Debunking the Myth of Russian Aggression

3453453Since the start of the Ukrainian crisis in November 2013, Western media and politicians have accused Russia in its role in the Ukrainian crisis, repeatedly claiming that Russia has acted aggressively without any provocation. Contrary to these statements, Russia has been a victim of regular provocations over the last few years. Despite these aggravations, Russia has not acted bellicosely, but instead continued to search for a diplomatic solution to the current crisis.

How Russia was provoked by the West

The first myth stipulates that Russia deliberately attacked Ukraine without any reason, annexing Crimea and destabilising eastern Ukraine. Debunking this myth is crucial, as many other statements about Russia originate from the assumption that Russia acted belligerently. However, the truth is that the West triggered Russia into reacting the way it did. Firstly, since 2004 the West continuously supported and injected cash into pro-Western groups in Ukraine, despite warnings from Russia to not interfere in Ukraine. Secondly, the European Union blackmailed former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich into signing an Association Agreement, a deal that would be of grave consequences to Russian economy due to Western products flooding the Russian market.

When former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovich decided against signing the agreement, realising that it would not be in Ukraine’s interest to do so, the West made the decision to support a violent coup of a legitimately elected President. To add salt to Russian wounds, Ukrainian opposition and its Western backers did not adhere to the agreement signed by Yanukovich and the opposition on 21 February 2014.

At this point, Russia realised that the West was not looking to find a compromise that would benefit all sides. Instead, Europe was bent on usurping the whole of Ukraine to itself, despite the majority of people in eastern Ukraine feeling apprehensive about closer relations with the EU. When people in the Donbas region protested against the new Western-backed government, Petro Poroshenko initiated an “anti-terrorist” operation that resulted in many ethnic Russian civilians dying in eastern Ukraine – a grave provocation towards Russia.

Is Russia really trying to re-build the Soviet Union?

The second assumption by the Western media claims that Russia is aiming to re-create the Soviet Union and the “expansion” in Crimea is just the first step. However, there is virtually no evidence that Russia was bent on taking Crimea, much less any other territory in Ukraine, before the crisis in Ukraine began. President Putin’s actions in Crimea appear to have been a spontaneous reaction to Yanukovich’s ouster. The Kremlin had no choice but to take Crimea, a peninsula President Putin feared would host a NATO naval base if Ukraine decided to join the Western military alliance.

Western media like to point to Russia’s short war with Georgia and claim that this was a clear example of Russia’s attempt to re-conquer the former Soviet Union. However, to argue that Russia initiated the conflict with Georgia would be to re-write history. During the night of 7 to 8 August 2008, Georgia launched a large-scale military offensive against South Ossetia, in an attempt to reclaim the territory. This move was completely unprovoked. The Georgian attack caused casualties among Russian peacekeepers, who resisted the assault along with Ossetian militia. Russia reacted by deploying units of the Russian 58th Army and Russian Airborne Troops into South Ossetia one day later, and launched airstrikes against Georgian forces in South Ossetia and military and logistical targets in Georgia proper. It is now well established that the majority of experts, monitors and ambassadors agree that the war was started by Georgia.

Ultimately, Russia was never interested nor is considering conquering or annexing any land. President Putin’s response to events in Ukraine has been a defensive move, not offensive.

Russia is protecting its own national interest

Western leaders and its media have good reason to portray Russia as the aggressor. It enables NATO to use the apparent belligerence of Russia as an excuse to carry on with its expansion that started after the end of the Cold War. NATO has continued to provoke Russia with the announcement on 15th September that about 1,300 troops from 15 countries – including the US and other NATO members – have begun a military exercise near Lviv in western Ukraine. In addition, Ukrainian Defence Minister Valery Heletey said that NATO countries had begun arming his nation. These measures are a clear national security threat to Russia. One only has to imagine how the United States would react if a Russian-backed alliance, for example the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, carried out military exercises in Mexico or Canada.

When it comes to its own national security, Russia will have to adopt any measures that achieves its own safety from external threats. Western media may brand these measures as examples of aggression, but when examining the events of the last few years, it is evident that it is the actions of the West that have left the Kremlin with no choice but to take defensive and precautionary measures.

This article first appeared in New Eastern Outlook 

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Categories: Europe

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2 Comments on “Debunking the Myth of Russian Aggression”

  1. October 21, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    This is the most ridiculously bias article I have ever read. It honestly feels like the author based all his assumptions (or “evidence”) on Russian state media broadcasts (which is arguably more manipulative than the Nazi propaganda machine) and his obsession with the Putin cult. Did this “intellectually” author ever considered the fact that the Maidan Revolution was not caused by the Western support but by the hatred of Russian interventionism in Ukrainian politics, constantly trying to shape and/or blackmail a sovereign state’s decision making for its benefits? That Russia’s involvement in South-Eastern Ukraine is simply destabilizing through brainwashing the population with its propaganda and militarizing the situation with the supply of weapons and troops? But honestly, I have never heard anything more stupid and naive than “annexation of Crimea was spontaneous”. Russia acted brutally selfish in the case of Crimea – realising that it cannot hold on to controlling Kiev anymore it had to take advantage of the situation and protect what matters most – its Black Sea Fleet. Not the Russian speakers, but its own interest, even if it undermines the territorial integrity of another sovereign state. Its called ‘Realpolitik’ and you simply cannot apply any other bullshit excuses for this Russian aggression.

    • Alex
      October 21, 2014 at 4:46 pm #

      When the tug-of war-for Ukraine was taking place, Russia suggested a three way discussion between Russia, Ukraine and the EU to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis. The EU refused. They financially supported the Maidan Revolution (the article provides the source for this) and completely disregarded that a huge chunk of the Ukrainian population in the east of the country did not want to get closer to the EU. The greedy nature of the EU resulted in a civil war between those who want closer relations with Europe and those who want closer ties with Russia. Moscow understandably had to step in to help out ethnic Russians in Ukraine who were attacked by their own government for protesting against the events in Kiev (any other country would have done the same). Moscow listened to the decision of the people of Crimea who voted in a huge majority to leave a failing Ukraine and join Russia. If Kosovo was allowed to do it, so can Crimea.

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