Russian efforts to broker peace in Syria and Ukraine are now in tatters, as Washington revs up its war rhetoric and throws caution to the wind. They want war, and they just might get it.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
It is now crystal clear that Washington and its client states have done everything in their power to sabotage the tentative peace settlement in Syria and provoke a fresh outbreak of fighting in East Ukraine.
Even the abstract concept of "talking" to the Russians is now considered an act of treason. Just ask Michael Flynn. When Tillerson had his first meeting with Lavrov in Bonn, he very anxiously shut out the press, in direct affront to normal protocol. No American official wants to be caught on camera talking with a Russian.
As a general observation, it's a very bad time to be alive if you're a Russian diplomat.
Here's the latest on the fragile Syria ceasefire and peace settlement: Western NGOs are working around the clock to discredit and demonize the Syrian government. Every few days we are now seeing new reports about Russian and Syrian atrocities, giving ammunition to "moderate rebels" and their delegations that will be used to self-righteously reject any peace settlement. The media is already waiting on the sidelines, ready to declare peace talks as an outrageous whitewash of Assad's "crimes".
We're not being dramatic. Here's a press release from Human Rights Watch about the upcoming talks in Geneva:
In light of the Syrian government’s repeated war crimes and widespread and systematic human rights violations, including the unlawful use of weapons, all states, including those involved in the negotiations, should make a commitment to stop transferring all arms, related equipment, and logistical support to the Syrian government until the abuses stop and responsible parties are held to account. States should also stop providing such support to armed opposition groups that have been found responsible for widespread or systematic human rights abuses or war crimes.
The US-led coalition should take fully into account that the Russia-Syria coalition has repeatedly committed war crimes under the guise of fighting terrorism, and that any cooperation with Russia in the fight against the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) in Syria should ensure that it is not complicit in such crimes.
Not even trying to hide their disdain for the truth.
Meanwhile, Russian military advisors are being killed in well-timed, well-executed bomb attacks — with no terrorist organization or militia taking credit.
On top of all this: the "rebel" delegation refuses to recognize Tehran as a third guarantor of the ceasefire. And fighting around the suburbs of Damascus now challenges the idea that there even is a ceasefire.
In Ukraine, things have gone from bad to worse: Fighting in Avdiyevka, close to the biggest rebel-held city of Donetsk, has flared up. At least a dozen civilians have been killed and scores wounded. Kiev is using the uptick in violence as proof of renewed "Russian aggression".
One fact Kiev has been less eager to advertise is that it is precisely the government side which is behind the recent escalation. Radio Free Europe (of all outlets) reports that recently the Ukrainians have gone on the offensive by infiltrating the "no man's land", usually under cover of the night, and setting up new positions almost hugging the rebel front line. This clear violation of the Minsk protocols is now being blamed on Russia by every western news outlet and government.
In a recent visit to Ukraine, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham told Ukrainian troops:
All of us will go back to Washington and we will push the case against Russia. Enough of a Russian aggression. It is time for them to pay a heavier price. Your fight is our fight, 2017 will be the year of offense.
Graham reaffirmed his commitment to war just yesterday, when he declared 2017 to be the year of "kicking Russia in the ass".
It's time to face the music: Donald Trump was not able to rein in the permanent war state. He is probably playing golf, right now, as the real powerbrokers in Washington prepare their next provocation.
As Pat Buchanan wrote yesterday:
The epidemic of Russophobia makes it almost impossible to pursue normal relations. Indeed, in reaction to the constant attacks on them as poodles of Putin, the White House seems to be toughening up toward Russia.
Thus we see U.S. troops headed for Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, NATO troops being sent into the Baltic States, and new tough rhetoric from the White House about Russia having to restore Crimea to Ukraine. We read of Russian spy ships off the coast, Russian planes buzzing U.S. warships in the Black Sea, Russians deploying missiles outlawed by the arms control agreement of 1987.
An Ohio-class U.S. sub just test-fired four Trident missiles, which carry thermonuclear warheads, off the Pacific coast.
Any hope of cutting a deal for a truce in east Ukraine, a lifting of sanctions, and bringing Russia back into Europe seems to be fading.
Where Russians saw hope with Trump’s election, they are now apparently yielding to disillusionment and despair.
The question arises: If not toward better relations with Russia, where are we going with this bellicosity?
Russia has tried every diplomatic means possible to find peaceful settlements to the conflicts that Washington has started. These efforts have been sabotaged.
And now Washington aims to make war with Russia inevitable. If it's not careful, it might just get what it wants.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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