Blinken’s Booby Traps – How The US Propaganda Paper Released In Madrid Proposes to Go to War With Russia While Claiming to Do The Opposite

Yves here. It’s painful to keep on top of the unserious-by-design US effort to negotiate with Russia over Ukraine and the general issue of the US continuing to use NATO and NATO-lite arrangements to move men and materiel closer to Russia’s border. So Helmer deserves credit for scrutinizing another manifestation of America’s “not agreement capable”  conduct, this in the form of a wildly misrepresented document that the US released in Madrid.

However, we have some unexpected good news. America’s performance is so shambolic that of all people, Emanuel Macron is successfully playing statesman by throwing spanners into our “escalate the hostilities” plan.

Above the fold at the BBC’s site: Deal to avoid war in Ukraine within reach – Macron. Suhbead:

France’s leader calls for a “new balance” to protect European states while affording Russia respect.

Key bits from the story:

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he thinks a deal to avoid full scale war in Ukraine is possible and that it is legitimate for Russia to raise its own security concerns.

Before talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, he called for a “new balance” to protect European states and appease Russia.

He restated that the sovereignty of Ukraine was not up for discussion….

Moscow has made a string of demands, including that the Nato defence alliance rule out Ukraine becoming a member, and that it reduce its military presence in eastern Europe.

Western countries have rejected this, instead suggesting other areas of negotiation, for example talks on cutting back nuclear weaponry.

Mr Macron told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper that Russia’s objective was “not Ukraine, but a clarification of the rules… with Nato and the EU”….

Mr Macron, who also spoke with US President Joe Biden on Sunday, cautioned against expecting Moscow to take unilateral measures to de-escalate the situation and said Russia had the right to raise its own concerns.

I imagine some head in State are exploding. Good.

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

A soldier who lays a booby trap for his adversary thinks him fool enough to be tricked or lured to his own death. He thinks his enemy is inferior and deserves death. He hates him.

The German expression for war planned and executed like this is rassenkampf, race war. The German generals who planned and executed the 1941 invasion of Russia, Operation BARBAROSSA, claimed they didn’t hate the Russians. Their war was krieg ohne hass, war without hate. They said that after their surrender or capture, when they were facing war crimes trials.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (lead image, centre) hates Russians; thinks them inferior to Americans; fools compared to himself; deserving of the fate Blinken intends for them.  The evidence is in the booby traps Blinken set in the document the State Department arranged to leak in a Spanish newspaper last week. It is called “NON-PAPER CONFIDENTIAL/REL RUSSIA Areas of Engagement to Improve Security”.

The State Department has announced in a double negative that it has “seen nothing to suggest these documents are not authentic.”

The paper claims to be a “response to Russia’s request that the United States provide a direct written response to Russia’s draft treaty proposal”. What follows is not a direct response to the seven substantive Russian treaty articles. Instead, it lays a booby trap for each of the seven Russian proposals with a reaffirmation of the US intention to continue with its plans to attack Russia from the territories of other states, from international waters and the airspace bordering on Russia – and much more.

To camouflage these booby traps, the Blinken paper lists these intentions as “Concerns”. The Blinken paper has issued 55 lines of “Concerns” one for each of the 55 lines of “US Position”.

Only three of the Russian treaty articles are identified in the Blinken paper – Articles 5, 6, and 7. By ignoring the first four articles of the Russian treaty the Blinken paper has declared its refusal  “not to undertake actions nor participate in or support activities that affect the security of the other Party” (Article 1); its dismissal of the “core security interests of the other Party”; and its rejection of “the principles contained in the Charter of the United Nations (Article 2).”

The Blinken paper also declares the US intention to continue to  “use the territories of other States with a view to preparing or carrying out an armed attack against the other Party or other actions affecting core security interests of the other Party” (Article 3); to encourage “further eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization”(Article 4); and to plan to “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” (Article 4).

In the Blinken paper, that last point means it no longer matters to the US whether Ukraine joins NATO or not. The US intends to make war on Russia from the territory of the Ukraine across the Red Line.

Writers in the alternative media have made much of the failure of the State Department spokesman last week  to provide any evidence for his allegation,  widely printed in the mainstream media,  that Russia has prepared a plan of fabricated attacks to justify an invasion of Ukraine. The media  have all missed the bigger and more obvious fabrication – this is the text of the documents leaked in Spain last week.


To understand this fabrication and the war plan it conceals, it needs to be read beside the Russian treaty proposals of December 17 and compared, line for line, article by article.

Start here.


And then here.



Blinken Booby Trap 1. The reason Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (lead image, left) has insisted publicly on a written US response to the Russian draft treaty is that he has repeatedly said, as has President Vladimir Putin, that the US makes promises it violates, including the verbal promises of February 1990 not to expand the NATO alliance eastwards (“not one inch”) to the Russian border. Lavrov and Putin have also said many times that the US violates its own signed treaty agreements. In responding with the leak in Madrid, the US is issuing an official paper it can deny to be official later on. The classification tag at the top confirms this intention. With CONFIDENTIAL, the lowest possible classification to hold the leaker harmless,  the State Department declares its position paper to be a “NON-PAPER”.

