Tuesday 29th of November 2022

negotiations US style......

According to The Wall Street Journal, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has been involved with a secretive “back channel” line of communication with top Russian officials as part of an effort by the U.S. and Russia to prevent the war in Ukraine from escalating into a nuclear conflict.

Among the officials named as representing the Russian conduit for this “back channel” are Yuri Ushakov, a senior foreign policy adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Nikolai Patrushev, the head of Russia’s security council.

 

BY Scott Ritter

 

In comments made shortly after the WSJ article appeared, Sullivan confirmed that he has been working to keep communication channels between the United States and Russia open despite the war in Ukraine, adding that it was “in the interests” of the White House to maintain contact with the Kremlin.

Speaking at the Economic Club of New York, Sullivan didn’t say that he himself has been engaged in the talks reported by the WSJ, only that the U.S. has “channels to communicate with the Russian Federation at senior levels.”

Sullivan has publicly availed himself of such channels in the past, conducting telephone calls with both Ushakov and Patrushev about European security and Ukraine on Dec. 20, 2021, and on March 16. Sullivan alluded to the existence of a “back channel” with Moscow in September when speculation was rampant about the possibility of Russia using tactical nuclear weapons against Ukraine.

Sullivan publicly declared then that the Biden administration had “communicated directly, privately at very high levels to the Kremlin that any use of nuclear weapons will be met with catastrophic consequences for Russia.”

Sullivan has a history of being personally involved in sensitive “back channel” contacts. In July 2012, Sullivan, then director of policy planning at the State Department, flew to Muscat, Oman, for secret meetings with Iran about a possible nuclear deal.

In March 2013, while serving as the national security adviser to then-Vice President Joe Biden, Sullivan was a member of a small delegation of U.S. diplomats who flew to Oman for a series of secret meetings with Iranian officials which culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA — better known as the Iran nuclear deal.

 

William Burns 

 

But the key to who might be taking the lead in the current Russian “back channel” lies with the man who headed up the March 2013 delegation in Oman — William Burns, a career diplomat who at the time served as deputy secretary of state and is now director of Central Intelligence.

His name is synonymous with “back channel.”

It was Burns who, based on these secret Oman meetings, hammered out the initial draft of the JCPOA. The background story, described by Burns in his autobiography, aptly titled The Back Channel, is what made the long-time diplomat an attractive choice for Biden to head the C.I.A.

When the Biden administration wanted to discuss the escalating crisis surrounding Ukraine in the fall of 2021, it was Burns who was dispatched. In addition to meeting with Patrushev, Ushakov and other senior Russian security officials (including his Russian counterpart, Sergei Naryshkin, the director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, or SVR) Burns had a conversation with Putin by telephone.

This kind of high-level access is what makes Burns the ideal conduit for a substantive “back channel” between the U.S. and Russia.

In July, Burns flew to Armenia in a visit that was not only unannounced, but also the first ever by a C.I.A. director to that nation. Prior to Burns’ arrival, teams of U.S. and Russian security officials arrived in Yerevan where they engaged in confidential discussions about the Ukrainian conflict — in particular on measures that could be taken to avoid escalation leading to nuclear war.

Burns’ visit appeared timed to these discussions, as did the visit of the head of the Russian SVR, Sergei Naryshkin, three days later. According to Russian media sources, Naryshkin was cryptic about the purpose of his visit. “My visit to Yerevan is definitely not connected with the arrival of my American colleague. But I don’t exclude that his visit is on the contrary connected with mine.” And it looks like the Burns-Naryshkin “back channel” is still active as just last week they met in Ankara, Turkey.

 

‘Only About Nukes’

Significantly, senior Biden administration officials quickly quashed any notion that Burns was engaged in “back channel” diplomacy regarding an end to the Ukraine conflict. The Washington Post reported:

“’He is not conducting negotiations of any kind. He is not discussing settlement of the war in Ukraine,’ the NSC spokesman stressed. Instead, said the spokesman, ‘we have channels to communicate with Russia on managing risk, especially nuclear risk and risks to strategic stability.’”

The U.S. mainstream media had been enthralled with the narrative of a Sullivan-run back channel seeking an early end to the conflict.

Russia will not negotiate a settlement on U.S./Ukrainian terms, only Russian terms. Russian terms will be dictated by the arrival of 220,000 fresh troops, organized into 10-15 divisions, starting next month.

Burns’ job is only to keep what will be a major escalation of the war from spinning out of control – to keep it from going nuclear. That has been his job from the start.

