Bryce Greene Media Criticism Ukraine

Calling Russia’s Attack ‘Unprovoked’ Lets U.S. Off the Hook

By Bryce Greene / FAIR

Many governments and media figures are rightly condemning Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine as an act of aggression and a violation of international law. But in his first speech about the invasion, on February 24, US President Joe Biden also called the invasion “unprovoked.”

It’s a word that has been echoed repeatedly across the media ecosystem. “Putin’s forces entered Ukraine’s second-largest city on the fourth day of the unprovoked invasion,” Axios (2/27/22) reported; “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine entered its second week Friday,” said CNBC (3/4/22). Vox (3/1/22) wrote of “Putin’s decision to launch an unprovoked and unnecessary war with the second-largest country in Europe.”

The “unprovoked” descriptor obscures a long history of provocative behavior from the United States in regards to Ukraine. This history is important to understanding how we got here, and what degree of responsibility the US bears for the current attack on Ukraine.

Ignoring expert advice

The story starts at the end of the Cold War, when the US was the only global hegemon. As part of the deal that finalized the reunification of Germany, the US promised Russia that NATO would not expand “one inch eastward.”  Despite this, it wasn’t long before talk of expansion began to circulate among policy makers.

In 1997, dozens of foreign policy veterans (including former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and former CIA Director Stansfield Turner) sent a joint letter to then-President Bill Clinton calling “the current US-led effort to expand NATO…a policy error of historic proportions.” They predicted:

In Russia, NATO expansion, which continues to be opposed across the entire political spectrum, will strengthen the nondemocratic opposition, undercut those who favor reform and cooperation with the West [and] bring the Russians to question the entire post-Cold War settlement.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (5/2/98) in 1998 asked famed diplomat George Kennan—architect of the US Cold War strategy of containment—about NATO expansion. Kennan’s response:

I think it is the beginning of a new cold war. I think the Russians will gradually react quite adversely and it will affect their policies. I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else.

Of course there is going to be a bad reaction from Russia, and then [the NATO expanders] will say that we always told you that is how the Russians are—but this is just wrong.

Despite these warnings, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were added to NATO in 1999, with Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia following in 2004.

US planners were warned again in 2008 by US Ambassador to Moscow William Burns (now director of the CIA under Joe Biden). WikiLeaks leaked a cable from Burns titled “Nyet Means Nyet: Russia’s NATO Enlargement Redlines” that included another prophetic warning worth quoting in full (emphasis added):

Ukraine and Georgia’s NATO aspirations not only touch a raw nerve in Russia, they engender serious concerns about the consequences for stability in the region.  Not only does Russia perceive encirclement, and efforts to undermine Russia’s influence in the region, but it also fears unpredictable and uncontrolled consequences which would seriously affect Russian security interests.

Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war.  In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.

A de facto NATO ally

But the US has pushed Russia to make such a decision. Though European countries are divided about whether or not Ukraine should join, many in the NATO camp have been adamant about maintaining the alliance’s “open door policy.” Even as US planners were warning of a Russian invasion, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg reiterated NATO’s 2008 plans to integrate Ukraine into the alliance (New York Times12/16/21). The Biden administration has taken a more roundabout approach, supporting in the abstract “Kyiv’s right to choose its own security arrangements and alliances.” But the implication is obvious.

Even without officially being in NATO, Ukraine has become a de facto NATO ally—and Russia has paid close attention to these developments. In a December 2021 speech to his top military officials, Putin expressed his concerns:

Over the past few years, military contingents of NATO countries have been almost constantly present on Ukrainian territory under the pretext of exercises. The Ukrainian troop control system has already been integrated into NATO. This means that NATO headquarters can issue direct commands to the Ukrainian armed forces, even to their separate units and squads….

Kiev has long proclaimed a strategic course on joining NATO. Indeed, each country is entitled to pick its own security system and enter into military alliances. There would be no problem with that, if it were not for one “but.” International documents expressly stipulate the principle of equal and indivisible security, which includes obligations not to strengthen one’s own security at the expense of the security of other states….

In other words, the choice of pathways towards ensuring security should not pose a threat to other states, whereas Ukraine joining NATO is a direct threat to Russia’s security.

