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IN DEPTH: NATO and Russia’s Role in the war for Ukraine – A timeline of Provocation and Broken Promises

A factual and referenced Deep Dive into the timeline of events that led to the war in Ukraine and a closer look at the roles of NATO and Russia.

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RIA Novosti archive via Wikimedia Commons

Propaganda is about controlling a narrative and one of the most effective ways to do so, is to decide how and when the story “begins”. By setting when the story “begins”, you can decide who becomes the aggressor, and who becomes the victim. You can decide what counts as the provocation and what counts as the reaction. 

In the current climate of Russophobia, and anti-Russian hysteria, most media outlets begin the Ukraine-Russia war in late February 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine. The first action is aggression by Russia, against an unsuspecting Ukraine, caught off guard.

In reality, the Ukraine-Russia war has been ongoing for at least eight years. The current Russian invasion is an extension of that war. As we will see, putting down the causes of that war to Russia is simplistic and wrong. 

By understanding the timeline of events, one can better understand not only the political movements that have led us to the brink of world war 3, but also the underpinning moral failings, too. 

Timeline

Without understanding the past, we cannot understand the present. And without understanding the present, we cannot see the path to peace, for the future. We therefore begin with a timeline, to establish the full context of the war in Ukraine, today. 

1949: Establishment of NATO; a North Atlantic military alliance aimed at curtailing the USSR, which can only be enlarged to European states, through invitation and fulfilment of a multi-step process of military integration.

1989-1990: Collapse of the USSR

1990-1991Declassified US documents found in the National Security archive reveal a host of security assurances given by multiple independent NATO leaders and Western governments to Soviet leaders that NATO would not expand eastwards beyond Germany, and certainly not into ex-Soviet territories. Most explicitly, in a meeting on February 9, 1990, then US Secretary of State, James Baker, made clear to Gorbachev that “not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.”

This statement and assurance was given three times. Of note, the assurance was given, in return for Soviet assent to the unification of Germany and its accession to NATO, as documented in Baker’s letter to Helmut Kohl, then Chancellor of Germany, the next day. 

1999: Expansion eastward of NATO to include Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary, despite Russian protestations. 

2002 – 2004: Enlargement of NATO to include Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, again, despite Russian opposition. 

2003: A new pro-Western Georgian president is elected in a US-supported revolt known as the “Rose Revolution”.

2008: After a standoff between pro-EU Georgian government and pro-Russian separatists that do not recognise the new government, Georgian forces attack Tskhinvali (in South Ossetia), provoking a five day war in which Russia responds forcefully, seizing and occupying Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, till today. Peace is brokered by Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France.

2008: Ukraine applies to begin a NATO Membership Action Plan, against Russia opposition. NATO welcomes this at the 2008 Bucharest Summit, stating “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO.  We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.” US leaders request for immediate accession of these two countries with President Bush travelling to Kiev, asserting that Russia has no right to block NATO expansion to Ukraine and Georgia. NATO lays out a plan for accession following meeting of standard criteria. This sparked large protests in Ukraine by anti-NATO protestors.

2008: Putin repeats a previous warning that NATO expansion to the Russian border would be perceived as a “direct threat”. He further explains that Ukraine joining NATO would necessarily result in US anti-missile defence systems on Ukrainian soil, destroying any Russian nuclear deterrence. This would necessitate Russia to strike Kiev, Putin warns

2008: Divisions regarding accession to NATO of Ukraine and Georgia show themselves with the statement of the then Prime Minister of France, François Fillon: “We are opposed to the entry of Georgia and Ukraine because we think that it is not a good answer to the balance of power within Europe and between Europe and Russia” reported during a radio interview.

2009: Enlargement of NATO to include Albania and Croatia, bringing the number of NATO countries to a total of 28 states. 

2010: Election success of Viktor Yanukovych in elections judged free and fair by international observers, defeating the then Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, a pro-EU and pro-NATO candidate. He commits to Ukraine remaining a European non-aligned state, neither part of EU nor NATO. Relations between Ukraine and Russia improve dramatically during this period. 

2012: The Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement (UEUAA) is formulated. This agreement establishes closer trade and travel ties between Ukraine and the EU, and increases the likelihood of future accession to the EU. Russia considers this a threat similar to NATO accession, given the move in some EU circles towards a unified EU military.

2013: Yanukovych delays signing the UEUAA and pivots towards a deal with Russia, in what has been known as the “17 December 2013 – Russian-Ukranian Action Plan” in which Russia would buy $15 billion of Ukrainian Eurobonds, and drop the price of gas from more than $400 per 1,000 cubic metres, to $268. The UEUAA is abandoned subsequently, with EU leaders arguing that the Russian-Ukranian Action plan renders it defunct. 

2014: In response to Yanukovych’s failure to sign the UEUAA, the “Euromaidan” protests commence in Kiev, by pro-EU protestors. Yanukovych cracks down on the protestors, helping fuel it into an armed, militant uprising, to a large extent driven by neo-nazi groups as a core militant wing of the pro-EU, pro-NATO protestors. Neo-nazism among the Western Ukranians, as individuals who look to their roots in the West, and despise the slavic ethnicities of the East, is an ongoing issue

2014: Victoria Nuland, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, is caught in a leaked conversation (audio / transcript) with the US ambassador to Ukraine, discussing who should be installed as the next prime-minister, president and deputy of Ukraine out of the EU-protest leaders. This was taken as evidence that the US were directing the instalment of a pro-EU and pro-NATO government in Ukraine, contrary to explicit concerns voiced by Russia over the previous decade.

The individuals voiced by Nuland in her leaked call are assigned positions in government in keeping with her leaked preferences, with Arseniy Petrovych Yatsenyuk leading as the Prime Minister from 2014 – 2016.  

2014: In response to the US-backed coup, Russia annexes Crimea, a peninsula off Ukraine which contains Sevastopol, a key Russian military base. With the majority of the population of Crimea being ethnic Russians, many of whom are the family members of servicemen and women at the Russian military base in Sevastopol, the referendum outcome is unsurprisingly overwhelmingly in favour of annexation to Russian territory. Russia sees this as necessary to prevent its major naval base falling to US control. 

2014: Consequent to the Crimean annexation, Eastern separatists in Ukraine, ethnic Russians, storm governmental buildings in Spring 2014. They reject the legitimacy of the new, US backed pro-EU, pro-NATO government which overthrew the legitimate democratically elected leader. These two separatist regions declare independence from the new Ukrainian government in Spring of 2014. They are the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR).

It is widely believed that Russia supported these breakaway states. By promoting land disputes with Ukraine as regards Crimea, DPR and LPR, Russia managed to temporarily halt Ukraine’s accession to NATO, since NATO membership is barred from any nations in active conflict. 

2014: The first act of the new government in February 2014 is to repeal the status of Russian as an official language of Ukraine within a matter of days. The motion passes through parliament, though is not signed into law at that point, due to strong international pressure on the then acting president. Nevertheless, the damage is done, given that 30% of the population of Ukraine, according to its previous census in 2001, spoke Russian as their first language, the overwhelming majority of whom reside in the East of the country. To them, the passage of this law is a severe insult. 

2014 – 2015: From the summer of 2014, the Russo-Ukranian war begins. This phase of the war is known as the Donbass conflict, because it involves separatist forces in the Donbass regions of the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR, fighting against the Ukrainian army, after rejecting the authority of the new government as a US-plant. Evidence indicates that Russia funded, and provided training and materiel to these separatist regions, while the West openly funnelled munitions and gave training to Ukrainian forces, initiating effectively a proxy war between Russia and the United States. 

2014: A peace treaty, Minsk I, is agreed by representatives from DPR, LPR, Ukraine, Russia and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Unfortunately, the ceasefire brokered is never properly enacted, and the battle for the last Ukrainian government held territory, the Donetsk International Airport, continues, with separatists seizing it. 

2015: January sees a second attempt at an agreement, known as Minsk II, more stringent and specific on the details of the ceasefire. The treaty hinges upon the Ukrainian government giving local autonomy to the DPR and LPR regions, with the DPR and LPR regions granting control to the Ukrainian government to secure the Ukrainian-Russian border. Neither occurr, with Dmytro Yarosh from the right wing of the Ukrainian government calling Minsk II unconstitutional, and promising to fight until complete “liberation of Ukrainian lands from Russian occupants”.

2016: The Ukrainian government holds a new election, being won by Petro Poroshenko, a pro-EU candidate. 

2016 – 2019: Poroshenko drives a number of changes to Ukrainian society that exacerbate tensions between Ukraine and Russia considerably. He escalates the war in the Donbass region, driving separatists deeper towards Russia. He signs the UEUAA that president Viktor Yanukovych failed to, drawing closer to the EU. He also takes two important steps to changing the cultural fabric of Ukrainian society.

Firstly, he enacts a language law stipulating only Ukrainian, or any other European language, as the language of education. Given large territories of Ukraine speak Russian as their primary language, this is condemned roundly as a law that will hinder the progress of Russian speaking children.

