Tom Arms’ World Review

Ukraine

The Ukraine war has resulted in the world facing a shortage of every grain product and the prospect of widespread starvation in the developing world and spiralling food prices in the developed.

Shortages of corn and wheat – Ukraine and Russia’s two biggest grain exports – have increased demand for that other major grain product – rice. This has led India to ban exports of non-basmati rice “to ensure adequate domestic availability at reasonable prices.” India exports 40 percent of the world’s rice.

To compound the problem other major rice producing countries – Thailand, Pakistan and Vietnam – have all suffered bad harvests this year due to deteriorating weather conditions.

But back to Ukraine where Vladimir Putin has ended the Turkish-brokered deal to allow grain ships past the Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. He followed that up with a devastating drone attack on Izmail which handles about a quarter of Ukraine’s grain exports. An estimated 40,000 metric tonnes of grain bound for Africa, China and Israel was destroyed and the port has been closed indefinitely. Since withdrawing from the grain deal on 27 July, Russia has destroyed an estimated 200,000 metric tonnes of grain as well as civilian ships, port facilities and grain storage silos.

It should also be noted that Ukraine’s Izmail is at the mouth of the Danube and on the opposite bank is NATO member Romania.

Putin

Vladimir Putin has weaponised food. He has created a worldwide shortage and is now using access to Russian-produced grain to blackmail/bribe selected countries.

This was obvious at the recent Russia-Africa Summit in St Petersburg where he promised free grain to carefully selected African countries. Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Mali, Eritrea and the Central African Republic have all been rewarded for their support at the UN and links with the Wagner Group.

The summit, however, was not the big success Putin hoped for. The last such gathering was in 2019 when 45 African leaders turned up in Sochi. This time only 27 made the trip north to Russia’s Baltic port.

The drop in numbers was largely due to Putin’s failure to deliver on his promises. In 2019 Russia promised to quadruple direct investment in Africa. But since then it has dropped by two thirds and now represents only one percent of the total inflow of Sub-Saharan Africa’s capital investment.

Weapons and the ruthless expertise of the Wagner Group are now Russia’s chief contributions to Africa. Dictators in a swathe that follows the 10th Parallel across the Sahel from Sudan on the Red Sea to Guinea Bissau on the Atlantic are being propped up by the Wagner Group.

Yevgeny Prigozhin – head of the Wagner Group – led an armed mutiny against Russian defense chiefs last month. Putin branded him a “back-stabbing traitor.” But the Wagner chief appears to have been quickly rehabilitated as he was photographed in St Petersburg glad-handing African leaders. Putin may have decided to remove his troublesome “chef” from the domestic scene by further delegating to him Russian activities in Africa.

Niger

Niger appears to be the latest target of Russia’s Wagner Group. Prigozhin has welcomed the overthrow of democratically elected President Mohamed Bazoun by General Abdourahamannane Tchiani and offered Tchiani and his military junta Wagner support.

This is a major blow to the West on several fronts. For a start, Niger is a major producer of uranium ore which is needed to fuel nuclear reactors. France, in particular is heavily dependent on Nigerien uranium as nuclear power accounts for 62.7 percent of French electricity production.

The French have 1,500 troops in Niger based mainly at their airfield outside the capital Niamey. America has another 1,000 troops in Niger and neighbouring Chad. Their presence is seen as vital in the battle against Jihadists in the Sahel and West Africa and the support of democratic interests. Niger and President Bazoun are seen as important bulwarks in both areas.

As of this writing, President Bazoun and his family are being held captive in the presidential palace. On Thursday the Washington Post published an article by him in which called for American support to overturn the coup and warned that the coup would lead to a strong Russian influence in Niger.

The US, EU, UK, France, and OAU have all condemned the coup and cut off aid and investment. They have also evacuated citizens. The French, American, Nigerian and Togolese ambassadors have been ordered out of the country by the new military government. The junta has also cancelled a series of military agreements with France and welcomed the involvement of Prigozhin’s Wager mercenaries.

President Emmanuel Macron has warned General Tchiani “should anyone attack French nationals, diplomats, military and/or French interests, they will see France respond in an immediate and intractable manner.”

Ideally an intervention to reverse the coup will come from African countries. The Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) is considering just that. It has warned that the 15-member state could “as a last resort” intervene with its military arm, The Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG).

Since it was formed in 1990, ECOMOG has successfully intervened in West African states to overturn coups. Countries affected are Liberia (twice), Mali, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and Gambia. The problem is that some of the ECOWAS membership—especially Guinea Bissau and Mali—support the coup leaders. They in turn are supported by the Wagner Group.

Foreign aid

War, poverty and climate change are creating the conditions for coups in African countries such as Niger. In the past four years the number of people in Sub-Saharan African living in extreme poverty (defined as having an income of $2.25 a day or less) has increased from 150,000 to 420,000.

Britain has not helped matters. A Foreign Office report this week revealed that the conservative government’s cut in foreign aid from .07 percent of GDP to .05 percent is resulting in thousands of deaths in Africa and the Middle East.

The UK was never the world’s biggest aid donor. That title belonged to America. But it was the third largest and the Department for International Development (now subsumed into the Foreign Office) was highly respected around the world for its carefully-targeted value for money assistance.

One of the ancillary purposes of aid is to improve conditions in the developing world that encourage people to remain in those countries rather than risk their lives crossing the English Channel in small boats.

Ironically, the British government is taking money out of the already reduced aid budget to pay for the housing of refugees. Many of them come from countries which have suffered British aid cuts.

 

* Tom Arms is foreign editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and author of “The Encyclopaedia of the Cold War” and “America Made in Britain". To subscribe to his email alerts on world affairs click here.

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38 Comments

  • Chris Moore 6th Aug '23 - 11:32am

    Hi Tom,

    Excuse the correction.

    The Conservatives have reduced foreign aid from 0.7% of GNI to 0.5%.

  • George Thomas 6th Aug '23 - 11:45am

    “Ironically, the British government is taking money out of the already reduced aid budget to pay for the housing of refugees. Many of them come from countries which have suffered British aid cuts.”

    There is little we can control around the world but the planet is becoming less hospitable – including parts of southern and western Europe – which means more and more people will want to come to northern Europe and Sunak (supposedly leading party opposed to asylum seekers) is cutting foreign aid, cutting action taken to fight back against climate crisis and continues to sell weapons to foreign leaders, all of which creates a less stable world and greater number of asylum seekers.

    And then I watch the latest BBC show about Dubai and it appears the young who want to be surrounded by the wealthy and the wealthy who don’t have anything better to do are hellbent on killing the world with their uber-capitalism.

  • Ukrainian grain can be transported to Constanza in Rumania and then shipped in international shipping under NATO protection.Russia dare not attack.Otherwise we will face soaring grain foodstuff prices and the developing world could face starvation in a worst case scenario.

  • Many of the more well versed Russia experts including those at Chatham house use the analogy of a Mafia type organised crime regime for the Russian government with Putin at its head. The organisation incorporates all elements of the government, intelligence services, major corporations, media, military and Russian orthodox church.
    Russia’s quite openly stated ambition is the restoration of empire and influence in the post-soviet state – anywhere there is a large enough bloc of Russian speakers.
    Access to resources and influence throughout the global south in a critical element of that Grand Strategy.
    The Russian Philosopher, Alexander Dugin, has often referenced “British geographer Sir Halford John Mackinder who famously wrote:
    Who rules Eastern Europe commands the Heartland
    Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island
    Who rules the World Island commands the world
    “Heartland” refers to the vast lands from the Volga to the Yangtze Rivers, essentially Russia and China. “World Island” constitutes all of Eurasia and Africa. For Mackinder, a 19th century geostrategic theorist, Central and Eastern Europe were key to world domination. In so many words and actions, Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to agree. Hence, his war of conquest against Ukraine, a naked aggression on a scale not seen since World War II.” The Heartland Theory & Vladimir Putin: Back to the 19th Century

  • @ Chris Moore– Thanks for the correction in the cut in the aid budget. I have another embarrassing correction. The number of people in extreme poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa has not risen from 150,000 to 420,000 as stated but from 150 million to 420 million. I blame my errors on having to return to soggy, leaden-skied Britain from two weeks in warm, sunny France. I have no excuses for past or future mistakes.

