Nazi NATO, but No War Crimes Tribunal? Why?

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Eric Zuesse

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The above is from a video discussed below, about what “our people” are doing

to “their people.”

A friend who lives in Ukraine sent me this message a few hours ago:

I got a call from Donestsk the other day asking me if I knew anything about a bomb that sucks the air out of a room or building and tears people up in the process. Granted it was only part of what happened. A fireball followed.

The survivors had left the room and had two structural walls between them and the detonation site. It was probably a small bomb/missile, but the only type I know of as a possible explanation is a thermobaric or vacuum bomb. Have you heard of any other weapon that can do this?

Also, there is a rumor about SCUD missiles, which Ukraine was supposed to have demolished 20 years ago. People say that they are being deployed to Donbass. Do you know anything about this?

A genocide is going on, but it’s supported by the West, and so Americans and Europeans aren’t learning much about it from the standpoint of its victims (the residents of Ukraine’s southeast). Perhaps that’s why there aren’t calls for war-crimes trials about the genocide.

Here’s the background (for those who don’t already know it):

Southeastern Ukraine had voted overwhelmingly in 2010 for the President who was overthrown by a violent coup on 22 February 2014, and so the coup-imposed Government is trying to kill them, to clear the land from them but keep their territory; it calls those people “terrorists” for their rejecting this coup-imposed Government, but the reason they reject it isn’t only because it was imposed in a violent coup against the man for whom they had overwhelmingly voted, but also because this new Government is trying to get rid of the people who live there, to clear the land from them, to get them off of Ukraine’s voter-rolls. This new coup-imposed Government wants to remain in power, through future ‘democratic’ ‘elections,’ without needing to worry about these voters, enough of whom will then be gone so that this Government can stay, no matter whom its personnel are.

Ukraine, even before the February 2014 coup, was the most far-right country in all of Europe and the former Soviet Union, but now, with so many of the voters in its least-conservative region (the southeastern) gone, this extremist rightwing Government will probably last. However, they want to get rid of yet more of them, just to play it safe. 

So, the civil war between the Government and those residents is continuing. That Government has already held elections within the areas it’s not bombing, elections in order to claim that they’re not the same government as the violently coup-imposed one — that they’re a democratically elected government instead. However, it has the same people, who are the politicians that received their electoral support in the northwestern half of Ukraine. There was little or no voting held in much of the southeast. So, this is actually a sectional war, an ongoing civil war, with the northwest bombing the southeast. The oligarchs in the northwest want their land, but want to get rid of the people who live on it. And this is being called “pro-Western.”

Ukraine’s civil war started on May 2nd. That was when the newly installed post-22-February-2014-coup-imposed Ukrainian Government made unequivocally clear, via a shocking massacre, that the people who live in the regions which had voted overwhelmingly for the former Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, needed to be either dead, or otherwise gone — but, in either case, absent from Ukraine, and gone from Ukraine’s voter-rolls. The pro-Western, anti-Russian, Ukrainians who carried out this massacre inside the Trade Unions Building in Odessa on May 2nd, by burning alive the people who had been encamped there circulating literature against the new Ukrainian regime that Obama in his February 2014 coup in Kiev had imposed upon Ukraine, called themselves the “Right Sector.” And here is their preferred way of killing people, which they had practiced at and even before their coup, but now yet more systematically during this May 2nd massacre (and, this time, you can see it in the context it’s viewed at youtube):

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The people who did what’s shown in that picture are called “Right Sector,” because they belong to the far-right Ukrainian political party of that name, who constitute one of two racist-fascist, or nazi, parties that Obama installed into control over Ukraine in February of this year.

Ukraine’s other nazi party is called “Svoboda” or “Freedom,” a name that the CIA had given to them them in 2004 (based on the appeal in the West of the concept of “Libertarianism” or “Freedom”) in order to avoid PR problems with their original name, which was overtly fascist, the “Nationalist Social” Party, inverted from Hitler’s “National Socialist,” or the original German, “Nazi,” Party. Another reason for the name-change was that the U.S. had waged war during the 1940s against Germany’s nazis and other fascists, and so the U.S. as of 2004 didn’t want to be publicly known as pro-nazi (pro racist-fascist) (though that’s what it evidently has become). The Bush-Obama Administrations wanted to hide the fact that they had hired nazis for the years, building up to both the February coup and this May massacre. At least in the U.S. and Europe, they hid it (though a few scholars noticed it).

