What are the purposes behind the Minsk Agreements? What war is it about and when did it start in Ukraine? What is the 26 September attack on the Nord Stream pipeline evidence of?

By Rafael Poch/ctxt

Minsk agreements, the peace negotiations of the first phase of the war

In successive statements, all the protagonists on the Western side of the so-called Minsk Agreements between Russia and Ukraine, mediated by Germany and France, have admitted that the aim was not to negotiate with Russia, but to gain time in order to strengthen Ukraine militarily.

The agreements, which no one respected, were signed in the so-called ‘Normandy format’, the negotiated formula for ending the Ukrainian war that began in the summer of 2014 as a mixture of civil war and foreign interventionism between the new pro-Western government in Kiev and the organised Ukrainian armed opposition in the Donbas.

Petro Poroshenko, former president of Ukraine:

“Our goal was, first of all, to stop the threat or at least delay the war: to secure eight years to restore economic growth and create a powerful armed forces.”

(He told German television Deutsche Welle and the Ukrainian unit of Radio Free Europe).

Angela Merkel, former German chancellor and guarantor of the agreements

The Minsk agreement of September 2014 was “an attempt to buy time”:

“Ukraine used that time for it to make itself stronger, as can be seen today. The Ukraine of 2014 and 2015 is not the Ukraine of today. In the battle of Debaltsevo in early 2015, Putin could have easily overwhelmed them and I doubt that NATO countries could do then what they are doing now to help Ukraine. “It was clear to all of us that the conflict was frozen and that the problem had not been solved, but it gave Ukraine valuable time”.

(Interview with Die Zeit, December 2022).

François Hollande, former French president and guarantor of the Minsk agreements

While Putin was advancing in the Donbas using pro-Russian separatists, “we induced him to accept the Normandy format and come to Minsk to negotiate”. “Angela Merkel is right: the Minsk agreements stopped the Russian offensive for a while. The important thing was how the West would take advantage of that breathing space to prevent any further Russian attempts.” “Since 2014 Ukraine has strengthened its military capabilities and in fact today its army is completely different from that of 2014; better trained, better equipped…, it is to the credit of the Minsk agreements that they gave that opportunity to the Ukrainian army.”

(Interview with the Kyiv Independent, December 2022).

Vladimir Zelensky, President of Ukraine

The Minsk agreements were an unacceptable ‘concession’. Zelenski recalls telling French President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Merkel that “we cannot implement them”. “Deception for a good cause is perfectly fine.” Zelenski said he made it appear he supported the Minsk agreements to negotiate a prisoner swap with Russia and give his country more time to prepare for war.

(Interview with Der Spiegel, 9 February 2023).

What war is it about and when did it start?

We are not dealing with one war, but with several. There is a Russian war against Ukraine, open since the invasion of February 2022. There have been elements of civil war among Ukrainians since the spring of 2014, without which the Russian invasion would have been very difficult, if not impossible. There is a war between NATO and Russia sponsored by the United States with its expansionist pressure to the East since the Cold War ended 30 years ago. And there is a pre-warming of a great global war with China as the target, of which the war in Ukraine is a prolegomenon. This multiple dimension of the war explains many of its messiness and complexities, including the fact that the roles of David and Goliath, as well as the title of “imperial aggressor”, are interchangeable, depending on which war we are talking about. This is what emerges from the statements of some leading Western figures.

Leon Panetta, former CIA director in the Obama administration:

“We don’t say it’s a proxy war (against Russia), but that’s precisely what it’s about, and for that reason we have to supply (Ukraine) with as many weapons as we can.” [So-called proxy warfare refers to conflicts in which some major powers instigate or support the war launched by a third party to avoid direct involvement in the conflict].

(Interview with Bloomberg TV, 17 March 2022).

Charles Richard, head of Stratcom, one of America’s top military commanders:

“This Ukraine crisis we’re in now is just a warm-up. The big crisis is coming and it won’t be long before we are tested in ways we haven’t been tested in a long time.

(Address to the Naval Submarine League, according to the report published by the Pentagon, November 2022).

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission:

“The war in Ukraine is not just a European war, it is a war for the future of the world so Europe’s ambit can only be the whole world.”

(November 2022).

Annalena Baerbock, German Foreign Minister:

“We are waging a war against Russia.”

(25 January 2023, European Parliament).

Oleksii Resnikov, former Ukrainian defence minister:

“We are carrying out a NATO mission. Ukraine as a country – and its forces – is a NATO member, de facto, not de jure’.

(BBC interview, 13 January 2023).

Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General:

“The war did not start in February last year. The war started in 2014. And since 2014 NATO allies have supported Ukraine, with training and materiel, so that the Ukrainian armed forces were much stronger in 2022 than they were in 2020 or 2014.”

(Statement at the annual meeting of NATO defence ministers on 14 February 2023).

Richard Clarke, head of US Special Operations:

“What we did, starting in 2014, was create the conditions. When the Russians invaded in February, we had been working with Ukrainian special forces for seven years. With our assistance, they built the capacity, they grew in numbers, but more importantly in capability, both in assault fighting and in intelligence operations.”

(Interview with David Ignatius in The Washington Post, 28 August 2022).

The announced attack on Nord Stream pipelines

US hostility to the German-Russian energy link, a result of German social democracy’s Cold War policy of détente (Ostpolitik), has a forty-year history. The first major energy contract between Bonn and Moscow was signed in Essen on 22 November 1981. In March 2004, 23 years later, a former member of the US National Security Council, Thomas Reed, explained in his memoirs that in the summer of 1982 the CIA blew up the Soviet gas pipeline in Siberia that Moscow had begun to build to supply Germany with the agreed gas. In that operation, specific software supplied by Western industry to the USSR, which lacked a host of technologies, was activated, Reed explained. It is also known that at the time, the United States put strong but unsuccessful pressure on Chancellor Helmut Schmidt’s Bonn government not to sign the gas agreement with the USSR, threatening to withdraw troops from Germany and offering liquefied gas as an alternative. In other words, according to sources in the US national security establishment, last September’s attack on the Nord Stream pipeline has a 40-year history behind it and was not the first attack, but the second among the known attacks.

When last month journalist Seymour Hersh explained the details of how Washington attacked not its adversaries, which is commonplace and known around the world, but its own European allies, a resounding media silence accompanied Hersh’s sensational exclusive, which immediately went from “prestigious journalist” to “controversial” or “controversial” journalist. A number of commentators, including some on the “right-wing left”, were foolish to look at the finger instead of the moon at which he was pointing. The more cynical spoke of “mystery”. And German politicians, and Europeans in general, swallowed this attack as they swallowed in the past the revelations about the massive wiretapping of Chancellor Merkel and others revealed by Edward Snowden.

A whole army of disciplined establishment servants who in the past gleefully sold us Saddam Hussein’s WMD fraud and, more recently, have been bombarding us for four years with the legend of Kremlin interference in the US election in thousands of reports that have now been proven false, denounced “single sourcing” and “the absence of fact checking” in Hersh’s work. They ignored that even if Hersh’s report had been a fantasy from start to finish, which is manifestly unlikely, the situation surrounding this attack would still be where it is, i.e.: supported by a host of sources who first announced it, then applauded and celebrated it, and, finally, confirmed it by their silence and refusal to investigate anything related to it.

Here are a few samples:

The Rand Corporation, the Pentagon’s main think tank, published in 2019 a report commissioned by the military on how to stress and weaken Russia. As 40 years ago, energy cooperation between Berlin and Moscow was identified there as a source of influence and economic income for the adversary and the need to “disrupt” Nord Stream 2 was advocated as a “first step”. Then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned: ‘We will do everything we can to ensure that this pipeline does not threaten Europe’.

As tensions around Ukraine escalated, threatening statements against such infrastructure followed. Tom Cotton, a Republican senator from Arkansas, said in May 2021 that “it’s time to stop Nord Stream 2: let’s liquidate it and make it rust beneath the waves of the Baltics”. Eight months later, on 14 January 2022, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan declared: ‘We have made it clear to the Russians that if they go any further into Ukraine, the pipeline will be at risk’. A few days later, Senator Ted Cruz demanded: “This pipeline must be stopped and the only way to stop it from coming on line is to use every tool available to make it stop”. On 7 February, four days later after Cruz’s statement, President Biden appeared alongside Chancellor Olaf Scholz and made his famous promise: “If Russia invades Ukraine there will be no more Nord Stream 2, we will stop it”. When asked by a German journalist how this could be done as a German infrastructure, Biden replied: “I want to be very clear, if Russia invades one way or another Nord Stream 2 will not progress”.

On 26 September, the tubes burst, and former Polish Foreign and Defence Minister Radek Sikorski tweeted a thank-you tweet thanking the US for its service, accompanied by a picture of the great Baltic fizz: “Thank you USA! The next day, the leaders of Poland, Norway and Denmark took part in a ceremony to inaugurate the new Norway-Poland gas pipeline, intended to replace Russian gas supplies. “The destruction of Nord Stream 2 represents a tremendous opportunity to end dependence on Russian energy once and for all,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The tremendous opportunity included offering to supply liquefied gas from the United States, which is three to five times more expensive than Russian gas.

On 27 January, Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland told Senator Cruz on Capitol Hill: “Senator, like you, I, and I think the entire Administration, am very pleased that Nord Stream 2 is, as you say, a hunk of metal at the bottom of the sea”. The Swedes later launched an investigation into the attack, but refused to share their information about it with Germany and Denmark, as the results were “too sensitive”. In the Bundestag, a very comprehensive catalogue of parliamentary questions about which Russian and NATO ships were in the vicinity of the explosion site in the previous months, from which countries, etc., was answered by the German government saying that it was not possible to provide such information in the interests of “state wellbeing”.

To understand what is going on, nothing better than to listen to what all the sources quoted in this article tell us.

The original article can be found here