    @ Tim Rogers– You are right to highlight the potential of the Romanian port of Constanta (aka Constanza). It is the largest port on the Black Sea and the fourth largest in Europe. The handling of Ukrainian grain has grown to 30 percent of its trade. But, as always, there are problems to be overcome. One is that Constanta’s main transport links are to grain producers in the Romanian hinterland and Hungary. Romanian grain either has to come by barge from Izmail which is under attack (see story above) or by road. Rail is difficult because the Romanian and Ukrainian railways have different gauges. There is also the problem of capacity. Constanta’s silos and port are now backing up with the extra Ukrainian business. The problems above are not insurmountable and are being addressed. But they take time and that is at a premium when Ukraine needs money to fight a war.

  • Steve Trevethan 6th Aug '23 - 2:16pm

    Might we encourage a negotiated settlement to this conflict?

  • Steve Trevethan,

    Saudi Arabia is hosting a summit this weekend to discuss Kyiv’s 10-point peace formula, which calls for departure of all Russian troops Saudi Arabia to host Ukraine peace talks

  • @ Steve Trevethan and Joe Bourke– and Russia is absent from the talks in Saudi Arabia which indicates their willingness to negotiate.

  • Jenny Barnes 6th Aug '23 - 3:59pm

    It’s all down to the pre-conditions.
    Ukraine – Return to the territorial status quo ante bellum + NATO membership.
    Russia – Keep all the acquired land (maybe plus extra claimed bits) and no NATO membership for Ukraine.

    I can foresee difficulties reconciling those positions.

  • The Zelensky plan is clearly developed in accordance with the UN Charter and the norms of International relations. It calls for:

    – Radiation and nuclear safety, focusing on restoring security around Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia in Ukraine.
    – Food security, including protecting and ensuring Ukraine’s grain exports to the world’s poorest nations.
    – Energy security, with a focus on price restrictions on Russian energy resources, as well as aiding Ukraine with restoring its power infrastructure, half of which has been damaged by Russian attacks.
    – Release of all prisoners and deportees, including war prisoners and children deported to Russia.
    – Restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity and Russia reaffirming it according to the UN Charter, which Zelenskyy said is “not up to negotiations”.
    – Withdrawal of Russian troops and the cessation of hostilities, the restoration of Ukraine’s state borders with Russia.
    – Justice, including the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes.
    – The prevention of ecocide, and the protection of the environment, with a focus on demining and restoring water treatment facilities.
    – Prevention of an escalation of conflict and building security architecture in the Euro-Atlantic space, including guarantees for Ukraine.
    – Confirmation of the war’s end, including a document signed by the involved parties.
    Putin has indicated that the recent African proposal could be a basis for peace in Ukraine Putin says African proposal could be basis for peace in Ukrainebut claimed that attacks from Kyiv made a cessation of hostilities “virtually impossible”.
    It is hard to see any other outcome than that of Eastern Europe in WW2. Whatever territory Russia occupies at the cessation of hostilities they will seek to keep regardless of the UN Charter or International conventions.

  • At the moment, I think the best we can hope for is a long-term Korea-type armistice agreement. Not ideal.

  • Steve Trevethan 6th Aug '23 - 6:16pm

    Might we encourage a long term Korea-type armistice agreement as this would reduce/eliminate the current situation which results in death, maiming, short and long term insanity and direct and indirect deprivations?

  • @steve. The armistice agreement may be where we end up, but I think a lot more blood needs to be shed before we even that unsatisfactory arrangement. In the meantime, I think we should remember that Russia invaded Ukraine. Not the other way around.

  • Steve Trevethan 6th Aug '23 - 8:17pm

    Why does more blood need to be spilled before starting negotiations?

    What difference does arguing about who started what make to the need to save lives etc by starting negotiations?

