HOW HARD CAN IT BE TO AGREE A SECURITY ARRANGEMENT TO SUIT BOTH EUROPE & RUSSIA?
If only that single vile fly would stay out of the ointment...
Sometimes the easiest of things in the world of geopolitics are made excruciatingly hard by factors ranging from group-thought narratives blinding the sight of one party or another, rampant paranoia about possible trickery where trust is in short supply, and an inability to overcome the ingrained image of a leader outside your cosy club that you've worked for a decade and a half to demonise.
How hard could it be to achieve what everyone wants, security of their nation and people living within it? Is that so hard when the end goal is agreed in advance by all parties. With the factors enumerated above, pretty bloody hard it seems. Perhaps the leaders of the most powerful nations of the West simply needed it spelled out to them by Russia, that's why they didn't offer to get this thing on the road earlier? If only. No. They knew what Russia needed but that was totally irrelevant while they thought they were riding high and unassailable and Russia simply had to take it and shut up.
Things have changed radically over the last few years. Russia has responded to everything thrown at it by finding a solution for every economic bullet aimed its way. Yes, it staggered a bit when they first hit. But the 'Stalingrad Spirit' ensured they got back up on their feet soon after and ever since they have made their defenses steel hard. Russia's economy is now in vastly better shape than it was, it is now a resilient beast with strong sinews and larger muscles, it stands ready to take on its attackers with newly sharpened horns. It also has an even bigger beast at its back, one that in recent years has also regained its warrior soul. Between the two of them they are now actively daring any wannabe aggressor to try their hand and see where it gets them.
So the table has been laid for the western powers on a take it or leave it basis where no menu of choices apply. You agree to our terms, you acknowledge our red lines or we will make it our business to make you bitterly regret that decision. They have laid out what they want, something that all sides want. Security. An end to continual aggression, to slander, spurious accusations, demonization attempts and heinous and highly mendacious regime change tactics designed to undermine them, notably through NATO in respect of Russia.
Too hard to achieve when Russia is offering the same guarantee to all others? It is when there is no mutual respect offered by the other side. When all Russia hears are veiled insults, a talking down to it as some kind of villainous entity when in fact it is a proud nation with a recent history to be far more proud of than the blood-soaked track lined with lies the West has taken recently.
While your president and nation is attacked as if it and not those attacking had the reputation for invasion things get quite difficult. Putin has been called almost every terrible thing under the sun making him out to be worse than Hitler, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi combined. What was he to make of all that? Especially when political figures of note across the USA, in Britain and parts of Europe chimed in signifying they agreed and offering not a single world of caution regarding anything in the whole pile of steaming slanders. If you were pilloried like Putin is constantly, how readily would you talk in even tones to those whose minions are left free to vent their spleen and spill their black bile in this way?
So yes, if all sides agree that national security, universal national security where no nation fights or threatens another, is the goal they have in common, why shouldn't it be possible to arrange something in writing, get it signed and get to live in peace and hopefully some semblance of harmony?
But the fly in the ointment is Ukraine. Ukraine that refuses its own agreed solution to its internal problems. An entire region, almost half of the country was denied the fundamental right to elect a president and government and have them run their term until the next election on both counts. When they were both made to end the terms they were democratically elected to serve by a howling, ultra-violent mob of thugs the people of the eastern half of the country were essentially told that they should just shut up and take it and wave goodbye to a whole series of rights quite apart from their democratic rights spoken of above. The very right to speak their native language was to be denied them. And much more. Indicative of what was to come was the sight of the new Minister of Education walking round a classroom of five to ten year olds asking their names and criticizing them if it was a traditional Russian rather than Ukrainian name. Would you stand for such things? Not for a moment. So neither did those affected in this way in eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine signed up to talk to the leaders of those who came to power in a bloodless insurrection to claim their democratic rights removed on Maidan Square, Kiev in the winter of 2013-14. They demanded to be given a high degree of autonomy so that their way of life, culture, historical allegiances and language could be safeguarded and preserved. To these demands Kiev sent a military force to begin the killings which now after eight years of them have amounted to over 15,000 dead. Ukraine said it would grant these people autonomy in Minsk in the year 2015. It said it would hold direct talks with the leadership of the two autonomy-seeking republics. It has done neither of these things and now says it never will.
There is the primary roadblock to a universal agreement on security for all in Europe and for Russia, the intransigence of the authorities in Ukraine. Taking the road to further aggression and potentially outright war and a determination to attack and occupy the Donbass they stand four square against peace and stand as a barrier to progress in achieving the goal all others desire, security and freedom from threat, war, attack and instability on both sides, all of Europe with Russia together assured of a mutually beneficial assured security.
It ought to be easy. But it is so hard. Because of Ukraine and its refusal to work for peace.