Our road to nuclear war

In this article, which was first published in the journal Vardøger, Ola Tunander documents the prelude to the Ukraine war and what it is about. He also shows a possible scenario for how the war could escalate into a nuclear war.

No room for compromise

We in the West see ourselves as "the good guys" in conflict with Vladimir Putin as "the bad guy". But for Russia it is the West, United States-Great Britain, who is "the evil one". Putin talks about the "Empire of Lies".[i] According to the neoconservatives in Washington, freedom is found in the West, or rather in the US unipolar world order,[ii] while Putin wants Russia, Depth, India, Europe and Africa must be able to meet the US as "equals" in a multipolar world. As it now looks, The US will never accept this. In this article, I will address the consequences of this way of thinking. We are moving towards a major conflict between the nuclear powers.

We in the West will not compromise with the "principle of individual freedom" to choose an alliance, even if it were to lead to a major war. Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, says that NATO's eastward expansion is the last 25 the years "threaten the existence of the Russian state". These different perspectives leave no room for compromise. From 2014 the United States has contributed more than 12 billion dollars for military training and weapons in Ukraine,[iii] and the more weapons the US contributes, the more Ukrainians killed. A Ukrainian general spoke on Ukrainian television in September about his own losses of well over a hundred thousand men.[iv] For the US, the war in Ukraine is not about Ukraine, but about "weakening Russia",[v] while Putin has made it clear that the US presence in Ukraine cannot be tolerated. Membership in NATO will be prevented at all costs. It is difficult to imagine how a major war can be avoided.

How to start a war

Let's go back to 1990. All the political leaders on the western side, president George H.W. Bush and his Secretary of State James Baker, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher, French President François Mitterrand, British Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major and Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd and NATO Secretary General Manfred Wörner, made explicit promises to Moscow i 1990-93, to Mikhail Gorbachev and to Boris Yeltsin, that NATO would not expand "by an inch to the east" (Baker), and all these promises were then recorded on paper in minutes from conversations, letters and memoirs from those who participated.[vi] The promises were a prerequisite for the Soviet Union to accept a German reunification and withdraw 400 000 man from East Germany. According to a document from the negotiations, it was agreed that NATO should not be expanded "beyond the Elbe. Therefore, we cannot offer NATO membership for Poland and the others", they say.[vii] These words did not exist in the form of a formal agreement, but oral promises between heads of state are also binding.[viii] Despite this and the Russians' repeated protests, the US pushed NATO expansion into Central Europe in the 1990s, to the Baltic countries in 2004 and to Ukraine and Georgia from 2008, even though the US knew it was completely unacceptable to Moscow: "The reddest of all red lines", wrote the Moscow ambassador and later CIA chief William Burns. It could lead to "civil war" and "Russian intervention".[ix] Washington knew it could lead to war. The only reasonable explanation for the US continuing this policy, is that they would trigger a war to weaken Moscow. Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs contacted the White House in December 2021 and said: "There will be war if the United States does not start diplomatic talks with President Putin about NATO expansion. They told me the US will never do that. [‘It’s off the table’ …] and now we have a war". "The US refused all diplomacy", see Sachs.[x] He now says that American policy is based on arrogance, a "remarkable hubris".[xi]

But there were also other reasons for the war. Actually, it already started in 2014, after the coup d'état in the same year, then the two eastern counties of Donbass, Donetsk and Luhansk, refused to accept the new regime in Kiev. The democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, had its support in the populous counties in the east and south of the country. The minority in the west, who had supported Yulia Tymoshenko, organized large demonstrations. In february 2014 they seized power by force.[xii] The counties in the south and east revolted, but they were beaten down by forces from the west.[xiii] Only Crimea and the two counties of Donbass survived. Kiev then started a war against them. It was going on 8 years with more than 13 000 died, including 3000-4000 civil, and 1,5 million refugees to Russia. It has been one of Europe's most protracted wars. It is into this war that Russia has now intervened. After Franco-German mediation, Ukraine wrote, Russia and the OSCE under the first Minsk agreement in 2014 and Minsk II i 2015, which assumed a peaceful solution to the conflict and which provided a relative autonomy for Donetsk and Lugansk within the framework of the Ukrainian state. But the right-wing radicals with Dmytro Jarosz opposed the agreement. They continued to bomb and fortify the border in order to recapture Donbass.[xiv] Neither President Petro Poroshenko nor President Zelenskyi did anything to implement the agreement. Secretary of the National Security Council Oleksyj Danilov, said that a "fulfillment of the Minsk agreement would mean the destruction of the country".[xv]

President Poroshenko said on German television i 2022 that the reason why he signed the Minsk Agreement, was that Ukraine had to buy time to build up its military strength, in order to be able to recapture the two counties, now the "republics" of Donbass.[xvi] The Minsk agreement had been confirmed 17. February 2015 of Resolution 2202 in the UN Security Council. The agreement was therefore an internationally valid and binding agreement.[xvii] But it turned out that the UN could not guarantee it, because the US already from 2015 did not take the resolution seriously.[xviii] According to Poroshenko i 2022 had Ukraine never intended to follow the agreement either. Instead, they built up their own forces with extensive American support to be able to recapture both Crimea and Donbass. This was a clear violation of the Minsk Agreement. The planned recapture of Donetsk and Lugansk would result in tens of thousands of Russians or Russian-speaking people killed in the two republics, and that would lead to several million refugees to Russia. According to Putin, Russia had to intervene pre-emptively (prior) to stop the disaster that was coming. Russia had no choice, as Putin saw it. We must conclude that both the US and Ukraine had done everything they could to get Russia to intervene with military force. It was thus a foretold war.

The tactic is similar to the prelude to the Soviet Union's military incursion into Afghanistan. In July 1979 the United States began supporting the Islamist insurgency in Afghanistan with military weapons. The U.S. intent was to destabilize the pro-Soviet government in Kabul, to force Moscow to step in with military force in support of Kabul. The national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and later the defense minister Robert Gates said quite explicitly that the US had laid a "trap" to make the Soviet Union sink into an Afghan "swamp". They wanted to leave the Soviet Union in an "impossible war", which would weaken the economy and break up and eliminate the Soviet Union as a great power.[xix] In the same way, the United States applied from 2014 to lay a "trap" for Russia in Ukraine, through opening for Ukrainian NATO membership, by building up Ukraine's military power to NATO standards and by supporting the radical nationalists' war in Donbass. The US also rejected all talks with Russia on a European security arrangement proposed in December 2021 and which took into account Moscow's unrest, especially the unrest over a deployment of US nuclear weapons close to Moscow. The 19 January 2022 presented Senator John Cornyn's proposal for the "Ukraine Democracy Lend-Lease Act" to the US Senate. It would give the president expanded powers to appropriate money for an upcoming war with Russia similar to the US Lend-Lease Act signed in February 1941 to support the Allies' fight against Nazi Germany. The total appropriations during the Second World War had been on 50 billion dollars. The new Lend-Lease Act was approved by the Senate and Congress in April 2022 and was signed by the President in May with a guarantee that 40 billion dollars to Ukraine.[xx] But already in January it must have been clear to the Russians that the US was preparing a major war similar to the one we had in the 1940s, a war that could open the way for the deployment of American weapons systems right up to Russia's most vital areas. The question we must ask is: Did the Russians have any alternative? Immediately after Russia had entered it 24. February, the US pounced with promises of massive arms support and with massive sanctions, which was prepared months in advance to weaken the Russian economy and to break up and eliminate Russia as a great power.

What the war is really about

The analysis above shows, firstly, that Russia felt compelled to stop Ukraine's recapture of Donetsk-Luhansk and Crimea (President Zelenskyi's decision to recapture Crimea was from March 2021).[xxi] Secondly, the analysis shows that Russia would at all costs stop a Ukrainian NATO membership and the US rearming of Ukraine to NATO standards with Western nuclear weapons close to Moscow. It is a reverse "Cuban missile crisis", where US weapons systems in Ukraine are perceived as an existential threat to Moscow, as the US perceived the Soviet missiles in Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. In both cases, one party sought to deny the other the possibility of having nuclear weapons close to its own border and capital. Russia had the same "right" to intervene against the USA and Ukraine that the USA had with the blockade against Russian vessels 1962 including planned US attacks on Cuba and the Soviet Union. In Europe, we see such pre-emptive operations as legally questionable, with good reason, while in the US they are seen as legitimate. It can be said that Russia has here followed the American interpretation of international law.

It is obvious that there were also other reasons for the war on both sides, but a Russian imperialism to subjugate Ukraine is hardly one of them. The Russian-speaking Donetsk and Lugansk applied to Russia already in 2014-15, but the Russian leadership gave them a cold shoulder despite the precarious situation. Russia intervened with significant military forces only when it became clear that Ukraine was refusing to comply with the Minsk agreement (which would give the two republics relative autonomy) and when it was clear that Ukraine from 2021 prepared to take Donetsk, Lugansk and Crimea by force. At the same time, it was clear that the US was building up the Ukrainian army to recapture the two republics. Ukraine was now from 2021-22 prepared for a war. If Russia had had imperial ambitions they would have conquered territory from 2014, before the United States and Great Britain had built up the Ukrainian army. What amazed US Army General Joseph Hilbert and Lt. Col. Todd Hopkins was that the Russians waited so long. They reference it 4. May 2022 in front of the press in the Pentagon for a conversation they had with their Ukrainian counterparts. Of course: “The biggest mistake the Russians made, was to give us eight years to prepare [the war]».[xxii] Russia, by all accounts, wanted to avoid a war until recently.

