- I concluded the previous article by saying:
Sending NATO troops to Ukraine would not be particularly helpful. Russia has complete local dominance in its region (land, sea and air) and would defeat NATO in such battles. But if the West wanted to do more than just send arms and other supplies to the Ukrainian resistance it could certainly cause serious military problems for Putin instead of just making speeches. For example Turkey could and should close the Bosphorous to bottle up the Russian fleet (as could and should have been done over Syria). NATO naval forces would be completely dominant everywhere else and could cut off most of Russia’s revenue from trade. It would be up to Russia whether it wished to escalate from a losing position or would prefer to withdraw quickly. A lot of lives could be saved if the West was not so completely gutless…https://c21stleft.com/2022/02/26/putins-war-on-the-peoples-of-russia-belarus-and-ukraine/
If NATO was as gutless as feared, Turkey would not have done it despite the fact that it really is not optional.
But Turkey HAS done it!!! That makes a BIG difference. It suggests that NATO will fight as well as make speeches.
In time of war, Article 19 of the Montreaux convention clearly prohibits warships of belligerent powers from passing through the straits in Turkish territory except to return to their bases (unless permitted by Turkey on the basis that they are assisting a victim of aggression or fulfilling international obligations). This isn’t optional. Russia is a belligerent. Russia’s Black Sea fleet can only return to Sevastapol (eg from Syria if they were based in Sevastapol rather than Vladivostok or Syria).
Russia’s war on the Syrian people did not make it technically a “belligerent” under that treaty since it was not at war with Syria but allied with the Syrian government iagainst the people, just as the US and Australia were not “belligerents” when the US occupied southern Vietnam and attacked the north in alliance with a puppet “Republic of South Vietnam”.
Turkey could, and should, have exercised its options under Articles 20 and 21 to “consider herself to be threatened with imminent danger of war” and prohibit passages of Russian warships supporting the Syrian regime despite Russia not technically being a “belligerent”.
But there in nothing optional about the prohibition under Article 19. Turkey would be actively complicit with Russia if it pretended Russia was not a belligerent in its current war. Turkey is far from being actively complicit this time, and so is NATO. The Syrian people were betrayed. The Ukrainians may not be.
Interestingly Russia’s entire Mediteranean naval presence of 16 ships are currently in Syrian waters headed directly for the Russian base at Tartarus:
Preventing Russia’s Black Sea fleet from leaving and permitting NATO naval forces to enter is unlikely to directly affect the war on Ukraine since NATO is unlikely to actually fight Russian naval forces on their home ground.
But if the West is serious about cutting off Russian trade, it has overwhelming naval superiority everywhere else in the world. A naval blockade would be an act of war but it would be up to Russia whether it wished to escalate from a losing position or accept having its ships searched for prohibited contraband by countries supporting the Ukrainian resistance by sanctions. Without the Black Sea fleet Russia really has no option but to submit to Russian ships being prevented from carrying Russian trade. China might well carry Russian trade by land and sea. But could not get Russian goods through customs in most of the developed world.
Some quick notes follow on other measures recently requested by Ukraine.
2. Requests for munitions are being met. The critical thing will be keeping supplies flowing under Russian occupation.
Ukrainia’s borders with the EU and NATO are nearly 1400km.
An occupation force of 140,000 can be thought of as 1 every 10m (if they did not have anything else to do).
3. A no fly zone has been requested but not yet offered. Over important parts of the border this could be critical for maintaining the flow of supplies as well as for protecting Ukrainian cities etc. It would take some time to establish since the NATO force posture is not prepared for it. A No Fly Zone does actually mean acts of war to shoot down Russian aircraft and missiles. The Stinger missiles already being supplied for use against assault helicopters etc would be operated by Ukrainian defence forces and would not be an act of war by the suppliers. But more effective air defence operated by NATO from NATO territory would be legitimate targets for Russian counter attack and would need to be heavily defended.
I don’t know how long it would take but it should start right now. NATO does at least have a force posture for rapid deployment to the Lithuania-Poland border area known as the Suwalki gap (named after the nearby town of Suwałki), because it represents a tough-to-defend flat narrow piece of land, a gap, that is between Belarus and Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave and that connects the NATO-member Baltic States to Poland and the rest of NATO.
A no fly zone there would also put pressure on Kaliningrad and Belorussia. It should be extended as rapidly as possible southward to fully cover the border regions close to Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Rumania, then North to Latvia (putting further pressure on Belarus). Later consideration could be given to putting pressure directly on Russia by extending to Estonia and offering to Moldova.