In an explainer piece, the New York Times (2/24/22) centered NATO expansion as a root cause of the war. Unfortunately, the Times omitted the critical context of NATO’s pledge not to expand, and the subsequent abandonment of that promise. This is an important context to understand the Russian view of US policies, especially so given the ample warnings from US diplomats and foreign policy experts.

The Maidan Coup of 2014

A major turning point in the US/Ukraine/Russia relationship was the 2014 violent and unconstitutional ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych, elected in 2010 in a vote heavily splitbetween eastern and western Ukraine. His ouster came after months of protests led in part by far-right extremists (FAIR.org3/7/14). Weeks before his ouster, an unknown party leaked a phone call between US officials discussing who should and shouldn’t be part of the new government, and finding ways to “seal the deal.” After the ouster, a politician the officials designated as “the guy” even became prime minister.

The US involvement was part of a campaign aimed at exploiting the divisions in Ukrainian society to push the country into the US sphere of influence, pulling it out of the Russian sphere (FAIR.org1/28/22). In the aftermath of the overthrow, Russia illegally annexed Crimea from Ukraine, in part to secure a major naval base from the new Ukrainian government.

The New York Times (2/24/22) and Washington Post (2/28/22) both omitted the role the US played in these events. In US media, this critical moment in history is completely cleansed of US influence, erasing a critical step on the road to the current war.

Keeping civil war alive

In another response to the overthrow, an uprising in Ukraine’s Donbas region grew into a rebel movement that declared independence from Ukraine and announced the formation of their own republics. The resulting civil war claimed thousands of lives, but was largely paused  in 2015 with a ceasefire agreement known as the Minsk II accords.

The deal, agreed to by Ukraine, Russia and other European countries, was designed to grant some form of autonomy to the breakaway regions in exchange for reintegrating them into the Ukrainian state. Unfortunately, the Ukrainian government refused to implement the autonomy provision of the accords. Anatol Lieven, a researcher with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, wrote in The Nation (11/15/21):

The main reason for this refusal, apart from a general commitment to retain centralized power in Kiev, has been the belief that permanent autonomy for the Donbas would prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and the European Union, as the region could use its constitutional position within Ukraine to block membership.

Ukraine opted instead to prolong the Donbas conflict, and there was never significant pressure from the West to alter course. Though there were brief reports of the accords’ revival as recently as late January, Ukrainian security chief Oleksiy Danilov warned the West not to pressure Ukraine to implement the peace deal. “The fulfillment of the Minsk agreement means the country’s destruction,” he said (AP1/31/22). Danilov claimed that even when the agreement was signed eight years ago,  “it was already clear for all rational people that it’s impossible to implement.”

Lieven notes that the depth of Russian commitment has yet to be fully tested, but Putin has supported the Minsk accords, refraining from officially recognizing the Donbas republics until last week.

The New York Times (2/8/22) explainer on the Minsk accords blamed their failure on a disagreement between Ukraine and Russia over their implementation. This is inadequate to explain the failure of the agreements, however, given that Russia cannot affect Ukrainian parliamentary procedure. The Times quietly acknowledged that the law meant to define special status in the Donbas had been “shelved” by the Ukranians,  indicating that the country had stopped trying to solve the issue in favor of a stalemate.

There was no mention of the comments from a top Ukrainian official openly denouncing the peace accords. Nor was it acknowledged that the US could have used its influence to push Ukraine to solve the issue, but refrained from doing so.

Ukrainian missile crisis

One under-discussed aspect of this crisis is the role of US missiles stationed in NATO countries. Many media outlets have claimed that Putin is Hitler-like (Washington Post, 2/24/22Boston Globe, 2/24/22), hellbent on reconquering old Soviet states to “recreat[e] the Russian empire with himself as the Tsar,” as Clinton State Department official Strobe Talbot told Politico (2/25/22).

Pundits try to psychoanalyze Putin, asking “What is motivating him?” and answering by citing his televised speech on February 21 that recounted the history of Ukraine’s relationship with Russia.

This speech has been widely characterized as a call to reestablish the Soviet empire and a challenge to Ukraine’s right to exist as a sovereign nation. Corporate media ignore other public statements Putin has made in recent months. For example, at an expanded meeting of the Defense Ministry Board, Putin elaborated on what he considered to be the main military threat from US/NATO expansion to Ukraine:

It is extremely alarming that elements of the US global defense system are being deployed near Russia. The Mk 41 launchers, which are located in Romania and are to be deployed in Poland, are adapted for launching the Tomahawk strike missiles. If this infrastructure continues to move forward, and if US and NATO missile systems are deployed in Ukraine, their flight time to Moscow will be only 7–10 minutes, or even five minutes for hypersonic systems. This is a huge challenge for us, for our security.

