A Few Thoughts About NATO and Russia

W.J. Astore

NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, dates from 1949. From its very name, the alliance focused on North Atlantic countries and Western Europe, and stated its intent was to deter the Soviet Union from attacking European countries like Germany, France, and Italy.

Interestingly, Dwight D. Eisenhower was NATO’s first SACEUR, or Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, and he favored the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops when Europeans were back on their feet from World War II and capable of defending themselves. Since U.S. troops are still stationed in Europe nearly 75 years after the founding of NATO, one must assume Europe is still not ready.

All kidding aside, getting the U.S. to commit troops to NATO was in part a European ploy against a repeat of American isolationism, which had manifested itself in the aftermath of World War I. There was indeed a time when Americans wanted nothing to do with European intrigue and folly, and in the 1930s the U.S. Senate even attacked European arms manufacturers as warmongering “merchants of death.” Imagine that!

Nowadays, of course, it’s the USA that dominates the world’s arms market, and our merchants of death truly dominate the world. Our weapons merchants now deliver weapons to places like Ukraine in the name of “freedom” and “protecting democracy,” though I have yet to see a freedom or democracy bomb. (Interestingly, the names we choose for weapons systems are far more honest, like Hellfire missiles and Predator and Reaper drones. Talk about peddling death!)

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, NATO’s reason for being collapsed along with it, but reason not the need, as King Lear said. NATO was not about to disband itself; lucrative and powerful bureaucracies rarely do. So NATO’s mission began to change to “out of area” operations, working in concert with the UN in places like Bosnia and Kosovo. Speaking of “out of area,” NATO countries also got involved in the War on Terror, including U.S. folly in Afghanistan, which provided political cover for the U.S. in the sense that American officials could claim to be working as part of a coalition to help the Afghan people.

But the biggest money maker of all for NATO and for today’s merchants of death has been expansion. Recall that the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Recall that NATO was created to deter a Soviet attack on Western Europe. If NATO was going to continue to exist, it needed to morph into something else, but most of all it needed to grow. And so it did.

In 1999, former Warsaw Pact countries like Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic joined. Five years later, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the three Baltic States (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) joined as well. In short, what began as a defensive alliance focused on Western Europe has grown into an alliance that includes just about all of Eastern Europe. And the new NATO members have been eager customers for NATO-compatible weaponry, much of it made in the USA.

The caption from the Economist suggested this map showed how Russia was menacing Ukraine! And that NATO was unlikely to retreat

If I were Russian, I think I’d look at the dramatic eastern expansion of NATO as worrisome. If not aggressive, it is most certainly constrictive. And with former Soviet republics like Georgia and Ukraine mentioned as future NATO members, this constriction would seem more like strangulation if I occupied the Kremlin. And I’m not an ex-KGB agent like Vladimir Putin.

I remember a military history symposium in 1998 I attended in which the future of NATO was bandied about. Russian concerns about NATO expansion were discussed by four senior generals. One of them, General Sir Anthony Farrar-Hockley, basically argued that NATO should tell the Russians to go pound sand. In the notes I took from the discussion, Farrar-Hockley said that to forego NATO expansion because of Russian concerns would be to grant Russia a continuing fiefdom in Eastern Europe. Besides, Russia had nothing to fear from an expanded NATO, he added. The three other generals expressed some concern that Russia could see expansion as encirclement, and given Russia’s history of being invaded and devastated by countries to its west, any expansion would have to be done carefully, with plenty of dialogue.

We’re not witnessing much dialogue, are we? Instead, NATO expansion is seen by the U.S. as uncontroversial, and indeed as desirable, and certainly as non-threatening. Surely the Russians have nothing to fear from such a vast alliance creeping up to its very door step! It’s not like Russia wasn’t devastated by Napoleon in 1812, or by Germany and its various allies in World Wars I and II. I’m sure that will never happen again. Right, comrade?

Here’s an idea. Perhaps NATO expansion would be less problematic for the Russians if the U.S. withdrew all its troops from Europe, harkening back to Eisenhower’s initial vision. Shouldn’t European countries be able to defend themselves after almost 75 years of U.S. aid? Maybe Donald Trump wasn’t so crazy after all in asking whether NATO was really worth the candle.

58 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts About NATO and Russia

  1. Friday night, we wanted to watch the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. Where we live, we are able to watch the CBC on cable. It was refreshing to have a more moderate view of the ceremonies and the central focus on the athletes. Flipping over to NBC, it felt like a political show, with smug comments on the “proud Ukrainian team” walking past Putin; Taiwan comments; Xi, Chinese control of society, and oppression. While those are issues for discussion – having sports commentators messaging the talking points of the DC MIC elites without any skepticism or context was depressing.

    It’s no wonder most Americans won’t even question why there is a NATO, which should have disbanded when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union collapsed.

    I was 10 years old and watched the fear in my parents when missiles were parked in Cuba in 1962, and it looked as if there would be no future for anyone. Do we really want to go through that again for the sake of arms sales to Eastern European countries?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Agree 100%, Tom. I watched the live broadcast of the opening ceremonies before dawn EST on NBC Friday morning, and the political commentary was indeed smug, delivered very gravely by selected Russia and China experts. Totally off-putting. And by the time of the re-broadcast in prime time on Friday night, much of the commentary had been omitted, but still repellent.


  2. You write like 1812 and WW1and 2 set a precedent for another similar invasion of Russia. Some might consider that a false flag since all three of those wars preceded the atomic bomb. No major country is going to invade another major country ever ever again as long as there are atomic weapons aimed at each other. No coalition no matter what the size can defeat a volley of hypersonic nuclear war heads crashing down on their capital cities. Your criticism of the MIC is totally valid. Your criticism that implies the MIC will use any excuse or create any excuse to expand its wealth is also valid. Your criticism that NATO is a mother lode opportunity for the MIC and another example of the failure of global peace negotiations is absolutely correct.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Well considered initial point, sir. One would think the Russian leadership would realize that the U.S. would never invade their country (right? we wouldn’t, right?), but encircling and constricting it, while seeking to hamper their trade arrangements, is damaging enough.

      OTOH, why does the U.S. fear Russia so much? Because….domino theory, because of the Russkies’ attempt to turn every country south of the Rio Grande Communist, and so on. All the stuff we were taught in school. Was any of it true? Was it all merely a projection of U.S. desires to dominate and “spread democracy?”

      One thing is for sure: if the global saber-rattling and one-upmanship doesn’t cease, to be replaced by cooperation, we’re all doomed, even if the first shot is never fired.


  3. Thank you WJA for a detailed and well organized review of NATO. That was needed as the previous topic ( When in Doubt Send in the Troops ) was begging for a review of NATO by a historian.

    I agree with most of your points and also accept the fact that NATO is a major arms recipient and producer. I do not agree with your assessment that there is no need for NATO. When the U.S.S.R. ceased to exist in 1990, it did not mean that NATO should also be disbanded.

    For example. Neighbor A has a pit bull that mauled neighbors B, C, and D. Neighbors B, C and D pool their resources and build a fence to stop the dog from coming onto their property. Neighbor A is annoyed by the fence and changes the dog’s name from Butch to Buddy. He complains to neighbors B,C, and D that they don’t need the fence any more because his dog is now a good dog. Anyone want to pet Buddy?

    I agree with you and Donald Trump ( that was hard to write ), that U.S. troops should not be in Europe and the U.S.A. should not be in NATO. Let the Europeans defend themselves. That is another discussion and I will leave it at that.

    I wonder what Buddy is doing?


    1. Your scenario suggests that Russia poses the same threat as the USSR and Warsaw Pact before their collapse and disintegration in the early 1990s. Russia today isn’t in the same league as the USSR was.

      I’m not saying Putin’s Russia poses no threat. But further NATO expansion, more weapons sales, and more U.S. troops will only aggravate the situation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Russian doesn’t have to be the Goliath it was in the 20th century, just ask the Georgians who lost South Ossetia, or the Ukrainians who lost Crimea and are about to lose their eastern provinces. Ask the Latvians, Lithuanians, or Estonians who were once under the Russian boot heel if they feel secure being next to Russia. For that matter ask any of the older citizens of the Warsaw Pact countries how they liked living under Russian domination.

        The U.S.S.R. was Russia, the other satellite states were coerced into that union. The very fact that the old Warsaw Pact countries chose to become part of NATO once they were free from their oppressor should be a loud statement that they fear not admire Russia. I do not see where any of the old Warsaw Pact countries asked to be in military alliance with Russia.

        I believe the main threat of NATO to Russia is U.S.A involvement. I strongly support our withdrawal from that organization. Once Russia sees it is not the U.S.A. on their doorstep, tensions will cool down rapidly.
        Let the Europeans work out their own destiny, and like you say, we can turn our attention and energy to cleaning up our own back yard.

        Liked by 4 people

  4. Great post! In this connection, I want to recommend to your readers a long interview (35 pages) with Ambassador Jack Matlock, who was, as you know, intimately involved in the processes that led to the disappearance of the Soviet Union, including, but not limited to the reunification of Germany, and how the issue of NATO was viewed at the time. His positive take on Reagan’s role was surprising to me. Wide-ranging interview with a direct participant: https://www.middlebury.edu/institute/sites/www.middlebury.edu.institute/files/2022-01/Transcript%20-%20Matlock%20%28Series%20II%29.pdf?fv=XGC5Q4Fb


  5. I would like to know what the people in the Baltics and Eastern Europe think. Were they pressed into joining NATO or do they have a genuine fear of Russia? I think we desperately need a post 9/11 mindset and Russia needs a post Putin/Soviet mindset.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Estonia might have good reasons, as I think even a majority of their population is from Russian descent, like in Crimea. Most others after nearly 50 years of Soviet domination were so blindly smitten with anything western and particularly American, that they felt that anything offered by them was an ‘honour’ for which they should be grateful and certainly should not question. Public opinion has somewhat changed since then, most young people do not care either way and like everywhere else are more interested in good jobs and having fun than in NATO, but governments can be bought to continue that servile attitude. As the memory of Soviet dominance still lives with older generations, all that is needed is stoking fresh fear to keep them in line. One of the most blatant lies of NATO is that it is their membership and not becoming part of the EU, that has improved the security and wellbeing of those countries. Alas, by now the EU also has become a sham, politically.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Rather than disband NATO and having everyone ‘looking over their shoulder’, why not all countries become NATO members ?


    1. Almost the same thing, right? NATO — a defensive alliance against the Warsaw Pact. Former Warsaw Pact countries, including Russia, join NATO. After which, why do you need NATO?


  7. The Olympics have been political theater since 1936.
    The “battles” of The Cold War – the only safe way for us to go toe-to-toe with Ivan – were “fought” in the Olympics. Those with long memories will recall that even with “The Miracle on Ice” (1980), the Winter Games belonged to the USSR & the Warsaw Pact nations while the Summer Games belonged to the USA.
    The world was a safer place during The Cold War. Everyone “knew their place” and there was a balance to all things because everyone knew there was too much at stake for anyone to screw up. As a result, professionals – people who knew how to play “The Big Game” – were running things. But then the Commies went down, and instead of professionals we began to hear and take comfort in talk of peace and a New World Order being maintained by “the adults in the room” instead of “Cold Warriors.” And the world lost its balance as the “adults in the room” (that would be the USA) did what adults always try to do: impose an artificial and idealized version of order Right Now, rather than let things shake out naturally.
    How many lives were lost during the Cold War by direct military conflict between the USSR and the USA?
    None that I recall hearing of.
    I’ve made no secret of the fact that I harbor no affection for the government of the USA, but it doesn’t follow that I therefore believe Putin and his pals are much aggrieved and misunderstood peaceniks.
    What I do believe, to paraphrase from “Little Big Man,” is the world has lost its center and we’re all walking a path that leads nowhere, led by “the adults” in their rooms in D.C. and Moscow.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Bill, thanks for a great blog this week. Very well written. I like your last sentence!

    I am a fan of Finian Cunningham who has his articles posted on the International Clearing House site. He has a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. His writings are always prescient.

    Last he week he posted… “U.S. Says ‘Wants Peace Not War’ as It Arms Ukraine to the Teeth” . His thoughts on American and British weapons supplies heading to the NATO-backed Kiev regime. I was struck by these two paragraphs in his post…..

    “The notion that the United States indulges consensus and consultation among NATO members is an absurd delusion. Washington, as the presumed hegemonic power, decides alone when and when not to go to war, and its NATO subordinates fall into line like the good little flunkeys that they are.

    The militarization in Ukraine is being led by the United States, along with its trusty British bulldog. The conclusion is that Washington has decided to ramp up the push for war against Russia using Ukraine as a proxy – and using a twisted narrative about Russian aggression and invasion. The rebuffing of a historic security detente with Moscow is being disguised by the facade of Washington appearing to be chivalrous and courteous to purportedly find a consensus with allies.”

    I was wondering whether you and your readers thought Finian’s conclusion was accurate.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Honestly, Dennis, who knows? Leaders in Washington are delusional. Someone like Biden is a Cold War relic. He probably genuinely sees Americans as the guys wearing the white hats, no matter what we do.

      I assume some of the generals and the intelligence “community” are a bit more savvy, but having Russia as an enemy, or, if you prefer, a “near-peer” rival, is martial music to their ears, and more money for their budgets.

      That the U.S. is a hegemonic empire is indisputable.

      Liked by 3 people

  9. I guess our memories are way too short.

    I seem to recall something like a CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS where hostile missiles were being assembled not too very far from our own shores. Is THAT so much different from Russia wanting a BUFFER at its borders and to keep NATO missiles some distance away?

    According to Biden; agreeing to keep NATO missiles out of Ukraine is non-negotiable and worth risking nuclear annihilation. BUT, all this posturing benefits our Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex, so it’s all OK. RIGHT?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. YES, by all means, get rid of NATO.
    Where to start – with no end in sight any time soon ? Neither the US nor NATO give a damn about the Ukrainians, it’s all about ‘protecting US/NATO interests’, no matter the price paid by anyone getting in the way of that.

    It is unbelievable, pinch me and rub my eyes, how the US apparently is ‘allowed’ to destroy other countries and civilian lives as revenge for globally witnessed humiliation inflicted by a handful of Saudi terrorists (vide Afghanistan as scapegoat for 9/11), but Putin (certainly no friend of mine, but the head of a big state …) is expected to stoically endure the wildest accusations, humiliations & provocations (after all, all he has done so far is having military exercises within his bloody own country, not in someone else’s the way the US regularly does) and then turn the other cheek and take his armies back to Moscow. If he did not intend to attack at the start of this reality show-style drama, he surely by now might see no other way out without massive loss of face, both abroad and in his own country!

    Supposedly Belorus’ ferrying refugees to the Polish border with the EU, was a smokescreen to mask Putin’s preparations to invade the Ukraine. What if it was the other way round ? What if those western accusations are a way to distract attention from the collosal defeat & humiliation of US/NATO in Afghanistan, to ‘prove’ how mighty & powerful they still are ?
    Both options are equally reasonable or absurd.
    Constantly humiliating Putin is like needling a bull during a bull fight. Each wound increases the risk of him getting fed up and attacking. But then, who cares ? He’s not going to attack the US and that sanctimoneous NATO lapdog resides safely in Brussels. They’ll have TV appearences claiming that all is under control, it will take just a few days, total victory is just around the corner, momentum in sight and other such blatant nonsense.

    In the meantime Ukrainians will perish and what is already a rift within their society, might become a fully-blown civil war. Just what they need from their ‘friends’. There never is any accountability for our flawed ‘intelligence’, dramatic provocations and rash interventions. And when it all blows up, the blame will be on ‘the locals’, as it always is, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or any other country which found itself at the receiving end of US/NATO military training & assistance.

    I feel litterally sick when I see a fat US war plane land in my country and spew its additional military onto the tarmac. This (among other niceties) is what I wrote to the US embassy at the time of the first Muslim ban, five years ago :

    “I also hope for a complete removal of your army from my country. I cannot think of any country that has become a better place – in any possible way – because of “The World’s Most Powerful Military In History” intervening there. I unfortunately can, however, think of many countries which have suffered greatly at the hands of your forces, whether these were acting openly or covertly, whether directly, via hired mercenaries or local proxies (for the sake of “plausible deniability”) and your “training & advisory” services. Such as the infamous School of the Americas.

    Not to mention your deeply flawed “intelligence” support, which time and again leads to the murder of innocent civilians not to mention instigating civil wars, with zero accountability. To highlight just one deeply nefarious influence, inflating corruption is a common feature of US activity in all those countries. Poland not excluded.

    I think that having hosted a CIA torture prison on our soil – and getting zero support from your government to hold to account those responsible – is more than enough for us to be eternally ashamed of, on your behalf. We do not need additional “coalition allies” who will be stoking resentment between our country and Russia, with potentially tragic consequences.”

    It’s time to send another mail to that embassy, to highlight US hypocrisy : “Russia will produce a false flag incident to ‘justify’ its invasion of the Ukraine.” Answer : Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is suspicion. Remember the Bay of Tonkin, Snowwhite ? Remember Saddam’s ‘WMD’s among so many other provocations, Little Red Riding Hood ?”

