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Afghanistan Crisis: Humanity Comes First!

“For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?”                                                                                                                  –Mark 8:36

The head of the United Nations World Food Program, American David Beasley, has fought to bring to the world’s attention the now-unfolding catastrophe in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a nation which has known nothing but war and internal conflict for more than 40 years. The rapidly worsening multiple crises in that nation–lack of food, lack of health care, lack of a sovereign national credit system, lack of production–demand immediate solutions in the next weeks, if the world wishes to avoid the unnecessary, unwarranted deaths of millions– many of them children, who have clearly offended no one. Over 20 million people are presently at risk. Geopolitical rationalizations for continuing inaction, from “taking cautious steps to not allow the Afghanistan government to exploit our good will” to “demanding that other countries step up,” will do almost as much to take the lives of the innocent, through depraved indifference, as the coming famine 

Several of us have been outraged by the callous indifference expressed in the worldwide, persistent inequality of efficient distribution of medical care, not merely in the selective availability and affordability of life-saving medicines, but in the widening disparity in available basic facilities and capabilities. Whole continents, such as Africa, are stigmatized as “disease farms” because of deplorable economic conditions that are conveniently perpetuated but then never actually improved. That happened in the 1980s with HIV/AIDS, and is happening today with COVID-19. The clearly man-made Afghanistan disaster is an opportunity to reverse that syndrome. . A crucial first step would be the release of the $9.5 billion of assets of Afghanistan’s central bank, which are currently being held in the United States.

Why? That nation, familiar to the United States, Russia, China and several NATO countries, as well as the five other states that border it, has a clearly urgent, largely war-induced set of problems that could be quickly resolved, and offers a test case for how to actually uproot war, through multinational cooperation involving even real and/or imagined enemies working together for a common good. This Afghanistan initiative has been called “Operation Ibn Sina” after the great Islamic physician known for centuries as “the father of modern medicine” and who comes from that general vicinity. In contrast, it is perhaps the lack of exactly such initiatives that begin with compassion for, and cooperation with others, that has allowed COVID-19 to grow from being a relatively controllable epidemic to a pandemic, and is causing that pandemic to worsen by the hour. That would not be the first time that the vice of selfishness had doomed mankind. Historian Barbara Tuchman, in “The March of Folly,” warns us: “A phenomenon noticeable throughout history, regardless of place or period, is the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests.” 


We who have devoted our lives to acting upon the conviction, so eloquently enunciated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” say that there is no injustice like famine, no crime worse than slowly snuffing out the life of a child through neglect, through depraved indifference. Though the need is equally important everywhere, the time to change “the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests,” and those of humanity, is now. The world can–must– choose one place, this Christmas season, to begin a march in the opposite direction, and prevent the slaughter of the innocent upon the altar of a geopolitical folly that would sacrifice both conscience and true self-interest for the aura of power.

Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former United States Surgeon General – On behalf on the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites 

December 23, 2021

Dr. Walter Faggett, pediatrician, Col. U.S. Army (ret.), former Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health of Washington D.C., professor of medicine Howard University

Dr. Bennett Greenspan, Founder Family Tree DNA

Ernest Johnson, President of the Louisiana NAACP, civil rights attorney

Barbara Kamara, former Associate Commissioner, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, responsible for the National Head Start Program (Carter Administration); former Director of Early Childhood Education, Washington DC, for 22 years

Dr. Khadijah Lang, pediatrician, Chairman of the Committee on International Affairs of the National Medical Association, President of the Golden State Medical Association, the California branch of the NMA 


Afghanistan—‘Act Now’!

Jan. 5 (EIRNS)—Today a 30-second video was issued by David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP) on Afghanistan, showing both hungry children, and also food delivery, with the text: “The situation in Afghanistan may have faded from the front page, but don’t let Afghan families fade from your mind. 8.7 million people are on the brink of starvation. Read that again: 8.7 million people are on the brink of starvation. What we do today has the power to change the fate of more than 23 million people. Act now.” Beasley’s immediate message, tweeted with the video, is for WFP donations. He wrote, “The Year 2021 has been a catastrophic year for the people of Afghanistan. Millions of Afghans are counting on WFP for life-saving food this winter. Help us help them.”

However, Beasley’s imperative about keeping in our minds what is important about Afghanistan—the value of human life—is what applies across the board to the crises we now face. Think it through. We are capable of mobilizing the physical resources and logistics to stop mass death in Afghanistan. It takes concerted action. The Schiller Institute will host another conference in mid-January (date to be determined soon) on action in Afghanistan.

Look at the pandemic in the same way. The same principle applies. In China, concerted action has kept the COVID-19 case rate and death toll very low, with massive testing and contact tracing, as well as localized lockdowns. In contrast, the pandemic virus is now surging in multiple locations elsewhere in Asia, in the trans-Atlantic, the Americas and Africa. On Jan. 4, the daily case count was 2.594 million cases officially reported worldwide (a big undercount), of which 35%, 885,500 cases, were in the United States alone.

The Schiller Institute/Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites is preparing an emergency statement of action points required to save lives and roll back the virus. The outline and principle are the same as in prior statements, but with measures specific to the unfolding events. (Prior statements: “LaRouche’s ‘Apollo Mission’ To Defeat the Global Pandemic: Build a World Health System Now,” April 11, 2020; ‘Global Health Security Requires Medical Infrastructure in Every Country—Major Industrial Nations Must Collaborate Now!” May 14, 2021, submitted to the Global Health Summit in Rome; “Open Letter to Virologists and Medical Experts Around the World To Address the COVID-19 Pandemic,” by former Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, Nov. 23, 2021; and others.)

There are initiatives in the needed direction. Yesterday, for example, the importance of rapidly expanding medical staff, by calling back into action retirees, was stressed by Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, when he declared an official state of emergency. There are many measures that are clearly bipartisan and nonpartisan, overriding the non-stop partisan shouting going on in the U.S. For example, use the Defense Production Act, as was done under Trump, to get all needed items, from material for construction of hospitals and medical materials, to COVID-19 therapeutics in quantity. Ramp up production of antiviral medications and all kinds of monoclonal antibodies, currently scarce.

Mobilizing for emergency action and a world health platform, with a focus on Afghanistan, are entirely consistent with the drive to stop the nuclear war danger. The meetings set for next week, on the initiative of Russia, are critical for that: Jan. 10 in Geneva, between the U.S. and Russia; Jan. 12 in Brussels, between NATO and Russia; and Jan. 13 in Vienna, with Russia and the OSCE. But there are countermoves underway.

Circulate everywhere the Schiller Institute Memorandum, Are We Sleepwalking into Thermonuclear World War III?


Are We Sleepwalking into Thermonuclear World War III?

Schiller Institute Memorandum [Updated]
December 31, 2021

You are being lied to. Russia is not planning to invade Ukraine. Putin is not a “bad actor” out to recreate the Soviet Empire. Ukraine is not a fledgling democracy just minding its own business.

As a summary review of the documented record shows, Ukraine is being used by geopolitical forces in the West that answer to the bankrupt speculative financial system, as the flashpoint to trigger a strategic showdown with Russia, a showdown which is already more dangerous than the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and which could easily end up in a thermonuclear war which no one would win, and none would survive.

Consider the facts as we present them in the abbreviated timeline below. Russia, like China, has been increasingly subjected to the threat of being destroyed by two distinct kinds of “nuclear war” by the bellicose and bankrupt UK-U.S. financial Establishment: (1) “first-use nuclear action,” as stated most explicitly by the demented Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS); and (2) the “nuclear option” in financial warfare—measures so extreme that they would be laying financial siege to Russia to try to starve it into submission, as is being done against Afghanistan.

Russia has now announced, for the whole world to hear, that its red line is about to be crossed, after which it will be forced to respond with “retaliatory military-technical measures.” That red line, it has made clear, is the further advance of U.S. and NATO military forces up to the very border with Russia, including the positioning of defensive and offensive nuclear-capable missile systems to within a scarce five minutes’ flight time to Moscow.