The United States does not possess hypersonic weapons yet, but we know when they will have it…. They will supply hypersonic weapons to Ukraine and then use them as cover…to arm extremists from a neighbouring state and incite them against certain regions of the Russian Federation, such as Crimea, when they think circumstances are favorable.

Do they really think we do not see these threats? Or do they think that we will just stand idly watching threats to Russia emerge? This is the problem: We simply have no room to retreat.

Having these missiles so close to Russia—weapons that Russia (and China) see as part of a plan to give the United States the capacity to launch a nuclear first-strike without retaliation—seriously challenges the cold war deterrent of Mutually Assured Destruction, and more closely resembles a gun pointed at the Russian head for the remainder of the nuclear age. Would this be acceptable to any country?

Media refuse to present this crucial question to their audiences, instead couching Putin’s motives in purely aggressive terms.

Refusal to de-escalate

By December 2021, US intelligence agencies were sounding the alarm that Russia was amassing troops at the Ukrainian border and planning to attack. Yet Putin was very clear about a path to deescalation: He called on the West to halt NATO expansion, negotiate Ukrainian neutrality in the East/West rivalry, remove US nuclear weapons from non proliferating countries, and remove missiles, troops and bases near Russia. These are demands the US would surely have made were it in Russia’s position.

Unfortunately, the US refused to negotiate on Russia’s core concerns. The US offered some serious steps towards a larger arms control arrangement (Antiwar.com2/2/22)—something the Russians acknowledged and appreciated—but ignored issues of NATO’s military activity in Ukraine, and the deployment of nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe (Antiwar.com2/17/22).

On NATO expansion, the State Department continued to insist that they would not compromise NATO’s open door policy—in other words, it asserted the right to expand NATO and to ignore Russia’s red line.

While the US has signaled that it would approve of an informal agreement to keep Ukraine from joining the alliance for a period of time, this clearly was not going to be enough for Russia, which still remembers the last broken agreement.

Instead of addressing Russian concerns about Ukraine’s NATO relationship, the US instead chose to pour hundreds of millions of dollars of weapons into Ukraine, exacerbating Putin’s expressed concerns. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy didn’t help matters by suggesting that Ukraine might begin a nuclear weapons program at the height of the tensions.

After Putin announced his recognition of the breakaway republics, Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceled talks with Putin, and began the process of implementing sanctions on Russia—all before Russian soldiers had set foot into Ukraine.

Had the US been genuinely interested in avoiding war, it would have taken every opportunity to de-escalate the situation. Instead, it did the opposite nearly every step of the way.

In its explainer piece, the Washington Post (2/28/22) downplayed the significance of the US’s rejection of Russia’s core concerns, writing: “Russia has said that it wants guarantees Ukraine will be barred from joining NATO—a non-starter for the Western alliance, which maintains an open-door policy.” NATO’s open door policy is simply accepted as an immutable policy that Putin just needs to deal with. This very assumption, so key to the Ukraine crisis, goes unchallenged in the US media ecosystem.

The strategic case for risking war’

It’s impossible to say for sure why the Biden administration took an approach that increased the likelihood of war, but one Wall Street Journal piece from last month may offer some insight.

The Journal (12/22/21) published an op-ed from John Deni, a researcher at the Atlantic Council, a think tank funded by the US and allied governments that serves as NATO’s de facto brain trust. The piece was provocatively headlined “The Strategic Case for Risking War in Ukraine.” Deni’s argument was that the West should refuse to negotiate with Russia, because either potential outcome would be beneficial to US interests.

If Putin backed down without a deal, it would be a major embarrassment. He would lose face and stature, domestically and on the world stage.

But Putin going to war would also be good for the US, the Journal op-ed argued. Firstly,  it would give NATO more legitimacy by “forg[ing] an even stronger anti-Russian consensus across Europe.” Secondly, a major attack would trigger “another round of more debilitating economic sanctions,” weakening the Russian economy and its ability to compete with the US for global influence. Thirdly, an invasion is “likely to spawn a guerrilla war” that would “sap the strength and morale of Russia’s military while undercutting Mr. Putin’s domestic popularity and reducing Russia’s soft power globally.”

