Situation in Ukraine

This post follows on from my previous post in which I briefly touched on the desparate level of misunderstanding that characterises Western politcal-media-intelligence thinking on Russia and specifically on Russia and Ukraine.

Clearly the situation is tense. There have been renewed skirmishes on the line of contact and Russia is building up forces on the border.

Ukraine’s Zelenskiy is apparently demanding a pathway to NATO membership. He is reported by the Guardian as saying: “Nato is the only way to end the war in Donbas”. I hope he doesn’t believe this. Ukraine joining NATO would be pouring petrol onto a fire. (As I understand it it is a condition of NATO membership that the joining country can’t be involved in any current conflict so that would rule it out). The strategy (tried by Georgia in 2008) of trying to drag America into a war with Russia is like saying “just you wait while I get my big brother”. So far big brother is just issuing threats – let’s hope they realise that it would be a catastrophe for them to them to actually get involved. A war between NATO and Russia in Ukraine would very quickly become a European war. I think it is very (very) likely that there are enough cool heads on each side to realise that this is an outcome which should be avoided at all costs and specifically that satisfying the childish refusual of Kiev to accept political realities in the East of their country is not something worth risking Europe for. I don’t think it will happen.

It is worrying nonetheless quite how little intelligence is displayed by Western media and political circles on this question. I am fairly sure that this deluded thinking also extends to military intelligence circles. This is the Guardian’s senior defence correspondent:

Russia’s purpose in the military buildup is unclear, but many western analysts are concerned about the scale of the posturing at a time of increased tensions between Moscow and Washington, after Joe Biden told reporters he thought his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, was “a killer”. [1]

Does he really think that the reason for the Russian side building up forces close to Ukraine is because Putin is upset that Biden lacked the diplomatic skills to avoid responding to an interviewer’s invitation to call Putin a “killer”? We are back to this idea that they really think that Russia acts like an irrational animal – “posturing” and “projecting power” because it is angry and aggressive. The lack of understanding of Russia and Russian strategic thinking is extraordinary.

They should listen to Peskov’s (the Kremlin’s spokesman) comment on the prospect of Ukraine joining NATO, as reported in the Guardian: [1]

From our point of view, it will only worsen the situation. If you ask the opinion of several million people living in the self-declared republics [in the east of the country] you will see that for them Nato membership is deeply unacceptable

And this is what they apparently can’t/won’t see. There really are millions of people in the East of Ukraine who don’t want to be part of NATO and who don’t want a ‘European path’ for Ukraine. (A situation confirmed for example by this Gallup poll: [2]). This is a result of the complex history of Ukraine whose territory has long been fought over by competing powers: Russia and Poland and Lithuania. A country which only became an independent state with the collapse of the USSR and which had people on both sides in both wars in the 20th century. It is (I suppose) understandable that politically immature politicans in Ukraine can’t accept the realities of their own young state but it is dangerous that the West (I’m thinking of media-political-intelligence circles) refuses to see what is under its nose. Already people in the East of Ukraine feel abandoned by Russia. They had hoped that Russia would ‘annex’ them as Russia did Crimea. My guess is that ultimately Russia will not allow Kiev to ‘conquer’ and subjugate the Russian speakers in the East of their country. Dangerous attempts by immature politicians in Kiev to start a war with Russia and drag America into it will if successful result in tens of thousands of deaths. And this because they can’t accept the democratic will of the people in Donbass and Crimea. The West should not back this one.

Update

Roth is in fact a repeat offender. In a new piece of propaganda he writes: “There is no indication of any ethnic-cleansing campaign, although the Kremlin has used similar rhetoric to justify intervening in the past“. However; the first act of the coup-appointed government in Kiev was to attempt to remove Russian from the list of state languages. And the presence of extreme Ukrainian nationalists who hate Russians on the front-lines in Donbass is well-established. Even the US found some of them too distasteful to fund. [3] This is normal of course; the people in the East are just to be told that their well-founded fears are in their imaginations.

Notes

  1. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/06/ukraine-pressures-nato-for-membership-as-russia-amasses-troops-at-border
  2. https://www.usagm.gov/wp-content/media/2014/06/Ukraine-slide-deck.pdf
  3. https://thehill.com/policy/defense/380483-congress-bans-arms-to-controversial-ukrainian-militia-linked-to-neo-nazis

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer