Posts Tagged ‘NATO expansion’

Vladimir Putin is not a madman

April 11, 2022

I never thought Vladimir Putin would order a full-scale invasion of Ukraine 

My reasoning was that it was not in Putin’s or Russia’s interest to take responsibility for a country that, by most accounts, was even poorer than Russia itself and almost as corrupt.  Nor did it make sense for Russia to risk getting bogged down in a long quagmire war as it did in Afghanistan.

The president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, had elected as a peace candidate with more than 70 percent of the vote, so there seemed like a possibility of negotiating the status of the Donbas secessionists and other issues.  

I thought Putin would take some limited action that would demonstrate Ukraine’s vulnerability and NATO’s lack of unity.

As a result of the invasion, members of NATO are more united against Russia than ever.  Sweden and Finland have abandoned their neutrality and may formally join NATO.  Countries not willing to fight Russia with troops are waging economic warfare against Russia.

So why did he do it? Was he crazy?

One of my rules of thumb is that when someone who seems highly intelligent does something that makes no sense to me, that person may have reasons that I do not understand.

I believe Putin has made this high-stakes gamble because he believes the actual existence of Russia is at risk.  I believe he further believes that the danger is growing and he had to act before time runs out.   

He has been saying for years that the goal of the U.S.-led alliance is to put itself in a position to be able to successfully attack Russia.  He may be mistaken, but he has reason to think so.

Notice that the ultimatum he issued last year is not limited to Ukraine.  It contains for main demands (1) Ukraine neutrality, (2) autonomy of Donetz and Luhansk, (3) no missiles in Poland or Rumania and (4) NATO troops back to 1991 limits.

Notice also that Russia has not used its full military might in invading Ukraine.  That means Putin may be holding back troops to enforce the rest of his ultimatum.

∞∞∞

When Russia withdrew its troops from East Germany and other satellite countries in Eastern Europe in 1989, Secretary of State James Baker allegedly promised Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO troops would not move “one inch” to the east.  There’s argument as to what he really said.  But many people, myself included, hoped for a new era when the USA and Russia were at peace with each other.

In 1999, NATO expanded.  Putin protested and was ignored.  In 2004, NATO expanded again.  Putin protested and was ignored.

In 2008, NATO announced an intention to bring Ukraine and Georgia into NATO.  Putin said that was a red line that Russia would not tolerate.  

I can understand why.  If you look at a map of Europe showing the peak of German conquests during World War Two, and compare it with a map of NATO with Ukraine and Georgia, you will see they are almost the same.

In 2014, a pro-American faction seized power in Ukraine. Since then, Ukraine has been a NATO member in all but name.

A missile defense system is being placed in Poland and Romania, which could be made capable of launching nuclear missiles. The U.S. meanwhile has exited the Anti-Ballistic Missile agreement and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces agreement.

Soon the United States will have duplicated Russia’s hypersonic missile, which means that a nuclear warhead launched from Poland or Rumania could hit Moscow in a few minutes.

(more…)

It seems Ukraine will never join NATO…

March 24, 2022

This video interview was given March 19.

Volodymyr Zelensky told CNN Sunday that Ukraine will never be allowed to join NATO or the European Union.  In that case, what is the fighting about?  Here is the CNN report:

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that if his country had been admitted into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance earlier, then Russia would not have invaded the country.

“If we were a NATO member, a war wouldn’t have started. I’d like to receive security guarantees for my country, for my people,” Zelensky told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on “GPS,” adding that he was grateful for the aid NATO has provided since the invasion began. “If NATO members are ready to see us in the alliance, then do it immediately because people are dying on a daily basis.”

He continued, “But if you are not ready to preserve the lives of our people, if you just want to see us straddle two worlds, if you want to see us in this dubious position where we don’t understand whether you can accept us or not — you cannot place us in this situation, you cannot force us to be in this limbo.

“I requested them personally to say directly that we are going to accept you into NATO in a year or two or five, just say it directly and clearly, or just say no,” Zelensky said.

“And the response was very clear, you’re not going to be a NATO member, but publicly, the doors will remain open,” he said.

If Ukraine is never going to be admitted to NATO, what is Russia fighting to prevent?  And why does the USA publicly insist on Ukraine’s right to do something it is not going to be allowed to do?

