The following is the introductory section of a Schiller Institute memorandum issued Dec. 24, “Are We Sleepwalking Into Thermonuclear World War III,” which is available in full on the Schiller Institute website.
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 that no one will 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 U.K.-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 tantamount to laying financial siege to Russia to try to starve the nation 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 Russia 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 a scarce 5-minutes flight time from Moscow. Russia has presented two draft international treaties—one with the United States, the other with NATO—which would provide legal guarantees that NATO’s eastward march will stop, that Ukraine and Georgia in particular would 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 given to the Soviet Union 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 Khrushchev during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which was successfully defused by the deft back-channel negotiations of JFK’s personal envoy, his brother Bobby 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 treaties with Russia—and step back from the edge of thermonuclear extinction.
What we chronicle below has been happening, step by step, while most people around the world were asleep at the switch. It is time to wake up, before we sleepwalk into thermonuclear World War III.
The Military Component
The past 30 years of strategic relations between the U.S. and NATO on the one side and Russia on the other is littered with broken promises, beginning immediately after the fall of the Berlin Wall in November of 1989. Already in February of 1990, then-Secretary of State James Baker was in Moscow promising Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze that in the wake of German reunification, which was to come about later that year, that if U.S. troops remained in Germany, there would be no expansion of NATO “one inch to the east.” But it wouldn’t take long before the Department of Defense would be plotting exactly that, with the process getting fully underway during the administration of President Bill Clinton.
The first round of post-German unification expansion of NATO came in 1999 with the admission of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, followed in 2004 by all three Baltic states, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Four more Balkan countries joined in the years following, bringing NATO’s membership up to 30 countries. In the middle of that process, during the George W. Bush Administration, the U.S. also began to dismantle the system of strategic arms control assembled during the Cold War, beginning with the U.S. withdrawal from the 1972 ABM Treaty. The Trump Administration accelerated the process by withdrawing the U.S. from the INF Treaty and the Open Skies Treaty, leaving only the New START treaty, which was extended by President Joe Biden shortly after he took office, as the only nuclear arms control treaty remaining between the U.S. and Russia.
The turning point in the current war danger came in 2014. The ongoing efforts to pull Ukraine into the EU common market through the Ukrainian-European Association Agreement, were rejected as untenable by Ukraine’s Viktor Yanukovych government in late 2013, when it became clear that it would de facto associate Ukraine with NATO and grant European goods unlimited access to the Russian market. Yanukovych’s turn against the EU led to the “Euromaidan” protests by proponents of aligning Ukraine with the European Union, which in January 2014 escalated into deadly clashes as these demonstrations were taken over by pro-Nazi elements, including those associated with the figure of Stepan Bandera, the notorious Ukrainian Nazi who worked closely with Hitler during World War II. In February, the violence escalated, and Yanukovych was driven from office, and the new government began to adopt strong measures against the Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine, especially in Crimea and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine. All of this was done with full backing from London and Washington, with U.S. State Department official Victoria Nuland playing a prominent role. EIR published a detailed fact sheet and several in depth reports in its February 7, 2014, issue. The fact sheet is available at this link.
On March 16, 2014, a referendum was held in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the local government of Sevastopol, asking the populations whether they wanted to join the Russian Federation or retain Crimea’s status as a part of Ukraine. In Crimea, 97% voted for integration into the Russian Federation with an 83% voter turnout; in Sevastopol there was also a 97% vote for reintegration into the Russian Federation with an 89% voter turnout.
There was no “Russian military invasion of Ukraine,” nor forcible changing of any borders.
All throughout this time period, Moscow protested NATO’s eastward march, but to no avail. “Despite our numerous protests and pleas, the American machine has been set into motion, the conveyor 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 air-launched ballistic missile, have since been introduced into service.