Viewpoint by Somar Wijayadasa*
NEW YORK. 28 September 2023 (IDN) — Addressing the current United Nations General Assembly (missed by leaders of China. Russia, France and Britain), Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “Today, the rhetoric of our opponents is filled with slogans: ‘invasion’, ‘aggression’, ‘annexation’ and not a single word about the root causes of the [Ukraine] problem”.
Peace is possible only when all parties involved in this man-made catastrophe realize the truth and reality of why we are in this predicament today.
Many believe that Russia’s military intervention occurred due to the NATO expansion, subversion of the MINSK agreements, abolition of the Russian language, military interventions on ethnic Russians in Donbas, and Russia’s national security concerns.
Fact 1: NATO’s aggressive and intrusive military expansion
Moscow has argued since the 1990s that NATO’s eastward expansion and deployment of its forces near its borders threaten Russia’s national security and that Ukraine’s membership in the alliance presents an existential threat to the Russian State.
A declassified National Security Archives document reveals security assurances the US gave to Soviet leaders against NATO expansion that reads: “U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s famous ‘not one inch eastward’ assurance about NATO expansion in his meeting with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev on 9 February 1990,” was part of a cascade of assurances about Soviet security given by Western leaders to Gorbachev and other Soviet officials.
In 1997, US diplomat (America’s Russia expert) George Kennan said that the expansion of NATO into Central Europe was “the most fateful error of American policy that could radically worsen relations between Russia and the United States in the future”.
Fact 2: The Maidan coup in Kiev in 2014
According to the veteran German statesman Oskar Fontaine (who has worked under four German chancellors, Brandt, Schmidt, Kohl and Schröder) and served as president of the Bundesrat) pointed out “the conflict in Ukraine which began with the Maidan putsch in Kiev in 2014, and since then, the United States and its Western vassals have been arming Ukraine and systematically preparing it for confrontation with Russia”.
Fact 3: Subversion of the MINSK agreements
The Minsk Agreements signed in 2014 and 2015 and approved by the UN Security Council were designed to resolve the civil conflict in Ukraine by granting autonomy to the two separatist republics—Donetsk and Luhansk—under the jurisdiction of Ukraine.
Instead, its architects sabotaged it. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces”—a ploy to prepare Ukraine for war against Russia.
Then German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande corroborated that. The WAR is a direct result of these people sabotaging the Minsk Agreements.
Fact 4: Abolition of the Russian language
The law deepened divisions within Ukrainian society as it violated the constitutional rights of millions of Ukrainian Russian speakers—who were discriminated against and victimized.
Though it is the prerogative of any country to adopt whatever language they prefer, the discontent can lead to wars—as happened in my country, Sri Lanka, which fought a 30-year separatist war due to the language issue.
Fact 5: Military interventions on Russian-speaking majority in Donbas
The war in Ukraine started in 2014, eight years before Russia’s military incursion in February 2022.
It was an arguably genocidal war raging inside Ukraine by the government in Kiev with its Neo-Nazi battalions, against the Russian-speaking peoples of Donbas—a war which claimed the lives of around 14,000 people, many of them children, and displaced around 1.5 million Ukrainians, mostly of Russian ethnicity. Check the highlights for Wikipedia’s unbiased views.
Fact 6: Russia’s National Security Guarantees
In December 2021, Moscow submitted a set of security proposals to the US, EU, and NATO, demanding the end of NATO expansion, the removal of US missiles near Russia as they stood in 1997, and guarantees that Ukraine would never join the bloc. This appeal was rebuffed.
Several European leaders support providing security guarantees to Russia. For example, French President Emmanuel Macron: “The West and NATO will have to come up with security guarantees not only for Kiev but also for Moscow to secure a lasting peace”.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz: We need to revert to the security agreements we had in the last decades that were “the basis for peace and security order in Europe since the end of the Cold War”.
The militarization of Ukraine by the US, EU and NATO began in 2014 following the Maiden coup and sabotaging the Minsk Agreements. It occurred only because of the expansion of NATO into Central Europe in violation of security guarantees that the West provided to Russia in 1990. It is precisely due to these factors that Russia, in February 2022, authorized its “special military operation” to demilitarize Ukraine.
As a result, now there is a legitimate outcry from all over the world demanding the creation of a global and regional security architecture.
Questioning for how long and why they have to foot the bill for this never-ending war, the whole world demands peace in Ukraine.
On the eve of the US Presidential elections, a few aspiring candidates are questioning the prudence of this War. They question “the current ‘blank-check’ policy of supporting Kiev with financial and military aid” and argue that “NATO should be disbanded”. People all over the world are expressing similar sentiments.
Just days ago, twenty-nine Republican representatives and senators submitted a letter to the White House questioning: “The American people deserve to know what their money has gone to. How is the counteroffensive going? Are the Ukrainians any closer to victory than they were six months ago? What is our strategy, and what is the president’s exit plan?”
Peace in Ukraine—Still Possible
We have seen a plethora of peace formulas to resolve the Ukrainian conflict, though not acceptable to all parties.
Peaceful negotiations—addressing the root causes of this war—are the only way to end the war in Ukraine. However, the Western powers are determined to continue the war (as they have publicly declared) until Russia is destroyed. Therefore, it is unfortunate that Russia is now compelled to settle the conflict by military means—no matter how dreadful the end (nuclear war) would be.
As I pointed out in my March 2022 IDN article “Never Too Late for Peace in Ukraine”, it is still possible for Ukraine’s leadership to realize that it would be better for Ukraine to accept—a neutral stance, a decentralized and non-nuclear Ukraine precisely on the path of Austria after the Second World War.
But Ukraine’s chances have now diminished. The Minsk Agreements are now defunct; Russia has already militarily and legally captured 20% of Ukraine’s territory—after Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson held referendums and joined Russia; and NATO is evasive on Ukraine joining the alliance. So, what is there to fight for? To lose more territory and sovereignty?
The need of the hour
-1- Initiate an immediate ceasefire.
-2- Freeze movement of all military forces and equipment.
-3- Begin diplomatic negotiations—between the two parties.
-4- Use the framework and decisions almost agreed upon in Istanbul last year.
-5- Initiate action to establish a viable global and regional security architecture.
-6- NATO to remove its forces and military installations from Russia’s borders.
-7- Dismantle NATO or revert to its original mandate.
I only hope that calm and sane heads prevail.
*Somar Wijayadasa, an international lawyer, was a Faculty Member of the University of Sri Lanka (1967-1972), worked for IAEA and FAO (1973-1980), delegate of UNESCO to the UN General Assembly (1980-1995), and was the Representative of UNAIDS at the United Nations from 1995-2000. [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: Rally on Euromaidan, near Kyiv, 2 February 2014. CC BY-SA 3.0
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