Ukraine War: Secret Negotiations between U.S. and Russia Have Started

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with former U.S. diplomats to discuss about the pacification of the conflict

 

By Michael Pröbsting, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 8 July 2023, www.thecommunists.net

 

 

 

NBC, one of the largest American broadcast television networks, has published a report about secret negotiations between the U.S. and Russia. According to the media network, the Great Powers have already started to discuss about ways to pacify the Ukraine War. [1]

 

A group of former senior U.S. national security officials have held secret talks with prominent Russians believed to be close to the Kremlin — and, in at least one case, with the country’s top diplomat — with the aim of laying the groundwork for potential negotiations to end the war in Ukraine, half a dozen people briefed on the discussions told NBC News. In a high-level example of the back-channel diplomacy taking place behind the scenes, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with members of the group for several hours in April in New York, four former officials and two current officials told NBC News. On the agenda of the April meeting were some of the thorniest issues in the war in Ukraine, like the fate of Russian-held territory that Ukraine may never be able to liberate, and the search for an elusive diplomatic off-ramp that could be tolerable to both sides.

 

According to NBC, the U.S. negotiation team included Richard Haass, a former high-ranking diplomat and the outgoing president of the Council on Foreign Relations (a leading Think Tank which publishes Foreign Affairs and is close to the State Department). Other participants were Europe expert Charles Kupchan and Russia expert Thomas Graham, both former White House and State Department officials who are Council on Foreign Relations fellows.

 

The Russian team included, apart from Lavrov, “academics, leaders from major think tanks or research institutes and others in the Russian foreign policy sphere perceived as having President Vladimir Putin’s ear or being in regular touch with Kremlin decision-makers.

 

Of course, these are not official negotiations. Haass claims that “such meetings are conversations, not negotiations” where participants are “speaking candidly and testing new ideas or proposals.” Likewise, the Russian Foreign Ministry confirmed that Lavrov had met in April with Council on Foreign Relations members “but said that no peace plan for Ukraine had been on the agenda, asserting that they had discussed a broader range of international issues.[2]

 

But this is the usual window dressing often used in the world of diplomacy. As NBC confirmed, these talks have taken place “with the knowledge of the Biden administration” and “after the Lavrov meeting in April, U.S. participants briefed the White House about what was discussed.”. If these were not secret negotiations, why on earth would the Russian Foreign Minister participate? Because Lavrov, a long-serving and highly-experienced diplomat, likes to listen to self-important Americans?!

 

No, there is no doubt: secret negotiations between the U.S. and Russia have started – at least since April this year.

 

 

 

The negotiation plan of Haass (and the White House)

 

 

 

It is telling that the U.S. negotiation team is led by Richard Haass. The latter wrote, together with Charles Kupchan (another participant in the team), an essay in Foreign Affairs titled “The West Needs a New Strategy in Ukraine. [3] It is also hardly accidental that this essay was published at about the same time as the meeting with Lavrov took place.

 

In their article, the two former U.S. officials outline in detail their plan for negotiations with Russia for ending the Ukraine War. They start from the assumption that the conflict is headed for stalemate. “Yet for all the good that greater Western military help would do, it is unlikely to change the fundamental reality that this war is headed for stalemate. It is of course possible that Ukraine’s coming offensive proves stunningly successful and allows the country to reclaim all occupied territory, including Crimea, resulting in a complete Russian defeat. But such an outcome is improbable. Even if the West steps up its military assistance, Ukraine is poised to fall well short of vanquishing Russian forces. It is running out of soldiers and ammunition, and its economy continues to deteriorate. Russian troops are dug in, and fresh recruits are heading to the front.

