(You know I had to write something about this.)
If you haven’t heard, there’s a war going on. Truth be told, there are a lot of them. Funny how nobody’s talking about Israel’s attacks in Syria, Saudi Arabia’s continued bombing of Yemen, the genocide of the Uyghurs in occupied East Turkestan, or the war still being waged against common sense in English-speaking counties. No, only one gets the media coverage.
Problem is, the media is backing the wrong side.
Zelensky is one of the most corrupt heads of state in the Western world. There’s a reason the Biden and Clinton families launder their money through Ukrainian businesses. They know they’re in good company, and that the local government will turn a blind eye. What do you expect from a comedian?
Now, that’s not to say Vladimir Putin is a saint. Far from it. He’s corrupt in a different way, owing to his long history with the KGB and its post-Soviet successor. Putin is a strongman of the same style as Donald Trump, Jair Bolsonaro, and even Kim Jong Un. He rules with an iron fist, brooks no dissent, and is generally a poor example of a democratically elected leader.
As I write this, the Russian army is encircling Kiev. They’ve taken Kharkov, and already held Crimea after the 2014 revolution. But here’s where it gets interesting. You see, Putin has the perfect casus belli because of that event eight years ago. And, if he were the leader of any other country in the world, we would be backing him wholeheartedly.
Most of the countries of Eastern Europe are messes of cultural and linguistic tension. You might think that’s ancient history, but it really isn’t. The cultural barriers proved stronger than even the Iron Curtain. They broke up Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia a few decades ago, and the disputed independence of Kosovo a few years later. Most of the former Soviet states are arranged along ethnic lines, or as close as can be: Kazakhstan for the Kazakhs, Uzbekistan for the Uzbeks, and so on. Quite simply, it’s nationalism put into action. Yes, there are others in those countries who don’t fit in, but most regions have an overwhelming majority of their respective peoples.
Ukraine is…a little different. Yes, most people living there are Ukrainian, but a few parts have a very large contingent of Russian-speaking people. These Russian “enclaves” (for lack of a better term) include Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk. All three of those declared their independence during the revolution. Crimea, as we know, was effectively annexed by Russia, but the other two weren’t. For almost a decade, they have been the subject of repeated and sometimes intense bombing campaigns. Their people live under constant threat. And the “good guy” Ukrainians were the cause.
Even if you detest Russia, and you hate Putin with the fire of a thousand suns, you still can’t deny that the people of Donetsk and Luhansk have a reason to side with the invaders. They have been occupied territory for eight years. Their democratic referendums were ignored by the world at large, as is the case in any other Western democracy with a thriving and justified separatist movement—look at Catalonia, for one good example.
So I stand against Ukraine. I stand against Zelensky and NATO, because they have shown that they care nothing for the most basic right of all: the right of autonomy. I stand with those who are fighting for their freedom and their lives in the Donbass region, just as I support any other valid separatist movement.
Now that we have that out of the way, let me move to more important matters. As we are seeing in real time, the West is trying to fight a war using nothing but propaganda and cancel culture. Fortunately, that is failing for anyone who has taken a moment to think about the situation, yet not everyone has done that. So why don’t we?
While the Donetsk and Luhansk occupations were Putin’s stated reason for going to war, the real reason is one he has been complaining about for about 20 years: NATO expansion. The vast network of agreements that ended the Cold War also came with a number of unwritten rules. One of those was that the two sides, NATO and Russia, would have a buffer between them, a neutral ground mostly made up of former members of the USSR: Belarus, Ukraine, and so on. NATO wouldn’t infringe on the border to antagonize Russia, and Russia would refrain in the same manner. In the Ukraine case, this unwritten agreement was later written, as part of the fallout from 2014.
Zelensky’s attempts to join NATO and the EU are a direct violation of that agreement. The West’s arms deals to his country are eerily similar to the events that caused the Cuban Missile Crisis. If we wanted to look like a threat from the Russian perspective, we could hardly do a better job.
Putin is not evil, nor is he a Joker-like psychopath who acts without apparent reason. No, he has reasons, and our media’s failure to acknowledge them has done everyone a disservice. Instead of pretending Zelensky is the plucky hero of a B-list action movie out to fight the new Hitler, we should all take a more rational look at the situation.
The “stand with Ukraine” contingent abandoned rationality already. They see a world of black and white when the reality is infinite shades of gray. They imagine themselves the audience of a Marvel movie, or perhaps extras in it, and they cannot comprehend the idea that anyone would see things another way.
But I do. I see the lies being poured out by both sides. Mostly by the West, by my own government. Russia is not losing this war. They’re advancing every day. They have advantages in manpower, materiel, and morale. They’re fighting for what they perceive to be their countrymen, as well as the defense of their very way of life. Supporters of Ukraine, on the other hand, are fighting to prop up a corrupt regime and a decaying alliance.
Russia has time on their side. They’ll never be overrun in a counterattack. The sanctions and boycotts barely hurt them at all. In some ways, those may even be helping: Putin’s approval rating in independent polls is at an all-time high. And China is waiting in the wings, ready to use this opportunity to remake the geopolitical landscape.
Most of all, though, the West’s overreaction to a border skirmish has shown how powerless we truly are. Sanctions against a top producer of oil, natural gas, fertilizer, and many other economic necessities will hurt us more than them. Cutting Russian citizens off from the global economy reveals its true intent as a blunt instrument of control.
Don’t stand with Ukraine because you think they’re the heroes. Stand against them because their allies—in other words, all of us—are increasingly looking like the villains.