Hendrik Weber: As a politician, I tried to be a voice of reason on Ukraine. For that, my party expelled me
Western countries have found themselves in a difficult situation since the beginning of the special military operation in Ukraine. Almost all of their governments condemn the “invasion of Ukraine” by Russian troops. I am convinced that the current situation in Western countries is very tense and aggressive.
However, a fact-based analysis of the situation is hardly possible, as the debate is conducted extremely emotionally. This would be more understandable if we had not seen a coup d’etat in Ukraine in 2014 and a civil war that continued for almost eight years.
The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics proclaimed their independence from the Ukrainian central state in 2014, after in April of that year Kiev’s military launched its so-called “Anti-Terrorist Operation” against them. Then, this February, almost eight years after the start of the civil war, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to recognize the two republics as independent states. While people in Donbass were asking why the recognition had taken so long, Western states and governments were outraged.
Putin did not take his decision to recognize the two republics lightly, because he did not want to jeopardize the Minsk agreements of 2014. But when it became clear that the negotiations between Russia, the US and NATO, hinted at in December 2021, would be fruitless and all signs were pointing to a major offensive by Kiev against Donbass, Russia felt compelled to act.
Since the beginning of the military operation, we have been hearing from our media that Ukraine can win the fight against Russia. This has little to do with sober military analysis, because the bare figures alone prove that Russia is a superior military power, against which the corrupt and underfunded Ukrainian Army stands no chance. Nevertheless, the media keep the Western consumer in a kind of suspense, waiting for the Russian advance to finally be halted.
In the West, anyone who so much as tries to understand the Russian point-of-view will be mercilessly attacked and called a supporter of a “war of aggression.” I have been to Russia, to Crimea and to the Donetsk People’s Republic many times. In March of this year, the board of my party, Norway’s left-wing Rodt, for which I sat on a municipal council, initiated an exclusion procedure against me because of a Facebook post congratulating the Donbass republics on their recognition by Russia, which I had made before the military operation began. I was expelled, and other members of the party were informed about it by email even before I received the decision.
In a total of eight newspaper articles published in Norway, I was accused of supporting “Putin’s war against Ukraine.” My fiancee then lost her job and her contract was not renewed on the grounds that, with my attitude, I would work against the Norwegian state policy.
I’m not the only one. Professors and researchers who are trying to analyze and understand the Russian point of view are accused of being under the influence of the government in Moscow. Researchers who were considered neutral or critical of Russia yesterday are deemed too naive and friendly to Russia today. Anyone who has not clearly and vocally chosen the side of Ukraine will be mercilessly attacked and called a supporter of Russian “aggression.”
The notion of diplomacy seems to have been cast aside, because neither the European Union nor the United States see the need to bring Kiev or Moscow to the negotiating table, quite the contrary. During my last visit to Crimea in the beginning of June this year, it became very clear to me that we – the West and Russia – live in two different worlds. Neither the people nor the government in Crimea have the slightest doubt that the Russian military will decide the situation in Ukraine in their favor. In this context, most people are already talking about the “former Ukraine” and assume that individual referendums in the various regions will lead to parts of Ukraine declaring themselves independent and then integration into the Russian Federation will take place. Among other things, cooperation between Russian universities and colleges in the “liberated territories” of Ukraine is already in full swing.
Those who close their eyes to the situation in Ukraine and ignore the context of the years preceding the Russian military operation, the coup of 2014 and the resulting civil war, as well as the geopolitical contexts and interests in the background, can hardly understand the current situation. But Western media and governments don’t seem interested in understanding it. The constant media reports about small successes of Ukrainian troops will not change anything in the big picture. It would be better to recognize the realities both in Ukraine and in Russia soon, in order to be able to deduce the best course of action to end the conflict.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.