Crisis in Ukraine – lessons for Africa

Posted by By at 15 October, at 08 : 45 AM Print

Crisis in Ukraine – lessons for Africa
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Crisis in Ukraine – lessons for Africa

 

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It is difficult for an African, a continent where lily-livered rulers kowtow to Western diktats and allow usurpers that should come to us like beggars and supplicants, ride roughshod over us, not to admire the almost virtuoso performance of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the ongoing Ukrainian crises.

Whatever one may detest or find odious about the Russian leader, in him we have a leader who knows what his country’s interests are, and is prepared to go to any length to defend them.

While we normally do not find joy in a people’s humiliation, it is impossible not to have good chuckles as we watched Western leaders with eggs on their faces, scramble to find answers to Putin’s surefooted and deft moves in Crimea, and his one-upmanship on the West in the sanction wars.

It is equally difficult not to be amused at attempts by Western commentators to try to pull wool over our eyes on realities unfolding before our very eyes.

The sheer hypocrisy on open display by Western leaders/scholars in the Ukrainian crises is just mind-boggling.

Western narratives

What is one supposed to make of US Secretary of State John Kerry statement that: “You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests. It’s really 19th-century behavior in the 21st century. The immediate concern must be to show Russia that further moves will not be tolerated and that Ukraine’s territorial integrity is sacrosanct.”

Really, Mr. Kerry! Your country spent US$3Trillion to destroy two countries (Afghanistan and Iraq) and is attacking Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia in undeclared Drone-wars, and you have the cheek to tell us tales!

And what are we to think of President Obama hectoring Putin, and giving sanctimonious lectures on the sanctity of international law, and the need to respect the sovereignty of nations?

It is difficult to know the type of food and drink that they serve the Power Elite of the West to make them so hypocritical, but it sounds hollow and duplicitous for the president of the USA to give any lecture on the sanctity of international laws; he simply lacks the moral integrity.

The man whose country has invaded more countries than any other, the president who has launched more extra-territorial Drone attacks than any other, simply has no moral right to talk about the rule of law or the sanctity of national sovereignty.

Facts on the ground

Buoyed by a sense of insane triumphalism, Western hegemons continue to treat the rest of the world with disdain. The US ringed the world with military bases – 900 at the last count. (Note to editor: Source: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/sep/14/ron-paul/ron-paul-says-us-has-military-personnel-130-nation/).

The West rained bombs, occupied and destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan. They killed a sitting head of state in Libya, and destroyed Africa’s most developed nation, and installed an amalgam of fundamentalists, who have thoroughly messed up that once-prosperous country.

Where they dare not invade, Western countries have imposed crippling sanctions – Iran and Zimbabwe being good examples.

The ease of triumphs in imposing their will on less-powerful nations appears to have led to a sense of invisibility, which appears to make western rulers believe that they could get away anything.

For many of us that follow international affairs closely, the acquiescence of Russia and China in the western march to conquer the world has been most baffling.

It is difficult for us to understand what thinking led the heir to the Soviet Union, to side with the West on issues like the destruction of Libya, for example.

Which makes the Western foray, folly, and faux-pas in Ukraine all the more perplexing.

putin n obama2

A more sane and charitable people would have acknowledged Russia’s help in furthering their interests across the world, but not so the Western leaders who, minority though they are, have come to look at the rest of the world as their natural patrimony.

The West was not contented to gobble up much of the world plus its resources, they have to carry their expansion scheme right to the doorstep of Russia.

They planned to corral Ukraine, a country with long and deep cultural, historical, economic and political ties to Russia into their orbit of influence. A leaked recorded telephone conversation between the US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and the US ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, revealed that the US spent $5 billion in covert funding to destabilize Ukraine and fund neo-Nazi extremists in the country.

Genesis of crisis

The root of the Ukrainian crisis can be traced to a decision by the EU to ‘help’ Ukraine. This despite the fact that most members of the EU itself struggle to keep themselves afloat.

It appeared that the conditions attached by the EU to its pound of flesh were too usurious for the Ukrainians to swallow. At a summit in Lithuania, the then Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych abandoned plans to sign the agreement that would have put the country firmly in Europe’s orbit while, at the same time, imposed punishing austerity measures, a la Greece.

A motley gathering of Pro-EU, anti-government protesters, many of them avowed fascists, took to the streets. They took over Kiev’s Independence Square and seized the City Hall.

