by Pepe Escobar, posted with the Author’s permission and widely cross-posted

The fatal mistake committed by Brussels in 2014 was to force Kiev to make an impossible choice between Europe and Russia.

A specter haunts the collective West: total zombification, courtesy of an across-the-board 24/7 psy ops imprinting the inevitability of “Russian aggression”.

Let’s pierce the fog of hysteria by asking Ukrainian Defense Minister Reznikov what’s going on:

“I can absolutely say that to date, the Russian armed forces have not created a strike group that could make a forceful invasion of Ukraine.”

Well, Reznikov is obviously not aware that the White House, with access to arguably privileged intel, is convinced that Russia will invade “any-minute-now”.

The Pentagon doubles down: “It’s very clear the Russians have no intention right now of deescalating”. Thus the necessity, expressed by spokesman John Kirby, of readying a multinational NATO response force (NRF) of 40,000 troops: “If it is activated…to defeat aggression, if necessary”.

So “aggression” is a given. The White House is “refining” military plans – 18 at the last count – for all manners of “aggression”. As for responding – in writing – to the Russian proposals on security guarantees, well, that’s far too complex.

There is no “exact date” when it will be sent to Moscow. And the proverbial “officials” have begged their Russian counterparts not to make it public. After all, a letter is not sexy. Yet “aggression” sells. Especially when it may happen “any-minute-now.”

“Analyst” hacks are yelling that Putin “is now almost certain” to deliver a “limited strike” in “the next ten days”, complete with an attack on Kiev: that configures the scenario of an “almost inevitable war”.

Vladimir Dzhabarov, First Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Council Committee on International Affairs, prefers to get closer to reality: the U.S. is preparing a provocation to push Kiev to “reckless actions” against Russia in the Donbass. That ties in with foot soldiers of the Luhansk People’s Republic reporting that “subversive groups prepared by British instructors” arrived in the area of ​​Lisichansk.

Luminaries such as the European Commission’s Ursula von der Leyen, NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg and “leaders” from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Poland announced, after a video call, that “an unprecedented package of sanctions” is nearly ready if Russia “invades”.

They billed it as “international unity in the face of growing Russia hostility”. Translation: NATOstan begging Russia to please invade a.s.a.p.

Of the EU 27, 21 are NATO members. The U.S. rules over the whole lot. So when the EU announces that “any further military aggression against Ukraine would have very serious consequences for Russia”, that’s the U.S. telling NATO to tell the EU “what we say, goes”. And under this strategy of tension environment, “what we say” means applying raw, imperial Divide and Rule to keep Europe totally subjugated.

The West’s fatal mistakes

One should never forget that Maidan 2014 was an operation supervised by Obama/Biden. Yet there’s still plenty of unfinished business – when it comes to bogging down Russia. So the viscerally Russophobic War Party in D.C. now has to pull all stops ordering NATOstan to cheerlead Kiev to start a hot war – and thus trap Russia. Zelensky The Comedian even went on the record wanting to “go on the offensive”.

So time to release the false flags.

The indispensable Alastair Crooke has outlined how “‘encirclement’ and ‘containment’ effectively have become Biden’s default foreign policy.” Not “Biden”, actually – but the amorphous combo behind the earpiece/teleprompter-controlled puppet I have been designating for over a year as Crash Test Dummy.

Crooke adds, “the attempt to cement-in this meta-doctrine currently is being enacted out via Russia (as the initial step). The essential buy-in by Europe is the ‘party-piece’ to Russia’s physical containment and encirclement.”

“Encirclement” and “containment” have been exceptionalist staples, under various guises, for decades. The notion entertained by the War Party that it’s possible to carry both across a three-way-front – against Russia, China and Iran – is so infantile to render any analysis idle. It does call for a drink and a good laugh.

As for extra sanctions for the imaginary “Russian aggression”, a few benevolent souls had to remind Little Tony Blinken and other “Biden” combo participants that Europeans would be much more lethally affected than Russians; not to mention these sanctions would turbo-charge the collective West’s economic crisis.

A short recap is essential to frame how we ended up mired in the current hysteria swamp.

The collective West blew the chance it had to build a constructive partnership with Russia similar to what it did with Germany after 1945.

The collective West also blew it when reducing Russia to the role of a minor, docile entity, imposing that there’s only one sphere of influence on the planet: NATOstan, of course.

And the Empire blew it when it targeted Russia even after it had allegedly “won” against the USSR.

