From the point of view of European interests, nothing would be simpler than establishing neutrality statutes and renouncing the deployment of nuclear weapons.
by Rafael Poch for Ctxt.es
That Russia is going to “invade Ukraine”, occupying the whole country, is completely out of the question. In the streets of Budapest, traces of the Soviet occupation of 1956 can still be seen today. What happened then in Hungary would be laughable compared to what would happen in Ukraine in such a case. This is obvious to anyone with the slightest bit of information, so it is not worth going into further detail.
Another thing is that, given the total lack of results of Russia’s complaint to the United States and NATO, demanding security guarantees, there should be a “strong” response from Moscow. Russia announced “military measures”. What? At the very least, placing “tactical” nuclear missiles in Belarus, Kaliningrad and so on. At most, an annexation of the Donbass with the approval of the local population. The current rising oil prices and the expectation that they will continue to rise, allow the Kremlin to more than cover the economic costs of such operations.
They could also take over militarily the area south of Donbass (Mariupol) to organise a security belt in a south-west direction and link the two rebel areas with Crimea, but the latter seems extremely risky to me. The population of the Ukrainian districts of Zaporozhia and Kherson, mostly Russian-speaking like that of Odessa, does not take their Russophilia to the extreme of wanting to join Russia and break with Ukraine, as was clearly the case for the population of Crimea in 2014. In that extreme scenario, there would be a lot of violence and the Russian occupation would become a living hell….
What is clear is that Moscow will do something. Otherwise, the whole thing would look like a bluff. The Russian bear, which after twenty-five years of ignoring it has proclaimed a “red line” and growls so much, would lose face. Moscow’s whole move to demand “security guarantees” is not theatre. It is serious. It would be good if our media, our experts and our politicians reported on (and read) the documents proposed by Moscow.
The draft agreement proposed to the US to de-escalate the tension states in article 1 that the two sides “should not take actions that affect each other’s security”, and in article 2 it proposes that international organisations and military alliances of which they are part “adhere to the principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations”. There are many other interesting aspects, for example article 7 states that “the parties should refrain from deploying nuclear weapons outside their national territories and repatriate to their territory those already deployed”. The same article notes that the parties “shall not train civilian and military personnel of non-nuclear-weapon states to use nuclear weapons”, nor “conduct exercises that involve the use of nuclear weapons”. It is NATO that does all this: it maintains nuclear weapons in countries such as Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey and Italy, and its military is trained in the operation of nuclear-capable bombers.
Russia demands that NATO cease all efforts to expand eastwards, particularly towards Ukraine and Georgia. Guarantee that it will not station missile batteries in countries bordering it. Restore the INF agreement that the US unilaterally abandoned in August 2019 and open an East/West security dialogue. All of this is manifestly reasonable and deserves public discussion for all intents and purposes.
It is obvious that the United States wants nothing to do with the matter, and the reasons are clear: although Washington’s real adversary is in Asia, the great American imperial power would cease to be one as soon as it ceased to dominate Europe. This is precisely NATO’s task. Henry Kissinger puts it this way: “without Europe, America would become a distant island off the shores of Eurasia, alone in the solitude of a lesser status”. So, it is imperative to maintain tension in Europe, and to do that we must continue to poke the Russian bear in the eye. But does that have anything to do with “European interests”?
With rare exceptions, European journalists and pundits contribute to this senseless and alien crusade. They explain the chronology of Russian aggression starting with Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia, continuing with the 2014 annexation of Crimea and concluding with the fomentation of the separatist rebellion in the Donbass region a few months later.
They do not explain that the Russian entry into Georgia took place after the Georgian army penetrated South Ossetia – one of Georgia’s ethnic regions at odds with that republic’s government – where the Russian army had the status of a UN peacekeeping force, in what was an episode of blitzkrieg by Georgian President Mikhail Sakashvili blessed by President George W. Bush and taking advantage of Putin’s trip to China for the Beijing Olympics.
They fail to explain that Russia annexed Crimea only after the United States and the European Union promoted regime change on the wave of a huge popular protest that toppled Ukraine’s legitimate government, the defining moment of which was the dark and deadly shooting of civilians in Kiev, probably by the coup plotters and their Western godfathers.
The West, which has never lifted a finger over Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara, or Turkey’s occupation of half of Cyprus, all of which were carried out against the will of the majority of the population, imposed through repression and ethnic cleansing, makes a big fuss about Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which was bloodless and overwhelmingly supported by its population.
Nor do our journalists and pundits want to put the current crisis in its thirty-year perspective and prefer to omit the scenes in which Putin explains it with crystal-clear clarity. Instead, they offer us daily detailed chronicles of the excesses and misdeeds of Putin’s regime, or Xi Jinping’s, most of them completely real, without comparing them with the far worse crimes and misdeeds of the Western powers. The Polonium elimination of adversaries in London, the infamous denial of responsibility for the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight of 17 July 2014, with its 300 dead, and the other flowers from Moscow, coincided around the same time that a Nobel Peace Prize-winning US President was having breakfast every day in the White House signing lists of people his military was eliminating with drones all over the world. Hundreds of extrajudicial killings.
Brutal is the outlawing of the Russian organisation “Memorial”, dedicated to the memory of the crimes of Stalinism in the terrible Soviet 1930s. The outrage over the treatment of this organisation of furious anti-communist liberals, whose promoters have always considered the massacres of Stalin and his regime as a logical consequence of the October Revolution, is more than justified, but it will always be an ambiguous and incomplete outrage without addressing the holocaust of Washington’s wars https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/figures/2021/WarDeathToll To what memory will the 38 million displaced persons that these wars have produced from Afghanistan to Libya, passing through Yemen, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria or the Philippines be entitled in the West?
It is possible that because of its strategic stupidity and hand in hand with the United States, Europe is entering a dangerous and turbulent phase with Russia. From the point of view of European interests, nothing would be simpler than renouncing nuclear weapons in the eastern part of the continent and establishing a status of neutrality for the countries of Eastern Europe, or at least for Georgia, Ukraine and the Baltic states. The hysteria with which people respond to such scenarios, saying that any concession in this direction would mean a “new Yalta” (Borrell) or making these countries “satellites of Russia”, is absurd. Neither Austria (whose 1955 Staatsvertrag gave it full sovereignty, without foreign military in exchange for neutral status), nor Finland, at a time when Moscow’s power was infinitely superior, were satellites, and will not be now. It is not the subjugation of any country to Moscow that is at stake. It is the security of Russia, a fragile country that should not be agitated because of its high potential for internal instability. It is peace and sovereignty, properly understood, in Europe.
(Published in Ctxt)