Editor’s note : views reflected in the article reflects that of the writer’s, not borkena’s view.
By Tibebe Samuel Ferenji
“Unnecessary aggression is not justice or strength it is human weakness and desire.”
Vladimir Putin is considered a hero by some because it is believed he stands against the US to protect other less powerful nations when their sovereignty is violated by the United States and its allies. Those who consider him a hero support his action and make the same argument that Putin is making. Some support him out of loyalty because his government stood with them at the time of their trouble. The issue should be whether Putin’s naked aggression towards Ukraine is right as a matter of principle? Here the lives of many innocent women and children are at stake in addition to the survival of a sovereign nation. Should we be silent when a powerful nation brutalized a small nation? If we are silent today, who will stand for us when the same thing happens to us? There is no question Putin is angry with the West because of the breakup of the Soviet Union and the humiliation of Russia when the West installed Boris Yeltsin as the “first freely elected president” of Russia. Is that sufficient reason to punish Ukraine because Ukraine, an independent sovereign nation wants to join the EU and NATO? It may be Ukraine today, who would be next tomorrow?
Putin’s background, indicates, he became a deputy Mayor of St. Petersburg after the fall of the USSR and he later was appointed as the head of Russia’s intelligence agency appointed by Yeltsin. Then, Yeltsin appointed Putin as a Prime Minister. Yeltsin eventually resigned from the presidency appointing Putin as acting president. It was in March 1999, that Putin was elected as president of Russia. Examining Putin’s political background, one can conclude Putin’s ambition is to be the President of Russia for life. Putin has changed Russia’s constitution to fit his own personal agenda allowing him to be president of Russia at least until 2036. Under Putin, Russia has progressed a great deal. As Russia became stronger, Putin is taking action to fulfill his ambition of building a Russian empire. The invasion of Ukraine is a step towards that goal.
It is with that ambition that Putin is in confrontation with the West which led to the invasion of Ukraine. Putin has put forward three reasons for his invasion of Ukraine. His first assertion is that Ukraine belongs to Russia. This argument does not hold water. First, Ukraine has its own history and independence although it was part of the Soviet Union when the Soviet Union was established. Even when then, Ukraine was given autonomy to conduct its own affairs. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine has been recognized as an independent nation and functioned as such for more than 30 years. Even Russia recognized Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty and accepted Ukraine as a separate country and established diplomatic relations with Ukraine.
Until 2014, Ukraine was led by a pro-Russian president who was ejected from power by Ukrainians who took the street in opposing the pro-Russian regime. The country was led by an acting president until the 2015 election. In 2015, a businessman named Petro Poroshenko won the presidency and in the 2019 election, Poroshenko lost the election to the current president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, after obtaining 24% of the vote. Since taking power in 2019, Zelensky has been at odds with Moscow. Putin made every effort to undermine Zelensky as Zelensky was making efforts to make peace with Putin. Zelensky was also working to bring the Russian-speaking Ukrainians and others together. However, Moscow’s interference made it difficult. Since Russia recognized Ukraine as an independent country, Putin’s argument that Ukraine is Russian does not hold any water.
The second “justification” for the invasion of Ukraine is Russia’s claim that Ukraine is committing genocide against ethnic Russians. This is the typical playbook of the West. Any time the West wants to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries, it uses genocide as a pretext to justify its interference. Such false allegations are invented and perfected by the West, and Putin borrowed this playbook to justify his aggression. As a matter of fact, there is no ethnic Russian genocide in Ukraine; even if such an act exists, it is not up to Russia to prevent it. There are treaties, UN charter, and other mechanisms to deal with such brutal acts. Putin cannot present an iota of evidence other than his own false narratives about genocide in Ukraine.
The third justification is the claim that Ukraine is an existential threat to Russia because Ukraine has requested to join the EU and NATO. Unfortunately, many Russian supporters seem to fall for this. Some are comparing Russia’s justification to Cuba’s Misael Crisis. In this writer’s opinion, it was wrong then for the US to prevent Cuba from having a ballistic missile on its soil, and it is wrong for Russia to invade Ukraine today in the guise of national security. It is unfortunate the US and Russia believe that the world exists to serve them and exists at their pleasure. If the US accumulates its military arsenal to protect itself, why can’t Cuba accumulate a military arsenal to protect itself? If Cuba is an existential threat to the United States, the US is also an existential threat to Cuba. In fact, the US has proven to be a more direct threat to Cuba than vice versa. The only thing that makes it right for the US to prevent Cuba from possessing a military arsenal is US’ might. As the saying goes “might do not make right”.
What is unfortunate, the Mainstream media has put the world in a “box” in convincing us as if only the superpowers have the right to possess nuclear arsenals and the right to defend their strategic and national interest. It seems the rest has to obey the “rules” set by the powerful countries. Many people are forming their opinions in support of Russia believing it is in the strategic interest of Russia to deny Ukraine membership in NATO and the EU. These individuals believe Ukraine will become an existential threat for Russia if it becomes a member of NATO and the EU, and Russia has the right to prevent this. What is Ukraine’s right as an independent country?
