Russia Negotiates Ceasefire In Ukraine: NATO Responds With Troops, Warships, and Sanctions

By Brandon Turbeville
Global Research, September 05, 2014
Activist Post
Region: Russia and FSU
Theme: US NATO War Agenda
In-depth Report: UKRAINE REPORT

ukraine.n-400x224Only hours after Russian President Vladmir Putin managed to secure a fragile ceasefire between the Western-backed fascist regime in Kiev and the Russian-backed separatists in Eastern Ukraine, NATO has rewarded Russia’s efforts by shipping NATO soldiers into Western Ukraine, increasing the number of NATO navy vessels in the Black Sea, and leveling new sanctions against Moscow.

According to Reuters, Western Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and one of the main separatist leaders of Eastern Ukraine have agreed to order ceasefires on Friday, pending that an agreement is made on a new peace plan.

Reuters states:

Speaking on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Wales, Poroshenko said the ceasefire would be conditional on a planned meeting going ahead in Minsk on Friday of envoys from Ukraine, Russia and Europe’s OSCE security watchdog.

“At 1400 local time (0700 ET on Friday), provided the (Minsk) meeting takes place, I will call on the General Staff to set up a bilateral ceasefire and we hope that the implementation of the peace plan will begin tomorrow,” he told reporters.

Alexander Zakharchenko, head of the main rebel Donetsk People’s Republic, said in a statement his men would also order a ceasefire, from one hour later, provided that Kiev’s representatives signed up to a peace plan at the Minsk meeting.

Still, the ceasefire is hanging by a thread.

For instance, some rebel leaders view the ceasefire with extreme suspicion since other ceasefires allegedly initiated by Kiev have fallen apart or never actually taken place. Reuters reports,

Rebels still expressed scepticism. Oleg Tsaryov, a senior rebel official, told Reuters the separatist truce would depend on the government providing guarantees, “because in the past we had some ceasefire agreements Poroshenko didn’t honor”.

A source close to Zakharchenko said government forces bombarded Donetsk within 15 minutes of Poroshenko’s announcement of the ceasefire plan: “We’ll see how the talks go tomorrow, but it won’t be easy. All this talk of truce amid more and more shelling.”

Former central banker and current Prime Minister of Western Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, flatly dismissed the ceasefire plan, calling it a trap.

In addition, Western media outlets claim that the fighting on the ground continues in Ukraine. However, one would be justified in questioning the veracity of these reports given the track record of these operations and the obvious desire of Western media to discredit any Russian success in terms of ending the violence. On the other hand, given the track record of Kiev, ceasefire agreements do not have a great life expectancy.

There are wild cards, of course. Most notably, whether or not the Western fascists such as Right Sector will abide by the terms of the ceasefire deal. Indeed, this is one of the major concerns of the Donetsk Republic Prime Minister Zakharchenko.

Putin’s seven point peace plan outline is as follows:

First, end active offensive operations by armed forces, armed units and militia groups in southeast Ukraine in the Donetsk and Lugansk areas.

Second, withdraw Ukrainian armed forces units to a distance that would make it impossible to fire on populated areas using artillery and all types of multiple launch rocket systems.

Third, allow for full and objective international monitoring of compliance with the ceasefire and monitoring of the situation in the safe zone created by the ceasefire.

Fourth, exclude all use of military aircraft against civilians and populated areas in the conflict zone.

Fifth, organise the exchange of individuals detained by force on an ‘all for all’ basis without any preconditions.

Sixth, open humanitarian corridors for refugees and for delivering humanitarian cargoes to towns and populated areas in Donbass – Donetsk and Lugansk Regions.

Seventh, make it possible for repair brigades to come to damaged settlements in the Donbass region in order to repair and rebuild social facilities and life-supporting infrastructure and help the region to prepare for the winter.

In response to the Russian-brokered peace deal, NATO has responded in a typical confrontational fashion. Only hours after the ceasefire was announced, NATO and the United States announced that dynamic duo of destabilization was going ahead with planned military exercises in Western Ukraine that will see approximately 1,000 troops posted on Ukrainian soil.

Shortly ahead of the NATO meeting, Barack Obama stated from Estonia “that the U.S. and NATO would not allow a foreign country to encroach on its friends. He said this after blaming Moscow for the political turmoil in Ukraine. He was a hair away from saying that the U.S. would protect Ukraine from a Russian military attack.

If the NATO exercises were not enough to inflame tensions in the fragile country, four NATO warships are also set to enter the Black Sea this week. USS Ross, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, French Commandant Birot, Canadian HMCS Toronto, a Halifax-class frigate, and Spanish frigate Almirante Juan de Borbon are all set to enter the Black Sea before September 7.

As RT reports,

The Montreux Convention of 1936 states that warships of non-Black Sea states can stay in the Black Sea for no more than 21 days. It adds that the maximum deadweight of a non-regional warship in the area should not exceed 45,000 tons.

[…]

Despite the convention limits, NATO has managed to increase its presence in the region in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis by constantly rotating warships there. Russia does not approve of what it sees as muscle-flexing by the military alliance in its backyard.

In July this year, the grouping of NATO ships in the Black Sea reached nine vessels, setting a record for the post-Soviet period.

Rounding out the provocative stance of Western leaders, the results of the NATO summit reveal the intention to impose yet more sanctions against Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. According to the New York times,

The extended European package, which was agreed to in principle by leaders, at a European Union summit meeting last week, would cover state energy and defense companies, said one British official who requested anonymity under government rules.

Restrictions on Russian banks would be extended, and there would be more measures against so-called dual-use equipment, particularly in the communications and aerospace sectors. The access of Russian banks to the European debt market would be further restricted and limited to shorter-term debt.

Clearly, the United States and NATO are not seeking a peaceful solution in Ukraine. If they were, they would be applauding the ability of Putin to secure a ceasefire and a reasonable roadmap to a sustained halt of hostilities. If the US and NATO were seeking peace in Ukraine, they never would have orchestrated the Euromaidan color revolution to begin with.

Still, as the American people buy Western propaganda hook, line, and sinker, those of us who have a grasp of current events seem doomed to be dragged ever closer to a direct confrontation with a nuclear world power. We can continue to ignore the facts and the political process now but, if such a confrontation ever happens, we will not be able to ignore it any longer.

Report from Donbass War Theater: Ukraine Government Forces Defeated Prior to “Cease Fire”. Kiev Switches To “Strategic Defense”

 

Commentary by Michel Chossudovsky

Argentina cries death of its legendary rock star Gustavo Cerati

 

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Argentine rock star Gustavo Cerati has died, four years after a stroke put him in a coma and ended the career of one of Latin America’s most influential musicians.

The 55-year old was the former lead singer of the Argentine rock band Soda Stereo, who were among the most popular groups in the Spanish-speaking world in the 1980s and 1990s.

“He is eternal. He is by far the best musician to come out of Argentina in the past 50 years,” Charly Alberti, the drummer for Soda Stereo, told Todo Noticias news channel.

President Cristina Fernandez tweeted that Cerati, along with late Argentine rocker Luis Alberto Spinetta, were “popular idols for generations of Argentines”.

 

Cerati was born on August 11, 1959, in Buenos Aires and formed his first band before the age of 10.

Many of the melodies recorded during his childhood became the inspiration for songs later played by Soda Stereo.

Cerati met band members Alberti and Hector “Zeta” Bosio during their college years when they began swapping records of artists such as The Police, XTC and Elvis Costello.

They formed Soda, as the band was known to fans, in 1982, just as Argentina was emerging from a long and brutal military dictatorship. Their first album, a fresh sound with heavy influences of new wave and punk, was released in 1984.

Soda Stereo broke up in 1997, but Cerati continued a successful solo career until he suffered a stroke following a 2010 performance in Venezuela.

Cerati died from a respiratory arrest at the ALCLA hospital in Buenos Aires, director Gustavo Barbalace said.

He thanked the singer’s mother Lilian for remaining by her son’s side for four years and never losing faith that one day he would return to life.

“(Gustavo’s) mom is an example of a constant struggle,” an emotional Barbalace told reporters outside the hospital. “I wish there were more Lilians in this world.”

Cerati won several accolades, including several Latin Grammys and MTV music awards.

Thousands of people gathered at the Buenos Aires parliament to pay homage to Cerati. Some fans sang his songs, others brought flowers, while most waited in silence in a queue that stretched for 15 city blocks to pay their respects.

