At the first glance, an ordinary citizen of the globe can think that probably it must be that everything that is now happening in Ukraine and around, including and reconstruction of international relations and reformulation of the global order in politics, is just a big misunderstanding. For the same people, probably NATO’s constant expansion to the east since 1999, i.e., to the direction of Russia, has nothing to do with the attempt to subdue and tear Russia apart as wanted the same both Napoleon (in 1812) and Hitler (in 1941). They will tell you that instead of a war against and occupation of Russia, the goal of NATO’s enlargement is to make the strongest possible global defense alliance for the sake that the people of the world would be ready to resist the alien attack from the cosmos, once it happens. Finally, who will defend our planet if not NATO, and in that alliance, Ukraine is irreplaceable. Without Ukraine, we are going to be unable to efficiently defend our planet from bad guys from the cosmos. Therefore, this is not about a NATO campaign in the east against Russia and has nothing to do with some earlier in history, bloody attempts of a similar kind (Napoleon & Hitler). Allegedly, this is a misreading of real Western intentions (USA, NATO, EU). In other words, this is a classic case of Russian paranoia, which sees a threat and a conspiracy against Russia in everything, even in foreign (NATO) bases and rockets right next to the Russian western borders (From Estonia to South Ukraine and across the Black Sea in Turkey).
To put aside the irony and cynicism from the previous paragraph as it is not appropriate for a situation in which the people of Ukraine are suffering and whose lives are falling apart in a thousand ways since 2014. However, how to hide the disappointment from the crocodile tears that are shed over the fate of Ukraine by those who, in fact, pushed Ukrainians into the war since 2014? How to react to the diabolical hypocrisy of those who have been systematically destroying foreign countries and making their citizens unhappy for decades, not caring about international law or elementary norms of civilization, and who suddenly, right now and in Ukraine, discovered that international law exists? For instance, to remind ourselves, from 1945 to 2001, there were 81% of wars launched by the USA and only 19% by others.
The war was inevitable
The Russian special military intervention in Ukraine or according to the Western Russophobic media, the 2022 Russian-Ukrainian War was, in fact, inevitable, as it was planned by NATO and consequently, step by step, led to such an outcome. Nevertheless, it has to be quite clear that the plan for the war was not made either in Ukraine or Russia. Both countries are tragic objects of the Western geopolitical plans and their own weaknesses. All we are looking at is a crescendo of processes that began long before 2022. It did not take much intelligence to predict what would happen. The triumph of evil and madness is always more clearly seen in retrospect, always when it is too late. Never since the end of the Second World War has madness ruled Europe as it does today. Europe is reminiscent of a puppet show run by an invisible (USA) hand.
After this conflict, the ethnic Ukrainians will lose the most, regardless of the saying that there is no winner in a war. Who does not believe, let him ask the former Yugoslavs. History has not forgiven the Yugoslavs for their stupidity, so neither will the Ukrainians. Russia’s suicidal pro-Western policy of Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s is only now gaining its full meaning. It is not worse to repeat – history does not forgive stupidity. The only visible winners, at least for short time, are the United States as the global power at sunset of its influence manages to slow down its descent from the throne, it manages to weaken both Europe and Russia at the same time, preparing itself for the great Chinese final.
Today in Ukraine we are witnessing a tragedy of two close Slavic peoples who were in the same state until 1991, which after that just changed the name (from the USSR to the CIS). And when they parted peacefully in 1991, everyone went their own way, bravely, headlong, straight into economic and social chaos. They were led in both economy and politics by the foreign advisers who have been showing them the way to “transition”. On that path, Ukraine managed to go much worse even than Russia. Today, Ukraine is the country with the lowest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in Europe and has just lost the battle for the penultimate place from Moldova. This sad staggering cannot be explained by political reasons and conflicts in East Ukraine. The Ukrainians cannot blame the Russians for their economic ruin. Even before 2014, Ukraine was constantly falling on the ranking list of European countries. At the beginning of the “transition” in 1991, Ukraine had a GDP per capita higher than Belarus by about 63%, higher than Poland by about 37%, and higher than Albania by about 293%. However, before the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine in 2013, its GDP per capita was lower than Poland’s by about 51%, Belarus’ by about 33%, and higher than Albania’s by only 8%. No country in Europe has fallen so badly in “transition”.
