We are continuing to publish on our site the fragments from the book AMERICA’S PLANS FOR WORLD HEGEMONY, by Romanian author Calistrat M. Atudorei which was published in English version very recently by printing house ”ePublishers” in Bucharest.
Chapter 8/3. NATO Expansion
The Crisis in Ukraine and the Annexation of Crimea
An important element in the analysis of the current game of power played on the international stage is represented by the tensions between NATO allies and the Russian Federation in connection with Ukraine. In order to assess the causes of the crisis and its subsequent dynamics, I will stress some of the events’ reference elements.
In January 1995, less than four years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the elitist Foreign Affairs newspaper published an article signed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, prefiguring America’s intentions towards Europe. Brzezinski’s position, one of the White House’s main strategists, was as clear as possible even from the title: A Plan for Europe: How to expand NATO.60 The plan essentially consisted of urgent expansion of NATO into formerly socialist Baltic States.
Two years later, in September 1997, Brzezinski also defined, in Foreign Affairs, “A geostrategy for Eurasia”61. The fundamental idea was that Washington is aiming to control Eastern Europe to prevent a rebirth of the Russian Empire. One of the methods presented was to promote the doctrine of “geopolitical pluralism” in the space of the former Soviet Union. Particular attention was paid to Ukraine, about which the American strategist said that it “must be supported” to maintain its independence, more precisely, to be removed and kept out of Russia’s sphere of influence.
Brzezinski’s words were not said in vain. A 2004 item of news, transmitted by the Associated Press and taken over by the US press, confirmed that America’s plan for Ukraine is in full swing. The news said that “Bush administration spent more than $65 million over the last two years (so between 2002 and 2004) to help the Ukrainian opposition.” The article states that the US State Department “spends a billion dollars annually in an attempt to build democracy all over the world.” With part of the money got from this program, Ukrainian groups opposing the Russian Federation and supporting the Orange Revolution were funded “through organizations such as Carnegie Foundation or affiliated groups of US Democrats and Republicans.” In February 2003, US moves also included arranging “meetings of Ukrainian opposition candidate Viktor Yushchenko with vice president Dick Cheney, with the assistant of the Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and with Republican Party leaders”62 at United States Congress meetings.
A much more convincing perspective at the level of involvement of the US administration in Ukraine was given in December 2013 by the deputy of the Secretary of State for Defense, Victoria Nuland. During a conference on international affairs held in Washington, she disclosed the amount the US invested for US interests in Ukraine during the 22 years since the collapse of the USSR. Nuland said that “In order for Ukraine to fulfill its European aspirations (…) from the independence of Ukraine, since 1991, the United States invested more than five billion dollars to help Ukraine achieve these goals (…) to ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.” Nuland added that the United States will continue with opposition groups “to support Ukraine to take it to the future they deserve.”63
In order to understand how America views the “future that Ukraine deserves,” it is useful to note that Victoria Nuland’s speech was given precisely during the rise of the Maidan protests (in the central Kiev square) against pro-Russian leadership in power — after the Ukrainian population had not voted America’s protégée Viktor Yushchenko in 2010. The Euromaidan, as later were called pro-Western protests, was triggered after, according to news agencies, the Ukrainian Parliament “gave up the EU and turns to Russia.” The news reported on 23 November 2013 that the Ukrainian pro-Russian government just announced its decision to suspend the Association Agreement and the Free Trade Agreement with the European Union, believing that it would “ensure the national security of Ukraine.”64
The protesters did not tolerate such orientation, and, massively funded by the US, intensified the Orange Revolution, managing in early February 2014, to take away the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych from the leadership. The situation already degenerated into violent confrontations, with more than 100 deaths in the Central Square in Kiev.
More and more aggressively, the conflict acquired characteristics of a proxy-war (war through intermediaries), which de facto took place between Russia and America. Starting with this stage of the events, the two sides began to accuse each other much more directly of operating aggressive expansionist policies and to resort to increasingly harsh measures to mend the situation. Such a measure on the part of the Russian Federation was that on 24 February 2014 the Crimean Peninsula, then part of Ukraine, was occupied with special troops. During the annexation there was no armed conflict and no victim. The official position of the Russian Federation is that the annexation was concluded in the context in which actually a coup took place in Ukraine and the democratically elected president (Yanukovych) had been forced by the US-sponsored orange opposition to flee the country.
It is useful here to clarify a few things.
First of all, it must be said that the present territory of Ukraine was part of the very space in which the first Russian state was formed in the 9th century. The state had its capital in Kiev, had the name Kievan Russia (or Kievan Rutenia) and it was the largest state in Europe at that time. The period from the end of the 10th century to the beginning of the 11th century is considered by the Russians the very Golden Age of Russia, when the Slavs were Christianized and their first code of laws, Russkaya Pravda, was established. The transition to Christianity of the Russians took place in 979, two years after Prince Vladimir the Great was baptized in the Christian faith in the Crimea in the town of Korsun (formerly Chersonessos). The event remained a fundamental reference date in Russian history. Knyaz Vladimir was canonized in the thirteenth century and was called The Enlightener of the Russian Land65. Let us also notice that at the time of the formation of the first Russian state, with its capital in Kiev, Moscow did not even exist. The first historical mention of Moscow is recorded only in the 12th century as a reference to a small town. The Duchy of Moscow developed after the 13th century and then took over the position of the former cultural and political center, Kiev. The name Ukraina is mentioned for the first time on political maps of Eastern Europe in the fifteenth century and meant “border land” of the Russian Empire. In view of this historical perspective, it is clear why Russians today refer to Crimea and to Ukraine as the heart of ancient Russia.
Secondly, keep in mind that Ukraine’s belonging to Russia extended until 1954 (with a brief interruption between 1918 and 1922). A study published by Mark Kramer, director of a Harvard University’s Historical Research Program, highlights The Transfer of Crimea from the Soviet Union to the Soviet Ukraine in 1954.66 The documents kept show that Crimea is an ancient Russian territory and the transfer was purely administrative, within the framework of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR), which is apparent from the Decree67 issued on 5 February 1954 by the RSFSR Council of ministers. In addition, after the dissolution of the USSR, the Russian Federation and Ukraine signed in 1997 a bilateral agreement68 that formally allowed Russia to preserve its Black Sea fleet on the Crimean coast, a fact of great strategic importance.
One month after the occupation of Crimea by the Russian troops, in March 2014, a referendum was held on the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. It is worth mentioning that the population of the peninsula had—by the nature of its history—a net ethnic Russian majority. According to BBC69 or The Guardian70, the result of the referendum was that over 95% of the population was in favor of canceling the 1954 Soviet decree and returning Crimea to Russia.
However, Crimean occupation by the Russian Federation was widely criticized by Western allies who did not admit the validity of the referendum. We can see here again a double standard in the attitude of Western politicians by accepting the breakdown in Yugoslavia of Kosovo (under conditions forced by an American intervention that was not humanitarian at all) but refuses to accept the will of Crimean citizens peacefully expressed by referendum. Western officials complained that the annexation act would represent the evidence of Russia’s aggressive and imperialist character, which would actually seek to rebuild the Soviet Empire and expand it to Europe. Almost unanimously, Western countries had since imposed severe economic sanctions on the Russian Federation.
Moreover, the tensions in Ukraine took the proportions of a guerrilla war. In July 2014, the Pentagon’s position was again very clearly illustrated by Zbigniew Brzezinski, who signed an article published by the Atlantic Council entitled “The West must arm Ukraine”71. Brzezinski announced that weapons for “urban warfare” will be delivered in Ukraine, such as “anti-tank weapons and hand-held missiles.”
An interpretation of causes that generated conflicts in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea was published by Foreign Affairs, signed by international security expert John Mearsheimer. In his opinion, Putin’s reaction to the occupation of Crimea “should not surprise. After all, the West had been moving into Russia’s backyard and threatening its core strategic interests, a point Putin made emphatically and repeatedly.” On this basis, Mearsheimer believes that Putin “rightly” called the “illegal overthrow” from the Ukraine’s leadership of the pro-Russian president, democratically elected, as a “coup.” The Crimean annexation — Mearsheimer continues —comes from Putin’s fear that the peninsula “would host a NATO naval base.” On the causes that triggered the crisis, “the taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement,” a strategy that involves to “move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate it into the West.” Two other crucial elements that Mearsheimer identifies in explaining the crisis are “the EU’s expansion eastward” and Western support for opposition movements “beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004.” His conclusion on the crisis in Ukraine is direct and harsh: “The United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility.”72
Conflicts in Ukraine are still ongoing. In 2017 the number of 10,300 victims was already exceeded. However, in December 2017, Washington Post reported that “Trump Administration approved the largest US sale since 2014 of lethal weapons to Ukraine.”73 In February 2019, UN74 data showed that the number of deaths had reached 13,000, of which a quarter civilians, and the number of injured was well over 30,000.
(To be continued)