Equanimity

Local sustainability

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.

“Ukrainian flags” by http://www.tOrange.biz is licensed under CCs

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 17th and 18th centuries, 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.

“Ukraine: A fragile truce” by EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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, specifically in this case, allow Ukraine to be a buffer state as suggested by Professor John Mearsheimer https://youtu.be/JrMiSQAGOS4 (thanks Steve Clarkin who comments below)
  • 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.

4 comments on “Russia invades Ukraine

  1. Judith Helen Shaw
    February 26, 2022

    Thank you Simon. You have filled me in a bit on history which was my worst subject at school. Whenever I see that you have posted something I know it will be valuable. Best wishes Helen very wet here but don’t need to think of evacuating as in 2011

  2. Steve Clarkin
    February 26, 2022

    When the Soviet Union collapsed the Russians were told that Nato would not move east. That was a lie 30 years in the making. Joining NATO means having Nato compatible equipment–which means a huge amount of money to be made by western military industry–eg Poland just announced a USD $6 billion purchase of US army equipment.
    John Mearsheimer Professor in Political Science has a good lecture available on you tube called “Why is Ukraine the West’s fault” it’s from 2015 and has everything you need to know abouy todays crises.

    • Equanimity Foundation
      February 27, 2022

      Thank you Steve, that IS interesting! I’ll watch the video and share it.

    • Equanimity Foundation
      February 27, 2022

      Interesting video, Steve. I think Mearsheimer’s solution of a Ukraine buffer state with minority rights and economic support from various sources is wise.
      The video is 7 years old, so he may think differently now, but I don’t share his pessimism over Europe’s future because of its demography and resistance to integrating people from other cultures. Europe has long been a melting pot, but more importantly, as awareness grows about climate change and limits to growth, declining populations will understand their advantage.

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This entry was posted on February 26, 2022 by .
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