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  • Writer's pictureMike Lyons

RUSSIA AND UKRAINE AT WAR

This paper serves as an urgent reminder of the scale and horror, and the risks of the war raging between Russia and Ukraine, the events leading up to it and the reason why this war continues unabated to this day.





The Cold War Ends


Much of the credit for bringing the Cold War to an end in December 1991 was due to Mikael Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan and George Bush senior working together. This was quickly followed by the dissolution of the Soviet Union.  The US, Germany and other Western allies undertook that if Russia agreed to German unification, NATO would not move “one inch eastwards”. There is ample evidence in support of this commitment including the National Security Archive at George Washington University as well as a comprehensive report in the British National Archives.


George Bush Senior’s presidency ended after only one term when he was succeeded in 1993 by Bill Clinton who ignored the commitment which was given to Gorbachev. Clinton proposed that the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland be invited to join NATO. Subsequently, NATO proposed seven additional members including Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Then, in 2008 the Bush administration called for membership for both Georgia and Ukraine. France and Germany were opposed to this, as were Robert Gates and US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.


Leading foreign policy thinkers argued that NATO enlargement would create the very danger it was supposed to prevent. In 1997, George Kennan a former US ambassador to the USSR warned that NATO expansion “Would be the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era”. Pat Buchanan warned that it was a “Prescription for a NATO-Russia clash” and in 1997 Buchanan warned that “Antagonising Moscow meant driving her toward China and Iran” - that is precisely what has happened.


Even now, prominent US scholars including John Mearsheimer and Jeffrey Sachs blame NATO expansion for the Ukraine crisis, but they receive barely a mention in the mainstream media. Instead the West continues, without a shred of evidence, to perpetuate the myth that the war in Ukraine is motivated by Putin’s wish to restore the Soviet Union.


Despite impressions conveyed by the Western media that the “international community” condemns Russia’s actions, China and India (nearly 40% of the world’s population) remain either allies or friends of Russia. Brazil has criticised NATO saying, “It’s not Putin who is guilty. The US and the EU are also guilty. The US and Europe should have said that Ukraine would not join NATO”. Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Indonesia, and much of Africa have resisted sanctioning Moscow.


During the months preceding the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the US and NATO dismissed Moscow’s repeated demands that Ukraine not join NATO as had been promised by the West in 1991.


The Doomsday Clock


In 1947, two years after the Truman administration ordered the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists founded the Doomsday Clock as a means of informing the public of the gravity of the nuclear risks faced by the world. When the Clock was unveiled, it was set at 7 minutes to midnight. When J.F. Kennedy left office, the Doomsday Clock had been pushed back to 12 minutes to midnight. Richard Nixon eased tensions with both the Soviet Union and China. When George Bush Senior left office, the Doomsday Clock stood at 17 minutes to midnight – the safest since the beginning of the nuclear age.


The end of the Cold War was negotiated by the USA and the USSR “without any losers”. However, George Bush changed his mind, declaring in 1992 that “By the grace of God, America won the Cold War.” The US needed to prove that it was the sole superpower.  Every president since 1992 has brought the US and the world closer to nuclear annihilation. By the time Clinton left office, the clock was only 9 minutes from midnight. His successor, George Bush Jnr pushed the clock to only five minutes, Obama to 3 minutes and Trump to a mere 100 seconds. Biden has taken the clock to 90 seconds from midnight!


Escalation


President Biden had previously banned Ukraine from using US military equipment to strike inside Russian territory fearing that the Kremlin would consider such an attack as tantamount to a direct attack by the US on Russian soil. However, Biden has most recently authorised Ukraine to strike Russian territory using US supplied weapons. This is a stunning reversal which could easily cause events to spiral out of control, leading to a nuclear war between NATO and Russia.  Moscow has previously warned that Western moves to allow Ukraine strikes on Russian territory would trigger escalation and an “asymmetric response”.

The US and NATO ignore the lessons from when John Kennedy and his Soviet counterpart Nikita Khrushchev negotiated an end to the Cuban Missile Crisis. Kennedy warned that the nuclear powers should avoid confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or nuclear war and yet that is exactly what Biden is now doing. However, not since the Cuban Missile Crisis has there been so much grim talk of the escalating risk of miscalculation or provocation leading to World War III.


France is now sending troops to Ukraine and some NATO countries are demanding strikes deep inside Russian territory. Marine Le Pen is deeply opposed to this as is both Hungary and Italy. The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said, “It is absurd that instead of protecting us, NATO is dragging us into a world war. It’s like a firefighter going to put out a fire with a flamethrower”.


Even as Ukraine is on the brink of collapse and its army continues to suffer high casualties, Biden remains unwilling to negotiate with Russia, especially in an election year as any deal with the Russians would involve making concessions.


Perhaps, the greatest danger of all is the diminishing mental acuity of the US President. Who can forget that in February this year, the US special prosecutor involved in Biden’s handling of secret documents declined to prosecute because Biden would be likely to appear before the jurors “As a charming, affable elderly man with poor memory”. Then in an extensive interview with Time Magazine on 4 June 2024 (which The Australian newspaper described as “often incoherent”) the President talked of “Putin deciding to go into Russia” and then later said “He wasn’t just going into Moscow; I mean from Russia into Ukraine”. This, while the world anxiously speculates about the danger of World War III.

 

In January 2023, Caitlin Johnstone wrote, “Does everyone else in the world get a vote on whether their lives should be risked in an offensive to control who governs Crimea? Or will the Biden administration just be making that call on behalf of all living creatures?”


A Lost Opportunity


In December 2021, Moscow again demanded that Ukraine not be admitted to NATO and that the US and NATO renounce military activity in Ukraine. Instead, the Biden Administration sent weapons to Ukraine. If the US and NATO had negotiated with Russia to address Russia’s core security concerns the war could have been avoided. They refused and instead, on 24 February 2022, Russian troops entered Ukraine. Early in the war, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa blamed NATO saying, “The war could have been avoided if NATO had heeded the warnings from its own leaders and officials over the years, that it’s eastward expansion would lead to greater, not less instability in the region.” 


On 8 March 2022 (only weeks into the war), Zelensky was ready to compromise regarding Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea and he was prepared to renounce Ukraine’s bid to join NATO. The US blocked the peace negotiations. On 30 March 2022, the Asia Times reported on “Washington’s determination to destroy the Putin regime, if necessary, by prolonging the Ukraine war long enough to bleed Russia dry.”


The US actively seeks to undermine and weaken Russia, using Ukraine as its “proxy”, but without US boots on the ground. More than one American politician has said that the US does not care about how many Ukrainians die in order for the US to achieve its goals!

 

“AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM” – HEAR THE OTHER SIDE!

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