Russia has presented two draft documents—one, a treaty with the United States, the other, an agreement with NATO—which together would provide legally binding security guarantees that NATO’s eastward march will stop, that Ukraine and Georgia in particular will not be invited to join NATO, and that advanced weapons systems will not be placed at Russia’s doorstep.

These are neither more nor less than the verbal guarantees the Soviet Union was given in 1990 by the duplicitous Bush and Thatcher governments, guarantees that have been systematically violated ever since. They are neither more nor less than what President John F. Kennedy demanded of Chairman Nikita Khrushchev during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which was successfully defused by the deft back-channel negotiations of JFK’s personal envoy, his brother and Attorney General, Robert Kennedy, out of sight of the pro-war military-industrial complex.

It is urgently necessary that the United States and NATO promptly sign those proposed documents with Russia—and step back from the edge of thermonuclear extinction.

What we chronicle below has been happening, step by step, while most Americans have been asleep at the switch. It is time to wake up, before we sleepwalk into thermonuclear World War III.

The Military Component

The collapse of the socialist states of Eastern Europe and then the Soviet Union in 1989-91 was a moment of great hope, for an end of the Cold War and the potential for the parties of the Cold War to cooperate in building a new world order based on peace through development. That moment was lost when the Anglo-American elite chose instead to declare itself “the only superpower” in a unipolar world, looting Russia and the former Soviet states, while seeking to either take Russia over, or to crush it. 

Promises were made to the Soviet Union—and thus to Russia as its recognized legal successor as a nuclear-weapons power—at the outset of this period, all of which have been broken over the past thirty years. Already in February of 1990 in Moscow, then Secretary of State James Baker promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachov and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze that, in the wake of German reunification which came about later that year, if U.S. troops remained in Germany there would be no expansion of NATO “one inch to the East.” (This was confirmed in official U.S. files released in 2017.)

At that time, Soviet force structure in East Germany consisted of around 340,000 troops and extensive military infrastructure, weapons, and equipment. The terms of their withdrawal (eventually completed in 1994) and whether or not, under German reunification, NATO forces would replace them in that formerly Soviet-occupied section of Germany, were on the table. Other Eastern European countries, located to the east of East Germany, were still members of the Warsaw Treaty Organization (Warsaw Pact), whose dissolution was not then anticipated; that dissolution happened in July 1991, the month before the Soviet Union itself broke up. 

But the U.S. Department of Defense was plotting the expansion of NATO eastwards already by October of 1990. Although there were different policies being debated within the U.S. political leadership, planning for expansion was proceeding behind the scenes. 

On the surface, Russian relations with the trans-Atlantic powers remained non-adversarial for most of the 1990s. In the economic sphere, however, the “takeover” proceeded apace, with the adoption of London- and Wall Street-engineered economic reforms that resulted in the large-scale deindustrialization of Russia, and could have led to the annihilation of its military might. There was some planned dismantling of nuclear weapons in both East and West, with U.S. specialists providing on-site assistance in the transfer of nuclear weapons from Ukraine, Belarus and other now independent ex-Soviet areas back to Russia, as well as in the disposal of some of Russia’s own weapons.

On May 27, 1997, the NATO-Russia Founding Act1The Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security Between NATO and the Russian Federation. May 27, 1997. https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_25470.htm?selectedLocale=en was signed, establishing the NATO-Russia Council and other consultation mechanisms. Among other things, the document declared that “NATO and Russia do not consider each other as adversaries.” (Sec. 2, Para. 2) NATO described the document as “the expression of an enduring commitment, undertaken at the highest political level, to build, together, a lasting and inclusive peace in the Euro-Atlantic area.” (Sec. 2, Para. 2) 

Nonetheless, a shift began to occur in the late 1990s, driven by several events. One was that the imported economic reforms, promoting enormous financial speculation and the looting of Russian resources, led to a blow-out in August 1998 of the Russian government bond market (nearly triggering a meltdown of the global financial system because of bad bets placed on Russian securities by Wall Street and other hedge funds, as ex-Director of the International Monetary Fund Michel Camdessus later acknowledged).

In the wake of that collapse, Russia’s London- and Chicago-trained liberal “young reformers” were replaced by a government under the leadership of former Foreign Minister Yevgeny Primakov and military-industrial planner Yuri Maslyukov, who acted swiftly to stem the collapse of the remainder of Russia’s industry.

A second factor in Russia’s troubles at that time was the escalation of terrorist separatist movements in Russia’s North Caucasus region, which Russian intelligence services had solidly identified as being backed and egged on not only by Wahhabite Islamic fundamentalists from Saudi Arabia, but also by U.S. and UK intelligence agencies directly. In summer 1999, these networks attempted to split the entire North Caucasus out of Russia.

Also in the late 1990s, NATO boosted its involvement in the Bosnian War and other Balkan Peninsula conflicts among the former components of Yugoslavia, which had broken up. This meddling peaked with NATO’s bombing of Belgrade, the capital of Serbia, in March-June 1999 without authorization of the United Nations Security Council. This action shocked Moscow with the realization that NATO was prepared to act unilaterally, as it wished, without international consensus. 

In July 1997, at a NATO Summit in Madrid, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic were invited to join NATO, which they formally did in 1999. This was the first of five rounds of NATO expansion. In 2004, all three Baltic countries (formerly republics within the Soviet Union proper), and Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia were admitted. Four more Balkan countries joined in the years following, bringing NATO’s membership up to its current level of 30 countries. 

Vladimir Putin, in his Dec. 21, 2021 address to an expanded meeting of the Defense Ministry Board, expressed Moscow’s view of the importance of the NATO-Russia Founding Act and its subsequent betrayal by NATO:

Take the recent past, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when we were told that our concerns about NATO’s potential expansion eastwards were absolutely groundless. And then we saw five waves of the bloc’s eastward expansion. Do you remember how it happened? All of you are adults. It happened at a time when Russia’s relations with the United States and main member states of NATO were cloudless, if not completely allied.

I have already said this in public and will remind you of this again: American specialists were permanently present at the nuclear arms facilities of the Russian Federation. They went to their office there every day, had desks and an American flag. Wasn’t this enough? What else is required? U.S. advisors worked in the Russian government—career CIA officers, [who] gave their advice. What else did they want? What was the point of supporting separatism in the North Caucasus, with the help of even ISIS—well, if not ISIS, there were other terrorist groups. They obviously supported terrorists. What for? What was the point of expanding NATO and withdrawing from the ABM Treaty?

As Putin noted, the United States, under the George W. Bush Administration, began to dismantle the system of strategic arms control assembled during the Cold War, beginning in 2002 with the U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, just a few months after Putin had extended an offer of strategic cooperation with the United States following the 9/11 attacks.

The U.S. administration quickly began planning for a global ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) in Europe and Asia, which in Europe led to the first sailing of an American guided missile destroyer equipped with the Aegis anti-missile missiles (the USS Arleigh Burke) into the Black Sea in the spring of 2012. In 2016 would come the inauguration of an “Aegis Ashore” installation—the same system, but land-based—in Romania, and the start of construction of a similar site in Poland.

At a conference in Moscow in May of 2012, then Deputy Chief of the Russian General Staff Gen. Valery Gerasimov provided extensive documentation, with video animations, of the fact that the BMDS was not aimed primarily at Iran, but did, in its intended later phases, represent a threat to Russia’s strategic deterrent. Putin and other Russian officials have also emphasized the possibility of the defensive (anti-missile) systems being quickly reconfigured as missile launchers for direct attack.

An increasingly sharper Russian response to the U.S./NATO pursuit of these programs and to the rejection of Russia’s offers of cooperation was also evident in the contrast between two speeches President Putin gave in Germany: before the Bundestag (Parliament) on September 25, 2001, and at the Munich Security Conference in 2007.

