At the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, the United States was able to avoid nuclear war over the placement in Cuba of nuclear Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM), and Intermediate-Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBM). This was done by giving the then Soviet Union a private assurance that the United States would remove its IRBMs from Turkey, 6 months after the missiles in Cuba were removed. The United States kept its promise.
In 1990, the United States gave the Soviet Union another private assurance, much like the private assurance given in 1962. The United States promised the Soviet Union that NATO would not expand one inch eastward if the Soviet Union would allow West and East Germany to reunite, and that the newly united Germany would be able to remain in NATO.
The website National Security Archive goes further than the LA Times article cited above. Several leaders of the NATO alliance made private and public promises that NATO would not expand towards the East.
While other news stories and articles decry this promise, the National Archives provides both public statements and written memoranda between NATO members about not expanding NATO eastward.
The Soviet Union relying on the history of the United States in keeping its word, agreed to German unification.
Unlike the private assurance given the Soviet Union in 1962 however, the United States broke its word, and advanced NATO to the very frontiers of Russia. It is this duplicity that is the seminal moment that resulted in the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Russia is the world’s most invaded country in the world. But the worst invasion was the Mongol invasion which lasted from 1240 AD until 1480 AD. For 240 years the Mongol Horde brutalized the Russia people beyond belief. Every spring, the Mongols would raid the Russian countryside, kidnapping your Russian women and young Russian boys for sale in the slave markets of Constantinople. Indeed, the word slave comes from the root word, Slavic.
It was only by the Duchy of Moscow becoming more brutal than the Horde, were the Russian people able to throw off the yoke of the Tartars. Ivan the Third, the Prince of Moscow, refused to pay the Tartar tax in 1480, and prevented the Mongol Horde from crossing the Ugra River. Akmet of the Golden Hordes was supposed to be supported by troops from Lithuania, who had been promised Russian territory by the Tartars. However, Ivan the Third had thoughtfully provided discontented nobles in Lithuania money and troops, which forced the ruler of Lithuania to stay at home fighting off a rebellion inside his own country rather than invading Russia.
This event, the Battle of the Ugra River, marked the end of Tartar rule of Russia.
In the last 225 years, Russia has been invaded by the West 4 times. 3 of these invasions were of an existential nature. It should then be no surprise that Russia is sensitive to a large military force near her borders.
The Euromaidan Movement and Overthrow
Of a Democratically Elected Government in Ukraine
After years of watching NATO forces inch closer to her natural, and undefendable, borders, the Euromaidan movement overthrew a democratically elected government over the government’s decision to move into the Russian economic orbit, rather than to the orbit of the European Union. With the loss of the Crimea to a possible member of NATO and Russia’s last defensible natural obstacle to a government hostile to Russia, Vladimir Putin sent troops to occupy the Crimea, beginning the countdown to war.
The War in Ukraine
To say that Russia has botched its invasion plans would be an understatement. While Russia planned for a quick knockout blow, the bungling of its logistical abilities has allowed Ukraine to fend off Russia’s initial assault, and Russia has had to reorient its offense to the eastern part of Ukraine, and abandon for the moment Russia’s attempt to capture and occupy the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
However, given Russia’s immense advantage in terms of the number of soldiers, armor, and superior resources, eventually Russia will be able to defeat Ukraine, despite the tremendous amount of military and financial aid being given to Ukraine. Russia will never give up this fight as it sees the advance of NATO as an existential threat. And Russia sees a Ukraine tied to the West as a threat to its polity.
World Economic Consequences
The economic damage to the world economy is just now beginning to be felt. The price for a barrel of oil has skyrocketed and averages well over $100 a barrel, with no end in sight to higher increases. Grain shipments from Russia and Ukraine have been disrupted. This is going to cause a serious shortage of grain available to the Middle East and to parts of Southeast Asia in late 2022 and in 2023. The shortage of grain will cause famine conditions throughout the developing world, fueling violence and political instability with consequences no one can foresee.
In addition, with Russia being a major exporter of fertilizer, many countries who depend on the fertilizer to feed their populations will not be able to do so. This is also going to cause major economic and political upheavals world-wide.
Russia is beginning to cut of the supply of natural gas to some European Union countries, and more are sure to follow. Russia has announced the cut off of gas to Finland after Finland made application to join NATO.
These economic challenges will only spread worldwide, bringing about a global recession that was completely avoidable.
While Russia is not blameless in the worldwide disruptions happening now, the arrogance of the political elite of the West is just as much to blame.
A larger country attacking a smaller country in search of national security is old news in world history. As recent as 2003, a large country attacked a small one in what it believed was in its interests on national security. I am speaking of the attack on Iraq in 2003 by the United States. If the United States can attack a smaller country far from its borders in the name of national security, than why is it wrong for Russia to do the same?
How Russia Moving Closer to China May Cause War in the Indo-Pacific Region
A more serious consequence is Russia moving closer to China, even though China is Russia’s more serious threat in the future. China has never given up her claim of the territory lost to Russia due to the Treaty of Aigun signed by Russia and China in 1858.
With the United States providing large amounts of military equipment, ammunition and other military aid, the stockpile of munitions for the United States military is being depleted, particularly in Javelins, Stingers, and howitzers (along with ammunition).
China at this time appears to be waiting patiently and observing the trends underway in Ukraine. If China feels that the military supplies available to the United States military has been depleted, China may copy the Japanese aggression in World War Two in taking advantage of a momentary weakness on the part of Western powers preoccupied with Russia and the war in Ukraine.
A Possible Political Solution to the Crisis
One of the prerequisites of any treaty ending this war has to accept the realpolitik fact that Russia is not going to give up the Crimea, nor the Donetsk and Luhansk Republics. Russia sees the Crimea as its last natural obstacle to any invasion of southern Russia.
The people in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions are overwhelmingly in favor of uniting with Russia, and broke away from Ukraine after a democratically elected government was overthrown by violence. A UN supervised election in these areas would give legitimacy to the political absorption of these areas into Russia.
Compensation to Ukraine should be offered by Russia, with the proviso that Russia respects Ukraine’s decision to turn her face towards the West.
Dr. Julian Spencer-Churchill, an associate professor of international relations at Concordia University at Montreal Canada recently published his views on a political settlement of the Russian-Ukraine War. This link will take the reader to the article published in RealClearDefense.com.
The reader should keep in mind that China is the real danger to world democracy, not Russia. An attempt must be made to bring Russia into the European family. It is imperative that Russia be wooed, not forced to come to terms with the West. With Russia firmly tied to the West, both economically and politically, the chance for war in the Indo-Pacific Region is reduced significantly.
A case in point for such a policy is the political union between England and Scotland in 1707.
A noble English Lord observed several Scottish Lords celebrating the Act of Union in 1707. The English Lord approached the Scottish Lords and asked why they seemed to be so happy with the Union. The English Lord knew some of these Scotsman had fought bitterly for Scottish Independence. A Scottish Lord replied: “Twas not the marriage we objected to, twas the wooing.”