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Editorial: Ukraine: minor incursions and major posturing as Nato struggles with EU reality

WHEN the New York Times reports, as it did yesterday, that President Joe Biden is considering sending thousands of troops, warships and aircraft to the Baltic and eastern Europe, it reflects the desires of those in the US ruling class yet to come to terms with the shifting realities of global power.

The vainglorious, speculative and entirely unevidenced claim by Britain’s spook agencies that the Kremlin is setting up an obscure politician as the next leader of Ukraine is part of this psy-op to soften up public opinion.

Actually Biden said something rather sensible last week that outraged the Nato hawks and shone a light on the developing contradictions within Nato.

That these are being played out in the EU is precisely because the drive to integrate the federal European project with Western capitalism’s military alliance reveals just how contradictory the interests of these supposed partners are.

Biden said Russia would pay a “serious and dear price” for invading Ukraine.

In one sense Russia “invaded Ukraine” when it reassumed sovereignty over the Crimean portion of the Russian Soviet Republic that the Ukrainian-born Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev assigned to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic back in the last century.

This had little international significance when the USSR was a unified socialist state. Crimea’s reintegration to the present-day Russian state was largely welcomed by its mostly Russian-speaking residents.

There remains — despite verbal protestations and diplomatic double speak — a tacit understanding that this reflects the geopolitical realities.

But Biden went on to to say: “What you are going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades and it depends on what it does. It is one thing if it is a minor incursion and then we end up having to fight about what to do and not to do etc.”

The fight he anticipated is not with Russia but with the contending forces among the European states.

The notionally “Green” foreign minister in Germany’s new coalition government just concluded a stony confrontation with her opposite number, Russia’s Sergei Lavrov and has won plaudits for her unyielding adherence to the cold war conventions that puts her at variance with big elements in German capital — and with some among her social-democratic coalition partners.

But make no mistake, the tensions arising from Nato’s expansion have created a dangerous situation that could get out of hand. Russia wants its proposals for the resolution of the conflict to be accorded respect and couples this with an end to Nato expansion.

In giving voice to the divisions among Germany’s military and civil leadership, the now-displaced head of Germany’s navy showed just how divisive and dangerous the forward Nato strategy is.

French President Emmanuel Macron alarmed the Atlanticists with his assertion that Europe should negotiate its own security arrangements with the Russians.

Among the most obtuse elements in the British defence and intelligence establishment — step forward Liz Truss — braggadocio mingles with a growing realisation that they are out of step with the new European geometry.

Ukraine is deeply divided politically — and it can only exist as a unified and sovereign state when its internal contradictions are managed within a federal constitution.

The French foreign minister made the point that France and Germany are at one in believing that the implementation of the Minsk agreements remains the only agreed basis for a lasting solution to the Ukraine crisis.

When in the 1980s new missile systems were deployed in Europe, a mass movement drew Labour into a coalition for peace. Today, when Labour’s John Healey joins in chorus with the Nato wannabe warmongers he puts Labour out of step with sensible opinion.

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