Is Russia Ukraine Conflict a Concern?
It is not surprising to hear anti-Russia sentiment being spouted in the Barbados space. Individuals will form opinions based on how they have been indoctrinated. In this part of the world our people are bombarded with western news streams particularly from USA and UK sources. Again, it is not surprising the anti-Eastern sentiment baked into our world view.
In previous blogs the relationship between superpower USA and Israel has been exhaustively discussed. It is no secret the conflict between Israel and Palestine has been going on for too long with no resolution in sight. It may surprise many under a Black President Barack Obama, US aid to Israel increased to compare with previous administrations. In this space we also discussed the perceived threat by the USA of a Russian presence in the Caribbean or South America. The point is: foreign policy positions of countries is based on geopolitical factors i.e. geographic, demographic, economic, political, defense-security, regional, global and scientific programs (study.com). Countries like the USA, UK, Russia, Germany, Iran including small countries pursue foreign policy positions in the narrow interest. What is being interpreted as Russia’s military aggression on Ukraine’s border must therefore be contextualized.
The Ukraine was part of the former Soviet Union and is strategically located in Europe if one factors that former Soviet republics Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and a few others became full members of the National Alliance Treaty Organization (NATO). A key concern for Russia’s President Putin is- if Ukraine were to become a full member of NATO it will represent a military threat to Russia because the USA via its alliance with NATO will be too close for comfort. There is also legacy concerns which Russia still harbors from the Cold War period of being one people; one language, heritage etc.
Does Russia have valid concerns? NATO’s policy is that independent European states are eligible to join NATO. On the other side of the issue for Putin, it is in the geopolitical interest of Russia to block NATO’s expansion in Europe especially on its border. The NATO alliance of which USA is a member, guarantees that if any member is militarily attacked, NATO will be forced to respond. To complicate matters there is the Warsaw Pact created before the breakup of the Soviet Union intended to balance power in that region in response to NATO. The spirit of that agreement in the opinion of the blogmaster is alive and well in the Kremlin.
There is also a view President Biden is perceived as weak by world leaders. China has adopted an aggressive posture to Hong Kong and Taiwan, North Korea recently fired two ballistic missiles to force the USA back to the negotiating table. After years of military build up in Afghanistan and thousands of lifes loss that country has reverted to Taliban rule after Biden honoured a commitment to withdraw US troops. How can Biden justify deploying troops to the Russian border? How will Americans respond to Biden administration with midterm elections coming up?
There is also the economic considerations. One example is US threatening to prevent opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline which took years and billions to build with prominent players from the West. If sanctions were to be imposed by the US it will negatively impact Russia but also Western players. There is also evidence since the Crimean episode, Russia has developed alternative systems to buffer the imposition of sanctions.
The blogmaster is not taking sides, just asking for a fair representation of the issues at play which are complicated and should not be dismissed based on inflated rhetoric influenced by propaganda shaped by one sided geopolitical interest. Russia and Ukraine have been exchanging ‘fire’ since 2015. In simple a view Ukraine is at the centre of Putin’s ‘sphere of interest’, this matter will not go away anytime soon.