Russia invades Ukraine

I could see this coming decades ago, so I feel compelled to write about it. When NATO and the EU were expanding east, it disregarded the provocative effect on a Russia smarting from the collapse of it’s Soviet Empire. But the emphasis on global competition has led to this conflict in Ukraine.

Commentators on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s RN Radio program with Geraldine Douge and other news sources are questioning Putin’s sanity. I’m no apologist for the autocrat’s actions or oligarchs anywhere, east or west. But alienating his state of mind and those of many Russians is a convenient way of avoiding self-analysis.

I read up on Ukrainian history. Although a Kievan Rus tribal identity formed in the 1200s, it was greatly disrupted by the Mongols and later neighbouring powers such and the Pols, Lithuanians, Swedes and Russians. Cossacks formed a nation of sorts in the 17 thand 18 thcenturies, but it wasn’t until just before the Russian revolution that The Ukraine, as it was called, with it’s capital in Kiev, declared its sovereignty in 1917 and was internationaly recognized. It was absorbed into the Soviet Union as a Republic in 1922. Ethnicity and nationhood marry up very neatly in this part of the world and Ukraine is closely related to Slavic Russia. This is the basis of Putin’s spurious claim to Russia’s right to play overlord.

True, Putin has taken a dramatic step and is surrounded by sycophants who shrink from criticising his actions.

But what did the EU and NATO ever do to include Russia’s security concerns in their own? They have pursued a path of glory, just as all nations have done with few exceptions. The great failure since the end of WWII is the absence of international cooperation in an increasingly interconnected global village. Had this been the emphasis instead of the power plays we’ve seen, the United Nations might have been the focus of more attention for its role as arbitrator and its urgent need to be reformed. The U.N. is an incarnation of The League of Nations, but has languished as an ideal while the USA and others have pursued rogue polices of self-promotion. As is it, the U.N. perpetuates the global power imbalance in favour of the West and this has done nothing to diminish distrust among its member states and the indignation of many non-western countries.

The way out of the current crisis, beyond the current appropriate sanctions to economically isolate Russia and provide assistance to the Ukrainians, is for each and every nation to set its sights on

  • greater self-reliance in order to get less entangled in bilateral relations (which should have the added benefit of reducing environmental impacts)
  • more non-aligned approaches to bilateral relations
  • supporting U.N. reform and affirming its role as arbitrator
  • reducing arms and military expenditure
  • devolving away from super-powerism and the inclination to compete for domination

Some observers like to dismiss the nation-state as a failed concept and naively call for a global, borderless utopia. Diminutive dreamers can play into the hands of global elites, but it won’t happen. Revolutions come and go. One way or another, we will evolve our way out of this and there’s no guarantee it’ll end happily. We must all put our minds to it.

Originally published at http://equanimity.blog on February 26, 2022.

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Simon Cole

Simon Cole

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Australian behavioural scientist, community/sustainability advocate, commentator and English language educator. Promoting the steady state.