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Russia's Assault On Ukraine. Demonstration Of Failure Of Dialogue In Absence Of Mutual Respect?

Updated: Apr 18, 2022

Rest Of The World | Commentary February 24, 2022



Russia has unleashed a full-scale assault on Ukraine. The assault began in the early morning hours of February 24, 2022 (local time) with precise bombing by planes and cruise missiles from different directions, of military infrastructure in many Ukraine’s cities including capital Kiev, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Mariupol, and Odessa, among others. The air attacks that are ongoing, are said to have been followed by deployment of ground troops into Kiev metropolitan region and Donbas area.


At these early stages, it is unknown what the outcome of the assault will be. However, it is highly probable that when the assault eventually ends, Ukraine we know today may not be the same both geographically and politically.


Russia in rationalizing the assault, has reportedly said that the assault was aimed at, among others, getting rid of a puppet regime in Ukraine that is infested with neo-Nazis/fascists, and that poses a security threat to it. Central to Russia’s claimed security concern is said to be Ukraine’s desire and expression of interest for NATO membership that Russia sees as providing potential expansion of NATO right to its border hence would make Ukraine a springboard for the military alliance easy attacks on its territory. Russia is said to be particularly concerned about this because it says NATO specifically names Russia in its document as being among the alliance’s top threats.


Notwithstanding, hitherto the ongoing Russian assault on Ukraine, massive efforts by some leading NATO members like USA, France, Germany, and Great Britain, have been going on to try resolve the Russia Ukraine NATO conflict diplomatically through dialogue. Why such efforts failed so miserably is difficult to establish precisely. However, it could be speculated that the failure could have been a result of inappropriate premises for dialogue. We will elaborate briefly as thus.


Diplomacy and dialogue only work as effective mechanisms for conflict resolution where there is sustained mutual respect and trust between those in the parties involved, in this case NATO member countries and Ukraine as one part and Russia as the other. If such level of mutual relation is lacking or highly dented by let say swearing at, and even demonizing legitimate leaders of one of the parties, then efforts towards resolving an emerged conflict through dialogue are likely to be fruitless. Accepting to differ no matter how big the differences are, is the key to successful dialogue hence peaceful resolution of conflicts. It is rather foolish of one part to think its positions on issues are always right and those of others are always wrong because that is oversimplification of reality! That is even more so if the part has been embracing positions like the others’ disputed positions on previous similar issues.


In a nutshell, origins of the current Russia Ukraine NATO conflict can be traced back to November 2013 when the then Ukraine’s democratically elected pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych refused to endorse a proposed Ukraine – European Union Association Agreement. The refusal triggered massive violent protests at Maidan Square in Kiev and throughout the country, that were supported by the so-called West. Even some top Western politicians flew to Kiev to join the violent protesters said to have consisted of, among others, neo-Nazis. The protests eventually led to ousting of the legitimate President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014, who then fled to Russia.


Russia responded very swiftly to the ousting of the pro-Russian president and replacement of his administration with a pro-West regime, by recognising Ukraine’s Crimea region as a sovereign state and annexing it same year after Crimea’s population voted in a Referendum in favor of joining the Russia Federation.


This brief historical background to the Russia Ukraine NATO conflict is crucial because it can help to show that the ongoing assault on Ukraine by Russia has a context and did not come out of the blue as may have been portrayed in some quarters either deliberately or otherwise. More specifically, it suggests that the assault may have been an outcome of many factors and conditions that unfolded over a period of almost a decade, and that are inherent in all the parties involved in the conflict. Even as the Russian assault continues, the other parties are retaliating in various ways with Ukraine fighting back while NATO member countries are trying cripple Russia economically through slamming it with what they think will be effective harsh economic sanctions, hence keeping the conflict alive!


Anyway, as regards the harsh economic sanctions by NATO member countries in particular, it is doubtful that the imposed sanctions will be able to cripple Russia’s economy. For instance, the notion by the countries that disconnecting some key Russia’s banks from the West’s international payment system SWIFT will have devastating effects on Russia’s economy may be just a fallacy or at least symbolic. That is because many Russian banks are reportedly already connected to an alternative international payment system called CIPS (Cross-Border Interbank Payment System). The Chinese CIPS that facilitates transfer and settlement of international payments in Chinese yuan, was launched in 2015 and has since only got popular worldwide especially in non-Western countries. Currently CIPS has about 1189 banks from about 100 countries, connected to it.


Because of Russia’s shift from SWIFT to CIPS, its central bank is said to have reduced its US dollar reserves considerably in recent years, in favor of Chinese yuan, and gold, among others. Currently US dollars account for only 16% of the central bank’s total reserves, down from 40% in 2017, according to some reports.


Furthermore, making Russia almost immune to economic sanctions in the long run, is the country’s advanced industrialization, sophisticated technological know-how, and vast reserves of natural assets that include strategic natural assets hence ability to generate most of the consumer, medical, and capital goods it needs. Russia's strategic natural assets include vast deposits of oil, natural gas, coal, cobalt, iron ore, uranium ore, zinc, manganese, platinum, copper, and nickel, as well as vast arable land and fresh water sources, among others. Some sources suggest that Russia is probably the richest country in the world in natural assets. When national wealth incorporates both national income and natural assets, Russia becomes richer than many Western countries.


With Russia's above local circumstances, economic sanctions may be catalytic for indigenous innovation, and increased manufacturing hence rapid national economic growth. In the short run, however, Russia may experience some economic difficulties emanating from economic sanctions, but that may apply to some of those imposing them as well. It important to observe that economies of countries that have high technological capacity and abundant natural assets are more resilient than those of countries with limited natural assets.


Also, Russia could ditch outward oriented economic development model and adopt inward oriented economic development model with only limited external trade with BRICS members, i.e., Brazil, India, China, and South Africa, as well as some interested non-Western countries. With inward oriented economic development strategy, Russia could still attain GDP growth through “making itself great” by using its mighty technological capacity and massive deposits of natural assets to generate capital assets locally for, let say, overhauling its infrastructure, increasing and modernizing its housing stock, modernising its agriculture, restructuring and boosting its service and leisure industries for local consumption, etc. Some industrialized countries do this even without existence of economic sanctions against them through use of economic protective policies like tariffs. We all remember Trumps’ moves as he thrived to make America great again!


Countries with high technological capacities and vast deposits of natural assets do not need to adopt outward oriented economic development models to attain GDP growth. Only those high technology countries with no or limited deposits of natural assets need to do that. Also vulnerable are those countries with mainly export oriented economies as well as those that depend mainly on financial services and tourism industries. High technology countries in the latter categories can be crippled by economic sanctions or global disasters or crises that hamper global trade.


In conclusion, Russia assault on Ukraine was therefore predictable and as indicated earlier in this commentary, could have probably been evaded through appropriate diplomacy and dialogue among those involved in the Russia Ukraine NATO conflict. _____________________________ © 2015 - 2022 Africauptodate. All Rights Reserved

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