By John Wojcik
If the diplomatic events of Monday showed us anything, they indicated with striking clarity that old assumptions about how European security is to be achieved will not, if they ever did, work and that NATO is incapable of bringing the people of Europe the peace they so desperately want and need.
While President Joe Biden was unsuccessfully trying to strongarm German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at the White House Monday into saying he would give up Russian gas if that country invades Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron was in Moscow actually making what appears to be some potential headway in defusing the crisis over Ukraine.
Macron told the press before his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that a “Finlandization” of Ukraine was “one of the models on the table.”
During the Cold War, Finland and the Soviet Union, with the tacit agreement of Western European nations, worked out an arrangement where Finland could have any type of government the Finnish people chose but that it could not join NATO and had to maintain a neutral foreign policy. The agreement allowed Finland to thrive as a social democracy and ensured that there would be no hostile military forces on the Soviet border.
Finland’s economy flourished as it traded and exchanged regularly with both the West and the Soviet Union. Such an agreement today involving Ukraine would, of course, require that NATO promise not to expand into Ukraine, something the hardliners in Ukraine and the war hawks in the U.S. say they will never allow.
The obvious fact about such a deal regarding Ukraine is that it would allow NATO to come away with its alleged “values” undisturbed and Russia to come way from the crisis with some of its major security demands met. (Unfortunately, such an amicable settlement is not the aim of powerful forces in the West that want instead to see Russia divided and dismantled, allowing its vast resources to be at the disposal of multinational fossil fuel and other monopolies.)
“Can NATO solve the whole question of Europe’s collective security?” Macron asked the press after he met with Putin. “I don’t believe so.”
While Macron and Putin both offered few additional details of their ideas, Macron did say they would involve rethinking post-Cold War security arrangements because “there is no security for Europeans if there is no security for Russia.”
Putin increased the hopeful mood after the talks by saying: “A number of his (Macron’s) ideas—which it is probably too early to speak about—I see as rather feasible for creating a foundation for our further steps.”
He also repeated his prior insistence that Ukraine’s president, Vlodymyr Zelensky, needs to abide by the treaty negotiated in Minsk, Belarus in 2015—an agreement that gives autonomy to the two Russian-speaking provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, in the region of eastern Ukraine. Ukraine has not only reneged on the deal but has, with fascistic forces allied to it, killed thousands of Russian-speaking people in that region.
Unfortunately, while the hints of positive developments were underway in Europe, Biden, on this side of the ocean, continued his talk of war. He stepped up the scare campaign by urging U.S. civilians in Ukraine to leave the country, declaring he would “hate to see them caught up in the crossfire.”
Biden failed to get German Chancellor Scholz to forego the Nord Stream Pipeline 2, however, which is slated to deliver much-needed Russian gas to Germany and the rest of Europe. Scholz only said that Germany and the U.S. would remain united after Biden took it upon himself to say that Nord Stream 2 would be cancelled if Russia invades Ukraine. He did not say who it was that would “cancel” it, and Scholz avoided conforming Biden’s claim.
Scholz would only say, over and over again when pressed by reporters, that NATO is “united.” He also resisted questions from the press about why Germany continues to abstain from sending arms to Ukraine. He also did not answer questions about exactly what sanctions against Russia Germany would agree to.
Despite Biden’s moves, the diplomatic events of Monday can be seen as significant.
It appears that at least some of the resistance by people like Macron and Scholz to get on board with the worst of the U.S. war hawks is motivated by belief in Europe that if one wants peace on that continent, ways to work with Russia on its security needs must be found. As Macron put it, “Russia is European. Whoever believes in Europe must know how to work with Russia and find the ways and the means to construct the European future among Europeans.”
One might add to the people Macron is talking about anyone who believes in the world. Russia and the U.S. have stockpiled enough nuclear weapons to do in the planet many times over. (IPA Service)