Are the peace talks about peace, or saving face?
This article originally appeared at Red Star Over Donbass
Early February saw a flurry of diplomatic visits from the West and panicky negotiations by European Union leaders with Kiev and Moscow to reach a ceasefire in the war between Ukraine and the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, also called Novorossiya.
On February 9, German Chancellor Angela Merkel flew to Washington and met with President Barack Obama to discuss U.S. plans – which seem increasingly likely – to openly arm the Ukrainian coup regime of oligarchs, neoliberal politicians and neo-Nazis installed with Washington’s help one year ago.
This followed whirlwind visits by Merkel and French President Francois Hollande to Kiev and Moscow. The leaders of the two European economic powerhouses met face-to-face with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin for five hours on Friday night, February 6, to present a ceasefire proposal.
The meeting, held with no other diplomats or media present, led to speculation that the EU bosses wanted to speak frankly with Putin about their fears of the U.S. pushing Europe into war with Russia. It’s also widely understood that the EU is being economically hurt by sanctions on Russia, imposed at Washington’s insistence.
French media reported that Hollande and Merkel undertook the trip without consulting Washington – a highly unusual step given the EU’s junior-imperialist status. Other reports suggested that they had the support of a section of the Obama administration which shares their concern that the West may lose more than it stands to gain from the escalating war. (RT.com, Feb. 6)
The Hollande-Merkel proposal is to be the focus of reconvened negotiations in Minsk on February 11.
A high-ranking source in German intelligence told the newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung February 8 that the real death toll is nearly 50,000, including civilians and troops – that is, almost 10 times the “official” UN figure routinely reported by the media.
However, the sudden interest in a ceasefire by the leaders of Germany and France – and, perhaps, a section of the U.S. administration – has little to do with mounting civilian causalities in the besieged Donbass region. Rather, it is prompted by the Novorossiyan militia’s successful encirclement of an estimated 6,000 to 7,500 Ukrainian troops in the region of Debaltsevo, in northern Donetsk and southern Lugansk.