Saturday, April 16, 2022

Understanding the Real Reason Why Russia Invaded the Ukraine

Contrary to what many people think, the war in the Ukraine did not begin with the invasion in February 2022. In many ways the war started in 1991 when the former Soviet state pulled away from the Russian orbit with the collapse of Soviet Union.  At the time, areas closely aligned with Russia, such as the Crimea and Donbass provinces in the eastern portion of the country, joined with the rest of the Ukraine in its departure.

The reason was largely the anticipation that the Ukraine would be a separate nation, yet remain closely aligned to Russia, which, in fact it did. However, with the Maidan Revolution (also called the "Dignity Revolution") in February 2014, Western Powers supported the removal of what was essentially a corrupt pro-Moscow government and replaced it with equally corrupt pro-Western government.

Following a plebiscite in Crimea where the majority of the citizens voted to reintegrate with Russia, the Russian military moved in with relatively little resistance. Of course, public approval played only a superficial or cover role for the invasion. The Crimea has been a part of the Russia since the days of Czarina Catherine the Great in the 18th Century.

Secondly, the Crimea is home to Russia's Black Sea Fleet at Sevastopol, which is Russia's largest naval base (the equivalent to Norfolk Virginia in the United States). It is Russia's only year round warm water port. It also provides the Russian Navy access to the Mediterranean Sea, and from there, access to the Atlantic and Suez Canal and into the Indian Ocean.

However, that's not all. The Crimea holds a tremendous amount of oil and gas reserves. Estimates place the amount at 58.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas and 2.53 million tons of crude oil worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $160 billion dollars.  To put it another way, that represents some 10 billion barrels of oil and about 3.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Prior to the annexation, the Kyiv Government had been quietly negotiating with Western oil companies (notably BP and ExxonMobil) to step in and begin accessing the oil and gas. However, as a result of the annexation, Ukrainian officials estimate that they lost approximately 80% of what's there on the Black Sea shelf. Prior to the war in the Ukraine, some economists were estimating that Russia could provide as much as 90% of Europe's oil and gas; much of which coming from the Black and Avov seas.  

And fear not for the oil companies. Russian oil conglomerates often work in partnership with ExxonMobil, BP, and Royal Dutch Shell in the Arctic and Siberia which, thanks to global warming, has become more accessible. 

Note too that this is oil and gas revenue which could have gone to the Ukraine. To make matters worse, the Nord 2 pipeline, which originally was expected to cut through the Ukraine, providing additional income, has bypassed it instead, in accordance with an agreement between Moscow, Berlin, and Paris. This negatively reduces Kyiv's anticipated revenues by roughly 3% of it GDP.

The Donbass, located  in the eastern portion of the Ukraine, is no exception to being another resource rich region. The Donbass produces vast amounts of coal, despite having been mined for over a century, ranging from lignite (thermal and coking which is used in making steel) to anthracite,  making it 6th in the world in coal production. And if that's not enough to see why Russia is supporting the Donbass separatist, the region is also rich in graphite, mercury, nickel, titanium, manganese, and iron ore.

Meanwhile, the western portion of the Ukraine, which is less populated and more rural, has extremely fertile soil and has long been known as the "wheat basket of Europe". It's the world's leader in the production of sunflower oil, and one of the main exporters of sugar, grain, and, of course, wheat.

Why is this important for us? Simply this. Inflation. While the war in the Ukraine is not solely responsible for our record high rate of inflation (currently 8.5% this quarter, which is the highest in 40 years), it is a strong contributor and reason we're paying obscene prices for oil and gas, which in turn, drives the increasing prices for everything from the cost of electricity, transportation, and the prices we pay at the grocery store and department stores. 

How bad is it? Potentially pretty bad, depending on how much longer the war in the Ukraine continues, and other factors such as the weather and possible wars. One estimate by OxFam International estimates that at the current rate of inflation, some 260 million people worldwide could find themselves living in extreme poverty by year's end. This is especially true in developing countries; many of whom will be forced to default on loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

When that happens, we tend to see an increase in social unrest and destabilized governments, which forces countries to divert diminishing resources to security matters and away from maintaining basic services. It also produces mass immigration to countries which are seen as richer and more likely able to support them (such as what Europe and the United States has been experiencing for decades). This puts additional stress on the national social safety net and increases strife with the existing population.  

So, what does this mean for us?  The war in the Ukraine is not the cause of what's happening in the United States or the world. Rather, it's a symptom. Whether or not various political cliques want to accept global warming, there's is no question that the climate is changing. Whether that's natural or man-made is of little consequence.

The reality is that there is less fertile farm land. Less fresh water, and more demand for natural resources such as fossil fuels and strategic minerals need to keep our economies going.  We are overfishing the oceans and in the process, killing off coral reefs and creating entire "dead spots" in the oceans thanks to pollution. Meanwhile, corporations are making record profits as we are forced to pay more for the basics. We can't keep going on like that.

The war in the Ukraine, like most wars, is about acquiring resources to fuel their economies. In most cases, this war over resources is done on a political and economic level such as what China has being doing globally for decades. However, it sometimes spills over into open hostilities. That's particularly true of weaker nations who get caught between two or more larger and more powerful countries.

As resources become ever more scarce, we can expect to see these types of conflicts spring up more and more. When this happens, the wealthy elites usually revert to the tried and true tactic of rallying the population around some cause. It will demonize "the enemy" (the irony, at least in America's case, is that we likely install the "demon" in the first place). Using force or threat of force is now considered commonplace. It's used as an additional tool of what I call "imperial diplomacy". 

If the usual bribery, kickbacks, and "backslapping" doesn't work, they tend to revert to intimidation and bullying to get the concessions they want, be it access to certain markets, resources, or trade agreements. If that doesn't work (and it usually does), they up the ante with implied threats of military force.

Russia was content with the pre-Maiden government of the Ukraine. There was no pressure to annex the Crimea or Donbass. It was, after all, pro-Moscow. Economically, Moscow and Kyiv got alone pretty well, even with Kyiv warming up to the West. However, after the Western backed "revolution" ousted the government and helped install a government more favorable to the West, that things rapidly soured.

 Never mind the fact that both governments were (or are) just as corrupt as the other or that a change in governments didn't really life for the Ukrainian people.  Why? Because Moscow faced the prospect of losing out on access to the Ukraine's natural resources, which would also potentially be supported by a NATO military presence. 

A similar threat is the case of China and Taiwan. Yes, China has long claimed Taiwan as a rogue province, the fact is that China has grown economically confident, and with that confidence, it has expanded its military. Of late, it's been threatening India's territorial waters and fishing rights, as well as territory on its northwestern border. Seafood is key to the Chinese economy. It consumes 45% of the world's total seafood production (65 million tons out of 144 million tons harvested annually).  

It's been threatening Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines over fishing rights and territorial waters too (often sending along Chinese warships with Chinese fishing fleets).  Most of all, it's been threatening just about everybody over control of the South China Sea. Control of Taiwan would help reinforce that claim and extend China's military and economic reach.

As an aside, China has been busy acquiring rights to minerals, ores, oil and gas reserves, gold, diamonds, and even fresh water throughout the world. Like in the Ukraine, wars are less likely to be fought over ideology or even religion, and more over control or access to resources regardless of the propaganda spewed by the corporate media. In the case of the Ukraine, the West failed to act quick enough.

Is there any way we can prevent wars like in the Ukraine? Wars are increasingly motivated by corporation expansion, often behind the mask of "spreading democracy" or "protecting a free people" and other such patriotic mush. If Saddam Hussein had agreed to maintain oil prices and provide access to ExxonMobil or Dutch Shell in Kuwait, there would have been a Gulf War?

Suddenly, a regional ally of the United States (and one we helped into power), Hussein became a villain. He was called everything under the sun (including the same things President Biden has been calling Putin). President Bush was calling on the U.S. and world to "liberate" the 'freedom loving" Kuwaiti people (but let's not talk about the strictly non-democratic Kuwait royals who run everything).

Let's face it. The U.S. has historically been very selective about who it helps and why. We have often overthrown legitimately elected governments because they weren't "Wall Street" friendly. All we have to do is look at Iran, Iraq, Mexico, Argentina, Cuba, Paraguay, Chile, South Vietnam, Afghanistan, Angola, East Tumor, and dozens more.

Often these "political restructurings" are done through violent coups and assassinations; the governments are replaced with brutal right wing military juntas which all but eliminate any vestiges of democracy (not to mention the torture, imprisonment, or murder of tens of thousands) But hey, there're corporate friendly and that sells well at the local supermarket, department store and gas pump!

We must stop corporations from dictating our foreign and domestic policies, not to mention allowing their lobbyists to write the legislation which ultimately become laws. We have to eliminate corporate control over both political parties (and for that matter, level the political playing ground to permit third parties and Independents), which means doing away with Citizens United and similar laws.

Corporations deemed "to big to fail" or have a strategic importance to the United States, need strict government oversight. We need to bring manufacturing jobs, which was the backbone of the U.S. economy, back to the United States along with emphasis in trade schools. As an aside, we need to stop rewarding corporations with tax credits for jobs exported and impose a minimum corporate tax.

Globally, there needs to be a serious refocus from oil and gas to alternative energy sources overseen by the government to prevent them from being snuffed out by existing oil and gas companies which has been the case thus far. If oil, gas or coal were eliminated from the equation, there would have been little incentive for Russia to invade the Ukraine. 

Like the era leading up to World War One, we're using outdated policies and modern technology to combat new and evolving problems. In 1914, they used modern weapons of mass destruction and 19th century strategies which resulted in the wholesale slaughter of millions. We're facing a similar situation, but on a much greater scale. 


If you want to know more, please take a look at the links below. If you enjoyed the article, please consider passing it along to others and don't forget to subscribe. It's free! Lastly please be sure to "like" us on whatever platform you use to read A/O. It helps with the algorithms and keeps our articles in circulation. Thank you!

 

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China, the global largest seafood market


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