The Great Game of NATO and the White European Tribal Wars
- In Foreign Policy
- 11:23 AM, Jan 21, 2023
- Dr. A. Adityanjee
Europe historically has had a penchant for wars. The geopolitical games European nations played led to two world wars in the 20th century. The first Secretary General of NATO, Lord Hastings Lionel Ismay once famously stated that the ostensible purpose of NATO was “to keep Russians out, Americans in, and Germany down”. At the time of its founding on April 4th, 1949, in Washington DC NATO comprised only ten European nations and two North American countries. It was conceptualized as a military alliance of European countries to defend Europe while deterring Soviet expansionism. Headquartered in Brussels, it now comprises 30 European countries and two more nations, Finland and Sweden, joining in the near future.
Ironically, the former Soviet Union, fearing the restoration of German militarism in West Germany, had suggested in 1954 that it join NATO, but this was rejected by the US. Last Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev also proclaimed on multiple occasions his desire for the Soviet Union/Russia to be integrated into the common European home. In 1991 Mikhail Gorbachev was invited to meet with members of the G7 on the sidelines of the summit in London.
By 1994, Russian President Boris Yeltsin was participating in the G7 summit in Naples. Russia became a full member of what became known as the G8 in 1997 and went on to host the 2006 summit in St. Petersburg. Boris Yeltsin had gatecrashed into earlier closed G7 meetings before it was formally G-8 with the hope of being part of the ideological “West”. Interestingly, Vladimir Putin after becoming President of the Russian Federation had expressed interest in joining NATO in 2000 but did not wish to wait in line as an applicant.
George Robertson, then NATO Secretary General (1999 and 2003), said Putin made it explicit that he wanted Russia to be part of western Europe. Robertson recalled an early meeting with Putin, who became Russian president in 2000. “Putin said: “When are you going to invite us to join NATO?’ Reportedly Robertson replied: ‘Well, we don’t invite people to join NATO, they apply to join NATO.” Putin ostensibly countered: “Well, we’re not standing in line with a lot of countries that don’t matter.”
The dissolution of Warsaw Pact (The Treaty of Warsaw) in 1991 demolished the Soviet threat forever in Europe. It should have automatically resulted in the disbanding of NATO. Alas! That did not happen. The US Military Industrial complex that gets oxygen of dollars and hefty profits from each war did not allow NATO to be disbanded. US Secretary of State James A Baker, the 3rd gave verbal assurances to Mikhail Gorbachev prior to German reunification that NATO will not expand further an inch. Not once, but three times, Baker tried out the “not one inch eastward” formula with Gorbachev in the February 9, 1990, meeting. He agreed with Gorbachev’s statement in response to the assurances that “NATO expansion is unacceptable.” The same pledge was repeated by the then German Chancellor Helmut Josef Michael Kohl to Gorbachev.
Break-up of Soviet Union, Formation of CIS and CSTO
After the Slavic Summit of the Russian Federation, Byelorussia (Belarus) and Ukraine, the Soviet Union was formally dissolved in 1991, and all the Soviet Republics became independent. Ukraine became one of the founding members of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in 1991. However, Ukraine did not ratify the charter of the CIS and continued to attend CIS meetings. Ukraine was accepted as an Associate member of the CIS in 1993.
Meanwhile, in 1992, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) treaty was signed owing to the refusal of NATO to disband itself. CSTO treaty came into force in 1994; Ukraine did not join CSTO suggesting an independent course from former Soviet Republics. In 2008 Ukraine expressed its intent to join NATO. Later on, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko told a newspaper in 2010 that Ukraine does not plan to become a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) because it is opposed to membership in any blocs. He further emphasized that the declaration of Ukraine’s opposition to membership in any blocs, as well as Ukraine’s decision to abandon plans to join NATO open new opportunities to promote partnership and good neighborhood relations with Russia.
