The statements of Stian Jensen, chief of staff of G.G., caused a shock. of NATO, on the Ukrainian, Jens Stoltenberg Speaking about the prospect of Ukraine joining the Alliance after the war, he said among other things: “One solution could be for Ukraine to cede territory and receive NATO membership in return. I’m not saying this should happen. But it might be a possible solution.”
Asked by Norwegian newspaper VG, which broke the story, if this is NATO’s view, Jensen pointed out that the post-war regime debate is already underway and that the issue of ceding territory to Russia has already been raised by others. The official found what was essentially a military stalemate. Russia, on the other hand, is finding it difficult to seize new territories, while it has wondered what Ukraine can manage to recover on the battlefield.
A day later, Jensen told the same newspaper: “My statement was part of a larger discussion about possible future scenarios in Ukraine and I should not have phrased it that way. Was wrong”. Naturally, however, his reports infuriated Ukrainians, with Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to Zelensky, tweeting a vitriolic message.
He said it was a ridiculous proposal, calling it a “deliberate choice to defeat democracy, embolden a global criminal, preserve the Russian regime, destroy international law and hand down war to generations to come.” This will be a new form of division of Europe, even with Ukraine under the umbrella of NATO. He asked rhetorically, why should it be proposed to freeze the conflict “which Russia so desires”, instead of speeding up the supply of Western weapons?
A second reading shows that the Podoliak comment is of particular interest. An ideologically charged rhetoric is evident, which until now has served and projected within the Western narrative: The war in Ukraine is being fought to protect democracy, with the goal of regime change in Russia. Also, that the Cold War-style division of Europe is not desirable, and the inability of Kiev to prevail is due to the West’s delay in the delivery of weapons systems.
But there was also a reaction from the “usual suspect” Dmitry Medvedev. The deputy head of the National Security Council said that if Ukraine agrees to cede territory to Russia in order to join NATO, then it will have to leave even Kiev! Medvedev, who is used to making incendiary statements, gives the impression that his attitude is part of the “good and bad” game. In this way he tries to send the message that there are more extreme views in Russia than that of Putin! It is also a stance that is part of Moscow’s “intra-war deterrence”, with the aim of preventing NATO from becoming more actively involved in the war.
These two reports from the side of the belligerents provide a context for where the conflict is today and where it is headed… The ideological approach on the part of Kiev is understandable. Communication, however, cannot cover reality forever. This is a truth that is even more true in war, as some rules have not changed in centuries.
Obviously, reality will not adapt to wishes. What is possible is different and what is desirable is different, which of course differs for each side. But it’s always a matter of time before everyone faces the harsh reality.
The absence of an official response from NATO and Jensen’s apology only confirm the suspicion from the beginning: The official was playing the role of a “pointer”. He said the non-politically correct, aiming to gauge reactions, even though they were more or less predictable. So the goal was much more cynical: He wanted to put on the table in a semi-official way the question of a compromise disengagement from the conflict.
Reacting, Stoltenberg used very careful phrasing: “It is the Ukrainians, and only the Ukrainians, who can decide when the conditions for negotiations exist and who can decide at the negotiating table what is an acceptable solution… His (Jensen’s) message , which is also my main message, which is also the main message of NATO, is, first of all, that the policy of NATO has not changed, we support Ukraine”. He essentially said that the Ukrainians will decide when they can’t take it anymore!
With the Russian strikes in Lviv and Odessa they are not only causing direct damage to Ukrainian trade. On a second level, the Russians are threatening to advance and turn Ukraine into a landlocked state, if indeed the ongoing Ukrainian counteroffensive collapses. They are also effectively communicating that they can damage infrastructure across Ukraine. Even if Kiev does not like the “weariness of the West” from the war, it is sufficiently recorded in the systemic mass media, which in the recent past had a clear role in the communicative support of the war adventure.
Without the massive support of the West, Ukraine would have collapsed long ago. NATO blood, however, is not going to be spilled, because that would bring nuclear involvement much closer. It is possible that at some point the Ukrainians will accuse NATO of dragging them into this war… There is a limit to everything, including the support that the West can provide to Ukraine.
With limited industrial production capabilities in ammunition and weapon systems of all kinds, but in any case at a rate much lower than that consumed and destroyed on the war fronts, empty warehouses and arsenals of the member countries are obviously not an acceptable cost and a sober choice of NATO.
The Selfish Political reasons
But there are also selfish political reasons. With the US 15 months away from the presidential election and Trump’s continued strengthening of the Republican camp, the calculations were predictably about to change. In addition to the different strategy of Trump’s advisers, who are not distinguished for an “ideological approach” to US-Russia relations, harsh attacks on President Biden for corruption are expected, especially with a focus on Ukraine.
Even if it is a half-truth, the question-message to the electorate will be clear: Did the war have other motives than those officially declared? How sober is the US heading into an election, pitted against two very old leaders? One defendant facing… half the US criminal code and the other with a clearly diminished sense of reality due to age and family business involvement in Ukraine.
And if one focuses on the big picture of geostrategic rivalries, leaving aside the communications nonsense, could Washington lightly agree that the goal is the collapse of the Putin regime? When similar mistakes have been made and have created infinitely more problems than they solved in the cases of e.g. of Iraq and Afghanistan, what sane person would dare to do that in the case of Russia?
Declarations of human rights and democracy are fine, but the planners of US global strategy have other questions to answer, even if they choose to ignore the backlash that has arisen as a result of the war in Ukraine. We recall the destruction of previously close US bilateral relations with important countries.
Russia cannot essentially be governed and remain intact with what we in the West call a “democratic model of governance”. This is a reality that is also perceived by a significant part of Russian society itself, having been reflected in polls investigating the issue of democracy, even though in theory Russians agree with what sounds good to the ears.
When everyone in Washington agrees that the real US competitor is China, could an American leader allow the colonization of sparsely populated Siberia by the dynamic Chinese population? This could happen in case of dissolution of the Russian Federation. Is there at least one area of common interest between Washington and Moscow, even if the Americans choose to ignore the argument of the need for cooperation between the two countries vis-à-vis China?