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Political Observation - The Russo-Ukrainian Crisis
The US plan for Ukraine is summed up in pulling the latter out of the Russian sphere of influence and generating a hotbed of security tension to worry Russia and send shivers down Europe’s spine simultaneously. America succeeded through the “colour revolutions” to snatch Ukraine from the hands of the Russians and lure Russia into annexing Crimea and backing the eastern Ukraine separatists. This generated a state of uncertainty in eastern Europe and terrified the Baltic States. It also achieved progress in the policy of expanding eastwards, penetrating the areas of Russian influence, besieging Russia with a ring of democracies affiliated to the West, and goading Russia into taking military steps which nurtured the state of uncertainty between her and Europe while maintaining her as a scarecrow of European security and a national nightmare compelling the European states to throw themselves into America’s embrace and bulwark themselves with her security system, namely NATO.
By reading the previous military escalation in the spring of 2021 with the mobilisation of 130,000 soldiers on the Ukrainian border, then their withdrawal only to be remobilised again, in addition to Russian fortifications in Crimea and naval drills, we construe these as a Russian message to America, NATO and the EU that Ukraine’s NATO membership entails a hefty price. Hence, Putin was adamant in seeking legal and written guarantees that NATO would not deploy offensive systems in the countries neighbouring Russia and would not expand eastwards. Meanwhile, NATO continues to press ahead for a foothold in Ukraine with the alliance Secretary General stating that “Russia has no veto. Russia has no say. And Russia has no right to establish a sphere of influence, trying to control their neighbours.”
Although the event revolves around Ukraine, it however involves a catalogue of imperative political issues for Russian national security, European security and energy independence, France’s attempt to make Europe’s security independent and her manoeuvring to hold a Russo-European summit and establish a more neutral axis on Euro-Russo-Chinese relations, in addition to Turkey’s role, military relationship and her NATO membership and its impact on relations with Russia.
In fact, Russia’s source of concern lies in Ukraine and Belarus, the only two countries outside the Western political and security system and directly bordering Russia, because they would constitute a major and direct threat to Russia’s national security should they join the Western camp. According to Putin, Ukraine is a “red line” as far as Russia is concerned. He elaborated that “if some sophisticated military structures were to crop up in Ukrainian lands, this would mean that their offloads could reach Moscow between 7 to 10 minutes.”
This Russian escalation is tantamount to a direct message to the Europeans warning them against being exploited and lured into a dispute and an arms race which would benefit America and her partners. Russia realises that the US, who compelled her to annex Crimea in order to preserve her presence in the Black Sea after losing her influence in Ukraine in 2014, could induce her anew to annex east Ukraine for security, economic and demographic reasons. This would deepen the state of uncertainty between Russia and the Europeans, highlight the importance of NATO to Europe and heighten her dependence on America. Therefore, Ukraine has restored the European nightmare, fear and wariness of Russia and Putin in person, whom she turned into an enemy threatening Europe’s security and economic interests and who cannot be trusted. In this context, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said during a visit to Rome that he would “call on Chancellor Scholz not to give in to pressure from Russia and not to allow Nord Stream 2 to be used as an instrument for blackmail against Ukraine.” Several statements were also made by Baltic States’ foreign ministers spokespersons expressing Europe’s “need to exhibit a clear policy line on energy.”
It is worth mentioning in this context that Russia and China do not dispute America’s supremacy over the world, but they jostle with her over her supremacy over them. The American aim behind these disputes and the campaigns of inciting NATO member states and the EU against China and Russia is to lure them into rallying behind her and adopting her international agenda. Britain, Germany, and the Baltic States responded, proceeded behind America, and called for expelling Russia from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), arming Ukraine, shutting down Nord Stream 2 and doubling the financial sanctions on Russia.
Following the meeting between Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in September 2021, the US and Ukraine signed the “U.S.-Ukraine Charter on Strategic Partnership” which paves the way for Ukraine to join the European political and security community by confirming that “the strategic partnership existing between our two nations is critical for the security of Ukraine and Europe as a whole.” That partnership also corroborated the perpetuation of the state of uncertainty through America’s emphasis on her “unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, including Crimea and extending to its territorial waters in the face of ongoing Russian aggression, which threatens regional peace and stability and undermines the global rules-based order,” and through the 12 clauses of Section II of the Charter titled “Security and Countering Russian Aggression.”
Hence, the denotations and signs of the escalation do not indicate that Russia is about to start a war. It is rather a provocation which, should Ukraine join NATO, will lead to a host of limited Russian military steps in east Ukraine which could cost Putin a hefty financial and psychological price and damage his domestic and regional agenda. Whether the escalation is eased or progressed into a limited military action, it would in both cases achieve America’s aims to perpetuate the Russo-Ukrainian struggle and use it as a pretext to blackmail Russia and Europe and dominate Europe’s political, security, and economic agenda and steer it to serve her interests. Hence, a Russo-American summit was held on Tuesday 7 December 2021 to debate and relaunch the “Strategic Stability Dialogue”, which was one of the most important outcomes of the Russo-American 2021 Geneva summit that gave America more time to redirect the standpoints of the European states, especially Germany after the US-Russian understandings allowed her to complete the Nord Stream2 project within certain conditions; however, the project is currently suspended due to the current Ukrainian crisis.
The Ukrainian crisis, as things stand, is considered a continuation of the policy of isolating and subjugating Russia. It could also be harnessed by America to depict a gloomy picture of Russia and to claim that the Russian onslaught cannot be halted and necessitates arming and supporting Ukraine while imposing maximum sanctions on Russia. However, leaks from the White House indicate that the political outcome will be to return to and launch the Minsk Protocol which is rigged by America and Russia. In other words, returning with the rifts back to square one, which perpetuates the state of instability and uncertainty while Putin attempts to polarise Germany and France through the statement of the Kremlin following the Summit between Putin and Biden, during which Putin told his US counterpart that “Ukraine was behaving provocatively and taking a ‘destructive line’ aimed at dismantling agreements.” This requires an effective role by the members of the Quartet, i.e., the intervention of France and Germany to fulfil their role, accept the federalisation of Ukraine or grant the provinces of Lugansk and Donetsk legal rights to protect themselves. Ukraine and Belarus represent a security nightmare to Russia just like Taiwan represents a nightmare to China. As for America, it seems she will not fully accept the calls for preventing Ukraine’s membership to NATO because her NATO membership is the hotbed of tension through which America nurtures and conducts relations between Russia and Europe, and it is part of the Charter concluded between Ukraine and America. The tension may be eased by agreeing on “not deploying offensive weapons and offensive missiles systems” on Ukrainian lands.
7 Jumada al-Oolah 1443h
11 December 2021