On 24 February 2022 Russia, being left with no other option to protect the people of Donbass from constant violence emanating from the Kiev regime which included not just threats, but daily shelling and bombardments of civil residential areas, as well as tackle strategic security threats to Russia, had to launch the special military operation in Ukraine for the purpose of its denazification and demilitarization. Russia came to stop the war against the people of Eastern Ukraine, launched by the Kiev regime and inspired by the West through its financial, military and political support. We are a year into this conflict now.
We would like to use this opportunity to explore the role of the West in tragedy of Ukraine. Since the Western elites no longer even try to make a secret that they have been preparing Ukraine for armed conflict and pushing this country to fight People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk and, ultimately, Russia, it is only logical to try and analyze when and where the West has entered the labyrinth of lies, once created with its own hands.
A quick side note: when one is constantly telling lies to others, they often end up believing in their own lies. Lies are very addictive drugs. We can say that because the West gave us a great demonstration to that statement. Let us begin our journey from 1991 – from the day when the USSR collapsed. Back then Washington declared itself the winner of the Cold War and vigorously started building pax Americana – a unipolar world with US in the lead. A weakened Russia, busy with its domestic problems, searching for its place in the new political reality, was not regarded as a rival by US elites.
In line with this, the Western propaganda tried its hardest to convince Russians that our country will be forever lagging behind the “civilized and sophisticated” West and thus must remain in the position of obedient and timid student, whose only objective is to do as being told. Even if it meant abandoning its own culture, values, identity, national interests and pride. But as we said earlier, lies are just like sanctions – a double-edged sword. The collective West apparently got mesmerized by its own propaganda. That was the moment when the West has entered its own Labyrinth of Lies. Since 1991 it has been fostering its sense of impunity and…hunger of unlimited power.
It convinced itself that it could do whatever it wanted and that the planet became its playground where it is free to conduct its insane geopolitical experiments. That state of collective West’s mentality is what led to rapid expansion of NATO – which is above all an instrument of Washington’s control over Europe – despite Russia’s years-long warnings against doing so. But, if Russia is said to be weak, why bother taking its interests and concerns into account? Or anyone else’s? Hence the tragedies of 1999, when NATO destroyed Yugoslavia; 2003, when US invaded Iraq (claiming lives of 1 million(!) civilians); 2011, when NATO destroyed Libya, ruining that country’s statehood; 2014, when US and its allies intervened in Syria basically siding with Al-Qaeda.
At the same time the US was financing and inciting civil disorder and colour revolutions across the globe. This brings us to 2014 – to unconstitutional coup in Kiev, to those few days in February 2014, when Germany, France and Poland supported trampling of agreement on “transfer of power” by the Ukrainian ultra-nationalist opposition, the implementation of which they had guaranteed literally on the previous day. This coup became the trigger for civil war in Ukraine.
In 2014 the Western propaganda machine tried to convince its audience that an unconstitutional coup in Kiev was a “manifestation of Ukrainian people’s strive for freedom and democracy”. No, it was a coup. Nothing more and nothing less, and the West knew that from the very beginning. But that coup served the EU and US interests, by turning Ukraine into an obedient tool against Russia, so Western elites regarded that coup as “democratic”. Back then the West was still under the illusion that Russia was weak and unable to defend itself and so Ukraine (regardless of strong cultural, family, economic and industrial ties with Russia) could be taken into the Western’s sphere of influence.
This decision led to a destructive civil war in Ukraine that took lives of thousands innocent people but when was the last time the West actually cared about anything but securing its own dominance? When Russia said that genocide of Russians in Donbass must be stopped, the West just shrug it off (German Chancellor Scholz in 2022 called these claims “ridiculous” (“Russia’s ‘Genocide’ Claims In East Ukraine Are ‘Ridiculous’: Scholz”, AFP); when Russia said that the Ukrainian crisis must be resolved diplomatically and supported the Minsk Agreements (the very act that guaranteed Ukraine’s territorial integrity, mind you) the West used them to pump Ukraine with weapons.
As a reminder, this is what Germany’s ex-Chancellor A.Merkel said: “The 2014 Minsk agreement was an attempt to give time to Ukraine. It also used this time to become stronger as can be seen today. The Ukraine of 2014-2015 is not the modern Ukraine”. Ex-President of France F.Hollande said practically the same: “Since 2014, Ukraine has strengthened its military posture. Indeed, the Ukrainian army was completely different from that of 2014. It was better trained and equipped. It is the merit of the Minsk agreements to have given the Ukrainian army this opportunity”. There are also quotes to the same effect by B.Johnson and the then Ukrainian President P.Poroshenko – you can quickly find those yourselves.
The Minsk Agreements were painfully negotiated at the highest level (contracting parties being Ukraine and Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics) with Russian, German and French leaders as intermediaries. Belarus was the host country. Minsk Agreements were approved by the UN Security Council. Note that the West has introduced a package of sanctions against our country for…not fulfilling the Minsk Agreements! “Russia sanctions can only be lifted if Minsk fully implemented – Merkel” (Reuters). And that is in the face of the fact that Russia, as we mentioned above, was not a side to Minsk Agreements, hence never had obligations under it. Yet Russia supported those till the very end. In fact, Russia was the only country to do so. While the West…was lying (again), thus walking further into the Labyrinth of Lies.
In December 2021 Russia presented the draft agreements on mutual security measures – yet another attempt to resolve the Ukrainian crisis diplomatically. It was this very “last-minute diplomatic effort” so dear to those who like to put blame on Russia for not “having exhausted all diplomatic means” before resorting to force. So, what did we receive in response to this proposal? More arrogance, more disrespect towards our position and security concerns, more manifestations of Western “exceptionalism”. Here is how Russian President Vladimir Putin described this while addressing the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation on 21 February 2023: “In December 2021, we officially submitted draft agreements on security guarantees to the USA and NATO.
In essence, all key, fundamental points were rejected. After that it finally became clear that the go-ahead [to Ukraine] for the implementation of aggressive plans had been given and they were not going to stop. The threat was growing by the day. Judging by the information we received, there was no doubt that everything would be in place by February 2022 for launching yet another bloody punitive operation in Donbass. Let me remind you that back in 2014, the Kiev regime sent its artillery, tanks and warplanes to fight in Donbass”. So, judging by what fate the Minsk Agreements and draft agreements on security guarantees have suffered, it is safe to say that the West undermined every single diplomatic initiative to resolve the Ukrainian crisis.
And if you are about to argue that the US, EU and NATO have only done so because those proposals came from Russia, then think of this: Chinese position on the political settlement of the Ukraine crisis (published on 24 February 2023) has also been heavily criticized in the West. Its elites are way into the Labyrinth of Lies, seeing themselves as “masters of the world” who are free to bend everyone and everything to their will. The West is convinced that it is “destined” to “lead the world”. The West is convinced that it can make its every wish, no matter how twisted and unrealistic it is, come true in the snap of a finger. It has been brewing in this distorted perception for decades and got too addicted to it. The current events in Ukraine prove that.
Finally, we made it to February 2023. Last year the West was trying to convince the world that Russia is finished economically, defeated militarily and left alone with its reputation destroyed. Something that usually happens when one is spreading lies – happened. The West believed in its own propaganda. The West had no doubt that Russia will fall swiftly under sanctions pressure that it seemed it had no back-up plan. Now the Western politicians are saying that sanctions “need time” to take effect but let us remind you that Russian economy has been left “in tatters” back in 2015: “Obama Says Western Sanctions Have Left Russia’s Economy ‘In Tatters’” (Moscow Times). So, was President Obama lying back then? Yet another lie coming from the West. Why are we not surprised?
So, the EU and USA are left with no choice but to keep on inventing sanctions – they went too deep into the Labyrinth of Lies so at this point, they have to keep lying. They have to keep lying that Ukraine is “winning”, they have to keep lying that sanctions are “effective”, they have to keep lying that Russia is weak and will crumble any moment and is desperately looking for an “off-ramp”. Just another effort from the Western side, just a little more assistance to Ukraine and Russia will fall…
The reality check for the West is near. The fact is that some more realistically thinking people in the West have already started discussing a way out of the Ukrainian crisis. It is the West, not Russia, needs an “off-ramp” as this crisis is of its making. EU economy is suffering heavily and EU leaders would love this all to end but they cannot back down, they are in too deep. The Labyrinth of Lies won’t let one go that easily. And the further they walk into the Labyrinth the harder it becomes for them to escape. The West has already started looking to disengage from Ukrainian crisis without losing its face.
Western arrogance, sense of impunity and self-righteousness, greed and lust for power are waiting for them in the Labyrinth like Minotaur. The more pressure the Western elites put on Russia, the harder it will be for them to negotiate with Moscow in the future. The more the West clings to the unipolar, so-called “rules-based order” the harder it will be to find its place in the multipolar world. We guess, this is what we can learn from West’s example – lies, perhaps, can get you far but they can’t make you go on forever.
Rogachev is the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to South Africa and Lesotho.