Putin’s crime; Europe’s shame

By Dr Selwyn R. Cudjoe
March 07, 2022

Dr. Selwyn R. CudjoeSometimes a conflict shapes our views of the world in ways that we never knew were possible. We think we have a good understanding of how the world works, and then we come up against a situation for which we do not have an accurate answer. Although some important thinkers saw the Ukrainian disaster coming, neither the US nor the European Union (EU) took the Russians seriously. Today, Ukraine is paying for it.

What do we do when a country with one of the largest and most sophisticated military forces in the world uses its might to annihilate its less-sophisticated neighbour militarily? Twenty-eight years ago, Ukraine, then the world’s third largest nuclear power, gave up its nuclear arsenal and relocated it in Russia, with Russia’s specific pledge that it would guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity—an assurance codified in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994.

Think of the pain Ukrainians feel today as Russia destroys any­thing that gets in its way of subduing them to its will. The indiscriminate bombing of the city of Mariupol was so intense that dead bodies still lie in the streets, unattended. “No one dares venture out to bury them.” (Financial Times, March 5.)

Pyor Andriushchenko, an aide to the mayor, said sadly: “This isn’t a military operation—they are trying to wipe this city off the face of the earth.” The mayor agreed: “They are trying to eliminate us.” (Financial Times, March 4.)

A few days ago, Russia almost destroyed the largest nuclear plant in Europe. With it, came the possibility of an entire continent facing the possibility of a radiological disaster. In 1945, the US dropped the first atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing approximately 80,000 people. Tens of thousands more Japanese died later of radioactive exposure, but the Japanese are not Europeans.

Putin insists the Russians and the Ukranians are one people with ties that go back centuries. His behaviour has been driven in part by the ideology of Russkiy Mir—Russian World—the notion that “Russia should wield influence wherever Russian is spoken, including Ukraine”. This rationale underpinned his annexation of Crimea in 2014. But can such “reunification” take place when he acts so cruelly to his own people, even as he pursues what he sees as his righteous cause.

Pan-Russianism is another ­driver of Putin’s actions. From the end of the Second World War to about 2000 we have been living in a unipolar world in which the United States has been the major power. Today, with the rise of both China and Russia, things have changed, and neither China nor Russia is willing to give carte blanche to US dominance. In this context, Prof Andy Knight of the University of Alberta is correct when he says we are living in an “interregnum—a period of time when there is a transition from one world order to the next”. (Edmonton Journal, February 22.)

Before this conflict erupted, Putin declared that Ukraine lies within Russia’s sphere of influence. He was uncomfortable with the build-up of NATO forces in his backyard and felt ignored by the US and the EU. He vehemently protested the possibility of Ukraine joining NATO, a concession he said the US supported in 1991 when James Baker was US Secretary of Defence and the Soviet Union was breaking up. His plea was ignored.

Putin never accepted the break-up of the Soviet Union into independent states. As he put it in 2014, “Millions of people went to bed in one country and awoke in different ones, overnight becoming ethnic minorities.” (FT, February 26). In 2017, it was estimated that 25 million ethnic Russians lived outside Russia in former Soviet republics. His task, he believes, is to bring them back together into one united Soviet Russian republic.

If Ukraine, with its 44 million people, moved outside the Russian orbit and joined NATO, it would go against everything Putin stands for. This was an opportune moment for him to strike now that the US was “distracted by domestic discord, Britain consumed by Brexit and the woes of prime minister Boris Johnson, France facing an election, and Germany lacking former chancellor Merkel—who, having grown up in East Germany and [speaks] fluent Russian.” (FT, February 26.)

As in all wars, truth is the first thing to go. Last Friday, the Russian government issued a new censorship law that criminalised independent reportage. The Kremlin insisted that “characterisation of its attacks on Ukraine as a ‘war’ or ‘invasion’ rather than a ‘special military operation’ amounts to disinformation”. (New York Times, March 4.) Any journalist who described the war as a “war” could be imprisoned for 15 years. Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, accused the BBC of playing “a determined role in undermining Russian stability and security”.

The West felt triumphant when the Soviet Union was dismembered in 1989. Many thought it brought a new birth of freedom to the West, but we forgot the sleeping giant that remained a powerful nation with its sprawling land mass and abundant natural resources. Putin has given notice that he wants to be back in the game, and to receive the respect and dignity that the leader of a major world power deserves.

The US does not enjoy the same power that it did at the end of the last century and Russia remains “a resentful, revanchist country”, intent on reasserting its lost power even if it means doing so over shattered Ukrainian bodies. The world, as Thomas Friedman opined, “is not going to be the same again”.

The events of the past week should prevent us from looking at the world from one point of view and jumping to easy conclusions. There is so much that we don’t always know.

7 thoughts on “Putin’s crime; Europe’s shame”

  1. 17 African Nations Abstained from the UN vote on Russia. Having a Ph.D. in Afracanna (Black) Studied, having set up ‘The National Association for the Empowerment of African People’ (NAEAP), you would think that Our Dear Professor would ‘educate’ us on why they voted that way. Not a word.

