“We should respect the red lines of both sides”.
Red. / 1.03.2023 “The truth about Ukraine: both sides have lied, cheated and used violence,” Jeffrey Sachs said via video in Berlin.
Major media outlets predominantly provide information on arguments in favor of helping Ukraine retake all Russian-occupied territories. Infosperber assumes that readers are familiar with these arguments. Therefore, we document supplementary voices that consider the continuation of the war risky. Today the US economist and Russia expert Jeffrey Sachs. Translation and first published by Multipolar.
Yanukovych wanted neutrality, not NATO expansion
I have been an advisor to the governments of Russia, Ukraine, and the United Nations, and I want to talk to you about the truth about this war. We are not on the first anniversary of the war, but on the ninth anniversary.
The war began with the violent overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych – a coup backed by the U.S. government. Beginning in 2008, the U.S. pushed NATO expansion all the way to Ukraine and Georgia.
Yanukovych wanted neutrality. He stood between the U.S. and its goal of Nato expansion. When protests against Yanukovych broke out in late 2013, the U.S. seized the opportunity to escalate the protests and contribute to the coup against Yanukovych in February 2014. That was the beginning of the war nine years ago.
Since then, Russia has seized Crimea and war broke out in the Donbass. NATO pumped billions of dollars in weapons into Ukraine. The war continued to escalate. The Minsk I and II peace agreements, which Germany was supposed to help guarantee, did not work because Ukraine refused to implement them and because Germany and France did not push for implementation.
In late 2021, President Putin made Russia’s red lines clear: NATO expansion to Ukraine was unacceptable, Russian control of Crimea must be preserved, and the Donbass must be pacified by implementing the Minsk agreements. But the Biden administration refused to negotiate NATO expansion.
In February 2022, tragically and mistakenly, the Russian invasion occurred, eight years after the coup against Yanukovych. The U.S. has been funneling massive amounts of weapons into the country ever since. Death and destruction have been horrific. In March 2022, Ukraine said that they would negotiate on the basis of neutrality. We now know that the U.S. blocked those negotiations, preferring an escalation of war. In September 2022, the Nord Stream pipelines were blown up. According to the overwhelming evidence, the U.S. is responsible.
We are, ladies and gentlemen, on a path of extreme escalation and media lies or silence: already the narrative that this is the first anniversary of the war is false. This war began because of NATO expansion, U.S. involvement in a coup, and the massive rearmament of Ukraine – then came the horrific invasion of Russia and further escalation.
This war must stop before it leads us all into a nuclear Armageddon.
We must tell the truth. Both sides have lied, cheated, and used violence. Both sides must back down. NATO must stop trying to expand into Ukraine and Georgia. We must heed the red lines of both sides for the world to survive.
At the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the economist advised the governments of Poland and later the Soviet Union on the introduction of a capitalist economic order. At the time, he recommended what he called “shock therapy.” During the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign, he supported and advised candidate Bernie Sanders. Currently, Sachs is director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University in New York and president of the UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
Ukraine: people should use stalemate for negotiations
Near Kharkiv: bombed by Russian troops
by Harald Kujat
Ukraine is fighting for freedom and its territory – but also for U.S. geopolitical interests: The U.S. wants to weaken Russia.
[This article posted on 3/11/2023 is translated from the German on the Internet, https://www.infosperber.ch/politik/welt/ukraine-man-sollte-die-patt-situation-fuer-verhandlungen-nutzen/.]
Media are increasingly spreading voices advocating negotiations only when Russia withdraws from the Donbas and Crimea. Whoever calls for negotiations now is not only a “Putin-understanding”, but a “Putin-worshipper” and “naive pacifist” (FDP President Thierry Burkart). For his empire, Putin knows no borders and wants to regain control over the former Eastern bloc countries (sociologist Grigorij Judin in an interview today in detail on Infosperber).
Therefore, Infosperber documents mainly complementary voices that consider the continuation of the war risky. Today General (ret.) Harald Kujat. He was Inspector General of the German Armed Forces and, as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, NATO’s highest German military officer. Because they are still topical, we document again his statements from an interview with “Zeitgeschehen im Fokus” (intertitle of Infosperber).
Russia sees nuclear strategic balance at risk
Ukraine is fighting for its freedom, for its sovereignty and for the territorial integrity of the country. But the two main players in this war are Russia and the United States.
Ukraine is also fighting for the geopolitical interests of the USA. This is because the stated goal of the U.S. is to weaken Russia politically, economically and militarily to the point where it can turn its attention to its geopolitical rival, the only one capable of threatening its supremacy as a world power: China.
Russia wants to prevent its geopolitical rival, the United States, from gaining strategic superiority that would threaten Russia’s security. Be it through Ukraine’s membership in the U.S.-led NATO, be it through the stationing of American troops, the relocation of military infrastructure or joint NATO maneuvers. The deployment of U.S. systems of NATO’s ballistic missile defense system in Poland and Romania is also a thorn in Russia’s side, as Russia is convinced that the U.S. could also knock out Russian intercontinental strategic systems from these launch facilities and thus endanger the nuclear strategic balance.
Selensky has repeatedly changed the strategic goals of Ukrainian warfare. Currently, Ukraine is pursuing the stated goal of retaking all Russian-occupied territory, including Crimea.
Planned arms deliveries are not enough
Thus, the question to be answered is whether the means of Western arms deliveries is adequate to achieve Ukraine’s intended purpose. The Ukrainian Chief of General Staff, General Salushniy, recently said, “I need 300 battle tanks, 600 to 700 infantry fighting vehicles, and 500 howitzers to push the Russian troops back at least to the positions they held before the February 24 attack. However, with what he receives, “major operations are not possible.”