    As for NATO, this is what I included in my New Year’s wishes for 2022 : “Dismantle NATO, which outlived its usefulness many years ago – if it ever had any – and now is merely provoking conflicts to ‘justify’ its existence.”
    As far as I can see, NATO’s main usefulness is for the US, by providing an additional host of countries to share the responsibility for anything from diplomatic failures to war crimes. And by the same token limit the number of ‘civilised’ countries which could protest and/or oppose US interventions …

    Sorry for being so sarcastic, but I have already reached the stage of that enraged bull by the end of August last year and still am dealing with its fall-out on a daily basis. Including the US one more time imposing collective – and deadly – punishment on all Afghans for the humiliation of being chased from that country like the proverbial rats leaving the sinking ship (after having ridiculed the Soviet Union for having had to do the same) by withholding their national bank’s assets.
    But no mention of the ‘new taliban’ having outlawed forced marriages (something the US/NATO puppet government never did) and having reopened and now guarding the Kabul museum and its treasures.
    How are they expected to enact any forced marriages ban when people are starving and ‘selling’ their daughters into premature marriage in order to feed the family ? It would be very hard to enforce at any time, now it is impossible.
    How are they supposed to reopen schools for girls and employ more women in civil service, education & health, if there is no money to pay their salaries ???! Female teachers were already in very short supply during our ‘democratic paradise’, now they sell matches or beg in the street in order to feed their kids unless they have enough savings to live on witout salaries since nearly a year (they were not paid regularly in our ‘paradise’ either).
    The only time I managed to get money to a starving family in Kabul, was via private connections of theirs & mine, via France & Australia, without any bank being involved ! And now poor Ukraine next in line for disaster.
    So forgive me, no sympathy here, let alone forgiveness. Just sheer rage.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. yes, denise, particularly given that pamela, unlike the rest of us, has put herself on the front lines, battling all these US/uk/NATO hegemonistic incursions and false-flag duplicities. we stand on the sidelines and do not put our lives at risk as she has for years… and as do her consociate compatriots who are hemorrhaging out their lives due to USA-/NATO-bombardments and economically-sanctioned countries like hers and multifarious others over the past 6 decades.

        Liked by 2 people

  11. A friend of mine married a Czech girl many years ago. She went to her early school years under the Soviet regime. I’ve met several of her friends and family over the years, some naturalized citizens, others who visit. Her parents are my age mid 70s. All of them I’ve met completely despise the Russians and don’t trust anything about Russia or it’s motives.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. To my Astronomy community of friends who are most assuredly forward thinkers I say From U.S.A., we do not want what our Leaders want. We want peace between Russia & Ukraine– if for nothing else the greater good of mankind. Peace be with you. Faith, love and endurance too…War & destruction being always a last resort.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Bravo, Philip! How truly bizarre is it that most Americans do NOT want war over Ukraine, but there’s effectively nothing we can do to rein in the warmongers?

      We’re only ever given two [undesirable] Presidential candidates from which to choose, and after that, our hands are tied. Hundreds of thousands of protesters made no difference when Bush II wanted to attack Iraq. Writing/calling senators and representatives does nothing, because corporate dollars speak louder. Short of dismantling the entire government—a non-starter for the foreseeable future—we’re stuck. All we have left is to do as you’re doing: assure the rest of the world that many, many of us are NOT our government.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. I have to laugh. I was watching mainstream media fear mongering about Russia. A “journalist” noted that Russia’s military spending is 10 times that of Ukraine, which is true (Russia, $42 billion; Ukraine, $4.2 billion).

    BUT: There was no mention of U.S. military spending, which is almost 20 times that of Russia!

    Hmm … I wonder why this factoid wasn’t mentioned? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Google is your friend….

    US funding for NATO military capabilities amounted to US$6.96-billion in 2017 and US$6.87-billion in 2018.

    Direct US expenses on defence in Europe are estimated to range between US$30.7-billion in 2017 and US$36.0-billion in 2018.


  15. “It would seem that NATO partisans are the ones who don’t appreciate the role of change in international affairs. To them, preserving the alliance, not maximizing America’s security and well-being, is the highest priority. We should not accept such static thinking. Sixty-seven years is a long time for any policy to remain intact and try to remain relevant. America’s NATO policy is increasingly failing the most basic tests of relevance and prudence. It is well past time to conduct a comprehensive review and consider even the most drastic option: U.S. withdrawal from the alliance.”

    by Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of ten books on international affairs, including several books on NATO.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. I highly recommend another view of NATOs importance to U.S. policy-making by the always excellent research economist Michael Hudson. See: “America’s real adversaries are its European and other allies: The U.S. aim is to keep them from trading with China and Russia”, The Vineyard of the Saker Blog (February 7, 2022). One of my favorite passages:
      . . .
      “U.S. arms production actually is not primarily military in character. As the world is now seeing in the kerfuffle over Ukraine, America does not have a fighting army. What it has is what used to be called an “eating army.” U.S. arms production employs labor and produces weaponry as a kind of prestige good for governments to show off, not for actual fighting. Like most luxury goods, the markup is very high. That is the essence of high fashion and style, after all. The MIC uses its profits to subsidize U.S. civilian production in a way that does not violate the letter of international trade laws against government subsidy.” [emphasis added]

      It seems to me that recent halting steps toward independence by a few European vassals indicates a trend leading ultimately to NATO dissolving and ditching the bankrupt U.S. rather than the U.S. abandoning its captive market for overpriced — and often times non-functional — luxury military “bling.”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. National military bling — interesting. Especially all those high-tech jets flying over sports stadiums across the U.S.

        What interesting as well is how national military bling has morphed into personal bling, from vehicles modeled on or inspired by the military to all the various forms of camouflage gear and “military spec” equipment for sale to ordinary citizens.

        I have to admit: when I see something advertised as military-spec or -grade, I walk away, given my experience with military equipment. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Would withdrawal from NATO actually change U.S. policies, though? Not saying withdrawal is a bad idea, just questioning that it would make a difference down the line. I’m thinking that arms sales would still proceed apace; the U.S. would continue to put its interests above those of everyone else; and would still expect to be able to bully everyone else. I suspect the aggressive attitude toward Russia would remain, as well. In short, U.S. withdrawal from NATO would remove a fig leaf, but would Raytheon, Lockheed, et. al. care? Would the State Department operate differently? I’d hope the answer would be, “yes,” but I wouldn’t be optimistic.


  17. Here is a voice from Lithuania:

    The Lithuanians along with the Latvians and Estonians are on the front line with Russia.

    Lithuania does not share a border with Russian but it does border Belarus which is a close ally of Russia and allows Russian troops in its country. It is a hold over from the Warsaw Pact because the Belarusians are essentially Russians; 70% of them speak Russian.

    Again, the U.S. A should be out of NATO because our presence there is a red flag in front of the Russian bear. Rename NATO to something like Pan European Alliance Co-operative Enterprise ( PEACE ). Now it is all peaceful just like Russia who is no longer the U.S.S.R.


    1. All of these types of articles start with the assumption that Russia was somehow a kicked dog who was incapable of biting after the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. The Russian military was not so feeble that it could not crush a legitimate revolt by the Chechnyans in the 1990s. Yes, they had trouble because the Chechnyans are tough fighters who were fighting for their freedom. Here is a passage from that time:
      “In April 1996 the first democratically elected president of Chechnya, Dzhokhar Dudayev, was killed by Russian forces using a booby trap bomb and a missile fired from a warplane after he was located by triangulating the position of a satellite phone he was using.”
      from Wikipedia.

      It seems too many people want peace at any price when it comes to this latest aggression by Russia. This is not the way to deal with the Russians. Appeasement only encourages further aggression. Russia is acting like a 250 pound two year old who is throwing a temper tantrum and threatening to start throwing its toys. It is time for the adults in the European room to stand up to this behavior and say NO, violence and threats of violence are not going to be tolerated. Being timid in this matter will be interpreted by the Russians as weakness. It is time for some tough love by the rest of the Europeans towards Russia.

      Perhaps the U.S.A. should not attend these diplomatic meetings to show the Russians we are not going to dictate terms. The best way to do that would be to immediately withdraw all our recently sent troops. We should also offer to terminate our NATO membership. This is not appeasement, rather a good way for the U.S.A. to get out of this inappropriate and dangerous alliance.


    2. A reasonable summation….
      Bungalow Bill swings and misses…
      It looks fairly certain Bill was too busy tearing down Glass/Steagal legislation ( he was always captured by wealthy paymasters , hoping someday to be “Elite Dollar Bill”!) that banking regulation from the early 1930’s. And he was also extremely busy saving his own “future face”; he just couldn’t be bothered with reasonable diplomacy. The Hawks were feasting on his rotten carcass and he had no stomach left for these vital negotiations that woulda’ coulda’ shoulda’ provided a much needed semblance of order to the daily lives of the future citizens of the old republics region.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. This group knows the Message sent to all 100 US Senators over the US hyped up Ukraine Crisis and the replies by 2 Republican and 1 Democratic Senators using the usual US Russia is to blame talking points. None of them replied to my responses, but the 3 are aware they’re the only ones to reply and may form a new nucleus and slowly change the direction in the US Senate? I can only hope!

    Memo to Congress: Diplomacy for Ukraine Is Spelled M-I-N-S-K
    Ukrainians of all ethnicities deserve genuine support to resolve their differences and find a way to live together in one country—or to separate peacefully.

    While the Biden administration is sending more troops and weapons to inflame the Ukraine conflict and Congress is pouring more fuel on the fire, the American people are on a totally different track.

    A December 2021 poll found that a plurality of Americans in both political parties prefer to resolve differences over Ukraine through diplomacy. Another December poll found that a plurality of Americans (48 percent) would oppose going to war with Russia should it invade Ukraine, with only 27 percent favoring U.S. military involvement.

    The conservative Koch Institute, which commissioned that poll, concluded that “the United States has no vital interests at stake in Ukraine and continuing to take actions that increase the risk of a confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia is therefore not necessary for our security. After more than two decades of endless war abroad, it is not surprising there is wariness among the American people for yet another war that wouldn’t make us safer or more prosperous.”

    The most anti-war popular voice on the right is Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has been lashing out against the hawks in both parties, as have other anti-interventionist libertarians.

    On the left, the anti-war sentiment was in full force on February 5, when over 75 protests took place from Maine to Alaska. The protesters, including union activists, environmentalists, healthcare workers and students, denounced pouring even more money into the military when we have so many burning needs at home.

    You would think Congress would be echoing the public sentiment that a war with Russia is not in our national interest. Instead, taking our nation to war and supporting the gargantuan military budget seem to be the only issues that both parties agree on.

    Most Republicans in Congress are criticizing Biden for not being tough enough (or for focusing on Russia instead of China) and most Democrats are afraid to oppose a Democratic president or be smeared as Putin apologists (remember, Democrats spent four years under Trump demonizing Russia).

    Both parties have bills calling for draconian sanctions on Russia and expedited “lethal aid” to Ukraine. The Republicans are advocating for $450 million in new military shipments; the Democrats are one-upping them with a price tag of $500 million.

    Progressive Caucus leaders Pramila Jayapal and Barbara Lee have called for negotiations and de-escalation. But others in the Caucus–such as Reps. David Cicilline and Andy Levin–are co-sponsors of the dreadful anti-Russia bill, and Speaker Pelosi is fast-tracking the bill to expedite weapons shipments to Ukraine.

    But sending more weapons and imposing heavy-handed sanctions can only ratchet up the resurgent U.S. Cold War on Russia, with all its attendant costs to American society: lavish military spending displacing desperately needed social spending; geopolitical divisions undermining international cooperation for a better future; and, not least, increased risks of a nuclear war that could end life on Earth as we know it.

    For those looking for real solutions, we have good news.

