As the media is abuzz with reports of demilitarization and denazification amongst the reasons behind Russia’s attack on Ukraine. And the Jewish Ukrainian president pleads for peace. One cant help but wonder what Putin’s full argument is. Why did Russia attack? When I listened to the Russian president’s almost 30 minute announcement, I realised that he is pretty angry at NATO (The North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the entire western world. This is not just about bombing Ukraine.
Much of the reasoning is that Russia feels threatened by NATO’s continuous eastward expansion. Putin dedicates much of the first half of his address to the public purely to explaining how NATO and the western world have persistently been expanding their territory. All the while getting closer and closer to Russia. This despite Russia’s many warnings to not come too close to its borders. He states that NATO’s “military machine is moving and coming closer to our borders”, and adds that they are “creating an ever mounting and totally unacceptable threat for Russia”.
The Russian president points out many examples of this expansion. Bringing up instances such as the wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Where members of the western realm, namely the USA, have committed multiple acts of violence “without legal grounds”. Yet there was no UN or worldly intervention then.
Eight Years of Trying the Peaceful Route
Putin goes on to say that Russia has been communicating with NATO and western allies for at least eight years. Urging them to not expand further east and to keep a respectable distance from the Russian border.
He complains that western allies paid no heed to his words and continued their eastward expansion. Even now in recent days “NATO leadership has been blunt in its statements that they need to accelerate and step up efforts to bring the alliance’s infrastructure closer to Russia’s borders”. All the while “toughening their position”. He goes on to speak of “UN lies” referring to the establishment as a “con artist”. Saying that “they have played us”.
In his announcement, he refers to a “red line” saying that “they have crossed it”. That they have even gone as far as to try and acquire nuclear power. He adds that after eight years of trying to settle the matter peacefully, “we cannot stay idle and passively observe these developments’. Russia believes “they did not leave us any other choice but to defend Russia”.
Too Late for World War Two
Putin also speaks of Russia having tried to avoid a world war during the German invasion of World War Two, and he regretfully adds that in doing so, Russia held back fighting for too long. Costing the country many strategic military areas as well as millions of lives. He declares that the same mistake would not be made again, and that the time for Russia to act was now.
“Any further expansion of the North Atlantic Alliance’s infrastructure or the ongoing efforts to gain a military foothold of the Ukrainian territory are unacceptable”.President Putin
Rebels Ask Russia for Help
Putin’s speech came just two days after his decision to recognise the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine. The Russian backed rebels in these regions requested military assistance from Russia, and having just signed mutual cooperation agreements, Putin decided to come to their aid. So, according to Russia, the military operation’s objective was in great part to defend the people in these breakaway areas.
Demilitarisation and Denazification
After considering the growth of western military infrastructure in the East, Putin made the decision to attempt a demilitarisation of Ukraine. He claims that the purpose of the attack was to nullify the threat to Russia. As a result, the Russian military says that they have only targeted air bases and military assets in Ukraine and not struck populated areas. Putin also emphasizes in his speech that any Ukrainian servicemen who “immediately put down arms” will be allowed to go home.
Furthermore, Putin states that Russia wants to eliminate the Nazi threat within Ukraine, and that its military will be targeting areas dominated by the Junta, known to be Ukrainian neo-Nazis. He believes that the UN are supporting neo-Nazi rebels in the Ukraine. Allowing a “hostile anti-Russia” movement to take place.