During the 1990s and the 2000s, instead of being invited to participate in the construction of the “common European home” – with all its glaring faults – post-Soviet Russia was forced to be outside looking in on how this “home” was upgraded and decorated.

Contrary to all the promises made to Gorbachev by assorted Western leaders, the traditional Russian sphere of influence – and even former USSR territory – became objects of dispute in the looting of the “Soviet heritage”: merely a space to be colonized by NATO’s military structures.

Contrary to Gorbachev’s hope – who was naively convinced that the West would share with him the benefits of “the dividends of peace” – a hardcore Anglo-American neoliberal model was imposed over the Russian economy. Added to the disastrous consequences of this transition was the sentiment of national frustration by a society that was humiliated and treated like a vanquished nation in the Cold War, or WWIII.

That was Exceptionalistan’s fatal mistake: to believe that with the USSR vanishing, Russia as a historic, economic and strategic reality would also disappear from international relations.

The new pact of steel

And that’s why War Inc., the War Party, the Deep State, however you wanna call them, are freaking out now – big time.

They dismissed Putin when he formulated a new paradigm in Munich in 2007 – or when he returned to the Kremlin in 2012.

Putin made it very clear that Russia’s legitimate strategic interests would have to be respected again. And that Russia was about to recover its de facto “veto rights” in managing world affairs. Well, the Putin doctrine was already being implemented since the Georgian affair in 2008.

Ukraine is a patchwork of morsels that belonged until recently to different empires – Austro-Hungarian and Russian – as well as several nations, such as Russia, Poland and Romania. It regroups Catholicism and Orthodoxy, and has millions of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers with deep historical, cultural and economic links with Russia.

So Ukraine was a de facto new Yugoslavia.

The fatal mistake committed by Brussels in 2014 was to force Kiev as well as the Ukrainian population as a whole to make an impossible choice between Europe and Russia.

The inevitable result would have to be Maidan, completely manipulated by American intel, even as Russians clearly saw how the EU switched from the position of honest broker to the lowly role of American chihuahuas.

Russophobic U.S. hawks will never renounce the spectacle of their historical adversary bogged down in a slow-burning fratricidal war in the post-Soviet space. As much as they will never renounce Divide and Rule imposed over a discombobulated Europe. And as much as they will never concede “spheres of influence” to any geopolitical player.

Without their toxic imprint, 2014 could have played in quite a different manner.

To dissuade Putin to restore Crimea to its rightful place – Russia – it would have taken two things: for Ukraine to be decently managed after 1992, and not to force it to choose the Western camp, but to make it a bridge, Finland or Austria-style.

After Maidan, the Minsk agreements were as close as possible to a viable solution: let’s end the conflict in Donbass; let’s disarm the protagonists; and let’s re-establish control of the borders of Ukraine while providing real autonomy to Eastern Ukraine.

For all that to happen, Ukraine would have needed a neutral status, and a double security guarantee, by Russia and NATO. And to render the association agreement between Ukraine and the EU compatible with the close links between Eastern Ukraine and the Russian economy.

All that would have perhaps configured a European vision of decent future relations with Russia.

Yet the Russophobic Deep State would never allow it. And the same applied to the White House. Barack Obama, that cynical opportunist, was too engulfed by the dodgy Polish context in Chicago and not free from the exceptionalist obsession with deep antagonism to be able to build a constructive relationship with Russia.

Then there’s the clincher, revealed by a high-level U.S. intel source.

In 2013, the late Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski was presented with a classified report on Russian advanced missiles. He freaked out. And responded by conceptualizing Maidan 2014 – to draw Russia into a guerrilla war then as he had done with Afghanistan in the 1980s.

And here we are now: it’s all a matter of unfinished business.

A final word on the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. In the 13th century, the Mongol Empire established its suzerainty over Kievan Rus – that is, over the Christian orthodox principalities that correspond today to northern Ukraine, Belarus and part of contemporary Russia.

The Tartar yoke over Russia – from 1240 to 1552, when Ivan The Terrible conquered Kazan – is deeply imprinted in Russian historical consciousness and in the debate about national identity.

The Mongols separately conquered vast swathes of China, Russia and Iran. Centuries after Pax Mongolica, what an irony that the new pact of steel between these top three Eurasian actors is now an insurmountable geopolitical obstacle, smashing all elaborate plans by a bunch of trans-Atlantic historic upstarts.

 

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