By Eduard Rosel for the Saker blog
The emissary from Kiev to the WEF in Davos, Switzerland, Olena Zelenska, the wife of the Ukrainian President, said in Davos to an international audience that in the current situation neutrality cannot be permitted. She spoke about the children. Speaking to the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung and asked about Switzerland not sending weapons to Ukraine, she replied with restraint and thankfulness regarding the reception of 50'000 refugees.
Switzerland has been neutral since the year 1815. The great powers at that time guarantied the territorial integrity of Switzerland in the borders of 1815 provided that Switzerland would remian neutral in future conflicts. But even before 1815 the independence of the confederation from the great powers Austria and France was intertwined with its neutrality.
Neutrality has been an issue in Switzerland since the latest Ukraine conflict began. A few months back the Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis was considered to be negligent in the matter of neutrality and as a result a referendum is now being prepared by the Swiss People's Party which will confirm, clarify and strengthen Switzerland's neutrality. Switzerland is not unique. Austria is also neutral, meaning that it is not a member of NATO, and in this way it avoided being partitioned after World War II as Germany was.
Switzerland is also a multi-ethnic country. Despite its population of only 8 million, there are four cultural groups and four official languages. There is an unofficial custom which parliament always observes when electing a new government: the three main regions must always be represented in the government. All ministers are bilingual. There are no ethnic tensions.
If you want to talk about values, think about neutrality and peaceful multi-ethnicity! Switzerland's last war was in 1848 and it was a very short civil war. It is also said that the neutrality of Switzerland allows it to be an honest broker. Thus many international agencies and summits are hosted in Geneva. Switzerland is a go-between the estranged nations United States and Iran.
The change in government in Kiev in 2014 can be considered to be a coup d'état since the elected government was replaced by a government according to the wishes of the United States, as was evidenced by the leak of an infamous telephone conversation between the US ambassador and the US diplomat (who is now known for her undiplomatic language) Victoria Nuland.
The Maidan coup d'état resulted in severe ethnic tensions in a politically fragile country, which at that time had only been a nation state for a total of 28 years including the years from 1917 to 1922. There was for example a massacre in Odessa in which 46 anti-Maidan demonstrators were killed.
When the conflict in Ukraine broke out in 2014 after the troubles on the Maidan square and the violent change of government, Switzerland held the presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE. Therefore the Swiss diplomat Heidi Tagliavini (called "the facilitator" and praised by Bloomberg) was allowed to work on a ceasefire agreement which resulted in the Minsk I and the Minsk II Protocols, both signed for the OSCE by Tagliavini. She was supported by Swiss President Didier Burkhalter who at that time was President of the OSCE. He cautioned all parties not to pour oil on the fire. For those two diplomats Minsk was not a sham, it was an attempt in good faith to bring peace to Ukraine. Burkhalter retired prematurely from politics two years later.
Minsk I was signed by Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. Minsk II was signed by Germany, France, Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. Minsk II was also adopted as the Resolution 2202 of the Security Council of the United Nations.
As we have recently learned from Petro Poroshenko, Angela Merkel and François Hollande the Minsk II Agreement was intended to "buy time" for Ukraine. This is what Angela Merkel said in an interview on the 8th of December 2022. On the one hand she says that her aim was to prevent a war both in 2008 and in 2014. Then she says that Minsk was to give Ukraine time and "as one sees today, Ukraine used this time to become stronger". Today the NATO states can do much more to help Ukraine, she said.
So the Minsk agreements bought time and permitted Ukraine to establish massive fortifications within the very regions or oblasts that should have been granted autonomy from Kiev according to the agreement signed by Ukraine! Does Merkel think or did she think at the time that this was a good idea? Was this not a preparation for more civil war?
Presumably she bowed to the US wish to use Ukraine as an instrument against Russia according to the Brzezinski doctrine of 1997. She may have been cowed by the revelation in 2013 that her mobile phone, which was supposed to be tap-proof, had been listened to for the last 10 years by the US Embassy in Berlin.
In essence there was to be no accommodation for the Russian language ethnic group as foreseen by the two agreements. Merkel apparently quickly realized that this was not what was intended by Kiev and Paris.
With Poroshenko one gets the impression it might have gone either way. Under pressure from the American "friends" he went to the cynical side. Hollande is a typical European Atlanticist, which is the opposite of a Gaullist. This in my view is a mistake for reasons given here.
Since then there has been no end of accusations, recriminations, and very clever argumentation leading nowhere but to more verbal strife, increased hatred and the impossibility of finding a solution. Let us stick to the relevant issues and those are war, peace and modest prosperity. Maybe I have missed something, maybe my sources are one-sided, maybe my reasoning is faulty, but this essay is written in good faith.
As we have learned in the last months, the United States has a great interest in the war, enabling it to weaken Russia by using the ethnic tensions in Ukraine and using Ukraine as a proxy. Repeatedly there are calls in Washington to prolong the war as long as possible! There seems to be an affinity for long wars as was the case in Vietnam and Afghanistan. In the end they will tire of this game and leave Ukraine in the lurch.
The massive Ukrainian fortifications in the Donbass are now in the process of being destroyed by the Russian Special Military Operation. One might ask why there is currently such a controversy about delivering German Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine when it is clearly too late to save the fortifications in Bakhmut. Perhaps the answer is that this is not the purpose. The purpose is not to end but to prolong the war.
Would it have not been in the interest of Ukraine to vacate the Donbass and to grant it autonomy, thus adhering to the Minsk agreements? Would it not have been in the interests of Ukraine to avoid the conflict by not aligning itself with NATO? Would neutrality and a fair multi-ethnic society not have avoided the unneccessary suffering that has ensued?
