CAUSES OF THE UKRAINE WAR
I was surprised to read your still-relevant editorial (July-August edition) dismissing NATO encroachment on Russia’s borders as a factor in Putin’s illegal invasion. To say that it was “merely a pretext” for the invasion is a denial of accountability that makes resolution much more difficult. It’s a dangerous narrative. In war, the harms done by everyone involved must be considered and learned from to prevent further damage & loss of life.
You rightly claimed that the West should have followed the demobilization of the Warsaw Pact dissolution rather than expand NATO. Instead, NATO violated its 1991 US promise to Gorbachev to not expand “one inch” eastward. Could the Russian invasion be an unintended consequence of such deceit? How might the situation be different had we disbanded NATO and followed the course of diplomacy? What if we had agreed to the OSCE (Organization for Security & Cooperation in Europe, which grew out of the Helsinki Accords) taking the lead security role for Europe, as proposed? What if Western Europe had incorporated Russia into councils of European governance as Gorbachev proposed? (As Germany should have been after WWI.) NATO has never been a “defensive” alliance, and its aggressions (in Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq & Libya) have been critical to the breakdown of relations between Russia and the West.
It is of course, easier to dismiss or minimize Russia’s legitimate security concerns about NATO’s military expansion eastward, and take the position you do, that he’s simply a “thief & a murderer with delusions”. Even William Burns, the current head of the CIA, warned against the dangers of NATO expansion. (Dr. Marcus Stanley, Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.) Putin also wanted Russia to be a closer part of the European economic/social networks. He was effectively shunned by the West, despite Europe’s clear reliance on Russian natural gas and other trade. Russia will now sell its gas to markets eastward and Europe will face exorbitant extra energy costs for importing gas from the US. Who really stands to benefit from this arrangement but the US?
Europe is and will continue to feel this war far more than Canada & the US. Speaking as a Canadian, our belligerence, our refusal to lobby for a cease-fire, for negotiations, is shameful. Negotiations are not a sign of weakness, or a call to appeasement. They are the necessary beginning of a pathway to peace. How many more people will have to die to reinforce US/NATO dominance? Canada has had troops in Latvia for several years before this war began, and special forces in Ukraine training up Ukrainians for battle. Always we act unquestioningly in the name of NATO; until recently I was unaware that NATO has always been headed by an American general and under complete US control. The US has openly stated its goal is to “weaken Russia”. (Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.)
All your theories of why this war – NATO expansion, Putin’s wish to restore the Russian empire and Putin the madman – have truth to them. And there are other factors of course. Let’s just acknowledge that NATO gave Putin a pretext, knowing full well that he is no peacemaker like Gorbachev was. And NATO continues to play a frightening role in this debacle. Witness former British PM Boris Johnson’s trip to Ukraine last March when he shut down the Turkey-facilitated peace process. President Zelensky was looking for some type of security guarantees for a neutral Ukraine in exchange for peace with Russia and was told by Johnson (there representing the West) that such guarantees wouldn’t be forthcoming if Zelensky opted for continuing negotiations.
NEW START TREATY STOPS
In his state of the nation address, President Putin announced that Russia is “suspending” its participation in New START, meaning at least that Russia will not allow NATO countries to inspect its nuclear arsenal. The treaty still runs through 2026 and, per Putin’s remarks, Russia will not completely “withdraw” from it, however, this marks another bleak turn in the degrading diplomatic relationship between the US and Russia. Putin
Russia will not allow NATO countries to inspect its nuclear arsenal
called the state of US-Russian relations “completely and utterly the US’s fault.” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg responded to Putin’s remarks saying “the whole arms control architecture has been dismantled.”
On the other hand, we recently hit a different, noteworthy anniversary as well: two years since the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons entered into force.
Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
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