    Negotiations regarding Ukraine are not limited to President Biden and Secretary Blinken’s failed efforts to browbeat the Russians. There is another already existing diplomatic track for peace in Ukraine, a well-established process called the Minsk Protocol, led by France and Germany and supervised by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

    The civil war in Eastern Ukraine broke out in early 2014, after the people of Donetsk and Luhansk provinces unilaterally declared independence from Ukraine as the Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR) People’s Republics, in response to the U.S.-backed coup in Kiev in February 2014. The post-coup government formed new “National Guard” units to assault the breakaway region, but the separatists fought back and held their territory, with some covert support from Russia. Diplomatic efforts were launched to resolve the conflict.

    The original Minsk Protocol was signed by the “Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine” (Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE) in September 2014. It reduced the violence, but failed to end the war. France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine also held a meeting in Normandy in June 2014 and this group became known as the “Normandy Contact Group” or the “Normandy Format.”

    All these parties continued to meet and negotiate, together with the leaders of the self-declared Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR) People’s Republics in Eastern Ukraine, and they eventually signed the Minsk II agreement on February 12, 2015. The terms were similar to the original Minsk Protocol, but more detailed and with more buy-in from the DPR and LPR.

    The Minsk II agreement was unanimously approved by the U.N. Security Council in Resolution 2202 on February 17, 2015. The United States voted in favor of the resolution, and 57 Americans are currently serving as ceasefire monitors with the OSCE in Ukraine.

    The key elements of the 2015 Minsk II Agreement were:

    an immediate bilateral ceasefire between Ukrainian government forces and DPR and LPR forces;
    the withdrawal of heavy weapons from a 30-kilometer-wide buffer zone along the line of control between government and separatist forces;
    elections in the secessionist Donetsk (DPR) and Luhansk (LPR) People’s Republics, to be monitored by the OSCE; and
    constitutional reforms to grant greater autonomy to the separatist-held areas within a reunified but less centralized Ukraine.

    The ceasefire and buffer zone have held well enough for seven years to prevent a return to full-scale civil war, but organizing elections in Donbas that both sides will recognize has proved more difficult.

    The DPR and LPR postponed elections several times between 2015 and 2018. They held primary elections in 2016 and, finally, a general election in November 2018. But neither Ukraine, the United States nor the European Union recognized the results, claiming the election was not conducted in compliance with the Minsk Protocol.

    For its part, Ukraine has not made the agreed-upon constitutional changes to grant greater autonomy to the separatist regions. And the separatists have not allowed the central government to retake control of the international border between Donbas and Russia, as specified in the agreement.

    The Normandy Contact Group (France, Germany, Russia, Ukraine) for the Minsk Protocol has met periodically since 2014, and is meeting regularly throughout the current crisis, with its next meeting scheduled for February 10 in Berlin. The OSCE’s 680 unarmed civilian monitors and 621 support staff in Ukraine have also continued their work throughout this crisis. Their latest report, issued February 1, documented a 65% decrease in ceasefire violations compared to two months ago.

    But increased U.S. military and diplomatic support since 2019 has encouraged President Zelensky to pull back from Ukraine’s commitments under the Minsk Protocol, and to reassert unconditional Ukrainian sovereignty over Crimea and Donbas. This has raised credible fears of a new escalation of the civil war, and U.S. support for Zelensky’s more aggressive posture has undermined the existing Minsk-Normandy diplomatic process.

    Zelensky’s recent statement that “panic” in Western capitals is economically destabilizing Ukraine suggests that he may now be more aware of the pitfalls in the more confrontational path his government adopted, with U.S. encouragement.

    The current crisis should be a wake-up call to all involved that the Minsk-Normandy process remains the only viable framework for a peaceful resolution in Ukraine. It deserves full international support, including from U.S. Members of Congress, especially in light of broken promises on NATO expansion, the U.S. role in the 2014 coup, and now the panic over fears of a Russian invasion that Ukrainian officials say are overblown.

    On a separate, albeit related, diplomatic track, the United States and Russia must urgently address the breakdown in their bilateral relations. Instead of bravado and one upmanship, they must restore and build on previous disarmament agreements that they have cavalierly abandoned, placing the whole world in existential danger.

    Restoring U.S. support for the Minsk Protocol and the Normandy Format would also help to decouple Ukraine’s already thorny and complex internal problems from the larger geopolitical problem of NATO expansion, which must primarily be resolved by the United States, Russia and NATO.

    The United States and Russia must not use the people of Ukraine as pawns in a revived Cold War or as chips in their negotiations over NATO expansion. Ukrainians of all ethnicities deserve genuine support to resolve their differences and find a way to live together in one country—or to separate peacefully, as other people have been allowed to do in Ireland, Bangladesh, Slovakia and throughout the former U.S.S.R. and Yugoslavia.

    In 2008, then-U.S. Ambassador to Moscow (now CIA Director) William Burns warned his government that dangling the prospect of NATO membership for Ukraine could lead to civil war and present Russia with a crisis on its border in which it could be forced to intervene.

    In a cable published by WikiLeaks, Burns wrote, “Experts tell us that Russia is particularly worried that the strong divisions in Ukraine over NATO membership, with much of the ethnic-Russian community against membership, could lead to a major split, involving violence or at worst, civil war. In that eventuality, Russia would have to decide whether to intervene; a decision Russia does not want to have to face.”

    Since Burns’s warning in 2008, successive U.S. administrations have plunged headlong into the crisis he predicted. Members of Congress, especially members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, can play a leading role in restoring sanity to U.S. policy on Ukraine by championing a moratorium on Ukraine’s membership in NATO and a reinvigoration of the Minsk Protocol, which the Trump and Biden administrations have arrogantly tried to upstage and upend with weapons shipments, ultimatums and panic.

    OSCE monitoring reports on Ukraine are all headed with the critical message: “Facts Matter.” Members of Congress should embrace that simple principle and educate themselves about the Minsk-Normandy diplomacy. This process has maintained relative peace in Ukraine since 2015, and remains the U.N.-endorsed, internationally agreed-upon framework for a lasting resolution.

    If the U.S. government wants to play a constructive role in Ukraine, it should genuinely support this already existing framework for a solution to the crisis, and end the heavy-handed U.S. intervention that has only undermined and delayed its implementation. And our elected officials should start listening to their own constituents, who have absolutely no interest in going to war with Russia.



  19. Here is a letter I am sending to my representative and senators:


    I am writing to you concerning the latest military standoff of Russia and NATO in Ukraine. Two points I want to make in this letter are:
    1. NATO should be a European organization entirely. The U.S.A. should
    not be a member of NATO.
    2. U.S. presence in NATO is aggravating the present crisis because
    Russia sees the expansion of NATO as U.S. encirclement.

    NATO is still necessary because Russia has demonstrated in the last 25 years that it is an aggressive state that seizes other countries territories. The argument that the U.S.A. is needed in NATO in order to counter balance the large military of Russia is false. The combined forces of NATO is 680,000 soldiers. About 74,000 of those are U.S. Let’s say a round number of NATO forces minus U.S. is 600,000. The Russian army has 280,000 soldiers. Even without the U.S. NATO outnumbers Russian by more than two to one.

    The U.S. presence in NATO is a major worry for Russia because we are the major superpower on earth and have demonstrated our willingness to invade other countries. Russia’s history of being invaded weighs heavily on their policy decisions. The Russians lost 5 million people in WWI and 15 million in WWII. The U.S.A. should be out of NATO to reduce the tension felt by Russia. This is not appeasement, rather a rational decision not to interfere in European politics.

    It is also in our national interests because the money spent on NATO per year could be used here for domestic programs. The U.S.A. contributes 16% of NATO expenses. The other European countries will have to fill that amount among themselves. Many of the NATO countries are not contributing as they should and our withdrawal will be a strong stimulus to do so.

    Please support and sponsor bills that end our involvement in NATO either by troops, military equipment, money, or advisors.

    Sincerely Yours:

    William J. Scott, M.D.

    I am sure many of you could add to this so I will delay sending it until I hear your considered comments. Keep in mind that any letter to a politician must be brief, or they will not read it. Also only facts not emotional outbursts should be added.
    Thank You fellow commentators.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A sane and reasonable letter.

      Incredibly, the Soviet Union lost 25 million people during World War II (with some estimates as high as 28 million).

      I might add Ike’s statement that U.S. troops should leave Europe when Europeans were back on their feet after WWII. I’d say that 75+ years is long enough for them to have regained their footing!

      Good luck!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. no need to add a single word, wjscott2, only a a single letter to the word ‘russian’ in the 2nd paragraph’s final sentence… which is appropriate and advantageous for your purpose, given many congress people seem not to be well acquainted w/ ‘the written word’, particularly erudite and powerful ones like yours.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. @WJSCOTT2
    Yes a very well written letter my man.
    My only suggestion is that you list the countries whose territories were aggressively seized by Russia in the last 25 -years.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I earned a label I hadn’t heard before after posting a comment at The Hill objecting to the heavy US presence and meddling in Ukraine. This label indicates the level of opposition one usually finds online when trying to employ reason in hope of a real debate: Traitor Tot.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Great post on anti-war.com today……

    Three aspects of a looming “déjà vu all over again” war with Russia over Ukraine make this prospective war of choice even more perilous that its predecessors in the post-World War II era. I will cover these points here since they have been ignored or only scantly mentioned in other commentary on the Washington War Machine’s pending military conflict with Russia to support the US installed government in Kiev. (Any correlation with the pseudo “democratic” governments the CIA and State Department had a hand in installing in Saigon, Baghdad, and Kabul is merely coincidental).



  23. RAY JOSEPH CORMIER may have already covered this already in his long post above in the forum:

    The Minsk II agreement may well be Vladimir Putin’s real goal in this confrontation. Arguably, he may not need to invade, if his external military pressure can get the Minsk II accords put into effect. These accords were hammered out in 2015 between Kyiv, Russia, and the separatist rebels who had twice heavily defeated the government forces in pitched battles.

    France and Germany moved quickly to help broker this peace agreement, and on Feb. 12, 2015, representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the rebels signed a deal that envisaged a new cease-fire, a pull back of heavy weapons from the line of contact between the troops and the rebels, and provisions for a political settlement. A declaration in support of the deal was signed by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany.

    However, key provisions of this deal have never been fully implemented – mainly because they amount to a humiliating blow to the country’s unity by recognising the de facto secession of the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.

    The deal, dubbed Minsk II, included an OSCE-monitored cease-fire, a pullback of heavy weapons and foreign fighters from the line of contact and an exchange of prisoners. In a major diplomatic coup for Russia, the document obliged Ukraine to grant special status to the separatist regions, allowing them to create their own police force and have a say in appointing local prosecutors and judges. It also required Kyiv to offer a sweeping amnesty for the separatists and negotiate details of holding local elections with rebel leaders.

    It also stipulated that Ukraine could only regain control over the border with Russia in rebel regions after they get self-rule and hold OSCE-monitored local elections — balloting that would almost certainly keep pro-Moscow rebels in power there.

    Is what Putin currently pressing for before he will agree to go home is the full implementation of the terms agreed in the Minsk II agreement seven years ago. To me from Russia’s POV, that would seem entirely reasonable.


  24. Two more Senators replied Today. So far 2 Republicans and 3 Democrats replied proffering the same anti-Russian bi-partisan talking points.

    U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein responding to your message
    02/10/2022 14:20
    Dear Ray Joseph:

    Thank you for contacting me to express your views about the U.S. bilateral relationship with Russia. I appreciate the time you took to write, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.

    As the world’s two largest nuclear powers, I believe the United States and Russia must have a stable and predictable bilateral relationship. While our interests and views diverge on many issues, dialogue and cooperation between our countries is critical to advancing mutual interests that are vital to global peace and security, such as reducing the threat of nuclear weapons, countering the effects of climate change, and increasing economic prosperity.

    However, the Russian Government must also know that it is unacceptable to continue taking aggressive and dangerous actions against the United States and our allies. Russia’s military build-up on Ukraine’s borders since October 2021 has undermined security in the region—especially among our NATO partners—and threatened Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia’s moves are especially concerning given its 2014 invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, the first time internationally recognized European borders have been forcibly changed since World War II.

    I support President Biden’s efforts to pursue deterrence and diplomacy to de-escalate tensions with Russia, demonstrating that Russia will face severe repercussions if it moves against Ukraine but also including offers to increase transparency regarding our military force structure in Europe. It is also important for the United States to continue reassuring NATO allies and providing support for Ukraine’s defense. In support of these aims, I was pleased to cosponsor the “Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022” (S. 3488), which Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced on January 12, 2022. This bill intends to deter military escalation and would authorize additional security assistance for Ukraine and require a breadth of sanctions against Russia if it escalates hostilities in or against Ukraine.

    Please know that I am closely monitoring developments in U.S. Russia relations, and it is my hope that our countries move forward along a diplomatic path bolstered by communication and cooperation. I have made careful note of your concerns and will be sure to keep them in mind should S. 3488 or other relevant legislation come before me in the Senate.

    Once again, thank you for writing. Should you have any other questions or comments, please call my Washington, D.C., office at (202) 224-3841 or visit my website at feinstein.senate.gov. You can also follow me online at YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

    Best regards.
    Sincerely yours,
    Dianne Feinstein
    United States Senator

    Re: Signs Of The Times
    02/10/2022 13:34
    Dear Mr. Cormier,

    Thank you for contacting my office regarding Russian aggression on Ukraine’s border and the involvement of the United States. I appreciate hearing from you on this matter.

    While I recognize the value of the United States relationship with Ukraine and the role of American service-men and women in promoting democratic values abroad, I oppose President Biden’s decision to send U.S. troops to Eastern Europe. In recent weeks, President Biden has declined to use the significant economic deterrence tools at his disposal, including by opposing a Senate resolution to impose sanctions on the Russian Nord Stream II gas pipeline. I believe that military force should only be used to promote the direct interests of American citizens and only as a last resort.

    President Biden has diminished the United States diplomatic stronghold on Russia since his inauguration by continuously bowing to President Putin’s requests and implementing weak economic deterrence against Russia. On May 19, 2021, President Biden waived sanctions imposed on companies involved with the construction of the Nord Stream II pipeline that were put in place by the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The completion of the Nord Stream II pipeline would make Europe abundantly reliant on Russia for energy and remove the role of Ukraine in the transit of natural gas, empowering President Putin in his campaign of aggression towards Eastern Europe. As I mentioned previously, on January 13, 2022, I voted in support of S. 3436, which would have re-imposed sanctions on these entities involved with the pipeline. Unfortunately, due to the President’s opposition, S. 3436 failed to meet the 60 vote threshold necessary to pass the Senate.

    While I am not a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where legislation concerning our international relationships are first deliberated, I will keep your comments in mind as I monitor this ongoing situation and any related legislative action that comes before the United States Senate. I will continue to support the use of sanctions and economic tools to deter aggression abroad.

    Thank you for contacting me.
    Mike Braun
    U.S. Senator


  25. Excellent article/analysis (from a humanistic POV) once again WJA! It’s SO disgusting that the US ‘deep-state’/PTB (whatever we want to call them) cynically threw away a golden opportunity to greatly reduce the chance of a major-powers war by diplomatically handling the dissolution of the USSR, but instead let the MIC push the expansion of NATO. As I recall, there were US right-wingers (ie; George Will comes quickly to mind) who were saying crazy stuff back then like ‘oh, the USSR is just faking-it and they’re going to re-group’, or something like that. And reportedly our ‘intelligence agencies’ were caught by surprise by the USSR’s break-up, which along with their disastrous failure pre-9/11, and the Iraq War/WMDs, makes me believe that they’ve become mostly a self-serving political bureaucracy instead of a credible, relatively independent source of factual information for policy-makers to reliably use. So between those right-wingers who had made a career out of USSR (and by extension, Russia)-hating, the omnipresent MIC, and a mostly uninterested US populace, US politicians predictably took the path of least controversy and let what-happens-happen, and then spun things pro-NATO….


  26. There is no such thing as NATO’s “expansion”. Eastern European nations have freely and willingly chosen to join NATO because they were sick and tired of the decades of abuse and humiliation that Russia made them go through. NATO has never, *ever* forcefully expanded, nor will it ever do so due to its nature and organization as a purely defensive alliance of numerous nations each with their own conflicting agendas. There is a discussion to be had about whether NATO should be replaced by a purely european structure, however, suggesting that NATO doesn’t currently fill a power vaccum that Russia absolutely will fill if it’s disbanded without replacement is absurd.

    Also, the idea that NATO, or anyone else for that matter, is going to invade Russia is utterly laughable, for obvious reasons, and everybody knows it, especially the oligarchs in the Kremlin who are just using this argument to distract their population from their incompetent and corrupt rule.


    1. Russia is no innocent party, for sure; but would that prevent an agreement to keep NATO missiles out of UKRAINE? Unfortunately, America is using Ukraine as a proxy pawn to further the NSA quest for world domination.


      1. Even if Ukraine went into NATO, neither the US, UK or France have shown any interest in deploying nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe (and no, Aegis Ashore doesn’t count : it most likely doesn’t have the software to support the Tomahawk, and even if it did, all nuclear tipped Tomahawks have been retired for a decade). Even if nuclear weapons were deployed in Ukraine, it would not change the strategic situation given the amount of warheads Russia has deployed west of the Urals.

        And no, the US has no interest in world domination, even if such a thing was remotely possible (it isn’t).


        1. So, those 700+ US bases around the world are just there for ‘decoration’ then? And all the US military plans for ‘full spectrum dominance’ with a massive military budget greater than the next 10 countries combined is just imaginary? Wow…


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