A New Global Security Architecture Now More Urgent than Ever
On the evening of Feb. 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he had begun the process of recognition of the self-proclaimed Donbas republics, after concluding that Kiev had demonstrated no intention of conceding autonomy as per the Minsk agreements. Indeed, Ukrainian Army operations in the Donbas had escalated in the previous days, forcing local authorities to evacuate the civilian population in order to avoid a genocide.
Whereas western media and politicians squawk about “violations of international rights” and threaten “deadly sanctions”, former French Presidential candidate Jacques Cheminade tweeted: “By recognizing the independence of Donetsk and Lugansk and ordering the Russian army to move in to ensure ‘peacekeeping’, Putin crosses a red line. But the US and Nato are the provocateurs, having failed to impose the implementation of the Minsk agreements.”
With Russia’s recognition of Donetsk and Lugansk, Washington and NATO member countries are faced with a choice: escalate the situation through sanctions or accept serious negotiations with Russia on a global security arrangement. This includes the guarantee that Ukraine never join NATO and that nuclear-capable launchers be withdrawn from countries once belonging to the Warsaw Pact.
Will the West choose the path of negotiations, or rather that of a reverse Cuba missile crisis? Sanctions announced in the aftermath of the Feb. 21 declaration will not dissuade Moscow. In fact,, Putin stated repeatedly in his speech to the nation, that the West would issue sanctions in any event, no matter what Russia decided to do. As Russian analyst Andrey Kortunov pointed out in a Feb. 10 interview, there are two strategic considerations to Russian diplomacy: security and the economy, and Vladimir Putin has “clearly placed security above economic interests”.
The role of China must also be considered in the equation. During their recent summit, Putin and Xi Jinping certainly discussed the various implications of the strategic crisis. At the Munich Security Conference last weekend, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made it clear that China stands by its ally Russia in the stand-off with NATO. Therefore, in the worst case scenario of brutal economic sanctions, Moscow can rely on its Chinese ally to help mitigate their impact. It is rather Europe, which will be the main loser, should those sanctions hamper trade relations with Russia. The Italian government has already declared its opposition to sanctions hitting the energy sector. Germany is also vulnerable to any cut-off of Russian gas supplies.
Will reason prevail and a new strategic nuclear confrontation be avoided? Signals put out at the Munich security conference were negative, with participants railing hysterically against the China-Russia partnership, and Ursula von der Leyen accusing Moscow and Beijing of “seeking a ‘new era’, to replace the existing international order”, and preferring the rule of the strongest over the rule of law.
True, the Russia-China partnership is a threat – but to a collapsing global system based on regime change, hyperinflation and regime change wars. Insistence on maintaining such a system is the dynamic that leads to tensions and global wars, as was stressed at the Feb. 19 Schiller Institute webinar (cf. below). Negotiations for a new global security and economic architecture based on the principles of the Treaty of Westphalia are more urgent than ever.