China laid out 12 principles which could be a means of ending the conflict in Ukraine. The principles are based in international law and the belief in peaceful co-existence among nations, which means they are a non-starter for the U.S.
Recently China published its Position On The Political Settlement Of The Ukraine Crisis which lays out an ideological roadmap for the principles that should be undertaken in negotiating an end to the US/EU/NATO proxy war using Ukraine against Russia. But predictably, it was all but laughed at by the scribes of the empire that started this quagmire.
Imperialists Respond In Typical Imperialist Fashion
NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg dismissively quipped that "China doesn't have much credibility because they have not been able to condemn the illegal invasion of Ukraine." That’s a riot coming from the formation that helped the United States Government arm fascists in Ukraine in 2014 to overthrow a democratically-elected president who wasn’t anti-Russian enough. The plot was carried out to pave the way for the US to install a president and regime that were sufficiently antagonistic toward Russia.
US President Joe Biden went even further with the disrespect when asked during an interview what he thought of the proposal that “Russia is applauding” by saying, “I think you answered the question, Putin’s applauding it, so how could it be any good? I’m not being facetious. I’m being deadly earnest,...I’ve seen nothing in the plan that would indicate that there is something that would be beneficial to anyone other than Russia if the Chinese plan were followed.”
Despite the dismissals from the usual imperialist suspects, Russia’s response to the proposal has been more receptive, even as the lack of trust in the other actors involved was evident.
Russia said through its Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, "We appreciate the sincere desire of our Chinese friends to contribute to resolving the conflict in Ukraine by peaceful means... We share the views of Beijing," even as Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said, "We paid a lot of attention to our Chinese friends' plan, for now, we don't see any of the conditions that are needed to bring this whole story towards peace."
This certainly doesn’t sound like Russia is “applauding” this proposal, but US officials can say those kinds of ridiculous things because most people in the US won’t look beyond the misleading headlines and catchy but false narratives that the scribes for the empire concoct.
Ukraine has expressed that they see some merit in China’s position, with President Volodymyr Zelensky himself saying that he welcomed some elements of the Chinese proposal, even as a senior adviser to Zelenskiy said any plan to end the war must involve the withdrawal of Russian troops to borders in place when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, which is simply not ever going to happen. Zelensky also said that only a country that is at war can be the author of a peace plan, and I wonder if the people in the Donbas region get to be the initiators of a peace plan since they were bombarded by the Kyiv army since 2014? Asking for the Ukrainians who were bombed by their own government.
The responses from US media outlets about the proposal are even more disingenuous, claiming that China’s 12-point proposal “asserts vague support for “sovereignty,” “ceasing hostilities” and “resuming peace talks,” without specific proposals on achieving those goals.” But amid all the efforts to delegitimize the 12-point proposal, we do not get an idea of what is actually in it that raises the ire of US and NATO officials and the US media so much, until you read the proposal and realize that it is steeped in references to international law.
The Proposal Is Substantive With References To International Law
China’s 12-point proposal does point to specific policies that have been clearly and repeatedly raised when they were violated by the US and its allies in manufacturing this crisis.
For example, when China refers in Point #1 to “Universally recognized international law, including the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter, must be strictly observed,” they name the UN Charter which some have argued Russia violated by carrying out military action in Ukraine. However, the March 24, 2022 statement from the US Peace Council addresses each article of the UN Charter that Ukraine has violated before Russia’s action, and further points out when the US has also violated the charter, as well as tackling some very messy and intellectually lazy “both sides” arguments that too many who claim to be on the left have adopted about this conflict.
Additionally, some western officials have said that the proposal could have stopped at Point 1 if Russia would just withdraw from Ukraine. But in reality, the proposal could have stopped there if Ukraine had not bombed its own people that they branded terrorists for not wanting to be governed by a US-puppet government. If Point 1 is the stopping point for this proposal, let’s stop at the proper moment in the history of aggression in this conflict.
In Point 2, which begins with the text, “The security of a country should not be pursued at the expense of others,” the reference is clearly to the OSCE Istanbul Charter, but it would only be clear if you understood the role the violation of this charter played in this conflict.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is the world’s largest regional security organization and it claims to engage in political dialogue - that is, a forum for political dialogue on a wide range of security issues. There are 57 OSCE member states that cover three continents - North America, Europe, and Asia. The OSCE deliberates over security issues such as arms control, terrorism, good governance, energy security, human trafficking, democratization, media freedom, and the rights of national minorities that affect more than a billion people.
This charter and its language are important because, in 1999, the United States and the 56 other participating states of the OSCE signed a charter in Istanbul which states that countries should be free to choose their own security arrangements and alliances but specifies that, in doing so, countries "...will not strengthen their security at the expense of the security of other states."
The violation of this charter was raised by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in February 2022 in a phone conversation with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
"Our western colleagues are simply trying not even to ignore but to consign to oblivion this key principle of international law agreed in the Euro-Atlantic space," Lavrov said at the time.
"We will insist on an honest conversation and an honest explanation of why the West doesn't want to fulfill its obligations or wants to meet them only selectively to its own advantage."
Lavrov had also written to the United States, Canada, and a number of governments on January 28, 2022, to ask them urgently to explain how they intended to fulfill the commitment to the principle of "indivisible security" that they all agreed to in the 1999 OSCE Istanbul Charter. What Russia received instead of answers to its questions or discussions about the West holding up its end of the charter agreement was US and NATO demands that Russia pull back troops from inside its own borders.
Although not pointing to a specific policy, Point 3 does negate Joe Biden’s cockamamie claim that the plan would only benefit Russia in stating that “All parties should support Russia and Ukraine [emphasis mine] in working in the same direction and resuming direct dialogue as quickly as possible, so as to gradually deescalate the situation and ultimately reach a comprehensive ceasefire.” But again, most people haven’t read the actual proposal, they have just believed what the empire’s scribes have said about the proposal.
Point 4, “Resuming peace talks,” is a reference to the MINSK II Accords that were violated by France, Germany, and Ukraine when they decided that they would not adhere to the agreement and would instead use the time when they were supposed to negotiate peace, to arm Ukraine to fight this proxy war against Russia. Russia stated repeatedly before the conflict that the one thing that could be done to avoid such a military response was to simply adhere to the conditions of MINSK II, which was unanimously approved by the UN Security Council. China is merely repeating here what Russia has said to the other actors behind this conflict all along.
Throughout the remaining points in the proposal, existing international laws regarding the treatment of POWs (Third Geneva Convention), providing humanitarian assistance and protecting civilians (International Humanitarian Law), avoiding armed attacks against nuclear facilities and not threatening to use nuclear weapons (Convention on Nuclear Safety [CNS]), are referenced. Any honest, principled actor in this conflict would recognize that these principles are based on established international laws.
However, there are no principled actors involved in stoking, continuing, or profiting from this conflict who will admit that they have and are willfully violating the actual “rules-based order” of settled international law.
China’s Proposal Is Also A Response To Heightening US Aggression
Rather than provide Russia with weapons as the US has been claiming China is about to do (in much the same way that the US claimed that Russia was going to invade Ukraine any day now for weeks while they ignored Russia’s repeated requests for diplomatic discourse), China instead provides the world with a framework for peace, which has been childishly dismissed by the imperialist warmongers who started this conflict and will keep it going right down to the last Ukrainian. But this proposal is not merely focused on peace in Ukraine. It should also be viewed in the context of increasing US aggression toward China.
From legislative efforts in the US that include the allocation of $10 billion in military aid to Taiwan in the $858 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2023, the America COMPETES Act that earmarks $350 billion in funding to boost the US’s semiconductor industry and scientific research capability as a cover for anti-Chinese aggression. The bill uses alleged but debunked claims of human rights abuses in Xinjiang and promotes closer ties with Taiwan, even though the US officially follows the One-China policy. Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan last year was explained as a show of support from the US but was seen by China as a violation of their sovereignty and territorial integrity. China has said that the US has been “playing the Taiwan card to contain China” and has warned repeatedly that it would not stand idly by as its sovereignty is violated.
