Who’s Winning This Escalating Geopolitical Struggle Between the U.S. and Russia?

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The U.S. and Russia continue to go head to head in an increasingly tenuous geopolitical struggle taking place on the world stage. Serious confrontations between these two adversaries have taken place over many decades, especially during the Cold War, but in more recent times we have seen them rise to very dangerous levels, from the Ukraine crisis to the current one in Syria.

As we analyze this struggle between the world’s two greatest powers let’s review what happened in Ukraine. Here’s an insightful article by the respected investigative reporter Robert Parry who identifies the countries that are most responsible for provoking the crisis that began when anti-government rebels initiated a coup that ousted the elected Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych and forced him into exile.

Prior to that coup the U.S. and its Western allies had been pressuring the Ukraine government to join NATO. Subsequently, the coup took place and it has been revealed that Victoria Nuland, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, was right there helping to organize the next government that would assume power.

As this confrontation between the U.S./NATO and Russia escalated, President Obama threatened to send billions of dollars of lethal military weapons to the Kiev government; Putin responded by clearly stating that if such shipments began, that he would immediately dispatch Russian troops into that country.

President Obama then wisely decided not to send those weapons. Things calmed down and cooler heads agreed to discuss a ceasefire; Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel entered into negotiations and came up with the Minsk Agreement of 2-15-15 which resulted in that ceasefire, which still is in force as we speak.

Where was Mr. Obama when this extremely important agreement was being formulated? Neither he nor John Kerry were there to take part in the crucial negotiations. We might, therefore, conclude that Putin won that phase of this “chess match.”

Now let’s also review what took place during the recently concluded negotiations and resulting agreement involving the Iranian nuclear program. The P5+1 nations, Britain, France, Russia, China, the U.S. plus Germany were the principal negotiators with the Iranian government. No doubt all of these nations contributed to finalizing this agreement, but there should be no doubt that Putin and Russia played a huge part in that effort because of Russia’s great influence with Iran, one of its closest allies. And, as we know, Iran can be very stubborn and difficult to deal with in negotiations.

Next let’s shift our attention to Syria where this latest geopolitical confrontation is taking place. With the ongoing bombing by the U.S. and some of its allies, plus the newly initiated bombing campaign by Russia, a good question might be; how much longer will it be before this relentless bombing completely decimates the entire country? And how many more Syrians will have to die; how many thousands more will be forced out of the country?

We keep looking for the reasons why Syria has become this giant battleground, but we’ll never get them from a corporate-controlled media that doesn’t have the journalistic integrity to tell the truth and often covers it up. But it’s available to us from professional investigative journalists such as Robert Parry who present the truth based on facts and evidence no matter what and refuse to be governed by blind loyalty to one government or another.

When we read accounts of what is going on by these dedicated journalists we find that Syria is an “energy transit hub”, i.e., perfectly situated for transporting oil and gas via pipelines from various Middle East countries to Europe and other nations; this has also been called the “four seas strategy” that would connect the Persian Gulf and the Black, Caspian, and Mediterranean seas via pipelines and other infrastructure through Syria to subsequent destinations.

Those who are interested in examining the large role that pipelines play in this geopolitical struggle should google “map of Ukraine pipelines” or something similar and they will see that this country possesses a very large network of pipelines, most of them from Russia into Ukraine, supplying the needs of Ukraine, as well as other countries.

The countries that are now involved in Syria, namely Russia, Iran and Syria itself, all have large interests in oil and/or gas. And, of course, that’s also true of the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar and America’s European allies. The European countries, in particular, are greatly dependent on energy resources outside their region, especially natural gas.

The situation is so complex and muddled that it’s difficult to determine just who is fighting whom. The U.S. insists its bombing is concentrated on destroying ISIS and other terrorists but some of its actions, according to recent reports, would seem to be very troubling indeed.

Check out this widely reported article by Brandon Turbeville who reports that the U.S. just recently launched a bombing mission against two power plants in the city of Aleppo. He states that, ”to date, very little damage has been done to ISIS structures, facilities, or personnel by American airstrikes.” And that, “Instead, the U.S. has repeatedly bombed oil refineries, bridges, grain silos, food distribution facilities, and other civilian infrastructure and civilian areas.” We’ll reserve our final judgment on that and wait to see if that report is supported by factual evidence.

What we do know for certain is that the U.S. has been supplying weapons to supposedly “moderate” Syrian rebels that have, thereafter, joined Islamist factions directly connected with Al-Qaeda.

And so if consider what has happened in Ukraine and is now happening in Syria in an objective light we must conclude that, at this point in time, it is becoming evident that Putin is beginning to take control of the situation. We may not like it and it may be painful to accept but it is the reality of the situation.

Putin, who has been promoting negotiations between the major powers involved in Syria for over a year was unsuccessful because the U.S. which was initially interested backed off. He then followed a strategy similar to the one he used in Ukraine; he threatened to bring Russian military assets including air power into Syria unless negotiations were agreed to; and when they did not materialize he made good on his threat, brought in those assets, and initiated a bombing campaign against ISIS.

Then he just recently made a new offer to begin those negotiations and this time the response from John Kerry, speaking for the U.S., was in the affirmative. It appears that these negotiations will get underway soon and, hopefully, it won’t be long before we see some progress made which will lead to a favorable resolution of the conflict.

While the U.S. will play a major role in these negotiations it appears that Putin now holds the strongest position and will likely play the key role in reaching that resolution. But even if Russia, Syria and the U.S. and its allies agree on a settlement there still will be a significant problem involving ISIS and its associated terrorists who have no intentions of ending their attacks. Could we actually see the U.S. and Russia and their allies joining together in coordinated military actions to remove this terrorist threat from that country?

In my opinion, based on facts and evidence we have seen, Putin has come out on top in the most recent phases of this geopolitical chess match. But what is far more important than trying to determine who is the winner is the need to see all of these countries, including the U.S. and Russia, agree to get out of Syria where none of them belong and have no right to be.

And, further that the U.S. and Russia, after this latest confrontation has ended, may finally come to the realization that they need to bring an end to this seemingly never ending struggle and continuous confrontations. Such an outcome is what the world really needs; to see the two most powerful nations in the world finally find a way to co-exist.

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Michael Payne
Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense industry, and the massive control that Corporate America holds over this government and our election process; all which are leading this nation down the road to eventual financial ruin if the conditions are not reversed. He is a graduate of Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois and a U.S. Army veteran.

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