Secondly, under Poroshenko, the Ukrainian church is separated from the control of the Moscow patriarchate by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. This spiritual link, going back to the 17th century, causes consternation among Russian orthodox Christians. 

2019: Under Poroshenko, the Constitution of Ukraine is amended in early 2019 to explicitly state membership of the EU and NATO as the future direction of the country. Russia sees these changes as more firmly laying the groundwork for both accession to a US-based military alliance, and for the stationing of foreign fighters on Ukrainian soil. 

2019: Elections are held in which sitting president Volodymyr Zelensky is elected on a mandate to improve relations with Russia, though his positions on the EU and NATO are notoriously anti-Russian. Significantly, approximately 12% of the population in the DPR, LPR and Crimean regions, are not eligible to vote, given the ongoing conflicts, despite the Ukrainian government’s adamant position that such territories are part of Ukraine. The overwhelming majority in such areas are ethnically Russian.

Further, five foreign polling stations situated in Russia are closed prior to the election, further preventing Ukrainian citizens of Russian ethnicity the opportunity to vote in the elections. 

2019: The US, under President Trump formally completes its withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which prohibited the existence of land based ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. This had led to the destruction of 2,692 intermediate range nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles.

Leaving the INF treaty leaves in place only the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), due to expire in 2021, to control the creation and deployment of US and Russian INF weapons across the world. With the expiry of New START, for the first time in half a century, there is no treaty to limit the creation and deployment of such missiles. US officials justify withdrawal from the INF treaty on the basis of Russia’s supposed violation of it, while Russia claims that the US deployment of missile defence systems in Europe that can be rapidly retrofitted to INF weapons is a violation of the treaty. The US cites the need to develop such systems to curtail China in the South China Sea; China was not a signatory to the INF treaty. NATO support the US decision to withdraw from the INF treaty. The US begins development of its own new intermediate missile system, the GCLM soon after.  

2019 – 2020: President Zelensky’s programme for election constitutes a plan to apply for a NATO membership action plan by 2024. He also sets 2024 as the deadline to apply for EU membership. Zelensky had been a strong supporter, both politically and financially of the Euromaidan movement and the war in the Donbass. He continues to support both into 2020 publicly. 

2021: The language law of 2019 mandating Ukrainian is extended to the service industry, requiring all shops, restaurants and similar establishments to speak only in Ukrainian to their customers, unless explicitly requested otherwise by customers. Individuals found breaking this more than twice in a year, are to be fined €220 (almost half of the average Ukrainian’s monthly income). 

2021: As a Russian military build-up on the Russo-Ukrainian border begins to amass in the Spring of 2021, President Zelensky at the Munich security conference calls for Ukrainian accession to NATO to be hastened. His ambassador to Germany warns that the Zelensky government is considering all options, including the obtaining or development of nuclear weapons, if NATO accession is not hastened. 

2021: Russia presents demands to NATO to prevent a “military operation” in Ukraine. These include legally binding declarations that Ukraine will not be granted accession to NATO, and that NATO troops and missile systems will be withdrawn from all countries that joined NATO after 1997. This includes Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and the Balkan countries. NATO rejects all demands. NATO states that Ukraine’s decision to join NATO is its sovereign right. 

2022: Russia officially recognises the independence of the breakaway states of DPR and LPR, and invades Ukraine. In his speech on the 25th February, titled “Empire of Lies” in reference to the West, Putin gives two major reasons for the invasion. The first is NATO’s continuing Eastward expansion, and its history as an extension of US military might, to Russia’s borders. He thus cites the failure of NATO and Ukraine to recognise the legitimate security concerns of Russia as the principal cause of the invasion. He argues that NATO missile systems in Ukraine would effectively destroy Russian second-strike nuclear capability, rendering defunct its nuclear deterrent, given the four minute missile flight time to Moscow from most parts of Ukraine.

The second reason he gives is the failure of Ukraine to implement the Minsk II agreement, and the ongoing shelling and killing of ethnic Russians in the separatist regions of DPR and LPR, with approximately 14,000 killed in the Donbass region, according to Ukrainian officials themselves. In this he was on good ground, with analysis by the UN showing that between 2018 and 2021, 81.4% of civilian casualties are in the Donbass region. 

The Moral Failings Behind the Russo-Ukrainian War

Analysis of the above timeline reveals three particular failings on the part of the West that ultimately led to the current situation. These failings are moral failings that underpin the political and military failings.  

