External contribution

UKRAINE, RUSSIA, NATO: Recognizing the facts, the only way to peace (part 1/3)

With the war in Ukraine, the dominant discourses reach heights of unilaterality. However, even in the classic media, it is possible to find a lot of data that allows one to form a global vision of the subject, although these are far too little visible. Those who live in the dominant representations, fed by official sources, will therefore be faced with informants whose seriousness they usually recognize. The first part of this approach focuses on relations with Russia, the other two on the situation in Ukraine and its history (1).

A telling sign of media bias: since February 24, the mainstream media has focused primarily on the war in Ukraine, which of course deserves a lot of attention. But at the same time, and for years, the war in Yemen has gone almost unnoticed, while our countries bear an overwhelming responsibility in this conflict (2) which is causing a huge humanitarian disaster(3). The enormity of such contrasts should absolutely encourage one to look beyond the majority approaches, and this example also reminds us that the West cannot afford to play prosecutor or inquisitor. And that it is rather a question, while remaining lucid, of taking the point of view of each of the protagonists, since we are not better than them (which is even the least that one can say). Regarding Russia, one must certainly be aware of the authoritarian tendencies, the opulence and corruption of the oligarchs, the Soviet dictatorial past, the cooperation with regimes like that of Marshal Sissi, etc. But we should also not forget the opulence and often the corruption of our high European officials and ministers, the colonial past and the neo-colonial present of a good part of the West — with wars and coups d’états as political instruments -, the support, for decades, to a whole series of dictatorships, the authoritarianism (or even dictatorship) in health, etc., etc. 

Realities so little visible

Such an attitude is all the more important because many facts point to decisive Western responsibilities for the deterioration of relations with Russia. Among the most important: during the negotiations around the end of the USSR, between Soviet and Western leaders, Gorbachev pleaded for  » a common European home « , a « common avast economic space from the Atlantic to the Urals « , with a Eurasian security system from Lisbon to Vladivostok, without military blocs. These proposals were rejected without discussion, in the west(4).

In the same sense, as early as 2001, Vladimir Putin expressed before the German parliament a desire for collaboration and rapprochement with the West, calling in particular for a deepening of political, economic and societal relations with Germany. No action was taken(5).

Another ignored proposal was that made in 2008 by Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, who wanted a common European security system that would have included Russia and made it possible to overcome the logic of military blocs(6).

Instead of seeing positive responses to such proposals, we have seen NATO continually expand into Eastern Europe, while multiplying its missile launching bases(7). Of course, one must take into account the traumas of Russian-Soviet domination among Eastern Europeans. But in order to develop good relations with a country, is it advisable to avoid integrating it, to decline offers of equitable partnerships, to deploy a « cordon sanitaire » in front of it? In the same sense, all honest observers recognize that the 2014 regime change in Ukraine was neither more nor less than a coup d’état (and a bloody one at that) in order to place a government close to the West (we will look at this subject in the second part of the article).(8).

Even more serious: in 2019, the US withdrew from an important nuclear weapons disarmament treaty (The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty)(9). And in 2020, the same power withdrew from another disarmament-related agreement, the Open Skies Treaty(10).

A result of « democracy promotion »?

A very likely consequence of these attitudes and policies is that, according to various observers, Russian power has gradually moved towards a political project quite different from those underlying the proposals mentioned: Eurasism. This ideology considers the whole formed by Russia and its close neighbors (Slavs, Romanians, Greeks or Muslims) as a full-fledged « continental entity », called Eurasia, in which Russia would have a dominant role. Post-Berlin Wall neo-Eurasism is popularized by the ideologist Alexander Dugin(11). In particular, he has regular contacts with Sergei Glaziev(12) who, since 2012, has been an advisor in Russia on integration into the customs union(13). According to this ideology, Eurasia and other civilizations, which have remained connected to their traditions, are opposed to the West, which is the bearer of « anti-tradition »(14). (This implies a questioning of the modern ideas of freedom and equality in particular. This should not be surprising, given the extent to which these ideals are instrumentalized and thus defamed by the West, whenever they are used as pretexts for neo-colonial policies. Let us also note that, in the case where the current Russian power is indeed influenced by Eurasism, it is possible that it retains only certain aspects of this ideology and not others. But these issues still deserve attention). Thus, different analysts read Russian policy choices following an orientation towards Eurasism, especially from 2011 onwards, but also partly earlier(15). Various wars or military or political operations are related to such an orientation: second Chechen war(16); recovery of Ossetia and Abkhazia at the expense of Georgia; occupation of a strip of Moldavian territory; etc. It seems obvious that many Russian decisions are mainly based on a defensive logic; but it is of course possible that in reaction to Western hegemonism, a Eurasian logic is mixed with the defensive motive.Another fact that can be linked to these data (even if, here again, it is most probably the dimension of reaction that comes into play in the first place): on 21 February, the Russian president affirmed, in a televised address, that Ukraine had never been a real state and that it had been created « artificially » in the 20th century.th century. In this long speech, Putin said that NATO was responsible for the situation and promised to restore « historical justice » for Russia(17).

