Vladimir Putin has doubled down on his despotism in Ukraine with impunity. Russia is now a pariah state with no way out.
Putin’s “argument” for invading Ukraine has shifted from the mistreatment of Russophiles in Luhansk and Donetsk to EU and NATO expansionism claims, since verified in the US senate that laboratories developing gain of function chemical weapons were on Ukrainian soil.
Putin has no filter on his barbarism and whatever mitigation he may have (or feel he has), there is no justification, nor could there ever be for the horrific way in which his armed forces have targeted civilian lives, their use of cluster bombs and chillingly, their use of thermobaric weapons.
Rather than focus on the rights (and many) wrongs of Putin’s position, I’ve elected instead to look at a selection of the unintended consequences of a number of actions that have or will arise following the invasion of Ukraine.
Ukraine: a fundamentally corrupt state
Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been virtually deified for remaining in Ukraine despite being top of the irregular Wagner Group (a shadowy Putin death squad) kill list. His daily media appearances and address to the House of Commons have seen him lauded as all but a superhero.
Unfortunately, he has presided over a state where corruption is endemic, as a result of which Hunter Biden, the Clintons and many other Western well heeled types have plundered very significant sums.
Zelenskyy imprisoned Viktor Medvedchuk, leader of Ukraine’s Opposition Platform For Life party and there have been repeated allegations of mistreatment of Russian speaking citizens who desired to be part of the Russian Federation in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Zelenskyy has been in power for just under 3 years and whilst it is unreasonable to blame him for all of the problems in Ukraine since it gained independence:
- Ukrainian GDP is the lowest in Europe;
- Average wages are under $200 a month;
- The country is rife with gangster capitalism, like Russia itself, particularly in the Yeltsin era and is no paragon of democracy or good governance.
Western expansionism has poked the bear
Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union, both NATO and the European Union have expanded their reach to include countries bordering Russia.
Whilst former President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev has denied the conspiracy theory that Western leaders confirmed that they would not attempt to expand the influence of Western defence and governmental organisations after the wall came down, given the Bay of Pigs incident, the US had previously demonstrated its discomfort with proximate countries having weapons capable of targeting their country (rightly so).
It is surprising then that they have not sought, through diplomatic channels to soften the march eastwards of NATO and the EU towards Russia.
Putin has been in power for 22 years. He has a “chequered” history in military engagements. He does not need an excuse to deploy his armed forces. It is legitimate to question whether Western expansionism was a contributory factor in the invasion of Ukraine .
CIA funded biological weapons development laboratories in Ukraine
As revealed on the Mark Steyn show on GBNews, on 8th March 2021, US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland stated before a Senate hearing that “biological research facilities” have been operating in Ukraine, in response to a question from Senator Marco Rubio (Republican, Florida) about the presence of chemical or biological weapons in the country.
Whilst Nuland said nothing about US involvement in the labs, she rapidly shifted her testimony during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to efforts by the State Department to “prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces.”
She went on, in a carefully orchestrated exchange with Rubio, to say that if there were a biological or chemical weapons attack inside Ukraine, it would “no doubt” be carried out by Russia.
The following is the transcript of the exchange between Rubio and Nuland:
Rubio: Does Ukraine have chemical or biological weapons?
Nuland: Ukraine has biological research facilities which, in fact, we’re now quite concerned Russian troops, Russian forces may be seeking to gain control of, so we are working with the Ukrainians on how we can prevent any of those research materials from falling into the hands of Russian forces should they approach.
Rubio: I’m sure you’re aware that the Russian propaganda groups are already putting out there all kinds of information about how they have uncovered a plot by the Ukrainians to unleash biological weapons in the country, and with NATO’s coordination. If there is a biological or chemical weapon incident or attack inside Ukraine, is there any doubt in your mind that 100% it would be the Russians behind it?
Nuland: There is no doubt in my mind, senator. And in fact, it is a classic Russian technique to blame the other guy for what they are planning to do themselves.
Nuland’s confirmation that Ukrainian bioweapons labs exist corroborates the Kremlin’s assertions that a military biological program was being operated inside the country by the US. The State Department admission also proves that statements by the Pentagon calling the Russian reports “absurd,” and from the office of Ukrainian President Zelenskyy denying that such programs existed, were entirely false.
The laboratories in question, 13 in total, (although Moscow asserts the figure is nearer 30), are development facilities for gain of function chemical pathogens. Put simply, taking potential chemical pathogens and turning them into potentially lethal weapons.
Given CIA funding of the Wuhan Institute of Virology and the months of prior warning of a potential invasion of Ukraine, it is, to say the least, surprising that efforts were not made to quietly shut down these laboratories months ago. Others may wonder why they are on Ukrainian soil at all.
The prospect of these laboratories falling into Russian hands is horrific given the impunity with which Putin has been willing to use chemical weapons in other conflicts.
The ratcheting up of sanctions against Russian oligarchs, (leading to the (at least temporary) hobbling of Chelsea FC, the reigning European and World club champions), members of the Duma, Russian derived commodities, (apart from gas) and even individual Russians involved in sport and the arts is justifiable to many.
With a growing list of Western brands “temporarily” ceasing operations, the sanctions will over time ensure that Russian military might will not be matched by domestic economic output any time soon.
The pre-invasion Russian economy was around the size of Spain’s. It will now have to rely on China for clearing financial transactions and “alternative” export markets for selling surplus coal and oil previously sent to the West.
Russian gas however remains in high demand. Whilst the UK has relatively modest exposure to Russia for gas (and chose due to Net Zero but never “needed” to veer away from energy independence), German manufacturing would be completely hamstrung if Putin switched off their gas. Shutting down German nuclear production post Fukushima now looks like the kneejerk, populist decision it was from Angela Merkel.
Given the volumes of the world’s wheat, corn, cereal and sunflower oil produced in Russia and Ukraine, these commodities are soaring in cost, along with coal, oil and gas to further add to the economic turbulence of pandemic recovery and spiralling inflation and interest rates.
Without government intervention, fuel and food poverty will rapidly increase, leading to large scale unrest in the UK and the wider global population.
By invading Ukraine, Putin has, as a minimum, served as a useful idiot to China. Xi Jinping has seen the US reaction to the invasion of Ukraine and realised that it can accelerate its own land grab, starting with Taiwan, which Chinese state television now openly refers to as Chinese sovereign territory.
In summary, the West misjudged the possibility of a Russian invasion of Ukraine and there will be heavy economic and political price to pay. Whilst this pales into relative insignificance compared to the catastrophic humanitarian tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, coming so soon after the pandemic, the reverberations will be felt for decades to come.
© justchrisdavies 2022