Ukraine: War drums beat louder

As the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, prepared to brief Barack Obama in Washington on Monday about the state of peace negotiations in Ukraine, the Atlanticists were preparing for war.

The Estonian President, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, compared Western inaction against Russia with the appeasement of Adolf Hilter in 1938, when Nazi Germany was alllowed to seize parts of the former Czechoslovakia.

“We know from history that appeasement will never satisfy those that are being appeased,” he said. “Munich ’38 I think should be a lesson to all of us even today.”

British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond accused Mr Putin of “acting like some mid-20th century tyrant”, while the French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said he would “fear the worst” if peace talks this week failed.

The US wants to send weapons to Ukraine, but Germany and France oppose arming Kiev’s forces, saying this could lead to an escalation of the conflict.

Lord Ashdown, the former UK Liberal Democrat leader, urged the West to use “military diplomacy” however, to hide their intent.

“The right reaction to the Russian arming of the Ukrainian rebels is to make it clear we are prepared to do the same for the Ukrainian government,” he writes. “Start small, slow and unaggressively – with communications and intelligence equipment for example.”

Carl Bildt, former Swedish foreign minister, said war “between Russia and the West” was now conceivable.

Ukrainian military transport aircraft have, for the past year since the putschists overthrew the government of President Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev, been flying around the world, including the United States, collecting everything from weapons and military helicopters to armored vehicles and ammunition for Ukraine’s army and neo-Nazi militia units.

The respected German daily, the Süddeutsche Zeitung featured a Russian military expert Yevgeny Buchinsky warning that if Kiev receives hard military aid, “Russia will have to intervene, and then, bluntly speaking, take Kiev. Then NATO would be in a difficult situation. Then you would have to start World War III, which no one wants.”

The Atlanticist representative in Kiev, president Poroshencko, meanwhile has promised Ukrainians US military aid: “I don’t have any doubt that the US and other partners will provide help with lethal weapons.”

EU bureaucrats have admitted – off the record – that even sanctions are ridiculous, sanctioning in fact the EU for least 15% of exports to Russia. The British have whipped up the pro-sanction lobby into a frenzy about “Russian aggression”, hoping to gain from their efforts later.

Russian president Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande are all due to take part in the Minsk peace summit. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Russia expected “important decisions” to be made at the meeting.

Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper reported today that German intelligence estimated up to 50,000 soldiers and civilians had been killed during the conflict, nearly 10 times higher than Kiev’s estimate. “The official figures are clearly too low and not credible,” a source said.

Insiders say Merkel and Hollande came to Moscow but with the purpose of having what diplomats call “a full and frank discussion” in private with Putin in the Kremlin, where they can be confident the Americans are not spying on them.

Poroshenko’s officials are insisting that the question of federalisation was not discussed during a meeting with Hollande and Merkel.

Hollande has however now come out publicly to support “autonomy” for the eastern regions, making a discussion of federalisation a virtual certainty.

Russian student Alexander Mercouris says the reason Hollande is there and appears to be taking the lead is to provide Merkel with cover.

The one thing Merkel cannot afford politically is the appearance of a Moscow-Berlin stitch-up that the hardliners in Washington, Kiev, London, Warsaw and the Baltic States will claim is a new Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact to divide Europe into German and Russian spheres of influence. Whether we like it or not in Germany the shadow of Hitler still hangs heavy and exposes Berlin to endless moral blackmail.