It is no coincidence that in April 2022 President Xi Jinping announced a "Global Security Initiative" that upholds the principle of "indivisible security" not just for China but for every country in the world. This is based on the same principle from the OSCE Istanbul Charter that the US and its western allies violated in the lead-up to the conflict in Ukraine. Stating that “The GSI aims to eliminate the root causes of international conflicts, improve global security governance, encourage joint international efforts to bring more stability and certainty to a volatile and changing era, and promote durable peace and development in the world,” China has analyzed the geopolitical landscape around the West’s involvement in Ukraine with the clear understanding of what the US has in store for them.
This is a reality that the Chinese have not been silent or dismissive about. In a news conference, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang recently said that “... the U.S. side’s so-called competition is all-round containment and suppression, a zero-sum game…The U.S. side supposedly wants to put ‘guardrails’ on Sino-U.S. relations and not to clash. In fact it wants China not to respond in words or action when slandered or attacked. That is just impossible. If the U.S. side does not put on the brakes and continues down the wrong path, no amount of guardrails can stop the derailment and rollover into confrontation and conflict.”
President Xi Jinping echoed the Foreign Minister’s sentiments in calling out US aggression toward China, saying “Western countries led by the United States have implemented all-round containment, encirclement and suppression of China, which has brought unprecedented severe challenges to our country’s development.” Speaking about the US’s ridiculous response to the “Chinese Spy Ballon” fiasco, Xi said, “The U.S. side violated the spirit of international law and international practice by making presumptions of guilt, overreacting, abusing force, and making use of the issue to create a diplomatic crisis that could have been avoided.” And added that “The US bears unshirkable responsibility for the creation of the Taiwan issue.”
China understands that the conflict in Ukraine is but a precursor to what the US plans for China, and with the recent news that China will increase defense spending by 7.2% and increase combat preparedness among their armed forces, it seems that they are not taking this increasing US aggression toward it lightly. Although China’s military spending increase is a small portion of its GDP, opponents of China are pointing to this as an indication of a ramping up toward military action in Taiwan. However, China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense stated that “This matter is not about participating in the international arms race, but defending our national security,” a defensive move carried out by Chinese military officials as they examine the Ukraine war, its origins, its outcomes and what it all means for China.
Therefore this 12-point proposal from China is as much a document about the principles needed to strive for peace in any conflict the US seeks to start with them, as much as it is a roadmap for peace in Ukraine and one that should be a model for a peaceful multipolar world.
But peace in Ukraine must also include an element that cannot be left to interpretation.
Negotiating Peace In Ukraine Must Include Expelling Fascist Elements
For all the dismissals of China’s 12-point proposal on the basis of lacking specifics, not being serious, or favoring Russia over Ukraine, the truth is that the proposal is ideologically consistent with China’s long-standing policies and with many demands for a negotiated end to the conflict in Ukraine from peace groups in the United States.
The demands to implement an immediate ceasefire, protect civilians, avoid nuclear facilities, return to negotiations, and adhere to established international law are all elements of many peace organizations’ plans to end the conflict and are all common points of many peace proposals precisely because they are all based on established international law. But it must be noted that no peace can be negotiated or will be lasting if the question of the fascists the US funded, armed, and the US-puppet government in Kyiv legitimized is not addressed.
The late Rep. John Conyers, Jr (D-MI) introduced an amendment to the 2016 NDAA that would have kept arms training and assistance to what he described in his address to the US House of Representatives as “...Ukrainian neo-Nazi militia, the Azov Battalion. Conyers said, “Foreign Policy Magazine has characterized the 1,000 man Azov Battalion as ‘openly neo-nazi’”, and ‘fascist’. Numerous other news organizations, including the New York Times, the Guardian, the Associated Press have corroborated, the dominance of White supremacist and anti-Semitic views within the group; yet Ukraine's Interior Minister recently announced the Azov Battalion will be among the units to receive training and arms from Western allies, including the United States…these groups will not lay down their arms once the conflict is over. They will turn their arms against their own people in order to enforce their hateful views …I urge the support of my amendment and to make it U.S. law that we will not equip this dangerous neo-Nazi militia.”
Conyers’ amendment was passed by the House, which he announced with a tweet (note the responses by Mark Sleboda, a frequent guest on By Any Means Necessary, who has been consistent over the years in his criticism of the US-backed Kyiv regime). But by the time the NDAA was being debated for passage by Congress, the House Defense Appropriations Committee came under pressure from the Pentagon to remove the Conyers-Yoho amendment from the text of the bill, according to The Nation Magazine.
