By Hadebe Hadebe
The Western media and establishment are preoccupied with the Russian invasion of Ukraine and portray Vladimir Putin as a warmongering monster who disregards international law and sovereignty of an Independent state. One-sided reporting continues unopposed because the world has very short memories, but lies have short legs.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 was generally characterised by Western scholars as the “end of history” (Francis Fukuyama) and “the triumph of the West” (several authors like Warden Roberts). These views build what is generally known as the Western synthesis, which outlines how the West gained leadership through such things as free market capitalism, Judeo/Christian tradition, the scientific method, rule of law, financial innovation, individual liberty and responsibility, strong institutions that negate human stupidity, strong civil society, etcetera.
This gloating expedition omitted to mention such things as colonialism, imperialism, violence, racism, destruction and all other ills that hover as a dark shade behind the Western synthesis. Nonetheless, the fall of the USSR resulted in a very weakened Russia that could be bullied and dislodged by the US and its European allies. Indeed, Russia was frail and sickly. A weak Russia coincided with a rapidly expanding European Union which quickly became a symbol of globalisation, flexible sovereignty, capital playground and untamed commercialism.
The EU expanded eastwards to absorb former east-bloc countries: Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Slovenia, and Croatia. This expansion paralleled the growth of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). NATO’s Eastern Flank consists of states like Estonia,Latvia and Lithuania, and generally reflect the big emboldened EU. In addition, these two events played out the old-age American strategy in Europe of provocation, and which seeks to keep NATO relevant. Wounded Russia observed the developments with a keen eye, and chaos was always inevitable in the long run.
Anglo-American alliance and NATO relevance catalyse tensions in Europe University of Exeter academic Haluk Dogan maintains that “the US’ post-World War II hegemony is predicated on its domination in continental Europe, with NATO acting as the principal mechanism for achieving American primacy.” Anchored in the strong ties with the UK, the US continental dominance has proven problematic for both France and Germany who are foremost leading states in the EU. The Brexit move was engineered to free Britain from playing fiddle and to allow it to dance like a bee in its anchorage of US interests in Europe, including matters of peace and security. Britain is also now freer to flex muscle as a member of the UN Security Council because during its time in the EU it was hamstrung.
The Anglo-American bloc generally prevents European states from acting independently. The French attempts to establish an alternative European security mechanism, or with Germany’s relations with Russia – especially in terms of cooperation on the Nord Stream gas pipeline are fiercely opposed in London and Washington. Moreover, argues Dogan, “the growing economic ties between the EU and China are also causes of concern for the Anglo-American alliance.” Thus, the Russian aggression is a rise of wanted competition for the US to justify its prolonged presence in European affairs.
Without a horrible monster in Putin in its doorstep, the European states have no incentive of retaining the US as an ally. One may argue that indeed the EU does not need Washington in Europe because it is a heavy load to carry. Unfortunately, for the likes of Germany it is payback time for the help it gotten after WWII including the removal of Jews to Israel, unpunished crimes and restoration of its economic and political might which is an engine that powers the EU to date. As soon throughout the engineered crises with Moskau, Berlin acts in an erratic manner.
Germany is among the states that rely on Russian gasoline. Its problem today is that its storage caverns currently stand at 31% full, according to industry group Gas Infrastructure Europe data. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on 22 February halted the new Nord Stream 2 pipeline designed to bring more Russian natural gas to Germany. It is unlikely his predecessor Angela Merkel would have been shortsighted – she expertly managed the German-Russia relations to the end. Europe misses a leader to avert further crises as a result of the US bullying. From Lisbon to Warsaw, the situation does not look good since Mutti (or die Großmutter of European politics).
Fake revolution as the beginning of Ukraine problems
Ajamu Bakara points out the genesis of the problems in Europe is “greed informed by miscalculations that drove the US — with the support of European capital salivating from prospect of profits generated by gaining full control of the Ukrainian economy through the European Association agreement — to decide to overthrow the government of Viktor Yanukovych when he turned to Russia instead of surrendering Ukrainian sovereignty to U.S. and European capital”. In about 2012, the EU pushed Ukraine hard to choose between itself and Russia by trying to force through the Association Agreement which sought get it closer. At the time, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was close to Russia and there were worries of having one Alexander Lukashenko (Belarus) too many, all at the insistence of the Anglo-American alliance.