There is no indication that the invasion 24. February was about Russian imperialism or that Putin would reconquer Ukraine. In its speeches it 21. and 24. February Putin lamented the historic loss of the country, but he also said that this loss was now history. He said that "there are no plans to occupy Ukraine".[xxiii] This is also evident from the size of the force Russia had mobilized in February. According to American military theory, an occupation of Ukraine would have required a force five to six times larger in order to be successful.[xxiv] The Russians know that an occupation, like the one in Afghanistan in the 1980s, will strain the treasury. When Moscow occupied Czechoslovakia in 1968, they entered with a force ten to twelve times greater per capita than the one with which they entered Ukraine. In other words, the Russian forces were never intended for an occupation of Ukraine, or to install a Quisling regime. This too had assumed occupation, something not least Norway has experienced.

The hypothesis of a Russian imperialism can therefore be ruled out, but in the army there is a revanchism and a will to "liberate" the Russian or Russian-speaking Ukraine. And the more Kiev used long-range Western weapons, it became all the more important for the Russians to take a buffer zone. And the longer the war has gone on and the more brutally Ukrainian nationalists have treated the local Ukrainians who collaborated with the Russians, it became all the more impossible for the Russians to withdraw as they did around Kiev in March and around Kharkov in September. Those who had then cooperated were purged, and several sources say that they were killed and used in the propaganda.[xxv] Much now suggests that Putin had to follow his generals and not just take all of Donetsk and Lugansk, as he had promised, but also Kherson, Zaporozhye and maybe more. Or to quote Lieutenant General Vladimir Tjeremnikh from a conversation I had with him in the 90s: "Ukraine will come back again 10-15 year". Then he was silent for a second and said: «Eastern Ukraine. Western Ukraine can go to hell.”[xxvi] The cultural dividing line between East and West runs right through Ukraine, which suited Samuel Huntington, who quoted me on this in his book The Clash of Civilizations (1996).[xxvii]

From the Russian side, the war is about averting an "existential threat" from the United States, on keeping Ukraine out of the US sphere of influence, image Chas W. Freeman defines the term[xxviii] and on protecting tens of thousands of Russians or Russian-speakers in Ukraine from being massacred in Kiev's attempt to retake territory. For the US, the war is about "weakening" Moscow and eliminating Russia as a major power allied with China. But equally important for the US has been to weaken the European-Russian alliance, and especially the German-Russian gas- and industrial cooperation. It is the same conflict that characterized American-German relations since the 1980s and that forced German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt to resign in 1982.[xxix] In January 2022 CIA chief William Burns visited Berlin to "invite" German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz to President Joe Biden. USA ville stoppe Nordstream 2. Scholtz sa at hans timeplan var full.[xxx] Hans rådgivere var neppe interessert i at han skulle reise, men den 7. februar besøkte han Det hvite hus. Alle journalistene spurte ham om Nordstream 2, men Scholz kunne ikke svare. Det var den mest ydmykende pressekonferanse jeg har sett.[xxxi]. Det russisk-tyske energisamarbeidet frem til 2022 var i praksis et skritt i retning av en gass- og industriunion tilsvarende kull- og stålunionen, som fra 1950-tallet lå til grunn for en tysk-fransk fred og dannelsen av EU. Den nye unionen kunne også ha blitt grunnsteinen i et nytt fredsprosjekt med Gerhard Schröder, Angela Merkel og Vladimir Putin som arkitekter. Men USA har nå gjort alt for å stoppe den. Allerede før krigen begynte, did the US succeed in getting guarantees that Germany would stop Nord Stream 2. The United States sought to prevent German-Russian cooperation, because they wanted to avoid the United States being sidelined in Europe. The war was also indirectly aimed at Germany and Europe. Scholz adapted to US requirements. Germany is now, to quote former Social Democratic party leader Oskar Lafontaine, "no longer a sovereign country".[xxxii]

How did President Zelenskyi's adviser perceive the war?

Former Supreme Commander for NATO in Europe, SACEUR, general Wesley Clark, stated 15. June 2022 that Russia will win, if NATO does not intervene with its own forces in Ukraine.[xxxiii] The British Chief of the General Staff, general Patrick Sanders, said a few days later that the British must prepare for a war in Europe.[xxxiv] Poland's Deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski already said in March that "peacekeeping forces from NATO must be sent to Ukraine".[xxxv] Poland's previous foreign minister Radoslaw Sikorski proposed in June[xxxvi] that the Western countries should give nuclear weapons to Ukraine. Moscow's military ascendancy prompted the West to promote an escalation. The 26. In May Corriere della Sera wrote about a new European alliance with Great Britain, Poland, Ukraine and the Baltic countries (and maybe Turkey), which will go further than NATO in the fight against Russia.[xxxvii] They did not want to be bound by a German-French veto. Ukrainian media wrote about the plans for an offensive alliance in March, and already at the end of February Yehvan Karas spoke, leader of Ukraine's extreme nationalist group, C14, publicly about such a military alliance with Ukraine in particular, Great Britain, Poland and maybe Turkey. Karas says in a speech published by Grayzone that the West gives us weapons "because we like to kill". He says that we want to break up Russia into several countries and that Ukraine is leading the way, “because we have started a war that no one has seen 60 year" (actually 80 year).[xxxviii]

President Volodymyr Zelenskyi's military advisor Oleksiy Arestovych argued already in 2019 for Ukraine to start a major war with Russia, to avoid that Ukraine with its ties to Moscow will be drawn into the Russian sphere by 10-12 year. On the journalist's question about what is the best choice for Ukraine, he answered: "Of course a major war with Russia, and NATO membership as a consequence of a victory over Russia”.[xxxix] He took for granted that NATO will be dragged into the war, and said: “The probability is 99,9 percent because the price for becoming a member of NATO is a major war with Russia". Arestovych did not want to stop the war in Donbass precisely because it would make the great war with Russia possible.[xl] Already in 2019 he described in detail how this war would start in 2021-22 develop, exactly as we have seen recently, but in the same way as Kara's, who has also participated in meetings with Zelenskyj, he believed that it was important to involve other NATO countries in the war in order to defeat Russia. As for tactics, Arestovych has recommended the terrorism of the Islamist group ISIS, which employs “cruelty, executions, burning people and beheading", to have a psychological effect on the media and public opinion.[xli]

US training of Ukrainian forces has been going on since then 2015,[xlii] rearmament with modern material from 2017. The 10. november 2021 A "charter for strategic partnership" was created between the US and Ukraine, which would open the way for Ukrainian membership in NATO.[xliii] That would make it possible to deploy US nuclear weapons less than 50 miles from Moscow. Kiev had also planned to recapture Donetsk and Lugansk. From December, over a hundred thousand men had moved forward along the border. In January 2022 the US proposal for a "Land-Lease Act" to ensure massive military support for Ukraine was presented as the US had supported the Allies during the Second World War. The 17. In February, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergeij Vershinin claimed in the UN Security Council that Ukraine had 122 000 man along the border.[xliv] Kiev's forces had the capacity to launch an offensive, something the forces from Donetsk and Lugansk did not have at all.

Do we know this? And, since Donetsk and Lugansk together with Russian forces from it 24. February would recapture the two republics within their formal county boundaries, they did not enter from east to west, but from the north and from the south precisely to bypass the heavily fortified Ukrainian lines. We also know that the OSCE had recorded a sharp increase in artillery fire from mid-February, and the vast majority of rockets were fired from west to east as a direct preparation for an army offensive.[xlv] Many civilians fled to Russia. Ukrainian forces were obviously responsible for launching an offensive. They were the only ones with the capacity for it. The Russian Ministry of Defense presented detailed Ukrainian documents which showed that the Ukrainian army offensive was to start from the beginning of March.[xlvi] It became increasingly difficult for Moscow to pretend that nothing had happened. The US and the Kiev regime had succeeded in driving the Russians into a corner.

An upcoming escalation of the war

Putin said in his speech 24. February: "We stand before is a threat to the state's existence". [xlvii] According to Russian doctrine, these words open the door to deploying nuclear weapons,[xlviii] at the same time it means that Russia will never give in to pressure. After Ukraine's offensive in September, Russia decided to intervene 300 000 new strengths, which still just is 1,2 % of available forces. It is unlikely that Russia will step up by deploying nuclear weapons in Ukraine. But Poland Sikorski wanted to deploy nuclear weapons to defeat Russia. Head of the Russian Duma, Viacheslav Volodin, replied that Russia would then "lay the European continent in ruins".[xlix] Both sides play a high game. We are headed for a military clash. This is also the conclusion of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer.[l] It is increasingly difficult to believe that we, if we take the rhetoric of "the fight of the good against the bad" seriously, will be able to avoid the destruction of nuclear war, and perhaps it is only after such a war that we can replace our arrogance, our hubris, with reason.

There are also counter-votes. The US's former deputy commander for Europe, Lt. Gen. Stephen Twitty said it 31. May 2022 that Russia will definitely win.[li] Western weapons in Ukraine cannot change this. We must seek a compromise, where, and that as soon as possible. A week before, Henry Kissinger had said that Ukraine must seek negotiations and give up the idea of ​​defeating Donetsk and Lugansk and retaking Crimea. We had to seek a solution within the next two months.[lii] This "deadline" has long since passed. The 12. August Kissinger told the Wall Street Journal: "We are on the brink of war with Russia and China over things we are partly responsible for ourselves", and he continued: we relate to Moscow and Beijing as "missionaries". We "seek to convert or condemn". On the contrary, we must seek an "equilibrium" and accept the legitimacy of other people's values, he says. "Because, whether we believe that the final result of our efforts is the implementation of our values, then I don't think an equilibrium is possible".[liii] And that means we are on the brink of a war.

The reluctance to negotiate really only started in April. In March, peace talks between Ukraine and Russia began, first in Belarus and then in Turkey. As of mid-March, both the Ukrainian and Russian sides spoke of "significant progress". They discussed 15 points. Ukraine had given up on the idea of ​​membership in NATO and foreign bases on Ukrainian territory. The Russian forces withdrew from Kiev at the end of March. But at the beginning of April something happened. The Russian withdrawal was described as a Ukrainian military victory, and those who collaborated with the Russians during the occupation were arrested by special forces. Many were executed and used in propaganda.[liv] Immediately after, the 9. april, Boris Johnson traveled to Kyiv. He promised significant military support and a substantial contribution to the fighting. He said that "peace talks are meaningless because of 'crocodile' Putin". The Ukrainian forces launched an offensive. Exactly what happened is not clear, but there are many indications that Boris Johnson stopped the negotiations that could have opened the way for a peace solution. This meant that the fighting continued and that several countries became directly involved.[lv]

We know that military from the United States, Great Britain, Poland and several other countries are participating in the fighting in Ukraine. It is about intelligence support and management of operations, but also about replacing Ukrainian losses. In order to use advanced Western weapon systems, the Ukrainian forces are increasingly dependent on Western personnel on the ground. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense figures from August have 1837 Poles participated in the war. 643 said to have been killed, 493 has fled. It is said to still be approx 700 Polish forces in Ukraine, while on the Russian side it is said that it still is 190 Canadian, 160 British, 90 Georgians and 81 Americans, who participate in the matches (slightly above 1000 men from these countries have fled or been killed).[lvi] Poland has given Ukraine a few hundred tanks, while Americans have provided more advanced Western weapon systems, which presumably necessitates Western participation on the ground. The war is said to have been led from bases in Poland and Germany. The United States and Great Britain cover the salary expenses of the Ukrainian forces,[lvii] as if these were not national Ukrainian forces, but "western mercenaries" in their own country.

For the United States, this war is not primarily about Ukraine. It's about, to quote US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, about "weakening Russia". It is about eliminating Russia as a great power and perhaps seeking to break up Russia into several countries, as they succeeded in breaking up the Soviet Union as a result of the country having been weakened after the war in Afghanistan 1979-88. This is also explicitly a Ukrainian goal, if Yehvan Karas is to be believed. But it is unlikely to be as simple as in 1991.

And a possible scenario

A Western-armed Ukraine will not be able to win (general Twitty). A victory presupposes that the war is stepped up and that NATO intervenes with its own forces (Wesley Clark) or deploys nuclear weapons (Radoslaw Sikorski). We can imagine a scenario where Poland enters with "peacekeeping forces" (Jaroslaw Kaczynski) in western Ukraine. It could be done in collaboration with British intelligence, who have been the most active on the ground in Ukraine. Russia can then respond by attacking the Polish forces near the border, maybe right at the border. It could be perceived as an attack on Poland. This raises the question of following up on NATO's article 5 (whether to support the ally's defense or to retaliate against the attack). NATO will then also formally be at war with Russia. You can, as an illustration, imagine a scenario where a British submarine is tasked with responding to the Russian attack on Poland by knocking out a Russian submarine off Murmansk. Russia may then respond by knocking out the British headquarters at Northwood outside London as a warning to the British, but also as a warning to the United States. This raises several delicate questions.

The United States, for one, will be faced with the classic dilemma: Should the US respond to a Russian attack with an attack on Russian territory? In that case, will the US risk Russia "taking out", for example, New York or Washington? This was the problem when the American deterrence was discussed in the 60s. That was why France under President Charles de Gaulle developed its own nuclear weapons, which was not under US command. France did not trust the United States, or more correctly: It was understood that the United States would not sacrifice Washington to save Paris.[lviii] When Moscow got intercontinental missiles and not least when they got nuclear weapons missiles on submarines, found America's nuclear deterrence in Europe less credible. To correct this, developed the US "flexible response" doctrine. From the 70s, the US would be able to wage a war in Europe with tactical nuclear weapons, which it was thought would deter Moscow from an attack with superior conventional forces. It was assumed that the US would knock out Soviet forces in East Germany without Moscow responding by knocking out US military bases in the US. But no one knows how the Russians will respond to an American attack, for example, against a Russian headquarters at Murmansk, if this attack is a response to said Russian attacks against “Northwood, London» in our scenario. We must expect that both the USA and Russia will try to avoid an attack on the other's territory. There is no longer any given European theater of war for the use of US tactical nuclear weapons, except perhaps in Ukraine.

The US is also facing another, similar problem. The US will seek to deter Russia by moving forward air forces to Europe, partly with nuclear weapons, at the same time, one will seek to avoid hitting vital Russian targets so as not to provoke Russia to strike against the United States. The US will demand to be allowed to deploy bombers at Norwegian air bases, but probably also on Swedish and Finnish bases after the decisions on NATO membership that were recently taken in the Swedish and Finnish parliaments. The Russians will not be able to know whether these planes will be equipped with nuclear weapons. We have to assume that these bases will therefore be immediately knocked out by Russian missiles. The Ukraine war has taught us that the Russian missiles have both a long range and are very accurate.[lix] The hypersonic missiles cannot be protected against.

I 1994 I asked the person responsible for Soviet military planning for Northern Europe in the late 70s and early 80s, the previously mentioned Lieutenant General Tjeremnikh, about what would have happened if planes from the US Air Force used Swedish air bases in a war. There were such Swedish plans from the 60s, and several on the Swedish and American side believed that these plans also applied later.[lx] General Tjeremnikh sa: We did not plan to occupy Sweden, but we would have knocked out these air bases.[1] That means we have to assume they would be taken out by missiles with tactical nukes, because Moscow would have lost far too many planes if conventional weapons had been used. We have reason to believe that such plans also apply today. Nordic air bases, which is prepared for, or used by, American attack- or bombers, will be taken out, and if "necessary", with nuclear weapons. There are much more powerful conventional weapons today, and we know that Russia has taken out entire Ukrainian bases with a hundred men with a swarm of conventionally armed missiles.[2] But if the nuclear weapon threshold has already been crossed, nuclear weapons will be deployed. The Nordic parliaments (also Norwegian) can not complain. They have recently decided by a large majority to open such air bases for American aircraft. In this way, we have also secured a Russian counterpart.[3]

The risk of the war expanding to Europe

This means that much of Europe risks being destroyed by bombing, possibly with nuclear weapons, while the US is unlikely to nuke Russia, because then Russia will destroy the USA. Russia can bomb Europe, but the United States, which has the capacity to destroy Russia, cannot bomb Russia without risking the same destruction of the United States. We are facing a world in which European countries may be exposed to attacks with nuclear weapons, but not Russia or the United States. With their macabre parliamentary decisions to open up the US Air Force, the countries of Northern Europe have now chosen to become part of such a European disaster.

At the same time, this should mean that the cornerstone of NATO's deterrence doctrine takes a hit. USA, which was supposed to defend Europe, will then appear impotent and you will lose influence. This could open the way for a European recognition that we must develop an independent European security system and possibly also a more independent Nordic. With the war in Ukraine, the US has done everything to stop Nord Stream 2 and a German-Russian gas- and industrial union to seek to prevent a weakening of the United States in Europe. The USA has indirectly directed the war in Ukraine against Europe and not least against Germany to the same extent as it has directed it against Russia. But with that description of the escalation of the Ukraine war to Europe, which I have here given, may the USA become marginalized in Europe also because the USA will no longer appear as a credible security guarantee for Europe.

We can naturally imagine that both the US and the UK choose to attack vital targets in Russia in response to an escalation into Europe. But Russia will then probably seek to knock out British and American military capabilities by destroying large parts of these countries, to limit the destruction of Russia. Perhaps both Russia and the United States would, and possibly also Great Britain in this situation would benefit from negotiations for a lasting political solution. But the question is whether it is already too late, at least for parts of Europe, if we don't give up our hubris. Maybe the gas crisis this winter can make us come to our senses. Maybe we can stop the total destruction. But stopping the European war seems to presuppose either that Ukraine declares defeat, or that a compromise forces Ukraine to accept some kind of neutrality (a «Finlandisation») and a loss of the south-eastern parts of the country. The hubris that now characterizes our dealings with Moscow, can open several avenues, but more than one of them goes via the European nuclear war.


[i] “Text of Putin’s Announcement of Military Action”, Consortium News, 1 March 2022 [24 February 2022].

[ii] Charles Krauthammer, “The Unipolar Moment”, Foreign Affairs, vol 70, 1990/91, s. 23-33.

[iii] U.S. Security Cooperation with Ukraine, Fact Sheet, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, US Department of State, 19 August 2022.

[iv] “Ukrainian general estimates Kiev’s losses at hundreds of thousands since Feb” [Sergej Krivonos], Tass, 2 September 2022.

[v] Julian Borger, “Pentagon chief’s Russia remarks show shift in US’s declared aims in Ukraine”, The Guardian, 25 April 2022

[vi] “NATO Expansion: What Gorbachev Heard”, National Security Archive, 12 December 2017; “NATO Expansion: What Yeltsin Heard”, National Security Archive, 16 March 2018

[vii] Klaus Wiegrefe, “New file find from 1991 supports Russian accusation”, The mirror, 18 February 2022; Jacques Baud, “The Hidden Truth about the War in Ukraine”, The Postil Magazine, 1 August 2022b.

[viii] The agreement from the Cuban Missile Crisis between President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to withdraw missiles from Cuba and Turkey was a verbal agreement and it was still valid.

[ix] William Burns, "Nyet means nyet: Russia’s NATO Enlargement Redlines” [Cable], 1 February 2008 (made Public by WikiLeaks). Joshua Shifrinson and Stephen Wertheim, “Acting too aggressively on Ukraine may endanger it — and Taiwan”, The Washington Post, 23 December 2021. Memo to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from Ambassador Burns, see William Burns, The Back Channel: American Diplomacy in a Disordered World (London: Hurst, 2019).

[x] “Jeffrey Sachs: U.S. Policy & «West’s False Narrative» Stoking Tensions with Russia, China”, Democracy Now, 30 August 2022.

[xi] Jeffrey Sachs, “Ukraine Is the Latest Neocon Disaster”, Consortium News,1 July 2022.

[xii] Jack Matlock, “Ukraine: Tragedy of a Nation Divided”, Krasno Analysis, 14 December 2021.

[xiii] Baud (2022b).

[xiv] Jacques Baud, “The Military Situation In The Ukraine – Update”, Labour Heartlands, 15 April 2022a. ; Yuriy Yatsyshyn, "Dmytro Yarosh: ‘Right Sector’ to fight until complete liberation of Ukraine from Russian occupants”, Euromaidan Press, 14 February 2015.

[xv] Yuras Karmanau, “Ukraine security chief: Minsk peace deal may create chaos”, AP, 31 January 2022.

[xvi] Poroshenko: ‘For peace we need three things: weapons, weapons, weapons’, DW, 15 June 2022.

[xvii] Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2202 (2015), Security Council Calls on Parties to Implement Accords Aimed at Peaceful Settlement in Eastern Ukraine, The UN Security Council, 17 February 2015.

[xviii] Ibid. See the minutes from the discussion in the Security Council about the agreement.

[xix] Robert Gates, 1997. From the Shadows – The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War (New York: Touchstone, Simon & Schuster), s. 143-149.

Brzezinski on intervention in Afghanistan (The new observer, 15-21 January 1998).

[xx] PUBLIC LAW 117–118—MAY 9, 2022. https://www.congress.gov/117/plaws/publ118/PLAW-117publ118.pdf; https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/3522; https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/3522/actions; “Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022”, Wikipedia; Lend-Lease, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lend-Lease ; Zeke Miller and Lisa Mascaro, “Biden signs Ukraine bill, seeks $40B aid, in Putin rejoinder”, AP, 10 May 2022.

[xxi] DECREE OF THE PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE NO. 117/2021, SEEMOREROCKS, 25 March 2021; https://www.president.gov.ua/documents/1172021-37533

[xxii] “Defense Officials Hold Media Brief on the Training of Ukrainian Military”, US Department of Defense, Pentagon Press Briefing, (Transcript) 4 May 2022.

[xxiii] Vladimir Putin's tale den 21 and 24 February 2022 (se Consortium News, 21 February and 1 mars).

[xxiv] Stephen Budiansky, “A Proven Formula for How Many Troops We Need”, The Washington Post, 9 May 2004.

[xxv] «The Bucha Massacre», Standpoint Zero, 4 April 2022.; Max Blumenthal & Esha Krishnaswamy. “One less traitor”: Zelensky oversees campaign of assassination, kidnapping and torture of political opposition, 17 April 2022.

[xxvi] Conversation with Lieutenant General Vladimir Tjeremnikh, PRIO seminar, Oslo, the summer 1994 (see note below). General Tjeremnikh had been responsible for war planning for Northern Europe 1976-86 except for a year when he was commander-in-chief in Afghanistan. He was closely allied with the Chief of the General Staff, Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, with Defense Minister Marshal Dmitry Jazov and Army Chief Valentin Varennikov.

[xxvii] Samuel Huntington, The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996), s. 167.

[xxviii] “US fighting Russia ‘to the last Ukrainian’: veteran US diplomat” (Aron Maté’s interview with Chas Freeman), gray zone, 24 March 2022

[xxix] Peter Swiss, Victory: The Reagan Administration’s Secret Strategy that Hastened the Collapse of the Soviet Union (New York: The Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994), s. 108; Ola Tunander, The Swedish submarine war (Stockholm: Upstream, 2019), s. 244.

[xxx] Markus Becker m.fl., “Putin is on fire – and Scholz has no time for Biden”, The mirror, 21 January 2022.

[xxxi] WATCH: Biden and Scholz participate in joint press conference, YouTube, 7 February 2022,

[xxxii] Oscar Lafontaine, "Germany is acting as a vassal of the USA in the Ukraine war", Berliner Zeitung, 30 August 2022.

[xxxiii] Wesley Clark, Kyiv Post on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/KyivPost/photos/a.218631171524955/5042245129163511/

[xxxiv] British Army Chief warns UK and allies facing ‘1937 moment’, Sky News, 28 June 2022.

[xxxv] Emma Gyllestad, "Poland: "NATO forces should be sent to Ukraine"", Swedish daily newspaper, 16 mars 2022,

[xxxvi] Radoslaw Sikorski on Espresso TV, 11 June 2022, The West has the right to give Ukraine nuclear warheads, - Member of the European Parliament Sikorskyi [The West has the right to give Ukraine nuclear warheads, says MEP Sikorsky].

[xxxvii] Federico Fubini, “Boris Johnson's secret plan to divide Ukraine from Russia and the EU: the European Commonwealth", L'Economy, Corriere della Sera, 26 May 2022.

[xxxviii] Yevhen Karas presentation in Alexander Rubinstein and Max Blumenthal, “How Ukraine’s Jewish president Zelensky made peace with neo-Nazi paramilitaries on front lines of war with Russia” Grayzone, 4 March 2022

[xxxix] Interview with Oleksiy Arestovych, about war with Russia, 2019.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xNHmHpERH8

[xl] Ibid.

[xli] Interview with Arestovych about ISIS in UKRLIFE.TV (2015). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbnhVcOQKok

[xlii] Zach Dorfman, “CIA-trained Ukrainian paramilitaries may take a central role if Russia invades”, Yahoo News, 13 January 2022.

[xliii] U.S.-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership, US Department of State, 10 November 2021.

[xliv] Vise utenriksminister Sergeij Vershinin i FNs Security Council https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ejpn2So-tPY

[xlv] OSCE Daily Report 39/2022, 19 February, OSCE Daily Report 40/2022, 20-21 February,

OSCE Daily Report 41/2022, 22 February, https://www.osce.org/files/2022-02-22 Daily Report_ENG.pdf?itok=63057

[xlvi] Russian Defense Ministry publishes Kiev’s secret order for offensive against Donbass, Tass, 9 March 2022.; “The original combat order of the National Guard proving Ukraine’s preparations for an attack on Donbass in March of this year”, Russian Ministry of Defence, 9 March 2022.

[xlvii] Se not 1.

[xlviii] “Putin spokesman refuses to rule out use of nuclear weapons if Russia faced an ‘existential threat”, CNN 22 March 2022.

[xlix] “Moscow responds to idea of sending nukes to Ukraine”, RT, 12 June 2022.

[l] John Mearsheimer, “The causes and consequences of the Ukraine war”, European University Institute, 16 June 2022; John Mearsheimer, “Russia-Ukraine”, 2022

[li] “Russia’s War in Ukraine: How Does it End?”, Council on Foreign Relations (Conversation with Stephen Twitty), 31 May 2022.

[lii] Julia Carbonaro, “Henry Kissinger: Ukraine Should Give Up Territory to Russia to Reach Peace”, Newsweek, 24 May 2022.

[liii] Laura Secor, “Henry Kissinger Is Worried About ‘Disequilibrium’”, The Wall Street Journal, 12 August 2022.

[liv] https://then24.com/2022/04/25/ukrainian-governor-calls-for-the-execution-of-political-dissidents

[lv] Max Seddon, et.al, “Ukraine and Russia explore neutrality plan in peace talks”, Financial Times, 16 March 2022; Andrew Macaskill, “UK PM Johnson says Ukraine peace talks are doomed because of ‘crocodile’ Putin”, Reuters, 21 April 2022; Jake Johnson, “Boris Johnson Pressured Zelenskyy to Ditch Peace Talks with Russia: Ukrainian Paper”, Common Dreams, 6 May 2022.

[lvi] Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation: “Number of Foreign Mercenaries in Ukraine”, August 2022.

[lvii] List of foreign aid to Ukraine during the Russo-Ukrainian War, Wikipedia; Felicia Sonmez & Andrew Jeong, “House approves nearly $40 billion in aid to Ukraine as it fights off Russian aggression”, The Washington Post, 10 May 2022.

[lviii] Charles De Gaulle, Memoirs in the Sign of Hope, Stockholm: Albert Bonnier's publisher, s. 207–208.

[lix] Ola Tunander, «Swedish NATO membership creates an unstable world», Today's News, 29 april 2022; “Russian navy continues to attack military targets in Ukraine with Kalibr Cruise Missiles (Video)”, South Front, 7 April 2022. “Russian Iskander missiles strike killed 100 Ukrainian & foreign fighters in Kharkiv (Video)”, South Front, 2 April 2022; “Russia raises stakes: Three MiG-31 aircraft with hypersonic Kinzhal missiles deployed in Kaliningrad”, South Front, 19 August 2022.

[lx] Mikael Holmström, The Hidden Alliance (Stockholm: Atlantis, 2011), s. 446–450. Interview with Defense Minister Sven Andersson's advisor, Ingemar Engman, i Dirk Pohlmann's documentary "Deception - The Reagan Method", ART, 7 May 2015.

[1] Conversation with Lieutenant General Vladimir Tjeremnikh, PRIO seminar, Oslo, the summer 1994. I wrote a report from the seminar, as in 2008 was presented by former Swedish defense chief General Bengt Gustafsson as a report from the Swedish intelligence service MUST (Military Intelligence- and the Security Service) and it was published by the website about the so-called war: The Parallel History Project (Zurich/Washington), 2008. Parts of the report were already published in my book Murar: Essays on Power, identity and territoriality (Aalborg: Nordic Summer University, 1995). See also interview with Lieutenant General Leonid Petrovich Reshetnikov (with Scott Ritter), august 2022.

[2] Mark Episkopos, “Russian Navy Strikes Military Facility in Southern Ukraine”, The National Interest, 5 April 2022.


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