24/02/2022: The APEurope Correspondents' Pool ran a workshop to review the concept of mutual strategic security arrangements in the context of the disagreement between Russia, NATO and USA concerning a perceived lack of such a state of affairs.
The decision by Russia to support the Donbas against creeping genocide is justified but the more general aim of demilitarizing and de-Nazifying Ukraine, through military means, although seemingly a need, is a difficult quest given that the existence of these creeds and their activities are openly tolerated in Europe today. Russia's objection to this trend, given that the 2nd World War was justified largely to rid Europe of this scourge, is that Europe and the USA are permitting this creed to re-emerge in the heart of Europe. Such extreme and violent elements survive because they are used by the USA, UK and NATO as proxies to achieve foreign policy objectives including the intimidation of populations and regime change.
The content of this article is essentially a narrative format of the contributions to the workshop.
The general basis for a mutual agreement on a strategic security arrangement is to agree on a strategy designed to lower the risk of differences of any kind becoming intensified, often as a result of a failure to respond to the preferences of engaged parties being accepted by the other party. The tactics applied under strategic security agreements is to combine the exchange and collection of precise information concerning levels and capabuilities of weapons and the purposeful placement of impediments on both sides to prevent undue or unfair advantages in the event of serious differences building up into unilateral attacks. Obvious examples are, for example, locating missile batteries far enough away from target zones to allow time for anti-missile systems to react and thereby nullify more damaging outcomes.
However, long before any such event might take place the fundamental requirement for mutual strategic security arrangements is good continuing communications between parties on their concerns and worries which might arise from changes in political events, economic crises (such as the collapse of the Soviet Union) advances in military technologies and which, in all cases, require adjustments in arrangements to mutual satisfaction.
The danger arises when the preferences of one side are ignored by the other side and therefore the perception of imbalance in relative security becomes one of justified concern. Where the lack of response to the expression of preferences is accompanied by a refusal to address infractions or evidence of violation of the security of anyone linked to one of the parties, then the state of affairs becomes untenable leading to the likelihood of a military response of some kind.
However, looking at the current questions arising around the current “Ukrainian” crisis this analysis concentrates on this specific theatre. If we look at the Eastern European nations we have a total population of around 293 million divided as follows: Russia 146 million, Ukraine 44 million, Poland 38 million, Romania 19 million and Czechia 11 million, Hungary and Belarus each with around 9.5 million, and Bulgaria, Slovakia and Moldova with an average of 5 million.
Therefore, 50% of the Eastern European population is in Russia and around 25 million additional Russian-speakers are minorities in other Eastern European and other countries. Therefore, as a result of political decisions, we can observe an unwillingness to include more than 50% of the Eastern European population within the consideration of a security arrangement since 1989 with the collapse of the Soviet Union economy. Up until 1989 this population had been included within a crude security arrangement with the “West”. Since 1989, there has been a slow deterioration of the stability of Europe. This instability has been caused by a proactive marginalization of the concerns of Russia and Russian-speakers who make up more than 50% of the Eastern European population facing discrimination in several Eastern European countries and in particular Ukraine and within Baltic counties, outside Eastern Europe.
The philosophy of mutual security arrangements is conflict avoidance so as to prevent confrontation, possible aggression leading to bloodshed so as to also avoid becoming involved in the laborious process of ex-post conflict resolution. For this to work there needs to be direct consultation and negotiation between all parties focusing on conflict avoidance. Anything other than a practical means of maintaining a state of mutual conflict avoidance will result in the marginalization of elements within the populations concerned. In the case of Eastern Europe, the failure to come to terms with Russia with 50% of the Eastern European population, is what has resulted in the current events.
The main reason for the current “crisis” has been the mindset of strategists in the USA State Department which has an unrealistic and somewhat immature understanding of mutual security. Security is regarded as a form of team play where the home team’s objective is to win. This simple minded approach clearly has no regard or respect for those not in the home team side. When this approach is translated into international security tactics by the USA then this introduces an unacceptable level of instability into the security arrangements.