Taking Advantage of a Fallen Foe

This is precisely the same failing that precipitated the second World War after the first World War. A major cause of World War 2 were the crippling sanctions applied to a humiliated Germany, which compounded national defeat with national and financial humiliation. Germany, a proud nation, swung towards those who restored to them a sense of pride and national honour, namely, the National Socialist (Nazi) party. 

Similarly, after the fall of the USSR, the US and her allies capitalised on the weakness of Russia to drive NATO eastwards as rapidly as possible, while Russia was no longer in a position to seriously threaten any consequences, being in a condition of abject poverty and military weakness, despite declassified documents revealing their assurances that this would not happen.

Since the purpose of NATO was to protect against Communist aggression, once the USSR fell, what was the need for NATO to continue? There was none, other than a desire to capitalise on the weakness of its fallen foe and to seize her erstwhile territories in a bloodless coup d’etat, whereby ex-Soviet states would become agents of US foreign policy and serve the interests of US corporations.  

Mindless Individualism 

The second failing relates to the Western vision of “national sovereignty”. Repeatedly requested by Russia for Western countries to permanently block Ukraine’s accession to NATO, the response has always been the same: Ukraine’s security decisions are its sovereign right. Russia’s response has always also been the same: the principle of indivisible security means that Ukrainian accession to NATO cannot be permitted. Indivisible security is the lynchpin of international security, Putin argues. It means to never augment one’s own security at the expense of other nations. By joining NATO, Putin argues, Ukraine would be jeopardising Russian security. 

From a moral standpoint, if we were to imagine nations as individuals, we can understand the issues more clearly. What would the West say about an individual who behaves in a manner that jeopardises the security of his or her neighbours? “Individual sovereignty” in this situation would be nothing more than a euphemism for “selfishness” and “mindless individuality”. Indeed, ‘individual sovereignty’ is precisely the issue at stake in the gun-control debate in the US. Some consider it their sovereign right to hold lethal firearms regardless of the harm it does to wider society. It is precisely this selfish and self-centred attitude that the West recognises as deplorable at the individual level, but which it actively supports and encourages, for its own interests, at the national and international level. How can peace be achieved through such disregard of one’s neighbours’ rights?

This is the precise failing of Ukrainian leadership, too. Instead of recognising the realities of their geography, and the need to live in peace with their neighbour Russia, they have sought to challenge her through inviting her enemy into their home. The non-alignment of Yanukovych between NATO and Russia, and the improvement in Ukrainian-Russian relations between 2010 and 2014 give the lie to the notion that Russia sought, as its primary policy, the end of the Ukrainian state and absorption into Russia. 

Double Standards 

Whatever one may think of the cold-blooded decision to attack Ukraine, the above timeline reveals a long-standing complaint of Russia, which extends decades into the past, but has been ignored and sidelined by Western policy makers. The complaint is that Russian security needs should be respected, and that the world’s most powerful military alliance in history, NATO, which has as its historical aim the curtailing of Russian power in Europe, should not encroach on the very borders of Russia. Indeed, Putin has accurately cited this issue as the Cuban missile crisis, in reverse. 

The Munroe doctrine of the US, formulated in 1823, but applied throughout the 20th century, even to this day, considers interference in the Western Hemisphere by any other military power except for itself as a provocation. This is a double-standard. The US seeks exclusive military influence for half of the planet, but will deny Russia its security concerns over nations at its very border. 

Conclusion: A Roadmap for Peace

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is an aggressive military invasion. That is a reality that cannot be avoided. However, the path to peace will not be achieved by the hysteria currently on show and the attempt by the West to portray Putin as simply a second Hitler. He is a rational actor who, for two decades, has repeatedly warned of this outcome in the event of NATO incursion. It is only by recognising this that we will be able to halt the march of war, by addressing the root causes behind it. In this regard, there are three saving graces of Russia’s slide to war, that could be utilised as a springboard for establishing peace. By recognising these three factors, we may yet be able to salvage something from the wreckage. 

Firstly, we must recognise that Russia did seek diplomatic channels for the resolution of its security concerns over decades. Russia has expressed its concerns to NATO repeatedly for many years. At the same time, Putin used relatively bloodless means to try to ensure NATO could not accept Ukraine according to its own rules, through annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Though denounced by the world, had it put an end to Ukraine seeking NATO inclusion and thus prevented the invasion we see today, it would be seen in history as a well timed strategic move that saved lives in the long-run. It did not put an end to it, with Ukraine changing the constitution of its nation in 2019 to explicitly declare NATO accession as a stated aim, and persistently seeking NATO accession, going so far as to express a desire for nuclear weapons in 2021. 