It has to be noted that, nonetheless, Ukraine is not part of Saharan Africa, nor is it a country of illiterate or ill-educated people. How is it possible for Ukrainians to tolerate such a stumble, how is it possible that their tycoon and corrupt political elite so enchanted them and diverted them to the wrong side through manipulations? Instead of confronting their political scum, the Ukrainians, again with a lot of help from the Western friends, estimated that the snake is not in the bowels, but on the other side of the eastern border – in Russia, so they need NATO’s protection. And the focal illusion is that when Ukraine becomes a member of NATO, the country will prosper just as, for example, North Macedonia prospered in the same organization.
Ukraine has thus decided that those who are further away from it are closer to it – not only geographically, but also spiritually and culturally, those who despise Ukrainians just as much as Russians, if not more. That contempt is hidden for only a moment in the name of strategic reasons, and it will last for a few more days after the end of the war, regardless of its outcome. And then everything will return to normal. Solidarity with Ukrainians who remain in the West will be replaced by intolerance towards foreigners who burden the social system, take jobs, raise the crime rate and lower the salaries of domestic workers. Ukrainians will again be the others – those who are not “us”. Even if Ukraine one day joins the European Union or/and NATO, that contempt will not disappear nor will the status of Ukrainians as second-class citizens change.
And then when you renounce yourself and try to become something that you are not and that you have been convinced is more civilized and better, you will not become that other – you are more likely to become nothing. This is true not only for Ukrainians but also for “enlightened” Russians, Serbs, and others, for all those who would like to be what they are not, in the hope that they will be acceptable to those who will never accept them. Bulgarians, Romanians, and even Poles, and to exchange experiences with them related to acceptance, respect, integration and “Europeanization”. And they can pour oil into the water quite scientifically and to see how it mixes.
The questions arose: 1) Why do the citizens of West Europe support the insane policy of NATO’s expansion to the east, which is already hitting them on the head, due to the large increase in the cost of living? 2) What kind of rush into a war as it can become atomic? If geostrategy is left aside, the Ukrainian war is just an excuse for hidden Russophobia to explode uncontrollably. 3) What kind of hatred is it that obscures the view and suppresses even the instinct of self-preservation?
Western Russophobia and erasing of Russian culture
That hatred gave itself the appearance of humanism and hid behind a mask of compassion for Ukrainians … except those from East Ukraine. Western humanity (which is honest in some parts of society) has clear boundaries and is guided by the media. Remember, no Ukrainian refugees in the UK! At the same time, ordinary Russians and Russian culture are persecuted across the Western countries! Those who sincerely and wholeheartedly cared about the suffering of Iraqis, Libyans, and Syrians are shedding tears over the fate of Ukraine, just as they care about the hell of Yemen today. Those who today, in the name of humanism, sincerely participate in the tragedy of Ukrainian refugees and their children, will harass Russians and Russian children tomorrow when they recognize them in their environment. Perhaps Russophobia is strongest in the most educated parts of Western societies, which are not bothered by pathological outbursts of Russophobia related to Russian culture or the humiliation of its employees. Are we on the way to erasing Russian culture from European culture and maybe banning it?
No one is saying that Russia is totally innocent in this tragic story about Ukraine? No, but Russian guilt is on the other side – on the side of incompetence, on the side of delay, and indecision. Russia is guilty as she has not been able to control the Russophobic processes in Ukraine since 2014 by soft power, nor to use the advantage of the Russian language, historical, family, or economic ties. Unfortunately, corrupted top authorities of Russia (like in the West), Russia full of oligarchs and tycoons (as in the West), Russia of huge property inequalities (lesser than in the USA), could not even offer itself as an attractive alternative social model for others (but the Western models as well can not do that). Therefore, there is no Russophile person who can or should ignore these sad facts (but all Russophobes are ignoring these facts in the West).
