For an Imperialism-Free Ukraine

By Andres Kogan Valderrama

HAVANA TIMES – A year after Vladimir Putin’s criminal invasion of Ukraine, not only would it seem like there’s no political way out in sight for the humanitarian disaster that is besieging this country. Extremist positions are becoming more extreme, and global hypocrisy has also come to light which only benefits the great powers involved in the conflict.

Thus, the level of pro-Russia and pro-NATO propaganda that is being disseminated in traditional and alternative media everywhere is grotesque, reinforcing caricature-like archetypes, which need to be broken down if we want this war to end soon and not continue to escalate, leading to the threat of a nuclear war even.

I mention this, because we can see two parallel discourses that have been firmly established in different media outlets, especially in Latin America and the Caribbean. In them, these two powers are portrayed as the ones responsible for freeing the Ukrainian people, and not as a part of imperial power, where the elite and oligarchy in countries like the US, Russia and China, are ultimately fighting over the world-system.

On the one hand, there are those who see NATO as the ones responsible for providing military support to Ukraine, by giving them weapons to defeat Russia, like they have with different countries in the past that form part of this organization, which is controlled by the United States of course, and is committed to pushing forward war propaganda and establishing an allegedly pro-Ukrainian discourse in mass Western media.

In other words, NATO’s imperial action is not only further polarizing the conflict and making it never-ending, unfortunately for the Ukrainian people, but it is also forcing member States to increase their defense spending, with arms manufacturers – mostly from the US – benefitting the most from this humanitarian tragedy.

On the other hand, those who support Vladimir Putin’s discourse, which contends that there isn’t a Russian invasion of Ukraine as such, as this would be a response to an attack by NATO, by extending its power of influence towards Russia, and white supremacist and anti-Russian groups in Ukraine, as is the case of the Azov Regiment, which has terrorized the people living in Donbas since 2014.

While it’s true that NATO has expanded its presence, which is a provocation for Russia, and neonazi groups too, people forget that Russia was the one who had no shame in illegally annexing Crimea in 2014 as part of its expansionist and colonial ambition, and to deploy paramilitary groups in Ukraine, such as the Wagner Group, who have terrorized people not only in Ukraine, but also in Syria in support of dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Meanwhile, there are important political and intellectual groups from the Latin American Left that are repeating Putin’s propaganda (even though it’s hard to believe and it might seem crazy), such as Argentinian sociologist Atilio Boron, who as the Russian journalist Inna Afinogenova so rightfully says, can only be understood from a limited anti-imperialist discourse, focusing solely on the US, and is incapable of seeing atrocities committed by leaders who even have an ultraconservative and anti-rights ideology.

Maybe this totally lost Latin American Left when it comes to ideology, needs to be told about the mutual admiration Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin share. They share an extreme nationalism, accompanied by an explicitly neoliberal, homophobic discourse that scorns women, that is completely removed from a revolutionary view of the world, but is conservative instead, where Putin has even defended tsarist Russia.

A defense of tsarist Russia, which those defending Putin within the region have no idea about, failing to see that the US isn’t the historic Empire for Ukraine, like it has been for Latin America and the Caribbean. Instead it has been Russia, who has always rejected them as a people, like Ukrainian political expert Hanna Perekhoda has accurately pointed out, who says that Putin is using the same tsarist rhetoric and political action with the idea of a great Russia.

As if the above isn’t enough, I also want to mention the unfortunate role that the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy is playing today. He seems more interested in coming off as a victor and war hero than pursuing peace for his people, thereby reproducing a patriarchal model of the strong man, warrior and winner, which will only bring more violence, death and absolute destruction to Ukraine.

That said, the need to negotiate a pact is becoming a matter of life and death for the future of the Ukrainian people and the world itself, instead of continuing with a never-ending war that is completely hypocritical for both imperial powers, where Western censorship of the Russian press and Russian censorship of opposition media, is only aggravating the entire tragedy, as it only reinforces discourse that rejects the other.

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