By Nikolai Storozhenko, translated and introduced by John Helmer, Moscow
The US has been installing American-directed military bases in the Ukraine for stockpiling advanced weapons to strike Russia by land, sea, and air.
In these plans for attack deep across the Russian frontier, Ukraine was already a platform with the potential for nuclear battlefield operations without formal admission to the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO); without acceptance by the NATO member states; without comprehension or vote of approval by the Ukrainians themselves.
On December 17, the Russian Foreign Ministry proposed a non-aggression treaty with the US which included explicit provisions to negotiate the withdrawal of this threat. Article 3 proposed “the Parties shall not use the territories of other States with a view to preparing or carrying out an armed attack against the other Party or other actions affecting core security interests of the other Party.” Article 4 of the pact proposed: “The Russian Federation and all the Parties that were member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as of 27 May 1997, respectively, shall not deploy military forces and weaponry on the territory of any of the other States in Europe in addition to the forces stationed on that territory as of 27 May 1997.” Article 5 said: “The Parties shall refrain from deploying their armed forces and armaments, including in the framework of international organizations, military alliances or coalitions, in the areas where such deployment could be perceived by the other Party as a threat to its national security, with the exception of such deployment within the national territories of the Parties.” Articles 6 and 7 were more explicit on the deployment of nuclear weapons: “The Parties shall undertake not to deploy ground-launched intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles outside their national territories…The Parties shall refrain from deploying nuclear weapons outside their national territories.”
The State Department reply released on February 2 dismissed each of these proposals.
On February 19 in Munich, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky made his threat to deploy nuclear weapons on Ukrainian territory; he expressed this as his unilateral revocation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum although Ukraine was not a signatory of the agreement.
“This is not empty bravado,” President Vladimir Putin responded two days later in his Donetsk and Lugansk recognition speech on February 21. The Ukraine threat to attack Russia was “a foregone conclusion, it is a matter of time”, Putin added.
It is Operation BARBAROSSA, the code name of the German invasion of 1941, in slow-motion.
Putin was also specific in his geography. “I would like to add that the Maritime Operations Center in Ochakov [Ochakiv], built by the Americans, makes it possible to ensure the actions of NATO ships, including their use of high-precision weapons against the Russian Black Sea Fleet and our infrastructure on the entire Black Sea coast. At one time, the United States intended to create similar facilities in the Crimea, but the Crimeans and Sevastopolians thwarted these plans. We will always remember that.”
“Many Ukrainian airfields are located near our borders. NATO tactical aviation stationed here, including carriers of high-precision weapons, will be able to hit our territory to a depth of up to the Volgograd-Kazan-Samara-Astrakhan line. The deployment of radar reconnaissance equipment on the territory of Ukraine will allow NATO to tightly control the airspace of Russia up to the Urals.”
US NAVAL INSTITUTE MAP OF AMERICAN-UKRAINIAN NAVAL BASES, 2019
MAP OF UKRAINIAN AIRBASES WITH NATO CAPABILITIES
Published on Tuesday in Vzglyad (“Viewpoint), the leading Moscow source for security strategy and tactics, Nikolai Storozhenko has analysed the recent history of the Ukrainian cause of war, and the targeting of the Russian demilitarization campaign. His report has been translated and reproduced here without editing; the illustrations have been added. Click to read the original in Russian.
“How Ukraine has been spoiling relations with Russia for thirty years — NATO has been present in Ukraine for a long time
By Nikolai Storozhenko
‘Unprovoked aggression’. This is the typical phrase currently used by Western politicians to describe Russia’s special operation in Ukraine. Ukraine is portrayed as the totally innocent victim. However, it is enough to recall the history of the last thirty years to see how Ukraine, with the aim of humiliating Russia, brought closer with its own hands what is happening today.
