Demand that the U.S. and NATO Pull Back Their Forces from Russia’s Borders

 Statement by the Chicago Anti-War Coalition (CAWC), January 27, 2022

The U.S. and Britain have in recent days sent at least 90 tons of military  equipment to the government of  Ukraine. This is in addition to placing thousands of troops currently stationed in the U.S. on high alert. Whether those measures are serious harbingers of a U.S./NATO war with Russia or further exercises in advanced saber rattling remains to be seen.

As you may know, the U.S. and NATO have much of Russia surrounded with military bases and they have frequent military maneuvers. Moscow and Ukraine are nearly five thousand miles away from Washington, D.C. and over a thousand miles away from Western Europe.

In the following paragraphs we will attempt to present some of the background behind the current conflict with emphasis on the parts that seldom get articulated in mainstream newspapers and magazines in the West because publishing those does not serve the propaganda needs of the ruling classes that comprise the Atlantic Alliance. Quite the opposite, really.

Key to the current state of affairs is the wholesale rejection by the U.S./UK/NATO/European Union of Russia’s demand that that the U.S. and NATO drastically scale back its military presence on Russia’s borders with Eastern Europe. This much is widely reported in U.S. and Western corporate media.

Far less often mentioned are a number of other facts, such as

a) the magnitude and prolonged duration of NATO forces deployment which include regularly conducting war games, land based and maritime;

b) that the current Ukraine government, which is cast as victim in Western media, actively tolerates anti-Semitic fascist organizations which were instrumental to the success of the U.S. orchestrated 2014 coup that installed the present regime in power (see below);

c) the treachery of high level US diplomats and U.S. Presidents who have broken the promises made to President Gorbachev at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 that NATO would not expand east of Germany (NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard | National Security Archive (gwu.edu));

d) rather than Russia broadly expanding its territory over the past 30 years, it is the U.S./EU/NATO axis which has maneuvered to expand.

For further information we recommend John Mearsheimer/Rick Rozoff presentation to the Evanston Neighbors for Peace in 2015:

Video: John Mearsheimer, Rick Rozoff talk on Ukraine in 2015 – Anti-bellum (wordpress.com)

As we can see by the actions of U.S./EU/NATO, their policy and goal has long been to peel off Ukraine and Georgia from the Russian sphere of influence and integrate them into the Atlantic Alliance. And whatever else that it could get a hold of.

The opening rounds of NATO’s eastward expansion occurred in two stages when the Clinton Administration considered it an opportune moment. Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic formally joined NATO in 1999 followed by the Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in 2004. Beyond Europe’s borders, NATO has about 50 partner countries. Virtually all of Europe has been subjected to the NATO military bloc with the exception of a few small states such as Andorra and Lichtenstein.

The U.S. made big moves on Ukraine that were marked by the political movement of the “Orange Revolution” of late 2004, with big funding by U.S. sources (US staged a coup in Ukraine – here’s why and how – NationofChange), and then the coup of 2014.

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A bit of history before going into the U.S. coup of 2014.

Well before the current crisis, Ukraine had a legacy of fascist, anti-Semitic, anti-Soviet paramilitaries that collaborated with the Nazi invasion of June 22, 1941. These groups actively participated with German and other fascists in the crimes of the Holocaust.

This political current has persisted in Ukraine beyond the Soviet era, but has only been given official recognition by the present regime that came to power in 2014. In 2015, the Kiev government passed legislation declaring these World War 2 paramilitaries, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), heroes and freedom fighters. The legislation also contains the threat of legal action that can be taken against anyone denying their status (“Glorification of Nazi Collaborators and Holocaust Perpetrators Isn’t a Glitch But a Feature of Today’s Ukraine,” The Nation,  5/6/2021).

Today’s Ukraine still features several hundred monuments honoring these Third Reich collaborators; every January 1 Kiev hosts a torchlight parade honoring Stepan Bandera, who headed the OUN during the war and after. A bit of irony, perhaps, is that Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenski, who had a number of family members killed in the Holocaust, was quoted in 2018 as saying, “To some Ukrainians, Bandera is a hero, and that’s cool”( Hawkish Pundits Downplay Threat of War, Ukraine’s Nazi Ties – FAIR).

One might well wonder how this current regime came to power. This occurred in early 2014 by means of a coup at first funded and eventually orchestrated by the U.S. State Department and intelligence agencies. During the autumn of 2013, then president Viktor Yanukovych flirted with the idea of partnering in economic agreements that would have pulled the Ukraine into the EU’s orbit. Then Yanukovych took steps to strengthen relations with Russia. That decision was, to say the least, unpopular with large constituencies in the western part of the country. The Yanukovych government was overthrown on February 22, 2014 by an illegal U.S. backed coup and replaced by leaders chosen by the U.S. (The EU was frozen out of that decision.) (You can hear evidence of the U.S. calling the shots on taped conversations by an important State Department officer, Victoria Nuland, in Oliver Stone’s film “Ukraine on Fire” (Ukraine On Fire 2016 Oliver Stone – YouTube))

In response to the coup, Russia, without a shot being fired, quickly moved to reincorporate into Russia Ukraine’s Black Sea peninsula known as the Crimea. This region is 90 percent ethnically Russian and Russian-speaking, and voters there approved rejoining Russia by a similar percentage. (The Crimea is home to an important naval base at Sevastopol; Russia had continued to maintain the base even after Soviet premier Khrushchev gave the rest of the Crimea to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1954.)

About the same time, ethnic Russian majorities in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine rebelled against attacks on them by the new regime (such as not allowing Russian to be one of the official languages of the Ukraine) with demands for autonomy or independence for Luhansk and Donetsk. With Russian help, they have so far succeeded in resisting the Kiev government’s military attacks on them.  The cost of the attacks and resistance has left both sides with more than 13,000 dead. A fragile ceasefire has held for the most part since 2015, and an arrangement with Kiev was negotiated with the latter party reluctantly granting the two Donbass areas a good deal of autonomy within the Ukrainian state.

So what’s behind the Russian army’s 100,000 man encirclement of Ukraine on three sides? Russia has been repeatedly demanding that the Atlantic Alliance pull back from its borders and declare its intention to discontinue its 30-year eastward expansion. The U.S./NATO/EU so far has refused agree to this.

The Chicago Antiwar Coalition (CAWC) supports the demand that the NATO powers reverse their policy of encircling Russia with military bases and their nuclear weapons.  World peace depends on these conditions being met. There is more than enough to deal with already given the menace of an out-of-control global warming/climate change crisis and the covid pandemic. Military buildups only worsen an already bad situation. Join us in being active against U.S./NATO/EU expansion in Eastern Europe.

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