The minimum you must know
There’s no reason whatsoever for NATO, Ukraine and Russia to prefer conflict over peace, except that patterning makes it so. There have been years of inciting patterning from NATO leadership and NATO media. Recent media reports indicate Ukraine is currently taking the fight across the border into Russia (without losing the support of NATO and the United States, which publicly trained and armed the Ukrainian army). Support for this dramatic escalation - and cross border attacks of military targets deep inside Russia - was expressed by the senior-most U.S. military leadership on both CNN and Fox News as recently as last week (who called military targets in Russia “legitimate.”)
Russia has previously been attempting to help the United States and NATO to become safe with respect to public safety. Russia has hoped that NATO countries would govern themselves well enough that there wouldn’t be any reason for finger-pointing at innocent nations. (NATO is still way behind Russia even after receiving help. NATO hasn’t even adequately implemented what’s been learned so far.) So Russia may not have a reason to continue the hopeful attitude. Russia was forced by primitive opponents into defending itself within Russian borders with blatantly open rhetorical support from the senior-most U.S. generals on both conservative and liberal U.S. television stations. So there is a risk Russia may be provoked to cease helping NATO and to finally retaliate. Any meaningful retaliation would represent a significant change in Russia’s strategy from only defensive/deterrent to offensive targeting. To be specific, the deputy chairman of Russia’s military wrote on Twitter that Russia may start responding against unfriendly officials. He wrote that, "The UK… is leading an undeclared war against Russia…. That being the case, any of its public officials (either military, or civil, who facilitate the war) can be considered as a legitimate military target." (All NATO states are taking the warning seriously.) And Russian media is reporting on the possibility of a second form of retaliation - Mexican drug cartels becoming well armed with U.S. weapons. Russia may have captured a significant number of them, ranging from shoulder held canons (already shown in a newspaper photograph of a Mexican town) to far more dangerous HIMARS. America’s own powerful weapons could become a decades-long problem for U.S. authorities for the first time along a vast open border. Russian media did not say Russia was or would be responsible for transferring weapons there but a photo of a U.S. weapon in Mexico surfaces in the news. This writer believes that there’s a risk NATO offense may finally be met with a forceful response. The situation may have already - or may easily start to - spiral out of control into a full scale confrontation on all sides. For this reason and others, this writer believes the United States and NATO would prefer a lasting peace agreement as soon as possible.
(N.B. There are reason for significant hope. United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak successfully campaigned on reducing military expenditures substantially, which was very peaceful. The U.K. has patterned peacefully during his administration particularly on the BBC. And there are presently good faith peace negotiations occurring for improving NATO-Russian relations as a result of British leadership.
But it’s important to resolve the matter peacefully ASAP because ANY country in Russia’s situation would consider creating costs for NATO leadership through symmetrical / a-symmetrical responses.)
According to the U.S. media, Ukraine recently hacked into some Russian TV broadcasts to air a menacing Ukrainian military statement about the counteroffensive. In an unprecedented response, broadcasts in several Russian regions were hacked Monday to carry an address by President Vladimir Putin in which a voice resembling his was heard declaring martial law, a nationwide mobilization and a massive evacuation of three border regions. There is question as to the authenticity of that broadcast - whether it was really from the Russian or Ukrainian side.
Kyiv denied both their involvement in the communication matter and in any cross border aggression against Russia. NATO claims Ukraine is giving orders to their own people on their own initiative. But Ukrainian denial of involvement raises questions about whether this is really true. Understandably Ukraine doesn’t want to look responsible to avoid possible responses. But neither does NATO for the same reason. Probably Russia views both Ukraine and NATO as responsible.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is one of the most talented linguists at the head of state level. He has very advanced persuasion and influence abilities. He uses his influence ethically. His speeches are patterned with tremendous integrity. He has shown a deep desire for peace. It’s unsurprising therefore that he enjoys tremendous support among Ukrainians and global support with heads of state (including in both political parties in the United States). He will deserve credit when peace finally takes hold.
Ukraine was offered an extraordinary sum from the World Bank to create and/or accept a peace agreement with Russia. But President Zelensky may not believe that NATO’s desire for peace is sincere throughout the alliance countries, because NATO governments and media haven’t create much of a peaceful feeling towards Russia yet. There has been helpful editorializing and moments of helpful patterning. But there was so much incitement patterning towards Ukraine/Russia in previous years that it will take a lot more peaceful patterning towards Ukraine/Russia for peaceful NATO intentions to be felt by heads of state. Anyone in President Zelensky’s position might be led by such rhetoric to believe that his credibility depends upon his standing up to Russia for NATO when it does not. This writer believes it’s consequently very important for NATO media and heads of state to demonstrate courage for peace by promptly telling President Zelensky truthfully, sincerely and directly that many in NATO governments and countries prefer peace with Russia including in Ukraine. (All border negotiations can be conducted diplomatically instead of militarily.)