 

Hence, Haass and Kupchan suggest that “given the likely trajectory of the war, the United States and its partners need to begin formulating a diplomatic endgame now. (…) Under this approach, Ukraine’s Western supporters would propose a cease-fire as Ukraine’s coming offensive reaches its limits. Ideally, both Ukraine and Russia would pull back their troops and heavy weapons from the new line of contact, effectively creating a demilitarized zone. A neutral organization—either the UN or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe—would send in observers to monitor and enforce the cease-fire and pullback. The West should approach other influential countries, including China and India, to support the cease-fire proposal. (…) Assuming a cease-fire holds, peace talks should follow. Such talks should occur along two parallel tracks. On one track would be direct talks between Ukraine and Russia, facilitated by international mediators, on the terms of peace. On the second track, NATO allies would start a strategic dialogue with Russia on arms control and the broader European security architecture. Putin’s effort to undo the post–Cold War security order has backfired and ended up strengthening NATO. But that reality only increases the need for NATO and Russia to begin a constructive dialogue to prevent a new arms race, rebuild military-to-military contacts, and address other issues of common concern, including nuclear proliferation.

 

The unofficial U.S. negotiators state in their essay that even if the negotiations do not result in an official peace treaty, it would be still beneficial for the U.S. if a ceasefire and a freezing of the front lines could be achieved. “Another plausible outcome is that Russia would agree to a cease-fire in order to pocket its remaining territorial gains but in fact has no intention of negotiating in good faith to secure a lasting peace settlement. Presumably, Ukraine would enter such negotiations by demanding its top priorities: the restoration of its 1991 borders, substantial reparations, and accountability for war crimes. But because Putin would surely reject these demands out of hand, a prolonged diplomatic stalemate would then emerge, effectively producing a new frozen conflict. Ideally, the cease-fire would hold, leading to a status quo like the one that prevails on the Korean Peninsula, which has remained largely stable without a formal peace pact for 70 years. Cyprus has similarly been divided but stable for decades. This is not an ideal outcome, but it is preferable to a high-intensity war that continues for years.

 

Naturally, Haass and Kupchan are fully aware that such a plan would be highly detrimental to the national interests of the Ukraine. But since the Eastern European country is only a pawn in the global plans of U.S. imperialism, the American ex-diplomats don’t worry too much about that. “Even with these inducements, Ukraine might still refuse the call for a cease-fire. (…) But if Kyiv did balk, the political reality is that support for Ukraine could not be sustained in the United States and Europe, especially if Russia were to accept the cease-fire. Ukraine would have little choice but to accede …

 

 

 

Confirmation of the Marxists’ analysis

 

 

 

The secret negotiations between the U.S. and Russia confirm the RCIT’s analysis of the interests of Western powers and, in particular, of the U.S. in the Ukraine War. We did already warn in November 2022 “that the Ukrainian liberation struggle is threatened by a Great Power deal aimed at the pacification of the war. Such a deal would mean, at least temporary, the consolidation of the Russian occupation of significant parts of the Ukraine’s territory. In other words, the Ukrainian people face the danger of a sell-out by Western imperialism. Washington and Brussels might push for such a pacification of the war before it destabilises the imperialist world order too much and provokes mass unrests or even revolutionary crises in Russia, Europe or in other parts of the world.[4]

 

In the RCIT’s theses “Towards a Turning Point in the Ukraine War?”, published in March this year, we elaborated on the U.S. plans for a pacification of the war in more detail. We also explained that such plans would go hand-in-hand with the project to formalize NATO’s relations with Kyiv and to fully subordinate the Ukraine. [5]

 

The news about ongoing secret negotiations between the U.S. and Russia make our warning even more urgent. We reiterate that the Ukrainian people must resist any subordination to the plans of U.S. imperialism. Such subordination would not only serve primarily the interests of Washington and Brussels, but it would also disable the Ukrainian people to oppose a Great Power deal which would leave a substantial part of Ukrainian territory in the hands of the Russian occupiers. Former Ukrainian Presidential advisor, Oleksii Arestovych, does not go astray by “claiming that Ukrainians are shedding their blood for the sake of future western negotiations with Russia.[6]

 

We reiterate that the Ukrainian people must resist all plans of Washington to make the country a fully semi-colony of Western powers and to pacify the war in the interest of Russian imperialism. [7] In order to expel the invaders and to gain full national self-determination, the Ukraine must be independent of the interests of any Great Power! This will be possible only if the workers and popular masses replace the pro-NATO Zelensky regime by a workers and popular government! [8]

 

The RCIT calls socialists in the Ukraine, in Russia and globally to unite on an internationalist and anti-imperialist program. For a Popular War to defend the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion! No subordination of Ukraine to NATO and EU! Against Russian and against NATO imperialism!

