New Eastern Outlook
by James O’Neill
A great many of online journals argue that the war in Ukraine marked the end of the era dominated by Western power. There’s statements claiming that the military conflict was a watershed event that marked a break from the past and the beginning of a new geopolitical reality. It is a thesis that is worth examining in a little detail because if true, it marks the end of a long period of western dominance of the world order.
The conflict in Ukraine is much broader than a relatively narrow dispute between two neighbours. Completely overlooked in Western reporting of the conflict is the origin of the dispute. Eight years ago, the legitimately elected government of Ukraine was overthrown in an American-backed coup. Its President was forced into exile and was replaced by a regime that is frankly fascist in nature.
This situation was not accepted by either the island of Crimea or the two eastern provinces of the Donbass. Crimea held a vote and the overwhelming majority of the population elected to leave Ukraine and return to Russia. The word “return” is the key. Crimea was gifted by former Soviet president Khrushchev in 1954, without the wishes of the population being consulted. Crimea had for hundreds of years been part of Russia. The British (and Australians) had fought a war there in the 1850s.
The Crimean war was a war against Russia and no one regarded it as otherwise. Crimea’s return to Russia followed a democratic vote which has never been accepted by the West. The comparison between what happened in Crimea and what happened in the breakaway territory of Kosovo from Serbia is very revealing. The latter was accepted by the Western powers and Kosovo is now a major United States military base.
It is similarly overlooked by Western media that the breakaway of the Donbass was never accepted by the Ukrainian government. They have fought a war against the two breakaway regions over the past eight years. At least 16,000 people have been killed and more than one million forced into exile.
This history is completely ignored by the Western media who treat the Russian intervention in February 2022 as an “invasion” rather than an intervention that stopped a planned Ukrainian invasion that would undoubtedly have killed thousands more.
The Western reaction to Russian intervention in the war is very revealing. For all their professed belief in the “rules based international order” it did not stop the Western powers from seizing $300 billions of Russian foreign held assets. They have no intention of ever returning this money.
The larger issues that are at stake raised by the Russian intervention in the Donbass were highlighted by Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in an interview he gave to Russian media last week. Lavrov said that “the special military operation aims to put an end to the unfettered expansions and unfettered course toward total domination of the United States and other Western states under it on the international arena.”
Lavrov also drew attention to the fact that the United States has been developing biological weapons at multiple bases in Ukraine. It is impossible to conceive of an innocent explanation for these bases. They were clearly intended to develop biological weapons for use against Russia. Yet the existence of these facilities has been completely ignored by the Western media. Instead, they have promoted the mythical fear that Russia might use chemical weapons in its conflict with Ukraine. The hypocrisy in this claim is breathtaking.
The Western media also ignores the fact that Russia is not alone in its concerns. It is supported not only by China and India, but by the vast bulk of the so-called developing world who refuse to accept that the West should continue its role as determiners of what is right and wrong in the whole world.
What we are in fact witnessing now is a rejection by the bulk of the world’s nations of the era of United States domination. Part of this rejection is shown in an increasing use of currencies other than the United States dollar for international trade. This is hugely significant. The United States has used the role of the dollar as the principal vehicle for its control of nations. That era is now rapidly coming to an end.
Europe cutting its ties with Russia is an example of a completely self-defeating exercise. Europe relies on Russia for at least 40% of its energy requirements. How long European antipathy towards Russia will last as their industries close down and their citizens freeze from the cold is an open question. Some European countries such as Hungary have rejected this manifestly self-serving policy and have reinforced their relations with Russia. Others, such as Poland, persist in their manifestly self-harming way.
The tectonic shift that is now occurring in Russia’s relationship with the West was recently outlined in an interview given by the EAEU’s economist Sergey Glazyev. In that interview Glazyev recently gave to journalist Pepe Escobar, he outlined the evolution of a new global financial order that is replacing the United States dollar-based system.
Glazyev makes clear that the new system of non-dollar-based payments has the explicit purpose of ending the role of the dollar in supporting Western currency imperialism. The war in Ukraine will accelerate these developments. The United States is unlikely to passively accept the downplaying of the role of the dollar, and their reaction to this development poses additional threats to the world.
That Russia is acutely aware of the risks was made clear in Putin’s lengthy speech of 21 February 2022. That speech recognised the reality set out by Fyodor Lukyanov in an important article he wrote on 13th of April 2022 “Old Thinking For Our Country And The World” and published in Russian Global Affairs. Lukyanov said “let us emphasise that the current crisis of the world was not promoted by the special military operation in Ukraine. It was spawn long ago by the stubborn unwillingness of the liberal order leaders to give up the privileges they gained after the Cold War.”
It is this world that is now changing and very rapidly. BRICS and the SCO are leading those changes. The question is whether the transition can be achieved peacefully, or will the United States start another war in a vain attempt to regain its own role as the world’s dominant power.
James O’Neill, an Australian-based former Barrister at Law, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.