That said, there has been significant economic encouragement from NATO for Ukraine to achieve peace and rebuilding in peacetime. So President Zelensky has some indication that many in NATO countries prefer peace. At the start of this year, Europe and the United States announced the ‘Public Expenditures for Administrative Capacity Endurance’ (“PEACE”) proposal that promises Ukraine over $13 billion in peacetime, with $4.5 billion upfront. All President Zelensky needs to do is achieve any peace agreement (such as a return to the one he unilaterally ended in January 2022 and that Russia has hinted remains acceptable to the Russian government today). The economic offer is morally and ethically the right thing for Europe and the United States to make to Ukraine. It’s clearly a strategic proposal for all of the populations involved because an end to the conflict could save millions of lives, and rebuilding Ukraine in peacetime will help return some of the roughly twenty million Russian-speaking refugees (mostly wandering European streets) to their homes in eastern Europe. The potential humanitarian benefit for all populations involved is far more significant than the costs.
That may sound like a small commitment to Ukraine compared to what NATO promised in military aid. But it isn’t. It’s potentially much greater because the proposed World Bank funding is to supplement amounts already anticipated by the International Monetary Fund and various governments for use by Ukraine in peacetime. (And a lot more may follow as more compassionate countries join the rebuilding effort with the extraordinarily convincing leadership of President Zelensky.) It represents one of the largest upfront commitments to rebuilding any country in peacetime. And Ukraine may even benefit much more than explicit economic proposal indicate because European Union membership is on the table for a rebuilt Ukraine as well! Ukraine is widely expected to become fully accepted into the European marketplace.
So there is a great intention for peace being expressed by NATO for Ukraine-Russia peace. No other country has been offered as much to accept a peace proposal as Ukraine. This writer wonders if European and U.S. leaders have to show more political courage to pattern and even insist that Ukraine choose peace for President Zelensky to accept the offer. We need to get everyone together around a peace agreement (documented at the United Nations) ASAP.
It may be important for President Zelensky to achieve peace right now because economic support for conflict is already dwindling. Previous commitments have been very substantial, and Ukraine may benefit from them for a long time. But there are also meaningful indications U.S. and European desire for conflict is greatly diminished and may abruptly halt. Several European Heads of state recently told the media directly that they prefer NATO end confrontational military expenditures in Ukraine. And the two leading republican presidential contenders in the United States, Governor Ron Desantis and President Donald President, both prefer peace. President Trump said he will return Ukraine to peace in 24-hours by meeting with President Putin. And Governor Desantis said that, "While the U.S. has many vital national interests … becoming further entangled in a territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia is not one of them.” The conservative desire for peace found significant support in the U.S. House of Representatives, which formally approved a Resolution to abruptly end military financing for Ukraine, and to urge a peace agreement instead. That resolution isn’t law, because the Senate, House of Representatives and President would all have to agree for the House of Representative’s Resolution to succeed. But it had bipartisan support and was a significant indication that the United States could halt its economic support for military confrontation in Ukraine at any time.
While NATO’s willingness to force Russia to defend itself falters, Russia’s readiness to defend itself close to its borders clearly has not. Russia recently temporarily withdrew from peace talks in response to a dramatic drone incident above the Kremlin. (But President Putin indicated in a public speech to the government in May 2023 that he prefers peace with all neighboring countries. So a return to peace talks and a peace agreement clearly is possible.) Russia also held an impressive military parade that demonstrated the organizational abilities of the Russian government, and continued willingness of the military to follow Russian government orders. There is a risk that NATO could go too far and finally provoke a meaningful retaliation from Russia in Ukraine or beyond Ukrainian borders.
