WHY IS RUSSIA IN UKRAINE?
I suspect anyone who has already read my earlier commentaries has a very good overview of why Russia is in Ukraine.
However, for any newbies or those who may be inclined to follow and believe in the half-picture news of the mainstream on this issue… this is for you.
Let me satire the mainstream for a moment if you will.
For those who stare goggle-eyed at CNN or the BBC or any one of the assortment of like-minded stenographers of state narratives Putin was just having a bad day on February 24th of this year. He hadn’t murdered enough folk that week, especially pesky truth-seeking journalists. His hankering for poisoning his opponents, or those he felt had wronged Russia in some way, or who simply bad-mouthed him was playing on his nerves. Or was his mind obsessing about a return to the good old bad old days of the USSR?
If you were someone who read the New York Times daily or the Washington Post, or The Guardian if you were a Brit, you could believe just about all of the above. Putin for you is a monster, a dictator, a robber, murderer, sadist and probably the most evil man who ever lived bar Hitler. And you might even say he was worse than Hitler. You wouldn’t think all those one-sided stories about Putin had influenced you one bit, that you are immune to conditioning and besides you needn’t look at any other side of the story… because there isn’t one. The news you read and watch is what’s happening, or what has happened, and that’s all there is to it.
Well, there is naturally a LOT more to it (as everyone alive with some brain cells to rub together surely knows after all the lies about Iraq etc.).
1. For a start this conflict didn’t begin on February 24th 2022. It started in late 2013. You could go further back still, but to keep things simple we’ll begin then.
The MSMers heard that the outrageously brave Ukrainians were rising up against a dictatorship on the main square of their capital city, Kiev, or Kyiv if you prefer. They were proud, strong, united and demanding their freedom. And you were told they were peaceful. Didn’t Barack Obama stand up for them and tell those dictators in power to leave those “peaceful protesters” alone?
Those MSMers never did get the news that 38 young policemen died at the hands of those “peaceful protesters”, did they? Did they watch the Molotov Cocktails fly onto the heads of those policemen, or the bricks, clubs, heavy chains or toxic sprays. Not to mention the bullets from handguns, shotguns and hunting rifles. Oh yes, they were “peaceful protesters” alright. Sure they were.
This constitutes the beginning of why Russia is in Ukraine. When a violent mob of insurrectionists brought down the democratically-elected (that’s right, democratically-elected) president and government of Ukraine these events began pulling the trigger. This because it is clear to see by the maps (including the one above) that show how people voted in Ukraine and that it is split down the middle regarding its politics (and a lot of other things besides). It is split in two halves and the insurrection, in those few months of rioting, totally undermined the democratic rights of a whole half of the country, the half closest to Russia.
2. The Russian-speaking Ukrainians of the east who had just had their democratic right to vote for the president and government they favoured most revoked were supposed to just sit still and take it according to most MSMers (that’s if they even spare them a thought).
Uncomfortably for the western powers they were not minded to do that. Instead they gathered in very large numbers to make some changes that might, just might, redress the balance and get them some of their rights back. After all, they knew that the new power in Kiev was never going to give them an even break ever again. They spoke Russian. That was to be phased out in favour of Ukrainian.
Their grievances were many but let’s leave it at that for now. They wanted to assert that their culture, language, affiliations and relationships were sufficiently unique to them that they wanted a crucial degree of autonomy to preserve them. Knowing the mentality of those who had taken power they knew simply asking (pretty please) for this would get them nowhere. So, they non-violently marched en masse into local government offices in the east, in what is known as the Donbass, and took over.
In very short order Kiev sent the Ukrainian army to force them to stop, to go home and accept the new status quo, or else. To go home and sit and wait for their entire culture, relationships across the border and language wiped out was not an option. So it was a case of ‘or else’. Soon the Ukrainian army and the ultra-violent hotheads who had killed those policemen began attempting to wipe them out. For these hotheads there was no such thing as a Ukrainian in these eastern lands, they were ‘Moskals’, Russians… and deserved to die.