NATO Hegemony and Clinton’s follies
In the 1990s, in a triumphant victory dance, US President William Jefferson Clinton and his administration started the process of NATO expansion while not keeping the pledge of his predecessor not to do so. Many strategic experts including the infamous Henry Kissinger and Prof John Mearsheimer repeatedly forewarned that mindless eastward expansion of NATO will provoke a war with Russia. The US was the sole hyper-power at that time and gloated the victory in the cold war as the license for expanding NATO eastward.
Balkan Wars and Break of Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY)
During the 1990s, the Clinton regime warred against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), and its successor state Serbia. After Slovenia and Croatia seceded from FRY with active support from the EU and NATO, separatist succession movements were fomented in the rump state of FRY where a civil war was going on between 1992-1995. Under the garb of protecting human rights, the EU and NATO fanned these fires further and sanctions were imposed on Serbia. Dayton peace accord of 1995 legitimized the break-up of FRY. Bosnia and Herzegovina were allowed to secede from FRY, but República Srpska was not allowed to secede from Bosnia & Herzegovina. To appease their friendly middle eastern oil-rich Sheikhdoms and Turkey, the Clinton administration continued to encourage anti-Serbian revolt in Muslim majority Kosovo province of Serbia.
The infamous Madeline’s War in 1998 involved the illegal bombing of civilian infrastructure in Serbia, especially Belgrade for seven weeks when civilian infrastructure including bridges, electric power stations and water reservoirs of Serbia were bombed to the ground. NATO was formed as a defensive military alliance overnight metamorphosed into an aggressive military force dictating its will in the Balkans. Forced separation and secession of Kosovo from Serbia resulted in total NATO domination in the Balkans and the retreat of Slavic nations that were Russian allies.
All this while, the Clinton administration supported to the hilt an alcoholic, perennially inebriated opportunist President Boris Yeltsin in the Russian Federation under the garb of spreading democracy. Clinton did not utter a word when Boris Yeltsin turned against his own parliament, sacked his vice-president, eliminated the post of vice-President, and brought out tanks to destroy the Russian parliament building. Clinton also supported Boris Yeltsin to the hilt while Boris Yeltsin rigged the 1996 presidential election in Russia. It was absolute and unconditional support to Boris Yeltsin that resulted in finally a former KGB man Vladimir Putin being anointed as Yeltsin’s chosen successor. Essentially, by not holding Yeltsin to pledges of democracy, the US administration facilitated Putin’s transition to power in the Russian Federation. The policy of NATO expansion continued to be followed by successive US presidents including George Bush and Barack Obama. Only one former US president questioned the raison d’etre for NATO’s existence during his election campaign but changed tunes after electoral victory.
2008 Russo-Georgia War
In a counter-reaction to US and NATO interference in the Balkans, an alarmed and provoked Russian Federation started to support secessionist movements in Moldova and in Georgia (South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions). In 2008, while Vladimir Putin was attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing summer Olympics, Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili started armed operations against the breakaway region of South Ossetia. The inherent assumption was that international attention to the Olympics will deter Russian Federation from retaliating. However, the number two person in Kremlin hierarchy Dmitry Medvedev decided to take swift military action and the Georgian military were forced to retreat.
Russian, South Ossetian and Abkhaz victory resulted in loss of territory for Georgia. Russian Federation recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent nations and established military bases there. Finally, owing to criminal prosecution and defeat of his party in the 2013 Georgian elections, Mikheil Saakashvili had to flee Georgia in 2013. At this juncture, Ukraine poked the Russian bear in the eye. Shelter, political asylum and a cabinet position was given to former President of Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili by Ukraine.
Ukraine Nationhood Conundrum
Vladimir Putin has repeatedly proclaimed that Ukraine is not a nation-state. One can dismiss the statement as that of a delusional maniac but the historic issue of Ukraine’s sovereignty is more nuanced. Kievan Russ was the center of origin of the Easter Slavic Civilization from which modern-day Russia emerged. Ukraine was part of various European empires and never a free nation. Ukraine Declared independence in 1917 and remained so for the next four years. The short-lived Unification Act was an agreement signed on 22 January 1919 by the Ukrainian People's Republic and the West Ukrainian People's Republic. In 1922, Ukraine was incorporated by Lenin and other Bolsheviks as the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Subsequently after Stalin’s death, General Secretary Nikita Khrushchev, a Ukrainian himself, gifted Crimea from Russian Federation to Ukraine in 1954.