The person who largely funded the massacre was a Ukrainian oligarch, Ihor Kolomoysky, who hired in Washington Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden and a few other bright young people associated with high U.S. officials. (Joe Biden is a big supporter of Ukraine’s coup-regime.) For all these people it was a potentially very lucrative business deal, having to do with gas-deposits in southeastern Ukraine, and possibly also with stock-investments in ‘defense’ firms. But for the lower-level nazis who carried out the dirty-work, this was done as much for the fun of it as it was for the pay of it ($5,000 per corpse, paid by Kolomoysky). Indeed, the crowd outside the burning Trade Unions Building cheered just moments after a pregnant woman in one of the upper floors was raped and screamed and was then promptly strangled to death with an electrical cord. Immediately after this rape-murder, someone (perhaps the rapist’s buddy) stuck a big Ukrainian flag out the adjoining window, and that’s when the crowd cheered. And when people jumped from upper floors to the hard ground below to escape the flames and the choking smoke, they were immediately batted to death by eager nazis waiting below with bats, so that medics would be able to save as few of them as possible.

The Right Sector’s leader is Dmitry Yarosh, who is a rabid hater of all ethnic Russians (which is why Obama and congressional Republicans support him — he gets the job done for them [and for their campaign donors] in Ukraine). In fact, Yarosh is on the wanted-list by Interpol for his having incited fundamentalist Islamic Chechens to wage a war to separate the Chechen region of Russia from the rest of Russia. (Yarosh loves separatists in Russia, but hates separatists in his own Ukraine.) TIME  Magazine said, in its 4 February 2014 interview with Yarosh, that “His ideology, it seems, is just too toxic to let him in the room,” and that the U.S. State Department thus told him to keep quiet, though he was undoubtedly crucial to the ultimate success of their coup on February 22nd. TIME’s interviewer wrote, “He has clearly grown tired of being the movement’s anonymous enforcer.” Immediately after February 22nd, Yarosh was the enforcer whose troops terrorized members of Ukraine’s parliament or “Rada” to approve the new government, which had been secretly selected early in February by Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Asia, Victoria Nuland, telling America’s Ambassador in Kiev whom to appoint. The person at the new Government’s top was to be Arseniy Yatsenyuk, or “Yats” as she called him; and “Yats” promptly set about to assemble a government of mainly nazis but also some fascists (or non-racist right-wing extremists). Yarosh’s Right Sector continued to be the main enforcers in the new Government, because they really love to torture and kill people. (Most of the merely conscripted soldiers don’t; many go AWOL once the see what they are doing.)

Months later, here is what Yarosh’s people did to ethnic Russians in Ukraine’s southeastern region, who were trying to protect themselves and their families by serving in the newly formed separatist army against Yarosh’s and Obama’s new nazi Ukrainian regime:

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Different videographer, different part of Ukraine, different event, different time, same modus-operandi — torture, then burning to death — and same basic reason: these people wanted to save themselves and their families from being treated this way by nazis whose passion is hatred of ethnic Russians. However, the people who were destroyed in the first picture were civilians, but the people who were destroyed in the second one were volunteer fighters against nazis, and were presumably armed when caught.

Here is how the great American war reporter George Eliason, who now lives in that region, describes that particular scene:

“When these groups, or some of the Ukrainian National Guard forces, take prisoners, torture and murder has generally followed. … When murdered prisoners are found, their pants as shown in this photo are at their ankles. It has been confirmed that the Ukrainians are sodomizing war prisoners with spray foam. This causes their lower intestine to burst and the abdominal cavity to be filled with hardening foam. The pain is extreme.” Eliason adds that they use other tortures, too: “War prisoners are still being dragged behind vehicles until there is little left to recognize [whom or even what] they were.”

The intense hatred that Ukraine’s nazis have toward ethnic Russians is clear; it’s also the reason why many ethnic Russians are escaping en-masse into Russia, for refuge. (That serves Obama’s needs just as well as killing them does; he simply wants those voters not to remain inside Ukraine, because otherwise his regime won’t be able to win Ukrainian national elections; he wouldn’t achieve nazi, anti-Russian, stability there; so, the U.S. would lose control over Ukraine. Obama and the Republicans want to place nuclear missiles there, right next door to Russia, much like the Soviet leader wanted to do to the U.S. during the Cuban Missile Crisis.) Eliason’s report includes video taken on November 5th of a team of nazi troops laughing and making merry as they prepare to release their rapid-fire rocket-launchers randomly onto Donetsk, to maim and kill as many people, and destroy as many buildings, as possible. Then, too, Eliason links to the news report by the independent journalist Graham Phillips in Donetsk, who managed to video at the morgue one of the nazis’ kills, a Donetsk child.

In the first still here, from Graham Phillips’s video, is seen a huge gash on the corpse’s right arm and another on the right side of what had been the right side of the former-child’s chest; the second picture shows a huge gash in its left side, as well as two shrapnel holes into what had been the child’s chest:

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It seems that a big piece of shrapnel ripped straight through from one side of this child’s chest to the other.

On June 1st, the press secretary to Yarosh, Borislav Bereza, posted to Facebook the new Government’s plans for the southeast. An English translation was posted of it on November 6th. Here are excerpts from that translation:

“What I am going to say is brutal, but honest. … There is only one solution to the problem [in the southeast] — a full-scale military operation.

Phase one — a locality is surrounded, through loudspeakers population is notified to leave the territory in 1-3 days, after which all remaining will be declared accessory to the enemy. …

Phase 2 — the city will be subject to massive attack with heavy weaponry.

Phase 3 — … the final phase of the operation [like Hitler’s ‘Final Solution’]. Targeted strikes against the city. …

You will say it’s harsh? It’s absolutely necessary.

Otherwise in a couple of months it [opposition to Obama’s February coup in Ukraine] will metastasize in other regions [where Yanukovysh received, say, only 70% to 80% of the vote]. Therefore an urgent surgical operation is needed [to remove the malignancy, the spots where he received more than 80%]. Those who want to be human shields for the occupants [in the regions that in 2010 had voted over 80% for the man whom Obama’s coup in 2014 overthrew] are not brainwashed citizens of Ukraine, but are traitors helping a foreign invader [Russia]. These people have always been eliminated. … There are no other solutions to the problem in Eastern Ukraine. … If [the newly elected but only in Ukraine’s northwest, President, Petro] Poroshenko wants to go down in history as a person who brought peace [like Hitler’s Thousand-Year Reich was to be a reign of peace] to the country and preserved its territorial integrity, then he will give that order.”

Poroshenko gave that order.

On June 4th, NATO headlined, “Press conference, by the acting Minister of Defence of Ukraine Mykhailo Koval following the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission in Defence Ministers session.” Minister Koval met privately with NATO chiefs, and held a public press conference afterward. He opened by noting that, “The Defence ministers of the allied countries who spoke at the meeting unanimously supported Ukrainian authorities, Ukrainian Armed Forces and security forces engaged into antiterrorist operation in the east of Ukraine.” In other words: NATO endorses the ethnic cleansing.

He said that he had, “informed colleagues about practical steps taken by the antiterrorist operation command aimed at extermination of criminal groups in the east of Ukraine.”

He said that though “Ukrainian authorities ordered the participants of the antiterrorist operation that no civilian person should suffer as a result of that operation, it is extremely difficult to conduct all these operations, and I should tell you the commanders of the antiterrorist operation give commands to liquidate some groups.” He didn’t specify what “groups,” but at least one of them was obvious: ethnic Russians.

Ukraine was not yet (and still is not) a NATO member-nation; nonetheless, he said: “We today received the most important, the total support of the whole Alliance. As I told you 21 ministers spoke and all supported us. It is very important for us.” So, he was reaffirming that NATO gave them a go on the ethnic-cleansing operation.

On June 11th, an “Anti-Maidan” or anti-ethnic-cleansing, site posted to youtube excerpts from previously unpublished press-conference Q&A-session statements by Koval, made perhaps at that NATO event. This was titled “Secretary of Defense [Mikhailo Koval] About Concentration Camp for Eastern Ukraine People.”

