A group of Ukrainian academics has written an open letter to Noam Chomsky critiquing his commentaries on what they categorically define as the “Russian war on Ukraine.” The critique is in fact addressed to Chomsky and “other like-minded intellectuals.” As I have featured many of these intellectuals and their views on my blog, I feel it is important to share this critique.
7 key errors are identified – #1: Denying Ukraine’s sovereign integrity #2: Treating Ukraine as an American pawn on a geo-political chessboard #3. Suggesting that Russia was threatened by NATO #4. Stating that the U.S. isn’t any better than Russia #5. Whitewashing Putin’s goals for invading Ukraine #6. Assuming that Putin is interested in a diplomatic solution #7. Advocating that yielding to Russian demands is the way to avert the nuclear war
While I recognize the validity of this critique, and the nobility of the national perspective it represents, I would like to suggest that this view might be tempered by the acknowledgment of the enmeshment of Ukraine, by virtue of both history and geography, within the geopolitics of Imperialism, both Russian and American. I suggest that this crisis arose as a result of a disregard or misjudgment, by all responsible parties, of the forces at play. I further suggest, that there can be no solution, no peace, without a realistic reconciliation and containment of the now unfurling forces. The longer the conflict ensues, the more it deepens, and the more irreconcilable the situation becomes.
An international Zoom rally on April 9 organised by Peace in Ukraine called for two days of protest and campaigning against the war on May 7 and on June 25, days before the NATO summit in Madrid.
Code Pink and their fellow travellers are calling for –
the withdrawal of Russian troops
an end to the military escalation by the NATO countries and
for all efforts to be focussed on finding a negotiated solution..
They are calling on all anti-war organisations, progressive groups and concerned individuals to come together on May 7 and June 25 to organise protests, public meetings and petitioning sessions as part of an international day of action for peace.
Russian forces should withdraw from all the areas occupied since the invasion began.
Ukraine should sign a treaty of neutrality
Russia should guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Ukraine should be precluded from NATO membership.
Ukraine must recognize the administrative integrity of the Donbas separatist republics.
Ukraine must recognize Crimea as a part of Russia.
The West should lift all the sanctions imposed on Russia.
Ukraine should be allowed to emerge as a Western-style democracy.
Ukraine should receive a very large Western aid package for reconstruction.
Now according to Calum Roche, Russia has expressed a willingness to end the war on the following terms –
No NATO membership and a neutral position.
Russian should be the second official language of Ukraine, with laws prohibiting it abolished.
Recognise Crimea as Russian territory.
Recognise the independence of Donetsk and Lugansk.
Demilitarisation of Ukraine and abandonment of weapons that could be a threat to the Kremlin.
Banning of ultra-nationalist parties and organisations in Ukraine.
While it has been underplayed by the mainstream media in the West, this Russian peace proposal is close to Lieven’s suggestion as outlined above. Russia’s terms seem to constitute a reasonable (in realpolitik terms, not in terms of what is fair or just) set of demands given Russia’s overwhelming might and the West’s proven unwillingness to engage Russia directly. Can Ukraine keep fighting the Russians alone? What can Ukraine gain by pursuing this asymmetrical fight? In their valiant resistance thus far, Ukrainians have amassed much capital with which to negotiate. The Russians may have bitten off more than they can handle and be ready to compromise. On the other hand, a long and continued resistance will likely mean that larger areas will fall to Russia, not to mention devastation and loss of life.
Peace is an urgent necessity for Ukraine and Ukrainians! It seems, however, that Russia’s condition 5. might mitigate against NATO and the USA’s ascendency, and condition 6. might threaten the powerful ultra-nationalist forces that are aligned with Ukrainian state. Will these realities diminish the Ukrainian leadership’s capacity to make the compromises needed to arrive at a speedy cessation of fighting?
In an article titled “Was Ukraine betrayed by its own elites?,” Lee Jones, Professor of Political Economy and International Relations at Queen Mary University of London, outlines the forces whose interplay has led to the horrific invasion that Ukraine faces today. He implicates both Russia and the West but, ultimately lays the blame at the feet of competing Ukrainian oligarchs. He suggests that the most likely outcome, now that Russia has invaded Ukraine, is the balkanization of the nation along ethnolinguistic lines. Yet he is hopeful that, in the light of the mutual injury inflicted thus far, Russia-Ukraine negotiations might progress, leading to a compromise that will restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity (to the extent that is still possible) and secure peace. He suggests that this will involve –
A Russian withdrawal from Ukraine (this might be limited with respect to the territories of the East and the South).
Pro-Western Ukrainians (elites )and their pro-Russian counterparts find a more consensual way to coexist.
Ukrainians stop internationalizing their internal conflict.
Ukraine genuinely works towards neutrality.
Foreign powers (Russia and the West) cease their meddling.
In a stirring conversation with Russell Brand, Yannis Varoufakis offers the most heart I have come across in the ubiquitous commentary on the Ukraine crisis, and some sound mind too! He notes,
1. When there is an invasion we must always take the side of people who are facing troops with direct orders to destroy the circumstances of their lives.
2. We must support all defenders of neighborhoods and homes across the world without prejudice without making a distinction between fashionable victims (Ukraine) and unfashionable victims (eg Palestine, Yemen).
3. The only question is how to stop the carnage and how do we get the Russians to withdraw.
4. There is a serious moral problem in supporting the Ukrainian fighters as we know that Russia is unstoppable, that Putin is ruthless (eg Grozny), and that NATO will never intervene directly (for fear of starting World War III).
5. While we cant ask the resistance to stop resisting, we, from the comfort of our homes, have a moral obligation to find a solution.
6. Such a solution might involve the US and Russia arriving at a quid pro quo somewhat like the following- I. Russia withdraws from Ukraine II. there is a demilitarization of Donbas and border regions III. there could be bargaining about specific areas like Crimea IV. the US and Russia guarantee the neutrality of Ukraine.
7. The alternative is carnage, a prolonged occupation, the permanent division of Ukraine, and the toxification of politics both in Ukraine and Russia.
Stop the War in Ukraine. Russian Troops Out. No to NATO expansion.
The coalition CODEPINK, No to NATO and Stop the War, was initiated by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, 120 cities participated in their Global Day of Action on March 6. CODEPINK, No to NATO and Stop the War is calling for demonstrations against the war.and a massive, unified response by peace-loving people around the world saying No to War in Ukraine; Yes to Negotiations and Peace!