Russian peace moves hailed by some, hit by war hawks
A U.S. Air Force A-10 anti-tank attack plane taxis at Sliac Air Base, Slovakia. | Senior Airman Dylan Nuckolls / U.S. Air Force

Even Wall Street reacted positively Tuesday morning to a series of peace moves made by Russia and Ukraine over the weekend, with the Dow making solid gains. Those opposed to peace, however, showed that they will stop at nothing, including sabotaging progress in the scramble to find a peaceful solution to the Ukraine crisis.

The first hopeful sign came when Moscow sent strong signals that it is actively seeking further negotiations rather than starting the “imminent” invasion the Biden administration has been predicting for months now. Russian state television broadcast footage of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov telling President Vladimir Putin that there is still a diplomatic path ahead.

The second sign came when Russia’s Defense Minister, Sergei Shoigu, announced that “large scale drills” around Ukraine were ending.

The third positive development came after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz ended a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who emerged hinting that Ukrainian membership in NATO may have to “remain a dream.” Zelensky also told British diplomats that NATO membership could be negotiable. Preventing Ukraine from joining NATO has been a key Russian demand.

A fourth positive development was the Russian announcement Tuesday morning that it was pulling out 10,000 of the troops it has sent to areas near its borders with Ukraine.

A fifth encouraging sign was the announcement by both Russia and the U.S. Tuesday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Russian counterpart are meeting to negotiate.

The improved situation regarding the crisis is seen by Russia as proof of the success of its approach of pushing hard for talks on the one hand while it sends troops to the border areas near Ukraine on the other. Pundits on Western television are either saying that no one should trust the peace moves by the Russians or that it is the strategy of the Biden administration that has paid off.

Unfortunately, however, the danger of war continues because the war hawks in NATO, the U.S., and Ukraine are not giving up. Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia William McCaul said on television that it was Russia that started the crisis because NATO long ago stopped expanding eastward—despite all obvious evidence to the contrary.

Mass demonstrations in Slovakia took place this week with people turning out to protest a new deal that allows the U.S. to take over two Slovakian military bases for ten years and arm them with planes that can carry nuclear missiles.

Thousands in Bratislava, the country’s capital, and in Kosice, the second city, are protesting yet another new NATO-backed deal which puts their country on the front line of a crisis they want no part of. There are, of course, people in Slovakia who support NATO but there are many who do not, and there are few happy there that their country is being dragged into this crisis.

Slovakia has had largely good relations with Russia for many years now and does not benefit from hostility. Russia is highly unlikely to fight over U.S. deployments in Slovakia, but the placement of the bases in that country shows that it is the intention of powerful forces in the West to try to provoke the Russians into a fight. At the very least, the placement shows NATO has no intention of stopping the expansion that is at the root of the current crisis over Ukraine.

Another clear example of provocative activity is the presence of 150,000 Ukrainian troops on the borders of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine, where those troops regularly fire upon, shell, and shoot the population of the regions.

Ukraine had agreed under the Minsk Protocols of 2014 to grant autonomy to those regions but, under pressure from a military commanded by fascists, has lined the borders with troops that regularly attack them. The two areas are inhabited by Russian-speaking people who hold Russian passports. Any full-scale Ukrainian invasion of the regions is expected to provoke a Russian reaction.

A possible solution to the overall crisis, French President Emmanuel Macron has essentially said, is a pledge by Ukraine to forego NATO membership and recognition of the rights of people in Eastern Ukraine.


CONTRIBUTOR

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. John Wojcik es editor en jefe de People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

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