NO War in Ukraine: Stop NATO-Expansion: THEY ARE PLAYING WITH FIRE: DIPLOMACY MUST PREVAIL
As the clouds of war continue to gather over Ukraine, the British government, alongside the US, is ramping up the threat of war. Even the Ukrainian foreign minister is calling for calm. Yet in the most cynical move of his career so far Boris Johnson has used the threat of war to distract from the implosion of his premiership. To find out what is really going on join us this Thursday evening (10 February). WHO WOULD BENEFIT FROM RUSSIA GOING TO WAR WITH UKRAINE? ONE OF THE LESS-DISCUSSED ASPECTS OF THE CURRENT CRISIS IN EASTERN EUROPE IS ITS HUGE SALES POTENTIAL - TEN MYTHS ABOUT THE UKRAINE CRISIS - PLAYING WITH FIRE: DIPLOMACY MUST PREVAIL OVER UKRAINE - EVEN THE UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IS CALLING FOR CALM FOLLOWING JOHNSON’S VISIT TO KYIV
The government is using the crisis as an opportunity to prove itself as America’s most loyal European ally. This is in stark contrast to other European countries - France and Germany in particular - who are keen to see a diplomatic solution prevail rather than a new European war. The British media, in its usual gung ho fashion, has barely mentioned the concerted efforts of our European allies to prevent war, but on Thursday we will be joined by politicians from Europe keep to share an alternative view.
Our esteemed panel includes Jeremy Corbyn, Professor Richard Sakwa, Die Linke's Christine Buchholz and Stop the War's Andrew Murray. More to be announced very soon.
PLAYING WITH FIRE: DIPLOMACY MUST PREVAIL OVER UKRAINE
EVEN THE UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IS CALLING FOR CALM FOLLOWING JOHNSON’S VISIT TO KYIV Terina Hine With the build-up of troops on the Ukrainian-Russian border, the increased deployment of US forces to eastern Europe and an ever growing supply of military hardware to Ukraine, the threat of an all-encompassing European war is very real. Russia accuses the west of “whipping up hysteria” and trying to draw it into a war it doesn’t want; while the west accuses Russia of trying to “redraw the security map of Europe”. No-one knows whether there will be an attack, but with such high stakes sabre rattling anything could happen. And it would not be the first time war had started by mistake – playing with fire is a sure way to get burnt. Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, has once again tried to dampen the flames, directly contradicting the US and UK, by stating that Russia has not amassed enough troops to mount an invasion. Moments before Kuleba’s statement, Boris Johnson had declared there is a “clear and present danger” of an imminent military campaign. And a few hours after, the US announced a deployment of over 3,000 additional troops to eastern Europe to defend its NATO allies. Ukraine of course is not a member of NATO. Russia’s response: these are “destructive steps which increase military tension and reduce scope for political decisions.” Key to the current crisis is the breakdown of the Minsk peace agreement, signed by Ukraine and Russia in 2015. The agreement was intended to bring an end to the conflict between Ukrainian and separatist forces in the eastern region of the country, the Donbas. Putin has accused Ukraine of “chronic sabotage” of the agreement by failing to permit local elections and fulfil its promise of allowing the Donbas regional autonomy; the Ukrainians accuse Russia of political interference in the region and of providing military assistance to the separatist forces. This regional crisis has been exacerbated by US and NATO interference. In 2014 the US helped install a new western friendly government in Ukraine and has since been encouraging closer links between Ukraine and NATO. The US, hoping to expand its sphere of influence right up to the Russian border, has a 20-year history of encouraging NATO’s eastward expansion. Putin has asked the United States and NATO to guarantee Kyiv will not be joining the military alliance. They refuse. In 1990, at the time of German reunification, the US promised NATO would not expand its borders beyond former East German territory. Verbal assurances were given by the US secretary of state James Baker, to Gorbachev, and were later reiterated by the British Prime Minister John Major to the then Soviet defence minister. In a clear breach of this agreement thirteen additional member states, all from central and eastern Europe, have joined the alliance since 1999. Moving ever closer to Russia’s borders is, unsurprisingly, viewed as an act of confrontation in Moscow. For the Johnson government the Ukraine crisis is an opportunity to boost its “Global Britain” fantasy in a post Brexit