 He was shown saying:

“There will be a thorough filtration of people. There will be special filtration measures put in place. We will filter out people, including women, who are linked to separatism, who were committing crimes on Ukrainian territory, crimes related to terrorist activities. We have a lot of information regarding this, and we have a formidable framework to combat this, and respective power structures will carry out this operation. Besides, this is a serious issue, related to the fact that people will be resettled to other regions.”

On June 16th, the pro-Government Kyiv Post reported that the property of the people in Ukraine’s Donbass, the southeast, will be confiscated, and “Land parcels will be given out for free to the servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and other military formations, as well as to the employees of Interior Ministry and the Security Service of Ukraine that are defending territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country in eastern and southeastern regions of Ukraine.” That’s their euphemism for the ethnic cleansing, and mass-theft. In other words, Obama’s rulers of Ukraine are offering their soldiers the opportunity to grab legally the property of their victims. Ukraine doesn’t have the money to pay for all the soldiers that are needed to do this ethnic cleansing; so, those soldiers are being promised war-booty, instead. Sort of like paying them by tips: but with the bigger tips going to the killers with the most (or biggest) scalps.

When people in the area of the ethnic cleansing managed to shoot down one of the regime’s planes and its 49 soldiers who were in the process of perpetrating it, Prime Minister Yatsenyuk himself vowed revenge, by using clear nazi language: ”They lost their lives …  in a situation facing a threat to be killed by invaders [i.e., by the residents, not by those troops from the northwest that they shot down] and sponsored by subhumans [presumably meaning Russians],” he said. “First, we will commemorate the heroes [the exterminators] by wiping out those who killed them and then by cleaning our land from the evil.” However, of course, that’s what he was already doing (“cleaning” the land), which is the reason why that plane was shot down in the first place: those troops were invaders and killers, instead of heroes.

TV commercial was running on Ukrainian TVs this summer, in which the chief local agricultural pest (the Colorado beetle), which Ukraine’s far-right frequently uses in order to symbolize the country’s Russian-speakers, is portrayed destroying crops and then being exterminated as the solution to the problem in Ukraine. The symbolism used there is immediately understandable to Ukrainians, though (and this is one reason it’s used, since they are advised by our CIA) not so easily understandable to people outside that country. Propaganda like this helps to rouse the racist nationalist sentiment to make them “exterminators,” heroes to their fellow-racist-nationalist haters of people whose native language is Russian. (At first, the nazis tried to outlaw the speaking of Russian, but that didn’t work out because Russian is the predominant language in Ukraine.)

The United States Government is united behind this ethnic-cleansing campaign. America’s news media refer to it in the same way that the client-nation, Ukraine, does: as an “Anti-Terrorist Operation,” or “ATO” for short. Our people are killing only “terrorists,” like we are doing inside Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, and other Islamic-majority countries. (But there, at least, we have been trying to target actual terrorists, not the general population of the area. So, while that might have been wrong to do, or perhaps even counter-productive, it isn’t blatantly a war-crime.) The dominant myth says that we have somehow been attacked by non-Islamic, even Christian, “terrorists.” They want to live; too bad for them, then. And there is no UN, no EU,, no one actually but the Russian Government, that cares — and even Russia can’t fight the whole world, to stop what used to proudly call itself “the Free World,” when Russia wasn’t part of that — and now nothing in the West seems any longer even to be that. Everything in the West seems to be now only a charade of that.

But it is Russia, and not the United States, that is being condemned and sanctioned. Furthermore, U.S. President Obama and the European leaders who participated in this genocide or “ethnic cleansing,” have slammed Russia with even steeper economic sanctions, to punish Russia for the downing of a civilian airliner that one or two Ukrainian Air Force warplanes actually shot down, targeting directly into the pilot’s stomach and leaving a huge hole from the approximately one thousand bullets fired directly into his belly.

All of this — from the “false flag” coup, to the “false flag” airliner-shoot-down — were like Hitler’s burning of the Reichstag building and blaming of it upon “the communists.” Except, this time, it’s being blamed on “the Russians.” And, this time, it’s the U.S. that’s leading the nazi and the lesser fascist forces, rather than warring against them. This time, Washington created the nazi and fascist attacks. And Europe, the IMF, and NATO, have been following along and adding muscle to Obama’s crimes.

