By Pepe Escobar, posted with the author’s permission and cross-posted to other sites
(Written this morning in Istanbul, BEFORE Putin buried the Minsk agreements. Everything else – and beyond – stands.)
History will register that the birth of the baby twins – Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics – only a few hours before 2/22/22, was simultaneous to the birth of the real, 21st century multipolar world.
As my columns have stressed for a few years now, Vladimir Putin has been carefully nurturing his inner Sun Tzu. And now it’s all in the open: “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
The thunderbolt was months in the process of being meticulously polished. To paraphrase Lenin, who “created Ukraine” (copyright Putin), we did live many decades in only these past few days. It all started with the detailed demands of security guarantees sent to the Americans, which Moscow knew would be rejected. Then there was the Russia-China joint statement at the start of the Winter Olympics – which codifies not only the strategic partnership but also the key tenets of the multipolar world.
The culmination was a stunning, nearly one hour-long address to the nation by Putin shortly after the Russian Security Council live session deliberating on the request for independence by the DPR and the LPR (here is a condensed version.)
A few hours later, at an emergency UN Security Council meeting, Russian Permanent Representative Vasily Nebenzya precisely outlined why the recognition of the baby twins does not bury the Minsk agreements.
The baby twins actually declared their independence in May 2014. In 2015 they signed the Minsk agreements as one of the interested parties. Theoretically they could even be back within Ukraine if Kiev would ever decide to respect the agreements, which will never happen because the US has vetoed it since 2015. Moreover, the people of Donbass do not want to be subjected to a regime harboring neo-Nazis.
As Nebenzya outlined, “I would like to remind you that at the time of the conclusion of the Minsk agreements, the LPR and DPR had already declared independence. The fact that Russia today recognized it does not change the composition of the parties to the Minsk agreements, since Russia is not one (…) Another thing is that the Minsk agreements have long been openly sabotaged by Ukraine under the auspices of our Western colleagues. Now we see that many colleagues want to sign that the Minsk agreements are dead. But this is not the case (…) We are still open to diplomacy, but we do not intend to allow a new bloody massacre in the Donbass.”
And here’s the clincher, directly addressing imperial support for the killing of ethnic Russians in Donbass: “The main task of our decision [on recognizing independence] was to preserve and protect these lives. This is more important than all your threats.”
There you go: Responsibility to Protect (R2P), a concept invented by the Americans to launch wars, used by Russia for preventing one.
That certified nullity, German chancellor Scholz, deriding Putin’s characterization of a genocide in Donbass as “laughable”, was a decisive factor in the birth of the baby wins. Putin, in his address to the nation, especially took time to detail the Odessa massacre: “We cannot but shudder when we remember about the situation in Odessa, when people were burned alive (…) And those criminals who did this, they are not punished (…) But we know their names, and we will do everything to punish them (…) and to bring them to justice.”
What about China?
Geopolitically, in Eurasian terms, two huge questions stand out: the role of the CSTO and the response from China.
If we look at the Article 19, Chapter VI of the CSTO charter, we learn that, “any state sharing the goals and principles of the Organization and being ready to undertake the obligations containing in this Charter and other international treaties and resolutions effective within the framework of the Organization may become a member of the Organization.”
That would open the door for the baby twins, as soon as they have finalized all the bureaucratic endeavors pertaining to new, independent nations, to request CSTO membership. Incidentally, CSTO secretary-general Pashinian has already gone to Moscow to discuss it.
China is a way more complex proposition. One of the key tenets of Beijing’s foreign policy is the fight against separatism – embedded in the foundation of the SCO. So Beijing cannot possibly recognize the baby twins, or what would amount to Novorossiya – yes, Putin did pronounce the magic word – before Kiev itself does or, a serious possibility, completely disintegrates.
The Foreign Ministry so far has been extremely cautious. Wang Yi has reiterated “China’s long-standing position that the legitimate security concerns of all countries must be respected, and the purposes & principles of the UN Charter must be upheld.”
Further on down the road, presumably after some serious exchanges between Wang Yi and Lavrov, China can always find myriad ways to unofficially help the baby twins – including advancing BRI-related connectivity and sustainable development projects.
As for Kiev disintegration, that’s directly linked to Moscow demanding the immediate stop of the mini-blitzkrieg against Donbass, otherwise they will bear full responsibility. Yes, regime stalwarts will be hunted and punished – complete with a possible War Crimes Tribunal. No wonder all sorts of oligarchic/political rats, big and small, are scurrying away, to Lviv, Poland and the UK.
