Poking the Russian Bear

There is a false narrative that the war in Ukraine is entirely unprovoked. It is essential to understand the broader historical and geopolitical context for a balanced perspective. This includes acknowledging actions that may be perceived as provocative by Russia, contributing to the complex dynamics that have led to the current conflict.

Historical Context and NATO Expansion:

  • After the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO expanded eastward, incorporating several former Warsaw Pact countries and Soviet republics. Russia has consistently viewed NATO's expansion as a threat to its security.

  • Russia has for decades explained that Ukraine is a red-line for them.

  • Ukraine's increasing ties with the West, particularly its aspirations to join NATO, have been a major point of contention. Russia perceives this as an encroachment on its traditional sphere of influence.

US and Western Involvement in Ukraine:

  • As detailed in the articles from Pravda and The Telegraph, the CIA has established multiple secret bases in Ukraine over the past 8 years and has been involved in training and equipping Ukrainian special forces and intelligence operatives. This involvement includes the creation of Unit 2245 and extensive collaboration on intelligence operations against Russia.

  • The CIA and other Western intelligence agencies have been active in Ukraine, providing support and training to Ukrainian forces and intelligence services.

Provocative Actions:

  • The extensive US intelligence and military support for Ukraine can be perceived as provocative from Russia's perspective. Russia has repeatedly stated that it views such actions as direct threats to its national security.

  • Historical incidents, such as the US support for the Ukrainian government's actions during the Euromaidan protests and the subsequent ousting of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych, are seen by Russia as Western interference in its near abroad.

Context of Corruption in Ukraine:

  • Ukraine has long struggled with corruption, which affects various levels of government, judiciary, and business sectors. Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index has consistently ranked Ukraine poorly, highlighting systemic issues.

  • Corruption undermines effective governance, hinders economic development, and erodes public trust in institutions.

NATO Membership Criteria and Challenges:

  • NATO membership requires meeting specific political, economic, and military criteria outlined in the Membership Action Plan (MAP). This includes demonstrating a commitment to democratic governance, rule of law, human rights, and a functioning market economy.

  • Ukraine's corruption is a significant barrier to meeting these criteria, as it indicates weaknesses in the rule of law, transparency, and accountability.

Implications for Peace Agreement

In any peace agreement, the closure of these bases could be a significant negotiating point:

  • Security Assurances: Russia may demand the closure of these bases as part of broader security assurances, seeking to reduce what it perceives as direct threats from US and NATO presence in Ukraine.

  • Transparency and Verification: Establishing transparent mechanisms for verifying the closure of bases and withdrawal of foreign military and intelligence personnel could build trust and ensure compliance.

Proposal for a Peace Agreement with Emphasis on Anti-Corruption Measures

1. Establishment of Demilitarized Zones (DMZ):

  • Location: The DMZs will be established along agreed-upon sections of the Ukraine-Russia border and areas of intense conflict.

  • Width and Scope: The DMZ will be a buffer zone of a specified width (e.g., 30-50 kilometers) where no military forces, heavy weaponry, or military infrastructure are allowed.

  • Monitoring and Enforcement: The DMZ will be monitored by an international peacekeeping force and overseen by the United Nations or another neutral international body.

2. Closure of Foreign Intelligence and Military Bases:

  • CIA and Other Intelligence Bases: The US agrees to close all CIA bases and cease all covert operations within the DMZ and other specified areas in Ukraine.

  • Verification: Closure and dismantling of these bases will be verified by international observers, with regular inspections to ensure compliance.

3. Withdrawal of Foreign Military Forces:

  • Russian Forces: Russia agrees to withdraw its military forces to pre-defined positions outside the DMZ and reduce its military presence along the border.

4. Anti-Corruption Measures and Reforms:

  • Transparency and Accountability: Ukraine commits to implementing comprehensive anti-corruption measures, including strengthening independent anti-corruption agencies and enhancing judicial reforms.

  • International Oversight: Establish an international oversight body, possibly under the auspices of the EU or another neutral entity, to monitor and report on Ukraine's anti-corruption efforts.

  • Financial Audits: Regular financial audits of government expenditures and foreign aid usage, conducted by international auditors, to ensure transparency and accountability.

5. Security Guarantees and Mutual Assurances:

  • Non-Aggression Pact: Ukraine and Russia will sign a non-aggression pact, pledging not to engage in hostile actions against each other.

  • Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity: Both parties reaffirm their commitment to respecting Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

  • International Guarantees: The agreement will be backed by international guarantees from major powers (e.g., US, EU, China) to ensure compliance and provide security assurances to both Ukraine and Russia.

6. Economic and Humanitarian Measures:

  • Economic Assistance: International financial aid and economic assistance will be provided to Ukraine for reconstruction and development, particularly in areas affected by the conflict.

