I missed something that happened over a month ago, something unfortunately important and likely to have had serious consequences. it does happen, I can't catch every item of news or data when even many of the social media sites don't seem to have flagged it very highly and I missed this one.
A pair of well known, vocal and influential US Senators, John McCain and Lindsey Graham took themselves on a bit of a tour of the Eastern European States bordering Russia in the new year, not massively unusual, US politicians and British Politicians wander off on fact finding missions all the time.
However they generally don't give speeches deliberately encouraging the violations of peace agreements that the US helped to negotiate.
Which these two arguably did.
Some back History. Ukraine's pro Russian leader was overthrown and replaced with a pro EU leader, the heavily Russian east of the country didn't like this at all and for various reasons fighting broke out between the Kiev controlled forces and the mixture of pro Russian militia groups and army units that had sided with them. This went on for some time causing significant destruction and loss of life and included many reports in the Western media that Russian forces and tanks had crossed the border and joined the fighting.
In the midst of all the fighting the Crimea held a referendum and overwhelmingly voted to secede from the Ukraine and Rejoin Russia (not that surprising for an area that was all but 100% ethnic Russian despite the many Western Media stories about it being fixed).
You may remember the whole saga of the white lorries bringing relief supplies to the civilians trapped in the fighting and unable to escape due to the Kiev army blockades.
Finally however a peace agreement was hammered out and that agreement created a semi autonomous separatist region in the East and required that heavy weapons such as tube artillery and mortars be withdraw one hundred kilometres from the border between the new eastern region and the rest of the country.
Back to the present day and the fighting still continued from time to time, skirmishes along the borders and the exchange of light weapons fire. But not the all out fighting from before that saw tanks and aircraft destroying large areas.
Germany, France, the Ukraine and Russia had negotiating a peace treaty in Minsk and while it was not being followed completely it was holding.
"Your fight is our fight – 2017 will be the year of offense."
Then for unknown reasons in 2017 the fighting escalated again, both Russia and Kiev reported attacks against their respective sides and civilians in the area began reporting that they were being shelled and hit with rockets and mortars. Something which should not have been possible since the terms of the Minsk agreement required that all such weapons be moved far enough back that they were out of range of the borders.
None the less there certainly seem to be such weapons a lot closer than the 100 kilometres away that the treaty required since both sides are suing them.
Kiev is claiming that Russia is at fault, Russia is claiming that Kiev forces have launched attacks across the borders and, supported by artillery in violation of the treaty, struck at separatist targets within the separatist zone.
“I believe you will win. I am convinced you will win and we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win."
Now this is basically what was happening two years ago, politicians and diplomats both saying their side was right and the other side was lying, both sides blaming the other for the fighting while the civilian population and infrastructure in the middle suffers.
"It is time for them to pay a heavier price. Our fight is not with the Russian people but with Putin."
But for better or for worse the treaty had been generally holding, the civilian population had been able to restart a semblance of their old lives free from the fear that they and their families could be killed at any moment by an attack, many of which it must be said came from the government side shelling the separatist cities and suburbs though the civilian death toll was by no means one sided.
But there had been some peace, the big guns were silent, people no longer turned their gaze to the skies looking for aircraft on bombing runs.
“All of us will go back to Washington and we will push the case against Russia."
Now we haven't seen Putin rattling any sabres in the general direction of the Ukraine recently, and despite the NATO reports of the almost inevitable Russian invasion of the Baltic states and the terrible threat Putin poses to world (and European) peace I haven't seen anyone (not even the people behind those oh so creative and blurry satellite pictures from two years ago) come up with any evidence what so ever that Russia is massing it's forces ON ITS OWN BORDER prior to invading anyone.
We have seen NATO posting thousands of troops on Russia's borders though, but hey, Putin's a nice bloke, I'm sure he doesn't mind.
“Enough of a Russian aggression. It is time for them to pay a heavier price.”
So what could possibly have happened, what could be going on?
