Russian Roulette

Gamal Abdel Maboud
Gamal Abdel Maboud

Russian Roulette

History does not repeat itself. However, if it does, then we are facing a catastrophe. This should be the starting block for analysing the Ukraine crisis. Ukraine is neither Cuba in 1962 nor is it the U-2 incident – when the Soviet Union shot down the US U-2 reconnaissance plane in 1962, killing its pilot Rudolf Anderson and prompting the cancellation of the planned Paris summit between Russian President Nikita Khrushchev and US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. 

What is going on between Russia and Ukraine? Russia has given NATO open access to gamble the fate of Ukraine. So far, Russia has been managing this casino-like situation pretty well. The first stage of play was at the Munich Security Conference where all the clapping deafened the Ukrainian President from realizing that the solidarity and support promises in case of a Russian invasion are a piece of fiction. These claimed undertakings boiled down to nothing more than promises of economic boycott and financial sanctions against Russia in case it invades Kiev. In reality, however, even these semi-pacific promises will not be honoured for a very good reason: Europe relies on Russian gas by more than 40% to fulfil its heating and industrial needs. Western countries have not yet succeeded in finding a replacement. Moreover, they cannot manipulate the gas market in the same way as the Arab oil embargo of 1973. Russia is well aware of all of this.

Russia is orchestrating Western countries as it wishes, pushing them to the brink, before retracting and pulling back. The conflicting statements coming out of Moscow have put global stock markets on the edge, breathing a sigh of relief one day and holding their breath the very next while awaiting the worst. It has never been an issue with Ukraine itself. Russia wants to thwart the West from progressing towards the East and taking over lands that were historically part of Russia under the umbrella of the Soviet Union. At a heavy economic cost, NATO has succeeded in annexing Russia’s vital sphere. The Organization managed to lure in Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Lithuania using a hefty bribe –granting them membership in the European Economic Community. This would not have been possible with a country like Ukraine, which was part of the Soviet Union and was the largest producer of Russian wheat, thanks to its black soil. As for other countries like Poland and Hungary, they had been always independent countries before embracing communism. They were also not part of Soviet Union territory, neither before the Russians ceased being a great power nor after, when Russians started being treated like second-class citizens. This was evident in the second Gulf War, when Saddam Hussein refused all lifelines thrown to him by Russia. 

Since Russians enjoy quite a proud civilization, a man like Vladimir Putin wanted to avenge the Russian bear and build momentum to regrow as a player in global politics. He has attained considerable success in Syria, Libya and Iran and was able to gain influence at the expense of USA in general and the West in particular. The West wanted the Russian bear to retreat back to its den— hence, the Ukraine crisis was brought forth.

The West’s ordeal is that it knows how to create crises. It does not, however, know how to control them. An overly realistic scrutiny of the events shows that we are dealing with a gambling-like situation – a casino has been set up on Ukrainian lands and is being run by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. He got the money in the form of weapons from the UK and the USA. The showgirls’ tips, meanwhile, are vague promises of joining NATO. Zelenskyy is well aware that these promises will never be fulfilled because Ukraine is a Russia property. 

Nonetheless, it enjoys a sovereignty that has granted it the right to UN membership. However, it cannot protect it from the Russian bear that wants raze the Ukrainian casino, turn off Europe’s lights, and clog the chimneys of Western factories. The question, then, is why did the West swallow the Russian bait and fall for the temptations of the Ukrainian casino? The West has thought that Russia 2022 is Russia 1990. The USA has its reasons, not the least of which covering up for the economic and political failures of the Joe Biden administration and the dwindling of his popularity. For his part, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson could at any moment be arrested by his own police forces, or be fined the least, for violating the COVID regulations which he has enforced himself. His popularity is at all-time lows that could make him the John Major of his time. 

Therefore, Johnson proceeded to play the war drums in Ukraine and sent weaponry there. However, he is well aware that his drums are hollow and that his army will not stand strong against a Russian invasion. Johnson, consequently, started convincing himself of illusions to escape the legal accountability for violating the law in his country. He is well aware that Europe cannot afford a war because of Ukraine and that he is nowhere near Churchill in 1939. After all, Chamberlain who signed the peace treaty with Hitler on the eve of the invasion of Poland is nowhere to be seen. Also, Putin is no Hitler, because times have changed, and the world has grown into a small village. Putin will emerge as the big winner out of this.  NATO will not expand its influence and the West will fail to recall Crimea.

Russian troops will withdraw from the Ukrainian border, Germany will proceed with laying the pipeline for Nord Stream 2 against the USA’s will, and Ukraine will once again perform the duties of loyalty and obedience to Russia. The Ukrainian casino will therefore be shut down because it is notorious for one game that Putin plays very well:  Russian roulette.


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