Espreso. Global

Ukraine cannot be defeated: Western allies against Moscow and Beijing

11 July, 2024 Thursday

While enduring the pain from events in Kyiv and other cities and following the NATO summit decisions, we should not forget Viktor Orban's international activities


Not because of its real significance for the course of the Russian-Ukrainian war (it is less than minimal), but to confirm the Kremlin's true goals at the current stage of Russian aggression, whose envoy was the Hungarian prime minister. And the envoy of Beijing, which was also visited by the Hungarian leader. 

When someone doubted the nature of his "peacekeeping mission," Orban's two letters to European Council President Charles Michel, in which he summarized the results of his trips to Russia and China, put an end to the doubt. Thanks to this, we can know for sure what their leaders are actually discussing behind closed doors. 

First, about the letter outlining Putin's assessments of the war, Russian "victories," and the inevitability of Ukrainian "defeat." It recaps the Kremlin's negotiation stance, starting with the "implementation of the Istanbul Agreement" and Moscow's "consideration" of the China-Brazil peace plan.

Even the Western media, which are unfriendly to Ukraine, report on Russian "victories" and are shocked by the unprecedented level of Russian losses at the front, particularly in the Kharkiv direction. Putin himself does not believe in the "Istanbul Agreement" because Orban has outlined Moscow's true position: "According to the Russian president, they are ready to consider any proposal for a ceasefire that does not serve as a covert redeployment and regrouping of Ukrainian forces."

Translated into human language, this means that the ceasefire should be the beginning of full-fledged peace negotiations.

It should be noted that Russia is indeed ready to accept any truce proposal, because - as Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a recent speech at the Ronald Reagan Center (July 9) - Russia has agreed with the DPRK to receive more artillery, missiles, and mines so that it "can hold out at least until the end of the year."

Is Orban an accomplice to the crime?

Orban placed two key messages in the final part of the letter outlining Putin's position. The first message concerns the policy of pro-Russian forces in the EU and NATO. Given that the United States is busy with the election campaign and cannot "promote truce and peace," he stated, the EU should exercise "strategic autonomy" in these matters. I will analyze this term later.  

The second message is a criminal blackmail: if Ukraine does not agree to the Russian ultimatum, then "in the next two months we will witness more dramatic losses and military events on the front line than ever before." Two days later, Russia attacked a number of cities, destroying Okhmatdyt in Kyiv. What the Hungarian prime minister had warned about had happened. Was it, however, a warning, or should the Hungarian leader's words be qualified differently? “

Speaking with Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Orban did not mention his visit to Moscow, nor did he convey to the Ukrainian president the content of his conversation with Putin and the threats he received from him. But he should have, as he is directly obliged to do under international law, because the lack of warning raises the question of his complicity in the war crimes of the Russian leadership.

I would like to remind you that Article 8 of the Rome Statute (on the basis of which the International Criminal Court in The Hague was established) states: "The Court shall have jurisdiction over war crimes, in particular when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a widespread commission of such crimes."

Okhmatdyt children's hospital was the target of a missile attack on July 8, which is a war crime and was planned as part of Moscow's strategy to "force Ukraine into a ceasefire." The criminal strategy was publicly voiced by Orban and therefore should be questioned by the International Criminal Court as part of the investigation of this war crime. At first, as a witness ("What exactly did Putin tell him?", "Why didn't he warn Zelenskyy?"), with the understanding that his status may change during the trial to an accomplice in the crime plan and the crime itself.

NATO will be with American and European members

Now about Europe's "strategic autonomy". In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais (July 10), Orban spoke about messages from the Chinese dictator. Xi Jinping was not supposed to comment on the Hungarian prime minister's assessment that it would be in the interests of the new American administration elected in November (of course, President Donald Trump - M.K.) to have a ceasefire that would prevent "rapid and intensive" peace talks.

The Chinese leader's comments were unnecessary. On his behalf, Orbán said that Mr. Xi wants to become an "honest mediator" in the talks between Russia and Ukraine. "President Xi recognizes China's policy as a policy of peace, while the policy of the United States and Europe is a policy of war, in which Europe automatically follows the American line," Orban concluded in a letter to Michel.

“The EU began using the term "strategic autonomy" in its documents in 2006, arriving at its final definition a few years later: the ability to defend Europe and to operate militarily among its neighbors without relying too much on "third parties." "Strategic autonomy" should be especially evident in such areas as advanced technologies, artificial intelligence, semiconductors, etc.”

"Strategic autonomy," therefore, is not intended to replace NATO as the basis of the system of collective security and defense of its European members. And this is exactly how Beijing and Moscow would like to see Europe's "strategic autonomy", as evidenced by Xi Jinping's talks in Paris (May 5).

President Emmanuel Macron politely, though categorically, refused to allow the Chinese leader to follow this course. For obvious reasons: Russia's aggression against Ukraine has become an existential threat to the EU, and in this confrontation, Beijing is an ally of Moscow, not of Paris and the collective West. This understanding of the geostrategic situation in the world was voiced by the French president in February, when he allowed his troops to be sent to Ukraine.

NATO will also be in Indochina

France and the European members of NATO are not going to withdraw from NATO to the delight of Xi Jinping and Putin, who signed a declaration of "friendship that knows no borders" in February 2022. And with a statement about the unacceptability of the existence of military blocs as a relic of the Cold War era. They were deeply mistaken, because NATO is not thinking of going back in time. On the contrary, Jens Stoltenberg (the current Secretary General of the Alliance) said that NATO should prepare to be active in the Indochina region. 

By asking to play the role of "mediator to bring about a truce and peace in Ukraine," China is actually trying to bargain for restrictions on its activities in a region that it considers to be in its core interests. 

“Europeans are confused by Donald Trump's and his supporters' attempts to discredit the Alliance, although this stage seems to be a thing of the past. In the U.S. Congress, Democrats and Republicans jointly voted for a law that prohibits the president from deciding to withdraw from the Alliance without the consent of parliament.”

Today, Trump does not criticize NATO, but boasts that he forced the Europeans to increase defense spending. Trump also complains that the US is spending more money on aid to Ukraine than Europe (not true, because Europe is contributing more), which can be interpreted as a sign that he does not reject a priori the need to continue support if he is elected president.

This latter conclusion is reinforced by Orban's "peacemaking initiative" in its two parts - the direct statement of Putin's urgent need to conclude a truce in the war with Ukraine without waiting for Trump to come to power; and Xi Jinping's attempt to mediate "peace talks" on the condition that Europe is independent of the United States. In both cases, the realization of these plans is conditioned on Ukraine's recognition of Russia's victory and the EU's refusal to help our country.

Today we are convinced that both conditions are completely unrealistic.

About the author. Mykola Kniazhytskyi, journalist, Ukrainian MP.

The editors do not always share the opinions expressed by the authors of blogs or columns.

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