Putin is right — right full of it

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Recently, I have been involved in repeated discussions about whether or not Russia (Putin) is justified in invading Ukraine. The main arguments (mostly propagated by Tik Tok, CTV, and RTV for obvious reasons) why Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is justified are:

  • The Ukrainians are actually Russians and they speak a Russian dialect.
  • They are not a separate nation or people. They are Russians and should therefore be part of Russia.
  • Ukraine has always belonged to Russia. It has no national identity.
  • The Ukrainian government is corrupt.
  • Putin is fighting globalism.
  • We are spending too much money on supporting Ukraine.
  • The Ukrainians have provoked the Russians by breaking treaties with them and by mistreating Russians in Ukraine.
  • Ukraine is shooting missiles and bombs at their own people and blames the Russians for it.
  • Zelenskiy is persecuting Jews/Christians/Russians in Ukraine.

Below, I will discuss the validity or lack thereof of these arguments although not necessarily in the same sequence.

The Ukrainians and the Russians both descend from the Varangians, The Varangians were Vikings, conquerors, traders and settlers, mostly from Sweden. A subgroup of the Varangians called themselves “Rus” or Ros”. Between the 9th and 11th centuries, Varangians ruled the medieval state of Kievan Rus and settled in many territories of modern Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine.

The term Varangians goes back to the old Norse term væringi, which consists of var = journey, path and gengi = companion. The whole word means: companion on a journey. This seems to indicate that the Varangians were not an ethnic tribe but a fraternity of warriors that was formed and sworn together for conquest.

According to the 12th-century Kievan Primary Chronicle, the Rus settled in Novgorod (“New Town”) in 862 under the leadership of Rurik, a Viking warlord. Before Rurik, the Rus might have ruled an earlier realm named Rus Khaganate. Rurik’s subcommander Oleg conquered Kiev in 882 and established the state of Kievan Rus, which was later ruled by Rurik’s descendants.

In 907 AD, Oleg, who was from Novgorod and known as philosopher warrior, was entrusted by Rurik with the governorship of Kiev. From there, he attacked Constantinople. The hostilities ended in a peace treaty that proved beneficial for both sides. The Kievan Rus established and maintained intensive trading relationships with the Byzantine Empire and provided the Varangian Guard as a personal bodyguard for the Byzantine emperor.

In the 9th century, the Oka River was part of the Volga trade route, and the upper Volga watershed became an area of contact between the indigenous Uralic peoples such as the Merya and the expanding Turkic, Germanic (Varangians) and Slavic peoples.

The earliest East Slavic tribes recorded as having expanded to the upper Volga in the 9th to 10th centuries are the Vyatichi and Krivichi. In the 11th century, the Moskva River was incorporated into the Kievan Rus rulership as part of the Rostov-Suzdal.

Clearly, the political, military, social, and economic development of the Kievan Rus precedes that of the Moscovian Rus by several hundred years.

For a long time, the Moscovian Rus were under the rule of the Mongols and had to pay tribute. They gained some favors with the Khans because they paid more tribute than they had to and because they became a bulwark for the Mongols against the aggressive and expansive Lithuanians.

The rule of the Tsars did not begin until about 1547. From 1610 through 1612, troops of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth occupied Moscow, as its ruler Sigismund III tried to take the Russian throne. The Tsars systematically conquered Eurasia building the world’s largest land empire.

This policy was continued by the Soviet Union and expanded to include the formerly independent East European nations of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Belarus, and Ukraine. The Soviet Russians also tried to occupy Finland, but the Fins fought them off losing only Karelia to the Russians.

