The Bear just defends itself (Part II)
If we look carefully, everything that happened in Ukraine was due to a desire to integrate it into some zone of foreign influence.
Click here to read Part I.
Before we get to the military escalations that began in 2014, after the coup d'état in Ukraine, and which have intensified today, we must look at the history of the conflicted relationship between Russia and Ukraine. Both countries have numerous cultural ties with Russian and Ukrainian territories intertwining from the 9th to the 16th century - the so-called Kievan Russia. However, from the 13th century onwards, the country was swallowed by the Mongol Empire, an invasion led by the commander Batu Khan, and the nation was destroyed and its territory became one of the pillars of the Mongol empire. This invasion was a very important factor in the creation of a sentiment tied to national unity between the countries. In addition to the Mongols, the country was annexed by the Poles and Lithuanians, but in the 17th century, the country was once again part of the Russian empire. Ukraine within the Russian empire suffered both physical and cultural repression, as its language and cultural representations were contained. However, everything changed with the events of the beginning of the 20th century, as the Russian empire was undergoing a proletarian revolution, against oppressive tsarism and the end of the first world war, and the Bolsheviks, the wing led by Lenin, were victorious in October 1917 and set up a government of peasants and workers, where both groups achieved social victories and expanded rights. In 1922, the Soviet Union (USSR) was founded, led by Lenin himself and by workers' councils, but before the founding of the USSR the new Russian leader gave Ukraine more autonomy, even though the country was important to Russia both geographically and for supplies that are fit for purpose for the country. But, in 1921, due to the tensions and conflicts generated by the Bolshevik revolution, Ukraine returned to be part of the Russian power, one of the Soviet republics. Ukraine is not geographically surrounded by natural areas that make it difficult for invaders f and foreign powers, thus leaving the country with its hands tied in conflicts. After the Soviets, the country was once again dominated by another foreign country, Nazi Germany. In 1941, Ukraine began to be dominated by the Nazis, during the events of the second world war, and a regime of extermination and oppression was imposed on the country, mainly on Jews and Slavs. But in 1944, Ukraine was liberated by the Soviet Red Army and returned to Russia; in this way, Ukraine was one of the republics of the first socialist nation in history that achieved subsequently its independence in 1991.
Ukraine inherited from the former Soviet Union industrial bases and a great military force, in addition to a vast agro-industry favored by its soil. However, as neoliberals were prevailing in world economies and Ukraine would not be left out, there was an economic drop of about 60% in GDP (Gross Domestic Product) data after the end of the USSR between 1998 and 1999 and, as a consequence, a decline in the quality of life and in social security institutions, due to liberal reforms. In addition to the economic crisis and the dismantling of state institutions, the country was experiencing an unprecedented political conflict that has continued to this day. There are two antagonistic blocs that fought and alternated in power from 1991 to 2014, with both having irreconcilable interests and goals. One of the blocs, which won after the 2014 coup, has pro-Western interests and is interested in joining NATO and the European Union (EU), the bloc is made up of industrial elites and ultranationalist groups - of the extreme right; the other bloc, on the other hand, prefers a strategic and multiple cooperation alliance with Russia, the bloc with greater membership in the east of the country, and is formed by former bureaucrats of the extinct USSR and sectors of the left and the protectionist bourgeoisie. The conflict between these two blocks is at the root of the demonstrations in Maidan Square, the coup, the Russian response, the civil war and the current conflict.
But if we look carefully, everything that happened in Ukraine was due to a desire to integrate it into some zone of foreign influence. So we will ask a question: what is so special about Ukraine?
