When viewing the war in Ukraine one has the experience of reading the Western media and having to ask oneself, where do these people gather their information from? There is almost a complete detachment from the events on the ground and the way it is reported in the Western media. This is more readily apparent in the British press than anywhere else in Europe. Having recently visited the United Kingdom, I was shocked by their reporting on the war, or rather what purported to be their reporting. It was so completely detached from reality that one had to pause and remind oneself that what was being reported was not so much a chronicle of events but rather a series of statements that reflected what the British hoped would be the case.
In this they reflected the complete detachment from reality that is embodied in the increasingly bizarre statements of the Ukrainian president. In his latest statement given last Sunday, president Zelensky said that Ukraine will recapture Donbass. That is the predominantly Russian speaking portion of the country that signed an agreement with the Ukrainian government in 2015 and appeared to present the Donbass with a significant degree of independence.
What the government of the Donbass did not realise then was that the Ukrainian government had no intention of fulfilling its obligations under the agreement. Instead, tens of thousands of Ukrainian troops occupied the region and are only now being forcibly removed following the Russian intervention in February of this year.
That the Russians took so long to intervene is one of the great puzzles of the whole exercise. It must have been obvious, long before the Russian intervention in February, that the Ukrainian government had no intention of fulfilling is obligations under the 2014 and 2015 agreements. The real reason for Ukrainian intransigence one suspects is that the Ukrainian government was not the one actually making the decisions. Rather, it was the Americans. They were the ones after all who engineered the coup that overthrew the legitimate Ukrainian government in 2014 and have supported the government it installed there ever since. The objective then, as now, was essentially an anti-Russian move.
The Americans would have been delighted at Russia’s intervention in February 2022 as it gave them the perfect excuse to extend their anti-Russia policy, including the intended replacement of Vladimir Putin as Russian president. That whole policy, including the separation of Europeans from the Russian economy, has been an abject failure. Far from bringing the Russians to the point of collapse, that has been the fate of the vast majority of the 30 member European Union. It is they who are now facing the dismal prospect of being literally frozen this winter as the Russians greatly reduced the supply of oil and gas and effectively reduced the role of Nord Stream 1 in keeping the European system functioning.
There is now even talk by the Germans of reviving the Nord Stream 2 project which was ready to supply energy to Europe months ago, but was shut down by a weak German government so in thrall to the Americans that they were willing to jeopardise their own vital energy supplies in order to abide by the American wishes. As the old saying goes, it was a classic example of cutting off their nose to spite their face. Now the Germans are in the uncomfortable position of having to admit that they made an error and effectively to beg the Russians to free them from their self -imposed trap. The Russians, unsurprisingly, are less than interested in rescuing the Germans from the results of their own folly.
The embodiment of this detachment from reality was Zelensky’s address this past Sunday. He claimed that Ukraine would recapture the Donbass. “We have not forgotten and will not forget any of our cities or any of our people” he said. Further emphasising his complete detachment from reality, Zelensky continued “Ukrainian Donetsk was humiliated by the Russian occupation and robbed. But Ukraine will return. For sure. Life will return. The dignity of the people of Donbass will return.” He even claimed that the Ukrainian flag will “definitely” be set up again in Crimea.
There are conflicting reports that Zelensky has both an alcohol and a drug problem. He may have neither or both. What is certain however, is his complete detachment from reality. His references to reclaiming Crimea is a case in point. That island was gifted to Ukraine by then Russian President Khrushchev in 1954. The people of Crimea were not consulted. At the time both Ukraine and Crimea were part of the USSR and the transfer had few practical consequences. It is an example of the selective reporting of history by the Western media however, that they completely disregard the relevant history and report seriously Zelensky’s claims of reclaiming Crimea. The people of Crimea are as unlikely to be consulted about such a move than they were in 1954. What is certain however, is that the vast majority of Crimeans are happy with the present status quo and have absolutely no desire to be returned to the Ukraine, under Zelensky or anybody else. It is typical of the Western media that they ignored the wishes of the Crimean people in promoting the ephemeral dream of the Ukraine’s current president.
The rest of Zelensky’s speech, quoted above, is equally detached from reality. The Donbass has now been re-claimed by Russia and is highly unlikely to return to Ukrainian control. Any Ukrainian claims to the territory have been undermined by the extensive discrimination against the region by Ukrainian forces, including killing more than 14,000 people and forcing one million more into exile. The barring by Ukraine of the use of the Russian language was another move that was highly unlikely to cause the Donbass people to react positively to Ukrainian claims to governance.
Given these facts, it is difficult to see the Donbass ever returning to Ukrainian control. The Americans would like to see the war continue. From their point of view, it is a win – win situation. The Russians are engaged in an unpopular war that has lost them much support in the West. The Americans get to try out their new weapons without exposing their own soldiers to the risk of being killed. What they failed to see was that the bulk of the world’s nations does not support their version of events. Russia has survived European sanctions and is prospering elsewhere in the world. It is the Europeans you are suffering and that will grow a whole lot worse in the foreseeable future.
European reaction has however, greatly hardened Russia’s attitude to the existing social order. Together with China they are forging a wholly new system of geopolitical and economic relations. The consequences of these changes will eventually undermine residual United States influence in large areas of the world. Such an outcome is in my view to be welcomed.
James O’Neill, an Australian-based former Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.