by Kennedy Applebaum
April 19, 2015
What is needed for peace in Ukraine is a whole new agreement: The Minsk Chapter III Trilateral Peace Plan. Not to be confused with “Minsk 3.0”, that hypothetical disaster which Donetsk People’s Republic Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko has rightly said will never happen, the Chapter III Peace Plan grants full independence to the Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts. They would become new sovereign nations, with borders along the historic boundaries of the Oblasts, in keeping with new local referendums. Peace would be immediate. There would be nothing to negotiate, and nothing left to fight over.
Minsk Chapter III might be brokered similarly to Minsk 2.0, with signatories including the heads of state of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine, as well as OSCE and DPR/LPR Contact Group envoys. Whatever the mechanism, Petro Poroshenko and his government in Kiev would have to be convinced that Minsk Chapter III is in the best interests of Ukraine.
And it is, for at least five reasons. First, granting independence to the Donetsk and Lugansk Oblasts would not be a surrender to Russia, as Russia has not been the aggressor. Indeed, Vladimir Putin has never sought these territories, has not recognized their governments, has provided no Russian Federation military assistance, and has recently stated he is not concerned with Ukraine, that Ukraine’s fate is up to Ukraine.
Second, the Chapter III Peace Plan would free the Kiev government to make any deals it wanted to with the European Union. Third, Kiev would be relieved of the tremendous expense of war. Fourth, Kiev would cease to bear the burden of responsibility for reparations in southeast Donbass, a costly ordeal. And fifth, Ukraine would become a viable nation no longer torn by civil war, and hence a better prospect for investors.
It is conceivable, in the interests of peace, that Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande would be willing to broker such an agreement. This would not set any kind of dangerous precedent, as the Ukraine conflict was unique: a violent coup fueled by foreign factions in a country of unparalleled corruption, sparking massive military resistance escalating to full-scale civil war. The freedom movements in Scotland, Venice, Basque or Barcelona are barely a twinkle beside the bonfire of Donbass resistance. In Ukraine we are seeing a clash of civilizations. It is hardly likely to happen again.
My commentary above was inspired by the writings of Stephen F. Cohen, Princeton professor and scholar of Russian history. I post here several short articles about Cohen from the New York based publication The Nation:
Stephen Cohen: The Alternative to Minsk II Is War
By Nadia Kanji
April 16, 2015
What will be the repercussions if Minsk II fails? In this segment of The John Batchelor Show, The Nation’s Stephen Cohen discusses the potential violence and growing humanitarian crisis that will ensue if the ceasefire does not hold. According to Cohen, the dissolution of the ceasefire would “almost certainly” lead Obama to, despite his reluctance, send billions of dollars of weapons to Kiev, spurring Russia’s further involvement in the Ukrainian civil war in the east. “If Minsk fails, events will logically follow that will cross everyone’s red line—Putin’s, the West,” Cohen said. “And we’ll be in a situation much closer to actual war with Russia.”
Stephen Cohen: ‘The New York Times’ Has It
Wrong On Putin and the EU
by Abigail Savitch-Lew
April 8, 2015
The New York Times ran a front-page article on Tuesday accusing Putin of currying favor with Cyprus and Greece in an effort to secure their votes against renewing sanctions. Later that day, The Nation’s Stephen Cohen said on The John Batchelor Show that while it’s true that Putin hopes to find support in Europe’s “soft spots,” the tone of the Times’s headline — ”Waving Cash, Putin Sows E.U. Divisions in an Effort to Break Sanctions“ — misleadingly places the blame on Russia for the current disunity in Europe. “It’s not Putin who split Europe. It’s American policy,” Cohen said, adding that Europe needs Russia for its own economic prosperity. He also discussed the continuing efforts of US leaders to undermine the Minsk II negotiations, which, he said, are crucial to lasting peace in the region.
Stephen Cohen: This Is the Last Thing Putin Wanted
by James F. Kelly
April 6, 2015
Is a US war with Russia possible? The Nation’s Stephen Cohen joined The Thom Hartmann Program to discuss the politics underpinning the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Cohen expressed concern over the narrative in the West that Putin sought to destabilize Ukraine as part of a wider campaign to take back former Soviet territories in Eastern Europe. “It doesn’t correspond to the facts and above all it has no logic. This is the last thing Putin wanted,” said Cohen. Cohen also maintained that the United States is closer to the possibility of war with Russia than it has been since the Cuban missile crisis. “American national security still runs through Moscow. We will never have real sensible national security without the Kremlin as partner,” Cohen said.
Stephen Cohen: Ukraine’s Last Best Chance
by Khadija Elgarguri
April 2, 2015
The Nation’s Stephen Cohen visited The John Batchelor Show on Tuesday to discuss the seemingly unopposed efforts of the American “war party” to undermine a political solution to the Ukraine conflict. The “misinformation coming out of many Western and NATO capitals about some new Russian escalation of which there is no evidence,” Cohen said, is an “all-out campaign by the people who want a showdown with Russia.” This effort to sabotage the Minsk II agreement, which Cohen called “the last best chance to avert wider war,” seems to be working: thanks to the war party’s influence in Washington, American tanks are now “rolling across Europe.”