 Putin spoke to the Bundestag, in German, just two weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attack on the U.S. in 2001. He had called President Bush within hours of that attack—he was the first foreign leader to call—offering full Russian support for the U.S. in the moment of crisis. He told the Germans: “The Cold War is over,” and posed a vision of global collaboration in building a new paradigm based on collaboration of the nations of the world. 

Then on February 10, 2007, Putin delivered a landmark speech at the annual Munich Security Conference. The Western media and some people who were present, including the war-monger U.S. Senator John McCain, denounced it as belligerent, and it became a point of departure for the subsequent demonization of Putin. But it was not an aggressive speech. Putin simply made clear that Russia was not going to be trampled underfoot, as a subjugated nation in a unipolar imperial world.

Almost all international media ignored how he opened the speech, with a carefully chosen quotation from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s Fireside Chat of September 3,1939, two days after the Nazi invasion of Poland that had marked the outbreak of World War II. FDR said, and Putin quoted, “When peace has been broken anywhere, the peace of all countries everywhere is in danger.” This speech was the signal that, speaking in strategic terms, Russia was “back.”

In July 2007, Putin attempted to avert the crossing of a line that Moscow defined as a fundamental threat to Russian security, namely the installation of the American BMDS directly at Russia’s borders. Visiting President George W. Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine, he proposed joint Russian-American development and deployment of anti-missile systems, including an offer to the U.S. administration to use the Russian early-warning radar in Gabala, Azerbaijan as part of a mutual Russian-American missile defense system for Europe, instead of the American BMDS planned for installation in Poland and the Czech Republic (the latter was changed to Romania). Putin also offered to give the U.S. access to a radar facility in southern Russia, and to place coordination of the process with the NATO-Russia Council.

Sergei Ivanov, then a deputy prime minister, said that the Russian proposals signified a fundamental change in international relations, and could mean an end to talk about a new Cold War:

If our proposals are accepted, Russia will no longer need to place new weapons, including missiles, in the European part of the country, including Kaliningrad.

Negotiations between Russian and American officials over the Russian proposal were conducted throughout 2008, before petering out. Key to their failure was the vehemence of Washington’s refusal to abandon construction of the BMDS. In the words of then Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs Stephen Mull:

What we do not accept is that Gabala is a substitute for the plans that we’re already pursuing with our Czech and Polish allies. We believe that those installations are necessary for the security of our interests in Europe.

Clearly, the target was not Iran, but Russia, and the opportunity for a new paradigm was lost. 

At the April 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, Georgia and Ukraine were promised future NATO membership, although they were not offered formal Membership Action Plans (MAP). Their bids, nonetheless, were welcomed by many and they were left with hopes of MAPs in the future, maybe the near future—enough so that the Georgians declared:

The decision to accept that we are going forward to an adhesion to NATO was taken and we consider this is a historic success.

In August 2008, while President Dmitri Medvedev was on vacation and then Prime Minister Putin was at the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing, Mikheil Saakashvili’s Georgia attacked Russian peacekeepers in the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia, leading to a short but ferocious war, which Georgia lost. The fact that Saakashvili acted on the assumption he would have full NATO backing, although it proved wrong in the event, was not lost on Moscow and has influenced subsequent Russian thinking about what would happen with Georgia or Ukraine becoming full NATO members.

Ukraine

In December 2008, in the wake of Georgia’s military showdown with Russia, Carl Bildt and Radek Sikorski, the foreign ministers of Sweden and Poland, respectively, initiated the European Union’s “Eastern Partnership.” It targeted six countries that were formerly republics within the Soviet Union: three in the Caucasus region (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia) and three in East Central Europe (Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine). They were not to be invited to full EU membership, but were nevertheless drawn into a vise through so-called EU Association Agreements (EUAA), each one centered on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA).

The prime target of the effort was Ukraine. Under the EUAA negotiated with Ukraine, but not immediately signed, the country’s industrial economy would be dismantled, trade with Russia savaged (with Russia ending its free-trade regime with Ukraine to prevent its own markets from being flooded via Ukraine), and EU-based market players would grab Ukraine’s agricultural and raw materials exports. 

Furthermore, the EUAA mandated “convergence” on security issues, with integration into European defense systems. Under such an arrangement, the long-term treaty agreements on the Russian Navy’s use of its crucial Black Sea ports on the Crimean Peninsula—a Russian area since the 18th Century, but administratively assigned to Ukraine within the USSR in the early 1950s—would be terminated, ultimately giving NATO forward-basing on Russia’s immediate border.

Turning Ukraine against Russia had been a long-term goal of Cold War Anglo-American strategic planners, as it was earlier of Austro-Hungarian imperial intelligence agencies during World War I. After World War II, up until the mid-1950s, the U.S.A. and UK supported an insurgency against the Soviet Union, a civil war that continued on the ground long after peace had been signed in 1945.

The insurgents were from the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and remnants of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The OUN had been founded in 1929 from a template similar to that which produced the Italian and other European fascist movements. Its leader, Stepan Bandera, was an on-again/off-again ally of the Nazis, and the OUN-UPA, under an ethnic-purist ideology, committed mass slaughter of ethnic Poles and Jews in western Ukraine towards the end of World War II. In Europe after the War, Bandera was sponsored by British MI6 (intelligence), while CIA founder Allen Dulles shepherded Gen. Mykola Lebed, another OUN leader, into the U.S.A., despite strong opposition from U.S. Army Intelligence, based on Lebed’s record of collaboration with the Nazis and war crimes.

Next-generation followers of Lebed, whose base of operations—the Prolog Research Corporation in New York City—was funded by Dulles’s CIA for intelligence-gathering and the distribution of nationalist and other literature inside the U.S.S.R., staffed the U.S. Radio Liberty facility in Munich, Germany for broadcasting into Ukraine, up into the 1980s.2Taras Kuzio, “U.S. Support for Ukraine’s Liberation During the Cold War,” a study of Prolog Research and Publishing Corporation, Communist and Post-Communist Studies Vol. 45, Issue 1-2, June 2012, pp. 51-64.

When the U.S.S.R. broke up in August 1991, key Banderite leaders dashed into Lviv, far western Ukraine—a mere 1,240 km from Munich, 12 hours by car—and began to rebuild their movement. Lviv Region, which for many years had been part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, not the Russian, was the stronghold of the OUN’s heirs.

The Banderites’ influence got a boost after the 2004 Orange Revolution in Kiev. Backed by the U.S. National Endowment for Democracy and the private foundations of financier George Soros, this was a so-called “color revolution,” which overturned the results of a Presidential election and, in a second vote, installed banker Victor Yushchenko as President. He was voted out in 2010 because of popular opposition to his brutal austerity policies (generated by IMF-dictated formulae for privatization and deregulation), but not before overseeing a revision of the official history of Ukraine’s relations with Russia in favor of a radical, anti-Russian nationalism (whereas, historically, there had been a strong tendency among Ukrainian patriots and advocates of independence to prefer a long-term alliance with Russia).

The Lviv-based Banderites, meanwhile, recruited and strengthened their movement, and held paramilitary summer camps for young people in the Ukrainian countryside and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. At times, the instructors included off-duty military officers from NATO countries. In 2008, Yushchenko first applied for NATO to grant Ukraine a Membership Action Plan.

The turning point for Ukraine’s status as a potential trigger in the current war danger came in 2014. Ongoing efforts to get Ukraine to finalize its EUAA were rejected as untenable by the Viktor Yanukovych government in November 2013, when it became clear that free-trade provisions giving European goods unlimited access to the Russian market through Ukraine would bring retaliatory measures by Ukraine’s biggest trade partner, Russia, to counter this assault on Russia’s own producers, and thus would backfire against the Ukrainian economy. When Yanukovych on November 21 announced postponement of the EU deal, long-laid Banderite plans to turn Ukraine into a tool for isolating and demonizing Russia were activated. 

