Ex-Pentagon Officer: 'Biden Should Accept Russia’s Draft Security Agreements as Basis for Yalta 2.0'
© AP Photo / Francisco SecoA U.S. soldier walks past parked armoured vehicles and tanks of the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team and 1st Calvary Division, based out of Fort Hood, Texas, as they are unloaded at the port of Antwerp, Belgium, Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. The U.S. military vehicles are on their way to Eastern Europe to take part in the Atlantic Resolve military exercises, in which American troops train together with NATO partners to help ensure stability in Europe.
© AP Photo / Francisco Seco
The upcoming Russo-American and NATO-Russia Council talks over proposed security agreements drafted by Moscow last month could potentially lead to a second Yalta agreement, believes David T. Pyne, a former US Army combat arms and HQ staff officer and Deputy Director of National Operations for the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security.
A few days before the Russia-US and NATO-Russia Council talks over Moscow's security proposals, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on 7 January ruled out a halt to NATO's eastward expansion. Blinken specifically argued that NATO "never promised not to admit new members". Earlier, this year the US Secretary of State denounced the "spheres of influence" concept as a thing of the past.
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"I am concerned about the Biden administration’s statement that they are unwilling to consider returning to spheres of influence for the three superpowers, given that the Yalta Agreement worked so effectively to keep the peace between the US and the Soviet Union during the Cold War," says David T. Pyne, an EMP Task Force scholar and former Department of Defenсe officer. "Unfortunately, I believe that the chances of the Biden administration accepting spheres of influence are not particularly good."
Earlier this year, Pyne explained the rationale behind making "spheres of influence great again" in a series of op-eds for The National Interest (TNI). He also warned the Biden administration against taking on Russia and China amid the Pentagon's recent shift to "great power" competition.
According to the former Pentagon officer, "Biden’s domestic unpopularity could be behind his stern public rhetoric in opposition to certain elements of Russia’s security agreement, most of which appear to be reasonable."
Russia's security proposals, which were handed over to Washington in mid-December 2021, envisage NATO non-expansion eastward; ban US military deployments in the post-Soviet space; prohibit installation of land-based intermediate- and short-range missiles in areas allowing parties to reach each other's territories; and require NATO to deploy no forces or weapons in countries that joined the alliance after May 1997, among other issues.
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Russia's Concerns About Ukraine's Militarisation are 'Justified'
Pyne agrees that Russia’s concerns about the West sending military trainers and weapons to Ukraine for combat operations in the breakaway Donbass region are "well-justified."
"I have been troubled by the US policy to send both military trainers and weapons to Ukraine, albeit in small quantities," he notes. "The Biden administration and other NATO members should immediately end this provocative policy and provide a written guarantee to Russia that the West will henceforth return to respecting Ukraine’s permanent neutrality."
While Pyne insists that Ukraine's recent militarisation is "more of a response" to Crimea's 2014 re-unification with Russia, he believes that "Russia’s concerns for the rights of Russian-speaking citizens in Ukraine and the Baltic republics are quite legitimate and must be fully addressed by the Western powers."
Kiev's relations with NATO date back to the early 1990s and have since turned into a substantial partnership with the alliance, despite Ukraine's Declaration of Sovereignty of 16 July 1990 specifically stating that Ukraine has the "intention of becoming a permanently neutral state that does not participate in military blocs". Ukraine's drift to NATO considerably intensified after the Orange Revolution of 2004 and the Euromaidan of February 2014, which resulted in the formation of pro-Western governments in the former Soviet republic.
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"The rationale for NATO’s eastward expansion over the past two decades is unclear to me," Pyne says. "The former members of the Warsaw Pact in Eastern Europe should have served as neutral states and as a buffer zone between the US and Russia, outside of either the West’s or Russia’s sphere of influence with both sides agreeing to refrain from deploying their military forces in this region."
However, he deems that Russia should not be concerned about Ukraine's NATO membership, despite US Secretary of Defenсe Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Blinken claiming that the alliance's doors are open for both Kiev and Tbilisi.
"There have not been any serious discussions of Ukraine joining NATO for a long time," the EMP Task Force scholar emphasises. "While President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama supported the foolish idea of allowing Ukraine to join NATO, France and Germany vetoed it many years ago and it has since been considered a settled issue that Ukraine will not be allowed to join NATO."
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"It is my sincere hope that the upcoming US-Russia and NATO-Russia Council talks lead to a second Yalta agreement," Pyne underscores.
In his most recent article, "Negotiate Peace With Russia to Prevent War Over Ukraine", the former combat officer suggests that Moscow's security proposals are not entirely incompatible with US national security interests. In addition, Pyne outlines a whole set of potential quid pro quos between Russia, China and the US which, according to him, could lay the groundwork for sustaining peace.
He goes even further by suggesting that it would be better for the cause of peace if the US were to leave NATO entirely, close its military bases in Europe and the Far East and withdraw its 200,000 forward deployed troops. However, such a US withdrawal from NATO would be conditional upon Russia ceasing its military-technical cooperation with China and leaving the Beijing-led Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), argues the EMP Task Force scholar. According to him, this quid-pro-quo would "serve to further establish an equitable balance of power between the US, Russia and China".
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The new structure, proposed by Pyne, envisages creating adjacent "spheres of influence" for the three major centres of power. Under this scenario, Russia, China and the US would provide each other with legally binding guarantees of not intervening militarily in any conflict within each other's sphere of influence.
The former Pentagon officer argues that the plan would not only safeguard Washington's vital geopolitical interests but would also:
· halt further rapprochement between China and Russia which is at least partially driven by repeated US attempts to interfere in Russia’s and China’s spheres of influence;
· prevent the US from overstretching itself;
· let the US to redistribute resources for long overdue military modernisaiton aimed at maintaining the nation's ability to defend itself against unconventional attack.
The concept outlined by Pyne in some sense echoes the idea of "Big Three" voiced by former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski in his November 2016 interview to MSNBC as well as the late geostrategist's warnings that a "grand coalition" between Russia and China would be a "dangerous scenario" for the US.