Harley Schlanger's Blog

Conclusion from round of discussions between Russia and the West: To Prevent War, A New Strategic Architecture is Required

January 19, 2022

A week of summits scheduled to resolve the deepening tensions over Ukraine between Russia and the United States and NATO did not succeed, based on the initial press briefings and read-outs produced by the participants. The talks came after two video calls between Presidents Biden and Putin, and were centered on U.S. charges of an impending invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces, and the Russian's insistence on receiving written, legally-binding treaties from the U.S. and NATO, agreeing to no further eastward expansion of NATO, including a prohibition on placing sophisticated weapons and ABM systems in Ukraine.


Typical of these comments were those delivered by the official who presided over the Russian delegation in the January 9-10 meetings in Geneva, Sergey Ryabkov, the Deputy Foreign Minister, and Wendy Sherman, the Deputy Secretary of State, who presided on the American side. Ryabkov reiterated Russia's view that it is essential that "Ukraine must never, never, ever become a member of NATO." He also rebutted the U.S. charges against Russia, saying, "There is no reason to fear some kind of escalatory scenario."

Ryabkov's comments were reinforced by Deputy Foreign Minister Grushko, who presided during the January 13 Russia-NATO Dialogue talks for Russia. Grushko began by saying that "there is no unifying, positive agenda between Russia and NATO", accusing the U.S. and NATO of reverting to the Cold War strategy of "containing Russia."

Sherman said of the Russian security demands, following the eight-hour session on January 10, that they are "simply non-starters for the U.S.," adding, "We will not allow anyone to slam closed NATO's open door policy." This was a restatement of Secretary Blinken's comments before the meetings began, as he told American television audiences on Sunday that the talks "are not about making concessions," but seeing "what can be done to reduce tensions." In blaming Russia for the increased tension, he repeated the speculative assessment of U.S. intelligence community officials that Putin is prepared to launch for "another invasion of Ukraine" -- falsely characterizing Russian aid to pro-Russian forces in the Donbas region, and the referendum in Crimea to return to Russia, as "invasions" -- and concluded his diatribe by stating, "One country can't have a sphere of influence."

Blinken's statement exemplifies what stands in the way of making progress in these talks. Given the U.S. military deployments globally to enforce a "sphere of influence", launching Color Revolutions and regime change coups, as in Ukraine and Libya, and the "endless wars" in southwest and central Asia, it should be obvious why Putin is demanding legally-binding security guarantees! The hypocrisy demonstrated by Blinken, who pompously speaks of defending a unipolar, "Rules-Based Order" by such tactics, plays a major role in increasing tensions.

Not mentioned by those who accuse Russia of planning an unprovoked attack on Ukraine is that one-half of Ukraine's armed forces presently are deployed along the Dnieper River, which separates the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine from the rest of the country; the threats of Ukraine's President to retake the areas under "Russian military control"; the supply of sophisticated weapons to the Ukrainian military and pledges of support from NATO members to defend the nation' sovereignty; nor the ongoing NATO maneuvers along the Russian border in other former Warsaw Pact countries, the deployment of some military forces inside Ukraine, an expanded naval operations in the Black Sea.

Potential Positive Signs?

Despite the failure to resolve the crisis in this week's sessions, there were some indications that progress was made. Ryabkov, for example, described the talks as "difficult, long, very professional, deep, concrete, without attempts to gloss over some sharp edges. We had the feeling that the American side took the Russian proposals very seriously and studied them deeply."

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern pointed to an agreement to discuss missile emplacement in Europe as a possible breakthrough, in a January 11 column posted on antiwar.com. Ridiculing the Washington Post as representative of mainstream media coverage in its description of the outcome as an "Impasse, Deadlock", he writes that Sherman's suggestion that there can be talks about locations of intermediate-range missile emplacement in Europe is a step forward. He adds that Biden had promised to discuss this "as an opening 'Quid' for the talks. It seems now this turned out to be the case." He concludes that this points to other possible breakthroughs.

