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THE RUSSIAN-UKRAINE WAR #470

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Graham Perry
Graham Perry
Experienced Arbitration Lawyer | China & Chinese Business Affairs | Public Speaker/Lecturer.

PROFESSOR JEFFREY SACHS

Today I switch the focus from China to Russia and the Ukraine War
for two reasons; first, the War is reaching its climax and, second,
Professor Jeffrey Sachs, Professor of Economics at Columbia
University, USA is one of the most sane commentators on world
politics. This article first appeared on 19 September 2023 in Other
News and was reproduced in the widely read in the Australian
based Pearls and Irritations by its editor – John Manandue. A little
longer than usual but bear with it. It really is spot on. GRAHAM
PERRY

“During the disastrous Vietnam War, it was said that the US government
treated the public like a mushroom farm: keeping it in the dark and
feeding it with manure. The heroic Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon
Papers documenting the unrelenting US government lying about the war
in order to protect politicians who would be embarrassed by the truth. A
half century later, during the Ukraine War, the manure is piled even
higher.

According to the US Government and the ever-obsequious New York
Times, the Ukraine war was “unprovoked,” the New York
Times’ favourite adjective to describe the war. Putin, allegedly mistaking
himself for Peter the Great, invaded Ukraine to recreate the Russian
Empire. Yet last week, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg
committed a Washington gaffe, meaning that he accidentally blurted out
the truth.

In testimony to the European Union Parliament, Stoltenberg made clear
that it was America’s relentless push to enlarge NATO to Ukraine that
was the real cause of the war and why it continues today. Here are
Stoltenberg’s revealing words:

“The background was that President Putin declared in the autumn
of 2021, and actually sent a draft treaty that they wanted NATO to
sign, to promise no more NATO enlargement. That was what he
sent us. And was a pre-condition for not invade Ukraine. Of course,
we didn’t sign that.

The opposite happened. He wanted us to sign that promise, never
to enlarge NATO. He wanted us to remove our military
infrastructure in all Allies that have joined NATO since 1997,
meaning half of NATO, all the Central and Eastern Europe, we
should remove NATO from that part of our Alliance, introducing
some kind of B, or second-class membership. We rejected that.
So, he went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to his
borders. He has got the exact opposite.”

To repeat, he [Putin] went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to
his borders.
When Prof. John Mearsheimer, I, and others have said the same, we’ve
been attacked as Putin apologists. The same critics also choose to hide
or flatly ignore the dire warnings against NATO enlargement to Ukraine
long articulated by many of America’s leading diplomats, including the
great scholar-statesman George Kennan, and the former US
Ambassadors to Russia Jack Matlock and William Burns.

Burns, now CIA Director, was US Ambassador to Russia in 2008, and
author of a memo entitled “Nyet means Nyet.” In that memo, Burns
explained to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the entire
Russian political class, not just Putin, was dead-set against NATO
enlargement. We know about the memo only because it was leaked.
Otherwise, we’d be in the dark about it.

Why does Russia oppose NATO enlargement? For the simple reason
that Russia does not accept the US military on its 2,300 km border with
Ukraine in the Black Sea region. Russia does not appreciate the US
placement of Aegis missiles in Poland and Romania after the US
unilaterally abandoned the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

Russia also does not welcome the fact that the US engaged in no fewer
than 70 regime change operations during the Cold War (1947-1989),
and countless more since, including in Serbia, Afghanistan, Georgia,
Iraq, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, and Ukraine. Nor does Russia like the fact
that many leading US politicians actively advocate the destruction of
Russia under the banner of “Decolonizing Russia.” That would be like
Russia calling for the removal of Texas, California, Hawaii, the
conquered Indian lands, and much else, from the U.S.

Even Zelensky’s team knew that the quest for NATO enlargement meant
imminent war with Russia. Oleksiy Arestovych, former Advisor to the
Office of the President of Ukraine under Zelensky, declared that “with a
99.9% probability, our price for joining NATO is a big war with Russia.”
Arestovych claimed that even without NATO enlargement, Russia would
eventually try to take Ukraine, just many years later. Yet history belies
that.

Russia respected Finland’s and Austria’s neutrality for decades,
with no dire threats, much less invasions. Moreover, from Ukraine’s
independence in 1991 until the US-backed overthrow of Ukraine’s
elected government in 2014, Russia didn’t show any interest in taking
Ukrainian territory. It was only when the US installed a staunchly anti-
Russian, pro-NATO regime in February 2014 that Russia took back
Crimea, concerned that its Black Sea naval base in Crimea (since 1783)
would fall into NATO’s hands.

Even then, Russia didn’t demand other territory from Ukraine, only
fulfilment of the UN-backed Minsk II Agreement, which called for
autonomy of the ethnic-Russian Donbas, not a Russian claim on the
territory. Yet instead of diplomacy, the US armed, trained, and helped to
organise a huge Ukrainian army to make NATO enlargement a fait
accompli.

Putin made one last attempt at diplomacy at the end of 2021, tabling
a draft US-NATO Security Agreement to forestall war. The core of the
draft agreement was an end of NATO enlargement and removal of US
missiles near Russia. Russia’s security concerns were valid and the
basis for negotiations. Yet Biden flatly rejected negotiations out of a
combination of arrogance, hawkishness, and profound miscalculation.
NATO maintained its position that NATO would not negotiate with Russia
regarding NATO enlargement, that in effect, NATO enlargement was
none of Russia’s business.

The continuing US obsession with NATO enlargement is profoundly
irresponsible and hypocritical. The US would object—by means of war, if
needed—to being encircled by Russian or Chinese military bases in the
Western Hemisphere, a point the US has made since the Monroe
Doctrine of 1823. Yet the US is blind and deaf to the legitimate security
concerns of other countries.

So, yes, Putin went to war to prevent NATO, more NATO, close to
Russia’s border. Ukraine is being destroyed by US arrogance, proving
again Henry Kissinger’s adage that to be America’s enemy is

dangerous, while to be its friend is fatal. The Ukraine War will end when
the US acknowledges a simple truth: NATO enlargement to Ukraine
means perpetual war and Ukraine’s destruction. Ukraine’s neutrality
could have avoided the war, and remains the key to peace. The deeper
truth is that European security depends on collective security as called
for by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE),
not one-sided NATO demands.”

First published in OTHER NEWS September 19, 2023

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