Scholz Caves on Nord Stream While Putin Throws Donbass a Lifeline MIKE WHITNEY • FEBRUARY 23, 2022

“I went in yesterday and there was a television on and I said, ‘This is genius’. Putin has declared a big portion of the Ukraine as independent…. and I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he is going to go in and be a peacekeeper. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. We could use that peace force on our southern border. There were more tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re going to keep peace all right…. By the way, this never would have happened had I been in office. It’s not even thinkable. This never would have happened.... It’s very sad.” Donald Trump,America’s last elected president

“In order to survive and preserve its leading role on the international stage, the US desperately needs to plunge Eurasia into chaos, (and) to cut economic ties between Europe and Asia-Pacific Region … Russia is the only (country) within this potential zone of instability that is capable of resistance. It is the only state that is ready to confront the Americans. Undermining Russia’s political will for resistance… is a vitally important task for America.” Nikolai Starikov, Western Financial System Is Driving It to War, Russia Insider

On Tuesday, Germany announced that it would halt the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that connects Germany to Russia. The United States has opposed the project since its inception in 2015 and has initiated multiple rounds of economic sanctions to prevent its completion. Blocking the pipeline was the main objective of Washington’s extravagant 2 month-long media blitz which portrayed Vladimir Putin as reckless warmonger who posed a serious threat to European security. The US achieved its dubious goal on Monday when Putin announced that Russia would recognize the sovereign independence of two statelets in east Ukraine that are currently under siege by the Ukrainian army. Putin’s announcement provided the cover the German government needed to abandon the popular pipeline project and to demonstrate, once again, that Germany’s top politicians and senior-level officials still put Washington’s demands above the interests of the German people. Here’s the story from DW:

“German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Tuesday that Germany has taken steps to halt the process of certifying the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia. He told reporters in Berlin that his government was taking the measure in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

“That sounds technical, but it is the necessary administrative step so there can be no certification of the pipeline and without this certification, Nord Stream 2 cannot begin operating,” Scholz said.

The White House has welcomed Scholz’s announcement and said it would be following up with measures of its own.” (“Ukraine crisis: Germany halts Nord Stream 2 approval”, DW)

It is worth noting, that Germany did not contact Russia prior to its announcement and made no effort to allow the case to be arbitrated in a (WTO) forum where Russia could defend itself against flagrantly discriminatory and capricious trade practices. As we’ve seen many times in the past, the principles of international trade– which supposedly create a “level playing field” for all competitors– are easily cast aside by the more powerful nations who whimsically dictate how the rules are applied. But if one country is able to torpedo a project as critically-important as Nord Stream by applying some thoroughly-arbitrary and subjective standard, then why maintain the pretense of a “rules-based” system at all?

Is it any wonder why ordinary people are so disgusted by this “rules-based” charade that only serves the wealthy and powerful? The truth is–as we all know–the United States used its political muscle to force German leaders into derailing a pipeline​ project that posed a threat to Washington’s primacy in Europe. That is what really happened; and that is why Nord Stream was targeted, sanctioned, and ultimately sabotaged. Even so, the incident is instructive. It shows quite clearly that one country–above all others–has its finger planted squarely on the scales so that only those transactions that jibe with its geostrategic objectives, go forward. If there was ever any question about that before, Nord Stream should put those doubts to rest.

Shouldn’t Russia be allowed to defend itself in an open tribunal where it can challenge the claims that are made against it or is it acceptable for a political leader to unilaterally scrap a $10 billion project based on his own subjective interpretation of events in far-flung Ukraine?

And if, in fact, Russia has done something so heinous that Germany is justified in blocking Nord Stream from coming on line, then why doesn’t the German government cancel Nord Stream 1 at the same time, after all, the gas comes from the same country and is owned by the same company. Why keep one pipeline open while shutting the other? It makes no sense. If the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is so committed to “principle”, then why not suspend all Russian gas deliveries immediately and let the German people freeze to death in the dark? Isn’t that what a “principled” leader would do?

Indeed, he would, but German chancellor Olaf Scholz is not acting on principle, he’s caving in to Washington’s arm-twisting and everyone knows it. At the same time, he is imposing a large and onerous tax on the German people by denying them a source of cheap heating fuel. The only explanation for Scholz’s behavior is that his real loyalty is to the globalist cabal that runs the White House and not to the people who put him in office. He has shown that he would rather be Biden’s lapdog than the proud leader of a great nation. The German people deserve better than the likes of Olaf Scholz.

Did Putin know that Nord Stream would be halted if he declared the independence of the two statelets in east Ukraine?

Yes, he did. But unlike his counterparts in the West, Putin put the safety of the Ukrainian Russians above his prospects for bigger revenues. The Russian president was not going to allow the 60,000 Ukrainian combat troops–that have gathered along the Line of Contact–to invade the Donbass killing and maiming the ethnic Russians who occupy the area. Instead, he made the more courageous choice by recognizing the independence of the two new republics and by deploying a peacekeeping mission to those areas. Now any Ukrainian attack on the Donbass will be met by the full force of the Russian army. And this challenge does not apply to Ukraine alone. By establishing two new states at the periphery of Europe, Putin is openly challenging NATO and the US to restore the nation’s borders. But will they? Does Biden really want a confrontation with Russia or has all his saber-rattling and tough talk just been more posturing for the cameras?

We’ll see, but Russia will be ready one way or another, after all, Putin just tore up the UN Charter and carved two new statelets out of the broken shell of Washington’s bankrupt euro-colony. That is not something that Uncle Sam can simply ignore. By unilaterally redrawing the borders of a sovereign country, Putin has effectively blown up the system of global security that the US has overseen for the last 75 years. Washington will have to respond to that, and the response will not be limited to sanctions alone. Red lines have been crossed and Russia is presenting a direct challenge to the existing system itself. That’s means the reaction is likely to be violent.

Nevertheless, it is not Putin who pushed things to this point. For the last 8 years (since the CIA-backed coup in 2014 toppled Ukraine’s elected leader and replaced him with a US stooge), Russia has made every effort to encourage the warring parties to comply with the Minsk agreement which provides the two eastern republics with political autonomy. The Ukrainian government signed the treaty and agreed to fulfill its requirements. But they never made any effort to do so, in fact, numerous high-ranking officials in the government (including the President himself.) have openly stated that they would never allow Minsk to be implemented. On top of that, Washington opposes Minsk because Minsk undermines Washington’s overall strategy in Ukraine which is to use the country as a forward-operating base for launching attacks on Russia. In short, Washington wants to maintain the status quo; it wants an ethnically-divided basket-case country languishing in “a permanent state of colonial dependency”. As long as Ukraine remains weak and divided there is no danger of any unified resistance emerging that is powerful enough to expel the US from the country.

This is why Putin said that he should have recognized the independence of the statelets long ago. What he meant was that Washington never had any intention of seeking a resolution to the conflict, in fact, it was explicitly NOT in Washington’s interests to do so. Putin should have seen “the writing on the wall” earlier and acted accordingly. But that meant standing up to the United States which he was reluctant to do. Until this week.

So, what changed? Let’s let Putin speak for himself:

“We are seeing how persistently the Kiev regime is being pumped with arms. Since 2014, the United States alone has spent billions of dollars for this purpose, including supplies of arms and equipment and training of specialists. In the last few months, there has been a constant flow of Western weapons to Ukraine, ostentatiously, with the entire world watching. Foreign advisors supervise the activities of Ukraine’s armed forces and special services and we are well aware of this.

Over the past few years, military contingents of NATO countries have been almost constantly present on Ukrainian territory under the pretext of exercises. The Ukrainian troop control system has already been integrated into NATO. This means that NATO headquarters can issue direct commands to the Ukrainian armed forces, even to their separate units and squads.

The United States and NATO have started an impudent development of Ukrainian territory as a theatre of potential military operations. Their regular joint exercises are obviously anti-Russian. Last year alone, over 23,000 troops and more than a thousand units of hardware were involved.

A law has already been adopted that allows foreign troops to come to Ukraine in 2022 to take part in multinational drills. Understandably, these are primarily NATO troops. This year, at least ten of these joint drills are planned. Obviously, such undertakings are designed to be a cover-up for a rapid buildup of the NATO military group on Ukrainian territory.

This is all the more so since the network of airfields upgraded with US help … is capable of transferring army units in a very short time. Ukraine’s airspace is open to flights by US strategic and reconnaissance aircraft and drones that conduct surveillance over Russian territory. I will add that the US-built Maritime Operations Centre in Ochakov makes it possible to support activity by NATO warships, including the use of precision weapons, against the Russian Black Sea Fleet and our infrastructure on the entire Black Sea Coast.” (“Adress of the President of the Russian Federation”,Kremlin, RU)

What is Putin saying?

He’s saying that Ukraine is already a NATO country in everything but name-only. He’s saying that Washington and its allies have covertly placed a hostile army, military bases and advanced weaponry right on Russia’s doorstep. He is drawing attention to the identifiable threat that NATO poses to Russia and to all of Central Asia. He is trying to calmly and rationally explain the national security crisis that Russia now faces on its western flank. He has a point, doesn’t he? Here’s more:

Putin: NATO’s military infrastructure is “a knife to our throat.”

“The Alliance and its military infrastructure has reached Russia’s borders. This is one of the key causes of the European security crisis; it has had the most negative impact on the entire system of international relations and led to the loss of mutual trust.

The situation continues to deteriorate, including in the strategic area. Thus, positioning areas for interceptor missiles are being established in Romania and Poland as part of the US project to create a global missile defence system. It is common knowledge that the launchers deployed there can be used for Tomahawk cruise missiles – offensive strike systems.

I will explain that American strategic planning documents confirm the possibility of a so-called preemptive strike at enemy missile systems. We also know the main adversary of the United States and NATO. It is Russia. NATO documents officially declare our country to be the main threat to Euro-Atlantic security. Ukraine will serve as an advanced bridgehead for such a strike. If our ancestors heard about this, they would probably simply not believe this. We do not want to believe this today either, but it is what it is….

…. after the US destroyed the INF Treaty, the Pentagon has been openly developing many land-based attack weapons, including ballistic missiles that are capable of hitting targets at a distance of up to 5,500 km. If deployed in Ukraine, such systems will be able to hit targets in Russia’s entire European part. The flying time of Tomahawk cruise missiles to Moscow will be less than 35 minutes; ballistic missiles from Kharkov will take seven to eight minutes; and hypersonic assault weapons, four to five minutes. It is like a knife to the throat. I have no doubt that they hope to carry out these plans, as they did many times in the past, expanding NATO eastward, moving their military infrastructure to Russian borders and fully ignoring our concerns, protests and warnings….

…the level of threats to our country has increased significantly, Russia has every right to respond in order to ensure its security. And that is exactly what we will do.” (“Adress of the President of the Russian Federation”,Kremlin, RU)

Putin’s concerns are entirely reasonable, but how does this apply to the situation in the Donbass and Putin’s unilateral declaration of independence for the two breakaway republics? How can that be justified, after all, for more than 15 years, there has been no stronger proponent of universal security, non-intervention and national sovereignty than Vladimir Putin. Don’t his recent pronouncements suggest that he has abandoned those principles in order to implement his own policy? How do we explain Putin’s sudden change-of-heart? Again, let’s let Putin speak for himself:

“With regard to the state of affairs in Donbass, we see that the ruling Kiev elites never stop publicly making clear their unwillingness to comply with the Minsk Package of Measures to settle the conflict and are not interested in a peaceful settlement. On the contrary, they are trying to orchestrate a blitzkrieg in Donbass as was the case in 2014 and 2015. We all know how these reckless schemes ended.

Not a single day goes by without Donbass communities coming under shelling attacks. The recently formed large military force makes use of attack drones, heavy equipment, missiles, artillery and multiple rocket launchers. The killing of civilians, the blockade, the abuse of people, including children, women and the elderly, continues unabated. As we say, there is no end in sight to this. (Note: None of this has been reported in the western media. There has been a complete blackout of news related to the relentless depredations of the Ukrainian Army.)

Meanwhile, the so-called civilized world, which our Western colleagues proclaimed themselves the only representatives of, prefers not to see this, as if this horror and genocide, which almost 4 million people are facing, do not exist. But they do exist and only because these people did not agree with the West-supported coup in Ukraine in 2014 and opposed the transition towards the Neanderthal and aggressive nationalism and neo-Nazism which have been elevated in Ukraine to the rank of national policy. They are fighting for their elementary right to live on their own land, to speak their own language, and to preserve their culture and traditions...

How long can this tragedy continue? How much longer can one put up with this? Russia has done everything to preserve Ukraine’s territorial integrity. All these years, (Russia) has persistently and patiently pushed for the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 2202 of February 17, 2015, which consolidated the Minsk Package of Measures of February 12, 2015, to settle the situation in Donbass.

Everything was in vain. Presidents and Rada deputies come and go, but deep down the aggressive and nationalistic regime that seized power in Kiev remains unchanged. It is entirely a product of the 2014 coup, and those who then embarked on the path of violence, bloodshed and lawlessness did not recognize then and do not recognize now any solution to the Donbass issue other than a military one.

In this regard, I consider it necessary to take a long overdue decision and to immediately recognize the independence and sovereignty of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic.

I would like to ask the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation to support this decision and then ratify the Treaty of Friendship and Mutual Assistance with both republics. These two documents will be prepared and signed shortly.

We want those who seized and continue to hold power in Kiev to immediately stop hostilities. Otherwise, the responsibility for the possible continuation of the bloodshed will lie entirely on the conscience of Ukraine’s ruling regime.” (“Adress of the President of the Russian Federation”, Kremlin, RU)

So, what happened to Putin, you ask? Why would a strong proponent of universal security, non-intervention and national sovereignty, suddenly do an about-face and recognize the independence of two territories in Ukraine?

What happened to Putin was ‘reality set in’ and he finally woke up to the game that Washington is playing. In other words, when “the guarantor of global security” (aka– the US) becomes the world’s most active interventionist openly participating in regional​ hostilities in order to pursue its own narrow strategic objectives, then other parties must do whatever they can to stop the fighting, save the lives of the innocent, and bring the conflicts to a swift end.

Putin did not compromise his principles by providing a security umbrella for the 4 million people who were just days away from another bloody rampage. No, he acted honorably and courageously by lending a hand to vulnerable people who were in desperate need of his help. He sacrificed gas revenues for lives, reputational damage to defend the defenseless, and he incurred the wrath of the United States in order to do the right thing.

Putin should be applauded for his action. He stood up to the bully and called his bluff.

Now the ball is in Biden’s court.