Putin’s criminal regime must be denounced; no compromise is tolerable.
The media are full of scholarly, moralistic or “objective” debates aiming to inform public opinion about the drama of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. In order to give themselves an appearance of credibility, they all too often feel obliged to present the facts, either leaving each individual to make their own judgement, or by presenting contradictory assessments that poorly conceal the subjectivity of those who express them.
The emblematic example of this phenomenon is illustrated by the recent report of “Amnesty International” which lists indisputable facts perpetrated in Ukraine, but which unilaterally authorizes itself to qualify them as “violations of international humanitarian law”, a privilege which belongs solely to judicial authorities. Although no one questions the reality of the facts reported, their evocation out of context (ignoring differences between the aggressor and the aggressed, the aggressor’s choice of battleground, etc.) make the authors of the report suspect, reducing significantly their credibility. Indeed, the publicity given by Russian propaganda to the report and its further relay by the media for “informational purposes”, illustrate its misuse.
However, the proven perpetration by the Russians of war crimes (Bucha/Mariupol, etc.), crimes against humanity (militarization of the Zaporijjia nuclear power plant, non-respect of the Geneva Conventions, systematic rape, etc.) and a body of recorded events leading to a strong presumption establishing the crime of genocide (deportations, Russification, etc.) constitute primary evidence that should have been considered. These circumstances should be taken into account before accusing Ukraine (instead of possible individual perpetrators) of the violations listed, especially as the majority of the Ukrainian population unquestionably supports the action of its army despite any harm caused.
These same biases of interpretation can be found in the assessment of the “sanctions” against the aggressor, the suspension of which are often recommended in the name of “realism”; they justify pressure aimed at making Ukraine accept proposals that would be highly prejudicial to it. The same is true of the arguments seeking to impose a pause/halt to the conflict in order to avoid further loss of life and destruction, thereby perpetuating Russia’s occupation of 20% of Ukraine’s territory. Too often, their authors seek to influence their public opinions in order to reassess their support for the war by emphasizing the immediate cost to their wellbeing to the detriment of the defense of the fundamental principles that the Ukrainians are upholding on our behalf. In disseminating these arguments, their authors are admitting their thinly veiled support to the realization of Putin’s war aims.
It is therefore time to denounce the confusion that the Putin regime maintains in its propaganda war where it has become impossible to identify the deliberate lies, inherent in its continuous contradictory declarations, and which have destroyed irretrievably any possible trust in its undertakings:
In the first place, whatever the exactions and immense suffering inflicted on the Ukrainian people, the war is, by Putin’s own admission, only a first step in the pursuit of far more ambitious goals. More sinister in the long term is the aim of replacing the West’s preponderance – acquired over the centuries through its military might, its economic and technological superiority and the propagation of its values – with a new world order based on a balance of power in which terror, brandished through the unabashed use of nuclear blackmail, becomes the main tool for dominating and subjugating all opposition.
Secondly, it is necessary to recognize the colossal imbalance that exists between Putin’s ambitions and his fantasized ability to implement them. His bellicose rhetoric and his determination to obtain the rehabilitation and recognition of Russia’s former great power status cannot hide the reality that it is exclusively its oversized nuclear arsenal that poses a problem; despite its immense territory and raw material resources, Russia ranks only as a medium-sized economic power, with a limited conventional military capability and a declining demography that classifies it among the countries whose already low standard of living is further declining.
Furthermore, there is little doubt that it is the US-China rivalry that is shaping the world; Putin, to his growing frustration, will continue (futilely) to strive for a leading role. In these rivalries, the current apparent alignment of Chinese and Russian interests and their attempts to seduce the Third World cannot hide Russia’s ultimate subjugation to China’s will.
In the Western camp, on the other hand, though the EU remains at present beholden to the United States in terms of defense and currency, the prospect of the former rising to the level of the latter depends first and foremost on the Union’s capacity to institutionalize its unity; thus, a community of interests based on a shared ethic and common values could be created which it should offer to share with others. Such policies would contribute to reducing the intolerable inequalities that divide people all over the world and threaten the destruction of humanity, should mechanisms to control nuclear weapons and global warming not be addressed in a spirit of cooperation.
In conclusion, it is necessary to oppose, without the slightest concession, Putin’s existential threats treating him as a pariah and ignoring the risks of irrational behavior that his wounded ego could unleash. In particular, he should be denied any opportunity to meet with President Biden thus avoiding any suggestion of an equal status. To that end, it is necessary to convince public opinion in the developed world and everywhere else that Putin is bluffing; secondly, that the new world order, the need for which no one can deny, requires an uncompromising attachment to the civilizational values that have emerged from the encounters between the world’s populations since the origins and from which the West has, more recently, been able to draw a synthesis that provides a credible basis for confronting the existential challenges that the globe is currently facing.