I think Scott Ritter’s interview above provides the answer.  Ukraine is not part of NATO, but it is a vassal of NATO.  By vassal, I mean a person or community that serves an overlord, and in return serves protection from that overlord.

Since the new pro-American government took power in 2014, Ukraine’s military forces have been receiving NATO training and NATO equipment.  For practical purposes, Ukraine is a member of NATO in every respect except having a voice and a vote. 

The same is true of the European Union.  Ukraine signed an Association Agreement with the European Union in 2014 and received an International Monetary Fund loan.  This took down certain trade barriers between the EU and Ukraine, opened up Ukraine to EU investment and also required Ukraine to align its foreign and military policies with the EU as a whole.

So businesses in the European Union have essentially got what they want from Ukraine—access to its rich farmland and natural resources.  According to Wikipedia, the EU has replaced Russia as Ukraine’s main trading partner.

The bottom line: Formal NATO membership for Ukraine is a red herring.  The real issue is whether Ukraine will be a vassal of the USA or a vassal of Russia.

The best thing for Ukraine would be neutral, and have good relations with all nations.  As an American, I would be fine with that.  But this is not a choice on offer.

Putin’s ultimatum and the threat of war

December 21, 2021

Destruction Is Still Mutually Assured by Freddie deBoer.

Russia Details Security Demands to U.S. and NATO by Bernhard for Moon of Alabama.

Only the Powerful Issue Ultimatums by Andrei Martyanov (a Russian view).

Russia’s Ultimatum to the West by the Saker (another Russian view)

A surprise Russian ultimatum: new draft treaties to roll back NATO by Gilbert Doctorow.  [Added 12/23/2021]

We’ve Seen the Ultimatum: What Is the ‘Or Else’? by Patrick Armstrong for Russia Observer.  [Added 12/23/2021]  A long list of things Russia could do short of nuclear escalation.

NATO and Ukraine: Links & comments 8/22/14

August 22, 2014

ENGLISH GRAPHIC - DER SPIEGEL 48/2009 Seite 47The Ukraine, Corrupted Journalism and the Atlanticist Faith by Karel van Wolferen, a respected Dutch journalist, for the Unz Review.

Van Wolferen thinks NATO has outlived its usefulness.  Once an alliance to protect western Europe from the Red Army, it is now, he wrote, a means by which the United States drags Europeans into wars that are none of their concern.

When NATO was created, Europe had not fully recovered from the devastation of the Second World War, and would not have been able to stop a Soviet invasion.   We had a great debate here in the United States about whether we wanted to make this commitment, or go back to our traditional isolationist ways.  We decided that safety lay in collective security against aggression.

These conditions no longer apply.  European nations are rich and prosperous, and well able to protect themselves.  We should gradually shift the burden of defending Europe to the Europeans themselves.  If Europeans differ from Americans about what their defense needs are, that is their decision to make.

NATO’s Eastward Expansion: Did the West Break Its Promise to Moscow? by Uwe Klubmann, Matthias Schlepp and Klaus Wiegrafe for Der Spiegel.

I always took it to be a fact that Secretary of State James Baker promised Mikhail Gorbachev that if the Soviet Union withdraw troops from eastern Europe, NATO would not expand eastward to fill the vacuum.  But the people concerned disagree on who said what.  Too bad for Russia that Gorbachev didn’t get Baker’s alleged promise in writing.

What Do the World Bank and IMF Have to Do With the Ukraine Conflict? by Frederic Mousseau, policy director of the Oakland Institute, for Inter Press Service.

Mousseau described a new report by the Oakland Institute, an independent think tank, that says World Bank and International Monetary Fund are demanding, in return for loans, that Ukraine impose austerity measures that will increase prices, lower wages, increase taxes and open up Ukraine’s rich farmland for acquisition by foreign corporations.

Ukrainians are trapped in a no-win situation.  Neither NATO, the World Bank, the IMF, the Russian Federation and their own crooked politicians and business oligarchs have their interests at heart.

The war in Ukraine: This is no time for proving your point by Olga Allyonova for Russia Behind the Headlines.

 A heartfelt plea for peace by a Russian journalist.