Ending The Ukraine Crisis Requires Negotiation and Compromise
This is, in a very real sense, the defense of the United States,” proclaimed an editorial in The Washington Post.
“The Administration has not made enough of the point that we are [at war], fundamentally because our own vital interest is at stake. . . . The stark fact remains that this is a struggle about the organization of the world.”
The editorial appeared on September 5, 1966.
As we now know, the war in Vietnam which the Post was then making the case for would drag on for nearly another decade, needlessly killing and wounding hundreds of thousands civilians and soldiers.
Having learnt nothing from the subsequent wars of choice waged in our name, the American media and foreign policy establishment has again embarked on a crusade to embroil us in yet another foreign adventure, this time against Russia. The difference this time, as opposed to prior conflicts, is that the stakes are vastly higher, because in any conflict between the world’s two nuclear superpowers there exists the very real possibility, through accident, miscalculation or mistake, that the crisis could go nuclear.
Succumbing to the misguided pressure campaign undertaken by the Washington media and foreign policy establishment; by the former military and intelligence officials who are regularly given space and airtime on key outlets; and not least by members of Congress from both sides of the aisle – the Biden administration is now weighing options to deploy thousands of troops to Eastern Europe and the Baltics, in addition to the shipments of lethal aid that were sent this past week to Ukraine.
We believe these moves by the administration, to meet Russia’s provocations with provocations of our own, are deeply misguided. Indeed, given the balance of forces in the region, they are reckless in the extreme.
Still worse, they send exactly the wrong message to Kiev: Don’t negotiate, we are in this fight with you.
But what we owe Ukraine are not arms and fulsome assurances of support: We owe it the truth.
And the truth is that Ukraine has absolutely no national strategic importance to the U.S. and the only way out of the current crisis is for the parties to return to the negotiating table.
The roadmap towards a resolution is difficult yet clear: We recommend the US and its NATO allies in Europe forswear Ukrainian membership in the alliance. If this proves diplomatically impossible for the West, a moratorium on adding new members should be put in place for 10 to 20 years. We also recommend that the Normandy format, which includes not just Russia and Ukraine but Germany and France, reconvene in a neutral, non-aligned country and set specific markers for the implementation of the Minsk Protocols which will provide autonomy for the Russo-phone breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine in return for the reestablishment of Ukrainian sovereignty over its border with Russia.
In addition, we would urge the Biden administration and its partners in Europe to undertake a study of the Austrian State Treaty of 1955 which provided for Austrian neutrality as it sat on the frontier between the Warsaw Pact and NATO at the height of the Cold War. We believe the treaty could serve as a useful blueprint for establishing a Ukrainian state that is both at peace with itself and with its neighbors, both east and west.
The American Committee for US-Russia Accord Board of Directors:
Katrina vanden Heuvel, President of ACURA; Editorial Director and Publisher of The Nation magazine
James W. Carden, Senior Consultant to ACURA; former Advisor to the Special Representative for Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. State Department
Christopher C. Dyson, Executive Vice President, The Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corporation
Bernadine Joselyn, founding Director of Public Policy and Engagement, Blandin Foundation; former Foreign Service Officer, U.S. State Department
Cynthia Lazaroff, award-winning documentary filmmaker and founder of NuclearWakeUpCall.Earth
Anatol Lieven, PhD, Senior Research Fellow on Russia and Europe, The Quincy Institute
Jack F. Matlock, PhD, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union 1987-1991; U.S. Ambassador to Czechoslovakia from 1981-1983
Krishen Mehta, former Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers; Senior Global Justice Fellow, Yale University
Ellen Mickiewicz, PhD, James R. Shepley emeritus professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University.
Nicolai Petro, PhD, professor of political science, University of Rhode Island; former special assistant for policy in the Office of Soviet Union Affairs, U.S. State Department
David C. Speedie, former Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on U.S. Global Engagement at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York
Sharon Tennison, founder and President of the Center for Citizen Initiatives