As soon as the air defence deployments can be adequately protected from Russian counter attack they should start shooting down Russian aircraft and missiles. That may not be very soon so lots of munitions should be got across the border as fast as possible to be hidden away for long term use.
4. Removal of Russian veto. That has also been requested despite there being no obvious way it could be done since Russia would veto it.
But it can be done by UN General Assembly deciding to form a replacement United Nations that existing members not currently engaged in wars of aggression prohibited by the UN Charter are invited to join. Why not? The UN needs replacement anyway. Would require agreement on other changes to the Security Council of the replacement organization. That is long overdue and may take more time but the process could be started now and would immediately intensify the isolation of Russia long before it was completed. Even if China refused to join it would be sufficient if India joined together with most countries. The old UN would simply wither away along with the Tsarist regime in Russia.
4. The battle for is for democracy, not just in Ukraine. Victory requires democracy in Belorussia and Russia too:
Ukraine’s guerilla war could topple the Tsar of All the Russias.
Ukrainians will fight
And they have interesting competent leadership from a comedian who could also lead elsewhere
Very good articles Arthur. Aside from the obvious fascist aggression fro Putin and his clique – which should get most of the attention – there is also a disturbing, though not surprising, collusion from the pseudo left, particularly that section that sees everything caused by US imperialism. To those who were part of the CPA – ML and who proclaimed their opposition to Soviet social imperialism (and the US, of course) their continued obsession with US imperialism and their silence on Russia’s aspirations for a return to the good old days, suggests they were more parrot than independent thinker.
Thanks. I haven’t been checking what pseudoleft is saying. Can you provide links?
In particular I gather remnants of CPA-ML eventually concluded current Chinese regime is fascist and imperialist (only about half a century late!). Am surprised if they rallied around Putin regime.
I would have thought local enthusiasts for Russian imperialism would be keeping their heads down at the moment so any links would be illuminating.
Based on my reading of their posts on facebook, the pseudo-leftists, including CPA(ML) individuals, openly support Putin’s struggle against the ‘US-backed fascists’ in the Ukraine. Others who I knew long ago are more subtle and speak of ‘complexities’ and the need to ensure the situation doesn’t serve the interests of ‘US hegemony’. (Yes, they are rather out of touch with reality).
I was surprised when a couple of old friends sent me the Vanguard editorial identifying the Chinese regime as capitalist and social-imperialist but that was a fair time ago and seems to have been a hiccup (probably reflects divisions within the cult). As for Ukraine, CPA(ML) regards Putin as bad but he has been compelled to act because of US imperialism’s planned encroachment via Ukraine and NATO. https://cpaml.org/print1.php?id=1645921256
There’s lots on facebook exposing the pseudo-left position of opposition to war by ‘both sides’. Cuba’s regime has come out on Putin’s side – the CPA, which now closely resembles the CPA(ML) – ran a statement from the Cuban ‘communist party’ outlining this view. I sent in one of my Lenin memes supporting Ukraine’s right to indepdnence, and surprsingly it received a couple of likes. Members don’t always agree with leaders.
From CPA facebook statement by Cuban regime: “History will hold the United States accountable for the consequences of an increasingly offensive military doctrine outside NATO’s borders, which threatens international peace, security and stability”.
The pseudo’s were confused, I think, not knowing how to respond initially – save for the openly pro-Putin mob. Now they’re seeing the huge global movement of opposition to Putin’s fascism, including in Russia, and they’re formulating a line that can attach themselves to such a movement while essentially opposing its objectives, namely, the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine, and support for the building of demcoracy in Ukraine, Russia and Belorussia.
It’s significant that they never call Putin a ‘fascist’.
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Thanks. Vanguard link to greek “ML” statement fascinating. At least they got this bit right:
“In his speech, Putin tried – through the use of crude historical distortions and extreme anti-communism – to arouse the nationalist sentiments of the Russian-speaking peoples, announcing his demand to reconquer the remnants of the old Russian empire, linking also making a connection to the former USSR.
A necessary condition for such an imperialist “patriotism” was of course to defame denigration of Lenin and Stalin, and the choices of the first attempt to establish a socialist, multinational state. An effort that included the recognition and guarantee of democratic freedoms for every nation and federated state that coalesced under the first socialist state, formed after the great October Revolution of 1917.”
