Just two weeks ago, Western leaders like Boris Johnson announced that Russia was poised to attack Ukraine. Considering the US still has military bases in many countries surrounding the Russian Federation and over 10 times the military budget, I doubted the Kremlin would risk triggering World War 3 to settle old scores with its Slavic neighbour. It had little to gain materially. Unlike most Western and Central European countries, Russia does not lack either space or resources. Whatever you may think of Vladimir Putin, his strategy has usually been flawless. Territorial disputes make little sense in an interconnected world where large corporations can simply buy influence. This begs the question: Why now?
The former Soviet Republic declared independence over 30 years ago. Most of its territory had been part of the Russian Empire and then the Soviet Union after an interlude of independence following the short-lived Brest-Litovsk Treaty in 1918-19. Over the centuries parts of its western provinces have at different times been part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Much of the south, from Odessa to the Crimea was once under Ottoman Rule before the Russian Empire conquered it in the 17th century. While the word Ukraine itself means borderlands, the Kievan Rus is often considered the birthplace of Russian civilisation as it evolved since the 9th century. In many ways the Ukrainians are more Slavic, and thus closer to the original Russians than modern Russians, who have assimilated with a much more diverse range of peoples as they expanded east. Successive empires have suppressed Ukrainian cultural identity. Before the 20th century, the North West sandwiched between Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Belarus and the Dnieper river was known loosely as Ruthenia. Under the Czars, distinctive Ukrainian culture and language retreated to the rural hinterlands. While the Bolsheviks succeeded in winning back the region in the 1917-23 Russian Civil War, resistance to forced collectivisation among Ukrainian smallholders exacerbated the mass famines of the mid 1930s known as the Holodomor, with between 3 and 7 million excess deaths. This experience helps explain why many Ukrainian nationalists welcomed the 1941 Nazi occupation and some, notably the notorious Azov Battalion, sympathise with Aryan Nationalism to this day.
The point is Ukraine with its current borders, or at least those recognised before the recent Russian invasion, has only been independent as a single entity for the last three decades and its citizens are riven by conflicting loyalties and cultural identities, with some looking east and others west. Only eight years ago the US, UK and EU-sponsored operatives engineered the Euromaidan colour revolution to overthrow pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych. Back in 2014, young Ukrainians could be forgiven for looking to the freer and wealthier West rather than the more backward and poorer East. Closer ties with the EU and NATO were marketed as the best way to bring the American dream of an affluent middle class to the former Soviet Republic. Now Western governments are adopting Chinese-style bio-surveillance and clamping down on dissent. We now take it for granted that main media outlets will either ignore or besmirch politically incorrect protesters. The treatment of anti-vaccine-mandate protesters across Europe and North America shows how fast the once liberal West has moved to a totalitarian model that grants citizens time-limited rights based on compliant behaviour just like in the old Soviet Union. People fled repressive regimes to enjoy greater freedom and prosperity rather than nanny-state security.
What’s really happening?
If we believe the Western media, Putin has not only invaded Ukraine allegedly reaching Kiev (Kyiv) by Saturday 26th February but may well threaten the Baltic States. The Mirror newspaper featured a map of Southern England with the extended fallout zone of a potential Russian nuclear strike on London encompassing over 25 million residents. Yet so far, we only have verified evidence of airstrikes against military targets with collateral damage. That’s the term the Americans used to explain civilian deaths after airstrikes in successive wars since the first Gulf War in 1991. Indeed, despite their withdrawal from Afghanistan and Iraq, the USAF bombed Somalia last week, while Israel and Saudi Arabia continue their raids on Syria and Yemen respectively with US and UK-supplied weaponry. Many scenes of fleeing civilians appear staged with crisis actors and face-painted wounds. Journalists in flak jackets and helmets appear only metres away from local residents going casually about their everyday lives. On Friday we heard a Russian destroyer ship shot dead 13 Ukrainian soldiers defending the tiny Black Sea outpost of Snake Island ( Ostriv Zmiinyi). Russian reports later showed the same soldiers surrendering to Russian naval officers. Over the coming weeks, independent journalists will sort claims and counter-claims about atrocities in Ukraine, but I would not trust either Western or Russian sources. For balance, I’d much rather rely on English-medium Indian sources. India has strong economic ties with Russia, but also maintains friendly relations with the US and EU.