Stephen Cohen: The Ukrainian People Deserve Better
Than the Kiev Government
by Cole Delbyck
March 25, 2015
Stephen Cohen, contributing editor at The Nation, visited The Jon Batchelor Show on Tuesday to discuss the latest developments in the Ukrainian conflict. While discussing the nature of the Kiev government, Cohen remarked, “According to Washington…this is a democratic government that represents the Western, democratic, capitalist aspirations of the Ukranian people…In my judgement that is a false characterization of this regime. This regime is corrupt, it is bent on war with Russia, possibly because it knows that only if it can bring the United States and NATO into the war does this regime have a chance at surviving.”
I also quote below several excerpts from Cohen’s detailed and insightful analysis entitled Why We Must Return to the US-Russian Parity Principle (Apr 17) by Stephen F. Cohen:
“The new Cold War has been deepened and institutionalized by transforming what began, in February last year, as essentially a Ukrainian civil war into a US/NATO-Russian proxy war; by a torrent of inflammatory misinformation out of Washington, Moscow, Kiev and Brussels; and by Western economic sanctions that are compelling Russia to retreat politically, as it did in the late 1940s, from the West. Still worse, both sides are again aggressively deploying their conventional and nuclear weapons and probing the other’s defenses in the air and at sea. Diplomacy between Washington and Moscow is being displaced by resurgent militarized thinking, while cooperative relationships nurtured over many decades, from trade, education, and science to arms control, are being shredded. And yet, despite this fateful crisis and its growing dangers, there is still no effective political opposition to the US policies that have contributed to it—not in the administration, Congress, mainstream media, think tanks, or on campuses—but instead mostly uncritical political, financial, and military boosterism for the increasingly authoritarian Kiev regime, hardly a bastion of ‘democracy and Western values.'”
“Powerful enemies of the Minsk accord — again, in both Washington and Kiev — are denouncing it as appeasement of Putin while demanding that President Obama send $3 billion of weapons to Kiev. Such a step would escalate the war in Ukraine, sabotage the ceasefire and political negotiations agreed upon in Minsk, and provoke a Russian military response with unpredictable consequences. While Europe is splitting over the crisis, and with it perhaps shattering the vaunted transatlantic alliance, this recklessness in Washington is fully bipartisan, urged on by four all-but-unanimous votes in Congress. (We must therefore honor the 48 House members who voted against the most recent warfare resolution on March 23, even if their dissent is too little, too late.)”
“Two exceedingly dangerous examples are directly related to the Ukrainian crisis. For years, US leaders have repeatedly asserted that Russia is not entitled to any ‘sphere of influence,’ even on its own borders, while at the same time enlarging the US sphere of influence, spearheaded by NATO, to those borders—by an estimated 400,000 square miles, probably the largest such ‘sphere’ inflation ever in peacetime. Along the way, the US political-media establishment has vilified Putin personally in ways it never demonized Soviet Communist leaders, at least after Stalin, creating the impression of another policy orientation antithetical to parity—the delegitimization and overthrow of Russia’s government.”
In summary, Cohen advocates a parity of co-equals between the US and Russia. I would add that China must share in this co-equality, creating a three-way balance of superpowers for lasting peace and stability.
Sputnik News also presents a pertinent article entitled Kiev Tries to Hammer Another Nail Into Coffin of Minsk Accord – Cohen (Apr 17) on Stephen Cohen, from which I quote several passages:
“The US-backed Ukrainian leadership is making every effort to sabotage the Minsk accord, Stephen F. Cohen emphasized, warning that the alternative to the Minsk 2 agreement is a larger war between Moscow and Washington.”
“[Cohen] referred to a number of legislative bills signed by Ukraine’s President Poroshenko, who evidently reversed the promises made by Kiev during the Minsk negotiations. Although Poroshenko himself approved the Minsk accord, since then Kiev has acted in contradiction to the deal.”
“The professor noted that Washington continues to blame the Kremlin of the Ukrainian crisis and ‘military aggression’ against Kiev. Still, the US and NATO leaderships failed to provide any evidence of Russia’s alleged engagement in the Ukrainian turmoil. By aggravating further tensions with Moscow over Ukraine’s crisis, Washington and its allies risk dealing a severe blow to the current geopolitical status quo in Europe. Russia is still an important element of global security and it cannot be isolated, the historian stressed, referring to the fact that since the West imposed sanctions on Moscow, the Kremlin has signed a huge number of international deals, much more that the US itself.”
Stephen Frand Cohen (born November 25, 1938) is an American scholar of Russian studies at Princeton University and New York University. His academic work concentrates on modern Russian history since the Bolshevik Revolution and the country’s relationship with the United States….
Views on the relations between the Russian Federation and the United States of America Ukraine:
During the 2014 unrest in Ukraine, Cohen drew criticism for his “pro-Russian” views with sources describing him as an apologist for Putin and the Russian government. Cohen personally describes himself as an American “dissenter” and argues that the media stifles anyone who even tries to understand the situation from the Kremlin’s perspective while stigmatizing them as Putin apologists for doing so. (– Wikipedia)