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Jeffrey Sachs Insists, Given Putin’s Five Peace Proposals, the U.S. Has One Responsibility—Negotiate

In an article, “Why Won’t the U.S. Help Negotiate a Peaceful End to the War in Ukraine?” posted in the June 20 Common Dreams, Jeffrey Sachs asserts that “For the fifth time since 2008, Russia has proposed to negotiate with the U.S. over security arrangements, this time in proposals made by President Vladimir Putin on June 14. Four previous times, the U.S. rejected the offer of negotiations in favor of a neocon strategy to weaken or dismember Russia through war and covert operations. The U.S. neocon tactics have failed disastrously, devastating Ukraine in the process, and endangering the whole world. After all the warmongering, it’s time for Biden to open negotiations for peace with Russia.”

He goes on: “Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. grand strategy has been to weaken Russia. As early as 1992, then Defense Secretary Richard Cheney opined that following the 1991 demise of the Soviet Union, Russia too should be dismembered.” This has been an underlying axiom that has aborted negotiations. Sachs presents a sweeping overview of the Russian proposals:

First Proposal: “In June 2008, as the U.S. prepared to expand NATO to Ukraine and Georgia, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev proposed a European Security Treaty, calling for collective security and an end to NATO’s unilateralism. Suffice it to say, the U.S. showed no interest whatsoever in Russia’s proposals, and instead proceeded with its long-held plans for NATO enlargement.”

Second Proposal: “The second Russian proposal for negotiations came from Putin following the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, with the active complicity if not outright leadership of the U.S. government. I happened to see the U.S. complicity up close, as the post-coup government invited me for urgent economic discussions. When I arrived in Kiev, I was taken to the Maidan, where I was told directly about U.S. funding of the Maidan protest.

“The evidence of U.S. complicity in the coup is overwhelming….

“On Feb. 21, 2014, the Europeans, U.S. and Russia brokered a deal with Yanukovych in which Yanukovych agreed to early elections. Yet the coup leaders reneged on the deal the same day, took over government buildings, threatened more violence, and deposed Yanukovych the next day.”

Third Proposal: “Following the definitive collapse of the Minsk II agreement, Putin again proposed negotiations with the U.S. in December 2021. By that point, the issues went even beyond NATO enlargement to include fundamental issues of nuclear armaments. Step by step, the U.S. neocons had abandoned nuclear arms control with Russia, with the U.S. unilaterally abandoning the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002, placing Aegis missiles in Poland and Romania in 2010 onwards, and walking out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019.

“In view of these dire concerns, Putin put on the table on Dec. 15, 2021 a draft ‘Treaty between the United States of America and the Russian Federation on Security Guarantees.’ The most immediate issue on the table (Article 4 of the draft treaty) was the end of the U.S. attempt to expand NATO to Ukraine.”

Sachs adds his personal knowledge of subsequent events: “I called U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan at the end of 2021 to try to convince the Biden White House to enter the negotiations. My main advice was to avoid a war in Ukraine by accepting Ukraine’s neutrality, rather than NATO membership, which was a bright red line for Russia.

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