Record of the February 1-9, 1990,  promises, including those of then-secretary of State James Baker to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
Transcript of the Baker-Gorbachev conversation, February 9, 1990.

Blinken Booby Trap 2.  The paper claims that Ukrainian membership of NATO cannot and will not be negotiated between the US and Russia, according to Russia’s proposed Article 4. The US paper sets two preconditions for this non-negotiability: the first is that “issues related to NATO… will be addressed separately by the Alliance [and] with our Allies and partners”. The Ukraine is, in Blinken’s recent public formulations, the partner which currently holds priority over the Allies.    Blinken’s second precondition relegates Article 4 to the “NRC…the appropriate forum for discussions of that issue (Russia’s proposed treaty Article 4)”. NRC stands for NATO-Russia Council.  In practical effect, according to NATO’s one-member veto rule,  the US allows itself to be blocked from negotiating with Russia on Article 4 – by Lithuania (or by Albania, Canada, Estonia, Iceland, Luxembourg, Poland, or Romania).

Blinken Booby Trap 3.  Article 1 of the Russian treaty proposed that one state, like the Ukraine, cannot be armed, financed, and supported by the US or NATO to threaten the security of Russia, according to the “principles of indivisible, equal and undiminished security”. US agreement to the principle of “indivisible security” was signed twice – in Istanbul in 1999 and again in Astana in 2010.    In the Blinken paper this is admitted. He then adds two qualifiers – “our respective interpretations of that concept” and “[it] cannot be viewed in isolation”. This means that Blinken interprets the indivisibility of security in Europe by dividing it into the NATO-Ukrainian version, and the Russian version.

Blinken Booby Trap 4. Russia has proposed to revive the intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty (INF). It has added in Article 4 that the US and Russia should also agree “not to deploy ground-launched intermediate-range and shorter-range missiles outside their national territories”. This wording applies to the US Navy’s Aegis offshore missile bases in Romania and Poland. Blinken’s reply ignores Article 4 entirely. Instead, it says it is willing to discuss “transparency measures and reciprocal commitments” covering “offensive ground-launched missile systems and permanent forces with a combat mission in the territory of Ukraine.” This implies that the US reserves the right to move nuclear weapons into Ukraine on a “temporary” basis, and that its decision to do this will be based on “consult[ation] with Ukraine”. This amounts to a provocative, and hitherto unpublished escalation of US arms in the Ukraine. In the “Concerns” section Blinken has attached a US offer to negotiate not to do this on condition that Russia withdraw from its “build-up of military forces in Crimea and on Ukraine’s borders”.  This means that Washington is offering to trade the withdrawal of US nuclear weapons in Ukraine for Russian withdrawal of Russian nuclear weapons from Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet.

Blinken Booby Trap 5.  Addressing the Romanian and Polish missile sites run by the US Navy – the Aegis Ashore Tomahawk bases – Blinken offers “a transparency mechanism to confirm the absence of Tomahawk [nuclear] cruise missiles at Aegis Ashore  sites in Romania and Poland provided Russia offers reciprocal transparency measures on two ground-launched missile bases of our choosing in Russia.” One of the Russian targets identified in the paper is “modern dual-capable missiles in Kaliningrad”. Blinken also adds the NATO veto qualifier – “consult[ation] with Romania and Poland on this issue” plus “additional consultation in NRC”.

The US Navy’s nuclear missile base at Deveselu, Romania, under US Sixth Fleet command. For more detail, read.  For the Russian Red Line warning of 2016.   

Blinken Booby Trap 5.  Russia has proposed Article 6 to withdraw the US Navy’s Aegis nuclear missiles from the surface fleets operating in the Black and Baltic Seas, and from their warhead transfer bases at Souda Bay (Crete, Greece), and Rota (Spain). The Blinken paper ignores this entirely, but demands negotiations on Russian nuclear or dual capable weapons deployed or stocked on Russian territory “near NATO Allies’ borders”. Blinken is also requiring that Russia agree to curb those of its weapons for which the US has no match – “novel intercontinental-range nuclear weapons delivery systems”.

Blinken Booby Trap 6.  Until now, the paper declares, “US and NATO current force posture is limited, proportionate, and in full compliance with commitments under the Russia-NATO Founding Act.”     But this “proportionate compliance” is about to change. “Further Russian increases to force posture or further aggression against Ukraine will force the United States and our Allies to strengthen our defensive posture”. Blinken’s formulation implies that unless Russia withdraws from its own borders, including Crimea, the US proposes to respond with its own “proportionate” “multi-domain military buildup, more assertive posture, novel military capabilities, and provocative activities.” This is camouflage for US and Canadian trainers, mercenaries and special forces at the Donbass Contact Line; Turkish and Israeli drones and new NATO ordnance in the Ukrainian line of attack; US tripwire deployments to Germany, Poland, and Romania; and Anglo-American cyber and information warfare.