Protesters against Yanukovych’s EUAA postponement decision immediately began to assemble in Kiev’s Maidan (central square). Large numbers of ordinary people turned out, waving EU flags, because of the destruction of the Ukrainian economy under “shock” deregulation in the 1990s and the IMF-dictated policies of privatization and austerity throughout the Orange Revolution years. Many had desperately believed, as Ukrainian economist Natalia Vitrenko once put it, that the EUAA would bring them “wages like in Germany and benefits packages like in France.” A disproportionately high number of the demonstrators hailed from far western Ukraine, and pre-planned violence by the Banderite paramilitary group Right Sector was then used for systematic escalation of the Maidan.

Bloodshed and victims, all blamed on the regime, were then used to keep Maidan fervor and outrage going through to February 2014.3An EIR fact sheet, “British Imperial Project in Ukraine: Violent Coup, Fascist Axioms, Neo-Nazis,” documents the pre-planning and the step-by-step escalation. EIR, Vol. 41, No. 20, May 16, 2014, pp. 21-38. https://larouchepub.com/other/2014/4120fact_sheet_brits_ukr.html Neo-Nazi and other fascist symbols defaced building walls and placards in the Maidan, but they did not deter public U.S. support of this process. Sen. John McCain addressed the mob in December 2013, while Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland passed out cupcakes and negotiated with the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt regarding whom to place in office once Yanukovych was ousted. A Nuland-Pyatt phone discussion of this was caught on tape and circulated worldwide. 

On February 18, 2014, Maidan leaders announced a “peaceful march” on the Supreme Rada (parliament), which turned into an attack and touched off three days of street fighting. Peaking on February 20—a day of sniper fire from high buildings that killed both demonstrators and police—these clashes killed more than 100. Scrupulous research by Ukraine-born Prof. Ivan Katchanovski at the University of Ottawa, using video recordings and other direct evidence of these events, has convincingly shown that the majority of the sniper fire came from the Maidan’s paramilitary positions, not the government’s Berkut special police forces.4See Ivan Katchanovski, “The ‘Snipers’ Massacre’ on the Maidan in Ukraine,” Social Science Research Network, Sept. 9, 2015, 79 pages. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2658245 

On February 21, 2014, a trio of Maidan leaders, including Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the man hand-picked by Nuland to be Ukraine’s next prime minister, signed an agreement with President Yanukovych, committing both sides to a peaceful transition of power: constitutional reform by September, presidential elections late in the year, and the turning in of weapons. The foreign ministers of France, Germany and Russia helped negotiate it, with a representative from Moscow as an observer. When this document was taken to the Maidan, a young Banderite militant seized the onstage microphone to lead its rejection by the mob, and threatened Yanukovych’s life if he didn’t step down by morning. Yanukovych left Kiev that night. The Rada unconstitutionally installed an acting president. 

Among the new government’s first measures was for the Rada to strip Russian and other “minority” languages of their status as regional official languages. (As of the 2001 census, Russian was spoken throughout the country and considered “native” by one-third of the population.) This, with other measures announced from Kiev, fanned major opposition to the coup, centered in eastern Ukraine—the Donetsk and Luhansk regions (the Donbas) and Crimea. Civil conflict erupted in both areas, with local groups seizing government buildings. 

In Crimea, the insurgency against the coup-installed Kiev regime prevailed. A referendum held March 16, 2014 in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol (a separate jurisdiction on the peninsula), asked voters whether they wanted to join the Russian Federation or retain Crimea’s status as a part of Ukraine. In Crimea, 97% of the 83% of eligible voters who turned out, voted for integration into the Russian Federation; in Sevastopol, the result was likewise 97% for integration, while the turnout was even higher, at 89%.

There was no “Russian military invasion of Ukraine.” On March 1 President Putin sought and received authorization from the Federal Assembly (the legislature) to deploy Russian forces on Ukrainian territory, citing threats to the lives of Russian citizens and Russian-ethnic residents of Crimea; these were troops from the Russian Black Sea Fleet facilities in and around Sevastopol, already stationed in Crimea. 

The fate of two Donbas self-declared republics in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts (Regions), was not settled so quickly. Support from within Russia for these insurgents was unofficial, including the involvement of Russian military veterans on a volunteer basis. The Donbas conflict turned into heavy fighting in 2014-15, continuing at a lower level until now; more than 13,000 people have been killed in the past seven years. Defeats of Kiev’s forces by the Donbas militia, including their gaining full control of the Donetsk International Airport in January 2015, set the stage for Kiev’s agreement to a ceasefire.

After one false start—the so-called Minsk Protocol in September 2014—an interim state of affairs in the Donbas was agreed to in the February 2015 “Minsk II” accord between the regime in Kiev, then under President Peter Poroshenko, and representatives of the self-declared Donbas republics, which was negotiated by Kiev, France, Germany and Russia with support from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It provided for a ceasefire, pullback of weapons, prisoner exchanges, and humanitarian relief, as well as a political settlement within Ukraine. This envisaged a special status for the Donbas, with extensive regional autonomy including the “right of linguistic self-determination.” Re-establishment of Ukraine’s “full control” over its border with Russia in the Donbas was to occur following provisional granting of the special status and after local elections. The special status was to be enshrined in the Ukrainian Constitution by the end of 2015. 

The UN Security Council endorsed Minsk II on February 17, 2015. It remains unimplemented, because Kiev almost immediately refused to conduct the elections or fully legalize the special status, until first being given control over the Donbas-Russia border. Today, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government in Kiev refuses even to meet with Donbas leaders for negotiations, and continues to claim that the Donbas is under Russian “occupation,” and therefore Kiev should talk only with Russia, not the Donbas leaders. Sporadic fighting has continued, with a new escalation of shelling across the “line of contact” between the Donbas entities and the rest of Ukraine.

A New U.S. War Posture

The Trump Administration accelerated the take-down of the entire architecture of international arms-control agreements by withdrawing the U.S. from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, signed by President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachov in 1987, and the Open Skies Treaty, negotiated by NATO and the Warsaw Pact nations in 1992. This left the New START Treaty (Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, signed by the U.S. and the Russian Federation in 2010) as the last of the existing arms control agreements—the one covering heavy intercontinental missiles. Upon taking office this year, President Joe Biden extended the New START Treaty for five years, a decision welcomed by Moscow. 

On January 19, 2018, the U.S. Department of Defense released its new National Defense Strategy. “Great power competition—not terrorism—is now the primary focus of U.S. national security,” said the then Secretary of Defense James Mattis in a speech describing the document:

We face growing threats from revisionist powers as different as China and Russia, nations that seek to create a world consistent with their authoritarian models—pursuing veto authority over other nations’ economic, diplomatic, and security decisions.

Hours later, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, in response to the release of the new Pentagon strategy:

We regret that, instead of conducting a normal dialogue, instead of relying on international law, the United States seeks to prove its leadership through confrontational concepts and strategies.

All throughout this time period, Moscow has protested these confrontational actions, but to no avail. “Despite our numerous protests and pleas, the American machine has been set into motion, the conveyer belt is moving forward,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in his dramatic March 1, 2018 address to the Federal Assembly, in which he publicly announced the new generation of strategic weapons that Russia had under development, at least two of which, the Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle for ICBMs and the Kinzhal aeroballistic missile, have since been introduced into service.

The Economic Component

Beginning in March 2014, right after the February 2014 coup in Kiev, the United States imposed financial and economic sanctions on Russia, purportedly over Crimea and the Donbas republics. These sanctions have included five Acts of Congess, six Presidential Executive Orders, ten “Directives pursuant to Executive Orders” and two additional Presidential “Determinations.” This, according to the Treasury Department’s sanctions list. There have of course been other sanctions, property seizures, diplomatic expulsions for other alleged reasons, as well as other forms of economic warfare. All of the Ukraine/Crimea-related sanctions remain in effect; none have been lifted. The last major new round of sanctions was imposed in 2018 (the CAATSA Act), coinciding with new sanctions over the Sergei Skripal poisoning case.

According to various estimates, the resultant cost to Russia’s economy of all of these sanctions (in GDP accounting) has been in the range of $250-400 billion, with comparable losses imposed on European economies.

