Gossips From Ukraine

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By: Arindam Mukherjee
Updated: 15 August, 2022 5:18 pm IST


I know this column has been focussing too much on Ukraine off-late at the cost of other conflict theatres (like Taiwan for example), but to its defence, intel and information about Ukraine – both the interesting and the highly interesting types – keep flowing in with no signs of ebbing. And in this flow could hide vital lessons for New Delhi about the rules of engagement with the West. So, I bring another episode of very interesting titbits from and about Ukraine for the readers of The New Indian, with a promise to focus on a different region in my next article 

The Western Narrative Is Changing Really Quickly!

As Kiev finds itself weaker and weaker against the onslaught of the Russian Special Operation forces, the Western mainstream media has suddenly found a new voice – one that is not very favourable towards Zelensky! A section of global analysts think that this might be tell-tale signs of the West preparing to sacrifice Kiev in order to secure the EU’s winter and energy crisis; after all, as the war slips out of control, someone has to take the fall.

Let us examine a few of the recent events that hint towards this.

A week after Russian media covered a story about the “Zaporozhie Gateway”, none other than CNN decided to cover the same. It is about Ukrainian families making full use of the green corridor to rush towards Russian occupied territories. The video, where CNN’s Nic Robertson interviews the families, remains populated with common Ukrainians travelling with their belongings (evidently, as much as they could pack in their cars), which suggests that they might well be travelling with the intention to settle; these are not the people making a quick trip to visit families or relatives.

Meanwhile, German newspaper Die Welt has brought in serious allegations against Zelensky about tax evasions, about him having offshore accounts in Cyprus, about him owning companies in the British Virgin Islands. One such organization he owns – Maltex Multicapital Corporation – has apartments in London worth USD 7.5 million, and has apparently received USD 40 million from Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoysky (a noted neo-Nazi supporter) over a period of 10 years, since 2012. There is even a whisper in Germany that this might be a good time to relook at the negotiation process with Russia.

The CBS on Sunday published a documentary about how only 30 per cent of the arms shipped to Ukraine reached the frontlines while 70 per cent ‘disappeared’. They retracted the article after much pressure from Kiev. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has, in the recent past, accused Ukraine along the same lines of massive corruption and the absolute lack of trust between Washington and Zelensky. Washington Post has accused Zelensky of apparent collusion “to weaken any political rival” in a bid to eliminate future competition. But the one report that has received major attention is the one put across by Amnesty International, about how Ukraine has been violating international humanitarian law and putting civilians at risk when conducting operations in populated areas. Apparently, Ukrainian forces are threatening civilians by setting up bases and weapons in schools and hospitals. The organization inspected sites, carried out its own research, interviewed people, and finally came to the conclusion that Ukrainian forces have been firing from heavily populated areas sheltering themselves amidst civilian settlements, and thus have been in serious violation of the rules of war, from as far back as February 2022.

This Reinforces A Trend

In the earlier episode about Ukraine, this column tried to capture the predicament of the West: a result of trying to pitch ‘personalities’ in what is clearly a game of rigorous diplomatic negotiations, the result of which had seen Zelensky on the cover of Vogue magazine. It seems that the West has finally realised that it is time to pull down Zelensky from the Patton/Churchill pedestal back to a level where they could wash their hands off with the message that they did enough to help the Ukrainians but Kiev was too corrupt, too ignorant or too incompetent (remember Iraq and Afghanistan?).

Was this ‘war of personality’ entirely stupid? Perhaps not. This successful propping up of a figurehead to do the US’ bidding helps legitimise the West’s intervention in the minds of its people. Remember Saddam’s WMD? Or Assad gassing his own people? They were the exact opposite of ‘glorious’ Zelensky, but they too had ‘personalities’ thrust upon them by the Western media – images that justified different interventions (PM Modi is already a ‘Hindutva nationalist’ according to the Western mainstream).

So why pull the plug from Zelensky? Because Ukraine is now on autopilot. Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes had speculated: “I fully expect we’re going to see some benefit from it” on the continuation of conflict in Yemen and the start of a new one in Ukraine. The situation may be out of control in August 2022, but only as far as Zelensky is concerned. A low-intensity war of attrition has caught on. This would witness more and more weapons being pumped into different sectors of Ukraine, and the MI Complex would continue making money through different government financial interventions. Ukraine cannot pay, but someone has to.

Another vital utility of Zelensky as a ‘hero’ or Saddam as a ‘villain’ is the representative role that they play for a region. Hiding behind the rise of every such hero or villain is the idea to destabilise a region. Conflicts like Ukraine or the one attempted in Kazakhstan does just that. In a predictable pattern, there has always been a threat of destabilisation and chaos in pockets that are in Eurasia and/or Africa (never in North America), and, these susceptible pockets have always been very close to potential regional powers – war in Syria/Iraq near Iran, destabilization in Pakistan/Myanmar near India, ISIS threat in central Asia near China, war in Caucasus/Ukraine near Russia. These are a few of the big ones; there are a large number of smaller localised conflicts that are orchestrated around the above-mentioned geographies (Maoist threat and NGO-sponsored domestic agitations against elected governments etc). Most conflicts and chaos suck in a lot of resources which undermines stability in the neighbourhood, thus affecting regional growth and development. This simply preserves and prolongs a unipolar status quo favouring the USA. And the USA – a giant island with two giant oceans at its two sides – retains its geographic blessing of being far away from chaotic Africa or Eurasia.

The rise and fall of Zelensky remains the latest entry to an already long list of different political leaders around the world who were projected and dumped, from time to time, to suit American business and geopolitical interests revolving around two words: access and control. One hopes that with the new outlook driving Indian foreign policy prerogatives, these events register themselves at a cellular level.

(Arindam Mukherjee is a geopolitical enthusiast and the author of JourneyDog Tales, The Puppeteer, and A Matter of Greed)

(Disclaimer: Views expressed above are the author’s own)

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