by Stephen Lendman
Growing thousands of Eastern Ukrainians reject Kiev putschists. Perhaps it's just a matter of time before Western ones join them.
Slavyansk is in the center of the storm. Ukrainian military forces blockaded the city. On Friday, an assault followed. Minimum casualties so far.
A self-defense force press statement said:
"The attack is targeting a few checkpoints at the same time."
"A few armored vehicles and airborne combat vehicles arrived and airborne troops descended from the helicopters and attacked the checkpoints. Some forces were dropped off around the train station, where we didn't have anyone."
Ukraine's Interior Ministry said 10 self-defense forces checkpoints were seized. Slavyansk's broadcast facility was captured. So was a police station.
A Ukrainian Ministry statement said:
"Outside of Slavyansk in the Donetsk Region, two Ukrainian military Mi-24 helicopters, which were carrying out aerial patrols, were downed."
"According to preliminary information, the military machines were taken down by unidentified individuals using mobile Zenit rocket systems."
"As a result, two military personnel were killed and several others have been injured."
Reports said a third helicopter was damaged. At midday Friday local time, Itar Tass reported two Ukrainian soldiers killed.
Several others wounded. One self-defender dead. Another injured.
Russian TV news channel Rossiya-24 reported a third Ukrainain military helicopter downed. An explosion destroyed it. Its crew's fate is unclear.
Eastern Ukrainian freedom fighters vow continued resistance. Growing thousands fill their ranks. They're challenging US-supported illegitimate coup-appointed fascists.
They reject their authority. They control over a dozen Eastern Ukrainian cities. They want Ukraine federalized. They want local autonomy. They want fundamental rights everyone deserves.
Kiev is incrementally losing control. Elements of its military reject them. They refused to fight their own people. Fascist Right Sector thugs were deployed to do so. Foreign mercenaries joined them.
On Friday, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said:
"We decisively demand that the West stop its destructive policies in regard to Ukraine and to those who have announced themselves the authorities in Kiev to immediately stop the punitive operation and any violence against its own people, to release political prisoners, and to provide complete freedom to journalists in their activities."
"Russia is concerned over the beginning of a punitive military operation in Slaviansk using terrorists from the Right Sector and other ultranationalist organizations."
"As we have repeatedly warned, the use of the army against its own people is a crime and will lead Ukraine to a catastrophe."
Attacking Slavyansk militarily bears close watching. Resistance weakens Kiev control. It may end up lost altogether.
Power depends of people accepting it. Otherwise it's too weak to govern effectively. Perhaps its days are numbered.
Most likely if Eastern Ukrainian resistance spreads nationwide. For sure if it's full-blown. It may just be a matter of time.
Fascists make more enemies than friends. IMF force-fed austerity heads Ukraine for Greek-style Depression.
Ukrainians are deeply impoverished. Hitting them harder assures inciting widespread anger. People take so much before rebelling. When pain thresholds exceed tolerable levels, all bets are lost.
According to Gerald Celente: "When people lose everything and have nothing else to lose, they lose it." Revolutions erupt this way.
Perhaps in Ukraine. Perhaps challenging Kiev putschists effectively. Perhaps letting people power prevail. Perhaps reclaiming Obama's imperial trophy. The fullness of time will tell.
On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Washington. Ukrainian crisis conditions dominated discussions.
On May 2, the Wall Street Journal headlined "German Businesses Urge Halt on Sanctions Against Russia," saying:
Merkel arrived with a message. "…Germany's business lobby to the White House: No more sanctions. Major companies oppose them."
They include financial giant Deutsche Bank, Siemens AG, BASF SE, Volkswagon and Adidas AG among others.
They "made their opposition to broader economic sanctions against Russia clear in recent weeks, both in public and in private," said the Journal.
Germany is Russia's largest European trade partner. Annual volume exceeds $100 billion. Berlin is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas and oil. So is Europe overall.
According to the Journal:
"As the Ukraine crisis has worsened, German officials have faced a barrage of telephone calls from senior corporate executives, urging them not to take steps that would damage business interests in Russia, people familiar with the matter say."
Some German corporate bosses went public. They warned against harsher measures.
Former Daimler AG official Eckhard Cordes heads Ostauschuss. It's German industry's Eastern Europe lobbying arm. He spoke for corporate Germany, saying:
"If there's a single message we have as business leaders, then it's this: sit down at the negotiating table and resolve these matters peacefully."
BASF has close ties to Russia's gas giant Gazprom. Its CEO Kurt Bock said:
"It's up to politicians and historians to determine the efficacy of boycotts, but I have my doubts."
Many German companies depend heavily on business with Russia. It's a key growth market. It provides substantial revenue and profits.
US companies do far less business. They voiced concerns privately. They worry about losing sales to foreign competitors.
Other US allies reject harsh measures. They include Japan, Italy, Greece, Egypt, and Israel among others. They voiced concern about permanently rupturing Russia's Western ties.
Germany has clout. It's Europe's largest economy. It's an economic powerhouse.
Around 6,200 German companies do business in
Russia. They oppose political interference. Lost trade means thousands of lost jobs, they say.
According to German economist Klaus-Jurgen Gem:
"There's no question that Germany's economic interests would be best served by avoiding sanctions."
Imposing tough ones could slow German economic growth by up to 2%, he added. Berlin estimates as many as 300,000 lost jobs.
On April 30, Der Spiegel headlined "Little Love for Sanctions: Ukraine Crisis A Tightrope Walk for German Businesses," saying:
Longstanding "economic ties make disengagement next to impossible." On the one hand, EU governments warned Russia of "additional and far-reaching" sanctions.
On the other, they're reluctant to impose them. They cut both ways. They hurt European sales and profit. They harm their economies.
According to Spiegel, "politicians appear to be having a difficult time agreeing to far-reaching and painful sanctions, given Europe's energy dependence on Russia."
"The business community…has no interest in such punitive measures."
According to lobbyist Eckhard Cordes, "(w)e won't let the constructive work of the last decades be ruined for us."
Hundreds of German business officials feel the same way. For sure many throughout Europe and America.
According to BASF executive Rainer Seele, "(t)he Russians are dependable allies."
"Embargoes don't do anything for anyone. We shouldn't be frivolously be putting years of built-up trust in jeopardy."
German exports already suffered. In January and February, they're down 10% year-over-year. Russian state-owned companies began shifting to Asian suppliers.
Expect much more of the same ahead. Expect it whether or not tougher sanctions are imposed. Russia is defensively shifting East.
Later in May, Putin heads for Beijing. Consummating a major gas deal is planned. It involves supplying 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually.
It'll do so via pipeline. It's the first one between both nations. It's expected to cost about $22 billion to complete.
When fully implemented, energy trade will bypass dollar transactions. It'll weaken petrodollar strength.
Bilateral ruble/renminbi trade weakens dollar strength overall. Perhaps other countries may follow in their own currencies.
Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will discuss increasing other bilateral trade. It includes timber and military contracts.
In 2013, China was Russia's largest trade partner. Moscow is Beijing's ninth. Both countries want closer economic ties.
Establishing them weakens Western interests. Sino/Russian unity provides a powerful counterweight to US-led Western economic, political and military dominance.
According to Analysis of Strategies and Technologies' Vasily Kashin:
"The worse Russia's relations are with the West, the closer Russia will want to be to China. If China supports you, no one can say you're isolated."
Both countries know Washington wants them weakened and controlled. Unity goes a long way toward preventing it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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