That was indeed exactly what the current Tsar of all the Russias proclaimed about the terrible crimes committed by Lenin and Stalin against the Russian State.
I found it hard to figure out how they got from there to the US dragging Europe imperialists behind them.
Less incoherent foaming at the mouth would have hailed the European imperialists defence of the Leninist and Stalinist principles of democratic freedoms and denounced the US imperialists for their tailing behind European leadership.
I’ll be saying something like that, hopefully without the foaming 😉
Here’s documentation of what they did get right.
BTW links to web archive instead of direct to kremlin.ru are because of current DDOS attacks making it hard to reach that site.
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1. Another theoretical option for ending the Russian veto in the UN has been suggested by Ukraine. General Assembly credentials formalities could cease to recognize Russian Federation as the successor State to the USSR which had the veto power. US voted against the withdrawal of recognition of credentials from China’s seat from the representatives of the Kuomintang Republic of China and acceptance of credentials from Chinese government in Peking but General Assembly credentials vote still took that decision as the veto powers of permanent members of the Security Council like the US, USSR and China does not apply to such decisions.
Putin’s speech above accurately disputes Ukrainian illusions that they won independence from USSR and pointed out that modern Ukraine was in fact created by Lenin and Stalin’s polices of national self-determination (which he regards as far worse than a mistake – a crime against the Tsarist Russian empire). He could have added, but did not, that in fact it was the Russian Federation that declared independence from the USSR first and Ukraine did so later when the USSR was dissolved.
The USSR does not exist and the Tsarist Russian Empire was never a member of the UN or even of its predecessor the League of Nations. Russia has made it abundantly clear that it is not a successor state to the USSR and rejects the basic principle on which that State was both founded and dissolved.
Perhaps credentials committee could simply withdraw recognition from the representatives of Tsar Putin’s regime since Putin has openly declared that they are not a successor state to the USSR but to the Russian Empire which never had a veto and never will.
2. But the key point right now is rapidly extending a No Fly Zone over as much of Ukraine as possible. (Naval blockade easier to do quickly and also useful to send a message to Chinese fascist regime, but far less urgent since the seizure of Russian foreign reserves and disruption of financial relations is adequate given that arrangements have not yet been made to replace Russian energy exports. Naval blockade becomes more relevant once the West actually stops trading with Russia for gas, coal, oil etc).
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3. There might be some technical obstacle to refusing to accept the credentials of a government without at the same time accepting credentials from some other government as the representatives of a member State. (eg credentials from Burmese military junta which would have voted in support of Russia along with Syria, Eritrea etc have been rejected and previously credentialled diplomats from overthrown elected government were allowed to vote against Russia.
Here’s a suggestion.
Perhaps the EU could be recognized as successor state to the USSR!
After all the EU is organized on the same principle of national self-determination including freedom of secession (eg Brexit) and has more of the constituent republics of the USSR (eg Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania than Putin’s regime has – just Russia and Belarus).
I was about to add that this is over the top but would be very convenient and worth thinking about since a veto for the EU would make more sense. It would remind China that credentials could be again transferred from the Kuomintang (Nationalist Fascist) regime, this time in Peking to the formerly Kuomintang but now democratic regime in Taipei (which would of course agree to surrender its veto along with Britain and France).
But I paused to check latest news and found that just a few hours ago Moldova and Georgia have now followed Ukraine in seeking EU membership.
Zelenskyy is emerging as national leader of the former USSR, not just of the Little Russians, White Russians and Great Russians rising against the Tsar of all the Russias.
He is also directly leading the rest of Europe. No other leader gets standing ovations from the EU Parliament.
So if special arrangements were made rapidly, the EU would have 6 of the USSR’s constituent republics and Zelenskyy would be leader of the free world.
My suggestion may not be over the top. We live in strange times.
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I do find Zizek’s take on most issues to be of interest. To move beyond the rape metaphor to look at Putin’s links to Trump, and other leading figures in the American right is interesting. We’ve seen FOX NEWS presenter Tucker Carlson come out strongly in support of the Russian invasion, criticise the attempts by Biden, etc to impose sanctions though he’s become a bit more circumspect in recent days. The links, machinations, between those in America and Russia are worthy of knowing more about.
Both America and Russia are fading, though in their death thralls who knows the damage they can cause. The rest of the world can watch their demise, working out how to move humanity forward. Let’s fight to support the actions to marginalise Putin’s regime in Russia, hoping to assist in supporting a regime change.
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