Marcy Winograd nato Ukraine

How to Respond to Common Misconceptions in the US About Ukraine

By Marcy Winograd / World BEYOND War

As the war in Ukraine drags on, advocates for negotiation, not escalation are often met with resistance from those who repeat claims spun by military pundits, media outlets, Congress and the White House. Below are rebuttals to common assertions that, if not refuted, risk leading us down the path to nuclear war, further climate degradation, global famine and economic ruin. The Peace in Ukraine Coalition (www.peaceinukraine.org), which includes CODEPINK, World BEYOND War, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom-US and a host of other organizations, will be engaging in dialogue around these claims during its Week of Action, Sept. 12-15, when people are encouraged to contact the White House and State Department and organize meetings and rallies with members of Congress and the media to demand a ceasefire in Ukraine, diplomacy and a freeze on weapons shipments.

Role Play–Responses to Common Statements

(S) Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was unjustified AND unprovoked.

(R) Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an unjustified war that violates the UN Charter requiring UN member states to refrain from the “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state. The United States, however, provoked the Russian invasion of Ukraine by supporting the expansion of NATO, a hostile military alliance, backing a coup to overthrow a democratically elected President, and sending arms to Ukraine since 2014. This made Ukraine, in the eyes of Russia, an armed camp and existential threat.

Background on NATO

In the early 90s, as the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO should have dissolved.

Sec. of State James Baker promised Russian leader Gorbachev that NATO would “not move one inch eastward.”

Under Presidents Clinton, Obama and Trump, however, NATO expanded from 12 countries at the fall of the Soviet Union to 30 countries, including countries that share a border with Russia, from northern Norway, eastern Latvia and Estonia to Poland and Lithuania around Russia’s Kaliningrad region.

Putin made it clear that Ukraine joining NATO was a red line that must never be crossed as Ukraine’s membership in NATO was an existential threat to Russia. Still, with US encouragement, in 2019 Ukraine enshrined in its constitution a commitment to join NATO.

(S) You can’t negotiate with Putin. Negotiations will never lead anywhere.

(R) If Putin and Zelenskyy can negotiate the flow of grain exports, prisoner exchanges and international inspections of a nuclear plant in Ukraine, they can negotiate an end to this war. In fact, Russia and Ukraine already agreed to a 15-point peace plan brokered by Turkey in March. Russia agreed to withdraw from areas under Ukrainian government control before the invasion, in exchange for Ukraine agreeing not to join NATO and adopting a position of neutrality. Talks to work out the details were derailed when then UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson went to Kyiv and persuaded Zelensky to abandon the negotiations, telling him the UK/US and NATO saw a chance to “press” Russia and wanted to make the most of it.

Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the two countries signed the 2015 Minsk Accord, a peace deal that established a ceasefire, a commitment to elections in the Donbas and semi-autonomy for the region, as well. The agreement fell apart as the US encouraged Ukraine, from 2014 on, to join NATO and funneled billions of dollars of weapons to fuel the civil war in the east between neo-Nazi nationalists and Russian separtartists.

Also, the US negotiated the START arms control treaty with Russia, which is still in effect. This treaty limits the number of nuclear warheads to 1500 that the US and Russia can deploy. It was the US, not Russia, that refused to reaffirm the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, abandoned under Trump, that required the United States and the Soviet Union to eliminate and permanently forswear all of their nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The treaty marked the first time the superpowers had agreed to reduce their nuclear arsenals, eliminate an entire category of nuclear weapons, and employ extensive on-site inspections for verification. As a result of the INF Treaty, the United States and the Soviet Union destroyed a total of 2,692 short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles.

 (S) If you negotiate a diplomatic settlement, you are rewarding Putin for the invasion.

The Department of Defense estimates Russia has lost 60-80,000 men in the fighting, as of August, 2022. This is not a reward. If you negotiate a diplomatic settlement, you are rewarding the US taxpayer.

