The Ukraine War

Ukrainian President Zelensky says his country will file an expedited application to join NATO immediately. “’De facto, we have already proven interoperability with the Alliance’s standards, they are real for Ukraine — real on the battlefield and in all aspects of our interaction,’ Zelensky said. ‘Today, Ukraine is applying to make it de jure.”  “Zelensky says Ukraine filing expedited application to join NATO”  This reverses Zelensky’s statements he made in March of his willingness to stay out of NATO.

NATO members should just say no.  Hell no! After successfully serving to protect the West from the USSR, post-Soviet NATO has become a liability. After breaking our promise not to expand NATO further east in exchange for Russia’s agreement to the reunification of Germany, NATO has done nothing but cause problems.

In December 2021, Russia released an eight-point draft treaty to prevent its invasion of Ukraine. At the top of its list was no NATO membership for Ukraine. Soon after Russia’s invasion, President Zelensky offered to give up seeking NATO membership and agreed to much of what Russia demanded. The status of the largely Russian Donetsk and Lugansk was the largest sticking point. For reasons I totally fail to understand, the United States and its NATO allies refused to remove Ukraine’s NATO membership from the table while stating that membership was not a near term prospect. “Ukraine-Russia-NATO”

In March, following Russia’s stalled Feb 23 attack on Kyiv, representatives of Russia and Ukraine met at Belovezhskaya Pushcha, on the border of Poland and Belarus, for initial ceasefire talks.

Putin made six key demands:

  1. No NATO membership and a neutral position.
  2. Russian should be the second official language of Ukraine, with laws prohibiting it abolished.
  3. Recognize Crimea as Russian territory.
  4. Recognize the independence of Donetsk and Lugansk.
  5. Demilitarization of Ukraine and abandonment of weapons that could be a threat to the Kremlin.
  6. Banning of ultra-nationalist parties and organizations in Ukraine.

Of these, only #4 would be difficult for Ukraine to accept, but no agreement was reached, and the fighting continued with more and more Western support.  “Ukraine’s and Russia’s war”  The U.S. and NATO can bring Ukraine to the peace table anytime they want (by threatening to end their military and financial support).  No compromise agreement was reached in December, February, March or beyond. And NATO keeps expanding. Why? Why is the U.S. and NATO not pushing to make a peace agreement happen? If Russia still thinks it can come out ahead, China, India and others should convince it otherwise.

In a recent column in the Washington Post former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen, former U.S. senator Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and former U.S. energy secretary Ernest J. Moniz, all of whom serve on the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s board of directors urged China to step forward:

“The most sensible policy choice for China is to wield its unique position of influence to encourage more “rational” decision-making by Putin. In particular, President Xi must make clear to Putin that nuclear use is a line he must not cross and that nuclear saber-rattling itself threatens the global nuclear order….  The United States and China can — and must — now work together with Europe and other nations to help end this war on the “just terms” called for by Biden in his speech to the United Nations.” “Xi Putin Ukraine nuclear arms”  

Every few months, I have urged us to stop this destructive war now. As winter approaches Europe with mounting energy shortages, I say it again. Stop it now.   “End the war in Ukraine”

Author: Warren Coats

I specialize in advising central banks on monetary policy and the development of the capacity to formulate and implement monetary policy.  I joined the International Monetary Fund in 1975 from which I retired in 2003 as Assistant Director of the Monetary and Financial Systems Department. While at the IMF I led or participated in missions to the central banks of over twenty countries (including Afghanistan, Bosnia, Croatia, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgystan, Moldova, Serbia, Turkey, West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Zimbabwe) and was seconded as a visiting economist to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (1979-80), and to the World Bank's World Development Report team in 1989.  After retirement from the IMF I was a member of the Board of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority from 2003-10 and of the editorial board of the Cayman Financial Review from 2010-2017.  Prior to joining the IMF I was Assistant Prof of Economics at UVa from 1970-75.  I am currently a fellow of Johns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise.  In March 2019 Central Banking Journal awarded me for my “Outstanding Contribution for Capacity Building.”  My recent books are One Currency for Bosnia: Creating the Central Bank of Bosnia and Herzegovina; My Travels in the Former Soviet Union; My Travels to Afghanistan; My Travels to Jerusalem; and My Travels to Baghdad. I have a BA in Economics from the UC Berkeley and a PhD in Economics from the University of Chicago. My dissertation committee was chaired by Milton Friedman and included Robert J. Gordon.

4 thoughts on “The Ukraine War”

  1. Well said, again (Except I don’t like calling on China to help) What’s behind this disturbing widespread and growing war fever? This propaganda put out by nearly all media outlets? This increasingly uncompromising stand?

    Friends whose judgment I have trusted over many years are also to my dismay now hardline fanatics. These include liberal/left-wing people Today I had lunch with one – an old friend from Cambridge “Putin is trying to reestablish old Russian/ Soviet borders; he must be stopped” etc etc Have we learnt nothing from the long list of foreign policy disasters since Vietnam? Don’t meddle in affairs we do not understand and are not an. immediate threat? MONEY, GLOBALISM, THE ARMS MANUFACTURERS, AGRICULTURE, SHEER OLD FASHIONED WESTERN EXPANSIONISM Russia is an irresistible target for the military-industrial complex – as you asked who is making money out of this?. Putin cannot lose. NATO is as you say so dangerous now. Look at it from Russia’s point of view? It seems impossible, ye there is no real opposition to western policy anywhere. The US would never tolerate Russian forces anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, I fear war fever has become so hot that they may let Ukraine join NATO, or let it be placed on the agenda!!

    Yet people are not even scared – as we were during the Cuban missile crisis


  2. A few thoughts:

    I do not think it is realistic to expect China to play a constructive role — either publicly or privately — in ending the Ukraine War. To the contrary, I think Comrade Xi is quite happy to have Russia — with which it shares a very longer border — come to realize that it is, at best, a third-rate military power that would be no match for the mighty Peoples Liberation Army. At the same time, I assume Xi is hoping that the West’s focus on Russia’s aggression will “take the heat off” China for while, while encouraging central Asian countries to look increasingly to China as their protector and patron.

    As for the six point plan — putting aside both the morality and the wisdom of rewarding Russia’s aggression by giving it pretty much everything it wants — what will happen, a few years down the road, when Russia renews its effort to absorb the whole of what would then be a disarmed and un-allied Ukraine? And, if Russia succeeded, why wouldn’t Russia try to do the same thing in another former Soviet Republic — especially one that is not a NATO member?

    Like FDR, “I hate war.” But I recognize that sometimes it’s necessary. I’d rather see the Ukrainians fight the Russians today in a geographically limited area today
    than NATO having to fight a broader war tomorrow.

    Given this, I think the West should continue to help Ukraine — at least until they have pushed the Russians back to the line that existed earlier this year before the start of Putin’s “special military operation.” Then perhaps it will be time for the parties to talk about an arrangement that assures the security and independence of both countries and protects the linguistic and other rights of their respective minorities.

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