Ukraine: A Path for Peace

Now that the Russian invasion has come to pass and fighting has deepened, the possibility for peace in Ukraine can not be premised on ideals but must be based on compromise. Anatol Lieven, Professor at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Qatar; visiting professor in the War Studies Department of King’s College London; and a senior fellow of the New America Foundation in Washington DC, suggests that such a compromise is necessary to save Ukraine from destruction and loss of life, as well as to preserve Ukrainian sovereignty. A prolongation of the war will likely mean that large areas will be permanently lost to Russia, particularly the land linking Crimea to Russia.

Lieven suggests the terms of a possible peace –

  1. Russian forces should withdraw from all the areas occupied since the invasion began.
  2. Ukraine should sign a treaty of neutrality
  3. Russia should guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
  4. Ukraine should be precluded from NATO membership.
  5. Ukraine must recognize the administrative integrity of the Donbas separatist republics.
  6. Ukraine must recognize Crimea as a part of Russia.
  7. The West should lift all the sanctions imposed on Russia.
  8. Ukraine should be allowed to emerge as a Western-style democracy.
  9. 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 –

  1. No NATO membership and a neutral position.
  2. Russian should be the second official language of Ukraine, with laws prohibiting it abolished.
  3. Recognise Crimea as Russian territory.
  4. Recognise the independence of Donetsk and Lugansk.
  5. Demilitarisation of Ukraine and abandonment of weapons that could be a threat to the Kremlin.
  6. 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?


Ukraine: Russia’s Military Objectives

Major General G. D. Bakshi, is a retired Indian army officer of great distinction and a prolific military analyst. In a 4th March interview he suggests that, despite Western media cheerleading of the Ukrainian resistance, Putin is steadily achieving his stated objective of demilitarising Ukraine and that, most likely, he has no intention of capturing and holding much territory in Western Ukraine. He suggests that the main objectives are Eastern and Southern Ukrainian nuclear plants (Chernobyl, Zaporizhzhia, etc.), Southern Ukrainian seaports (Mariupol, Odesa, etc.), and Eastern land that will give Russia a land corridor to the Crimean Peninsula. He even speculates that the assault on Kyiv might even be a deception operation, a distraction that has enabled them to make swift progress on their true objectives. He believes, however, that they will devastate Kyiv in due course.

Ukraine: The MI6 View

Former MI6 chief offers his perspective on the Ukraine crisis at the Oxford Union on 1st March 2022. He seems very objective, but note –

  1. He sits on the board of BP
  2. Suggests that Putin may have lost his balance.
  3. Overlooks organized neo-nazi militia in Ukraine.
  4. Ignores the Ukrainian civil war.
  5. Avoids NATO expansionism and the recent militarization of Ukraine
  6. Reveals that what the West envisages valiant resistance followed by the fall of Ukrainian and a debilitating insurgency against the Russians.
  7. He offers the image of Putin as a cornered rat!

Very cool, very British, very James Bond!

Ukraine: You wont see this on TV!

This perspicacious conversation, which took place on 3rd March, was hosted by the Committee for the Republic, which is a non-partisan, nonprofit American organization that sponsors regular conversations on the challenges faced by the American Republic. This conversation features John Mearsheimer and Ray McGovern giving their views on the ongoing crisis in Eastern Europe. As I have previously shared Mearsheimer’s views (from 2015 and from days before the invasion) on the crisis, I will start the video at McGovern’s segment and outline his key argument here.

Ray McGovern is a long-time Russian specialist. After serving as an Army combat intelligence officer, he was a CIA analyst focused on the Sino-Soviet conflict and then chief of the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch. In encapsularing his position, McGovern offers the analogy of being bullied at the hands of bigger bigger guys as a kid, “When I get big I’m never going to let anybody do that to me …. Putin just got big, he got big last year, he got big when the Chinese decided to throw their lot in with him,” McGovern’s proposition is that the shift in the balance of power brought by an emerging Russia-China alignment helps explain Putin’s apparently irrational invasion of Ukraine, an invasion that McGovern himself had failed to anticipate.

Ukraine: Chomsky’s view 2

1901 Political Cartoon

In his interview with Noam Chomsky in Truthout dated March 1st , C.J. Polychroniou asks, with reference to Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, which prohibits the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity of another state, “Can you comment on Putin’s legal justifications for the invasion of Ukraine and on the status of international law in the post-Cold War era?” Chomsky says, “There is nothing to say about Putin’s attempt to offer legal justification for his aggression. Its merit is zero.. Chomsky ranks the Russian invasion of Ukraine as “a major war crime, ranking alongside the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the Hitler-Stalin invasion of Poland in September 1939.”

In essence, there is no enforceable legality and certainly, no universal sense of right, on the geopolitical scale. There are only actions and consequences. Chomsky sums up the very narrow range of accepable geopoltical outcomes that remain, now that the threatened invasion has occurred, “The options that remain after the invasion are grim. The least bad is support for the diplomatic options that still exist, in the hope of reaching an outcome not too far from what was very likely achievable a few days ago: Austrian-style neutralization of Ukraine, some version of Minsk II federalism within. Much harder to reach now. And — necessarily — with an escape hatch for Putin or outcomes will be still more dire for Ukraine and everyone else, perhaps almost unimaginably so.’

I worry that Western leaders are unanimously displaying a lack of understanding in the matter of this ‘escape hatch’. They are either intentionally provoking Putin into a quagmire that they believe will be his demise and/or they do not understand the consequences of ‘driving the bear into a corner’ in the way that Chomsky does.


Ukraine: Chomsky’s view

In an interview recorded on 10 Jan 2022, Chomsky unpacks the crisis that has sinse led to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He echoes John Mearsheimer’s vie wanout the necessary neutrality of Ukraine with regard to NATO-Russian relations. He decribes the decision by the USA in 2008, taken against the wishes of France and Germany, to invite Ukraine to enter NATO as being utterely unacceptable to any Russian leader (ie this is not a question of Putin’s megalomania). Like Mearsheimer, Chomsky implicates the expansion of NATO contrary to gurantees given to the Soviet Union at the time of the unification of Germany as an significant cause of the present crisis.

He also suggests that the implementation of the Minsk 2 agreement (2015) which would establish the neutrality of Ukraine, as a possible way forward. However, as Duncan Allan notes, “Minsk-2 supports mutually exclusive views of sovereignty: either Ukraine is sovereign (Ukraine’s interpretation), or it is not (Russia’s interpretation)” he calls this “the Minsk conundrum”.

It’s Time to be Clear 3

While Trump has evoked some obscene human emotions in the USA, other world leaders like Putin, Oban, Erdogan, Bolsonaro and Modi have arguably been invoking the very same fascistic emotions in more sophisticated and impactful ways. Robert Paxton describes the “mobilizing passions” of Fascism thus –
• a sense of overwhelming crisis
• the subordination of the individual to the group
• a belief that one’s group’s victimhood
• a fear of the corrosive effects of liberalism, class conflict, and alien influences
• the need for a purer community
• the a natural leader capable of incarnating the group’s historical destiny;
• the superiority of the leader’s instincts over reason
• the beauty of violence and the efficacy of will
• the right to dominate others

I invite you to apply Paxton’s criteria to evaluate your own political environment and to assess the mobilizing strategies of the politicians involved.