The Treaty of Westphalia died in Ukraine

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By CLAUDIO SERGIO INGERFLOM*

The international fight is not between good and bad. It is to define who will be the masters of the world in the XNUMXst century

"Shouldn't we stop pretending we're fighting for democracy and be clear: we want personal freedoms, a prosperous society, security and national dignity?" “The restriction of political freedoms is inevitable…”. “What do we do with the latest values ​​that have emerged, which reject history, homeland, gender and beliefs, with aggressive LGBT and ultra-feminist movements? (…) I believe they are posthumanists. Should we treat this as one more step in social evolution? I don't believe. Should we try to prevent it, limit its spread and wait until society has overcome this moral epidemic? Or should we actively fight it, leading the majority of humanity to adhere to so-called 'conservative' values, or, to put it simply, normal human values? Dear reader, I ask you a favor: before reading on, think about the ideological profile of the author of the preceding lines and imagine who could have written them in Argentina. Then go to the bottom of the page and find the correct answer[I].

 

“We can achieve a lot and achieve everything”[ii]

What is Ukraine for President Vladimir Putin? “…it is not simply a neighboring country. It is an integral part of our own history, culture, spiritual space. (…) modern Ukraine was created in its entirety by (…) Bolshevik and communist Russia”. Lines later, he states that Joseph Stalin at least proposed granting the “nations” of the empire a statute of autonomy within the State, but unfortunately Lenin triumphed and, in an anti-Russian gesture, applied the principle of self-determination of nations[iii]. “Russia cannot be a great power when it is suffocated by an increasingly difficult Ukraine, a political entity created by Lenin and later expanded westwards under Stalin.”[iv]. Ukraine must be merged with Russia.

 

The reasons for the invasion according to President Putin.

(1) The genocide of the Russian population living in Ukraine. Fortunately for this population, Putin was unable to provide any proof.

(2) The story. Before becoming independent, Putin said, Ukraine was inseparable from Russia; it's time to update this story. In 2016, the president celebrated the memory of Prince Vladimir of Kiev for his conversion to Christianity and for having baptized Russia in 988 in Crimea. He added: “it is our duty to lean on the spiritual precepts and traditions of unity to keep moving forward, ensuring the continuity of our thousand-year history (…) White to the Mediterranean). This choice became a common spiritual source for the peoples of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, laid the moral and ethical foundations that determine our lives to this day.”[v].

About the continuity of values, I don't know what the president really thinks, but I leave you an excellent example of these values ​​from Vladimir of Kiev: after defeating Prince Rogvolod, he raped his daughter Rogneda in front of her parents, then killed them and took Rogneda forcibly as his wife. In December 2014, with Crimea already annexed, the president claimed that Vladimir's conversion is "the spiritual source" of "the formation of the centralized Russian state"[vi]. We also specify that between this “source” (XNUMXth century) and “the formation of the State” (XNUMXth-XNUMXth centuries) some years passed and that it is strange to see in the conversion of a medieval prince the source of a juridical-political order founded on the sovereignty of the people and democratic representation.

Then: “We became aware of the continuity and indivisibility of the millennial path of our homeland”. This “millennial continuity” constantly invoked by Putin is perplexing, especially when he uses it to justify his notion of inseparability between Russia and Ukraine – inseparability in which one leads and the other obeys (see above: “Ukraine is difficult to deal with ”). In addition to Ukraine, if the president refers, by continuity, to the geographical dimension, it is a pious wish: since Moscow was consolidated in the XNUMXth century until today, it has a long history of expansion and loss of territories (Novgorod , Pskov, Siberia, Baltic countries, Poland, Caucasus, Finland, Asia…). But as his attack on Lenin and the principle of peoples' self-determination suggests, "continuity" refers to expansion, while losses are seen in the mistakes or betrayals of leaders.

Let's accept Putin's criteria: continuity justifies annexation. Let us take the historical framework he proposes: from the beginning of the Christian era. Let's go to the data.

Crimea: until the 1204th century under the rule of the Roman Empire, after the Byzantine Empire until 1239, followed by various non-Russian powers (Venetian merchants, Genoese and local tribes). At the same time, a part of Crimea had been under Kiev's control since the 1783th century. In 1954, it was conquered by the Mongols, followed by the Ottoman Empire. Only in 1500, it is conquered by Russia. In 200, it passed under Ukrainian jurisdiction. Do we count? Crimea belonged for 171 years to different non-Russian powers. For just over XNUMX years it was intermittently dominated by Kiev. For XNUMX years it belonged to Russia.

Ukraine. From the 1321th century until the eve of the Mongol yoke (1471th century), the principality of Kiev was the main center of Rus, although it gradually weakened as that of Vladimir-Suzdel gained importance. In 1654, Kiev became a vassal of the Lithuanian princes. In 1654 it was dissolved. From then until 1991, almost all of present-day Ukraine became successively part of the Kingdom of Poland, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and finally the Rech Pospolita, that is, the Polish-Lithuanian Union. From 400 to 333, it belonged first to Russia, then to the USSR. We count from the date indicated by the president as the source of the Russian state, i.e. the 260th century, although, I repeat, at that time Russia did not exist: 70 years as independent territories, 330 years under Lithuanian-Polish rule, about XNUMX years under the imperial crown and XNUMX in the USSR. In total, about XNUMX, more neither the Empire nor the Soviet Union was “Russia”, the first was “all Russias” (that’s why it was called Rossiiskaia and not Russkaia), i.e. Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, and the second was a “Union of Republics”. ”, constitutionally with the same rights. Even if we count these 330 years as inseparable from Russia, it is only 30% of the total time.

As President Vladimir Putin emphasizes history and its continuity to found the inseparability of Russia and Ukraine, history turns against his interests. Poland and Lithuania could adopt Putin's logic and claim Ukraine for themselves, while Ukraine, whose capital is Kiev, could claim Russia as its own. Let's translate Putin's logic to our lands: Buenos Aires was the political center of the viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata, therefore Argentina would have the right to annex Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and a part of Chile. Or, looking at the map of Charlemagne's empire, France should do the same with Germany... The historical argument from continuity is an imaginary construction invalidated by the data and profoundly contradictory in itself.

(3) NATO. It is a leitmotiv constant: Russia feels threatened if Ukraine joins NATO. Westerners repeat that membership is not the order of the day. Knowing the history of the USA and NATO, I agree that there is no reason to believe in them. They did everything possible to approach Russia. At the same time, all of us who maintain that peoples should determine their own history cannot be distracted: joining NATO and, above all, European supranational institutions is not a simple decision by the – legitimate – rulers of these countries, but the clamor of peoples with memory of colonized and oppressed. The vision of the current Russian leaders who kissed (literally) Marine Le Pen, invited by Putin for a personal interview a few days before the last presidential elections in France, is another. Addressing the Ukrainians, Putin exclaimed: “Do you renounce your past? To the so-called colonial heritage of the Russian empire?” [vii] Let's put aside contempt for people, a quality well shared by world leaders.

Let us accept the argument “NATO attacks us. It will settle in Ukraine, a border country. Therefore, we should preemptively invade it.” But would the annexation of Ukraine solve anything? On its western border, it has four NATO member countries as neighbors: Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Estonia, with air bases and anti-missile shields in several of them, such as Poland and Latvia, which also border Russia.

The latter would then have to be considered much more dangerous than Ukraine. So why not invade them? In the case of a NATO strike, how much longer would Western missiles take to reach Moscow if they were launched from Poland instead of Ukraine? The same time. Furthermore, as military experts point out, the most dangerous missiles are those launched from submarines. I repeat: anti-missile shields are already pasted on the western border. But then: what is the reason for the invasion?

“It's not really about Ukraine. NATO is not an immediate threat”.[viii]

 

The expected results of the invasion.

My aim here is to convey official statements by Putin and his team. I will quote the phrases from the texts that seem essential to me. What is not in quotes is because I summarize long sentences.

 

Foreign policy[ix]

“Russia has entered a new era of its foreign policy, let's call it the 'constructive destruction' of the previous model of relations with the West”. “The old system is an obstacle, so it must be dismantled”. We will not attack anyone “with one exception”: Ukraine. "The next step is to 'unite the lands'."

“The West is on the way to a slow but inevitable decline” (West: the peoples, the nations, us), it is “desperate”. It will lose this “new Cold War”. It will become “more reasonable”.

“Our diplomacy with the West will become secondary to the Eurasian one”. The alliance is with China.

"Over the next decade, Russia will be relatively invulnerable" and able to triumph in the event of conflicts in regions within its sphere of interests.

“Mistakes we made: having signed numerous agreements that no longer correspond to our strength.

Europe is a military threat to the subcontinent and the entire world. "History demands that we take action." We should use various foreign policy instruments, including the military, to establish certain red lines.

“As the Western system continues towards its moral, political and economic degradation, the non-Western powers (with Russia as the main actor) will inevitably see their positions strengthened”.

“Increasing political-military, psychological and even military-technical pressure, not so much on Ukraine, but on the collective West.” I know for a fact that the United States will never deploy nuclear weapons to “protect” its allies if there is a conflict with a nuclear state.

 

internal policy

“Restriction of political liberties”.

“Absolute individual freedom” (the contradiction is only apparent: it does not concern politics, but, implicitly, economics).

Defending national dignity and strengthening borders in the face of future mass immigration from territories that will be difficult to live in, such as India, Pakistan, etc.

“Elaborate a 'national idea' that unites and lights the way for the future. Discard and reform the obsolete and often harmful ideological basis of our social sciences and public life to implement this new policy”. “The social sciences that study the forms of public and private life must take into account the national context”, “clear national scientific and ideological principles: again, it cannot be anything else”.

“Russia has always been built around a rigid and executive verticality. These lands have been coupled together for centuries and there is no other way to govern them.”[X].

 

A new unilateralism

At this point we might ask what kind of future society Russian leaders are thinking of, who, moreover, constantly refer to the precepts of the past. The answer is given by the President of the Constitutional Council of the Russian Federation, the highest court in matters of law, in an article from 2014, in which he placed his reflections within the framework of “events related to Ukraine”.

The problems of the Russian State would largely correspond to the “fateful process” that in March 1861 “opened the door to emancipation from serfdom”. “With all the costs of serfdom, it was the main bond that sustained the internal unity of the nation”. “The inner link between the elites and the masses has been broken.” “And this became one of the essential reasons for the growth of revolutionary processes and threatened the existence of a stable state”[xi].

In other words, they loosened the reins of the peasant masses and these, ungrateful!, turned against the generous tsarism. Now the rigid verticality, the rejection of liberal democracy, the restriction of political freedoms, the condemnation of feminism and other values ​​that animate them become clearer.

The parallel process predicted by the current Russian leadership – the inevitable moral, economic and institutional decay of the West and the transfer of hegemony to the “Eurasian space with Russia leading and helping” China – should, according to the messianic claque, lead to a unilateralism in which all the peoples of the world will have to be “reasonable”. Because I have spent my life studying the history and culture of the Russian people, whom I respect, admire and love, I want to be explicit: the international struggle is not between good guys and bad guys. It is to define who will be the masters of the world in the XNUMXst century and in what kind of servitude the peoples will live. But, as much as those nostalgic for tsarism and serfdom, as well as the bearers of neoliberalism on all sides, dislike the peoples, including the Russians, can be ungrateful to their masters.

And if you don't believe that, ask Nicholas II.

*Claudio Sergio Ingerflom, Coordinator of the Center for the Study of Slavic Worlds at the National University of San Martin.

Translation: Fernando Lima das Neves.

Originally published in Antibia Magazine, National University of San Martin, Buenos Aires.

 

Notes


[I] Serguei Karaganov, “Russia's new foreign policy, the Putin Doctrine”, https://www.rt.com/russia/550271-putin-doctrine-foreign-policy. Published on the 23rd at 13:50 pm, before the invasion. consulted on the same day. Karaganov is the founder and honorary chairman of the Defense and Foreign Policy Council, created by presidential decree in 2010. Putin attends its meetings.

[ii] Annual speech (December 4, 2014) by President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, in front of the Federal Assembly, in the presence of more than 1.000 guests. http://www.consultant.ru/document/cons_doc_LAW_171774/ (in Russian).

[iii] Speech by the President of the Russian Federation, February 21, 2022. Retrieved the same day. http://kremlin.ru/events/president/news/67828 (in Russian).

[iv] Karaganov, “Russia's new foreign policy, the Putin Doctrine”, art. cit.

[v] "Our duty is to move forward, trusting in spiritual precepts and traditions of unity, ensuring the continuity of history." November 4, 2016. https://er.ru/activity/news/putin-nash-dolg-opirayas-na-duhovnye-zavety-i-tradicii-edinstva-idti-vpered-obespechivaya-preemstvennost-istorii_148174. (in Russian). Accessed on January 20, 2022.

[vi] Annual speech (December 4, 2014). Document cit.

[vii] Speech by the President of the Russian Federation, February 21, 2022. Doc. cit.

[viii] S. Karaganov, “It's not really about Ukraine”, February 8, 2022. https://www.rt.com/russia/548630-decades-long-standoff-nato/. Consulted on February 10, 2022.

[ix] Points 1-15 are from S. Karaganov, “Russia's new foreign policy, the Putin Doctrine”, doc. cit.

[X] Dmitri Medvedev, former president (2008-2012), current vice-president of the Security Council of Russia. https://www.gazeta.ru/politics/elections2008/2008/02/18_a_2640649.shtml (in Russian).

[xi] Valeri Zorkin, “A fair and equal judgment for all”, Rossiiskaya Gazeta, September 26, 2014. https://rg.ru/2014/09/26/zorkin.html (in Russian).

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