Based upon the critical state of communications between the U.S. and Russia, and the necessity of maintaining a channel for ongoing dialogue, one can expect that the Ankara meeting between Burns and Naryshkin will not be the last between these two individuals.

Despite this, the notion of a separate Sullivan-run “back channel,” one focused on finding a diplomatic off-ramp to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, lingers, promoted in part by the self-serving attitude of a Biden administration that believes itself somehow in control of events in Ukraine.

The conditions for a settlement on U.S. and Ukrainian terms — such as Russia withdrawing from the four territories it recently annexed as well as Crimea, paying reparations and turning over senior military and civilian leaders for prosecution as war criminals — have almost no chance of happening.

Such thinking only underscores the hubris-laced fantasy world Washington has crafted for itself. The notion that Russia is somehow losing its military conflict with NATO-backed Ukraine, and its economic war with the West, is belied by the increasing desperation inherent in the growing calls for a negotiated settlement by senior U.S. officials.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has argued that now is the time for negotiations, given the fact that, according to him, there is neither a way for Russia to win nor for Ukraine to regain its lost territory.  “So, if there’s a slowdown in the tactical fighting, that may become a window — possibly, it may not — for a political solution, or at least the beginnings, for talks to initiate a political solution,” Milley said.

Milley’s pro-negotiation stance, however, is opposed by many of America’s European partners, whose position is perhaps best captured by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who on Nov. 14, while speaking to the heads of the foreign and defense ministries of the Netherlands, declared:

“The only way to achieve a solution to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is on the battlefield. Many conflicts are resolved at the negotiating table, but this is not the case, and Ukraine must win, so we will support it for as long as it takes.”

Russia, it appears, fully agrees — this conflict will be settled on the battlefield. At the moment, Russia is shutting down the Ukrainian economy and Ukrainian society by destroying large sectors of Ukraine’s electrical power grid, throwing much of Ukraine into a cold darkness just as winter sets in.

Russia has stabilized the battlefield, withdrawing from untenable terrain while pouring 87,000 recently mobilized troops into the front lines to solidify its defenses. Meanwhile, it continues to undertake offensive operations in the Donbass, destroying Ukrainian forces while capturing territory that is part of the Donetsk.

Ukrainian casualties have been horrific, and overwhelmingly lop-sided — in the month of October alone, in the Kherson front, Ukraine lost some 12,000 men, while Russian casualties were around 1,500, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Ukraine has released no figures, but the U.S. says100,000 soldiers on both sides have been killed in the conflict, a figure impossible to verify. 

Over the horizon, in combat training centers throughout Russia, more than 200,000 additional troops are finalizing their combat training and preparations. Sometime next month they will begin arriving on the battlefield, organized into 10-15 division equivalents.

When they arrive, Ukraine will have no response, having squandered its NATO-trained and equipped forces on pyrrhic political victories. The photo opportunities on the city square in Kherson will fade into memory once Russia unleashes this new force.

And there’s nothing either NATO or Ukraine can do to stop them.

While Russia engaged in negotiations with Ukraine at the beginning of the war and offered a deal to Kiev, which was stopped by the West, the facts on the ground have since changed.

Anyone attempting to breathe life into the concept of a Sullivan-driven “back channel” designed to bring Russia to the negotiating table must first discount Russia’s improving military posture. Russia simply will not be drawn to a negotiation designed to negate the advantages it has been accruing on the battlefield and beyond.

The Sullivan “back channel” is little more than the collective West negotiating with itself.

Russia’s negotiation will be on the battlefield.

Scott Ritter is a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer who served in the former Soviet Union implementing arms control treaties, in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm and in Iraq overseeing the disarmament of WMD. His most recent book is Disarmament in the Time of Perestroika, published by Clarity Press.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

 

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BY PEPE ESCOBAR

 

Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden. My words echo
Thus, in your mind.
But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.

               T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

 

Spare a thought to the Polish farmer snapping pics of a missile wreckage – later indicated to belong to a Ukrainian S-300. So a Polish farmer, his footfalls echoing in our collective memory, may have saved the world from WWIII – unleashed via a tawdry plot concocted by Anglo-American “intelligence”.

Such tawdriness was compounded by a ridiculous cover-up: the Ukrainians were firing on Russian missiles from a direction that they could not possibly be coming from. That is: Poland. And then the U.S. Secretary of Defense, weapons peddler Lloyd “Raytheon” Austin, sentenced Russia was to blame anyway, because his Kiev vassals were shooting at Russian missiles that should not have been in the air (and they were not).