Secondly, we should note that these diplomatic attempts by Putin to prevent the accession of Ukraine into NATO continued all the way up to his military action. This indicates that Putin was serious in his attempts to avoid a military conflict. This should give us hope that Putin will embrace a peaceful, political solution, if concessions are granted on his key security concerns. 

Finally, and most importantly, we must recognise that NATO, in its current form, is an existential threat to Russia. Once NATO had summarily dismissed Russia’s concerns over its expansion in late 2021, Russia felt that she only had one of two options. Either wait for NATO to expand to Russian borders through accession of Ukraine, and accept the decapitation of the Russian nuclear deterrent, or invade Ukraine before accession to change the reality on the ground by changing the government in Ukraine. With the withdrawal of the US, supported by NATO, from the INF treaty and the end of the New START treaty in 2021, Russia was potentially facing land-based nuclear missiles minutes from its borders.

Some may point to Estonia and Latvia, which similarly border Russia, and are already NATO members. This misses the point, since Russia has, as part of its negotiations, requested not only a blockade to Ukrainian NATO membership, but also a withdrawal of missile systems from NATO countries that joined after 1997 – Estonia and Latvia included.

In addition, while Estonia and Latvia do border Russia, Ukraine also has access to the Black Sea, where the Russian nuclear naval base is situated. Ukraine joining NATO would therefore give NATO potential access to Russia’s only nuclear naval base at Sevastopol. In addition, the very geography of Ukraine is such that historically, all major invasions and attacks on Russia have occurred through its flat plains, from the Nazis in WW2 to Napoleon 100 years earlier. Russia has a deep and abiding fear of attack through this route, and not without good reason. Given that the US and her allies, sometimes supported by NATO, have waged wars in countries which pose no existential threat to them, from Iraq to Libya to Syria to Somalia and to Sudan, for the purpose of resource extraction, and considering the extraordinary resources at Russia’s disposal in the form of energy and agriculture, we must conclude that it is not irrational nor unreasonable for Russia to consider Ukrainian accession to NATO as an existential threat. 

Recognition of these three important issues will lay the groundwork for meaningful discussion between NATO and Russia, to de-escalate the conflict in the region. Unfortunately, the shocking lack of transparent and fair media coverage of the complex, multi-factorial issues that have precipitated this invasion, has only helped to polarise the two sides of this conflict and make peace less likely. War is indeed hell. The innocents who die by Russian bombs cannot but be wept for; it is a tragedy not of their making, but but one for which they pay the ultimate price. Without recognising the factors that led to this condition however, peace cannot be achieved. 

Undermining the security of one’s neighbours and pushing a new nuclear arms race by withdrawing from nuclear deterrent treaties while positioning missile systems closer to one’s enemies, was only ever going to lead to the outcome we see today. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

Geopolitics

Climate scientist condemns “political sabre-rattling” over nuclear weapons

Better leadership could thwart the risk of nuclear war, Dr Stuart Parkinson from an independent organisation: ‘Scientists for Global Responsibility’ tells us.

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nuclear war

Concerns are mounting that the world could see a nuclear war erupt. As the war in Ukraine intensifies, Chinese President Ji Xinping warned Russia’s President Vladimir Putin not to resort to nuclear weapons, as he urged the international community to take steps to prevent a “nuclear crisis.”

A study conducted by Rutgers University warned a nuclear war could lead to global famine, starving five billion people in its wake. Analyst News spoke to climate scientist, Dr Stuart Parkinson SGR – from an independent organisation: ‘Scientists for Global Responsibility’ – to understand its tangible risks and how the world could thwart it.

What does the study say?

Commenting on the purpose of the study, Dr Parkinson tells us: “This latest study backs up the findings of numerous previous studies published since 2007 which have used the latest climate models to understand the potentially catastrophic environmental impacts of regional and global nuclear wars. These studies build upon early research in this field – carried out in the late 1980s – which first alerted the world to the threat of nuclear winter and helped end the Cold War.”

It used the latest climate models to understand the potentially catastrophic environmental impacts of regional and global nuclear wars.

But on how the spread of highly radioactive material could affect humans, he goes on to say:

“The quality of life in these circumstances would be reduced substantially leading to poor air quality in bombed-out regions. Electromagnetic pulses from nuclear explosions would fry electronic equipment within a few kilometres of each bomb site which would impact phones, internet, medical equipment, cars etc and would cease to work in those areas. The ozone layer protecting the Earth’s surface from damaging ultraviolet radiation would also be severely damaged allowing for ecosystems to collapse. In short, we would be looking at the potential collapse of human civilization.”