Attached to this booby trap is this proviso in the NATO document released in Madrid last week. Lacking a title, this public release is tagged “RESTRICTED” for which there is no US equivalent or restriction. In this document, the US and NATO now demand that Russia accept Kiev’s rejection of the Minsk Agreements for military and political resolution of the Donbass conflict; as well as Georgian territorial claims on Abkhazia and Ossetia, and Moldova’s claims against Transnistria.


This is a selection of the Blinken booby traps. There are others if you read carefully. There is no prize for discovering them all.  Not even a booby prize.

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  1. DJG, Reality Czar

    The lead photo is not in the post, but I quibble. We can tell from Helmer’s cross-references who is in it, anyway.

    As the great strategists have reminded us, to go to war means that one must have clear purposes for the war. And this document is proposing to attack Russia.

    To what end? Does Blinken expect to have U.S. troops in Moscow and Kazan, marching in to be greeted as liberators with flowers and flavored vodka?

    Or is this some kind of punitive expedition–dropping bombs on the caliphate (as if Syrian policy (if the U.S. even has a policy in Syria) has been so successful)?

    And it appears that Blinken wishes to make Crimea the Polish Corridor of our times?

    And we’re relying on Romania and Poland to further U.S. security interests? Allow me to point out, not so gently, that Romania is hardly reliable and has serious economic problems. Poland is now (along with Hungary) the EU’s backsliding mistake. The Polish government, in the name of freedom and the continuing Polish melodrama, has wrecked the justice system, engaged in the oppression of women, and declared gayfolk nonexistent.

    So the U S of A is in Central Europe feeding on U.S. resentments and the endless resentment of the Poles and Romanians.

    Resentment is not a foreign policy. Resentment most definitely is not a military tactic.

    So we see Macron taking the French approach–that France is still a great power. We see the Germans being indecisive. I see no interest in a jolly big catastrophic war in Italy, Greece, or Spain.

    But I do see Boris Johnson being willing to fight to the last American to keep his and Li’l Joe Biden’s poll numbers up.

    1. JohnA

      Poland and Romania would both hope to take chunks of a carved up Ukraine, that were formerly their respective territories. Crimea will have to be prised from the ‘cold, dead hand of Russia’. I.e. a scenario where the US and Europe would also be very much cold and dead after mutually assured destruction.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You can add Hungary to that list as, like the Polish-Ukrainians, the Hungarian-Ukrainians are regarded as second-class citizens. I think that years ago that Hungary started issuing Hungarian passports to their people living in the Ukraine in case they needed to scoot over the border if things got too hot for them

      2. Samuel Conner

        > chunks of a carved up Ukraine,

        I have the very vague impression that the nationalist inhabitants of Galicia are fond neither of their Polish neighbors to the West nor of their Russian-speaking countrymen to the East.

        Could “independent Galicia” be a viable nation?

        1. disillusionized

          Ukraine, is a sovereign state and a soverign people.
          On the other hand, it’s also two peoples – the “russian” East and the “ruthenian” west. The world would have been a far better place if the borders had been more naturally drawn after ww1.
          Now it’s too late.

        2. Susan the other

          Is there a connection between Spanish Galicia, Polish Galicia, and fragments of Galicia in the Balkans?

          1. HotFlash

            Totally not any kind of expert on this, but apparently Gauls, a Celtic people, were spread across Europe from at least France to the steppes, leaving a trail of red hair. Wikipedia (I know, I know). I remember watching a Nat Geo docu about them ranging across Europe with my Polish-American father-in-law. He watched intently and eventually turned to me and said, “I understand now why I am attracted to red-headed women, and why I always wanted to learn the bagpipes.”

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      I must confess to not being a fan of the cartoons Helmer puts at the top of most posts. To be blunt, they look cheap and undercut the seriousness of his pieces.

    3. Kouros

      The reliability of Romania is contingent to its own interests, not with those of its purported “allies”.

      The US has been seen dropping allies when convenient.

  2. Ignacio

    EL PAIS was this time, and once again, used as the PR platform for certain US’s interests (not necessarily in the general interest of the US). EL PAIS was formerly a ‘progressive’ media that became highly indebted and was then purchased by Liberty Acquisition Holdings (57%) owned by Martin E. Franklin and French Nicolas Berggruen, among others, who converted ‘EL PAIS’ in ‘global media’ meaning this anything but progressive. The never-tabloid uses to act as resonance chamber for the usual suspects seeing here and there Russian interferences and plots whether meddling in regional elections, Syria, Novichocks and whatever following lines very close to the Pentagon and or the CIA.

    1. JohnA

      Sounds very similar to The Guardian in England. That used to be owned by an independent trust, but is now a company with directors mostly from finance and the establishment and simply pretends to be left leaning. Ie one of the worst smearers of Assange and Corbyn, Putin, China etc.