This explains Ukrainian General Salushniy’s statement that Western arms deliveries are merely prolonging the war. In addition, Russia could surpass the Western escalation at any time with one of its own.
According to U.S. Chief of Staff General Mark Milley, Ukraine has achieved what it could militarily. More, he said, is not possible. Therefore, diplomatic efforts should now be launched to achieve a negotiated peace. I share this view.
Timing for negotiations
Both warring parties are currently back in a stalemate, which is exacerbated by the restrictions imposed by the time of year. So now would be the right time to resume the aborted negotiations. The arms deliveries mean the opposite, namely that the war will be pointlessly prolonged, with even more deaths on both sides and the continuation of the destruction of the country. Even NATO’s secretary-general recently warned that the fighting could escalate into a war between NATO and Russia.
Missed opportunity last March and September
A positive starting point for a negotiated settlement had emerged in late March last year, when the Russians decided to veer away from Kiev and focus on the east and the Donbas. That made the negotiations in Istanbul possible. A similar situation arose in September, before Russia carried out the partial mobilization. The opportunities that arose then have not been used.
Now it would be time to negotiate again, and we are not using this opportunity either, but doing the opposite: we are sending weapons and escalating. This is an aspect that reveals the lack of security vision and strategic judgment.
Putin had explicitly offered negotiations again on September 30, when he declared two more regions to be Russian territory. He has done so several times in the meantime, but has raised the bar by saying he is ready to negotiate, but on the condition that the other side recognizes the territories Russia has annexed.
From this you can see that the longer the war goes on, the more the positions of both sides harden. For Selensky, for his part, has now said that he will not negotiate until the Russians have completely withdrawn from Ukraine.
This makes a solution increasingly difficult, but it is not yet ruled out.
Angela Merkel had deliberately deceived Russia
What Merkel said is clear. She had negotiated the Minsk II agreement only to buy Ukraine time. And Ukraine had also used it to rearm militarily. Former French President Hollande confirmed this.
Russia understandably calls this a fraud. Merkel confirmed that Russia was deliberately deceived. You can evaluate that however you want, but it is a blatant breach of trust and a matter of political predictability.
Nor can one argue away the fact that the Ukrainian government’s refusal to implement the agreement even a few days before the war began – knowing of this intended deception – was one of the triggers for the war.
In the U.N. resolution, the German government had committed itself to implementing the “entire package” of agreed-upon measures. Moreover, the Chancellor, along with the other participants in the Normandy format, signed a declaration on the resolution in which she once again explicitly committed herself to implementing the Minsk agreements.
This is a clear breach of international law. The damage is immense. You have to imagine the situation today. The people who wanted to wage war from the beginning and still want to, always said, you can’t negotiate with Putin. He won’t keep the agreements either way. Now it turns out, we are also among those who do not keep international agreements.
I always believed that this war must be prevented and that it could have been prevented. I made a public statement on this in December 2021. And in early January 2022, I published proposals on how negotiations could achieve a mutually acceptable outcome that would avoid war after all. Unfortunately, things turned out differently. Perhaps one day the question will be asked who wanted this war, who did not want to prevent it, and who could not prevent it.
The longer the war lasts, the more difficult it will be to reach a negotiated peace.
The longer the war lasts, the more difficult it becomes to achieve a negotiated peace. The Russian annexation of four Ukrainian territories on September 30, 2022, is an example of a development that is difficult to reverse.
That is why I found it so regrettable that the negotiations held in Istanbul in March 2022 were broken off after great progress and a thoroughly positive outcome for Ukraine. Russia had apparently agreed in the Istanbul negotiations to withdraw its forces to the level of February 23, before the attack on Ukraine began. Now there are repeated calls for complete withdrawal as a precondition for negotiations.
Ukraine had pledged to renounce NATO membership and not to allow the stationing of foreign troops or military facilities. In return, it was to receive security guarantees from states of its choice. The future of the occupied territories was to be resolved diplomatically within 15 years, explicitly renouncing military force.
But according to reliable information, then British Prime Minister Boris Johnson intervened in Kiev on April 9 and prevented a signing. His reasoning was that the West was not ready for an end to the war.
The negotiations in Istanbul were known, including that they were close to an agreement, but nothing was heard from one day to the next.
Foreign Affairs and Responsible Statecraft, two prestigious magazines, published very informative reports on this. The article in Foreign Affairs was by Fiona Hill, a former senior staffer on the White House National Security Council. Very detailed information was also published as early as May 2 in the pro-government Ukrainska Pravda.
When Putin announced the partial mobilization on Sept. 21, he mentioned publicly for the first time that Ukraine had responded positively to Russian proposals in the Istanbul negotiations in March 2022. “But,” he said literally, “a peaceful solution did not suit the West, so it ordered Kiev to nullify all agreements.”
My experience with negotiations with Russia
I have conducted many negotiations with Russia, for example, on Russia’s contribution to NATO’s Kosovo mission. The U.S. had asked us to do this because they could not reach an agreement with Russia. Russia was finally prepared to place its troops under the command of a German NATO commander.
In the 1990s, close political coordination and military cooperation developed between NATO and Russia, regulated since 1997 by the NATO-Russia Basic Treaty.
The Russians are tough negotiating partners, but when a common result is reached, it stands and holds.
General (ret.) Harald Kujat, born on March 1, 1942, was, among other things, Inspector General of the German Armed Forces and, as Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, NATO’s highest military officer. He also served as Chairman of the NATO-Russia Council and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. For his services, Harald Kujat has received a large number of awards, including the Commander’s Cross of the Legion of Honor of the Republic of France, the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of Latvia, Estonia and Poland, the Legion of Merit of the United States, the Grand Ribbon of the Order of Leopold of the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, as well as other high honors, including from Malta, Hungary and NATO.