In May, the UN warned the world was at the brink of total societal collapse if urgent action was not taken to de-escalate the risk of natural disasters. Human activities, it stated, were interfering with planetary boundaries. These are systems that allow for the safe operation and development of the human race over generations.

Future of Life organisation provides much-needed hope in ensuring that such a life-destructing event does not occur again. The organisation’s concerns lay in making sure that advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and biotechnology along with nuclear weapons do not have detrimental effects on the world.

With influence across the United Nations, and European Union as well as other organisations in the United States including federal agencies, Congress, security agencies, and think tanks, Future of Life has supported the creation of policies that minimise the risk advanced technologies may pose to human life. The non-profit, independent organisation also provides grants for and conducts ethical research around AI.

A report from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute earlier this year found that increasing tensions between Russia and Ukraine have put countries on high alert. The worldwide arsenal of nuclear weapons since the cold war, it warned, is expected to drastically rise in the next few years.

Weapons expert Hamish de Bretton-Gordon said he thinks not much is being done by the British government to prevent the escalation of a nuclear war. We asked Dr Parkinson what Britain and the West can do to prevent its escalation.

“The first step could be to end the political sabre-rattling about nuclear weapons and the institution of ‘no first use’ policies,” he said, citing a pledge by nuclear powers to formally refrain from the use of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons.

He further said that countries should take nuclear weapons off the short notice ‘launch on warning’ status as well as remove US nuclear weapons from European soil.

He added that the US and Russia could extend the START treaty to cover a longer time period, as well as to make deeper warhead cuts with more nations following suit. They could also engage with the NPT, which stands for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, disarmament commitments in a serious manner along with Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) negotiations.

But whether such treaties have been respected in recent times is a point in question. Amid the advancement of Russian troops into Ukraine, unprecedented attacks on civilian nuclear facilities like the Zaporizhzhia power station, have reinforced the need for stronger international agreements in the event of a nuclear war. On whether such treaties have been effective in limiting the threat of such a war breaking out, Dr Parkinson stated:

“Currently, there are only 9 nuclear weapons states which are markedly less than the number predicted to be when the NPT was agreed. So it has significantly limited the threat. But nations are failing to implement Article 6 on disarmament and hence there is a need for the TPNW.” – The NPT stands for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

According to him, some of the legal instruments and frameworks that could be used to limit the threat include reinstating the treaties which have been abandoned or curtailed which include INF, ABM, and the Open Skies Treaty. Additional legal instruments which could be agreed upon include a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty and the TPNW must be fully implemented to remove the threat of nuclear war.

Which countries would see the worst if a nuclear war were to occur?

He said that at first the nations which were hit by nuclear weapons would be hit severely and then their neighbours and finally the other most vulnerable nations around the world will also be able to feel the impact.

Last month, President Joe Biden pledged that the US “prepared to use all elements of its national power” to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons. But what could the US itself do?

Dr Parkinson told us he thinks the country “should return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and fully implement the agreement as this would greatly reduce the risks of nuclear programmes in Iran”.

The JCPOA, dubbed Iran nuclear deal, was an agreement signed between Iran and some world powers, including the US. The aim of the accord was to ward off a revival of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which could have seen potential conflict between it and its regional opponents.

The agreement was called off under the Trump administration but there have been indications from Biden to revive it whilst ensuring the security of Israel. This month, Iran’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian called on the US to show “goodwill and genuine resolve” in talks to bring back the agreement.

Is it realistic to think countries would pay heed?

The UN Secretary-General called for countries with nuclear weapons to commit to “no-first-use” of them, but how likely is it that nations will listen?

“It’s a reasonable ask, but national leaders are not hearing it at the moment. We need more mass protests in support of nuclear de-escalation/ disarmament,” said Dr Parkinson.

Given the current political climate, “it was very difficult” that we could see a world free of nuclear weapons, stated Dr Parkinson. But changes in leadership could bring much-needed “rapid political change.” He pointed to Mikhail Gorbachev’s rise in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s to illustrate how a change in those at the top could “profoundly change the debate.”


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Geopolitics

7 Key points from Putin’s annexation speech

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Vladimir Putin 2022 Annexation Speech

At a ceremony in the Grand Kremlin Palace’s St George Hall, Russian President Vladimir Putin, signed the treaties to annex the Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson Regions, claiming that millions of people have, “made their unequivocal choice” to join Russia and “have become our citizens, forever.”

His subsequent speech revealed deep distrust of the west, its culture and hegemony. Invading Ukraine wasn’t about territory alone, it was about a clash of cultures and civilisations, and standing up to a West which was bent upon “enslaving” the world. Here are 7 key points from the speech which will give you an insight into the mind of the Russian premier. 