    And we wonder why our Bredderen are living in raw sewage in POS.


    1. Im with you on this RamK……

      When we read stories about world affairs, we do so with some expectations. First we need to know whats happening and where it is happening. Secondly, We need to know what affects us as a result of the events. Thirdly, what products are affected by the events. Fourth, does geography of shipping and handling affect us?. Fifth, how are we affected by shortages or embargoes on affected products. Last, but not least, how are we, as a people going to react to these realities?

      I remember growing up as a child in my village in south during the Korean and World war II my parents hard to carry ration cards that determined how much rice or flour we were entitled to per week. Although the world has grown in sophistication, we are not that much more advanced in terms of exposure to foreign goods. In other words, we are still vulnerable, just as in those past war days. Therefore, as media covers the war stories, it is pertinent to our well being that we have journalists who are informed enough to translate whats going elsewhere to how the events affect us here in this part of the world. We also must be concerned when news about how people who look like us are affected in those events.

      It is for these reasons we need local coverage on these matters that speak directly to us. As one who has given himself the liberty to use this local forum to speak on matters foreign and local. It is incumbent that he translate local contents into his analysis of those matters. Not only that. As one who in the past presented himself as a leader of black or African issues, he need to speak on how world affairs can and do translate into local realities. Repeating the events of Putin’s war on a worldwide scale for local consumption without edit on how we are to view it is not helpful to this column. In that respect, RamK is correct in bringing purpose into consideration.

  2. Putin is a professional KGB trained operative. He is engaging in this war to taunt NATO into action then nuke them. He trust no one and does not believe in diplomacy. He thinks it is a waste of time talking.

    Ukraine is in a quagmire, seek western help, Putin starts losing the war then as a matter of pride he unleash the big guns in an apocalyptic manner. Soviet era thinking is to obey orders and don’t think, reason or question your leader which makes him very dangerous…..to Russia and the world.

  3. You think that the good professor wants his visa revoked the man does lecture at Harvard, Howard and other prestigious universities. The man knows who is buttering his bread; probably on an intelligence agency payroll. Rat race yea!!! Rasta nah work for de “sing de chorus now”

  4. Fact: US/NATO is on Russia’s doorstep.
    Fact: The US is thousands of miles away from its own land, and instigated the 2014 “color revolution” coup in Ukraine, that installed a US-friendly regime and a Russia-hostile one… at Russia’s doorstep.
    Fact: US/NATO promised Russia in 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, that it would not move further eastward. Subsidiary fact: they LIED. Now with Ukraine demanding NATO membership, they would be within a five-minute hypersonic missile flight away from Russia’s capital, Moscow.

    Taking all these facts into consideration, it boggles my mind how anyone could see Russia here as the AGGRESSOR. The US/NATO have come into the bear’s den, and have been poking it.

    After sufficient provocation, anyone is justified, in SELF-DEFENSE, to take necessary action to preserve one’s own security, up to and including military action.
    Russia made patient diplomatic overtures to US/NATO. Its demands were not responded to, rather simply IGNORED. What is the T&T proverb? He that doesn’t hear will feel. That’s where we are.

    Western reportage that ignores the above-listed FACTS are propaganda mouthpieces. Regrettably, Cudjoe has allowed himself to be taken in, again.

    Btw, there are further background facts that help to explain US/NATO aggression against Russia. (Ukraine is mere corrupt pawn in that larger context.) Look up “Project for a New American Century” (PNAC) under which so-called US “NeoCons” outlined a program to secure world American dominance in the 21st century. In that mad scheme, Russia is seen as “adversary”, as is China. Interestingly these neo-cons are largely Russian-Jewish in ethnic origin, seemingly in part motivated to settle ethnic scores against ethnic Russians. Victoria Nuland, a high US State Department official, is one of those. She was the one credited with orchestrating that 2014 Ukraine coup. It is not incidental that Zelensky (despite Ukrainian name) is co-ethnic of the neo-cons. Meantime, the mass of the US people have no idea what is being done in their name. Their (Jewish-owned) media have capably, yet again, “manufactured consent”.

    It will be to no avail. The US/NATO “king of the north” will be utterly destroyed. That is what prophecy lets us know will happen. That is why we see the US/NATO/Ukrainian slip showing, in how they treat our non-white brethren at their borders. In such small ways, the Most High lets us to know what really is going on. Cudjoe has missed it entirely. The bird in a gilded cage tends to forget entirely that it is even in a cage…

  5. So many questions… and who will address them? How can people who are called Slavs, Slavic (Slaves) profess Nizism, White Supremacy today? Since the days of Ancient Rome, they were hunted and made to serve… Their churches are ‘adorned’ with The Black Madonna and Child.
    Professor… help the nations out with these questions, Nah. Please.

    Anyway. What if the Nazis are to be successful … what does that mean for people like us, Professor?

    The truth about Neo-Nazis in Ukraine


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