top of page
  • Writer's pictureMike Parker

The origins of Cold War 2 and our unwillingness to negotiate for peace.

It is hard to believe in the 21st century with the interconnections of people around the world, and the widespread prevalence of democracy, that we are still allowing our leaders to take us blindly into wars that nobody wants.


Whilst we have something resembling democracy for domestic policy, foreign policy is the same old Game of Thrones, governed by executive powers and old world Military alliances that bypass any democratic decision to go to War. NATO is such an alliance, conceived after the Second World War to help secure peace in Western Europe and to deter Soviet expansionism. Negotiations secured a peaceful end to the Cold War on the principle that NATO would not expand eastward, and Russia would be included not excluded in any future security arrangements for Europe. We enjoyed a few years of peace and hope for the future, before a new generation of Western leaders went back on their word and expanded NATO into Eastern Europe to deter a threat of Russian expansionism which at that time didn't exist. In pursuing this change of policy, we have recreated the geopolitical situation that existed during the Cold War and created the very threat we wanted to deter.


In a moment of clarity, after the horrors of two World Wars, we understood the importance of dialogue and compromise to diffuse tension and prevent war. In the greatest achievement of humanity we created the United Nations for this purpose and the world embraced it. In recent decades we have betrayed the pursuit of peace in pursuit of our own foreign policy objectives, and when I say "our" I mean the objectives set by our leaders that the people had no say over. Founder members, including the UK, have wilfully misinterpreted or vetoed UN Security Council resolutions to pursue the course of action they want, regardless of the consequences for others. We've betrayed the spirit of the post war peace, bought at the cost of millions of lives.


The escalation of tensions with Russia over recent decades is due to our failure to pursue a peaceful resolution through the UN. All we had to do was negotiate an alternative security arrangement for Eastern Europe that doesn't have the potential to jeopardise Russia's future security, as they feel NATO does. Russia has always been nervous about the presence of NATO on their border, ever since the Cold War, and they have become increasingly paranoid about it since the second wave of NATO eastward expansion in 2004. In a world where we respect our neighbours, whether we agree with their assessment or not, we need to engage in dialogue and agree a solution that is acceptable to everyone in order to secure long term peace. Instead we forced the solution we want and jeopardised the peace. This is all documented, for those who are willing to look, and risk developing an objective opinion contrary to the majority.


Russia's invasion of Ukraine was not a spontaneous act of aggression as regularly claimed, it was entirely predictable and avoidable. Our Governments knew this would happen and chose not to negotiate a solution that would avoid it. Think about that for a moment in the context of the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine. We backed the Russian bear into a corner, knowing that at some point the bear would lash out. This is a miserable failure of foreign policy. The war in Ukraine is objective proof that the NATO model has failed to secure peace in Eastern Europe. On the contrary it has escalated tensions into a new Cold War with Russia, which with one mistake or false flag operation, could escalate into World War 3. Our focus now, must be to end the tragedy in Ukraine, before it escalates. To do that we need to temper our anger, cease the rhetoric, open dialogue, negotiate and reach a compromise that is acceptable to everyone. Exactly what we knew was required to secure peace in our fleeting moment of sanity in 1945.


Our Government's approach needs to change. We need to promote dialogue and improve understanding in order to solve this, but instead our Government, media and big tech are doing the opposite, by engaging in inflammatory rhetoric and creating a digital Iron Curtain. They've blocked Russian TV and YouTube channels, and they've severed the connections between British citizens and their family and friends in Russia by blocking Facebook. Whether wilfully, or through stupidity, they are creating the conditions for escalation to war, and limiting our freedom to prevent it.


In this article I will take a critical look at the history leading up to the invasion of Ukraine, and we will examine the Russian perspective, to balance the Western perspective you know well, so that we may form a balanced and objective understanding of the cause of the conflict and consequently have some hope of finding a solution. I feel the need to write this article because I can see that the freedom and objectivity of the press is under attack, because I know enough to see the direction of travel, and because I am a staunch defender of the traditional values our own Government is now betraying.


The Soviet Union and NATO

From its formation in 1922 until the Second World War, the Soviet Union was fairly static. However, they advanced westward into Europe slightly at the start of the War, before being pushed back dramatically by Hitler's Germany. After this, the Soviet Union and Britain signed an agreement in July 1941 to fight Germany together and not to negotiate except by mutual agreement. This changed the course of the War as it meant the Soviet Union would fight Germany on the Western front, whilst Britain, France, and America from December 1941 would fight Germany on the Eastern front.

Source: National WW2 Museum, New Orleans


We have an appreciation of the sacrifice made by Britain, the USA, and France fighting together on the Eastern front, with the loss of 1.5 million troops between us. Yet, we have no appreciation of the sacrifice made by the Soviet Union who fought hard and alone on the Western front, pushing Germany back all the way back from Moscow to Berlin at a cost of 11 million troops and 24 million people overall (Wikipedia). This unfathomable cost of taking Eastern Europe may explain why the Soviets were reluctant to give it back after the War, a development which became obvious in 1948 when the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, aided covertly by the Soviet Union, staged a coup in Czechoslovakia (NATO).


NATO was established soon afterwards in 1949, initially between Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the UK and US. In Western Europe. In 1952 NATO membership was expanded to include Greece and Turkey and again in 1955 to include West Germany. According to their website, NATO was formed for three purposes:

  1. Deterring Soviet expansionism.

  2. Forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent.

  3. Encouraging European political integration.

The NATO website gives the following descriptions about the organisations role.

"A POLITICAL AND MILITARY ALLIANCE - NATO’s purpose is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means... NATO promotes democratic values... NATO is committed to the peaceful resolution of disputes. If diplomatic efforts fail, it has the military power to undertake crisis-management operations. COLLECTIVE DEFENCE - NATO is committed to the principle that an attack against one or several of its members is considered as an attack against all. THE TRANSATLANTIC LINK - NATO is an alliance of countries from Europe and North America. It provides a unique link between these two continents, enabling them to consult and cooperate in the field of defence and security, and conduct multinational crisis-management operations together." "What is Nato?", NATO website.