  • Humanitarian Access: Both parties agree to ensure unrestricted humanitarian access to affected regions, allowing aid organizations to provide necessary support to civilians.

7. Monitoring and Compliance:

  • International Monitoring Mission: An international monitoring mission, possibly led by the UN or OSCE, will be established to oversee the implementation of the peace agreement, monitor the DMZ, and ensure compliance by both parties.

  • Regular Reporting: The monitoring mission will provide regular reports to the international community, detailing the status of the DMZ, troop withdrawals, anti-corruption efforts, and any violations of the agreement.

8. Political and Diplomatic Measures:

  • Peace Talks and Dialogue: Continuous dialogue and negotiations will be maintained between Ukraine and Russia to address ongoing issues and ensure long-term peace and stability.

  • International Support: The international community, including major powers and regional organizations, will support and facilitate the peace process, providing mediation and assistance as needed.

9. Addressing Root Causes and Future Cooperation:

  • Addressing Grievances: Both parties will work towards addressing underlying grievances and concerns, including ethnic and regional tensions, economic disparities, and political inclusivity.

  • Future Cooperation: Ukraine and Russia will explore opportunities for future cooperation in areas such as trade, energy, and cultural exchanges to build mutual trust and interdependence.

10. Territorial Disputes:

Resolving the territorial disputes in Ukraine involves addressing the complex historical, political, and security issues surrounding the Donbas region, Crimea, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia. Below is a proposed framework for resolving these disputes through negotiated settlements and international mediation.

Donbas Region (Donetsk and Luhansk)

Independence and International Recognition:

  • Referendum: Conduct a UN-supervised referendum in Donetsk and Luhansk to determine the will of the local population regarding independence. The referendum must be free, fair, and transparent, with participation from all eligible residents.

  • Independence Declaration: If the referendum results favor independence, Donetsk and Luhansk will be recognized as independent states by Ukraine, Russia, and the international community.

  • International Recognition: The newly independent states will seek international recognition and membership in the United Nations and other international organizations.

  • Border Security: Establish demilitarized zones along the new borders of Donetsk and Luhansk, monitored by international peacekeeping forces to ensure security and prevent future conflicts.


Long-Term Negotiations and Interim Measures:

  • International Mediation: Establish a long-term negotiation framework involving Ukraine, Russia, and international mediators such as the United Nations, the European Union, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

  • Interim Governance: Implement an interim governance arrangement where Crimea remains under Russian administrative control but with guarantees for the rights of ethnic Ukrainians and Tatars living in Crimea.

  • Economic Cooperation: Develop joint economic projects and cooperation between Ukraine and Crimea to build confidence and interdependence.

  • Cultural Exchange: Promote cultural and educational exchanges to foster mutual understanding and reconciliation.

  • Referendum: After a significant period of stability and cooperation, conduct a new referendum, supervised by international observers, to determine the final status of Crimea. The referendum should offer options for continued Russian control, return to Ukraine, or a special autonomous status.

Kherson and Zaporizhzhia

Autonomy and Demilitarized Zones:

  • Autonomous Regions: Grant Kherson and Zaporizhzhia special autonomous status within Ukraine, with significant self-governance powers while remaining part of Ukraine.

  • Local Governance: Establish local governance structures with elected representatives to manage regional affairs, ensuring the protection of the rights of all ethnic and linguistic groups.

  • Demilitarized Zones: Create demilitarized zones in contested areas of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, with international peacekeeping forces monitoring compliance and maintaining security.

  • Economic Assistance: Provide international economic assistance for the reconstruction and development of these regions, focusing on infrastructure, healthcare, and education.

  • Security Guarantees: Ensure security guarantees from both Ukraine and Russia, with international oversight to prevent future military escalations.


This framework for resolving territorial disputes in Ukraine seeks to address the aspirations of local populations, ensure security and stability, and promote cooperation and reconciliation between Ukraine and Russia. By involving international mediators and establishing clear mechanisms for governance and security, this approach aims to create a sustainable and peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflicts.

Implementation Timeline:

Phase 1 (0-3 months):

  • Immediate ceasefire.

  • Initial withdrawal of foreign forces and closure of intelligence bases.

  • Establishment of the DMZ with international monitoring.

Phase 2 (3-6 months):

  • Complete withdrawal of remaining foreign military forces.

  • Deployment of international peacekeeping forces.

  • Commencement of economic and humanitarian aid programs.

  • Implementation of initial anti-corruption measures.

Phase 3 (6-12 months):

  • Ongoing monitoring and verification.

  • Continued peace talks.

  • Implementation of further political and economic measures to address root causes and promote long-term stability.

  • Regular financial audits and reporting on anti-corruption progress.

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