Sunday, February 26, 2023

Capitalist involvement 20 years ago: Why Putin, and a majority of Russians, will keep fighting

At the outset, you need to understand that an article in The Guardian 18 years ago titled "US campaign behind the turmoil in Kiev" explained:

    But while the gains of the orange-bedecked "chestnut revolution" are Ukraine's, the campaign is an American creation, a sophisticated and brilliantly conceived exercise in western branding and mass marketing that, in four countries in four years, has been used to try to salvage rigged elections and topple unsavoury regimes.
    Funded and organised by the US government, deploying US consultancies, pollsters, diplomats, the two big American parties and US non-government organisations, the campaign was first used in Europe in Belgrade in 2000 to beat Slobodan Milosevic at the ballot box.
    Richard Miles, the US ambassador in Belgrade, played a key role. And by last year, as US ambassador in Tbilisi, he repeated the trick in Georgia, coaching Mikhail Saakashvili in how to bring down Eduard Shevardnadze.
    Ten months after the success in Belgrade, the US ambassador in Minsk, Michael Kozak, a veteran of similar operations in central America, notably in Nicaragua, organised a near identical campaign to try to defeat the Belarus hardman, Alexander Lukashenko.
    That one failed. "There will be no Kostunica in Belarus," the Belarus president declared, referring to the victory in Belgrade.
    But experience gained in Serbia, Georgia and Belarus has been invaluable in plotting to beat the regime of Leonid Kuchma in Kiev.

Nothing is ever simple. But the fact is the U.S. has been continuously involved in attempting to undermine the Russians in Serbia, Georgia, Belarus, and Ukraine since the 1990's.

In an article published this week by FRANCE 24 titled "War in Ukraine ‘stems from the Orange Revolution, a humiliating ordeal for Putin’" historian Fran├žoise Thom offers the following:

    Vladimir Putin’s anti-Western rhetoric is long-standing. We can date the change in the Kremlin’s discourse to the colour revolutions between 2003 and 2004. At that time, a wave of anti-corruption and pro-democratic liberal movements were sweeping across several post-Soviet states, namely Georgia – the Rose Revolution – and in Ukraine where the Orange Revolution took place in 2004.
    n my opinion, the ongoing war stems from the Orange Revolution, which was a humiliating ordeal for Putin. The candidate he backed, Viktor Yanukovych, lost the popular vote to a pro-European candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, in the 2004 elections.
    The outcome was a slap in the face for Putin and he developed an intense hatred towards Ukraine and its people. Interpreting the turn of events as the result of US interference, the ex-KGB agent saw scheming by the US as the only reason for his candidate’s loss.
    Putin’s paranoid rhetoric took root from that point on. As illustrated by Kremlin ideologist Vladislav Surkov in a 2004 text: “The enemy is on our doorsteps, we have to defend every Russian and every household against the West”.
    During the 2007 Munich Security Conference, Putin challenged the West, especially the US. He then followed up by launching a reform of Russia’s military in 2008. The war against Ukraine therefore has very old roots. Far from an improvisation, the current conflict is part of a wider context tied to Russia’s row with the West.
    In 2013, an association proposed by the European Union to post-Soviet countries, namely Ukraine, set off the powder keg. The project clashed with Putin’s desire to integrate Ukraine into a customs union, the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), led by Russia.
    Putin seeks to build a large European space, from Brest to Vladivostok, where Russia can establish its supremacy while dispelling US influence. In 2013, Ukraine's then president Yanukovych, under pressure from the Kremlin, rejected the association agreement with the EU while opting to join the EEU. Massive protests erupted in Ukraine, which led to the 2014 Maidan Revolution, an insurrection that Yanukovych tried to repress but failed. He absconded and a new government, which Putin labelled as Nazi, came into power.
    Putin annexed Crimea several days later, claiming that it was to defend Russia from NATO and that Crimea has always been Russian despite the transfer to Ukraine in 1954, an error he said was committed by the USSR's then leader Nikita Khrushchev. Putin also attempted to conquer southern and eastern Ukraine, but had to settle for two separatist enclaves in the east. The armed conflict ended with the ratification of the Minsk agreements on September 5, 2014.

We Americans should be concerned about our role in precipitating wars. The war in Ukraine is not going to be resolved by us testing out our latest weapons. Russia is not going to back down. The Russians fight when challenged.

What is most troubling is that within the U.S. there is opposition to this war from the far right. What exactly do those who enthusiastically support Ukraine intend to do if it looks like Russia might prevail? Do we not feel the least bit on edge because we have been meddling for 25 years? Does it ever occur to people that Putin has made it clear that he will  use nuclear weapons as a last resort?

Or is it the truth that most Americans did not know what was going on in that part of the world at the turn of the Century and don't know what is going on there now.