In the News March 24
U.S./NATO Expansion Identified as Cause of Conflict in Ukraine
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng Blames U.S./NATO Expansion for the Escalation of Violence in Ukraine
In remarks during the Fourth International Forum on Security and Strategy at Tsinghua University in Beijing on March 19, the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister pointed squarely at U.S./NATO for provoking the crisis in Ukraine. As reported in Xinhua, Le Yucheng said the European continent is a key region for world peace, marred by two World Wars and not tranquil even after the Cold War ended. Now flames of war are reignited in eastern Europe. This is indeed deeply distressing and should prompt us to profoundly reflect on the root cause, which Le suggests lies in a Cold War mentality and power politics.
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, U.S./NATO promised that it would move “not one inch eastward,” Le said. Instead, U.S./NATO has reneged on its word and keeps pushing its boundary eastward right up to Russia’s borders. U.S./NATO’s eastward expansion in Europe is what gave rise to Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. This expansion should never have happened; with the disintegration of the Soviet Union the U.S./NATO alliance should have been consigned to history alongside the Warsaw Pact, Le added. The U.S./NATO pursuit of absolute security actually leads to absolute insecurity for all, he said.
“Bloc politics and group confrontation should be rejected,” Le said, adding that military blocs are a Cold War vestige. Rather than breaking up, NATO has kept strengthening itself and expanding. One could well have anticipated the consequences of going down this path. The crisis in Ukraine is a stern warning, Le said.
Sanctions and Blockades
In discussing sanctions and blockades, which the U.S. uses with regularity against others, as well as military blocs such as NATO, Le characterized these practices as the weaponization of globalization, a form of politics that must be rejected. He said China opposes unilateral sanctions and military blocs that have neither any basis in international law nor a mandate from the United Nations.
Le said history has shown time and again that instead of solving problems, imposing sanctions is like “putting out fire with firewood” and will only make things worse. The abuse of sanctions will bring catastrophic consequences for the entire world. Moscow has seen thousands of harsh new curbs and sanctions slapped on it, with the U.S., EU and many other countries seeking to isolate and destroy the Russian economy. U.S. President Biden has even pointedly demanded big countries such as India and China obey the unilateral sanctions, reportedly warning President Xi that China would face “consequences” should it provide material support or help Moscow evade U.S.-directed sanctions.
“History has proven time and again that sanctions cannot solve problems,” Le said. “The sanctions against Russia are becoming more and more outrageous. Sanctions will only harm ordinary people, impact the economic and financial system… and worsen the global economy,” he said.
“Small countries should not be used as pawns,” Le noted, adding big countries as well do not want to be dragged into conflicts and bring harm to themselves, as the U.S. now insists. In pressuring others, the U.S. makes empty promises to small countries and turns them into their cat’s paw and even uses them to fight proxy wars. Instead of demanding Ukraine continue the conflict as U.S./NATO is now doing by supplying arms and spreading pro-war propaganda, Le called on all jointly to support Russia and Ukraine in having dialogue and negotiations to produce results and lead to peace.
“A NATO commitment of no eastward expansion could have easily ended the crisis and stopped the sufferings. Instead, one chose to fan the flames at a safe distance, watching its own arms dealers, bankers and oil tycoons make a fortune out of the war while leaving people of a small country with the wounds of war that would take years to heal. This is highly immoral and irresponsible,” he added.
U.S./NATO’s unchecked expansion in eastern Europe and the failure to address Russia’s national security concerns paved the way to the current crisis, Le reiterated, saying in addition that Moscow has vehemently opposed NATO’s presence close to its borders and embarked on a mission to obtain written guarantees that would halt the U.S.-led military bloc’s expansion and bar Ukraine from joining its ranks. However, the U.S. military bloc ignored Russia’s concerns and could not even bring itself to a simple “commitment of no eastward expansion.” He added, “The consequences of forcing a major power especially a nuclear power into a corner are even more unimaginable.”
(With files from Xinhua and Global Times. Illustration Liu Rui/Global Times)
TML Daily, posted March 24, 2022.