The following Op-Ed was submitted to the Hamilton Spectator by Hamilton Coalition’s treasurer Ken Stone. It, however, remains unpublished.
For your convenience, it is being reproduced below. Following the letter is the original editorial it was composed as a response to.
Not Published in the Hamilton Spectator: My recent opinion piece, on the urgent need for the Trudeau government to stop fuelling the conflict in Ukraine and instead to seek a ceasefire and negotiated end to the crisis, was refused by the newspaper. Since the war began, the Spec has refused to publish anything from our Hamilton Coalition To Stop The War in reference to Ukraine.
By Ken Stone – May 6, 2022
Here’s the opinion piece:”I liked the title of the Spec’s recent editorial: “Pulling back from wider war in Europe.”1 Regrettably, however, your starting premise that “the danger of escalation is coming mostly from Russia”, was wrong. Actually, NATO countries, including Canada, are fuelling this war by flooding Ukraine with weapons, money, and “volunteers”; by uncritically spreading atrocity stories; and by levelling ever-wider unilateral economic sanctions on Russia.
Let’s start with Chrystia Freeland’s latest budget. In it, she earmarked $500m. for military aid to Ukraine and gratuitously included a declaration of war on Russia, until “the Russian tyrant and his armies are entirely vanquished.”2 The funding came on top of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and shiploads of arms given to Ukraine since the Canadian-supported Maidan coup of 2014, which overturned the democratically-elected Yanukovych government and replaced it with a pro-western junta.3
And then there are the hundreds of Canadian “volunteers” who have been recruited for Ukraine’s International Legion in violation of Canada’s Foreign Enlistment Act and who have been encouraged to join up by statements by Ministers Anand and Joly.4 Their purpose, like other NATO cabinet ministers, is to turn Ukraine into a de facto NATO state.
The fact is that, since the end of the Cold War, NATO, rather than disbanding itself upon the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, expanded 800 km eastwards and took in 14 former Soviet and Warsaw Pact states – despite a promise to Gorbachov not to expand one inch eastward of a reunited Germany.5 NATO’s strategic goal is to expand right up to all the borders of the Russian Federation and then to subject Russia to what NATO did to the former Yugoslavia in the 1990’s: dismemberment.
I believe that several opportunities for a ceasefire in Ukraine have been squandered by unsubstantiated Russian atrocity stories, carried by the Spec, which scuttled any possible diplomatic negotiations to end the conflict. Making matters even worse was the ludicrous motion by the NDP’s Heather McPherson to label Russia’s military operation in Ukraine a “genocide.” That resolution trivializes the word, “genocide”, and ignores the fact that the Harper and Trudeau governments knowingly supported and trained open neo-Nazis in the security apparatus of the post-Maidan Ukrainian state.6 These neo-Nazis were the central component in the junta’s eight-year-long war, in violation of the Minsk Accords, against the Russian-speaking minority in Ukraine’s Donbass, a war that spilled over into Russia in the form of hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Your editorial claims that Russia’s military operation was unprovoked. In fact, it was provoked by thirty years of NATO’s eastward expansion, the 2014 Maidan coup, and eight years of Ukrainian aggression against the Donbass. The war was also kindled by US and NATO rejection last year of Russian draft treaties for mutual security in Europe.
Finally, the ever-increasing regime of sanctions against Russia, which are illegal because they lack UN Security Council approval, are also designed to implode the Russian economy and make the Russian Federation easy pickings for NATO. Unfortunately for NATO, Russia was prepared for the onslaught by creating its own bank-transfer system and by deciding to sell its energy in rubles, because its assets in the West were illegally confiscated. Poland and Bulgaria may not like it, but it’s their choice to buy gas or not.
The editorial’s conclusion was right, however. There is the danger of a wider war in Europe and the frightening possibility of a nuclear confrontation between superpowers. All the more reason for the Trudeau government and its NATO allies to tone down the rhetoric, stop fuelling the war, and seek a negotiated end to the conflict.”
1 Hamilton Spectator editorial, Tuesday, May 3, 2022
Below the original editorial:
Pulling back from wider war in Europe
It looks like Moscow may be eyeing the tiny former Soviet republic of Moldova, squeezed between Ukraine and Romania, as its next target.
By Spectator Editorial The Hamilton Spectator
Tue., May 3, 2022timer3 min. read
As bad as the war in Ukraine has already been, it may soon get a lot worse.
So far, the death and destruction has been confined to Ukraine itself. It’s a tragedy for the Ukrainian people, but the conflict has at least been contained.
But what if it spills over into other parts of Europe, or turns into a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia? Or more directly, between the United States and Russia? That would be far more dangerous.
This is not idle speculation.
As Ukrainians put up fierce resistance to the invaders, bolstered by political support and a flood of weaponry from the West, it looks like the war will drag on. The possibility of a deal to end the fighting, a lively possibility a few weeks ago, has faded.
And the longer the conflict lasts, the greater is the risk it will spread. Not necessarily because either side has a grand design for major conflict, but by a series of escalations and miscalculations. We know from Europe’s bloody history that this is how small wars become big ones.
Once again, the danger of escalation is coming mostly from Russia. This past week, it cut off shipments of natural gas to Poland and Bulgaria and ramped up warnings about its nuclear capability.
It also looks like Moscow may be eyeing the tiny former Soviet republic of Moldova, squeezed between Ukraine and Romania, as its next target. Russia already has troops there, and a Russian general has publicly said his country intends to take over all of southern Ukraine and then link up with Moldova, the justification being to end “oppression of the Russian-speaking population.”
Behind all that, it seems, is deep frustration within the Russian military over its setbacks against Ukrainian forces and Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy of abandoning the goal of controlling the entire country in favour of a more limited campaign to dominate the east and south.
“Russia’s military believes that limiting the war’s initial goals is a serious error,” Russian journalists Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan write for the Center for European Policy Analysis in Washington, D.C. “They now argue that Russia is not fighting Ukraine, but NATO.”
All of which suggests that behind the facade of unity behind Putin, Russia’s military and security apparatus is seriously divided, with a powerful faction arguing in favour of expanding the war, not ending it. They’re pushing for even more aggressive action in Ukraine itself, as well as a push beyond its borders.
On the other side, western allies are escalating their support for Ukraine. More sanctions, more troops in the region (Britain announced 8,000 more last week), and more heavy weaponry.
Some have read much into the statement by U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin that Washington wants “to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.”
For them, that reveals a hidden “real reason” why the U.S. (and presumably Canada, France, Germany et al) are backing Ukraine. This, however, ignores the fact that Russia brought the alliance against it entirely on itself with its unprovoked aggression. And what decent person, in the end, doesn’t want to see Putin rendered incapable of inflicting similar violence on others?
Regardless of the rights and wrongs, the prospect of a wider war is horrifying. Right now there’s a consensus in the West around supporting Ukraine. But there’s no consensus around pursuing a broader campaign against Russia as such.
The danger, however, is that we may find ourselves on that road without quite realizing it.
While there’s still time, the world needs to find a way to back away from the brink.
Featured image: Two residents walking through destroyed tanks and trucks. Photo: The Hamilton Spectator.