Today I picked up my newspaper – ‘De Standaard’ – like every day, only to be greeted by the headline “BELGIË KLAAR VOOR INTERVENTIE TEGEN RUSLAND!” and a picture of Belgian Special Forces descending from an army helicopter. It is simply beyond me why a leading Belgian newspaper would be so pathetic as to write “Belgium ready for intervention against Russia!” on its front page, let alone follow it up with an article so full of NATO-propaganda, it would make John McCain himself applaud in tears of joy. Apparently, Russia will start World War 3 any day now and the only hope for western European countries is to give every last € to glorious NATO, so they can strike down the hordes of Genghis Putin. Forget the fact that the European Union is economically as fragile as a box of Ming-dynasty Chinaware! Donate all budgets to NATO, it is our only hope! In fact, you must go to the nearest bank, withdraw all your money and bring it to NATO HQ in Brussels yesterday because Nazi Germany was a five star amusement park compared to what Russia is about to do to you!
I’m sick to death of the incessant anti-Russian hate campaign raging in the media here. Every day, we are bombarded with articles and news items about what a tyrannical country Russia is, what brainwashed savages the Russian people are (except for the anti-Putin faction, ofc) and that Vladimir Putin’s first name is actually Adolf. Joseph Goebbels himself would blush at some of the things that are written about Russia here lately.
Some of you may have noticed I uploaded a grunge flag for each of the rebel republics in Donbass/eastern Ukraine a while ago. Since then, several people have asked me about my opinion regarding the situation in Ukraine, the ongoing NATO/Russia stand-off and the disrupted EU-Russia relations. I don’t think my opinion matters all that much, and I don’t like to discuss such topics on dA, but that newspaper headline from this morning compels me to do so now. Let the idiots at ‘De Standaard’ know that at least one person in Belgium isn’t fooled by their nonsense. What follows here are two lengthy replies I wrote to people asking me about my opinion. If you don’t agree with me, that’s completely fine, I don’t agree with you either.
The first question was: “Would you mind sharing your own thoughts on what’s going on in Ukraine?”
I answered as follows:
“Well, I could write an essay in reply to your question but I won’t, let me keep it simple. First of all, I am not Ukrainian or Russian, and I have never been to Ukraine or the territories now part of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics, and I have no friends or family who have ever been there either, so I have no first-hand or second-hand ‘connection’ whatsoever to the conflict or situation in Donbass.
That said, my opinion on this whole issue is kind of like this: the Euromaidan movement did not and does not represent the Ukrainian people and was never a popular ‘revolution’ or uprising; it was a revolt centred on Kiev – the power centre of Ukraine – which was orchestrated and backed by the US and pro-US elements in the EU. This was overly evident in that the uprising came after the Ukraine-EU association pact had been discarded by the Yanokovych gov’t in favour of an agreement with Russia, that the uprising was essentially a Maidan Square event (at times it looked more like a Hard Rock Festival than a revolution) and not representative for the country as a whole, and that well-known warmongers from the US and EU came to Maidan to further whip up the masses (cf. McCain, Verhofstadt – a Belgian, to our disgrace). US president Barack Obama himself has admitted in an interview that “we brokered a power transition in Ukraine” (in his own words – read, “we orchestrated a coup”). The whole ‘revolution’ was a sham which wasn’t so much about Ukraine as a nation, but rather about the US seeking out new conflict zones to keep up its status as a military superpower and justify its immense military expenditures to the American people, with the EU and NATO as its lapdogs. The US ‘superpower’ status can only be sustained through military conflicts. After two US-led invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq which have sparked conflicts that last down to this day, the American war machine has shifted its approach to supporting proxy conflicts, both because the US temporarily doesn’t have the support or capacity for a huge land invasion à la Afghanistan/Iraq and also because proxy conflicts are as profitable as open warfare, if you support the right factions. This is what’s really happening in Syria, in Iraq, in Yemen, in Ukraine.
The difference in Ukraine is that there is another big power next door: Russia. Not quite a superpower perhaps, but definitely a power that is on the rise and with the potential to be a superpower. So the US definitely has valid reasons to stir up trouble in Ukraine, which is what the Euromaidan movement really was: a chess piece in the US war games. It does not represent the Ukrainian people or their wishes and interests, it represents the interests of “the West” – that is, the US – to keep starting and stirring proxy conflicts to maintain its military supremacy. Look at a map of US bases and garrisons in Europe and this is horribly obvious: Europe is an oversized US military base, essentially, and it is now being aimed at Russia, by means of Ukraine. Why Ukraine? Quite simply because the Baltic states and Poland are solid US/NATO allies, Belarus is a solid ally of Russia and Ukraine is a very big country, with the second largest army in Europe, on the doorstep of the EU and Russia and entangled in a serious love-hate relationship with Russia for centuries. In short, if any country is suitable for a proxy conflict with Russia, it would be Ukraine, provided you support the right factions (right, as in correct, which happen to be the ‘right’ ones: neo-fascists and neo-Nazis).