The parallel development which has evolved during the last 40 years, is the demonization of those who are not in the home team. In this case the tactic has been an almost fanatical branding of Russia as the “principal enemy” which is a hangover from the post-War cold war rhetoric leveled against the Soviet Union, but continues to this day, leveled against the Russian Federation. This is a form of propaganda has had the effect of an imposition of a form of mind control of opinion shaping imposed on the US and world populations by US to promote a dominant American status in security decisions. However, this is based on an disregard and lack of respect for the security needs of other people. For example, American has a woeful track record of attacking countries and bringing about regime change with the assistance of NATO in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria where the concern for the topic of mutual security was savagely abandoned through the USA and UK contracting terrorists who were involved in the killing of civilians in those countries but also to use such elements to overthrow existing regimes. In the meantime, since 1989, Russia has raised the issue that there is no longer a mutual strategic security arrangement in Europe which includes Russia and that there was a need to sit down and draw up an acceptable agreement. There was never an adequate response to Russian demands but in the meantime the USA and NATO’s demonstrated arbitrary aggressive behaviour was not limited to far off countries in the Middle East but the US also brought such aggression and warfare to Europe by initiating attacks in Yugoslavia and later in Ukraine in 2014. Part of this aggression uncovered the indelible hatred of Russians and Russian-speakers by Fascist or Neo-Nazi elements in Western Ukraine, are the direct links back to those within Ukrainian society who killed all of the Jews in that country during the Second World War. They habour similar attitudes today with respect to Russians and Russian speakers which became apparent in 2014 with direct attacks and the killing of Russians and Russian-speakers in the Ukraine. Nothing was done to curb the activities of these extremists. Indeed, they were instrumental is assisting America bring about the 2014 coup. With an intimate awareness of the intent of these extremist groups, Crimea, with a population consisting of close to 98% Russian and Russian speakers, declared their independence from the Ukraine in 2014. The South Eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, also with high proportions of Russians and Russian-speakers also declared their independence in 2014. No matter how strategists look at the developments in Crimea, Donetsk and Luhansk their decisions were not the result of an “invasion” by Russia but were the result of democratic votes and referenda organized by the administrations of those communities themselves.
The Ukrainian government has banned the use of the Russian language in day to day commerce and the teaching of the Russian language in schools but the nations supporting the Ukraine's form of "democracy" don't call attention to the fact that this is discriminatory and impacts directly over 30% of the population. The government has also permitted the torch march rallies of the Neo-Nazi militia, reminiscent of the Nazi rallies in Germany during the 2nd World War. Again the Western allies make no comment about this open resurgence of a significant Nazi influence in the Ukraine.
The Minsk Agreement originally drawn up in 2014 was proposed as a basis for a peaceful resolution to this problem and the Ukrainian government signed this. Amongst other commitments the Agreement required that forces separate along a line of contact so as to create a buffer zone also referred to as the Grey Zone. Unfortunately, many villages and communities became stranded within the grey zone. Since 2014 the Ukrainian army and Neo-Nazi militia have been advancing into the Grey Zone murdering villagers using mortars, tanks, artillery, machine guns and snipers. Famous Ukrainian snipers, held up as heroes, killed more Russian speaking Ukrainian civilians within the Grey Zone than military personnel. This non-stop arbitrary genocide, reminiscent of the German Nazi murdering of Russian villagers when they retreated from their incursions into Russia, during 2nd World War, has never been adequately covered in the Western press or has been voiced to be of any concern by the USA State Department or NATO who wish, sometime in the future, for the Ukraine to become a member of NATO.
In spite of Russia’s repeated request that the Ukraine take the steps required under the Minsk Agreement they never took any actions but allowed this attrition and murder within the Grey Zone to continue. The Russian Federation’s legitimate concern with there being no agreed practical mutual security arrangement for the Donetsk and Luhansk areas, has acted to recognize the areas of independent Republics in order bring about a legally-based foundation for Russia to respond to the Republic’s requests for support in putting a stop to this genocide. These military actions to defend unprotected minorities conforms to UN law.
Since the Ukrainian government, the USA, no European country or NATO were concerned with the genocide or the carrying through of the Minsk Agreement terms to resolve this crisis by peaceful means, Russia’s action on 24th February, 2022 is primarily humanitarian and fundamentally one of initiating changes to the thinking on mutual security. This action is evidence of the fact that, contrary to imagination, Europe does not have a mutual security arrangement that covers all of the people of Eastern Europe.
The response of Europe, UK, USA and NATO to the current military activities is a demonstration of the impotence of the existing security arrangements.
The Ukraine has been left high and dry by its "patrons".
The world is watching and the conclusion being drawn is that the West's "security umbrella" is a myth used more to sell arms applying a sales and marketing technique of manufacturing insecurity and panic than provide defence.
There is no doubt that this decadence in the image of Western security "strategies", has exposed it as a worthless rubber stamp backed by troops and worthless equipment that in any modern conflict will be obliterated.
On reflection, Russia's position makes a lot of sense but their military option is highly regrettable.
This situation reflected badly on the lack of foresight of the West and a self-obsessed desire for its own security at the expense of others.
As a result the world, tired of the West's incursions creating chaos around the world and especially in the Middle East and Afghanistan - leaving "liberated" countries in ruins and many thousands dead, all in the name of "freedom, democracy and the rule of law" will give rise to a demand for a global redefinition of a mutual strategic security arrangements.
Non-alignment will rise in significance, reliance on "security umbrellas" will decline and national autonomous defense arrangements will come to the fore.
In this process the voice of the West governments and armament companies will be a significantly reduced components of the proceedings.