By Rudy Barnes, Jr., March 5, 2022
Putin’s unprovoked aggression in Ukraine has made him a pariah. He has sought to trump Ukraine’s democracy with the heavy hand of authoritarianism and create a new world order. To prevent an escalating international crisis, Putin must restore the status quo ante by ceasing his aggression, withdrawing Russian forces and seeking reconciliation with Ukraine.
Henry Kissinger asserted the need for reconciliation between Russia and Ukraine after Putin forcefully annexed Crimea in 2014. Kissinger argued that Ukranians should be allowed to choose their own destiny and “opt for a policy of reconciliation between the various parts of their country.” The failure to follow Kissinger’s advice in 2014 led to the current crisis.
The reconciliation of international adversaries requires the willing compliance of both sides. The Russian/Ukrainian conflict is more like a civil war than an international war because of the shared ethnic identities. The intervention of an outside force like NATO would likely precipitate a nuclear response from Russia--with obvious unacceptable consequences.
Ukraininans can overcome the overwhelming superiority of Russian military force in a battle for legitimacy and public support with a resistance force and asymmetric warfare. Both Russia and the U.S. learned that lesson of legitimacy in Afghanistan. It may take time, but with American and NATO support, it could open the door to reconciliation while avoiding nuclear war.
In WW II, the Office of Strategic Intelligence (OSS) managed U.S. support for Allied resistance movements during the Nazi occupation of Europe. The CIA and Army Special OperationsForces (SOF) grew out of OSS. Since then the focus of SOF has been to support counterinsurgency rather than insurgency operations; but a framework exists to support both.
In WW II conventional Allied forces joined with resistance forces to defeat Hitler and end the Nazi occupation of Europe. If Hitler had developed nuclear weapons he would have used them to prolong and likely win WW II. Putin has ironically asserted his occupation of Ukraine as the “denazification” of Ukraine, when it actually mimics Hitler’s Nazi occupation of Europe.
As a nuclear power, Putin has indicated that he will use all of his weapons to achieve his objectives; but using nuclear weapons against Ukrainian freedom fighters would likely turn Russian public support against him. Russians consider Ukranians their ethnic kin. By invading Ukraine, Putin has divided Russia against itself--biting off his nose to spite his Russian face.
A Ukrainian resistance movement could stall Putin’s blitzkrieg strategy, and coupled with existing sanctions exhaust the patience of Russians with Putin’s aggression. That could open the door to reconciliation as advocated by Henry Kissinger, ending the Russian occupation of Ukraine and restoring its democracy. Hopefully it could also produce a change in Russian leadership, since Russians elect their president.
Following Putin’s forceful annexation of Crimea in 2014, Henry Kissinger argued that “A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek reconciliation, not the domination of Russia or the West. …Putin should come to realize that a policy of military impositions would produce another Cold War. Leaders of all sides should return to examining outcomes, not compete in posturing. Kissinger provided his notion of an outcome compatible with the values and security interests of all sides: Ukraine should have the right to choose freely its economic and political associations, including with Europe, and Ukraine should be free to create any government compatible with the expressed will of its people; but Kissinger argued that Ukraine should not join NATO.” See
“With an estimated 1,588 deployed nuclear warheads and 2,889 in reserve at his disposal, Putin has issued an apocalyptic threat by putting Russia’s nuclear forces on alert and transferring “the deterrence forces of the Russian army to a special mode of combat.” See duty.https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/03/03/how-biden-should-respond-to-putin-nuclear-threats/?utm.
”Even from the streets of Putin’s Russia, protests arise to the war without a cause. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/25/russia-protests-war-ukraine-despite-risks/?utm.
NBC news reported on March 4 that Senator Lindsay Graham called on Russians to assassinate Putin, but Graham doesn’t seem to have much support among his GOP colleagues. With Putin’s war raging, Putinism is breeding in the heart of the Republican Party. See https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/mar/01/republican-party-trump-putin.David Ignatius has opined that Putin’s assault on Ukraine will shape a new world order. See
Putin says he will “denazify” Ukraine, “part of a long-running effort by Putin to delegitimize Ukrainian nationalism by exploiting the trauma of the war and twisting history for his own interests. It is closer to the attack that a bitter, vengeful German leader launched on neighboring Czechoslovakia in 1939. Putin isn’t Adolf Hitler — yet — but he shares a similar brooding obsession with settling scores by military force.” See https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/02/24/putin-invasion-ukraine-shape-new-world-order/?utm.
Ukrainian President Zelensky has called on the international court at the Hague to investigate Russia on ”signs of genocide.” “Putin has shattered the international legal rules established after World War II, along with the European order that followed the Cold War. That old architecture was getting shaky, and was destined to be replaced eventually. The Ukraine assault, pitting a messianic Russian autocrat against the wishes of every other major nation, perhaps including China, will determine the shape of the new order to come. If Putin loses, the new order will have a solid and promising foundation. If Putin wins, the new era will be very dangerous indeed.” See https://www.axios.com/zelensky-international-court-russia-5accf664-3c56-45d2-9d8f-f854e4ecf0c3.html.