Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Weak Russia and Putin not good for world peace 

By Bimal Prasad Mohapatra

The so-called proud democratic western powers, which have been ruthlessly after Russian President Vladimir Putin since his annexation of Ukraine administered Crimean peninsula with Russian Federation in 2014 and later on have invigorated the same approach towards him since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, should introspect what they have gained by ousting dictators without having suitable alternative arrangement, while at the same time, have supported some well-known and well documented tyrants elsewhere for (point to be noted) their own vested interests. It is a different matter how the history will judge the western powers’ intervention in present Russia-Ukraine conflict. They have also gone to the extent of branding Putin ‘murderous dictator’ and ‘pure thug’, and allegedly working to oust him from power. Their media during early month of war propagated that Putin was severely sick, not meeting visitors in close proximity, etc. etc. All these news are found bullshits now. Here, I may request to my readers that they should not at all think that I am writing this piece to back dictators and their rules, and in this particular case Putin for what he does to democracy in Russia and what his army is doing in Ukraine amidst conflicting footage of news and facts.

If Putin is a dictator and human right violator and strangulated democratic aspiration of Russians and waged war against tiny neighbor, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky in comparison is no less brutal in his own country going by the reports of London based Amnesty International – 2021, US based Foreign Policy Focus -2021, etc. As per these reports, since Ukraine has become independent, its security forces have been highly brutal against its own citizens as well as Russian speaking populations in Donbas region contiguous to Russian territory on the northern shore of economically and militarily strategic Black Sea and in Crimean peninsula.

Here, the western powers should not forget that it is as per their alleged instigation, Ukrainian government resisted to renew -as per their post-Soviet Union mutual agreements- the rental occupation by Russia its strategically very significant Soviet Union era The Black Sea Fleet base in Sevastopol in Crimean peninsula. This peninsula was integral part of Russia before 1954 and was made part of Ukraine by the then President of Soviet Union Nikita Khrushchev through a presidential decree for administrative convenience. And the violation of all the agreements that the western power had with Russia post-Berlin Wall dismantle in 1989 giving enough scope to Kremlin to suspect the ill intention of NATO towards territorial integrity of the world’s largest country in so far as geographical area is concerned. It is needless to remind that America-led western democratic countries’ military alliance NATO was formed to protect Soviet Union-led socialist countries’ military alliance Warsaw Pact’s westward expansion in Europe during Cold War. After Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union fall, is NATO continuation justified? And, in the worst case scenario, is NATO expansion to the barking distances of Russian Federation justified?

Apart from the above, the most outstanding aspects that the western leadership and strategic thinkers surprisingly have ignored are: 1. The post-chaotic disintegration of Soviet Union, he is Vladmir Putin, who has given stable leadership to the country with 11% of world land mass spread over Europe’s 40% and Asia’s 45% geographical area with highly ethnic diverse population while possessing the world’s highest numbers of dreaded N-bombs and is a commodity super power, for more than two decades. 2. Due to Russia-led security alliance under Putin leadership, the most volatile Central Asia Region (CAR) with six Muslim majority countries, equally rich with huge minerals including sensitive Uranium are relatively peaceful. These countries are contiguous to People’s Republic of China(PRC), which has during last few years openly exhibited its uncompromising revisionist mindset under its present belligerent Paramount Leader Xi Jinping, who has been building a fighting machine to win the war anywhere in the world by its centenary year 2049 but resource hungry. 3. Despite Russia-Putin security watch over CAR, Chinese large infrastructure investments under her flagship Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are being implemented in the region in war footing. In the given situation, should Russia be cornered strategically and economically facilitating it for its potential and threatening landing on the lap of PRC, rich with more than $3trillion foreign exchange reserve and is led by a dictator who packed his inner power circle with his diehard loyalists and wishes to conquer the world? 4. Despite inheriting Soviet era large and huge conventional and nuclear arsenal and being world’s commodity power house, the longest serving Russian Federation ruler V. Putin has never shown Xi Jinping’s revisionist power mindset. What he has been indulged in so far is limited to retaining the territorial integrity of Soviet Federation as have been done by the rulers of other countries as they are responsible and accountable to their constituencies. 5. And the last but not the least is the Putin’s contribution in suppressing dreaded Islamic extremism in Chechnya. As a visionary, he did not open the door of Russia to millions of Arab migrants, who migrated with hidden agenda to spread radical Wahabi Islamic ideology worldwide with excuse of having been victims of internal displacement due to civil war in mid-2010s like Europe did and now suffering as its own long silenced extremist forces started gaining ground as retribution.

Here, it is required to remind to the western leadership and strategists that dictator Saddam Hussein, a leading member of revolutionary Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party, who ruled as the fifth President of Iraq from 1979 to 2003 had given unprecedented political stability to his country inhabited by Muslim religion’s two major fractions such as Shias and Sunnis and ethnic minority Kurdish who in fact have been at loggerheads among them for country’s political supremacy for generations. But, he was forced ousted from power by the western powers with never proved allegation of he was building weapon of mass destruction(WMD) and having ties with dreaded Islamic terror outfit al-Quada. As a result, a vacuum was created which facilitated extremist Islamic movement called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), so far the most deadly, and in lightening speed spread to entire northern territory of Iraq and the entire Syria but Damascus. Though over several years of fights by Iraqi and Syrian forces, the movement is to a great extent has been suppressed in Arab region, it has not yet completely removed. In the meanwhile, it has been spread over to several parts of the world and wherever this virus resurfaces, it causes huge loss to human lives and property.

There was attempt to oust Syria’s dictator Bashar al-Assad during Arad Spring in early 2010s like the same was there in Libya which ousted dictator Col. M. Gaddaffi. It is in fact true that the western social media facilitated Arab Spring had been successful in removing several monstrous dictators in Middle East and North Africa (MENA). But, the fire that was ignited in Libya decade back is yet to be doused. And if Syria’s Assad was ousted, thank to Russia-Iran combined support that saved Assad, alleged Turkey backed ISIS could not have allowed whatever peace is there in Syria-Iraq now converting the region another factory of terror manufacturing as seen in Afghan-Pakistan. In latter case, the history has noted America’s dirty involvement.

In view of the above points raised in this deliberation, it is strongly advocated to see the reasons in Putin strategic wisdom. Agree that he has strangulated democracy, is a dictator, and so his works may not be justified. Is the western poster boy Zelensky any less? But, any attempt to weaken Putin and his ruled country may lead to either dangerous expansion of PRC or Islamic extremism into sensitive CAR with porous borders. Do the western leaders have any solution for the above listed eventualities? I don’t think so. If they had, they would not have allowed Afghanistan’s hand over to Taliban on the vicinity of CAR. Note: now Islamic extremist group Taliban is fighting with dreaded ISIS for survival. Who knows ISIS won’t be tomorrow’s Afghanistan ruler? In such eventuality, imagine what could be the situation in the rest of the world; forget about hapless and poor South and Central Asia?

(Author is Sr. Research Fellow – DRaS & Faculty of Management Studies in TGI. The views expressed are personal opinion of the author. He can be reached at [email protected])

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