Two days ago I wrote a piece whose message was summed up in its title: “There will be no Grexit.”
At that time international economists were demonstrating, calculators in hand, that it was economically impossible for Greece to stay in the Eurozone definitely, and in the EU probably.
And Angie was saying Nein to any new deal with the unshakeable resolve of a virgin who really means Ja but doesn’t want to appear easy.
My counterargument was that the EU was a political project, not an economic one. Since Grexit would endanger it, the Europaführer Angie would be willing to let politics ride roughshod over economics yet again.
Now the words ‘I told you so’ are among the most irritating in the English language, which is why I generally refrain from using them. But this time the temptation is too strong.
Having played hard to get for a while, Angie finally put out yesterday. A compromise on Greece’s debt, she said, is possible after all.
Thank you, Angie, for confirming my bona fides. I knew I could count on you.
Yet even this triumph of statesmanship pales by comparison with Angie’s improbable architectural and geographical feat of turning Minsk into Munich.
What do you call a treaty in which Side A gets everything and Side B nothing? I call it the capitulation of Side B. The Europaführer’s and Putin’s sycophants call it a diplomatic triumph or at least a step towards one.
In reality the accord confers every benefit only on Putin and every obligation only on the Ukraine.
It could not have been otherwise, for Angie has de facto agreed to accept Putin’s cynical lie that Russia has nothing to do with the rape of the Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
Putin knows this is a lie, Angie knows it’s a lie, Putin knows that Angie knows, and Angie knows that Putin knows she knows.
Yet she pretends to believe Putin because not doing so would mean she, along with her European acolytes (including us, in case you’ve forgotten), would have to oppose Russia’s aggression with staunch resolve.
However, Europe, demoralised, demob-happy and gutless, has neither the appetite for such a show of courage nor increasingly even the military capabilities.
Replace ‘separatists’, ‘rebels’, ‘People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk’ and whatever other euphemisms are being bandied about with what they really mean, and Minsk Mk II will instantly look like what it is: Munich Mk II.
For example what does the removal of foreign troops and ‘illegal armed formations’ mean? As far as Putin is concerned, and as far as Angie pretends to accept, no such things exist. His proxy troops are supposed to be legitimate Ukrainians fighting for regional autonomy.
Their weapons were provided by God, with no human agency involved. Their leaders, such as the KGB officer Strelkov, may be Russian by birth and lifelong residence, but patriotic Ukrainians in their hearts.
Similarly, the ‘illegal armed formations’, which according to the agreement are to be disarmed, are meaningless. If the so-called People’s Republics are legal, then their bandits are legal.
And even if we accept that there is a teensy-weensy whiff of illegality about them, who is going to disarm them? Angie? She can’t. Putin? He won’t.
Anyway, by what authority would he do it even if he wanted to? They have nothing to do with him. In fact, Russia wasn’t even mentioned as a participant in the war.
All claims to the contrary notwithstanding, no meaningful demilitarised zone separating the two sides has been agreed upon. Yes, Putin agreed to withdraw heavy armaments to the demarcation line established by the previous Minsk accord, while the Ukraine will withdraw her equivalents to the line established yesterday.
The gap of 50-70 km between the two lines, however, isn’t a true DMZ because in reality only Putin’s proxy troops would be in a position to enforce it.
Hence the DMZ will only serve the purpose of allowing Putin’s bandits to catch their breath, regroup and start all over again.
In effect, the status of eastern Ukraine (forget about the Crimea; it didn’t even get a cursory mention) as Putin’s fiefdom has been confirmed.
The Ukraine will be granted control over her own borders, but only after constitutional changes codifying the results of elections in the areas controlled by Putin’s stormtroopers.
Since the elections will be supervised by the latter, the vote for autonomy is guaranteed. That means that Putin will get exactly what he wanted in the first place: direct influence on the Ukraine’s policies, both domestic and foreign.
In effect, that means the country will be prevented from making any westward moves, be it in the direction of Nato or the EU. QED, smirks Putin.
In fact, Peter Hitchens’s idol bemoaned President Poroshenko’s refusal to negotiate with the People’s Republics directly. You don’t have to recognise them, he explained, to recognise reality. And reality must be recognised.
Meanwhile the Ukraine was obligated to resume funding the People’s Republics. Thanks to the spineless ‘leaders’ of Europe, with Angie in the van, Putin doesn’t even have to loosen his purse strings to get what he wants.
This invalidates all comparisons between the People’s Republics and Transnistria, the Russian client state carved out of Moldavia. Russia pays for Transnistria; she has made the Ukraine pay for the People’s Republics.
There is one good thing about the agreement: from midnight tomorrow the shooting is supposed to stop, and no more buses full of civilians will be diverted to heaven en route to a shopping centre. But for how long?
For as long as it suits Putin, is the answer to that. The agreement includes no provisions for guaranteeing or enforcing it.
The border will remain permeable enough for unlimited amounts of Russian weaponry to reach the bandits’ hands. Those Russian soldiers who choose to spend their holidays and furloughs in sunny Donetsk will be able to do so unimpeded, provided they remove Russian insignia from their uniforms.
Angie is chomping at the bit to lift the sanctions, and it’s conceivable that Putin will kerb his dogs of war until she does. After that, it’ll be back to the old scenario, with cohesion among Western allies further undermined.
“We have no illusions. No illusions,” said Angie hastily as she accepted congratulations on her triumph. That’s good. Nothing we like more than a leader with a firm grasp of reality.
And reality is simple: not only has the Ukraine been sold down the river, but a major European war has moved a step closer.