NATO's role under international law is defined in the North Atlantic Treaty. The organisation is supposed to be complementary to the United Nations, encouraging its members to pursue peaceful resolutions to conflicts in Articles 1 and 7. The Article most frequently quoted is Article 5 which obliges fellow members of NATO to come to the collective defence of another member under attack.


Concerned about the "balance of power" after West Germany joined NATO in 1955, the Soviet Union responded with the Warsaw Pact between Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and the Soviet Union. The Iron Curtain between NATO and the Soviet Union was being drawn. Tensions escalated into the Cold War, at the height of which the map of Europe looked very different to it does today.


When NATO and the Soviet Union shared a border it led to the Cold War, a war which caused us all to spend vast amounts of money on weapons instead of improving the lives of our citizens, and left everyone living in fear of nuclear annihilation.


The end of the Cold War and a Partnership for Peace

It took 30 years of hostility before there was any hope of resolution between the two sides. In 1985 after three old Soviet leaders died in quick succession, a comparatively young and comparatively progressive Mikhail Gorbachev came to power. At the same time Margaret Thatcher was in Westminster and Ronald Reagan in Washington. Thatcher and Reagan are renowned for their special relationship, but you may not know that Thatcher and Gorbachev had a special relationship of sorts too, as he remarked in an article after her death. In some way this may have helped foster the close relationship between Reagan and Gorbachev that led to the end of the Cold War (BBC documentary).


As was the case in the Second World War, it took the synchronicity of leaders in America, Britain and the Soviet Union all being willing to set their differences aside and cooperate in order to achieve peace in Europe. The sort of leaders there is a desperate shortage of today. Can you imagine Joe Biden, Boris Johnson and Vladimir Putin doing the same? No, and thats a significant part of the problem.


Central to the discussions taking place over this period was the future security of the Soviet Union. Nuclear weapons were discussed, the Strategic Defence Initiative (Star Wars) was discussed, as was eastward expansion of NATO. Declassified archives reveal that there was much discussion between the Soviet Union and world leaders about the future expansion of NATO, during which the Soviet Union were led to believe that NATO would not expand eastwards, including by the US Secretary of State speaking on behalf of the US President.

"We fought alongside with you; together we brought peace to Europe. Regrettably, we then managed this peace poorly, which led to the Cold War... I very much want you to know: neither the president nor I intend to extract any unilateral advantages from the processes that are taking place... NATO is the mechanism for securing the U.S. presence in Europe. If NATO is liquidated, there will be no such mechanism in Europe. We understand that not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction." Baker to Gorbachev 9th Feb 1990 (NSarchive)

Discussions continued between the Clinton administration and Boris Yeltsin, who was enthusiastic about NATO's "Partnership for Peace" programme which was about dialogue and cooperation, not a military alliance, and which would be inclusive, not exclusive of Russia. It was a hopeful time for Europe. At the end of a century which had seen the continent torn apart by two World Wars with millions dead, there was a strong desire for peace. Literally everyone joined NATO's Partnership for Peace programme, even neutral Switzerland. The map below is what membership should look like today.


However, the US, under President Bill Clinton, could not resist the opportunity to expand its military influence. At the same time as conceiving the peace programme, they were planning how to exploit it by transforming it into what Clinton described as a "track that will lead to NATO membership" (Wikipedia). Yeltsin realised that the US were betraying the spirit of the negotiated peace and objected on several occasions, as further declassified archives show. The briefly celebrated Partnership for Peace has since been undermined, with most Eastern European countries having left to join the military alliance. The map below shows what the situation will look like if Ukraine and Georgia were to join NATO as planned, with new NATO members shown in dark blue.


The military independence of Eastern Europe was fundamental to securing the peace at the end of the Cold War, which was secured under the Partnership for Peace, and shattered when these countries joined NATO. Whilst it is true that many of these countries suffered under Soviet occupation and were understandably enthusiastic to distance themselves from Russia, this does not mean we should have let them join NATO at the expense of peace. There were, and still are other options, which I will come to later.


Expansionism

NATO was founded in 1949 and its original members joined in the period up to 1955. Aside from the accession of Spain in 1982, membership of NATO was static for 44 years! There was no prospect of eastward expansion until 1993 (NS archive), and it wasn't until 1998, following lobbying by US defence contractors that the US senate voted for the eastward expansion of NATO (Washington Post). Expansion began in 1999, in 5 waves:

  1. 1999 - Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland.

  2. 2004 - Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

  3. 2009 - Albania and Croatia.

  4. 2017 - Montenegro

  5. 2020 - North Macedonia.

The map below compares the expansion of NATO since 1949 with the expansion of the Russian Federation from 1991 to 2014. Russia have occupied the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia since 2008, and part of Donbass and all of Crimea in Ukraine since 2014. I have not shown the present invasion of Ukraine, because this is illustrating the situation leading up to the invasion.


At the same time the European Union has expanded into Eastern Europe and into its nordic neighbours. All of the countries that joined NATO in 2004 and 2009, also joined the EU. So the two organisations have been working together. An interesting difference between the two maps is that Norway and Finland who did join the EU, opted to respect their Russian neighbours by not joining NATO.


The map below shows the two in combination, including planned accessions. Future accessions to NATO include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine. Future accessions to the EU include Turkey, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It's not difficult to see why this makes Russia nervous.


There is also an argument that the instances of Russian expansion would never happened if it was not for NATO's expansion into Eastern Europe. There is a video lecture all about this by Prof. John Mearsheimer. Notably, Russia moved into Georgia in 2008 immediately after NATO announced that they had committed to making Ukraine and Georgia members.

"23. NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO... MAP (Membership Action Plan) is the next step for Ukraine and Georgia on their direct way to membership. Today we make clear that we support these countries’ applications for MAP. Therefore we will now begin a period of intensive engagement with both at a high political level to address the questions still outstanding pertaining to their MAP applications." Bucharest Summit Declaration, NATO, 3rd April 2008.

Of course there is an important distinction between Western and Russian expansionism, which is that Western expansion has been primarily through "soft power", encouraging and giving Countries a "free choice" to join the EU and/or NATO, whereas Russian expansion has involved separatists or troops.