This legislative history matters because despite what current US and western media outlets claim today, the fascist element in Ukraine was a widely known and troubling aspect of the geopolitical reality of the country at the time Conyers introduced his amendment. The Nation also notes that “..that neo-Nazis (or neo-fascists, if you prefer) are a distinctly minority taste in Western Ukraine, is clear and is not in dispute. Of late, however, there have been troubling signs that they may become a force to be reckoned with. According to The Jerusalem Post, in Ukrainian municipal elections held last October, the neo-Nazi Svoboda party won 10 percent of the vote in Kyiv and placed second in Lviv. The Svoboda party’s candidate actually won the mayoral election in the city of Konotop. Meanwhile, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported in November that Azov operates a boot camp that exposes children to “the regiment’s far right-wing ideology.”
Although the US Congress finally publicly denounced the Azov Battalion in March 2018, making a show of banning the U.S. government from providing any “arms, training or other assistance” to its fighters, there have been and are no mechanisms in place to enforce that policy now that the fascists have been incorporated into the Ukrainian National Guard, the Kyiv army that is receiving billions of dollars of US funds and military aid.
And despite the current confused discourse among some factions of the US left, there did seem to be a time that even those who now claim we must align with right-wing elements to end the war in Ukraine acknowledged the prevalence and the danger of these Ukrainian fascists. These are the same fascists that US white supremacist murderers like Dylan Roof were communicating with on Facebook, who some of the organizers for Charlottesville’s deadly Unite the Right Rally said they were inspired by, and who many US white supremacists traveled to Ukraine to join in the brutal ethnic cleansing campaign against ethnic Russians that began in 2014.
Ukraine has long been documented as one of the training grounds for global white supremacist and fascist forces. In light of this, the expulsion of these fascists from a Ukraine that must also be militarily neutral must be an aspect of negotiations for peace.
While some people would not want to give any credence to Russia’s pronouncements of “de-Nazifying Ukraine,” the fact is that neo-Nazis have become the problem that US officials feared they would be, and they have become so because those same US officials ignored them and then armed them for their own cynical geopolitical wargame to weaken Russia. But certainly, for the people in the Donbas, Luhansk, and Crimean regions of Ukraine, the removal from the country of the fascist forces that carried out an eight year campaign of Russophobic terrorism against them would finally give credence to their security concerns and their right to self-determination. Something that those on the US left who are calling for solidarity with and reparations for the regime in Ukraine that has been propelled into this war against Russia by these fascist forces are completely ignoring is the struggle for the ethnic Russian Ukrainians in the east of the country and their right to self-determination and sovereignty since 2014.
But perhaps most importantly, we Africans engaged in the global struggle against right-wing enabled and perpetuating imperialism with our brother and sisters in the Global South will not abide the continued use of Ukraine and its legitimized neo-Nazi factions as a training ground for global fascists who export their training back to countries around the world where the people are fighting for their lives and their democratically-elected, anti-imperialist, progressive governments against increasingly violent right-wing repression. There is no ending the war in Ukraine without settling the issue of the neo-Nazis the US enlisted to fight it.
We will no longer abide ignoring this aspect of this war because, as the late Rep. John Conyers said, “These groups will not lay down their arms once the conflict is over.” They certainly will not. They and the global fascist forces they have trained will turn their arms on us and are already trying. We recently learned of connections that a group of US white supremacists that were planning violence in Baltimore, Maryland had with the Azov Battalion. Although the US media ignored this connection in their reporting, we cannot afford to and will not be silent on the present and growing danger that coddling right-wing forces pose to our lives.
Like China, we will not sit idly by and smile politely while an emboldened right-wing unleashes its fascist attacks upon us. We seek peace. But we will fight for our lives if we must.
Jacqueline Luqman is a radical activist based in Washington, D.C.; as well as co-founder of Luqman Nation, an independent Black media outlet that can be found on YouTube (here and here) and on Facebook; and co-host of Radio Sputnik’s “By Any Means Necessary”.