24 May 2024 / 19:50 RU

    Existential war between Russia and Ukraine

    On February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin started an undeclared war against Ukraine, calling it a “special operation”, the purpose of which is the demilitarization, denazification of a neighboring country.

    The war was not accidental in terms of its suddenness and surprise. NATO, as well as Kyiv, were aware of the impending invasion. It was not even just a continuation of the delayed full takeover of Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea and parts of Donbas in response to the overthrow of the pro-Moscow regime of Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.

    The problem has deeper and long-term roots going deep into Russian history. The historical struggle for the possession of Eurasia since the 15th century since the time of Ivan the Third, who united the scattered Russian principalities and declared Moscow the heir to the third Rome. After the fall of the Russian monarchy, the struggle continued between the Soviets, formally composed of independent national republics headed by titular Russia, and the West.

    We will not focus on the centuries-old battles for possession of the space that in the 20th century the world called the Soviet Union, and then independent Russia. The struggle of the West against the USSR ended with the collapse of the Red Empire in 1991 and significant territorial losses, on which new independent states recognized by the UN arose. The attempts of the new Russia (which declared itself committed to democratic values) to ensure the preservation of influence in the post-Soviet space and the sovereignty of Russia, whose territory was noticeably inferior to that which was called the Russian Empire, failed. Criminal privatization, galloping corruption, lack of spirituality, the war in Chechnya by the end of the 90s brought Russia to the brink of the threat of collapse. The once dead but reanimated KGB represented by the Federal Security Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation, is coming to the fore in order to seize power in a formally democratic way with the main goal of protecting Russia's shrinking sovereignty. However, all attempts to establish state control over the oligarchy, the media, society as a whole did not produce results in terms of strengthening the stability of the country and its integration with the West in order to prevent European expansion to the East. Russia, even with rising oil and gas prices, continued to lag behind the West, which was increasing its gap in technological, military, and economic aspects.

    Vladimir Putin's famous Munich speech in 2007, which marked the beginning of an open confrontation between Russia and the West, became the starting point of events, the culmination of which is unfolding today in Ukraine.

    From Putin's speech on February 10, 2007, at the Munich Security Conference:

    "For the modern world, a unipolar model is not only unacceptable, but even impossible."

    “The entire system of law of one state, first of all, of course, the United States, has crossed its national borders in all spheres: in the economy, in politics, and in the humanitarian sphere, it is being imposed on other states.”

    “Russia is a country with more than a thousand years of history, and almost always it has enjoyed the privilege of pursuing an independent foreign policy. We are not going to change this tradition today.”

    After this speech, Putin developed his foreign policy in two directions. On the one hand, he tried to negotiate with the United States, offering cooperation in exchange for guarantees of the sovereignty of the Russian Federation, and on the other hand, he undertook forceful pressure on the closest neighbors, where the interests of the West and Russia clashed, threatening the former satellites with the loss of sovereignty. This happened with Georgia in 2008, which, with the help of the United States, tried to speed up pro-Western, including anti-Russian reforms, and then in Ukraine in the winter of 2014 during the Maidan movement, which ended in the flight of the pro-Moscow team of Yanukovych.

    Threats of loss of sovereignty were received and felt by all the countries of the former USSR, including the NATO Baltic countries.

    The capture of Crimea and part of the Donbass, which were supposed to provide protection against further integration of Ukraine into the Euro-Atlantic space, did not bring the desired result. The United States and its allies continued the processes of reintegration of relations between Ukraine and Russia in all areas. And all this happened simultaneously with the further weakening of the military-economic power of Russia and, moreover, in an accelerated mode.

    Once again, Putin had no choice but to start a war against Ukraine, which is integrating into the European space, and turn the process into a subject of bargaining for guarantees that the West will not encroach on Russia's sovereignty.

    The war showed that neither side took a single step back during the confrontation. At the same time, Putin managed to mobilize society around him, turning the country into a kind of North Korea, concentrating resources in the hands of the state, pushing the oligarchy and the discontented part of society to the periphery of politics, including at the same time radically dissatisfied with his policies, nationalists, and liberals. He is turning Russia into a rogue state with a sovereign policy independent of the West, which he loved to talk about 15 years ago. This is a double-edged sword. The West needs a Russia with a limited international role. This is true. But on the other hand, even North Korea, with its incomparably small nuclear potential, keeps not only Southeast Asia in suspense, but a much larger area.

    It would be a mistake to think that Russia is unpredictable like a mysterious Russian soul. Its unpredictability is highlighted and set in motion, in the words of Putin, when an existential threat arises. Today, the Putin regime characterizes the situation in this vein. And this is a key moment in the current history of Russia and its behavior towards Ukraine.

    A year after the start of the war on February 24, 2022, Ukraine made a rapid breakthrough in the issue of integration with the West in the military-political aspect. Naturally, there can be no talk of economics in war conditions. Informally, Ukraine can be called today a part of the EU and NATO. If we imagine that Russian-Ukrainian relations are developing in a pre-war state, then, based on the loss of the pre-war rating of Zelensky's Servant of the People party, we can talk more about curtailing Ukraine's pro-Western course, in a broad sense, and a new reorientation to the East. At the very least, the fluctuations in public opinion, which measures its geopolitical preferences with daily bread, were not in favor of the Euro-Atlantic community. Today, public opinion in Ukraine, and especially in the Russian-speaking east of the country, has noticeably changed not in favor of Russia due to the destruction and death that it has brought to the once loyal territories. Under these conditions, despite tactical territorial and material losses, in the medium strategic perspective, Ukraine has a growing chance of becoming a full-fledged part of Europe, which will provide it with significant dividends for becoming a leading state in the European space.

    Putin's latest decision to unilaterally freeze Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START III), which he announced in his February 21 address to the Federal Assembly, opens a new round in the offensive arms race for the first time since the Gorbachev-Reagan agreements on strategic offensive arms in Reykjavik in 1986. This suggests that Putin will not back down in the current confrontation with the West in Ukraine. Behind him, as a detachment, there is an existential threat of loss of sovereignty, which is tantamount to the death of Russia within its current borders.

    The West needs Ukraine and Russia's renunciation of claims to the post-Soviet space, without which a compromise is impossible. In principle, it is irrational from the point of view of the existing experience of compromise on Moldova and Georgia, whose integration into the European space was frozen and did not bring the desired understanding with Moscow.

    U.S. President Joe Biden's February 21 speech in Warsaw after meeting with President Vladimir Zelensky in Kiev is reminiscent of the thunderous sound of a war horn urging the Western Alliance to prepare for a long siege of Russia and support for Ukraine, which he says is ready for victories and tragedies for the sake of freedom.

    From Biden's Warsaw speech:

    If Russia stops invading Ukraine, it will end the war. If Ukraine stops defending itself against Russia, it will be the end of Ukraine. That is why together we are doing so that Ukraine defends itself.”

    That is, it means that the West cannot lose in Ukraine by appeasing Putin, because this will become an existential threat to the interests of the West itself throughout the entire post-Soviet space and increase the vulnerability of the expansion of Western values to the East.

    So, we see the presence and intensification of the collision of two oppositely interpreted existential threats of the West and the East. The only possible way out of the stalemate is the threat of a nuclear war. This is Moscow's main trump card, which it has been flaunting since the start of the war and has now taken a real step in this direction by freezing the START treaty. However, for Washington, this is also the preferred option for resolving the crisis. The real threat of such a war will become a platform for negotiations to eliminate existential threats, but with the obligatory resolution of the Ukrainian issue, the essence of which is the conquest of freedom by Ukraine in exchange for Russian sovereignty in the near foreseeable future.


    Source - Turan.az


    23 February 2023 / 11:08