FIR Newsletter 2021-49

Does NATO want to conjure up a war?

FIR follows with concern the propagandistic escalation of Ukraine’s and NATO’s attacks against the Russian Federation with the claim that Russia is preparing a war against Ukraine. In time for the NATO meeting in the Baltics, Ukrainian President Volodimir Selensky claimed in November 2021 that Russian forces were preparing a surprise attack in the coming days. In addition, he added the announcement Ukraine would recapture Crimea in the near future. Now, “unnamed” U.S. intelligence agencies are spreading the “knowledge” via the “Washington Post” that the Russian attack should take place in early 2022. This claim is based on alleged Russian troop deployments along the Ukrainian border.
One might think that all this is propaganda bluster if it were not for the fact that representatives of NATO, the United States and various Western European countries are using these allegations as an opportunity to make threats against Russia and to announce military buildups in the direction of the Russian border. NATO is also increasing its military presence in the Black Sea. In other words, it is doing exactly what the Russian government has been accusing Western countries of doing for years, pushing their military infrastructure “irresponsibly to Russia’s borders.” Moreover, Russia criticizes, the buildup of Ukraine’s military by the U.S. and other NATO countries has emboldened Kiev to undermine the Minsk agreements.
Confirmation of this Russian concern is provided by the appearance of EU foreign affairs envoy Josep Borrell, who describes the EU’s “strong support for Ukraine” as “diplomacy”. The Baltic republics and Poland, which the EU is calling for further sanctions and “deterrence measures” against Russia, back him. In that way they hope to deter Russia from possible military action. At the same time, the “external enemy” in the form of refugees, against whom Europe must also defend itself militarily, is being invoked on the border with Belarus.

In the moment, it is not yet clear how this propagandistic escalation can be stopped. For example, there was a meeting between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the end of November on the sidelines of a conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Stockholm. According to all information that has become known about it, this meeting only led to clarification of the different ideas between the two sides, but has not yet been able to contribute to an easing of tensions. The Russian foreign minister warned clearly against the “nightmarish prospect of a military confrontation,” while the U.S. secretary of state gave the impression that his side were quite prepared to accept war. In Antony Blinken’s appearance, one could get the impression that he has the illusion that such a war would be limited to Europe and that the U.S. would therefore be the real beneficiary. The video conversation between U.S. President Biden and Russia’s President Putin was planned as an important step toward understanding, but according to the results that have become known, it was not convincing. In the language of diplomacy, they said that they would continue dialogue and necessary contacts in accordance with their special responsibility for maintaining international security and stability. At the same time, the U.S. repeated its accusations without any recognizable steps of dialogue.

The FIR calls therefor on Russia, Ukraine and the United States, as well as all governments in Europe to be active for a de-escalation of the situation. No one must allow a military escalation that increases the risk of a major war. The disaster of the Afghanistan mission has just shown in all clarity that military actions can destroy territories and states, but do not create solutions for political conflicts.
A solution to the Ukraine crisis is only possible based on the Minsk agreements, not through military adventures. If the Western states consider themselves allies of Ukraine, they must make this clear to the Ukrainian government.

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