On 16 July 1990, the new Ukrainian parliament adopted the Declaration of State Sovereignty of Ukraine and in 1991, Ukraine became an independent nation following the dissolution of the USSR. Ukraine renounced nuclear weapons after getting security guarantees from the US, UK, Russia and France in 1994 in the famous Budapest agreement. In 1994, Ukraine entered into an alliance with NATO under Partnership for the Peace agreement. In 2008, Ukraine made its intention known to join NATO.
In the 2010 presidential elections, Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych was elected as the fourth president of Ukraine until he was removed from office in 2014 following a CIA-sponsored coup. It is alleged that $5 billion was spent by the CIA on the Euromaidan revolution and pro-Russian but duly elected President of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych was deposed and had to flee Ukraine. Victoria Nuland, Deputy Asst secretary of State was recorded in a telephone conversation with US diplomat Jeff Pyatt berating the EU “Fxxk the EU” for going slow on the CIA-sponsored coup in Ukraine that led to the ouster of a democratically elected President Yanukovych.
Geneva Pact was signed in 2014 to disarm the armed militias in Ukraine. In March 2014, Crimea was annexed by Russia in a swift military operation that was welcomed by the residents of that region. Next month, in April 2014- Eastern Republic of DONBAS was created. In 2015, the Minsk Accords were signed to avoid further conflict between Ukraine and Russia but unfortunately never implemented. On 1st January 2016, Ukraine joined the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area with the European Union. Ukraine was gradually moving into the NATO camp instead of remaining a neutral buffer state between NATO and Russia.
In the early hours of 24 February 2022, Putin announced a "special military operation" apparently to "demilitarize and de-Nazify" Ukraine and launched a large-scale invasion of that country. Putin was mistaken about the outcome of the war hoping for the repeat of 2014 Crimea war when local population welcomed the Russian forces.
Russia had alleged that US was carrying on biological weapons research in Ukraine in hospitals and labs. Putin threatened repeatedly that the Ukraine might lose its statehood if it continues to harbor joining NATO as its intention. Finally, in 2022, Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State accepted that Ukraine has 26 Biological Research labs owned by the US. There is escalation in the war with involvement of NATO countries in war efforts. UK was allegedly behind the underwater bombing of the Nord Stream gas pipeline to harm and damage Russian energy exports. Russian agents had hacked into the mobile phone of the former British PM Liz Truss. It was indeed ludicrous to blame Russia for sabotaging its own gas pipeline!
Vladimir versus Volodymir
The Ukraine conflict is being perpetuated because of an egoistic and personalized conflict between the two men with morbid minds, Vladimir versus Volodymir. One is a Comedian and actor who is playing to the gallery of his European puppet masters and the other is delusional about his historic role in restoring the Soviet empire. It is a truth that the current war could have been totally averted if the US had not done regime change by fomenting the Euro Maidan coup leading to forced ouster of a democratically elected president of Ukraine. In 2013, Russia had supported Ukraine with a grant of $15 billion along with export of natural gas and hydrocarbons on heavily discounted terms. The only condition was that Ukraine will remain a neutral state between NATO and Russia. If the West (NATO, EU and US) and Ukraine’s corrupt ruling elite had adopted Finlandization of Ukraine as a neutral and buffer state role model, we would not be seeing the current tribal European war.
Role of the Asian Regional Powers
Japan being a treaty ally of NATO must support NATO in Europe in the current European war. Japanese PM Kishida has already stated that there will be next Ukraine in Asia hinting at Chinese expansionism. Japan has increased its defense budget and beefed up the Japanese defense forces. China’s strongman Xi Jinping on the other hand is a known ally of Russian President Putin and has broadly supported the Russian interests while frowning on the possibility of use of the nuclear weapons. India does not have any skin in this game and can neither support Russia nor Ukraine for various reasons. However, India will not subject herself to the Western sanctions on trade with Russia. India will maintain her posture of strategic independence despite being part of the Quad.