In short, we have part of the NATO brain trust advocating risking Ukrainian civilians as pawns in the US’s quest to strengthen its position around the world.

‘Something even worse than war’

New York Times op-ed (2/3/22) by Ivan Krastev of Vienna’s Institute of Human Sciences likewise suggested that a Russian invasion of Ukraine wouldn’t be the worst outcome:

A Russian incursion into Ukraine could, in a perverse way, save the current European order. NATO would have no choice but to respond assertively, bringing in stiff sanctions and acting in decisive unity. By hardening the conflict, Mr. Putin could cohere his opponents.

The op-ed was headlined “Europe Thinks Putin Is Planning Something Even Worse Than War”—that something being “a new European security architecture that recognizes Russia’s sphere of influence in the post-Soviet space.”

It is impossible to know for sure whether the Biden administration shared this sense that there would be an upside to a Russian invasion, but the incentives are clear, and much of what these op-eds predicted is coming to pass.

None of this is to say that Putin’s invasion is justified—FAIR resolutely condemns the invasion as illegal and ruinous—but calling it “unprovoked” distracts attention from the US’s own contribution to this disastrous outcome. The US ignored warnings from both Russian and US officials that a major conflagration could erupt if the US continued its path, and it shouldn’t be surprising that one eventually did.

Now, as the world once again inches toward the brink of nuclear omnicide, it is more important than ever for Western audiences to understand and challenge their own government’s role in dragging us all to this point.

50 comments

  1. It’s a complete lie to say that Russia’s invasion was unprovoked. It was wrong, because invading another country is wrong. But eastward expansion of NATO and the CIA-sponsored coup in Ukraine were major provocations that led to the invasion, not to mention the threat of Ukraine joining NATO, a military organization that should have been disbanded as soon as the Soviet Union collapsed.

    1. @ Another…
      All NATO members must agree and there are a lot of them who really do not like Russia, don’t trust it and don’t want it in.

      1. So then it ISN’T REALLY an open door policy… Is what I hear you saying… They don’t like Russia?!?! Why not? Were they hoping that the Nazis would have won WWII? Because it was the Russians, who beat Germany.

        And the request was made long ago – probably before or during this second and third wave of NATO expansion…so Eastern European countries shouldn’t have been the real factor here… And NATO countries are committed to mutual defense…how better to protect against any psychologically projected “Russian Aggression” – then by being bound with treaties.

        No. NATO is an IMPERIALIST EMPIRE, with Global Domination as it’s true goal. Their ‘raison d’etre’ is to conquer Russia and China – and split the spoils.

        After the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact disbanded – NATO should have as well. But the NeoCons are about Global Conquest – not defense.

  2. Not only did the US provoke the war, it continues to inflame the hostilities. If the US and NATO provide more arms and airplanes to Ukraine, it will just extend the inevitable, but mean that more of Ukraine is destroyed, more lives are lost, and more refugees created. Worse though, is that the longer the conflict goes on, is the greater the chances of a nuclear power plant being damaged or a world war taking place.

    1. @Miatadon
      I suggest an alternative solution to really shorten the hostilities : immediate retreat of all Russian and NATO forces from the Ukraine ! Have a problem with this?

      1. Yes, I have a problem with this. NATO is not fighting in Ukraine, Russia is not attacking NATO. NATO has armed the Nazi-controlled Kiev coup government so if the arms left, the Nazis left, the Russians would happily leave, too.

    2. Blinken was talking about lending Polish fighter jets – and then US replacing Polish jets. That’s another provocation. Also, Biden was talking about neutral Finland entering NATO, opening war possibilities on another front.

    1. @ Another…
      All NATO members must agree and there are a lot of them who really do not like Russia, don’t trust it and don’t want it in.

      1. So then it ISN’T REALLY an open door policy… Is what I hear you saying… They don’t like Russia?!?! Why not? Were they hoping that the Nazis would have won WWII? Because it was the Russians, who beat Germany.

        And the request was made long ago – probably before or during this second and third wave of NATO expansion…so Eastern European countries shouldn’t have been the real factor here… And NATO countries are committed to mutual defense…how better to protect against any psychologically projected “Russian Aggression” – then by being bound with treaties.

