Why is Biden threatening Ukraine with the end of anti-Russian sanctions?

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September 24, 2016 – Fort Russ News –

– Karine Bechet-Golovko, translated by Tom Winter

J. Biden, declaring at the last meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York that the US is keeping the pressure on France, Germany, and Italy about the sanctions against Russia totally discredits the policies of Europe, and exhibits Europe as a marionette utterly without free will — which it is. 

One must say that the failure of the Ukraine project is obvious and its usefulness in its current proportions is called into question. The EU will adapt if necessary.

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In New York, J. Biden, US Vice President who is campaigning for Hillary Clinton, told the meeting of the influential Council on Foreign Relations that if Ukraine did not apply the Minsk agreements, i.e. does not put up political and economic reforms, there is a big risk that the US can not keep pressuring the European Union to extend sanctions against Russia because there are at least five countries already that want them stopped. All the while that he, J. Biden, spends hours on the phone with Poroshenko and the Europeans. To use his exact words published in Reuters:

“We know that if they give an excuse to the EU, there are at least five countries right now that want to say ‘We want out'” of sanctions against Moscow, Biden said, speaking to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. (…) In exchange for financial support from the United States and other Western allies, Ukraine promised reforms, but progress has been mixed. (…) Biden said he has spent two to three hours a week on the phone with Ukrainian leaders since the crisis began, urging them to persist with reforms, while also pressuring Germany, France and Italy to hold fast on sanctions.

In addition, Biden also recounts that he regularly explains to Poroshenko how important it is that is that Ukraine not seem responsible for the failure of the Minsk agreements, which is very difficult because generally people tend to be on the side of the victims. Poroshenko must therefore be very careful with that. Translation, the real victims are in the Donbass because of the US-Ukrainian politics, but Poroshenko, thanks to US pressure on the international community comes to make Russia responsible for the problems of Ukraine.

In this context, the very relative and pedantic claims about the independence of the European Union makes one smile. One can read all the reasons and explanations for the EU sanction policy, presented as if it were a reflection of a an independent will, internal and profound, of the European institutions and countries. See, for example on the site europa:

The EU concentrates it efforts on defusing the Ukraine crisis and helping the country ensure a stable, prosperous and democratic future for all its citizens. The EU has been unwavering in its support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of this country. She sees the full implementation of the Minsk agreements the basis for a lasting political solution to the conflict in the east. Since spring 2014, the EU has intensified its support for economic and political reforms in Ukraine. (…) In view of Russian actions that destabilize the situation in eastern Ukraine, the EU has imposed economic sanctions in July 2014 and strengthened them in September 2014. In March 2015, the European Council linked the duration of these economic restrictions to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.

All this is sort of a compelling logic. Except that the US can change its policy line on Ukraine, the project is too expensive and ultimately in the end, does not achieve much. The Russian economy has not collapsed, the ruble is stable and strengthened because it is finally disconnected from the oil price with a policy to boost domestic production, which follows directly from the policy of economic sanctions launched by the United States. Politically, the population has been tightened around the governing institutions, the political field has naturally refocused leaving little space for the contestation of the Russian policy abroad, as shown by the substantial failure radical parties in the parliamentary election. And internationally, the position of Russia has again become dominant, so much so that it is able to challenge the US monocenter moentaril gained with the fall of the Soviet Union.

One can therefore say that the US strategy regarding Russia is a failure. And the awareness is growing. As far as that goes, for them, in the collateral detail that is Ukraine, decay is total. Not to mention the corruption that is in power, the other criteria are in the red. Crime, according to the head of the national police, is starkly on the rise. Reported crime (because many violations of the law are not taken into account for political reasons) rose in Ukraine an average of 23%. Robberies of all kinds have increased on average by 20%. Just in Kiev, the overall crime rate is up 45%.

The large part of this phenomenon is owing to the impoverishment of the population. 79% of the population considers itself poor: Utility bills for heat, electricity and water have reached the level of a medium salary. Economically, according to studies of 2015, the overall economy has declined by 10%, industrial production by 13.4%, food production 11.2%, metallurgy 16.4 %, automobile production by 14.6%, and the numbers for retail trade fell by 20.7%.

The country essentially is living off external assistance. In this context, Kiev does not know what to do with the Donbass. Legally, the people living there have the right to collect their pensions. Like any person, no matter what place or where where they reside at the end of employment. First, if Ukraine wants to make its claim to territorial unity, it must behave as a state and fulfill its obligations, on the other hand it has neither the means nor the political will because besides the budget problems, the current leaders have no sense of the State since it is under foreign tutelage. Thus the power does not recognize the people of Donbass, who are, in their point of view, by and large, terrorists who must be exterminated, Ukraine is interested only in the territory. Hence the statement to the Rada of I. Gerashchenko asserting that there is no reason to pay pensions to residents of Donbass who qualify for them because there there are only dead souls. Yet this means over 500,000 people.

The situation in Ukraine is at a dead end. On every level. Political, economic, social. But above all, Ukraine does not present more than a feeble geopolitical interest. And that interest is disproportionate today compared to the cost that it entails. With respect to Ukraine, J. Biden behaves much like the steward of a hospital that prevents the family or the patient awakening soon, or it will be disconnected. But what is interesting is that Biden does not speak of the end of US sanctions. This would seem more logical for his position. He talks about the possible end of the European sanctions. It hardly matters about the position of the Europeans, they will, at the desired time, be informed of the policy to be adopted. 

One doesn’t argue with subordinates.

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