In addition, in 2016 and 2017, President Putin accused the Barack Obama Administration of having conspired with Saudi Arabia to lower the price of oil and thereby damage the Russian economy. During the Trump Administration, that appeared not to continue, as Russia and Saudi Arabia made two significant production-pricing agreements on oil, the second in 2019 with Trump Administration participation of some kind. 

In 2021, the crisis came to a head.

2021 Timeline

February 2: The U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings published an article by Adm. Charles A. Richard, Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, in which he claimed that the risk of nuclear war with Russia or China was increasing and called for action. 

There is a real possibility that a regional crisis with Russia or China could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons, if they perceived a conventional loss would threaten the regime or state. Consequently, the U.S. military must shift its principal assumption from “nuclear employment is not possible” to “nuclear employment is a very real possibility,” and act to meet and deter that reality.

March 15: The U.S. Army-led DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercise began and ran through the month of June, involving 28,000 troops from 27 different countries. The exercise included “nearly simultaneous operations across more than 30 training areas” in a dozen countries, reported Army Times

March 16: The UK Government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson released its Integrated Review of security, defense, development, and foreign policy. The report, among other things, announced that the UK nuclear warhead stockpile would be increased from 180 to 260 warheads. This was decided “in recognition of the evolving security environment, including the developing range of technological and doctrinal threats….” 

April 1: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin called Ukrainian Defense Minister Andriy Taran “to discuss the regional security situation,” the Pentagon reported, condemning the supposed “escalations of Russian aggressive and provocative actions in eastern Ukraine.” Austin assured Taran:

Washington will not give up on Ukraine in case Russia escalates aggression. [And] in the event of an escalation of Russian aggression, the United States will not leave Ukraine to its own devices, and neither will it allow Russia’s aggressive aspirations toward Ukraine to be realized.

April 13: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited Northern Fleet headquarters in Severomorsk, where he said that the United States and its NATO allies were building up naval and land forces in the Arctic, increasing the intensity of combat training, and expanding and modernizing military infrastructure.

This activity is typical not only for the Arctic region. Over the past three years, the North Atlantic bloc has increased its military activity near the Russian borders.

Shoigu then commented on the DEFENDER-Europe 21 exercise:

Now American troops are being transferred from the continental part of North America across the Atlantic to Europe. There is a movement of troops in Europe to the Russian borders. The main forces are concentrated in the Black Sea region and the Baltic region…. In total, 40,000 military personnel and 15,000 units of weapons and military equipment, including strategic aviation, will be concentrated near our territory…. In response to the Alliance’s military activities threatening Russia, we have taken appropriate measures.

Within three weeks, two Russian armies and three formations of the airborne troops were successfully transferred to the western borders of the Russian Federation performing combat training tasks.

The troops have shown full readiness and ability to perform tasks to ensure the military security of the country.

April 15: The Biden White House issued an Executive Order (EO 14024) proclaiming that Russia’s various so-called malign actions “constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

That EO contained a series of new sanctions against Russia, including expelling ten diplomats, blacklisting six Russian technology companies, sanctioning 32 entities and individuals, and—most importantly—prohibiting U.S. financial institutions from participating in the primary market for ruble or non-ruble denominated bonds issued after June 14, 2021, by the Russian government and its financial institutions.

The explicitly stated purpose of the measures was to trigger voluminous capital flight and a “negative feedback loop” that would wreak havoc on the Russian economy. A background briefing by an unnamed senior administration official elaborated:

There are elements of this new EO that give us additional authorities that we are not exercising today … We are prepared, going forward, to impose substantial and lasting costs if this [Russian] behavior continues or escalates … We’re also delivering a clear signal that the President has maximum flexibility to expand the sovereign debt prohibitions if Russia’s maligned [sic] activities continue or escalate.

The latter was widely understood as a threat that further sanctions could follow barring participation in the far more important secondary bond market, and even escalate to the so-called “nuclear option” of expelling Russia from SWIFT.5 Created in 1973, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), headquartered in Belgium, serves as an intermediary of financial transactions to quickly, accurately, and securely send and receive information, such as money transfer instructions, among more than 11,000 affiliated banks and other financial institutions in over 200 countries.

June 14: The EO announced on April 15, 2021 officially went into effect—two days before the June 16, 2021 summit between presidents Biden and Putin. 

June 23: The Russian Defense Ministry announced that a Russian warship fired warning shots at the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Defender, which it said had violated Russia’s maritime border around Crimea in the Black Sea. HMS Defender had entered waters in the vicinity of Crimea’s Cape Fiolent that are within Russian sovereign territory, and it had ignored warnings to depart the area. Not mentioned in the press coverage but visible on flight tracking websites was an U.S. Air Force RC-135V electronic intelligence aircraft, which was rounding the west coast of Crimea at the time of the Russian naval encounter with the Defender.

The BBC, which had one of its own reporters on board the British warship, confirmed that the HMS Defender deliberately entered waters claimed by Russia in order to provoke a response from Russian forces:

This would be a deliberate move to make a point to Russia. HMS Defender was going to sail within the 19 km (12 mile) limit of Crimea’s territorial waters.

June 23: Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu again warned of the strategic danger facing Europe in an address to the Moscow Conference on International Security:

As a whole, the situation in Europe is explosive and requires specific steps to de-escalate it. The Russian side has proposed a number of measures. For example, it put forward a proposal to move the areas of drills away from the contact line. 

Shoigu also pointed to Russia’s proposal for a moratorium on the deployment of intermediate- and shorter-range missiles in Europe, calling them “a special danger” for Europe because their deployment in Europe “will return to the situation, when the Europeans were hostage to the confrontation between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A.”

Speaking at the same conference, Gen. Valeriy Gerasimov, the chief of the Russian General Staff, pointed to NATO as a destabilizing factor:

NATO’s naval activity near our borders has grown considerably. Warships outfitted with long-range precision weapons are operating in the Black and Baltic Seas constantly, while reconnaissance, patrol and attack aircraft and also unmanned aerial vehicles are performing their flights. The operations by the warships of the United States and its allies are clearly of a provocative nature…. Preconditions are being created for the emergence of incidents, which does not contribute to reducing military tensions.

September 20: NATO kicked off Exercise Rapid Trident 21 at the Yavoriv training range in western Ukraine, with 6,000 troops from 15 countries, including 300 from the U.S. The drills are “an important step towards Ukraine’s European integration,” said Brigadier General Vladyslav Klochkov, co-director of the exercises. 

October 6: NATO ordered the expulsion of eight diplomats from the Russian mission at NATO headquarters in Brussels, alleging that they were “undeclared Russian intelligence officers.” Moscow retaliated Oct 18 by announcing that Russia’s mission to NATO would shut down and the NATO information office in Moscow would be closed and its staff stripped of their accreditation.

“If anyone ever believed in the sincerity of those statements [from NATO], there are none left today. Their true price is clear for everyone,” said Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Grushko, in response to the NATO action.

October 19: U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin landed in Kiev and, speaking at a press conference at the Defense Ministry, promised the regime’s leaders that the U.S. will back it in its conflict with Russia:

Let me underscore what President Biden said during President Zelensky’s recent visit to Washington. U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering. So, we again call on Russia to end its occupation of Crimea … to stop perpetuating the war in eastern Ukraine … to end its destabilizing activities in the Black Sea and along Ukraine’s borders … and to halt its persistent cyber-attacks and other malign activities against the United States, and our Allies and partners.

He noted that the U.S. has spent $2.5 billion in support of Ukraine’s military forces “so that they can preserve their country’s territorial integrity and secure its borders and territorial waters.”

“I think our posture in the region continues to present a credible threat against Russia and it enables NATO forces to operate more effectively should deterrence fail,” Austin said the following day in Romania. “And I think this is borne out of our commitment to sustaining a rotational U.S. force presence.”

October 21: The NATO defense ministers, on the first day of their meeting in Brussels, endorsed “a new overarching plan to defend our Alliance.…” The new plan includes: “significant improvements to our air and missile defenses, strengthening our conventional capabilities with fifth generation jets, adapting our exercises and intelligence, and improving the readiness and effectiveness of our nuclear deterrent.” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the alliance has been increasing its presence on the Black Sea, “because the Black Sea is of strategic importance for NATO.” 

October 21: Putin warned in a speech to the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi that Ukraine doesn’t even have to be formally brought into the NATO alliance to pose a strategic threat to Russia:

Formal membership in NATO ultimately may not happen, but the military development of the territory is already underway. And this really poses a threat to the Russian Federation … Tomorrow, rockets could appear near Kharkov, what are we going to do about it? It’s not us placing our missiles there, it’s them shoving theirs under our nose.

Putin cited NATO’s promise not to move its infrastructure eastwards after the reunification of Germany, a promise which it did not keep:

Everyone from all sides said that after the unification, in no circumstances would NATO infrastructure move toward the East. Russia should have been able to at least rely on that. That’s what they said, there were public statements. But in practice? They lied … and then they expanded it once, and then they expanded it again.

October 30: The Washington Post, citing unnamed officials, reported that the Russians were engaged in another buildup of troops along the border with Ukraine. The article’s authors said the troop movements have reignited concerns that arose in April.

“The point is: It is not a drill. It doesn’t appear to be a training exercise. Something is happening. What is it?” said Michael Kofman, Program Director of the Russia Studies Program at the Virginia-based nonprofit analysis group CNA. 

November 1: Politico published satellite imagery purporting to show a Russian troop buildup near the Ukrainian border, including armored units, tanks, and self-propelled artillery, along with ground troops massing near the Russian town of Yelnya close to the border with Belarus. Elements of the 1st Guards Tank Army were spotted in the area. The army “has been designed to conduct operations at every level of combat from counterinsurgency to mechanized warfare,” Jane’s analysis reported. 

Even the Ukrainian Defense Ministry denied the reported Russian military buildup, stating officially: “As of November 1, 2021, an additional transfer of Russian units, weapons and military equipment to the state border of Ukraine was not recorded.”

November 2: The Russian Security Council announced that CIA Director William Burns was in Moscow for two days of talks with Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council. According to leaks reported by CNN on November Nov. 5, Biden sent Burns to Moscow to tell the Russians to stop their troop buildup near Ukraine’s border, which the U.S. was monitoring closely. 

November 8: For the first time, a Resolution passed by both Houses of Congress voiced the demand for “crushing sanctions” on Russia’s economy, purportedly to stop the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, because, in the words of Sen. James Risch, “Russia is creating and weaponizing this energy crisis.” Sen. Ron Johnson said the U.S should “use crushing sanctions to stop the pipeline.” Sen. Tom Cotton added: “The Nord Stream 2 pipeline will expand Russian influence and threaten energy security throughout Europe. Since the Biden administration won’t hold Putin accountable, Congress must take action to ensure our NATO allies aren’t hostage to Russian energy.”

November 11: Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that Russia is prepared to act against any NATO provocations:

If necessary, we will take measures to ensure our security if there are provocative actions by our opponents near our borders. I’m referring to NATO and NATO forces that are taking rather active and assertive actions in close proximity to our borders, be it in the air, on water, or on land.

November 16: British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace met in Kiev with Ukrainian President Zelensky, and signed a joint statement with Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov. Zelensky “thanked Ben Wallace for the unwavering support of the UK for the independence and territorial integrity of our country within its internationally recognized borders,” according to a statement issued by his office. Zelensky “also praised the signing of the Ukrainian-British Bilateral Framework Agreement on official credit support for the development of the Ukrainian fleet’s capabilities:

The United Kingdom has become our key partner in building the Ukrainian fleet. I expect that future security projects planned under this agreement will be effectively implemented.

November 18: During an address to a meeting of the Russian Foreign Policy Board, President Putin protested the repeated flights of U.S. bombers close to Russia’s borders:

Indeed, we constantly express our concerns about these matters and talk about red lines, but of course, we understand that our partners are peculiar in the sense that they have a very—how to put it mildly—superficial approach to our warnings about red lines.

Putin repeated that Russian concerns about NATO’s eastward expansion “have been totally ignored.”

November 19: U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines landed in Brussels to brief NATO ambassadors on U.S. intelligence on the situation and the possibility of a Russian military intervention in Ukraine. 

NATO’s Stoltenberg suggested that if the new German government (which was still the subject of coalition negotiations) were to pull out of the NATO nuclear sharing arrangement, the B61 nuclear bombs currently stored in Germany could be moved eastwards:

Of course, it’s up to Germany to decide whether the nuclear arms will be deployed in this country, but there’s an alternative to this; the nuclear arms may easily end up in other European countries, including these to the east of Germany. 

That is, even closer to Russia’s border.

November 20: Ukrainian military intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov told Military Times, on the sidelines of the Halifax International Security Conference, that Russia has more than 92,000 troops massed near Russia’s border with Ukraine and is preparing for an attack by the end of January or beginning of February 2022.

November 21: Bloomberg published a report citing unnamed sources saying that the U.S. had shared intelligence including maps with European allies that shows a buildup of 100,000 Russian troops and artillery to prepare for a rapid, large-scale push into Ukraine from multiple locations, should Putin decide to invade.

November 30: Radio Free Europe reported that U.S. Republicans had blocked voting on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) until Nord Stream 2 sanctions were added to it, objecting that the Russia-to-Germany Baltic Sea pipeline will deny billions in annual revenue to “ally” Ukraine. (The overland pipeline from Yamal in Siberia to Europe traverses Ukraine, which collects transit fees.) 

December 5: Neo-con Democrat Michèle Flournoy, former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy under President Barack Obama, appeared on “Fox News Sunday” and declared that President Biden, in his upcoming December 7 video-conference summit with Putin, was going to threaten “much more severe” financial/economic sanctions on Russia than anything previously done:

[What] the administration is actively considering with our allies, is an escalating set of sanctions that go beyond what’s been done before. I’m sure they are looking at sanctioning the banking system, sanctioning the energy sector, possibly cutting off Russia from the SWIFT system,@5 which enables all of their international financial transactions. So, they’re looking at much more serious means … much greater level of pain than anything [that Russia has faced to date]. 

December 6: The day before the Biden-Putin video conference, an anonymous senior White House official briefed the press that all NATO allies had agreed on a package of “financial sanctions that would impose significant and severe economic harm on the Russian economy” should Russia invade Ukraine:

We believe that there is a way forward here that will allow us to send a clear message to Russia there will be genuine and meaningful and enduring costs to choosing to go forward—should they choose to go forward—with a military escalation…. We have had intensive discussions with our European partners about what we would do collectively in the event of a major Russian military escalation in Ukraine, and we believe that we have a path forward that would involve substantial economic countermeasures by both the Europeans and the United States, We have put together a pretty damn aggressive package.

In its coverage, CNN raised the “nuclear option” directly:

Officials have also been weighing disconnecting Russia from the SWIFT international payment system, upon which Russia remains heavily reliant, according to two sources familiar with the discussions. This is being considered a “nuclear” option. The European Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution in the spring calling for such a move should Russia invade Ukraine, and the U.S. has been discussing it with EU counterparts.

Later the same day, after Biden had personally spoken with European leaders, the White House issued a statement which did not mention financial sanctions or significant economic damage to Russia. It said, “diplomacy is the only way forward to resolve the conflict in Donbas through the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.”

December 7: Presidents Biden and Putin held a video conference summit, after which National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan assured the media that Biden—

told President Putin directly that if Russia further invades Ukraine, the United States and our European allies would respond with strong economic measures, and would provide additional defensive material to the Ukrainians, above and beyond that which we are already providing, [and that the United States] would fortify our NATO allies on the eastern flank, with additional capabilities in response to such an escalation.

Biden himself emphasized later that he was considering Putin’s demand for security guarantees, which later resulted in Russia’s proposals (see below).

December 12: The new German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock, declared on a national television interview that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline could not become operational because, according to the German government coalition agreements, the pipeline was not consistent with European energy law.

