Propaganda is about controlling a narrative and one of the most effective ways to do so, is to decide how and when the story “begins”. By setting when the story “begins”, you can decide who becomes the aggressor, and who becomes the victim. You can decide what counts as the provocation and what counts as the reaction.
In the current climate of Russophobia, and anti-Russian hysteria, most media outlets begin the Ukraine-Russia war in late February 2022, when Russia invaded Ukraine. The first action is aggression by Russia, against an unsuspecting Ukraine, caught off guard.
In reality, the Ukraine-Russia war has been ongoing for at least eight years. The current Russian invasion is an extension of that war. As we will see, putting down the causes of that war to Russia is simplistic and wrong.
By understanding the timeline of events, one can better understand not only the political movements that have led us to the brink of world war 3, but also the underpinning moral failings, too.
Without understanding the past, we cannot understand the present. And without understanding the present, we cannot see the path to peace, for the future. We therefore begin with a timeline, to establish the full context of the war in Ukraine, today.
1949: Establishment of NATO; a North Atlantic military alliance aimed at curtailing the USSR, which can only be enlarged to European states, through invitation and fulfilment of a multi-step process of military integration.
1989-1990: Collapse of the USSR
1990-1991: Declassified US documents found in the National Security archive reveal a host of security assurances given by multiple independent NATO leaders and Western governments to Soviet leaders that NATO would not expand eastwards beyond Germany, and certainly not into ex-Soviet territories. Most explicitly, in a meeting on February 9, 1990, then US Secretary of State, James Baker, made clear to Gorbachev that “not only for the Soviet Union but for other European countries as well it is important to have guarantees that if the United States keeps its presence in Germany within the framework of NATO, not an inch of NATO’s present military jurisdiction will spread in an eastern direction.”
This statement and assurance was given three times. Of note, the assurance was given, in return for Soviet assent to the unification of Germany and its accession to NATO, as documented in Baker’s letter to Helmut Kohl, then Chancellor of Germany, the next day.
1999: Expansion eastward of NATO to include Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary, despite Russian protestations.
2002 – 2004: Enlargement of NATO to include Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, again, despite Russian opposition.
2003: A new pro-Western Georgian president is elected in a US-supported revolt known as the “Rose Revolution”.
2008: After a standoff between pro-EU Georgian government and pro-Russian separatists that do not recognise the new government, Georgian forces attack Tskhinvali (in South Ossetia), provoking a five day war in which Russia responds forcefully, seizing and occupying Abkhazia and South Ossetia in Georgia, till today. Peace is brokered by Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France.
2008: Ukraine applies to begin a NATO Membership Action Plan, against Russia opposition. NATO welcomes this at the 2008 Bucharest Summit, stating “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.” US leaders request for immediate accession of these two countries with President Bush travelling to Kiev, asserting that Russia has no right to block NATO expansion to Ukraine and Georgia. NATO lays out a plan for accession following meeting of standard criteria. This sparked large protests in Ukraine by anti-NATO protestors.
2008: Putin repeats a previous warning that NATO expansion to the Russian border would be perceived as a “direct threat”. He further explains that Ukraine joining NATO would necessarily result in US anti-missile defence systems on Ukrainian soil, destroying any Russian nuclear deterrence. This would necessitate Russia to strike Kiev, Putin warns.
2008: Divisions regarding accession to NATO of Ukraine and Georgia show themselves with the statement of the then Prime Minister of France, François Fillon: “We are opposed to the entry of Georgia and Ukraine because we think that it is not a good answer to the balance of power within Europe and between Europe and Russia” reported during a radio interview.
2009: Enlargement of NATO to include Albania and Croatia, bringing the number of NATO countries to a total of 28 states.
2010: Election success of Viktor Yanukovych in elections judged free and fair by international observers, defeating the then Prime Minister, Yulia Tymoshenko, a pro-EU and pro-NATO candidate. He commits to Ukraine remaining a European non-aligned state, neither part of EU nor NATO. Relations between Ukraine and Russia improve dramatically during this period.
2012: The Ukraine-European Union Association Agreement (UEUAA) is formulated. This agreement establishes closer trade and travel ties between Ukraine and the EU, and increases the likelihood of future accession to the EU. Russia considers this a threat similar to NATO accession, given the move in some EU circles towards a unified EU military.