  • In May 1940, the British war cabinet was split on the question of whether to make terms with Nazi Germany or to continue hostilities. With the British Expeditionary Force in retreat to Dunkirk and the fall of France seemingly imminent, Halifax believed that the government should explore the possibility of a negotiated peace settlement. His hope was that Mussolini, would broker an agreement. Churchill opposed it and urged his colleagues to fight on without negotiations. He was supported in the war cabinet by its two Labour Party members, Clement Attlee and Arthur Greenwood, and also by the Secretary of State for Air, Sir Archibald Sinclair, leader of the Liberal Party. Churchill’s was not the leader of the Conservative Party and he needed to win the support of Neville Chamberlain to convince the Conservative cabinet members. There is a consensus among historians that Chamberlain’s eventual support for Churchill was a critical turning point in the war. Joe Kennedy (as US ambassador) rejected the belief of Winston Churchill that any compromise with Nazi Germany was impossible. Instead, he supported Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement and argued for negotiations.
    Chatham House has produced a multi-author report How to end Russia’s war on Ukraine that takes nine commonly espoused ideas for quick fixes or objections to bolstering assistance to Ukraine, and weighs them against both current reality and their long-term consequences.
    “The unanimous conclusion of the authors is that the only outcome to the war that can safeguard the future security of Europe is a convincing Ukrainian victory – hence, Western military support to Kyiv should be redoubled before it is too late”.

  • Zachary Adam Barker 6th Aug '23 - 9:17pm

    “What difference does arguing about who started what make to the need to save lives etc by starting negotiations?”

    Because a “negotiated settlement” implies that both sides are put in a position where they have to concede something.

    Conceding anything to invader is an invitation for a future invasion. Because the present one would have been rewarded by the aforementioned concession.

  • Nonconformistradical 6th Aug '23 - 9:30pm

    “ Conceding anything to invader is an invitation for a future invasion”
    Just like WW2 after Czechoslovakia

  • Chris Moore 7th Aug '23 - 7:52am

    Steve, you seem to be confused.

    You say, “What difference does arguing about who started what make to the need to save lives etc by starting negotiations?”

    In your mind, there is an “argument” to be had about who started the war! Are you for real on this?

  • David Evans 7th Aug '23 - 9:20am

    Chris (Moore), I fear you have totally misinterpreted Steve’s comment, When he says “What difference does arguing about who started what make to the need to save lives etc by starting negotiations?” he is referring to arguments put forward by others and implying these arguments are petty compared to the need to save lives.

    In fact he is actually saying in a slightly different way exactly what you implying. To him there is no “argument to be had about who started the war!” and I think he is for real on that!

  • Chris Moore 7th Aug '23 - 11:39am

    Hi David,

    If that was what Steve wanted to say, he could put it like this, “There is no argument to be had about the fact Russia started this war. ((An unprovoked aggression by an imperialist gangster state.)) Nonetheless, I believe negotiations should start immediately.

    I would disagree with this a
    Strongly too. But actually, it’s not what he wrote.

  • Steve Trevethan 7th Aug '23 - 1:06pm

    Thanks to David Evans for his comment!

    Perhaps arguments about responsibilities for conflicts have multiple problems/confusions:
    * What is presented is not always true.
    * Conflict causes are complex.
    * We may well want to believe in (our perceptions of ) justice but the greater reality is that, like it or not, we’re are often facing power rather than justice.
    * Some conflicts are proxy conflicts, as this one may well be. The

  • Peter Hirst 7th Aug '23 - 1:22pm

    Is a bad democracy better than no democracy? There comes a point when it is a sham, when the people have no real say in what goes on. However the peaceful transfer of power is something worth fighting for as long as it is the result of a process that involves the participation of the people being governed in a meaningful way.

  • The reasons for the Ukraine war are clouded in propaganda and deliberate disinformation as are many such conflicts. The Iraq war was launched on the basis of wholly unreliable and contradictory intelligence. It was driven by a small clique of so called hawks or Neo-Cons in the Bush Whitehouse immediately in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.
    The Ukraine war likewise has been launched on the back of a web of lies and disinformation emanating from a small clique of kleptocratic facists in the Kremlin on the back of protests ousting Viktor Yanukovych as President of Ukraine after he ordered the killing of demonstrators in Kyiv.
    The United Nations has overwhelmingly condemned the intervention and the OSCE has comprehensively debunked the Kremlin claims that Ukraine was engaged in an genocidal campaign against separists and Russian speakers in the Donbas.
    There are many more ultra-nationalist or so called neo-nazi groups in Russia than in Ukraine. Such groups exist in every country including the UK. These groups have no influence in the Ukrainian government, but ultra-nationalist groups such as the brutal Wagner PMC exert a powerful influence on Russian politics. The Facts on ‘De-Nazifying’ Ukraine

  • The conclusion to the Chatham House report lays out a Summary of principles for Western policy on the war :
    – Ukraine must not be pressured, directly or indirectly, into a negotiated pause to the fighting.
    – Ukraine’s Western backers must recognize that territorial concessions by Ukraine – including over Crimea – are not a workable solution.
    – Ukraine must be provided with genuine security guarantees to provide for its future safety. ‘Neutrality’, Ukraine’s status before 2014, provides no such guarantee.
    – Ukraine’s Western backers must overcome their fear of inflicting a clear and decisive defeat on Russia.
    – The potential for political instability within Russia should not be a deterrent to pressing home Ukraine’s advantage.
    – The financing of support for Ukraine must be recognized as an investment in Euro-Atlantic security,
    NATO must urgently increase production of munitions and weapons systems, with the aim of matching rates of consumption in Ukraine.
    – The vital requirement for justice for Russia’s war crimes and atrocities must not be disregarded for the sake of a settlement with Moscow. Only accountability will prompt change in Russia.
    – Economic and financial sanctions must be constantly refined and honed to ensure they remain effective. Policy in this area should be informed by an understanding that Russia is involved in a huge effort to get around sanctions.
    – The frozen assets of the Russian state and private individuals must be repurposed to finance reconstruction of Ukraine’s society, infrastructure and economy.
    – Finally, it is essential that Western countries – and partners further afield – recognize and accept that the outcome of Russia’s war on Ukraine is a key determinant of their own future safety and security.

  • Robin Stafford 7th Aug '23 - 6:44pm

    Russia, or to be more precise Muscovy, has a history of brutal invasion and colonisation stretching back centuries. The Soviet Union was just the last manifestation, littered with massacres, deportations, labour camps and the imposition of puppet regimes. All those lands West of the Urals and their many different cultures and ethnicities are no more Russian/Muscovite than Britain’s ex-colonies are British. Putin explicitly refers to re-establishing the ‘Russian’ empire, controlling all its neighbours. Those around him are even more explicit, referring to their neighbours in racist terms. They believe their cultures have no right to exist – witness the explicit attacks on Ukrainian culture and history.

    Historians like Timothy Snyder, and others like Anne Applebaum have written in detail about the history of those who who have suffered under Russian/Muscovite colonialisation. Eastern Europe and the countries South and East of Muscovy/Russia all share bitter experiences which continue till this day. Meanwhile the further left and dubious institutions like SOAS are silent whilst continuing to attack Western colonialism even though it wound up 50-70 years ago, though we live with its legacies.

  • Robin Stafford 7th Aug '23 - 6:46pm

    Muscovy/Russia has to go through the same process of de-colonisation as Western countries, shedding its imperialist delusions and becoming some kind of democracy. That is likely to be a long process. In the mean time we have to help those countries trying to gain or maintain their freedom from Russian/Muscovite rule. Ultimately they are defending us too. Take the time to read Putin’s or his entourage’s words and it is obvious why.

  • Zachary Adam Barker 7th Aug '23 - 9:18pm

    “Perhaps arguments about responsibilities for conflicts have multiple problems/confusions:
    * What is presented is not always true.
    * Conflict causes are complex.
    * We may well want to believe in (our perceptions of ) justice but the greater reality is that, like it or not, we’re are often facing power rather than justice.
    * Some conflicts are proxy conflicts, as this one may well be. The”

    *Depends who is doing the presenting. But if we are honest Russia is the power who has consistently been incapable of telling the truth before and after the shooting started. That ought to tell you something about their motives.
    *Russia doesn’t see Ukraine as a genuinely independent country. Seems simple enough to me. And unacceptable for the international community to accept.
    *How is this relevant?
    *There is only one reason why this war is being carried out in a “proxy way”: nuclear weapons. Other than that it is an imperialist invasion and more of us should be calling it out as such.

  • The causes of the war are not complex. The Euromaidan protests were more than a demand for closer EU relations; they were a rejection of injustice as a way of life and of the post-Soviet politics of corruption and nepotism. Ukrainians took to the streets to denounce the country’s endemic corruption, from the grand corruption practiced by ex-president Yanukovych and his peers, to everyday corruption and petty unfairness—like the need to bribe a teacher to get better classroom conditions for your children, a doctor to get an appointment, or the traffic police to avoid unlawful fines.
    The brutal government crackdown that followed these initial protests galvanized Maidan supporters and encouraged more to join. This momentum, further propelled by the killings of February 20 and 21, led to crisis talks for early elections.
    France and Poland brokered an agreement that called called for a return to the 2004 Constitution, i.e. a parliamentary-presidential style of government, early presidential elections by the end of 2014, and the formation of a “government of national trust.” It also called for the removal of security troops from downtown Kyiv, a cessation of violence, and the surrender of opposition arms. A day after he had signed the agreement, Yanukovych abandoned his post and fled to Russia. Seeing the loss of Kremlin influence over Ukraine and effective control of its resources, Putin sent Russian troops in to occupy Crimea and Russian backed separatists began an armed insurgency in the Donbas.

  • Steve Trevethan 8th Aug '23 - 8:42am

    Victoria Nuland?

  • Layla Moran published the LibDem position on the Ukraine conflict on the first anniversary of the invasion We stand with Ukraine.
    Even as Ukraine fights for its survival, it faces a historic opportunity to remake itself and reshape Europe in the process. Smashed by war, Ukraine needs significant reconstruction to rebuild its economy, restart critical services, and reattract its refugees. But reconstruction is more than just rebuilding roads and factories—it can help Ukraine leapfrog several stages of economic and governmental development and reemerge a stronger country that is part of a stronger Europe.
    ALTER will be running a fringe at this years Bournemouth conference on the theme of ‘The role of Land Value Capture in the reconstruction of Ukraine’. Panelists include Sir Vince Cable, Professor John Muellbaeur, Nuffield College Oxford and Lena Fedoruk (Ukrainian Psychologist), University of West London.
    The event will be held at 13.00 in the Sherborne Suite, Bournemouth Marriott on Saturday 23rd September 2023.

  • Steve Trevethan 8th Aug '23 - 11:43am

    The sooner the conflict is ended the better the opportunities for reconstruction?

  • Western policy must be underpinned by a long-term strategy – political, military and industrial – based on a sustainable definition of victory, not on a search for negotiation with an adversary whose minimal terms flatly contradict Western interests. If President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s definition of victory surpasses that of Ukraine’s international partners, his willingness to make concessions to Russia is likely to depend on the West’s own willingness in turn to provide a credible pathway to NATO membership. The latter goal was not achieved at the Vilnius summit in July. But, as Henry Kissinger notes, the strongest case against NATO membership before 2022 was the risk of war. Ukraine was not offered membership, and it ended up with war.
    “Before this war I was opposed to membership of Ukraine in NATO because I feared it would start exactly the process we are seeing now. Now that the process has reached this level, the idea of a neutral Ukraine in these conditions is no longer meaningful. And at the end of the process that I described, it ought to be guaranteed by NATO in whatever forms NATO can develop, but I believe Ukrainian membership in NATO would be an appropriate outcome”.
    The case he makes is becoming increasingly difficult to refute Henry Kissinger: Why I changed my mind about Ukraine For there to be peace Ukraine will need to compromise but have security guarantees for its internationally recognised territory. Only NATO can provide that. Nobody seriously will trust Putin’s word. Realpolitik is what Kissinger is famous for and this is a pretty clear continuation of that theme.

  • Peter Martin 8th Aug '23 - 1:34pm

    The alternative to a negotiated settlement isn’t likely to be total victory for one side or the other.

    Instead we’ll probably have a stalemate with neither side having the ability to make substantial gains – rather like what happened in Korea after 3 years of war. There was a cease fire line established which has become a de-facto border between two hostile countries.

    So we really need to ask ourselves if this would be preferable to having those negotiations. Especially as we’d have NATO to the west of the line, Russia to the east, and both armed with nuclear weapons.

  • Russia (and Belarus) have Nato countries along their Western border from Norway to Romania with 7 Nato countries on the other side of the Artic, Turkey across the Black Sea and Alaska in the far east across the Bering Strait. Russia has yet to resolve its WW2 territorial dispute with Japan over ownership of the Kurils. Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan (as well as Australia and New Zealand) have implemented U.S. and European sanctions on Russian exports. Almost all of these countries have security alliances that fall under the US Nuclear umbrella. Ukrainian membership of Nato would make little difference to existing nuclear deterrence, but a world of difference to Ukrainian security. An effective and binding replacement to the security guarantees given in the Budapest Memorandum will quite probably be the key to securing Ukraine’s agreement to any concessions in its proposed peace settlement.
    While the US did withdraw from the INF nuclear treaty in 2018 after Russia developed a new ground-launched cruise missile which violated the INF prohibition of missiles with ranges between 500km and 5,500km; Russia and the US did negotiate an extension of the Start treaty to 2026 New START Treaty
    Gorbachev was right to call for the elimination of all nuclear weapons Gorbachev calls for elimination of nuclear weapons

  • It is worth reading Russian Opposition Leader Vladimir Kara-Murza’s Powerful Final Statement to the Court He made it prior to being sentenced to 25 years in prison for speaking out against Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine.
    “I blame myself for only one thing: that over the years of my political activity, I have not managed to convince enough of my compatriots and enough politicians in the democratic countries of the danger that the current regime in the Kremlin poses for Russia and for the world. Today this is obvious to everyone, but at a terrible price — the price of war”.
    “I… know that the day will come when the darkness over our country will dissipate. When black will be called black and white will be called white; when at the official level it will be recognized that two times two is still four; when a war will be called a war, and a usurper a usurper; and when those who kindled and unleashed this war, rather than those who tried to stop it, will be recognized as criminals”.
    “This day will come as inevitably as spring follows even the coldest winter. And then our society will open its eyes and be horrified by what terrible crimes were committed on its behalf. From this realization, from this reflection, the long, difficult but vital path toward the recovery and restoration of Russia, its return to the community of civilized countries, will begin”

  • Peter Martin 9th Aug '23 - 7:49am

    @ Joe,

    There’s a couple of important differences. Firstly the borders you mention, such as the one between Norway and Russia, haven’t been established by a recent armed conflict. Secondly, they are internationally recognised by the UN. There are crossing points with people and goods moving in each direction subject to the usual inspections and restrictions.

    If a permanent “cease-fire” line is allowed to be established in Ukraine it will inevitably become more like what we see in Korea with hardly anything moving across it. It will be a source of international tension for years to come.

  • Peter,
    it is a tough situation for Ukraine with seemingly no real prospect of being able to eject the Russian army from the territory they have occupied in Ukraine anytime soon. When Japan surrendered in August 1945, the 38th parallel was established as the boundary between Soviet and American occupation zones. After the Armistice agreement was signed in 1953, a new line was established to separate North Korea and South Korea. This Military Demarcation Line is surrounded by a Demilitarized Zone. The demarcation line is a different line but crosses the 38th parallel.
    That was not so much a negotiated peace settlement as an agreement to halt the fighting where the troops lay pending negotiations and has required the stationing of US troops to preserve the peace. The US has nearly 40,000 personnel in Japan, 35,000 in South Korea, and uses Guam as a ‘permanent aircraft carrier’.
    To maintain a demarcation line and demilitarized Zone in Ukraine would probably require the permanent stationing of significant numbers of NATO troops there and in Poland. As you say ” It will be a source of international tension for years to come”.

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