By Antonio Camacho Negrón – Aug 15, 2022
After 1991, with the overthrow of the Soviet Union, Western countries were convinced that Russia was defeated. But in Ukraine and beyond, Moscow is winning—and the US and Europe are in marked decline.
History testifies, time and time again, that the United States and Europe have always viewed Russia as coveted prey, and more so as a powerful opponent to their expansionist pretensions.
Without a doubt, for various reasons that we will detail later, Russia has today become the top geopolitical-military threat to Western hegemonic aspirations.
Since 1904, with the publication of the “Heartland Theory” by English geographer Halford Mackinder, Russia has acquired great importance in the geopolitical conception of the world. In fact, Mackinder is considered the father of geopolitics.
His theory states that the world is a big island, and that in the center of that island, as the pivot where the other countries balance, is Russia: “Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; who rules the Heartland commands the World-Island; who rules the World-Island commands the world.”
The land area of the Russian Federation is almost twice the size of the United States. In addition to its privileged strategic position, its neighbors, China and India, are among the most populous on the planet and the fastest growing.
Russia has a very well-educated, relatively united population and a low population density—a favorable condition that allows it to meet the basic needs of its people without great difficulty.
It also has immense natural resources, many still to be discovered.
After 1991, with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Western countries were convinced that Russia was defeated.
They had a fifth column in the Russian government that responded unconditionally to their interests; they controlled a large part of its natural resources and banking; and, according to their ideologues, all they had to do was put a little more pressure and the social situation would implode, the Russian Federation would dissolve, and Russia could be divided into several states.
These Western pretensions were thwarted by the resignation of Boris Yeltsin in 1999 and the rise of Vladimir Putin, a former KGB foreign intelligence officer.
Putin reversed the appeasement policies of his predecessor. He set in motion all of the national forces based on the idea that, in order to protect itself from Western adventurism, it was necessary to implement an accelerated plan for agricultural, industrial, technical and military development.
In two decades, he brought Russia out of the backwardness that previous governments had plunged it into, and turned the country into the second great military power after the United States.
Under the presidential mandates of Vladimir Putin, the following changes occurred:
- Russia in 10 to 20 years surpassed state-of-the-art Western technology in its military development. Russian hypersonic missiles, nuclear-powered missiles, electronic warfare missiles, anti-satellite missiles, super-fast torpedoes, nuclear icebreakers, among other technologies, have no equivalent.
- With the production of state-of-the-art weapons, Russia has become the main competitor in the most profitable industry of the United States, the war industry, attracting among its buyers former clients of US arms such as India, China, Pakistan, Turkey, and others.
- Russia has built a series of nuclear icebreakers with the main objective of opening an Arctic route—a route that, by shortening distances for merchant ships, makes Russian products more competitive. In terms of military logistics, the Russian fleet, having greater access to the Atlantic Ocean, and therefore to the east of Canada and the United States, would have an additional tactical advantage over its rivals in terms of maneuverability.
- The close relationship between the military power of Russia and the economic power of China, which has been consolidating, is of extreme concern to the West – a feeling that increases with the implementation of megaprojects such as the New Silk Road that extends through the five continents, and which begins in China, but its main ramifications cross through Russia.
- Russia’s military support for Syria, in opposition to the strategic objectives of the United States, has been a major headache for NATO in its attempts to change the government in Syria.
- Moscow’s close political, economic, cultural, and military relations with Iran, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Cuba, and Bolivia have, to a large extent, rendered the sanctions imposed by the United States ineffective.
- Russia is the main supplier of fossil energy to Europe, which gives it great bargaining power and affects the competitive capacity of the US hydrocarbon industry.
- The great economic and geopolitical advances that Russia has made in the last decade in Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa are not well seen by the West.
- Russia, by drastically reducing its holdings of dollars and treasury bonds, and by promoting the use of its own currencies among its trading partners, has become a major threat to the privileged power of the dollar as an international currency. The rapid increase in its gold reserves is also of great concern to the West.
- Russia, with its accelerated agricultural development, has taken the leadership in wheat exports from the United States and has put North American farmers in a bind.
As we can deduce from all of the above, in the short and medium term, the real threat to a declining United States is Russia.
Glen VanHerck, head of the US Northern Command, pointed this out in September 2021 when he said that Russia is the main threat to the United States today, whereas China is a long-term threat.
The empire, hidden in NATO, acts in fear of Russia’s strategic positioning, its energy self-sufficiency, economic growth, expansion of sea lanes, military power, geopolitical influence and, fundamentally, its anti-establishment attitude towards policies and imperial initiatives.
US political scientist Graham T. Allison popularized the concept of the Thucydides Trap to describe how the contradictions between one hegemonic power and another rising power drag them to war.
The US empire cannot engage in a conventional war with Russia, an emerging power that challenges its hegemony, without condemning itself to its own destruction—which is why it resorts to hybrid warfare, or unrestricted warfare, in the hope that the economic, political, and social attacks on its adversary are so devastating that they stop its agricultural and technological-military advance, that they reduce the production of hydrocarbons, that they destroy the strong alliance with China, and more than compensate for the self-inflicted damage by the sanctions.
But it is inevitable that the effect on its own economy will be a boomerang.
Through hybrid warfare, with the aim of continuing to impose its hegemony, the United States incites Ukrainian extremists without caring that they are bringing Ukraine to total ruin in a conflict of attrition against Russia.
In unrestricted war, without any shame, the United States demonizes its adversary, creates a media dictatorship, and uses sanctions, censorship, propaganda, lies, and slander to stupefy its audience so it can no longer think clearly.