It's not the EU, Germany is otherwise busy, elections, a million refugees and an upsurge of nationalist parties. I haven't seen much in the way of German sabre rattling towards Russia or much in the way of overt support for Kiev. Let's face it the Germans are probably fed up with paying for Greece, Italy and any other Eurozone nations with economies in the swamp, they hardly seem to want to start putting their money into a new war in the Ukraine after having worked hard to stop the last one.
France, busy elsewhere, looking at Marie Le Pen as president, refugees and anti refugees rioting, terrorist attacks, nationalists, a not entirely buoyant economy and more. I can't see them wanting the whole mess to restart.
So what about Kiev, what about President Poroshenko. Where does he stand and equally importantly where do the many and numerous nationalist anti Russian groups that supported him and flocked to join the fighting stand.
Does he want to take back the region, does he want to get his hands on the industry of the Eastern region along with the coal, all that oil and natural gas that is under the separatist areas. Given that back in the Soviet era almost all of the heavy industry was concentrated in the east of the Ukraine and the agriculture in the west he controls a lot of farms and not much industry. The Donbass natural gas fields which are estimated to contain enough natural gas to power the EU for a decade would certainly help his wealth, and the countries.
But it seems unlikely that he would just start the fighting on his own again, if it comes to an actual war with Russia the Russians would roll over his entire armed forces and (hopefully) stop at the Polish border. I cannot honestly see the NATO troops who keep popping in for 'Training' on the Ukrainian side of the Poland / Ukraine border deciding to attack Russia just for the heck of it.
So why start the fighting again, it makes no sense at all.
And then a friend pointed me to a little story I missed, and suddenly it does make sense.
It makes sense that the President of a small, independent country in Eastern Europe, wanting to put down several separatist movements in his country and to gain control of a significant wealth in natural resources would want to send in his military.
It also makes sense that fear of pissing off the 800lb bear in its cave next door would make him hold his hand. Until such a time as he felt that another 800lb beast was on his side, something big enough and bad enough to make the Russian bear hold back.
Something, or someone that would allow him to deal with the separatists, grab the east of his own country back and get his hands on all that money, erm gas.
It makes sense that he felt restrained until he felt he had such an ally.
And now it seems he does.
It doesn't matter that these two men are NOT the US government, it doesn't matter that they aren't speaking with the authority of the President of the US. They are big, powerful, very well known US politicians and these two men stood with President Poroshenko and they promised US support against Putin. Men well known and powerful said they were supporting Kiev and that 2017 was the time to attack.
Combine this with the present NATO attitude and almost constant sabre rattling against Russia, the Western media's relentless anti Putin meme and what looks very suspiciously like NATO building up its troops on Russia's border and I can certainly see where President Poroshenko would have got the idea that the West is ready to support him against Russia.
It makes sense.
In a twisted, YOU HAVE TO BE OUT OF YOUR TINY MIND YOU WARMONGERING SON OF A BITCH way. But then go back and read the quotes in the article above, the ones in bold italics. This is what those two United States Senators said to members of the Ukrainian military in the presence of TV cameras and the Ukrainian President.
Listen to what Senators McCain and Graham said.
It's almost as if McCain and Graham were pledging that the US was ready to act against Putin and Russia, as if the US was ready to support others who acted against Putin and Russia. Combined with the many comments by NATO spokespersons about the Russian threat and the need for stronger action against Russia it's almost as if those two men said start the attack and we'll be with you.
But that would be stupid, because those men don't speak for the US government, nor do they set US policy, Trump does and he doesn't seem to be pushing for war with Russia, which these two were. Starting the fighting in the Ukraine, killing tens of thousands, risking war with Russia, a significant step backwards in the Trump / Putin non enemy attitude.
Forcing the US into either fighting against Russia (BAD!), or standing back and doing nothing while Russia grinds what is left of the Ukraine into the mud (also bad), who benefits from that? Either choice is terrible for the person making that choice and brings appalling risk of death and destruction.
So they couldn't really have meant what they said?
Or could they really be the sort of bastards that would start a war to score points against their own President.