Assessing the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, many people make the same mistake: they believe its beginning in the events of the last days, weeks, months. As an example, we can cite the speech of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, in which she announced the number of civilians killed since February 24. So the question immediately arises: did civilians not die in Ukraine before that? You (‘you’ = UN, EU, the purported West, etc.) yourself say that the Lugansk People’s Republic [LPR] and the Donetsk People’s Republic [DPR] are the territory of Ukraine. So, more than ten thousand civilians have already died there since 2014.
This we see. Here we don’t see. And here we wrap the fish up. [Popular Russian comic expression caricaturing the selective representation of facts.]
However, today it is worth talking about the global root cause of the conflict rather than the myopia of UN officials. About how, at the dawn of independence, Ukraine began to assemble in itself the logic of going against Russia. And finally she has done it.
Language, Crimea and the fleet
To do this, we will have to go back mentally more than thirty years ago. As in many national republics, the authorities of the CPSU [Communist Party of the Soviet Union] in Ukraine began to oppose the nationalist movement – the NRU, the People’s Movement of Ukraine for Perestroika. Perestroika in this title was a fig leaf designed to protect the NRU from accusations of bourgeois nationalism.
In fact, the nationalists were not interested in any restructuring (at least in the interpretation proposed by the then-Soviet Union centre). They were interested in independence and maximum disengagement from the USSR — their own statehood with the centre in Kiev, exit from the ruble zone, the Ukrainian language as the sole state language, their own army. Already the idea of preserving an allied army in the form of the CIS Armed Forces had been forgotten – from the start the nationalists did not support it.
People of the 35+ generation should remember that, according to the NRU version, the Ukrainian SSR [Soviet Socialist Republic] has been labouring away virtually for the entire Soviet Union. And Moscow has been ruthlessly robbing it, exporting [Ukrainian] grain, sugar, metals… And that if only we could get rid of these freeloaders, then Ukraine would heal itself to become almost the best in Europe.
This is very aptly displayed in the film 72 Metres. All of these doctrines were not invented by the creators of the film, but were taken from life – in particular, from the leaflets of Leonid Kravchuk.
Left: Leonid Kravchuk, President of Ukraine, 1991-94; right, the film, 72 Metres, released in 2004.
In general, this précis from 72 Meters clarifies a lot about the beginning of Russian-Ukrainian relations over the past 30 years. We see not only the main propaganda lines of that time, but also the beginning of the break-up of the Black Sea Fleet, as well as the loss of Crimea by Russia (before its return in 2014).
For some reason it wasn’t enough for Ukraine to receive Crimea, which had never belonged to it before, as a result of the Ukraine’s withdrawal from the Soviet Union; nor enough to acquire part of the fleet, to which the Ukraine had the same zero rights as to the Crimea. Instead of quietly closing this issue and rejoicing, Ukraine started a long-term divorce process: the division of the fleet was issued only in 1997. And in Crimea, Kiev immediately undertook to prove that this was the same region of Ukraine as all the others.
As a result, the peninsula could well have returned to the Russian Federation already in 1993 after the-then referendum [Crimean independence vote of 1992, confirmed in 1994. ] But Russia in 1993 had problems of its own.
While Russia was concentrating elsewhere, Ukraine was trying to reduce many of its ties and connexions with the Russian Federation, sometimes striking with outright provocations. As early as 1995, for example, Ukrainian nationalists were fighting against Russia on the side of Chechen rebels.
In Ukraine itself, a slow but total process of de-Russification was launched (Ukrainians themselves call it Ukrainization). However, our term is closer to the point: it was primarily about the eradication of the Russian language and culture. By now, the Russian language has been eradicated from the spheres of education, official documents, content on radio and TV, mass media (except electronic), the service sector and business. For violation of these regulations — fines. At the same time, the number of native speakers of the Russian language, even without Crimea and Donbass, is measured in millions.