Call it the Pentagon elevating bald lying into a rather shabby art.

The Anglo-American purpose of this racket was to generate a “world crisis” against Russia. It’s been exposed – this time. That does not mean the usual suspects won’t try it again. Soon.

The main reason is panic. Collective West intel sees how Moscow is finally mobilizing their army – ready to hit the ground next month – while knocking out Ukraine’s electricity infrastructure as a form of Chinese torture.

Those February days of sending only 100,000 troops – and having the DPR and LPR militias plus Wagner commandos and Kadyrov’s Chechens do most of the heavy lifting – are long gone. Overall, Russians and Russophones were facing hordes of Ukrainian military – perhaps as many as 1 million. The “miracle” of it all is that Russians did quite well.

Every military analyst knows the basic rule: an invasion force should number three times the defending force. The Russian Army at the start of the SMO was at a small fraction of that rule. The Russian Armed Forces arguably have a standing army of 1.3 million troops. Surely they could have spared a few tens of thousands more than the initial 100,000. But they did not. It was a political decision.

But now SMO is over: this is CTO (Counter-Terrorist Operation) territory. A sequence of terrorist attacks – targeting the Nord Streams, the Crimea Bridge, the Black Sea Fleet – finally demonstrated the inevitability of going beyond a mere “military operation”.

And that brings us to Electric War.

 

Paving the way to a DMZ

The Electric War is being handled essentially as a tactic – leading to the eventual imposition of Russia’s terms in a possible armistice (which neither Anglo-American intel and vassal NATO want).

Even if there was an armistice – widely touted for a few weeks now – that would not end the war. Because the deeper, tacit Russian terms – end of NATO expansion and “indivisibility of security” – were fully spelled out to both Washington and Brussels last December, and subsequently dismissed.

As nothing – conceptually – has changed since then, coupled with the Western weaponization of Ukraine reaching a frenzy, the Putin-era Stavka could not but expand the initial SMO mandate, which remains denazification and demilitarization. Yet now the mandate will have to encompass Kiev and Lviv.

And that starts with the current de-electrification campaign – which goes way beyond the east of the Dnieper and along the Black Sea coast towards Odessa.

That brings us to the key issue of reach and depth of Electric War, in terms of setting up what would be a DMZ – complete with no man’s land – west of the Dnieper to protect Russian areas from NATO artillery, HIMARS and missile attacks.

How deep? 100 km? Not enough. Rather 300 km – as Kiev has already requested artillery with that kind of range.

What’s crucial is that way back in July this was already being extensively discussed in Moscow at the highest Stavka levels.

 

In an extensive July interview, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov let the cat – diplomatically – out of the bag:

“This process continues, consistently and persistently. It will continue as long as the West, in its impotent rage, desperate to aggravate the situation as much as possible, continues to flood Ukraine with more and more long-range weapons. Take the HIMARS. Defense Minister Alexey Reznikov boasts that they have already received 300-kilometre ammunition. This means our geographic objectives will move even further from the current line. We cannot allow the part of Ukraine that Vladimir Zelensky, or whoever replaces him, will control to have weapons that pose a direct threat to our territory or to the republics that have declared their independence and want to determine their own future.”

The implications are clear.

As much as Washington and NATO are even more “desperate to aggravate the situation as much as possible” (and that’s Plan A: there’s no Plan B), geoeconomically the Americans are intensifying the New Great Game: desperation here applies to trying to control energy corridors and setting their price.

Russia remains unfazed – as it continues to invest in Pipelineistan (towards Asia); solidify the multimodal International North South Transportation Corridor (INTSC), with key partners India and Iran; and is setting the price of energy via OPEC+.

 

A paradise for oligarchic looters

The Straussians/neo-cons and neoliberal-cons permeating the Anglo-American intel/security apparatus – de facto weaponized viruses – won’t relent. They simply cannot afford losing yet another NATO war – and on top of it against “existential threat” Russia.

As the news from the Ukraine battlefields promise to be even grimmer under General Winter, solace at least may be found in the cultural sphere. The Green transition racket, seasoned in a toxic mixed salad with the eugenist Silicon Valley ethos, continues to be a side dish offered with the main course: the Davos “Great Narrative”, former Great Reset, which reared its ugly head, once again, at the G20 in Bali.