 



[1] Josh Lederman: Former U.S. officials have held secret Ukraine talks with prominent Russians. The aim of the discussions is to lay the groundwork for potential negotiations to end the war, people briefed on the talks tell NBC News, July 6, 2023, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/former-us-officials-secret-ukraine-talks-russians-war-ukraine-rcna92610. All quotes about that meeting are from this article if not indicated otherwise.

[2] Josh Lederman and Daryna Mayer: Ukraine questions secret talks between former U.S. officials and Russians, NBC, 2023-07-07, https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/ukraine-secret-talks-us-officials-russians-war-kremlin-rcna93092

[3] Richard Haass and Charles Kupchan: The West Needs a New Strategy in Ukraine. A Plan for Getting From the Battlefield to the Negotiating Table, Foreign Affairs, April 13, 2023, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/ukraine/russia-richard-haass-west-battlefield-negotiations

[4] RCIT: Ukraine War: The Liberation of Western Kherson Oblast and the Danger of a Great Power Deal, 15 November 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/ukraine-war-liberation-of-kherson-danger-of-great-power-deal/

[5] See on this e.g. RCIT: Towards a Turning Point in the Ukraine War? The tasks of socialists in the light of possible lines of development of the war of national defence in combination with the inter-imperialist Great Power rivalry, 11 March 2023, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/towards-a-turning-point-in-the-ukraine-war/; NATO Integration: An Imperialist Trap for the Ukrainian People! For a Popular War to defend the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion! No subordination of Ukraine to NATO and EU! Against Russian and against NATO imperialism! 19 June 2023, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/nato-integration-is-imperialist-trap-for-ukraine/; Michael Pröbsting: Is Ukraine About to Become NATO’s “Israel” in Eastern Europe? The “Wall Street Journal” reports about plans of Western governments to transform their relationship with the Ukraine at the NATO Summit in July, 29 May 2023, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/is-ukraine-about-to-become-nato-s-israel-in-eastern-europe/

[6] Geoff Roberts: Peace in Ukraine? Faltering counter-offensive, failed coup, July 6, 2023, https://johnmenadue.com/peace-in-ukraine-faltering-counter-offensive-failed-coup/

[7] The RCIT has published numerous documents about capitalism in Russia and its rise to an imperialist power. The most important ones are several pamphlets by Michael Pröbsting: The Peculiar Features of Russian Imperialism. A Study of Russia’s Monopolies, Capital Export and Super-Exploitation in the Light of Marxist Theory, 10 August 2021, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/the-peculiar-features-of-russian-imperialism/; by the same author: Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism and the Rise of Russia as a Great Power. On the Understanding and Misunderstanding of Today’s Inter-Imperialist Rivalry in the Light of Lenin’s Theory of Imperialism. Another Reply to Our Critics Who Deny Russia’s Imperialist Character, August 2014, http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialism-theory-and-russia/; Russia as a Great Imperialist Power. The formation of Russian Monopoly Capital and its Empire – A Reply to our Critics, 18 March 2014 (this pamphlet contains a document written in 2001 in which we established for the first time our characterisation of Russia as imperialist), http://www.thecommunists.net/theory/imperialist-russia/; see also the following essays by the same author: 'Empire-ism' vs a Marxist analysis of imperialism: Continuing the debate with Argentinian economist Claudio Katz on Great Power rivalry, Russian imperialism and the Ukraine War, 3 March 2023, https://links.org.au/empire-ism-vs-marxist-analysis-imperialism-continuing-debate-argentinian-economist-claudio-katz; Russia: An Imperialist Power or a “Non-Hegemonic Empire in Gestation”? A reply to the Argentinean economist Claudio Katz, in: New Politics, 11 August 2022, at https://newpol.org/russia-an-imperialist-power-or-a-non-hegemonic-empire-in-gestation-a-reply-to-the-argentinean-economist-claudio-katz-an-essay-with-8-tables/; Russian Imperialism and Its Monopolies, in: New Politics Vol. XVIII No. 4, Whole Number 72, Winter 2022, https://newpol.org/issue_post/russian-imperialism-and-its-monopolies/; Once Again on Russian Imperialism (Reply to Critics). A rebuttal of a theory which claims that Russia is not an imperialist state but would be rather “comparable to Brazil and Iran”, 30 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/once-again-on-russian-imperialism-reply-to-critics/. See various other RCIT documents on this issue at a special sub-page on the RCIT’s website: https://www.thecommunists.net/theory/china-russia-as-imperialist-powers/.

[8] We refer readers to a special page on our website where more than 180 RCIT documents on the Ukraine War and the current NATO-Russia conflict are compiled: https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/compilation-of-documents-on-nato-russia-conflict/. In particular we refer to the RCIT Manifesto: Ukraine War: A Turning Point of World Historic Significance. Socialists must combine the revolutionary defense of the Ukraine against Putin’s invasion with the internationalist struggle against Russian as well as NATO and EU imperialism, 1 March 2022, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/manifesto-ukraine-war-a-turning-point-of-world-historic-significance/; see also: Manifesto on the First Anniversary of the Ukraine War. Victory to the heroic Ukrainian people! Defeat Russian imperialism! No support whatsoever for NATO imperialism! 10 February 2023, https://www.thecommunists.net/worldwide/global/manifesto-on-first-anniversary-of-ukraine-war/

 

미제와 러제 간 비밀협상이 시작됐다

- 우크라이나 영토 상당 부분을 러시아 점령군의 손에 쥐어주는 강대국 정전평화 거래

 

미하엘 프뢰브스팅, 혁명적 공산주의인터내셔널 동맹 (RCIT), 2023 7 8, www.thecommunists.net

 

 

 

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미국과 러시아 비밀 협상에 관한 보도가 나오고 있다. 강대국들이 우크라이나 전쟁 종전 방안에 대해 논의하기 시작했다는 보도다.[1]

 

"일단의 미국 국가안보 고위 관리들이 우크라이나 전쟁 종전 협상을 위한 정지작업 목적으로 고위 러시아 관리들과 비밀 회담을 가졌다, 6인이 회담에 대한 브리핑을 했다고 NBC 뉴스에 말했다. 막후에서 진행되고 있는 비공식 채널 외교의 고위급 인사의 예로, 세르게이 라브로프 러시아 외무장관은 지난 4 뉴욕에서 시간 동안 이들 미국 관리들을 만났다고 명의 전직 관리와 명의 현직 관리가 NBC 뉴스에 말했다."

 

보도에 따르면, 미국 협상팀에는 고위 외교관 출신으로 외교관계위원회 (<포린어페어스> 발간하는 대표적 싱크탱크로 국무부와 가까운 단체) 의장을 지낸 리처드 하스가 포함됐다. 다른 참석자들은 유럽 전문가 찰스 쿱찬과 러시아 전문가 토마스 그레이엄으로, 전직 백악관 국무부 관리들로 외교관계위원회 위원들이다.

 

러시아 협상팀은 라브로프 외에 "학계, 주요 싱크탱크 또는 연구소의 대표, 그리고 러시아 대외정책 분야 인사들로 푸틴 대통령이 경청하는, 또는 크렘린 의사 결정권자들과 정기적으로 접촉하고 있는 인사들" 포함됐다.

 

물론, 회담은 공식 협상이 아니다. 미국 회담 참석자 대표 격인 하스는 참가자들이 "솔직하게 발언하고 새로운 아이디어나 제안을 테스트하는" " 같은 회담은 대화지 협상이 아니다"라고 주장한다. 러시아 외무부도 라브로프가 외교관계위원회 위원들과 만났다고 확인했지만, “그러나 우크라이나 평화 플랜은 전혀 의제에 포함되지 않았고, 보다 폭넓은 범위의 국제 문제를 논의했다고 강조했다.”[2]

 

그러나 이것은 외교계에서 흔히 사용되는 통상적인 겉포장 가림막이다. NBC방송이 확인했듯이, 회담은 "바이든 행정부에 대한 지식을 갖고" 이뤄졌으며 "지난 4 라브로프 회담 이후 미국 참석자들은 백악관에 논의된 내용을 브리핑했다." 이것들이 비밀 협상이 아니라면, 대체 러시아 외무장관이 참석했을까? 노련하고 경험이 풍부한 외교관인 라브로프가 콧대 높은 미국 관리들의 말을 듣길 좋아해서?!

 

아니다. 전혀. 미국과 러시아 간의 비밀 협상은 적어도 올해 4월부터 시작됐다.

 

 

 

하스 (그리고 백악관) 협상 플랜

 

미국 협상팀을 이끄는 것이 리처드 하스라는 점은 많은 것을 말해준다. 하스는 찰스 쿱찬 (팀의 다른 참가자) 함께 "서방은 우크라이나에서 새로운 전략이 필요하다"라는 제목의 대외정책 논문을 썼다.[3] 논문이 라브로프와의 회동과 거의 같은 시간에 발표된 것도 우연이 아니다.

 

전직 미국 관리들은 논문에서 우크라이나 전쟁 종전을 위한 러시아와의 협상 플랜을 상세하게 제시하고 있다. 논문은 전쟁이 교착상태로 치닫고 있다는 가정에서 출발한다. "서방의 군사 원조가 좋은 점이 없는 것은 아니지만, 전쟁이 교착 상태로 치닫고 있는 근본적인 현실을 바꾸지는 못할 같다. 우크라이나의 공세가 놀라울 정도로 성공적인 것으로 입증되고 크림반도를 포함한 모든 점령지를 탈환하여 러시아의 완전한 패배를 가져올 가능성은 물론 있다. 하지만 실제 그런 결과가 나올 같지는 않다. 서방이 군사 지원을 강화하더라도 우크라이나는 러시아군을 격퇴하는 한참 미치지 못하는 형세다. 병력과 탄약이 바닥나고 있고, 경제는 계속 악화되고 있다. 러시아군이 버텨내고 있고, 신병들이 전선으로 향하고 있다."

 

따라서 하스와 쿠프찬은 다음과 같이 제안한다. “전쟁의 궤적을 감안할 미국과 파트너들은 이제 외교적 종결방안을 정식화할 필요가 있다.... 우크라이나의 공세가 한계에 도달하면 접근법에 따라 서방 지원국들은 정전을 제안할 것이다. 이상적으로는, 우크라이나와 러시아 모두 군대와 중화기를 접촉선으로부터 철수시켜, 사실상 비무장지대를 만드는 것이 것이다. 중립 기구 유엔이나 유럽 안보협력기구가 정전 철수를 감시하고 집행하기 위해 옵저버를 파견할 것이다. 서방은 정전안을 뒷받침하기 위해 중국과 인도를 포함한 다른 영향력 있는 나라들에 접근해야 한다... 정전이 유지된다면, 평화 회담이 뒤따라야 한다. 그러한 회담은 개의 평행 궤도를 따라 이루어져야 한다. 가지 경로는 국제 중재자들에 의해 촉진되는 우크라이나와 러시아 간의 평화 조건에 대한 직접적인 대화가 것이다. 번째 트랙에서는 나토 동맹국들이 무기 통제를 비롯한 광범한 유럽 안보 구조에 대해 러시아와 전략적 대화를 시작할 것이다. 포스트 냉전 안보 질서를 되돌리려는 푸틴의 노력은 역효과를 낳았고 나토를 강화하는 것으로 끝났다. 그러나 현실은 나토와 러시아가 새로운 군비 경쟁을 막고 접촉을 재건하고 확산을 포함한 밖의 공통 관심사를 해결하기 위해 건설적인 대화를 시작할 필요성을 증가시킬 따름이다.”