1. Regret over the collapse of the Soviet Union

When the Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991, those in power didn’t ask, “ordinary citizens what they wanted, and people suddenly found themselves cut off from their homeland”, Putin complained. “This tore apart and dismembered our national community and triggered a national catastrophe.”

He said that decision, “destroyed our great country” and while recreating it isn’t his ambition he claims, there is a determination by millions linked by “culture, religion, tradition, and language”, who consider themselves part of Russia and want to “return to their true historical homeland.” 

Russian is widely spoken in Eastern parts of Ukraine including the newly annexed areas and is the most common language. People there tend to view Russia and its past in a more positive light. But in 2018 the Ukrainian government made it compulsory to use Ukrainian in all media, schools and public spaces, whilst previously –  since 2012 Russianwas permitted to be a regional language in regions where at least 10% of the population spoke it. However, while Putin claimed the majority of people in Eastern Ukraine voted to join Russia, in the referendum which the West described as a “sham”, polls from previous years show that a very low number of people wanted to join Russia. International observers were present at the referendum but there are concerns that they were biased towards Russia. As with anything during such conflicts, nothing is clear. 

2. Anger over Western policies 

President Putin blamed the West for their continuing hostility towards Russia. He said, “the West continued and continues looking for another chance to strike a blow at us, to weaken and break up Russia, which they have always dreamed about, to divide our state and set our peoples against each other, and to condemn them to poverty and extinction. They cannot rest easy knowing that there is such a great country with this huge territory in the world, with its natural wealth, resources and people who cannot and will not do someone else’s bidding.”

President Putin emphasised that the West wants to control every other country. He said, “in certain countries, the ruling elites voluntarily agree to do this, voluntarily agree to become vassals; others are bribed or intimidated. And if this does not work, they destroy entire states, leaving behind humanitarian disasters, devastation, ruins, millions of wrecked and mangled human lives, terrorist enclaves, social disaster zones, protectorates, colonies and semi-colonies. They don’t care. All they care about is their own benefit.” 

3. Russian nationalism

President Putin considers the four regions annexed as part of Russia, taken by force, by Ukraine in 2014. People of these regions were Russian and have decided to remain with Russia and their choice must be respected. 

President Putin made it clear that this is not just a plea to uphold justice and respect the choice of people of the regions, rather, “we will defend our land with all the forces and resources we have, and we will do everything we can to ensure the safety of our people. This is the great liberating mission of our nation.” Not only defence, Russia will rebuild infrastructure of new regions.

A question that must be in every Russian mind is that there has been a significant loss of lives of Russian soldiers, was it worth it? President Putin acknowledged the sacrifice of soldiers and paid respect with a minute of silence. He, also explained the reason for who he considers the enemy of Russia.

4. Western hegemony seen as a threat 

President Putin presented the West as the real enemy of Russia. Expansion of NATO is seen as a threat which the West has been deceitfully dealing with Russia and the world.

“The West is ready to cross every line to preserve the neo-colonial system which allows it to live off the world, to plunder it thanks to the domination of the dollar and technology, to collect an actual tribute from humanity, to extract its primary source of unearned prosperity, the rent paid to the hegemon.” 

President Putin said that the domination of the United States is unjustly enforced on the world for currency or technology. Like if any country wants to trade in currency other than US dollars or develop a technology like China developed 5G communication equipment before the US, then unjust sanctions on trade or technology are placed.

There is no free competition of trade and technology in the world, according to President Putin, he said that the West shows aggression towards independent states. “It is critically important for them to force all countries to surrender their sovereignty to the United States.”

5. Crimes of the West

President Putin mentioned the crimes of the West and said that the Western elites are blaming Russia whereas the West is responsible for many crimes like, “the worldwide slave trade, the genocide of Indian tribes in America, the plunder of India and Africa, the wars of England and France against China, as a result of which it was forced to open its ports to the opium trade. What they did was get entire nations hooked on drugs and purposefully exterminated entire ethnic groups for the sake of grabbing land and resources, hunting people like animals”. He added “this is contrary to human nature, truth, freedom and justice”.

Crimes of the US include using nuclear weapons twice on Japanese cities. Being the only country that used nuclear weapons, they created a precedent. President Putin also mentioned the destruction during WWII as crimes of the West. 

6. “Satanism”, morality & traditional values 

President Putin called the attitude of the West towards the world against standard human morality and traditional values, rather it is “religion in reverse, pure Satanism”.

