“IN INTERNATIONAL ISSUES, SOMETIMES IT IS DIFFICULT TO ACHIEVE WITHOUT THE USE OF THE EVIL OF FORCE….RONALD REAGAN”
The countdown to Russia’s bombs and artillery strike on Ukraine was yet another evidence of the Western world’s empty and misdirected foreign and internal security policies. Since September 2021, NATO and the EU watched aimlessly as Putin was lining up more than 120,000 soldiers, countless numbers of tanks, ultramodern war planes, and other sophisticated modern war equipment along Russia-Ukraine border, which culminated with a war fair military rehearsal section with Belarus. Though Ukraine is not a NATO member but had the organization or her members reacted swiftly, I am sure they could have changed the narrative flexing military muscle with Russia, as that is the only way Putin can learn a hard lesson. NATO is as strong as Russia, if not stronger. But as usual, they resorted to the consultation table mode. Giving Putin the audacity to execute his plans.
There is no doubt that the west failed to manage the disintegration of the former Soviet Union in 1991 with prowess knowing fully well that Russia was politically, militarily and economically weak as at that time. Instead of getting President Gorbachev or Boris Yeltsin’s Russia into friendly surveillance by taking advantage of Russia’s weakness and the willingness of the aforementioned Russian Presidents to cut the iron-gate down completely and embrace western democracy, the west held on steadfastly to the cold war mentality.
I have been living in Europe for over three decades now and like most others who are really concerned about the world order, I do not feel comfortable with the EU’s inability to come up with a unanimous decision in international and internal security issues. They squabble and rant into endless and fruitless meetings, conferences, in the name of what they “tagged the search for peaceful resolution”, and then send out last minute threats that do not even frighten the weakest criminal gangs in the world. This is a reminiscence of the march to the Second World War.
As Putin was compassing his army and weaponry strengthen along the South-Crimea, Belarus and Northern borders with Ukraine and vividly drumming the sounds of war, or call it invasion, western leaders, especially EU leaders were fiddling while Ukraine was under siege. The perennial discrepancies among member nations was and would remain at play. While the US would rather apply a hard ball approach, her EU allies waste time and opportunity seeking for a soft ball approach to deal with an adversary who plays diplomacy at the barrel of a gun.
And this is because each of the EU member states want to protect their economic and political interests. Just as it is right now, those countries that are reliant on Russian gas (Germany, Italy, and Austria etc) or have more business transactions with Russia (the Balkan countries), frown at hardliner approach, even when they know that they are dealing with “agent 007”.
Permit me to refer you to the “so called barrage of economic sanctions” on Russia, which I consider to be a waste of time and a cheat on Ukraine. And this is because experience over the years have shown that sanctions do not deter any authoritarian government. Putin knows how it works, doesn’t he? And he feels comfortable with it. Accountability to his citizens has never been in his agenda. He is there to quench the voices of any opposition group or any uprising in the country. So, Putin and the Russian oligarchs will not go hungry. Only the blue collar and laymen workers will bear the brunt of it.
EU members know Putin’s military and political trajectories. They know what he wanted of Ukraine in hindsight of what 2014 episode. They know that he is a maverick, in the negative sense of it. They know that he is elusive, dogmatic and that he is not a man to be taken for his words when it comes to matters of this sort, but EU leaders ended up parading themselves before him in Moscow, all in the name of looking for peaceful resolutions. They were not able to read in between lines that for Putin “Diplomacy is the ability to tell someone to go to hell and he looks forward to it”.
They know quite well Putin’s military agenda, geopolitical pursuits and flagrant interests to destabilize not only the economy of the western nations but also to disrupt co-habitation. But unfortunately, as I had expected, the crisis threw them into a state of amnesia which, as usual, made them to lack the unity to adopt preemptive measures due to individual nation’s interests.
Putin is a veteran secret service agent, the kind of James Bond character, who has enthroned himself as the leader of the 21st century Bolshevik Russia. He has never shied away from lamenting the disintegration of the Soviet Union and longs for a time he will bring the imperialist Russia back. Over the past two decades he has pounced on Georgia, Crimea, stifled insurgent attempt in Belarus, heavily backed pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine in 2014, applies naked force against the opposition movements in Russia and has now taking the bull by the horns through the invasion of Ukraine, all at the detriment of Europe and NATO. His geopolitical decapitation strategy is working out, as he implants with impunity a puppet government everywhere he sets his eyes on.
Surprisingly enough, while Putin does not hide his disdain for European Union as he has left the scripts of his ambition to stress out the west and their democracy open for everyone to see and poised to wrinkle NATO and devalue the weight of the US democratic system, European Union is hopelessly seeking for peaceful accord with him. At this juncture, it is worthy of mentioning that Donald Trump’s four years presidency was a great momentum for Putin and a setback for NATO/European Union. Trump’s presidency placed NATO and EU, traditional allies to the US, in a second class seat, signaling a shift in global security, which left Putin unchecked.
But all in all, EU member states should be blamed. Reliance on the USA to bear the lion share of the cost of providing security for the EU, is an irresponsibility. I know the implications of public opinions in the west, a fact that does not have any negative implications in an authoritarian regime like Putin’s, as it is obvious that European Union citizens want to live in peace, have their jobs, social security, health insurance and socio-cultural society guaranteed. But they forgot to realize that they have an enemy who is busy amassing nuclear weapons at their doors. This is why EU leaders should begin to prepare their citizens to live up to the fact that regional security is of paramount importance in the face of the 21st century nuclear race. European Union should ramp up military, high-tech security and space program spending.
It is obvious that Russia is a super-world military power but the combined forces and weaponry of NATO, out-weighs her. I believe that somewhere along the line, NATO should flex its military muscles with Russia. Failure to do so, I am afraid that if Ukraine finally cave in, as it is expected to, chances are that democratic regimes in Sweden, Norway and Finland will sooner or later be decapitated on the pretext of demilitarizing and denazifying neighboring sovereign nations he feels are too close to EU’s influence.
EU must arrest Putin’s strategies that are meant to destabilize harmony and cohabitations in European Union. Yes, such strategies as the use of influx of millions of refugees/immigrants from war and economic devastated areas to push their way into the EU forcefully, military cyber-war to disrupt EU institutions and industries and the nuclear weapon to terrorize them, should have to be checkmated if the western world wants to preserve their identity, culture and economy.
Joe Illoh is an itinerant lecturer, international affairs enthusiast, ex-president of the Federation of the Nigerian Community (FNC) Spain and an avid socio-cultural advocate based in Madrid, Spain