The Russians have used “Russification” over hundreds of years as a tool to solidify their rule over other, mostly smaller, nations. The name “Rossia” for Russia was first used by Tzar Peter the Great. Until then, Russia was called “Moscovia”. Tzar Peter was also the inventor of the “Pan-Russian” ideology, which itself transmuted into Panslavism. Both ideologies are still today preached by Alexander Dugin, current chief ideologist of Putin’s Russian neo-imperialism. Peter’s smart advisers urged him to go back to the name of the old Varangian Dynasty, the Ros, calling the Ukrainians the “little” Russians and the Russians the “great” Russians, names that were alien to both peoples. Systematically, the Russians invaded the eastern parts of Ukraine. In 1642, the Ukrainians complained about the “misdeeds of the Moscovian intruders”, who called the Ukrainians “Chercassians”, “Chakhol”, “Pollacks”, and “Lithuanians”, and who, in the words of the Russian historian Buslayev, behaved “like a half-wild, half-Tartar war party”. Here a passage from an instruction letter of the Tsarina Katharina II to her authorized representative in Ukraine:

“Little Russia (i.e. Ukraine), Latvia, and Finland are provinces, which are governed based on recognized privileges. To question them immediately would not be opportune, but to treat them as alien people, would be a stupid mistake. These provinces can be brought to russify and cease to look like wolves from the forest with little effort.”

Already Peter the Great had instructed the Cossack Hetman Mazepa that the “Ukrainian people must integrate themselves into the Great Russian fold …” It was also Tzar Peter who ordered the Ukrainian clergy to read the liturgic Slavic texts using Russian vowels and consonants. He also ordered that in the Kievan Academy the Ukrainian language must be replaced by the Russian language step by step. This btw also defeats the argument that Russian and Ukrainian are the same language!

The Russians as culture bringers and the non-Russians as primitive barbarians. Ay, ay, ay …

Since the instructions did not show the desired success, Katherina II gave orders that “the little Russian people must feel one with the Great Russian people and their inner hatred against the Great Russians must be eradicated.” Sounds right friendly, doesn’t it?

Eventually, the genuine and independent Ukrainian culture was eradicated. Educated exponents of Ukrainian culture were banned or their possessions were confiscated. The staunchly patriotic Ukrainian church was subordinated to the Moscow Patriarch.

Ukrainians entered the 19th century bereft of their culture, their language, their natural leaders, and their church. In all schools, Russian had to be used; all sermons in church had to be in Russian. Russia kept injecting Russians into Ukraine, mainly in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, which border directly on Russia. The method is old and proven: you infiltrate a neighboring county with your own people, who then can cause civil unrest, and, when cracked down upon, give you an opportunity to claim that your countrymen are being mistreated by the neighboring state. And when you finally invade, you have a nice fifth column already in place that can assist your regular troops. Hitler used the same method in Czechoslovakia.

One can say that Ukraine was relatively late in forming a nation state. But so were Italy (1861) and Germany (1871).

When the UN were founded in June of 1945, Ukraine became a member nation of the United Nations as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic on June 26, 1945 and ratified the charter on October 24, 1945. Nota bene: even when it belonged to the Soviet Union, Ukraine joined the UN as an individual state. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics joined the UN as a separate member state.

After the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, an OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) conference took place in Budapest on December 05, 1994. Three memoranda were signed, which became known as “the Budapest Memorandum”. The memoranda were signed by the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, France, the United States, and China. The memoranda prohibited the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States from threatening or using military force against Ukraine, Belarus, and/or Kazakhstan “except in self-defense or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.”

As a result, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine gave up their nuclear weapons. Until this point, Ukraine had stationed the third-largest nuclear weapons stockpile in the world. “self-defense” in the Memorandum means defense against a military attack, against a war of aggression.

The Minsk agreements were a series of international agreements, which sought to end the Donbas war fought between armed Russian separatist groups and Armed Forces of Ukraine, with Russian regular forces also fighting against Ukrainian regular forces. The first one was the Minsk Protocol. This agreement followed multiple previous attempts to stop the fighting in the region and aimed to implement an immediate ceasefire. It was drafted in 2014 by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine, consisting of Ukraine, Russia, and OSCE, with mediation by the leaders of France and Germany. The agreement was signed on September 5, 2014 by representatives of the Trilateral Contact Group and, without recognition of their status, by the leaders of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), both constructions implemented by Russia, respectively by Russian separatists.

The agreement failed to stop the fighting. It was thus followed by a revised agreement, called Minsk II, which was signed on February 12, 2015. This agreement consisted of a package of measures, including a ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front line, release of prisoners of war, constitutional reform in Ukraine granting a measure of autonomy to the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, but restoring control of the state border to the Ukrainian government. While fighting subsided following the agreement’s signing, it never ended completely, and the agreement’s provisions were never fully implemented.

Amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine in early 2022, Russia officially recognized the Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics on February 21, 2022. No other nation recognized them. Following that decision, on February 22, 2022, Russian president Vladimir Putin declared that the Minsk agreements “no longer existed”, and that Ukraine, not Russia, was to blame for their collapse. Russia then invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

This narrative was henceforth repeated by Russian propaganda and regurgitated by many international media. Ukraine was repeatedly accused of having violated the Minsk agreements by trying to join NATO or the EU. However, neither of the two Minsk Agreements mentions that Ukraine must not, or should not, or will not join NATO and/or the EU. (You can find the texts of both agreements on the Internet.) Ukraine has tried to become an EU member but failed so far. Ukraine has also applied for NATO membership but has failed so far.

On March 16, 2014 a Russian inspired “referendum” was held and Crimea declared its independence from Ukraine. On March 21, Crimea was incorporated into the Russian Federation. Ukraine vigorously protested the action as a violation of Article 1 of the Budapest Memorandum.

On November 25, 2018, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) fired upon and captured three Ukrainian Navy vessels after they attempted to transit from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait on their way to the port of Mariupol. On November 27, 2018, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine appealed to the signatory states of the Budapest Memorandum to hold urgent consultations to ensure full compliance with the memorandum’s commitments and the immediate cessation of Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Ukraine’s decision to sign the Budapest Memorandum was proof to many scholars of Ukraine’s development as a democracy and its desire to step away from the post-Soviet world and make first steps toward a European future. For 20 years, until the 2014 Russian military occupation of regions of Ukraine, the Ukrainian nuclear disarmament was an exemplary case of nuclear non-proliferation.

Beginning in 2021, Russia built up a large military presence near its border with Ukraine, including from within neighboring Belarus. Russian president Vladimir Putin criticized the enlargement of NATO and demanded that Ukraine be barred from ever joining the military alliance. He also expressed irredentist views and questioned Ukraine’s right to exist. On February 21, 2022, Russia officially recognized the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic as independent states.

The Donetsk People’s Republic is a disputed entity created by Russian-backed separatists, which claims the Donetsk Oblast in eastern Ukraine. It began as a breakaway state (2014–2022) and was then annexed by Russia in 2022. The city of Donetsk is the claimed capital city. In February 2022, the conflict saw a major escalation as Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

On February 24, 2022, Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine during a televised broadcast, marking the start of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The invasion was internationally condemned, leading to many countries to impose sanctions against Russia and ramping up existing sanctions.

Pro-Russian unrest erupted in the Donbas region following the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity. In April 2014, armed Russian separatists seized government buildings and declared the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) independent states, receiving no international recognition. Ukraine and others viewed them as Russian puppet states and as terrorist organizations. This sparked the War in Donbas as part of the wider Russo-Ukrainian War.

It is true; Ukraine is the 26th poorest country in the world and the poorest country in Europe. Its standard of living expressed in annual GDP per capita is US$ 2,963 (2018). As a comparison: the world’s poorest country is Burundi with an annual per capita GDP of $856.

Acc. to worldatlas.com, Ukraine is the 9th largest wheat producer in the world. Ukraine has always been Eastern Europe’s and in particular Russia’s “breadbasket”. In more than one way. When Stalin “collectivized” farming in the Soviet Union between 1928 and 1940, he caused one of the worst famines in history. During this famine, the Russians confiscated all of the Ukrainian grain to feed the Russians and as a result, between 7.8 and 11 million Ukrainians were starved to death – the infamous “Holodomor”. If nothing else, this has made it very clear to the Ukrainians and the world that the Ukrainian and the Russian peoples are not the same. Aside from that, Ukraine has also one of the largest Lithium and Uranium deposits in the world. All good reasons to make Ukraine a desirable target for Russia.