As for the Crimea crisis and the rebel republics in eastern Ukraine, the question is – I believe – “does the central government respect, protect and uphold the rights of its ethnic minorities?” This is the central question for any separatist/independence movement, in any country. For example, here in Belgium, the Germans are an ethnic minority, but their rights are fully upheld and recognised so there is no point and no reason for them to rise up and declare a rebel state or for Germany to invade and annex Belgium’s eastern regions. That would be against all international laws and treaties. However, in Ukraine, the post-coup interim gov’t and the current Poroshenko/Yatsenyuk government (essentially handpicked by John Kerry and Victoria Nuland) have done everything in their power from day one to sabotage, degrade and ignore the rights of Ukraine’s ethnic minorities, not just the Russian minority. That the people of Crimea and Donbass rose up in protests and demonstrations was a logical consequence. But rather than listening to them and assuring them that they were also welcome in and a part of “the new Ukraine”, Kiev responded with riot police violence and far right militia (Odessa massacre, anyone?). This was the proverbial last straw, both for the Russian minority in Ukraine and for Russia itself. So yes, it wasn’t exactly ‘legal’ of Russia to step in and take over the Crimean Peninsula, at least on the surface. But if you consider the background of the whole Ukraine crisis, I definitely think Russia was justified in doing this. The same goes for the rebels in east Ukraine. Do you think they want war? That they want to fight and see thousands of people die and nearly 2 million people displaced? That they want to see their cities bombed and blasted to bits? I highly doubt it. They want the right to live in peace and prosperity under a government that treats them as full-fledged citizens of the nation and respects their minority rights. The Kiev regime refuses to do that, so the Donbass people rose up in armed rebellion and created their own states to live in. Whether Russia helped them or not, even militarily, is pretty much irrelevant to the situation, but I don’t think it would be a wrong thing to do. Putin isn’t the new Hitler, that is just hate-propaganda in the American/Western media. We are being conditioned to hate and fear Russia now, for no reason whatsoever other than US war interests. A quick look at the map would show anyone in their right mind that the EU has MUCH more to gain from peace and cooperation with Russia than a US-orchestrated standoff (“a New Cold War” as the US warmongers like to call it). Also, the EU has absolutely nothing to gain from Ukraine joining the union. The EU has expanded way too fast to begin with, so adding yet another impoverished corrupt country that will only parasite off the strong EU members would be madness. However, the US, and in particular the US arms industry and lobbies, have much to gain from this idea that “Russia is the new Nazi Germany” and “Ukraine is Putin’s Austria”, unlike Europe. Europe just repeats the US hate propaganda like the well trained parrot it has become. I refuse to be fooled by that.”
Still here? Good! The other question(s) posed to me was: “You appear to be pretty pro-Russian in the conflict. Is it so? And what do you have to say about lacking democracy in Russia and the Russian involvement in the Ukrainian insurgency? Most sources are united that there are Russian troops within Ukrainian borders?”
My answer was:
“I have no qualms admitting that I support Novorossiya in its battle against the regime in Kiev which discriminates, degrades and outright brutalises the ethnic minorities in Ukraine, not just the Russian minority. This is what caused the rebellion in Donbass, what caused Crimea to turn its back on Ukraine, what caused Russia to step in and take Crimea (which wasn’t exactly legal, granted, but the circumstances justified it completely) and support the rebels of Novorossiya. The American press has twisted and turned like a snake to present the events like it’s all a grand master plan of Putin to realise Russia’s imperialist ambitions. This is a blatant lie. If the central government of a country does not respect and uphold the rights of citizens belonging to ethnic minorities, those people have the right to rise up and cast off the yoke of a government they didn’t elect and don’t support.
