Disarm and defuse: The demilitarization of Ukraine

Disarm and defuse: The demilitarization of Ukraine

Veronika Krasheninnikova

The discussion of the demilitarization of Ukraine started in 2014. Then, in the Public Chamber, experts assessed the feasibility of Ukraine’s membership in NATO and the demilitarization of Ukraine through negotiations. It was obvious that talks about joining the alliance were being conducted in order to integrate Kyiv into the military-political space of the West, but none of the countries of “old Europe” would vote for the official membership of Maidan Ukraine in NATO. Because it is too dangerous for oneself to have such a violent participant, especially with unsettled boundaries – this is an informal condition for non-acceptance.
It was also obvious that while talking about NATO membership, Washington would pump up the country with weapons. And within the framework of partnership with NATO, and within the framework of bilateral relations with any and every state – a member of the North Atlantic Alliance. We said that it is necessary to demand from the West, firstly, to stop the supply of all weapons to Ukraine, and secondly, to stop education, combat training and any other briefing of the Armed Forces, the National Guard and any other military and paramilitary units of Ukraine.
There are two ways to carry out demilitarization: diplomatic and military. The Minsk agreements solved part of the problem – in relation to the security of the LPR and DPR. At some point, it seemed that the parties came to their execution. Do you remember (probably not) that in 2016 they even discussed the “Steinmeier formula” on a special procedure for local self-government and holding local elections in the LPR and DPR? What details! But the situation has slipped to a complete denial by Kiev of the Minsk agreements as a whole.
In parallel, the United States and its allies pumped military aid and weapons into Ukraine. Washington alone, and since 2014 alone, has provided more than $2.7 billion in military support, sums up the Stimson Center, which works on security issues. The numbers hit an annual high of $650 million last year, and according to The Hill, the Biden administration intends to ask Congress for billions more in Ukraine’s military budget.
U.S. military aid came primarily through the Department of Defense’s Security Assistance to Ukraine Initiative ($1.35 billion) and the State Department’s Foreign Military Funding Program ($721 million). These and other programs “made Ukraine one of the largest recipients of US military aid, ranking it seventh in the world between 2016 and 2020, and the largest recipient in Europe,” the Stimson Center concludes.
And yes: in addition to dollar amounts, the US provided foreign military training to at least 10,629 (!) Ukrainian cadets between 2015 and 2019. This is how many dedicated personnel “loaded” America into the security system of independent Ukraine!
The US military also trained Ukrainian special forces. As early as January 19, Stars and Stripes, the largest newspaper of the US Armed Forces, reported : “American special instructors continue to carry out the mission of creating an elite combat force in Ukraine, even when Russia threatens to invade. <…> “Our training mission in Ukraine continues,” the press said on Tuesday -Secretary of the US Special Operations Co-mmand in Europe (SOCE-UR). <…> For the past few years, SOCEUR, based in Stuttgart, has been quietly working in a training center near Kiev. The mission is to help Ukrainian troops defend themselves more effectively against Russian aggression.”
The United States has long “taken” Ukraine. Offi-cial membership in NATO was not even required.
Moreover, the consolidation of Ukraine in the military-political space of the West has been a long-standing goal. Recall: Maidan in Kiev began in November 2013 after the refusal of the then President Viktor Yanukovych to sign the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU.
This agreement was presented as an economic agreement, but in fact, right from the start, it was about “convergence in the sphere of foreign and defense policy” – these are the words from the title of the second section of the agreement. And the purpose of this “political dialogue” was “an ever deeper involvement of Ukraine in the sphere of European security.”
The government that came to power as a result of an armed coup d’état, represented by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, signed the political part of the Association Agreement already on March 21. And only in June 2014 the economic section was signed, and it came into effect only on January 1, 2016.
Was it possible in such circumstances to demilitarize Ukraine through diplomacy?
How to convince the United States to leave Ukraine neutral, to take out weapons, to stop issuing military budgets? And also to dissolve the embedded agents, the military, and at the same time the one that was started by special departments?
If you believe that oranges will be born from aspens, that you can teach a crocodile to eat cucumbers, and that you can force capital to stop chasing profits and starting wars for the sake of it, then you can believe that the United States would peacefully agree to the demilitarization of Ukraine.
As an expert who has been studying the United States for twenty years, part of the time from a very close distance, I declare: no, it was impossible for Russia to “negotiate” with the United States at this historical stage – without having the power and influence in the world of the Soviet Union.
There are no such arguments that would convince the United States. Never in its history, at least in the 20th century, did the American government and the capital behind it voluntarily agree to concessions, compromises and coexistence. Only when the opponent has sufficient power.
The military operation to demilitarize Ukraine is a difficult way to resolve the issue, with profound consequences. Of the two bad decisions, I had to choose the less bad one. Another option is to wait until the United States, on its own terms, at a convenient moment, would use Ukraine to attack Russia.
The most rational and sensible solution would be for Ukraine itself to give up the role of a military foothold and expendable material against Russia. Without a doubt, the vast majority of Ukrainians do not want to play such a role at all.
But the leadership in Kyiv, having won the elections on the promise of peace, only moved away from the promises – under the approval of the trustees. And decided the fate of the country and the people in a different way.

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