February 28, 2022
The past few weeks have been littered with projections of sanctions and a pending global war with Russia, that really deserve a closer look. The media is split – one side is convinced that Russia is a big bad bear, ready to jump at the chance of devouring Ukraine and the other just doesn’t understand what is happening. Now that a war has been declared, the world must have the courage to look past the sheer magnitude of information being propelled at us and decide, individually, what the actual truth is and what we should do about it, collectively.
A bit of history of events that led up to this moment are worth remembering or discovering, for those that are not familiar with this region’s complicated relationship.
Ukraine is the second largest country by area after Russia, in Eastern Europe. It has a complicated history, mostly due to its territory being contested, divided and ruled by a variety of powers, including the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Austrio-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Tsardom of Russia. In the 15th century, it was the key center of east Slavic culture and was known as Kievan Rus, hence the capital’s name of Kyiv or Kiev. In the aftermath of the Russian revolution, a national movement for self-determination emerged and the internationally recognized ‘Ukrainian People’s/National Republic’ (UPR/UNR) was declared in 1917. In 1922, it became a founding member of the USSR and it regained its independence in 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, which Ukraine (by the way) was one of the three USSR republics that declared it’s non-existence.
Ukraine suffered as an independent nation, as it had to constantly fight the variety of powers that wanted to rule them in the past. It subsequently suffered under Soviet rule, when Joseph Stalin orchestrated a famine, that resulted in the starvation and deaths of millions of Ukrainians, better known as the Holomodor.
This resulted in massive cracks in the stability of Ukraine, that would have a lasting impact on its future well-being. One of these fault lines began to emerge when the eastern part of Ukraine came under Russian rule much earlier than the western part did. The people in the east have much stronger historical ties with Russia and their leaders than the west does. They have also been more supported by Russia than the east has, thanks to this earlier integration. The western region spent centuries under the unstable and shifting control of European powers.
Ukraine has never been a well-functioning state, but one that has been corrupted by various illegal practices. These corrupt practices have constituted the rules by which the state has been run. Its political state is best described as a state capture. Most Ukrainians have never known a democratically just system, they just accept that their daily lives naturally include bribery, and that the political elite just rotate within the system. There have been many attempts to rectify this. However, there is still a poor widespread understanding of what constitutes corruption on an everyday level. Many ordinary Ukrainians believe that their leaders have managed to stay a part of the wealthy global elite, while the country’s average standard of living has fallen, and this is just a fact of life.
Business and politics have often been more fused in Ukraine and the rule of law has been weakened over time. Almost all transactions from visiting a doctor to managing a business, to running a political office, have all incurred informal taxes or rent. Political offices are held on a basis of dependence on powerful masters and the average populace has no chance of breaking through this system to speak on behalf of the people and express their real concerns. Many Ukrainians have had to accept that everyday bribery is just a way of getting anything done.
Putin is well-aware of all of this, and he has been warning western countries of the deadly implications of allowing countries like Ukraine and Georgia into an organization like NATO, without considering the parts of these countries that remain defiant and suspicious of their country’s corrupt political system. Ukraine has shown its willingness to become a solid and trustworthy member of the international community, but it has always had an odd ‘toe in the water’ approach to its overall commitments.
It declared itself as a neutral state and formed a military partnership with Russia and other Commonwealth of Independent State (CIS) countries, but it has never been a member of the CIS, even though it was one of its founding members. That’s an odd move when the primary objective of the CIS was to recognize all founding members as independent from the Soviet Union (Belarus and Russia are the other two member states). Ukraine established a partnership with NATO in 1994, which Russia vehemently opposed.
Some argue that Russia has always considered the Ukraine as a natural part of Russia, because of their religious heritage. In 988 AD Vladimir I, also known as the pagan prince of Novgorod (Russia) and the grand prince of Kyiv, accepted the orthodox Christian faith and was baptized in the Crimean city of Chersonesus. Vladimir Putin has referred to the Ukrainian people and the Russians as “one people, a single whole” because of this.
The relationship between the US and Russia, regarding NATO, is fraught with potential misunderstandings, with far-reaching implications. It is unclear as to what the true intentions have been from the US, regarding its relationship with Russia and other eastern bloc countries.
In 1990, then US Secretary of State James Baker verbally assured Mikhail Gorbachev that: “There would be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction of forces of NATO, one inch to the east.” Many would argue today that this statement was misconstrued, and that Baker was only referring to any expansion past Germany, after its reunification. Russia did not understand that to be the case and saw the promise of non-expansion to include all eastern bloc countries.
In 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved, Russia became increasingly concerned over its border security, as more and more eastern European countries began to join NATO. NATO was forged in 1949, in the aftermath of World War II, as a system of ‘collective security whereby its independent member states agree to mutual defense, in response to an attack by any external party.’ NATO’s motto is: ‘an attack on one is an attack on all’.
