Yesterday was the bloodiest day so far of the conflict. There are too many people on all sides who are happy to see the conflict continue as it is. All sides need to stop the madness, or it will engulf us all in a third world war that is in nobody's interest except for Big Oil and the Military Industrial Complex.
There were a few hopeful signs. President Obama admitted for the first time during his news conference tonight that Russia had legitimate interests in Ukraine. Russia sent a diplomat to Ukraine to talk to the people who are holding the OSCE monitors hostage and their UN ambassador walked back remarks saying that Russia was no longer bound by Geneva. But all sides can start by toning down the inflammatory rhetoric. On one side, you have the US constantly preaching to the Russians about their obligations under international law. You have Lavrov, one of RT's most frequent people to write about, preaching at the Ukraine government about their obligations to protect ethnic Russians. You have the Ukraine government drag its feet on any kind of meaningful dialogue with its Eastern and Southern citizens. In reality, there are too many people in all three quarters who are happy to see the chaos continue.
The City of Odessa rightly declared three days of national mourning for the mob violence that killed dozens of people there. Russia's response was surprisingly muted after the constant drone of preaching at the Ukrainian government (as of this writing), asking the Ukrainian government if any Russian citizens were killed. The US rightly condemned the violence and called for the Ukrainian government to bring those responsible to justice.
But we listened to the emergency Security Council session called today by Russia to discuss the violence going on in Ukraine. There was some deeply disturbing rhetoric being thrown around. We heard the Russian ambassador blaming the US and the EU for the violence, implying that the present Ukraine government was somehow a puppet. We saw the American ambassador accuse the Russians of lying; if that is the case, then it should be able to speak for itself given the unprecedented social media coverage of the conflict. Even China tacitly suggested that Russia was out of line by calling on all parties to stick to the Geneva Agreement of April 17th after Russia had suggested they were no longer bound by the agreement.
It is in Russia's best interest to do all it can to bring this conflict to a close. Putin is seeking to close a massive gas deal with China this month, and he cannot afford to anger China. He is even contemplating building a gas line from China to South Korea to sell that country gas. The line would have to go through North Korea; Abby Martin of RT did a fluff piece on North Korea where she interviewed someone who had been there who said that there was no homelessness, there was free college for all, and reports of them being a threat to the South or the US were blown out of proportion by a compliant media. Russia's goal is to undermine our free trade agreement with South Korea by selling gas much cheaper than we can. But the problem is that Russia may have unleashed a Pandora's Box that even Putin cannot control anymore.
There is a clear US strategy in the sanctions that is not properly appreciated -- they are designed to target Putin personally by restricting his ability to move money around. But they are also designed to force him to choose between the ultranationalistic theories of Alexander Dugin and the powerful oil and gas interests which are driving Russia's economy. Dugin believes that Ukraine is not really a country (something echoed by Putin back in 2008), while his oil interests want to maintain close ties with the West, including BP, Exxon/Mobil, and Shell. Both Obama and Merkel threatened to impose sanctions on unspecified entire sectors of Russia's economy, which could jeopardize or end these ties. So if Putin listens to Dugin and continues his aggression against Ukraine, then he will have to explain to Gazprom, Yukos, and other big oil companies what happened to their ties to the West and to their bottom line.
Putin, however, is in a bind. On social media and on Twitter, Russian nationalists and pro-Russian posters who are influenced by Dugin's thinking are clamoring for vengeance and wondering why Putin has not acted (as of this writing) already. This could translate into a drop in Putin's stratospheric popularity and unrest at home. The drop may be short-term as it could be offset by a massive deal with China and Iran, as well as the exploitation of the Arctic's resources, which Putin has routinely brought up on the Presidential website.
But if we are to put a stop to the insanity that is going on right now in Ukraine, it is up to us as working people to unite against the insanity. We have to say, along with Markos, that we're sick and tired of all the power games that all the parties are playing and that what happens between Russia and Ukraine is none of our business. The US is right to pursue sanctions; otherwise, international law would not mean anything. But the kind of shrill rhetoric that was employed by Samantha Power today at the UN or John Kerry playing armchair psychologist and speculating on Putin's state of mind to the Wall Street Journal only serves to encourage Putin by allowing him to dig in his heels and continue his aggression against Ukraine. Driven by the teachings of Dugin, Putin believes that Russia is a bulwark against the decadent West. Therefore, he needs a hostile West to validate his current policy of aggression.
We have way too many mutual interests with Russia and China to continue the kind of shrill rhetoric that this government has been using during the course of this crisis. All three of us have an interest in stopping terror, combating climate change, and maintaining stability in the world. The kidnapping of over 200 girls by Boko Haram, along with religious violence in the Central African Republic and the deteriorating situation in South Sudan all require our attention. All parties have an obligation to deescalate the tensions in Ukraine so that we can use the UN, not as a tool to pursue American hegemony, but as a cooperative tool to bring peace and stability to the world.