Language of force in international politics12.05.2021
The recent situation near the Ukraine-Russia border has once again taken center stage in international politics. Do you think that a rabbit can understand a fox? Can a fox understand a tiger? In the same vein, can a bully and a thug understand classic diplomacy and political correctness? I believe the answer to these questions is a clear no.
You can be politically correct and say “brown organic matter”, but a person who can’t and doesn’t even want to be politically correct will not understand what you mean. But if you say sh**, this person will instantly know what you’re talking about.
The same can be said about regular diplomacy not working with Putin’s Russia, because it isn’t a language that Russia understands. How else can we interpret the Kremlin saying what Ukraine can and can’t do, while at the same time concentrating its army near the border just as did before the annexation of Crimea?
It’s a secret to no one that Russia was the instigator of the conflict in Ukraine and that it continues to provide military assistance to the separatists. Aside from providing manpower and armaments, the Kremlin is also actively engaged in political activities in order to achieve its ends.
A good example is when on 24 April 2019 Putin signed a decree on simplifying the procedure of issuing passports to residents of the occupied parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. Later, the decree included the entire territory of Donbass. In less that a year, 136,000 people of the occupied region were granted Russian citizenship along with 60,000 people from the Kiev-controlled parts of Donetsk and Luhansk. Never mind the fact that Russia created a situation where people could only survive if they accept Russian citizenship.
Back then, Russia laid the groundwork for its future activities. Deputy Head of the Russian Presidential Administration Dmitry Kozak announced that “depending on the scale of the conflict, Moscow will be forced to protect its citizens in Eastern Ukraine”. Kozak added that if Kiev engages in warfare against the Russian-backed separatists “it will be the beginning of the end for Ukraine”. He warned that Ukraine’s ascension to NATO will lead to the collapse of the country.
The cherry on top was when Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov urged other nations not to supply Ukraine with armaments.
I will now explain this in a more understandable language.
Putin invaded Ukraine, but in order to make it not so blatantly obvious he called Russian troops “volunteers”, dressed them in unmarked army uniforms and gave them weapons. Crimea was conquered, but in Donbass things didn’t go as planned. Russia achieved its goal of raising the morale of its people, never mind the fact that most Russians live in poor conditions – it’s more important to be “victors”. This also diverts everyone’s attention from that fact that Putin should be replaced.
Now, to achieve Ukraine’s surrender, Russia is redeploying a large number of forces to give a clear signal of what can be expected if Ukraine doesn’t give in. In other words, Russia is just flexing its muscles. The basic principle of Putin’s diplomacy is to fully deny everything, even if it gets caught red-handed, and to teach everyone else how to behave, of course, according to Russia’s interests. That’s why Russia urged other nations not to provide weapons to Ukraine – it’s harder to overcome a foe who is armed. And god forbid Ukraine joins NATO, because then Russia will have lost everything.
You may ask – what should we do? How do we talk to Putin so that he understands? The answer is simple – we must use a language that he understands.
If Russia is free to redeploy its forces within Russia, Ukraine is free to decide which organizations to join and what troops to allow in its territory. The language we should use is simple – a considerable number of forces must be stationed reasonably far away from the border so that the Kremlin can’t complain that a bridgehead is being formed to invade Russia. Other countries must assist Ukraine by delivering modern weapons systems – the more, the better.
Turkey would be of great assistance with its drones. Everyone still remembers well how drones were used to eradicate Russian military equipment in Nagorno-Karabakh. Additionally, the countries that send their troops to Ukraine must announce that an attack against their troops is an attack against their country – with all the logical consequences, of course.
Such language would be understandable and explicit – if you harass us we will punch you in the face, hard. Sit on your side of the fence and everything will be fine. We won’t suddenly become friends, but at least we will be able to coexist.