One year later

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By JOSÉ LUÍS FIORI*

US doubles its bet, but Russia has already won what it wanted

"When the US drove five waves of NATO expansion eastward all the way to Russia's doorstep…, did it ever think about the consequences of pushing a big country to the wall?” (Hua Chunying, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson).

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded the territory of Ukraine and violated a basic norm of International Law enshrined in the Peace Accords of the post-Second World War, which condemns any and all violations of national sovereignty made without approval or consent. of the United Nations Security Council.

In exactly the same way as England and France violated this right, when they invaded the territory of Egypt and occupied the Suez Canal, in 1956, without the consent of the Security Council, a violation that also occurred when the Soviet Union invaded Hungary, in 1956, and Czechoslovakia, in 1968. Likewise, the United States invaded Santo Domingo, in 1965, and again, invaded and bombed the territories of Vietnam and Cambodia throughout the 60s; the same happened again when China once again invaded the territory of Vietnam, in 1979, just to recall some more well-known cases of invasions that took place without the consent of the UN Security Council.

In all these cases, the invading powers claimed “just cause”, that is, the existence of threats to their “national security” that justified their “pre-emptive strikes”. And in all these cases, the invaded countries contested the existence of these threats, without their position ever being taken into account.

That is, in practice, there has always been a kind of “parallel international law”, after the Second World War – and it could be said more – throughout the history of the international system consecrated by the signing of the Peace of Westphalia, in 1648: the “great powers” members of this system have always had the “exclusive right” to invade the territory of other sovereign countries, taking into account only their own judgment and discretion, and their military capacity to impose their opinion and will on weaker countries in the international system.

What happened, however, is that after the end of the Cold War, this “right to invade” became an almost exclusive monopoly of the United States and England. Suffice it to say that, in the last 30 years, the United States (almost always with the support of England) invaded successively, and without the consent of the UN Security Council: the territory of Somalia, in 1993 (300 dead); Afghanistan, in 2001 (180 dead); Iraq, in 2003 (300 dead), Libya, in 2011 (40 dead); Syria, in 2015 (600 dead); and finally, Yemen, where approximately 240 people have already died.

What is surprising in all these cases is that, with the exception of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003, which provoked a worldwide reaction and was opposed by Germany, the other invasions initiated by the United States never provoked such a violent and cohesive reaction. of Euro-American elites, such as the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine. And everything indicates that it is exactly because in this new war, Russia is claiming its own “right to invade” other territories, whenever it considers there is a threat to its national sovereignty.

It is obvious that things are not done in a naked and crude way, and it is at this point that the so-called “battle of the narratives” acquires great importance, according to which they try to convince the world public opinion that their arguments are more valid than those of your opponents. And in this field, Russia has been achieving a slow but progressive victory, as information provided by its own opponents is being disseminated, which characterize the existence of a siege behavior and military and economic harassment of Russia, which began long before the on February 24, 2022, with the aim of threatening and weakening its geopolitical position and, ultimately, fragmenting Russian territory itself.

On February 8, 2023, the famous American journalist Seymour Hersh, winner of the 1970 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting, made public, through an article published on the portal Substacks, (How America Took Out The Nord Stream Pipeline), the information that it was US Navy divers who installed the explosives that destroyed the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines, in the Baltic Sea, on September 26, 2022, with direct authorization from President Joe Biden. An operation carried out under the cover of NATO's BOLTOPS 22 exercises, carried out three months earlier in the Baltic, when devices were installed that were activated remotely by Norwegian operators. And after this initial revelation by Seymour Hersh, new information has been added every day, reinforcing the thesis that the attack was planned and executed by the US Navy, and that the destruction of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 Baltic gas pipelines was in fact, one of the “hidden” causes of the US offensive in Ukraine.[1]

In the same direction, a few weeks before these revelations by the American journalist, the former Prime Minister of Germany, Angela Merkel, declared in an interview given to the German newspaper Time and patience, at the beginning of December, that the Minsk Accords established between Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine on February 13, 2015, were not in effect, and that they were only signed by the Germans to give Ukraine time to prepare for a military confrontation with Russia. So did former French President François Hollande, admitting in an interview with a Ukrainian media two weeks later that the Minsk Accords were only intended to buy time while Western powers reinforced Kiev militarily to confront Russia. .