        No. NATO is an IMPERIALIST EMPIRE, with Global Domination as it’s true goal. They’re raison d’etre is to conquer Russia and China – and split the spoils.

  3. Let’s also mention our U.S. corporate led empire has done everything it can think of to undermine and/or control Russia’s economy, trade, and resources for decades for their own selfish investment ‘interests’. Just because the U.S. people and much of the world buckles under the common tyranny does not mean Russia will. When will we see that the most aggression, the most dangerous policies, the most outrageous lies are from our ‘elected’, from our corporate led cabals? The greedy sociopaths keep on winning, thus far.

    1. @Rita
      Are you saying that Russia attacked the Ukraine because “U.S. corporate led empire has done everything it can think of to undermine and/or control Russia’s economy, trade, and resources for decades for their own selfish investment ‘interests’” ??

      It really makes sense!

  4. It is clear that the US and Kiev, aided by CIA propaganda expertise, has won the information war. Shrill calls that are simply expressions “hating on Putin” are the order of the day, and reports abound of Russian war crimes abound.
    FAIR’s analysis and recent comments by Noam Chomsky deplore the Russian war on Ukraine, or technical military exercises, whatever, yet offer just enough nuance to point out the true cause of this war, American intransigence and lust for European, if not global, domination. It is obvious that the only solution to this military crisis can only come from Washington. The war in Ukraine is a done deal. Now, the chance to avoid the next war means confronting Washington.

  5. “None of this is to say that Putin’s invasion is justified”
    You are right, it is not justified and it is illegal, in contradiction to the US Charter and Russia’s own commitment to ” respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “to refrain from the threat or use of force” against the country. ”
    All the rest is rehashing of irrelevant commentary and opinions. The arguments border on the risible as in seriously accepting the Russian ” fear-of-missiles justification” that it is rational to invade the Ukraine because there are NATO missiles in Poland and Romania and if the Ukraine will someday be in NATO ( perhaps in 10 years if ever) and if it will agree to host missiles and if the above said missiles will be hypersonic and if NATO will decide to attack Russia, these missiles will be hard to counter.
    This is really long term strategic planning!
    By the way, if you buy this argument then you must support for instance an Israel invasion of Gaza, Lebanon, Iran to remove real missiles!

    1. Shouldn’t your Username be AltCIAeyeD?

      The US was prepared to destroy all life on this planet, over a few missiles 90 miles off of the Florida Coast. We ALSO scheduled an ILLEGAL invasion of Cuba, at the Bay of Pigs. Russia has good reasons to prevent US/NATO-backed NAZI THUGS from putting missiles even closer to Moscow – right on Russia’s borders.

      There’s also the ongoing Warcrimes that the Kiev Puppet-regime was committing against the Donbass Republics – which by the Minsk2 accords, should have been permitted a certain amount of autonomy, under a Federal system. Instead we now have a NATO laptop – with plans for simultaneous offensives against the DPR and LPR, as well as Russia territory, in the Crimean peninsula.

      If the US/NATO EMPIRE wants to raise International Law – then they shouldn’t have spent the last 25 years systematically violating it.

      1. The US did not invade Cuba in 1962.Instead they made a deal with the USSR and retired NATO missiles from Turkey.
        The DPR, LPR and Crimea are considered by 90% of the world as Ukrainian territory.

      2. The Bay of Pigs was a US/CIA Invasion of Cuba – check your facts. And Guantanamo Bay Naval/Torture and Indefinite Detention Base – is technically another ILLEGAL US OCCUPATION of Cuba.

        You are yet another example of the CIA’s infamous “Intelligence Failure”.

      3. Also – you’re pointing to the “Bandwagon Fallacy” – also – citation needed on your estimate that “90%” of the world believes _X_… Because I live in the USA – and disagree with position taken by the US Government.

        In any event – the DPR and LPR both had a popular vote – and like in Crimea – after the Odessa Massacre, by Ukrainian NAZIS – it was a landslide, to leave Ukraine.

        90% of the World once regarded the American Colonies, to be properties owned by the British King, at one point. But here, in this country – we believe in the right of people to self-determination – and not to be ruled by Nazis, or a Foreign Empire.