But this writer believes there is significant possibility good sense will prevail and the recent drone incident over the Kremlin will be overlooked. It was followed by demonstrations of sincere regret from NATO, such as the surprising resignation of a still highly respected head of the U.S. Air Force, and a complete denial of U.S. involvement from U.S. government officials and U.S. media. The U.S. media did the right thing in suggesting peace and pointing out that no injuries in Russia resulted from what looked in televised images like cheap commercial (non-military) drone use. But this writer is concerned that Russians may think the United States is responsible because U.S. media reports off other incursions into Russia - particularly into Belford - are consistent with the slide U.S. media published showing the United States was anticipating/encouraging the same. But until now, Russia has been strategizing for peace. This writer can’t say for sure… but believes the Russian government would accept any sincere peace proposal made by a U.S. head of state, the head of the European Commission or the Supreme NATO General Secretary that shows respect for the Russian government and Russian speaking people throughout the region. (Ukraine’s peace proposal wasn’t sincere because it was accusatory and implied regime change. It was worded in a way that was not possible for the Russian government to accept.) A simple way to make a sincere proposal is to restart the Minsk Peace Treaty with mutual exoneration and mutual respect of government authority including at the head of state level. President Vladimir Putin said there must be a buffer zone between NATO capabilities and the Russian border. But he didn’t ask for much of one. He implied he would return to the Minsk Peace Treaty that was signed in a neighboring country by NATO, Ukraine and Russia to establish a peaceful line of control within Ukraine to keep NATO weapons away from the Russian border. Russia is technically still a signatory to that agreement because it was only rhetorically unilaterally exited from by the NATO side, precipitating conflict across a line of control in eastern Ukraine by all sides. Currently no one is respecting it. According to Russian representative Vassiily Nebenzia recently, “The [Russian] goal is to ensure that no threat will emanate from Ukrainian territory for Russia…. and if this can be achieved through peaceful negotiations, we're ready to engage.” This writer believes Russia remains hopeful for NATO and Ukraine to return to their own peace commitments when saying that.
Russia has one of the largest and mightiest militaries in the world that it has used with tremendous restraint. Large militaries are measured in millions of highly trained and well armed people. They pose global risks. Russia’s military integrity and military capabilities have both been greatly understated by NATO governments to western media. So many decision-makers in NATO countries are greatly underestimating the amount of restraint currently being shown by the country’s leadership. Decision-makers have no idea how effectively Russia can respond militarily. Russian media isn’t read again yet in some NATO countries. Russia’s communication has balanced deterrence with a clear effort for peace. So NATO doesn’t understand how much Russian restraint is being shown. Russia is consequently tolerating confrontation within Ukraine and even within its own borders with the unused capability to respond virtually anywhere within the borders of NATO countries. (Some people in NATO countries think they’ve been opposed by Russia within their borders when they have not been. There have been widespread public safety incidences that the Russian government tried to save NATO populations from. This is becoming increasingly understood by NATO governments because they are starting to internally manage public safety matters better. Russia wasn’t responsible for dramatic incidences that developed and tried to help NATO with them.)
NATO leaked a slide to the media showing that the United States military anticipated that its capabilities would proceed far beyond Ukraine and deep within Russia. Such improper aggression risks initiating a direct large scale Russia-U.S. or Russia-NATO war for the first time. Russia has been trying to help the U.S. but may start responding aggressively with serious weapons at any time in defense instead. Conflict could easily spread well beyond Ukraine and potentially deep within NATO countries. While there are strict rules of engagement among NATO countries that they must coordinate with each other, and currently those rules seem from media reports to be consistently followed, there’s still significant risk that any one of them could take unilateral action and start such a war that none can control. (The polish government has recently expressed a desire for peace through Polish media. But Poland remains an important relationship for peace, because 80% of the Polish population favors conflict with Russia after the country lost its president, congress and clergy in a single airline accident around a decade ago. The airplane catastrophe was correctly deemed to have been due to “force majeur,” and Poland acknowledged at that time that Russia wasn’t involved. But some percentage of the current population and government may not believe and fully accept that explanation from years ago, which may have contributed to fear of Russia and a rift between the Polish and Russian governments. Poland and Russia both border Ukraine. It may therefore be very important for NATO and Poland to achieve excellent airline safety for the first time, and for NATO to have the courage and integrity to insist Poland be at peace with Russia.)
Fortunately there are reasons for hope. There’s almost no Russian-NATO military conflicts away from Ukraine, and there’s virtually no uniformed Russian military presence in any NATO country yet. Furthermore, NATO is benefiting from considerable help from the Russian government. Russia’s help to manage NATO countries better can save hundreds of thousands of lives in NATO states, and could potentially save tens of millions of lives globally. The help was provided by the Russian government to the United States on a strictly need to know basis and was specific to preventing dramatic public safety incidences such as were occurring in and around NATO cities. Those incidences have largely stopped as a result. But not entirely because more work by NATO governments has to be done.
President Zelensky has a phenomenal reputation with this author. He couldn’t be a better person individually. He is tremendously competent and cable, and has integrity. NATO probably will rely upon him for information and strategic decision-making years after Ukraine achieves peace. This author views Ukraine as an invaluable alliance for NATO. But with all due respect to President Zelensky and the superb U.S./Ukrainian intelligence communities, which is doing great work to keep NATO safe, certain very important public safety expertise wasn’t provided from them. The Russian government led extraordinarily. Very important safety recommendations would have been immediately believed and implemented years earlier by trusting NATO governments had they originated within alliance countries. If the expertise had originated within - or was even immediately endorsed by NATO or Ukraine, it would have been quickly believed and immediately implemented. (There would have been no justification for NATO involvement in a conflict within Ukraine.) But instead NATO hasn’t fully embraced Russia’s recommendations yet. NATO is only starting to manage public safety better now with that help. A lot of lives were and are on the line. Some important life-saving protocols haven’t been implemented yet that should have been over a year ago. It takes nothing away from NATO’s correct reliance upon an exceptional President Zelensky to say truthfully that Russia’s team has tremendous integrity, done the right thing and deserves credit from the NATO alliance for caring about NATO safety. Russians didn’t have to save NATO lives while NATO was taking the lives of countless Russians and Ukrainians. But Russia demonstrated exemplary integrity in protecting the population in countries that weren’t returning the same peaceful behavior towards Russians.
NATO deserves - and seems to be receiving - a compassionately patient response from an understanding Russian government in spite of everything. There has been a significant human toll within NATO states from public safety incidences that clearly were not due to the Russian government, which is still attempting to save everyone. (Russia has been placed in the unenviable situation of having to deter NATO states that Russia is simultaneously using tremendous creativity to help.) But Russia understands that the cost in human lives and emotional toll within NATO states - of no fault of Russia’s - has been significant. Casualties have been real. NATO leadership aren’t scientists - they’re emotional human beings. NATO needlessly retaliated and went on foreign policy adventures in response to them. And the problem isn’t a recent one. Inadvertent public safety incidents have precipitated NATO conflicts for many decades. Russia (and other countries NATO needlessly opposed) understand that NATO has suffered physically and emotionally, and needs time to understand some science better to understand NATO’s own governing needs to reflect an evolving understanding of science better. That’s presumably why Russia (so far!) has tolerated NATO’s military opposition within Russian-speaking cities without symmetrical/a-symmetrical military responses.
Russia enjoys free trade agreements with the majority of the population on earth, and well over four billion people. Russia has increased its openness to other countries including recently. Consequently there is no economic pressure on Russia whatsoever (and never has been). NATO clearly should release all of Russia’s deposits in western financial institutions instead of only some. That seems like straight forward theft to Russians. But trading openness bodes well for future Russian-NATO relations anyway. For instance, NATO countries publicly portray themselves as economically restrictive, but trade directly with Russia with apparent tacit approval from the United States. This is because the United States attempted to negotiate lower Russian natural resources prices for dozens of NATO nations at the start of this year, by publicly promising to allow Russia to sell resources unlimitedly to all NATO countries, effectively ending the most important U.S. sanctions, if Russia reduced the unit price a little. (Prices in Europe are a little lower now. This author wonders if that’s why.) But that tacit approval to European countries to buy from Russia barely matters because Russia can sell to everyone else. The United States backed away from its promises of unlimited Russian natural resources sales in comments to the media - saying the price negotiation wasn’t successful. But the truth is that some NATO countries are getting natural resources directly from Russia anyway. It was a very peaceful proposal to Russia from the United States that is contributing to Russian sales globally and consequently to improving relations. The deal may need Germany's support to become publicly entered into by the United States, instead of only indirectly/privately successful.
First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska took part in the opening of the plenary session at a European Congressional Center. She presented the same Ukrainian Peace Formula that Volodymyr Zelensky had previously presented to the G19 leaders. The there are ten points that include nuclear safety, restoration of the territorial integrity of the state, and return of all prisoners and deportees. It’s a great attitude for the first family to have. But it doesn’t provide Russia’s request for a buffer zone to separate Russian speaking people from NATO weapons. (Russia is requesting NATO remove capabilities from Ukraine entirely but may accept a return to the peace treaty that created a buffer zone in the east of the country.)
The Russian military has defended its alliances but is currently at peace with NATO virtually everywhere outside of Ukraine, and probably prefers immediate peace with NATO/Ukraine within Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine both feel protective of the Russian-speaking population there. People in Russia and Ukraine love one another and want peace. Peace is an amazing opportunity for the populations of both countries. This writer hopes very much for the immediate prospects for peace.