The US has spent $40 billion in the last year to fuel this conflict, which is leading to inflation and a slowdown in the supply chain here and in Europe, where 70,000 recently marched in Czechoslovakia to demand their country not impose sanction on Russia . What could $40 billion buy in the United States? According to the National Priorities Project trade off calculator,  that same amount of money for a one year period could pay for:

350-thousand registered nurses

430-thousand elementary school teachers

1-million college scholarships

The longer the war drags on, the more likely it will last for years and years, costing more death and destruction in Ukraine, exacerbating the climate crisis, causing famine in the Middle East and Africa, disrupting economies and pushing us to the brink of nuclear war.

(S)  It’s not up to the US to decide the fate of Ukraine.

The US is already deciding the fate of Ukraine by shipping $40-50 billion worth of weapons and military aid in the last six months, that’s over $110  million dollars a day, to escalate this war, starve millions in Africa and the Middle East, worsen the climate crisis, send inflation skyrocketing and risk nuclear war between the two most heavily armed nuclear nations–the US and Russia. Scientists say a nuclear war between the US and Russia would likely result in the death of 5-billion people, 60% of the human population. Those who survived would suffer in subzero sunless winters of famine.

We are now witnessing a proxy war–bordering on a direct war— between the US and Russia, the two countries sitting on 90% of the world’s nuclear stockpile. The US government wants to maintain domination of a unipolar world–this is the reason Congress and the White House are sending Ukraine rockets and missiles and providing intelligence to sink Russian ships. It’s not about democracy versus autocracy; it’s about US global domination.

As for the role of the US in negotiating a peace settlement, it is now incumbent upon us, the country that provoked this war, to support a diplomatic agreement.

(S) We must keep sending weapons to Ukraine to support that country’s right to self-determination.

(R) The question is self-determination for who? For the last decade the US has undermined the right of Ukrainians in the east, those most aligned with Russia, to exercise self-determination. Instead of supporting implementation of the MINSK II Accord to promote peace, the US funneled billions of dollars worth of weapons to fuel a war in the east between those aligned with right-wing nationalist neo-Nazi forces and those aligned with Russia. In 2019, Ukraine passed legislation banning the use of Russian in the public sector workforce. The law also required TV and film distribution firms to ensure 90 percent of their content was in Ukrainian.

A civil war in the Donbass resulted in 14,000 deaths prior to the Russian invasion, so the conflict did not start on Feb. 24th, but has been ongoing since 2014.

As for the right of self-determination, the world has a right to choose life over death and the longer this war continues, the greater the risk to the entire world.

(S) This is a war between autocracy and democracy, and we must defend democracy around the world.

(R) While it’s true we have some semblance of democracy–some people can vote–in the United States, the fight to defend democracy must begin at home, where neo-fascists legislate to limit voting rights, storm the capitol, spread race hatred and back abortion bans to deny women control over their own bodies and send doctors who assist them to prison for life. Rather than hurling taxpayer money to defend a corrupt government in Ukraine, where neo-Nazis are an official wing of the military, we should focus our attention on defending democracy at home. Moreover, freedom of the press is under attack, not just in Russia and Ukraine, but here in the United States, where the Biden administration–following in Trump’s footsteps– insists on extraditing journalist Julian Assange for publishing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. If Assange is extradited and prosecuted, this will have a chilling effect on all journalists in the United States. Without a free press, there is no democracy.

Marcy Winograd
Marcy Winograd

Marcy Winograd of Progressive Democrats of America served as a 2020 DNC Delegate for Bernie Sanders and co-founded the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party. Coordinator of CODEPINKCONGRESS, Marcy spearheads Capitol Hill calling parties to mobilize co-sponsors and votes for peace and foreign policy legislation.

11 comments

  1. Two comments:
    1) The US definitely had input into Ukrainian politics ever since Independence in 1992, then more involvement as Ukraine swerved more towards Russia in the Orange Revolution of 2004. Ten years later in 2014, the US had an extraordinarily visible presence in the “Glorious Revolution of the Maidan Coup that brought the anti-Russians into power.
    2) Way back when the Ukrainians attacked the Donbas separatists, about when the Crimeans chose to return to Mother Russia, the peoples of Donetsk and Luhansk voted to form autonomous Republics. As the Ukrainians gathered troops and began shelling in preparation for a ‘final assault’, these Republics petitioned Russia’s Duma for recognition. When that was granted, they petitioned Putin for military support in defense of the Donbas. Putin complied, invoked Article 51 for mutual defense allowed by the UN Charter. and began the Special Military Operation–not an invasion, but a local matter to save Russian-Ukrainian lives.