2013: Yanukovych delays signing the UEUAA and pivots towards a deal with Russia, in what has been known as the “17 December 2013 – Russian-Ukranian Action Plan” in which Russia would buy $15 billion of Ukrainian Eurobonds, and drop the price of gas from more than $400 per 1,000 cubic metres, to $268. The UEUAA is abandoned subsequently, with EU leaders arguing that the Russian-Ukranian Action plan renders it defunct.
2014: In response to Yanukovych’s failure to sign the UEUAA, the “Euromaidan” protests commence in Kiev, by pro-EU protestors. Yanukovych cracks down on the protestors, helping fuel it into an armed, militant uprising, to a large extent driven by neo-nazi groups as a core militant wing of the pro-EU, pro-NATO protestors. Neo-nazism among the Western Ukranians, as individuals who look to their roots in the West, and despise the slavic ethnicities of the East, is an ongoing issue.
2014: Victoria Nuland, US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, is caught in a leaked conversation (audio / transcript) with the US ambassador to Ukraine, discussing who should be installed as the next prime-minister, president and deputy of Ukraine out of the EU-protest leaders. This was taken as evidence that the US were directing the instalment of a pro-EU and pro-NATO government in Ukraine, contrary to explicit concerns voiced by Russia over the previous decade.
The individuals voiced by Nuland in her leaked call are assigned positions in government in keeping with her leaked preferences, with Arseniy Petrovych Yatsenyuk leading as the Prime Minister from 2014 – 2016.
2014: In response to the US-backed coup, Russia annexes Crimea, a peninsula off Ukraine which contains Sevastopol, a key Russian military base. With the majority of the population of Crimea being ethnic Russians, many of whom are the family members of servicemen and women at the Russian military base in Sevastopol, the referendum outcome is unsurprisingly overwhelmingly in favour of annexation to Russian territory. Russia sees this as necessary to prevent its major naval base falling to US control.
2014: Consequent to the Crimean annexation, Eastern separatists in Ukraine, ethnic Russians, storm governmental buildings in Spring 2014. They reject the legitimacy of the new, US backed pro-EU, pro-NATO government which overthrew the legitimate democratically elected leader. These two separatist regions declare independence from the new Ukrainian government in Spring of 2014. They are the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR).
It is widely believed that Russia supported these breakaway states. By promoting land disputes with Ukraine as regards Crimea, DPR and LPR, Russia managed to temporarily halt Ukraine’s accession to NATO, since NATO membership is barred from any nations in active conflict.
2014: The first act of the new government in February 2014 is to repeal the status of Russian as an official language of Ukraine within a matter of days. The motion passes through parliament, though is not signed into law at that point, due to strong international pressure on the then acting president. Nevertheless, the damage is done, given that 30% of the population of Ukraine, according to its previous census in 2001, spoke Russian as their first language, the overwhelming majority of whom reside in the East of the country. To them, the passage of this law is a severe insult.
2014 – 2015: From the summer of 2014, the Russo-Ukranian war begins. This phase of the war is known as the Donbass conflict, because it involves separatist forces in the Donbass regions of the self-proclaimed DPR and LPR, fighting against the Ukrainian army, after rejecting the authority of the new government as a US-plant. Evidence indicates that Russia funded, and provided training and materiel to these separatist regions, while the West openly funnelled munitions and gave training to Ukrainian forces, initiating effectively a proxy war between Russia and the United States.
2014: A peace treaty, Minsk I, is agreed by representatives from DPR, LPR, Ukraine, Russia and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). Unfortunately, the ceasefire brokered is never properly enacted, and the battle for the last Ukrainian government held territory, the Donetsk International Airport, continues, with separatists seizing it.
2015: January sees a second attempt at an agreement, known as Minsk II, more stringent and specific on the details of the ceasefire. The treaty hinges upon the Ukrainian government giving local autonomy to the DPR and LPR regions, with the DPR and LPR regions granting control to the Ukrainian government to secure the Ukrainian-Russian border. Neither occurr, with Dmytro Yarosh from the right wing of the Ukrainian government calling Minsk II unconstitutional, and promising to fight until complete “liberation of Ukrainian lands from Russian occupants”.
2016: The Ukrainian government holds a new election, being won by Petro Poroshenko, a pro-EU candidate.
2016 – 2019: Poroshenko drives a number of changes to Ukrainian society that exacerbate tensions between Ukraine and Russia considerably. He escalates the war in the Donbass region, driving separatists deeper towards Russia. He signs the UEUAA that president Viktor Yanukovych failed to, drawing closer to the EU. He also takes two important steps to changing the cultural fabric of Ukrainian society.
Firstly, he enacts a language law stipulating only Ukrainian, or any other European language, as the language of education. Given large territories of Ukraine speak Russian as their primary language, this is condemned roundly as a law that will hinder the progress of Russian speaking children.
Secondly, under Poroshenko, the Ukrainian church is separated from the control of the Moscow patriarchate by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. This spiritual link, going back to the 17th century, causes consternation among Russian orthodox Christians.
2019: Under Poroshenko, the Constitution of Ukraine is amended in early 2019 to explicitly state membership of the EU and NATO as the future direction of the country. Russia sees these changes as more firmly laying the groundwork for both accession to a US-based military alliance, and for the stationing of foreign fighters on Ukrainian soil.
2019: Elections are held in which sitting president Volodymyr Zelensky is elected on a mandate to improve relations with Russia, though his positions on the EU and NATO are notoriously anti-Russian. Significantly, approximately 12% of the population in the DPR, LPR and Crimean regions, are not eligible to vote, given the ongoing conflicts, despite the Ukrainian government’s adamant position that such territories are part of Ukraine. The overwhelming majority in such areas are ethnically Russian.
Further, five foreign polling stations situated in Russia are closed prior to the election, further preventing Ukrainian citizens of Russian ethnicity the opportunity to vote in the elections.
2019: The US, under President Trump formally completes its withdrawal from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty, which prohibited the existence of land based ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. This had led to the destruction of 2,692 intermediate range nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles.
Leaving the INF treaty leaves in place only the 2010 New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), due to expire in 2021, to control the creation and deployment of US and Russian INF weapons across the world. With the expiry of New START, for the first time in half a century, there is no treaty to limit the creation and deployment of such missiles. US officials justify withdrawal from the INF treaty on the basis of Russia’s supposed violation of it, while Russia claims that the US deployment of missile defence systems in Europe that can be rapidly retrofitted to INF weapons is a violation of the treaty. The US cites the need to develop such systems to curtail China in the South China Sea; China was not a signatory to the INF treaty. NATO support the US decision to withdraw from the INF treaty. The US begins development of its own new intermediate missile system, the GCLM soon after.
2019 – 2020: President Zelensky’s programme for election constitutes a plan to apply for a NATO membership action plan by 2024. He also sets 2024 as the deadline to apply for EU membership. Zelensky had been a strong supporter, both politically and financially of the Euromaidan movement and the war in the Donbass. He continues to support both into 2020 publicly.
2021: The language law of 2019 mandating Ukrainian is extended to the service industry, requiring all shops, restaurants and similar establishments to speak only in Ukrainian to their customers, unless explicitly requested otherwise by customers. Individuals found breaking this more than twice in a year, are to be fined €220 (almost half of the average Ukrainian’s monthly income).
2021: As a Russian military build-up on the Russo-Ukrainian border begins to amass in the Spring of 2021, President Zelensky at the Munich security conference calls for Ukrainian accession to NATO to be hastened. His ambassador to Germany warns that the Zelensky government is considering all options, including the obtaining or development of nuclear weapons, if NATO accession is not hastened.
2021: Russia presents demands to NATO to prevent a “military operation” in Ukraine. These include legally binding declarations that Ukraine will not be granted accession to NATO, and that NATO troops and missile systems will be withdrawn from all countries that joined NATO after 1997. This includes Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, and the Balkan countries. NATO rejects all demands. NATO states that Ukraine’s decision to join NATO is its sovereign right.
