No matter if the U.S. agreed or disagreed with Russia’s requests, Ukraine was a big loser, and the preferred solution was to cut its losses. U.S. and its allies enabled Ukraine and Russian suffering and had the U.S. (not its allies) gain a pyrrhic victory – the war will debilitate Russia’s prestige and the sanctions will debilitate Russia’s economy, circumstances that benefit U.S. foreign policy.
From the alignment of Russian forces the US knew and said Russia would definitely attack. If Russia attacked what were the U.S. and its allies prepared to do to stop Russian aggression? Absolutely nothing militarily and much economically. Did the U.S. State department believe that threats of sanctions would deter the angry President Putin from obtaining his objectives? Take food away from a bear and the bear becomes ferocious. Vladimir Putin is a ferocious bear.
An unfortunate result of the usual counterproductive United States’ diplomacy in resolving Ukraine’s crisis will have Ukrainians dead and their country demolished. The trade-off in Ukrainian suffering has Russians suffering economically. Ukrainians caught between Western and Russian antagonisms became sacrificial lambs.
Looking at the events with a jaundiced eye, no matter whether the U.S. conceded or did not concede to Russia’s demands the Russian’s would assure that its security objectives would be met — Ukraine would be demilitarized and more allied to Russian foreign policy. The difference between U.S. compromising and not compromising defined the differences between the outcomes. By compromising, there would be no military action and corpses, Ukraine would remain a sovereign nation, demilitarized and within Russia’s sphere of influence. By not compromising, military action would occur, Ukrainians would be killed, their country would be devastated, probably demilitarized and firmly situated within the Russian orbit, and Russia would be harmed economically. Examine the two choices and which path is preferable for the Ukrainians? Examine the two choices and which path would a sensible negotiator choose for the Ukrainians?
During December 2021, Russia offered a list of security guarantees it deemed necessary to defuse tensions and resolve its arguments with Ukraine. These guarantees included (1) No invitation for Ukraine to join NATO; (2) Removal of NATO troops and weapons deployed to countries that entered the alliance after 1997 (Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and the Balkan nations). Note that this did not mean that these countries must withdraw from NATO; (3) No further NATO expansion; (4) No NATO drills in Ukraine, eastern Europe, or in Caucasus countries such as Georgia or in Central Asia without Russian agreement.
Never revealed were the concessions the U.S. offered to Russia’s demands. From what is known, no concessions were offered.
Putin’s request for security guarantees and his reaction to lack of guarantees were not without precedent. During the last decades U.S. military has either invaded, tried to obtain regime change, or enabled regime change in Cuba, Dominica, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Panama, Dominican Republic, Somalia, and Sudan. On a larger and more horrific scale, U.S. forces have attacked North Vietnam, Cambodia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. All these military actions were done to protect Uncle Sam’s security.
NATO claims it is strictly a defensive organization and no threat to Russia. History does not support that claim; (1)NATO attacked Yugoslavia, a Russian ally, which was no threat to any NATO country; (2) NATO nations, against advice from Russia, attacked Libya; and (3) NATO allied with the United States in the invasion of Afghanistan. From an adversary’s perspective, NATO is not entirely a defensive organization
Russia’s attack on Ukraine is a criminal action that deserves international condemnation. Considering Russia’s recalcitrance, Ukraine was in a “no-win” situation. No matter if the U.S. agreed or disagreed with Russia’s requests, Ukraine was a big loser, and the preferred solution was to cut its losses. U.S. and its allies took the low road, enabled Ukraine and Russian suffering and had the U.S. (not its allies) gain a pyrrhic victory ─ the war will debilitate Russia’s prestige and the sanctions will debilitate Russia’s economy, circumstances that benefit U.S. foreign policy. History may certify Vladimir Putin as one of the world’s greatest tyrants and may not be too kind to President Joe Biden ─ regardless of intent, his no compromise policies turned Ukraine into a sacrificial lamb.
Reports of the invasion showed the pathetic nature by those considered the more responsible media. Although, as of February 28, only one verified rocket attack, photographed from several angles and mentioned many times. and no verified street fighting had occurred in Kyiv (where are the videos?), the media sensationalized and exaggerated the struggle. It started with a completely fabricated twitter comment.
Twitter, Feb 24
Horrific Russian rocket strikes on Kyiv. Last time our capital experienced anything like this was in 1941 when it was attacked by Nazi Germany.
BBCNews, Feb 26
Kyiv under attack as Russian missile strikes hit the Ukrainian capital.
NPR, Feb 26
Fierce street fighting was reported in Kyiv as Ukrainian troops defend the capital city against the ongoing Russian invasion. Air raid sirens blared throughout the night as the city was hit by missiles and rockets.
Dan Lieberman edits Alternative Insight, a commentary on foreign policy, economics, and politics. He is author of the non-fiction books A Third Party Can Succeed in America, Not until They Were Gone, Think Tanks of DC, The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name)