  6. Sorry, but your argument is juvenile and ignores Russian perception of NATO. The Russians were understandably alarmed by the threats posed by NATO, military exercises and missile placements that were unwarranted by any Russian provocation or action. The provocation was on the other side as the author makes clear, and Russian awareness that the West was incompatible to agreements is a real thing. To deny this reality is simply to buy into the war propaganda that Washington and NATO push as the dominant narrative.

    1. Short exercise in logic:

      Premise 1 Russia perceives NATO as an enemy
      Premise 2 Ukraine is not part of NATO
      Conclusion Russia must attack the Ukraine

      This is called “non sequitur”

      1. No – this is called “Cherry-picking” – a strawman argument – or just LYING. Because ONCE admitted to NATO – any Russian move against Ukraine woukd constitute an attack against the entire NATO alliance – and signal the start of a Nuclear War, sure to extinguish nearly all life on this planet. And for what?

        Russia is no longer the Soviet Union – so there’s no class of economic ideologies at play… There’s just the Carpathian/Galician NAZI ideology of the Banderovites – and their OPERATION PAPERCLIP allies in NATO. (See Chrystia Freeland, and her father and grandfather).

        https://covertactionmagazine.com/2022/03/07/national-endowment-for-democracy-deletes-records-of-funding-projects-in-ukraine/

      2. Are you naive or just lying, or both, lying to yourself. That NATO and the US has steadily armed Kiev for 8 years is indisputable. To think that the Ukraine was not a de facto NATO member belies reality; ergo, your logic is faulty.

    2. Russia broke its commitment ” to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine” and “to refrain from the threat or use of force” against the country. Those assurances played a key role in persuading the Ukrainian government in Kyiv to give up what amounted to the world’s third largest nuclear arsenal, consisting of some 1,900 strategic nuclear warheads.
      It sent troops to support separatists in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine and annexed Crimea.
      These are facts not propaganda.
      Pretending that Russia attacked Ukraine (which is not part of NATO) because NATO missiles in Poland and Romania is buying into war propaganda as pushed by Russia.

      1. Your arguments are even more juvenile. First, Ukraine never “gave up its nuclear missiles” because they always were the property of the Soviet military, not the Ukrainian government. What they did was agree to part with Soviet weapons on their territory to return to the new Russian Federation.
        Any agreements between the Russian Federation and the Ukraine were abrogated due to the 2014 Maidan coup which installed an illegal government, at least in the eyes of the Russians.
        Finally, while NATO membership seems off the table, it was still alive in the minds of the Ukrainian leadership–although that was a fantasy. Nevertheless, the US (the overriding leader of NATO) supplied Kiev with billions of dollars worth and tons of lethal weaponry. Weapons in Poland and Romania do threaten Russia–how could they not?
        What we actually have in terms of war propaganda is your parroting that NATO and the US are benign actors and Putin’s Russia is the insane aggressor. Sorry, but that is all wrong.

  7. Over the past year, tens of thousands of US./NATO troops stationed in E. Europe and along Ukraine’s western border, in violation of the 1990 NATO agreement against eastward expansion, provoking this war. Therefore, call it “Putin’s war.”

    1. There was no NATO agreement unless you use very broad interpretation of that word. What has been reported is that behind closed doors US and German leaders promised Soviet Union they wouldn’t send Nato troops eastwards … as part of Germany’s reunification. This was before the Soviet Union broke apart. If you want to get in the weeds with it, this is a balanced scholarly look at what is known:
      http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/polisci/faculty/trachtenberg/cv/1990.pdf

      If we want to focus only on formal agreements, you could also use in the other direction that in 1994, the Budapest agreement promised Ukraine terroritorial integrity in exchange for giving all the Soviet nukes to the Russian Federation.

      We can be legalistic about it, but why? Neither of these nuclear-weaponized empires play by the rules/promises they claim to — go ask the Native Americans or the peoples of central Asia… the pattern of provocations, occupations, phony friendships and so on have never hid that elites on both sides have a vested interest in rampant nationalism, militarization and imperialism.

      Suffice it to say that the usual US foreign policy gods, which have basically dominated both US political parties since WWII, have gotten exactly what they want — a quagmire for Russia that will both drain a rival (and ally of the bigger rival, China) and provide validation for a bigger defense budget, “wartime powers” and so on. Putin and the siloviki get increased popularity, power and purpose from the face-off with NATO, although they have likely overreached majorly.