When self-righteous notables become whistleblowers

All this is all the more regrettable since many whistleblowers had denounced the risks and lies linked to the Western attitudes and policies mentioned and continue to do so. Their warnings should be all the more disturbing because many of these people are part of the Westernestablishment and the part of it that is considered more respectable. Particularly significant examples of these positions:

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and former Prime Minister, Dominique de Villepin rejects the idea that today’s Russia is imperialist and expansionist(18). For former Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine, announcing Ukraine’s entry into NATO was tantamount to provoking Russia(19).

Already in 2014, 60 prominent figures from the German political, economic, cultural and media worlds published an open letter that strongly criticized Western policy towards Russia.

The former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Roland Dumas, asserts that  » France has become the vanguard of the Alliance [Atlantic Alliance, hence NATO](20) « .

Wolfgang Richter, a scientist at the Foundation Wissenschaft und Politik in Berlin (an institute financed by the German Chancellery and therefore very far from being a Putinist association), claims that the US has obstructed all attempts to resolve the Ukrainian crisis(21).

Particularly challenging analyses, because of their author, are those of Klaus von Dohnanyi. A former West German minister (Social Democrat) and former mayor of Hamburg, Dohnanyi is also a member of theAtlantik-Brücke(22). This association is the German equivalent of theAtlantic Bridge, founded by Margareth Thatcher to bring the United Kingdom closer to the USA. We are therefore also rather far from panslavism. Especially since Dohnanyi has never been close to Russia. A few weeks ago, he called it a  » dictatorship with a democratic camouflage(23) « . This same former minister, however, in the same period, also said:  » The United States has repeatedly provoked Russia, especially with its Ukrainian policy ( …). They work to create tension between Europe and Russia. The enlargement of NATO to the east was planned by Washington from the beginning, since 1990.(24) « Already in 2014, 60 leading figures from the German political, economic, cultural and media worlds published an open letter entitled:  » Another war in Europe? Not in our name! « (25). This text was highly critical of German and Western policy towards Russia. The letter is available in French translation(26). Its authors include Christian Democrats, Liberals, Social Democrats, etc., including former minister-presidents and former federal ministers. Let us also mention the position of Mikhail Gorbachev(27) who has repeatedly criticized Western attitudes towards his country since the fall of the USSR(28). However, we know to what extent this personality is alien to any nationalism and no longer has to prove his pacifism. Again in 2021, this former president accused the US of using NATO for purposes not of defense, but of domination(29). To such voices are added those of a series of important experts, such as Pascal Boniface, Daniele Ganser, Michael Lüders, Michel Raimbaud, etc.

Cooperate? YES! (But we set the prices)

To the historical reminders and the positions that have just been presented, one could reply that, between Gorbachev’s proposals in 1990 and those of Putin in 2001, close collaborations took place with a Russian president, Boris Yeltsin. However, these were not cooperations between sovereign countries, but agreements made at the expense of Russia. As Michael Lüders, a political scientist and long-time special envoy to the East for the well-known German newspaper, points out Die Zeit(30) :  » Putin has put an end to the sell-off of Russian resources to Western companies — especially American ones, which under his predecessor Yeltsin were able to serve themselves as if on a silver platter.(31)« Let’s also read an excerpt from an analysis from 2003, from a political scientist of the ULg and completing this information. This researcher recalls in particular the seriousness of the situation of Russia after the end of the USSR, as well as the fact that, faced with this situation, the West hastened not to help, but to take advantage:  » Vladimir Putin has also taken the initiative because of the imminence of new privatizations, those of state monopolies like Gazprom ( …) He could not accept that the oligarchs, reinforcing their hold on the economy, decide alone the conditions under which multinational companies will gain a foothold . (…) Men considered yesterday as vulgar swindlers have thus become the champions of freedom because they accept to share with the West the fruits of their financial engineering and oppose the « statists » gathered around the « ex-spy » Putin ( …). In the West, people are more concerned about their fate than about the tens of millions of victims of the post-communist collapse.(32) « This probably helps us to understand the coldness that very quickly became apparent in the West towards a president like Putin. Of course, the oligarchs to whom he is linked are also getting rich(33). (As for him, things seem indeterminate(34).) But Yeltsin’s entourage had nothing to envy to these people(35); so it is not that which disturbs, on the Western side. And the maintenance of Russian control over Russia’s resources makes a very important difference, despite everything that can be blamed on the current power in that country. (Moreover, it is probably not possible, in the current situation, to manage it without alliances with some of the oligarchs). From all of the above, the following is particularly clear: in highly influential Western circles, Russia is seen primarily as a competitor and, above all, as a potential reserve of cheap resources, not as a real partner. And even less, of course, as a country with a population that needs its resources to live. 

Seeing clearly, an essential condition for peace

An important remark about the main responsibilities that all this implies: in the field of international relations at least, it is often difficult to conceive that, in a given situation, one of the protagonists can have a greater responsibility than the others. However, there are a number of factors that may explain this. In this case, it is very likely that it is the fact that the USA, according to very knowledgeable observers(36), is in decline. And it is possible to imagine that a declining world power may intensify its desire to control, due to a fear or refusal of weakening(37). The analyses developed here do not stem from anti-Americanism, because they imply that other powers, in the same situation, could react in a similar way.To this is added another important fact: in the American ruling classes reigns the fear of a rapprochement between Russia and Germany; the idea is that an alliance between German technology and the resources of the Russian soil would lead to the birth of a force capable of dominating the USA. This fear was expressed particularly explicitly by George Friedman, director of Stratfor, a major U.S. intelligence and analysis firm. But above all: Friedman also explains that the prevention of a Russia-Germany rapprochement is an essential objective of US policy(38). This is probably another very important explanation for the policies we are talking about. Let us also think of the powerful influence, in the USA in particular, of the military-industrial complex, always interested in what promotes divisions, tensions and conflicts.

Discerning the dominant responsibilities involved is essential, not for the purpose of accusation, but for effective action. Indeed, how can we act appropriately when faced with a problematic situation, when we do not perceive its fundamental causes? Moreover, especially in connection with so-called Eurasism, it is obvious that iniquitous policies and judgments, such as those of the West, are very formidable seeds of conflict and extremist or reactionary movements. This became all too clear after the Treaty of Versailles, where the victors of the First World War had attributed all responsibility for that war to Germany, which was unfounded. All historians agree that this was one of the essential causes of the development of Nazism. Against violence and extremism, honesty and justice are indispensable remedies.

Daniel Zink former coordinator of the asbl Carrefour des Cultures 

Many thanks to Alain Adriaens for his research and contributions related to Eurasism and Russian policies following Western attitudes and decisions.

Notes et références
  1. Les trois articles reprennent les contenus de celui publié sur ce thème dans le Kairos 54, mais en apportant beaucoup de compléments importants. Voir https://www.kairospresse.be/journal/kairos-54/
  2. Voir notamment https://www.amnesty.be/infos/blogs/blog-paroles-chercheurs-defenseurs-victimes/article/guerre-yemen-duplicite-wallonne-dure ; https://www.amnesty.fr/controle-des-armes/actualites/la-france-continue-dalimenter-en-armes-le-conflit ; https://www.la-croix.com/Monde/Moyen-Orient/Guerre-Yemen-France-Royaume-Uni-Etats-Unis-pointes-doigt-lONU-2019–09–05–1201045459
  3. https://www.unicef.fr/article/la-situation-au-yemen-est-la-pire-crise-humanitaire-du-monde
  4. https://truthout.org/articles/chomsky-us-push-to-reign-supreme-stokes-the-ukraine-conflict/ ; pour une traduction en français – plutôt moyenne, mais quand même assez fidèle : https://www.investigaction.net/fr/chomsky-la-volonte-des-etats-unis-de-regner-en-maitre-alimente-le-conflit-en-ukraine/ ; Notons que Truthout est une ONG très réputée, porteuse de plusieurs distinctions, notamment la Izzy Award, du Ithaca College (https://www.ithaca.edu/news/izzy-award-independent-media-be-shared-truthout-and-journalists-liliana-segura-and-tim-schwab), important dans le domaine médiatique.

  5. https://www.lefigaro.fr/international/friedrich-merz-l-autonomie-strategique-de-l-ue-est-une-vision-lointaine-20220127

  6. https://www.france24.com/fr/20080606-medvedev-nouveau-pacte-securite-russie-ue

  7. https://www.lalibre.be/international/2017/12/18/ces-documents-declassifies-qui-vont-embeter-lotan-ZCKPEUODL5G6PAAMSSTB2E72ZA/ ; https://www.cairn.info/revue-herodote-2008–2‑page-221.htm

  8. Voir notamment les analyses de Daniele Ganser, John Mearsheimer, Albrecht Müller, etc.

  9. https://www.france24.com/fr/20190802-etats-unis-sortent-officiellement-traite-desarmement-armes-nucleaires-fni

  10. https://www.francetvinfo.fr/replay-radio/un-monde-d-avance/les-etats-unis-se-retirent-du-traite-ciel-ouvert-troisieme-accord-que-donald-trump-denonce_3954179.html

  11. « L’idéologue de Poutine » dans Politique internationale, https://politiqueinternationale.com/revue/n144/article/lideologue-de-poutine .

  12. « Eurasime, revanche et répétition de l’histoire », Bernard De Backer, La Revue nouvelle, n°3 2015 — https://geoculturedotblog.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/eurasisme-revanche-et-recc81pecc81tition.pdf

  13. https://www.cairn.info/revue-outre-terre2-2016–2‑page-111.htm

  14. https://www.cairn.info/revue-herodote-2012–3‑page-183.htm

  15. .Le Monde, 17 octobre 2013 — https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2013/10/17/l‑embarras-europeen-face-aux-provocations-de-poutine_3497212_3232.html ou Libération, 16 novembre 2014, https://www.liberation.fr/planete/2014/11/16/poutine-enchaine-les-provocations-mais-l-ue-doit-rester-unie_1144273/. r

  16. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seconde_guerre_de_Tch%C3%A9tch%C3%A9nie

  17. https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/europe/union-europeenne/ukraine-londe-de-choc-apres-les-declarations-de-vladimir-poutine_4975494.html

  18. https://www.francetvinfo.fr/monde/europe/manifestations-en-ukraine/ukraine-nous-sommes-dans-une-bataille-psychologique-politique-et-diplomatique-selon-dominique-de-villepin_4951386.html

  19. https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x888ncp

  20. https://www.humanite.fr/monde/roland-dumas/roland-dumas-la-france-chien-davant-garde-de-lotan-551010

  21. Lüders, M., Russlands Überfall auf die Ukraine Wie geht es weiter, 06/03/2022, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlXihZc2IzQ, à 28 min. 40.

  22. https://www.nachdenkseiten.de/?p=80984

  23. https://www.zeit.de/politik/2022–01/klaus-von-dohnanyi-buch-nationale-interessen

  24. https://www.freitag.de/autoren/der-freitag/ukraine-wir-sollten-uns-zehn-jahre-zeit-nehmen

  25. https://www.zeit.de/politik/2014–12/aufruf-russland-dialog

  26. https://www.wsws.org/fr/articles/2014/12/alle-d11.html

  27. https://www.lemonde.fr/idees/article/2014/03/05/l‑europe-a-eu-tort-de-ne-pas-associer-moscou-a-son-partenariat-oriental_4378202_3232.html ; https://www.sudouest.fr/international/europe/ukraine/mikhail-gorbatchev-un-conflit-arme-entre-russes-et-americains-est-possible-8031324.php

  28. https://www.rtbf.be/article/tensions-russie-usa-gorbatchev-denonce-l-arrogance-americaine-10904190 ;

  29. https://www.rfi.fr/fr/europe/20211224-face-aux-tensions-avec-la-russie-mikha%C3%AFl-gorbatchev‑d%C3%A9nonce-l-arrogance-des-%C3%A9tats-unis

  30. https://www.zeit.de/autoren/L/Michael_Lueders/index.xml?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2F

  31. Lüders, M., Die Scheinheilige Supermacht, C. H. Beck, 2021, p. 242 (livre bientôt disponible en traduction française).

  32. https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2003/12/BACHKATOV/10852 (cité par Lüders).

  33. https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2019/09/WOOD/60372

  34. https://information.tv5monde.com/info/russie-que-sait-de-la-fortune-de-vladimir-poutine-393196

  35. https://www.liberation.fr/planete/1999/08/27/l‑argent-sale-de-la-famille-eltsine-le-president-russe-serait-rattrape-par-les-scandales_280567/

  36. P. ex. Ray Th. Dalio – https://www.forbes.com/sites/maneetahuja/2021/11/29/ray-dalio-says-americas-decline-will-upend-lives-not-just-portfolios-the-billionaire-investor-paints-a-dire-scenario-in-his-new-book/

  37. C’est l’avis de Lüders p. ex. – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlXihZc2IzQ

  38. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLFz9fFsb7w ; https://www.les-crises.fr/stratfor-les-etats-unis-veulent-empecher-lalliance-germano-russe/

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