3. What followed then was how the war began. Violence bred violence and soon the people who had risen to assert their rights in the Donbass formed a militia to defend themselves with. A great many in the region were married to Russians from just across the open border and many Russians were married to “Ukrainians” in the Donbass. There was no real border. Usually the border posts were empty and those of both nations could walk through to the other. Intermarriage was and is common. Therefore no one should be surprised that many came from Russia to help defend those who were close to them as kin or AS close to them as kin. So the self-defence force of what were to become the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic grew larger and stronger. But nothing stopped the barrage of random mortar shells coming in killing young and old alike. The death toll was to eventually reach over 14,000.
4. Now we come to the Minsk Agreements of 2015. This followed a period where the newly formed self-defence force subjected the Ukrainian army and its associated militias to a series of heavy defeats. Kiev sued for peace, though it has only recently been revealed by the then president that this was simply a delaying target to allow time to mobilise a larger and stronger army and re-arm. But on the surface the Minsk Agreements were an extremely hopefully development. Kiev agreed to speak directly to the leaders of the two breakaway republics and also to grant the region a special status whereby a high degree of autonomy would be conferred upon it.
Over the next seven years neither of these promises were fulfilled, even though they and all the other commitments had been ratified by the United Nations. Then, after seven long years of Russia denying the wishes of the republics to join the Russian Federation, of Vladimir Putin insisting they were an integral part of Ukraine requiring autonomy in a federalised state, and urging France and Germany to put some pressure on Ukraine to fulfil its obligations we finally reached stalemate in January of this year when Kiev said it was no longer interested in delivering on Minsk.
5. Kiev had of course not been idle over the preceding seven years. Ukraine had been building its army, getting it far better trained and battle-ready and NATO was glad to help. Joint military exercises were organised and Ukraine found many friends among the EU nations willing to assist along with the USA in its re-arming. As Professor John J. Mearsheimer has repeatedly said, Ukraine, by late 2021 had become a de facto NATO member and as close as can be to a de jure NATO member.
6. As well as honing its military skills with the constant assistance of the western powers since 2014 Ukraine had taken possession of a huge array of modern weaponry. In addition it had built one of the strongest battle lines, or defence lines if you like all along the border with the Donbass. This was composed of serried lines of trenches, dugouts, command posts and bunkers running over 1,500 kilometres along the border, built especially strong opposite Donetsk City which the Ukrainian forces had fired on killing civilians young and old for eight long years.
7. With the Minsk Agreement a dead letter, the Ukrainian army built up by NATO to a formidable force and with a super-Maginot line built it was in late January, early February that the Ukrainian forces began massively increasing their shelling of Donetsk City. We know this from the statistics of the O.S.C.E.(Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) who had been monitoring the shelling and who had been doing it since 2015 at least.
8. What was the alternative if Minsk was dead? If there was to be no peace and no reconciliation, no granting of the promised special status or protection of the language spoken by those in the Donbass… then what was Kiev planning to do as an alternative? At this point Zelensky starts to talk of Ukraine regaining its nuclear status.
9. In late 2021 Russia made a final request to both NATO and the U.S. government to agree that Russia deserved the same security guarantees as other nations, that a common security environment be created where NATO withdrew to the areas it occupied as the reunification of Germany took place. Gorbachev was given this assurance verbally that NATO would stay in place and encroach no further toward Russia's border. These assurances were broken and Russia was too weak in the years when they were broken. But by 2021 Russia was strong enough to object and strongly. However, its demands to be treated as other nations regarding its security were rejected by both NATO and the U.S. administration.
10. The final straw, as far as I can see, appears to have been the discovery of Ukrainian plans for a massive military offensive to settle the matter of the Donbass once and for all. The road to peace and reconciliation as promised by Minsk had been abandoned. This left only war as Kiev’s favoured solution.
It was clear at that point and if Russian patience and aversion to war of any kind had been less strong it would have been clear much earlier, that the Russian-speaking people of eastern Ukraine, of the Donbass, were in mortal danger. It was then that that the two leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics sent a message to Moscow asking for protection. This then received a positive response and within days they travelled to Moscow and along with Vladimir Putin signed the papers making Russia the guarantor of the two republics’ safety. It was very soon after that Russia took the only remaining step left to it to fulfil its heavy, long term responsibility and duty to safeguarding the people of the Donbass and crossed the border into Ukraine.
Audio version here: 'Why Is Russia In Ukraine?'