American Imperialism and Russian Authoritarianism collide in Ukraine War

With the emerging economic might of China and Russia’s military power a new multipolar world is coming to forefront. The world it at crossroads where the global anti-war movement is the necessity of the hour.

On December 16 2020, UN general assembly passed a resolution on “Combating Glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance”.

Out of 193 member countries – 130 voted in favour; 51 countries including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and all members of the European Union, abstained from voting; while only two countries voted against the resolution. The two countries were USA and Ukraine. The reason for American intervention in Ukraine is not new. It is steeped in the geopolitics of the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent enticement of eastern European countries into joining the European Union and NATO.

Ukraine is one of the largest and poorest countries in Europe, with a population of 4.4 Crore. Since the Maidan Revolution of 2014 that led to ouster of corrupt Pro-Russian President Vicktor Yanukovych in a violent coup, Ukraine has become a US puppet state, and now a dump yard of American Weapons at Russia’s Borders. The orange revolution or the “Revolution of Dignity” that promised freedom from Russian Influence in Government, Corruption and Poverty only ended up installing far Right, neo-Nazis in key government positions. Since 2014, Ukraine has plunged further into poverty, corruption and a normalisation of Nazi Ideology. Far right groups have been absorbed into Ukrainian military which mostly depends on US and EU Aid.

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Orange Revolution, 2014

American model of Regime Change

The current war has its roots in American foreign policy and the Obama-Joe Biden era regime change doctrine. Current US president Joe Biden is one of the architects of this war. During his tenure as the vice president in the Obama regime, he oversaw brutal war/regime change operations in seven countries. Obama administration was also experimenting with hybrid war fare in countries like Brazil, Venezuela and Ukraine. Jair Bolsonaro is one such benevolent dictators approved in these experiments by the Western democracies.

Donald Trump was impeached the first time in 2020 for trying to investigate Joe Biden’s investment in Ukraine by withholding crucial military Aid (portable Javelin missiles) to Ukraine. After the coup in 2014, Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son become an employee of scandal-plagued Ukrainian natural gas company named Burisma, with a salary of $50,000 per month. The company’s head was Mykola Zlochevsky, who had been Ukraine’s ecology minister under the pro-Russian former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The same Zlochevsky was accused of holding assets worth $23 million in London which the UK authorities had seized.

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Obama and Biden

The overthrow of Yanukovych was not accepted by Russia and it did not recognise the government formed under the Oligarch Petro Poroshenko, who won a landslide victory in the 2014 elections. Pro-West Poroshenko initiated a large-scale administrative purge from the previous regime and began privatisation of national assets. The privatisation drive was further intensified by the  now incumbent President Zelensky including privatisation of Agricultural Land. Ukraine has largest size of arable land with the most fertile black soil in entire Europe. Around same time, strong anti-government protests erupted in the eastern side and southern side with considerable ethnic Russian population. When protests grew, Russia intervened militarily and annexed Crimea and Donbass region comprising of Donetsk and Luhansk. A referendum in Crimea was conducted with 83% voter turnout. In the referendum, 97% voted in favour of joining Russia. Since then, Russia has been accusing Kiev regime of ethic cleansing campaigns in Donbass region including war crimes in some cases.

Collapse of Soviet Union and NATO’s Expansion

NATO expansion after collapse of Soviet Union in 1989-1991 is at the heart of this issue between Russia and the West. At the time of German unification, the west promised Russia that there wouldn’t be an inch of eastward expansion of NATO threatening the security of Russian federation. The declassified documents by America also confirm the same. But, in 1999, three eastern European countries, Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary joined NATO. Poland and Hungary are Russian neighbours . Then in 2004 at Istanbul NATO summit seven countries (five Russian neighbouring countries) Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia joined NATO increasing tensions in the region. Currently there are 1,75,000 troops stationed and encircling Russia and plans of moving nuclear missiles to its borders is reminiscent of Cuban missile crisis. Putin has explicitly warned Biden that missile at Russia’s borders is equal to knife at Russia’s throat.

On the other hand, post-Soviet collapse, Russia witnessed rise of wealthy Oligarchs. There was unprecedented transfer of wealth into the hands of few with the privatisation of state run enterprises. Putin with the help of these oligarchs came to power during end of this transition period. Before becoming president, he was not known to the public. After becoming president his first intervention in second Chechen war (1999-2000) increased his popularity from zero to 80%. His popularity increased again during Georgia war in 2008 where he personally went to front lines for PR drive and Crimean takeover in 2014. He has marshalled his resources towards a strong authoritarian state with 22 years as President and Prime Minister and now declared himself as full-time president of Russia without expiry date. The billionaire class increased from small group to more than 100 in the last 2 decades. Putin modelled himself as a populist, strong no-nonsense guy who is good for Russia and has basically crushed every protest against him with Iron fist. His main opponent Navalny though speaks about the illegality of Privatisation in the 90’s and criticize Oligarch’s wealth, does not have an alternative to the Neoliberal model of development that Russia is already in.

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Vladimir Putin, Russian President

The billionaire class enjoys the full support of Putin and vice versa and his dream for tsarist Russia much like Karl Marx’s Bonapartism. Before he went to war in Ukraine, he criticized the role of Lenin and Bolsheviks in giving independent status and right to succession to Ukraine under Soviet Union. In his televised address to people of Russia on 21st Feb address to Russian people he asserted that Ukraine was always a part of Russia’s history, culture and spirituality. He criticized Bolshevik revolution as October putsch (violent overthrow attempt) which gave legitimacy to various Nationalists inside the Russian Country.

Fighting the War in Ukraine or fighting War itself?

European Union and the Economy

Putin’s ambitions of Tsarist Russia and Russian Chauvinism are fundamentally against Lenin’s internationalism. Post Ukraine crisis, Western nations have put severe sanctions on Russia. This will also affect the transnational capitalist class who form the bulk of Billionaires in Russia. This will further increase the contradiction between the capitalist class and security state (involved in war). The Russian economy is also under stagnation since 2014 with a growth rate of 1 to 2%. Though the west is deliberating to restrict the Russian banks out of its Swift global payment system, China and Russia both strong authoritarian states have been working on finding alternatives since west has used this tactic many times  by illegally sanctioning weak countries into submission. For example, Cuba, Iran and Myanmar. Any financial repercussions will have global impact as global economy is already reeling from 2008 financial crisis.

With the current war, the Migrant Crisis in Eastern Europe especially the neighbouring countries of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Belarus and Romania will intensify  causing more conflict within European Union. Europe is already having problems dealing with the migrant crisis due to the wars it supported and funded with weapons in the last 2 decades in Middle east and north African countries. The European counties will see a colder winter as more sanctions against Russia will drive the gas prices higher and some projects like Nordstream2 to be halted. This will push America and Europe into a recession. Although America has promised energy to Europe but will most likely fail to provide cheap energy to Europe as its fracking industry has collapsed due to low international oil prices. The cost of oil from transporting across Atlantic is not viable option yet. With two large oil producing countries Venezuela and Iran under sanction and now Russia out of global supply chain, the oil prices will skyrocket.

US Intervention and Global Anti War Movement 

China has asserted that the current situation is sponsored by many countries including United states and that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states should be respected, and that the principles of the UN Charter should be jointly upheld. India without asserting its position clearly on the situation has shown a lack of statesmanship to address the crisis and is still in the shadows of America and Russia.

US led Saudi coalition has been bombing Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the world since 2015. It’s been described as the world’s largest humanitarian crisis by UN. US has supported extremist forces in Syria since 2015 and US Army occupies more than half the Syrian land and is looting Syrian oil and destroying Syrian state.

Libya which was one of the wealthiest African countries has been reduced to a country ridden by civil war. People are being sold in slave markets resembling that of Middle Ages. Libyan President Mohammad Gaddafi was killed in America and NATO led intervention. Palestinians have been rendered stateless within their own country while US continues to gift Jerusalem (Palestinian territory) and Golan heights (Syria’s territory) to settler colonialism project of Israel. Yugoslavia was balkanised (broken into pieces) due to intervention of NATO in 1999.

From Kabul to Kiev US led plundering projects under the garb of bringing democracy has left nations to rubbles. It is only now, the new imperialist powers such as China and Russia are flexing its economic and military might to further their expansion.

During the cold war there was a strong anti-war movement. The present situation needs a broader anti-war Left movement to minimise the war build up across the globe.

People of Ukraine need solidarity not because the bombs have reached the borders of Europe as projected and amplified by the western mainstream media. It is because all the oppressed countries have been suffering and fighting against American interventions across the globe. With the emerging economic might of China and Russia’s military power a new multipolar world is coming to forefront. The world it at crossroads where the global anti-war movement is the necessity of the hour.

Author is a political observer based in Bangalore. Views are personal.

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