The “international principles”

The “international principles”

Vladimir Kornilov

“The bird has arrived” – with this phrase, the Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov has recently begun and ended his working weeks. Only from January 22 to 28, he reported the arrival of four such “birds”, as he calls American military transport aircraft, loaded to capacity with lethal weapons and ammunition. Each of them contains more than 80 tons of military cargo, the purpose of which is to kill.
In addition to the United States, Britain, Turkey , Poland , Lithuania , and other NATO countries are increasingly sending weapons to Ukraine . The formal reason: “to deter Russian aggression,” which the West itself came up with. Ukraine, on the other hand, constantly thanking NATO patrons for their deadly help, is increasingly aware of the danger of this mythical “threat” being unleashed. As Sergei Lavrov aptly put it, “now the Americans have begun to use Ukraine so openly and cynically against Russia that the Kiev regime itself has become frightened.”
At the same time, everyone understands that these weapons will be used in the Donbass , where the Ukrainian Armed Forces continue shelling the civilian population and provocations. This phrase is usually followed by angry shouts from Western journalists and experts: “This is all Russian disinformation!” The Times newspaper, for example, in an editorial column under the characteristic headline “Punish Putin” writes : “Actually, the weapon is defensive. Javelin anti-tank missiles supplied from the United States will not be used if Russian tanks are kept outside Ukraine.”
One would like to ask the authors of this column: against whom did Ukraine already use this type of weapon in the Donbass back in November last year? At the same time, I would like to recall how the Americans swore that the Javelins would not end up in this region at all, but would be stored in western Ukraine, away from the battle zone. When only the first batch of these missiles arrived from the United States, the US State Department’s special representative in Ukraine , Kurt Volker , repeatedly assured that “these are precisely defensive weapons, not for attack and not for use on the line of conflict.” And here you are – Ukrainian television happily demonstrates footagethe use of “Javelins” in the Donbass. A very revealing story that explains why Americans cannot be trusted at their word. Now they will object to us: “But who is this Volker? After all, no one gave written guarantees that American missiles would not be used in the Donbass.”
Speaking of “exclusively defensive weapons” with which NATO is now literally stuffing Ukraine, Western politicians are frankly disingenuous. Attack drones, already actively used by Ukraine in the conflict zone, or sniper rifles cannot be classified as “defensive” weapons, but they are also supplied. Moreover, no one in the West is embarrassed by the fact that the lion’s share of these weapons is prohibited by the Minsk agreements for deployment, and even more so for use, in the war zone in the Donbass. After all, only Russia should comply with this document. Judging by the logic of the Americans’ statements, Kiev does not have to do this at all. As well as the NATO countries that keep permanent contingents of their military instructors on the territory of Ukraine, despite the demands of Minsk-2.
But we know that “a gun hanging on the wall” (and in this case, thousands and thousands of guns) must fire sooner or later. Ukraine is accumulating its strike forces in the conflict zone, in close proximity not only to the front line, but also to the Russian border, and can use them at any moment. Pumping it up with Western weapons increases the temptation to solve the “Donetsk problem” by armed force. And this, of course, cannot but worry Russia, which is the guarantor of a peaceful settlement of the dispute.
Hence the proposal of Andrey Turchak, Secretary of the General Council of the United Russia party , to begin official “deliveries of certain types of weapons” to the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics . It is clear that this proposal was not made in order to aggravate the conflict in Donbass. This is a countermeasure in response to the increase in arms supplies to Ukraine, just an attempt to restrain the West from increasing this deadly flow.
But how indignant were Western analysts and their Ukrainian wards! “Offers to put weapons in the so-called people’s republics is an extremely dangerous step and at the moment the last thing we need,” said Elizabeth Broe, an expert at the American Enterprise Institute. “I think these are political statements, because until the so-called republics are recognized, the Russian Federation cannot officially supply weapons there,” said Serhiy Garmash , a member of the Ukrainian delegation to the Trilateral Group of Minsk talks.
The former US ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul , was especially indignant . He struck even the hosts of the Ekho Moskvy radio station, which usually fully share the opinion of their American interlocutors. Listening to the reasoning of the diplomat, they asked in bewilderment: “Michael, excuse me, that is, everyone can supply weapons to Kiev on the territory of Ukraine, but in order to supply weapons to the DPR and LPR, Russia needs to go to the UN Security Council , right?” McFaul’s answer is disarming in its “holy simplicity” (which, as you know, is worse than theft): “Exactly! Excuse me, please, but the Donbass are not Russian provinces, these are not your lands.” From which the conclusion suggests itself that the American considers Ukraine as his province – the question concerned not only the Donbass.
