Curtains

Manish Tewari | Take off your gloves as the new Iron Curtain falls on the world

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has no cause or justification. This is an outright invasion of a sovereign democratic nation whose pro-Western inclination has irritated Russia since its inception. It is a crude attempt to reshape not only the European balance of power, but also the neoliberal global political and economic order led by the United States since the collapse of the former Eastern bloc under Soviet control in the 1990s.

During his rather rambling walk through the park of history, Vladimir Putin attempted to lay out his case for aggression against Ukraine. He began by denying Ukraine’s right to even exist as a sovereign and independent nation by stating that “modern Ukraine was created entirely by Russia, more specifically Bolshevik and communist Russia. This process began immediately after the revolution of 1917…” As a result of the Bolshevik policy, Soviet Ukraine was born, which today can still be rightly called “the Ukraine of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin”. He is its author and architect. This is fully confirmed by archival documents… “Ukraine has never had a real statehood tradition.”

That Mr. Putin tried to create his own truth is evident from the fact that his claims are not supported by historical facts. Rus’, a medieval superpower that also encompassed large swathes of Eastern Europe in its embrace. These three countries trace their cultural ancestry to the Kievan Rus’. However, Russians and Ukrainians separated linguistically, historically eons ago, and politically once again in August 1991 in the agony of the former Soviet Union. Russian nationalists, however, claim ad nauseam that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people” – an integral part of “Russian civilization”. They also hug neighboring Belarus. However, Ukrainians are not too enthusiastic about this embrace of the Russian bear, ”I said in a previous article in these columns.

The official disappearance of the former Soviet Union on December 26, 1991 and the collapse of its satellites in Eastern Europe hit the Soviet apparatchiks hard. In another article in these columns published in August 2014, I said: “The rout of the Cold War brought in its wake disastrous consequences for the former Soviet Union. Not only did she lose all of her Eastern European satellite states, but she also had to give up her own territory. It was consumed by a crippled economy and an anarchic internal political situation where oligarchs, warlords and the mafia, not essentially in that order, reigned supreme. As a result, not only the ideological construction of Marxism-Leninism fell into ruins, but also the majesty of the Russian continuum that predated the October 1917 revolution by centuries. Russia seemed destined for oblivion in the emerging world order.

However, this collapse also gave rise to a fantasy, to resurrect, resurrect and restore Russian prestige to its former glory. As the kleptocratic era under President Boris Yelstin came to an end at the turn of the 20th millennium, the building blocks of this aspiration slowly began to take shape.

The accession of Vladimir Putin to the Russian presidency was the starting point of this quest for both world domination and renewed legitimacy. Not only did the Russian state begin to reassert itself, but fueled by generous oil and gas revenues, it increasingly began to mirror the Soviet Union of old.

Its totalitarianism was inventively presented as a democracy. However, the masquerade was not lost on anyone. The new model was indelibly marked by a repression of all forms of civil liberties, but, more importantly, driven by an uncontrollable fixation on reclaiming the elation now absent from the heady days of communist-led bipolarity. and, even beyond, earlier dizzier days. of the Russian Empire.

The first iteration of this desire has been operationalized in what Russia considers its near abroad in the Caucasus. In August 2008 he occupied/liberated Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia, depending on which account one would like to buy. In January 2009, he halted gas exports to Europe, accusing Ukraine of siphoning gas from pipelines without paying for it. However, the United States and other European powers have looked recklessly on this worrying development in Russia’s neighborhood.

Emboldened by the lack of Western response to their actions in Georgia towards the end of February 2014, pro-Russian forces began to infiltrate the Crimean peninsula and after a disputed referendum, an accession treaty was signed on March 18 between the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol and the Russian Federation to start the process of its formal absorption into the Russian state.

On March 21, 2014, the Russian Parliament approved this membership as of the date of the signing of the treaty. Likewise, since early March 2014, pro-Russian elements have become active in the Kharkiv, Luhansk and Donetsk regions of eastern Ukraine. What is being played out today has its genesis in a process that began eight years ago.

Russia’s aggressive approach even then had worrying implications for other frozen disagreements on the periphery of the former Soviet Union, such as Transnistria in Moldova. However, NATO sat on its haunches and did almost nothing.

And this despite the fact that the three Baltic States, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which were part of the former Soviet Union and which, as independent states, had become a formal part of the EU and of NATO, kept pointing out Russia’s imperial ambitions time and time again.

From 2001 to 2021, the United States, the military linchpin of NATO, was distracted by wars and conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and its attempts to reorganize the frozen geography of the Middle East after the dismemberment of the ‘Ottoman Empire around 1918. It came out a loser in all these ventures. Europeans, obtuse, not wanting to spend on their own defense have not invested in the creation of a credible European security architecture and are lamenting today.

These two decades have given Russia and China time to consolidate and now, in the global power vacuum that manifested itself especially after the ignominious withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan, a new world order is taking shape. .

It is no coincidence that Presidents Putin and Xi Jinping issued a joint statement on international relations on February 4, 2022, and Prime Minister Imran Khan was in Moscow on the day of the invasion. A new iron curtain is descending on the world and behind it will be the former capitals of Moscow, Beijing, Tehran and a few other satellite states like Pakistan.