“Russian Invasion” or “Ukrainian War”?

By Rick Boettger

Roger Kostmayer’s strong defense of what he prefers to call the “Russian Invasion” deserves my best response in return. Here are the three most important matters of dispute.

First, it was not “without cause” that Russia invaded. For over 30 years, since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has made it clear they regarded placing NATO on their doorstep as an act of war. While we initially agreed, we quickly reneged, admitting three former Warsaw Pact states, followed by 12 more, in what George Kennan called “the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-cold-war era.” After Ukraine actually led NATO forces in large-scale military exercises in late 2021, Putin in December of 2021 demanded that the U.S. and NATO simply address his concerns about the increasing involvement of Ukraine in NATO, knowing that their joining was violating a 30-year red line. The U.S. blew him off, instead increasing sanctions on Russian banks, Parliament members, and other major assets.

Then, the day before the invasion, authorities in the breakaway republics claimed persistent shelling by Ukrainian forces. While there is no doubt Russia “invaded” the next day, to say it was “without cause” is to deny 30 years of past history and especial provocations the months before—while denying Russia exactly the kind of discussions that could have avoided what is, in fact a war in Ukraine, or “Ukrainian war.”

Second, to make this a cause putting “democratic values” versus a “dystopian nightmare led by …North Korea…” is more than hyperbole. Just as I am replying to specific assertions, I beg an answer to my factual reporting of Zelinsky’s clearly autocratic, ANTI-democratic regime—no opposition parties, media, religions, or any elections. The only “nightmare” that is possible in the future is a nuclear one, caused by us in OUR deliberate killing of Russian soldiers with our most destructive weapons.

If support for the war depends on Ukraine being “democratic,” that is factually untrue. Worse is to say the alternative is France becoming like North Korea, and odd bogeyman-scenario, when the sure greater danger is: risking nuclear escalation; pushing Russia, China, and Iran into closer alliances; hurting Germany worse than Russia with our misguided sanctions; and leaving Ukraine utterly devastated, plus a legacy of cluster bombs to kill their children for generations, as in Laos to this day.

Third, Ukraine is to Russia most like Cuba was to us. We demanded Russia back off our neighbor, as Russia now demands NATO back off theirs. Russia did—but only after Jack Kennedy removed our nuclear warheads from Turkey, in his famous secret “backdoor” negotiations with Gorbachev. All I am asking is that the U.S. now seek a similar compromise in Ukraine, instead of our vow to do “all it takes” in support of Zelinsky’s steadfast refusal to consider anything other that a complete defeat of Russia and joining NATO. Indeed, in that way lies the true “lawless darkness.”

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