Ukraine Crisis: Bellicosity of Putin, Hegemony of West

By Dr Santosh Kumar Mohapatra*

Nothing worst can happen to humanity than the onset of any war which can leave a trail of devastation, destruction and huge loss of lives. However, a war that many considered unthinkable has begun. It is a matter of deep anxiety and agony that when entire humanity is struggling and grappling to cope with the aftermath of the worst ever health crisis of this century, Russian President Vladimir Putin foisted a war on the world, though it is just a system and NATO is the real culprit. It is unfortunate that Russia took military action against Ukraine, though the West is equally responsible.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, began before dawn on February 24th with volleys of cruise missiles, artillery and other weapons. There were explosions near Kyiv’s main airport, as well as around other cities. Heart-breaking images from Ukraine have emerged showing bloodied civilians staggering through the streets despite Russian President Vladimir Putin claiming he declared war to “protect civilians”. Most Western countries are blaming Putin for war.

Earlier on February 21, Vladimir Putin signed a decree with the separatist leaders recognising two regions in Ukraine– Donetsk and Luhansk– as independent held entities. This has paved the way for Russia to openly send troops and weapons to the region. He further ordered Russian troops to maintain peace in the two breakaway regions. Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine over the past several months, triggering warnings on what people now fear as the beginning of World War-III.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, imposed martial law across the country. In parts of Ukraine, people woke to the sound of sirens and took to their basements; elsewhere some knelt on the streets to pray. People rushed to take cash out of ATM machines as huge traffic jams formed on the roads leading out of Kyiv.

In reality, the military conflicts in and around Ukraine portrays the brutal and hegemonistic nature of some rulers and threaten to destroy world’s peace and much needed economic recovery. Various international agencies like UNO are found emasculated.

The hegemonistic is being overly aggressive in expanding influence. A country that goes out and conquers other lands and people is an example of a country that would be described as hegemonistic. However, when, the impromptu war between Ukraine and Russia has taken the world politics, economy, and global market systems by storm and the diplomatic efforts by world leaders to resolve the crisis are far from propitious.

The Ukraine crisis can be attributed to the bellicosity of Putin, hegemony and the blundering action of the West. After the collapse of Soviet Russia and the dismantling of the Warsaw Pact, the military expansionism of the US-led (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) NATO treaty in Eastern Europe was more apparent with the clear objective of flagging Russia. It is factually proven that wherever NATO goes it only leads to war and extinction of world peace.

In other words, the present conflict between Russia and Ukraine is the outcome of the policies of America and its Western allies. It is purely an inter-imperialist contradiction. The rising crisis of imperialism and the debacle of the US in Afghanistan only accelerated this process.

Ukraine became an independent nation with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. It was earlier part of the Russian empire and later became the Soviet Republic and did away with its Russian imperial legacy, thereby forming close ties with the West. Since its independence, the country is battling corruption and internal divisions. The country’s western side wants integration with the West while the eastern region with Russia.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was a military block or alliance created in 1949 by the United States, Canada, and several Western European nations to counter the mounting influence of the socialist countries led by the USSR. But against this move imperialist countries, led by the USSR and other socialist countries of East Europe formed WARSAW Pact on 14th May 1955.

In other words, the Warsaw Treaty Organization (WTO), officially the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, commonly known as the Warsaw Pact (WP was a collective defence treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland, between the Soviet Union and seven other Eastern Bloc socialist republics of Central and Eastern Europe in May 1955, during the Cold War.

The Warsaw Pact was created in reaction to the integration of West Germany into NATO in 1955 as per the London and Paris Conferences of 1954. Dominated by the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact was established as a balance of power or counterweight to NATO. There was no direct military confrontation between the two organisations; instead, the conflict was fought on an ideological basis and in proxy wars. Both NATO and the Warsaw Pact led to the expansion of military forces and their integration into the respective blocs.

After the debacle of socialist block, WARSAW no more existed since 1991. East Germany withdrew from the Pact following German reunification in 1990. On 25 February 1991, at a meeting in Hungary, the Pact was declared at an end by the defence and foreign ministers of the six remaining member states. The USSR itself was dissolved in December 1991.

However, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States-led NATO has been steadily expanding eastward by provoking military escalation and war, contrary to the assurance given to Russia. The efforts to get Ukraine to join NATO posed a direct threat to Russia’s security. Russia was also concerned about its security due to the threat posed by the presence of NATO forces and missiles at its borders in Eastern Europe.

Russia in its security demands said that it doesn’t want Ukraine to be a member state of NATO and further want to cease all NATO drills near its borders and withdrawal of NATO troops from central and eastern Europe. The refusal by the U.S. and NATO to meet the Russian security needs and the belligerence of the US in sending troops to the region have further escalated tensions.

Russia strongly criticised the US and NATO for aiding Ukraine with weapons and joint military drills. President Putin too expressed concerns over plans by some NATO members to establish military training centres in Ukraine as it will facilitate military foothold in the region even without Ukraine joining NATO. Hence the Russian demand for security guarantees, including Ukraine not joining NATO, is legitimate but waging war was not the right step.