Did Zelenskiy persecute Jews in Ukraine? Did Ukrainian military shoot rockets into their own population? Did Ukrainians act aggressively against Russian invaders? Frankly, that Zelenskiy, himself Jewish, should persecute Jews, sounds like ill-conceived propaganda. And friendly fire has always been a big problem in the fog of war. That Ukrainians treat infiltrated Russians badly should be expected if you consider that the memory of the “Holodomor”, the mass-murder of Ukrainians by the Soviet Russians, is still very much alive among Ukrainians. And that Ukrainian patriots view the Russian Orthodox church as an instrument of Russian imperialism is hardly surprising – because it is one indeed.

However – even if Jews or Russians were mistreated in Ukraine and even if a rocket or two were accidentally fired in the wrong direction or at the wrong target, and even if Ukraine became a nation state relatively late, and even if Ukraine may be a relatively poor country, and even if the Ukrainians and the Russians descended from common ancestors, and even if the Ukrainian and Russian languages are closely related – none of this would negate a nation’s right of self-determination and self-governance, of its right to form a sovereign nation state.

As a member of the UN, Ukraine clearly is a sovereign nation state. If the argument that common descent and a similar language justify forcing one nation to join another then why are the Austrians not part of Germany, why are the Belgians not part of France and Germany, why are the Netherlands not part of Germany, why is Denmark not part of Norway, and why is nationhood conceded to the Palestinians who have neither an ethnic, nor a linguistic, or a national identity?

Ukraine did not invade Russia. Russia invaded Ukraine! Russia did not have to defend itself against a Ukrainian military attack. Instead Russia was a co-guarantor of Ukraine’s independence and sovereignty as a nation state. There is no reasonable justification for Russia’s war against its much smaller neighbor.

There is an explanation, though. Russia is overcompensating for its post-Soviet-Union inferiority complex. Putin is continuing his Dugin-inspired Russian imperialism. And Russia’s declining economy and population can sure use Ukraine’s natural resources, produce, and population to boost its own status and survivability.

Ukraine is obviously a very corrupt country. And so is obviously America. We know about both first-hand from our President and his son Hunter. However, most nations or their political leadership are corrupt. If corruptness constitutes cause for invasion then the USA also needs to be invaded. Perhaps an international corruption scale would make sense and a UN approved intervention point?

Just a few days ago, our government sent another $31 billion to Ukraine. I have heard people say: “We are spending this much money on fending off the Russian invasion of Ukraine, when we spend no money to fend off our own invasion by illegal aliens.”

True, true. But the logical conclusion is not that we should not financially support Ukraine because we are not protecting our own borders. The conclusion is that we should support Ukraine and protect our own borders. Not enough money?

Well, we are spending trillions on ineffective so-called renewable energies. The student loan forgiveness program would cost $379 billion over 30 years. $4.5 billion worth of food stamps were misappropriated. Our government openly acknowledges they have no idea where over $1 trillion went. A few years back, $3 trillion vanished and the Pentagon comptroller who had dual Israeli-US citizenship returned to Israel, which refuses to allow the US to extradite him to answer questions. Our latest $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill (4,155 pages, another mockery of democracy!) contains e.g. $65 million to restore Pacific salmon populations; “not less than” $575 million “should be made available for family planning/reproductive health” (i.e. abortion); $410 million are to “remain available” to reimburse Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Oman for “enhanced border security.” $1.56 billion are allocated to Customs and Border Protection for “border management requirements” and only $339.6 million to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for “non-detention border management requirements,” funds that are prohibited from being used to “acquire, maintain, or extend border security technology and capabilities” unless they’re for improving processing (i.e. bringing in more invaders).

Seems we have money for everything. Our own border security just does not have a high priority for our socialist government. In politics, one often needs to juggle requirements. I believe that it is morally correct and politically wise to support the sovereign nation of Ukraine financially against the Russian aggression. Russia needs to learn that it cannot afford its imperialism. If we cannot convey this message to Putin, there will be not impediment to Russian hegemony over Europe. This cannot possibly be in the best interest of the USA.

To sum it up: Putin is not an “anti-globalist”. He is a neo-imperialist. And his war of aggression against Ukraine is sheer unmitigated imperialism that rewinds world history and the development of human civilization by about 200 years – if he gets away with it.

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