… by Shyam Yadagiri, for VT India
To a casual observer, it would seem as if Russia is the aggressor in Ukraine, ‘invading’ its neighbor, while Ukraine is forced to ‘defend’ itself from Russian aggression. There are always two sides to a story, and the other side of the story which the mainstream media conveniently ignores is the fact that eight years ago, a democratic government in Ukraine was overthrown by neo-Nazi groups, supported openly by The United States and NATO.
The United States and its partners, along with then-Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland had engineered the 2014 coup d’etat by overthrowing the democratically elected Yanukovich government. It was termed as a “pro-democracy” protest by the West, ignoring the concerns of Russia. After the coup, Ukraine became a den of foreign NGOs that openly promote hatred for Russians and all things Russian.
Talks and diplomacy is the only way forward, proclaim Western leaders ad infinitum. Have they proceeded to negotiate with Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi before invading their respective countries? In the case of Russia, the situation is different. Despite its vehement protestations, five waves of NATO expansion took place after the fall of the Soviet Union, viz. in 1999, 2004, 2009, 2017, and 2020.
All this flies in the face of the American promise made to Gorbachev to “not move one inch further east”. Moreover, Russia, more than any other country in the world, understands the terrible consequences of war, having lost over 27 million citizens in World War II.
Two rounds of talks have been completed, with a third-round scheduled for Monday. Ukraine failed to agree on three key Russian demands – Kyiv must be neutral, it must be ‘de-Nazified’ and ‘de-militarized’ and to formally recognize Russian control over Crimea.
In the interest of the country, and head of state would have agreed to the demands immediately and concluded a ceasefire. What did Ukraine do?
President Volodymyr Zelensky has, in fact, widened the scope of the war by providing visa-free access to foreign fighters in the battle against the Russian forces, apart from releasing hardcore criminals from prisons and drafting them to battle.
In addition, the US, UK, Germany, Canada, and other nations are adding fuel to fire, with their supply of advanced armaments such as anti-tank weapons, Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, etc. to Ukraine.
For the past eight years, Ukraine has been violating the Minsk Accords and shelling its own people in Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Nearly 14,000 people have been killed, and many more wounded over the years. These pro-Russian regions had, in 2014, openly declared their desire to unite with Russia, just like the way Crimea was reunified with Russia.
The western media continues to repeat that Russia ‘annexed’ Crimea, while conveniently ignoring the fact that 96.77 percent of Crimeans with a turnout of 83.1 percent voted for the reunion of Crimea with Russia, in a referendum taken in March 2014. This is a true example of vox populi, the voice of the people.
The United States feels that the world must bow to its diktats, and its wars of aggression against Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and dozens of countries around the world are branded as acts of ‘protecting’ and ‘safeguarding’ democracy.
Did the US get the approval of the Security Council to interfere in the affairs of these sovereign nations? Or did the countries themselves request the US to assist them militarily in order to resolve their internal problems? The answer is a clear and unambiguous no.
Now let us look at the why. Why did Russia have to embark on a ‘special military operation’ to ‘de-Nazify’ and ‘de-militarise’ Ukraine? Let us consider an analogy – If Canada or Mexico had groups of neo-Nazis (similar to the Azov battalion in Ukraine) spewing hatred against The United States, threatening to seek its destruction, and waging an eight-year bloody conflict with its own citizens, will it stand by idly? The US would have immediately gathered a ‘coalition of the willing’, embarked on a war, and ‘freed’ the target country of its ‘terrorists’.
Note the way the Western mainstream media paints the picture. If it is us (read ‘The USA’) who are invading a sovereign country, it is forbidden to say ‘invasion’. Instead, it is made to be an ‘intervention’ or ‘liberation’ to ‘save democracy’ and ‘uphold human rights. This playbook has been used so many times in the recent past, yet continues to hoodwink a vast majority of people. Repeating a lie a thousand times makes it seem like gospel.
Russia is not a country that engages in “regime change” operations like the US. Russia’s role in the Syrian civil war, beginning September 2015, was a legitimate act of intervention, based on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s official request to Russia.
By the end of 2017, more than 85 percent of the country was freed of terrorists, with only pockets of armed resistance remaining. Here, interestingly, American forces continue to ‘occupy’ the country illegally, with their base in al-Tanf. And former US President Trump openly claimed that US forces were there to “secure the oil”.
