Friday, May 9, 2014

Ukraine Updates May 9 , 2014 -- Hostilities have resumed in the streets of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the Donetsk Oblast - as per co-chairman of the government of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Denis Pushilin ....... Unpaid Ukraine natural gas debt ( currently 3.5 billion ) could lead to suspension of gas supplies to Ukraine .... As Sunday Referendums loom , East ukraine remains mired in a de fact to siege by Kiev and Right Sector forces , talks to resolve Ukraine situation unlikely to lead to constructive developments .....

Zero Hedge .....

Russia Celebrates Victory Over Nazi Germany As Putin Visits Newly "Acquired" Crimea

Tyler Durden's picture

A day after Russia shocked the world with an impressive demonstration of military preparation for what it dubbed was a "massive nuclear attack", the country is celebrating its traditional May 9 national holiday which marks the Soviet victory over Nazis in World War II. Among the people watching the traditional and impressive military demonstration on Red Square was Russian president Vladimir Putin.
This is a full replay of what he saw.
“It’s a day when we all especially keenly feel what it means to be faithful to the motherland and how important it is to be able to defend its interests,” Putin said at the Moscow parade. “It’s a holiday when the all-triumphant power of patriotism celebrates victory.”
However it is not Putin's presence as the rally that was notably, but what he did after, when hours after the he watched the tanks rumble on Red Square Putin flew to Crimea for the first time since its annexation, to oversee Russia's newest territorial expansion. This happened even as both Ukraine, Germany and the head of NATO all voiced strong objections to such a visit by Putin which not only formalizes the expansion, but spits in the eye of Western attempts to contain the Ukraine conflict and/or de-escalate:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said three days ago a visit by Putin to Crimea would be regrettable.

“The situation there is so grave that a trip like this could provoke greater violence,” Tatyana Stanovaya, an analyst at the Moscow-based Center for Political Technologies, said by phone May 7. “The visit would appeal to Russians at home who are happy to have Crimea back in the country’s fold.”
Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said yesterday he’s concerned that Russia is “planning provocations” today.

Yatsenyuk told reporters in Kiev today that a nationwide dialogue aimed at preserving national unity would start May 14, according to the Interfax news service.

The Kiev government, which took over after Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych was toppled by protesters in February, opposes the referendums on secession and says it won’t talk to those involved in separatist violence. Putin says only talks that include the pro-Russian groups can succeed in easing tensions.
While we commiserate with the completely helpless and without leverage Ukraine government, as well as the reliant on Russian gas Germany, perhaps consider this a preview of what Putin will do next year when long after East Ukraine aka "Novorossiya" has seceded from the west, the Russian president will have a land route from the Kremlin all the way to Sevastopol. He may even ride a bear all the way from Point A to point B. Bare chested.

Ukraine Troops Kill 20 in Mariupol, Blow Up Police Station

Many Wounded as Tanks Roll into Key Eastern City

by Jason Ditz, May 09, 2014
While most of Ukraine’s military’s major operations against the east have come in the northern part of Donetsk Oblast, today’s attacks focused on the south, and the key port city of Mariupol, where at least 20 people have been reported killed, and massive numbers wounded.
Interior Ministry troops, backed by tanks and APCs, are trying to retake the protester-held Interior Ministry building in town, while arresting local police who refused to side with them against the population.
Retaking the ministry building seems to be job one, but instead of worrying about that with a protester-held police station, the troops simply blew it up with rocket-propelled grenades, leveling the building, killing seven within, and wounding dozens.
Though the government dubbed all those killed “terrorists,” many of the people shot in the streets seem to have been unarmed civilian protesters. RT’s cameraman for the city, taking pictures of the chaos, was also shot in the chest, and despite wearing a bulletproof vest was badly wounded.
Interior Minister Arsen Avakov demanded the civilian population immediately endorse the invasion,. saying the situation was “black and white” and that foes could expect “only one answer from the Ukrainian state – annihilation.”

Itar Tass .....

Hostilities resume in Ukraine's south-eastern Mariupol

 May 09, 14:27 UTC+4
Co-chairman of the government of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Denis Pushilin says unidentified groups of gunmen, presumably National Guards, opened fire on civilians inside the city
DONETSK, May 09. /ITAR-TASS/. Hostilities have resumed in the streets of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol in the Donetsk Oblast, co-chairman of the government of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic Denis Pushilin told ITAR-TASS.
Pushilin said unidentified groups of gunmen, presumably National Guards, opened fire on civilians inside the city, adding there were no immediate reports of casualties.
Pushilin described the situation in the central city of Donetsk as calm.
“Victory Day celebrations are in progress. Flowers were laid at the Great Patriotic War victims memorial. At the moment a gala concert and rally are in progress. World War II veterans are attending the event,” he said.
Ukrainian forces involved in the Kiev authorities’ punitive operation in the east of the country stormed the building of the city council in Mariupol on May 8. To protect themselves, people’s militia members set fire to barricades made of automobile tyres.
The city council building in Mariupol changed hands several times over the past two days. The Ukrainian crack unit Omega stormed the building late in the evening on May 7 using an unknown gas.

Suspension of gas supplies to Ukraine cannot be ruled out - envoy

 May 09, 8:30 UTC+4
"I cannot rule out anything, given unpredictable events in that country", - russian Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said
© EPA/Eustream
BRUSSELS, May 09 /ITAR-TASS/. Russian Ambassador to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov said he does not rule out the possibility of suspension of gas supplies to Ukraine given the unpredictable situation in that country, if the gas debt problem is not settled.
"As for the possibility of halt in gas supplies to Ukraine, I cannot rule out anything, given unpredictable events in that country, if the problem of the gas debt which reaches some 3.5 billion dollars is not settled in time," Chizhov told Russian reporters.

Ministerial meeting

“A technical meeting of experts on gas will be held in Brussels May 12, and we think have the level of chiefs of departments [at appropriate governmental agencies and corporations - Itar-Tass] he told a group of Russian reporters, adding that it should be a prelude to a ministerial meeting, the date of which has not been discussed yet.
“As for the ministerial meeting, there is high probability it will be held May 16 and the Russian Energy Minister, Alexander Novak, the European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger, and the Ukrainian minister Yuri Prodan meet at the conference table,” Chizhov said. “Athens is very likely to be the venue of these talks, as an informal meeting of EU energy ministers will be held there May 16.”
He indicated that the discussion on gas is developing along three main directions now.
“In the first place, there’s the problem of payment for gas and a return of the debt, the existence of which is not denied by anyone, even the authorities in Kiev, which however have claims against the amount of debt,” Chizhov said.
“Secondly, it’s the assuring of uninterrupted transits of Russian gas to EU countries, including the problem of replenishment of reserves in the underground tank farms on the territory of Ukraine where extra volumes of gas are dispatched to Europe from in the wintertime if the demand for gas makes unexpected hikes,” he said.
“The third issue is the alternative reversed supplies of gas to Ukraine from the EU member-states,” Chizhov said.
The first meeting in the trilateral format on gas that involved Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, European Commissioner Guenther Oettinger and Ukrainian minister Yuri Prodan took place May 2 in Warsaw. An agreement on holding another two meetings of the same time - in the middle and at the end of May - was reached there.

IMF money

Authorities in Kiev can hope only for the money from the IMF as a source for which they will pay off the debt for natural gas, which has reached $ 3.5 billion, not for the money from the European Commission, Chizhov said.
“As for Ukraine’s debt for natural gas, it is Naftogaz Ukrainy (the national oil and gas monopoly - Itar-Tass) as the signatory of the contract that should make payments,” he said. “And where will they take the money from? From the IMF loans, most obviously because no other sources are in sight - the European Commission is insolvent as such.”
“That’s why one of the problems discussed today is whether they’ll be able to use the IMF monies for the purpose and if their amount will be enough for these payments.

Anti War......

East Ukraine Protesters Barricade In as Civil War Looms

Fears of Western Fascists Fuel 'Siege Mentality'

by Jason Ditz, May 08, 2014
With rumors constantly circulating about the imminent invasion of their towns by neo-Nazi factions from the western portions of the country, eastern Ukraine’s towns are mostly under lockdown, with a “siege mentality” setting in.
Between the very real threat of military attack and the perceived risk of attack by westerners, the locals in protester-held cities, particularly in Donetsk Province, are setting up more and more barricades.
The protesters continue to expand their control over the smaller towns around Donetsk, shoring up their positions. With the situation slowly transitioning into a civil war, those towns could quickly find themselves directly at odds.
So far, the military offensive has centered on the cities of Kramatorsk and Slovyansk, both neighboring one another on the edge of the protester-held territory. Yet these cities are also some of the most heavily fortified, setting up protracted fights over control.

Eastern Ukraine to Hold Sunday Referendum as Planned

Protest Leaders Say Vote Only Way to Stop a Civil War

by Jason Ditz, May 08, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call for an end to the Ukrainian military offensive against its eastern provinces and the delaying of Sunday’s referendum in those regions have both been for naught, as the offensive continues and the protest leaders say they are going to continue on with the vote, as planned.
Leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic say they voted unanimously to continue the referendum, saying a civil war was beginning and the vote was the only way to stop it.
The referendum language is vague, making no mention of either Russia or Ukraine at all, and simply asking voters for a yes/no vote on if they approve of the Donetsk People’s Republic itself.
Since the leadership of the protest movement is greatly divided about their eventual goals, this wording was probably the only way to reach a consensus. Though some of the protest leaders are calling for secession and accession into Russia, many are simply seeking increased autonomy and guarantees for the rights of ethnic Russians within Ukraine’s government, and still others are hoping to revise Ukraine’s system of governance to a more federalized system, where individual provinces nationwide would have more power.

Mediators Push Peace Talks on Ukraine, But Deal Unlikely

Officials Continue to Spurn Calls to Talk With Protesters

by Jason Ditz, May 08, 2014
On the precipice of a full-scale civil war, international mediators are pushing hard for a new round of Ukrainian peace talks which seem unlikely to happen at all, and even less likely to result in any sort of deal.
The efforts are mostly centering around the April Geneva talks, which ended in a joint agreement to refrain from violence, which everyone spun as vindication, and which the interim government interpreted as an international casus belli to attack the east and impose “law and order” on the area.
The protesters weren’t welcome at the April talks, and leaders in the interim government suggest they never will be, with top presidential candidate and “Chocolate King” Petro Poroshenko insisting force is the only thing the ethnic Russian “terrorists” understand.
The position is not unique in the post-regime change political spectrum of Ukraine, where the “moderates” advocate violent conquest of the east as the reasonable alternative to neo-Nazi linked factions and even some mainstream officials openly talking about massacring the ethnic Russian minority.
Even with the return to conscription, Ukraine’s ramshackle military doesn’t seem up to the task of conquering the east in either way in any sort of short order, and that means in the absence of talks only a steady escalation of violence.

Asia Times.....

Putin displays Ukraine chess mastery
By Pepe Escobar

Russia's celebrations of the 69th anniversary of the defeat of fascism in World War II come just days after Ukrainian neo-fascists enacted an appalling Odessa massacre. For those who know their history, the graphic symbolism speaks for itself.

And then a geopolitical chess gambit added outright puzzlement to the trademark hypocrisy displayed by the self-proclaimed representatives of "Western civilization".

The gambit comes from - who else - Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is now actively mixing chess moves with Sun Tzu'sArt of War and Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching. No wonder all those

American PR shills, helpless State Department spokespersons and NATOstan generals are clueless.

Unlike the Obama administration's juvenile delinquent school of diplomacy - which wants to "isolate" Putin and Russia - a truce and possible deal in the ongoing Ukrainian tragedy has been negotiated between adults on speaking terms, Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, then discussed and finally announced in a press conference by the president of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Didier Burghalter.

The deal will hold as long as the regime changers in Kiev - which should be described as the NATO neo-liberal, neo-fascist junta - abandon their ongoing "anti-terrorist operation" and are ready to negotiate with the federalists in Eastern and Southern Ukraine. [1]

Putin's gambit has been to sacrifice not one but two pieces; he'd rather have the referendums this Sunday in Eastern Ukraine be postponed. At the same time, changing the Kremlin's position, he said the presidential elections on May 25 might be a step in the right direction.

