Washington maneuvered Russia into the crisis. Putin was willing to negotiate the status of the Russophone districts of Eastern Ukraine under the 2015 Minsk protocols brokered by the French and Germans, and signed by Ukraine, Germany, France, Russia and representatives of Luhansk and Donetsk, the rebel provinces.
The Ukraine government—with American instigation—abandoned an agreement that would have guaranteed the rights of the Russian minority within a sovereign Ukraine, as
Steve Bryen reported in these pages on February 21.
Washington and London, Bryen emphasized, “think a Minsk-based deal would lead to the ‘Finlandization’ of Ukraine. Behind the scenes, it is quite clear, by omission and commission, that Washington has let the Ukrainians believe that Minsk II is off the table – although the US was never a party to Minsk II.”
After Kiev, goaded by Washington, rejected a limited autonomy for the Russian districts within a sovereign Ukraine, Putin recognized their independence.
There is a history behind this which Western governments and the media find it convenient to forget. As Putin revealed in his 8,000-word speech on February 21, he had proposed in 2000 to then-president Bill Clinton that Russia might join NATO. Russia had nearly gone bankrupt in July 1998, its economy was in shambles and its military was demoralized.
Clinton rejected Putin’s proposal out of hand. Flush from its victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, Washington believed it had the power as well as the moral authority to remake the world according to its own utopian, “end of history” vision.
Tens of thousands gather in Kiev’s Independence Square to hear the line-up of the new pro-Western cabinet on February 26, 2014. Photo: AFP / Bulent Kilic
In 2004 the United States sponsored the so-called Orange Revolution in Ukraine. I wrote in
2008: “On the night of November 22, 2004…. Vladimir Putin watched the television news in his dacha near Moscow. People who were with Putin that night report his anger and disbelief at the unfolding ‘Orange’ Revolution in Ukraine. ‘They lied to me,’ Putin said bitterly of the United States. ‘I’ll never trust them again.’”
In 2007, the United States backed a quasi-terrorist criminal organization, the Kosovo Liberation Army, as the kernel of a new state in Serbia’s Kosovo province, without much worry about the niceties of national sovereignty or international law. I wrote in 2007 (“
The Inconvenient Serbs”):
“The Bill Clinton administration, in this writer’s considered view, provoked NATO’s 1999 bombing war against Serbia with malice of forethought, as a gesture to the Muslim world. The United States in effect was willing to bomb Christians in order to protect Muslims, in this case the Albanian Kosovo majority whom it accused the Serbs of mistreating. That is precisely what the Democrats say… Democratic Senator Joseph Biden contended that Kosovo independence would constitute a “victory for Muslim democracy,” and “a much-need example of US-Muslim partnership.”
Clinton rejected the idea out of hand. In 2007, the George W Bush administration similarly rejected Russian and Serbian proposals to partition Kosovo, that is, allowing the Christian majority portions of northern Kosovo to join Serbia. Instead, the Muslim paramilitaries to whom the US gave control of Kosovo forced 200,000 Christian Serbs to leave the province.
In 2014, then-assistant secretary of state Victoria Nuland stage-managed the Maidan Coup against Russian ally Viktor Yanukovych, and was caught red-handed on
a mobile phone call taped and published by the Russians, famously expostulating, “F—k the EU.”
Nuland saw Yanukovych’s overthrow as a prelude to Putin’s own downfall. Months later, Nuland bragged to a Congressional committee that the United States had spent $20 billion promoting regime change in Russia.
Washington’s agenda hasn’t changed; it wants the expansion of NATO up to Russia’s border and a liberal pro-American regime in Moscow. As Secretary of State Antony Blinken declared to the media at a January 7 State Department briefing, “NATO never promised not to admit new members. It could not and would not – the ‘open door policy’ was a core provision of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty that founded NATO.”
As I reported on
February 21, German media released documents from the British archives proving that the US, German, France and Britain had indeed promised Russia in 1991 that NATO would not expand to the East if Russia withdrew its troops from Eastern Europe. US President Joe Biden makes a point at NATO headquarters. Photo: AFP / Olivier Hoslet
What has changed is the position of Russia and China.