Many have predicted that Russian troops in Ukraine could potentially be heading for another Afghanistan from Soviet times. On the other hand, there is reason to believe that the West might potentially be facing a quagmire similar to what the Soviets faced in Afghanistan in the 1980s. This article highlights the hints of such risks and why the EU and NATO’s continuous pursuit of an emotion-driven war in Ukraine could be damaging on the geostrategic front.
Ukraine’s Government is not Straightforward
The Western media continuously presents Ukraine as a victim and Russia as the aggressor. One is forced to ask whether Ukraine has ever had an opposition party in the past couple of years or not. There has not been a single independent voice sampled by the Western media anywhere.
Yes, we all know how cruel the Soviet Union was to minorities like Ukrainians. However, this war is about one thing – compromise. The most inexperienced student of International Relations knows that Russia is in this war for many reasons including the quest for a buffer zone against future NATO expansion. They therefore seized Crimea and instigated the breakaway of the ethnic Russian-dominated Donbas Republics.
Ukraine responded with a non-compromising stand and attacked the Republics with arms supplied by European and NATO countries. This might have been a bait by Russia. However, at that time in 2014, Ukraine had options but chose a military option. Technically, that is their right as a sovereign state. Thus, with the backing of NATO countries, they moved to use force.
What no one is ready to concede is that populist politics gained root in Ukraine over the period. Ukraine moved into a totalitarian one-party ideology which shifted them to one extreme end of the political spectrum. This led to the silencing of opposition and the use of various techniques to eliminate opposition.
There are reports of the killing of a member of the Ukrainian negotiation delegation with Russia named as Denis Kireev for allegedly being a spy for Russia. One is forced to ask why a spy for Russia was put onto the negotiation team to represent Ukraine? That does not make sense. Something is amiss. Was Denis Kireev asking for compromises with Russia? Was he killed for showing “weakness” on the negotiation front? This leaves a lot to be desired.
They have been spreading moral panics about things that are yet to happen. They said Russia’s presence in Ukrainian nuclear plants will lead to explosions worse than the Chernobyl disaster. They have accused Western nations hindered by international law of many wrongs which turned out to be unfounded.
What is conclusive is that Ukraine is hiding something on one hand. And on the other, they are trying to manipulate countries to join their cause, which is not compatible with existing international laws.
The West is Driven by Emotions and Wishful Thinking rather than Empiricism in Ukraine
Ukraine’s invasion is an apparent breach of the principles of the United Nations and customary international law. However, UN Security Council rules and principles of balance of power in international law allows a superpower like Russia to invade other countries when certain circumstances are present. This is the same principle the United States and United Kingdom used to invade Afghanistan and Iraq two decades ago.
Ethnic Russians living in Ukraine came under some kind of persecution by the Ukrainian government. Some of these ethnic Russians were killed in the Donbas war. Estimates put the death toll at 14,000 deaths on both sides. Even if a third of this number killed were ethnic Russians (it is likely to be more), the figure will be higher than the number of Americans killed in the September 11 terrorist attacks which prompted the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the opening up of Guantanamo Bay to hold suspected terrorists by the United States.
Russia wields the same powers as the United States on the UN Security Council. That means Vladimir Putin can set up a Guantanamo-type of prison on an offshore Russian territory where they will keep Ukrainian combatants. The fact that Russia, China and France have not flexed their muscles under UN Security Council laws does not mean those laws do not exist. They do exist and can be applied where a permanent member of the Security Council deems so.
Ukraine took a major lead in the information war. They were able to gain sympathy in the West and get people to side with them. This is what is causing people in the EU and NATO countries to stand by Ukraine. A lot of wishful thinking is present in this process
The dysfunctions in media interaction in recent times in Europe and North America, driven by cooption has been applied to this Ukrainian issue. This plague of fake news and inconsistencies in reporting are typically driven by wishful thinking. Many wish that Ukraine could be free and allowed to join NATO.
However, the realities are different. International Law has its conventions and standards which might lead to outcomes that are different. The insults of Ukrainians and propaganda is not helping. It is convincing more people in the West to stand by Ukraine without venturing to understand the facts on the ground.
Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine has revived BRICS and this could be detrimental to the West
If the propaganda continues, the risk of this conflict escalating exists. How this will end is not foreseeable.
For now, the sanctions have united the BRICS bloc which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. These countries had a bloc that was deemed unfeasible because all members were comfortably reliant on western trade networks and systems.
The continuous sanctioning of Russia only forces them to move closer to China who have developed some of the most sophisticated technological systems in various sectors including banking. It has been reported that Chinese bank card service, UnionPay is on track to take over from Visa and Mastercard in Russia. What this means is that UnionPay which has less than 1% of its cards operating outside China could expand to cover India, Brazil, and South Africa.
Russia will be forced to develop its local businesses to take over from Western companies that have left because of sanctions. With the help of Brazil, India, China and South Africa, Russia can expand its international reach and reduce dependence on the United States. Therefore, a lot is at stake and the West could end up becoming isolated.
Militarily, things do not look so perfect for NATO. While Russia is relatively small in terms of population, it has a huge stack of nuclear firepower. Thus, holding its territory is something that Russia will be able to do to the detriment of the entire planet.
There is also China which has an ever-expanding military and has developed some of the most sophisticated military infrastructure in history. As a centrally planned authoritarian state, China will not be comfortable with a 4,000-kilometer border with a Russia that is ruled by a western-backed liberal democracy. So they will not allow the Putin regime to fall without giving them the necessary support diplomatically and militarily.
Ukraine is not without issues. Ukraine has become totalitarian over the years and radicalized through populist politics. Therefore, it is necessary for the West to move to clarify issues and understand what is really at stake. A lot of passions are running high, however, many are ill-critiqued and could end up forcing leaders to take hasty decisions that would be problematic. Thus far, sanctions only threaten to unite Russia’s closest allies – Brazil, India, China and South Africa to stand against the West. This could create the reverse effect on Russia. Militarily, Russia will not be an easy opponent for the European Union or NATO to fight. Therefore, it is necessary to contain this conflict and go back to the negotiation table. It is only negotiations and reasonable concessions that can end this Ukrainian conflict! The more the West gets involved, the greater the risk of them being exposed for having various weak spots that the world is not aware of yet.