An astute political commentator, Victor Gao, had this to say on the 4th of June 2022 on the Chinese television channel CGTN: "I think that the best case scenario for Ukraine is that it will be one of the, if not the wealthiest, richest, happiest countries in Europe if not in the world at large. Why? Because if you look at the situation involving Ukraine it really has all the ingredients (he is referring to the fertile lands, the industries, the strategic location and the well-educated population) to make a great success that the Ukrainian people deserve. If I use the wisdom of Deng Xiaoping a little bit to apply that to Ukraine, Ukraine can make huge successes and a great transformation of the country but they need to satisfy one or two preconditions. One is to maintain stability (he is referring to non-discrimination on ethnic grounds, the fight against corruption etc.) and secondly is to be friends with all and be enemy with none."
So why has the opposite happened? It has happened because Ukraine did not choose neutrality, opting instead to be an instrument of Western geopolitical conflict against the very Russia of which it was for the most of its history a part and where many of its older elites were educated and held important positions. It has also fanned the flames of ethnic tension. What a colossal mistake this was, made in the only 31 years of its history as a nation state! And Europe is the accomplice.
At the end of last November Ursula von der Leyen said that 100'000 Ukrainian military personnel had died. She was quickly silenced and her tweet was deleted since these numbers are not meant to be made public.
Colonel Douglas Macgregor has estimated the Ukrainian losses up to now at over 150'000, not including the wounded. "The biggest losses are usually in the last phase of a war when the losing side is retreating." According to him there no chance that Ukraine will win this conflict. The United States can only fight against an inferior enemy, he says. The situation is "not pretty" for Ukraine.
Whenever the spirits might be lagging, high ranking visitors from the US and the UK seem to make an appearance in Kiev. Brian Berletic of the New Atlas points out that a hodge-podge of weapons is not very helpful. I would also imagine that a host of different NATO and other officials telling the people in Kiev what to do next might have a disruptive effect. M. K. Bhadrakumar has pointed out that bravado and grandstanding will not win a war. Andrei Martyanov has pointed out that it is not the GDP but the Comprehensive Index of National Capability that matters and cautions against underestimating Russia.
And supposing that Ukraine would launch an offensive with Western "Wunderwaffen" or superweapons and retake the Donbass and Crimea as its President has pledged to do? In 2019 he was elected on a platform of improving relations with the Russian Federation. This is what the people wanted in a country that supposedly is democratic, especially in the East of the country from Kharkiv to Odessa. He has delivered exactly the opposite. Retaking Donbass and Crimea would be a new civil war and a crime against the population there which wishes nothing more than to return to Russia. Think of the children. The Charter of the United Nations condemns unnecessary violence and promotes self-determination.
Richard Wolff, who according to the New York Times is America's most prominent Marxist economist, even argues that the conflict is intended to weaken Russia because it is an ally of China, and that China is the main target. He also has pointed out that this has not worked out very well, because Russia's economy has not suffered to the extent that it was hoped and it still has the support of the second and third worlds, which prefer to steer clear of lose-lose geopolitics.
"China is the big issue for the United States, not Russia. Russia is an ally of China and vice versa and therefore a target It is an attempt by the United States to destroy the Russian economy in large parts and by doing so to"weaken"(that's the word of the U.S Secretary of Defence), to weaken Russia as an ally of China."
If this is accurate then it is ominous. What are the elites that control our democracies up to and how dangerous will this get?
The United States has pushed Ukraine into this conflict. Do they even care who wins? They have to a certain extent won the sanctions and public relations war against Russia, that is what matters to them. They are masters of dubious argumentation. Divide and rule is the age old maxim of empires and in this case it has been carried to excess.
Stay neutral and protect your country!
Of course it is much too late to be rueful about what might have been. But insight into the mistakes that have been made by the leadership of Ukraine as well as the leadership of the Western friends, if one may call them that, might lead to an acceptance of the results of those errors and to an idea that is quite shocking for most people, going beyond neutrality and peaceful multi-ethnicity.
The word for it is capitulation. The time has come to utter this word. What is there to negotiate? Ukraine will be partitioned. Bakhmut has fallen or will do so in the next two weeks and it is Zelensky's Stalingrad. Capitulation would not be problematic for Ukraine. Why? The hatred is only one-sided, Russia has no interest in stoking more hatred in its next door neighbour. In the Mahabharata there is a passage where a leader asks, "is it permitted to wage war against one's brothers"? The answer given is, "it is permitted, but only if there is sorrow in your heart".
And why should the Eastern oblasts be returned to Ukraine, when the Russian-speaking population there would consider this to be an invitation to ethnic subordination, reprisals and persecution, seeing as the Minsk Accords have been a pretence and this has been happening all along? This might result in new prolonged civil war.
It is time to accept the partition of Ukraine and the neutrality of the Western part. The losses will be cut and rebuilding enabled. This can only be done against the apparent wishes of the current leadership in Washington. We cannot change the past. It is time to stop nursing hatreds and to look forward. This will surely happen anyway, but when? Surely they do not wish to wage war forever.
Humanity is plagued by a propensity to make mistakes but one can learn from them and correct them. The path ahead follows a zigzag course. To err is human. To compound one's errors is foolish and even self-destructive. To err and undo one's errors is wise.
Eduard Rosel lives in Switzerland. After retiring from a technical profession he began to study philosophy. Pictured is a monument in Berne, commemorating the foundation of the Universal Postal Union in 1874.thesaker.is