2022: Russia officially recognises the independence of the breakaway states of DPR and LPR, and invades Ukraine. In his speech on the 25th February, titled “Empire of Lies” in reference to the West, Putin gives two major reasons for the invasion. The first is NATO’s continuing Eastward expansion, and its history as an extension of US military might, to Russia’s borders. He thus cites the failure of NATO and Ukraine to recognise the legitimate security concerns of Russia as the principal cause of the invasion. He argues that NATO missile systems in Ukraine would effectively destroy Russian second-strike nuclear capability, rendering defunct its nuclear deterrent, given the four minute missile flight time to Moscow from most parts of Ukraine.
The second reason he gives is the failure of Ukraine to implement the Minsk II agreement, and the ongoing shelling and killing of ethnic Russians in the separatist regions of DPR and LPR, with approximately 14,000 killed in the Donbass region, according to Ukrainian officials themselves. In this he was on good ground, with analysis by the UN showing that between 2018 and 2021, 81.4% of civilian casualties are in the Donbass region.
Analysis of the above timeline reveals three particular failings on the part of the West that ultimately led to the current situation. These failings are moral failings that underpin the political and military failings.
This is precisely the same failing that precipitated the second World War after the first World War. A major cause of World War 2 were the crippling sanctions applied to a humiliated Germany, which compounded national defeat with national and financial humiliation. Germany, a proud nation, swung towards those who restored to them a sense of pride and national honour, namely, the National Socialist (Nazi) party.
Similarly, after the fall of the USSR, the US and her allies capitalised on the weakness of Russia to drive NATO eastwards as rapidly as possible, while Russia was no longer in a position to seriously threaten any consequences, being in a condition of abject poverty and military weakness, despite declassified documents revealing their assurances that this would not happen.
Since the purpose of NATO was to protect against Communist aggression, once the USSR fell, what was the need for NATO to continue? There was none, other than a desire to capitalise on the weakness of its fallen foe and to seize her erstwhile territories in a bloodless coup d’etat, whereby ex-Soviet states would become agents of US foreign policy and serve the interests of US corporations.
The second failing relates to the Western vision of “national sovereignty”. Repeatedly requested by Russia for Western countries to permanently block Ukraine’s accession to NATO, the response has always been the same: Ukraine’s security decisions are its sovereign right. Russia’s response has always also been the same: the principle of indivisible security means that Ukrainian accession to NATO cannot be permitted. Indivisible security is the lynchpin of international security, Putin argues. It means to never augment one’s own security at the expense of other nations. By joining NATO, Putin argues, Ukraine would be jeopardising Russian security.
From a moral standpoint, if we were to imagine nations as individuals, we can understand the issues more clearly. What would the West say about an individual who behaves in a manner that jeopardises the security of his or her neighbours? “Individual sovereignty” in this situation would be nothing more than a euphemism for “selfishness” and “mindless individuality”. Indeed, ‘individual sovereignty’ is precisely the issue at stake in the gun-control debate in the US. Some consider it their sovereign right to hold lethal firearms regardless of the harm it does to wider society. It is precisely this selfish and self-centred attitude that the West recognises as deplorable at the individual level, but which it actively supports and encourages, for its own interests, at the national and international level. How can peace be achieved through such disregard of one’s neighbours’ rights?
This is the precise failing of Ukrainian leadership, too. Instead of recognising the realities of their geography, and the need to live in peace with their neighbour Russia, they have sought to challenge her through inviting her enemy into their home. The non-alignment of Yanukovych between NATO and Russia, and the improvement in Ukrainian-Russian relations between 2010 and 2014 give the lie to the notion that Russia sought, as its primary policy, the end of the Ukrainian state and absorption into Russia.
Whatever one may think of the cold-blooded decision to attack Ukraine, the above timeline reveals a long-standing complaint of Russia, which extends decades into the past, but has been ignored and sidelined by Western policy makers. The complaint is that Russian security needs should be respected, and that the world’s most powerful military alliance in history, NATO, which has as its historical aim the curtailing of Russian power in Europe, should not encroach on the very borders of Russia. Indeed, Putin has accurately cited this issue as the Cuban missile crisis, in reverse.