“How am I going to say goodbye to him, since he was such a part of my life?” wondered 44-year-old Susana Prieto, who carried a bouquet of flowers.

“He formed a part of my adolescence, my first loves, my adulthood.”

Gustavo Cerati, one of Latin America’s most celebrated musicians, considered Argentina’s most legendary rock star, died on Thursday from respiratory problems, his family said in a message on his official Facebook page. He was 55.

Cerati had been in a coma since 2010, after suffering from a stroke following a solo concert in Caracas, Venezuela.

While in a coma, Cerati was named a “Distinguished Citizen” by the city of Buenos Aires, his birthplace. Numerous highly-respected musicians, including Argentina’s Fito Paez, Uruguayan Jorge Drexler and many other musicians  paid tribute to Cerati during this time.

Cerati fronted Soda Stereo, a band whose songs about seduction, inner turmoil and disillusionment defined a generation of youth not only in Argentina, but up through South America, well into Mexico and across the Atlantic into Spain. In 1987, five years after forming and giving their first show at a Buenos Aires discotheque, the band was chosen as the guest of honor at the Vina del Mar Festival where, according to their official site, there were 120 cases of collective hysteria.

“It’s impossible to explain the renaissance of the Argentine rock movement in the early ‘80s without mentioning the return of democracy after seven years of military government in 1983,” says the Billboard page on Soda Stereo. Though they didn’t sing about political issues, “of all the bands that emerged from that post-dictatorial rule government, Soda Stereo were by far the most popular and enduring.”

The band closed the “Three Days for Democracy” Festival in Buenos Aires in 1988, drawing 150,000 people to the 9 de Julio Avenue, in the heart of the capital city. Soda Stereo was influenced by bands like The Police, Television and Talking Heads. Its style evolved over time, encompassing elements of ska, reggae, soul and electronica. By 1989, they had gone on five continental tours.

The following year, they released their emblematic song, De Musica Ligera, which became the de facto anthem for legions of Latin America youth who grew up in the 90s.

 

Will NATO liberate Jihadistan? By Pepe Escobar

ASIA TIMES online

THE ROVING EYE
Will NATO liberate Jihadistan?
By Pepe Escobar

Caliph Ibrahim, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, self-declared leader of Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, really sports a mean PR vein. When the show seemed scheduled for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to save Ukraine and Western Civilization – at least rhetorically – from that Evil Empire remixed, Russia, The Caliph, accessing his expensive watch wisdom, intervened with – what else – yet another “off with their heads” special.

Eyebrows were properly raised until the United States’ intel alphabet soup solemnly concluded that Islamic State (IS) really beheaded yet another American journalist on video (US President Barack Obama: “An horrific act of violence”).

And then, out of the blue, The Caliph doubled down, proclaiming to the whole world his next target is none other than Russian President Vladimir Putin. Was he channeling the recently ostracized Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, aka Bandar Bush?

In thesis, everything would be settled. The Caliph becomes a contractor to NATO (well, he’s been on to it, sort of). The Caliph beheads Putin. The Caliph liberates Chechnya – fast; not the usual, deeply embarrassing NATO quagmire in Afghanistan. The Caliph, on a roll, attacks the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The Caliph becomes NATO’s shadow secretary-general. And Obama finally stops complaining that his calls to Putin always end up on voicemail.

Ah, if geopolitics was as simple as a Marvel Comics blockbuster.

Instead, The Caliph should know – even as he is largely a Made-in-the-West product, with substantial input from Gulf Cooperation Council petrodollar cash – that NATO never promised him a rose garden.

So, predictably, those ungrateful Obama and David Cameron, the British Prime Minister – oh yes, because the “special relationship” is all that matters in NATO, the others are mere extras – have vowed to go after him with a broad (well, not that broad) “coalition of the willing” with the usual GCC suspects plus Turkey and Jordan, bombing Iraqi Kurdistan, parts of Sunni Iraq and even Syria.

After all, Syrian President “Bashar al-Assad must go”, rather “Assad brutality” in Cameron’s formulation, is the real culprit for The Caliph’s actions.

And all in the name of the Enduring Freedom Forever-style Global War on Terror.

Now get me that Slavic Caliph
NATO’s outgoing secretary-general Anders “Fogh of War” Rasmussen was somehow rattled. After all, this was supposed to be the “crucial moment”, at the NATO summit in Wales, when NATO would be at its Cold War 2.0 best, rescuing “the allies”, all 28 of them, from the dark gloom of insecurity.