If a country dares to stand up against Uncle Sam, it gets subjected to painful sanctions, if not direct military attack. Iran, Venezuela, Cuba – the list of countries is long. China’s foreign ministry spokesman Lijian Zhao has recently posted a tweet listing out the number of countries bombed by USA since the end of the Second World War. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei squarely blamed the US for the current crisis, saying, “The US dragged Ukraine to where it is now.”
Most egregiously, the US embarked on an illegal war against Iraq in 2003, based on cooked-up intelligence reports. Under the false pretext of Iraq harboring weapons of mass destruction, the US, UK, and other NATO countries rained destruction and death on a defenseless country, the horrendous after-effects are still visible nearly 20 years later.
Why did the so-called international community not raise its voice then? The US was hailed as a “liberator” who freed Iraq from “Saddam’s tyranny”. Never mind the fact that it was also “invading” a sovereign country on a flawed pretext.
Nearly five years before the invasion, the US had enacted ‘The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998’ whose goal was to overthrow the ‘regime’ of then Iraqi President. Notice the terms used – liberation, regime. Why didn’t the international community “sanction” the United States for its brazen act of war?
Why didn’t they make the US pariah on the international stage then, as they are doing to Russia now? The US claims a monopoly over the ‘rules-based international order’ phrase, in that it follows the principle only and only when it suits its interests and those of its ‘partners’.
Speaking of the history of the United States, it was basically founded on genocide. Millions of native Indians were mercilessly massacred and their lands appropriated by white Americans. Agreed, American scientific and technological achievements have benefited the world in more ways than one.
That is its benign side. On the other side, the country’s military-industrial complex is built and sustained on endless wars of aggression, supposedly to uphold its ‘lofty’ ideals of promoting ‘democracy’ around the world.
To the US and its so-called partners, democracy remains one of the most used and abused words, bandied around to suit their imperialistic agenda. Western mainstream media, funded by large corporate interests, diligently toes the line of their political masters, having long ago forgotten their true role in a democratic society.
The war against ‘neo-Nazis’ and ‘Nazi elements’ embedded in the Ukrainian political and military structure is a just move and a right one at the right time. Ukraine is an Enhanced Opportunities Partner of NATO and is a member of its Partnership for Peace program, one of the final steps leading to NATO membership.
Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke about this eloquently in his annual press conference in December 2021. He said, “NATO’s expansion to the East is unacceptable. What’s not clear about it? We’re not the ones that deploy missiles next to the United States borders. That’s the other way around. The US brought their missiles next to our borders.
Are we excessive in our demands, not to put any more offensive weapons next to our home? What’s so unusual about this? We are not the ones who are threatening someone. Sometimes it seems that we live in different worlds. We want to ensure our security.”
Assuming Ukraine got admitted to NATO in the near future and egged on by its Western partners if Ukraine begins an operation to reclaim Crimea, Russia would naturally be forced to defend its territory.
That would mean a war with NATO, which would be forced to defend its ally under Article 5 of its Treaty. We could easily foresee the disastrous consequences that would entail when Russia would be forced to use all means necessary to defend herself and ensure her survival.
You can call it by different names – global catastrophe, nuclear winter, mushroom clouds, etc, but the outcome is clear – it would be the end of humankind as we know it. In fact, Russian Intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin stated that Ukraine was actively working on building nuclear weapons, which, with all probability, would be used to target Russia.
This terrifying nightmare is what Russia is seeking to prevent. Had Washington accepted Moscow’s security proposals in January, things might have turned out to be quite different from now. But that was not to be.
While the Western bloc places severe economic sanctions on Russia and condemns President Putin in the harshest possible terms, history, for one, will definitely be more kinder to him, the same way it had always been for statesmen who think far ahead in the future and do what they feel is right for their country.
Russia had fought the Nazis to the bitter end, defeated them, and brought an end to the Second World War, thus saving humanity from enslavement by fascism and the Nazi war machine. The time has come again for Russia to rise and single-handedly fight the forces of evil in a battle she is destined to win. For, this time too, truth and justice are on the Russian side.
Shyam Yadagiri is a journalist based in India