RUSSIA V UKRAINE (AMERICA?)
Promises and Lies
Following the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the end of the Soviet Union, Mikael Gorbachev agreed to a proposal from US Secretary of State, James Baker that a reunited Germany be part of NATO, but that NATO would not move “one inch” East.
Beautiful Lviv, Ukraine
In December 2017, the National Security Archive at George Washington University published a series of assurances against NATO’s eastward expansion – it was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev. However, since 1997, NATO has added 14 new members. In 2008 NATO announced that Ukraine and Georgia would become members (which has not yet happened).
Anti-Russian feeling in the US began to rise with the ascension of Vladimir Putin to power at the end of 1999 and reached new peaks with “Russiagate” despite the conclusion of the Mueller enquiry that there was no evidence of Russian collusion. In 2014, the US led a coup in Ukraine to overthrow the democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, who leaned towards Moscow.
The leaders who negotiated an end to the US-Soviet Cold War in 1988-90 did so “without any losers”, assuring each other that they were both “winners”. However, when the Soviet Union ended in December 1991, George H.W. Bush changed his mind declaring in 1992 that “By the grace of God, America won the Cold War”, adding there was now “One sole and pre-eminent power, the United States of America.” That hubris has shaped every major Washington policy towards Moscow from the 1990s through to the ongoing expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders.
The West claims that Putin seeks to restore the Soviet Union at the expense of its neighbours, ignoring the statement by Putin in 2010 that “Anyone who does not regret the breakup of the Soviet Union has no heart. Anyone who hopes to restore it has no brain.”[i]However, that is outright dismissed because the US Hawks and much of the Western media “know” that Putin is trying to re-establish the Russian Empire!
Russia’s Security Needs
By 2022, Russia demanded an end to NATO expansion, the prevention of Ukraine and Georgia from joining NATO, and the reversal of NATO deployments to Eastern Europe. Instead, more NATO forces were sent to Eastern Europe while the US continued to arm Ukraine. According to Putin the military operation launched in February 2022 was a “question of life and death” for Russia. He was well aware of US aggression, including the unlawful bombing of Serbia in 1999, the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and US involvement in Syria – all without UN Security Council approval. The invasion of Iraq stood apart. It was based on the pretext of the existence of weapons of mass destruction. It was sham, leading to tremendous loss of life, damage, destruction, and an upsurge of terrorism.
US Aims & Objectives
America has a long and bloody history of pursuing regime change and replacing foreign governments including, in Latin America, the Philippines, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico, Haiti, and later engaging in the 1953 Iranian coup d’état, the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion targeting Cuba, and support for the overthrow of Sukarno in Indonesia, not to mention Iraq, Serbia, Syria and Afghanistan. The US appetite for foreign intervention is insatiable. According to research, the US undertook at least 81 interventions in foreign elections between 1946 and 2000. Now, the US has turned on the Russian bear with the ultimate aim of overthrowing the Putin government. It was Biden who said, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power” but, as long ago as 2014, Henry Kissinger said, “The demonisation of Vladimir Putin is not a policy. It is an alibi for not having one.”
The US could easily have prevented Russia’s military action by pushing to implement the Minsk peace accords* and engaging Russia in negotiations. “The most promising course would be for the United States to nudge the two sides to the negotiating table, since only Washington has the power to do so. But it has decided not to do so. And so, the war goes on, at a tragic human cost.”[ii]
In the meantime, the Ukrainians say, “We are carrying out NATO’s mission. They aren’t shedding their blood. We are shedding ours. That is why they are required to supply us with weapons.”[iii] After 30 years of post-Cold War triumphalism, Washington has decided to use Ukraine to subvert Russia.[iv] For years, Western analysts have warned that US/NATO actions would provoke war in Ukraine, but not a day goes by without the Western media claiming that the Russian invasion was “unprovoked”. However, as Noam Chomsky said, “If you’re a respectable writer and you want to write in the main journals and talk about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, you have to call it the ‘unprovoked’ Russian invasion.”
In July 2022, Senator Lindsay Graham said that the mission is to use Ukraine to “fight to the last person.” California representative, Adam Schiff said, “The US aids Ukraine and her people so that we [the US] can fight Russia over there and we don’t have to fight Russia here.” Congressmen Dan Crenshaw tweeted that “Investing in the destruction of our adversary’s military, without losing a single American troop, strikes me as a good idea.” Former US Cabinet secretaries, Condoleezza Rice and Robert Gates wrote that although Ukraine’s “economy is in a shambles, millions of its people have fled, its infrastructure is being destroyed” they nevertheless regard a negotiated ceasefire as unacceptable because that would leave Russian forces in a strong position to resume their invasion. Instead, the US must “urgently provide Ukraine with a dramatic increase in military supplies and capability” because the US has “a determined partner in Ukraine that is willing to bear the consequences of war so that we do not have to do so ourselves.”[v]
*The Minsk Agreements
Minsk aimed to end the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region but, Minsk One failed to stop the fighting. Subsequently, leaders from France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine as well as leaders from Donetsk and Lugansk agreed to Minsk II which was signed in 2015. However, different interpretations led to a failure to implement Minsk II and the fighting never ended. In a startling admission in December 2022, former German Chancellor Angela Merkel described Minsk as “an attempt to give Ukraine time to build up its military” confirming that it was in effect a ruse to allow Ukraine to strengthen its armed forces. Only days ago, former French President Hollande confirmed Merkel’s assessment. I have always regarded Merkel as the most admirable and ethical world leader. It is difficult to accept that she would have engaged in such deception.