  3. drumlin woodchuckles

    The EUropeans can destroy NATO by defecting from it and declaring it to be out of existence any time they like.

    Why don’t they? Is NATO actually by this time a EUro-Anglo conspiracy to keep America held hostage in EUrope? Are the personnel manning the DC FedRegime in fact agents of Britain and EUrope acting as secret colonial occupiers against America working to trick America into another EUropean war?

    If the EUropeans don’t take this opportunity to abolish NATO, then I may not be the only person wondering whether NATO itself is a Britannico-EUropean conspiracy against America and Russia.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I suspect it is not the Europeans but particular careerist bureaucrats who either fear crossing NATO or worse see NATO as a path to advancement.

    2. JohnA

      The European leaders are all on the post-office benefits scheme, that turned Clintons, Obama, Blair etc., into multimillionaires. NATO is a conspiracy for US arms manufacturer sales. When the Warsaw Pact dissolved, US arms salespersons were on the first flights to Warsaw, Prague, etc., Why else would any of the NATO member countries buy the F35 for example? Hugely expensive and clearly barely fit to fly.

      1. Randy

        OK, every NATO county decides to withdraw from NATO. Now you have a bunch of countries who suddenly have to think seriously about how to defend themselves. Are they all going to develop nuclear weapons? Make cuts into their social programs to pay for an actual military? Do nothing and hope their neighbors also do nothing, in defiance of recorded human history? If I’m faceless bureaucrat #9001 in a NATO country I’m thinking screw this, lets just stay in NATO.

        1. JohnA

          Defend themselves from who? The only ‘threat’ to Europe is migrants fleeing countries in Africa and the Middle East destroyed by NATO. Russia and China want to trade, not invade. That is all hysteria whipped up by US arms manufacturers.

          1. Randy

            If thousands of years of history are any indication, each other? Didn’t the French and English just almost come to blows over fishing? Are we so naive to think that history has ended, these countries’ economies are too intertwined, the destruction would be too great, and the people are too enlightened for such things, just like the great thinkers thought right before WWI?

            1. OnceWereVirologist

              I honestly can’t count how many times I’ve heard this argument and it annoys me every time because it’s the unexamined logic of a bygone era. The 19th and early 20th C history of military conflict in South America is just as bloody as that of Europe but since the end of WWII there’s been nothing more than the odd border skirmish. Why ? Not because of a US-led South American NATO equivalent since such a thing doesn’t exist. Rather, I think, because the socioeconomic basis of mass warfare no longer exists in developed countries. People may not be any more enlightened than they used to be, but try to raise a few hundred thousand English conscripts to invade and occupy France. What’s the bet on how many draftees would turn up, 1 in 10 and that’s optimistic.

            2. JohnA

              The only ‘live’ border dispute within Europe is on Cyprus between Turkey and Greece. But as that is a British military base, the two will be kept apart. The 2 world wars, 1914-19 and 39-45 were so devastating involving whole populations, a kind of non-nuclear MAD, keeps conflict away. The biggest threat to peace is independence movements within countries – Basque/Catalonia/Spain, Scotland/England, Ireland/Britain, Ukraine/Donbass and similar. Apart from the latter, which blew up because of US meddling, the rest are simmering but relatively non-violent with aims to achieve independence via the ballot box.

          2. praxis

            From each other. USA NATO supremacy is really an intra-european truce arrangement imposed by a distant party. If Nato disintegrates who is going to provide security? What happens when/if Germany steps in? The absence of NATO implies a great deal of European cooperation and negotiation and leadership. Where is that leadership / political capital right now?

            1. anon y'mouse

              aren’t all of the countries you list in the EU?

              can’t their unelected bureaucrats draft something up?

              geeze, what do they do all day?

        2. Louis Fyne

          IMO, Europeans have become so homeland-nihilistic that, for the bulk of the populace, the idea of fighting/dying for one’s country is an anathema.

          The US is getting that way too….even deep Red Staters are waking up to the fact that “war is a racket” it only took constantly losing against insurgents, covid mandates, and DC-mandated Pentagon sensitivity training

        3. larry

          Randy, you have your macroecon wrong. No sovereign country will have to cut into any social, or other, program to pay for a military. All they need to do is pay for it, assuming they have the resources to do so. Of course, those in the Eurozone have a special problem as they surroundered their own sovereign currency for what is, in effect, a foreign currency. So, they will have to rely on the European Central Bank. Not a pleasant situation for them, I would imagine.

    3. disillusionized

      Because the alternative to NATO is an EU armed force. Militarily and economically it’s a trivial undertaking – Politically it’s virtually impossible.

      1. Polar Socialist

        I’d prefer something like OSCE. The main issue with security based purely on military deterrence is that it’s fundamentally binary thing with a bias towards military solution for any confrontation. A thing like NATO is not build for de-escalation or detente.

        A collective security organization with multiple channels, procedures and mechanism for de-escalating confrontations can, given half a chance, deal with many more levels of intensity.

        You don’t see NATO observers in conflict areas but you do see OSCE observers (for better or for worse) monitoring many frozen conflicts and ceasefires, trying to solve local, immediate issues.

  4. drumlin woodchuckles

    Perhaps another reason the Joemala Administration wants to hype a fake war scare between America and Russia in Ukraine is to that Joemala can pose as tough enough to make Putin concede things and call of the Russian invasion. It is a cardboard toughguy pose for election 2024.

    If the RussiaGov understands the Joemala Administration this way, then the RussiaGov will make its responses very creative and asymetric and far away from Ukraine itself.

    If EUrope wants to head all this off, perhaps EUrope can work with Russia in dividing Ukraine into 2 countries, Banderakraine in the West and Russiakraine in the East. And Banderakraine can join NATO along with its soulmates like Poland and Romania and stuff, and Russiakraine can join the Shanghai Co-operation Organization.

    1. Questa Nota

      Any means to getting the voters out is good, so phony war posturing to dominate headlines is good enough. That helps drown out the abject failures of the administration. How long can they keep it up? Early November seems about right.

      1. Michael.j

        I agree with both your comment and “drumlin woodchuckles”.

        The Murican “News” machine relies on connotative language and the spoken word vs printed to appeal emotionally to an overworked population, shaping it to its whims. Observing self professed “liberal” friends and family spew hateful tribal language that is almost word for word propaganda recited by broadcast media is a daily occurrence.

        As Putin originally declared, the Russian response will be asymmetrical. Such actions as both China and Russia supporting North Korean missile tests is one such response that flies in the face of Western wishes.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I don’t get out much. But if I heard my liberal friends and family spew hateful tribal language that is almost word for word propaganda taken from the pages of MSM news and broadcasts, I would ask them . . . . ” Is it Live? Or is it Memorex”? Of course I would be showing my age and I would probably have to explain the referrence. I suppose a more modern version of that would be ” is it real? or is it photoshop?”

          And of course these people aren’t ” liberals”. They are real genuine Liberals. This is what the Liberals are nowadays. This is what Liberalism stands for. Don’t believe me? Ask ten million Pink Pussy Hat Clintonites.

  5. The Rev Kev

    I have to confess to being at a loss for words. This is basically a threat to Russia for everything short of actual direct military action. The US has now said that they will be “a clear and present danger” to Russia in an ongoing and escalating course of action. And here I was thinking that nothing could top George Bush’s idiotic decision to invade Iraq. Gawd!

  6. David

    I’m afraid Helmer needs to learn a little bit about negotiation. I don’t think that what the US is doing is especially clever, but it’s not what Helmer thinks they are doing, either.

    As we discussed at the time, the original Russian proposals only really put constraints on the US and NATO, whilst imposing virtually no limitations on themselves. In addition, some of the Articles (notably 1-3) are so loosely drafted that they could cover virtually any type of military activity at all. That’s to say, the Russians decided at the start to go for a maximalist approach, including things they knew in advance the US would not accept. This is a standard tactic, and the US response – ignoring a lot of the Russian text, and proposing things they know the Russians will not accept – is the standard response. Under normal circumstances the two sides will circle around each other producing different drafts which should, in the end, cover the same subjects, even if the proposed wording is different.

    Helmer seems to assume that the Russian document has some kind of magic status, and that unless every point is responded to positively, the world will come to an end. It doesn’t, any more than the US one does. The US document is a “non-paper”, which is to say that it’s for discussion, rather than being a negotiating document. It doesn’t commit the US to anything, but, contrariwise, it doesn’t preclude discussion of other points later. By not mentioning some of the articles, it reserves the right to address the same issues but in a different way.

    Helmer doesn’t understand what he’s talking about, I’m afraid.

    1. ambrit

      What puzzles me is why the sides have decided to come out in the open with these usually clandestine initial moves? It is one thing to bluster and provoke each other in “the back rooms,” where such differences can be dialed back without much public drama. It is entirely another thing to do such in public, where “public opinion” can be expected to build a momentum all it’s own. By “going public,” the sides risk losing control of the situation.
      You’ve worked in “the Public Sphere.” Are there precedents?

      1. Polar Socialist

        It’s been said by many commentators that Russia has been trying to discuss about these issues for 30 years only to be cold shouldered by the West. This time, by going public, they forced the West to finally at least acknowledge that there might be some issues to discuss about.

        As for the US/NATO side, who knows? As Lavrov said when asked about this when he had received the response: “We were asked to keep them confidential, but NATO has many members, so they will be public soon”. Maybe it’s the only way West knows how to operate anymore, by leaks?

      2. David

        Normally, what you get first is talks about whether there’s something to talk about at all. There’s no point otherwise. You’d then expect more serious talks about what you’re going to talk about and in what forum. These are sometimes came “talks about talks” , and can actually be quite formal and detailed. The only comparable situation I can think of, at the end of the Cold War, featured months of discussion leading to formal negotiating mandates. Even then, tabling entire draft treaties at the start of the process is unusual.