The Munroe doctrine of the US, formulated in 1823, but applied throughout the 20th century, even to this day, considers interference in the Western Hemisphere by any other military power except for itself as a provocation. This is a double-standard. The US seeks exclusive military influence for half of the planet, but will deny Russia its security concerns over nations at its very border.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is an aggressive military invasion. That is a reality that cannot be avoided. However, the path to peace will not be achieved by the hysteria currently on show and the attempt by the West to portray Putin as simply a second Hitler. He is a rational actor who, for two decades, has repeatedly warned of this outcome in the event of NATO incursion. It is only by recognising this that we will be able to halt the march of war, by addressing the root causes behind it. In this regard, there are three saving graces of Russia’s slide to war, that could be utilised as a springboard for establishing peace. By recognising these three factors, we may yet be able to salvage something from the wreckage.
Firstly, we must recognise that Russia did seek diplomatic channels for the resolution of its security concerns over decades. Russia has expressed its concerns to NATO repeatedly for many years. At the same time, Putin used relatively bloodless means to try to ensure NATO could not accept Ukraine according to its own rules, through annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Though denounced by the world, had it put an end to Ukraine seeking NATO inclusion and thus prevented the invasion we see today, it would be seen in history as a well timed strategic move that saved lives in the long-run. It did not put an end to it, with Ukraine changing the constitution of its nation in 2019 to explicitly declare NATO accession as a stated aim, and persistently seeking NATO accession, going so far as to express a desire for nuclear weapons in 2021.
Secondly, we should note that these diplomatic attempts by Putin to prevent the accession of Ukraine into NATO continued all the way up to his military action. This indicates that Putin was serious in his attempts to avoid a military conflict. This should give us hope that Putin will embrace a peaceful, political solution, if concessions are granted on his key security concerns.
Finally, and most importantly, we must recognise that NATO, in its current form, is an existential threat to Russia. Once NATO had summarily dismissed Russia’s concerns over its expansion in late 2021, Russia felt that she only had one of two options. Either wait for NATO to expand to Russian borders through accession of Ukraine, and accept the decapitation of the Russian nuclear deterrent, or invade Ukraine before accession to change the reality on the ground by changing the government in Ukraine. With the withdrawal of the US, supported by NATO, from the INF treaty and the end of the New START treaty in 2021, Russia was potentially facing land-based nuclear missiles minutes from its borders.
Some may point to Estonia and Latvia, which similarly border Russia, and are already NATO members. This misses the point, since Russia has, as part of its negotiations, requested not only a blockade to Ukrainian NATO membership, but also a withdrawal of missile systems from NATO countries that joined after 1997 – Estonia and Latvia included.
In addition, while Estonia and Latvia do border Russia, Ukraine also has access to the Black Sea, where the Russian nuclear naval base is situated. Ukraine joining NATO would therefore give NATO potential access to Russia’s only nuclear naval base at Sevastopol. In addition, the very geography of Ukraine is such that historically, all major invasions and attacks on Russia have occurred through its flat plains, from the Nazis in WW2 to Napoleon 100 years earlier. Russia has a deep and abiding fear of attack through this route, and not without good reason. Given that the US and her allies, sometimes supported by NATO, have waged wars in countries which pose no existential threat to them, from Iraq to Libya to Syria to Somalia and to Sudan, for the purpose of resource extraction, and considering the extraordinary resources at Russia’s disposal in the form of energy and agriculture, we must conclude that it is not irrational nor unreasonable for Russia to consider Ukrainian accession to NATO as an existential threat.
Recognition of these three important issues will lay the groundwork for meaningful discussion between NATO and Russia, to de-escalate the conflict in the region. Unfortunately, the shocking lack of transparent and fair media coverage of the complex, multi-factorial issues that have precipitated this invasion, has only helped to polarise the two sides of this conflict and make peace less likely. War is indeed hell. The innocents who die by Russian bombs cannot but be wept for; it is a tragedy not of their making, but but one for which they pay the ultimate price. Without recognising the factors that led to this condition however, peace cannot be achieved.
Undermining the security of one’s neighbours and pushing a new nuclear arms race by withdrawing from nuclear deterrent treaties while positioning missile systems closer to one’s enemies, was only ever going to lead to the outcome we see today.
All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.