Some Russian analysts shared the ex-ambassador’s opinion in principle. Thus, an expert of the Russian International Affairs Council Alexei Naumov said : “I will explain why Mr. McFaul says so. Because we formally consider the DPR and LPR to be part of Ukraine … You either remove the cross, or recognize Donbass.”
At first glance, these words have their own reason. Russia so far (recall, the word “so far” was emphasized not so long ago by Vladimir Putin ) does not recognize the DPR and LPR. Sergey Lavrov at his recent press conference made it clear that he does not lose hope for the Minsk agreements and does not want the recognition of the republics of Donbass “to remove the blame from Kiev for the sabotage that they have been continuing for eight years in relation to the document approved by the UN Security Council.” Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that Russia can officially recognize the Donbass only in the event of a final breakdown by Ukraine of the Minsk process or a provocation comparable to Georgia ‘s attack on South Ossetia in 2008.
But when we talk about the supply of arms, we must remember the world practice. America and a number of its NATO allies have never been stopped by the issue of recognition or non-recognition of any kind of state formations when it came to fighting against regimes that were objectionable to them, albeit legitimate ones. Suffice it to recall the weapons of the Syrian militants, whom the West called the “democratic opposition”, or the Kurds of Iraq .
There is also a more recent example. The Biden administration recently approved a $750 million arms deal with Taiwan . Here one would ask McFaul where the decision of the UN Security Council on this matter is. After all, the United States does not consider Taiwan its own “province”. And Washington did not recognize the independence of this formation.
All that the United States is guided by regarding the island, which the Americans formally consider part of China , is the law on relations with Taiwan, adopted in April 1979. And no international acts prevent Washington from doing successful business with this unrecognized state (in 2020, Taiwan became the ninth partner of the United States in terms of trade) and officially supplying it with weapons.
Where are the lamentations of McFaul and his colleagues about “international principles”, “respect for the territorial integrity of sovereign states recognized by the UN”, etc.? It turns out that in the case of China and Taiwan, these “principles” work exactly the opposite.
It is all the more surprising that Western experts constantly draw parallels between Ukraine and Taiwan.
Most of them do not even understand that in these cases they contradict themselves, because Taiwan is rather an example of how it is possible (at least from the point of view of the West) to build a policy regarding a de jure unrecognized, but de facto existing republic.
The same McFaul has repeatedly stated: “If the US fails to deter Putin from re-invasion of Ukraine, this will have negative consequences for the US goal of deterring China from invading Taiwan.” That’s how! And where, one wonders, did the diplomat’s references to international norms of respect for territorial integrity go?
Only some experts gradually began to realize that, citing Taiwan as an example, they completely smash their own arguments regarding the unrecognized republics of Donbass. For example, Haris Templeman, an analyst at the Hoover Institution, recently published an article with a more than eloquent title: “Taiwan is not Ukraine. Stop tying their destinies together.” In it, he openly says that the issue of protecting these territories, from the point of view of the United States, is a matter of building one’s priorities in foreign policy, and not reputation at all. And by the way, he writes: “America does not need to fight Russia in Ukraine to save Taiwan from China.”
They are constantly trying to force us to play according to some “international rules”. At the same time, for the United States itself, these rules vary depending on the region and circumstances. What is now being done by the efforts of Russian diplomacy (in particular, multi-level negotiations with the United States and NATO) is our attempt to develop a single set of rules for all powers. It is no coincidence that Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko recalled the Chuguev Philharmonic, speaking out against the principle “we play here, we don’t play here, we wrap herring here.”
If the West believes that arms supplies to unrecognized Taiwan comply with international standards, then it has no right to deny Russia the same approach to the “not yet recognized” republics of Donbass. If the West believes that pumping Ukraine with weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreements is not a violation of them, then it certainly has no right to deny Russia symmetrical countermeasures. If another “bird” from America flies to Kiev, then do not be surprised at the appearance of “Black Swans” where you do not expect them.

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