Recreating the Cold War

Through all of this expansion our politicians are recreating the conditions that existed during the Cold War. When NATO and Russia shared a border last time, it led to the Cold War. Only a fool would do the same again and expect a different result!

This is a miserable situation for Europe, Russia, and especially for Ukraine. During the last Cold War the Iron Curtain split Germany into East and West. Now a new Iron Curtain is being drawn in Ukraine. Will we ever learn from history? Who actually wants this future?


Last time we endured 30 years of hostility, with both sides living in fear that the "mad man" on the other side would press the nuclear button. According to a BBC documentary it was Regan's discovery that Soviet newspapers were portraying him in exactly the same way that US & European newspapers were portraying Brezhnev, that shocked him into pursuing peace.


NATO's track record

The UK's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss recently defended NATO expansion and described the organisation as a "purely defensive alliance" during her visit to Moscow recently. This is an idealist view, which matches what NATO says on paper, but not what the organisation and its members do in practice. In the real world, NATO has been involved in several conflicts without coming to the defence of a NATO member, and its members regularly ignore their UN and NATO obligations to pursue peaceful resolutions, and instead members use their NATO connections to coordinate multilateral actions, many of which have been unnecessary or illegal under international law.


1. Bosnia 1992 - 1995

Religious/ethnic conflict in Yugoslavia led to the Bosnian War. NATO's first military action. Around 100 thousand people died during the war, including in acts of genocide.

UN: Established a peacekeeping force and authorised use of force in Resolution 836.

NATO: Assisted the UN to enforce a no fly zone and marine arms embargo until air strikes in 1994, which escalated in 1995. NATO's intervention was legal, but not in defence of an attack on a NATO member.


2. Kosovo 1998 - 1999

Muslim Albanians in Kosovo demanded independence from Serbia who fought to reestablish control in the Kosovo War. Around 10 thousand died in the war, with many war crimes being perpetrated.

UN: Demanded a ceasefire in resolution 1199, which failed. Use of force not authorised.

NATO: Took unilateral action against the Serbian Government, by funding and training the Kosovo Liberation Army (Wikipedia). NATO conducted an illegal bombing campaign against the Serbian Government (Wikipedia). Not in defence of a NATO member.


3. Afghanistan 2001 - 2021

The war in Afghanistan began covertly after the September 11th attacks and officially after the US refused a conditional offer from the Taliban to hand over Bin Laden (The Guardian). So 176,000 Afghans (Wikipedia) and 3,500 coalition troops (Wikipedia) died in a War that ended in failure, because the US would not negotiate.

UN: Use of force was not authorised by UN resolutions 1368 or 1373 but the US had the right to defend itself under the UN Charter.

NATO: The US began the war unilaterally before invoking NATO's article 5, compelling other NATO members to join them, whilst preventing them from fulfilling their obligations to pursue a peaceful resolution under NATO articles 1 and 7.


4. Iraq 2003 - 2011

The war in Iraq was started multilaterally by the US, UK and other NATO members, after the US made false accusations about Iraq harbouring and supporting al-Qaeda and that they had Weapons of Mass destruction. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was executed and up to a million Iraqis and 4,800 coalition troops died in an illegal war.

UN: The US had not been attacked by Iraq, and the UN had not authorised use of force, so the war was illegal (Wikipedia), even before we knew the accusations were false.

NATO: The US pressured other NATO members to join their Coalition of the Willing, although NATO as an organisation was not involved.


5. Abkhazia & South Ossetia, Georgia 2008 - Present

At the Bucharest Summit in 2008 NATO announced that Georgia would eventually join NATO, which led to the Russo-Georgian War. Abkhazia & South Ossetia had declared independence, Georgia tried to reestablish control and Russia moved in as peacekeepers.

UN: Observer role since 1993 under resolution 858 (Wikipedia). Supported a Commonwealth of International States (former Soviet countries) peacekeeping mission.

NATO: Offered Georgia membership before and after the conflict (NATO).


6. Syria 2011 - Present

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq created the Islamic State In Syria (ISIS). The conflict in Syria has been a mixture of attacks on ISIS and on the Syrian Government. To date the war has resulted in around half a million deaths (Wikipedia).

UN: Sanctioned an international effort to fight ISIS in resolution 2249. No resolution for use of force against the Syrian Government.

NATO: NATO members US, UK, France and Turkey supported regime change, and following alleged chemical weapons use in Douma in 2018, conducted illegal attacks on Government sites in Syria (Wikipedia), before chemical weapons inspectors arrived.


7. Libya 2011

The Libyan Civil War started during the Arab Spring, where Islamists and others, were supported by a Western coalition and NATO to overthrow Gaddafi, who following a NATO airstrike was dragged through the street, sodomised with a bayonet and shot (Wikipedia). Hillary Clinton's reaction was "We came, we saw, he died".

UN: Resolution 1973 demanded a cease fire, established a no fly zone and arms embargo. The broadest possible interpretation was made to justify regime change.

NATO: NATO was involved in enforcing the no fly zone, and air strikes including the bombing of Gaddafi's convoy. NATO members UK, France and the US led the intervention, which was not in defence of a NATO member.


8. Yemen 2014 - Present

The war in Yemen began when Islamist Houthis seized the capital and the Government tried to retake Western Yemen in coalition with Saudi Arabia and others. The Saudi's have been accused of war crimes (Guardian), for indiscriminate bombing and starvation tactics. About 230 thousand people have died (UN).

UN: Called for a political solution, ceasefire and end to human rights abuses in resolutions 2216 and 2565 (UN).

NATO: Members US, UK and France have provided weapons and support to the Saudi coalition, but NATO not involved as an organisation.


9. Donbas & Crimea, Ukraine 2014 - Present

Also at the Bucharest Summit in 2008 NATO announced that Ukraine would become a member of NATO. After western support for regime change led to a coup in 2014, Russia supported separatists in Donbass and annexed Crimea. In 2022 the situation escalated when Russia invaded Ukraine. Around 13 thousand people have died since 2014.