        The Russians have skipped over all this, and I’m not sure why. Clearly, they see no willingness to negotiate about their concerns on the western side, and so I suppose they have decided on a kind of shock therapy. In some ways it’s quite clever, because it puts the US/NATO on the back foot, requiring them to respond in some form, but it doesn’t necessarily bring a negotiated settlement any closer. I’d be surprised if the Russians expect to make much progress on their text: it’s more a question of opening a new political flank, and trying to force NATO into a negotiating mode. The Russians will have an advantage there, since coordination on issues like that, in such a big national grouping is NATO, will be incredibly difficult.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Polar Socialist just above offered a very good reason as to why the RussiaGov is doing it in public this way. It is because the WesterGovs have spent the last 30 years studiously ignoring the RussiaGov’s requests in private while sneeringly mocking the RussiaGov’s mere existence in public.

          Obama . . . ” Russia is a regional power”.
          Lavrov ( coulda shoulda said) . . . ” Yes. Russia is a power in the Europe region, in the Middle East Region, in the Central Asia region, in the NorthEast Asia region and the Arctic Ocean region, with other regions to follow in due course”.

        2. Brooklin Bridge

          Isn’t it an unusually risky move for normally cautious Putin? Could he not be responding for shock effect, very much along the lines of your thumbnail, to some intel from the US planning yet another wildly dumb aggressive move?

  7. Michael C.

    The two links imbedded in the start of this article can be reached. Suspicious? Censoring? Or just bad links.? I think foul play is afoot. (You have to go to top of article and try clicking “John Helmer” and “Dances with Bears.” Neither worked for me.)

    By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

  8. Ashburn

    The Ukraine crisis is an entirely US manufactured crisis. Ukraine is an economic basket case, riddled with corruption (as Joe Biden knows intimately), and harbors two hostile ethnic groups, one of whom has very overt neo-Nazi sympathies. In short, Ukraine is nowhere near eligibility for inclusion within NATO. The US, Germany, France and other Europeans know this very well. US meddling in Ukraine is simply what aggressive empires do, I.e. seek to expand until they meet an immovable object. We have just reached that point and it is not just Russian resistance.

    The recent joint statement by Presidents Putin and Xi announcing the de facto alliance of these two Eurasian giants is a world historical event and a geopolitical earthquake. I believe it will be seen as the equivalent of George Kennan’s 1946 “X Article” in Foreign Affairs that inaugurated the US “containment” strategy directed against the Soviet Union. Only now the tables have turned and it is Russia/China and their diplomatic and economic partners that will be coordinating the containment (and roll back?) of the US empire.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And we the domestic victims of that empire will be expected to defend that empire. Perhaps we can eventually tear that empire down from the inside the way the Russians and some others tore down the USSR empire from the inside.

      If America merely ” has ” an empire, then America itself may survive the teardown of empire. But if America “is” an empire, then the teardown of empire could mean the delamination of America down into several-to-many neo-barbarian kindgoms, Free Cities and Republics, Christianazi Satanofascist Totalitarian States full of Jonestown Zombie Trumpanons, etc.

      Such a de-lamination might provide a number of Indian Nations a chance to break for freedom and a recovery of some of their former power and sovereignty. Anywhere up to several million Americans might try to flee the madness by defecting to the Indians. That would place the Indians in a real quandary, deciding which ( if any) Americans would deserve to be accepted as Indian Nation Citizens, and which, if any, could qualify for training and education to become such Indian Nation Citizens.

  9. John Mc

    Could someone please explain the “why now” question of Ukraine?

    It seems on the back of Kazakhstan, Myanmar, and pulling out of Afghanistan that the US is most concerned about the China-Russia alliance and the threat to a unipolar world, as the Yuan overtakes the Yen and the 400+ military bases overseas “containing” our fren-enemies are becoming more obsolete every day.

    Or am I missing a huge, hidden piece here?

    1. Frithiof Andreas Jensen

      Could someone please explain the “why now” question of Ukraine?

      Brexit and North Stream 2. Spiced up with concentration of wealth so that maybe 20 persons calls the shots in America and half of them are degrees of cray-cray, the other half straight up nutters and fundamentalists.

      It was assumed, amongst the people who fund these things, that Brexit would end the EU. This failed.

      USA demanded that Germany stopped the NS2 project and procured sanction-enabled liquified natural gas from America instead, then they tried sanctions against German companies, then they tried to “persuade” various allies like Denmark to veto the construction, which failed because Denmark needs Germany more than it needs the USA. This is becoming embarrassing. The White house cannot be embarrassed.