Russia Launches its “Special Military Operation”
Both Donetsk and Lugansk voted for independence from Ukraine in 2014 after the US backed coup overthrew Ukraine’s President Yanukovych. Then, Ukraine launched a war against Donetsk and Lugansk to crush their bid for independence. In late February 2022, Ukraine’s shelling of Donbass dramatically increased. Russia responded. Firstly, it recognised the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Then on 24 February Putin launched Russia’s Special Military Operation in Ukraine. Biden said nothing about peace talks, instead saying the US needed to steal itself for the long fight ahead.
The Russian intervention was unlawful and a regrettable tragedy, but it was necessary for Russia, a sovereign nation defending itself against an imperium that will not stop aggression until it is forced to do so, as was demonstrated for 30 years during which the US ignored Moscow’s repeated requests to negotiate a mutually beneficial security order.[vi]
When is the Right Time to Step Back from Global Leadership?
Today, the world faces the threat of nuclear conflagration! It is unavoidable, but necessary to point out that President Biden at age 78 (now 80) was by far the oldest person ever to assume the US presidency. The second oldest was his immediate predecessor, Donald Trump at age 70. This raises a serious question as to the capacity of these elderly leaders to competently and safely guide the US through such dangerous and troubled times. According to Wikipedia, the median age of incoming US presidents is 55 years. Never before has the world been in greater need of a leader with the common sense and diplomatic skills of John F. Kennedy who became President at the age of 43, tragically assassinated at the age of only 46.
It was Trump who tore up the Iran nuclear deal, and only days ago, it was Biden who said, “It is dead, but we are not going to announce it”. Today, Iran supplies Russia with highly effective drones which are successfully deployed by Russia against Ukraine in carrying out its effective bombing campaigns against Ukraine’s electricity generation, transmission, and distribution systems. Russia regards its nuclear arsenal as the key guarantor of its sovereignty, and it will maintain and improve its nuclear capacity whilst at the same time boosting the use of (Iran supplied) drones. It is extremely difficult to imagine Russia losing this war against Ukraine, US and NATO, without resorting to its nuclear arsenal. Biden may win, but only at the cost of catastrophic damage to the US and its people.
Rhetoric and Reality
There are indications that Russia will soon launch a major offensive. As John Mearsheimer says, neither side can afford to lose in Ukraine, but for Russia defeat would be a direct threat to its security, sovereignty and its survival. On the other hand, the Biden Administration’s rhetoric is one of “confrontation between liberalism and authoritarianism”.
The orgy of rhetoric reached new heights when the Pentagon flew Zelensky to Washington to address a joint session of Congress, leading to a further $44 billion in weaponry. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (even older than Biden) gushingly described Zelensky’s remarks as one of the greatest speeches ever delivered on Capitol Hill but, as Robert Freeman observed, “When the president of the poorest, most corrupt nation in Europe is fêted with multiple standing ovations by the combined Houses of Congress, and his name invoked in the same breath as Winston Churchill, you know we have reached Peak Zelensky.”[vii] US intelligence estimates the total number of casualties at 100,000 for each of Russia and Ukraine. Freeman calculates that during the nine-year Vietnam War, the US with a population six times that of Ukraine, lost 58,220 men. He concludes (correctly) that on a per capita basis, Ukraine is losing soldiers at a rate 141 times that of US losses in Vietnam. He adds that US arms suppliers are working around the clock to replace their own and European stocks ‘s of weapons, but the backlog is running into years.
Can there be Peace? The US Pushes On – Europe Starts to Rethink
French President Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz have said that an accommodation of Russian interests is needed to bring about a peaceful settlement. However, Washington has no intention of seeking a diplomatic solution and thus far, intends to recommit indefinitely to its ideological war, no matter how steadily Ukraine marches towards defeat. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban recently said that “Ukraine can only fight as long as the US supports it with money and weapons” and “If America wants peace, there will be peace.”
What will be the outcome? Freeman predicts that peace will soon be declared, Russia will keep Crimea and the Donbass (which is ethnically, linguistically, religiously, and culturally Russian), and Ukraine will abandon any future affiliation with NATO which is Putin’s highest priority. That is what he demanded before the invasion was launched.
“AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM” – HEAR THE OTHER SIDE!
[i] Stephen F. Cohen, War with Russia 2019 [ii] Foreign Affairs, Russia’s Rebound 4 January 2023 [iii] Publisher, Aaron Mate 12 Jan 2023 [iv] Joe Lauria, foreign affairs journalist based at the UN since 1990 [v] Aaron Mate [vi] Patrick Lawrence, American essayist and critic and author of Goodbye, America published in Australian Foreign Affairs October 2020 [vii] Robert Freeman is the author of a series of books dealing with 20thC wars.