How to avoid geopolitical mistakes

Anatolii Pinchuk
president UPA “Ukrainian strategy”
head of the Board Eastern Europe Security Institute

The proposed draft agreement on security measures for the Russian Federation and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has become, as they say, the icing on the cake in Vladimir Putin’s disproportionate hunger to geopolitical subjectivity and more precisely, is the rebuilding of an empire, which stake claim to certain zones of influence.

In particular Articles 6 and 7 of the draft Agreement:

 “Participants that are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are making commitments that prevent further NATO enlargement, including the accession of Ukraine and other nations.

Participants that are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall renounce any military activity on the territory of Ukraine, as well as other states of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia.

In order to avoid incidents, the Russian Federation and the Members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall not conduct military exercises or other military activities above the brigade level in a band of agreed width and configuration on each side of the border line of the Russian Federation and emerging states. with her. in a military alliance, as well as Members who are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. “

In fact, Putin proposes to recognize Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia as a zone of Russia’s sphere of influence.

Moreover,  recently the  Russian foreign minister has  said that Russia will move to create “counter-threats” to NATO if the United States and its allies do not agree with the Kremlin’s officially published draft security treaty in Europe. At the same time, the Kremlin still wants to sign a separate agreement with the United States, in the wording of Article 4, the draft of which deals with restricting the rights of “states that were former members of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics”.

Apparently, the main “counter-threat” is the occupation of Ukraine or a large part of its territory.

Why Ukraine?

Putin is building a Great Empire, which plans to become one of the superpowers that will dominate the world. He openly says this in his  article “On the historical unity of Russians and Ukrainians“, which, distorting history, argues that “true sovereignty of Ukraine is possible only in partnership with Russia”, that “spiritual, human, civilizational ties between Russia and Ukraine, go back to same sources”.

The Asian-Caucasian CSTO is not enough,  Putin needs Kyiv – “Kyiv, which occupied a leading position in the Old Russian state, Kyiv is the mother of Russian cities.”

That is why the Normandy talks came to a standstill – because Russia is trying to push exclusively its interpretation of the Minsk agreements, which involves including a Kremlin-led semi-criminal enclave in Ukraine solely to strengthen Russia’s overall influence on Ukraine and turn it into an ally of Russia.

The potential for Ukraine’s transformation into a successful democratic state of free people, part of Western civilization in general, threatens the very existence of the Putin regime in Russia. Because of this, in addition to occupying part of the territory and escalating military threats, Russia’s intelligence agency in Ukraine continues to grow, cooperating with oligarchs, supporting pro-Russian political forces, infiltrating important government positions, increasing corruption and sabotaging reforms.

That is why Putin does not even listen to his ally Medvedev, who, claiming that “Ukraine is led by weak, uneducated, irresponsible and dependent people,” calls for “the emergence of new adequate leaders.” Putin no longer wants to wait, he wants to get Ukraine immediately, because he fears that he will not get it at all.

In fact, Ukraine has become a battleground between Putin’s quasi-empire and Western civilization.

What can the United States and NATO do about Putin’s ultimatums?

First, clearly set legal boundaries.

When the Kremlin appeals to the Charter of the United Nations, the Helsinki Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the Charter of European Security, it should be mentioned that it was the Kremlin that violated them when it began its territorial expansion. That NATO not only respects the right to choose of other countries, but also the right to self-defense and the restoration of its territorial integrity.

Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova have the right to restore their territorial integrity by any means, including military. The violator of the territorial integrity of other countries has no right to demand security guarantees to eliminate existing violations, because otherwise it looks even worse and more cynical than the hostage-taking of terrorists.

That is, the very continuation of the dialogue with Russia on any security guarantees cannot begin until the restoration of the territorial integrity of the countries in question.

It should also be kept in mind that Russia’s policy is aimed at strengthening Russia’s shadow influence on the leadership of European countries, to provoke discord and contradictions between Western partners. After the video conference with Putin, President Biden began selective consultations with leaders of “leading” NATO members. This was already a small victory for Putin because it caused discord in the Alliance. Also recent statements by Russian high-ranking officials that they want a dialogue with Washington foremost are also aimed at this.

Regarding the implementation of the Minsk Agreements:  The only possible scenario for their further implementation, would be  the introduction of a peacekeeping contingent in the occupied territories, disbanding of all illegal administrative and armed structures and the  creation of an international administration for all functions of governing ensuring law and order in these territories until the implementation of all clauses of the Minsk Agreements. This should including re-registration of Ukrainian citizens as residents of these territories and the return of temporarily displaced persons; who lived in these territories before the occupation.  Then the final formation of local self-government bodies by citizens of Ukraine (who have confirmed their citizenship) in accordance with Ukrainian law and full transfer of control of these territories and the border to Ukraine. Unfortunately t he probability of Russia’s acceptance of this is zero. The above proposition exposes the Kremlin’s goal of not to resolve the conflict, but to insert a Russian enclave for total control over Ukraine. It needs to be noted that Russia has already issued more than 600,000 Russian passports to residents of the occupied territories.

In addition, there is the issue of Crimea, about which Russia does not even want to talk about.

Therefore, we can predict that there will be no constructive dialogue with Russia in this direction.

What’s left?

 First,  continue negotiations on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and furthering their reduction. The second is to raise the price of the Kremlin’s imperial ambitions to an intolerable level. In general, negotiations with Putin should be conducted as with a very dangerous leader of terrorists, which he in fact is.

The price increase has two components: the first is sanctions, current and potential, and the second is a rapid increase in Ukraine’s ability to counter possible full-scale Russian aggression.

The sanctions to be applied should aim at primarily degrading  the capabilities of the Russian military-industrial complex and curtailing cooperation between Western companies in this area (for example, the very dangerous,  in terms of resource dependence, is  the  Boeing and VSMPO-Avisma joint venture and other similar projects).

As for Ukraine, the key and purely defensive support is to provide Ukraine with modern medium-range and long-range SAMs and other components of air defense and missile defense to protect against Russian missile and bombing attacks. Also, the removal of all restrictions on the supply of weapons to Ukraine by the Allies (primarily Germany).  Ukraine’s leadership in preparing to counter Russian aggression; will need to increase its defense budget for other critical procurements of deterrent weapons, but this will be Ukraine’s decision.

At the same time, countering the Kremlin’s efforts to influence European domestic policies must be significantly increased. First of all, in the countries which are strategically important for Russia – Germany, Austria, Italy, Ukraine, Georgia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the Balkans. In the case of Ukraine, more needs to be done to  reform and clean up the security services, especially the SBU.

The calculations of some American officials for the possibility of using Russia to deter China or strengthen cooperation in environmental projects between the United States, Germany and Russia are wrong and in terms of classical geopolitics, we cannot ignore the nature of these interests, and general politics  because Putin proved that he is a player without rules, and therefore any agreements with him can only be temporary , as long as they are beneficial to him. The bitter experience of agreements with Hitler, reminds us of this. History has shown that ultimatums cannot be accepted from enraged dictators. If they are the world suffers.