The refusal of Yanukovych to sign an Association Agreement with the EU culminated in the Ukraine crisis of 2013-14. The Western allies did not only bulldoze their way following the rejection but they also manufactured a fake revolution that resulted in the eventual ouster of a democratically elected president. The move sparked massive protests in Ukraine calling for Yanukovych to resign. In February 2014, violence between police and protesters in Kyiv left many people dead; Yanukovych eventually fled to Russia and the Ukrainian parliament established a new government. The outcome is an established script of the West that has been successfully played from Chile to Libya. If Russia is accused of interfering with the Ukrainian sovereignty by annexing Luhansk and Donetsk plus Crimea, then it is doing nothing new.
When it comes to Ukraine, what is ignored is the fact that in the case of the conflicts in Palestine and Western Sahara exposes the double-faced US foreign policy and its handling of occupying states in Israel and Morocco, respectively. Its underwhelming strategy for these troubled hotspots, the US it insists that the warring parties should sort matters out “between themselves even as the occupying power categorically rules out the option of a viable independent state”. This strategy also “ignores the great asymmetry in power between the occupier and those under occupation as well as the moral and legal responsibility of occupying powers to allow the people of the conquered lands the right of self- determination”.
Unfortunately, the Western countries under the US leadership have always showed contradictory and hypocritical approaches in matters of this nature. Whereas in the case of Morocco, there is a tacit support claim that Western Sahara was part of the kingdom’s territory, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 2003 was met with force. Furthermore, the US and European allies rallied to oppose what they consider Russia’s illegal annexation of Ukraine. Even more interesting is that the Russian threats against Ukraine’s territorial integrity are currently met fierce resistance. Unlike in the Sahrawi and Palestine conflicts, Moscow and Kyiv are not asked to find a solution among themselves.
On 18 February 2022, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov stated that he was “alarmed ” by a reported spike in Ukrainian artillery attacks against rebels in the eastern region of Donbas with weapons prohibited by the Minsk agreement. This was evident that the West was pumping weapons to stoke the flames for its benefit. Maryna Rabinovych of the LSE argues that the ongoing crisis “remains far from over and the West has refused to meet Russia’s requests concerning the non-expansion of NATO and the non-deployment of weapons in Eastern Europe”. The longer the US and friends play the games at Baltic Sea, there is a real risk
The world is on the verge of yet another war between white men whose understanding of governance is creating war and conflict to remain relevant. Anglo-Saxons in particular do not get tired in their quest to dominate the world, they are blind to the changes that are taking place in the world. Their obsession with power destabilises human life in their drive for profits and dominance. The poor conception of economic sanctions against Russia is an indication that the likes of the West stupidly gloat about their influence whereas Moscow has been working quietly to reset the power relations. The US is more than convinced that it is dealing with Boris Yeltsin when it is actually dealing with ambitious Putin.
Putin’s rise comes at a time when the US has been working hard to contain the spread of Chinese dominance in Asia and influence abroad. Max Fisher of The New York Times raises an important point: “There is also a risk for the United States: being pulled deeper into a part of the world it had hoped to de-emphasise so it might focus instead on Asia.” What is interesting is that China is not generally in the habit of endorsing territorial revisionism (other than on its own periphery to its own benefit), but this time the Ukraine debacle works for it. The US is still nursing stings from wasps of Kandahar, its preferred Indo-Pacific strategy could soon go up in flames. China will seize the opportunity as the fledgling superpower is stretched thin.
In conclusion, Western analysts trivialise Russia’s importance to the world economy. For example, Jason Furman, a Harvard economist who was an adviser to President Barack Obama calls Russia “a big gas station”. To the contrary, it is “a transcontinental behemoth with 146 million people and a huge nuclear arsenal, as well as a key supplier of the oil, gas and raw materials that keep the world’s factories running”. Russia is the world’s largest supplier of wheat, and together with Ukraine. The latter is is also the world’s largest exporter of seed oils like sunflower and rapeseed. As things stand, the US Federal Reserve is already confronting the highest inflation in 40 years, at 7.5 percent. There are fears the downslide in the US economy could worsen due to possible shortages of essential metals like palladium, aluminium and nickel, which could create yet another disruption to global supply chains already suffering from the pandemic.