      Who suffers? Ukrainians, of course, likely for decades to come, as well as Russians through internal repression and external sanctions, and then everybody else in the world who suffers from the anxiety inherent in a world ruled by “logical” madmen sitting atop inhumane and inhuman economic and political systems.

      1. You forgot the people being censored here in the EVER MORE increasingly repressive US Empire – as well. Lee Camp is a good example – put out of work by Imperialist Democrats – and their inverted totalitarian Corporatist partners – along with people at Sputnik radio, like John Kiriakou. All because the US and NATO Governments want complete narrative control – and can’t allow for ANYONE – to expose their carefully woven fabric of lies.

        By the way – the Russians waited 8 years – and exhausted EVERY avenue of diplomacy – while Langley’s NAZI Stooge Regime committed constant Warcrimes against civilians. 14,000 people is what exponential more, than the current number of Ukrainian dead? The Russians are trying to create Humanitarian Evacuation corridors – to prevent civilian casualties. Meanwhile Kiev’s NAZIS are holding civilian populations hostage, and using them as human shields, by setting up heavy weapons in heavily populated areas. This is pretty close to black and white.

        The US, by contrast, Carpet bombed civilians in Falloujah with White Phosphorus. The Russians have been bending over backwards to prevent large numbers of civilian deaths.

      2. Complete nonsense, playing with words, what is a facile, specious argument, along with a fantastical interpretation of events. Why do you bother?
        It is easy to understand that this war was provoked by Biden and his neocons to fulfill their long held fantasy of breaking up Russia and removing it as a potential global competitor, not to speak of the opportunity to plunder its resources.
        Of course, lots will suffer because of this and it could as well produce the downfall of the West as the downfall of the Russians.

      3. @Ted+Tripp
        I fully agree with you. Very disappointing to read that kind of crap here.

  8. Sweden and Finland are not nato members. the Have nato cooperation tho.

  9. I recall seeing a set or Ukraine election results maps in some site in 2014 and I was struck how the results split the country exactly in two … with only a couple of oblasts along the line changing electoral sides from one election to another and thus determining who won.

    Ukraine is two countries, I thought at the time.

    1. You can say this about many nations, including the US. If you break every country up based on these decisions, you have a world of pure, constant warfare.

      1. @Moderator
        Or you have a world where people can choose how they want to live and not be dominated and oppressed by some hegemonic large government.

        When Russia invaded, I joked to my wife that countries shouldn’t be any larger than 50 people so we wouldn’t have any of this crap. After several of my radical friends agree, I’ve decided that I’m serious. Of course we can’t have anything like that with the current level of gross human overpopulation, but when people lived naturally, the largest communities were 40 people. When everyone knows each other, propaganda becomes impossible. When communities are naturally small, not only are they unable to raise armies, they don’t need to because they can live off their own resources instead of having to steal those of others.

  10. This is a very informative article that rounds up all what the Corporate media have swept under the carpet. Most people’s -uneducated- reactions towards the Ukrainian invasion now, an open war, are not based on knowledge of what the US and European NATO partners de facto have done to provoke Putin. It almost looks inevitable by now Ukraine will be turned into ruble, a bloodbath will be immanent and the number of refugees might turn out to exceed 7 million eventually.
    It shows how Washington and the Biden administration only show disregard for the lives of the Ukrainian people and the Russian people playing their hawkish and war mongering imperialistic game even risking a nuclear disaster.

    1. @Hans Meulenbroek

      Reminder : It is Russian guns and missiles that kill Ukrainians so it seems that Putin is really the one showing disregard for the lives of Ukrainians and Russian soldiers

      1. For the last 8 years it was US and NATO guns and missiles, that were killing 14,000 people in the Donbass – mostly ethnically separatist civilians – who didn’t care to be ruled by the Kiev NAZI US Puppet-regime. Check your facts. So far – less than 500 civilian deaths in Ukraine. And Ukrainian NAZIS placing geavy weapons in densely populated civilian areas, refusing to allow civilians to evacuate (using the population as “human shields” – just like the US-back Al Qaeda terrorist “Moderate Rebels” in Syria do) – probably has much to do with the modest numbers that we’ve seen. Compared to the US’ genocide in Falloujah…the Russians are acting like a humanitarian “peace keeping” mission.

        https://covertactionmagazine.com/2022/03/07/national-endowment-for-democracy-deletes-records-of-funding-projects-in-ukraine/

  11. Great article.

    As economic sanctions create pain in Russia, it seems important to acknowledge US & NATO failure to honor agreements and provide a face saving victory for Russia with an opportunity to retreat from Ukraine. In exchange, US and NATO could offer to remove missiles in Europe, at least from the countries bordering Russia.

