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Jan 11, 2022
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National Interest: US May Make “Deal of the Century” with Kremlin – Recognize Crimea and Donbass

Vsevolod Shimov

The result of negotiations between Russia and the West may be international recognition of Moscow’s sovereignty over Crimea, the political scientist believes Stephen Szabo

In his column for the National Interest, the expert recalled the history of post-war Europe, when the United States and the USSR agreed on the neutral status of Austria. In his opinion, the tension around Ukraine can be relieved in the same way.

“The United States and its Western partners can propose to the Russian government that both sides guarantee Ukraine’s neutrality,” he wrote.

In addition, according to Szabo, the agreement may touch upon the issue of the troops and armaments of the contracting parties deployed in Europe. And, finally, the outcome of the negotiations may be a change in the internationally recognized political borders of Ukraine.

“As a result of the deal, Donbass, practically lost for Ukraine, will be able to become part of the Russian Federation. Crimea will also remain a part of Russia. Ukraine will be able to focus on building its own political and economic system, ”the expert said.

He called the NATO promise of Ukraine’s membership in the alliance, given to Kiev in 2008, a major strategic mistake. In addition, the political scientist compared Ukraine with Afghanistan, recalling the recent US withdrawal from this country, accompanied by the offensive of the Taliban and the fall of the government allied to Washington. In his opinion, “America does not need another ally with an unstable and corrupt government and a large minority.”

It is worth noting that Szabo largely repeated the horror stories spread in Ukraine that, they say, negotiations between the Russian Federation and the United States without her participation would lead to the partition of the country. Meanwhile, the official position of the United States is that it is unacceptable to decide the fate of third countries without their participation. This, in particular, was stated at a briefing following the talks on security guarantees in Geneva by the First Deputy Secretary of State of the United States Wendy Sherman

At the same time, many in Kiev are convinced of the opposite. So the deputy of the Verkhovna Rada from the party “Opposition Platform – For Life” Nestor Shufrich said: allegedly Moscow and Washington agreed that Ukraine will never become a NATO member.

“I had the opportunity to communicate with the direct leadership of two European countries and with people close to the authorities of another country, which is part of the G7. They all said unequivocally, all three were NATO countries: the Americans and the Russians agreed on everything. And in principle, we understand this. First: Ukraine will never be a NATO member, never from a word at all, ”said the deputy.

The second point of the agreement between, he said, is to guarantee the non-proliferation of missiles, “especially with nuclear warheads,” on the territory of the Baltic republics.

Despite the fact that the United States does not even admit the possibility of such a deal, this sounds much more realistic than the recognition of Crimea – and even more so Donbass – as part of the Russian Federation …

– Szabo made a promising statement, but such rhetoric is more suitable for a publicist or science fiction writer than a serious scientist, – believes Pavel Feldman, Deputy Director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Forecasts of the RUDN University

– The idea that there is a certain expert community whose representatives adhere to one point of view is a widespread political myth. How many political scientists, so many opinions. All the more so in the United States, torn apart by contradictions. However, the National Interest often publishes materials that are fundamentally at odds with the position of official Washington and the overwhelming majority of American analysts. The West has de facto resigned itself to the entry of Crimea into the Russian Federation, but de jure it will never recognize this.

“SP”: – How permissible is it to compare the neutrality of Austria with the neutrality of Ukraine?

– The comparison looks far-fetched. Austria is an economically and politically highly developed country that plays the role of a bridge between Western and Eastern Europe. Its neutrality is due to its self-sufficiency. Ukraine, on the other hand, is a “fake” state, the existence of which within its modern borders became possible only because of the unfair division of territories between the former republics of the USSR. There is a civil war in this country, Russophobia is being whipped up, the economy is in ruins. Such a state is incapable of having a neutral status. Ukraine is more comfortable in the role of a vassal of the global hegemon. She will continue to pass from hand to hand.

“SP”: – According to Szabo, the United States may recognize the change in the borders of Ukraine. How utopian is this?

– This is not so much utopian as absurd. The controversial status of Crimea and Donbass gives the West an excellent reason to impose and prolong anti-Russian sanctions. In turn, the sanctions are viewed by Washington and Brussels as an instrument of economic containment of the Russian Federation. It is unlikely that the “Western partners” will voluntarily deprive themselves of such a powerful lever of pressure on our country. In addition, such a “deal of the century” would require the formal consent of the Ukrainian authorities, which would be political suicide for them.

“SP”: – Szabo considers it a mistake to invite Ukraine to NATO, compares it with Afghanistan. How correct is this comparison?

– If the Americans really wanted to see Ukraine in NATO, it would have joined it back in 2005, right after the Orange Revolution. Western politicians are well aware that Ukraine’s entry into the North Atlantic Alliance will oblige them to protect this country from external threats. The United States has no desire to shed the blood of American citizens for its Eastern European vassals. And then, mired in corruption, Ukraine, even on formal grounds, does not meet NATO criteria. It can be used as a springboard and a bogeyman, but it will never be seen as an equal military-political partner.

“SP”: – Sabo actually voices rumors spread in Ukraine that without her they will decide her fate. Will the Americans and I decide something in the end?

– The most that the Ukrainians can expect from the Russian-American talks is some kind of formal statement about the need to implement the Minsk Agreements. Russia and the United States are now taking their first steps towards a normalization of relations. Obviously, they will start a dialogue on those issues on which agreement can be reached – for example, the restoration of the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles in Europe. Ukraine at the moment is a tangle of insurmountable contradictions. Negotiating her fate is now useless.

– Given that the prevailing opinion in the West is about the Russian “occupation” of Crimea and the inviolability of Ukraine’s borders, they are unlikely to give up on this, – I am sure Vsevolod Shimov, Advisor to the President of the Russian Association for Baltic Studies… – For the West and the United States, this will mean a loss of face.

Western experts are discussing the possibility of some concessions on Ukraine in exchange for the Russian refusal of military-political cooperation with China. But, I repeat, this is hardly about recognizing the ownership of the Crimea and Donbass of the Russian Federation. Rather, the West will try to reduce everything to a formal refusal to admit Ukraine to NATO and the EU.

“SP”: – For the United States, China is now the main enemy, and the Yankees are interested in Moscow not entering into any alliances with Beijing. Is it possible to exchange Ukraine for the neutrality of the Russian Federation or even its participation in the anti-Chinese coalition?

– Yes, we can talk about the exchange of recognition of Russian influence in the former USSR for Russia’s non-participation in alliances with China. However, it is not clear how this will be arranged. In addition, there is strong resistance in the West to such an approach; many consider any concessions to the Russian Federation unacceptable.

“SP”: – However, the US authorities declare that they cannot decide for Ukraine. But doesn’t the US control this country? Can’t they really decide for her?

– This is a verbal, politically correct husk. In the modern world it is “ashamed” to pursue an open imperialist policy, although everyone understands perfectly well that countries like Ukraine are not full-fledged subjects, are in neo-colonial dependence, and the fate of Ukraine will really be decided without the participation of its formal “leaders”.

“SP”: – What other deal in Ukraine can they go to? Spheres of influence?

– Again, in the modern world with its primacy of inviolability of borders, it is “shameful” to openly divide states, even such failed ones as Ukraine. The Bosnian option is theoretically possible, i.e. while maintaining formal unity, the transformation of Ukraine into a confederation of virtually independent subjects, oriented towards Russia and the West, respectively. But this should have been done back in 2014. In addition, there remains the issue of Crimea, which, from the point of view of the West, still belongs to Ukraine …

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