Beard as big-league politics factor
Photos of "Russian special forces" in Slaviansk and Kramatorsk published on April 20 in The New York Times and immediately referred to by the U.S. State Department can prove only one thing – Washington does not have and has never had any proof of Russian military intervention in Ukraine. Over the past two weeks, the United States has not been able to present anything but camouflage fatigues, AK-74s and now bearded men as evidences of its relentlessly promoted theory of direct Russian involvement in the events in southeast Ukraine. Now one is likely to expect some bears and balalaikas.
But no matter how ridiculous it looks, we are witnessing a serious geopolitical game which is apparently intentionally aimed, among other objectives, at bringing about a deep rift between Russia and the European Union.
At the present moment Washington’s policy with regard to the four-party meeting in Geneva and situation in Donbass is based solely on the assumption of Russia’s meddling in ongoing events. At the same time the U.S. administration asserts that there are no objective reasons for a serious unrest in southeast Ukraine.
Still, a public opinion poll which the Department of State refers to clearly shows the opposite: more than 70% of the population of southeast Ukraine do not approve the actions of Kiev: neither of acting president nor of acting prime minister or parliament. In the meantime more than 60% of the respondents believe that the next presidential and parliamentary elections will be neither free nor fair, and – which is probably the most important thing – according to this survey, the majority of the local population do not see today’s Ukrainian parties and most-publicized candidates for president as effective representatives of their interests – in fact, they just do not have anyone to vote for.
These figures clearly demonstrate serious problems with the legitimacy of Kiev government as well as with implementation of representative democracy principles in the region, home to half of Ukraine’s population. But despite this the U.S. is trying to convince the international community, primarily its European partners, that all the problems in southeast Ukraine are related solely to Russian actions.
Following this logic Russia is the only one to blame for the ongoing protests. Russia’s actions or rather "inaction" can be labeled a breach of the Geneva agreements and even "aggression" which in turn could be a pretext for new sanctions. Thus, Washington is trying to maneuver Moscow into a zugzwang.
However to make sanctions against Russia truly effective the U.S. needs support of the European Union. Because of its close ties with Russia the EU sanctions can be really costly for Russian economy. Obviously the demise of Russian/European economic links will simultaneously hurt the EU economy as well, but it not only seems to be a minor worry for the United States, but also, perhaps, is one of the current U.S. policy objectives.
It is quite clear that the rift between Russia and the European Union could bring about some significant political benefits for the U.S. As a result, Russia and the EU will be significantly weakened while the U.S. will only enhance its standing. Europeans will have no choice but to speed up the development of transatlantic ties, including economic ones, within the framework of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) while the EU’s position in the negotiations will be weakened. The West will be reunited militarily, politically and economically under Washington’s leadership, and the prospect of creating a common economic space "from Lisbon to Vladivostok" would actually fade away. Besides the U.S. will expand to additional lucrative European markets: the arms market, as Europe will have to strengthen the defense against "Russian aggression", and shale energy market.
It is only the EU that remains to be convinced. Actually, many entities there have long been willing to support the U.S. in these aspirations, but the final say is still with the informal leader – Germany. The German foreign minister continues to speak in favor of constructive resolution of the conflict, German business circles oppose sanctions, and the majority of population believes that Berlin should not take sides but to play a mediating role in the conflict between the West and Russia.
For the U.S. seeking to convince Germans and other Europeans who have doubts in validity of U.S. political course any argument deems fair including dubious pictures of bearded men.