The genesis of wider Russo-Ukrainian conflict lies with the Revolution of Dignity. In November 2013, a wave of large-scale protests (known as Euromaidan) erupted in response to President Yanukovych’s refusal to sign a political association and free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) at a meeting of the Eastern Partnership in Vilnius in Lithuania.

These protests continued for months. In February 2014, clashes between the protestors and the Berkut (special riot police) became violent and resulted in the deaths of nearly 130 people, including 18 police officers. On February 21, an agreement between President Yanukovych and the leaders of the parliamentary opposition was signed that called for early elections and the formation of an interim unity government.

The following day, Yanukovych fled from the capital ahead of an impeachment vote. The protesters proceeded to take control of the capital buildings. On the same day, the parliament declared that Yanukovych was relieved of duty in a 328-to-0 vote (out of the Rada’s 450 members). The act of protestors ousting him is known as the Revolution of Dignity or Maidan revolution. Actually, it was a surrender to Western imperialism and the conspiracy of US cannot be denied.

Yanukovych said that this vote was illegal and possibly coerced, and asked the Russian Federation for assistance. Russia considered the overthrow of Yanukovych to be an illegal coup and did not recognize the interim government. In February and March 2014, Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. which led to the installation of the pro-Russian Sergey Aksyonov government in Crimea, the conducting of the Crimean status referendum and the declaration of Crimea’s independence on 16 March 2014.

Russia formally incorporated Crimea as two Russian federal subjects—the Republic of Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol on 18 March 2014. Following the annexation, most Western commentaries on Ukraine have blamed the country’s crisis almost entirely on Russian aggression. Russian President Vladimir Putin, the argument goes, annexed Crimea out of a long-standing desire to resuscitate the Soviet empire, and he may eventually go after the rest of Ukraine, as well as other countries in eastern Europe.

But this is wrong. In 2014, John Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, had also pointed out that the prime responsibility for Ukraine’s dilemma actually lies with the West. The crisis has been the inevitable outcome of blundering Western actions.

According to him, the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibilities for the crisis. The taproot of the trouble is NATO enlargement, the central element of a larger strategy to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and integrate into the West.

At the same time, the EU’s expansion eastward -the beginning with the Orange Revolution in 2004- were critical elements too. Since the mid-1990s, Russian leaders have adamantly opposed NATO enlargement and in recent years, they have made it clear that they would not stand by while their strategically important neighbour turned into a western bastion.

The Orange Revolution was a series of protests and political events that took place in Ukraine from late November 2004 to January 2005, in the immediate aftermath of the run-off vote of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election, which was claimed to be marred by massive corruption, voter intimidation and electoral fraud.

Hence, the Ukraine crisis has been triggered by NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)/EU (European Union) expansion, under the camouflage of the establishing “democracy” project within Ukraine by the West, from a failure by leading Western countries to consider Russian strategic interests, and from a lack of prudence by key Western figures who have not forecasted the consequences of their actions.

On a deeper level, the West under the leadership of the United States has proven unable to learn from similar mistakes in the past or to display insight into the flaws within its political norms. The US does not want a just world. It wants to spread its suzerainty. So, NATO is not dismantled despite after collapsing of Soviet Russia.

War impoverishes the poor further. When war takes place, no country achieves victory but everybody is a loser. But only the degree, the magnitude of loss varies. The country that wins also lose wealth and human lives in large number. Natural and human capital is also destroyed and annihilated.

War is indeed a breakdown of humanity, acts that seem to undermine and side-line the values at the heart of human rights – and the legal system which protects them. Wars and national emergencies allow for states to “derogate” from – or temporarily put aside – some of their human rights commitments.

However, certain human rights, such as the right to life or the right to be free from torture, inhuman and degrading treatment can never be put aside. These are regarded as so important and so fundamental that they should be observed even when a state’s security is at risk. But same rights are found in jeopardy today when war takes place.

According to Harry Patch, “war is an organised murder and nothing else”. According to Mahmoud Darwish, “when the war ends, the leaders shake hands but the old woman for her martyred son, the girl will wait for her beloved husband. And those children will wait for their father”.

According to Jean-Paul Sartre, “When the rich wage war, it is the poor who die”. According to Lee camp, “99% of us are good-hearted people who respect others and want peace. The other 1% rule the world and tell us we are at war”. According to Bertrand Arthur William Russell (1872–1970), “War does not determine who is right-only who is left ”.

So, war should be avoided always. Say no to war. War is not the solution for any geopolitical conflict in any part of the world. They could be solved only through peaceful means and meaningful dialogue. The process of negotiations should be restarted and the earlier agreements reached by both the parties should be adhered to.



The author is an Odisha-based eminent columnist/economist and social thinker. He can be reached through e-mail at [email protected]

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of Sambad English.



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