Having learned the lessons of German history well, Angela Merkel has been taking pains to ensure zero possibility of a war on two Fronts. With Greece looking like it might tell the EC where to go, Geli spent much of mid February plane-hopping between Minsk and Washington. The mainstream press would have you believe that the Minsk agreement is frail, and more sanctions plus American arms in Ukraine will follow should the child-skewering psycho Putin get any smart ideas about breaking the ceasefire.

The truth is much simpler: Washington and Berlin have given up, and Putin has won. The main reason for this is military: a sizeable part of the pro-Ukraine militias at Debaltsevo are surrounded and running out of food and ammunition. Were the Americans to try and arm the anti-separatists at this point (Merkel was told bluntly by Putin at Minsk) the Russian view would be “bring it on, we could do with some free cutting-edge American guns”. (Yesterday, the Moscow Times was already boasting of the arms haul it had taken).

Because both Putin and Merkel speak the other’s language without any trace of an accent, not even interpreters were allowed in the room while they spoke. Such as got written down in Minsk represents only a fraction of what the two leaders agreed: in a nutshell, the deal was that, in return for only holding plebiscites about allegiance in those regions held by separatists at the ceasefire, the EU/US would butt out of Ukrainian affairs, and the sanctions would be noisily trumpeted….but quietly wound down. Merkel flew two days later to Washington, briefed Obama, and got his firm commitment to the deal.

Despite the peak of shrieking rhetoric during early February in the US capital, we should remember that Congress had voted only for the option to send arms to Ukraine. But it is alleged by one US source that, since the Merkel visit, all the main Congressional and Pentagon leaders have been briefed by the President on the desperate situation of Ukraine’s army. It is now only what the source calls “the lunatic fringe” (for example, John McCain…a man partly bankrolled by defence contractors) continuing to put genuine pressure on Obama. Post Merkel’s Minsk briefing, the White House has no intention of sending arms, and the military seem content to accept spy-satellite confirmation collected by US security agencies.

But as always, appearances in the media must be entirely contrary.

Since 12th February, sabre rattling has continued. Four days ago, Putin threw what looked like a curved ball in announcing on State Channel 1 that “lethal weapons” were already being delivered to Kiev, and in Washington yesterday British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was still laying it on thick about “the President is mulling all options, including supplying arms to Kiev”. But then, that the Kiev weaponry is very old news (GlobalResearch wrote about the subject convincingly in December): Putin can’t be sure that Obama’s ‘agreement’ can be trusted, and Hammond (himself a eurosceptic) has an election to win. Or – of course – the UK’s relationship with America being so Special – Hammond isn’t in the loop.

To be fair, I’m certain he is: senior British minister and former Foreign Secretary William Hague ruled out sending arms to Ukraine yesterday, and Hammond added that the UK wasn’t “currently” planning to supply any. But what struck me in Hammond’s comment was his use of the term “lethal aid”. If ever there was an oxymoron, that’s it; but the use of sociopathic euphemism in foreign affairs these days continues to depress.

It isn’t over until Geli sings of course: but Obama is halfway through his final term, and doesn’t need to leave the world in a state of global war as his legacy. In theory, he is partially hog-tied by having a GOP Congress, but it is thought by many now that the Republicans are flailing about desperately, and talking tough on Presidential “weakness” is all they have. With an election year now not far off, the Republican Party has no coherent policy, no messianic candidates coming through, and no clue at all about what’s really happening on Russia’s border.

This has never held them back before, of course; but in Berlin, the general feeling among Merkel’s entourage is that she’s glad to have extracted herself (and the EU) from the debacle. All for it at first, she now regrets – she says – being gung-ho’d by the Americans. I’ve posted before about Merkel’s increasingly cold feet when it comes to US influence in Europe. Many disagree with my view, pointing out that her husband is well-connected in the US Intelligence community.

In the end, nobody knows what Merkel’s goals are, because she doesn’t have any beyond the retention of power. Merkel has only ever had options – and they are always open for business. The only certainty today is that the media (including her personal newspaper Der Spiegel, the New York Times and The Daily Telegraph) always follow an agenda – either for proprietor aggrandisement, or money, or both. More on that topic anon in the third part of this feature.

Yesterday at The Slog: The reality of Syriza’s position post eurogroup