As for “lacking democracy” in Russia, I think it’s important to realise that Russia is not the West. Russian history is not the history of Western Europe. The Russian Federation is a relatively young country; it only emerged in 1991, after the fall of the Soviet Union, which was a totalitarian state, and which was preceded itself by the absolutist monarchy of the Russian Empire. The system in Russia is a work-in-progress. Much of that work has been done by Putin, and I think his achievements are generally favourable and are also seen as such, as evidenced by the continued support he enjoys from the majority of the Russian people. But American media try to present Russia now as the new Nazi Germany and Putin as some kind of Hitler-style dictator. This is nonsense; Russia is a federal republic with an elected government, and Putin is not the “dictator” or “tsar”, but the president. It’s completely untrue to say that Putin can just do whatever he wants in Russia. He has responsibilities and obligations to fulfill for the Russian people and their representatives in the Duma. I don’t think Russia is any less ‘democratic’ than the US or Europe. The only difference is that Russia doesn’t proclaim itself “god’s own country”, “the beacon of hope”, “the land of the free”, etc. The USA thinks it’s better than everyone, and yet its own system is based on bankers, big corporations and foreign lobbies. The American people live in a two-party system upheld by these factions and a government which would rather give 300 billion dollars to Israel’s army than providing basic human necessities to the millions of impoverished people in the big cities (not to mention those in the middle of nowhere in the Heartlands). And then we’re not even talking about the blatantly racist law enforcement system. Russia has little or none of that, so really, who is better off? The common Russian under strong, central leadership of Putin’s government, or the common American under the two-faced leadership of a government which serves Wall Street bankers, big corporations, stock markets, lobbies and the arms industry? The bread crumbs are for the American people, if there are any left. Such a system cannot last, unless by creating a climate of fear and foreign threats, which is exactly what the ruling elite in the USA is doing: sure, Russia is about to invade Europe and Alaska, Iran is about to attack America in the Persian Gulf, North Korea is about to nuke San Francisco and LA, ISIS is on the border with Mexico and Al-Qaeda is about to take over DC! This kind of bullshit is what the media in the US is spitting constantly, and it’s working. The US system can only be sustained by fear at home and conflicts abroad, which is what pretty much every current hotbed of conflict in the world has resulted from.
As for Russia’s presence in East Ukraine, there is no proof of any Russian Armed Forces in East Ukraine. The sources saying there are Russian soldiers in Ukraine have never been able to really prove it. All these obscure photos of Russian tank columns, troops and artillery have been proven as forgeries of older photos or simply photos of completely different events. Poroshenko himself was so pathetic to wave with Russian army ID’s at a conference in Munich last year, but when Russia asked to see those ID’s and know which people they belonged to, he left with his tail between his legs. The American ambassador to Ukraine recently tweeted another photo, saying it was “Russian forces entering Ukraine again”, while it was quickly proven to be a years old picture of Russian army machinery on display in Moscow. He took the tweet down quickly like the liar he is. Such examples are numerous. The hate campaign against Russia runs from the common journalist all the way to ministers and presidents. It’s too ridiculous to believe, and I don’t believe it... But even if the Russian army is in eastern Ukraine, they would be doing the right thing in protecting the eastern Russian ethnic minority from the onslaught of the Kiev army and its neo-fascist militia (Azov Batallion, anyone?).
However, it is true that there are significant numbers of Russian volunteers who came to Donbass to fight in the forces of Novorossiya. Both Russia and Novorossiya have acknowledged this as true and Russia doesn’t stop these volunteers. But those people make their own choice, they do not represent the Russian army, they represent themselves. And there are people from all over Europe who joined Novorossiya; people from Spain, Germany, France, Belarus, and also Ukrainian soldiers who switched sides. The War in Donbass isn’t a battle between “free Ukraine” and “unfree Russia”, it’s a battle for survival of an oppressed ethnic minority which rose up against a government that doesn’t recognise their rights to even be citizens of “the new Ukraine”. The Donbass rebels have every right to oppose such injustice, and if the Russians helps them, they are right to do so. Much better than the USA which orchestrates a coup to dethrone a legitimately elected government, puts a neo-fascist regime in its place, supports that regime in degrading the civil rights of Ukraine’s ethnic minorities (not just Russian, but also Tatar, Belarusian, etc.) and then uses the ensuing conflict as an excuse to boost American military presence in Eastern Europe and force the EU/NATO to increase its military expenditures, although there are much more important things to worry about in the EU countries. And of course, let’s not forget the fact that the EU has NOTHING to gain from this “New Cold War” with Russia, or Ukraine joining the EU; nobody needs yet another impoverished state in the union to parasite off the strong member states. There are plenty such countries in the EU already (not pointing fingers). All of this only serves to justify and expand the continued military presence and expenditures of the USA in Europe, and the EU is too weak and divided to stand up for itself. Easy to see. The US empire can only persist by provoking new conflicts. They can temporarily not fight those conflicts entirely themselves, because of the huge amount of resources spent on Afghanistan and Iraq, so now they provoke and foster tensions and conflicts by proxy and limit their own direct involvement. This is evident in Ukraine, in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq. Indeed, proxy conflicts are just as profitable and useful as open warfare, you just need to support the right type of factions and people, which is what the USA is doing in Ukraine. But unlike in other conflicts, there is a great power next door: Russia. And Russia will not stand idly by while the USA imposes its military ambitions on eastern Europe. The EU should make peace with Russia, stop the sanctions and start demanding the retreat of American garrisons and military bases. Of course, the eurocrats are too spineless to even think about telling the US off. And of course the US has its pawns in the EU top to keep the climate of fear going...”
If you’ve read until here, I applaud your persistence, whatever your own opinion is.