Russian asset Donald Trump has turned the powers of the United States government to doing the bidding of Vladimir Putin’s kleptocracy in Russia.
On Tuesday, Vladimir Putin got what he wanted from his Russian asset Donald Trump in the Ukraine whistleblower scandal — which now involves his vice president, secretary of state, attorney general, and henchman, Rudy Giuliani — in a coordinated Trump effort to get Ukraine to accede to Russia’s demands in its attempt to dismantle the Ukraine state, and obtain relief from international sanctions for Russia’a annexation of Crimea and invasion and occupation of eastern Ukraine.
Last week at a press conference with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky Trump urged him to settle his country’s “differences” with Russia — on Putin’s terms. ‘No Pressure,’ Trump Insists, While Sitting With Ukraine’s Zelensky at U.N.:
During the conversation, Trump also urged Zelensky — whose country is receiving hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. aid to fight Russian-aligned forces — to work things out with President Putin. Trump commended Zelensky for making “a lot of progress with Russia,” adding, it “would be nice to end that whole disaster.” He later said he “really” hoped Zelensky and Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Zelensky appeared to avoid Trump’s searching gaze as he said that.)
Resolving the Ukraine crisis over Crimea and the Russian invasion of Ukraine might permit Trump to lift sanctions on Russia. Trump has consistently pursued the interests of his boss, Vladimir Putin.
The Kyiv Post reports, Ukraine agrees to ‘Steinmeier Formula,’ green-lights elections in occupied Donbas:
Members of the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine – Ukraine, Russia and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe on Oct. 1 agreed to a peace process known as the “Steinmeier Formula,” green-lighting local elections in the Russian-controlled regions of Donbas.
The agreement envisages that the occupied areas of eastern Ukraine get a special self-governing status after they hold local elections. The elections have to take place in accordance with the Ukrainian legislation and be approved by the OSCE.
A key condition for the elections to take place is for the Russian forces and Russian-backed militants to leave the territory and for Ukraine to regain control over the eastern border with Russia, according to President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“There will be no elections ‘at the gunpoint’,” Zelensky said at a press conference in Kyiv on Oct. 1. “If someone (militants) will be there, there will be no elections.”
The elections in the occupied zone will be monitored by the OSCE and conducted by the Ukrainian Central Election Commission. Ukrainian observers, independent press and political organizations must be permitted to take part in the electoral process.
If the OSCE concludes that the election was fair, the region will receive self-governance instantly.
Ukraine’s leader also noted that the acting provisional law on the special territorial status for Russian-occupied Donbas would expire after Dec. 31, 2019, therefore the Verkhovna Rada would prepare a brand new legislation act on Donbas “in close cooperation and in public discussion with society.”
“And in this new law, no “red lines” will be crossed,” Zelensky said. “Therefore, there can be no instrument of surrender (in war).”
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The governments of Ukraine and Russia have been widely discussing the so-called “Steinmeier Formula,” a peace plan proposed by the German president back in 2016, for the past several months.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier proposed the formula during his time as German foreign minister, when it became clear that the Minsk peace agreement signed in February 2015, failed.
The formula was simple: hold elections in the occupied territories under Ukrainian legislation and the supervision of OSCE, and if the organization deems these elections free and fair, then the special status of these regions will kick in.
The AP adds:
Ukrainian nationalists protested the development, with hundreds gathering on Kyiv’s Maidan, the square that symbolizes Ukraine’s resistance to Russian influence.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said at a briefing in Kyiv that the country agreed to a snap local election in the east, which has been controlled by Russia-backed separatists since April 2014. He sought to dispel fears about excessive concessions to the separatists, saying the election would be held only when Ukraine regains control of all its borders with Russia.
“There won’t be any elections under the barrel of a gun,” Zelenskiy said in response to criticism that his administration bowed to Russia’s demands. “There won’t be any elections there if the troops are still there.”
Separatist leaders and the Ukrainian government also pledged to pull back troops from two locations in the Donetsk and the Luhansk regions early next week.
Zelenskiy insisted the local election would be held according to Ukrainian law, meaning all candidates and political parties should be allowed to run. Separatist leaders have rejected that idea in the past, saying they wouldn’t allow Ukrainian parties that included nationalist politicians to run.
The Kremlin has denied providing military or financial support to the separatists despite overwhelming evidence. Russian troops were spotted in eastern Ukraine during crucial offensives, and the rebels themselves don’t make it a secret they received weapons and training from the Russian military.
Moscow has tried to play down its involvement in eastern Ukraine in recent years, pulling back its troops and mostly relying on proxy forces. The separatists, in the meantime, re-branded their fighters as police or other law enforcement officers.
The election agreement was seen as the final hurdle before a summit between Zelenskiy, Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of France and Germany, who have helped mediate the peace talks. French President Emmanuel Macron said earlier Tuesday that he expects the summit in the coming weeks.
Russia previously declined to sit down with Ukraine unless it signed an agreement on holding a local election.
