Posted by Curt on 25 March, 2022 at 4:57 pm. 6 comments already!


by Gray Connolly

The Russian military has pushed further into Ukraine and now meets stiff Ukrainian resistance. As with so many nadirs in the West’s relationship with Russia, this war, too, was wholly avoidable. Saying this does not negate Russian culpability for this aggressive war.
A major error is made, however, especially in Western media, when Russian policy is seen as peculiarly that of Russian President Vladimir Putin, when Putin’s policies serve Russian ambitions since the tsarist empire.
When the Soviet Union formally collapsed in 1991, the West did not accept its victory over a weak and debilitated Russia. Instead, the West reneged on understandings the Russians have always said were made by the first president Bush to not expand the NATO alliance. Not only did NATO expand to include a reunited Germany but, also, a weakened Russia’s nearby, former Warsaw Pact, allies. At the same time, this originally “North Atlantic” alliance – formed to combat Soviet aggression – launched military interventions in the former Yugoslavia and, in 1999, bombed Serbia, Russia’s long-time Balkans ally.
Were this not enough, the liberal 1990s delusions of globalisation and multiculturalism gave way to the post September 11 world, the endless war on terror, foolhardy “regime change” interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, as well as the credulous American support for the disastrous “Arab Spring”.
The Russians, having crushed Chechen and Dagestani insurgencies, looked with alarm at American recklessness. To the Kremlin, it seemed the Cold War’s victors were interested only in stirring up geopolitical chaos. Americans, who would never renounce the Monroe Doctrine – by which the US, rightly, polices its western hemisphere – mindlessly stoked insecurity among hypersensitive Russians. The expansion of NATO into Russia’s own historic sphere of influence – Russia’s “near abroad” – and Western support to the 2014 Maidan revolution in Ukraine, toppling the pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, was the Russian bear poked too often.
After all, Russia’s history, since its early days in what is now Kyiv Ukraine, in the 9th century is, overwhelmingly, a story of war, after invasion, after war. The Russian mind resultingly knows that Russia is either a great power dominating its 11 time zones from the Baltic to the Pacific, and imposing Russia’s will on others – or others’ wills are imposed upon Russia.

Thus, it is not that Putin manipulates Russians who are anxious for their security – it is, more simply, that Putin thinks as any Russian leader must to have the confidence of the Russian people. If, tomorrow, any of the Russian tsars replaced Putin, the tsars – “the gendarmes of Europe” – would have either the same policies or would defend Russian interests even more aggressively.
Indeed, what is notable about Putin, portrayed in the West as a supposedly mysterious ex-KGB Colonel, is how frequently and plainly he speaks and writes of Russia’s security concerns and Russia’s next moves. The only surprise is how often Western leaders, who are presumably not all complete fools, fail to take Putin at his word.
There is no leader of the Russians, past or present, that would dispute their duty to unite Russians as one “motherland”. In the case of Ukraine, any tsar would see the merit in adding, by whatever means, the roughly 10 million ethnic Russians there to Russia’s population. In a Europe with falling birth rates – and with an eye to Russia’s resource rich but sparsely populated far east, next to China – more of your own people is more national power. Only in the post-everything West, where children are too often seen as a present cost, not a blessing for the future, is this remotely controversial.


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