by Mike Whitney, The Unz Review:
“There arrives a moment of truth when the West either accepts our proposals or other ways will be found to safeguard Russia’s security.” Konstantin Gavrilov, head of the Russian delegation at the Vienna negotiations
Here’s a simple way to test your understanding of the current US-Russia standoff. All you need to do is answer one very-basic question about the nature of the conflict, and that answer will determine whether you understand what is actually going on or not. Here’s the question:
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What is the source of the confrontation between the US and Russia in the Ukraine:
- Russia has amassed over 100,000 combat troops near Ukraine’s eastern border and is threatening to invade.
- Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to rebuild the Soviet Empire by expanding Russia’s territory beyond its borders.
- The western media has concocted a fake storyline about a “Russian invasion” to divert attention from Moscow’s reasonable demands for legally-binding security guarantees that address the pressing issue of hostile foreign armies (NATO) and nuclear missiles on Russia’s doorstep.
- None of the above.
If you picked Number 3, then pat yourself on the back, that is the right answer. (Please, see: “There Is No Russian Invasion Threat To Ukraine”, Moon of Alabama; Quote: “The story of Russian preparations for an invasion of the Ukraine is made up from whole cloth.”) The current crisis has nothing to do with the fictitious “Russian invasion” that was invented to conceal the real issue. The real issue is Russian security and the demands that Russia has made in the form of two draft treaty agreements. The western media– in concert with the Intelligence agencies, the Pentagon, the Biden administration, and the US foreign policy establishment– have done everything in their power to prevent the American people from reading the contents of these draft treaties for fear that they will see that Russia’s demands are both reasonable and appropriate. Russia isn’t asking for anything more than any sovereign country should expect. As FDR famously said, “Security for one, is security for all.” We support that sentiment and we think the American people do too.
Russians do not want to live with nuclear missiles aimed at their Capital and located just a few hundred miles from their targets. That is a nonstarter. Nor do Russians want hostile armies and military bases looming on their western flank in Ukraine. Again, that is a nonstarter. What Russia wants, is a written agreement that prevents Washington from using NATO to pursue its long-term geopolitical strategy of encircling, weakening and ultimately, splintering the Russian Federation into smaller pieces in order to become a bigger player in the development of Central Asia and in order to exert greater control over China’s explosive growth. That is the basic Gameplan, and the US foreign policy establishment has not abandoned that plan despite 30-years of catastrophic military failures stretching from North Africa across the Middle East and into Central Asia. Here’s how author Stephen Kinzer summed it up in an article that appeared in the Boston Globe more than a decade ago:
“From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders…This crisis is in part the result of a zero-sum calculation that has shaped US policy toward Moscow since the Cold War: Any loss for Russia is an American victory, and anything positive that happens to, for, or in Russia is bad for the United States. This is an approach that intensifies confrontation, rather than soothing it.” (“US a full partner in Ukraine debacle”, Boston Globe)
What can we glean from this paragraph?
We can appreciate the historical context of the current crisis which dates back to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Following the collapse of the USSR, leaders in the West felt that “History had ended” and that the western system had triumphed over communism. This triumphalism, in turn, was accompanied by wave after wave of eastward expansion, where NATO– the Cold War relic– doubled in size and pushed closer and closer to Russia’s borders. Now– 30-years on– Washington wants Ukraine to become a member of the Alliance which will put hostile armies, military bases and missile sites just a few hundred miles from Moscow. Naturally, Putin cannot allow this development to take place. Naturally, he must do everything in his power to prevent the supporters of this strategy from implementing their plan.
And that’s what the current confrontation is all about, Russia’s security. It has nothing to do with the threat of a Russian invasion. The “Russian invasion” meme was invented to garner public support for a confrontation with Russia and to conceal details about Russia’s security demands. It is basically fake news created with the clear intention of misleading the American people about an issue that should be a grave concern to them and to people around the world.
So, what is it that Putin wants, after all, we cannot determine whether the Russian leader is being reasonable or not unless we know what he is demanding. A short excerpt from the draft treaty should tell us everything we need to know. Here’s an excerpt:
The United States of America shall undertake to prevent further eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and deny accession to the Alliance to the States of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The United States of America shall not establish military bases in the territory of the States of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, use their infrastructure for any military activities or develop bilateral military cooperation with them……
The Parties shall undertake not to deploy ground-launched intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles outside their national territories, as well as in the areas of their national territories, from which such weapons can attack targets in the national territory of the other Party.
The Parties shall refrain from deploying nuclear weapons outside their national territories and return such weapons already deployed outside their national territories at the time of the entry into force of the Treaty to their national territories. The Parties shall eliminate all existing infrastructure for deployment of nuclear weapons outside their national territories.
The Parties shall not train military and civilian personnel from non-nuclear countries to use nuclear weapons. The Parties shall not conduct exercises or training for general-purpose forces, that include scenarios involving the use of nuclear weapons.” (“Treaty between the United States and the Russian Federation on Security Guarantees,” Official Russian State Document, December 17, 2021)
Is it reasonable for Putin to demand that the US and its NATO allies not install military bases and nuclear missile sites on its border? Is it appropriate for the Russian president to insist that NATO abstain from placing hostile armies on Russia’s doorstep? Here’s what Putin said in reference to these developments just two weeks ago:
“Our actions will depend not on the negotiations but on the unconditional security of Russia Putin …we have made it absolutely clear that NATOs expansion to the East is absolutely unacceptable. What is unclear about this? It is not Russia that deploys missile systems to US borders. It is the other way around. The United States has brought its missiles to our borders. They are on our threshhold …. What would the US do if we deployed our missiles to the Mexican or Canadian borders? …We are not the one’s that are threatening anyone. They came to our borders.” (“Putin: “What Would Americans Do If We Went To Canada And Mexico And Deployed Missiles There?”, Rumble)
He has a point, doesn’t he? The US would never allow China or Russia to build bases or missile sites on its borders. Shouldn’t Russia expect the same treatment?
Yes, they should, and it is certainly a principal worth fighting for. Keep in mind, Russia lost 27 million people in World War 2. That is no trifling sum. Russians have a clear understanding of the cost of war and they will do whatever it takes to prevent another one from breaking out on their soil. In the present case, that means insisting that encroaching adversaries sign legally-binding documents that block them from deploying lethal military hardware or nuclear weapons to Russia’s perimeter. That is the crux of the matter; Sign the treaty or Moscow will be forced to find other ways to establish its security.
The head of the Russian delegation at the Vienna negotiations, Konstantin Gavrilov, summed it up like this:
“There arrives a moment of truth when the West either accepts our proposals or other ways will be found to safeguard Russia’s security.”
Does that mean war?
Not necessarily, but the options are certainly narrowing. If the Biden administration ignores these red lines and continues to blunder ahead with its current policy, there will be a war because this latest NATO expansion leaves Russia at a critical disadvantage. The location of troops and nuclear weapons upsets the fundamental balance of power which Russia will be forced to restore by whatever means necessary. Is that what Biden’s foreign policy team wants?
The wiser members of the US foreign establishment have always cautioned against NATO’s reckless expansion. Check out this quote from former US diplomat and author of the Soviet “containment” policy, George Kennan, who warned that NATO expansion would have dire consequences for both Russia and the United States. He said: