A global-south year into the Ukraine Trap
As an ethical point of fact, most articles about Brazil’s new government ought to begin by addressing how many coup attempts President Lula da Silva has survived since coming to office. While Bolsonaro was president, three of them were unleashed on the division of powers as enshrined in the 1988 Constitution. Independence Day 2021 idealized a coup without materializing it. Meanwhile information technologies were pitted to switch the real with the fake on Election Day, October 30, 2022, almost to effect. Then, on a quiet sunny Sunday afternoon, January 8, 2023, a week after his term had actually ended, the plan was but an inferno away from reach as a Bolsonarist horde ransacked the contents of the Oscar Niemeyer designed buildings in Three Powers Square – although not the buildings themselves.
January 8th marks the most serious coup attempt President Lula has survived, but hardly the only one since he was elected last October. Even before the green-yellow assault was unleashed, politicized officials of the high military command and their families were blocking highways and airports, while camping out in front of bases in complete impunity. In December, one of their ilk was detained for planning to detonate a fuel truck and blow up Brasilia airport. Now, as Lula’s Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira builds up resistance to the NATO proxy war against Russia, others are likely to follow.
Russia’s Special Military Operation in eastern Ukraine has only begun to count for Brazil. At its outset a year ago, Bolsonaro was allowed to cozy up to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Largely a publicity stunt “for the English to see”, it worked to brush aside suggestions the Democrat President was doing business with the Tropical Trump. Although the latter’s visit to Moscow last February appeared to snub the U.S.’s threats against a Russian move on Ukraine, at stake was his agribusiness base’s desperate need for fertilizer. Too obsessed with burning down the Amazon rainforest, agribusiness has failed to use what the Original Peoples developed for millennia as “terra preta”, or black soil. To spruce up the forest’s acidic and basically non-farmable ground, this ancient agri-technology served to cultivate the controlled gardens of forgotten Amazonian civilizations, in which over eighty fruits and vegetables were domesticated and millions lived. In their haste for quick returns, Bolsonarist ranchers and gold prospectors sought to exterminate the People of the Forest, with the Yanomamö almost succumbing to orders allegedly issued by Bolsonaro himself.
The pressure has grown on President Lula to shift his concerns from the Amazon to the plains of Ukraine. The meeting of defense secretaries and ministers with NATO’s high command in Ramstein, Germany, on January 20, 2023, sent out the message. In turn, the nation’s main media outlets have stormed up a slew of hawkish warpath pieces, similar to those assaulting G7 countries since late 2021. Penned by the likes of Rodrigo Lopes of Zero Hora or the editors of the Folha de S. Paulo, a samba-driven goosestep has begun to echo through newsrooms. On the homefront, a wail rises over the polyrhythms, splitting into a 1/2 between the aggressive-Putin-menacing-kind-democratic-Westerners diatribe, similar to what has fogged over G7 minds for the past year.
The barrage of Russiaphobia now strives to align Brazilian public opinion to the will of the hegemon as well. It proves the point about how the fifth estate has every bit a vested interest in creating World War III as does the Military-Industrial Complex. Typically casting social media as purveyors of Russian propaganda and fake news, Mass Media is seeking out revenge against the information age – with profits drawn from advertising increasingly soaked in Ukrainian blood and censored outlets that resist their vendetta. With Russiaphobia, media is digging deeper into the advertisement goldmine than it did with a virus called Sars-Cov-2.
The order broadcast out of Ramstein was to give the Kiev Government’s Head of War, General Valerii F. Zaluzhnyi, the cannon fodder he requested. In an interview with The Economist in December 2022, Zaluzhnyi left nothing to the imagination. Without additional help, as he put it, the Kiev regime would have to concede it had lost the war. Three weeks into a subsequent media blitz, Kiev now confidently announces it is prepared to conquer the Donbass and Crimea. If nothing has really changed on the ground to justify such optimism, it is interesting to note how it all evokes feelings of déjà vu. Was such a plan to assault the Donbass and Crimea not precisely the reason given by President Putin to launch the Special Military Operation in the first place? Indeed, Putin had accused Zelensky’s government of planning to ethnically cleanse these regions of their Russian-speaking inhabitants. Were it to occur now, NATO would simply show itself to be complicit in a racially motivated genocide. It would justify the Nazi spirit present in Western Ukraine since the 1930s.
One does not have to be a president to spot a genocide in the making, although Lula seems to do so faster than his NATO counterparts. Minister of Defense José Múcio thus received the order to decline the requests issued by the head of U.S. Southern Command, General Laura Richardson and the German government. Chancellor Olaf Scholz returned to Berlin without the tank munition held by the Brazilian Armed Force NATO had requested so as to build the Kiev regime’s third army. A third army, since, if we are to believe Swiss, American, French, German and Russian military intelligence analysts, the first two have been annihilated by Russian forces. During the electoral campaign, Lula had expressed interest in bringing Ukraine and Russia to the negotiation table, this time without any doom saying English Prime Ministers. His position against participating in the proxy war proves how diplomacy breaks with belligerence by siding with the wise.
This decision is but the first of a predictable sequence of disputes Lula will face with the US, regardless of what was discussed in his recent meetings with President Biden. Lamentably, nothing changes the fate of Ukraine as it slides into what analysts see as an utter disaster on the human scale with hundreds of thousands already killed. Nor does the future bode clearer for its territorial integrity as its State structure teeters on the brink of collapse as a major Russian invasion awaits.
The wise also tend to know their history. Minister Mauro Vieira understands what it would mean for Russia to see German tanks on its flanks right after the 80th anniversary of Stalingrad. Lula’s international monetary reputation as a BRICS member hangs in the balance. His current defiance of the autonomy of Brazil’s central bank actually embodies optimism for his country’s future, provided multipolarity continue to materialize.
The first anniversary of the Sanctions War on Russia
Given the depth and density of the CIA-NATO dispatches serving as news these days in the West, it is worth recalling why Brazil’s integrity depends on leaning toward a peaceful settlement. The war in Ukraine did not begin a year ago. Nonetheless, twelve months into the hostilities triggered by the Special Military Operation, Russia’s Foreign Minister Serguei Lavrov conceded the situation has “almost become a war”. As Russian General Sergey Suruvikin’s military machine methodically grinds away at what are now Ukrainian, Polish and American military and fascist mercenary formations, silently pulverizing, according to insider reports, tens of thousands of Ukrainian soldiers per day, Lula’s government faces off against the uncertain stance of his own country’s neo-feudal armed forces.
If taken with the degree of seriousness it deserves, the contempt held by the British and Americans toward things Russian explains the sequence of events from Euromaidan to February 24, 2022, if not from 2008 itself, with their plan to integrate Ukraine into NATO. As analysts examine the events of Euromaidan in 2014, it has become increasingly clear how the United States pre-empted a popular uprising in order to orchestrate regime change. Soon after the support given by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland to neo-Nazi groups in 2014, violence broke out in central Kiev. A shootout ensued, killing eighteen police officers. The pro-Russian camp was accused, and the government sent fleeing. Nuland then gave the green light to ditch the constitution and install a handpicked provisional government. These non-elected leaders, chosen from extremist groups, then moved swiftly to strip the country’s Russian-speakers from their constitutional rights. The Russian language was prohibited from being used in public affairs. They justified their actions as punishment against ousted President Viktor Yanukovych for his corrupt government, buttressed by a group of Russian-leaning oligarchs. However, it was his alleged reluctance to join the European Union that led to his fall.
The hastily built NATO-quality army, shielding its funding by conveniently using gear left over from the Soviet era, headed south to subdue resistance by ethnic Russians to the measures being brought against them in the Rada. These regions, called the Donbass and Crimea, rejected the provisional government in Kiev. In their opposition to the anti-Russian measures, the republics, or oblasts, of Donetsk and Luhansk declared independence and were pillaged in term by the national army. As for Crimea, ever since two referenda passed in 1991, its independence was never recognized by Kiev. Western media seldom mentions that a year after the 1994 Budapest Memorandum by which the former Soviet Republics in Europe pledged to respect their existing borders, Ukraine’s Leonid Kuchma sent troops to overthrow the Crimean Republic’s pro-Russian president Yuri Meschkov on March 17, 1995 – altering its border then to fit within Ukraine. When in 2014 the safety of the Russian-speaking majority was put at risk, Putin’s government supported Crimea’s wish to (re)integrate into the Federation. Settled by a bloodless referendum, the territory returned to its legal homeland.
The city of Odessa was not as fortunate. Once known as the capital of the Russian Riviera on the Black Sea, it was the scene of a massacre of ethnic Russians by Western Ukrainian Nazis in 2015, with persecution persisting in the years following. As the Ukrainian Armed Forces pillaged Donetsk and Luhansk, leading to over 10,000 casualties on both sides, Russia engaged in negotiations to bring an end to the conflict. With Ukraine, Germany and France, a settlement was sought in two agreements signed in Minsk, Belorussia, known as Minsk and Minsk 2. What these treaties guaranteed was the autonomy of the regions of the Donbass within Ukraine in exchange for recognition of the rights of its Russian-speaking population. As part of the agreement, Russia pledged to disregard the declarations of independence made by the Oblasts in 2014.
As Kiev explicitly undermined the two Minsk accords, Russia had no option but to recognize the independence of the Oblasts in February 2022. By then, with the assistance of British and American MI6 and CIA forces, the Kiev regime was preparing a large-scale invasion of the Donbass. Prior to the Special Military Operation, Russia sought to negotiate with the U.S. and France in a bid to demilitarize Ukraine, including the separatist oblasts. Instead of agreeing on the need to establish Ukraine’s neutrality to maintain peaceful relations, NATO preferred to taunt and dare the Putin leadership.
Why these treaties eventually failed was a persistent query in Moscow until Angela Merkel uttered a statement that befell dumbfounded ears ten months into the conflict. From the Western perspective, these treatises, she admitted, “were only meant to give Ukraine time”. Fake befuddlement aside, former French President François Hollande was quick to confirm her claim. Those paying attention years earlier, though, could recall former Ukrainian President P. Poroshenko’s disgruntled smirk about how the treaties were simply aimed at deceiving the Russians while NATO could build up Ukraine’s army.
That Merkel’s admission drives a dagger into the heart of international law is the least that can be said. At the geopolitical level, in which great powers are pitted against each other, a treaty used to mislead one of the partners plunges them all into the vulnerability of a first strike. Thereafter, nobody is safe. When nuclear states are in confrontation and elected leaders no longer heed the call to cease fire, it is up to the people to break ranks and fight to end the war. To get there though, one needs certified facts.
As much as one might understand the need to defend Ukraine’s sovereignty in this war, it is nothing short of astonishing to observe the extent to which pro-Kiev academics and scholars are willing to go in order to whitewash the violent overthrowing of an elected president. Since 2014, Kiev’s subsequent leaders have outlawed opposition parties, the independent press and non-national religions. It has forced men into conscription, with some accounts suggesting minors might be sent to the front. Nazi supporters of the regime have mounted a kill list to include its critics. This is the shining example of democracy at work that G7 – and now Brazilian – media outlets want viewers to defend.
As the Special Military Operation began, numbers seemed to mean nothing to journalists and the so-called experts called up to explain to viewers what they are to understand. Blinded as they were by militaristic delirium to punish Russia, aka “Putin”, few journalists seemed to have the wherewithal to notice that 190,000 troops are hardly enough to conquer a country, much less invade Western Europe. Self-certain in their glee, journalists hit the warpath, holding that President Putin had to be held accountable. Among his would-be crimes was his attempt at creating a Euro-Asian economic community to rival the E.U. Likewise, former president Viktor Yanukovych was gutted by Nuland due less to corruption than for seeking the best economic deal for the reality of Ukraine’s complex web of ethnicities. Impatient to hear such a message, Western Europeans have simply censored perspectives unfavorable to Kiev’s ultraconservative hatred. Yet for Brazil, Russia, not Ukraine, has been its willing partner in the BRICS, over whose central bank ousted president Dilma Rousseff will now preside.
An Alliance Rid of Nazis
Behind the revolutionary ethics of Euromaidan come the flags, uniforms and symbols of ultra-right paramilitary groups, such as Azov Battalion, Right Sector, Svoboda, along with other fringe groups. Initially filling the ranks of the provisional government, Azov was culled during Euromaidan from the Patriot of Ukraine and National Socialist Assembly movements. Despite losing representation in the following elections, the movement was blended into the Ukrainian Armed Forces. These are the groups to which Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham pledged their support in 2016, in a meeting that can be identified retrospectively as a time bomb. The Azov Battalion began pillaging the Donbass region for their choice not to comply with the ethnically motivated coup. And extremists they are for pledging allegiance to Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych, two Nazi terrorists who acted alongside Allied intelligence networks well into the 1950s to strip Western Ukraine from the U.S.S.R.
That said, Ukraine is clearly not an official Nazi state. Still, analysts who reduce these groups to a fringe allow their patriotic sentiment to drive them into theoretical naivety and irresponsibility. Once fascists acquire commanding positions in any Armed Forces, a part of the State apparatus veers to the extreme right. Just ask the politically interested Generals who command Bolsonaro about their mission to rid society of the influences of “cultural Marxism”. The customs and traditions espoused by the Kiev regime are not more European than Russia’s. As other European ultra-conservatives, they emerge from the same reactionary, patrilineal and authoritarian culture. Indeed, just like Bolsonaro and his commanding Generals who see their role as social reformers summoned to destroy progressives and the social vision they espouse.
Just as monuments to the military dictatorship dot the landscape of Brazilian parks and cities, throughout Western Ukraine Stepan Bandera’s bust has replaced the statues in honor of those who freed the land from the Wehrmacht. Bandera’s name also adorns the major avenue leading up to Babyn Yar, in central Kiev. That is where Banderites and Nazis executed up to 100,000 Jewish persons from 1941 to 1943, in one of the largest massacres committed outside of the extermination camps.
What is lamentable with Euromaidan is how its undertow soon transformed into hatred of Russia. According to the experts holding sway over western media, Yanukovych would have simply rejected the majority’s wish to become part of the European Union. The insurrection is said to have been triggered by Kiev’s suspension of negotiations. Who in fact refused further talks was Brussels – at the behest of the unelected European Commission. That there might be benefits to becoming a member of the Union, Putin was surely among the first to recognize. Yet his own wish to join the zone was rejected without much explanation by Brussels back in 2002, just as 60 years earlier Joseph Stalin’s request for integration into the Marshall Plan had also been vetoed – despite Russia’s victory over Germany in World War II.
From the European perspective, already forged by its colonialist ambitions, Russia is a welcome partner so long as it remain a supplier of cheap natural gas, oil, wood and over a dozen strategic metals required to keep consumer costs low for Europeans, and its green technologies growing. What Ukraine ideally has to offer is a pool of cheap labor. That said, its population has dramatically plummeted, estimated according to some sources to have been tragically reduced by half to 20 million. Pro-Kiev propagandists make much of the country’s scarce natural resources. If anyone understands how capital is a social relation driven by the accumulated wealth produced by the backs of labor, it is Goldman Sachs and BlackRock. The untold story of the horrendous suffering imposed on civilians is how these two financial hegemons have transformed Ukraine into their private property – the fulfillment of an OSS/CIA wish list first idealized in 1944.
The economic war now waged against Russia through the sanctions imposed by the European Commission, led by hyper-hawk revolving-door lobbyist Ursula von der Leyen, brings nothing new to the geopolitical chessboard. It might stand as testimony to further ambitions, no matter the superior economic growth projected for Russia in 2023 and 2024 as compared to the EU. Yanukovych’s hesitation to negotiate for EU integration actually thickened the plot Western media is uninterested in discussing. The historical record show no country has joined the EU before joining NATO first.
Analysts who sing the praises of how European Ukrainians look – white faces, blonde hair and blue eyes as evidence – fail to hide their Russiaphobic racism. Given such Aryan hallucinations, one might wonder why they fought the Nazis at all – a tragedy were such nostalgia not whispered by the lips of many. Yanukovych was simply the first eastern European leader to attempt to disconnect the EU membership from NATO integration. His government was jettisoned for its efforts.
Brazil’s bid for balance
The censorship of Russian accounts of the war has not been institutionalized in Brazil. Pollster would be well advised to investigate the link between the all-out warmongering attitude existing in countries like France and its devastating extermination of critical perspectives. By contrast, few countries are as adamant for peace as Brazil. It is easy to deride the country for its social unrest, pitted by its landed and financial oligarchy against any move in favor of land distribution. Behind the flash of favela-bound violence, inequality is perpetuated by the same castes as those who benefitted from four hundred years of slave labor, when not by its firearms manufacturing cartel, led by the likes of Taurus, a world leader. Such internal violence should not be confused with the country’s diplomatic stance on the international front.
Danger is what now lies at stake in Europe, if not for the planet as a whole. Through its TASS agency, the Russian leadership has reiterated it shall not be the first power to use nuclear weapons, unless its territory were to be invaded. Meanwhile, just as the Biden Administration allowed the US the authority of a first strike for the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, the American and Western mass media howl in unison over how Russia threatens to use nuclear weapons. Far from marshalling the message, Western media is now the menace. Nor is the corporate media alone to blame. Publicly-funded networks, whether by billionaire endowments or democratic oligarchies, merely bring more class to the belligerence.
Assuming critical thinking does not shrink its own media outlets to becoming NATO voice pieces, the Brazilian leadership has three ways to treat this geopolitical conflict. Just like Western Europe and Canada, it can settle into the micro-perspective: by focusing on the conflict zone, it can submit to the reign of simple oppositions. One side is the aggressor, in this case “Putin” or “Imperialist Russia”, while the other suffers as victim: “Zelensky”, or even the “Eastern European states historically dominated by Russia/USSR”. It is the level at which one speaks of “national sovereignty”, the “U.N. Charter” or “national self-determination” within the “rules based” economic order. Such a stance would ensure good standing within a unipolar world.
Other options are available. The middle-level, or meso-perspective, allows governments and their spokespersons to publicly voice some degree of interpretation. This perspective caters to those who thrive on free speech and freedom of the press, regardless of the censorship applied to claims made by the alleged aggressor, broadcast by either YouTube or RT. It designates the spirit with which the Republic of Turkey had engaged in peacemaking, or the ethical compliance behind international legal treaties, such as the Minsk Agreements were meant to enshrine. It also opens considerations, if not debate itself, about the risks incurred for the G7 by economic sanctions. It questions whether the sacrifices civilian populations have had to endure is justified, as the money sent to “defend Ukraine to the very end” reaches figures in the tens of billions of dollars, largely surpassing what was spent in 10 years of war in Afghanistan.
Finally, the macro-perspective is another alternative. Through its spectrum, world history is understood according to the great power conflicts instrumental in shaping borders and creating zones of influence. Highly depended on objective facts, it gives rise to the critical considerations required for governments and analysts alike to avoid catastrophes or nuclear war. It also obliges committed stances over covert actions, such as the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and 2 deep-sea pipelines, the operation of biological laboratories on Ukrainian territory or even CIA torture-centers authorized for use in Poland.
Now that Lula’s Minister of the Environment, Marina Silva, is set on shutting down deforestation by 2030 and ending further mining in the mineral rich southern Amazon basin, Russia continues to be the world’s leading commodity supplier. Even the Sahel region, still under French control but flailing, fails to compare. When Zbigniew Brzezinski paraphrased Roman Dmowski in his celebrated observation about how stripping Ukraine from an alliance with Russia would maintain the latter merely as a Eurasian empire, the greatest mineral source to its wealth was nickel and China’s GDP was among the world’s lowest. Following a decade of humiliation under neoliberal shock therapy, President Putin surpassed Western expectations by raising the Russia economy to its feet again.
Ever since the sanctions imposed last year, its growth has skyrocketed. Thanks to U.S. imposed sanctions, the GDP based on purchasing power parity of Brazil’s BRICS partner has risen to sixth worldwide. Indeed, Russia is one of the least indebted countries in the world. After the U.S. literally stole 60 billion dollars of its treasury reserves at the outset of the Operation, Russia’s oligarchs have been forced to keep their money at home. Anglo-American oligarchs had previously stolen Afghanistan, Venezuela and Iran’s national reserves, part or whole – as they have also confiscated Ukraine’s gold reserves, undoubtedly for safekeeping from Moscow.
One day, G7 denizens might awake to equate their own billionaires to oligarchs, once they open their blind eye and link tax exemption to tax evasion through offshore “wealth-management” zones. If Lula survives politically, Brazil will be set to resume its productive potential, thus raising the purchase power of its own citizens. Bolsonaro’s financiers attempted to deindustrialize the country through hyperprivatizations, while the Central Bank unleashed private banks to bleed consumers. Lula finds himself in man-to-man combat with Bolsonaro’s men placed in the highest authoritative bodies of the State, which he has brilliantly submitted to public debate. With its means of production back at full steam, the industrial base will seek to regain the three positions of GDP per capita it had lost while under the psychotic rule of the green-and-yellow fascists.
Taken as a whole, these three perspectives, micro, meso and macro, have to be worked together, lest one allow informed discussion and critical thinking to degrade into shouting matches. The endpoint of the latter is rehearsal for nuclear holocaust. Most Westerners get deeply stressed by thinking within the micro-perspective alone, while some appreciate the complexities and mysteries arising from the meso. Yet few in the West, much less Brazil, reach for the third and most urgent perspective.
Is the geopolitical macro-perspective really that of “Russian propaganda”? Is it really nothing but the voice of lies, fake news, and the cynical opinions of “Muscovites”? Are advocates of the macro-perspective really nothing but Putin’s “foot soldiers” or “altar boys”? Everyone is free to decide, so long as real information of the kind discussed above is really accessed and read. One might even fancy how the Rand Corporation of late seems to have warmed up to the third macro-perspective. Despite being one of the architects for the proxy war, its latest report published on January 25, 2023, has counselled on “Avoiding a Long War: U.S. Policy and the Trajectory of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict”. Of course, it has. The macro-perspective is the only one able to deter what was once promptly called MAD: mutually assured destruction through nuclear attack. But, that was yesterday, before the U.S. systematically gutted its arms control treaties with Putin’s Russia.
The upshot of Rand’s backtracking is timely in what it reveals as the fake news strategies by which to ideologically marshal public opinion. Only at the level of the macro-perspective does fake news appear as the killer of ideologies. At the meso, fake news merely oscillates as a variation on ideology. And at the micro, fake news circulates beneath ideology.
By the looks of Lula’s “não, obrigado” on the tank ammo, his foreign policy advisors understand as much. After all, their leader is currently the most gifted negotiator on the planet.
Norman Madarasz is Professor of Political and Economic Philosophy at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul.