*Editor’s Note: On March 4, Russia enacted a law that criminalizes public opposition to, or independent news reporting about, the war in Ukraine. The law makes it a crime to call the war a “war” rather than a “special military operation” on social media or in a news article or broadcast. The law is understood to penalize any language that “discredits” Russia’s use of its military in Ukraine, calls for sanctions or protests Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It punishes anyone found to spread “false information” about the invasion with up to 15 years in prison.
Political scientist Vladimir Evseev talks about the real reasons for the Russian military operation in Ukraine.
The West does not want to accept the fact that the world we live in is multipolar now and one cannot impose one’s will on other independent states. This is especially true of the American elite because they still live under the illusion that their country is the only superpower capable of overthrowing uncooperative regimes at their whim. This includes the U.S. campaigns against Saddam Hussein in Iraq in 2003 and Moammar Gadhafi in Libya in 2011. Notably, they were both accused of developing weapons of mass destruction, which allegedly threatened the international community. This was not exactly true as it turned out later.
Yet no one in the West was held accountable for civilian casualties, which were considered collateral damage. The so-called defenseless Ukraine also participated in the 2003 military campaign by sending 7,000 troops to Iraq. Its military contingent was the third largest in the U.S.-led international coalition. Perhaps it is time for the Kyiv regime to answer for its crimes against Iraqi civilians.
It would be naive to think of NATO as a defensive alliance. We can prove this, for example, if we take a closer look at the 1999 Kosovo War that the alliance launched against Yugoslavia because it infringed the rights of the Kosovo Albanians. As a result, the Kosovo and Metohija region was separated from the country by force. Yet no one in NATO seems to have noticed the crimes of the pro-NATO Kyiv regime in Donbass. And this is no coincidence. Back in December 2020, the NATO 2030 report – United for a New Era – which was prepared after a video conference of NATO foreign ministers, declared Russia the main military threat to NATO security, China was ranked second, while international terrorism merely took third place. It should be noted that this happened more than a year before Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the start of a special military operation in Ukraine. Moreover, the aforementioned report constitutes the basis of NATO’s new strategic vision.
Ukraine has been working toward membership in NATO since the 2000s. Similar to other nations that are now member states of the alliance, such a major decision has never been put to a national referendum. This decision was made by the Kyiv pro-Western elite, and they didn’t account for the interests of the general public, let alone the negative consequences membership might have. In fact, the Ukrainians were forced to consider membership in NATO, which led to mass protests on their part, including anti-NATO protests in Odessa. These protests were brutally suppressed by the Ukrainian national security services. Obviously, this policy was became increasingly irritating to Moscow.
The U.S. has been fighting to promote its nuclear weapon nonproliferation agenda for decades. Under President George W. Bush, the U.S. administration seriously considered launching missiles to strike Iran’s nuclear weapon and missile infrastructure, which Iran was building at the time. In February, during the Munich Security Conference, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that he wanted to hold a summit of the signatories to the Budapest Memorandum, which was signed on Dec. 5, 1994. The summit would have been focused on revoking Ukraine’s nuclear weapons nonproliferation commitment. So why weren’t the Americans outraged by this?
Ukrainian authorities were deadly serious when making such statements, and Russia reached the end of its rope. If the Chernobyl nuclear power plant was partially rebuilt, then its high-capacity channel-type reactors could be used to produce weapons-grade plutonium or its equivalent. The U.S. actually authorized delivering weapons-grade uranium as nuclear fuel for Australian nuclear submarines last year. Let me remind you that Australia signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Such a gross violation of the NPT is actually enshrined in NATO policy documents, because U.S. tactical nuclear weapons can be transferred to other non-nuclear-weapon states in the event of war.
Perhaps Russia would have handled the situation differently if the Donbass region had not become plagued by a humanitarian crisis affecting civilians there. After all, the people of Donbass have been under constant mortar and artillery fire. For example, on March 1, Ukrainian troops shelled Horlivka near Donetsk. Shells exploded in the village of Mikhaylovka, near the Izotov mines, and in Komarov and Golmovsky. The villages of Bairak and Russky Krai were shelled as well and there were civilian casualties. As a result, most of Horlivka was left without any power.
At the same time, NATO increased its pressure on Russia, especially in the Black Sea. The West flooded Ukraine with cutting-edge weapons, while foreign instructors were sent to help the Ukrainians master new technologies. The U.K. alone has trained 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers since 2014. In Ochakiv, the British planned to train Ukrainian Special Forces to carry out extremist operations in Crimea and other Russian regions. NATO also had plans of establishing a technical intelligence center in Ochakiv in order to monitor the activities of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and other military units stationed in Crimea. Ukraine has increasingly posed a threat to Russian national security. All the above-mentioned factors prompted Putin to use force in order to demilitarize Ukraine.
The author is the head of the department of Eurasian Integration and Development of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization at the Institute of the Commonwealth of Independent States, candidate of engineering sciences.