Despite the settlement of the issues of the division of the fleet and the lease of the base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol, since the late 1990s the nationalists have been implementing provocations against Russian sailors: attempts to infiltrate facilities, attempts to seize hydraulic structures. During the Yushchenko presidency [2005-2010], the provocations reached a new extreme. The Ukraine began to demand that sailors coordinate all of their actions with the authorities; there were attempts to inspect the fleet’s cargo.
At the same time, since the early 2000s Ukraine has begun to drift towards NATO with the rejection of military cooperation with Russia: Ukraine-NATO exercises on the territory of Ukraine; NATO ships entering Ukrainian ports; training of Ukrainian officers by specialists from NATO countries on the territory of Ukraine; as well as their departure to study in the countries of the North Atlantic Alliance; and the gradual transition to NATO operating standards. And finally, the question of the Membership Action Plan [MAP], that is, the sixth wave of the expansion of the alliance to the east (paired with Georgia). Later, after the Euromaidan, the course for NATO membership was even included in the Constitution of Ukraine.
Even Viktor Yanukovych, under whom the interdepartmental commission on Ukraine’s preparation for joining NATO was liquidated, maintained relations at the level achieved by his predecessor – that is, he froze them, and did not turn course towards normalization of security relations with Russia.
As for the period after 2014, [President Petro] Poroshenko and then Zelensky unfroze everything and more than made up for the delay. Ukraine then started receiving annual military assistance from the United States in the amount of several hundred million dollars (annually in the last few years) plus lethal weapons. That’s to say, the pumping of Ukraine with weapons began long before the events of 2022, and the delivery of the notorious Javelin complexes is just one of the episodes of this pumping.
Despite the preferential trade regime it enjoyed with Russia, Ukraine has consistently avoided participation in the integration projects of the Russian Federation – the multilateral ones (Customs Union, Eurasian Economic Union) as well as the bilateral. A lot of bilateral projects have been proposed: a fuel fabrication plant for Ukrainian nuclear power plants on the territory of Ukraine, a gas transportation consortium, an OPEC marketing regime for wheat, placement of Russian vessel orders at Ukrainian shipyards, joint projects in the aviation industry, large investments in Ukrainian assets such as the Odessa and Lysychansk refineries, the Krivoy Rog iron-ore refinery, the Krivorozhstal steel production complex, the Odessa Port Plant, the Zaporizhe Aluminium Refinery [ZALK], etc.
The point, of course, is mundane. So what if Ukraine does not want to do business together with Russians – that happens. There are other options. But when Russia began to tighten the supply of energy resources at preferential prices (they were supplied, among other things, for potential Russian or joint projects), as well as to cut the preferential trade regime, accusations, threats, and attempts to finagle were let fly in reaction. It is enough to recall the hysteria around the Nord Stream (the first one) – after all, the Ukrainians tried to disrupt its construction in the same way as the second stage.
In other words, all these years Ukraine has been trying to build relations according to the formula ‘Russia owes us for the rest of our lives’, while Ukraine does not owe anything in return — it has its independence and sovereignty. And in addition, it should not be accountable in any way on security issues and military threats to Russia, as they are carried along on the Ukrainian current towards NATO.
It has been possible to turn a blind eye to this — and Russia has been doing so for many years.
However, after 2014 it became obvious that the time to ignore the threat has been rapidly running out. The once-upon-a-time neutral Ukraine has acquired centres of hostile naval operations in Ochakov and Berdyansk.
MAP OF INITIAL SOUTHEASTERN UKRAINIAN OPERATIONS BY RUSSIAN FORCES AGAINST UKRAINIAN-US MILITARY FACILITIES IN THE SOUTHEAST
‘The naval bases in Ochakov and Berdyansk are planned as modern infrastructure facilities capable of receiving ships of all types, equipped according to NATO standards and built with the money of the alliance countries,’ the Ukrainian press openly reported about them a year ago. ‘In three years we will be able to strike at Russian ships in the Black Sea with our mosquito fleet. And if we combine with Georgia and Turkey, the Russian Federation will be blocked,’ Ukrainian military experts have boasted.