Although the Russian Federation remains the world’s largest country and has the world’s second largest nuclear arsenal, its military budget dwarfs that of the United States. When measured in US dollars, Russia ranks 8th. The United Kingdom, with less than half its population, spends more both in absolute terms and per capita.
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It’s about resources, stupid…
Much of Central and Eastern Europe is heavily dependent on Russian gas to heat homes. Italy and Germany import around 50% of their gas from the Eastern Bear. Without expanding nuclear power, governments would have to invest billions of € more in renewables to meet current demand. Energy is about to get a lot dearer. Millions will have little choice but to wear extra layers in winter rather than risk paying exorbitant heating bills. But it gets worse. Russia is also a leading supplier of many minerals and precious metals essential for our high-tech lifestyles. It has half of the world’s diamond reserves, 18% of its coal and iron ore and 14% of gold and is the leading producer of aluminium, arsenic, cement, copper, magnesium metal and compounds such as nitrogen, palladium, silicon and vanadium. If the Europeans and North Americans don’t wish to do business, the Russians have hungry markets in China and India. However, thanks to its undervalued currency and distorted global financial markets heavily dependent on property speculation in a few key metropolises, the Russian economy still seems much smaller than that of the G7 countries. Once the US dollar crashes, bringing the Euro and Pound Sterling down with it, control of natural resources will matter more than electronic bank balances. The Western World’s economy is built on debt and in the last two years of the covid scare, quantitative easing has devalued the main currencies. Russia’s trump card is that is not indebted to foreign banks and can easily survive the collapse of the global banking system, just it survived the Bolshevik Revolution, forced collectivisation, the Nazi invasion and the fall of the Soviet Union. Unlike Iraq, Afghanistan or Serbia, Russia has a functioning nuclear deterrent.
Could Putin’s belligerence accelerate the Great Reset?
While the main European and North American governments take a firm stand against Russian aggression, Israel, India, China and, most notably, the World Economic Forum remain much more neutral. Putin is listed on the WEF website as a former Global Young Leader. Only last October, Vladimir Putin delivered a speech declaring his full support for the coming fourth industrial revolution. After some initial scepticism, the Russian government has also rolled out its own version of the bio-security state. Some may mistakenly believe Russia will stand up to the banksters and biotech mafia, but such beasts are now global in nature and as deeply embedded in China and India as they are in the West. The tech giants rely heavily on the Chinese manufacturing base and by 2030 the Chinese economy will have overtaken the USA’s in absolute terms. Of note, at the UN Security Council, China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstained when asked to pass a resolution calling the immediate cessation of Russian military actions against its Slavic neighbour.
The engineered crisis has succeeded in justifying larger military budgets, heightened security, more surveillance of dissident groups and greater censorship of all media outlets either directly connected with the Kremlin or suspected of accepting the Russian narrative. Just as Russian police arrest peace protesters in St Petersburg and Moscow, any Westerners who fail to offer their unconditional support for the Ukrainian resistance and potential Western military actions are now considered traitors. This is a win-win situation for autocrats in Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia.
Many suggest that a demilitarised neutral Ukraine, acting as a bridge between Central Europe and the East with full respect for the diverse ethnic backgrounds and loyalties of its citizens, may have averted this showdown. However, I fear neither the West nor the Kremlin wanted peace and prosperity to prevail. The spectre of nuclear Armageddon may be an even more effective means of behavioural modification than the virus scare. With the biosecurity state now firmly in place, Western governments can detain dissidents without trial. Millions will not be drafted to fight in Ukraine as the real war is over economic and ideological control. The global elites need the spectre of never-ending territorial conflicts to justify the next more austere phase of the Great Reset. Meanwhile, it will be business as usual with China.