The previous government of Chancellor Angela Merkel had found the opposite. Baerbock, a war-hawk Green Party leader, did not explain the reversal. The Hill pointed out that the Greens want Ukraine in NATO.

December 17: The Russian Foreign Ministry released two draft treaties specifying guarantees for Russia’s security, one, an agreement between Russia and NATO, and the other, a treaty between Russia and the United States.

Both documents call for recognizing a principle of “non-interference in the internal affairs” of each other, acknowledge that a “direct military clash between them could result in the use of nuclear weapons that would have far-reaching consequences,” reaffirm “that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” and recognize “the need to make every effort to prevent the risk of outbreak of such war among States that possess nuclear weapons.”

The operative part of the U.S.-Russia treaty calls for refraining from taking actions “that could undermine core security interests of the other Party.” Cognizant of the drive for NATO-ization of Ukraine, Article 4 states:

The United States of America shall undertake to prevent further eastward expansion of NATO and deny accession to the Alliance to the States of the former U.S.S.R.

And,

The United States of America shall not establish military bases in the territory of the States of the former U.S.S.R. that are not members of NATO, use their infrastructure for any military activities or develop bilateral military cooperation with them.

It goes on to state that the Parties (the U.S. and Russia) will not take military actions outside their own borders that threaten each other’s national security, or fly bombers or sail warships outside of their territorial waters in ways that would threaten each other. On the U.S.’ expansion of its nuclear weapons to include those stored in such locations of Germany, the treaty states,

The Parties shall refrain from deploying nuclear weapons outside their national territories and return such weapons already deployed … to their national territories.

December 19: An anonymous senior White House official told CNN and other media that there was “only about a four-week window” to compel Russia to de-escalate and that U.S.-planned sanctions “would be overwhelming, immediate, and inflict significant costs on the Russian economy and their financial system.”

December 21: In an extensive report delivered to an expanded meeting of the Defense Ministry Board, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated:

Tensions are growing on the western and eastern borders of Russia. The United States is intensifying its military presence at Russian borders. 

The United States and NATO are purposefully increasing the scale and intensity of military training activities near Russia. Increasingly, they involve strategic aviation, carrying out simulated launches of nuclear missiles at our facilities. The number of their flights near the Russian borders has more than doubled.

NATO pays special attention to the issues of the transfer of troops to the eastern flank of the alliance, including from the continental part of the United States. The exercises are practicing various options for using coalition groups against Russia with the use of non-aligned states—Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. 

The presence of more than 120 employees of American PMCs [private military companies] in Avdeevka and Priazovskoe settlements in Donetsk region has been reliably established. They equip firing positions in residential buildings and at socially significant facilities, prepare Ukrainian special operations forces and radical armed groups for active hostilities. To commit provocations, tanks with unidentified chemical components were delivered to Avdeevka and Krasny Liman cities.

Speaking at that same meeting of the Defense Ministry Board, Russian President Putin himself sounded the alarm:

What they [the United States] are doing on the territory of Ukraine now—or trying to do and going to do—this is not thousands of kilometers away from our national border. This is at the doorstep of our home. They must understand that we simply have nowhere to retreat further…. Do they think we don’t see these threats? Or do they think that we are so weak-willed to simply look blankly at the threats posed to Russia?

As I have already noted, in the event of the continuation of the obviously aggressive line of our Western colleagues, we will take adequate retaliatory military-technical measures, and react toughly to unfriendly steps. And, I want to emphasize, we have every right to do so, we have every right to take actions designed to ensure the security and sovereignty of Russia…. We are extremely concerned about the deployment of elements of the U.S. global missile defense system near Russia.


Webcast – FOR THE SAKE OF HUMANITY, LET’S MAKE 2022 THE YEAR OF LAROUCHE

In her weekly dialogue, Helga Zepp-LaRouche proposed that we make 2022 the Year of Lyndon LaRouche. In doing so, we are not only commemorating the 100th year of his birth, but offering a pathway for solutions to the unresolved crises, which threaten humanity at the end of 2021.

Zepp-LaRouche reviewed the chronology which we have compiled of the events of the last thirty years of U.S.-Russian relations, which have come to a head today. The present crisis has been deepening for thirty years, with broken promises and betrayal, a continuing series of provocations, which led President Putin to insist that written, legally-binding guarantees of security must be adopted; and that the upcoming meetings, which began with yesterday’s discussion between the two Presidents, and continue with three meetings beginning January 9, must produce results. Otherwise, the world is on a pathway to Hell!

She also emphasized the shame of the West in regard to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. To allow the present situation to deteriorate is to engage willfully in genocide. The Committee of the Coincidence of Opposites is taking leadership in mobilizing for not just a solution for Afghanistan, but to address the continuing danger explicit in the absence of a modern health system in every nation.


Sicily Daily Runs Call by Committee for Coincidence of Opposites on Afghanistan Emergency

Under the headline “Afghanistan, the Committee for the Republic: Let Us Help It,” the daily Il Corriere di Sicilia published the Dec. 10 call by the Committee for the Coincidence of Opposites with an endorsement by Alessia Ruggeri.

The paper quotes Ruggeri saying: “I join the declaration by Helga Zepp-LaRouche, president of the Schiller Institute, which has highlighted that for more than two months no one has talked about Afghanistan, totally ignoring the emergency and the fact that, with the confiscation of funds, the population is likely to die of hunger and hardship,” and it continues: “These are the words of Alessia Ruggeri, spokesperson of the political movement ‘Committee for the Republic’ member of the Committee for the Coincidence of the Opposites that supports the call by David Beasley, director of the WFP, which states that immediate support from the West is needed, defining it as a moral test for the West.” See the Italian original.


Putin Calls on Western Nations to Release Afghanistan’s Reserves

Asked at the Valdai Club Discussion, how Afghanistan can be helped to achieve political stability and economic development, President Putin emphasized that while the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Afghanistan’s neighbors will help the country economically, the Western nations who occupied the country for 20 years must take primary responsibility to stabilize the situation. “The first thing they must do,” Putin said, “is to release Afghan assets, and give Afghanistan an opportunity to resolve high priority socio-economic problems.”

The exchange, with Tsinghua University strategist Zhou Bo, follows:

Zhou Bo: “Mr. President, it is really my great honor to ask you this question. I will ask you something about Afghanistan. Afghanistan lies in the heart of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. So, if Afghanistan has a problem, then the Shanghai Cooperation Organization has a problem. Now the United States has withdrawn from Afghanistan. So how can the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is led by China and Russia, united with other countries, help Afghanistan to achieve political stability and economic development?”

Vladimir Putin:
“The situation in Afghanistan is one of the most urgent issues today. You know, we have just had a meeting in the appropriate format, in part, with representatives of the Taliban. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is also active in Afghanistan. This is a very serious issue for all of us because for both China and Russia it is extremely important to have a calm, developing Afghanistan that is not a source of terrorism, or any form of radicalism, next to our national borders, if not on our borders.

“We are now seeing what is happening inside Afghanistan. Unfortunately, different groups, including ISIS are still there. There are already victims among the Taliban movement, which, as a whole, is still trying to get rid of these radical elements and we know of such examples. This is very important for us, for both Russia and China.

“In order to normalize the situation properly and at the right pace, it is necessary, of course, to help Afghanistan restore its economy because drugs are another huge problem. It is a known fact that 90 percent of opiates come to the world market from Afghanistan. And if there is no money, what will they do? From what sources and how will they fund their social programs?

“Therefore, for all the importance of our participation in these processes – both China and Russia and other SCO countries – the main responsibility for what is happening there is still borne by the countries that fought there for 20 years. I believe the first thing they must do is to release Afghan assets and give Afghanistan an opportunity to resolve high priority socio-economic problems.

“For our part, we can implement specific large projects and deal with domestic security issues. Our special services are in contact with their Afghan counterparts. For us, within the SCO, it is very important to get this work up and running because Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are right on the border with Afghanistan. We have a military facility in Tajikistan. It was based on the 201st division when it was still Soviet.

