Western hypocrisy over Putin’s war: Letter in Irish Examiner, 120322


Russia's invasion of Ukraine is an appalling act of aggression and should be condemned

Western hypocrisy over Putin’s war Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an appalling act of aggression and Putin is an autocrat but we should not be so easily convinced that he obeys no logic.

We should applaud not only the Ukrainian people for their resistance but also the courageous anti-war movement in Russia, who risk their lives by protesting Putin’s actions. A peaceful solution and swift end to violence are now a priority.

However, we should not be so easily convinced that Putin is a rampaging madman obeying no logic. Certainly, he is an autocrat who rules through fear. But we also need to acknowledge how the politics and history of the situation, absent from the vast majority of Western media coverage, help make sense of Putin’s motivations.

A civil war has been ongoing in Ukraine since 2014, when a democratically-elected president, Viktor Yanukovich, was removed from office under circumstances which some call a revolution and others a coup. Obama, American president at the time, declared his intention to isolate Russia in what the US framed as a new Cold War. There is good reason to believe that America was directly involved in the formation of the new pro-Western government in Kyiv. We know that America has armed anti-Russian neo-Nazis and other Ukrainian ultranationalist groups, though the extent of their influence in Ukraine’s politics is not clear.

There is no doubt that disinformation campaigns are central to how Putin operates, but there is an equivalent amount of propaganda in the West too, such as the idea that, since Nato is a purely defensive organisation, Putin has nothing to fear from Ukrainian membership or Nato expansion.

Nato’s actions have been far from defensive, however. Nato’s bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 and its intervention in Libya in 2011, to give just two examples, regardless of how you feel about them, were not defensive actions. Rather, they were intended to further Western interests, install pro-Western governments, and shape geopolitics in ways favourable to the West. This is nothing less than imperialism.