But, after all, Obama is a ‘liberal,’ and he won the Nobel Peace Prize. Hitler wasn’t so successful. But Hitler created the ideology, which Obama only applies in Ukraine. This is Hitler’s posthumous victory, in what seems to be (at least from the ideological standpoint) an ongoing World War II, which we can only hope won’t morph into World War III (inasmuch as Obama and NATO are actually targeting Russia here).


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010,  and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.



About the Author

- I am an investigative historian who became riveted to the issue here when the massacre occurred at the Odessa Trade Unions Building on 2 May 2014 and I immediately saw videos of it, showing that, basically, the new Ukrainian government, installed by Barack Obama, the President of my country, is nazi. I was stunned, because Obama had hid his nazism until he was re-elected, and because no U.S. President until Obama was a nazi. Also, I recognized that Obama's re-starting the Cold War can only mean that he wants a nuclear war; I recognized that there is no reason whatsoever for him to do this, other than evil reasons. I recognized that Obama's Ukrainian operation was/is catastrophic for the entire region and quite possibly for the entire world. This war is the major historical event of our time. That's why I started UkraineWar.Info, especially because Obama and the U.S. press lie through their teeth about it, constantly.

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  1. @savedonbass Nazi NATO, but No War Crimes Tribunal? Why?: Eric Zuesse The above is from a video di… #NovoRussia

  2. Excellent analysis and presentation Eric! The question is rhegorical. The “winners” write the history. It’s not a war crime if Clinton, Bush, Obama commit it. Clinton got 2225,000 children under five killed due to Iraq sanctions. George W Bush, well it’s a million plus dead Iraqis who, otherwise, would be alive today. And Obama – Libya, Syria, Ukraine – has a sorry record, to be sure. But in the not so free world, those in charge write the history. That’s why I support NOBODY for President;)

  3. Eric Zuesse says:

    Well, thank you Michael. However, to support nobody for President seems wrong to me, because it leaves the choice, whatever it is, to be made by others. To me, that’s a cop-out. If the options are all bad, then there is no democracy; but that’s a rejection of the entire body-politic, which means that emigration should definitely be considered. That’s what the residents of Donbass did; they have my wholehearted respect for that, because no alternative option would have been honorable for them. Being ruled by nazis is not morally acceptable. Things aren’t as bad as that even in the U.S., but might soon be.