UN: Russia vetoed a resolution calling for them to end hostilities and remove their forces from Ukraine. Russia claimed the resolution ignored the plight of people in Donbass (UN).

NATO: Many NATO members have provided weapons and support to the Ukrainian government, but NATO is not involved as an organisation.


Summary

Out of all these conflicts in recent decades, only one has involved a NATO member invoking Article 5 of the NATO treaty. Twice NATO expansionism has led to conflicts, which otherwise would probably not have happened. Three times NATO has gone to War without any of its members being attacked. At least three times NATO members have engaged in actions which were clearly in violation of international law. Every time NATO has failed to convince its members to pursue a peaceful resolution, as they are obliged to do by the NATO Treaty.


America uses NATO to project power across the world

The history shows that NATO has given America (and others) the ability to project power across the World by influencing the foreign policy of Countries which become members. America arms them and influences how those arms are used. History shows this influence is not limited to Article 5 actions, or even to current NATO members. In Iraq, which was not an Article 5 action, America was able to build a coalition to undertake an illegal multilateral action based substantially on current and prospective NATO members:


The Coalition of the Willing in 2003

Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Georgia, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and Uzbekistan.


When Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed the nation, to announce his decision to go to war with Iraq, his reasoning was not because they had attacked us or even because there was an imminent threat that they would attack us, but because he feared based on "intelligence" that they might attack us, because they "hate our way of life, our freedom, our democracy". The intervention was clearly illegal, but we all went along with it because the US wanted it.


It's not only the US who uses NATO to project power. It was the UK and France who led the intervention in Libya. In recent decades several NATO members have used the organisation to build coalitions that amplify their power to achieve their foreign policy objectives around the world. Clearly this is not the stated purpose of NATO according to the treaty, but history shows that this is how the organisation has been used.


Western involvement in regime change

Since the UN charter made aggressive war illegal in 1945, as Peter Hitchens put it recently, rather than pursue a peaceful resolution through the UN, the US and others have resorted to orchestrating coups in countries where they wanted regime change. There is a long list of such interventions on Wikipedia.


Of the conflicts we summarised above, media reports claim that the CIA was involved in Yugoslavia in a coup to get rid of Milošević (CNN, Guardian), in Syria in an attempt to remove Assad (BBC), and in Libya to get rid of Gaddafi (Reuters). Other intelligence services may have been involved, but their involvement was not published by the press. The UK, US and France publicly supported regime change in Libya (Atlantic Council). In Ukraine the US supported regime change publicly when Senator John McCain walked amongst the crowds ahead of the coup which subsequently took place (Guardian).


Non Government Organisations (NGOs) are also involved, funding political campaigns to bias public opinion towards the outcome they want, which may be achieved democratically or violently. In the Middle East NGOs played a role in the Arab Spring (NY Times). In Georgia the US and IMF funded NGOs ahead of the Rose Revolution. The Open Society Institute, funded by George Soros, supported the Nationalist opposition leader and paid for activists to go to Serbia to learn from activists who toppled Milošević (Wikipedia).


The extent to which Western Governments and NGOs cooperate to achieve regime change around the world is unknown, but some alignment must originate from organisations like The World Economic Forum and the Bilderberg Group which bring Politicians and Billionaires together in settings where they convince one another that they know best.


The Russian perspective

So far in the article we have taken a critical look at the history leading up to the invasion of Ukraine, but not specifically from a Russian perspective. The best way to understand their perspective is to watch videos showing what the Russian President and Foreign Minister are saying directly, not edited clips from western media. You need to hear it "straight from the horses mouth". However, this is getting more and more difficult to do, as the UK has decided to follow the example of North Korea by blocking foreign media. Many YouTube channels showing these speeches translated into English, like RT, RuptlyTV, and Russia Insight are now "Not available in your Country".


I managed to find one video posted by an individual:

I'll type out the points made as the video may disappear at some point. I can't actually believe I'm saying that in the UK. I have investigated many of the claims made by Russia's President and Foreign Minister in this and other videos. Where I am reasonably confident that the statement is true, based on evidence and references linked above, it is highlighted green. If it seems to be true based on my broader reading, but without strong evidence above, it is highlighted orange. If it seems to be false or partly false its red. If its still black I've not really looked into it.