      Now they are down to the Kinetic Options: Cut the Gas supplies to Europe and Kill the German economy and make whoever sponsors this expedition richer than Marcus Licinius Crassus. Destroy the competition, which is pretty much the only way that Corporate America can become competitive again.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Name you a country that isn’t? Finland. If I thought long and hard enough, I could think of some others.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Pretty much every country in East Asia is better, ex Myanmar. Thailand is corrupt at high levels yet functions very well for normal people on a day to day basis. All of the Scandinavian countries. France. Portugal. Germany. Australia. Canada. New Zealand.

        TimH’s comment was negative value added. It’s also an assignment. Upon reflection, I have put him in moderation.

  10. Matthew G. Saroff

    I think that one of the central points of this dispute is that, in the context of this dispute, this not a conflict WITH The Ukraine, it has a conflict ABOUT The Ukraine.

  11. Susan the other

    El Pais is just an outlet for our war plans. Slightly removed from the NYT or some other warmongering media. It is an amazing maneuver. We are trying to step back from attacking Russia, which we are clearly doing, by issuing our response to them via a fascist NATO newspaper in Spain. Our accomplices are clearly stated as Israel and the UK. But the heartland countries of the EU are not invoked. “We” almost unilaterally demand the Minsk Resolution be rejected? This is a “demand letter” to Russia. We also demand Russia abandon territorial claims to Abkhazia and Ossetia as well as eastern Ukraine provinces and Crimea. Astonishing. Transnistria, if anyone is confused, is a strip of land bordering Moldova along a river (Dnieper?) with a long delta for access from the Black Sea. The reason Ukraine mocked holding a meeting with Russia in Sochi, also on the Black Sea, and said something sarcastic about “skiing” was because Sochi was developed at great financial overruns, for the Olympics ostensibly, but it is, no doubt, also a military outpost for Russia. Probably state of the art in cautious anticipation. Because this US State Department “reply” is a declaration of war. The objective can be nothing other than Caspian oil, Russian Caspian oil, and a clear land access to bring a pipeline to the EU. What else? We are nuts if we think there will be a winner at all, let alone that it will be us. Blinken is a lunatic.

  12. lance ringquist

    you can see the free traders bouncing off of the walls as they try to come up with something to resurrect the free trade economy, they have come up with war on russia, if russia refuses to be raped.

    nafta billy clinton tried it and was stymied by putin, the hatreds and racism free traders have for sovereignty and democratic control never abates or goes away, so here we go again, and all the nafta democrats have left is, 1-6 and war.

    if i was a non nafta democrat, and there are very few of them. i would distance myself as fast as i can for the nafta democrats now, before the election of 2022.

  13. Anthony G Stegman

    The Russians have been bamboozled before by the United States. It would not surprise me at all if the Russians are bamboozled yet again. Is Putin really as sharp and crafty as some people think? This remains to be seen.

    1. Michaelmas

      Is Putin really as sharp and crafty as some people think?

      He’s at least competent.

      His opposite numbers in the Empire are, conversely, so incompetent and arrogant that in the thirty years since the Soviet Union’s fall they’ve managed to turn the most winning hand in history — see Herman Kahn’s response to Michael Hudson’s explanation of the US imperial advantage after Nixon/Kissinger took the US off the gold standard — into today’s cored-out, rapidly collapsing kleptocracy, with deeply angry, depressed populace and DC gerontocracy that makes the last years of the USSR look sprightly by comparison.

      If Putin is merely competent, that will almost certainly be enough.

      Because short of some unpredictable emergent catastrophe like the Siberian permafrost commencing a massive melt, all Russia (and China) have to do is merely hold out as the US circles nearer the drain, the Blob keeps flailing around, the 2022 midterms advance the Republicans on the Hill, and then 2024 returns Trump or (more likely) a Trump-surrogate to the White House, etcetera.Time is on Russia and China’s side.

    2. Ira Leifer

      you mean as competent as sleepy Joe and Kamala?

      I guess you missed how competently the Kazhakastan color revolution was nullified. Or which country has the hypersonic missiles. Your evidence?

      1. Michaelmas

        Ira Liefer: you mean as competent as sleepy Joe and Kamala?

        No, I certainly do not.

        If you had not such poor reading skills, you would have been able to read in the next line that I describe his “opposite numbers in the Empire … (as), conversely, so incompetent and arrogant that in the thirty years,” etcetera.

        For that matter, Biden and Harris are not even the incompetents who formulate US policy, but mere vehicles — like TV anchormen — for delivering the scripts written by those who do. If you don’t know that, you know nothing. This is alongside being unable to read.

    3. Ira Leifer

      Or compare Afghanistan with Syria. And which country has hypersonic missiles and which country has the F-35? Your evidence?

  14. YuShan

    The US and EU don’t understand what is at stake here when they talk about economic sanctions and sending a few troops to “deter” Russia. For Russia, this is a national security issue, so they are prepared to incur significant costs if they must. They have decided that they draw the line here and now, because there will never be a better opportunity to settle this, and I predict that regardless how this plays out, they will mostly get what they want (hopefully by diplomatic means).

