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May 21, 2022

Putin’s Russia is not Saddam’s Iraq

The war was going to happen because no one wanted to discuss the Ukraine issue in a way that reflected a desire to deal with Russia as a major power
Wednesday 02/03/2022
A 2018 file picture shows Russian President Vladimir Putin, foreground and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov preparing to host a ceremony of receiving credentials from foreign ambassadors in the Kremlin in Moscow. (AFP)


All these waves of popular solidarity with the Ukrainian people do not hide the fact that the leaders of the West did not make any effort in good faith to save that people from this war and its losses and repercussions.

There was a shuttle diplomacy between Western capitals and Moscow, but that movement was not built on the basis of any neutral mediation intended to reach an understanding with Russia nor write a prelude to ending the escalating tensions.

Putin was calm and clear in his terms while Western demands were vague in a way that suggested an intent to keep things as they were so that the Ukrainian president would continue to push the boundaries of what was permissible from the perspective of Russia’s national security needs.

Commenting on his meeting with British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, “It was a dialogue of the deaf.” Putin’s meetings with other Western leaders were no better. The Russian president knew that his visitors had no honest offers which took into consideration Russia’s security. Western politicians knew that war was inevitable because everything that Russia had put forward in public regarding its rights was dismissed. The war was going to happen because no one wanted to discuss the Ukraine issue in a way that reflected a desire to deal with Russia as a major power. Everyone wanted the Russian Federation to be reduced to a powerless state that does not do what it says.

Western media put the spotlight light on the Russian president and did not take seriously the requirements of Russian national security. Ukraine meddled with such interests and ended up posing a threat. There were designs behind labelling Putin “the new tsar”. The description was not referring to his defence of Russia’s rights and the preservation of its sovereignty. It was said that Putin sought to restore the Soviet Union in a new fashion. All the talk was about the tsarist megalomaniac propensities of Putin, not about Russia, which was being assailed. Putin was depicted as the reason for the crisis, the way Saddam Hussein was portrayed on the day of the occupation of Kuwait.

The West tried to pass off its disdain for Russia as one for Putin. But I do not think the Russian leader entered Ukraine out of rash anger or impatience. The man knows that the West, which has sacrificed Ukraine, can only impose new economic sanctions on Moscow. Certainly, Russia is ready for those sanctions. It is not Iraq where an economic blockade killed more than half a million people.

All those visitors to the Kremlin did not realise that they were talking to the head of a major power, although the long table shocked them. Had they thought it over, they would have acted differently and realised that Russia was not Putin and that the Russian leader was not acting erratically. The West should have realised, before going and talking to Putin that the man knew in advance that nothing that would be said could constitute the basis for a solution to his problem with Ukraine and that taking Russia lightly would only bring closer the inevitable war.

What Putin understood through his dialogue sessions with the West is that there was no solution to the problem as long as the political system in Ukraine was in place. It was a system that toed the line of the West, but the West would not be ready to save it if it were to sink, which is what actually has happened. There is a global fear now that fire could consume half of Europe. So no one will interfere in the Ukraine war. Also, a conflict with a nuclear state is not the same as a conflict with a state that has been falsely accused of possessing weapons of mass destruction. The results will certainly be different.

I think that the demonstrators in the West who are expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian people will discover that their governments have lied to them and were not serious in searching for a solution to the problem, which was not created by Ukrainian’s President Zelensky alone. The West contributed to the creation of the crisis, not only by encouraging him to press on with his adventure but also by suggesting that it will save Ukraine, at the right moment. But in the end, it has left the country in the hands of demonstrators merely willing to express their solidarity with Ukraine.

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