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Saving private Biden

2022-02-17 | USA

The Russian army announced the staggered end of the ongoing maneuvers from the Mediterranean to Belarus. But according to the American press, the invasion of Ukraine is still imminent while tension keeps growing, in fact there would be 7,000 more Russian troops on the ground and therefore the NATO deployment would have to be reinforced and extended. But France and Germany are already doing something else, openly contradicting this discourse, incorporating China and placing themselves at the antipodes of US propaganda whose real objectives seem to be to "save Private Biden" within the US and to forcefully change the European energy matrix.

Is Russia Retreating? If so, why?

Russian tanks in Crimea withdraw and are sent to their permanent bases

Russian tanks in Crimea withdraw and are sent to their permanent bases

At this point, it seems quite clear that the "military-technical measures" announced by Putin in case of no agreement with NATO would not go through an invasion of Ukraine but through the deployment of medium-range nuclear missiles in Belarus, which is changing its constitution expressly to lend its soil to the Russian army. The nuclear balance in Europe and the end of Russian "strategic depth" was the underlying issue from the beginning of this crisis, which has however put much more on the table.

In fact, according to John Sawers, former director of Mi6, the British foreign intelligence, "Russian security concerns have returned to the top of the international diplomatic agenda", which would be enough of a triumph to expect from the Kremlin a quiet dismantling of the current maneuvers. Russia would have intended no more than to stir up the chessboard, with no real intent to break it.

Moreover, if we read NATO's messages carefully, they are talking about consolidating their positions in the East in the medium term as part of a "new normal" with Russia. Gone is the insistence on the supposed imminence of an invasion, even if they stage indignation about "troops moving back and forth" between exercises while not reducing their overall size or even increasing it.

In this context, Biden's message on Tuesday 15th, ssuring that "an invasion is still clearly possible", on which the White House insisted on Wednesday, sounds more than doubtful in Paris and Berlin. More than Peter's anguish at the skepticism of his neighbors when he warns for the umpteenth time of the arrival of the wolf - and it is true - , it sounds like a desperate invitation from the young shepherd to the wolf to make his presence known at once.

The incubation of a Franco-German position aimed at containing both the U.S. and Russia

The French press was the first to question the US and British intelligence messages claiming that they were part of a propaganda war. By now, after passing the famous D-Day when according to Biden, Russia was going to invade Ukraine, even the meek Spanish public media spread skepticism. But the message is going much further in some media, reflecting an increasingly conflictive positioning of the German and French bourgeoisies.

To reflect with particular clarity the tone of opinions and columns we are reading in recent days in very diverse media both in Germany and in France, it is worth a long quote from Marianne's last editorial and a call for attention on the title: "Ukraine: knowing who really wants war".

Vladimir Putin is no more recommendable than Saddam Hussein. And he rallied his troops around Ukraine. But an invasion project requires logistics other than military exercises, visible by satellite. And we would like the United States, this time, not to ask us to take their word for it.

Faced with such a situation, a little historical depth is necessary to understand that calls for unity among "Europeans", and even among "Westerners", would come only from an alignment on interests that are not ours and would not serve the stability of the world.

Hillary Clinton's defeat of Donald Trump, which the Democrats attribute to Russian manipulation for not admitting the nullity of their candidate, has further reinforced their obsession.

The tension between Vladimir Putin and the United States goes back even further, to the early 2000s, when the all-powerful head of Yukos, the first Russian oil company, forged alliances with the Exxon Mobil group.

Its CEO, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, then plans to sell his group to the Anglo-Saxons for $25 billion, which would have allowed him to finance a presidential campaign with the benevolence of the Americans. Vladimir Putin then brings him down for tax evasion and imprisons him for ten years. The Americans now understand that they will no longer be able to get their hands on Russian raw materials.

Twenty years later, the United States has become an exporter of liquefied natural gas and is seeking to conquer the European market. The Germans, under pressure from the Greens, have opted for 45% intermittent renewable energy: they need the additional gas from their gas-fired power plants, currently supplied by Russian pipelines. And the new one, Nord Stream 2, makes it possible to bypass Ukraine

Obviously, it is this pipeline which the Americans are threatening to shut down in the event of an incident on Ukrainian soil. To keep this in mind is to avoid believing that, because Vladimir Putin is an unscrupulous autocrat, those who confront him are generous philanthropists. Neither France nor Europe would have anything to gain from it.

Ukraine: knowing who wants war.. Natacha Polony, director of Marianne.

Der Spiegel had already been wondering whether the crisis would not culminate in a U.S.-Russian agreement that would leave Ukraine - and the Franco-German axis - in an impossible situation. In fact, one of the main fears of the European chancelleries - which is increasingly insisted on in the German press - has been whether the tension accumulated during these months would not end up in a change of regime in Kiev with an ultra-nationalist government replacing Zelensky.

Zelensky, who obviously shares those concerns, llegó a retar a EEUU exigiendo, went so far as to challenge the US by demanding, according to the BBC, that if the Western powers had "any firm evidence" of an imminent invasion they should show it. A daring position for the head of a buffer state.

