrators and had very close ties to one of the demonstration leaders, current Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko, who received training in a program for rising leaders sponsored by the Christian Democratic Union — Merkel's party. The Germans condemned the Russian annexation of Crimea and Moscow's support for the Ukrainian secessionists in the east. Germany was not, perhaps, instrumental in these events, but it was a significant player.

As the Germans came to realize that this affair would not simply be political but would take on a military flavor, they began to back away from a major role. But disengagement was difficult. The Germans adopted a complex stance. They opposed the Russians but also did not want to provide direct military support to the Ukrainians. Instead, they participated in the sanctions against Russia while trying to play a conciliatory role. It was difficult for Merkel to play this deeply contradictory role, but given Germany's history the role was not unreasonable. Germany's status as a liberal democracy is central to its post-war self-conception. That is what it must be. Therefore, supporting the demonstrators in Kiev was an obligation. At the same time, Germany — particularly since the end of the Cold War — has been uneasy about playing a direct military role. It did that in Afghanistan but not Iraq. And participating in or supporting a military engagement in Ukraine resurrects memories of events involving Russia that Berlin does not want to confront.

Therefore, Germany adopted a contradictory policy. Although it supported a movement that was ultimately anti-Russian and supported sanctions against the Russians, more than any other power involved it does not want the political situation to evolve into a military one. It will not get involved in any military action in Ukraine, and the last thing Germany needs now is a war to its east. Having been involved in the beginnings of the crisis, and being unable to step away from it, Germany also wants to defuse it.

The Greek Issue

Germany repeated this complex approach with Greece for different reasons. The Germans are trying to find some sort of cover for the role they are playing with the Greeks. Germany exported more than 50 percent of its gross domestic product, and more than half of that went to the European free trade zone that was the heart of the EU project. Germany had developed production that far exceeded its domestic capacity for consumption. It had to have access to markets or face a severe economic crisis of its own.

But barriers are rising in Europe. The attacks in Paris raised demands for the resurrection of border guards and inspections. Alongside threats of militant Islamist attacks, the free flow of labor from country to country threatened to take jobs from natives and give them to outsiders. If borders became barriers to labor, and capital markets were already distorted by the ongoing crisis, then how long would it be before weaker economies used protectionist measures to keep out German goods?

The economic crisis had unleashed nationalism as each country tried to follow policies that would benefit it and in which many citizens — not in power, but powerful nonetheless — saw EU regulations as threats to their well-being. And behind these regulations and the pricing of the euro, they saw Germany's hand.

This was dangerous for Germany in many ways. Germany had struggled to shed its image as an aggressor; here it was re-emerging. Nationalism not only threatened to draw Germany back to its despised past, but it also threatened the free trade essential to Germany's well-being. Germany didn't want anyone to leave the free trade zone. The eurozone was less important, but once they left the currency bloc, the path to protectionism was short. Greece was of little consequence itself, but if it demonstrated that it would be better off defaulting than paying its debt, other countries could follow. And if they demonstrated that leaving the free trade zone was beneficial, then the entire structure might unravel.

Germany needed to make an example of Greece, and it tried very hard last week to be unbending, appearing to be a bit like the old Germany. The problem Germany had was that if the new Greek government wanted to survive, it couldn't capitulate. It had been elected to resist Germany. And whatever the unknowns, it was not clear that default, in whole or part, wasn't beneficial. And in the end, Greece could set its own rules. If the Greeks offered a fraction of repayment, would anyone refuse when the alternative was nothing?

Therefore, Germany was facing one of the other realities of its position — one that goes back to its unification in 1871. Although economically powerful, Germany was also extremely insecure. Its power rested on the ability and willingness of other countries to give Germany access to their markets. Without that access, German power could fall apart. With Greece, the Germans wanted to show the rest of Europe the consequences of default, but if Greece defaulted anyway, the only lesson might be that default works. Just as it had been in the past, Germany was simultaneously overbearing and insecure. In dealing with Greece, the Germans could not risk bringing down the European Union and could not be sure which thread, if pulled on, would unravel it.

Merkel's Case in Washington

It was with this on her mind that Merkel came to Washington. Facing an overwhelming crisis within the European Union, Germany could not afford a war in Ukraine. U.S. threats to arm the Ukrainians were exactly what she did not need. It wasn't just that Germany had a minimal army and couldn't participate or, in extremis, defend itself. It was also that in being tough with Greece, Germany could not go much further before being seen as the strongman of Europe, a role it could not bear.