Western leaders cheered the protesters as defenders of democracy. As he did in both Libya and Syria, US Senator John McCain made an appearance and exhorted the protesters to carry the battle on.

Protests led to death and mayhem with Western leaders vociferating loudly against the deaths. However, it later emerged that the Ukrainian government was not wholly responsible. A leaked phone conversation between Estonian foreign affairs minister, Urmas Paet, and the EU foreign policy chief, Cathy Ashton, revealed that the deaths in the protests were engineered by anti-government pro-EU supporters. Urmas Paet was quoted as saying: “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition.”

On February 21, under a European-Union-mediated plan, President Yanukovych and protest-leaders agreed to form a new government and hold an early election.

Some EU foreign ministers, including Poland’s Radoslaw Sikorski, Germany’s Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the Director at the Continental Europe Department of the French Foreign Ministry, Eric Fournier, brokered the agreement.

However, the Western-supported protestors refused to honour the agreement as they continue with their protest and occupation. Mr. Yanukovych was forced to flee Kiev after protesters took control of several government buildings.

Viktor Yanukovych, a sitting, elected president was effectively deposed through a coup d’etat, by a mob supported by Western Democracies.

Rather than condemn the tearing up of an agreement it co-signed, the EU rather cheered the mobsters and, together with the U.S., promptly recognized the new government.

The new Western-supported regime wasted no time in showing its open antagonism towards Moscow. One of its first moves was to abolish Russian as Ukraine’s second official language. There were also reports of the molestation of ethnic Russians.

Surprisingly, the West which has busied itself with giving us lectures on the sanctity of free and fair election in effecting changes in government cheered the mob actions in Ukraine. The people that tell the rest of us about the need to respect rule of law, gave support to mob action to remove an elected president.

Russia’s deft moves

Russia reply to the happenings in its backyard was swift and resolute, and it leaves no one in doubt as to what would happen if anyone decided to mess up. It announced a vast military exercise and reinforced its troops stationed in Crimea. Russia, in effect, effectively took control of Crimea, the region of Ukraine that Khrushchev dashed the Ukrainians in 1954.

putin and generals

On March 1, as the situation in Crimea deteriorates, local pro-Russian leaders appealed to Putin for help. The Russian upper house of the parliament speedily agreed and voted to approve a request by Putin to use military power, not only in Crimea but in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, apparently taking a cue from the new parliament in Kiev, Crimea’s parliament voted unanimously in favour of joining Russia. The city council of Sevastopol in Crimea couldn’t even wait, as it announced that it was joining Russia immediately. The referendum was duly held on Sunday, the 16th of March and it was unanimously approved.

A staggering ninety-five percent of Crimeans voted to join Russia.

Sixty years after Nikita Khrushchev gave it away, the Crimea was effectively back in the Russian motherland.

The West retaliated by slapping sanctions on Russia. It is instructive for those of us in Africa to remember that the people that told us, during apartheid, that sanctions do not work and will only harm ordinary people, have suddenly become its most vociferous enthusiasts. They have slapped sanctions on Zimbabwe, Iraq, Iran and now Russia.

Many Russian commentators, legitimately, asked why the West finds it justifiable to pursue its interests, by engaging in military adventures in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, but object to Russia doing the same in its backyard. They scoffed at Western masking its pursuits of its interest in humanitarian and moral halo while condemning Russia’s moves as naked aggression.

On August 7, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in reaction to Western sanctions, announced a one-year ban on agricultural produce from the EU, the US and Canada. The move caused immediate mayhem, as EU farmers scramble to find a market for their fresh fruits and vegetables. Farmers in the Netherlands, Lithuania, Finland, Greece, Spain and the UK cried out loudly and begged for EU bailout.

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Lessons for Africa

The robust response of Russia to attempt by the West to mess up at its backyard ought to serve as useful lessons to our rulers in Africa.

It is clear that no matter the preachments about international law, what matters in the world today is raw military strength.

It is sad that Africa, with its over one plus billion people, count for absolutely nothing in Geo-Strategic and military equations in the world. No one takes any notice of us because they know that we lack the military muscle to do a darn thing.

This is seriously troubling since the lessons of history ought to have taught us the imperatives of strengthening our security and defence.

As the only people to have suffered the twin calamities of slavery and colonialism, securing our defence ought to take priority over everything else. We should be the one people that do not joke with its security.

Aside from South Africa and Egypt, no African state possess the military muscle to provide credible deterrence to foreign aggressors. None of our countries in Africa possesses a viable defence industry.