    NATO would be stupid to get involved in this, because they will get their ass kicked. This is not Afghanistan or Iraq where you can bomb from great distance with hardly any risk to yourself. This is a modern army that is technically at par and logistically at a great advantage. Any war will cause many casualties on both sides, but Russia can take a lot more punches because for them national security is at stake, while for especially the USA there is hardly a national interest, so there is no tolerance at all for casualties.

    Marcon is a d*ck, but he gets this right. NATO has expanded way too much without considering legitimate Russian security concerns. This is also not in the interest of European counties, because it makes them LESS safe and the relationship with their big neighbour much more complicated. There is a mutual interest for less militarisation and better (trade) relationships with Russia.

    Regardless what you think of Putin, if you place yourself in Russian shoes and consider their security interests from their perspective, I think their demands are actually quite reasonable. We wouldn’t accept this either.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      And the sad thing about all this, if commenter Vlade is correct in past comments, is that it is certain Eastern Europeans themselves who deliberately pressured to suck NATO eastward. Apparently the Sainted Vaclav Havel personally badgered and lectured Bill Clinton to expand NATO eastward to cover all the Warsaw Pact countries.

      If that is correct, that would make this whole sequence of events the fault of Eastun Yerp and the Eastun Yerpians. Including certain embeds within the American government whose brains run solely and only on their Legacy East Yerpian cultural-legacy conditioning. Creatures like Brzezinski and KagaNuland and such. With the Imperial Humanitarianist neo-Wilsonians following merilly along.

    2. George

      Very good YuShan and I agree. You ever wonder why they never rant about imminent invasions into Russia by US from US bases surrounding Russia, or that they even exist?

  15. Burt Brussel

    The one thing people don’t really mention is what do the Ukrainian people want. The idea that Russia should have veto power over Ukraine foreign policy just reeks of colonialism. If Ukraine meets the requirements and wants to join NATO, they should be able to. Russian leaders need to realize that this isn’t the 18th, 19th, or 20th century. The west has no desire to invade Russia.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You have this backwards. Russia has no interests in invading Ukraine. But NATO keeps moving more material and men near its borders.

      This is just like the Cuban missile crisis, except so far the weapons aren’t nukes. But they are so close they don’t need to be.

      By your same logic, who were we to tell Cuba who it could have as an ally and what type of military cooperation it could have with them?

      1. Burt Brussel

        I disagree with your statement that says Russia has no interest in invading Ukraine. They already have invaded in 2014, and they have 100k troops that could invade, who knows at this point. NATO is expanding because Eastern European countries have decided to join, nobody forced them to. I don’t think the Cuban comparison is completely analogous in this situation, but that is something for another time, But you’re correct that the USA shouldn’t dictate Cubas foreign policy. Anyway, I enjoy the site and the comment section is always thoughtful. Keep up the good work.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          We have posted that Russia ROUTINELY has around 100,000 troops within 150 miles of its border, and now has fewer troops there than it did in April.

          As for 2014, Russia had a bases in Crimea so it always had had troops there. Russia annexed Crimea after a referendum. Crimea has a substantial Russian-speaking population and had been added to Ukraine after its establishment.

          As to the claims that Russia sent formal military units into other parts of Ukraine then, that is disputed despite what you’d infer from Wikipedia. Russia was clearly providing arms to the separatists but even then they were old and poor quality to provide a veneer of plausible deniability. It is also pretty clear that the Russian armed services were winking and nodding and letting service members go AWOL w/o punishment to “help” relatives in Ukraine (a lot of Ukrainians of Russian descent have relatives in Russia). It is also a near certainty that Russia also sent in “advisers”.

  16. Darthbobber

    Not apropos of his main thrust, but I wish Helmer could restrain himself from rhetorical flights like his opening blurb about booby traps implying belief in the enemy’s racial inferiority. Booby traps of one sort or another have been part of the bag of tricks for armies for many hundreds of years. The Russians themselves have been adept enough in their use.

    And they’ve really been a big tool for insurgencies and resistance movements.

    Helmer is quite good on those things he is fully informed about, and scarcely better than the average educated layperson on other things.


    To repeat a short post.

    Biden and the Democrats have low, and probably falling approvals with the US Public. It would take a war to change the perceptions in the US, and have the apparatus in DC wave the war flag and then demand Patriotic Sacrifice form the US populace, while keeping their Jobs (and sinecures) by not changing the status in DC in Wartime.

    US Tatctic: When in trouble at Home, go adventuring abroad.

    After all, it’s just Europe and not the US which will become war torn, and the denizens of the USG can protect themselves with jingoistic propaganda, while simultaneously protecting the US Gentrocracy in DC.

  18. attila the hun

    Biden, Blinken and the rest of that crew of geniuses better focus on the big picture. They’re playing with fire. What would happen if in response to actual armed conflict in Ukraine, Russians started to play internet computer games with our electrical grid, banking system, etc. Answer: Panic and chaos. That would be the kiss of death for the Democratic Party.

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