These individuals failed to see the interest of Ukraine because it is a small country and “less powerful” than Russia in terms of military arsenal and population. We are shaped to be submissive to powerful countries. We need to change that. During the cold war, Africa, South America, the Middle East, and Asia have borne the enormous suffering and destructions caused by the proxy war conducted by the two superpowers. Are we supposed to continue to carry such a burden or grow a backbone to say no to these two bullies? Neither the US nor Russia are making the world a better place as a result of their competition to control the world.
Putin is not alone in violating the rights of a sovereign country. The west led by the US has caused untold sufferings in violation of the sovereignty of other countries. The US and its allies have lost their credibility and have no moral authority to condemn Vladimir Putin. The US invaded Panama and arrested the country’s president in violation of its sovereignty; the US and its allies invaded Iraq with the same pretext that Putin is using today. The US and its allies opened these dangerous gates and Putin’s defendants are using the US’s own argument against the US. As we speak today, the US has continued to interfere in the internal affairs of Syria, Libya, Ethiopia, and others. It cannot be right when the US violates the sovereignty of others and wrong when Putin does the same. The world should hold to account both the US and Russia for their belligerent behaviors. The world can’t sit back and allow both US and Russia to destroy our world.
These two nations will never fight each other; if we watched with silence, they will continue to wreak havoc in our world in the name of national security and national interest. The competing interest of the US and Russia should not be the cause for the death of women, children, and innocent men in another country. The people of Africa, Asia, South America, and the Middle East must reject the corrupt leaders’ alliance with either Russia or the US when their national interest is not at stake. We must speak collectively in one voice to say enough is enough.
Why is the world at the brink of a nuclear war? It is because of the competing interest of the US and Russia to dominate the world and impose their will on the weak nations. If the rest of the world stands together, the system can be changed. We need to reform the United Nation that serves only the powerful nations’ interests. Africa, the Middle East, and South America should have a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, and the veto power for any nation must be dissolved. You can’t commit humanitarian disaster and hide behind your veto power.
Russia’s naked aggression is in part the veto power it has in the UN. Putin feels untouchable. There is no justification for Putin’s naked aggression and brutal act. His argument Ukraine would be an existential threat for Russia does not hold any water because this same argument works for Ukraine too. In other words, Russia is an existential threat to Ukraine and Ukraine has the right to protect itself and the right to form a policy to protect its own strategic interest and invite any ally that could provide the protection it needs to defend itself.
Many opinion makers indicate NATO cannot be in the backyard of Russia. Such an argument is useless because NATO is already under the nose of Russia. Many countries that border Russia are members of NATO; Latvia, Norway, Estonia, Poland, and Lithuania are among countries that share a border with Russia and all are members of NATO. There is no record that any of the NATO member countries acted in a manner that threatened Russia, and none of them violated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Russia. If this is the case, why is Ukraine considered a threat?
No one country has the right to impose its will on another country as a matter of principle. The world has been on course to change such a barbaric mentality. The so-called Superpowers should not use small countries for their proxy wars. Ukraine has every right to be a member of NATO and bring ballistic missiles on its soil. The decision is up to Ukraine, not Russia. As indicated, such naked aggression is similar to the invasion of Panama, and Iraq by the United State. Putin took the playbook from the US and applied it to his “benefit”. The US always uses “genocide” and “national security threats” as a pretext to violate the sovereignty of other nations and invasion causing humanitarian disaster and catastrophic consequences. This is exactly what Putin is claiming in his invasion of Ukraine and causing enormous suffering in Ukraine.
There is no justification for the so-called “preemptive strike”. The world needs to wake up; particularly Africa, the Middle East, South America, and Asia must use their collective “power” to change the dangerous discourse taking place by the West and Russia. The world needs to reform the toothless UN that has been plagued by corruption and has been a tool for the West. Who gave the superpowers the right to decide the fate of other nations other than the might they have? What right does Russia have to interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine and decide what Ukraine should and should not do? It is troubling to witness some of my fellow Ethiopians’ support for Russia’s invasion after we have been aggressively fighting for the sovereignty of our nation and fending off the interference of foreign powers in our affairs. This is paradoxical.
As indicated above, Putin’s arguments are false and irrational. According to BBC News, Putin claimed his goal was to protect people subjected to bullying and genocide and aim for the “demilitarization and de-Nazification” of Ukraine when in fact there has been no genocide in Ukraine. Maybe Putin is afraid the democratic governance in Ukraine may infect Russians and end his brutal regime.
The US must look inward and change its own policies. No one put the US in charge to be the world’s police. The US and Russia should have equal standing on the world stage like any other country. It is time for the rest of the world to organize and speak in one voice and reform the United Nation. Let us not allow the competing interest of the US and Russia to cause the world any more suffering. Women and children should not be displaced and bombarded in a matter that they have no control over. Enough is enough.
May God save and protect the innocent.
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