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Adaptation — to a multipolar world in which Washington doesn’t always call the shots — is the first step.
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The most radical elements, including certain members of congress, are calling for sending U.S. troops to Ukraine where they would join U.K. troops who are already on the ground “training” combatants. This of course means NATO forces are being put directly into harm’s way despite the risk of activating the “Collective Security Pact” at a moment’s notice pulling the entire 29 nation alliance into an active conflict with nuclear Russia.
Instead of using diplomacy in search of a way out, NATO and even some non-NATO countries are sending huge amounts of weapons to Ukraine which only amplifies the needless killing. Actually, the flow of Western weapons and military advisers to Ukraine started many years before the current crisis.
As each day edges us closer to the unthinkable, meaning WWIII with the use of nuclear weapons, it is important, at least for the benefit of survivors and future historians, to correctly describe why our civilization has decided to commit suicide.
If only the famous “not one inch eastward” assurance about NATO expansion pledged by the U.S. Secretary of State James Baker to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev on Feb. 9, 1990, was honored, this entire catastrophe would have easily been avoided. Mr. Baker’s pledge was followed by an avalanche of other security assurances given by western leaders to Mr. Gorbachev and other Soviet officials throughout the process of German unification between 1990 and 1991, according to declassified U.S., Soviet, German, British and French documents posted by the National Security Archive at George Washington University. Under this paradigm, it was celebrated across Washington and Europe that “a new security architecture from Vancouver to Vladivostok” was upon us.
Sadly, that promise was short-lived, and within a short time, the process of NATO expansion was set into motion with the alliance gobbling up 13 more Eastern European states with targets on the Ukraine and Georgia. A younger and more lucid Joe Biden was then a senator who took an active part in this new conquest. He had a chance to fix this problem during the Obama years when Mr. Biden, as his VP, had a Ukrainian portfolio. Had this administration honestly proceeded with the announced reset there is no doubt that friendship and harmony of common interests could easily have been maintained. Instead, it facilitated a Maidan coup in February 2014 when Victoria “F—- the EU” Nuland found herself working alongside VP Biden overseeing a color revolution that ousted a democratically elected Ukrainian president, putting Ukraine back onto the fast track for NATO membership. Those who followed these events remember well how Ms. Nuland was discussing the composition of the new Ukrainian cabinet with the U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt almost three weeks before the coup had actually taken place.
Another chance for peace was lost when Mr. Biden failed to pronounce the word “neutrality” on any day prior to Feb. 24 of this year. This simply meant agreeing to neutrality for Ukraine. Keeping this country sovereign and whole without joining NATO or any military block was the easiest request for the Western alliance to meet. Had this been done, there would be no Russian invasion, U.S.-Russia security talks would have proceeded with good chances for success similar to the Reagan-Gorbachev scenario that ended the first Cold War.
And, of course, who would have benefited more than Ukraine, to whom the creator gave the richest fertile land, favorable climate, no deserts, no volcanoes, access to the sea, more than sufficient drinking water supplies, over 40 million population and strong industrial base left over from the Soviet days. Having Russia as a neighbor was not a disadvantage but a huge benefit due to their deeply-rooted historical, family, religious, economic and cultural ties.
Unfortunately, there were other forces, both inside and outside Ukraine that had other plans for this country that lit the fuse of the current disaster which might spill over onto the rest of the world. The plan was to turn Ukraine into an anti-Russian zone of conflict and so far, it looks like so far these forces are prevailing.
One of the few voices of sanity speaking to this growing crisis in recent days has come from the offices of former President Donald Trump, who still enjoys a large base of popular support within the American people, as well as better members of the political and business class who must play a role in putting out the fires of war before they go nuclear in the short-term.
On April 18, Mr. Trump wrote: “It doesn’t make sense that Russia and Ukraine aren’t sitting down and working out some kind of an agreement. If they don’t do it soon, there will be nothing left but death, destruction and carnage. This is a war that never should have happened, but it did. The solution can never be as good as it would have been before the shooting started, but there is a solution, and it should be figured out now- not later- when everyone will be DEAD!”
This echoes Mr. Trump’s earlier remarks on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Elbe Day celebrations which saw American and Russian forces uniting in the German city of Torgau on the Elbe River for the final blow to the Nazi machine in WWII and whose spirit must be reawoken fast if we are to survive the current storm. On April 25, 2020, Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin issued a joint declaration saying: “The ‘Spirit of the Elbe’ is an example of how our countries can put aside differences, build trust, and cooperate in pursuit of a greater cause. As we work today to confront the most important challenges of the 21st century, we pay tribute to the valor and courage of all those who fought together to defeat fascism. Their heroic feat will never be forgotten.”
The same forces which promoted a fake “Russiagate” story that ruined Mr. Trump’s presidency are now pushing for yet another misdeed that may result in Armageddon with no winners. As this week many in the U.S. and Russia celebrated the 77th anniversary of Elbe Day, why not make an attempt to avoid this disaster by giving a chance to diplomacy instead of adding fuel to the fire?
Edward Lozansky is the president of American University in Moscow. Matthew Ehret is a fellow of American University in Moscow.