NATO, Ukraine decree: ‘This is not the time for dialogue’

Feb. 18 — The last week has meant minimal changes on the front. The slight Russian advances on the Artyomovsk front, although slow, costly, and few, are the only ones of note at a time of fierce positional battles in the fortified areas of Donbass. Possibly seeking more air coverage and munitions, Yevgeny Prigozhin complained this week about the “monstrous Russian bureaucracy” and warned that the capture of Artyomovsk will take months longer than it should. The fight continues to be practically hand-to-hand in a city already destroyed and in which Ukraine calls on the population for an immediate evacuation.

In her usual tone, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Irina Vereschuk, known for having appealed to the citizens of the territories under Russian control not to send children to school, called on “every correct, law-abiding and patriotic citizen” to abandon the city immediately. The presence of civilians, Ukraine alleges, is the determining factor in a battle in which Ukraine defends itself at all costs with the sole objective of concentrating Russian efforts at one point, thus trying to inflict the greatest possible number of casualties and limit the combat capacity of the troops of the Russian Federation and wear them down to the maximum while Kiev and its partners prepare the great spring-summer offensive.

On the political and informational level, Volodymyr Zelensky has enjoyed two major events this week in which to present his demands. The Ukrainian president not only opened the Munich Security Conference yesterday, in which the war in Ukraine will be the main issue, but also the Berlin International Film Festival. Before an audience, that of his previous profession, which has turned to the Ukrainian cause, Zelensky wondered if “art can stay out of politics.” The almost nine years of war have shown that art, like other aspects of culture and life, have never been left out. Examples such as the award-winning film by Sergey Loznitsa, which dehumanized the population of Donbass to the point of turning it into a parody, show that Ukraine has always been favored by the cultural industry, ready to present the Ukrainian side, also at times when it was the only aggressor, as an innocent victim of an evil and inhuman internal or external adversary.

The Munich Security Conference, since 2014 a forum in which Ukraine has sought weapons and support from its partners for a war that, in its vision, was always against Russia, began yesterday without the Russian presence. According to its president, Angela Merkel’s former foreign affairs adviser Christoph Heusgen, the summit should not become “a space for Kremlin propaganda.” However, as the journalist for Televisión Española Víctor García Guerrero recalled, “In 2004, with Iraq in flames, Rumsfeld taught doctrine in Bavaria.”

In his speech at the opening of the conference, the Ukrainian president returned to his usual topic: the demand for arms from his partners, with which he is preparing this offensive with which the West intends to threaten Crimea. However, as Victoria Nuland, who explicitly approved the idea of ​​Ukrainian attacks against Crimea, recalled in her last appearance, Ukraine will have to advance over a large territory before being able to attack the peninsula, “Russia’s red line” according to Anthony Blinken, and territory that Moscow will defend with all its resources. Bringing the war closer to Crimea necessarily implies a significant escalation in terms of violence, the intensity of the use of weapons, and, above all, danger.

None of this, not even the ammunition supply difficulties that Western countries are experiencing due to Ukraine’s rapid squandering of reserves, is the concern of Zelensky, who, as commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, always demands more weapons, more ammunition, and more speed. “We have to hurry. We need speed: speed of our agreements, speed of our delivery… speed of decisions to limit Russian potential. There is no alternative to speed because it is the speed on which life depends,” he stated in the speech that will mark the Munich Security Conference. 

Without the need to maintain a minimum consistency, the reason given for this attempt to speed up, on these occasions, is to speed up peace – in reality, victory – but recently also to prevent a Russian offensive. Like Kiev, Ukraine’s Western partners navigate indistinctly between the idea that Russia is planning an offensive similar to the one that opened the military intervention on Feb. 24, 2022, and the constant allegations that Russian troops have suffered such casualties that they are on the verge of collapse.

The idea of ​​accelerating events was also at the center of Olaf Scholz’s speech, who repeated the idea put forward by Jens Stoltenberg that the West must prepare for a long war. German aid is, according to Chancellor Scholz, “meant to last.” After weeks of pressure and reluctance, the German chancellor not only accepted the export and shipment of Leopard-2 tanks but has also become the main supplier of such precious ammunition. Yesterday, aware that those countries that pressured him for shipments themselves offer only a handful of tanks, the German leader appealed to his partners to send the necessary tanks and “do it now.” The German chancellor finds himself alone again. First, it was to prevent the shipment of Leopard tanks, and now to get the material and ammunition for them.

Faced with the opposition shown, for example, by Lula da Silva, in the shadow of the United States, the United Kingdom, the Baltic countries and Poland and NATO, the two powers of old Europe also show their growing belligerence. The Western countries of the European Union, which have not presented any peace plan since Mario Draghi’s proposal, actually a proposal for a unilateral surrender of Russia in the spring of 2022, have already adapted, not only to the idea of a long war, but to the increasingly belligerent and warmongering discourse.

“This is not the time for dialogue with Russia,” Emmanuel Macron declared in his speech, also inducted in the dynamics of more war. Despite the change in discourse that could be perceived in the only European leader who tried to the end to maintain dialogue with Russia in 2022, the position of the European countries has not changed: It has never been the time for dialogue with Russia, from whom only concessions were demanded and never listened to, especially in the long years of the Minsk process, in which neither Berlin nor Paris sought to pressure Kiev to comply with the signed agreements or to negotiate politically with Moscow, Donetsk and Lugansk. Macron called for a Ukrainian counter-offensive to “force Russia to negotiate.” As the precedent of the seven years of Minsk and the attitude of Kiev, with Paris and Berlin behind it, shows, the term negotiation must always be understood as negotiation under the dictates of Ukraine.

Translation by Melinda Butterfield



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