We have been struggling to understand the tragic events in the Ukraine, poring over a stream of current events to discover the master plan behind Putin’s strategy. We failed. Then we looked back to December last year. Suddenly it all clicked.
On December 15, 2021 Russia sent an ultimatum to the US and NATO. Two days later it was published, and the Russian Foreign Office invited the West to sign up and to agree to it, or at least begin discussing it. Not only was it not signed, it wasn’t even properly acknowledged. It was blatantly ignored, as though it were a demand from a teenager to an adult.
Pity, for it would have saved the world from the Ukraine War and Europeans from expensive bills, and the US from the terrible destruction and massive deaths of WWIII. Putin had made clear what he wanted, and it was a reasonable request. All that happened subsequently was brought about in order to achieve, at least, an adult discussion of these documents.
Putin sent the army to Kazakhstan, and in February to the Ukraine, and more recently his army has begun destroying Ukrainian infrastructure, which they had refrained from damaging before.
There is a Russian joke about a man who frequently visited somebody else’s wife. The husband found him and threw him from the window. When he came home a few days later, he discovered his wife’s lover with his legs and arms in a cast. He carried him to the window, but before casting him down, said to him: “Friend, this is my wife. Lay off!” And the lover replied: “Why didn’t you say so at once? Why did you only hint at it?”
NATO and the US should have listened to Putin in December ’21, instead of waiting until December ’22. All the sorrows of the Ukraine have come from subtle hints from Mr Putin, who was not even very interested in the Ukraine.
Let us see what Russia wants from the US.
The Parties shall cooperate on the basis of principles of indivisible, equal and undiminished security and to these ends:
- shall not undertake actions nor participate in or support activities that affect the security of the other Party;
- shall not implement security measures adopted by each Party individually or in the framework of an international organization, military alliance or coalition that could undermine core security interests of the other Party.
The Parties shall seek to ensure that all international organizations, military alliances and coalitions in which at least one of the Parties is taking part adhere to the principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations.
The Parties shall not use the territories of other States with a view to preparing or carrying out an armed attack against the other Party or other actions affecting core security interests of the other Party.
The United States of America shall undertake to prevent further eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and deny accession to the Alliance to the States of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The United States of America shall not establish military bases in the territory of the States of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, use their infrastructure for any military activities or develop bilateral military cooperation with them.
The Parties shall refrain from deploying their armed forces and armaments, including in the framework of international organizations, military alliances or coalitions, in the areas where such deployment could be perceived by the other Party as a threat to its national security, with the exception of such deployment within the national territories of the Parties.
The Parties shall refrain from flying heavy bombers equipped for nuclear or non-nuclear armaments or deploying surface warships of any type, including in the framework of international organizations, military alliances or coalitions, in the areas outside national airspace and national territorial waters respectively, from where they can attack targets in the territory of the other Party.
The Parties shall maintain dialogue and cooperate to improve mechanisms to prevent dangerous military activities on and over the high seas, including agreeing on the maximum approach distance between warships and aircraft.
The Parties shall undertake not to deploy ground-launched intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles outside their national territories, as well as in the areas of their national territories, from which such weapons can attack targets in the national territory of the other Party.
The Parties shall refrain from deploying nuclear weapons outside their national territories and return such weapons already deployed outside their national territories at the time of the entry into force of the Treaty to their national territories. The Parties shall eliminate all existing infrastructure for deployment of nuclear weapons outside their national territories.
The Parties shall not train military and civilian personnel from non-nuclear countries to use nuclear weapons. The Parties shall not conduct exercises or training for general-purpose forces, that include scenarios involving the use of nuclear weapons.
Pay heed to Articles 4, 5 and 6. They are relevant for the case of Ukraine.
Let us see the Russian proposal to NATO, starting with Article 4:
The Russian Federation and all the Parties that were member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as of 27 May 1997, respectively, shall not deploy military forces and weaponry on the territory of any of the other States in Europe in addition to the forces stationed on that territory as of 27 May 1997. With the consent of all the Parties such deployments can take place in exceptional cases to eliminate a threat to security of one or more Parties.
The Parties shall not deploy land-based intermediate- and short-range missiles in areas allowing them to reach the territory of the other Parties.
All member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization commit themselves to refrain from any further enlargement of NATO, including the accession of Ukraine as well as other States.
The Parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall not conduct any military activity on the territory of Ukraine as well as other States in the Eastern Europe, in the South Caucasus and in Central Asia.
In order to exclude incidents the Russian Federation and the Parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall not conduct military exercises or other military activities above the brigade level in a zone of agreed width and configuration on each side of the border line of the Russian Federation and the states in a military alliance with it, as well as Parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Now we can all understand what Putin wants. There are no difficult or hidden conditions, all is perfectly clear. Putin insists on formalizing conditions that were agreed upon by Mr Gorbachev and his Western counterparts in the 80’s and 90’s of the former century. The Russia of Mr Putin does not want to seize the territories or the resources of other countries. What he proposed is not the Sykes-Picot Treaty; it is a generous proposal to the West. If they won’t accept it, then let us accept the unavoidable nuclear annihilation of mankind. The proud will fall, the humble will inherit the earth. And really shocking is that all the conditions and reasons were stated a year ago, and there was a plenty of time to settle. This explains relative lack of Putin’s interest in the Ukraine. Even withdrawal from Herson did not distress him much. Putin does not want to annex the Ukraine, he will do it only in no choice situation.