First and foremost, let it be clear that I do not defend or support the use of force, and even less so the use of armed force, conventional or non-conventional. What follows is not about the world to which I aspire, but about the construction of reality that can serve as a bridge. And that construction of reality, in the case of the Ukrainian-Russian (and not, as it is claimed, Russian-Ukrainian) conflict, passes through the reality constructed by the media, which is practically uniform throughout the West.
The stimulus for this article was twofold: the clamour that arose in the world against “the new Hitler” and a newspaper cover.
The clamour repudiates the “war”, the authorities defend the violated sovereignty of the Ukrainian state, everyone mourns the pointless deaths.
The facts are indisputable, what is debatable is the timeline, which did not begin on Monday 21 February. The same is true for the Ukrainian state, but in reverse, it started only 30 years ago.
To this end, it seems to me necessary to highlight some special circumstances that are overlooked as semantic issues, and have to do with the use of the terms “war”, “nation”, “state”, without considering that their journalistic use does not coincide with the proper meaning of the terms in international law.
For there to be war there has to be a formal declaration mobilising the armed forces of two countries. The Russian government was particularly precise when it spoke of a “special military operation”, and the events of the last few days confirm the speciality and, I would almost say, tidiness of this operation.
These first days of the Russian intervention operation in Ukraine have made it clear that this is not a war, the main feature of which is the destruction of the enemy country. In the first three days the pro-Western press had only one photo of a single building damaged by a missile, a landscape that has been exploited from the first day and from different angles. The brazenness goes so far that Argentina’s leading newspaper, Clarín, published on its Saturday 26th cover a photo of that building (near the airport) as a backdrop for a “desperate” woman wrapped in her fur coat, which does not look like a faux fur coat. A closer look reveals the sharpness of the image of the lady against the collapsed building in the background, which clearly shows the traces of the enlargement to which the original photo was subjected, on which the “poor” lady was stamped. There have been days of bombing and very few residential buildings have been destroyed. If there had been warlike intent, at least half of Kyiv would be like Berlin in 1945.
If there had been war, the kyivindependent.com website would not show Ukrainians doing their shopping as one of the photos from Saturday (Kyiv residents calm after heavy night fighting (kyivindependent.com) shows and reports in later days. Of course, it could also be propaganda but in that case, it works against them.
The news says that the resistance has been so fierce that the Russian advance on Kyiv was stopped. Of course, the resistance was mounted in the residential areas and, by the way, there can be no doubt that if they had wanted to raze, the Russians would already be resting on the ruins, which they avoided producing.
If there had been a war, the thermal power plant they seized on the outskirts of Kyiv, and then recaptured by the Ukrainians, would have been neatly demolished instead of being left in operational condition, since the same media reports that once retaken, the workers left the shelters to run it.
So, days after its launch, this military operation is a special one. The number of civilian deaths is increasing, but those reported, although painful, are not statistically relevant for a “war”, not to mention the fact that it is not specified that they were unarmed, given the huge distribution of weapons among civilians. Next month the black market for arms in Europe will be supplied.
Let’s move on to another term: nation. I once learned that a nation is a people settled in a territory with a state, a legal order. The three elements do not always coincide, but that is the central idea. From an anthropological point of view, basically, a nation is a culture and from this point of view, a history. That is why today we have multinational states.
The current Ukrainian state, which is the basis for the claim of respect for international law, was “born” by the break-up of the USSR just 30 years ago. But Kyiv was the ancient city of the Russians from which they launched their conquest of the territory more than ten centuries ago, giving birth to Russia and then becoming part of the Russian empire first and its continuation, the USSR. So to speak of nations at loggerheads is nonsense. Ukrainians are imbricated in the now vast Russian nation, with all its diversity.
Another thing is the Ukrainian state, which for the first two decades was an autonomous subsidiary of the former Soviet bureaucracy, the new capitalists. Then with the Euromaidan coup in 2014, a pro-European movement harnessed by a nationalist minority with dark roots in collaborationism during the Nazi occupation, took control of the government and began open persecution of the pro-Russians. The Odessa massacre in May 2014 was the most brutal act of repression, when the pro-Russians in that region demanded to follow the example of the Donbas region where Donetsk and Luhansk proclaimed their autonomy, unleashing a ruthless and constant attack by the Ukrainian army against the same civilian population. It is no coincidence that today the Russians are calling for “denazification”. This far right, corrupt and parasitic on the European Union, called for NATO membership and arms assistance, achieving a steady flow of arms ever since.
The Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015 obliged the Ukrainian government not to attack and to respect regional autonomies and their territorial boundaries, to grant free elections in the proclaimed people’s republics and to restore the Russian language as official because it had been banned. However, in open violation, the Ukrainian government did not stop shelling and conquered almost two thirds of the territory with its constant advances on a region where the population considers itself Russian. It seems that the Minsk Treaties, which are part of international law, do not count for the European Union.
This makes the speciality of the ongoing military operation: it was clearly aimed at the protection of the Russian population and the independence of the regions that chose to be autonomous. Only 30 years after Ukraine became independent, there may well be regions that disagree with the course taken by the state. In Yemen something similar happened but in reverse, the Saudis did not like the revolutionary movement. And the other way around is the Palestinian genocide at the hands of the Israelis. But prolibertarian NATO has not lifted a finger to sanction the Saudis and Israelis. On the contrary, they ban them because they are their pawns vis-à-vis Iran.
Finally, the Russians warned at length that they did not like the EU and NATO integration sought by the Ukrainian government, and as Putin rightly says, the US would not like the installation of missiles in Canada (reminding them of Cuba, discreetly).
And then there are the “false flag operations” that the Russians are supposed to have carried out, but, given the identity of cultural belonging, would they be false flag? Moreover, with this cultural Vaso communication, with this cultural uniformity, would this flag be a false flag? In any case, I take the broad sense of the expression and believe that the first and most notable of these operations was in 1899 when the Yankees flew their own frigate off Havana in order to gain a foothold in Cuba. From then on, they developed them in a sophisticated way until the “Arab Spring” that brought down Khadafi, brought about a change in Egypt and tried to do so in Syria. But first ISIS got in their way, and then the Russians.
So, the excuses put forward by the pro-Yankee press are unfounded and only served to try to justify NATO setting foot in Ukraine. And they didn’t because they realised that Putin wasn’t bluffing (they were, because they would never take a chance against Russian nuclear power). And there stood Zelenski, in his patriotic hero’s uniform, complaining that he had been abandoned.
The “new Hitler” is putting us on the brink of World War III, are they really saying that? NATO hasn’t and won’t bat an eyelash, and Putin won’t dream of crossing the border into Ukraine, it seems. If there were such a danger, why are they adding fuel to the fire with the military aid they have been touting these days? They continue to provoke. Do they want war III? If it doesn’t go nuclear, it would be a big deal. And it is highly likely that nobody would think of pressing the red button.
So yes, from the pure idea of non-violence, it is painful what is happening. But from the right to resist oppression or to defend life, which are also human rights, did the Russians have to go on admitting the daily drip (and not so drip) deaths inflicted by the Ukrainian army on their countrymen? If the right to respect for territorial autonomy is claimed, does the Donbas not enjoy that right?
Finally, the proclaimed defence of the Donbas explains the entry of Russian troops but not their walk to Kyiv and the precision in the destruction of their bases and military posts, with arsenals provided by NATO. Here we return to Putin’s word: he repeatedly warned that he would not tolerate the US-European Alliance coming to his borders. And the answers he received were always the same: more troops to Poland and the Baltic states, more arms to Ukraine. He who warns is not a traitor.
Finally, there is also the spectre of “Tsar” Putin and his authoritarianism. I won’t go into this because I don’t know the day-to-day reality in Russia, which seems to have improved a lot since the fall of the USSR. But what is of interest here is the legitimisation of his government: more than twenty years in power is no mean feat, and besides, this is a culture accustomed to authoritarianism. Of course, the image of a tsar may be repulsive to Western democratism, but it must be borne in mind that Russia is a culture that has been historically established by a constant demography, subject only to generational change. At the opposite extreme, the USA appears as a culture in constant demographic change, with the times of history, of course, in the light of which whites are today a diminishing minority in the face of the increase and variety of people of “colour”. Moreover, considering that in the USA perhaps 30% of the population votes, what kind of democracy are we talking about?
So, it is not exactly the data published in the press that should be taken into account in order to make a statement on international situations. Perhaps history books are more useful. Or, if we turn to the newspapers, we should remember what was once published, even if it was hidden. Don’t forget that the media said that the violence in the Donbas was caused by “separatist terrorists” (whom the Ukrainian government ended up cornering with bombs with more than 10,000 civilian deaths, which don’t count because they were pro-Russian).
The pacifists of the world took to the streets to protest because the press told them “War! But then, there was war in the Donbas and they didn’t come out; there is war in Yemen and they don’t cry out either; and nothing was said about Syria. Could it be that they are not wars between people “like one”? I know this is very acidic but there is no malice. I save their conscience: they are naïve. Even if many criticise NATO, with their clamour they are strengthening it.
Anyway, just in case I am not misunderstood, I close with my initial statement: violence is always unacceptable as a way to resolve conflicts, it just seems that it will be the task of the next generations to find a way to achieve it.
PS: I recommend listening to the interview with Oleg Yasinsky, published on Facebook, El conflicto bélico en Ucrania. Conversation with Oleg Yasinsky from Moscow (pressenza.com)