“Therefore, we will actively continue this work with China on a bilateral plane, develop dialogue with relevant structures and promote cooperation within the SCO as a whole. In the process, we will allocate the required resources and create all the conditions to let our citizens feel safe regardless of what is happening in Afghanistan.”


A Call To Release the Funds of the Afghan People

This call by the Schiller Institute will be distributed internationally Oct. 14 as the IMF and World Bank meet in Washington.

PDF of this statement

Today and in the coming days, we, informed citizens of the world and patriots of our own nations, stand united, in Washington, Berlin, Lima, Paris, Rome, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Madrid, Stockholm, Brussels and in many other cities of the world, to expose and denounce a crime.

On August 15, after four decades of foreign interventions, a new government took power in Afghanistan. While having orientations we don’t necessarily approve of, the new government has expressed its willingness to face the immediate humanitarian challenges, eradicate opium production, reconstruct Afghanistan’s health system and build the basic infrastructure required to jump-start trade and development. As clearly understood by Pakistan, India, China, Russia, Turkmenistan, Iran and others, it is in the interest of all to allow the new government to stabilize the situation by engaging in normal international relations. But more is required: without a minimal foreign input, Afghanistan will fail in dealing with a deadly food and health crisis that started way before Aug. 14.

Hence, it is outrageous that in the days following the Taliban takeover, the White House announced that all assets of Afghanistan’s central bank held in the U.S. would not be released to the new Afghan government:

  • The U.S. Federal Reserve refuses to release the $9.5 billion of assets of the Central Bank of Afghanistan, $7 billion of which are held by the New York Fed. About $1.3 billion of these are held in international accounts, with some of it in euros and British pounds, while the rest are held by the Bank for International Settlements based in Switzerland. As a result, Afghanistan can only access 0.1-0.2 % of its total reserves!
  • The International Monetary Fund has suspended all financing for “lack of clarity within the international community” over recognizing the new government. $370 million set to be released on Aug. 23 was withheld and access to the IMF’s reserves in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) assets, which can be converted to government-backed money, have also been blocked.
  • The World Bank (as denounced by a petition of Code Pink) has refused to release some $440 million, notably the funds required to pay Afghan teachers and health workers. Hence, while there is a huge outcry over “women’s rights,” 13,000 female healthcare workers, including doctors, midwives, nurses, vaccinators, and other female staff, are not being paid by the World Bank’s Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF).

On Feb. 29, 2020, the Taliban and the U.S. government signed an agreement. Part III of that agreement stipulates: “The U.S.A. and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan are committed to continue positive relations, including economic cooperation for reconstruction…. The United States will refrain from the threat or the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Afghanistan or intervening in its domestic affairs.”

Today, if the United States wants to regain respect and esteem, it has to live up to its own commitments, especially when millions of human lives, both female and male, are at stake, which is the case in Afghanistan as a result of a food and health crisis of apocalyptic dimensions. Two out of five Afghans, many of them children, are facing starvation.

Therefore, we, the undersigned, call on President Joe Biden to act in the spirit of the 2020 Doha agreement, signed by the U.S.A., and lift all unnecessary sanctions against Afghanistan, including the use of malign pretexts to prevent its control over the assets of its own central bank as well as its normal access to the international financial markets. The urgency is now!

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Initial signatory:

Helga Zepp-LaRouche, President, Schiller Institute

Jacques Cheminade, President Solidarité et Progrès, three-time presidential candidate


UN Aid Conference Insists, Act Now, or Afghanistan “Will Truly Enter the Abyss”

Sept. 14, 2021 (EIRNS)—The Sept. 13, United Nations conference in Geneva on aid to Afghanistan succeeded in raising $1.1 billion, beyond the original target of $606 million. But given the dramatic reports by speakers on the dire humanitarian crisis and the urgent need for food and medicine to avert imminent starvation of tens of millions of people, the $1.1 billion won’t suffice. The situation is so fragile that 1 million children are at immediate risk of starvation if their immediate needs are not met, the New York Times reported Sept. 13. “At least 10 million children depend on humanitarian aid just to survive,” UNICEF’s executive director Henrietta H. Fore told the Times*. The World Food Program (WFP) estimates that 40% of Afghanistan’s crop has been lost this year, and the prices of basic food items are soaring. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is taking steps to help farmers so that they don’t miss the upcoming winter wheat planting season, and to keep life-sustaining farm animals alive, but the situation has been complicated by a severe drought. Over half of an average Afghan’s daily caloric intake comes from wheat, most of which is domestically grown, FAO director general Qu Dongyu, told the meeting.

World Food Program director David Beasley starkly warned that “14 million people—1 in 3—are marching to the brink of starvation…. On top of that, you have 14 million people in IPC2”—a category of acute food insecurity—“that are knocking on the same door, so if we’re not very careful, we could truly enter the abyss and see catastrophic conditions, worse than what we see now.” WFP estimates that 40% of Afghanistan’s crops have been lost for this year; the price of wheat rose by 25%, and the price of flour has doubled at local markets. Beasley stressed that a major concern is that 4 million people live in hard-to-reach areas, for whom, if food isn’t prepositioned before winter, “we will face a catastrophe. The time is now. We can’t wait six months. We need the funds immediately so we can move the supplies.”

Like other speakers, Beasley also warned, “if we’re not careful, and we’re not strategic, we could face mass migration, destabilization in the region, and for certain starvation for millions of Afghan people.” Beasley’s full remarks can be found here.

Making the same point, Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s permanent representative to the Geneva UN office, stressed that “Kabul’s traditional Western sponsors must provide active help to the country’s population to reduce or stop migration flows,” according to TASS.


Andrei Kortunov Warns Afghanistan Is on “Life Support;” No Time for Delay!

Sept. 14, 2021 (EIRNS)—In an interview with TASS published Sept. 13, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council Andrey Kortunov warned that, due to both U.S. and UN sanctions, Afghanistan faces the threat of famine. The country is now “on life support,” he said, because it depends entirely on assistance from international development institutes, the UN, the EU, and the U.S. In fact, David Beasley, director of the World Food Program, reported during yesterday’s UN conference in Geneva on aid to Afghanistan that 40% of its GDP comes from foreign aid, and 75% of its public spending from international funding. Kortunov admonished that, if the Taliban coming to power means there will be more sanctions placed on the country, it could jeopardize food deliveries. He told TASS that it will take an estimated $1 billion a month, minimally, to maintain basic social institutions and avoid hunger in certain regions—that is, $12 billion yearly.

Kortunov also highlighted the issue of who will control distribution of humanitarian and food assistance to Afghanistan. Take the case of Syria, he said, where the West claims that President Bashar al-Assad can’t be trusted to handle this task, so it’s left in the hands of international agencies and aid groups. “It is not to be ruled out that the same position will be taken in respect of the Taliban,” Kortunov said, explaining it would lead to a situation where the international community “will be ready to provide food assistance but on the condition that unimpeded access will be granted to the areas in need,” and the Taliban excluded from any decision-making as to whom aid should be delivered. In the Syrian case, Western arguments are simply a pretext for curtailing Syrian sovereignty under the guise of “humanitarian” protection. How this plays out in Afghanistan—a more complex situation—remains to be seen. The TASS article can be found here.


WFP Beasley To Bezos: ‘The Sky Is No Longer the Limit’–Let’s End Hunger!

July 24 (EIRNS)–David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program, tweeted on July 20, on the day billionaire Jeff Bezos took a ride into space and back:

“To @JeffBezos, @blueorigin, tremendous congratulations today! I can only imagine how incredible it was to see OUR planet from above. We’re all ONE human race. The sky is no longer the limit!! Now, let’s go end hunger together! Earth needs you!!
…you have proven over and over that anything is possible when you set your heart and mind to it. As you saw from space, Earth is a special place. 41 million people are on the brink of famine. I need your help. We need your help. Together, I know we can! #SpaceForBoth”