The U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force agreement, announced by Donald Trump in October 2018, has contributed to Russia's concerns over U.S. intentions to impose a nuclear containment around Russia, which could ultimately include nuclear weapons based in Poland, the Baltic states, and Ukraine.

Another note of optimism was sounded by veteran Russian expert Gilbert Doctorow, who told RT, after attending the debriefing following the OSCE meeting in Vienna on January 13, that he is "optimistic," that the "likelihood of armed conflict is extremely low." These have been civilized and sophisticated discussions, and "the Russians are being heard." He added that it is noteworthy that, for all the talk of NATO solidarity with Ukraine, "country after country...have said they will not in any way send a single soldier (to Ukraine) if they engage in a conflict with Russia."

NATO Must Go!

While some say that the good news is that both sides are talking, Putin has said that is not enough, that action is needed, beginning with the ratification of the treaties Russia has drafted. The U.S. has offered verbal assurances and handshake agreements in the past -- for example, the February 1990 promise by Secretary of State James Baker, that NATO will not expand "one inch eastward" -- but has repeatedly violated those promises. Today, thirty years later, NATO has moved 1,000 kilometers to the east. It is unacceptable for Russia's security, Putin said, that the U.S. and NATO could place sophisticated missiles, including some armed with nuclear devices, within a five-minute reach of Moscow.

He elaborated on this in his annual press conference, December 23. Putin stressed that "our actions will not depend on the negotiation process, but rather on unconditional guarantees for Russia’s security today and in the historical perspective. In this connection, we have made it clear that any further movement of NATO to the East is unacceptable. Is there anything unclear about this? Are we deploying missiles near the US border? No, we are not. It is the United States that has come to our home with its missiles and is already standing at our doorstep. Is it going too far to demand that no strike systems be placed near our home? What is so unusual about this?"

The real threat posed by NATO was addressed by Helga Zepp-LaRouche in her weekly webcast dialogue on January 13, during which she warned that the danger comes from the arrogant mindset which characterizes the war party in the Trans-Atlantic region. Blinken and the key NATO leaders, such as Stoltenberg, operate from the assumption that the U.S. must remain the dominant world power, that the west "won the Cold War", and therefore possesses the right to force the submission of all other nations to its vision of a unipolar world. The economic emergence of China, the modernization of the Russian military, their alliance as sovereign nations, represent a threat to this post-Cold War unipolar order, especially given the accelerating collapse of the western economies and financial system.

While some cling to the illusion that the U.S.-NATO military power protects the dominance of "western values", the reality is different, as can be seen in the destructive deployment of military force against many nations, including Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Does it make sense, she asks, to remain in a military alliance, which threatens to launch a war in Europe, which would destroy every nation?

"...I think we have...now a situation where we have to replace NATO," she said, "with a new security architecture which guarantees the survival and security interests of all." She continued, using the contrast between the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, which ended the Thirty Years War, with the Versailles agreement at the end of World War I. The principles in the Peace of Westphalia were that, "for the sake of peace, you have to forgive all that was done by the one side or the other; then the second principle, for the sake of peace, you have to take into account 'the interest of the other'...because you cannot continuously have peace if you ignore blatantly the security interests" of the other nations.

In contrast, the victors in the First World War accused Germany of sole responsibility for the war, and imposed on it enormous, punitive reparations, which led to hyperinflation, then a depression and subsequent social chaos, which paved the way for the rise of the Nazis.

She concluded by reiterating that today, rather than assuming peace can be achieved by imposing a unipolar order backed by the military power of the U.S./NATO alliance, committed to defend that global order which benefits primarily the City of London-Wall Street-Silicon Valley financial interests, "we need a security architecture which does take into account the interest of everybody, and that emphatically includes Russia, it emphatically includes China." Under such an agreement, the impulse for seeking military solutions for economic crises can be replaced by cooperation for mutual benefit, which is the only real path for peace.

Source: La Rouche Organization.

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