Ukraine is a country that is between Europe and Russia, making this nation a strategic country. In addition to its geo-strategic location, Ukraine has a good industry and a powerful army. With the end of the USSR, the country inherited the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, but signed the treaty to reduce weapons of mass destruction in 1992 and handed them over to Russia. In 1996, it joined the organization for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons and, as a result, it stopped producing weapons of this magnitude and had its army reduced. Thus, with a favorable geo-location and a developed industry, Ukraine is a country that all powers want to manage. With the rise of the Russian president to power and his formula for rebuilding the zones of influence of the former Soviet republics, the country increasingly attracts the eyes of NATO, which was in opposition to Putin. From this game between powers, we arrive at the fateful year of 2014. In 2010, in the Ukrainian presidential elections, Viktor Yanukovych was elected, approaching the Russian government and politics. The previous government of Viktor Yushchenko was born out of the "orange revolution", a movement against corruption, and aimed to get closer to the European Union (EU); but the Yanukovych government broke the rapprochement and re-approached Russia. From this distance, the protests in Euromaidan square began in 2014. These movements, which had a core that would range from students to extreme right groups, wanted their country to enter the EU and they had the support of political organizations, institutions, and foreign companies such as the US government itself, according to a report by Yahoo News that revealed that the CIA is secretly training "insurgents" – extremists - in Ukraine. With external support and added to a fraction dissatisfied population, the protests grew exponentially and there were clashes with the State, triggering a war between rebels and the government. With this social upheaval, the parliament decided to give Viktor Yanukovych a “soft blow” and set elections for May 25, 2014. Before the election, an interim government led by Oleksandr Turchynov entered, but this government resigned on the day of the presidential elections set by parliament. Then, in the May 25 elections, Petro Poroshenko, an ultra-right billionaire, won a government that was totally anti-Russia, even though he wanted a deal with the country, and pro-Western, bringing the country closer to the EU again.
The Russian response to the Ukrainian coup
The Russian response was to appeal to nationalism, history and cultural ties of regions linked to Russia. In March 2014, the Russian government intervened and held a referendum in Crimea, a region in southern Ukraine, and after 96.8% of residents chose to be part of the Russian Federation, the country was incorporated into the nation. In fact, Crimea has always been Russian, the country's culture and language reflect that; but the region, in 1954, was given to Ukraine by the Soviet parliament and leader Nikita Khrushchev. The region is extremely important for Russia, it is an energetically rich area with a privileged geographical location.
Shortly after the incorporation of Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk, populations in the Donbass region tried to gain independence and approach Russia; but the Ukrainian state did not agree with the movement of the countries and both sides fought a civil war. The war had the support of several foreign actors and caused between 13 and 30 thousand deaths, coming to an end in 2014 with the Minsk accords. The agreements signed in the capital of Belarus, with the mediation of foreign actors, decreed a ceasefire in the region. Until 2021 they sought peace and the separatist republics held referendums for the construction of their republics.
The new military climbs
Since the election of Volodymyr Zelensky in 2019, Ukraine has continued to oppose Russia and forward its integration into the West. However, this integration was not carried out cooperatively as, in February 2021, the Ukrainian government began buying Western weapons to deal with separatists, in violation of the Minsk treaties.
The break in the peace negotiations was the least of it, as Ukraine called NATO into its home and, as a consequence, brought it to the door of the Russian house. The Russian response was blunt and firm: the Kremlin ordered 100,000 ground troops and 21,000 navy and air forces to stay on the border to defend themselves in the event of Western interference. So, we can see that the narrative of a “Russian invasion”, embraced by cooperative media, at the time, was nothing more than a Western lie to mask their search for zones of influence. If NATO respected the commitment made during the transition from socialism to capitalism in the former USSR, we wouldn’t have witnessed these current military escalations. Russia, in turn, would have the right to defend its territory and national sovereignty within its borders. Let's imagine: what if Russia, clearly opposed to US interests, placed arms and troops in Canada, Mexico, and Cuba, what would the US/NATO response be? – as Putin himself has already compared. This reflection shows the inconsistency of the West. Thus, we ask: who blinks first? Who attacks who? The world expects the conflict to be resolved diplomatically and with the fulfillment of agreements. Erdogan, the Turkish leader, is talking to both countries and trying to reach an agreement, but the Western war machine, which daily sends tons of weapons to Ukraine, does not want that.
Which block will come out strong? The world is currently experiencing a new global polarization between two powers: the US and China. The new global division differs from that of the 20th century - they have several similar and common zones, and are seeking already similar zones of influence, Russia, Eurasia bloc, which had once a combination of China cooperation and bilateral agreements. In addition, violent countries are already coordinated with external attitudes, as it is happening through a series of international protests and by NGOs that inflame protesters. The countries of Ukraine and the West agreed together to face both countries, reject criticism of the West for not being loyal to agreements and attack the national sovereignty of countries, notably Ukraine. The crisis in Ukraine is more than a Russian siege: “the political camp” of Putin, does not want to drag Ukraine and the tournament into a zone of Russian influence; in fact, Russia wants respect and peace. Respect for the non-expansion agreements to the east, respect for the referendums in the separatist republicans and respect for the Minsk accords, since the nation has already been clear: we do not want NATO at our doorstep.