The United States and allied nations sought to isolate Russia on Monday at an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting over the Ukraine crisis, calling Moscow’s recognition of two separatist regions and the deployment of Russian troops to them a blunt defiance of international law that risks war.
However, for the past eight years, the U.S. had been provoking Russia by a) backing a coup in Ukraine that replaced a pro-Russian leader with pro-western ones who invaded Eastern Ukraine after its people voted to separate; b) imposing harsh sanctions on Russia; c) refusing to recognize Russia’s demand that NATO expansion be halted; and d) supporting the opposition to Russian leader Vladimir Putin who remains very popular among the Russian people.
The people of Eastern Ukraine welcome Russian intervention to protect them from the depradations of the Ukrainian army and its neo-Nazi militias which have committed wide-scale war crimes since the war in Eastern UKraine first broke out in 2014.
Putin on Monday referred to Ukraine as a “colony with a puppet government” of the U.S. that had been installed in the 2014 Maidan coup. He also said that Russia had captured one Ukrainian soldiers and killed five others who had crossed into Russian territory, though Kyiv dismissed the report as false.
Organization For Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) maps show that shellings in the last few days that violate ceasefire arrangements have been carried out mostly by the Ukrainian government, meaning that they are the ones again provoking Russia, even though the U.S. media paints Russia as the aggressor.
An unstated, hidden motive for the war is the sinking economy of the U.S. and elite apprehension over the Russian-Chinese alliance which threatens to end the era of American unipolar polar power–and which the U.S. will try and break up at whatever the human cost.
On Sunday, February 20, the Washington Post published a letter from the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Geneva Office, Bastsheba Nell Crocker, stating “we have credible information that indicates Russian forces are creating lists of identified Ukrainians to be killed or sent to camps following a military occupation.” The letter added “We also have credible information that Russian forces will likely use lethal measures to disperse peaceful protests or otherwise counter peaceful exercises of perceived resistance from civilian populations.”
No evidence or details about the “credible information” was provided. The Post said the Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
NATO “More United Than Ever”
U.S. leaders claim NATO is “more united than ever,” but both French President Macron and German Chancellor Scholz have recently intensified their efforts for peace. They oppose rushing to impose sanctions on Russia, and have refused to send weapons to Ukraine.
The German Chancellor said “everyone must step back a bit here and make it clear to themselves that we just can’t have a possible military conflict over a question that is not on the agenda.” Scholz insists expanding NATO to include Ukraine is off the agenda.
Regarding Biden’s “significant intelligence capability,” Czech President Milos Zeman on February 16 called it “another fiasco for U.S. intelligence agencies.” He said “this is their third fiasco. The first was the war in Iraq, where no weapons of mass destruction were found. Afghanistan was the second one, as [they] claimed that the Taliban would never take Kabul. And now this is the third one.” The Czech Republic is a member of NATO.
The Czech president added “there will be no war because Russians aren’t insane to launch an operation that will cause them more damage than benefits.” However, if they are provoked, Russia will be forced to respond.
Canadian Professor Paul Robinson highlighted President Putin’s recent joint statement with Chinese president Xi Jinping, which includes a call “to protect the United Nations-driven international architecture and the international law-based world order.” Robinson said both Russia and China “seek genuine multipolarity, with the United Nations and its Security Council playing a central and coordinating role.”
He emphasized that a new global security architecture is “the primary element of Russia’s recent diplomatic offensive… Ukraine is not its primary concern… Russian commentators have been somewhat dismissive of Western claims that the country is poised to invade Ukraine, arguing that the West is entirely missing the point.”
The Role of Natural Gas
Europe is far less eager to go to war with Russia because it depends on Russia for natural gas imports.
President Biden and Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland insist that Russian gas will not flow through the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline to western Europe “if Russia invades.” The pipeline is ready to operate after $12 billion in investment.
A parade of liquefied natural gas tankers recently arrived from the U.S. at European ports as “the price of natural gas has soared in Europe.” The very high prices “reflect the crimping of Russian gas supplies to Europe, low fuel in the continent’s storage tanks and geopolitical worries over Ukraine.”
The New York Times suggests the gas deliveries “have bailed Europe out of what could have been a dire situation.” But even though the terminals are now full, the amount of gas is not nearly enough, and the price is extremely high. Gas futures in western Europe were “about five times prices in the United States,” according to the Times, which is actually down by half from December. The long-term price of cutting off Russian gas is even higher.
The United States wants to change Russia’s status as by far the largest source of natural gas in Europe–which is a central reason that Ukraine is so highly prized. Forcing a replacement of the Nordstream 2 gas pipeline by tanker deliveries would be a bonanza for U.S. energy companies. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has made the effort his top priority.
Is NATO Brain Dead?
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, many thought NATO would fade away. Instead, it mushroomed from 12 to 30 countries, absorbing former Soviet allies and moving ever closer to Russia. Its offensive nature became apparent as it led regime-change operations against the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya—at a cost of tens of thousands of lives and millions of refugees from the war zones clamoring to Europe for survival.
NATO member Germany has served as host to the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), with operations in 50 African countries, where U.S.-trained military commanders have staged a wave of five military coups in just the past year. NATO ships are also part of the armada trolling the South and East China Seas to bolster U.S. efforts to isolate China.
French President Emmanuel Macron calls NATO “brain dead,” and has embarked on peace talks with Vladimir Putin, calling for a de-escalation of tensions over Ukraine. He said dialogue “makes it possible to build real security and stability” in Europe. “I believe that our continent is today in an eminently critical situation, which requires us all to be extremely responsible.”
As interim President of the European Union, Macron is proposing to revive the Minsk II peace agreement, signed by France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine in 2015 and then ratified unanimously by the UN Security Council.
That agreement would ensure autonomy for Ukraine’s eastern provinces, ending a civil war that has caused at least 14,000 deaths and is now being rekindled.
Germans Want Good Neighbor Relationship with Russia
When German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Washington, President Biden declared the NATO countries are unified—“in lock step”—while the German leader nodded silently.
However, Sevim Dagdelen, Left Party (Di Linke) member of the German parliament told BreakThrough News February 18 that more than 70 percent of Germans are against war with Russia. “Germans remember the U.S. claimed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction,” she said, which “resulted in a million dead in Iraq, and no one is responsible.”
Dagdelen added that Germans want a “good neighbor relationship with Russia,” which is “our next-door neighbor.” In the last century, she recalled that “two times Germans attacked Russia,” which resulted in seven million German deaths and 20 million more in Russia. “Germans know how it is to have a war. What concerns us is that the U.S. government seems to know better. It wouldn’t be the first false flag operation by the U.S.”
Goading Russia into War
Economist Michael Hudson says Germany is balking at demands that it freeze this coming March by going without Russian gas. According to Hudson: “The only way left for U.S. diplomats to block European purchases is to goad Russia into a military response and then claim that avenging this response outweighs any purely national economic interest.”
Hudson adds that Under Secretary of State Nuland expressed who was dictating the policies of NATO members succinctly in 2014: “Fuck the EU.”
Those were her words when she told the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine that the State Department’s hand-picked Arseniy Yatsenyuk as Ukrainian prime minister. “Yats” was removed after two years in a corruption scandal. Nuland and other U.S. politicians were on hand in January 2014 to back the bloody Maidan massacre and coup that led to eight years of civil war in Ukraine. Hudson says “The result devastated Ukraine much as U.S. violence had done in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Democracy Born in Fascist Uprising
The Ukrainian “democracy” heralded by the Biden administration and the mainstream media was born in a fascist uprising, to the cheers and support of the West. According to Lev Golinkin, writing in The Nation Magazine: “politicians and analysts in the United States and Europe not only celebrated the uprising as a triumph of democracy, but denied reports of [its] ultranationalism, smearing those who warned about the dark side of the uprising as Moscow puppets and useful idiots.”
There were neo-Nazi pogroms against the Roma, rampant attacks on feminists and LGBT groups, book bans, and state-sponsored glorification of Nazi collaborators.
Today’s Ukrainian government “is the world’s only nation to have a neo-Nazi formation in its armed forces”—the Azov Battalion, which was initially formed out of the neo-Nazi gang Patriot of Ukraine.
Andriy Biletsky, the gang’s leader who became Azov’s commander, once wrote that Ukraine’s mission is to “lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade…against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”
Biletsky became a deputy in Ukraine’s parliament. The New York Times called the Azov battalion “openly neo-Nazi,” while USA Today, The Daily Beast, The Telegraph, and Haaretz documented group members’ proclivity for swastikas, salutes, and other Nazi symbols, and individual fighters have also acknowledged being neo-Nazis.”
Azov itself proudly posted a video of the unit welcoming NATO representatives, led by U.S. commanders.
Sanctions hurt Europeans more than Russia or China
Michael Hudson says the sanctions U.S. diplomats are insisting their allies impose against Russia and China are aimed ostensibly at deterring a military buildup. But a military buildup to threaten Europe is not in the interest of Russia and China, and the sanctions harm Europe by pushing Russia towards the East.
So there’s a question: Which option will European leaders choose—sanctions that boomerang against them, or mutually beneficial trade with Russia and China? It is a question the Biden administration does not like very much.
American diplomats, Hudson says, worry that Germany, France and other NATO nations and countries are likely to prefer peaceful trade and investment. If there is no Russian or Chinese plan to invade or bomb them, what is the need for NATO? What is the need for such heavy purchases of U.S. military hardware by America’s affluent allies? And if there is no inherently adversarial relationship, why do their countries need to sacrifice their own trade and financial interests by relying exclusively on U.S. exporters and investors?
“Quite apart from the threat of actual war resulting from U.S. bellicosity,” Hudson concludes that “the cost to America’s allies of surrendering to U.S. trade and investment demands is becoming so high as to be politically unaffordable.”
A “New Era”
Just before sitting down with President Macron, Russian President Putin met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Winter Olympics. While the U.S. government and a pitifully small handful of its allies boycotted the ceremonies, the Chinese and Russian leaders calmly “declared a ‘new era’ in the global order,” as The New Yorker’s Robin Wright observed. Michael Hudson put it dramatically:
As in a classical Greek tragedy, U.S. foreign policy is bringing about precisely the outcome that it most fears. Overplaying their hand with their own NATO allies, U.S. diplomats are bringing about Kissinger’s nightmare scenario, driving Russia and China together. While America’s allies are told to bear the costs of U.S. sanctions, Russia and China are benefiting by being obliged to diversify and make their own economies independent of reliance on U.S. suppliers of food and other basic needs. Above all, these two countries are creating their own de-dollarized credit and bank-clearing systems, and holding their international monetary reserves in the form of gold, euros and each other’s currencies to conduct their mutual trade and investment.
“De-dollarizing” is a direct answer to U.S. threats to cut Russia out of the SWIFT system, which was meant to cripple Russia’s dollar-based oil trade by making it difficult if not impossible to receive payment in dollars. But Russia and China have prepared for this by setting up their own bank-clearing systems which, alongside the EU’s system, will provide ample means to continue trade.
The United States has effectively controlled world trade by forcing all countries to use dollars for most transactions. This, plus the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization, have not only made the dollar king of the universe, but assured the U.S. as the prime beneficiary. So even the U.S. threat to force Russia and China out of this system might function like a self-inflicted financial suicide bomb. (It really could not happen to a more deserving bunch of guys.)
How bad this dangerous gamble will end up being for the United States as a world power is difficult to predict at this stage. But by its crude efforts to bludgeon its major NATO allies to go against their own interests in hopes of “lock step” NATO unity, the Biden administration may succeed in driving them closer to Russia and China, where they can do a prosperous business together. That would make the theme song of the Beijing Winter Olympics—Together for a Shared Future—sound like a prophesy instead of just another catchy tune.
Meanwhile here at home, the war hysteria has served to unite dozens of anti-war forces nationally and locally. Leading national groups included CodePink, Black Alliance for Peace, Popular Resistance, Veterans For Peace, United National Antiwar Coalition, Answer Coalition, the U.S. Peace Council, World Beyond War, and many others. The DSA International Committee issued a strong statement opposing U.S. militarization and interventionism in Ukraine and Europe, and calling for an end to NATO expansionism.
Now, if DSA representatives in D.C. can make some noise about it, that would help. Meanwhile rallies are happening across the country, with more to come. There is a recognition that as long as war is the national priority, the chances for any program of recovery that could help people at home will be on hold.
International isolation has only exacerbated the U.S. empire’s crisis of legitimacy at home, says Danny Haiphong.
As the U.S. wages endless war to maintain hegemony, public trust in the U.S. government continues to decline. Joe Biden’s approval rating fell to its lowest point of 33% entering the New Year. In 2021, only one-quarter of the U.S. population said they trusted that the government will do the right thing “almost always.” In a new survey conducted by the Edelman Trust Barometer, the American public’s trust in the government was only slightly better at 39%.
It would help if Biden could tell the truth more often.
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About the Author
Dee Knight is a member of the DSA International Committee’s Anti-War Subcommittee.
He is the author of A Realistic Path to Peace (just out from Solidarity Publications), and a memoir, My Whirlwind Lives: Navigating Decades of Storms.
Dee can be reached at: email@example.com.