Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: A Case of Giving a Dog a Bad Name

by Jude Obuseh

Most observers of the macabre dance of tears, sweat, and blood currently playing out in Ukraine, blame Russia for sparking off the enervating conflict. For these genuinely concerned individuals, who are alarmed over the worsening plight of innocent Ukrainians, consequent to the invasion of their country, Russia’s brazen incursion into a sovereign state is driven by its expansionist ambitions.

It is normal for opinions to become polarized when war is the subject matter, especially when there is a size disparity between or among the contending parties, in this case, mighty Russia versus little Ukraine. Again, during conflict situations, the significant roles rhetoric and propaganda play in shaping public perception and understanding of the main issues are often ignored.   This has, no doubt, influenced the widespread verdict that Russia is solely culpable for the unfolding scenario in Ukraine.

Now, no sane mind would support the inane carnage Putin’s military is perpetrating in Ukraine. It is asinine, villainous, rank, offensive, despicable, criminal, immoral and completely unnecessary.  The avoidable deaths and injuries to combatants and noncombatants from both sides of the divide, large-scale destruction of critical infrastructure, economic paralysis, social dislocations, humanitarian crisis, in Ukraine, alongside the debilitating effects of the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the West, are some of the avoidable negative multiplier effects the ongoing fracas has elicited.

However, on hindsight, both Putin and his Western detractors should share the collective responsibility for the scary spectacle currently playing out in Ukraine. Putin should not be singled out for castigation. From a strategic standpoint, the ugly scenario in Ukraine is a continuation of Cold War politics; a turf war between the world’s traditional power brokers; a geo-political struggle between familiar foes for the control of a strategic piece of territory.

Calling Putin base names, consequent to his actions in Ukraine, is parochial, mawkish and subjective, to say the least.  But what cannot be denied, however, is the fact that the Russian leader is very angry, and that his rage, which informs his seeming adversarial stance towards Ukraine, is responsible for his constant intrusions into Ukraine’s internal affairs, and that this was inflamed by the aggressive and demeaning actions of the NATO alliance, arrow headed by the U.S, towards Russia, decades after the disintegration of the Soviet empire.

Putin is averse to Europe’s post-Cold War security architecture, following the Soviet Union’s demise, alongside Russia’s waning influence in global power politics. He has made a litany of complaints about the security risks to Russia of further NATO expansion and made the case that Ukraine was “completely created” out of land carved out from the former Russian Empire during the Soviet Union’s formation. This explains his obsession with reinventing the glory of Russia’s past. He sees himself as someone on a historical mission of undoing the wrongs inflicted by Lenin’s Bolsheviks.

In Putin’s view, the West treats Russia, one of the two principal military powers that emerged on the global stage after the Second World War, the other being the U.S, like a conquered territory. He insists that the NATO alliance has unjustly reneged on the agreement between it and former Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev that it would not attempt to gobble up the 15 states that came into being consequent to the former Soviet Union’s breakup. Denying the existence of such a pact, NATO has proceeded to brazenly commandeer some countries that were once part of the defunct Soviet Republic into its fold, a development that threatens both Russia’s and, and by extension, Eastern Europe’s strategic security.

Both the West and Russia see Ukraine as a strategic buffer against each other. Russia considers Ukraine as being within its natural sphere of influence. The 2014 uprising which toppled a pro-Russia government, replacing it with one that was pro-West threatened to upset that balance. Ukraine’s lurch away from Russian influence felt like the final death knell for Russian influence in Eastern Europe.

Sentiments apart, the US and its Western cronies are no saints when it comes to turf encroachment and protection. The world was at the brink of a nuclear war between the defunct Soviet Union and its Axis cohorts on one hand, and the US-led NATO alliance on the other, when Cuba, a sovereign country, permitted the USSR to site missiles on its territory in 1962. President John F. Kennedy, threatened thunder and brimstone as both power blocs engaged in a feisty nuclear brinkmanship that pushed the world closer to the precipice, until diplomacy saved the day.  This crisis came in the wake of the Bay of Pigs fiasco of April 17, 1961, when 1,400 Cuban exiles, aided by the U.S government, launched a botched invasion at the Bay of Pigs on the south coast of Cuba

The U.S, according to American historian, Christopher Kelly, and British historian, Stuart Laycock, has made unlicensed incursions into or fought wars in 84 out of the 193 countries recognized by the United Nations. It has also had military relations with 191 of these 193 countries. According to an articles published in the Washington Post in March 2016, the US government clandestinely made attempts to cause regime change in other countries 72 times, during the Cold War era.

What about the contradictory “Good Neighbor Policy” of the U.S in the Americas, which resulted in the harsh crucifixion of El Salvador, the headmasterish reprimanding of Nicaragua, the genocidal depopulation of Guatemala, the outright invasion of Panama; to the insidious inoculation of Southeast Asia, the unlicensed invasions of Iraq (Gulf War I & II) and Afghanistan, the vindictive instigation of the Libyan Civil War, the Scotched Earth campaigns in Vietnam and Indo-China? These are minute fractions of the domineering stance of the U.S, which contradicts its stance as an apostle of moral correctness in the current world order.

While Putin’s illegitimate, immoral and unprovoked military expedition into Ukraine should be condemned in its entirety, as such behaviour should not be condoned in the civilized world, Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, should also be blamed for allowing the West to goad it into a meaningless war it might not recover from in a long while. It is unfortunate that this is coming at a time the country is still recovering from nearly 20 years of fraudulent undemocratic rule, consequent to the wind of popular change that blew Zelensky to power few years ago.

Whatever happens, no clear-cut winner will emerge at the end of hostilities, as both contending countries, including their allies, and the world at large, would end up as casualties of war, all victims of an avoidable catastrophic deluge.


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