India’s trade with Russia will continue to increase despite PM Modi publicly reprimanding Vladimir Putin for waging war in Ukraine on sidelines of the SCO Summit in Uzbekistan. India will continue to ask for a negotiated and peaceful settlement of the conflict without taking sides. Australia, though technically not an Asian power, will have to follow the NATO line as it is a treaty ally and now a part of both the Quad and the AUKUS. South Korea again a NATO ally will be forced to support NATO war while Pakistan clandestinely is sending armament to Ukraine. Other Asian countries in general do not want to get enmeshed in another European White tribal war that has the potential of enlarging into World War III.
Future Geopolitical Scenario
Ukraine has become a geopolitical hot potato for Vladimir Putin who can neither swallow it nor throw it out of his system. The war is stalemated, and Russia has stupidly got bogged down into a military quagmire. Between 100,000 to 300,000 Ukrainian soldiers are dead; similarly, 100,000 Russian soldiers are dead. NATO despite sending latest armor and ammunition may not be able to bleed Russia into a total defeat. The Russian Federation does not have an explicit “no first use doctrine’ unlike India and China. Dmitry Medvedev has repeatedly hinted possible use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine in case of Russian defeat owing to Western intervention.
Russia has already lost the information war. Ukraine has been ably assisted by the Western media’s sophisticated propaganda warfare machine. At this juncture, it is essentially a NATO-Russia war that is being fought on the soil of Ukraine. Ukraine because of its desire to merge with NATO and EU has inadvertently chosen a very costly path for its sovereignty and nationhood. History will perhaps, remember Volodymyr Zelenskyy as the “useful idiot” of NATO and EU who managed to get his country destroyed and wrecked while playing the NATO game. Zelenskyy is now overtly threatening that this war with Russia will evolve into the 3rd world war if his desired outcome is not achieved. His proposed 10-point peace plan is likely to be a non-starter for making outrageous demands on the Russian Federation.
NATO is ready to admit Finland and Sweden on a fast track to become 31st and 32nd members. NATO has shifted from its original mission of the defense of Europe to aggressive and offensive postures all over the world as reflected in protracted Afghanistan war and in Syria, Libya and Iraq. Invoking article 5 of the NATO charter for 32 individual countries certainly increases the possibility of future wars. By joining NATO, Finland is actually getting de-Finlandized. This single thoughtless act might result in the future Ukrainization of Finland which the current Finnish PM Sanna Marin does not realize.
Continued instability in Ukraine and the absence of a peace treaty may finally result in an analogous situation of the armistice as in the Korean peninsula. The reverberations of this permanent war might echo in the Balkans. NATO’s creation of artificial countries like Kosovo is likely to be challenged by aggrieved Slavic parties like Serbia and República Srpska. Permanent conflict in the Balkans will be the ultimate defeat of NATO. The time has come for NATO to be disbanded in the interest of promoting world peace.
The European war is causing food shortages and rising inflation worldwide. We are witnessing food riots in Africa and in countries like Pakistan. Even in the US the food prices have surged in an unprecedented manner. De-dollarization has become an irreversible process because of US/NATO sanctions on Russia. With the weakening of both the Russian and US economies, the supremacy of dollar as an international currency has been challenged. The Bretton Woods institutions are becoming less relevant as bilateral barter trade and currency exchanges become the norm. Weakening of Russia and weakening of the US will lead to emergence of China as the Hegemon of the world. The outcome of the current European war will be lose-lose-lose-lose situation for Ukraine, Russia, NATO and the US. The only winner of the geo-political European tribal conflict will be China. Hopefully, Asian countries will survive this senseless White tribal war in Europe without getting involved in a hot conflict. Asia is not Europe. Asia must stay away scrupulously from Europe’s incessant white tribal wars and the great game of erstwhile and modern empires.
Image source: Foreign Policy
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