  2. You can’t defend something you don’t have Marcy.

    Also, Freedom of the Press is not under attack. Freedom of the Press is dead.

    Nobody will lift a finger to stop the madmen and psychopaths who rule. Not until it is far far too late. The future is pain, consuming those on the bottom first followed by everybody else.

    World War, inflation, and economic collapse will assure it. All of which have already started.

  3. Let me be naïve for an instant…

    From what I can read, it’s clear that in 2014 there was a pull between the Russian-backed Eurasian Customs Union and the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement. Also that there are some real differences between the western (and central) part of the country and its Eastern part. The country was then painfully pulled apart across these seams.

    It’s so incredibly sad and shows a lack of understanding as all rational logic puts the EU’s future chance of prosperity smack in Eurasia. With Ukraine right in Europe’s heart.

    It’s high time we Europeans take our future into our own hands. Set up our own defence force, step out of NATO, remove all American forces off our continent and create a joint pan-Eurasian Association.

    We all want peace and prosperity. Let’s end this war and build our European future with (a jointly rebuilt) Ukraine at its centre 🙂 Most EU citizens hate Brussels anyway, so a rebrand will do us all a lot of good:)

    Let’s ask Mrs Merkel and Mr Putin to sit at the table and broker this deal. Somehow I think the time is ripe.

  4. I have no patience for anyone who excuses the Russian invasion. Our hands are not clean, we all understand that. However Putin has destroyed the hope of freedom in Russia. We have no other opdtion but to support the Ukrainians. Hey, we have no shortage of neo-Naziis here.

    1. Putin didn’t destroy the hope of freedom; Yeltsin did that with authoritarian policies and giving away the people’s property to oligarch/gangsters. Yes, we have neo-nazis; tell me why we shouldn’t fight against them here and in Ukraine. Both in the U.S. and in Ukraine those who led genocide are celebrated. Ukraine has made a point of recalling the Holocaust in positive terms, and demonizing Russians in the same terms as the nazis who called them the untermenschen. Maybe Russians should have no patience with someone like you, Herb, who can’t grasp the importance of that. Twenty seven million, Herb. Here in the U.S., we just don’t get it. That’s because we don’t have to. We sit in the mythical shining city on the hill that was born in our own genocide of those who preceded us here. By the way, in 2019 not only the Russian language was banned; Yiddish was too. Does that tell you something?

    1. We the thinking,feeling citizens of the US and the rest of the world are in deep trouble.because of the economic and moral.transgessions of a few bad actors on the world scene.in search.of power and profit This most.definitely.includes the US.Israel and the.Saudis.Wanton.killing.and Genocide are the order of the day.Nuclear Winter and extinction are in the immediate.future if we do.not.change course.

  5. I cannot understand why the European countries support this, this is their neighbor. They cannot possibly be so short sighted

    1. W. EUROPE AND THE FUTURE

      I’ve wondered about that, too. Granted, the W. Euro elite shares most interests with the U.S. neolib elite. But they can’t all be blinkered to reality–they live much closer to Eurasia.

      What if the actual strategy is to string the U.S. elite along as far as possible? Since American “leaders” never look beyond the mirror or their own pet analyses, they will take apparent W. Euro obsequiousness as genuine.

      Meanwhile Eur can work on its own future behind the scenes. If the BRICS alliance becomes viable, W. Eur could form trade alliances informally through its corporations.

      The rest of the world can see that the U.S. has little left of its econ might other than the MIC. It offers fear at home and death globally; obvious symptoms of a sick fragility. There is little reason to consider this the best for the future of W. Europe or the world as a whole.

  6. The US has a captive and fearful public who will just go along with whatever the Deep State has mapped out for them and the nation. You could not find a more obedient and docile population around the world. Or a more brainwashed one.
    As such even if the nation is going to commit suicide collectively, which at the current rate may happen in the next decade, there will hardly be any dissenting voices that will carry any weight. In short, we are F****d.

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