Carnival in Crimea
March 02, 2014 "Information
Clearing House -
waits for no one, but apparently will wait for
Crimea. The speaker of the Crimean parliament,
Vladimir Konstantinov, has confirmed there will be a
referendum on greater autonomy from Ukraine on May
Until then, Crimea will be as hot and steamy as
carnival in Rio - because Crimea is all about
Sevastopol, the port of call for the Russian Black
North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a bull, this
is the red flag to end all red flags. Even if you're
deep in alcohol nirvana
troubles away at carnival in Rio - or New Orleans,
or Venice, or Trinidad and Tobago - your brain will
have registered that NATO's ultimate wet dream is to
command a Western puppet Ukrainian government to
kick the Russian navy out of its base in Sevastopol.
The negotiated lease applies until 2042. Threats and
rumors of reneging it have already emerged.
The absolute majority of the Crimean peninsula is
populated by Russian speakers. Very few Ukrainians
live there. In 1954, it took only 15 minutes for
Ukrainian Nikita Krushchev - he of the banging shoe
at the UN floor - to give Crimea as a free gift to
Ukraine (then part of the USSR). In Russia, Crimea
is perceived as Russian. Nothing will change that
We're not facing a new Crimean War - yet. Only up to
a point. NATO's wet dream is one thing; it is quite
another to pull it off - as in ending the Russian
fleet routinely leaving Sevastopol across the Black
Sea through the Bosphorus and then reaching Tartus,
Syria's Mediterranean port. So yes, this is as much
about Syria as about Crimea.
The new Ukrainian Orange, Tangerine, Campari, Aperol
Spritz or Tequila Sunrise revolution seems so far to
have answered NATO's prayers. But it's a long and
winding road for NATO to reenact the 1850s and remix
the original Crimean War.
For the foreseeable future, we will be drowning in a
white sea of platitudes. As in Pentagon supremo
Chuck Hagel "warning" Russia to stay out of the
turmoil, while NATO's defense ministers issue the
requisite pile of statements that no one reads
"showing support" for the new leadership, and
corporate shills reassure the populace this is not a
new Cold War. 
Dance to my strategy, suckers
Where's H L Mencken when we need him? No one ever
lost money underestimating the mendacity of the
Pentagon/NATO/CIA/State Department system.
Especially now, when Ukrainian policy seems to have
been subcontracted by the Obama administration to
the likes of neo-con Victoria "F**k the EU" Nuland,
married to Dubya darling neo-con Robert Kagan.
As Immanuel Wallerstein has already observed, 
Nuland, Kagan and the neo-con gang are as much
terrified of Russia "dominating" Ukraine as of a
slowly emerging, and eventually quite possible,
geopolitical alliance between Germany (with France
as a junior partner) and Russia. That would mean the
heart of the European Union forging a counter-power
to the dwindling, increasingly wobbly American
And as the current embodiment of wobbly American
power, the Obama administration is really in a class
by itself. They are now lost in their own,
self-concocted "pivot" maze. Which pivot comes
first? That one to China? But then we need to pivot
to Iran first - to end that Middle East distraction.
Or maybe not.
Take this latest sound bite by US Secretary of State
John Kerry, on Iran: "We took the initiative and led
the effort to try to figure out if before we go to
war there actually might be a peaceful solution."
So suddenly it's not about a nuclear deal to be
possibly attained in 2014 anymore; it's about "if
before we go to war". It's about bombing a possible
deal so the Empire may bomb a country - again. Or
maybe that's just a wet dream supplied by the
Likudnik puppet masters.
The great Michael Hudson has speculated that
"multi-dimensional chess" might be "guiding US moves
in the Ukraine". Not really. It's more like if we
can't pivot to China - yet - and if the pivot to
Iran is going to fail anyway (because we want it
to), we might as well pivot somewhere else. Oh yes,
that pesky place that prevented us from bombing
Syria; it's called Russia. And all that under the
profound guidance of Victoria "F**k the EU" Nuland.
Where's a neo-Aristophanes to chronicle these
And never forget US corporate media. That CNN hack
has been Amanpouring lately about the Budapest
Agreement - stressing Russia should stay out of
Ukraine. Well, visibly a horde of producers at
ratings-falling-to-the-floor CNN have not even read
the Budapest Agreement which, as University of
Illinois professor Francis Boyle has noted, "also
states that the US, Russia, Ukraine, and UK need to
immediately jointly 'consult' - meaning meet at
least at the foreign minister level".
So who pays the bills?
The new prime minister of Ukraine, Arseniy Yatsenyuk,
is - what else - a "technocratic reformer", code for
Western puppet.  Ukraine is a (torn) basket case.
The currency has fallen 20% since the start of 2014.
Millions of unemployed Europeans know the European
Union does not have the dough to bail out the
country (perhaps Ukrainians could ask former Italian
prime minister Silvio Berlusconi for some tips).
In Pipelineistan terms, Ukraine is an appendix to
Russia; it's Russian gas that transits through
Ukraine to European markets. And Ukrainian industry
depends on the Russian market.
Let's take a closer look at the new Aperol Spritz
"revolutionary" wallet. Every month, the natural gas
import bill from Russia is roughly US$1 billion. In
January, the country also had to spend $1.1 billion
in debt repayment. Foreign currency reserves plunged
to $17.8 billion from $20.4 billion. Ukraine has a
minimum debt repayment of no less than $17 billion
in 2014. They even had to cancel a $2 billion
eurobond issue late last week.
Frankly, Russian President Vladimir Putin - aka Vlad
the Hammer - must be grinning like the Cheshire cat.
He could simply erase the significant 33% discount
on natural gas imports he gave Kiev late last year.
Rumor after rumor already state - ominously - that
the Aperol Spritz revolutionaries won't have the
cash to pay pensions and public servants' salaries.
In June comes a monster payment to a bunch of
creditors ($1 billion in debt will mature).
Afterwards, it's bleaker than north Siberia in
The US offer of $1 billion is risible. And all this
after the ""F**k the EU" "strategy" of Victoria
Nuland torpedoed an Ukrainian transitional
government - by the way, negotiated by the EU -
which might have kept the Russians on board,
Without Russia, Ukraine will totally depend on the
West to pay all its bills, not to mention avoid
being bankrupt. That amounts to a whopping $30
billion until the end of 2014. Unlike Egypt, they
cannot dial the House of Saud's number and ask for
some juicy petrodollars. That $15 billion loan from
Russia promised recently could come in handy - but
Moscow must get something in return.
The notion that Putin will order a military attack
on the Ukraine should be billed to US corporate
media's sub-zoological intellectual quotient. Vlad
the Hammer just needs to watch the circus - as in
the West squabbling about where to get those
billions to be squandered in a (torn) basket case.
Or the International Monetary Fund churning out yet
another dreadful "structural adjustment" to send
Ukraine's population back to the Paleolithic.
Crimea could even stage its own delayed carnival,
voting not only for more autonomy but to leave the
(torn) basket case altogether. In this case, Putin
will even get Crimea for free - Krushchev-style. Not
a bad deal. Thanks to that oh so strategic "F**k the
EU" Russian "pivot".
Pepe Escobar is the author of
Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving
into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007),
Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the
surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and
Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
US and Britain say Ukraine is not a battleground
between East and West, Daily Telegraph, February
Biden: U.S. Supports Ukraine's New Government,
Voice of America, February 27, 2014.
Copyright 2014 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd.