Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Russian propaganda has tried to mislead many people about its motives for that aggression.
The lie that Russia only wanted Ukraine to stay out of NATO
Moscow has made a variety of excuses, often portraying itself as a NATO victim while Russian troops have been slaughtering Ukrainians. One of the lies that Russian propagandists have repeated the most is that Russia only asked NATO for guarantees that it would not extend to Ukraine. It is a lie that many supporters of Putin's Russia have propagated through the social networks incessantly, in an attempt to blame NATO for the Russian aggression against Ukraine for not having accepted that Russian demand. It is, by the way, the old and perverse argument that the victim of an assault is to blame for having been assaulted by a bully because you did not agree to his demands.
What many supporters of Russia don't know (or know but deny) is that there are two Russian government documents that clearly disprove that lie. The two documents were published on December 17, 2021, and were draft agreements addressed to NATO and the United States. Recall that Russia began to build up troops on the border with Ukraine in April 2021. Likewise, the day these two documents were published Russia warned that ignoring its interests would lead to a "military response". Thus, those proposals were really an ultimatum or blackmail.
On January 25, a month before the start of the invasion, I analyzed those documents here, in an article in which I also addressed other issues. As that article dealt with various issues, what referred to those documents went unnoticed. I have decided to dedicate this article to them as I verified that Russian propaganda continues to be untrue as if those documents did not exist.
The official Kremlin documents that contradict that lie
Let's start with the links to the documents:
Let's start with the first of the documents, referring to the English text (it is an official translation of the Russian government itself). While amassing troops to invade Ukraine, the Kremlin had the cynicism to remind "he inadmissibility of the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations both in their mutual and international relations in general". The document also warned that a military confrontation with the US "could result in the use of nuclear weapons that would have far-reaching consequences."
Russia wanted to subject the former Soviet republics to vassalage
The first three articles of the Russian text are full of fine words and a large dose of cynicism. The most interesting part of the text begins in Article 4 of the ultimatum, in which Russia stated the following:
"The United States of America shall undertake to prevent further eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and deny accession to the Alliance to the States of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The United States of America shall not establish military bases in the territory of the States of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that are not members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, use their infrastructure for any military activities or develop bilateral military cooperation with them."
With this statement, Russia intended to exercise vassalage over the former Soviet republics, three of which (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) are already part of NATO. Russia's demand would prevent the access of Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia to the Alliance. Significantly, that article does not establish any obligation for Russia. Up to this point the thing basically coincides with what the Russian propaganda has been affirming. But there is more.
Russia could fly bombers near Spain but the US cannot
Article 5 of the text stated the following:
"The Parties shall refrain from deploying their armed forces and armaments, including in the framework of international organizations, military alliances or coalitions, in the areas where such deployment could be perceived by the other Party as a threat to its national security, with the exception of such deployment within the national territories of the Parties.
The Parties shall refrain from flying heavy bombers equipped for nuclear or non-nuclear armaments or deploying surface warships of any type, including in the framework of international organizations, military alliances or coalitions, in the areas outside national airspace and national territorial waters respectively, from where they can attack targets in the territory of the other Party.
The Parties shall maintain dialogue and cooperate to improve mechanisms to prevent dangerous military activities on and over the high seas, including agreeing on the maximum approach distance between warships and aircraft."
This text was tailor-made for Moscow. Recall that Russia has had nuclear-capable missiles deployed in Kaliningrad for years, an enclave located in the middle of the EU, specifically between Lithuania and Poland, but since it is Russian territory, Article 5 would not affect it. Yes, it would affect the US if it decided to install similar missiles in Poland. Similarly, Russia has dedicated itself to flying nuclear-capable bombers to the vicinity of Spain. But since that does not affect US territory, according to that text, Russia could make those flights but the US could not fly even one bomber in Europe. It is a tricky text tailored to the Kremlin's needs.
Russia's trick to have missiles in the middle of the EU
Article 6 of the Russian ultimatum to the US reads as follows:
"The Parties shall undertake not to deploy ground-launched intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles outside their national territories, as well as in the areas of their national territories, from which such weapons can attack targets in the national territory of the other Party."
A new text tailored to Moscow, which, as I pointed out above, has missiles in Kaliningrad, in the middle of the EU, but does not want the US to be able to deploy them in Europe to defend its allies in attack case. The Article 7 of the Russian ultimatum to the US was along the same lines:
"The Parties shall refrain from deploying nuclear weapons outside their national territories and return such weapons already deployed outside their national territories at the time of the entry into force of the Treaty to their national territories. The Parties shall eliminate all existing infrastructure for deployment of nuclear weapons outside their national territories.
The Parties shall not train military and civilian personnel from non-nuclear countries to use nuclear weapons. The Parties shall not conduct exercises or training for general-purpose forces, that include scenarios involving the use of nuclear weapons."
This would leave Europe at the feet of Moscow, since Russia it has more nuclear weapons than all the NATO countries combined.
The Russian demand that would leave 14 NATO countries helpless
Let us now turn to Russia's ultimatum to NATO. I take as reference the English text. Again, the first three articles were full of good words and cynicism on the part of the Kremlin. The most striking part begins in Article 4:
"The Russian Federation and all the Parties that were member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as of 27 May 1997, respectively, shall not deploy military forces and weaponry on the territory of any of the other States in Europe in addition to the forces stationed on that territory as of 27 May 1997. With the consent of all the Parties such deployments can take place in exceptional cases to eliminate a threat to security of one or more Parties."
This would imply that no NATO country could send either military or weapons to Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Croatia, Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia, since all these countries joined NATO after 1997. In practice, this is the same as de facto demanding that these countries leave NATO, since they would be left unprotected by the provisions in the Alliance Treaty. Faced with that, Russia would only have to withdraw its troops from Belarus, Moldova and Georgia. Again, the text was drafted to favor Moscow.
Russia wanted to repeat with NATO the trap it made for Ukraine
Article 5 of the Russian ultimatum was yet another gesture of cynicism:
"The Parties shall not deploy land-based intermediate- and short-range missiles in areas allowing them to reach the territory of the other Parties."
Again, let's remember that Russia has nuclear-capable missiles in Kaliningrad. And in the meantime, it wants all surrounding countries to get rid of their missiles, even conventional ones (the text does not indicate the type). Let's remember that Ukraine ceded its nuclear weapons to Russia in exchange for a commitment to respect its sovereignty, an agreement that Russia has violated with this invasion. Russia's neighboring countries would commit suicide trusting of the Kremlin and getting rid of its missiles. Likewise, Article 6 of the Russian ultimatum to NATO stated:
"All member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization commit themselves to refrain from any further enlargement of NATO, including the accession of Ukraine as well as other States."
This would prevent the accession of new countries such as Ireland, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden or Finland. Once again, Russia does not make any commitments in this regard.
NATO would be subject to the whims of Moscow
Article 7 of the Russian ultimatum to NATO is the most insulting of all:
"The Parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall not conduct any military activity on the territory of Ukraine as well as other States in the Eastern Europe, in the South Caucasus and in Central Asia.
In order to exclude incidents the Russian Federation and the Parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization shall not conduct military exercises or other military activities above the brigade level in a zone of agreed width and configuration on each side of the border line of the Russian Federation and the states in a military alliance with it, as well as Parties that are member States of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization."
This meant that NATO could not even send military advisers to Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, but Russia could send them to Belarus. Likewise, the prohibition of military activities in a certain band would leave with a ridiculous military activity to allied countries bordering Russia, especially Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which could not train in their own territory at the brigade level while Russia could do so in its own.
Putin wanted a defenseless Europe subservient to Moscow
As we can deduce from the texts we have just reviewed, if the US and NATO had accepted these ultimatums, Europe would have been turned into a mere vassal of Moscow, especially the allied countries of Eastern Europe. Thus, Russian propaganda lies, as usual. Russia not only wanted Ukraine to stay out of NATO: it also wanted the Alliance to remain defenseless and subject to the whims of Moscow, without US assistance to contribute to its security and with its forces and alliances reduced military forces so that certain countries could not defend themselves against Russian aggression such as the one Ukraine finally suffered.
Obviously, Russia knew that it was blackmail that the US and NATO could not accept. And now Russian propaganda falsifies the content of that blackmail to present as the bad guys in the movie those who did not want to give in to the unacceptable whims of Putin, in a brazen and crude attempt to defend Russia and its aggression against Ukraine. The most painful thing is that very few Western media have bothered to search for and show these documents, which are available to anyone and dismantle the lies of Russian propaganda. And it is that if Moscow's influence has spread so much in the West it is, to a great extent, due to the laziness and apathy of those who should have fought it from the field of information.
Photo: Yuri Kadobnov/AFP.
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