Europe: Fortieth Day for Stability

˲ 12.05.2022 0

Orthodox Christians believe in 40 days after death, the soul finally bids farewell to the body. In Europe, within 40 days after the beginning of the aggression of russia against Ukraine, the slightest illusions about the possibility of preserving the system of relations that existed until February 24, 2022 should disappear. Many conclusions can already be drawn now, although they remain information for reflection until the end of the war.

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SILENCE

The russian-Ukrainian war quickly became the largest armed conflict in Europe since World War II. Even by internationalizing it (for example, by bringing Belarus into the circle of aggressors), it is unlikely to be surpassed. The Kremlin's blitzkrieg failed, and the russian-Ukrainian war has lasted longer than the Wehrmacht's French campaign in 1940. The losses incurred by the aggressors are enormous, and in some positions they exceed the armament figures of the leading European countries. It is quite obvious that a confrontation between the largest country in the world and the largest country in Europe would force all the world's centers of power to react. There is another reason for this: russia (a nuclear weapon state) unprovoked attacked Ukraine, which voluntarily gave up its nuclear arsenal in the first half of the 1990s. This attack underscores the existing world security system and forces one to think about reforming it now.

Another significant point is that the russian-Ukrainian war has become a confrontation between the two former republics of the ussr. Ukraine's success (political, economic, integration into existing unions or the creation of its own) is a huge challenge for russia, and the behavior of the Racist occupiers in the suburbs of Kiev testifies to this. The mass murders of civilians and the authorized looting of occupants have been a consequence of the state policy of dehumanization of Ukrainians pursued by the kremlin over the past years.

Note another significant point: russia competes with Ukraine on the grain market, so a russian-Ukrainian war could provoke a significant food crisis in the Middle East and Africa. The kremlin's desire to force Ukrainian grain out of its traditional markets is obvious, and it needs to be countered with asymmetric measures, in particular the creation of a dry port in cooperation with Poland. In Ukraine there is no food shortage forecasted, but the importance of our country for the food security of the world will become clear to many. Our state is a net exporter of sunflower oil and it is also a significant factor.

 SURPRISE  WITH A SEQUEL

Contrary to the kremlin's calculations and the predictions of numerous Western analysts, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have not collapsed under the aggressor's blows, but have managed to organize an active defense, successfully containing the russians' superior forces. The aviation and air defense system, despite the cheerful reports of the russian military, are causing significant damage to the invaders, who have lost about a hundred and fifty both planes and helicopters. The number of tanks and armored vehicles of the russian army shot down and burned goes into the hundreds, and dozens of units have become trophies of the Ukrainian defenders. Military experts note the high tactical military training of the Ukrainian defenders, noting the successful interaction between the AFU and other security agencies, primarily the Territorial Defense units.

Despite the promises of representatives of the fifth column, Ukraine's political class has not fallen into numerous quarrels. President Volodymyr Zelensky has become a recognized symbol of Ukraine's resistance, which is listened to attentively both inside and outside the state. Zelensky's intense schedule of communication with fellow citizens and foreign partners suggests that his group of speechwriters has been reinforced by representatives of the United States or Great Britain.

However, the consensus within the country, reflected in the adequate position of the majority of popular politicians, looks more important. The banning by the NSDC of pro-russian projects of OPFL  (Opposition Platform – For Life) and the Party of Shariy, a number of left-wing parties looks like a logical, although not flawless legal step. At the same time, a number of questions became the principles of formation of the television pool of UArazom information marathon, which did not include a group of pro-Ukrainian TV channels. In addition, at the beginning of April, they were disconnected from the digital broadcasting system, in fact committing censorship.

The Ukrainian economy is suffering heavy losses, with a drop in GDP of 35 to 50 percent, but a number of measures are keeping the situation under control. Among these are international financial aid to meet current needs, simplification of taxation and the actual opening of customs for the rapid passage of humanitarian aid. Ukrainians have benefited from the experience of Euromaidan (rapid construction of fortifications), the construction boom of previous years, and the experience gained during the COVID-19 pandemic in remote interaction between different individuals and communities. The work of Ukrainian power engineers, liaison officers, and transport workers and the organization of efforts to evacuate significant numbers of people deserves enormous respect. Ukrzaliznytsia managed to evacuate millions of people from dangerous places.