There are various legal arguments that all sides can make towards one another in the International Criminal Court and various NATO and Russian jurisdictions. Various U.S. courts have been involved in economic restrictions on Russia in previous years. And this year the International Criminal Court announced their involvement in Ukraine for the first time. The matter before the ICC involves a region promised to be under Russian control according to a peace treaty both sides are currently violating. And the longer conflict proceeds in Ukraine, the greater possibility there is for legal creativity on both sides. This is potentially a very unfair imposition on authorities and courts in various jurisdictions. Fortunately for peace, NATO and Russia have traditionally both promised each other they won’t respect any ICC decisions. This is the right thing for NATO and Russia to continue to promise one another. This writer recommends that no new arguments be brought by either side in any courtroom, and hopes/believes all sides will ultimately absolve and exonerate each other in peacetime.
(It might increasingly become important for participants in both significant U.S. political parties to look to the future instead of the past in their relationships with one another as well, having nothing to do with Ukraine/Russia. If there hasn’t been exemplary behavior (on both sides!) among politicians and intelligence community professionals towards one another, EVERYONE will prefer an entirely forward looking attitude. And there’s substantial risk of finger pointing between them. The media has a role to play in peacemaker - because there may be tremendous political sensitivities that the media cannot anticipate on all sides. The 24-hour news stations are doing the best they’ve done before, by creating an attitude of compassion and mutual respect (“we’re all in this together”). This includes between liberals and conservatives. The media gets sincere A grades from this peace maker. Both major U.S. political parties have to be respectful to each other. Don’t instigate between them and don’t let them do the same. Continue to encourage only calm and pleasantness between everyone in politics and government. The media are heroes for peace right now - saving what will someday be a grateful nation.)
Ukraine and Russia were the same country in previous decades. Ukraine and Russia were Soviet Union states that separated from one another in the early 1990s. Ukraine and Russia initially enjoyed a peaceful border where peace-loving neighbors and families could visit one another simply by driving down the street. And calm relations lasted well into 2014, when a popular uprising opened up Ukraine to foreign influence, and consequently to foreign military capabilities.
NATO rolled heavy weapons into Ukraine for the first time in 2014. Russia wasn’t accustomed to the close proximity of the threat, which nearly reached Russia’s borders a short distance from the largest cities in the area. Tens of millions of people are directly threatened by NATO weapons to this day as a result. Russia has been successfully pushing NATO away from its border. But the entire region has faced tremendous difficulties and been desirous of calm for nearly a decade as a result.
Images of a Russian-speaking border town reveal why a return to the Minsk Peace Treaty is important
Ukrainian President Zelensky’s stated objective is to continue to work with NATO to regain Ukrainian control of the entire country. But he clearly cares deeply about saving lives in the process. He often uses his tremendous persuasive abilities to pattern “peace.” His recent speech at the 77th United Nations General Assembly was an exemplary example of peaceful persuasion and calming pattern recognition. He has been historically successful at building global support and compassion for the Ukrainian people by showing himself to have the courage to stand up to anyone but preferring peace for his nation.
There is bipartisan support in Europe and the United States for Ukraine to become a member of the European Union. Conservative and liberal politicians (including distinguished heads of state) started announcing two months ago that membership for Ukraine is “very likely.” They have been showing substantial support for President Zelensky by traveling to meet him in Ukraine (including the Prime Minister of England and President of the United States). These extraordinary diplomatic developments are potentially important for the Ukrainian population who need global support.
NATO has a shared interest with Ukraine in rapidly improving relations with Russia, and in returning Ukraine immediately to peace throughout the state. Millions of Ukrainians have departed the country over the past decade, desirous of safety and work opportunities elsewhere. (Europe has also been receiving refugees from other Eastern European countries and the Middle East.) Refugees seek comparative calm wandering in Western European streets, where some reside homeless. Refugees can create uncontrollable crime and social disorder when they endure too much food insecurity while settling in recipient states. Western Europeans are enduring variable gasoline and other basic necessity prices. So the burden of arriving migrants is really being felt in some places.
Significant unease is prompting unexpected internally initiated turnover within Western European governments, most recently in England, Italy and Bulgaria. There is an entirely new government forming in England, including forty new officials and a newly selected head of state. The Bulgarian and Italian Prime Minister positions have also been in play. Ending the Ukrainian conflict may therefore help end the political upheaval. Peace may therefore be very appealing to NATO governments.
There’s also the possibility that European countries will eventually close their borders to one another to avoid receiving additional refugees if calm doesn’t return to Ukraine. This could end the participation of important economies in Europe’s single open-border marketplace. England was the first country to prefer to control its own borders. Several other European countries may follow the British “brexit” example, because closing borders can help control migration. The Ukraine conflict therefore could have unpredictable affects on the European and global economies. (The NATO security alliance may be more durable, and hold together even if the European Union cannot.)
NATO’s proxy conflict with Russia has cost too many buildings and human lives to bare for everyone involved. It’s taking an emotional toll on governments and populations all over the world. Several previously beautiful Ukrainian cities and towns have been emptied and destroyed, and now have to be largely rebuilt. Government officials and populations are uncomfortable with the reports.