He quoted Jesus Christ in the Sermon on the Mount: “By their fruits ye shall know them.” And said that the poisonous fruits of actions of the West can be observed in Russia and other countries including the countries in the West. 

Addressing all citizens of Russia, Putin asked, “do we want to have here, in our country, in Russia, “parent number one, parent number two and parent number three (they have completely lost it!) instead of mother and father? Do we want our schools to impose on our children, from their earliest days in school, perversions that lead to degradation and extinction? Do we want to drum into their heads the ideas that certain other genders exist along with women and men and to offer them gender reassignment surgery? Is that what we want for our country and our children? This is all unacceptable to us. We have a different future of our own.”

7. Fighting for Russian survival 

Putin quoted the words of Ivan Ilyin calling him a true patriot “If I consider Russia my Motherland, that means that I love as a Russian, contemplate and think, sing and speak as a Russian; that I believe in the spiritual strength of the Russian people. Its spirit is my spirit; its destiny is my destiny; its suffering is my grief; and its prosperity is my joy.”

Mentioning the thousand years of Russian statehood, he said “today, we are making this choice; the citizens of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics and the residents of the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions have made this choice. They made the choice to be with their people, to be with their Motherland, to share in its destiny, and to be victorious together with it. The truth is with us, and behind us is Russia!”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

First Grain Ship Departs Ukraine After Six Months of Russian Blockade

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  • The first shipment of grain departed the port of Odesa on Monday after Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports for the last six months trapped around 20 million metric tons of wheat and corn.
  • Russia recently made a deal with Ukraine, brokered by the UN and Turkey, allowing grain exports to resume, appeasing fears of a global food supply crisis and rising prices.
  • Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba celebrated the shipment, calling it a “day of relief for the world, especially for our friends in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.”
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was more hesitant to celebrate the shipment, stating “it is too early to draw any conclusions and make any forecasts” and he wants to “see how the agreement works and whether security will be really guaranteed.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Concerns Rise As US Teeters on the Brink of Recession

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  • The US economy declines for the second quarter in a row, causing, what other countries would consider, an economic recession. 
  • The prices for groceries, gas, and other basics are rising at the fastest pace since 1981. The US Central Bank is quickly trying to raise borrowing costs in order to cool the economy and ease the prices on goods, but with the contraction, at the annual rate of 0.9% in the 3 months to July, many are still getting concerned. 
  • President Biden struggles to convince the public that the economy is sound, with the unemployment rate at a low 3.6%. But with inflation in the US hitting 9.1% in June, the fastest price appreciation in 4 months, consumer spending has slowed at an annual rate of 1%. 
  • Many other countries, such as China and the UK, have been hit harder by the surge in energy prices and the War in Ukraine, causing risks from abroad. Other countries are facing much more serious problems and once they’re hit, their problems can spill over and affect the US. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Russia cuts Germany’s Gas Supply causing Prices to Soar 

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  • Over the course of the Russian-Ukrainian War, Russia began to slowly cut off Germany’s gas supply through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline. 
  • Before the war, over half of Germany’s gas came from Russia. By the end of June it was reduced to a quarter of its normal captivity, and now it operates at less than a fifth of it. 
  • Russia’s energy firm Gazprom has stated that this need to cut off Germany’s gas supply was due to maintenance work on a turbine that is needed. Critics have disagreed, claiming that Russia is using it’s gas as a ploy to cause terror to Europe. 
  • The cut of Gas supply to Germany and other central European countries has caused gas prices to rise almost 2%, causing the trade to close to a record high similar to that of when Russia invaded Ukraine. 
  • While Germany scrambles to find a solution to this, Poland states it will be fully independent from Russia by the end of the year in order to avoid blackmail from Russia.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Russia Limits Gas Supply to Germany

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  • Gazprom, a major Russian energy provider, has stated it will reduce the supply of gas to Germany by half via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline due to repair work. 
  • Germany has said that they see no technical reason for the decrease in gas supply. The European Union continues to accuse Russia of weaponizing energy, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stating, “This is an open gas war that Russia is waging against a united Europe.”
  • Ukraine and Russia signed an agreement to allow the export of grain via the Black Sea after Russia continued to block millions of tonnes from being exported. The next day, Russia struck missiles at the port, some of which hit the infrastructure of the port.
  • The US and Ukraine are optimistic that the agreement will still be implemented, with the US State Department stating, “Despite these attacks, we do understand that the parties are continuing preparations to open Ukraine’s Black Sea ports for food and fertilizer exports…we also continue to expect that the Black Sea agreement will be implemented.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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