However, an even bigger, and fatal mistake is that Russia, with its sluggish and indecisive foreign policy, persistently sent the wrong, defeatist signals to the Western gangsters. It has done almost nothing to make the world aware of the decades-long humiliation of the Russian minorities in the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) since 1991 and Ukraine since 2014, nor has it done anything more serious to protect them except using the formal language of diplomacy. Russia also reacted lukewarmly to the constant strengthening of Nazi movements in its neighborhood, even though the Russians and Russia were the main targets of that madness. Russia allowed the processes of Nazification of Ukraine since 2014 to go too far, without setting clear red lines much, much earlier but not just now in 2022. That is why no one took Russia seriously until February 24th, 2022. Consequently, there is a great, global shock about the current Russian military action in East Ukraine. Only now, with a huge delay of 30 years and for the first time after the Cold War, the West started to take Russia seriously. The price of the delay is high, much higher than it had to be, the risks are huge and the outcomes for the global security and economy are uncertain. The only certain thing is the suffering of Ukrainian citizens and the death of soldiers on both sides.
Ukraine and the Balkans
The long-term crisis in the relations between the Russian Federation and Ukraine entered its final – war phase on February 24th, 2022. The official reactions to the latest dramatic events in East Europe, which come from the Westerners, including the most important overseas Western political address, are usually dominated by two phrases: “flagrant violation of international public law” and “violation of the territorial integrity of an internationally recognized state”. The perpetrator of the acts is, of course, Russia, and, as it is claimed, the innocent victim is neighboring Ukraine. However, the same Westerners do not want to see either flagrant violations by the Kiev regime of human rights in the Donbass Region since 2014 onward or flagrant violations of international public law and territorial integrity of the internationally recognized state in the case of the Balkans (Yugoslavia) in the 1990s.
The ignorant attitude towards the provisions of international public law relevant to the Balkan case resulted, therefore, in the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the long wars in its two former federal units (Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina) that took about 150,000 lives, produced more than two million displaced people and left behind a region to this day, almost three decades later, it has not politically stabilized and consolidated. The West demonstrated an identical attitude towards the branch of law that it is ardently calling for these days concerning Ukraine, several years after the end of those wars, when it decided to actively engage in “protecting the endangered human rights of Kosovo Albanians” and “stopping the humanitarian catastrophe to which they were exposed”, as the official Western narrative was, explaining 78 days of the barbaric campaign of bombing Serbia and Montenegro in the spring of 1999. As we know, it ended with the complete physical destruction of the country and the de facto exclusion of Kosovo from its constitutional and legal framework of the Republic of Serbia. The self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo in February 2008 was, as well as the aggression against Serbia and Montenegro in 1999 contrary to all relevant customs of international public law. However, Western countries that today are leading in condemning similar Russian acts in Ukraine, were among the first to recognize the self-proclaimed independence of Kosovo.
The policy of “double standards” in international relations and global politics used by great powers is not unknown and unrecorded in history. However, after the Cold War (1949−1989) up today, the absence of any Western standards in the practice of generally accepted and binding rules of the international “game”, however, is one of the focal dimensions of the international relations in the world politics. The well-known dictum that sums up that insight – “The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they have to” – came from the pen of the famous ancient Greek historian and military leader from Athens – Thucydides (c. 460−c. 400 BC). Thus, almost two and a half millennia ago, the great historian taught that justice and rights, as its codified forms, exist in international relations and can only be among equals (inter pares). Major disagreements in this regard, which are the basis of what is happening today in Ukraine with potentially catastrophic consequences, occur when this “equal”, in this case, the great and powerful Russia, is not recognized as such and is not as such respected. Today, the Western policymakers made a crucial mistake with Russia as thinking this is the same state as it was in the 1990s during the wars of the Yugoslav succession. Unfortunately for them, today’s Russian Federation is not a Western puppet state from the Yeltzin’s period – it is today at least equal with the Western great powers including NATO as well. Those Western actors in global politics who would continue to overlook this “hard” fact concerning Russia and her role in the politics of the contemporary world, would lead the world to the dangerous edge of the abyss and push the world into it very quickly with their indolence and old policy of gangsterism in international relations.
Fellow to Center for Geostrategic Studies
© Vladislav B. Sotirović 2022
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