The demanding challenges that the world faces today – from the climate crisis to the pandemic, from the deepening of the Cold War to the danger of a nuclear confrontation, from the increase in human rights violations to the exponential growth in the number of refugees and hungry people) demand more than ever active intervention by the UN, whose mandate includes peacekeeping and collective security, as well as the defense and promotion of human rights.
Among the many areas of action in which the UN can intervene, one of the most important is peace and security, specifically with regard to the worsening of the Cold War. Started by Donald Trump and enthusiastically pursued by Joe Bidena new Cold War is underway that apparently has two objectives, China and Russia, and two fronts, Taiwan and Ukraine. In principle, it seems unwise for a declining power like the United States to simultaneously engage in a two-front confrontation. In addition, unlike what happened with the previous Cold War, with the Soviet Union in the crosshairs, China is a power of great economic power and a major creditor of the US public debt. It is on the verge of overtaking the United States as the world’s largest economy and, according to the US National Science Foundation, in 2018 it had a scientific output greater than that of the United States for the first time. Likewise, logic would advise the United States to have Russia as an ally and not as an enemy, not only to separate it from China, but also to preserve the energy and geostrategic needs of its historical ally, Europe. The same logic would advise the EU to take into account the historical and economic relations of Central Europe with Russia (until the Ostpolitik by Willy Brandt).
It is particularly worrying that neocon (the ultra-conservative politicians and strategists who since the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 have dominated US foreign policy) intensify hostilities with Russia and, at the same time, urge the US to prepare for a war with China at the end of the decade, a hot war of a new type (the war with the means of artificial intelligence). The international media power of neocon is awesome. As in 2003 with the preparations for the invasion of Iraq, we are witnessing an alarming unanimity among foreign policy commentators in the Western world. Suddenly, China, which until now was an important and reliable trading partner, becomes a dictatorship that massively violates human rights and a malevolent power that wants to control the world, objectives that must be neutralized at all costs. For its part, Russia, until today a strategic partner (such as in the nuclear agreement with Iran), is now perceived as a country ruled by an authoritarian and aggressive president, Vladimir Putin, who wants to invade democratic Ukraine. To defend it, the United States will help militarily, and for this, Ukraine must join NATO. This narrative, despite being false, is reproduced without contradiction in the Washington Post and in the New York Times, then amplified by Reuters and the Associated Press, and seconded by reports from US embassies. Western commentators simply regurgitate it uncritically. In view of this, it is urgent that the intervention of the UN be heard and felt to stop the drift of a third world war.
The division of Ukraine
The UN has abundant information that allows it to counter this narrative and actively intervene to neutralize its destructive potential. Ukraine is a country ethnolinguistically divided between a predominantly Ukrainian west and a predominantly Russian east. Throughout the 2000s, elections and opinion polls revealed opposition between a pro-EU, pro-NATO West on the one hand; and a pro-Russian east, on the other. Regarding energy resources, Ukraine depends on 72% of natural gas from Russia, as is the case with other European countries (Germany depends on 39%), which gives an idea of Russia’s negotiating power in this area. Since the end of the Soviet Union, The US has been trying to get Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and to integrate it into that of the Western world and, indeed, turn it into a pro-American bastion on the Russian border. This strategy has had two pillars: militarily integrate Ukraine into NATO (approved at the Bucharest Summit in 2008, as well as Georgia, another country bordering Russia) and integrate it economically into the European Union.
The orange revolution or, rather, the coup of February 22, 2014, strongly supported by the United States, was the pretext to accelerate the Western strategy. Its immediate cause was President Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an economic integration agreement with the EU that left Russia out. Protests followed, much social unrest and a brutal government crackdown that left more than 60 dead. (It is now known that heavily armed fascist groups were among the protesters). On February 22, the president was forced to leave the country. US-led “democracy promotion” had produced results: the “orange revolution” began its anti-Russian policy. Russia had warned that Ukraine’s membership in NATO and its exclusive integration into the EU constituted a “direct threat” to Russia. In the following months, Russia occupied Crimea, where it already had an important military base.
In 2014 and 2015, the Minsk protocols were signed with the intermediation of Russia, France and Germany. The ethnolinguistic specificity of the Don River (Donbas) region (mostly Russian-speaking) was recognized and provision was made for the establishment, by Ukraine and in accordance with Ukrainian legislation, of a system of self-government for the region (which covers areas of Donetsk and Luhansk districts). These protocols were never followed by Ukraine. Tensions have now escalated again with Russia’s alleged intention to invade Ukraine. It’s even likely to (certainly limited to ethnically Russian eastern Ukraine) if NATO, the United States and the European Union continue their policy of hostility. Faced with all this, one has to wonder if it is Russia or the United States that has been creating problems in this region of the world. We all remember the missile crisis of 1962, when the Soviet Union proposed to install missiles in Cuba. The North American reaction was final; it was a direct threat to the sovereignty of the United States and under no circumstances would such weapons be accepted at its border. It even sounded the alarm of a nuclear war. Was this reaction very different from Russia’s current reaction to the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO? In 2017, the report of the meeting between the US Secretary of State James Baker Y Mikhail Gorbachev held on February 9, 1990. At that meeting it was agreed that, if Russia facilitated German reunification, NATO “would not expand one centimeter to the east” (http://nsarchive.gwu.edu). Despite this and the defunct Warsaw Pact, nine years later Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined NATO. And no commentator remembers that, in the year 2000, when he came to power, Vladimir Putin publicly expressed his desire for Russia to join NATO and also in the EU so that Russia “does not remain isolated in Europe”. Both requests were denied.
Given this, the UN knows that Russia is not the only aggressive power in the current conflict, and that it would be enough for Ukraine to comply with the Minsk agreements for hostilities to cease. Why can’t Ukraine remain a neutral country like Finland, Austria or Sweden? If there is war in this region, the theater of war will be Europe, not the United States. The same Europe that just over seventy years ago emerged from the hell of two world wars that resulted in some 100 million deaths. If the UN wants to be the voice of peace and security, which is stated in its mandate, it must assume a much more active and independent position from the countries involved. need to find out on-site what is happening in the territories where the great powers are facing each other and preparing for wars of hegemony in which the lesser allies will probably suffer the consequences and pay with lives (Taiwan or Ukraine) – the so-called proxy wars– even if the aggressive “regime change” policy targets Russia and China, eventually with results similar to those it had in Iraq, Libya or Afghanistan. The world needs to hear authoritative voices that do not repeat the script imposed by rivals. The most authoritative of all is the voice of the UN.