  1. NATO eastward expansion up to Russian border.

  2. Alternative security arrangements ignored in favour of NATO.

  3. Western view forced on everyone else regardless of the cost.

  4. Post WW2 norms (the UN) got in the way of the West.

  5. Postwar changes and balance of power needed to be accounted for.

  6. Negotiations should have respected interests of all states.

  7. Instead the West forced through decisions that suited themselves.

  8. Bloody intervention in Belgrade without UN approval.

  9. West ignored international law and interpreted circumstances as justification.

  10. Then Iraq, Libya, Syria.

  11. Illegal intervention in Libya after distorting UN resolution, ruining the country.

  12. Led to terrorism, humanitarian disaster, and exodus of people into Europe.

  13. Similar in Syria, where the West intervened without Syrian Gov or UN approval.

  14. Illegal invasion of Iraq on pretext of US info about WMDs.

  15. US Secretary of State held up vile of white powder as proof.

  16. Later turned out to be fake and Iraq had no chemical weapons.

  17. Resulted in tremendous loss of life, destruction and terrorism.

  18. Almost everywhere US brought law and order, left with open wounds and terrorism.

  19. Promised not to expand NATO even by an inch.

  20. They played us. Sure politics is a dirty business, but shouldn't be this dirty.

  21. Behaviour against principles of international relations, norms, ethics, morals.

  22. Where is justice and truth? Just lies and hypocrisy.

  23. Some US journalists etc say US created "empire of lies"in recent years. It's true.

  24. US is powerful, its satellites obediently and enthusiastically follow it.

  25. Western bloc formed by the US in its image. Same empire of lies.

  26. After fall of USSR, unprecedented openness of new modern Russia

  27. Ready to work with US & West, disarmament.

  28. They tried to finish us off and destroy us.

  29. In 90s & 00s, supported separatists & mercenaries, terrorism in Caucusus.

  30. Tried to destroy our values with false values they imposed on their own countries.

  31. Dec 21 attempt agreement on principles of Euro security and NATO non expansion.

  32. US ignored Russia on matter critical to us. Pursue their interests & neglect ours.

  33. What now? USSR sought to avoid conflict in WW2 until 1941 and suffered terribly.

  34. Unprepared for Nazi invasion, but eventually beat them at great cost.

  35. Appeasement was as mistake. We will not make the same mistake again.

  36. Those who aspire to global dominance declared Russia their enemy.

  37. Despite considerable capabilities and economic threats we are realistic.

  38. Russia is powerful nuclear state with cutting edge weapons.

  39. An aggressor will face defeat & ominous consequences if they attack us.

  40. Leaders change, but military presence on our border will remain forever.

  41. A mounting and unacceptable threat to Russia.

  42. With NATO eastward expansion situation getting worse each year.

  43. NATO saying will accelerate expansion up to our borders.

  44. Russia cannot passively observe these developments. Would be irresponsible.

  45. Expansion into Ukraine is unacceptable to us.

  46. NATO used as a tool for US foreign policy.

  47. Territories adjacent to Russia, our historic land, becoming hostile to us.

  48. Being controlled from outside, trying to attract NATO to get cutting edge weapons.

  49. US & allies want to contain Russia for obvious geopolitical dividends.

  50. For us is a matter of life & death, and our future as a nation. No exaggeration.

  51. A threat to our interests, existence and sovereignty.

  52. Is the red line, as we said many times, and they've crossed it.

  53. In Donbass, after coup of 2014 new Government abandoned peaceful settlement.

  54. For 8 years we pursued a peaceful resolution, in vain.

  55. You cannot look without compassion at whats happening. It's impossible to tolerate.

  56. Had to stop genocide of people living there who pinned their hopes on Russia.

  57. That is the motive for our decision to recognise independence of Donbass republics.

  58. Focused on their goals, NATO countries are supporting far right & neo-Nazis.

  59. They will never forgive people of Crimea for choosing to reunite with Russia.

  60. They will bring war to Crimea as in Donbass, killing innocents as they did in WW2.

  61. They have also claimed several regions in Russia.

  62. The showdown between these forces and Russia cannot be avoided.

  63. They aspire to acquire nuclear weapons. We will not allow this.

  64. Russia accepted the new reality after dissolution of USSR.

  65. We have respected sovereignty of former Soviet state. E.g. helping Kazakhstan.

  66. But Russia can't feel safe and develop with a permanent threat from Ukraine.

  67. In 2000-05 we fought terrorist in Caucusus. In 2014 supported Crimea & Sevastopol.

  68. In 2015 prevented terrorists from Syria penetrating Russia. We defended ourselves.

  69. Same today. They left us no other option to defend Russia and our people.

  70. We must take immediate action. Donbass has asked Russia for help.

  71. In accordance with UN article 51 and treaties of friendship & mutual assistance.

  72. I authorised an operation to protect people who been attacked by Kiev regime.

  73. We will demilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine and bring war criminals to trial.

  74. It's not our plan to occupy Ukraine, or impose anything by force.

  75. West saying no longer need to comply with docs agreeing outcomes of WW2.

  76. The outcomes of WW2 and our peoples sacrifice are sacred.

  77. This doesn't contradict the human rights and freedoms that emerged post war.

  78. This doesn't mean nations can't enjoy self determination. Article 1 UN.

  79. People in Ukraine weren't asked what they want when USSR formed or after WW2.

  80. Freedom guides our policy, our freedom to choose the future for our children.

  81. Ukrainians must be able to make a free choice.

  82. To people of Ukraine. In 2014 Russia was obliged to protect people of Crimea.

  83. Protect from people you call "nats".

  84. They chose to be with their historic homeland and we supported their choice.

  85. Current events have nothing to do with infringing interests of Ukrainians.

  86. But defending Russia from those who have taken Ukraine hostage.

  87. We are defending ourselves against a worse peril than what is happening now.

  88. Work with us to turn this tragic page ASAP.

  89. Move forward without outside interference, but develop relations independently.

  90. Let's overcome problems and strengthen our relationship despite state borders.

  91. I believe this is our common future.

  92. To Ukrainian military. Your fathers didn't fight the Nazis for neo-Nazis to seize Ukraine.

  93. You swore allegiance to the people, not the junta, plundering, and humiliating them.

  94. Refuse their criminal orders. Lay down arms and go home.

  95. Those who do will be allowed to leave and return to their families.

  96. The responsibility for bloodshed lies with the Ukrainian regime.

  97. To those tempted to interfere from outside. Whoever stands in our way.

  98. Whatever threats to our country and people.

  99. Russia will respond with consequences you've never seen in your history.

  100. However events unfold, we are ready. The decisions have been taken.

  101. I hope my words will be heard.

  102. Citizens of Russia. Our values & traditions underpin the wellbeing of our states.

  103. Depends on ability to adapt and readiness to consolidate forces and move forward.

  104. We need to be strong. The "empire of lies" proceeds with rough direct force.

  105. This is where our saying all brawn and no brains applies.

  106. Having justice and truth on our side makes us strong.

  107. Our strength and readiness to fight are bedrock of independence & sovereignty.

  108. Providing a future for your home, family and motherland.

  109. Compatriots. I am certain you will do your duties with professionalism & courage.

  110. Government institutions will work to provide stability of economic and social systems.

  111. Same for corporate executives and business community.

  112. I hope Parliamentary parties and civil society take a consolidated patriotic position.

  113. The future of Russia is in the hands of its multi-ethnic people, as throughout history.

  114. My decisions will be executed, we will achieve our goals and secure our motherland.

  115. I believe in your support and the force rooted in love for our fatherland.

A lot of statements are made in this 28 minute speech. I have tried to condense them by paraphrasing into this list. I've looked into the ones most relevant to the history leading up to the tensions, but I can't look at everything, or this article would turn into a book. What I can say is that everything I have looked into has turned out to be true. This seems to be at odds with statements made by Government officials, like Foreign Secretary Liz Truss who tweeted "Russia is waging a disinformation campaign intended to destabilise and justify an invasion of its sovereign neighbour Ukraine" (Twitter).


