By Susanne Heart – March 1, 2023
The war in Ukraine is seen by some as a war between the United States and Russia in disguise. Others see a battle between a unipolar and a multipolar world order. Regardless of this, people suffer greatly.
By Susanne Heart.
We humans mostly just want to live in peace. We do not have it in us to suddenly think of bombing our neighbors into death and misery. But which entities have such interests?
A fact is that war is industry. Unfortunately. An industry that perishes without continued economic growth through more and more war.
War is also a power struggle. A power struggle where states and intelligence work with secret plans and strategies to achieve even more power.
To try to understand the story behind what is happening in Ukraine today, I took a look at the UN association’s website. Based on the information I found there, I have made a sort of overview of the most important points in the story.
Even if the picture that is painted is by no means well balanced or completely exhaustive, I still believe that much of this information should have gotten out to people better – in a media picture that is far too characterized by one-sided propaganda.
The big question I am left with is: Why wasn’t NATO shut down after the Cold War ended and why did the EU push Ukraine out of its neutral position?
“Not an inch to the east”
But first a bit from a case in VG which describes the meeting in Moscow in 1990 between Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union; and James Addison Baker, Secretary of State in the administration of President George H. W. Bush. It was in this meeting that the latter promised that NATO would not expand to the east. The current president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, believes that NATO has broken this promise 14 times and that it is now enough.
My summary from the UN website about the war in Ukraine:
The war that started in 2014 with a coup d’état
The Ukraine conflict only began in 2014 and has taken place at various levels: between groups within Ukraine; between Ukrainian authorities and Russia; and between NATO and Russia. It is a conflict over land, power and security, where issues related to history, identity and international law are important.
The underlying reasons must also be seen in the light of the relationship between Russia and the United States. In this perspective, Russia’s actions in Ukraine are a reaction to NATO’s eastward expansion since the fall of the Soviet Union. Plans for Ukrainian NATO membership are seen by the Putin regime as US/NATO going too far.
- NATO was created in 1949 because of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Military bases were established in member states.
- In 1990, the year before the dissolution of the Soviet Union and thus the end of the Cold War, the USA promised in a meeting in Moscow not to expand NATO “a single inch to the east”.
- From 1922, both Russia and Ukraine were parts of the Soviet Union, which dissolved in 1991 and Ukraine declared itself an independent state.
- Until 1954, the Crimean Peninsula belonged to the Russian part of the Soviet Union and the population there is still ethnically Russian. They are also in the eastern parts of Ukraine.
- Moscow accepted that Crimea became part of the new Ukraine, despite the fact that the majority of Crimea’s inhabitants were ethnic Russians.
- When the Cold War ended in 1991, NATO should have been closed.
- NATO instead grew rapidly and absorbed many of the former Soviet Union republics. That meant more American military bases around Russia.
- In 2008, NATO decided to work for Ukraine to become a member.
- But Ukraine was interested in a good relationship with both of its neighbors; both Russia and the EU. They would be non-aligned. The EU did not want this.
- The western Ukrainians have been EU supporters, while the eastern Ukrainians have preferred Russia. So a divided country.
- The EU then offered Ukraine an agreement that would bring Ukraine closer to the EU and at the same time demanded that Ukraine refrain from economic cooperation with Russia.
- The EU proposal forced President Viktor Yanukovych to choose a side even though the country actually wanted to cooperate with both sides and the people were divided.
- It was the choice between an association with the EU/the West or Russia that created the crisis in Ukraine. A yes to the pressure from the EU would lead to a greater distance from Russia.
- Therefore, President Yanukovych refrained from signing the association agreement with the EU, and made an agreement with Russia instead.
- The EU supporters demonstrated in the capital Kiev, where several hundred thousand participated, from November 2013.
- In February 2014, the parliament illegally and undemocratically removed the democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych.
- The action is defined as a coup d’état since the elected officials did not follow the procedures, and did not have the 3/4 majority, which the constitution requires for such a decision.
- Russia believed that the West had helped protesters – several of them neo-Nazis – to oust the democratically elected president, and then later get an illegitimate, pro-Western leadership in Ukraine, which signed the association agreement with the EU.
- Russia responded to Yanukovych’s ouster by taking control of the Crimean peninsula with the use of armed forces.
- Subsequently, elections were held in Crimea to join Russia. Almost everyone who attended voted yes. (One problem the international community saw with the election was that the population of Crimea was not allowed to make such a decision on their own?! Isn’t it the people themselves who decide in a democracy?)
- In March 2014, Russia annexed Crimea to prevent Crimea from being used as a NATO base.
- Russia also provided support to pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine, leading to fighting there from April 2014.
- Although 17% of the inhabitants of Ukraine were ethnically Russian, these were nevertheless denied the right to have Russian as an official language from 2014. Hostility built up against the Russian minority in Ukraine.
- The West imposed sanctions on Russia. Russia reacted with sanctions against the West. At the same time, the United States contributed to a military upgrade of the Ukrainian defence.
- In practice, Russia has been encircled by American military bases, which provokes and has led to conflict.
- In December 2014, the parliament decided that Ukraine should move away from its non-aligned status and instead work towards NATO membership.
- Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates is among several who have stated that including Ukraine and Georgia in NATO “undermines the purpose of the alliance and recklessly ignores what the Russians consider their vital national interests”.
- In the spring of 2019, Volodymyr Zelenskij was elected as Ukraine’s new president and started talks to find a solution.
- Russia believed that Ukraine must accept the pro-Russian separatists’ desire for more autonomy and their right to use the Russian language.
- Ukraine believed that Russia must stop supporting the separatists and withdraw from eastern Ukraine.
- The level of conflict rose again in 2021, when Russia accused Ukraine of moving major weapons into the conflict area. Russia was also critical that the Ukrainian president, Zelenskyj, had censored the Russian-speaking opposition in Ukraine by closing three of their television channels.
- Russia’s military presence increased considerably in the border area with Ukraine in April 2021.
- This prompted the US and the rest of NATO to react and increase their military presence – even though Ukraine was not a member
- Russia demanded guarantees that Ukraine will not be incorporated into NATO.
- The crisis came to a head on 21 February, when Russia recognized the two breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine, in Donetsk and Luhansk, as independent states.
- Russia then attacked Ukraine with regular forces on 24 February 2022.
- According to the UN, over 14,000 people were killed in the conflict from 2014 until the invasion in 2022.
The Ukraine conflict has been discussed in the UN Security Council. Since Russia is both a party to the conflict and has veto power in the Security Council, the Security Council will not be able to function as an effective political body that adopts sanctions. It will primarily be able to be a forum for conversations between the parties, and carry out symbolic votes.
A meeting was held in the UN Security Council last week. With Norway’s alleged role in blowing up the Nord Stream pipelines, we have suddenly got a completely new and very unpleasant twist on history.
Jeffrey Sachs addresses the UN Security Council
We need more people like Jeffrey Sachs in the world, I think. Here he addresses the UN Security Council regarding the investigation into the explosion on the Nord Steam pipelines.
Raymond McGovern addresses the UN Security Council
We also need more people like Raymond McGovern in the world. He has 30 years behind him in the CIA as an analyst. Here he also addresses the UN Security Council – with an insight and humanity that we really need to stop the destructive behavior of world leaders.
This article was first published on Susanne Heart’s blog.
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