By Bolanle Bolawole
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The Russia/Ukraine war still rages; efforts at negotiations, ceasefire, and cessation of hostilities have floundered. Needless pains and suffering continued to be inflicted on the hapless. Precious lives are lost on a daily basis. What is the way out? Will sanctions work eventually to hobble Russia and cripple its war efforts? Is the no-flying zone demanded by the Ukrainian president from its Western allies, but which those ones are afraid to give, the solution? Strafed by Russia, will Ukraine collapse and surrender very soon? Or, exasperated, will any of the combatants escalate this crisis to a full-blown Third World War? The answer, as they say, blows in the wind!
A friend and course mate at Ife, Comrade Wale Olajire Ajao, has passionately followed the Russia/Ukraine war and as any student of internationalism is wont to do, has strong views not just about the cause or causes of the war but also how it can be brought to an end: Read the Russian president, Vladimir Putin’s mind! So, I publish here today this piece sourced from Wale’s Whatsapp page titled “For the Records: Putin Explains Why Russia Invaded Ukrain”:
“I again consider it necessary to return to the tragic events taking place in the Donbass and the key issues of ensuring the security of Russia itself. We are talking about what causes us particular concern and anxiety, about those fundamental threats that year after year, step by step, are rudely and unceremoniously created by … politicians in the West in relation to our country. I mean the expansion of the NATO bloc to the east, bringing its military infrastructure closer to Russian borders. It is well known that for 30 years we have persistently and patiently tried to reach an agreement with the leading NATO countries on the principles of equal and indivisible security in Europe. In response to our proposals, we constantly faced either cynical deception and lies or attempts to pressure and blackmail while the North Atlantic Alliance, in the meantime, despite all our protests and concerns, is steadily expanding. The military machine is moving and, I repeat, is coming close to our borders.
“Why is all this happening? …Where does the disdainful attitude towards our interests and absolutely legitimate demands come from? The answer is clear: The Soviet Union in the late 80s of the last century weakened, and then completely collapsed… As soon as we lost confidence in ourselves for some time, and that’s it, the balance of power in the world turned out to be disturbed. This has led to the fact that the previous treaties and agreements are no longer in effect. Persuasion and requests do not help. Everything that does not suit the hegemon, those in power, is declared archaic, obsolete (and) unnecessary. And vice versa: everything that seems beneficial to them is presented as the ultimate truth, pushed through at any cost, boorishly, by all means. Dissenters are broken through the knee.
“What I am talking about now concerns not only Russia… This applies to the entire system of international relations, and sometimes even to the US allies as well! After the collapse of the USSR, the re-division of the world actually began, and the norms of international law that had developed by that time – and the key, basic ones were adopted at the end of the Second World War and largely consolidated its results – began to interfere with those who declared themselves the winner in the Cold War.
“Of course, in practical life, in international relations, in the rules for their regulation, it was necessary to take into account changes in the situation in the world and the balance of power itself. However, this should have been done professionally, smoothly, patiently, taking into account and respecting the interests of all countries and understanding our responsibility. But no – a state of euphoria from absolute superiority, a kind of modern form of absolutism, and even against the background of a low level of general culture and arrogance of those who prepared, adopted and pushed through decisions that were beneficial only for themselves. The situation began to develop according to a different scenario.
“You don’t have to look far for examples. First, without any sanction from the UN Security Council, they carried out a bloody military operation against Belgrade, using aircraft and missiles right in the very centre of Europe… Then came the turn of Iraq, Libya, Syria. The illegitimate use of military force against Libya, the perversion of all decisions of the UN Security Council on the Libyan issue led to the complete destruction of the state, to the emergence of a huge hotbed of international terrorism, to the fact that the country plunged into a humanitarian catastrophe that has not stopped for many years. The tragedy which doomed hundreds of thousands, millions of people not only in Libya, but throughout this region, gave rise to a massive migration exodus from North Africa and the Middle East to Europe. A similar fate was prepared for Syria. The fighting of the Western coalition on the territory of this country without the consent of the Syrian government and the sanction of the UN Security Council is nothing but aggression.
“However, a special place in this series is occupied, of course, by the invasion of Iraq, also without any legal grounds. As a pretext, they chose “reliable” information allegedly available to the United States about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq… And then it turned out that all this was a hoax, a bluff: there were no chemical weapons in Iraq… And as a result: huge casualties, destruction, and an incredible surge of terrorism!
“…In this series and promises to our country not to expand NATO by one inch to the east. I repeat – they deceived me, but in popular terms, they simply threw it away… Such behaviour contradicts not only the principles of international relations, but above all the generally-recognized norms of morality. Where is justice and truth here? …As for our country, after the collapse of the USSR, with all the unprecedented openness of the new modern Russia, the readiness to work honestly with the United States and other Western partners, and in the conditions of virtually unilateral disarmament, they immediately tried to squeeze us, finish off and destroy us completely. This is exactly what happened in the 90s, in the early 2000s, when the so-called collective West most actively supported separatism and mercenary gangs in southern Russia. What sacrifices, what losses did all this cost us then, what trials did we have to go through before we finally broke the back of international terrorism in the Caucasus! We remember this and will never forget!
“…Despite everything, in December 2021, we nevertheless once again made an attempt to agree with the United States and its allies on the principles of ensuring security in Europe and on the non-expansion of NATO. Everything was in vain. The US position does not change. They do not consider it necessary to negotiate with Russia on this key issue for us, pursuing their own goals, they neglect our interests. And, of course, in this situation, we have a question: what to do next, what to expect? We know well from history how, in the 1940s and early 1941s, the Soviet Union tried in every possible way to prevent or at least delay the outbreak of war. To this end, among other things, we tried literally to the last not to provoke a potential aggressor, did not carry out or we postponed the most necessary, obvious actions to prepare for repelling an inevitable attack. And those steps that were nevertheless taken in the end were catastrophically belated.
“As a result, the country was not ready to fully meet the invasion of Nazi Germany, which attacked our Motherland on June 22, 1941 without declaring war. The enemy was stopped and then crushed, but at a colossal cost. An attempt to appease the aggressor on the eve of the Great Patriotic War turned out to be a mistake that cost our people dearly. In the very first months of hostilities, we lost huge, strategically important territories and millions of people. The second time we will not allow such a mistake!
“Those who claim world domination, publicly, with impunity and, I emphasize, without any reason, declare us, Russia, their enemy. Indeed, today they have great financial, scientific, technological and military capabilities. We are aware of this and objectively assess the threats constantly being addressed to us in the economic sphere, as well as our ability to resist this impudent and permanent blackmail. I repeat, we evaluate them without illusions, extremely realistically.
“As for the military sphere, modern Russia, even after the collapse of the USSR and the loss of a significant part of its potential, is today one of the most powerful nuclear powers in the world and, moreover, has certain advantages in a number of the latest types of weapons. In this regard, no one should have any doubts that a direct attack on our country will lead to defeat and dire consequences for any potential aggressor.
“At the same time, technologies, including defence technologies, are changing rapidly. Leadership in this area is passing and will continue to change hands, but the military development of the territories adjacent to our borders, if we allow it, will remain for decades to come, and maybe forever, and will create an ever-growing, absolutely unacceptable threat for Russia. .
“Even now, as NATO expands to the east, the situation for our country is getting worse and more dangerous every year. Moreover, in recent days, the leadership of NATO has been openly talking about the need to accelerate, speed up the advancement of the Alliance’s infrastructure to the borders of Russia. In other words, they are hardening their position. We can no longer just continue to observe what is happening. It would be absolutely irresponsible on our part.
“Further expansion of the infrastructure of the North Atlantic Alliance, the military development of the territories of Ukraine that has begun, is unacceptable for us. The point, of course, is not the NATO organization itself – it is only an instrument of US foreign policy. The problem is that in the territories adjacent to us, I will note, in our own historical territories, an “anti-Russia” hostile to us is being created, which has been placed under complete external control, is intensively settled by the armed forces of NATO countries and is pumped up with the most modern weapons.
“For the United States and its allies, this is the so-called policy of containment of Russia, obvious geopolitical dividends. And for our country, this is ultimately a matter of life and death, a matter of our historical future as a people. And this is not an exaggeration – it is true. This is a real threat not just to our interests, but to the very existence of our state, its sovereignty. This is the very red line that has been talked about many times. They crossed it!”
Space constraints will not allow me to run the piece in full but I think I have taken enough of the gist. Those genuinely seeking for a peaceful resolution of the Russia/Ukraine war can take Putin’s straight from the heart talk as a starting point. Let the war end! Let peace return! And let the dislocation, suffering, and death stop with immediate effect!