Ukraine and Georgia have a well-established system of corruption within their respective countries, which Russia has been warning the world about for years. Vladimir Putin has never been known to openly share his extensive knowledge on these matters, probably due to his natural aversion to ‘over-sharing’ with the west and his deep nationalistic roots engrained in him from his profound KGB ties. He is just trying to keep his backyard clean and when anyone tries to access his turf, he bites first and explains why later, if ever.
Russia’s war with Georgia in 2008 has far too many similar components to the aggressions seen today, between Russia ad Ukraine, for the world to ignore. Both countries have break-away (pro-Russian) regions, respectively. In Georgia, they are the Abkhazians and South Ossetians regions and in Ukraine they are the eastern part of Ukraine, or the Luhansk and Donetsk regions. Some believe that the Russians promoted pro-Russian sentiments in these regions, in order to secure their borders and gain easy access to these countries in case of a future conflict. Georgia had a civil war of its own in the early 1990’s, which forced them into joining the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), in order to maintain peace in the region. In this case, the conflict that led up to the present-day Russian tensions was initiated by Georgia’s internal issues within the pro-Russian region of South Ossetia. Russia was a support mechanism for this region and the focus became a ‘Russia versus Georgia’ headline. After massive conflict between Georgia and the Russian backed regions, Russia officially recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, from Georgia. Georgia immediately severed diplomatic relations with Russia. Sound familiar?
The war between Georgia and Russia was a blip in history, most do not remember why it started and how it ended. Those who followed it either condemned Russia for invading Georgia or they blamed then Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili for provoking Putin.
There was no lead-up to this latest war. Six months ago, no one was even talking about this. Biden first began to speak about this a little over a week ago and he told the world that he knew about this as early as November 2021. It is well known that Russia has military camps set up all around it’s Ukrainian border, due to obvious reasons mentioned above, concerning NATO member states. The US follows all military activity worldwide on a daily basis, and before this pending crisis hit the news, reports of Russian military forces moving back and forth between camps were actively being reported. After Biden clearly said that he was convinced that Russia was going to invade, the position of those reports conveniently shifted into a headline that read: ‘More movement on the Ukrainian front from aggressive Russian troops.’ When just days earlier, reports questioning whether Russia was escalating or de-escalating from that region, were being published. Once the US got involved and began to assert its opinion, Russia began to react.
Much like Ukraine today, Georgia’s primary aim in the 1990’s was to become a member state of NATO. NATO seems to be the thorn in Russia’s neck, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that NATO must answer more questions about it’s expanding worldwide reach. NATO has become the world’s police and most of the populations of their member states are completely unaware of these underlying global implications. How can ‘independent and sovereign countries’ justify the culmination of a military force to impose itself on non-member countries? The popular and outright propagandist term: ‘global democracy’, employed by most media outlets, is an outdated oxymoron at best.
The current President Zelensky also deserves a closer look at this point. Volodymyr Zelensky was one of Ukraine’s most popular TV comedians less than four years ago. His most popular act featured him playing the piano with his penis. His campaign was financed by one of Ukraine’s richest and most corrupt oligarchs, Igor Kolomoisky. He has always positioned himself as a populist, anti-establishment and anti-corruption figure. He and his prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman are the first Jewish politicians to have been elected to their positions in Ukraine’s history. Even though Zelensky ran on a ‘populist platform’ – swearing off any oligarch influence, he swiftly appointed as Presidential Administration of Ukraine, Andriy Bohdan, a lawyer for the same oligarch that funded his campaign. He also appointed a childhood friend as deputy head of Ukraine’s Secret Service. One of his first acts as president was to restore the Ukrainian citizenship to Mikheil Saakashvili, the same man who went to war with Russia, while he was President of Georgia. Saakashvili has dual citizenship. Zelensky also appointed Leonid Kuchma as the representative of Ukraine in the Tripartite Contact Group for settlement in the Donbas conflict. This was the conflict that took place after the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014. Kuchma happens to be the second president of independent Ukraine, from 1994 to 2005. He was widely known as the president that had any opposition papers written about him destroyed and several journalists died in mysterious circumstance during his presidency. He employed electoral fraud freely and was known for his corrupt relationships with the global elite. He has consistently urged NATO to speed up Ukraine’s request for membership. NATO has not accepted Ukraine as a member due to the widespread political corruption, fraudulent international business dealings, and a lack of effective military capabilities. Ukraine is presently incapable of meeting NATO’s alliance criteria to secure membership with them.
The Pandora Papers, published in October 2021, revealed that Zelensky, his chief aid and the head of security services, have operated a network of offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus and Belize. Around the time of his 2019 election, Zelensky handed over his shares in a key offshore company over, but Zelensky appeared to have arranged for his family to continue receiving the money from these companies. Any way you look at this, President Zelensky has been a slippery figure in Ukraine’s political story and Vladimir Putin has been closely following his political evolution.