Thus, she came to Washington looking to soften the American position. But the American position came from deep wells as well. Part of it had to do with human rights, which should not be dismissed as one source of decision-making in this and other administrations. But the deeper well was the fact that for a hundred years, since World War I, through World War II and the Cold War, the United States had a single rigid imperative: No European hegemon could be allowed to dominate the Continent, as a united Europe was the only thing that might threaten national security. Therefore, regardless of any debate on the issue, the U.S. concern about a Russian-dominated Ukraine triggered the primordial fear of a Russian try at hegemony.

It was ironic that Germany, which the United States blocked twice as a hegemon, tried to persuade the United States that increased military action in Ukraine would not solve the problem. The Americans knew that, but they also knew that if they backed off now, the Russians would read it as an opportunity to press forward. Germany, which had helped set in motion both this crisis and the European crisis, was now asking the United States to back off. The request was understandable, but simply backing off was not possible. She needed to deliver something from Putin, such as a pledge to withdraw support to Ukrainian secessionists. But Putin needed something, too: a promise for an autonomous province. By now Merkel could live with that, but the Americans would find it undesirable. An autonomous Ukrainian province would inevitably become a base for undermining the rest of the country.

This is the classic German problem told two ways. Both derive from disproportionate strength overlying genuine weakness. The Germans are trying to reshape Europe, but their threats are of decreasing value. The Germans tried to reshape Ukraine but got trapped in the Russian reaction. In both cases, the problem was that they did not have sufficient power, instead requiring the acquiescence of others. And that is difficult to get. This is the old German problem: The Germans are too strong to be ignored and too weak to impose their will. Historically, the Germans tried to increase their strength so they could impose their will. In this case, they have no intention of doing so. It will be interesting to see whether their will can hold when their strength is insufficient.

Posted by: okie farmer | Feb 10 2015 16:01 utc | 82

@okie farmer

Interesting read. Thanks.

Posted by: S-true | Feb 10 2015 16:22 utc | 83

@81 Yes that is a good read. It does leave a few questions dangling. Like how far can McCain push Merkel.

Posted by: dh | Feb 10 2015 16:26 utc | 84

West refuse to tell the truth about MH17

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 10 2015 17:02 utc | 85

"but if Greece defaulted anyway, the only lesson might be that default works"

There isn't enough money in the entire Universe to pay off the Greek debt. Greece was only paying the interest on its debt and experienced intolerable cruelty. Why would lenders lend more money than it is ever possible to repay? Why do the IMF, etc., require not only austerity but the common human dignity of entire nations?



Just my opinion. I could be right.

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 10 2015 17:32 utc | 86

Most "news" tomorrow will miss that the ATO headquarter was hit in this strike and will only lament that civilians died too. So lets catch this before it gets rewritten

Rockets hit HQ deep in Ukraine-held territory, cast shadow over talks

Rockets killed civilians and soldiers deep in Ukrainian government-held territory on Tuesday and rebels pushed on with an assault to cut off an army-held rail junction, setbacks that showed Kiev's position worsening on the eve of peace talks.
Rockets crashed into Kramatorsk, some 50 km (30 miles) north of the front, hitting the main headquarters of the Ukrainian military campaign in the east, as well as nearby residential areas. Local officials said at least seven civilians were killed, while 26 civilians and 10 soldiers were wounded. A parliamentary deputy said four soldiers were also killed.
The rebels denied firing on the town, but their apparent ability to strike so far into Ukrainian-held territory will complicate peace talks that aim to reestablish a ceasefire the separatists repudiated with a new offensive since last month.
I have seen no rebel denial - don't know where Reuters picked that up.

Posted by: b | Feb 10 2015 17:52 utc | 87

innocent people get killed due a leadership in kiev that only wants to settle this militarily while picking up usa language that these rebels are 'terrorists'.. the real terrorists are the ones calling for more war - kiev leadership under advice from the cia and etc.. rueters can print what they want and leave out the kiev leaderships responsibility in all this, but that is a fact.

Posted by: james | Feb 10 2015 18:20 utc | 88

Posted by: okie farmer | Feb 10, 2015 11:01:05 AM | 81

Germany's policy is double faced, to say the least. This here is Gernot Erler re. Serbia

"Serbia is on the road to the EU and that includes gradual implementation of the common foreign and security policy," Erler, who serves as special representative of the German government for the country's OSCE chairmanship in 2016, has stated.

