Dr. Wang Li
Over the past weeks, the world has kept its eyes on the increasing tensions over Ukraine as the media and governmental statements in the transatlantic bloc have alleged the prospect of Russia’s plan to undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
For sure, comparing the two largest East Slavic nations, Russia is the leading power in the region, Europe, and the world since it is much stronger than Ukraine in light of its military power and diplomatic prowess. However, very little if none of the news in the West exposes the Russian security concerns and its legitimate claims for security “indivisibility”.
It is fair to say that the end of the Cold War in the wake of the sudden collapse of the Soviet Union has convinced the West in general and the United States, in particular, to approach international affairs for pursuing its own supremacy rather than the authority of the United Nations.
As a result, the Anglo-Saxon powers axis has become more outrageous in pushing forward the hegemonic order by launching a series of wars, color revolutions, or assassinations globally.
As always over the past decades, the Anglo-Saxon axis has claimed their geostrategic moves for the purposes of defending the rules-based and valued-bonded global order. Yet, where are the legitimate rights of other countries, which are not the Anglo-Saxon allies or partners?
Regarding the crises over Taiwan and the increasing tension over Ukraine, it is crystal clear that the United States in line with Britain have been trying to pull China and Russia into an armed conflict over the disputed issues in both areas as some scholars have argued, even though China and Russia have reiterated their preparation to engage in more diplomacy.
Taking the current Ukraine issues as a case, although President Putin has insisted that NATO’s presence in Eastern Europe directly threatens regional equilibrium and peace, the Biden administration and its NATO allies have intentionally ignored the fundamental Russian security concerns and core interests as a great power.
Putin pointed to NATO’s “unwillingness” to formulate an adequate response to Russian security proposals revealing that the alliance is “hiding behind” its commitment to the “open-door policy,” which contradicted the principle of indivisible security.
Under such circumstances, it is imperative for all of Europe to follow the wisdom of diplomacy which champions negotiation, persuasion, compromise, and use of force only as the last resort.
As the cradle of modern diplomacy, Europe is expected to act in line with the reasons and wisdom of the time-honored classical statecraft rather than following the U.S.-led Cold War mentality.
The U.S. and its allies have talked about the need for de-escalation only when they accuse Russia of assembling heavy troops near the Ukrainian border with a possible intention of “invasion.”
In fact, first and foremost, the U.S. and NATO are whipping up tensions and rhetoric to provoke escalation despite the fact that no threat of a planned invasion into Ukraine from the lips of any Russian politician or public figure over all of this period, as argued by Russia’s UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia on January 31.
Instead, the U.S.-led allies have reiterated that Russia has been urged to take a diplomatic path toward resolving the ongoing crisis due to their efforts. Given the exaggerated story prevailing in the world, the Chinese ambassador to the UN questioned the allegations of the West and the U.S. particularly on February 1.
First of all, China called for sincere talks instead of empty rhetoric against Russia as an aggressor. Just one week ago, China sent a letter to the president of the Security Council of the United Nations, pointing out that “China can’t agree with the claim made by the United States that Russia’s deployment of troops on the border with Ukraine posed a threat to international peace and security.”
In light of what China has investigated on the root reasons of the tensions over the issue of Ukraine, it is obviously exaggerated that Russia has prepared to launch military action against Ukraine as claimed by the U.S. and its dependent allies. Rather, there is no looming war in Ukraine.
More absurd is what the basis for the U.S.-led NATO is as they insist on Russia’s invasion while Moscow has no plans to launch a war and Kyiv has equally admitted that it does not need a war.
Second, given all the sides—the U.S., Ukraine, the EU and NATO—have varying forms of diplomatic contacts with Russia, it is urgent and conducive for them to persist in seeking to resolve their differences through talks and more talks.
This is the consensus among the members of the UNSC, which have also made numerous efforts toward this end. China has advocated that at a time when diplomacy is underway and concrete progress has yet to be made, it is irresponsible and hypocritical for the U.S.-led allies to exaggerate the tensions over Ukraine instead of defusing it.
As diplomacy defines, all parties concerned should not undermine negotiations by seeking exclusive interests and security. Rather, they need to properly resolve their differences through patient talks on equality and mutual respect.
This requires “empathy” of geopolitics as Stephan Walk defined it as the ability to take into account each other’s legitimate security concerns. In addition, there is a need to return to the original point of implementing the new Minsk Agreement.
The Minsk agreement, endorsed by the Security Council in its Resolution 2202, is a binding foundational political document recognized by all parties and should be effectively implemented. Any great power including the United States should act in line with the direction and spirit of this agreement.
Geopolitically speaking, NATO is the product of the Cold War, and the expansion epitomizes bloc politics since the security of one country should not be achieved at the expense of the security of other countries. Still less should regional security rely on strengthening or even expanding military blocs.
Today in the 21st century, Europe should completely abandon the Cold War mentality as it had been under the nuclear shadow due to the superpower’s rivalries. Now a new Europe in the name of the EU has come up with a balanced, effective, and sustainable European security mechanism through endured negotiations.
In a long run, the EU has a much brighter future when peace and prosperity return to the continent. Yet, the key is Russia’s legitimate security concerns should be taken seriously and addressed in a constructive and transparent way.
It concludes that since the U.S. has not considered adequately Russia’s three key demands regarding (NATO’s) expansion, the renunciation of the deployment of strike weapons systems near Russian borders, and the return of the (NATO) bloc’s military infrastructure in Europe to the state of 1997.
Russia has every legitimate security concern to be properly addressed if peace and stability return to Europe. Otherwise, if Europe ignores the importance of dialogue and diplomacy, any armed conflict is in no one’s interest.
*The writer is a professor of international relations and diplomacy, Ph.D. (Aberdeen) and Research Fellow at the Center for Global Security & Governance, University of Aberdeen. His research focuses on the great powers’ relations and geopolitical theories.
*The views expressed are the writer’s own and do not necessarily represent the position of the institutions.