In the tragedy of spectacle warfare, one of the first things to happen in the dissident right following the Russian invasion of the Ukraine was the choosing of sides. It’s regarded as cringe to take the side of the Ukraine. Some have chosen to take the side of Russia, others have remained more agnostic. Many feel the need to assert that Putin is at fault for the war.
My perspective is as follows:
1) The Ukrainian government functions as a bastion of the corrupt personal interests of American politicians, all the way up to the president. If the Ukrainian government is replaced in a way that terminates this relationship, that would be a positive, from my perspective. I don’t just mean Zelensky, I mean the entire bureaucratic apparatus that enables this relationship. I also do not advocate regime change in the Ukraine. Corruption will always exist, but I would certainly prefer that the US government does not have such a deep interest in a country that is so far into the Russian sphere of influence. This can only help to lead to bad outcomes, as we are seeing now.
2) The Ukrainian state doesn’t make much sense in its current configuration. It seems intentionally designed to maximize instability, which is something the US State Department loves to see in other countries. The Ukraine contains at least two discrete ethnicities, the Ukrainian ethnicity and a Russian ethnicity. There is nothing wrong in principle with states being reorganized to better approximate nation-states. I do not advocate any such reconstitution being forced on a country by an outside power through war; however, if the outcome is a more sensible and stable set of nation-states, this would be a positive outcome.
3) The Ukrainian state is also impractical given Russian demands regarding Black Sea access through Sevastopol. Russia has clearly drawn a line in the sand on this point, which could not have been drawn more clearly when it Crimea was annexed in 2014. The USA should have recognized this and found a diplomatic path to securing Russian interests, whether that meant making certain guarantees regarding NATO, dividing the Ukraine into multiple countries, or recognizing the outright Russian annexation of certain regions. So long as NATO regards the whole country to be off-limits to Russia, the Ukrainian state is not conducive to peace.
4) I am not so quick to fault Putin for the war, despite him being the aggressor. It is impossible to demystify the alleged attacks on Russian soil in the east, so I am ignoring that in my analysis. Regardless as to whether or not those attacks were real or false flags, it is clear that Putin made the decision to escalate the conflict to full-scale war. I won’t pretend that he had no other decisions available, although the space for reasonable decisions was certainly intentionally constricted by NATO. Putin decided to go to war, and he must shoulder the moral weight for that. At the same time, the USA and NATO certainly shoulder much of the moral blame as well. They pushed Putin, a rational actor, into a position where he believed that war was the most rational choice. They did this knowingly, and therefore every death in the Ukraine has both the hands of Putin and the USA on it. I know that many will insist on blaming Putin, but why did Russia even attack in the first place? Why are the Ukrainian people suffering? Fundamentally, it is because the USA, a third party, refused to give a guarantee that the Ukraine would not be admitted to NATO.
5) Russia is a competitor to the USA. I don’t have a problem in principle with the USA being a superpower. I want my country to be strong. I don’t want Russia to become more powerful than the USA; however, the USA is currently operating against the national interest of Americans, and is instead operating for the interests of its oligarchy. Setting aside the deleterious actions of the American government wrought on other western nations, the American government needs regime-complete alteration for the interests of the American people in their own right. The USA is going to have to take a few hits in order to create the conditions under which the ruling elite can be dislodged. Any event that accomplishes this accomplishes some positive, from my perspective.
6) I understand the eastern European perspective on Russia. To an eastern European, Russia is not an abstract competitor, but a genuine enemy that poses a real threat to the soil of European countries. Russia has a history of dominion over these countries, and in the living memory of the 20th century a particularly brutal dominion at that. The issue of maintaining national sovereignty is much closer to the heart of eastern Europe than it is to America. As much as Europe wishes to break away from the American sphere of influence, it seems to prefer America to Russian domination.
However, I dispute the false choice between America and Russia. The fact is, in order for the world to shake off the yoke of America, America must have a competitor. By the very definition, the end of global homogeneity and a return to normalcy requires the existence of multiple great powers who act as true peers rather than the lopsided system of American unipolarity we have now. I am perplexed by the response I see from many eastern Europeans. I’d like to ask “Who exactly did you think was going to challenge American power?” The best situation that eastern Europeans can hope for is one where Russia and America are balanced against one another, and the rest of Europe isn’t locked into to either NATO or CSTO. This is the “sweet spot” where smaller countries can maximize their own independence without being a great power. Becoming a great power is, of course, the other path to independence – but this would require Poland to consolidate its own central and eastern European alliance that can stand apart from America and Russia. That’s not happening for now; but, in fact, Russia triggering the NATO alliance to collapse is probably a prerequisite to this anyway.
I’m a political realist, and again, I understand that a militant Russia is scary, but this is just the reality of geopolitics in the early 21st century. Europeans display much more genuine nationalism than westerners do, and along with this more comes more genuine racial pride, but also arrogance and feelings of superiority. These feelings can be a detriment to mutual cooperation when it is necessary, the kind of eastern European cooperation that is necessary now to stand up to both Russia an America. These sentiments will need to be overcome, and perhaps the overreactions to Russian aggression can facilitate this. I must emphasize the “overreaction” bit – I’ve seen a lot of eastern Europeans acting as if the Russians of today are the Russians of 1945, or even 1980. This isn’t the Red Army about to roll tens of millions of men across the plains of Europe. Russian ambition is limited by material reality, which provides the opportunity to mobilize a countervailing eastern European coalition; but such an alliance does not have to be against Russia, it can simply be for Europeans. Cooperation with Russia as a peer is preferential to strict opposition. Strategic cooperation and opposition to both America and Russia will allow eastern Europe to maintain an acceptable level of autonomy, given the geopolitical realities. Strict opposition to Russia will only result in de facto NATO control over Europe.
In conclusion, I do not advocate for war in the Ukraine for any reason; but war has happened, so it no longer matters. There is now only the opportunity to react, and there are reasons why a Russian victory, especially a swift victory, would be preferable to both Americans and Europeans. War always produces bad outcomes, but there are certainly degrees bad outcomes. I won’t pretend to be neutral and to not prefer a Russian victory for the reasons I have outlined above. To summarize my preference in one sentence: I believe that the GAE will be weakened by a Russian victory in a way that will aid in the overthrow of American hegemony. This opinion could change as the war evolves. I don’t have a hard position on this war, I am just looking at what is happening in real time just like everyone else.