The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, speaking to John Hopkins University this week has effectively pulled down a freeze to the Ukraine conflict and seeks to concentrate on America’s neo-con obsession with China.
China is, and I have said it many, many times, the greatest threat to UK but not in a military way. China does not have a record of invading countries; unlike the United States. This is another reason when looking at our Defence and Intelligence budgets why we need to make sure we have a defensive capability fit for purpose; especially in the electronic sphere. Ukraine has shown that some of our British, and NATO, equipment is superfluous, inappropriate and in many cases ineffective. You only have to take a non-rose coloured spectacle assessment of what has been happening in Ukraine.
As I have said here and on social media numerous times in the past, the United Kingdom government needs to be ready for this ‘pull-out’ of American effort regarding Ukraine and learn the lesson of how the US withdrew support for the Saudi bombing of Yemen without even consulting the UK government in London. The latter left the UK Foreign Office blind-sided at the time, being unable to prepare press statements supporting American action in time. Also the very fast recent pull-out from Afghanistan; where we did at least have some notice.
During this conflict in Ukraine, which will continue for quite some time because Russia has yet to decide whether to press on to take control of Odessa and the sea areas bordering Romania and move modestly further westwards to protect Russian lands from locally based current and future missiles, we need to learn some lessons militarily in UK and NATO.
- The Russian economy is robust and healthy despite Western sanctions.
- Russia’s political influence in the world is growing, not shrinking. BRICS is a case in point.
- Russia is inflicting enormous casualties on Ukraine’s military and decimating infrastructure critical to the Ukrainian military campaign. They could be much less cautious than they are in their operations.
- Russia’s defence industry has ramped up to levels of production that the West cannot match.
- Russia’s seemingly unlimited access to natural resources, energy and rare earth minerals strengthens Russia’s military position in the world.
- Russia enjoys a massive technological advantage over NATO in terms of electronic warfare, air defence systems, mine laying vehicles and hypersonic missiles.
- Russian leaders and their people genuinely believe they face an existential threat from the West; primarily America.
- Ukraine is totally dependent on the West to provide money and weapons to continue to fight.
The refusal of Western leaders, especially the US, to entertain an alternative narrative regarding Ukraine has created more risk with each passing day. False or mistaken assumptions about why Russia is doing what it is doing carries an enormous risk of miscalculation on the part of the United States and its NATO allies. All too often there is a failure to seek to understand and take on board how Russia and Russians see things. Russophobia is rife. The idea that Putin wishes to invade The Baltics or Poland is little short of bonkers and the propaganda of arms manufacturers. Putin is doing everything he can not to enter a conflict with NATO.
I could argue that the American forced conflict in Ukraine has achieved little, apart from decimating east Ukraine and killing hundreds of thousands, other than display how weak NATO actually is. It’s a Club. Most of the members barely have a defence force. British Generals have pointed out that even in the UK we could not fight a war for more than few days. We also, to use that Network Rail phrase, arguably have the “wrong kind of capabilities and equipment”. The wild talk of war with Russia, from some, takes no account that NATO is unlikely to win such a conflict.
Too many so-called key opinion-formers have never even met a Russian or Chinese citizen, let alone have a real understanding of how they see things. This includes many so called “experts”. They think the Russian Federation is still the Soviet Union and it most certainly is not. This ignorance breeds Russophobia and a feeling of superiority not founded in reality. Even worse are those individuals and academics who know that they are daily lying in their statements, but feel unable to tell the truth.
Ukraine has been a spectacular failure of US foreign policy. To some extent is is having an impact, especially with the rise of BRICS, which may cut America off at the knees. Even on the military side, the type of ground in Ukraine was always going to lead to an artillery based war; with much equipment unable to move in that terrain for many months of the year. Right from the start the US ought to have known it had neither the shells required to supply Ukraine or the military industrial complex to manufacture them in sufficient quantity. Each time British or NATO missiles, often guided by NATO personnel, hit the Russian heartland it risks retaliation in a manner not currently part of the so called Special Military Operation.
We had so very many opportunities to prevent conflict in Ukraine. We must now, especially in the UK, seek to improve our diplomacy, improve our #dialogue and quite simply “listen more and lecture less”. The Global South has frankly had enough. Good diplomacy requires not just the expression of your own country’s views and policy but having a complete understanding of another country’s views and concerns and for them to be noted; and then for policy makers not to ignore them.