President Zelensky is a very talented public speaker. He understands how to build global support for restoring Ukrainian cities. He has demonstrated the unique ability to rally world leaders to care about Ukrainians. Many distinguished heads of state already want to redevelop a safe, peaceful prosperous Ukraine as a result. European leaders believe that it’s less expensive to house Ukrainian refugees in their home country than in new Western European projects. So European politicians are very likely to support ambitious rebuilding plans. Even Russia has promised to work with Ukraine to rebuild border cities in peacetime. So there’s meaningful reason for optimism about the future of Ukraine in peacetime. There may be more work opportunities there and only even greater levels of global economic support for the Ukrainian government while rebuilding an extraordinary newly admitted European Union state. Ukraine may some day be an even more beautiful and successful place than it ever has been before fully participating with all other European countries in a rapidly growing global economy.
Ukraine and Russia regularly benefit from benevolent peaceful pauses in the military contest there. But it’s time for real permanent peace to prevail. Russians and Ukrainians love one another. There are only reasons to return great Ukrainian people to a sense of safety and optimism in their homeland, including countless Russian-speaking people there. NATO, Ukraine and Russia are all creative enough to create peace with each other. (The entire populations of Eastern and Western Europe will appreciate the emotional relief. Optimism will instantly return to the populations, governments and heads of state.)
Success appears very easily achieved by President Zelensky by accepting President Biden’s offer for non-NATO European Union membership for Ukraine, and making Russia feel safe that a buffer zone will exist with NATO. All sides can simply return to the Minsk Peace Treaty that was in effect until January of 2022. All sides will do their best to exonerate each other. The Minsk Peace Treaty held until a year ago. That was the right minimum treaty have in place because it was accepted by all sides. That return to the Minsk peace treaty can give President Zelensky time to negotiate diplomatically for more - control of the entirety of Ukraine. This writer believes that’s achievable DIPLOMATICALLY (not militarily) upon a full and complete lifting of sanctions on Russia. Some leaders in NATO countries have realized is the right thing to do. There’s building support for this in all political parties. We’re not there yet. NATO media has to show a bit more courage in this regard. But there could become a significant eventual moment where everyone involved celebrates peace and improving relations.
Then a follow-on permanent peace deal loved by all can be reached.
- More than just European Union membership for Ukraine - Investment to fully rebuild Ukrainian cities. This is obviously the joyously right thing to do for the population in peacetime. Let peace-loving Ukrainians work for European companies on beautiful residences in their homeland. There won’t be anymore weapons in Ukraine anymore from either side - and twenty million wandering Ukrainians will feel safe again in Ukrainian cities.
- Return to the USSR border between Ukraine and Russia. This is what President Zelensky said he wants the most. The countries can share beautiful coastline together as friendly nations. After…
- Russia receives an immediate and full lifting of sanctions on the entire population. NATO is starting to realize that Russia has done a lot to make NATO countries safe without without receiving anything in return. NATO will benefit forever from help from Russia that is already saving countless lives. (See the “Russia” peace page.) Sanctions relief is the right way for NATO to respond. This will eventually seem right when NATO media patterns helpfully to Russia peace.
- NATO, Ukraine and Russia can do more than exonerate each other. The days of complimenting each other can start! Leaders will show public respect for each other with the global media’s support.
- Even though Ukraine will be a European nation, EU membership will not include participation in NATO. (Probably a barely secret alliance will always exist that Russia will tolerate.) All countries will together agree to keep weapons away from each other’s borders. There won’t be heavy weapons in Ukraine anymore.
Make peace. Right now.
May 9, 2022
President Joe Biden signed a bill to fund Ukraine and said that he is committed to a peaceful resolution of differences. This follows First Lady Jill Biden’s visit to Kiev and her insistence on peace.
U.S. Vice President Harris &
Ukraine President Zelensky
The minimum you must know
Before the start of the February 2022 incursion:
Ukraine is a former Soviet Union state that developed into a mostly peaceful but impoverished independent democracy in the 1990s. It’s geographically a large country — the second largest in Europe. But Ukraine has a comparably modest population of only forty million people.
Like some of the former Soviet Union states, Ukraine hasn’t adequately developed its domestic economy or integrated into the global economy. There’s tremendous natural beauty there. The population has wonderful traditions and a sense of shared future. Therefore, there has always been great hope that Ukraine might one day fulfill its most optimistic objectives, and develop into a flourishing and fully enjoyable country. But Ukrainians remain desirous of complete economic integration with Europe.
Viktor Yanukovych was democratically elected in 2004 with initially overwhelming popularity, and he ruled for ten years. He gained influence while the country was in nascent development stages in the post soviet era. Ukrainians had very little. But Yanukovych created a sense of optimism anyway. He convinced his population he could develop the country into a peaceful place with open trading relations with wealthy European states and bordering Belarus, Poland, Romania and Russia. He felt Ukraine might easily develop into a phenomenal place to live. However, he faced tremendous challenges.
Yanukovych’s critics argue that he put his own business interests ahead of his country’s. But Yanukovych clearly made his country’s interests a top priority under difficult circumstances. He developed peaceful successful diplomatic relationships with all of Ukraine’s neighboring states. He also negotiated competently for open trading relationships with Western Europe.
Yanukovych used his country’s excellent diplomacy and great relations with former soviet states to entice Europe with the possibility that he might switch Ukraine’s allegiance away from the European Union to Eastern Europe, unless the European Union would give Ukraine valuable open trading opportunities. That must have only been a negotiating tactic because all of the former soviet states including Ukraine were looking for every opportunity to trade with Europe, and would have welcomed any of Europe’s wealth into the area. Ukraine also wasn’t under pressure from former Soviet states to neglect Europe. After all, all of the countries in the region could have benefitted to the extent that any one of them integrated into the global economy, and attracted investment and consumers into the region. (Any success Ukraine achieved in its negotiations with Europe would certainly have been enjoyed by Russia, too, for instance.)
But at the height of those negotiations, Yanukovych’s tough negotiating strategy of feigning disinterest in trading with the European Union undermined his credibility with his own population. Ukrainians couldn’t stand the idea surfacing in the news that Yanukovych might walk away from a European trading deal in favor of an Eastern European one. They became concerned he was going to limit their opportunities too much. His negotiating tactic to shun the European Union for Eastern Europe (when everyone expected him to accept the European Union’s terms!) led to a popular uproar. Instability spiraled out of control so quickly that Ukraine became the center of attention globally.
The Russian government was astonished at the developments in their closest neighboring state. What happens in Ukraine is obviously consequential to Russia because Ukraine and Russia used to be the same soviet country, sharing the same language and traditions. Citizens could travel freely between them. They were basically the same place. Completely unexpected instability in Ukraine therefore gained the attention of the Russian government. Perhaps the Russian government thought Ukrainian instability was resulting from a European plot to pressure and contain Russia.
Yanukovych was a legitimately democratically elected leader who was negotiating effectively for his country. From Russia’s perspective, his only fault was negotiating too successfully. Russia urged Europe not to make a terrible mistake in neglecting to support him.
This writer thinks it probably wasn’t Europe’s intention to unseat Yanukovych, or to destabilize Ukraine, and that nothing could stop the country’s mayhem from increasing and spreading. The population simply cared so much about the country’s negotiations with the European Union that their sensitivity (and not Europe) was responsible for their discontent. The disorder was no one's fault. But whether protests in Ukraine were encouraged by European agents there or not, the country started to fall into disarray. Disorganization spread to all major cities. In a matter of months, the Ukrainian government found themselves challenged by unruly people, and the entire situation unsustainable. Yanukovych's government had to cave under the pressure. The Ukraine government was overthrown as a result. Ukraine’s entire trading negotiations with both Western and Eastern Europe became unsuccessful. In fact, Ukraine’s trading relationship with all other countries became unsuccessful. No country at that time wanted to open up economically to a country in shambles.
Russians understandably feared the possibility that Ukrainian instability might spread across open borders and create instability in Russia. Russians imagined angry Ukranian mobs making a mess of Russian cities. It was a possibility the Russian government understandably simply couldn’t stand. Russia has been enjoying comparable success to Ukraine’s that they didn’t want thrown into jeopardy by Ukrainian events. Russia therefore responded immediately, competently and aggressively by sending security personnel into Ukraine to secure a substantial border area, and prevent this result. Russia stabilized significant regions and then immediately requested United Nations peace keepers be sent to stabilize the rest of Ukraine. Most of the Ukrainian population responded with tremendous relief. People in a few border areas held local elections and decided to join Russia. Russia respected those elections and has considered areas along the border to be part of Russia as a result.
A new Ukrainian government became responsible for the rest of Ukraine who immediately received Europe’s support. Europe and Ukraine say the subsequent government was fairly democratically elected. But the Russian government openly doubted that, and said they believed it was installed by Europe. Perhaps the fairest elections were held in Ukraine possible given the difficult circumstances and considerable instability there at that time. A Ukrainian business man named Petro Poroshenko took office in 2014.
Ukraine’s President Poroshenko was a very competent and tough leader. His critics say he was unnecessarily tough. But his firm attitude led him to be successful in some ways. He gained a little support and cooperation from NATO, for instance. He also gained significant investment in Ukraine from the International Monetary Fund. However, he wasn’t able to solve the problem of the average Ukranian's lack of respect for their own government, and to adequately create stability. As a result, Ukraine developed economically under his lead. But Ukraine's internal security situation didn't improve much. Perhaps Poroshenko's population didn’t develop economically fast enough for there to be stability there.
Poroshenko sought and received a Minsk peace deal with Russia negotiated by the Obama administration. So there was stability in Ukraine’s relations with their most important bordering state. Russia seemed to support the Ukrainian effort for lasting peace so much that Russia made annual requests at the United Nations for U.N. peace keepers to be sent to Ukraine as a result. Peacekeepers represent an opportunity for Ukraine to benefit from additional security from countries aligned with Ukraine, and at Ukraine’s discretion, from Russia as well. Russia has requested peace keepers more frequently than annually now for seven years. But Poroshenko mostly preferred to feign disinterest in that possibility and to portray his country’s relationship with Russia as acrimonious, perhaps because he felt acrimony was important for him in securing NATO and International Monetary Fund support. He could have easily had openly improving and phenomenal relations with Russia. But he neglected opportunities to enter into a follow up Minsk peace deal, and didn’t join with Russia to request U.N. peace keepers for his country. He also spoke openly at the United Nations about his disagreements with Russia over their border area, which he felt should be returned to Ukraine.
Poroshenko’s popularity wained both with his domestic constituency and foreign governments perhaps because he neglected those opportunities for peace, and because he wasn’t able to create sufficient respect in his own country for government. He couldn’t sufficiently improve the Ukrainian economy to support the entire population. He attracted foreign loans. But those funds were not used to adequately stimulate industries. He received some support from NATO. But that didn’t create an adequate sense of safety and security for the population. He was able to develop some segments of the Ukrainian economy. But not enough. He did his best under incredibly difficult circumstances. But large parts of the country remained socially unstable and Ukraine voted Poroshenko out of office in 2019, in a regularly scheduled election as a result.
Currently four percent of Ukraine’s population leave the country each year motivated by the perception of better security and economic opportunities in Europe, such as in Berlin and London. According to the Ukrainian government, Europe receives around one million Ukrainian refugees every nine months. (It’s possible the real number of migrants is even more.) Russia meanwhile argues that the exodus of refugees from the area means Russia was right to secure the parts of the country that they could, and to build a wall along the border area, because at least those areas are peaceful, successful and the population there consequently are remaining in place. Russia cannot help the rest of Ukraine, which are up to Ukraine’s government. Ukraine’s current Zelensky and previous Poroshenko governments appear to be at peace with one another. But there are media reports that the judiciary supporting the current leader has accused the previous one of sedition. Therefore, some effort may be necessary within Ukraine to maintain civil peace. (Are absolution and peace sometimes similar concepts?)
The current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky became popularly elected in 2019. He was a media savvy popular television personality before getting into office, and enjoys broad domestic and international support. Everyone understands that he took over the country under extraordinary circumstances. The sensationalized perception of a pandemic, fluctuations in the global economy, various foreign relations complexities and uncontrolled migration aren’t simple matters for a new leader to take on. (Certainly there’s reason for optimism - the situation may quickly improve in all of these areas.) President Zelensky therefore enjoys the possibility of even greater popularity - supported by even better Ukrainian relations with all other countries (including Russia). His recent diplomacy with Presidents Erdogan and Macron of Turkey and France are creating global prestige for President Zelensky, because he appears to be doing the right thing for the Ukrainian people, and negotiating a real and lasting peace with all bordering states. Ukraine is also participating in a very important Olympics peace truce between all nations. The Ukraine Olympics athletes even made a “unanimous call for peace.” That’s a superb attitude about peace by the Ukrainian government.
Everyone hopes and believes President Zelensky can continue to use his great personality and popularity to improve national morale, grow the Ukrainian economy and make even more peace with all countries. (Perhaps he will support Russia’s requests at the United Nations that peace keepers be sent to Ukraine, because peace keepers can do more than provide - and even guarantee - Ukraine’s security. They can be affluent European consumers in Ukrainian stores. The subject of peace keepers can also helpfully keep the attention on peace and calm in the domestic and international press.) Clearly President Zelensky’s public comments reflect deep desire for peace and calm. The media can support him contributing to confidence and a sense of safety for everyone in the region. There’s global optimism President Zelensky can create peace and a better future for the Ukrainian people.