  4. Euzebio says:

    Ukraine-Russia: some background and cxboettny Jerome a ParisSat Jan 3rd, 2009 at 07:08:06 AM ESTAs we enter yet another episode of worried or sanctimonious articles about the gas conflict between Russia and Ukraine, it’s worth remembering a few simple facts:1) The conflict started in 1992, not in 20062) Russia cannot win a gas war against Ukraine and knows it3) the real underlying stakes are not about Russia or Ukraine1) The conflict started in 1992, not in 2006A given in most of the coverage of this episode is that these things have been happening over the past few years only. Everybody remembers the 2006 episode 3 years ago, which brought the issue to global awareness, and most coverage seems to think that this is when it all started. It’s not. Russia and Ukraine started squabbling about gas as soon as the Soviet Union broke up, ie from 1992. There were cuts to gas deliveries to Western Europe in 1992 and 1993, which led the major importers the GDFs, Ruhrgas and SNAMs to set up offices in Kiev to try to understand what was going on and to bring pressure on the then new country of Ukraine to not interrupt gas deliveries.I spent half a year in GDF’s Kiev office in 1994, where I painstakingly collated local sources to prepare a report on the Ukrainian gas industry, and picked up most of the content for my PhD dissertation on the independence of Ukraine and its relationship with Russia, both of which were defined largely by gas. I’ve never been able to ascertain that Ukraine actually ever paid anything for gas to Russia then or since.The reality is that the Soviet gas industry was born in Ukraine in the 1930s, and the infrastructure was built from there and Ukraine is still a central part of the gas pipeline network even as the focus of activity moved to Western Siberia. Splitting the Soviet Union along Republic borders made for an often unworkable allocation of physical assets, and nowhere was this more true than for gas. The consequence is that vital assets for Gazprom are located in Ukraine and thus no longer under its direct control.The ties between the industry in the two countries are thus massive, impossible to unwound, and highly constraining. Effectively, as soon as there is a conflict between the two countries, the temptation to use the gas weapon (ie to hurt the other by, in the case of Russia, withholding gas or, in the case of Ukraine, withholding export infrastructure) is large and it has happened repeatedly, until, each time, cooler heads prevail.So you could go back and look into Ukrainian and Russian papers from any date over the past 17 years and find that they have articles about unpaid Ukrainian debts for gas (which, since 1992, have for some reason always been in the $1.5-2 billion range) and bilateral brinkmanship. Yet somehow the gas continues to flow every year.So why do we think that the conflict started in 2006? Well, it’s just that we started to care that year, for some easy-to-identify reasons:The 2004 orange revolution put Ukraine on the map, as a new, spunky member of the democratic world against the axis of evil and other assorted dictatorships, a group that Russia was beginning to join in the White House view. Never mind that Yuschenko was initially more pro-Russian than Yanukovich, hardliners in both the US and the Kremlin were happy to play this as a West vs Russia fight and it de facto became one. Suddenly, the arcane gas disputes that only a few buyers cared about became the battlefront between two large blocs, and one that the WestTM cared about; the run up in oil prices since 2003 has had an impact on gas prices (Russia’s gas is sold to Europe at prices indexed, with a lag, on oil prices) and more generally on how much attention we give to energy-related issues. For Russia, the urge to get more money out of the gas delivered to Ukraine was growing; for the West, the attention paid to energy supplies similarly got more priority; more importantly, 2006 is the year when the UK became, it seems unexpectedly for its political leadership, a gas importer rather than a gas exporter. Suddenly, for the first time ever, security of gas supply became an issue for English-language experts. Somehow, this turned into Europe’s dependency on Russian gas and Ukrainian transit being a big deal never mind that Western Europe has been importing Russian gas for 40 years and that companies like GDF and Ruhrgas have been aware of the delicate situation of Ukrainian transit for 15 years almost at the same time, 10 Central and Eastern European countries joined the EU. As the majority were former Soviet satellites (or even Soviet Republics), they are very wary of Russia and most of them are highly dependent on Russian gas, because their supply infrastructure was built in the context of the COMECON. While they are not all in the same situation (in particular, transit countries have a lot more leverage), they have certainly encouraged the EU to focus on Russian gas supplies a lot more closely, and a lot more adversarially.While these recent factors can explain why it’s not unreasonable to care more today than in the past about the underlying conflict, there is no excuse to not provide the relevant context, ie that this is a long, simmering dispute that has no good guys and no bad guys and which has very little to do with us.2) Russia cannot win a gas war against Ukraine and knows itThe most important bit of information that would need to be provided is why this conflict happens in the first place, and how it’s been resolved in the past.The reality of Soviet legacies is that Ukraine has a lot of vital Soviet-times gas infrastructure (the pipelines are an obvious item, but, just as significantly, Ukraine controls most of the storage capacity of the Russian export system, something rather important when you know that winter gas demand is 2-3 times summer demand and pipelines can be made smaller if you can ship gas all year long and store it close to markets for winter use). It is also a heavy-industry country, with very high gas demand. It has also mostly depleted its gas reserves, making it heavily dependent on gas from Siberia.So there is a strong co-dependency, with Russia needing Ukrainian infrastructure to honor its export contracts to Europe, and Ukraine needing Russian gas. In the early years, there were additional constraints, such as the only Soviet manufacturer of