The two most important leaders of the European Union have openly acknowledged that they signed an international treaty with no intention of complying with it; and that, in addition, the strategy of the two (along with the US and England) was to prepare Ukraine for a direct military confrontation with Russia. Statements entirely consistent with the behavior of the United States, which boycotted the peace talks between Russians and Ukrainians, held on the border of Belarus, on February 28, 2022, five days after the start of the Russian military operation in Ukrainian territory. And from England, which directly boycotted the peace negotiation initiated in Istanbul on March 29, 2022, and which was interrupted by the personal intervention of the British Prime Minister, carried out on a surprise visit by Boris Johnson to Kiev on the 9th of April 2022.

These are statements and behaviors that only reinforce the Russian “narrative” that the conflict in Ukraine began long before the “Russian invasion” of Ukrainian territory. More precisely, when the US government of Democrat Bill Clinton undid the promise made by James Baker, Secretary of State in the George Bush government, to Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev, that NATO forces would not advance towards Eastern Europe after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. Because it was exactly from that moment on that the five waves of NATO expansion mentioned by Hua Chunying (a Chinese diplomat quoted in the epigraph of this article) followed each other, reaching the Russian borders of Georgia and Ukraine.

In 2006, President George W. Bush went even further and directly proposed the inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine in NATO, prompting President Vladimir Putin's response at the annual meeting of the Munich Security Conference in February 2007, when Putin warned explicitly that it was unacceptable for the Russians to advance NATO to their borders, in particular in the region of Ukraine and the Caucasus. And indeed, the following year, in August 2008, for the first time since the end of the USSR, Russia mobilized its troops to defeat the Georgian forces commanded by Mikheil Saakashvilli and then permanently occupy the territories of South Ossetia. and Abkhazia in the North Caucasus. After that, the conflict in Ukraine began, with the overthrow of its elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, by the so-called EuroMaidan Movement, which had the direct support of the United States and several European governments.

The rest of the story is well known, from the incorporation of Crimea into Russian territory, to Russian recognition of the independence of the republics of Donestsk and Lugansk, through the failed Minsk Accords and the proposal presented by the Russian government to NATO and government authorities. American, on December 15, 2021, requesting an open and diplomatic re-discussion of the Donbass issue and the entire strategic and military balance of Central Europe. Proposal that was rejected or ignored by the North Americans, and by the main governments of the European Union, starting the military conflict itself, already in the territory of Ukraine.

One year after the start of the Russian invasion, the war is now directly and explicitly between Russia and the United States and its European allies, and everything indicates that the United States has decided to further increase its involvement in the conflict. But at this moment, from a strictly military point of view: (i) The Russians have already consolidated a consistent and increasingly insurmountable front line for the Ukrainian troops, and with this they conquered the territory and the definitive independence of Donbass and Crimea, Ukrainian zones majority Russian population. (ii) Since this consolidated conquest, the Russians began to occupy a privileged position from which to attack or respond to attacks by Ukrainian forces with their new American and European weapons, being able to reach the westernmost regions of Ukraine, including Odessa and Kiev.

(iii) Furthermore, the Ukrainian forces no longer have the slightest possibility of standing without the permanent and massive help of the US and NATO. And American and NATO forces are increasingly faced with the dilemma of a direct confrontation with the Russians, which could be catastrophic for the whole of Europe. (iv) Finally, even if the war does not escalate to a European or global dimension, the Russian Armed Forces will emerge from this confrontation more powerful than they entered, with the development and improvement of armaments that will definitively give it military supremacy within the Europe, in the absence of the United States.

Even so, from a strategic and long-term point of view, Russia's most important victory, so far, was to put the United States and England in a real “nose pool”. If the two Anglo-Saxon powers prolong the war, as they want to do, every day that passes Russia will be taking one more step towards the conquest of its own “right to invade”.

But at the same time, if the United States and England accept to negotiate peace, they will be implicitly recognizing that they have already lost a “monopoly” that was fundamental for the conquest and maintenance of their global power, in the last 200 years: their right – as great powers – to invade the territory of the countries they consider their adversaries. This right has already been won back by Russia, after a year of war in Ukraine, by force of arms. And this is the true dispute being waged between the great powers, in their competition for “global power”, as always, with their back turned to any and all ethical and critical judgments of the war itself, and of its immense human, social, and social disaster. economical and ecological.

* Jose Luis Fiori Professor Emeritus at UFRJ. Author, among other books, of Global power and the new geopolitics of nations (Boitempo).

Note

[1] Fiori, JL “American Veto of the Baltic Gas Pipeline: Geopolitical Imperative and Capitalist Competition”, in Unisinos Humanitas Institute, https://www.ihu.unisinos.br, April 29, 2021

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