Note: The author provides a long and comprehensive analysis of what kinds of concessions both US/NATO and Russia could provide to reach agreement on both the immediate issue of Ukraine and the larger issue of pan-European security as well as the possible recognition of spheres of influence for US, Russia and China that could form the basis of long-term peace and stability in international relations. Below is a significant excerpt but I highly recommend reading the full article at The National Interest at the link provided. Your thoughts on Pyne’s ideas are welcome in the comments section. – Natylie
By David T. Pyne, The National Interest, 1/15/22
….Since becoming president, Biden has alluded to his desire to improve and “reset” relations with Russia. Accordingly, rather than inadvertently provoke an undesired war, he should seize the opportunity Putin has provided to restructure Europe’s security architecture and establish a new détente with Moscow. Such an agreement might, for example, ensure Ukraine’s continued independence in return for Ukraine’s adoption of a new federal constitution that allots additional autonomy to its oblasts/regions and legally codifies the rights of Russian citizens who reside in eastern Ukraine. As part of this compromise peace agreement, the United States, NATO, and Ukraine would also formally recognize the Russian annexation of Crimea, whose population is over two-thirds ethnic Russian, and which was part of Russia until 1954.
In response to my previous article arguing for the recognition of Russian, Chinese, and U.S. spheres of influence, a Russian think tank, which appears to represent the Kremlin’s views, denounced my proposal for the United States to leave NATO in exchange for a Russian withdrawal from the Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which serves as its de-facto military alliance with the People’s Republic of China (PRC), as “a trap.” Accordingly, rather than make U.S. acceptance of Russia’s draft security agreement conditional upon a Russian departure from the SCO, U.S. acceptance of Russia’s proposed security agreement should be conditioned upon the signing of a U.S.-Russia Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance like the one that Russia concluded with the PRC over two decades ago.
Such an agreement would serve as the centerpiece of a new European security architecture that could end what has been called “the Second Cold War” between the United States and Russia. It would likely redefine U.S.-Russian relations by forging a grand strategic partnership between the two nuclear superpowers and ushering in a new era of mutual cooperation. If U.S. leaders began to see Russia as a potential strategic partner rather than as an adversary, they would likely be much more willing to offer the compromises necessary to ensure a peaceful resolution of the current standoff over Ukraine. Assuming the United States then ceased deployments of its military forces in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea, such a friendship agreement with Russia would greatly reduce the chances that the United States would either be dragged into a war with Russia and China or face the threat of an adversarial nuclear first strike.
Biden could also make U.S. approval of Russia’s security agreement conditional upon other concessions, such as a Russian commitment to significantly reduce its carbon emissions in furtherance of the Biden administration’s climate change agenda. The United States would agree to withdraw all its military forces from Eastern Europe in exchange for Russia agreeing to return to full compliance with the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty limitations on troop levels and the deployment of heavy weapons in Europe as well as returning its troops massed on Ukraine’s borders to their bases. In addition, the United States and Russia could agree to reinstate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which the United States left in 2019. This could be followed by the signing of a U.S.-Russia Free Trade Agreement, meaningful military-technical cooperation, and the establishment of a joint U.S.-Russian missile defense shield in Europe, which Putin called for back in 2000. Military-technical cooperation between NATO and Russia, perhaps via the NATO-Russia Council, would also be encouraged. Russia and NATO could also implement further confidence-building measures and joint military exchanges designed to increase cooperation, trust, and friendly relations between Russia and NATO.
In return for Russia’s consent that the Baltic republics remain a part of NATO, the United States would agree to the construction of a land bridge/elevated road and rail highway through southern Lithuania that connects Russia’s ally Belarus (and thus Russia itself) to Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave. The United States could agree to withdraw all its tactical nuclear weapons from Europe in exchange for Russia’s agreement to denuclearize and withdraw all Russian nuclear-capable bombers as well as ballistic, hypersonic and cruise missiles from its Kaliningrad enclave and not station any ground or air-launched nuclear weapons outside of the territory of the Russian Federation. However, if Russia insisted on the departure of the Baltic states from NATO as the price of a peace agreement, the United States might agree providing Russia issue a written guarantee of the independence of the Baltic states with their neutrality ensured by international treaty (as was done with Austria under the Austria State Treaty of 1955).
As part of this agreement, the Biden administration should also offer to recognize a Russian sphere of influence over all the former Soviet republics (with the exception of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) perhaps in addition to Serbia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Libya in exchange for Russia’s recognition of a U.S. sphere of influence over the Western Hemisphere, Western Europe, and Japan. Both sides would agree to refrain from sending their military forces, establishing military bases, or providing military assistance to any country within the other’s sphere of influence, which would serve to cut off Russian support for anti-American regimes in the Western Hemisphere including Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua and ensure the withdraw of all Russian military personnel and advisors from those countries. Eastern Europe would remain outside both the U.S. and Russian spheres of influence with both great powers agreeing not to deploy troops there. Such an agreement might serve to guarantee peace between the two nuclear superpowers for many years to come. To help ensure Republican support for approval of the new U.S.-Russia Friendship Treaty by the U.S. Senate, Biden should declare a state of presidential nuclear/missile defense/EMP emergency to re-allocate hundreds of billions of dollars worth of unused federal funding from his recent Covid-19 relief and infrastructure legislation for critical defense priorities to restore the nuclear balance of power and help ensure Russia honors its agreements with the United States.
Following the collapse of the USSR, U.S., Russian, and NATO leaders pledged their support for the lofty goal of creating a new Euro-Atlantic security community stretching from “Vancouver to Vladivostok.” One of the objectives of this new U.S.-Russia strategic partnership would be the eventual abolition of the NATO, CSTO, and SCO military alliances and their replacement with an enhanced pan-European collective security organization for the fifty-six members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), after which Putin’s initiative for greater economic integration between the EU and the EEU might proceed uninhibited. If Russia were to leave the SCO and cease all military-technical cooperation with China, then the United States could agree to leave NATO, withdraw all its troops, and close its military bases in Europe.
At the same time, the United States should sign a non-aggression pact and sphere of influence agreement with China in which the U.S. recognizes a Chinese sphere of influence over Mongolia, North Korea, Taiwan, and the South China Sea, perhaps along with parts of Southeast Asia, South Asia, and southern Africa in return for China recognizing the same U.S. sphere of influence that Russia agreed to recognize. Both the United States and China would commit not to deploy their military forces, establish military bases, or provide military assistance to any country within the other great power’s sphere. Nations within or outside the U.S. and Russian spheres of influence could continue to participate in China’s Belt and Road Initiative if they so desire. Such sphere of influence agreements would serve to formalize the respective U.S., Russian, and Chinese “redlines,” thus greatly reducing the chances of the outbreak of a great power war and forging a more stable and secure tripolar international order to replace the dangerous and unstable bipolar international—which includes NATO and the United States Pacific allies arrayed against the Chinese-led SCO, in which Russia serves as a junior partner—on the other.
Read full article here.