THE UKRAINE – THE UNDER REPORTED REALITIES by Rubin Rothler LL.B, Ll.M
THE UKRAINE – THE UNDER REPORTED REALITIES
The USA, UK, EU, Russia, The Baltic States, Bylorus, Germany, And Israel Are All Key Players – But Why Are So Many Of The Key Realities Being Under Reported?
byRuben Rothler LL.B , LL.M
byRuben Rothler LL.B , LL.M
The rapidly unfolding crisis of belligerent Russia seemingly on the verge of invading Ukraine has ramifications well beyond the region. At play is a grand battle of brinkmanship involving several actors. The E.U. has a convoluted relationship with Russia. Its two largest nations, Germany and France are dependent on Russia for the lion’s share of their energy supplies. Moscow, Berlin and Paris are keenly aware of this volatile state of affairs. In this regard Putin has been playing his hand well. Indeed, he is a great poker player, but it is yet to be seen whether he is equally primed in the art of chess. The strategic long game involves more than calling bluff on the opponent. Ukraine will not accept concessions to Russia. And that puts the West in a dilemma. The few boots that NATO has in the Ukraine are there for symbolic posturing. Moreover, their ostensible unified front is in fact riddled with conflicting agendas. Those NATO members that find themselves in a very precarious position by virtue of their geographic proximity to Russia are most attune to the needs of Ukraine to defend itself. Foremost are the Baltic states who have been at the vanguard of supplying Ukraine with armaments. But they have in turn received push back from Germany, which is hesitant to aggrieve Moscow with such bold steps due to their energy dependence. Therefore, Russia is receiving mixed signals concerning what sort of repercussions may emanate from a potential invasion of Ukraine.
As in the aftermath of the collapse of Yugoslavia it is again the Anglo-American axis of NATO taking the strategic initiative. Once more the continental European powers demonstrate a lack of resolve that everyone recognizes as endemic weakness, except for themselves. This, despite Macron and other EU proponents of a more centralized Europe demonstrates the disingenuous rhetoric of the pro-Brussels elite who have neither the political will nor the muscle to exercise viable military strength on the continent. As always they are reliant upon extra continental English speaking forces to fight their battles for them. The new left leaning German government will only aggravate this reality.
So, how likely is it that an invasion will occur? There are think tank political analysts in the USA, the UK and Israel, as well as a number of Ukrainian diplomats who doubt Putin will actually attempt a major incursion – if he attempts one at all. There is a perspective that sees an electorially motivated Biden administration facing loss of control of both Houses of Congress, amplifying the Ukraine conflict as part of a damage control effort to look strong in the wake of the fall of Afghanistan. Biden’s limp wristed pandering to an increasingly aggressive China and Russia and deliberate blindness with regard to offensive missile development and testing by North Korea demands a media relations ploy of a sideshow that can be misrepresented as center stage. An actual assault scenario is likely to begin with a massive cyber-attack with the aim of cutting off the chain of command from the higher echelons of Ukrainian decision making. This would be followed by strategic commando raids by special forces. The brunt of the invasion would likely center on the eastern provinces already under Russian influence with tactical air support and spearheaded by Russian armor. However the precariousness of any potential imminent Russian attack has seen Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar state that the number of Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s borders “are not enough for a full-scale invasion.” Instead, Russian leader Vladimir Putin is using the troop build-up “primarily to politically blackmail the West and pressure Ukraine,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “Russia’s tactical goal is to provoke integral divisions in our society, sow fear and panic, to destabilize the internal situation,” she added. Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko said: “The Russian Federation is currently taking active efforts to destabilize the situation in Ukraine. A large amount of misinformation, manipulation, and fakes are spreading in Ukrainian and international media in order to cause panic among Ukrainians and foreigners, intimidate business, and undermine the economic and financial stability of our state. In this situation, it is important to soberly assess the risks and stay calm”.
Putin is desperate in his efforts to halt NATO’s expansion eastbound and eliminate its current militarization of members neighboring Russia. At the end of the cold war President Bush had a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with Gorbechov that NATO would not expand one inch east of Germany. Russia was in chaos under Yeltsin throughout the 90’s and lacked the ability to insist the understanding between Bush and Gorbechov be upheld. So, NATO expanded all the way to Russia’s doorstep. From the beginning, from its origins, we had drilled into our heads that the purpose of NATO was to defend western Europe from the Russian hordes. That was the dominant, unique theme. So, in 1991 – no more Russian hordes. The official mission of NATO was changed to control and safeguard the global energy system, sea lanes, pipelines etc. This reframing of NATO’s Charter found its initial impetus in the reaction to the radical islamic terror attacks of September 11th 2001. We can observe that the perceived American influence more broadly continues to be on the retreat following the Afghani debacle. This fact is more than enough to upend the world order.
Israel is in the unique position of maintaining close diplomatic cooperation with both Russia and Ukraine. As Haaretz reports “Israel will be aiming to stay on the sidelines if the two sides go to war”. In the event of war Israel’s main concern would be to evacuate the sizable Ukrainian Jewish population. Israel has attempted to broker a negotiated peace agreement. In his meeting with Vladimir Putin in Sochi last October, Naftali Bennett offered to hold a summit between the Russian president and his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. According to a report by Barak Ravid in Walla, the proposal was submitted by the Israeli prime minister with Zelenskyy’s apparent approval, but Putin turned it down. Several months earlier, Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, made a similar offer to Putin that was rejected as well. The proverbial elephant in the room however is that Ukraine is the leading European platform for Israeli high tech companies (many of them American owned) for vital outsourcing. A disproportionately large number of high tech engineers and computer scientists in Ukraine’s high tech base are Jews from the 75,000 Ukrainian Jewish community. Among this number ironically also is the current Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
In a worst case scenario there would be a recapitulation in the eastern periphery of the Ukraine of Putin’s seizure of Crimea, where there was also a high ethnic Russian demographic. A best case scenario would be an agreed Finlandization of Ukraine, where during the Cold war Finland’s radical neutrality kept it as a buffer between western Europe and the Soviet Warsaw Pact. While the NATO Charter only allows counter attack on an attack on a NATO member, Ukraine is not a NATO member. Yet Putin recalls well how Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Wesely Clark and Javier Solana in violation of the NATO treaty committed NATO to combat operations against the Serbs whose eastern Orthodox religion and slavic ethnicity made them cousins of Russia. There is little question that the most effective deterrent to further Russian aggression against Ukraine would be the exclusion of Russia from the global SWISS banking system. Unfortunately the politics of Washington, London, Paris and Berlin, (and not least of all Brussels) are not surprisingly prevailing against common sense.