An open letter to Biden, Putin, and Zelensky

ukraine 1

I am in a dilemma about how to address you. We may leave it behind. You all three are quite aware that the world is now going through the most dangerous crisis since the end of World War 11 mainly because of you. A single misstep can ignite apocalyptical consequences. That may lead the planet to the threshold of an existential crisis. We hope, it will not happen because you might not opt for collective suicide. But the loss that has already been inflicted on the common people of the world is unparallel in recent history. It all started in Ukraine. But this could have been avoided since it was an easily avoidable crisis.

Dear Mr. Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine:

You have become overwhelmingly the main victim of the crisis. But you must admit, you are one of the main causes of the crisis. Russia had a very simple and understandable – if not fully legitimate demand upon Ukraine. They demanded that Ukraine must not be a member of NATO, the aggressive military pact of the Western countries led by the US. Please do not argue that since Ukraine is an independent sovereign state so it is her exclusive right to decide if it will join any military alliance. One cannot sleep in peace if the person in the next bed holds a loaded pistol pointing at him constantly. Russia did not make any hue and cry when Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania joined NATO. They are so tiny in size and vulnerable to Russia that Moscow could ignore them. Even Sweden is comparatively much away from Russia. So, Russia might not feel that much threatened by NATO membership of Sweden. But consider the geographical and strategic position of Ukraine and have a look at the maps of the two countries side by side. Who can ignore Moscow´s deep concern about Kyiv’s NATO membership? Before invading Ukraine, Moscow had time and again sought proper security guarantees from the West which implied that Ukraine would not be given membership in this aggressive military alliance. NATO was primarily a counter organization to the Warsaw Pact led by the Soviet Union. Noam Chomsky rightly pointed out that after the abolition of the Warsaw Pact there was no justification for the continuation of NATO. It should have been abolished too. But it not only continued to exist but also expanded steadily. During its inception in 1949, NATO had 12 states as its members. Since then, it has added new members eight times and now, this military alliance has 30 member-states under its armed umbrella. Another two states, Finland and Sweden are in the final stage of becoming members. It is noteworthy to mention that after the dismemberment and dissolution of the Soviet Union (1988-1991) NATO added 14 new members most of whom are members of the former Warsaw Pact. Records/documents show Russia itself wanted to join NATO, but it did not happen due mainly to the organization´s lack of interest. If one carefully analyses the expansion of NATO, it will be evident that it was done with the intention of encircling Russia. The former Soviet Union was dismembered. But still, the US-led NATO remained afraid of Moscow because of its potential challenge. They could not write off Russia. On the other hand, who can deny genuine concern of Russia when she is continuously being encircled by NATO?

Mr. Zelensky, you have a valid point that Ukraine cannot compromise its territorial integrity and therefore cannot cede her territory in the Donbas region or any other parts to Russia. I intentionally refrain from commenting on Hendry Kissinger´s justifications for territorial compromise. You say, Russia illegally occupied Crimea in 2014. They must withdraw from this peninsula. But can you deny the fact that till 1954 Crimea was part of the Russian republic within the then Soviet Union when both Russia and Ukraine were part of the USSR? It was transferred to Ukraine in 1954 for administrative reasons. When Ukraine became a separate state in 1991, both Ukraine and Russia claimed Crimea to be their part. Before the central government of the former USSR gave its verdict Ukraine forcibly brought it under her control. Moscow did not accept it and in 1914 occupied and annexed the peninsula. Russia argues that Crimea was its part for most of the time till 1954. It is Russia that built and developed Crimea. The population is overwhelmingly ethnic Russian. They speak Russian. Above all, after the Russian annexation, a referendum was held in Crimea and most of the Crimeans voted to leave Ukraine and join Russia. However, most countries do not recognize that referendum which was organized by the Russian authority. Crimea and the Donbas region have become very important for both countries because of their strategic location and economic importance. These are crucial gateways to the black sea for both Ukraine and Russia. A huge amount of export and import of the two countries is carried out through the ports of these areas.  Whoever controls the area the other party must have access to the facilities of these ports and adjacent sea routes. This fact or precondition must be accepted by both parties before any final settlement is made on this issue.

Mr. President, we understand that you have no alternative to seeking outside military help for defending yourself from the Russian attack. But you must also understand even the USA and NATO have limitations in this regard. They cannot provide you most powerful and longest-range missiles etc. which can target areas deep inside Russia. Because it will invariably lead to a direct military confrontation between Russia and the USA. Two nuclear powers will not go for this potential risk. So, before the situation goes that far, you, Mr. Putin, and Mr. Biden must come to a solution.

This war could be avoided had the Second Minsk Agreement been implemented fully. Russia could not back down from this agreement if Ukraine remained sincere in her commitment to implement the points/clauses relating to Donbas and Luhan areas. It called for interim self-governments for Donetsk and Luhan in accordance with Ukrainian law and acknowledgment of special status for this region by parliament. The decision was to be made through an impartial election. Mr. Zelensky is it correct that you wanted to fulfill the commitment to implement the Minsk Agreement 11 and even were ready to declare that Ukraine would not seek NATO membership? But you changed your position when the USA promised to back you and said that they would provide all necessary help and ensure your victory? If this is the case, one can conclude that you have not learned the relevant lessons from history. The USA does not stick to her promises if the situation goes against her interest. Their promises are based more on self-interest than on principle. Look at their former allies in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Panama, Chile, and so on. They have been used as their pawns and were abandoned when they became burdens. Definitely, you do not want to be USA´s pawn.

You yourself are a Jew. How could you seek help from a Neo-Nazi organization? Though you deny the accusation, records show that the Azov Battalion/Movement has some Nazi connections.

Mr. Zelensky, the world can feel the havoc Ukraine is going through. But you must also understand the sufferings of the ordinary people of the world because of the Ukraine conflict. In reply, you say these sufferings are worth it for national sovereignty and human rights worldwide. I wonder if you understand the amount/number of losses and suffering of billions of innocent people. Even the human right situation has worsened further particularly in third-world countries due to this conflict. People have shown consideration and solidarity with you. We urge you, Putin, and Biden to show mercy on them too.

Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia

Your main point of defense is that you want to ensure the security of Russia. In other words, you invaded Ukraine from a defensive point of view. You want to save Russia from possible entanglement of the West led by the US where Ukraine became the enemy´s forefront. You portray yourself as the savior of Russia. I do not say you do not have any substance in your arguments. But we have seen that all aggressors put forward such arguments in defense of their aggression.

Yes, Ukraine and NATO made much delay in positively responding to your warning. However, in the very beginning, after you started the invasion, Kyiv hinted that it would not seek NATO membership. But you did not extend a necessary olive branch to them. Instead, you advanced towards Donbas areas with full speed and force.

Dear Mr. President Putin, you have a point that most of the people in Donbas and Luhan are ethnically Russian. They speak Russian and prefer to be identified as Russians. Kyiv made a blunder when they curbed their autonomy, tried to undermine their separate identities, and put restrictions on the use of their language.

But a separate ethnic and cultural identity together with a separate language of a particular region of a country does not necessarily mean that this region should be granted a separate statehood. In Donbas and Luhan region you are simply trying to do this. If your arguments are accepted, then why the Chechnya´s independence movement was ruthlessly suppressed and quelled by Russia?  It is a pure double standard. Many influential Russians are openly advocating for the re-establishment of the former Soviet empire.  You have neither criticized them nor distanced yourself from their demands.

US capitalism might not be a pro-people system. The Russian totalitarian system is not better either. People want both democracy and social justice.

Mr. Joe Biden, the President of the USA

The Ukraine war is between Ukraine and Russia. But can you deny the fact that the USA has become the main counterpart of Russia? Will it be wrong to say that you along with NATO and the EU are waging a proxy war in support of Ukraine against Russia? You might say, it is your moral duty to help a country when it is invaded by an aggressor. But what have you done when your allies invaded other countries in different parts of the globe? In most cases, you either supported the aggressors or remained tactically neutral. Above all, the USA has invaded many countries without any moral basis, sometimes with maneuvered support from some international organizations including the UN.

Mr. President, would you come up with the argument that it is Ukraine’s exclusive right whether it will join any military alliance or seek foreign military help? In that case, I would like to remind you about the Cuban crisis of the ‘60s. On what ground the US government led by John F. Kennedy could not accept the Soviet military presence in Cuba which was even 50 miles off the nearest US coast? The same thing is allowed for the USA, but not for Russia, and vice-versa. What a double standard!

When the Soviet Union collapsed you thought Moscow´s backbone has become so weak that it would not be able to stand up again with its head up. Still, you could not write up Russia totally. And Moscow´s gradual economic development and resurgence made you alarmed. Is it the cause for encircling Russia by the extension of NATO? But you should have understood that Ukraine´s NATO membership was the redline for Russia. Probably you calculatedly wanted it. Russia stepped into your trap and invaded Ukraine.  You know, Ukraine is no match for Russia. But you are also aware that the combined military and economic strength of Ukraine, the USA, and the EU outweigh the Russian strength overwhelmingly if we exclude the nuclear option. But do not force us to include nukes in the calculation.

Yes, almost the entire West stands behind you and against Russia. Russia is not considered a western country or power. One wonders if it is a clash of civilizations between the West and the rest. The west is not ready to accept the emergence or reemergence of the East.

Mr. President, many analysts think you have taken the Ukraine crisis as a testing case for the possible Sino-US armed conflict over the Taiwan issue. If you cannot win here, you cannot win over there. If you cannot mobilize the West behind you in the Ukraine crisis, you cannot do it in the eventual US-China conflict. The West led by the US appears to have taken the matter as an existential crisis for its civilization and socio-economic system. No superpower yielded its monopolistic authority to a new one without a fight. The US will not be an exception.

Dear Mr. Biden, it is you who first imposed the economic sanctions against Russia. Moscow reciprocated it. You have virtually ousted Russia from the traditional international money transfer system and blocked Russia’s access to SWIFT. You are out to stop Export-Import (foreign trade) of Russia. You did it against Iran and crippled its economy. Freezing of the wealth of enemy-designated countries has become a political weapon of the USA. But you miscalculated. Russia is not Iran. They bounced back. They have started trade with other countries where rubles, yuan, etc. are being used instead of dollars. It will be a blessing in disguise for many countries if the dollar monopoly ends in the international payment system. You must end the heinous practice of freezing others´ assets.

Dear Mr. Biden, Mr. Putin, and Mr. Zelensky

The fallout from this crisis has adversely affected billions of people all over the world. Just consider the conditions of the marginalized people. Inflation is in the double digits. Share markets and stock exchanges all over the world have collapsed for small investors. They are selling their shares incurring a huge loss. The only beneficiaries of this insane crisis are arms traders, oil industries, big business and corporate houses, and big investors in the share markets. Wealthy investors in the stock market do not need to sell their shares in a bear market. They are rather buying cheap shares now which they will sell when markets will be bullish. Thousands of people are dying directly or indirectly due to the Ukraine war with which they have no direct involvement or connection. You have no right to punish them for no fault of theirs.

  • Anisur Rahman is a senior Bangladeshi journalist now living in Sweden
  • Email: [email protected]


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