Putin poses the right question

From Gorbachev’s “Common House Europe” to Russia as an enemy

by Gotthard Frick

It is true that Russia has recently been speaking in unequivocal terms. For example, it is heavily criticized for its march on the border with Ukraine and the incorporation of Crimea. However, Russia took over Crimea without bombing or shooting. There were no civilian deaths and no cities destroyed.
  We are not told why Russia is performing like this today. Even in the years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev dreamed of a “Common House Europe”. But the West has rejected, with hurtful arrogance, the wish expressed by all Russian leaders, including Putin, to become part of Europe as an equal partner. In the “Breakfast with Frost BBC” interview on 3 March 2000, Putin said that one could even talk about “deeper integration into NATO, but only if Russia is perceived as an equal partner”.
  The Chinese media outraged the incorporation of Crimea by Russia in 2014 and rightly denounced the West’s hypocrisy. Without the approval of the UN Security Council, i. e., in violation of international law, the US/NATO waged a war against Serbia in 1999 with more than 28,000 rockets, bombs and uranium shells, with 2,500 dead, infrastructure and cities destroyed, among others to split off Kosovo. To this day, Western and also Swiss troops are stationed in Kosovo, which has since been “independent”. Of course, there were no exclusions or sanctions against the 19 NATO members involved. But the West has ostracised Russia for the incorporation of Crimea, which was carried out with practically no deaths or destruction, and imposed sanctions and other punitive measures. This double standard has been sharply criticised by the Chinese press.
  In a world in which everything should be done to build up permanent, non-violent cooperation among all powers and thus the constant struggle of the powers for the dominant supremacy, which has been seen as normal for thousands of years, and the resulting wars through equal partnership and peaceful cooperation. Instead, the West continues the traditional global power game. Unlike in the past, today, given the new weapons available, a major war would likely lead to the end of the modern world. The Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov recently warned against a return to “a nightmare of a military confrontation”. (Basler Zeitung of 3 December 2021, “The conflict over Ukraine”)
  Instead of dissolving NATO, which was founded in 1949 after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the associated – according to the Federal Council (SIPOL 2016) –“unprecedented decline” of the Russian armed forces, it was used to exploit three of its former states between 1999 and 2009, taking advantage of Russia’s weakness at the time to accept six former members of the Warsaw Pact and four former members of Yugoslavia into the Western alliance, to establish militarily closer and closer to Russia’s borders and to repeatedly hurt it in its place. In 2020, North Macedonia was accepted from the West. All unacceptable provocations of Russia.
  In the 3 December edition of the “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” (“Putin demands security guarantees”) the reader learns that Putin asked for binding security guarantees from NATO and wanted confirmation that the Western military advance eastwards towards the Russian border had now been completed and that his security interests along the border from the West would be safeguarded. The highest Russian leaders have pointed out earlier that they cannot accept the build-up of this Western threat on the border and, in the absence of an amicable arrangement, could take military action against it. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg immediately rejected Putin’s request of 1 December 2021. NATO decides who to accept. As I said above, the West is continuing the traditional power game at full speed. It is directed not only against Russia, but also against China, which is rapidly pushing its way to the top in all important areas.
  But without the development of a lasting, peaceful, partnership-based way of dealing with the great powers, there is now a likelihood of a major war, which in view of the most modern new weapons (space, cyber, chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, missiles of all types and ranges, drones) could lead to the end of the modern world. Of course, China and Russia would also have to be prepared to make concessions when building such a new way of dealing with the great powers. Finding a solution would not be easy and could take years but should be tried.
  Ukraine declared itself independent on 24 August, 1991. The people agreed in December of the same year. In the above-mentioned NZZ article, as usual, the aggressive policy of the West, which led to today’s behaviour in Russia, is not mentioned. The “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” writes literally, euphemistically:
  “In 2014 the Kremlin suffered a defeat in the revolution on the Maidan in Kiev and saw Ukraine taken over by the US and NATO.”
  The newspaper makes no mention of how the West, led by the USA, built up the opposition there with five billion US dollars after the independence of Ukraine and orchestrated the coup in 2013 with senior politicians and members of the US government on the ground. At the Russia-NATO meeting in April 2008, NATO announced that it would occasionally accept Ukraine and Georgia. Putin replied that if that happened, Eastern Ukraine and Crimea would split off.
  The Deputy US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who was responsible for Ukraine, reported extensively on her visits to Ukraine at the time of the uprising, as did other Western participants. In her speech in Geneva on 13 December 2013 to the US Mission to International Organisations, she informed about the five billion dollars with which the US had built and financed 69 organisations and movements of the opposition across Ukraine. She talked about her trips to Kiev before and during the coup (for example from 5 December 2013), who she met there and what she had done. But also other US corporations, for example the NED (National Endowment for Democracy), one of the US government-financed parity foundations of US parliamentarians, which interferes, finances and supports in other countries around the world to “promote democracy” building the opposition in Ukraine. Billionaire Soros also confirmed after the coup that his foundation had “played a significant role in the events.” (Incidentally, it was then that the US fleet began to convert the port of Ochakov in Ukraine for its warships.) In the years immediately before that, the then Vice President of the USA, John Biden, had been to Ukraine six times to consult with politicians. His son Hunter Biden was accepted into the board of directors of the local gas company Burisma Holdings for a monthly salary of USD 50,000.
  Before the coup, the government of Ukraine wanted to conclude an association agreement with the EU, but at the same time also wanted to join the customs union created by Russia. Russia was still its main national trading partner. She had already signed a preliminary contract for this. But she hadn’t counted on the EU. On 25 February 2013, José Manuel Barroso, EU Commission President, issued an ultimatum to her: she had to choose the EU or Russia. Whereupon Ukraine decided to postpone the signing of the Association Agreement with the EU for the time being (which led to the start of the uprising).
  At the end of 2013, at the time of the coup, the powerful US Senator John McCain, chairman of the US Armed Forces Committee, was also in Kiev. He also met the opposition, including the leaders of the far-right SVOBODA. On 15 December 2013, he gave a speech to the opposition on the Maidan in Kiev. He assured her: “America is on your side.” An outrage in a sovereign state! Besides him, Victoria Nuland, the EU’s foreign affairs representative, Catherine Ashton, and other European parliamentarians and politicians were repeatedly in Kiev at the time to support the coup.
  Nuland agreed in a telephone conversation with the US ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, which was bugged and published, that Arseniy Yatsenyuk would have to become the new Prime Minister of Ukraine. On 27 February 2014, he did so, bypassing the constitutional procedure. Ukraine, which was so closely connected with Russia for so long, was to be brought to the Western camp. It was only on the same day that the coup was virtually over that Russian troops crossed the border with Crimea. Putin prevented Sevastopol, the important port of the Russian fleet, from coming under US control.
  We cannot understand Russia’s behaviour without this (and other) historical background.  •


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