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Seismic geopolitical changes

Apr 26, 2022 | News, Featured, The View From Here - Walter Kish

We do not as yet know when Russia’s deplorable and brutal war on Ukraine will end, but we can be certain that seismic geopolitical changes in the world order will be one of its consequences. That President Putin miscalculated badly in undertaking his blatant imperialistic assault on Ukraine has become clear.

This is likely to be Russia’s last gasp at asserting itself as a dominant nation state on the world stage. Most of the rest of the world’s former imperial powers have learned over the past century that imperialism as a viable international strategy has become a historical anachronism. Russia will be one of the last to learn that lesson, one that is also likely to result in its dismemberment.

Since the end of World War II, there has been no shortage of conflicts across the globe, most of them proxy wars fought in third world countries or far-away places like Afghanistan, the Middle East, South America, Vietnam, Sudan, Central Africa and others. For the most part, the so-called “western free world” which consists primarily of Europe and North America, has not been particularly disturbed by such foreign wars, as the citizens of those countries have viewed the victims in those conflicts as being somehow far away and more “foreign” and not like “us”. Many Americans, Canadians or Europeans do not particularly understand, sympathize or identify themselves closely with the likes of Chechens, Kurds, Eritreans, Georgians or the many other Asiatic, Middle Eastern or African peoples. No doubt, there is more than a touch of racism in those attitudes, but that is the harsh reality.

The war in Ukraine however has changed such attitudes significantly. Ukrainians are viewed more as Europeans and a kindred people, one of “us” so to speak, so the war is thereby more personal and worrisome. If the Russians are doing this to Ukrainians today, then tomorrow it could be the turn of the Poles, the Turks, the Scandinavians or other nations of the “western world”. The fear of brutal aggression has come uncomfortably closer to home.

This is why there has been such a strong response by NATO, Europe and other free-world countries to Russia’s naked aggression. Russia has clearly crossed a red line that those countries are not prepared to accept. They are now doing everything they can to help Ukraine defeat Russia. If their resolve remains firm, and Ukraine’s military continues to perform above expectations as it has until now, then it is quite possible that Putin’s tyrannical regime will crumble amid the ashes of a colossal military failure.

When that happens, it is also highly probable that the current Russian empire will disintegrate into multiple independent states made up of Buryats, Bashkir, Tatars, Chuvash, Chechens, Komi, Ossetians, Udmurts, Mari, Kalmyks, Karelians and the many other ethnic groups that have suffered from Russian domination and who are likely to seize the opportunity to break away from the Russian yoke. Russia proper would be reduced to a rump state of ethnic Russians west of the Urals and north of a resurgent Ukraine. We cannot also discount the possibility that, should Russia break up, China might also take advantage of the situation and take control of a sizeable chunk of neighbouring Siberia, where there already is a significant population of Chinese migrant workers.

No doubt, much of this is speculative, but should Putin and the Russians continue on their present course, it is a more than plausible scenario. It is a fact, that short of using nuclear, chemical or other weapons of mass destruction, Russia cannot conquer Ukraine militarily. It is also fact that, owing to the concerted and comprehensive set of sanctions that have been imposed, Russia will be bankrupt and its economy is likely to collapse completely in a matter of months at most.

Frankly, the only hope of Russia escaping the corner that it has painted itself into, is for the Russians to effect a “regime change” and rid themselves of the cabal of power hungry oligarchs and cold war warriors that are leading the country into a black hole.

Russia is a rich country in terms of geography, natural resources and scientific and technological potential. Should it choose to cooperate with rather than confront the rest of the free world in a senseless, misguided and ultimately futile imperialistic strategy, it could still become a great and respected nation. It is a clear choice for a country that has placed itself at a critical crossroads in its history. We can only hope that the Russians make the rational and correct choice, otherwise they will wind up in the dustbin of history after having caused untold havoc throughout the world.

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University of Alberta Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies




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