The evacuation and refugees are worth mentioning separately. Over 4 million citizens, mostly women and children, were forced to leave Ukraine. Forcing them to flee can be called an element of russia's strategy to counteract Ukraine. The migration crisis provoked by russia's attack on Ukraine was the largest in Europe since 1945. Obviously, the Ukrainian authorities will need to address the issue of refugee return immediately after the end of hostilities, so that the migration crisis does not turn into a demographic catastrophe.

PECULIARITIES OF AGGRESSION

One of the peculiarities of the confrontation compared to 2014 is that russian propaganda works mainly for domestic consumers. Western confidence in the kremlin's informational messages has been undermined by the kremlin's hysteria in an effort to conceal the real reasons for the death of flight MH17 in the skies over Donbass in the summer of 2014. In the run-up to February 24, U.S. intelligence agencies and their partners repeatedly spoke about the danger of an invasion of Ukraine, creating an appropriate public climate. One of the first decisions of the European Commission after the start of the russian aggression was the recommendation to limit the broadcasting of russia Today TV channel and the functioning of Sputnik Media news agency on the territory of the European Union.

Meanwhile, a monolithic information space is forming within russia itself. Literally immediately after the beginning of the "special military operation" in Ukraine (let me remind you that the war in Georgia in 2008 was called "peace enforcement"), the radio station Ekho Moskvy and the Internet publication Znak ceased their activities in russia. Right after them Novaya Gazeta ceased its broadcasting. Russia's information space has become surprisingly monolithic, but this impression is deceptive: Telegram is gaining considerable popularity there, allowing it to circumvent bans on "spreading fakes about the russian army. At the end of February, the russian parliament passed a law during the day that provides punishment of up to 15 years in prison "for attempts to discredit the russian army. Another telling fact is the decriminalization in russia of punishment for looting.

The sanctions against the russian economy have indeed become unprecedented, but it is naive to expect that they will immediately throw millions of russians from the illusion of the middle class into the abyss of impoverishment. Both the size of the russian federation and the volume of its foreign exchange reserves are too large. By the way, those who hope that the seizure in the West of about $300 billion of russian gold reserves will necessarily lead to their transfer to Ukraine are creating an illusion. Such a step is possible only by a decision of an appropriate court, and so far there is no question of its creation.

Russian authorities promptly accused Meta Corporation of extremism and restricted their own citizens' access to Facebook and Instagram. In fact, a kind of information fortress is being created inside russia under siege, the operation of which has already entailed a significant level of support for the actions of the russian army in Ukraine. Attempts by opponents to oppose the aggression were promptly suppressed by the kremlin's coercive apparatus. Interestingly, the Investigative Committee of the russian federation is vigorously pursuing criminal cases "for crimes committed by the Ukrainian military" in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

While the russian military regularly reports on the successes of Ukraine's demilitarization, the situation with denazification looks different. It is difficult to denacify a country whose president is a Jew by nationality. Russian ideological constructs must cover up the consistent destruction of Ukraine's civilian infrastructure, the goal of which is to set our state back as far as possible in its development.

The liberation of settlements in Kyiv and Chernihiv oblasts from russian invaders made it possible to discover the truth about war crimes committed by the occupiers. Unfortunately, the dehumanization of Ukrainians, which began systematically in 2014, had its terrible consequences. Murder, torture, rape, and kidnapping have become components of russia's occupation policy. Political scientist timofey sergeyev and Deputy Secretary of the russian Security Council dmitry medvedev spoke publicly about the need for "dehumanization" after the massacre in Bucha was uncovered with particular cynicism.

In addition to the crimes against civilians, which shocked the entire civilized world, there are a number of tactical peculiarities of the invading forces. From the first days, the targets of the missile strikes were civilian infrastructure facilities, among which the russian attackers were particularly attracted by the TV towers. Kyiv, Kharkiv, Rivne, Melitopol, and Kherson are far from a complete list of cities where the russian army tried to destroy the repeaters. The seizures of the Chernobyl and Zaporizhzhia (Europe's largest) nuclear power plants were combined with elements of nuclear blackmail, which, unfortunately, did not find an adequate response on the part of the IAEA. In the second half of March, the russian invaders began destroying oil depots in an attempt to deprive the AFU of fuel, but were unsuccessful. The seizures of the Chornobyl and Zaporizhzhia (Europe's largest) nuclear power plants were combined with elements of nuclear blackmail, which, unfortunately, did not find an adequate response on the part of the IAEA. In the second half of March, the russian invaders began destroying oil depots in an attempt to deprive the AFU of fuel, but were unsuccessful.

I would like to note several indicative propaganda messages used by the russian authorities. The local media promotes the thesis that there are Armed Forces and "nationalist battalions. Thus, the Kremlin is trying to destroy the unity of the Ukrainian Defense Forces. Another technique, this time of counterpropaganda, is the broadcasting by RIA Novosti of numerous staged videos of the russian army fighting. This is in response to numerous videos of the destruction of russian equipment and servicemen distributed on the Internet by Ukrainian defenders. News of the so-called DNR and LNR became a separate direction, because Putin, in a conversation with Kazakh President Kasim-Jomart Tokayev, announced a "special military operation to protect Donbass. By the way, anonymous telegram channels, which entered Ukraine in 2019, are also very active in promoting the Kremlin's information agenda.

THE UNEXPECTED WEST

Washington, London and Brussels were talking about preparing sanctions against russia in case of aggression against Ukraine on the eve of the invasion, so it did not take long for restrictions on economic relations with the Kremlin. Hundreds of Western companies stopped their activities in russia, not wanting to support putin's aggressive actions with their taxes. Among them are the owners of world-famous brands (though some MNCs are trying to pour into the issue), the Big Four auditing companies, Visa/Mastercard, and others. However, the main question is the West's ability to impose the "mother of all sanctions" - to refuse to buy hard coal, oil and gas from russia. It is the energy component of the sanctions that now has the highest chance of reducing the activity of russia, whose budget receives about a billion euros daily from EU countries for oil and gas.

The United States and the European Union, Great Britain and Canada, and Australia have provided and continue to provide Ukraine with a variety of assistance - financial, military, and humanitarian. In fact, Ukraine has become an outpost of the Western world against the aggressive russian empire. The realization of this happens gradually; both the inertia of thinking and the influence of russian lobbyists, who try to dilute the Western response to aggression, are strong. While the West willingly provides financial resources on a scale that might overwhelm the average person, Ukraine serves the current needs, provides limited assistance with weapons and military equipment (only a third of NATO countries are involved in this process, others prefer to pause), and helps to host Ukrainian refugees on EU territory (more on this below).

As for Ukraine's accession to NATO and the European Union, the North Atlantic Alliance looks like a less realistic goal than the EU. Obviously, because of its own politico-military nature. Ukraine applied for EU membership in early March, and a month later the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen in Kyiv handed Volodymyr Zelensky a questionnaire, which must be filled out in order for the application to be considered. Although it is too early to talk about a final date for Ukraine's accession to the EU or NATO, we can state that russian aggression has been the catalyst for our state's giant leap towards European and Euro-Atlantic integration.

OPEN AFTERMATH

On February 24, 2022, European security as we are used to it simply ceased to exist. After the end of the russian-Ukrainian war, it will have to be formed anew, because it is impossible to glue a completely broken cup so that it does not leak liquid. In this situation, Ukraine should more intensively defend its own positions and shape its national interests in a persistent and proactive manner. The basis for positioning should not be a desire to find conditions for peace with russia at any cost, but an understanding of the expediency of European and Euro-Atlantic integration as a process of acquiring new opportunities. The formula "the process of everything - the result of nothing" looks the most acceptable for Ukraine today.

In Europe, it is not only the issue of ending the war in Ukraine that remains relevant, as the frozen conflicts remain painful points that the Kremlin can press on. The position of the Georgian and Moldovan authorities, who did not support the anti-russian sanctions imposed by the European Union, but applied for EU membership after Ukraine, is surprising. Lukashenko's position is not surprising - he has become putin's ally and will bear political responsibility for it, but the question of Belarus' integration into the European security system after the russian-Ukrainian war has not lost its relevance.

Citizens of Ukraine will have to get rid of their illusions: only they need a strong Ukraine all over the world. The world has become more Ukrainian-centric in recent weeks, but this will not always be the case. The main task of the Ukrainian authorities today is to convert the successes of the defenders of Ukraine into the strengthening of the state's position in Europe, forming the status of Ukraine as a contributor to European security. Of course, after the end of the war, of which it is too early to speak today.

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