By D. A. Jawo
While there is absolutely no justification for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, regardless of its security concerns, but things are much more than they appear to the naked eye. It is a combination of power politics and several other factors which have very little to do with the safety and concern for ordinary Ukrainians.
There is no denying the fact that Russia has genuine concerns for its own national security, and that should not have been ignored by the West. We can recall that after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, most of the members of the former Warsaw Pact, which had guaranteed the security of the Soviet Union and its allies, decided to join NATO and/or the European Union, and that includes some former Soviet Republics like Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The others, including Georgia and Ukraine, are on the verge of doing so. Therefore, Russia has all the rights to be concerned for its security by having members of a rival security outfit like NATO right on its borders.
While there is not enough justification for Russia to use its military might to try to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO or the EU, but the West should also certainly not ignore some of the possible threats to Russia’s national security, which Ukraine’s membership of NATO could pose.
Just as Senator Bernie Sanders had said after the Russian invasion, it is hypocritical on the part of the United States to deny to Russia what they had always accepted as ‘spheres of influence’. He said the US had been operating under the principle of the ‘Monroe Doctrine, which talks about protecting its sphere of influence. He gave the example of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis which almost brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war when the former Soviet Union deployed ballistic missiles in Cuba, just about 90 miles from the US shore. That of course was unacceptable to the US because of its security concerns and the missiles were eventually dismantled.
“Russia, like the United States would still have an interest in the security policies of its neighbors. Does anyone really believe that the United States would not have something to say if, for example, Mexico, Cuba, any country in Central, Latin America, or the Caribbean were to form a defense alliance with an adversary of the US? Do you think members of Congress would just stand up and say; well Mexico is an independent country and they have the right to do anything they want? I doubt that very much,” Sanders said.
It is a well-known fact that the US and its allies had in the past two decades had invaded several countries including Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Panama, and even a small country like Grenada, for one pretext or another, and in many instances, removing or killing the leaders of those countries just in the name of protecting their national security. In certain instances, the situations were not much different from what Russia is currently doing in Ukraine. Does Russia also not have a similar right to protect its own national security?
We are also witnesses to the displacement and continuous harassment of the people of Palestine by the Israeli occupiers of their territory with the full connivance of the United States and its allies, and yet, all attempts to sanction Israel have been vehemently opposed by the US and its allies. We were all witnesses to the horrific scenes of carnage and destruction that the Israeli forces had unleased on Gaza and its defenseless people on many occasions and yet, most of those making noise today did not seem to care.
While all people of goodwill are rightly condemning the Russian leader, Vladimir Putin in his aggression against the people of Ukraine, but whatever the outcome of the aggression, it is likely to have some positive ramifications for the world. With the unanimous condemnation of the Russian aggression, it is hard to see how the US and its allies or any other power would ever again invade any other country in the future under whatever pretext and escape similar condemnation and sanctions.
In the past, there was hardly a finger raised against the invaders by many of those who are today calling for sanctions against Russia, for virtually committing the same crime. Therefore, now that precedence had been created, with several institutions, which were supposed to be apolitical, such as FIFA, not only condemning the invasion but also taking punitive action against Russia but mostly targeting people who have absolutely nothing to do with the aggression. Therefore, everyone would expect those same institutions to maintain such a stance against any such future invasions, regardless who the perpetrators may be, lest they be accused of being biased and hypocritical.
Obviously, the lives of the people of Ukraine are not more precious than those of the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya or Palestine, and all those countries invaded by the US and its allies, many of whose people have suffered tremendously from such aggressions. Yet, none of those aggressors were ever subjected to half the condemnations and sanctions being imposed on Russia. One would therefore wonder why most of those condemning the Russian invasion and joining the call for sanctions against Russia never raised a finger when US and its allies invaded those countries. Are we witnessing double standards here?
One may wonder whether Africa has any stake in the conflict. Of course, we now, more than any time before, live in a global village and whatever affects any part of the world would have some ripple effect on the rest of the world. Therefore, this conflict would sooner, rather than later, have an impact on Africa. With the wide-ranging sanctions being imposed on Russia, being a major oil supplier, it will very soon have a negative impact on oil prices and that would have a big impact on the economies of many African countries. It would therefore be foolhardy for any African country to behave as if the conflict has nothing to do with it. It is a global problem and everyone should do what is necessary to find an amicable solution to it.