The EU Approves Ukraine for Candidacy
- The EU has finally approved the application of Ukraine to become a candidate country for admission to the 27- country organization. Ukraine will now join the official candidate list, which already includes Albania, the Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Turkey.
- The US is expected to provide an additional $450m in security assistance to Ukraine. Which includes four more High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
- The EU and Norway have agreed to cooperate and provide the EU’s 27 countries with gas from Western Europe’s biggest provider. The EU imports roughly ⅕ of its gas from Norway compared to the 40% it was receiving from Russia. Currently, Russia has been cutting gas supplies to countries refusing to pay for it in roubles.
- Melbourne is considering utilizing its largely vacant $200m Center for National Resilience building to house hundreds of refugees fleeing war-torn Ukraine and Afghanistan. The center will only be able to temporarily house about 500 refugees from Afghanistan and about 200 from Ukraine.
- Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov thanked US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after receiving and welcoming the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) from the United States.
- Nike joined other leading Western brands by formally making a full exit from Russia, three months after suspending its operations. Telecoms equipment maker Cisco is also planning to wind down business in Russia and Belarus as well.
All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.
Ukraine Receives German Delivery of Long Range Weapons as Putin Announces ICBM
- Ukraine has announced that they’ve recently deployed a number of long-range weapons sent from Germany. Ukrainian Defence Minister Okeysii Reznikov recently thanked Germany’s Federal Minister of Defence for the howitzers they received. The delivery comes after Germany announced plans last month to step up their delivery of weapons to Ukraine.
- President Vladimir Putin has also disclosed plans for Russia to deploy Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missiles around the end of 2022. The deployment of ICBMs is part of Russia’s larger plan to strengthen their military through improved weapons such as the S-500 air defense and missile defense systems.
- As both Russia and Ukraine expand their military arsenal, more settlements have been captured by Russian forces in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. Governor Serhiy Haidai has shared that Russian forces have captured the settlement of Toshkivka and several other settlements nearby. President Zelensky states in a video address that the current situation in Luhansk has been tough as Russian forces push into key areas of the region.
- Meanwhile, massive amounts of wheat and grains remain stuck at the Black Sea ports of Ukraine. Turkey plans to initiate dialogue with Russian, Ukrainian, and United Nations officials about opening up corridors that would allow for safe grain export. The White House has stated that President Joe Biden has also been examining options for the safe exportation of grain with White House national security spokesperson, John Kirby, calling the grain blockage a weaponization of food.
All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.
Samar is a UC San Diego graduate with a degree in Communication and a minor in Business. In addition to her passion for research and writing in relation to current events, she also utilizes her skills in areas such as digital marketing. Furthermore, she is deeply interested in positions that involve oral communication skills such as leadership roles and public speaking.
Latest Updates on the War on Ukraine
- With the invasion of Russia in the Ukraine, the block on Ukraine’s grain exports is causing a spark on grain and fertilizer shortages and has put millions of people at risk of starvation. On Monday, June 20 2022, the Ukrainian President asked during an address to the African Union to solve this issue with dialogue.
- AU’s chairperson Macky Sall responded by saying “Africa remains committed to respecting the rules of international law, the peaceful resolution of conflicts and freedom of trade”. The AU did not want to address President Zelensky’s comments as they do not fully agree. Food prices in African countries have increased. However, there is no shortage in sight as there are millions of tonnes of grain sitting in warehouses and Ukrainian ports.
- Russian oil imports to China have increased by 55% in May compared to a year ago, displacing Saudi Arabia as the top supplier. China increased their crude oil imports from Russia in May in order to help offset Moscow’s losses from the sanctions placed by Western Nations. China purchased about $7.47 billion dollars worth of Russian energy products in May, which is about $1 billion more than what was purchased in April.
- Analyst Wei Cheong Ho while explaining why China and India have purchased so much oil from Russia said, “For now, it is just pure economics that Indian and Chinese refiners are importing more Russian-origin crude oil… as such oil is cheap.” India has also bought six times more Russian oil from March to May compared year over year, making India the second largest importer of Russian crude oil overtaking Germany’s spot. Imports from China tripled during that same period. Data also showed China’s imports of Russian liquefied natural gas (LNG) amounting to nearly 400,00 tonnes last month, 56% more than last year.