Zelensky has also made several allegations about Putin behaving like a Nazi dictator, when east Ukraine has well-known deep connections to this group from the past. Ukraine’s far-right Nazi tendencies (Western Ukraine) have been obvious for decades, but this is hardly mentioned today, since Zelensky and his prime minister are both of Jewish descent. Although Zelensky has been found to have deep ties to the Azov group.
The far right, western Ukraine, neo-Nazi group is known as the Azov Battalion or the Azov special Operations Detachment. This group formed as a volunteer militia, in response to the Ukrainian crisis in Crimea, in 2014. It was incorporated into the National Guard of Ukraine and all members are now contract soldiers, that serve in this military group.
Azov gained notoriety in 2014, when reports of torture and war crimes emerged. Their use of neo-Nazi symbols, such as the Wolfsangel which was one of the original symbols used by the German Nazi army, became evident. Azov denies that this symbol is connected to the Nazi movement, but rather that it is an abbreviation for their slogan of a new ‘National Ukraine’. An Azov spokesman admitted that 10-20% of the group were, in fact neo-Nazis. In 2015, the US Congress overturned a bill that had blocked all military aid to Azov. In 2018, the US Congress passed a bill that blocked all military aid to Azov, on the grounds of its white supremacist ideology.
Azov battalion members have received training near Kiev, by instructors with experience in the Georgian Armed Forces. It has and is receiving funding and military equipment form Ukrainian oligarchs and, more recently, from the US government. They’ve also received military training from the United States in 2014, but in June 2015, the US government revoked any further aid to them. It then re-instated the aid in November 2015.
Today, the Azov group has formed a new political party known as the National Corps. It advocates expanding the powers of the country’s president; restoring Ukraine’s nuclear power status; nationalizing enterprises that were government owned when it became independent in 1991; to break all ties with Russia, and it is against joining the European Union, as well as NATO. It wants to create the ‘Intermarium Union’, which would include Baltic and Black Sea Nations. It also wants to expand the right to bear arms for all citizens and to restore capital punishment for treason and for embezzlement of government funds by officials, in excessive amounts. In 2017, a paramilitary group called the National Militia was formed. It is closely linked to the original neo-Nazi Azov Battalion group. Its aim is to assist law enforcement agencies and conduct street patrols.
The Azov Group is currently expanding its movement abroad, notably in the United States. There is a present-day assumption that Vladimir Putin is keenly aware of this and is trying to cut the head off at Russia’s western borders.
There is no question that Vladimir Putin has made some very questionable decisions in the past. He flourished politically by climbing the arduous soviet ranks from a lowly KGB officer, after all, and he has never shied away from voicing his ultimate wish to re-construct the Soviet Union. However, this latest episode in the Russia-Ukrainian debacle could make one wonder what the point is, other than western nations (aka Biden and his band of misfits) using factual historical evidence to propagate a self-indulgent political conflict. Biden’s polls are horrendous, his vice-president is an incompetent sham, and the United State people are starting to question the true motivations of an increasingly dictatorial federal government. This does not bode well for them, so why not fabricate tensions with a tried-and-true historical foe and come out of the crisis a ‘hero for democracy’? Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy would be proud.
The world is JUST coming out of a brutal two-year period, filled with imposed lockdowns, mandates and attempted forced vaccinations. Economies have been crippled, innocent people have died (the vaccinated and unvaccinated), human contact has been controlled and eviscerated in some countries, spending powers are teetering, divisive rhetoric abounds, the elderly have been sequestered – left to die alone, children are forced to wear masks that politicians and the famous hypocritically and visibly shun, and violence worldwide is on the rise. As the world now focuses on the tension in Ukraine, the CDC is beginning to backtrack on information it provided about the pandemic. No one is talking about social distancing, mask wearing or the virus anymore. Our focus has been shifted and once again the human species is being bombarded by political tug-of-wars, that frankly make no sense for us to participate in and attempt to understand
The media is complicit in creating a thick fog around the issues surrounding eastern Europe and this latest disaster. One must be extremely open and courageous to scan all the information that is being propelled at us every day, and not buckle under its pressure. But it is important for us to all read as much as possible, even from sources that are distasteful to us, in order to claim our own individual assessments of this crisis. Media outlets feed on creating excessive drama, that elicit extremely damaging emotional reactions throughout the globe. We are vulnerable right now and our nervous systems need a break. We all should get out into nature, turn off the barrage of news on social media platforms, televisions, radios and computers. Connect with our loved ones and make new friends. Let’s get back to our natural human selves that embody what we truly represent. We are social creatures and we have been locked up for over two years. It’s time to get our lives back and not let anyone tell us what we cannot do anymore, certainly not in the name of ‘safety, freedom or justice’. We are sovereign beings, and we should never bow down to anyone, any organization or any system that does not have our highest potential in mind. We can keep ourselves informed, but not to the point of excessively tarnishing our natural sense of existing and enjoying life as it was meant to be…outside, together and free.