RT: Joining us in the studio now is Srdja Trifkovic, foreign affairs editor of Chronicles magazine. Thank you very much for joining us at the studio of RT International. So, we have the new peace plan that includes the greater autonomy for eastern Ukraine. Do you think this is something that can really work in practice?
ST: Frankly, no . . . because the United States has a history of torpedoing agreements made by the Europeans to which the U.S. is not a party. A good example is the EU plan for Bosnia by then-Portuguese foreign minister Cutiliero in March 1992, which was torpedoed by the U.S. Ambassador, [Warren] Zimmermann. The following year the Vance-Owen peace plan, which could have saved a hundred thousand lives in Bosnia, was likewise torpedoed. The Americans want to run this show. They have no interest in stopping the crisis in Ukraine because it is really driving a wedge between the Europeans and Russia, and to their mind it is pushing Europe ever so firmly back into the NATO fold. Unless and until the United States decides that the time has come to make a real deal, whatever the Europeans do is not worth the paper it’s written on.
RT: Do you think that the rift between Europe and Washington could grow?
ST: No, because we’ve seen the European initial resistance to the sanctions . . . how quickly it collapsed, and how completely it collapsed. I think at the moment the ability of France, Germany, Italy . . . any European power – to stand up to the United States is actually far lower than it was before the beginning of this crisis.
RT: At the Munich summit there’s been a barrage of accusations flung at Russia over what’s going on in Ukraine . . . How fair are those accusations?
ST: It felt like an orchestrated hate-fest from the early 1950’s, the Stalinist era. Obviously these people live in a surreal world. The United States changed, or tried to change, the balance of forces in Eastern Europe, and the European Union joined the bandwagon. Whenever a major power tries to change the status quo, the result is a crisis. It happened with the Soviet Union in 1962, when Khrushchev tried to bring the missiles to Cuba – we had a crisis. Whenever the equilibrium is upset unilaterally, a crisis will invariably result. Every step of the way – and in this respect Lavrov is right – the United States was driving this crisis. Russia has no vested interest in either annexing eastern Ukraine, or in intervening directly. Russia does have an interest in making sure that Ukraine does not join NATO, and that eastern Ukrainian Russian-speakers are protected. One might say, sarcastically, that it is part and parcel of the American doctrine of the “Responsibility to Protect.”
RT: Interestingly, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden has said that the conflict cannot be solved militarily. How does that fit with the NATO supreme commander’s statement that he doesn’t rule out arming Kiev. Is it shifting towards Europe’s . . .
ST: No, it does not. Biden is an old hypocrite. He may actually mean that in the end there may be a peace treaty favorable to Poroshenko and the United States as the result of Kiev’s military action. In the end every conflict is resolved politically. At the moment the United States is actually working on a package of lethal aid to the Ukrainian government.
RT: And that would undermine everything that the European governments . . .
ST: Of course. And what Russia will do then is be less circumspect about helping Donetsk and Lugansk, which will only up the ante militarily. In the end, Ukraine cannot win this one. We’ve seen that their soldiers simply don’t have their heart in the fight,
RT: Russian President Vladimir Putin said that there is an attempt to contain Russia, which is unacceptable. Is this how you see this?
ST: Absolutely. Two days ago I attended a conference in Yalta to mark the 70th anniversary of the summit of the “Big Three” in 1945. Indeed, every time when the Western powers tried to exclude Russia from the European decision making, the result was tension and war. Think Napoleon, think the Kaiser, think the Fuehrer. What we had after 1945 was fifty years of an uneasy peace during the Cold War, but at least the rules of the game were clear. We need a new Yalta today, in which Russia will be an equal partner – with recognized security interests in its near abroad. Without that we will have an unsettled world in which the United States is trying to impose ad-hoc rules as we go along. That is the guarantee for a string of crises for years to come.
RT: Srdja Trifkovic, thank you very much for your time for joining us here at the studio of RT International.