Former Ukrainian officials and lawmakers who were voted out of office earlier this year following a landslide victory by Zelenskiy and his allies expressed concern Tuesday that Kyiv was giving up its sovereignty over the east by signing the accords.
Former parliamentary speaker Andriy Parubiy, in a Facebook post on Tuesday, slammed the plan for a local election as “an attempt to dismantle the Ukrainian state” and pledged to fight against what he described as “capitulation.”
Parubiy’s supporters and other nationalist activists gathered outside the Ukrainian presidential administration late Tuesday to protest the agreement, later moving to the Maidan. Some held a banner saying “No to capitulation!” Police stood watch.
In Moscow, officials and pro-Kremlin politicians welcomed the accords.
Alexei Pushkov, chairman of the information committee in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, hailed the agreement as “our major achievement” and expressed hope that the four-way summit, the first one to be held since 2016, “could lead to a noticeable progress in (our) relations with Europe.”
Moscow’s recent outreach to Kyiv was seen as Russia’s attempt to get the European nations to roll back at least some of the sanctions that were imposed on Russia in the aftermath of the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the start of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
This is rewarding Russian aggression, the annexation of Crimea and the invasion and occupation of eastern Ukraine. The role of European governments and the U.S. in securing an agreement that rewards Russian aggression is reminiscent of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement in the 1930s allowing Hitler to expand German territory unchecked. This is dangerous.
What’s next, the Russian reoccupation of the Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? Reasserting Russian domination over eastern European countries formerly part of the Warsaw Pact? As former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk warned, Vladimir Putin has a dream to restore the old Soviet Union — and Putin realizing that dream would be disastrous for the rest of the world.
Donald Trump is helping his pal Putin to achieve it.
UPDATE: The Daily Beast reports, Russians Praise Trump, Taunt Zelensky, as Ukraine Signs On to Peace-Plan Proposal (excerpt):
The most controversial aspect of the Steinmeier Formula is that it provides for local elections to take place in the occupied parts of Ukraine before Kyiv has control of the border and prior to the withdrawal of the Russian-backed forces.
This condition doesn’t seem to match up with Zelensky’s understanding of the agreement. After signing on to the Steinmeier Formula, the Ukrainian president declared during a news conference that the elections would not be held “under the barrel of a gun” and would take place only when no troops remain in the separatist-held areas.
“What Ukraine was so afraid of has happened… Zelensky doesn’t understand what he signed,” concluded Vladimir Soloviev, the host of the nightly The Evening With Vladimir Soloviev on Russian state television.
The heads of Russia-backed separatist pseudo-republics in eastern Ukraine openly proclaimed in a public statement that “the Kyiv authorities won’t get any control over the border” and vowed that LPR and DPR will make decisions “about integration with Russia” of their own accord. “Forget about controlling the border, once and for all,” exclaimed political scientist Sergey Kurginyan, appearing on The Evening.
During a panel discussion at the Russian Energy Week forum, Putin said that Zelensky “will have to decide how the relations between Ukraine and Donbas will develop,” pointedly referring to Ukraine’s own region as a separate geopolitical entity. Putin opined that Ukraine “did much better when it was a part of the Soviet Union, along with Russia.”
Appearing on Russia’s state television program 60 Minutes, Oleg Nilov, member of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, asserted that Ukraine was “forced to sign” the Steinmeier Formula—and proceeded to threaten the country with “the Israeli formula” of taking all the land Russia wants, if Kyiv reneges on the deal.
“Trump let Zelensky down. Three times he told him: ‘Go meet with Putin,’”said Olga Skabeeva, the host of 60 Minutes. During the same program, Nikolai Platoshkin, head of the International Relations Department at Moscow University for the Humanities, predicted that once all the “formulas” have been exhausted, LPR and DPR will ultimately become a part of the Russian Federation. Skabeeva concurred: “The sooner the better.”
She surmised: “After his ‘triumphant’ meeting with the American president, Zelensky had no choice but to lie back and enjoy it… We know what happened in the United States. You have nowhere left to go.”
UPDATE: The Daily Beast adds that President Zelenski is giving Trump the “corruption” investigation he demanded in a quid pro quo for security assistance funding. Ukraine to Review Closure of Case Involving Company Where Joe Biden’s Son Worked:
Ukraine’s chief prosecutor has announced a review of the closure of a previous legal case involving Burisma Holdings, the natural-gas giant where Joe Biden’s son served as a board member. The review falls short of the criminal investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden’s dealings in the country that President Trump had demanded in his July 25 phone call with the Ukrainian president.
When asked Friday whether he had evidence of wrongdoing by Hunter Biden, Ukraine’s General Prosecutor Ruslan Ryaboshapka said: “I have no such information.”
A written statement did not mention Burisma—the gas company where Hunter Biden worked—by name, but at a press conference Ryaboshapka was asked directly and said he would be reviewing the closure of the previous legal case involving it.
Top Ukraine officials previously told The Daily Beast that such a review was expected as part of the Zelensky administration’s anti-corruption efforts.