Forty-one days into Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine no end is in sight. This is due to several reasons. Most important is failure of the Russian military to achieve its primary war objective: regime change of the Zelensky government, in a country one third as populous as Russia. Their abysmal performance gives the lie to the preposterous Western meme that Putin’s Russia is trying to re-establish a Soviet style Russian empire. They appear incapable of fighting their way out of a proverbial paper bag.
But a close second is the refusal of the U.S. and most NATO nations to promote negotiations which are the only way to end a war neither side can win decisively. Secretary of State Antony Blinken keeps blinking at negotiations, avoiding contact with his Russian counterpart since February 15. President Biden refuses to talk to his Russian counterpart, saying he cannot remain in office much less discuss a negotiated settlement with him.
The US dismisses efforts by NATO members Turkey, France and Germany to communicate with Russia. Turkey is even serving as host for the difficult Russian, Ukraine negotiations, something that America should have brokered. Hard line NATO member Poland blasted French president Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who both had the courage and wisdom to engage Russian president Putin personally.
US officials failed to learn the lesson of the Cuban Missile Crisis sixty years ago. With the US and Russia on the brink of nuclear war, JFK sidelined the war hungry generals to promote candid, direct talks with Soviet diplomats connected to President Khrushchev. A late hour agreement forestalled likely nuclear war, no thanks to the hardliners who lamented failure of their chance to destroy Soviet Russia….and themselves as well.
In this war, instead of negotiations, the US has funneled $1.6 billion in weaponry into Ukraine, putting America at war with Russia, though both sides pretend they’re not…so far. The US is content to supply the firepower with only Ukrainians dying to achieve America’s goal of removing Russia from any economic and political integration with Europe.
This was supposed to happen peacefully with NATO’s endless expansion up to Russia’s borders, including wannabe members Georgia and Ukraine. But when Ukraine president Victor Yanukovych chose Russia as his economic partner in 2013, the US, engineered the February, 2014 coup, and act of war on Ukraine democracy, to bring Ukraine back into partnership with the West.
That set off a civil war in Ukraine between the Russian speaking eastern provinces and the new ultra nationalist government trained and weaponized by Uncle Sam. Over 13,000 are dead, mostly the Russian speaking separatists, in the past 8 years. Over 100,000 Ukraine troops poised for a Spring offensive was a poke too far for the Russian beehive, provoking the massive and bloody February 24 invasion.
With tensions mounting daily, it may take a miracle to prevent the undeclared war between the US and Russia from being acknowledged and going nuclear. But no miracle needed if the US will admit its 8 years of provocative threats to Russia, end arming the Ukrainian government, and begin sensible negotiations. Sixty years ago we saw a similar US Russia crisis barely avoid nuclear Doomsday. Unless US officials regain their senses and sanity, we may not be so fortunate this time round.
Walt Zlotow became involved in antiwar activities upon entering University of Chicago in 1963. He is current president of the West Suburban Peace Coalition based in the Chicago western suburbs. He blogs daily on antiwar and other issues at www.heartlandprogressive.blogspot.com.