Revealed: Ukraine’s Weapons-Sellers!

This might be considered as the most important “secret” result of that NATO summit at the end of last week that was held at some golf resort in Wales, and the EU Beobachter (“EU Observer”) has picked it up.

Yes, in the wake of that summit five states intend to start selling weapons to the Ukraine, and they are: the USA, Poland, France, Italy and Norway. The notable absence on this list is Germany, whose weapons, notably its small arms, are particularly good in comparison to most others, but whose Chancellor, Mrs. Merkel, made it clear at that summit that it was not ready to take that step. Understandable: the German government only in the past few weeks decided that it would break precedent and send arms to the Kurds fighting the Islamic State in Iraq, and that decision caused quite a bit of consternation on the German political scene. Merkel was not ready for the same again – not that that was the only reason for German reticence.

What’s really notable about these arms-sellers is just how hush-hush the whole subject is. None of these countries has been willing to announce these upcoming weapons-sales; indeed, all have officially denied they are ready to do so. So who knows? Against that we have – for what it is worth – an announcement yesterday by a close advisor to Ukraine President Poroshenko that these five countries would indeed be supplying his country militarily. That announcement notably appeared on the advisor’s Facebook page.

If we examine that roster, the sales from the US and from Poland are understandable: American weapons manufacturers are seemingly ready to sell anywhere, anytime, while Poland is the state leading the alarm over Ukraine developments. For France and Italy it is a bit harder to understand why they would want to be involved (indeed, the Italians have continually been suspect as too Russia-friendly) – until you realize, as this article states explicitly, that they mainly see this as an opportunity for their native arms industries to make some money. It’s only Norway whose involvement is totally mysterious: its economy doesn’t need the money, and to this point it has not seemed particularly alarmed about what is happening off to the East. Indeed, as a good Scandinavian land, it is supposed to have certain ethical pretensions of not selling war material into an active war-zone.

Another interesting revelation in this piece is how, even if most of those NATO countries who are also EU members won’t be delivering weapons to Ukraine, they will be indirectly paying for them nonetheless. That is because the Ukrainian state is close to bankruptcy now, due to the pressures of war. So the money that will go to pay for these new arms is in fact money being sent to it from the EU, notionally for developmental assistance. But this is hardly any time for ordinary “development.” Those monies include €500 million from German taxpayers, meant for Ukrainian “reconstruction.” Again, in the eyes of the Ukrainian authorities this is understandably no time for “reconstruction.”

On this same subject of Ukraine, there is this interesting footnote from the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza.

It comes from Adam Michnik, renowned Polish dissident and the man most responsible for setting up this, Poland’s first post-Communist truly free (in the sense of “liberated from outside control”) newspaper, whose Editor-in-Chief he remains. And that Twitter-text reads “Putin flew into hysterics when he saw [deposed Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak standing at the criminals’ dock in an Egyptian court.”

Michnik gained this insight into the Putin world-view from sources he would evidently does not want to name. So take that into account as you will, but I think its message rings true. That is namely that Putin saw what happened over the 2013-14 winter months in Maidan Square in Kiev – and make no mistake, what that was, was a popular uprising to oust what had become a corrupt and unrepresentative government – then saw the courtroom video of earlier results from Tahrir Square in Cairo, and has become determined not to suffer the same fate.

This is an important element to keep in mind when trying to evaluate and predict his actions with regard to Ukraine. Of course, he should be rather encouraged by the way history has turned out – so far! – on the Nile, with the re-imposition there of an oppressive military government. Surely he can do at least as well in the Ukraine.

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