Ukraine – the narrative the West doesn't hear – BBC

By | June 11, 2022

By Frank Gardner
Safety correspondent

"Ukraine and its allies, together with London, are threatening Russia for the final 1,000 years, to maneuver Nato to our borders, to cancel our tradition – they’ve bullied us for a lot of, a few years."
That’s what Yevgeny Popov, a member of the Russian Duma (parliament) and an influential TV host in Russia, advised the BBC's Ukrainecast on 19 April. "After all Nato plans for Ukraine are a direct menace to Russian residents."
His views have been each stunning and enlightening as to the very totally different narrative put out by the Kremlin, in comparison with the best way it's considered within the West. To European and Western ears, these pronouncements sound nearly unfathomable, even amounting to a blatant disregard for fastidiously documented proof. But these are simply a number of the beliefs held not solely by Kremlin supporters in Russia and throughout the broader inhabitants there but additionally in a number of different components of the world.
After Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February, the UN held an emergency vote – 141 nations out of 193 UN member states voted every week later to sentence it. However a lot of main nations selected to abstain, together with China, India and South Africa. So it might be delusional for Western leaders to imagine that your entire world shares Nato's view – that Russia is totally guilty for this catastrophic conflict – as a result of it doesn't.
So why are so many nations on the fence about Russia's invasion?
There are a lot of causes, starting from easy financial or army self-interest, to accusations of Western hypocrisy to Europe's colonial previous. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Each nation could have its personal specific causes for not eager to publicly condemn Russia or alienate President Putin.
Let's begin with China, the world's most populous state with greater than 1.4 billion folks, most of whom get their information on Ukraine from the state-controlled media, simply as most individuals do in Russia. China acquired a high-profile customer to its Winter Olympics shortly earlier than the Ukraine invasion started on 24 February – President Putin. A Chinese language communique issued afterwards mentioned there "was no restrict to the 2 nations' co-operation". So did Putin tip off his Chinese language counterpart Xi Jinping that he was about to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine? Completely not, says China, but it surely's arduous to think about that there would haven’t been even only a trace of what was to return to such an vital neighbour.
China and Russia could someday find yourself being strategic rivals, however as we speak they’re companions and share a typical disdain, bordering on enmity, for Nato, the West and its democratic values. China has already clashed with the US over Chinese language army enlargement into the South China Sea. Beijing has additionally clashed with Western governments over its therapy of its Uighur inhabitants, its crushing of democracy in Hong Kong and its steadily repeated vow to "return Taiwan to the fold", by pressure if mandatory.
So China and Russia have a typical enemy in Nato, and their governments' worldview percolates all the way down to each nations' populations with the outcome that, for essentially the most half, they merely don’t share the West's abhorrence of Russia's invasion and alleged conflict crimes.
India and Pakistan have their very own causes for not eager to antagonise Russia. India will get a lot of its arms from Moscow and, after its current conflict with China within the Himalayas, India is betting that someday it could want Russia as an ally and protector.
Pakistan's not too long ago ousted Prime Minister, Imran Khan, has been a fierce critic of the West, particularly the US. Pakistan additionally receives arms from Russia and it wants Moscow's blessing to assist safe commerce routes into its northern hinterland of Central Asia. Prime Minister Khan went forward with a pre-planned go to to see President Putin on 24 February, the very day Russia invaded Ukraine. Each India and Pakistan abstained within the UN vote to sentence the invasion.
Then there’s the accusation, shared by many, particularly in Muslim-majority nations, that the West, led by its strongest nation – the US – is responsible of hypocrisy and double requirements. In 2003, the US and UK selected to bypass the UN – and far of world opinion – by invading Iraq on spurious grounds, resulting in years of violence. Washington and London have additionally been accused of serving to to delay the civil conflict in Yemen, by arming the Royal Saudi Air Pressure which conducts frequent airstrikes there in help of the nation's official authorities.
For a lot of states in Africa there are different, much more historic causes at play. In Soviet occasions, Moscow poured arms into the continent because it sought to confront US and Western affect from the Sahara to the Cape. In some locations, a legacy of western European colonisation within the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is an enduring resentment of the West that performs out even as we speak. France, which rushed troops into Mali in 2013 – to stop an Al-Qaeda takeover of the entire nation – will not be well-liked in its former colony. So now the majority of French troops have left, to get replaced by the Kremlin-backed Russian mercenaries of the Wagner Group.
And the place does the Center East stand on this? No surprises that Syria – together with North Korea, Belarus and Eritrea – has backed Russia's invasion. Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad depends closely on Russia for his survival after his nation risked being overrun by ISIS fighters in 2015. However even long-time Western allies, like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) though they backed the UN vote, have been comparatively muted of their criticism of Moscow. The UAE's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, has an excellent relationship with Vladimir Putin – his earlier ambassador to Moscow has been on searching journeys with him.
It’s also value remembering that Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has a largely dysfunctional relationship with President Biden. Such is their mutual dislike, that the 2 males reportedly refuse to take one another's cellphone calls. Earlier than that, when the world's leaders gathered in Buenos Aires for the G20 Summit – in late 2018, simply weeks after the West accused the Saudi crown prince of ordering the grisly homicide of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi – most Western leaders gave the Saudi prince the chilly shoulder. Putin, against this, high-fived him. That's not one thing the Saudi chief may have forgotten in a rush.
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None of which means all these nations talked about actively help this invasion, other than Belarus. Solely 5 states voted in favour of it on 2 March on the UN, and a kind of was Russia. However what it does imply is that, for a number of causes, the West can’t assume the remainder of the world shares its view of Putin, nor of the sanctions, nor of the West's willingness to overtly confront Russia's invasion with ever extra deadly provides of weaponry to Ukraine.
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