Just in case and fearing a far-right coup, Zelensky decided to literally take the flag out of the hands of his most nationalist opponents by calling yesterday -the day of the alleged invasion- a "day of unity". A display of flags and patriotic acts dedicated to exalt the sacred union of classes and the preparation of the state and society for war. The chronicles showed that, fortunately, the jingoistic and warmongering atmosphere of the Ukrainian ruling class does not cloud the majority of a population that was far from enthusiastic and did not participate massively.

Saving private Biden

Joseph Biden

Joseph Biden

For its part, the US philo-democrat press has gone straight into war propaganda and disinformation mode with gems like the New York Times showing a dilapidated Polish base to rebut Russia's fear of an INF missile deployment on Polish soil.

But the best was left for the opinion columns and spin doctors. Just a few hours after confirming that Russia had not invaded Ukraine on the date and at the time suggested by Biden, a real crossfire of fanfare and epic exaltations of the president began. The message: if there is no war or invasion, it was due to Biden's "masterful crisis management".

Tellingly, what was pointed out in all the articles was that this masterful management had consisted of "putting our European allies, particularly Germany, in line" and having discovered "ways of supplying Europe with liquefied natural gas". They forgot to say, however, that the ways in question are the same ones that Trump has been trying to impose since he opened the battle over Nord Stream 2 in 2018: forcing Germany to buy American gas from Polish facilities.

And of course the punchline of a warning to China could not be missing: "we believe in alliances, and when we act in concert with our allies, we can still clench a mighty fist, in case you are thinking of taking over Taiwan."

While these messages may sound laughable from a European perspective, they are deeply troubling. The Democrat press is issuing them not only because it wants to avoid the internal attrition of Biden, who is increasingly battered in the polls.

Salvar al soldado Biden es fundamental para ellos ahora porque entienden que la forma en que el partido demócrata puede reducir la violencia de la fractura entre facciones de la burguesía de su país y ganar a un cierto sector de la pequeña burguesía airada, es acelerando y elevando de nivel el desarrollo militar de sus líneas de conflicto imperialista.

At least as long as the Democrats see their electoral prospects as insecure, we are in for a period of potentially explosive inter-imperialist tensions. Even if there has been no invasion and there will be no invasion, this is not a game of showboating and will become less and less so.

China and the geopolitics of French and German capital

In all this, Xi held a telephone conversation yesterday with Macron. The official Chinese agency, Xinhua, released a succinct press release which, in the French edition, had a small addition, which we copy in bold.

The Chinese president also emphasized that the relevant parties should make full use of multilateral platforms, including the Normandy format.

The Normandy format is a four-way table between France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine. And obviously it is the one preferred and proposed to Putin by Macron and Scholz. So Xi's message is twofold.

  • To Putin, the importance of maintaining a relationship with France and Germany outside NATO without short-circuiting the prospect of a large Eurasian capital and goods market, from Shanghai to Faro, is conveyed.
  • Macron and Scholz are driven to take economic integration with China seriously and to finally launch the EU-China investment agreement that was stalled a year ago.

This reveals a new underlying force in the tectonic tectonics of bloc formation that we are experiencing. The Eurasian continent is a large island on which 70% of the world's population lives. It has two great poles of capital accumulation, one at each end. Two poles that aspire to unify their markets and develop new consumer bases and investment opportunities in the space that separates them... in which Russia is a very important part in every sense, from logistics to energy.

It is this continental picture that gives real meaning to Scholz's statement in the Kremlin, where, although he was more forceful than conciliatory, he clearly stated that:

For us Germans, but also for all Europeans, it is clear that sustainable security against Russia cannot be achieved with Russia alone. We must not end up in a dead end. That would be a disgrace for us all.

Peace in our time?

Entrance to the "Komsomolskaya" mine, a symbol of the strikes in the Donbass.

Entrance to the "Komsomolskaya" mine, a symbol of the strikes in the Donbass.

Kryvyi Rih - striking miners.

Kryvyi Rih - striking miners.

The fact that there has been no Russian invasion of Ukraine or the outbreak of a war with the direct participation of great powers should not bring us any peace or enthusiasm. The balance that is emerging after this phantom war is that of a development of militarism and aggressiveness in the confrontation between imperialist interests.

And not only on European soil, the Russian deployment in front of Japan these days is actually more worrying than the one in Ukraine insofar as it does not respond to any other threat than that of a Japanese diplomatic positioning.

And while the media were looking at the Ukrainian border, France was evicted from a Mali which is now a Russian ally. Macron is now considering whether to bring these European soldiers to Niger with no apparent concern about further increasing tension with Algeria. The Commission that runs the EU already has guaranteed powers to los cut or freeze funds received by Poland and Hungary. Not to mention the los shifting balances in the Middle East or the la arms and nuclear arms race in the Pacific.

The only news that faintly hints at an alternative is the absence of masses of workers at the patriotic events that in both Ukraine and Russia were intended to stage the "sacred union" for the war.

It should not be overemphasized, it is a passive resistance to framing. But it is fed by a recent experience of strikes on both sides of the Donbass border which did represent an alternative, the only possible one, to the tendency towards the globalization of the war we are living through.