In 2019, a powerful US think tank sponsored by the Pentagon, the RAND Corporation, published a report entitled “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia: Assessing the Impact of Cost-Imposing Options.”
This research document explores in minute detail the options that can be used to exploit Russia’s vulnerabilities in order to destabilize it. All the measures, supposedly in the name of containment, that the United States has imposed on Russia for the invasion of Ukraine are reflected in that document.
The curious thing is how this is a reflection of the arrogant vision and imperial mentality of the United States. The document does not contemplate the accelerated countermeasures that Russia would take to protect its economy from possible sanctions, or the slowdown of the US economy caused by the pandemic, or the devastating effect of inflation.
The current US president, Joe Biden, acknowledged in 1997, when he was a senator from the state of Delaware, that NATO’s expansion into the Baltic countries would be what would “tip the balance” toward a “hostile response” from Russia.
What factors pushed President Biden, 25 years later, to change his mind, when Russia is much stronger and the United States is on a downward curve? Medicine, old age, the incompetent people around him, the out-of-date analysis of the RAND Corporation, or the messianic longings of a declining empire? Unequivocally, none of these causes can be ruled out.
Everything indicates that NATO and therefore the United States was betting that Russia would be unable to invade Ukraine. In 1999 came the first wave of NATO creeping up to Russia’s borders, with the affiliation of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic; and Russia did nothing.
In 2004 a second wave came with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Slovenia; and Russia did nothing.
In 2009 a third wave came with Croatia and Albania, and Russia did nothing.
In 2017 a fourth wave came with Montenegro, and Russia did nothing.
In 2020 a fifth wave came with Macedonia, and Russia did nothing.
We know that all these waves were accompanied by US military bases and thousands of cannons pointed at Russia.
Western intelligence created a fifth column inside Ukraine, and Russia did nothing.
They sponsored a coup d’etat against its democratically elected, Russia-leaning President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, and Russia did nothing.
They establish a puppet government led by neo-Nazis and other supremacists, and Russia responded with the annexation of Crimea on March 18, 2014, after a plebiscite in which 97% of Crimeans voted in favor of it.
The provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk declared themselves independent and, despite the constant bombardment by the Ukrainian army and the murder of more than 14,000 people, most of them Russians, Russia did not move its troops into these territories, nor did it recognize their independence.
In 2014, consistent with a declaration of war, Ukraine renounced its military neutrality; Russia did not go beyond a few declarations of disgust.
In 2014 and 2015, the Minsk agreements were signed between Russia and Ukraine, with France and Germany as signatories, to end the conflict between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian fighters in the two provinces of Donbas (Donetsk and Lugansk).
Through these deals, a ceasefire was approved, and Ukraine agreed to pass a law that recognizes the provinces a certain type of autonomy before taking control over its borders.
The Ukrainian government flouted the treaty, violated the ceasefire, and killed thousands of people in the two separatist territories with its bombing.
Ukraine did not approve the law stipulated in the treaties, and on the contrary approved more legislation that discriminated against ethnic minorities, especially Russians, in which they were prohibited from speaking their language. Russia also did not respond to the provocation.
For months before February 24, 2022, the United States and the European Union, in order to immobilize Russia, unleash a campaign of hysteria about an alleged invasion of Ukraine, at the same time that NATO trained Ukrainian soldiers and Kiev’s army deployed more than 100,000 heavily armed troops to the Donbas border.
Mistaking Russian caution for weakness, they were preparing a full-scale offensive. It was no longer possible for Russia to remain cautious; the cost was very high. And to NATO’s surprise and frustration, Russian troops invaded Ukraine.
In the face of the invasion, the United States and its European ruling cliques found themselves in a powerless position—their calculations were wrong.
To make up for it, they had no alternative but to resort to Russiaphobic hysteria and self-destruction by imposing economic sanctions. Could we see a greater display of imperial impotence?
“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Biden said of Putin.
Given all this situation, we can deduce that in the economic area, in the short term, the United States wins a battle; it increases its sale of weapons, gas, and oil to countries in the NATO sphere; and their unfounded fear strengthens their adherence to the designs of the empire. The US GDP rises, the dollar temporarily strengthens, and it achieves a contraction in the Russian economy for a short time.
In the medium and long term, Russia wins the war, disarms Ukraine, occupies it for a relatively short time, establishes a government allied with its interests, strengthens its own economy with the reconstruction of Ukraine and with the expansion of its commercial ties with China, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. For centuries to come, it also militarily secures its weakest flanks in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
In the medium and long term, with respect to the United States and Europe, the excessive effects of their actions will keep inflation high, thus weakening the dollar and the euro and making SWIFT lose relevance in the face of Asian interbank systems.
The economic crisis will bring out the contradictions between and within Western nations, which will give way to the destruction of their veneer of cohesion and unleash a social implosion.
Paradoxically, in the long term, without even having participated directly in the conflict, the one who will truly be the winner is China: the yuan is strengthened, ties with Russia are further deepened, exports are increased, and, to the detriment of the United States, its geopolitical influence rises.
In the end, the imperial politicians and planners, carried away by the arrogant pride that characterizes them, were the ones who really made the miscalculation. They made plans for Russia that were much larger than the measures they could take to achieve them, and were thus doomed to defeat before the conflict even began.
When we look at Putin in comparison to US and European leaders, regardless of the fact that we do not agree with any of them, the only one who demonstrates a dialectical analytical capacity and a holistic conception of the world is Putin. It’s not for nothing that Western leaders hate him so much; he is running laps around them.
Antonio Camacho Negrón is an activist for the independence of Puerto Rico and a former political prisoner.
scorinocohttps://orinocotribune.com/author/sahelicot92/November 26, 2023