Western media: Puntin’s conduct | By M Mustafa Raza


Western media: Puntin’s conduct

THE Western media is seeking to portray Vladimir Putin’s conduct and his invasion of Ukraine as unreasonable and insane.

Regrettably, this isn’t the case.His decision to invade Ukraine was influenced by a reality that many in the West believed was a part of history.

It’s a well-known fact that borders, strategic regions, and defence treaties all have a role in decision-making in geopolitics.

Since Soviet Union’s disintegration, the West has assumed that they have won the argument and that no genuine threat to Western reality exists.

The events of the last few days, however, have proven this to be false.Despite repeated warnings over the last two decades, many Western countries have continued to deny that the issues of the twentieth century are still present in the twenty-first century.

These countries, on the other hand, will now be forced to rethink their strategies.

To comprehend Russia’s activities, one must look at them from a geopolitical and security standpoint.

Putin sees Russia and Ukraine as one state, and Ukraine as a vital borderland and buffer zone between Russian and Western cultures.

Because of its location on the Eurasian Steppe, Russia and its predecessors have been forced to pursue a similar foreign strategy.

Because there are a few natural boundaries, the only defence against invaders has been distance.

The Russian state grew to its vast size as a result of its drive for strategic depth in its hunt for security.

However, with the fall of the Soviet Union, this depth on the western front was jeopardized.

While the Caucus Mountains guard the approach from the south, the west border is largely devoid of features.

Any invading army would find itself in the interior of Russia’s heartland along much of this frontier.

In the south, however, this is not the case.The Volgograd gap forms a 700-kilometer-long chokepoint in this area.

Russia would lose access to the Caucasus, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea if it lost control of this gap.

This is unacceptable to Putin, and a Ukraine that is allied with and integrated into the West poses a huge threat to the region’s security.

Western countries’ foreign policies, on the other hand, have been driven by ideals for much of the last 30 years.

This is seen in the US-led military interventions and the EU’s soft power foreign strategy.

Even when responding to an attack, the long-term goal of Western military interventions in recent decades has been to promote principles rather than to build strong, stable states capable of extending Western power projection.

These measures have almost exclusively failed, jeopardizing Western security in the process.

Regime changes made without the consent of the international community have weakened international law, fuelled Islamic extremism and allowed other state actors to expand their influence.

For decades, these challenges have compelled Western nations to commit military assets to places with no significant strategic purpose.

While NATO expanded, assets that could have been deployed to strengthen the alliance’s presence in Europe were instead transferred to other regions in the name of advancing western principles.

The failure of these efforts exposed the hypocrisy at the heart of these interventions and established a precedent for future states to make similar claims when using armed force.

The reality is that ideas like freedom and democracy cannot be extended by military force; yet, when these values already exist, hard strength is essential to create a deterrent.

This is not the case in Eastern Europe right now.Similarly, the EU’s soft power policies have failed to appropriately respond to renewed Russian aggressiveness in recent decades.

Since the demise of the Soviet Union, EU policy has tried to democratize and westernize Russia, bringing it into the Western European realm.

This would be accomplished by connecting the economies of the East and West, as well as emphasizing infrastructure investment to transport Russian hydrocarbons to Western Europe, so securing European energy security.

Despite repeated warnings that this programme had failed, European politicians continued to chase investment and support initiatives that would extend Russian influence across the continent until recently.

This strategy failed on two levels.Not only did it fail to respond appropriately to Russian aggression in a language that the Kremlin could understand, but its stated goal was to achieve what that generations of Russian leaders had feared: cultural fusion with Western Europe.

The adoption of this doctrine, on the other hand, provided Russia with the petrodollars it needed to create a military force that dwarfed Western Europe’s conventional troops.

EU member states are only now beginning to respond.Because the West has failed to adequately respond to Russia in a way that the Kremlin understands during the last two decades, an invasion of Ukraine has become nearly inevitable.

Putin may have hoped for a rapid triumph, with the Ukrainian army surrendering en masse, and this may have been the safest scenario for the rest of Europe, at least once the invasion had begun.

Russia would have reached a new degree of security, and hostilities would have ceased, allowing time to strengthen the Baltic and Eastern states.

This, however, has not occurred.Even as the conventional Ukrainian military is inevitably dismantled, an armed and motivated citizenry is resolved to oppose Russian rule for the foreseeable future.

Since beginning his invasion, he has promised to retaliate against everyone who opposes Russian rule of Ukraine, and he has hinted that the use of nuclear weapons is a possibility.

Given the negative reaction to his speech in the past, these threats should be viewed in the context of possibilities.

Putin is hell-bent on restoring Russia’s strategic depth.Putin’s next targets are the Baltic States and Poland, and if he encounters stiff resistance, the use of tactical nuclear weapons cannot be ruled out.

Even if the West intends to remain on the sidelines as the confrontation grows or the next target is attacked, it is unavoidable that, with Putin in the Kremlin, direct action will be required at some point.

—The writer is Senior Lecturer at DHA Suffa University Karachi.


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