Macron and Scholz Publicly Support Ukraine and Back Away from Moscow Diplomacy
- Although questions have been raised regarding France’s commitment to maintaining a sovereign Ukraine, French President Emmanuel Macron finally stated in a press conference with several European counterparts that Ukraine has his full commitment and support.
- Macron stated, “today, it is clearly on Ukrainian soil that the security of the European continent as a whole is at stake… and Europe is at your side and will remain so as long as necessary.” This was an entirely different tone from when he and his counterparts were discussing the topic of delivering heavy weapons to Ukraine.
- German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stated that it is absolutely necessary to continue an open dialogue with Russia. He stated “and if you really believe that you will rob some land and then hope that the times will change and all the things will become normal again, this is a mistake. You have to withdraw your troops and you have to find an agreement with Ukraine which is acceptable and right for the people of Ukraine.”
- Ukraine will have to be approved by the already 27 EU members and have to meet a series of criteria. Many countries, although supportive of Ukraine in the war, do not want a country at war to begin the accession process. It could take years after the war for Ukraine to become a functioning democracy and finally be accepted into the EU.
- Conditions in the eastern part of Ukraine are becoming more dire, especially in the city of Lysychansk, where civilians have been in the line of fire for months and now have no gas, power, or water. Many are frustrated as they shelter in school basements, line up for unfiltered water, and cook over an open fire.
- In St. Petersburg, President Putin still vows to accomplish all of Moscow’s alleged military goals in Ukraine. Putin referred to the war in Ukraine a “decision of a sovereign country based on the right to defend its security” and stated that Russia’s actions in Ukraine are not responsible for the global food crisis, but in fact the US’s fault for driving up food prices.
China’s Xi Asserts Support for Russia
- Chinese President Xi shares his support for Moscow’s security and sovereignty over a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
- “All parties should responsibly push for a proper settlement of the Ukraine crisis,” Xi tells Putin on Wednesday.
- China has not referred to the crisis as a Russian invasion, meanwhile criticizing NATO and Western nations for instigating Moscow into attacking.
- The United States warns China that aligning with Russia in its invasion of Ukraine will brand them “on the wrong side of history.”
- Moscow blames the West’s unprecedented sanctions against Russia for causing a global economic slowdown.
- In the face of this slowdown, Beijing and Moscow have stepped up their cooperation to compensate for Moscow’s loss of major foreign firms following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Pope Francis suggests Ukraine and Russia war may have been ‘provoked’
Pope Francis praises the “brave” Ukrainians for resisting the Russian invasion but also states that the situation is not black and white as the invasion could have been “perhaps somehow either provoked or not prevented.”
The remarks by the Pope were made during an interview by a Catholic Jesuit magazine, La Civiltà Cattolica, which was conducted last month and published this Tuesday. He condemned Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine for the “ferocity and cruelty of the Russian troops” and said it violated a country’s right to self-determination.
On the other hand, the Pontiff also said “there are no metaphysical good guys and bad guys, in an abstract sense.”
Adding, “We need to move away from the usual Little Red Riding Hood pattern, in that Little Red Riding Hood was good and the Wolf was the bad one… something global is emerging and the elements are very much entwined.”
He believes that the people need to understand “the whole drama unfolding behind this war, which was perhaps somehow either provoked or not prevented. And note the interest in testing and selling weapons.”
He also said that months before the war a head of the state warned him that NATO was “barking at the gates of Russia”. He mentioned the same thing a month ago as well when asked for a comment on the Russian invasion of Ukraine in an interview with the Corriere Della Sera newspaper.
However, he said he was not pro-Putin at all.
“I am simply against reducing complexity to the distinction between good guys and bad guys without reasoning about roots and interests, which are very complex,” he stated.
In another message by the Pope for the Roman Catholic Church’s upcoming World Day of the Poor, he said “The war in Ukraine has now been added to the regional wars that for years have taken a heavy toll of death and destruction.”
Yet, he also added, “Here the situation is even more complex due to the direct intervention of a ‘superpower’ aimed at imposing its own will in violation of the principle of the self-determination of peoples.”
The Pontiff also wants to have a direct meeting with the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, who seems to justify the war by using religious reasons.
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