Moscow knows the referendums will be erroneously interpreted by the misinformed NATOstan combo as an argument for Eastern Ukraine to join Russia, as in Crimea. They could be used as pretext for more sanctions. And most of all Moscow is keen to prevent any possible false flags. [2]

Yet Moscow has not abandoned its firm position from the start; before a presidential election there should be constitutional changes towards federalization and more power for largely autonomous provinces. It's not happening anytime soon - if at all.

With the Kiev NATO junta making an absolute mess of "governing"; the International Monetary Fund already running thedisaster capitalism show, Russia cutting off trade and energy subsidies, and the federalist movement growing by the minute after the Odessa massacre, Ukraine is so absolutely toxic that Moscow has all the time in the world on its side. Putin's strategy is indeed Tao Te Ching meets Art of War: watch the river flow while giving enough rope for your enemy to hang himself.

You're with us or against us
Putin asking the people in the Donbass region to postpone the referendum - which will take place anyway [3] - unleashed a fierce debate, in eastern Ukraine and across Russia, over a possible Russian betrayal of Russian speakers in Ukraine.

After all, the NATO neo-liberal, neo-fascist junta has unleashed an "anti-terrorist operation" against average Ukrainians where even the terminology comes straight from the "you're with us or against us" Cheney regime.

And once again the Disinformer-in-Chief is - who else - US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is "very concerned about efforts of pro-Russian separatists in Donetsk, in Lugansk to organize, frankly, a contrived, bogus independence referendum on May 11". It's "the Crimea playbook all over again and no civilized nation is going to recognize the results of such a bogus effort".

It's hopeless to expect Kerry to know what he's talking about, but still: the people in Donbass are not separatists. These are average Ukrainians - factory workers, miners, store clerks, farmers - who are pro-democracy, anti-NATO junta and - oh, the capital crime - Russian speakers.

And by the way, you don't need to be Thomas Piketty to identify this as classic class struggle; workers and peasants against oligarchs - the oligarchs currently aligned with the NATO junta, some deployed as regional governors, and all planning to remain in charge after the May 25 elections.

The people in Donbass want federalism, and strong autonomy in their provinces. They don't want to split from Ukraine. Against the US-prescribed, Kiev-enforced "anti-terrorism" onslaught, they have their popular defense committees, local associations and yes, militias, to defend themselves. And most of all "bogus" referendums to make it absolutely clear they won't submit to a centralized, oligarch-infested junta.

So the referendums will go ahead - and will be duly ignored by the NATOstan combo. The May 25 presidential election will go ahead - right in the middle of an "anti-terrorist operation" against almost half of the population - and will be recognized as "legitimate" by the NATOstan combo.

Way beyond this cosmically shameful behavior of the "civilized" West, what next?

Nothing will make the ironclad hatred the NATO neo-liberal neo-fascist junta with its Western Ukraine neo-nazi Banderastan supporters feel against the eastern Donbass go away. But then, in a few months, all Ukrainians will feel in their skins what the IMF has in store for them, irrespective of location. And wait if the new president - be it chocolate billionaire Petro Porashenko or holy corrupt "Saint Yulia" Timoschenko - doesn't pay Gazprom's US$2.7 billion energy bill.

Once again, Putin does not need to "invade" anything. He knows this is not the way to "rescue" eastern and southern Ukraine. He knows the people in the Donbass will make life miserable for the NATO junta and its May 25 offspring. He knows when Kiev needs real cash - not the current IMF self-serving Mob-style loans - nobody in his right mind in the political midget EU will be forthcoming. Nobody will want to rescue a failed state. And Kiev will have to beg, once again, for Moscow's help, the lender of first and last resort.

Lao Tzu Putin is far from going to checkmate. He may - and will - wait. The exceptionalist empire will keep doing what it does best - foment chaos - even as sensible Europeans, Merkel included, try somewhat for appeasement. Well, at least Washington's prayers have been answered. It took a while, but they finally found the new bogeyman: Osama Bin Putin.

1. Putin-Burkhalter talks: an elusive chance for Ukraine, Oriental Review, May 8, 2014.
2. Ukrainian forces prepare provocation against Russia in Donetsk, Voice of America, May 6, 2014.
3. 2 southeast Ukrainian regions to hold referendum May 11 as planned, RT, May 8, 2014.