large pipes used by Gazprom being in Ukraine, the only manufacturer of medium sized pipes (needed by the Ukrainians) being in Russia, and gas going to Southern Russia needing to flow through Ukrainian territory. I have written in detail about this co-dependency in this article: Ukraine vs Russia: Tales of pipelines and dependence (Dec. 30, 2005).Ukraine used to get its gas allocation from Soviet planners, and continued to expect the same after independence. When Russia first tried to get payment fors its deliveries in the early 90s, it failed; when it first cut off gas to Ukraine to enforce payments, Ukraine simply tapped the gas sent for export purposes in Ukrainian-controlled pipelines; when European buyers howled, Russia relented and restored gas supplies without having managed to be paid by Ukraine. This happened repeatedly in 1992-1994 until both sides learnt not to make their disputes as public (ED: not added in last sentence).The exact same thing happened over the years, but more discreetly. 2006 marked a change in that the dispute was thrust into the limelight once again, but fundamentally the same thing as before happened. The proof of this i that in January 2006, Russia restored deliveries before an agreement was announced. This was mostly overlooked in Western coverage of the crisis, as was the fact that the announced agreement was absurd on its face everybody should have realised it was a sham (the price Russia claimed to be getting and the price Ukraine agreed to pay were not compatible, even with the inclusion of ultra cheap gas from Turkmenistan and nobody asked why Turmenistan would agree to such a low price).The hard fact is that Russia cannot cut off Ukraine for any period of time, because that endangers its exports (Kiev has always retaliated by siphoning exports), and Gazprom knows it perfectly well. The other hard fact is that, in practice, giving roughly 20% of its gas shipments to Ukraine as payment for transit (over an average of more than 1,000km) is a acceptable transaction for both sides. Of course, when prices for gas go up, as in recent years, the temptation to change the balance of the trade is tempting, but Russia simply has no practical way to do so.If that is the case, why on earth do Russia plays this charade every year especially now that critical Western eyes are firmly locked on the issue?I have a simple theory: it’s all a distraction from what’s really at stake.3) the real underlying stakes are not about Russia or UkraineThe leadership of Gazprom has long ago understood that it could not get any money out of official deliveries to Ukraine. It solved that problem in a completely different way, by privatising a portion of the gas trade to Ukraine the portion going to customers able to pay for their gas. These customers used to pay the central Ukrainian gas company, which did not pass on that money to Gazprom; what was put in place was a mechanism whereby these customers would pay less for their gas, but would pay directly another supplier, formally unrelated to either Ukrainian gas authorities or Gazprom.Of course, only gas coming from Russia could be delivered, and it still needed to use Ukraine’s gas infrastructure, so the active cooperation of Gazprom, Russian and Ukrainian senior people was required to put that Trade in place (you can’t move 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year without the approval of senior management, and cover from senior politicians) but the very real money generated did not need to go either to Kiev or to Moscow. Thus the top people that enable that Trade are able to personally benefit massively from it and effectively cut out both Kiev and Gazprom. (I have described this Trade in a long article for French think tank IFRI here: Gazprom as a Predictable Partner. Another Reading of the Russian-Ukrainian and Russian-Belarusian Energy Crises )Now, such a juicy business attracts others keen to get in on the action. In Ukraine, political infighting can largely be understood, in my view, by the fight over who will be the Ukrainian counterparty to that Trade (it’s no coincidence that Yulia Timoschenko made her fortune in gas trading in the 90s, and that Yanukovich represents some of the largest gas-users from heavy-industry in Eastern Ukraine). In Russia, similarly, one has to go beyond the image of a monolithic Kremlin with its faithful Gazprom arm both are rife with infighting and coalitions within both centers of power come and go (as an exemple, just look how the 50% of Gazprom formally owned by the Russian State is split between at least two public bodies controlled by different senior Kremlin insiders).So while the world is focused on the predictable public brinkmanship between Ukraine and Russia (Russia threatens, Ukraine appears to cave in at the last minute, but really doesn’t, Russia cuts gas, Ukraine siphons gas, Russian is indignant, both sides make their case to Europe, Russia restores gas supplies, another meaningless agreement is announced), the real fight over the loot is taking place more discreetly between a few oligarchs in Moscow and Kiev. But nobody is talking about that. Which is the whole purpose of the theater show we are offered. Worries about Russia or Gazprom using the gas weapon against Europe are misplaced. In their official capacity, both are keenly aware of their absolute dependency on exports to Europe for a huge chunk of the country’s income, and on the need for stable, reliable long term relationships to finance the investments needed in gas infrastructure (and they know their clients share that need). They are happy to play power politics with the West’s worries as this goes down well with their own domestic audiences, but fundamentally they will not rock the gas boat.Not, what is a lot more worrisome is that governments in Ukraine and Russia can tolerate and indeed encourage such blatant breaches of their authority and such large scale theft of what are effectively public resources. That the highest levels of government in both countries, and major bits of their infrastructure can be instrumentalised in what are disputes between unknown oligarchs only show how little rule of law and accountability there is in these countries, and how powerless Putin really is when dealing with competing power factions.

  5. @ICnewmedia says:

    Nazi NATO, but No War Crimes Tribunal? Why? – Ukraine | Ukraine