The Western countries will suffer every bit as much as Russia will, and quite possibly more considering that Russia has proven its ability to weather sanctions due to the growth of its domestic production base.
Despite all the hysterical talk about a ‘Russian invasion’ of Ukrainian territory, Russian President Vladimir Putin, using nothing more dangerous than a ballpoint pen, calmly brought the Ukrainian stalemate to its logical next phase, which was to recognize the independence of the Donbass with the full support of Russian peacekeepers.
Had Kiev been sincere about resolving the standoff, and keeping the eastern part of the country in the fold, it would have demonstrated its commitment to the Minsk Protocol from the beginning. Sadly, proof of that devotion never materialized.
On Tuesday, Russian lawmakers passed by an overwhelming margin a set of agreements to begin the process of political and military support for the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. That same day, the parliaments of the two regions ratified the ‘Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Russian Federation.’
Global affairs analyst, Patrick Henningsen, has agreed to discuss Moscow’s move to recognize the independence of the Donbass, which distanced itself from Kiev following the U.S.-backed Maidan uprising of 2014. That tragic moment in European history saw the democratically elected government of President Viktor Yanukovich swept from power.
Question: What do you make of the Western media version of events that Moscow is engaged in a “land grab” in Ukraine?
Patrick Henningsen: It’s not very surprising considering the vilification that Russia and Vladimir Putin have had to endure by the U.S. mainstream media and even Hollywood for many years now. This has made it easier for the media to peddle to the public truly outlandish stories like, for example, how Russia has “kill lists” prepared for Ukrainians after it launches a full-scale invasion of the capital Kiev. This sort of reckless propaganda is mostly for domestic consumption – especially with a critical U.S. election quickly approaching in November – with the purpose of trying to bog down Russia in some sort of disastrous conflict with its neighbor, something that Moscow has said many times that it does not want or need. The sad reality of the situation is that the United States and NATO does not really have the best interests of the Ukrainian people at heart. The West is simply playing for geopolitical advantage, plain and simple.
Question: How did the situation get to point where Moscow was forced to recognize the Donbass independence?
Patrick Henningsen: Ever since the adoption of the so-called Minsk Protocol in September 2014, it has become increasingly clear over time that the Western powers, together with Ukraine, were not committed to its initiatives. These included, among other goals, a ceasefire between the combatants, and the gradual decentralization of power with greater self-governance going to the Donetsk and Luhansk republics. What we had in effect was a stalemate that has turned into a dangerous situation of late with all of the Western propaganda about an imminent “Russian invasion.” At the same time, Western governments were funneling weapons into Ukraine. Moscow finally came to the inescapable conclusion that such a volatile situation smack on its border could not continue indefinitely.
Question: What does the future hold for Ukraine and the newly recognized republics?
Patrick Henningsen: Ukraine has actually been victimized to a high degree by the Western propaganda campaign, which incessantly warned that the Russians were about to invade. Finally, in order to calm down the war hysteria, [Ukrainian President Volodymyr] Zelensky was forced to say that there was no indication that the Russians were planning to invade. At one point he even asked the Biden administration to show Kiev some concrete evidence that plans for an assault on Ukraine were underway. Of course, Zelensky never received such proof.
Meanwhile, the war hysteria from the Western capitals placed a huge economic drag on Ukraine that it will be hard-pressed to crawl back from. Will Kiev find itself dependent on ever more Western loans just to keep the country afloat?
As for the people of Donbass, aside from their independence, they have the knowledge that they are no longer alone in the world. In fact, thousands of these people are applying now for Russian citizenship while many women and children have been evacuated to Russia proper as the hostilities in the region approach the boiling point.
Question: What do the Western powers stand to lose by failing to support the Minsk Protocol while provoking Russia?
Patrick Henningsen: Well, already we’re hearing reports that Germany has suspended the certification process of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a joint project between Russia and Germany that was finished last year. However, the final leg of the process was delayed, and it seems the United States, which has been opposed to the project from the start, played no small part in that setback. That is going to make gas prices exorbitantly high for many Europeans.
Meanwhile, we can expect to see a new wave of sanctions being aimed at Russia that will only serve to hurt consumers both at home and abroad. The Western countries will suffer every bit as much as Russia will, and quite possibly more considering that Russia has proven its ability to weather sanctions due to the growth of its domestic production base. It’s regrettable that the situation between the West and Russia deteriorated to such a point when it could have been easily avoided had only the West demonstrated a willingness to adhere to the Minsk Protocol.
Author Patrick Henningsen is an American global affairs analyst and founder of independent news and analysis site 21st Century Wire, and is host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally over the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR). Over the last decade, his work has been featured with a number of international publications and TV networks.