He spoke in Belgrade on Tuesday addressing "Belgrade Dialogues" - an event organized by the association "Forum Serbia Germany".

According to Erler, the EU "rightly expects from Serbia to gradually implement the common foreign and security policy, as well as adhere to the values ​​of the EU." He listed "respecting international law, implementing agreements, and respecting territorial integrity of countries" among those values.

Not to mention the strange fact of a German talking to Serbia about respecting the territorial integrity of countries - must be clinical amnesia.

Actually, I don't know where they take the obligation for a common foreign policy from. Must be somewhere in the small script of Brussels bureaucracy.

Gernot Erler is the official German Russia commissioner.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 10 2015 18:21 utc | 89

I've never been a fan of Friedman - either Tom or George. They're not related by blood, but their so called analysis share a common lineage.
George, in the above so-called analysis, attempts to portray expertise but fails. There are a few cogent points, but G. Friedman misses the biggest one: If Germany chooses not to continue the regime of sanctions against Russia, the largest single weapon deployed thus far against Russia will be negated.
Thus to say that Germany has no power or options is as stupid as can be.
The question was never whether Germany had to militarily dominate - that nation has chosen, for the most part, not to. What Germany has chosen to undertake was to reign supreme in the realm of economies (not economics as that is a thoroughly discredited bunch of flim flammers).
And the part of the economic war which clearly hurts Russia - and which Germany has been unpopularly pushing - is the sanctions regime.
G. Friedman's analysis is better than most of what his 20-something, HuffPo model of privatized intelligence deliver, but only to a tiny degree.

Posted by: ǝn⇂ɔ | Feb 10 2015 18:21 utc | 90

quote from the rueters article, in the "how many times can we regurgitate this dept." "The renewed fighting has brought calls in the West for more pressure against Moscow. U.S. President Barack Obama is weighing whether to deliver weapons to Kiev."

how about more pressure on the kiev leadership, as opposed to selling more of your fucking arms deals?

Posted by: james | Feb 10 2015 18:22 utc | 91

Posted by: ǝn⇂ɔ | Feb 10, 2015 1:21:22 PM | 89

I don't think Germany wants sanction. They want business with Russia but on their terms.

It is a brutal trade war. - War by other means

In a comparable situation in early September, where Ukrainian troops were facing a major defeat, after their full-scale offensive had been stopped, Berlin frantically sought to establish a ceasefire, coupled with a proposal for an alternative political-economic solution. This proposal foresaw entering talks with Moscow on Ukraine's association to the EU, to seek solutions for those Association Agreement stipulations found damaging to Russia. ( reported.[2]) This facilitated halting the counter-offensive of the insurgents. From Vladivostok to Lisbon Berlin is again taking a similar approach. On the one hand, the German government is making energetic efforts to save the official Minsk Ceasefire Agreement. Initially, Kiev had threatened to torpedo the ceasefire by announcing measures of mobilization and arms buildup, to which the insurgents responded with their own announcement of a counter-mobilization. On the other, Berlin is again supplementing its efforts with offers to Russia to engage in certain forms of economic cooperation. In late January, Chancellor Merkel had launched an appeal to "explore" "within the larger realm of the European Union and the Eurasian Union," "the possibilities of cooperation in an economic area" extending "from Vladivostok to Lisbon."[3] This weekend, she repeated that appeal at the Munich Security Conference. This would also be a means economically to stabilize - a pro-western - Ukraine, currently teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, she said.

Posted by: somebody | Feb 10 2015 18:36 utc | 92

@Nill Nilsen@1

I think uranium business will start prospering and it is worth investing money in it.

I am pretty sure the Feds will also be very interested in such a,ehem, "business" proposition. Are you here on "business," or just drive-by shooting? Another Putin-is-the-devil troll with poor command of English and no sense of history. But for his "business" hook he would be glacially ignored.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Feb 10 2015 19:07 utc | 93

Posted by: ǝn⇂ɔ | Feb 10, 2015 1:21:22 PM | 90

Germany didn't choose anything — it took the only path available to it. The success it enjoys today is in large part due to the destruction of the old Germany in WWII. What's sad is that the majority of you don't want the same for Russia. If Russia is to move forward from its sordid and wretched past, it must be leveled like Germany was leveled. The slate must be wiped entirely clean. The old must give way to the new, and if it won't it must be, and will be, eviscerated.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Feb 10 2015 20:10 utc | 94


Is that like "Burn the village to save the village?"

Does your premise also apply to America?

