Point of view. It is another reading of the conflict in Ukraine that is proposed here, based both on the agreements reached between the major powers and on the reality on the ground.
By Robert Harneis
I think we can safely say that Putin wrong footed everyone over his intentions in Ukraine, including the writer. Of course, all that stuff about the Russians marching on Kiev massacring thousands, turned out to be the rubbish it always was but who predicted he would recognise the secessionist Donetsk and Luhansk Republics just yet?
Non-compliance with commitments
It would seem that Russian patience with Western double speak was finally exhausted, seeing that there was no sign of the West compelling Ukraine to honour its obligations under the Minsk Agreements, which it signed in 2015.
They would, amongst other things, have given the Donbass autonomy and linguistic freedom. The Ukrainian government has made it quite clear they have no intention of carrying out the undertakings they signed.
Note that they were endorsed by the UN Security Council. Western governments have endlessly suggested that Russia was a party to the accords and therefore could and ought to take actions to make them effective. But The agreements incorporated a strict timetable that depended first on Ukrainian government actions to take effect. Notably paragraph 9 called for ‘Restoration of full control over the state border of Ukraine by Ukraine’s government throughout the whole conflict area, which should begin on the first day after the local elections and be completed after a comprehensive political settlement (local elections in individual areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on the basis of the Law of Ukraine, and a constitutional reform) by the end of 2015, on condition of implementation of paragraph 11 – with consultations and in agreement with the representatives of individual areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.’
Null and void
The paragraph 11 referred to above requires ‘Conducting constitutional reform in Ukraine, with the new constitution coming into force by the end of 2015, providing for decentralization as a key element (taking into account the characteristics of individual areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, agreed with representatives of these areas), as well as the adoption of the permanent legislation on the special status of individual areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in accordance with the measures specified in Note  , until the end of 2015. ‘
The government of Ukraine has made no moves to put into effect these paragraphs and so the agreement has remained null and void.
A nice irony is that since 2014 the West has alleged that the Russian military was already in the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk Republics. This was only true in the very limited sense that volunteers were allowed to serve there and munitions and food were provided. In addition no sensible person doubts that the people of the Donetsk are absolutely thrilled to be ‘invaded’ and protected against their own brutal government. So the West is faced with having to carry out the threat of imposing further sanctions on Russia for doing what they are already alleged to have done for several years, that the inhabitants welcome.
Coup d’État in Kiev
Bear in mind sanctions have hurt Europe and only inconvenienced Russia, whilst at the same time strengthening the strongly autarchic nature of the Russian economy. They have of course in no way inconvenienced the United States. To add to the confusion US diplomats seemed unsure if it really was an invasion.
Western diplomats and experts have been quick to allege that Russia’s actions are in breach of international law. However the Russian foreign office has pointed out that what they are doing is in accordance with the United Nations Charter. Note key parts of the text of the accompanying statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry: —
“Exactly eight years ago the world witnessed a bloody anti-constitutional government coup in Kiev…”
“This decision took into consideration the fact that the people of Donbass freely expressed their will as per the UN Charter, the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States, the CSCE Final Act, and other fundamental international documents.’
For the West there is also the problem of Kosovo. Kosovo? In 1999 the United States and NATO attacked Serbia with a massive air assault from 24 March to 10 June. At the end of it they occupied the Serbian territory of Kosovo and the United States established their biggest foreign base worldwide there, Camp Bondsteel. The attack came without the consent of the United Nations and was justified on the grounds that the people needed protection from their government. Precisely the same grounds that President Putin has cited before recognizing Donetsk and Luhansk.
For the ethnic Russians of Eastern Ukraine this is all good news and maybe for the whole country. The constant shelling and harassing of the breakaway republics will now stop or the perpetrators will likely be eliminated. The Ukrainian government will think carefully before continuing its harassment of ethnic Russians in Ukraine proper. They have been warned in Putin’s speech that the perpetrators of the Odessa massacre (2014) will be found and put on trial. This will enable those Ukrainians who favour better relations with Russia to speak up with much less fear of the persecution they currently suffer.
Putin does not make empty threats
The fascists from Western Ukraine will be very unhappy. Now they know they are marked men. Putin said in his February 21 recognition speech, “One shudders at the memories of the terrible tragedy in Odessa, where peaceful protesters were brutally murdered, burned alive in the House of Trade Unions. The criminals who committed that atrocity have never been punished, and no one is even looking for them. But we know their names and we will do everything to punish them, find them and bring them to justice,”. He has said in the past, “my job is to send the terrorists to heaven, it is up to God to decide what to do with them.” Putin does not make empty threats.
So hopefully this unexpected move will improve the nature of politics in Kiev. The Western powers used fascist elements to spearhead the Maidan coup in Kiev in 2014 when a freely and fairly elected President was overthrown. They have poisoned Ukrainian politics ever since. The West has done nothing to restrain them. Hopefully this problem will now be addressed. If so it can only strengthen the hand of moderates in Kiev.
As expected the reaction of the Western powers is sanctions. Germany has reacted to Putin’s move by announcing that it will not go ahead with the certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline “in the present circumstances”. It will be interesting to see how long they stick to this – certainly until after the US midterm elections in November so that Biden can claim he stopped it. Either way given the energy shortage in Europe, stopping it permanently seems a good way for Europe to shoot itself in the foot. Curiously no one wants to talk about the identical parallel Nord Stream 1 and stop that. Why not?
For the record, nowhere, it would seem, has any western diplomat expressed any concern for the thousands of ethnic Russians that have been killed and injured over the last eight years in the break away republics.
To be continued…
 Accords de Minsk English – https://www.unian.info/politics/1043394-minsk-agreement-full-text-in-english.html
 English version – https://www.mid.ru/ru/foreign_policy/news/1799883/?lang=en
 Washington Post 9 Feb 2010 https://www.oscepa.org/en/news-a-media/press-releases/press-2010/international-observers-say-ukrainian-election-was-free-and-fair