On Ukraine.

Ukrainian FlagThe war in Ukraine has been going on for over a month now. Cities destroyed, civilians killed… and in Trinidad and Tobago, in sharp contrast, 2 weeks into the war the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago suddenly decided to tell everyone that fuel prices would likely go up. The Trinidad and Tobago public was then upset about the price for Kentucky Fried Chicken Condiments, later the Will Smith and Chris Rock controversy. It’s surreal listening to people in Trinidad and Tobago and how easily they miss the important things happening even in their own country. I stopped trying to understand some time ago. There will be those that argue, but they are the minority and if they take a breath they’ll realize that.

I’ve known little of Ukraine. Truth be told, the only reason I know about the Ukraine is because someone who lives near me is from the Ukraine. I haven’t seen her and her child since the war started, and I imagine she’s likely very concerned. Maybe she has even gone back to the Ukraine to be near family, it’s hard to say – I do not know her or her husband well, but I do know that when I first met her she made it exceedingly clear she was not Russian, but Ukrainian. That got me reading the history of the Ukraine which seems to be missed by almost everyone who has an opinion on Ukraine.

When we hear about the present conflict, we hear Ukrainians talk about it going on for 8 years – when Crimea was annexed. Yet the conflict is much older, most recently when the Ukrainian’s People’s Republic was toppled and Ukraine became a part of the former USSR. And even before that, the history of Ukraine is complicated.

If you look closely enough, you find patterns. And if you look more recently, you’ll see an invasion by Russian on a sovereign nation that doesn’t want to be invaded. This, in modern history, is not new in geopolitics but it has the simplicity of being just that: A sovereign nation being invaded. Raped. Pillaged. Plundered. Why?

On Russian Aggression

PriceWarsbyRupertRussellThere’s been a lot of speculation as to why Russia has invaded. Some say it’s Putin’s want to recreate the USSR, some say that he’s ill, some say that he’s been poorly advised. The truth is that no one really knows, but one thing did leap out to me from Rupert Russell’s book, “Price Wars“. In fact, it makes so much sense that the media seems to have ignored it for some reason.

Right there is a part of the path for the EU to end dependency on Russian gas and oil, which has become a sudden emergency, with sudden interest in green energy and nuclear energy being spoken of as if these are new ideas. They aren’t. They’re just suddenly very popular because of Putin’s war. In fact, if all of this is true – I don’t know, I’m just grabbing and processing information as I find it and not jumping to conclusions – they should have been much more active in dealing with Ukraine prior to this, but… everyone fears the one who threatens with nuclear weapons. 

In fact, threatening with nuclear weapons is more effective than using nuclear weapons, because when nuclear weapons are used they start flying around and hitting everyone, including those that used them – but if you just threaten to use them, everyone else worries. Everyone is afraid of getting hit. What we forget is that so are the people who threaten to use them. Chemical, Biological… well, this millennium has already seen them used in the conflicts around the world.

In the conflict so far, Russia went for Kyiv but apparently lacked the logistics to get there (“groups of hitchhikers with Russian uniforms are rumored”, Douglas Adams might write), the air supremacy the world expected from Russia didn’t happen, and in what has moved from pleasant surprise to the equivalent of St. Patrick’s Day for Ukrainians becoming every day. World wide, people are cheering the Ukrainians, NATO’s skirting how much it can get away with in supporting Ukraine without giving Putin’s rhetoric about Russia vs. NATO, all seeming to forget that Putin seems to need NATO to prop up his rhetoric. Millions of Ukrainians displaced, talk of the plundering of Ukrainian homes and, yes, the ugly and unconscionable rape of Ukrainian women floating to the top even as Russia strategically withdraws (retreats) from forward positions to consolidate around the Black Sea… the very region mentioned with oil and gas deposits.

All the while, laws were created in Russia to keep dissident’s quiet – if not immediately, later in a prison somewhere. Freedom of the press belongs to those who own the press…. or… can toss people in prison.

So why do I presently think Russia invaded? Well, a look at the map and the knowledge that oil and gas deposits there would threaten Russia’s economic grip on Europe seem to make sense to me. But too, it could be that Putin was advised by a wandering gypsy that it had to happen. I don’t really know.

What I do know.

In listening to Ukrainian journalists talk on Twitter, my takeaway is that they’ve been largely ignored by those reporting on Ukraine. One journalist, well established as those in the conversation were, talked about being asked to do things for free by journalists from other countries, even under the present circumstances when if you want news from Ukraine, you should probably be listening to a Ukrainian. Contrast that with “If you want news about Russia, don’t listen to Russia. And nobody else seems to know much either!”.

I’ve been reading a lot from Ukraine, certainly their politicians – most of whom are women, with President Zelensky delivering masterful oratory across the globe, sharpened or blunted accordingly for each audience. The sanctions imposed we hear about are talked about loudly as, ‘crippling’, but how crippling can they be when the cost of the war for Russia works out to how much they’re still being paid for in oil and gas. Some nations ride the fence, like India and China, which will probably get them sore crotches.

Globalization has been a rougher ride for some than others, politics makes for strange bedfellows and this global fetish of petroleum products that some say started in 1846 when Abraham Gesner invented kerosene for lighting fluid… or the oil strike at Spindletop by Antun Lučić and Texan Patillo Higgins. 122 or 176 years, depending on how much you want to argue about it. I can’t name a war that didn’t happen in my adult life that didn’t have oil involved.

Am I right? I don’t know, but in listening to Ukrainians on Twitter, aside from what should be patently obvious war issues – if you support Russia in this, I expect you may need a ‘special operation’ – there seems to be a longstanding issue of Russian colonialism that I have been almost completely blind to, and perhaps you have as well. The colonialism and oil factors do fit together, but the oil and gas itself has not been discussed on Twitter that much which either makes it an elephant in the room no one is talking about, or a part of a larger issue (such as colonialism), or may not be something Ukrainians even consider to be the issue at all for reasons that I do not yet know or understand. And with such a horrific war going on, with informational wars going both ways (it should be clear that I do support Ukraine’s sovereignty and their repelling of invaders!), it’s clear that absolutely nothing is clear except this simple and irrefutable truth:

Ukaine is a sovereign nation with the democratic ideals that many of us have grown up with as a beacon on the horizon that we almost never see in every day life, and Russia is actively trying to not only undo it but seems intent on erasing and replacing with it’s own narrative.

Beyond Ukraine

We have seen this before in my lifetime. There is no way we can forget the invasion of Iraq, a parallel we Americans tend to forget and some would even deny. We tend to sweep Israel and Palestine under the rug too, and the mess that the world has made in Syria defies understanding. Why is this important? The United Nations, of course. Where Russia has a seat, so does the United States, and in a moment of casting stones it’s hard to look around and see Saints.

Beyond Ukraine, beyond the EU, this could well be a turning point on our planet. It could be where the International Criminal Court, which is gaining prominence in the light of the Ukrainian conflict, is more recognized. It could be that the United Nations could become more than a tired chess game of limited moves if you’re not on the Security Council. It could mean that maybe it’s time for our planet to get beyond the scarring of humanity’s puberty and get to young adulthood.

To do what is necessary for Ukraine, it seems we must do what is necessary for the world.
The price being paid in Ukraine is something that we cannot permit again, as humanity said after World War II: “Never again”.

Perhaps we will mean it this time, after Ukraine wins – they will win, they must win, and we must collectively make sure that they do.

One thought on “On Ukraine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s