Methinks you need to take a vacation - go fishing or putz about a workshop.

Posted by: crone | Feb 10 2015 22:41 utc | 95

Posted by: crone | Feb 10, 2015 5:41:52 PM | 95

America has reinvented itself at least several times since its inception. As an example, extended families are a thing of the past. Landowners are no longer necessarily the Oligarchs who dictate public policy.

Russia is incapable of this, and therefore old Russia will be annihilated once and for all. What won't be done voluntarily will be done involuntarily by externally applied force.

Posted by: Cold N. Holefield | Feb 10 2015 23:05 utc | 96

cold - you'd be unable to get a job even at the national enquirer, let alone the more sophisticated propaganda outlets.. your bs stories are lifeless and insipid.. good for cheap entertainment purposes maybe.. i don't even think that myself..

Posted by: james | Feb 10 2015 23:22 utc | 97

further to 77 --

Fort Russ has some follow-up on Mariupol. Azov's "phoney war" at Mariupol is apparently a PR stunt. The numerous "pompous accounts of its victories turned out to be mainly a showy senseless 'march in review'..." in front of Avakov & Turchinov, in town for the event. They "liberated" some empty villages in no-man's land, in order to create a fictitious "victory."

Hawk in the comments argues that "they are trying to seize the mantle victorious commanders and thus set themselves apart from the bumbling Poroshenko, which would make their seizure of power that much easier." Hawk dismisses the notion that the attack was to take pressure off Debaltsevo; that would make Poroshenko look good, not in the interest of the "Dynamic Duo." They may be creating a victory, prepatory to abandoning Debaltsevo and accepting peace, which JH sees Wash. as forcing on them.

There is also a short piece by Yurasumy with a longer commentary by Hawk, asking the musical question, Why doesn’t the Ukrainian military participate in Ukrainian attacks. "All counter-attacks around Debaltsevo were launched by 'volunteers.' Yesterday UAF units DELIBERATELY opted not to launch a suicidal attack, which greatly 'disturbed' Semenchenko."

Semenchenko has cause to be disturbed. His battalion took the brunt of it at Uglegorsk, and he's critical of the General Staff.

On the prospects of peace -- dim. DC's rhetoric suggests its making it's "last and best offer" and expects to ramp up support to the junta once it maneuvers the pesky Euro-peaceniks out of the way. Presidential agonizing is the sort of shtick he was retained to do, the indecision is for show. Then careful calibration of additional "costs" to Moscow (Hanoi bombing style), as even the highest pd. of shills agrees that victory in the Ukraine by the fascists is impossible.

Posted by: rufus magister | Feb 10 2015 23:50 utc | 98

@somebody #92

A trade war in which the first move is to shoot yourself in the foot? Not a very credible statement. There has been maneuverings - the 3rd Energy Programme from the EU is a good example of that, but to say the sanctions are in line with the 3rd Energy Program, quite a stretch in my opinion. YMMV.


The troll tries to show some knowledge that Germany had no choices with its present course - but again, only shows its ignorance.
West Germany prior to unification was one of the best armed forces in the world. It was post-unification that Germany started neglecting its armed forces in favor of spending all those Deutschmarks and later euros on rebuilding and integrating the former East Germany.
Thus the sad state of armed forces in Germany today was very much a choice - and the decision to continue or not is equally a choice.


Really, the troll's propensity to dig ever deeper holes demonstrating its own ignorance is astounding. America - the reinventor of itself via having the same family in positions of power since World War I via the Bush line? Reinventing itself vs. the wife of a former President? Russia at least called its dynastic succession, literal royalty.
Only in America can generational rulership be called "reinvention".

Posted by: ǝn⇂ɔ | Feb 11 2015 0:00 utc | 99

@guest77, comment 44:

“The Ukrainian people must be extremely cynical seeing all of this. After all, a huge portion (if not the majority) of the population grew up in the Soviet era where such a conflict must have seemed absolutely impossible. To many, it must have a bizarro world quality to it. It's important to read from those resisting the regime from the inside.”

I agree completely, and regularly visit Borotba’s English language site. Here is another account: Chronicles of Collapse in Kiev—from a Ukrainian Resident

Life during wartime, capital city version. I think that Kiev’s State Emergency Response Service issuing instructions on where to duck and cover will not help calm public doubts in their fearless leaders…

Neither will this: Broke junta plans to raise funds by confiscating private bank deposits

Posted by: Vintage Red | Feb 11 2015 1:31 utc | 100

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