Yet, Africa continues to spend good money to purchase foreign military hardware.

Common sense alone should tell us that foreigners will not sell to us the wherewithal to defeat them. All we can get for our money are discarded, museum-pieces that are good only for showy independence parades and to intimidate local opponents.

How good and pleasant it would be for Africa to have just one leader like Putin, whose confidence and self-assurance comes from the knowledge that if push comes to shove, he has the military muscles to take very good care of himself and his country.

Russian president Putin was not boasting when he declared: “Thank God, I think no one is thinking of unleashing a large-scale conflict with Russia. I want to remind you that Russia is one of the leading nuclear powers.”

Putin was a simply stating a fact. He knows that aggressors can go this far and not farther when it comes to a war against his country. NATO can boast of vastly superior numerical advantages in men and armaments, but Putin knows that with his country’s vast nuclear arsenal, only a demented person will start a war with Russia. They call it the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) policy.

Rather than continue to make foreign arms manufacturers happy, Africa should start to take its defence and security issues more seriously. It is sad that after almost six decades of self-governing ourselves, we still run to our colonial masters at the hint of trouble. It is sad that we do not have leaders who think of a strategic and coherent security policy for the continent; even if only at the regional bloc levels. While recent global developments suggest the imperativeness of a continent-wide security policy, even the most unviable of the colonial garrisons we call countries in Africa still believe that go-it-alone is the best policy.

The late Libyan leader, Muammar Al Gathafi, reported spent US$25 billion on buying foreign weapons in his last decade in power. They counted for little when the imperialists decided to smash his regime. Investing that huge sum in indigenous defence systems would have proven better insurance for our late Brother.

In a speech on the 24th of May 1963, Kwame Nkrumah said that if Africa fails to unite, we shall perish together. He suggested the establishment of an African High Command. It was an eminent suggestion that Africa should revisit without delay.

It is time we in Africa learn the truism in Chairman Mao’s dictum that Political Power flow from the barrel of the gun.

 

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About the Author

Femi Akomolafe is a passionate Pan-Africanist. A columnist for the Accra-based Daily Dispatch newspaper and Correspondent for the New African magazine. Femi lives in both Europe and Africa and writes regularly on Africa-related issues for various newspapers and magazines.

Femi was the producer of the FOCUS ON AFRICANS TV Interview programme for the MultiTV Station.

He is also the CEO of Alaye Dot Biz Limited Dot Biz, a Kasoa-based Multimedia organisation that specialises in Audio and Video Production. He loves to shoot and edit video documentaries.

His highly-acclaimed books (“Africa: Destroyed by the gods,” “Africa: It shall be well,” “18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories” and “Ghana: Basic Facts + More”) are now available for sales at the following bookshops/offices:

  1. Freedom Bookshop, near Apollo Theatre, Accra.
  2. The Daily Dispatch Office, Labone – Accra
  3. WEB Dubois Pan-African Centre, Accra
  4. Ghana Writers Association office, PAWA House, Roman Ridge, Accra.
  5. African Kitchen in Amsterdam Bijlmer

Where to buy them online:

On Lulu Books:

18 African Fables & Moonlight Stories https://goo.gl/Skohtn

Ghana: Basic Facts + More: https://goo.gl/73ni99

Africa: Destroyed by the gods: https://goo.gl/HHmFfr

Africa: It shall be well: https://goo.gl/KIMcIm

 

Africa: it shall be well

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on Amazon books: http://goo.gl/QeFxbl

on Lulu Books: https://goo.gl/SQeoKD

 

Africa: Destroyed by the gods

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on Amazon books: http://goo.gl/1z97ND

on Lulu Books: http://goo.gl/KIMcIm

 

My Lulu Books page: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/FemiAkomolafe

 

Get free promotional materials here:

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A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: It shall be well’ could be downloaded here: http://alaye.biz/africa-it-shall-be-well-a-free-chapter/

  1. Africa: Destroyed by the gods (How religiosity destroyed Africa) http://alaye.biz/africa-destroyed-by-the-gods-introduction/

A FREE Chapter of ‘Africa: Destroyed by the gods’ could be downloaded here: http://alaye.biz/africa-destroyed-by-the-gods-free-chapter/

Read a review here

Contact Femi:

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Kindly help me share the books’ links with your friends and, grin, please purchase your copies.

Comradely,

Femi Akomolafe

 

 

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