However, long before Ochakov and Berdyansk, the Yavorovsky training ground actually became a NATO base in Ukraine. And it is not the only one: since 2014, foreign military advisers from several NATO countries have been present in Ukraine on a permanent basis. Vladimir Putin indicated their immediate withdrawal from Ukraine in February 2022 as one of the steps required to de-escalate tensions around Ukraine.
Who and why shouted ‘Putin will attack’?
Let’s turn again to the forecasts of the Ukrainian media: ‘Some politicians believe that the presence of foreign military and weapons on the territory of Ukraine can provoke Russia to take active actions.’ The Focus edition [national Ukrainian magazine in Russian, published weekly in Kiev ] does not give the names of these politicians, but this doesn’t matter. As we can see, even in Ukraine there were people in their right mind who, at least in October 2021, warned which scenario Ukraine had chosen for itself. This is the scenario of consistently ignoring the possibilities of mutually beneficial cooperation with Russia. Instead, the scenario of increasing militarization and gradual transformation of Ukraine into one large military base. Moreover, this scenario started long before 2014, even if that was the threshold of events to which Ukraine could appeal, explaining from fear of Moscow its cooperation with NATO.
And, of course, a few words about recent events. The editor-in-chief of the publication Capital.ua Vyacheslav Chechilo writes bitterly about his disappointment with Russia: ‘And I do not know how to write what I have been writing for the last 10 years. After all, I wrote that Russia is a great power with a great culture; that it is useful and profitable for Ukraine to be friends with it. That we have a great history in common, and this unites us much more than it separates us. And stories about the ‘Russian threat’– well, this is nonsense, of course, and nationalist propaganda… But it turns out that those freaks who shouted ‘Putin will attack’ were right all these years. It was very funny. Until Putin attacked.’
But this is only an apparent mistake and contradiction. Freaks (nationalists) have been shouting ‘Putin will attack’ all these many years with only one goal — that he should really attack.
Their leaders were well aware that only a clear military threat to Ukraine from Russia would be guaranteed to destroy the base for pro-Russian sentiments even in historically friendly territories of the country. It would finish off everything that the laws on language have not already finished off — the rupture of economic ties.
The nationalists understood that without this threat, they would forever remain political freaks, gaining 0.5% in elections everywhere except in their native village. They would have sent letters of thanks to the Kremlin if they were sure that no one would find out about it.
The votes for reconciliation with the Donbass and Russia in the Ukrainian national parliament election of July 21, 2019. For the distribution of peace votes in the two rounds of the Ukrainian presidential election, March 31 and April 21, 2019, read this.
And so the current special operation of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine, unfortunately, is inevitable. Sooner or later, it would still have to be carried out – unless we want to turn the centres of naval operations into full-fledged naval bases and deploy elements of US missile defense in Ukraine.
OCHAKOV AND BERDYANSK BASES DESTROYED
The Berdyansk base as pictured by Reuters in November 2021. The plan of US-funded expansion of the base was reported here. The Russian destruction of the Berdyansk base on February 27 is confirmed here and here.
For many Ukrainian politicians, performing dirty tricks against Russia has become a familiar, much loved, and well-paid routine. So, that leaves just one way out of this situation — doing this sort of job should become very painful, unprofitable, and fraught with trouble.
The compulsion to promise not to attempt dirty tricks continues, but, unfortunately, only the United States can become the guarantor of the cessation of Ukrainian dirty tricks. But the Americans, on the contrary, pump Ukraine up with weapons and mold her image as the victim. This is despite the analysis of the situation for as long as twenty years back suggesting that Ukraine is the principal culprit of its own troubles. In those troubles its so-called partners are the accomplices.”
NOTE: In the lead image, from left to right: General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor; Victoria Nuland, Deputy Secretary of State; Antony Blinken, Secretary of State; President Joseph Biden; William Burns, CIA Director.