world. It provides the chance to try and prove itself as a serious player on the international stage and as America’s most loyal European ally. For the US, the UK is a useful tool in Europe freeing Washington to focus on its main strategic goal further east, namely China. For Boris Johnson there is the added bonus that few distractions are quite as distracting as war – and with his party imploding around him it is no surprise that the unscrupulous Johnson is keen to find a distraction. Playing the statesman, strutting on the international stage, offering military and financial support to Ukraine, and talking up the prospect of war provide the perfect diversion from the home front. In contrast to its main European allies, Britain is firmly backing the warmongering US. Along with Slovakia, Hungary and Croatia, Germany and France do not hold that Putin is planning an imminent invasion, and do not agree that the way to handle Russia is through threats. France and Germany are hoping for a diplomatic solution and are in close contact with President Putin pushing for a negotiated agreement. The US has been pushing hard to get Germany on side. Reflecting its historic and economic relationship with Russia, and the legacy of the Second World War, Germany has refused to supply Ukraine with weapons, and has even blocked Estonia from sending old East German military equipment. It is impossible for Germans to sanction the use of German made military equipment against Russians. Consequently, Ukraine has accused Germany of being untrustworthy while the Wall Street Journal call it an unreliable ally. But with the weight of history and gas pipes on its shoulders, Germany is unlikely to adopt the aggressive stance of its anglophone allies any time soon. To prevent war diplomacy must prevail, if not thousands of lives will be lost with Ukraine bearing the brunt of the horror. The strong anti-war sentiment felt by the vast majority of the public and the knowledge that recent western military action has been an abject failure with disastrous consequences, must translate into action that ensures Britain ends its addiction to military intervention and its desire to cling to the coattails of the US.
04 Feb 2022 • by Terina Hine
Playing With Fire: Diplomacy Must Prevail Over Ukraine | Stop the War (stopwar.org.uk)
TEN MYTHS ABOUT THE UKRAINE CRISIS
ANDREW MURRAY BREAKS DOWN TEN MYTHS SURROUNDING THE CURRENT TENSIONS AROUND UKRAINE
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss meeting NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. States have a right to join NATO The media give the impression that not joining NATO would breach Ukraine’s fundamental rights. In fact, no state has a right to join NATO – the existing member countries determine who should be admitted. Ultimately, the matter is decided by the US government. That is why its 2008 decision to admit Ukraine (and Georgia) at some point is so important and threatening to Russia. The extension of NATO is the extension of US power and military hegemony. It should have been wound up at the same time as the Warsaw Pact thirty years ago and replaced by new Europe-wide security arrangements. NATO is peaceful, so no-one should feel threatened by its expansion NATO was founded after the Second World War, ostensibly to protect against “Soviet expansion.” Leading supporters at the time, like Labour right-winger Denis Healey, later admitted that it was a mistake. However, NATO was not directly associated with international aggression during the Cold War. The US and Britain operated outside it when required. However, that is no longer true. After the collapse of the USSR NATO not only expanded geographically, it also extended its mission. It led the illegal war against Yugoslavia in 1999 and was the flag under which Afghanistan was invaded and occupied for twenty years. It also took the lead in the 2011 war against Libya. So, over the last generation NATO has a substantial record as an instrument of war initiated by the US and Britain above all. The Ukrainian government wants peace In fact, the Ukrainian government has failed to implement the agreements signed in Minsk to end the conflict over the Donbass. These required it to offer autonomy to the breakaway regions within a new Ukrainian constitutional settlement, recognising its diversity. It has taken no steps to act on this signed commitment, nor have the western powers pushed it to. It is true that Russia too has not implemented its obligations arising from Minsk, but it cannot be pretended that Ukraine is actually working for a peaceful resolution of the crisis. Ukraine is a democracy This is an over-simplification at best. No-one pretends that Putin’s Russia is