One just had to look at the replica of a glorious Eurofighter Typhoon deployed in front of the NATO summit hotel in the southern Welsh town of Newport.

To round it all off, that evil Slavic Caliph, Vlad Putin himself, designed a seven-point peace plan to solve the Ukrainian quagmire – just as Kiev’s appalling army has been reduced to strogonoff by the federalists and/or separatists in the Donbass. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko – who until virtually yesterday was screaming “Invasion!” at the top of his lungs – breathed long sighs of relief. And as an aside, he disclosed Kiev was receiving high-precision weapons from an unnamed country that could only be the US, the UK or Poland.

The whole thing posed a problem, though. What is NATO to defend Western Civilization from when all that threat embodied by “Russian aggression” dissolves into a road map to peace?

No wonder the 60 heads of state and government with their Ministers of Defense and Foreign Relations who performed a soft invasion/breaching of the “ring of steel” protecting Newport from protesting hordes were also somehow dazed an confused.

Over 11 years after Shock and Awe, we are still living in a Rumsfeldian world. It was the former Pentagon head David Rumsfeld under George “Dubya” Bush who conceptualized “Old Europe” and “New Europe”. “Old” were Venusian sissies; “New” were vigorous Martians.

“New” totally supported Shock and Awe, and the subsequent invasion/occupation of Iraq. Now they support, in fact beg, for NATO to stare down Russia.

“Old”, for its part, was trying at least to save a negotiating space with Putin. And in the end dear prudence, especially by Berlin, was rewarded with the Putin peace plan.

Just in case, not to rattle the Empire of Chaos too much, Paris announced it won’t deliver the first of two Mistral helicopter carrier battleships to Moscow according to schedule. And of course NATO strongly condemned Russia on Ukraine, and the European Union followed up with yet more sanctions.

As for Fogh of War, predictably, he kept juggling his “Mars Attacks!” rhetoric (see Asia Times Online, September 3, 2014). It was all Moscow’s fault. NATO is nothing but an innocent force of appeasement – powerful and solid. At the same time, NATO would not be foolish to start depicting Russia as an enemy outright.

So, as Asia Times Online reported, NATO at best will help train Kiev’s forces; the Donbass performance showed they badly need it. But there will be no Ukraine “integration” – for all the hysteria deployed by Kiev and well as Poland and the Baltic states calling for permanent bases. The new element will be the remixed NATO Response Force (NRF) which, by the way, was never used before.

NRF even comes with a catchy slogan: “Travel light and strike hard”. An 800-strong battalion will be able to strike in two days, and a 5,000-strong brigade between five and seven days. Well, by those “travel light” standards it would hardly be enough to prevent The Caliph from annexing larger parts of Jihadistan with his gleaming white Toyota combo. As for “strike hard”, ask Pashtuns in the Hindu Kush for an informed opinion.

So Wales yielded NRF; permanent “rotation” and permanent forward bases to “protect” Central and Eastern Europe; and everybody shelling out more cash (no less than 2% of their GDP each, for all 28 members, from here to 2025). All this in the middle of the third European recession in five years.

Now compare the astonishing combined NATO military budget of US$900 billion (75% of all expenses monopolized by the US) with only $80 billion for Russia. Yet Moscow is the “threat”.

Needless to add, even under so much sound and fury, Wales did not yield NATO sitting on a Freudian divan – analyzing in an endless monologue its abject failure in both Afghanistan and Libya.

In Afghanistan, the Taliban basically run rings around NATO’s bases and “strike hard” movements, demoralizing them to oblivion. That was NATO in GWOT mode.

And in Libya, NATO created a failed state ravaged by militias and called it “peace”. That was NATO in “Responsibility To Protect” mode.

NATO liberating Jihadistan? The Pentagon couldn’t care less. The Pentagon wants eternal GWOT. US Think Tankland is ecstatic at NATO finding a “renewed purpose” and its long-term survival now assured by a “unifying threat”. Translation: Russia.

So The Caliph is not exactly quaking in his Made-in-USA desert boots. He’s even dreaming of taking on the Slavic Caliph himself. How come Marvel Comics never thought about that?

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

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