As we approach next week’s big summit between the U.S./NATO and Russia over tensions in Ukraine it’s important to understand just where things between everyone stands. Russia’s Foreign Ministry, normally the soul of understatement and infuriating politeness, has been ratcheting up the blunt over the past couple of months.
Nothing else seems to get the attention of U.S. and European so-called diplomats and decision-makers.
These are people who arrogantly believe it is their right and privilege to demean everyone else they don’t respect or agree with. They sincerely don’t like it when it comes back at them.
To that point, the recent dustup between Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova and the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell was outstanding. Zakharova is thorough, eloquent, and nearly always correct. She accomplishes these things because she has the truth on her side.
Borrell published an interview with the German propaganda rag, Die Welt, which read like an application for his long-term commitment to Arkham Asylum for solipsism bordering on insanity in which he complained Russia had no right to make demands of the EU or NATO.
“Demanding security guarantees and ending the eastward expansion of the EU and NATO is a purely Russian agenda with completely unacceptable conditions, especially with regard to Ukraine,” Borrell added.
According to him, the Russian Federation presented its agenda in writing for the first time. “Only the winners do this: they say that this and that are my conditions,” Borrell said.
The problem for Borrell is that the Russians are the winners in this standoff. In every way Russia has the tactical and strategic advantage here and only EU recalcitrance and the madness of EU technocratic ideologues, like Borrell, keeps this from being acknowledged.
Borrell, like Eurcrats Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel, Christine Lagarde, etc. were all placed in power by Davos to effect the very outcomes we’ve been unfortunately treated to. They have zero skin in the game of Europe. There are no bad outcomes for them other than if they don’t do as they are told.
And they are being told to be uncompromising, reality-denying dickheads.
So, as always, these insults by Borrell are a feature, not a bug, of EU policy. People like Borrell may be incompetent, but that too is a feature, not a bug. He was chosen precisely because he’s a moron who will say and do whatever he is told to do.
So, the real question is, which is embedded in all of Zakharova’s comments in the linked piece above, are the people pulling the strings of Europe incompetent or do they really want no useful relations with Russia?
By the way both of those things can be true here. They are incompetent because they want no relations with Russia going forward.
“The form of Mr. Borrell’s claims against us and the mode in which Brussels expressed itself over many years was extremely strange and, in many cases, impermissible. Now it makes no sense to put forward any claims addressed to us. Nobody has the right to do so. As for the statements that the diplomatic service of which Mr. Borrel is in charge has been mass-producing, they contain demands formulated in a very peculiar way. For instance, ‘Russia must’ or ‘Russia is expected.’ As if we were members of the European Union or NATO and all of a sudden it has turned out that we did something wrong, or we had no right to present a draft for a joint discussion.“
I’ve said many times that the EU lives in this bubble where they still think they are important to the global economy even as they implement policies which do nothing but consume the previously stored wealth of Europe making it less important to its trade partners with each passing day.
They truly believed that they had Russia in a monopsony arrangement (single buyer) with natural gas deliveries and that without the EU market Russia’s economy would collapse and they would be able to dictate terms.
Because, you know, winners do this.
Competing Imperial Agendas
The problem is, as Pepe Escobar mostly points out in his latest piece, that Nordstream 2 was never really a core project for Russia and/or Gazprom. It could have been if the EU has ever been an honest broker over energy supplies.
The tired Evil-US narrative that Escobar weaves, however, is pure fiction. The EU has always been driving the bus on its own policy. It’s not a U.S. only thing. The goal has always been to leverage the EU’s market to dictate terms to their energy suppliers. The U.S. military and financial clout was the means by which to enforce the ever-changing terms, like any good Mafiosi would, while simultaneously draining the U.S. of its vibrancy.
Unfortunately there are too many within the alternative political commentary space which includes, Escobar, Caitlyn Johnstone and Bernard at Moon of Alabama, who cannot let go of this idea of the Evil US Empire because they see Europe as the victim rather than a co-conspirator in the Empire of Chaos.
Russia, however, understands this completely. It understands as Zahkarova makes explicitly clear that NATO is the military arm of EU expansionist policy.
“The top European diplomat must have forgotten that for those EU member countries which are also NATO members – there are 21 of them – the alliance remains the basis of their collective defense and a platform for its implementation,” Zakharova said. “In other words, the EU’s Brussels delegated to NATO’s Brussels the lion’s share of its military sovereignty.”
The best part is Zakharova doesn’t stop there but then brings up the inconvenient truths about the bombing of Belgrade in 1999 by NATO. It’s a much-more-than-gentle reminder that Borrell’s ‘diplomacy’ is only an extension of U.S. military power.
Now, that we’ve put the EU firmly back where it belongs — at the kid’s table — let’s turn to next week’s summit and where things stand. What Borrell is angry about is that by putting forth this draft treaty Russia is pushing all discussion of a political and economic nature to the background.
What’s going on in Ukraine is no longer about energy deliveries, pipelines, or any of that stuff. Putin has reset the terms of the conflict to a purely military, facts-on-the-ground conflict.
By doing this he puts the negotiations for any resolution right on the shoulders of the military power in the region. This would be the U.S.
The Limit of Politics
The tactical move here is simple. Isolate the terms of the conflict, in this case military, into the realm where you have the most control to press them to your maximal advantage. It’s Sun Tsu. Don’t fight on ground prepared by your enemy.
This is exactly what Putin and his Foreign Ministry under Sergei Lavrov, for whom Zakharova speaks here, have done.
The political arena is where Davos is strong — control over the narrative, the media, etc. It is the military one where NATO and the U.S. are unwilling to engage because ultimately it’s unwinnable even as a political tool.
The messaging is clear. This is a matter of military, security and cultural importance, economics does not matter. Pipelines be damned. Politics be damned. We have the missiles to wipe you out and we will use them, making a mockery of NATO and the U.S. as a military power.
This is why Biden and Putin’s latest phone call was so ‘constructive.’ As I’ve been saying for months, the U.S. wants out of Europe, to depreciate NATO. NATO is big business for a lot of Eurocrats, Neocons, MIC members and the rest of the usual suspects.
But that’s not the big thing at stake here, what’s left of the U.S.’s reputation as the leading military hyper-power in the world is. So, Biden needs a way out of Ukraine with some of those illusions still intact. Incompetents like Borrell and German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock do not understand this at all.
She tried to set the tone for the new German government and was summarily put in her place by Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Now she’s in D.C. to be told what her marching orders will be.
Putin, Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu understand the need for continued confidence in the U.S. and do not want the U.S. humiliated here, even if many peace-motivated commentators in this space (like Escobar) do. Humiliating the U.S. just pushes Russia even further into China’s long-term orbit since neither the U.S. nor Europe will be able to balance China’s power if that occurs.
Protecting what’s left of Davos’ influence within these corridors of power is still primary to them. They are actively losing the U.S. They lost India in Q4. Russia and China are gone. But NATO can be salvaged and morphed into a Europe-led thing allied with the United Nations if need be.
You take away NATO and the U.S.’s ability to threaten, you take away a lot of Davos’ ability to push policy where they want it to go.
That is why Biden will ‘surrender’ Europe to Putin when they sit down to talk in Geneva. Because no one can afford for these illusions to be punctured with a NATO rout. If that happens then where do these people retreat to? How do they keep themselves in the game?
In a recent editorial by Douglas MacGregor he reminded us of the fundamental problem underlying the world.
As John Kenneth Galbraith warned, “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage. Intellectual myopia, often called stupidity, is no doubt a reason. But the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-given right.”
It no longer matters what Davos midgets like Borrell think is unacceptable. Blackmailing the world with nuclear war over a shithole like Kiev is what is wholly unacceptable. They tried it and have failed.
Russia is stating, Belarus is wholly with us now. Soon the Donbass and the rest of Southern Ukraine will be as well.
Statements like Borrell’s about how there can be no decision on Europe without including the EU is hilarious when the EU can’t decide if solar power is sufficiently green.
When talks open in Geneva between Russia and the U.S. for a new European security architecture it will be singularly focused on this delicate way out the quagmire everyone involved willingly placed themselves in.
The Russians aren’t playing games however. The war is already over.
NATO lost. The EU lost.
And the winners are dictating terms militarily.
The only question left is whether rogue agents within any of these organizations — The intelligence complex, NATO, the EU — starts something between now and then to sabotage these ceasefire talks and ‘force Russia to invade’ Ukraine.
Enter the Neocons who do not believe in any restraints on their behavior. They will risk everything to maintain the hope of their final victory. They will sacrifice everyone else in their monomaniacal quest for the aggrieved Trotsky’s vindication.
This is where the antics of Baerbock and Victoria Nuland come into play. There has been a near-deafening chorus of neoconservative pearl-clutching and fire-breathing as we approach Geneva. You can feel the desperation from them over every issue — Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Putin’s energy politics, etc.
Baerbock’s dressing down and Nuland’s disappearance from the spotlight tell you that the Neocons are off the Davos reservation and have been acting on their own.
It seems there is no end to their depravity. I am highly skeptical that Kazakhstan erupts in a conflagration over LPG prices like what has happened yesterday. It smacks of ‘aggressive negotiations’ on the eve of an important summit.
That said, I expect Kazakhstan will work out about as well as the recent failed attempts in Belarus and Armenia.
And once this is put down and the summit is over then the EU and Borrell can be brought back into the conversation to discuss economic considerations again. But given how deeply toxic the EU’s relationship is with all of its neighbors, including Turkey and the UK, I doubt Russia will do anything else but dictate those terms as well.
Nordstream 2 is not a core project for Gazprom. It can be left to rot. German Chancellor Scholz is on his way to Moscow to salvage the situation. This should be a hoot because it’s a core need for Germany.
Remember, my thesis is that Davos wants permanently poisoned relations with Russia but no war there. The EU’s war on its own people is the only war it can handle right now. It’s having a hard enough time keeping the eastern European countries from bolting.
Davos needs peace to maintain control over Europe because with a hot war in Ukraine the entire raison d’etre of the EU dissolves — preventing war on the European continent. The EU would split in a heartbeat if that happened.
On the other hand, the Neocons need a war there to keep NATO entrenched like ticks because without Ukraine and the likelihood of the U.S. pulling out of the Middle East entirely in 2022, they have nothing left.
But at the same time the Neocons are facing the end of their 100-plus year project to vindicate Trotsky and win the revolution by overthrowing the evil Putin. Ukraine represents a similar existential crisis for them if it is settled peacefully.
It is these diametrically opposed agendas that 1) further proves I’m right we’ve reached Peak Davos and 2) makes this situation still very very dangerous.
But it is ultimately why Russia can and will dictate final terms in Europe because that’s what winners do. Let’s hope I’m right because if the Russians lose here, we all do.