anything other than authoritarian, but Ukraine is little better. Since the 2014 coup by nationalists, which overthrew Ukraine’s elected President, it has taken a number of undemocratic steps – the Communist party, which had mass support, has been barred from competing in elections. Other pro-Russian politicians have been arrested or harassed. And despite being the first language for millions of Ukrainians, Russian has been banned from the public sphere. The country is also blighted by oligarchic corruption as bad as in Russia, with considerable sway over the political process. Ukraine shares Western values Again, this tells only half the story. Alone in Europe, Ukraine celebrates Nazi collaborators and pogrom-mongers, like the Bandera movement. This movement endeavoured to work with the Nazis when they occupied Ukraine during World War Two and was responsible for the massacre of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Poles. Yet this movement is hailed in today’s Ukraine. Its supporters – overt fascists – are also embedded in the Ukrainian state apparatus. Ukraine is not fascist, but it is very open to far-right ideologies and politicians. It even votes against UN resolutions condemning Nazism, the only country other than the US to do so! It’s all about Ukrainian self-determination Ukrainians have the same right to self-determination as any other peoples. We do not sign up to Putin’s arguments that Ukraine can only be sovereign in association with Russia. That is a matter for the Ukrainian people. However, that is not the same as saying that Ukraine’s present borders, which include millions of Russians and Russian-speakers, and which were constructed arbitrarily in Soviet time, are the most sensible. Russians in the east of the country have a right to self-determination too, which should be peacefully negotiated. There are similar problems in several parts of the ex-USSR, which needs recognising. Russia has no legitimate concerns Russia has been invaded from the west several times in its history, most recently in World War Two, when the Soviet Union suffered 25 million dead. It was promised in 1991 that NATO would not expand eastwards, but this happened nevertheless. Then it was promised that western troops would not deploy to the countries of Eastern Europe. This happened too. Washington has never been interested in anyone’s interests other than its own. The US played a key role in deposing a friendly and elected President in Ukraine in 2014. There can be no solution that does not give these concerns due weight. The Tories are resolute against Putin The Tories’ anti-Putin rhetoric has been notable for its stridency. However, London has become notorious as the world’s number one bolthole for corrupt Russian money. The Tories have rolled out the red carpet for corrupt Russian businessmen, Putin’s principle supporters, and have done nothing to crack down on illegal activities, nor to establish the legitimacy of their money. Indeed, the Tories have taken large sums of money from oligarchs to fund their own party – more than £2 million since Boris Johnson became PM. The Biden administration is making it clear that the UK will have to clamp down if sanctions are imposed, but the government has made no moves in that direction. The Tories have no serious interest in tackling corruption by Russian money, which a US report noted has close ties to “the ruling Conservative Party, the press and its real estate and financial” industries. The British government is standing up for peace and international principles The Tories have taken the lead in talking up the prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, to the point of a suspicion that they want it to happen, perhaps as a welcome distraction from Boris Johnson’s domestic political woes. They have no interest in Ukraine at all. They merely wish Britain to be the foremost partners to the USA in its plans to extend its hegemony, as it was in Iraq. They ignore the UN whenever it suits. British troops have no business in Eastern Europe – they only serve to ratchet up tension further. The anti-war movement should confront Russia We are against war in Ukraine. The differences should be negotiated peacefully, respecting Ukrainian rights and Russian security concerns. Our focus is, however, on the British government – how it has contributed to the present situation through its post-Cold War policy of backing NATO expansion and moving its own troops eastwards, and how its bellicose rhetoric and arms sales are aggravating it now. Our contribution to peace must lie in forcing our own government to assist de-escalation of the crisis. 31 Jan 2022
WHO WOULD BENEFIT FROM RUSSIA GOING TO WAR WITH UKRAINE?