I cannot say there is no disinformation in the speech, because I haven't investigated every statement that was made. But here they are for you to investigate yourself, and please let me know in the comments what you find. One statement that did jump out at me as being false, was that the responsibility for bloodshed is with the Ukrainian regime. Russia invaded Ukraine, who are entitled to defend themselves under international law. If Russia had stayed in Donbass, they had an argument based on the Donbass republics declaring independence to say that they were coming to the defence of their new allies. Of course this would be disputed based on the legitimacy of their independence declarations, but at least they had an argument based on protecting civilians from a conflict which has killed thousands of people over the past 8 years, a conflict that we have pretty much ignored. Invading Western Ukraine was an indisputable violation of sovereignty, so Russia are responsible for any bloodshed there. What is true is that providing small arms to civilians to fight a superior military power with tanks and high tech weaponry will increase bloodshed, compared to an unarmed population that didn't resist. Ukraine's has the right to fight back, even if negotiations are the best option to minimise casualties and bring stability to the country.


I sensed an element of "bunker mentality" in Putin's speech. It is clear Putin feels Russia has been isolated from the West, and that we are ignoring their security concerns. This is understandable looking at the history from discussions during peacemaking at the end of the Cold War with Gorbachev and Yeltsin, through NATO expansion and numerous Russian objections to this, most recently in December 2021 (The Guardian). The lack of constructive dialogue with Western leaders, has left the Russian President repeating the same things in speech after speech to the Russian people and institutions. This is his bunker, and every time he gives a speech he becomes a little more resentful that nobody in the West cares about Russia's security interests.


Putin has been objecting to the modern Western model for global security and our disregard for Russia's security interests since at least 2007. In an infamous speech in Munich, Putin announced to the World that Russia would not accept the US's model of unipolar global security, through which they are dominating the World, but instead wanted us to return to a democratic model centred on the UN, which gives every nation a say. His public rejection of America's new, post UN world order, presumably did not go down well with retired US Navy Captain and Senator John McCain who was sitting in the front row. It was now obvious that Putin was not going to play ball with America's now declassified timeline for NATO expansion, the final stage of which included the "coopting of Russian power" by Russia joining NATO (NSarchive). It was around this time that Americans started to view the Russian Federation as their enemy (NSR).


It is evident that Russia are genuinely worried about the eastward expansion of NATO, and the threat they believe this poses to their security. When you look at NATO and its members track record of military interventions, the use of NATO by its members to project power around the world, and western sponsoring of regime change, it makes Russia and Vladimir Putin personally nervous. It has been reported that Putin was appalled by the fate of Gaddafi, after watching a video of Gaddafi’s savage death showing him being sodomised with a bayonet (Wikipedia). Perhaps he's concerned he might share a similar fate at the hands of a mob empowered by foreign intelligence services.


What Putin is arguing for in the 2007 video is the return to the world order created after the second world war, when the whole world had a genuine and strong desire to never repeat the wars which brought untold sorrow to mankind. He's arguing for the United Nations, which we established, but has since become an "inconvenience" that gets in the way of founder members pursuing their foreign policy agenda. It was not only Putin who had reservations about America becoming the dominant power responsible for world security. Most rational people were questioning the system in the thick of the Iraq war, memorably the creators of South Park in 2004 with the satirical film Team America: World Police.


We've had at least 15 years for Western leaders to engage in sensible dialogue with Putin, and Russia in general, about pursing more democratic security arrangements for the World and particularly for Eastern Europe that places greater emphasis on the United Nations. Regrettably we failed to do that, pursued our preferred model of NATO enlargement and the relationship with Russia deteriorated into conflict in Eastern Europe.


Options for peace in Eastern Europe.

That the relationship between the West and Russia has gone from one of cooperation and great optimism in the 1990s, to an invasion which marks the start of a new Cold War and has the potential to cause World War 3, is all the evidence you need that the current strategy for peace in Europe is not working. In fact there are several geopolitical options which may help to bring about peace in Europe, some of which are better than others, and I've ordered them below according to my reasoning from the worst to the best option.


1. EU & NATO membership - The Worst Option.

This is the current model we are pursuing in Europe, where Ukraine and Georgia become part of the EU and NATO, and Belarus are on the naughty step for not playing ball. Whilst this model may help to prevent internal conflicts in Eastern Europe, it will lead to external conflicts with our Russian neighbours. Our leaders are recreating the geopolitical situation which led to the Cold War. Predictably the pursuit of this model has created tension with Russia, led to wars in Georgia and Ukraine and is creating of a new Iron Curtain. To make the best of this failing model, conflict zones and unaligned states could each have referenda supervised jointly by the EU and Russia to decide whether they want to be part of Russia, the EU & NATO, or be independent.

If Russia were to have a complete change of heart and accept this model, then all of these Eastern European nations with varying degrees of democracy and stability, will gradually become armed with high tech weaponry having the potential to cause catastrophic damage to their neighbours, including Russia. An uprising by extreme factions, or simply a change of leadership, could lead to tension and heavily armed conflicts on their doorstep or with them. In principle NATO's collective defence Article 5 should prevent one member attacking another, but we've never actually seen NATO bomb one of its own members. Obviously collective security doesn't apply to Russia, Belarus, Moldova and anyone else not part of NATO, who become comparatively easy targets, especially if they fight back, are accused of starting the conflict and are subjected to the wrath of NATO.


2. Russia joins NATO - Global conflict.

It may surprise you to learn that the subject of Russia joining NATO has been discussed. Declassified documents from 1993 show (page 6) that the US had considered the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia all joining NATO. Putin even suggested in 2001 that it would be better for Russia to join the alliance than to remain outside of it (The Atlantic). This was before NATOs 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th waves of expansion up to the Russian border, when the relationship was a lot warmer. In this future Finland and Sweden would likely also join NATO. In principle, if NATO is correct about it being the cause of peace in Europe, then this would extend the peace to include Russia, as they would no longer need to fear an attack from NATO members, since the other NATO members would be obliged to come to their defence under Article 5 of the treaty.