    1. NATO has anti ICBM missiles in Romania and Poland which do not border Russia.
      NATO should remove its missiles if and when Russia will remove theirs. Seems fair!
      How about Russia acknowledging its failure to honor agreements?

      1. NATO has Cruise Missiles in Poland and Romania – which can be easily turned into Nuclear-armed weapons delivery systems. It is the US that unilaterally pulled out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, and the Intermediate (range) Nuclear Forces agreement (which dates back to the Reagan era.

        You should acknowledge that these AGGRESSIVE and DANGEROUS steps taken by the US and their Atlanticist Henchmen in NATO. These are dangerous moves which are underlined by the US’ REFUSAL to disclaim the use of Nuclear Weapons for a FIRST STRIKE capability. We know that the US has INSANE Dr. Strangelove-style Nuclear first use warplans – because Daniel Ellsberg has reported reading them, while working at the RAND Corporation.

        It is US/NATO aggression – which has consistently prevented the advancement of Nuclear Disarmament, despite US commitments to do so. Russia would be foolish to disarm, before the lawless EVIL EMPIRE of NATO and the US does so.

    2. All very correct; however, I must point out that NATO has no real purpose other than defending Europe against a non-existent Russian threat. NATO has been useful for acting as the US’s military arm for attacking such countries as Serbia, Afghanistan, and Syria, but we can only hope in the world we live in, ending militarism is key to stopping global heating and the climate crisis we now live with.
      NATO must go.

      1. Ted+Tripp
        Perhaps you do not feel any Russian threat, but many countries such as the Baltic states, Romania, Poland, are very concerned about Russia threats, as demonstrated by attacks on Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine.

      2. You must somehow ignore the threat that Russia feels from NATO. I forgot to mention above the NATO absolute destruction of Libya. You really think that Putin and Kremlin cohorts could see that and not be worried? Truly, I do not pay attention to Baltic fears, but I believe that must be left over by the trauma of first German Nazi conquest followed by reconquest by the Red Army. Maybe Russia has done some nefarious actions in the past few years that alarmed Lithuania, but my guess is these countries hold irrational concerns towards Russia, while Russia has very real concerns about NATO’s weaponry.

    3. @Ron
      Which agreements have US/NATO failed to honor?
      It is also important to acknowledge Russia failure to honor agreements such as the 1994 Budapest Agreement that guaranteed Ukraine existing borders, including Crimea and the Donbass region.
      In which NATO countries bordering Russia are there NATO missiles?
      Is Russia prepared to remove missiles from regions bordering NATO countries?

  12. This smells like a Brzezinski’s Grand Chessboard Afghanistan 2.0 scheme. Multiple Biden and US benefits:

    1) change the subject from Biden’s failed domestic agenda and failed Presidency – BBB and numerous others policy commitments are dead. Manchin exposed Biden’s weakness and he had to engage war to become a “War time President”;

    2) US military industrial complex locks in Billions in profits in Cold War 2.0

    3) US oil and gas producers get green light for even more US domestic production!!!! Eff climate change! US fracking and exports of LNG to Europe growth exponentially.

    4) Russia war of attrition diminishes Russian economy

    5) Right wing Fascist forces building towards ’24 electoral theft are dampened by pro war patriotic frenzy.

    1. You’re on the right track here… But don’t forget Dick Cheney’s “The Wolfowitz Doctrine”, and PNAC plans…also – RAND wrote a whole plan released in 2019 – about economically and politically isolating Russia.

  13. The US, NATO & the World Economic Forum are seminal & intentionally driving from the soil, roots & without a greater knowledge & understanding of if, soon the stump of this war.
Learn more about the big global picture from the grand-jury.net

  14. Thank you for this excellent article. These points need to be more widely understood and known. I pray that voices of reason can deescalate the current conflict. The average Ukrainian or Russian did not ask for this conflict and so many lives are being destroyed.

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