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Roundup: Armenia; Poland - Ukraine; Bee Up To Challenge
Not much is clear in the Caucasus this morning, except that Armenian claims to the Nagorno-Karabakh region are ended. The Artsakh military has capitulated—it really had no other option. The Armenian government had, nearly a year ago, agreed that the region is within the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan—this was done to put Armenia in conformity with EU positions. The current Armenian government is seeking EU membership and has determinedly distanced itself from its erstwhile protector, Russia. Why Armenia’s ruling elite thinks any of this is a good idea at this point in history is anyone’s guess. The supposition is that the Armenian government is responding to the influence of the Armenian diaspora in the West, which exercises considerable influence.
We’ll simply have to wait while the various alignments work themselves out. For various reasons, I believe Alexander Mercouris is correct in his belief that none of Armenia’s major neighbors—Russia, Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan—will be pleased with Armenia’s new position and ambitions to join the collective West. None of these countries will welcome an increased Western presence that would in any way limit their freedom of action—that includes NATO member Turkey, which has regional ambitions. As a result, all these countries will probably work to undermine the current Armenian government.
Perhaps the government most worth watching in this transitional period will be Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has a lot to gain from its linch pin position in the developing North South Transport Corridor, which runs north through Iran, through Azerbaijan, to Russia. The Azerbaijanian capital of Baku will be a key transit point both for the NSTC but also for East - West energy transfers involving Turkey. Azerbaijan has entertained considerable Western influence for years, probably playing that off against more powerful neighboring countries—Iran and Russia. The NSTC changes that. It probably also changes Turkey’s relations with the West. Both Turkey and Azerbaijan may seek to leverage economic benefits into greater geopolitical clout, as warranted by their strategic locations. Probably not coincidentally, within the past few days Erdogan has openly spoken of disengaging from the EU.
Putin is unhappy for now, the US is happy to fish in troubled waters, but much remains to develop. This could take some time.
Of more immediate interest is the very public friction between certain Eastern European countries and Ukraine over what these countries regard as Ukrainian “grain dumping” that undercuts the important agricultural sectors of these countries. Most prominent among these countries is Poland, and the Poles have been especially outspoken on this score. Two factors that undoubtedly play into the Polish response are 1) the presence of millions of Ukrainians inside Poland—a growing irritant to Polish society—and 2) the looming elections in Poland later this year. The entire Ukraine issue has increasingly become a central campaign issue, and the effect of Ukrainian grain dumping in Poland is a big deal in a country that depends heavily on its agricultural sector.
Still, the outspokenness of the Polish government is notable. An obvious factor is the need of the current Law and Justice government to convince Polish voters that it is looking out for Polish interests, not just Ukrainian interests. Here’s a sample of the rhetoric we’re seeing. The rhetoric goes far beyond economic issues of agricultural products. Statements by Polish government officials even suggest that war aid to Ukraine is threatening to “drown” Poland and raise the possibility of a blockade of military aid to Ukraine.
The first example seems narrowly targeted toward the domestic audience that would like to see a lot fewer Ukrainians in Poland. It doesn’t target the Ukrainian government, although it does—at least by implication—take a nuanced step back from full throated Polish endorsement of the war on Russia:
Poland is likely to cut financial support for Ukrainians who fled Russian aggression against Ukraine, government spokesman Piotr Mueller said.
According to him, support for refugees, which includes waiver of residence and work permit requirements, free access to schools, medical care and family benefits, will not be extended in 2024.
1:58 AM · Sep 20, 2023
Clearly the financial burdens of Poland’s role in the war are being raised. But this next example goes much further:
Duda got upset that Zelensky wanted to sue Warsaw for blockading Ukrainian grain and cancelled their meeting on the sidelines of the UN general assembly. More than that he compared Ukraine with a dangerous drowning man who could pull you down into depths with him.
1:06 AM · Sep 20, 2023
Ukraine as “a dangerous drowning man”? That doesn’t seem to support the official narrative that Ukraine is winning, nor does it reflect well on the Ukrainian leadership. It even opens the door to a Polish debate on whether to scale back Polish support and involvement in the war on Russia. In other words, abandon the drowning man and save yourself.
In response to Ukraine’s threat to sue Poland and to retaliate against Poland—bear in mind that Poland’s stance on Ukrainian grain imports is in violation of the EU decrees—the Poles went ballistic:
If the Ukrainian authorities sue us, let them know that the main transit of military aid goes through Poland.
The Polish president said these words after his speech at the session of the UN General Assembly.
In response to Warsaw's decision to ban the import of Ukrainian agricultural products, Kyiv has announced that it will file a lawsuit at the European Court of Justice.
He also threatened to ban the import of Polish apples, potatoes and other products.
Polish Minister of Agriculture Robert Telus said that he would like to see what kind of arguments Kiev will present against Poland at the European Court, bearing in mind that Poland protects its farmers from dumping.
Duda made it known to Zelenskiy, who is also in New York, that if the Ukrainian authorities continue the confrontation with Warsaw, then Poland can to block the transit of military equipment, weapons, ammunition and everything else to Ukraine.
Anyone who thinks any of this will be forgiven and forgotten by either Poles or Ukrainians needs to think again. No matter what happens going forward, this marks a fracture in relations.
Now, Poland is host to a substantial US military presence, all in support of the US war on Russia. The most important Western command center is located in Rzeszów, near Ukraine’s western border. While I would not want to discount the possibility of the Polish president flying off the handle in response to obstreperous Ukrainian threats, the suspicion here is that the Poles would not have made such direct threats without consulting their American controllers.
The fact is, there has so far been no American reaction to any of this, which suggests that the US may find the Polish stance to be useful at this time, when the US is attempting to pressure Ukraine into proposing direct talks with Russia. Zelensky is attempting to resist the US pressure, and Polish attacks on Zelensky may be helpful in undermining Zelensky. It fits in with other ongoing attacks directed at Ukraine by the US, such as the NYT story exposing Ukrainian responsibility for a disastrous missile attack on a market in Ukraine that resulted in heavy civilian casualties—Ukraine had tried to blame Russia. It is widely believed that the revelation was timed to embarrass Zelensky during his attendance at the UN.
I’m not saying this is a planned campaign. Rather, it may be a kind of opportunistic coordination of efforts—Polish political concerns coinciding with US geopolitical concerns. It seems clear that the US is determined, by one means or another, to take greater control over the Ukrainian government and force is to submit to the American Empire’s larger interests. This has been attempted in the past with pretty uniformly dismal results.
Finally, I thought that the Babylon Bee might be challenged to come up with satire regarding the crash of the WTF-35. I was wrong:
Bad Luck: Military Announces Lost F-35 Was Carrying Epstein Client List https://buff.ly/3LpIl2g
And a bonus:
Aging Senators Show Up To Work In Their Hospital Gowns After Dress Code Relaxed https://buff.ly/3Zkv012
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