ONE OF THE LESS-DISCUSSED ASPECTS OF THE CURRENT CRISIS IN EASTERN EUROPE IS ITS HUGE SALES POTENTIAL Paul Rogers
As the Ukraine crisis evolves, the military machinery on both sides gears up for combat, with Russia moving troops and equipment towards Ukraine and NATO sending reinforcements to Eastern Europe. Each side persists with its propaganda, and it is not easy to get a full picture of what is really going on.While Russia has been leading the way in troop and equipment movements, Western sources are prone to more than a little exaggeration. We are persistently told that Russia has 100,000 troops massed on the border, but detail is lacking. It’s not clear what Russia’s routine basing is in that strategically important area – are there usually 10,000, 20,000 or as many as 30,000 troops based there anyway? Some of the public sources indicate that many of the troops are at least 200km from Ukraine, but 100,000 massed on the border ready to strike sounds better. To complicate matters, one of the most senior British politicians, the foreign secretary Liz Truss, announced on the radio on 26 January that there are “hundreds of thousands” of Russian troops ready to go. Was that a slip of the tongue or has the threat doubled overnight? Meanwhile, the US already has Special Forces training soldiers in Ukraine and has 8,500 troops on alert, Denmark is sending fighter jets to Lithuania and a frigate to the Baltic, France has offered troops to Romania and Spain is sending a warship to the Black Sea. Britain’s contribution so far is to send anti-tank weapons to Ukraine, along with soldiers to train Ukraine Army personnel in their use, and to deploy more troops to Estonia, where it already leads a battle group. Some 2,000 of those British weapons – known as MBT-NLAWs, or Main Battle Tank Next-generation Light Anti-tank Weapons – have currently been shipped at a so-far undisclosed cost. Developed as a joint Swedish-British project, the MBT-NLAWs are manufactured by Saab, and are shoulder-launched for use against tanks at a short range of up to 200 metres, making them something of a last-ditch system. NLAWs have already been sold to ten countries. One of the less obvious aspects of the current crisis is that while this sale alone, with its rapid export to Ukraine, will do a fair bit to promote the potential of NLAWs, an actual war would be even more useful in boosting sales – especially if NLAWs turned out to be effective against the latest Russian tanks. While this fact simply does not appear in media analyses, it is an important driver of arms races and actual conflicts. It’s part of a wider requirement for military forces to have enemies, if they are to remain profitable. No doubt the Russian arms people will also be all ready to demonstrate the power of their own weapons, with all the publicity being given to both sides in the international media being really helpful for the people building their arms sales careers, as well as for the companies themselves and for their all-important shareholders. Russia, in particular, has spent much of the past two decades investing heavily in modernising its largely obsolete equipment and badly needs to recoup the costs incurred with increased arms sales. A war would certainly help, but even the spectacle of NATO’s concern about the newfound power of the Russian military is quite beneficial. The ideal situation for an arms manufacturer is to arm both sides, which happens surprisingly often. Just before the 2011 Franco-British air war against Libya, French and Italian companies were repairing and upgrading Libyan aircraft and armoured vehicles and then the French and British air forces set about destroying them. When Britain fought the Falklands-Malvinas War back in 1982, its Navy fielded the Type 42 destroyer as its main air defence escort, having previously sold two such destroyers to Argentina. And during that war, the Argentinians used an Exocet anti-ship cruise missile to sink one of the British Type 42s, HMS Sheffield. The Exocet was manufactured by Britain’s close NATO ally, France, and was one of the early anti-ship cruise missiles. Its ‘success’ was a great aid to its sales in the following years. Indeed, a common sales practice after wars is to increase the marketing for any weapon used in the conflict. For this, the Falklands-Malvinas war provides another example. The Royal Navy’s main long-range air defence missile was the Sea Dart. It was credited with destroying eight aircraft in the Falklands and, shortly after the war, its makers, British Aerospace, modified the standard Sea Dart advert in the military journals by simply over-stamping it “COMBAT PROVEN”. For some reason, the advert missed out one aspect of the missile’s performance. Near the end of the war, a Sea Dart missile fired from a Royal Navy destroyer mistakenly shot down an Army Air Corps Gazelle helicopter, killing the two crew and two army communications specialists. The news was communicated to crews right across the task force within 24 hours, but it was many months before the Ministry of Defence would acknowledge the loss publicly. Back to the Ukraine crisis. Even now, a war is far from inevitable and there are some excellent analyses available pointing us in other directions, Joseph Gerson’s the common security approach, which was just published by the International Peace Bureau, is a particularly good example. The problem is that the world’s really big armies, when they are in direct opposition, are liable to have a life of their own. Between them, NATO and Russia are responsible for well over half of the world’s annual $2trn military budget. Apart from anything else, such armies are massive bureaucracies, with a basic requirement to survive and thrive – and, in doing so, they need huge funding, which they, in turn, feed vast sums to the arms companies. The whole structure makes for a formidable momentum that is currently made even worse by the need in several of the states, not least the UK and Russia itself, to divert attention from domestic politics. The war-promoting hydras are not going to go away any time soon, and they play a far greater role in the Ukraine crisis than is being widely acknowledged. Any understanding of the crisis simply must factor in that as well as everything else, it is a matter of business: the business of war. 02 Feb 2022
Who Would Benefit From Russia Going to War With Ukraine? | Stop the War (stopwar.org.uk)