- The prospect of Ukraine joining the block would have implied American missiles being deployed immediately on the Russian borders with the capability of reaching Moscow within minutes
By Yuri Popov
A few days ago I spotted an article in this newspaper’s issue of March 11 titled “Why global unity is necessary on Ukraine”. My initial impulse was to dismiss it as someone’s another publicity stunt but then I saw the name of the author, and it belonged to my colleague the British High Commissioner to Tanzania.
While reading the story I got carried away and ultimately was left perplexed. I had a feeling of viewing another Hollywood apocalyptic blockbuster depicting “the gut wrenching scenes of destroyed apartment blocks and Russian forces shelling civilians fleeing to safety” and how “Russia encircles the country’s cities with thermobaric weapons and cluster munitions”.
The author somehow overlooked massive chemical attacks on schools, hospitals and nursing homes with indiscriminate use of the deadly Novichok agent.
As a kid I was hooked on science fiction. One of my favourite classics was “The War of the Worlds” by Herbert Wells, where evil aliens maimed and slaughtered innocent people. My colleague’s article could make a good sequel to that masterpiece, transferred to the Ukrainian stage.
Putting all those ghastly scenarios aside, let me present my side of the story concerning the state of affairs in Ukraine as well as its origin. As a matter of fact, and recent history proves it, Russia is not the initiator of the current events in that country. Natural and legitimate security concerns of Russia given NATO eastward expansion have been for decades ignored by the US-led alliance.
The prospect of Ukraine joining the block would have implied American missiles being deployed immediately on the Russian borders with the capability of reaching Moscow within minutes. Obviously, such a perspective could never be accepted by Moscow.
The 2014 coup d’état perpetrated by nationalists in Kiev installed the regime that started repressions against everything in Ukraine that could be attributed to Russia, including the language, culture, education, traditions and so forth.
Those who seized power condoned numerous groups of neo-Nazis who infested political and social life in the country.
The Russian speaking population that constituted majority in some parts of Ukraine, particularly in the Crimea and the southeastern regions of the country, rejected the new reality. They decided to part ways with Kiev and determine their own destiny.
There is extensive documented evidence of Ukrainian atrocities in the Donbass region. Ignoring international agreements and treaties, starting from April 2014, Kiev’s security forces have been incessantly shelling settlements in the breakaway region, causing massive casualties, injuries and sufferings among civilians. With utter cynicism, the Ukrainian military and, above all, the so-called nationalist battalions were targeting medical and social facilities.
This led to spontaneously formed mass graves of victims murdered by Ukraine's political regime with backroom encouragement by its Western bosses.
Since lately the intensity of devastating attacks against Donbass has been growing, and the situation has come to the brink of humanitarian catastrophe.
This has compelled Moscow to recognize independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics and take decisive measures to curb this dangerous trend. Special military operation was the only way to enforce peace in Ukraine.
I am naturally biased, and nobody is obliged to take my word for what I am writing here. Besides, it is not my intention to lecture readers. May I just mention that there is an influential group of renowned Western political analysts who would substantiate the fact that the US-led NATO was the real trigger of the conflict in Ukraine. On March 9, just a couple of days before the High Commissioner’s article appeared, this newspaper published an essay by his compatriot Mr. Johnathan Power who asserted that “the West has taken advantage of a weakened Russia”. I can refer as well to the publication by the well-known American pundit Professor John Mearsheimer in The Economist edition of March 11.
He offers an exhaustive analysis of the roots of the West’s responsibility for the Ukrainian crisis. I also strongly recommend one should listen to the popular American political commentator Mr.Tucker Carlson who recently introduced several interesting presentations on Fox News.
These gentlemen, to name a few, can hardly be suspected of teaming up with the Kremlin. Yet, unlike some incompetent but fervent PR-minded amateurs, they possess true insight, vast knowledge and real talent for analyzing and interpreting facts in an objective manner. This enables them to make well-founded conclusions.
The British High Commissioner is furious at what is happening in Ukraine. What is noteworthy however, politicians in Western capitals are reluctant to recall NATO’s bombings in Yugoslavia and the violent separation of Kosovo from Serbia, military assaults in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and other sovereign countries.
This implies that the Russian operation in Ukraine is by no means the first of such kind since WWII, as claimed by the chief of EU diplomacy Mr. Josep Borrell.
What baffled me foremost in the March 11 publication was a thinly veiled but quite obvious attempt to convince the Tanzanian leaders to change their balanced position on the Ukrainian crisis.
The reference to the memory of the late President Julius Nyerere who would allegedly have assumed a West-oriented line in the present circumstances, was, to my mind, both tactless and tasteless.
The founder of Tanzania was a real sage, a man of magnitude, and his successors have been living and performing true to his foreign policy legacy built on the principle of neutrality. With all due respect, I wish the Western political elites could borrow from Mwalimu’s wisdom.
Then again, lest I forget. Speaking of sequels, there was another publication in the Citizen on Sunday, this time authored by the Polish Ambassador. It predictably echoed in essence the High Commissioner’s article with the similar hints that Tanzania should reconsider its attitude. By the way, there is a number of NATO’s envoys in Dar es Salaam, and I expect this horror serial to be continued. Make sure you have a good supply of popcorn. Now I need to save my breath and ink.
Finally let me offer one serious observation. It is a standard practice that foreign missions routinely communicate with local authorities for attaining their understanding and support.
Such dialogue is normally confined to diplomatic channels. Making appeals to a sovereign country’s government through mass media may be perceived as attempts to exert political influence by manipulation of public opinion.
After I have completed preparing this material, I found a fresh publication by Mr. Johnathan Power in The Citizen release of March 16. He presents the most profound scrutiny of NATO’s background and the true aims of this military alliance, notably with regard to the events in Ukraine. I urge everyone to read it closely.
Yuri Popov is the Russian ambassador to Tanzania