French initiatives to calm Ukraine tension reduce invasion danger

As France works to de-escalate the crisis in Ukraine, the anti-Russian media will need to find another bone to chew on.

Vive la France. During the Cold War Charles de Gaulle’s France did much to restrain the Anglo-American ingrained hostility to Russia by refusing to go along with the creation of that hawkish organisation called NATO.

Today the same France has rediscovered its traditional independence as it gradually moves away from hawkish US-UK policy over Ukraine. Those hysterical warnings about a planned Russian invasion of Ukraine — the invention of the Anglo-American war hawks backed up by a lazy or complicit Anglo-American media — have had the legs cut off from under them.

How often does our media tell us about the 2015 Minsk agreements, signed by Ukraine and European representatives, with their call for ceasefire and some form of autonomy for the two pro-Russian separatist zones of Donetsk and Lugansk on the border with Russia? Rarely.

Ukraine has since reneged on that autonomy promise, claiming the sovereign integrity which US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, so warmly endorses. But if observed the Minsk promise would do no more damage to Ukrainian sovereignty than the grant of autonomy to pro-France Quebec does to Canadian sovereignty.

Does the US propose to invade Quebec because the Quebecois prefer to dump their Anglo heritage for a pro-French culture?

Minsk is now increasingly being promoted by Russia, France, Italy and several other European nations as the key to solving the Ukraine problem.

This in turn has helped revive the Normandy Format talks. Normandy Format is a grouping of the leaders of four nations — Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia — concerned about Europe’s future who happened to come together at the 2014 ceremony of the World War II Normandy landings in France.

Format talks were held in Paris last week and are due in Berlin next week. Not just the Ukraine problem but Moscow’s calls for legally based security guarantees to prevent further NATO creep into former Soviet territories, Ukraine and Georgia especially, were also taken seriously.

France is now talking about moving these discussions into some forum parallel to US–UK dominated NATO talks. France says parallel, but what it really means is a forum different from NATO with its anti-Russian war hawks.

Compared with invasion warnings how often do we see any mention of these very important Normandy Format talks in our biased Western media? How many of those media in Australia even know about Normandy Format?

That said, the talking about invasion may not have been misplaced. But for reasons far removed from the simple imaginations of our media.

The Ukraine problem is abnormal. Ukraine never really existed as a nation until the Soviet Union decided to call it a republic with a vote (invariably alongside Moscow) in the United Nations, and an industrial base deliberately created by Lenin in the coal and ore rich Donbas area bordering Russia (he wanted to give Ukraine the industrial proletariat needed for communism).

Russian influence, culture and language dominated much of the rest of Ukraine. When I travelled there in the sixties, east and central Ukraine (around Kyiv, the capital) seemed little more than extensions of Russia.

Only in the west did one find the bitterly anti-Russian feelings generated by past anti-Soviet angers and cultural differences.

With the independence gained after the Soviet breakup the pro-Russians remained the majority.

But anti-Russians from the West, including some thuggish pro-Nazi, anti-semitic groupings, gradually gained strength enough to stage the 2014 Maidan coup against the legitimate pro-Russian government.

With control of the army in their hands the anti-Russians began their civil war against the pro-Russians who today only manage to survive with Russian help in their Donetsk and Lugansk enclaves along the Russian border.

This is a very dangerous situation. Memories of the 2008 war in Georgia should remind us.

With post-Soviet independence the Georgian government set about invading the non-Georgian enclave territories inherited from the Soviet Union.

It was only when they tried to invade the South Ossetia enclave, killing its Russian peace-keepers, that Moscow decided to retaliate, with a force that badly damaged the Georgian army, before retreating back to Russia.

The same scenario could unfold in Ukraine, if the anti-Russian elements in the Ukrainian army have their way. It is this danger which could have motivated Moscow to make the pre-emptive troop movements that set off recent invasion fears.

Fortunately the initiatives by the French — its call for UN Security Council talks — together with little-reported shifts in the attitude of the Zelensky government in Kyiv have reduced that danger.

US agreement for further talks on security guarantees for Russia are also significant.

The biased Anglo-American media will have to find another anti-Russian bone to chew on.