By Dr. Dmitry Radyshevsky
Putin’s attacking Ukraine is a crime. Innocent people are dying. The Biden Administration could have stopped this war but didn’t. They put Ukraine on a collision course with Russia long ago. For their own interests – not the interests of the Ukrainian people. And not the interests of the United States.
The West has a completely wrong idea of Putin as an evil genius, ideologist and geo-strategist, akin to Lenin and Stalin. This is very far from reality. Putin loves sports more than politics; relaxation more than decision making. Putin’s main gifts are loyalty and method acting. For loyalty to the Yeltsin clan, he was made President. For the loyalty to the KGB (now the FSB) they keep him in power. Yes, Russia is run by a team of secret service and law enforcement chiefs (siloviki) – super-powerful and super-rich clan, call them the KGB Corporation. This Corporation employs outstanding analysts and strategists. Putin’s acting gift helps him deliver the seemingly off-the-cuff remarks, which are carefully crafted by his strategists. He does not run the Corporation – he is simply its front man.
Why do the overwhelming majority of Russians, at least until now, support Putin, despite economic hardships and the absence of the rule of law, when ordinary Russian citizens always lose in a conflict with the state or a member of an elite? Well, first, they don’t have much choice. Second, propaganda and state control over Media is a huge factor. But an equally important factor is the strategic blundering of the West, primarily of the US Democratic Administrations, who did everything to play into the hand of Putin, leaving ordinary Russians feeling that Russia needs to defend itself.
The US Democratic Administrations have always encouraged Ukrainian requests for the increased security cooperation with NATO. The EU flirted with this idea. NATO discussed it with Ukraine. Russia, who was not invited into NATO, obviously felt nervous. And it wasn’t only Putin’s gang. The ordinary Russian felt this way as well. They spoke about that for almost a decade. They asked, begged, and threatened to address their security concerns – even if they were unjustified. All that was ignored by the US for almost 17 years, since 2004 – when the Ukrainian Orange Revolution started a Cold War between Moscow and Kiev.
Until Ukraine’s independence in 1991, most Ukrainians were speaking Russian. Afterwards Ukrainian politicians – assisted by the US and the Europeans who supplied Ukrainian-language textbooks to schools – forced millions of their Russian speaking citizens, to learn and use only the Ukrainian language, causing tensions in the country and with Russia. The US ignored all that. For the past 17 years, the US Administrations, instead of diplomacy – finding peaceful solutions to both Ukrainian and Russian security concerns, and grievances of Ukraine’s Russian speakers – have been encouraging Ukrainians to snub Russia: “Yeh, guys, get closer to NATO, we’ll cover you”.
Well, did they? In the name of democracy — by the way, Ukraine is not yet a democracy but a Kleptocracy, like Russia, sweetened by the freedom of speech and a much weaker repressive apparatus — the Biden administration has created another Arab Spring, another failed bloody mess, this time on the borders of Eastern Europe.
Now, at best, the outcome of this horrific war will be a puppet, Moscow-controlled regime in Kiev, instead of a truly neutral and prosperous Ukraine which could have emerged, if not for the US Democrats who drove a wedge deeper and deeper between Ukraine and Russia.
This is not an apology for Putin. This dictator will go eventually. But the Russian national interests will stay. Even if an intrepid corruption-fighter like Alexey Navalny becomes Russia’s President, he will protect Russian national interests, historic justice, and rights of the ethnic Russians in the near abroad. That will be his duty according to the Russian Constitution.
Even if Navalny becomes a President, he will have to act forcefully if NATO will dare put its bases on Russia’s borders – be it Kazakhstan, Georgia, or Azerbaijan. Unless Russia is admitted into NATO. Early on, Yeltsin and Putin wanted Russia to join NATO. President Clinton sabotaged it, despite his hugs with “my friend Boris”, and despite President GW Bush who saw “Putin’s soul.” If strategic American national interests were put at the helm, instead of the interests of Democratic Party’s elites, admitting Russia into NATO should have been the goal of the US diplomacy since 1991.
The only way out of this mess now is a truly wise neutral mediation between Russia and Ukraine. Neither the US nor the EU will be accepted by Russians as mediators.
Maybe it should be India – Prime Minister Modi. Maybe it should be Israel. There are politicians there, like Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who is trusted by both Putin and Zelensky – especially in light of large and powerful Jewish communities in both Russia and Ukraine. Or perhaps it should be former U.S. President Donald Trump.
Dr Dmitry Radyshevsky is a Moscow-born Harvard-educated Israeli-American theologian, political analyst and writer. Author of “Universal Zionism” and “The New Maccabees”. He’s the founder of Jerusalem Summit – a think-tank dedicated to uniting the free world around Jerusalem and developing a joint strategy against the twin dangers: “Man without God” of Post-Liberalism and “God without man” of totalitarian states’ Statism and Islamism.