 

비공식 미국 협상단은 논문에서 협상이 공식 평화협정으로 이어지지 않더라도 정전과 전선 동결이 이뤄질 있다면 미국에는 그래도 이익이 것이라고 밝힌다. “ 다른 결말이 있을 있다. 러시아가 현재의 영토적 소득을 챙기기 위해 정전에 동의하지만, 실제로는 영구적인 평화 정착을 위한 선의를 가지고 협상할 생각은 없는, 그러한 상황도 예상할 있다. 아마도 우크라이나는 1991 국경 복원, 상당한 배상 전쟁 범죄에 대한 책임과 같은 최우선 항목들을 요구함으로써 그러한 협상에 들어갈 것이다. 그러나 푸틴이 이러한 요구를 즉각 거부할 것이 분명하기 때문에 장기적인 외교 교착 상태가 나타나 사실상 새로운 동결분쟁을 만들어낼 것이다. 이상적으로는, 정전이 유지돼서 한반도의 정전과 같은 현상(現狀) 유지를 가져오는 것이다. 정전 상태가 한반도에서 70 동안 정식 평화협정 없이 대체로 안정적으로 지속되어 왔다. 키프로스의 경우도 비슷한 방식으로 분단되었지만 수십 동안 안정을 유지해왔다. 이상적인 결말은 아니지만 수년간 계속되는 고강도 전쟁보다는 낫다고 것이다.”

 

당연히, 하스와 쿠프찬은 같은 플랜이 우크라이나의 민족적 권리를 침해하는, 우크라이나 측에 매우 해로울 것이라는 것을 알고 있다. 그러나 동유럽 나라는 제국주의의 글로벌 플랜에서 볼모에 지나지 않으므로 미국의 외교관들은 그것에 대해 달리 걱정하지 않는다. "이러한 유인책에도 불구하고, 우크라이나가 여전히 정전 요구를 거부할지도 모른다... 실제 키이우가 망설이고 난색을 보인다면, 특히 러시아가 정전을 수용하는 경우에 키이우가 그런다면, 미국과 유럽에서 우크라이나에 대한 지원은 지속될 없다는 것이 정치적 현실이다. 우크라이나는 이에 동의하는 외에는 선택의 여지가 거의 없을 것이다.“

 

 

 

맑스주의자들의 평가분석의 옳음을 확인하다

 

미국과 러시아 비밀협상은 우크라이나 전쟁에서 서방 열강, 특히 미국의 이익에 대한 RCIT 평가분석을 확인시켜준다. 우리는 이미 2022 11월에 "강대국들의 정전평화 거래에 의해 우크라이나 해방투쟁이 위협받고 있다" 경고했다. 그러한 거래는, 적어도 일시적으로나마 우크라이나 영토의 상당 부분에 대한 러시아의 점령을 굳히는 것을 의미할 것이다. 다시 말해, 우크라이나 인민은 서방 제국주의에 의해 팔아넘겨질 배신의 위험에 직면해 있다. 미국과 EU, 전쟁이 제국주의 세계질서를 너무 불안정하게 만들고 러시아와 유럽에서 또는 세계의 다른 지역에서 대규모 소요나 심지어 혁명적 사태를 촉발하기 전에 그러한 정전평화를 밀어붙일 있다."[4]

 

올해 3 발표한 RCIT 테제 <우크라이나 전쟁의 전환점?>에서 우리는 미국의 정전평화 플랜에 대해 상세히 밝힌 있다. 그러한 플랜이 나토의 키이우 관계를 공식화하고 우크라이나를 완전히 종속시키기 위한 프로젝트와 함께 추진될 것이라고 설명했다.[5]

 

제국주의와 제국주의 간의 현재 진행 중인 비밀협상에 관한 뉴스로 우리의 경고는 더욱 긴급한, 더욱 절실한 것이 됐다. 우리는