Cuba, Korea and Ukraine

  • by Pete O'Brien
  • 03-06-2022

We need to end the war in Ukraine, for a host of reasons. The immediate reason is obviously to end the very real suffering among innocents, the reason any war should be avoided at nearly any cost (not all costs, some wars are necessary, Ukraine is justifiably fighting at this point). 

The second reason is that this presents the possibility of nuclear powers bumping into each other. No one wants that.

A third reason is that there have been enough swings taken at the economies of Europe, Russia, the US and everyone else for that matter, that before we have a global economic collapse, we need to try to stop this. 

Note that it’s not “just” for the money; if the global economy stays on its current trajectory there is a clear possibility that we are going to see food prices soar and lots of poor people starve. People suffering, chance for a nuclear engagement, chance for global starvation; those are good reasons to stop.

Stopping right now won’t please anyone a lot, but it’s a place to start. And the US, the UK and France - the three nuclear powers of Europe, and India should join in as well - need to confront Putin. Do it privately, but it must be done. 

Begin with this: Putin has to be given something to stop; so, Russia gets Ukraine east of the Dnepr. Everyone agrees to a DMZ down the middle of the Dnepr river. All Russian forces west of the Dnepr withdraw east. All Ukrainian forces east of the Dnepr withdraw west.

But, some might say, the Ukrainians are winning! Why should they give up land?

First, they are winning now, but parts of their country are being reduced to rubble, and Putin appears completely willing to keep reducing cities to rubble. More important is the consideration of what Putin might do if he thinks he’s actually losing: use a nuclear weapon. Simply put, we can’t let that chance develop; the West needs to stop that from happening. The “nuclear genie” is trying to get out of the bottle; it must not.

Before anyone cries “appeasement,” consider what might happen if Putin were to use a nuclear weapon tactically over Ukraine. We would be in truly uncharted and very dangerous waters. That is a “genie” we really want to keep inside the bottle. And true, we partitioned a country before: Korea and nearly 70 years later the partition is still there. But the war ended at least. And there wasn’t nuclear exchange.

At the same time, Putin needs to give up something. He can begin with giving up his NATO "bone.” The angst, often expressed by those on this side of the Russian border, runs “how would we feel if the Warsaw Pact had a country next to the US?"

They did. Putin still does. It’s called Cuba. They put nuclear weapons there a while back. You may recall that it caused a bit of a stir.

For Russia’s (the Soviets) agreeing to remove the nuclear weapons from Cuba (Did they remove all of them?), the US agreed to never mess with Cuba. We essentially acknowledged that Cuba had the right to exist and had full sovereign rights.

We expect the same out of Moscow vis-a-vis Ukraine: Russia and Putin publicly reaffirm Ukrainian sovereignty, tit for tat. 

But how do we get Russia, how do we get Putin, to take the threats as credible?

Some carrot, some stick.

The carrots are simple: end the shooting right now, a truce while we sort things out, and the West opens up banking, we restore your credit rating, we firm up the ruble, we certify Nordsteam 2. 

Russia, until such time as we reach some sort of agreement as to a final settlement (again, not Korea), has Eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

Ukraine loses the eastern slice of the country. But the killing stops.

And the sticks?

Failure to reach some sort of ceasefire and settlement means we will flow a thousand Javelins and a thousand Stingers a month for the rest of all time. Ukrainian insurgents will receive training in making IEDs that will be marvels to behold. The Ukrainian insurgency will become so vicious that 1985 in Afghanistan will be remembered as the happy days in the Russian Army.

And the West will consider any use of a nuclear weapon in Ukraine as an attack on our three countries (four if India participates)

Further, as far as nuclear weapons being placed on Russia’s doorstep, Russian ballistic missile submarines patrolled just off the US East Coast for decades, a shorter distance to Washington than eastern Ukraine is from Moscow. 

So, no more whining about NATO. That makes for good theater, but it doesn’t mean anything as far as changing the strategic situation.

And for the record, NATO is never going to conduct a land invasion of Russia. If Putin thinks that he’s an idiot. And Putin isn’t an idiot.

Putin is a thug, but we have to deal with him. Russia has 4,000 or more operational nuclear warheads, they’re a major source of oil, natural gas and grains, and other natural resources; they are important “players” in the world economy.

We need to stop this war in Ukraine, we need to get Putin off the nuclear escalation ladder, and we need to try and keep the world from economic collapse. 

A whole host of issues will follow as to what exactly NATO does in a post Ukraine War Europe. And we need to make sure this doesn’t happen in Taiwan.

That can follow shortly. First, let’s stop the war in Ukraine, this is what MUST be done. Whether anyone is any of the capitals of the West have the credibility to do any of this is unknown. But this must be done.