That translates as everything going swell as far as the Destruction of Europe project is concerned. De-industrialize and be happy; rainbow-dance to every woke tune on the market; and freeze and burn wood while blessing “renewables” in the altar of European values.

A quick flashback to contextualize where we are is always helpful.

Ukraine was part of Russia for nearly four centuries. The very idea of its independence was invented in Austria during WWI for the purpose of undermining the Russian Army – and that certainly happened. The present “independence” was set up so local Trotskyite oligarchs could loot the nation as a Russia-aligned government was about to move against those oligarchs.

The 2014 Kiev coup was essentially set up by Zbig “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski to draw Russia into a new partisan war – as in Afghanistan – and was followed by orders to the Gulf oil haciendas to crash the oil price. Moscow had to protect Russophones in Crimea and Donbass – and that led to more Western sanctions. All of it was a setup.

For 8 years, Moscow refused to send its armies even to Donbass east of the Dnieper (historically part of Mother Russia). The reason: not to be bogged down in another partisan war. The rest of Ukraine, meanwhile, was being looted by oligarchs supported by the West, and plunged into a financial black hole.

The collective West deliberately chose not to finance the black hole. Most of the IMF injections were simply stolen by the oligarchs, and the loot transferred out of the country. These oligarchic looters were of course “protected” by the usual suspects.

It’s always crucial to remember that between 1991 and 1999 the equivalent of the present entire household wealth of Russia was stolen and transferred overseas, mostly to London. Now the same usual suspects are trying to ruin Russia with sanctions, as “new Hitler” Putin stopped the looting.

The difference is that the plan of using Ukraine as just a pawn in their game is not working.

On the ground, what has been going on so far are mostly skirmishes, and a few real battles. But with Moscow massing fresh troops for a winter offensive, the Ukrainian Army may end up completely routed.

Russia didn’t look so bad – considering the effectiveness of its mincing machine artillery strikes against Ukrainian fortified positions, and recent planned retreats or positional warfare, keeping casualties down while smashing Ukrainian withering firepower.

The collective West believes it holds the Ukraine proxy war card. Russia bets on reality, where economic cards are food, energy, resources, resource security and a stable economy.

Meanwhile, as if the energy-suicide EU did not have to face a pyramid of ordeals, they can surely expect to have knocking on their door at least 15 million desperate Ukrainians escaping from villages and cities with zero electrical power.

The railway station in – temporarily occupied – Kherson is a graphic example: people show up constantly to warm up and charge their smartphones. The city has no electricity, no heat, and no water.

Current Russian tactics are the absolute opposite of the military theory of concentrated force developed by Napoleon. That’s why Russia is accumulating serious advantages while “disturbing the dust in a bowl of rose-leaves”.

And of course, “we haven’t even started yet.”

 

READ MORE:

https://www.unz.com/pescobar/electric-war/

 

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Western leaders have “misplaced optimism” in their ability to defeat Russia in Ukraine and oust Vladimir Putin from power, a German Member of the European Parliament (MEP) told Breitbart London.

In an exclusive interview, Dr Gunnar Beck, MEP for the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, said that there is a lack of calls for peace in Ukraine in Europe and America because politicians have made the miscalculation that Ukraine can prevail and that the Russian people will turn against Vladimir Putin.

“There is a lot of triumphalism right now, talk of Russia being pushed back to its pre-conflict borders and I think that’s misplaced triumphalism. What we need in Ukraine, above all, is a genuine compromise peace as soon as possible,” Dr Beck told Breitbart London.

“I don’t have a crystal ball, but my sense is that it is a miscalculation and if it is, I rather doubt that the Russian population will cease to support President Putin if the conflict is increasingly perceived there in terms of not just a conflict with Ukraine but with the whole of the West.”

 

The German MEP claimed that while the main focus among the legacy media, and indeed among the political class in the West, has been on the losses suffered by Russia, “Ukraine’s losses in manpower and equipment are much larger than Russia’s and Ukraine can ill afford such loss of life.”

“We’ve seen the exodus of millions and millions of Ukrainians, many of whom will never come back, large loss of life among Ukrainian men, widespread destruction. The country will be ruined if the conflict continues much longer, so in my view, peace is the absolute priority and of course I would like to see the German government do more in this regard, rather than simply adopt a very inflexible line in relation to Russia.”

 

READ MORE:

https://www.breitbart.com/europe/2022/11/26/exclusive-western-leaders-have-misplaced-optimism-in-ukraines-ability-to-defeat-russia-says-german-mep/

 

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