The Munich effect
The intervention of all 12 members at the Security Council session, combined with Putin’s address to the nation was the stuff of gripping geopolitical drama. Putin’s body language and the look in his eyes testified to the immense gravity of the moment – and it all came to the forefront when he embarked in a concise history lesson spanning a century.
Barely containing his anger at the countless ways Russia has been vilified by the West, and taking no prisoners when referring to communism, what mostly stood out was the clear-cut rendition of the insurmountable antagonism between the Anglo-American islands and the civilizational Heartland – or the clash between maritime powers and land powers. That Eurasia classic was the bulk of his exposition: the recognition of the baby twins took less than three minutes.
The Munich Security Conference, this past weekend, had made it all so explicit. Munich, as terrifying as it was in terms of a congregation of headless chickens posing as eagles, at least confirmed everything is in the open.
The enemy is Russia. NATO infinite expansion – to outer space – is against Russia. And then we had a parade of add-on threats: no disarmament in Eastern Europe, cutting off the Russian economy from the EU, end of Nord Stream 2, Ukraine in NATO, world order built on “universal liberal values”.
Munich spelled out No Compromise Whatsoever – which was exactly what Putin, Lavrov, Patrushev and co. expected, the warmongering rhetoric burying any meaningful discussion of migration, inflation, cyber wars, the European energy crisis and, of course, the only thing that matters for the MICIMATT (military-industrial-congressional-intelligence-media-academia-think tank complex, as defined by Ray McGovern): let’s milk this Eurotrash lot for untold billions in new contracts, let’s isolate Russia, let’s destroy Nord Stream 2 to sell them our ultra expensive LNG, let’s keep them on a leash – forever.
So actually it’s not even war against Russia: the $30 trillion-indebted Empire with a woke military attached simply could not afford it. Not to mention the certified freak out in case they receive a phone call from Mr. Khinzal and Mr. Zircon : cue to the spectacular Russian display of “military and technical” superiority, hypersonic and otherwise – staged, irony of ironies, in synch with the circus in Munich.
What we have here is so lame: just a lowlife offer-you-can’t-refuse racket to be inflicted on the EU.
The Indivisible Security dance
The rabid Munich “No Compromise” show; the imperially-ordered Ukro crypto-blitzkrieg against Donbass; and the role of the US Lack of Intelligence Community – an Andrei Martyanov-coined howler – altogether sealed the deal for the Security Council deliberations and Putin’s decision.
Considering the ideological stupidity of the current Brussels gang – Stoltenberg, von der Leyen, Borrell –, incapable of understanding even basic economics, the fact remains that the EU without Russian energy is doomed. Martyanov stresses the algorithm: Russia can afford the break up with Europe. Europe cannot. The US just wants to collect. And we’re not even talking about the dire, incoming ramifications of the systemic crisis across NATOstan.
Even as Moscow plays a very long, calculated game, as it stands that does not necessarily mean that Russia will be “winning” the baby twins while “losing” Europe. Russia’s strategic swing repeatedly baffles the Atlanticist combo. The US lack of intelligence community was predicting a Russian “aggression” every other day – and still is. Instead they got the baby twins as the latest independent republics of the Global South.
Even before Munich, the Ukro crypto-blitzkrieg, and the recognition of the baby twins, Moscow had again warned it may respond with “military and technical measures” to ensure its own security after the US and NATO blatantly ignored key points from its proposal for a long-term European security architecture, and instead “cherry-picked” issues from a package deal.
Moscow will not let the Americans run away from the by now notorious 10-page Russian response. Putin, addressing the Stavka, had already warned “we are in a situation (…) where we are forced to resolve it.” Which bring us to what John Helmer niftly qualified as Russia’s black box defense. The beauty is no one knows what’s inside the black box.
Enter, once again, the “military-technical measures” that will be “reciprocal” (Putin) to what US and NATOstan are already deploying against Russia. They won’t necessarily be implemented in the Black Sea, the Sea of Azov, in the airspace above Donbass, even in cyberspace. It could be anywhere – from the Syrian theater to Latin America.
Surprise! That’s what strategic ambivalence, ambiguity, or – let’s get down to the rhythm – swing is all about. You don’t believe in the principle of indivisible security? Fine. Now we dictate the security rhythm. You’re not gonna stop deploying nuclear weapons outside your territory? Fine. Here’s some reciprocity. You’re not gonna accept legally binding guarantees of our security? Fine. Meet our “military-technical” measures.
Now dance, suckers.