Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 20 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 1/15/22

The Case for Neutrality to Defuse Crisis With Russia

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   No comments
Message Scott Ritter
Become a Fan
  (10 fans)

Ukrainian aviation unit. DR Congo. MONUSCO
Ukrainian aviation unit. DR Congo. MONUSCO
(Image by Ministry of Defense of Ukraine from flickr)
  Details   DMCA

According to Axios, Jake Sullivan, national security advisor for President Joe Biden, convened a Zoom conference of erstwhile Russian experts to sound out possible policy options going into this week's triple round of talks with Russia on European security.

"By soliciting advice from the hawkish pockets in the foreign policy establishment," Axios noted, "including those who served under former President Trump, the Biden administration is considering all options while weighing how to discourage Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine and punish him if he does."

How the solicitation of advice from "hawkish pockets in the foreign policy establishment" translates into "considering all options" is a matter for another time. The point here is that the Biden administration, rather than searching for a potential compromise position which could avert conflict in Europe while attaining legitimate national security goals and objectives for the United States, sought out a literal echo chamber of nonsensical advice from like-minded individuals who have spent the past two decades wallowing in their hate and disdain for Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin.

Michael McFaul, the former Obama administration Russian expert who served as the U.S. Ambassador to Russia from 2012-2014, and who has famously clashed with Putin's Russia over time, noted the wisdom of Sullivan seeking "to engage with outsiders" including those who may disagree with him , while declining to say whether he himself participated in the call.

A Hawk's Demands

While McFaul has opted to remain silent on any advice he may have imparted if he had, in fact, been a part of that call, one doesn't have to delve too far into the realm of speculation to get a feel for both the tenor and content of what such advice might have looked like. In a recent tweet responding to a statement made last year by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov that Russia was demanding a "ironclad" guarantee that "Ukraine and Georgia will never ever become a member of NATO," McFaul responded with a tweet of his own, declaring:

"And I want a 'waterproof' 'ironclad' 'bulletproof' guarantee Russia will end its occupation of Ukrainian and Georgian territories, will never invade Ukraine or Georgia again and will stop its efforts to undermine democracy in Ukraine & Georgia."

McFaul's tweet was reflective of an overall policy position which sought the reversal of what he viewed as Russian usurpation of the territory of three European states, Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia. After the Russian government published the text of a draft treaty calling for a guarantee that the United States would not seek to establish military bases "in the territory of the States of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization" or "use their infrastructure for any military activities or develop bilateral military cooperation with them", McFaul proposed additional articles to the draft treaty in which:

  • Russia agrees to withdraw its forces from Moldova and restore full sovereignty to this European country;
  • Russia agrees to withdraw its forces from Georgia, renounce recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries and restore the full sovereignty of Georgia; and
  • Russia agrees to withdraw its forces from Ukraine, return Crimea to Ukraine, stop supporting separatist forces in Ukraine, and restore the full sovereignty of this European country.

While there is little doubt that McFaul, who has been loath to find any common ground with Putin's Russia, was seeking to counter what he viewed as a non-sensical Russian proposal with a non-sensical response, the fact is that if one departs for a moment from a world where the concept of genuine cooperation based upon a willingness to compromise (i.e., real diplomacy) governed as a matter of course, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia may have actually hit upon a formula that could allow the U.S. and NATO to sustain their no-compromise stance on NATO's "open door" policy while respecting Russia's insistence on a NATO-free presence in non-NATO former Soviet Republics.

The notion that Russia would agree to withdraw assets from Georgia, Ukraine, and Moldova, on its own volition is, of course, a non-starter. This is especially true if NATO was considering allowing any of these three states membership. However, if one is to accept the premise that it is the sovereign right of any nation to freely associate with whom it chooses (the cornerstone of NATO's "open door" policy"), then the opposite is true as well - it is the sovereign right of any nation to choose neutrality.

A Proposed Deal

This is the missing ingredient in McFaul's tongue-in-cheek formulation that in exchange for a binding commitment by Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia, to permanently opt out of joining any military alliance, while retaining the sovereign right to interact with the community of nations politically and economically as they best see fit, Russia would undertake measures designed to further the sovereignty of those states, to include the following:

  • The withdrawal of all troops from the territory of the Republic of Georgia, inclusive of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, a rescindment of Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states, and Russian diplomatic assistance in facilitating both South Ossetia and Abkhazia to Georgian sovereign control;
  • The withdrawal of all troops from Transnistria (Moldova), and the rescindment of any recognition of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, and Russian diplomatic assistance in facilitating the return of Transnistria to Moldovan sovereign control; and
  • Full Russian support for the cessation of hostilities in Donbas and Lugansk, and an agreement on the recognition of Ukrainian interest in Crimea that does not infringe on Russian security or sovereignty.

McFaul and his ilk would never agree to such a trade-off, for the obvious reasons. But the people of Moldova, Georgia, and Ukraine might. First and foremost, so long as there are outstanding disputes involving the territorial integrity of a nation, NATO rules preclude any notion of full membership, if for no other reason that NATO does not want Article 5 to be invoked on day one of a nation joining NATO.

As such, until which time Russia changes its posture on Transnistria, Georgia, and Ukraine, NATO membership is an impossibility. In short, those Moldavans, Georgians, and Ukrainians who believe that the future well-being of their respective nation hinges on NATO membership are cutting their own throats.

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Scott Ritter Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Scott Ritter served as a former Marine Corps officer from 1984 until 1991, and as a UN weapons inspector in Iraq from 1991 until 1998. He is the author of several books, including "Iraq Confidential" (Nation Books, 2005) and "Target Iran" (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Did Trump Just Threaten to Attack Iran with Nukes? "We're Ready for the Absolute Worst" Says Trump

The U.S. Stands to Lose Much More Than a War With Iran

There's One Way to Stop Trump From Acting on Nuclear Threats

Donald Trump's Iran Humiliation

How Turkey Lost a Battle of Wills and Force to Russia

The Staggering Collapse of U.S. Intelligence on the Coronavirus

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend