Russia isn’t a pawn on America’s chessboard

John Wight
John Wight has written for newspapers and websites across the world, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal. He is also a regular commentator on RT and BBC Radio. John is currently working on a book exploring the role of the West in the Arab Spring. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnWight1
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a panel discussion during the plenary session of the 19th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2015. (RIA Novosti / Sergey Guneev)
In his speech at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, Putin identified the root cause of the rising tensions that have come to characterize relations between Russia and the West, responsible for hurtling the world toward another Cold War.

The hegemony long enjoyed by Washington, with the support of its allies, is now being challenged by a multipolar consensus around the world. In this multipolar world, every state enjoys parity, equal respect, and security under international law; and national sovereignty is returned to the status of an inalienable right, as enshrined in the UN Charter, rather than being a gift in the hands of the United States, the EU and NATO.

In response to a question on the deteriorating relations between Moscow and Washington, Russia's President Vladimir Putin said: “We do not act aggressively. We have started to defend our interests more persistently and consistently.”

It is unconscionable that the assertion of Russia’s legitimate rights has unleashed the barrage of demonization in the West that it has over the past year and more, exposing that what Western ideologues describe as democracy is really nothing more than organized hypocrisy.

This hypocrisy, the sheer extent of it, has been exposed by Russia’s refusal to accept Washington’s writ, either in the form of hard power or soft power, and its right to dictate how the world should be run.

READ MORE: Putin: Russia is not aspiring to superpower status, just wants to be respected

We don’t impose our own standards or models of behavior and development on anyone,” Putin said speaking at a key plenary session at the St. Petersburg Forum. “We want equal relations with all participants of the international community – with the US, European and Asian partners.

The astounding arrogance and recklessness of Washington over the last three decades, during which it has abused the power it gained from the demise of the Soviet Union, has sown crises and chaos across the world, with successive US administrations lurching from one disaster to the next seemingly without end.

Consider the evidence: the break-up of Yugoslavia; the first Gulf War followed by 13 years of punitive sanctions against the Iraqi people; the rise of terrorism and fundamentalism in Afghanistan. Then there was the second Gulf War, unleashed without a proper UN Security Council mandate, which has left Iraq a broken, devastated society, with sectarian violence and terrorism cascading across the country.

Also, there is the role of the IMF and World Bank in fomenting rather than alleviating global poverty, particularly in the African continent, due to a developmental model that places a premium on the interests of Western corporations and their shareholders, rather than the people of said countries, whose governments have been crushed under a mountain of debt.

Putin said of the situation in Iraq: “Before the government structures in Iraq and Saddam Hussein himself were taken down, there had been no terrorists. Let's not forget it. In general, many prefer not to talk about it. Who and how created conditions for escalation of terrorism on these territories? Isn't it clear?

The situation in Libya, meanwhile, after the NATO air campaign succeeded in toppling the government of Muammar Gaddafi, is further evidence of the West’s role in creating crises rather than solving them: “The state [of Libya] has effectively ceased to exist,” Putin told his audience.

READ MORE: American empire imploding both at home & abroad

The reality is that rather than defeat al-Qaeda after the terrorist attack against the US on 9/11, over a decade later Washington’s actions in the Middle East have only spawned more terrorism and an even greater evil than al-Qaeda in the shape of ISIS. “Now ISIS is armed better than the Iraqi Army. And it happens thanks to the US. Thousands of US troops are still in Iraq. And what is the result? A sad and tragic one,” said Putin.

Regarding the crisis in Eastern Ukraine, the West’s destabilizing role is evidence of the lack of understanding when it comes to the common history and culture that Russia and Ukraine share. It is a history which leaves no doubt, in the Russian president’s words, that “whatever happens, in the end, Russia and Ukraine are destined for a common future.”

From the very beginning of the conflict in Ukraine, Russia has been calling for a negotiated settlement between all parties involved, adding that so far it has been ignored, as Mr Poroshenko and his armed forces persist in attempting to force a military solution. This is despite the moral and legitimate rights of the people of Donbass to resist his takeover of the country, with the connivance of the West.

The world is not a chessboard and Russia and other nations are not pieces on that chessboard, which the US can move around as it wishes. Only when Washington wakes up to this fact will stability and constructive relations be achieved.

The problem is that they [US] are constantly trying to impose their standards and decisions on us with no regard to our interests,” President Putin said. “In essence they say: 'we are better,' as if the US knows better [than Russia] about what is good for us. Well, let us decide for ourselves what our interests and needs are as dictated by our history and culture.

The United States and its allies should take note.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.