However there is a considerable downside. In practice NATO has been used by the US to effectively conscript NATO members into conflicts started by the US, including the unnecessary war in Afghanistan and the illegal war in Iraq. An enlarged NATO spanning the entire northern hemisphere would almost certainly be used to project power over and dominate the Middle East and China, leading to conflicts there. With this in mind, the aforementioned declassified document contains the revealing and ominous statement that "the challenge for NATO over the next generation (is) containing and coopting Russian power". America's ambition for NATO seems to be to use it to control the northern hemisphere and project power across the rest of the World, which is a little bit worrying when the average American couldn't tell you where most other countries are.


3. EU membership - Most feasible.

A better option for the Eastern European countries, if they wish to become more integrated with "the West", would be for them to be EU members, but not NATO members, following the example of Finland and Sweden. Conflict zones and unaligned states could each have a referendum supervised jointly by the EU and Russia to decide whether they want to be part of Russia, the EU, or be independent. Belarus may be more inclined to join the EU without NATO membership. Poland could be a NATO member or not as they are not directly on the border, however in pursuit of peace it would probably be better if they left NATO. The EU would support this model as it fits their vision to expand into Turkey and gives them access to oil and gas from the Caspian Sea, making them less dependent on Russia for energy. Russia would prefer this to the EU & NATO model.

A problem with this model longer term is that the process of ever closer union in the EU would leave these countries not just with less control over internal policy, but critically over their foreign policy. This would likely lead to decisions being made far away in Brussels which increase tension between their countries and Russia.


They still need a security arrangement. As members of the EU, their economic growth will be restricted by EU policies, so their capacity to organise their own security as individual countries would be limited. It would be more viable if they organised a security arrangement for the group of EU only countries. Having a security arrangement led by countries sharing a border with Russia, will make them far less likely to engage in conflict with them, compared to a security arrangement led by a country on the other side of the World, who can start conflicts without ever suffering the consequences of having them on their soil.


4. Independent blocs - The best option

The final, and in my opinion best option, is for the countries in the Eastern European region, and in the Anatolian region (Turkey, Georgia etc), to form trade blocs or even political unions. Again the conflict zones and unaligned countries could choose their allegiance or remain independent in referenda, but they would likely make different choices in this scenario. For instance Belarus, who would never join NATO, and probably not the EU, might be more willing to participate in a regional bloc that is not forced to choose its alignment either with Russia or with the EU & NATO. This may also be a better option for Poland, who like the UK before them, are not entirely happy with the consequences of their membership of the EU (BBC). There is also a historical precedent in the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth which flourished in Eastern Europe hundreds of years ago. The Anatolian block is always going to have different views and priorities than the EU because it is part of Asia, not Europe, and it is in their interests to align themselves to have friendly relationships with Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The formation of these trade blocs/unions would considerably improve their economic viability and prospects of retaining their long term independence, which is required in order to achieve lasting peace in the region. A simple way to evaluate this is to add up the number of major land borders and accessible seas to produce a score that vaguely represents the regions economic opportunity.


EU: Land borders 3, with East European block, Anatolian bloc & Russian Federation. Accessible seas 4, the Atlantic, Mediterranean, Baltic, and Black seas. Total score 7.


East European bloc: Land borders 2, with the EU & Russian Federation. Accessible seas 2, the Baltic and Black seas. Total score 4.


Anatolian bloc: Land borders 3, with the EU, Russian Federation & Middle East. Accessible seas 3, the Mediterranean, Black and Caspian seas. Total score 6.


The East European bloc achieves a score of 4, compared to Ukraine on its own which scores 3, and Belarus on its own which only scores 2. The Anatolian bloc would have even better economic opportunities with a score of 6. Of the three, the EU comes out on top with a score of 7, and Russia's score would be even higher. The point is that all of these become viable economic areas, which can trade and cooperate. Larger blocs are not necessarily better, as whilst they have better economic opportunities, they have poorer democracy.


Critically for peace, these blocs would be free to adjust their outlook (laws, culture, values) in order to maintain good relations with their neighbours. Large differences between distant neighbours can be diffused by adding extra neighbours in the middle. For instance the differences between the US and Russia, and the Middle East. Under the present model the connections are:

US > NATO EU > Russian Federation.

US > NATO Turkey > Middle East.


Under the trade bloc/union model described above, there would be two blocs between the US and Russia, and between the US and Middle East:

US > NATO EU > East European bloc > Russian Federation.

US > NATO EU > Anatolian bloc > Middle East.


With two blocs between the US and Russia, and between the US and Middle East, the differences between neighbouring blocs would be smaller. This would allow Eastern Europe and Turkey to settle more comfortably into their traditional and distinct personalities which have evolved where East meets West. A system that allows for regional variations in culture is far more likely to secure lasting peace, not only with Russia, but with China and the Middle East too. Further, it will be in the interest of each bloc to resolve its own conflicts to secure economic prosperity.


Discussion

Military alliances are an old world idea. One king attacks another, and the other responds by taking his country and allies into war. A good king will spare his people war, but for the gravest of attacks. A bad king will do it for an insult. Like the Trojan war, when emasculated king Menelaus took Greece to war because Paris, son of Troy ran off with his wife. Did anyone ask his people, or even his wife what they thought about this?


In the modern world, it is both irrational and ironic that countries who support democracy and freedom, vehemently defend a military alliance which prevents each nation's citizens from making the democratic decision whether they should send their sons, and daughters these days, to die for someone else's cause, or whether they should stay out of it. As I recall, America stayed out of it until late in the first and second world wars. Yet these days because of NATO we followed them blindly into Afghanistan and Iraq, instead of being the voice of reason to calm our friend's rage and guide them towards a diplomatic solution that wouldn't lead to a million deaths and decades of Islamist terrorism around the World.


NATO claims to have brought peace to Europe, the EU claims the same. But I think the real bringer of peace in Europe has been democracy. Peace has been achieve by getting rid of the stupid decisions of kings and dictators, and replacing them with collective decisions made by people with collectively broader experience and connections around the world. People don't want to blow up countries they have family or friends in and visit on holiday.


In my view the underlying cause of increased tensions resulting in conflict on the European continent, despite the UN and NATO, is because democracy is failing, and our leaders are once again no longer adequately restrained by the wishes of their citizens. A measure of this is the decline of independents in Parliaments around the world. In the EU Parliament only 42 of 705 members (6%) are independent. The UK Parliament only has 7 of 650 members (1%) who are independent in the House of Commons, and thats only because they've left or been thrown out of their Parties. The US Congress has zero independents (0%) in the House of Representatives. The Russian Federal Assembly only has 1of 450 members (0.2%) who are independent in the State Duma. In this respect we're all as bad as one another! It is only the independents who truly represent their constituents, as they have no other master. It is the rise of Party Politics in the 20th century that has pushed independents out, suppressed real democratic debate and made the Governments of all our countries less representative of their people, and all too willing to go to war to show us all how strong they are. We've given Boris too much power in Britain, Joe too much power in America, and Vlad too much power in Russia, and their inability to sit down together and have a grown up conversation is dragging the rest of us into wars we don't want. We're back to being led by foolish kings.


If we really want peace, then we need to put more democracy back into the systems intended to provide it. That means reducing the hold of Party Politics over our respective Parliaments and Governments by electing considerably more independents and kicking Parties out of the upper chamber where they hinder the independent objective scrutiny of would be legislation. Something that is important when our Government does stupid things like trying to make protesting illegal (The Guardian). It means making acts of war require a vote in Parliament, in all but a few cases. It means fulfilling our UN obligations to pursue peaceful resolutions to conflicts, not ignoring these noble commitments, which we made establishing the UN in memory of the millions we lost in the 20th century. I am reminded of that wonderful moment in the House of Commons when the late Tony Benn reminded everyone of purpose of the Charter.

"We the peoples of the United Nations determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to mankind" UN Charter, June 1945.

But the UN needs to be more democratic. We shouldn't be sending any fool to represent us, we should be sending our best, chosen democratically in Parliament from amongst our elected representatives. Whilst our leaders may not like it, we must get rid of the veto which to date has given the UK, US, Russia, China and France a free pass to do whatever we like, making it easier for us to make bad decisions and undertake illegal unilateral or multilateral actions, where we might otherwise have found an alternative if motivated to do so. I'm thinking of our invasion of Iraq, and of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. If Russia knew that the UN Security Council would pass a resolution demanding they withdraw from Ukraine, would they have ever invaded to start with? Probably not. The whole purpose of Charter is to make us sit down together, talk, think, and come up with a solution together. The veto allows us to arbitrarily prevent such resolutions, so as founder members we can do whatever we like without being held accountable by the rest of the world, bypassing the very mechanism we came up with "to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war". The veto must go.


Finally it means rethinking the NATO military alliance. Like nuclear weapons, NATO offers "assured destruction" to anyone who would dare attack its members. In a world of functional democracies we shouldn't need such insane arrangements, but thats not the world we live in. So there is still a role for NATO, but the organisation must do better at encouraging its members to abide by Articles 1 and 7 of the treaty, and make a genuine and sustained effort to pursue peaceful resolutions through the UN, before resorting to conflict, and that final decision must be given to the citizens of members. How can we possibly set an example to the world about the benefits of democracy when our most important decisions on foreign policy are made undemocratically? There is no excuse for this when NATO's membership requirements, resulting from their 1995 enlargement study, require that new members have a functional democratic political system (NATO).


The world does not need to be at war, the democratic world especially. We have the mechanisms in place to prevent it, although they warrant improvement as I've said. For lasting peace we have to accept that there will always be cultural variations across the World. We will never succeed at forcing everyone to have the same system of values, the same levels of freedom, and the same democratic systems. Who says ours is the perfect system anyway? Don't get me wrong, I am an avid believer in our traditional values and democracy, but our faithless secular society is suffering from moral decline and we are captives of an unstable economic system that has enslaved the next generation with debt and reduced social mobility. Just as markets improve with business competition, there is an opportunity culture and values to improve with cultural competition.


If we can organise ourselves into small functional democracies, who cooperate in trade blocs as I have described, which improve economic prospects for members of the bloc without sacrificing the democratic governance of each country, then we can give all our citizens what America summed up so beautifully as the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" in their Declaration of Independence, which incidentally the British Government dismissed at the time as a trivial document issued by disgruntled colonists (US Gov); recalling our earlier discussion about recognising declarations of independence. With dozens of such trade blocs around the world, we can diffuse the vast differences in culture and values represented across the world, through the small compromises that each bloc makes to trade and get along with its immediate neighbours. This seems to me like a much better prospect for a peaceful future than the model we are pursuing currently.


Conclusion

The war in Ukraine is a truly miserable development for Europe and Russia, but most especially for Ukraine. Nothing can excuse Russia's invasion of Ukraine, certainly of the Western part, where they are unquestionably responsible for the bloodshed and tragedy. Likewise nothing can excuse the failure of Western leaders and Governments to honour our post war commitment to pursue a peaceful resolution to prevent conflict by listening to our neighbour's concerns and cooperating to come up with a solution that works for everyone. Since the end of the war, we have gradually lost sight of the noble pursuit of peaceful international relations, in favour or pursuing our own foreign policy interests, regardless of the cost to others. We are collectively responsible for this failure. The creation of the United Nations is the most noble achievement of humanity, paid for with millions of lives, and we have foolishly undermined it. We need to fix the problems that have made it ineffective, and get back to resolving international conflicts fairly and democratically. We need to rethink NATO and limit its territory to Western Europe, and come up with alternative geopolitical structures for Eastern Europe and the Anatolian region, which provide economic prosperity and viable security arrangements independent of NATO. This is all possible if we have the will to pursue it. Do we have to wait for millions to die again in order to do this, or can we have the wisdom to do it before that happens?

218 views

Comments


GETTING TO THE ROOT OF THE MATTER

bottom of page