Sunday 13 February 2022

Roots of the Ukrainian problem (The Sunday Guardian)

 The media may be freer in the US or across the Atlantic than in the PRC, but that does not stop uniformity of reportage of disputatious issues in a monochromal manner. There seems very little daylight between the expressed views of 10 Downing Street or the White House and the position taken by the major newspapers and television channels in the UK or the US on Ukraine. There are quite possibly nearly a hundred thousand troops on the Russian side of the border with Ukraine, but they have been there in that number for years. The objective has from the start been to serve as a deterrent to possible efforts by the Russophobic Ukrainian military to impose their own control over those parts of Ukraine that are Russian-speaking, and which in effect have been treated as alien enclaves by Kyiv. Although they are citizens of Ukraine, governments in Kyiv have denuded them of the assistance that gets extended to the almost fully Ukrainian-speaking parts of the country. There have been credible reports that President Volodymyr Zelensky would like to re-establish the control that the central government had over the Russian-speaking eastern parts of Ukraine before Vladimir Putin intervened to prevent such an expansion of authority by Kyiv. It is obvious that both MI6 and CIA would be aware of this Russian objective, and that the only trigger for another invasion from the east of Ukraine would be the marching of Ukrainian troops into the towns and villages of the Russian-speaking regions, or indications that such an advance was likely to commence. The purpose of the diplomacy of the US, UK and France is to somehow browbeat Putin into promising not to interfere, should Ukrainian forces enter territories where local populations are terrified of such an occupation. The discrimination shown by Kyiv to the Russian-speaking regions has resulted in their having much lower levels of development than other parts of Ukraine. The condition of the population is getting so desperate that the majority of the population may welcome military intervention by Russia. The limited supply of offensive weaponry gifted to Kyiv by many countries in the Atlantic Alliance cannot close the gap between Russian and Ukrainian military capabilities, especially considering that the Ukrainian military would have to fight Russian soldiers in territory that is hostile to those in Ukrainian military uniforms, bringing back in them memories of the discrimination that the Russian-speaking segment of the Ukrainian population has endured since the breakup of the USSR that formally took place in 1991 and continued on the ground into the next year. Just as the unceasing barrage of false information about Saddam Hussein having WMD stockpiles was accepted and amplified by US media in the period prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the portrayal of Putin as a war monger continues even as supplies of petroleum products from the US head towards Europe in the expectation that President Biden will succeed in so twisting the hands of Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany that he will shut down Nord Stream I, not to mention decline to operationalise Nord Stream II, thereby destroying the political future of his party. President Biden has in effect promised to reduce South, Southeast and East Asia’s supply of petroleum products from the Middle East by 40% in order to divert supplies to Europe. An unlikely, indeed fanciful, prospect except apparently to the White House. After having witnessed serial trashing by the Atlanticist powers of agreements entered into by the US and its NATO allies, it is no surprise that President Emmanuel Macron of France had little success in efforts at ensuring that President Putin refuse to intervene in the “internal affairs of Ukraine”, including if the Ukrainian military marches into the Donbas and other eastern territories that are being protected by Russia from such an intervention. Even were he ready to obey Biden’s diktat and surrender the benefits of the Nord Stream pipelines, it is unlikely that the German Chancellor will succeed in persuading Putin to accept conditions that would place him in the same bracket as his predecessors Gorbachev and Yeltsin, who made concessions to the US and its allies that was reciprocated only by more concessions being demanded. Just as the Falklands intervention gave Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher a boost or the taking out of Saddam Hussein made President George W. Bush additional votes, Biden may be calculating that forcing Russia to accept the condition of non-intervention no matter what the Ukrainian military does within its own country may ensure that the Democrats take back the Senate and retain control of the House in the 2022 Congressional races. The good news for him is that President Zelensky seems to have prevailed over the hotheads who sought military assisted central control of the eastern regions up to the borders of Russia, and as long as this is the case, there will not be a war. Unless Putin decides that he has had enough of pinpricks, and marches into the Ukraine to create independent enclaves on the Georgia model. Neither Russian roulette or playing a game of chicken makes sense, yet this seems to be the strategy of those who seek a return to Cold War 1.0 despite Cold War 2.0 already in full swing.MDN

Roots of the Ukrainian problem 

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