The Ukrainian crisis has highlighted the magnitude of Western public opinion manipulation by major media, TV channels like CNN, Foxnews, Euronews and many others as well as the entire printed press powered by Western news agencies. The manner in which the Western public is misinformed is impressive, yet it is easy to have access to a wealth of information on all sides. It is very worrying to see how many citizens of the world are being lured into a russophobia never seen even in the worst moments of the Cold War. The image that enters the collective unconscious through the powerful Western media machine is that Russians are "barbaric and backward" compared to the Western "civilized" world. The very important speech that Vladimir Putin delivered on March 18, after the referendum in Crimea, was literally boycotted by Western media [1], as they alotted a large place to Western reactions, all negative of course. However, in his speech Putin explained that the crisis in Ukraine was not triggered by Russia and he presented, with great rationality, Russia’s position and the legitimate strategic interests of his country in the post- ideological conflict.

Humiliated by its treatment by the West since 1989, Russia woke up with Putin and began to reconnect with a great power policy by trying to reconstruct the lines of the traditional historical strength of Tsarist Russia and the Soviet Union. Geography often controls strategy. Having lost much of its "historical territories", in the words of Putin and his Russian and non-Russian population, Russia has set a great national and patriotic project for recovering its superpower status of "global" actor by first securing the safety of its land and sea borders. This is exactly what the West wants to prevent in its unipolar worldview. Good chess player that he is, Putin is several moves ahead thanks to a deep knowledge of history, the real world and the aspirations of a large part of the population of the territories formerly controlled by the Soviet Union. He knows the European Union to perfection, its divisions and weaknesses, the real military capability of NATO and the state of Western public opinion reluctant to see an increase in military spending in times of economic recession. Unlike the European Commission, whose project coincides with that of the United States to strengthen the Euro-Atlantic political-economic-military bloc, European citizens in their majority do not seek more eastward enlargement of the EU, neither with Ukraine nor with Georgia, nor with any other country of the former Soviet Union.

With its posturing and its threats of sanctions, the EU, slavishly aligned with Washington, shows that it is powerless to "punish" Russia seriously. Its actual weight is not up to its ambitions always proclaimed to shape the world in its image. The very responsive and malicious Russian government applies "gradual ripostes," deriding Western punitive measures. Putin, haughty, even allows himself the luxury of announcing that he will open an account at the Rossyia Bank of New York to deposit his salary! He has not yet mentioned limiting the supply of gas to Ukraine and Western Europe but everyone knows he has this card in hand, which has already forced the Europeans to think about a complete reorganization of their energy supply, which will take years to materialize.

Western Errors and divisions put Russia in a position of strength. Putin enjoys exceptional popularity in his country and in the Russian communities in neighboring countries, and we can be sure that his intelligence services have penetrated deeply into countries formerly controlled by the Soviet Union, abundantly supplying first-hand information on internal power balances. Its diplomatic apparatus gives strong arguments to remove the monopoly of interpretation of international law from the "West", particularly on the thorny issue of self-determination. As might be expected, Putin does not hesitate to cite the precedent of Kosovo to vilify the double standards of the West, its inconsistencie , and the destabilizing role it played in the Balkans.

While Western media propaganda had been in full swing after the referendum of March 16 in Crimea, Western shouts have suddenly dropped a tone and the G7, at its summit in The Hague on the sidelines of the conference on nuclear safety, has not threatened to exclude Russia from the G8, as it had trumpeted a few days earlier, but simply announced that it "would not participate in the Sochi summit ." This allowed it the opportunity to reactivate at any time this privileged forum for dialogue with Russia, established in 1994 at its express request. First retreat of the G7. Obama in turn hastened to announce that there would be no military intervention by NATO to help Ukraine, but only a promise of cooperation to rebuild the military potential of Ukraine, composed largely of obsolete Soviet equipment. Second retreat. It will take years to put a Ukrainian army worthy of the name on its feet, and one wonders who will pay considering the plight of the country’s finances. In addition, we do not know exactly what is the status of the Ukrainian Armed Forces after Moscow’s inviting, with some success, it seems, the Ukrainian military, heirs of the Red Army, to join the Russian army while maintaining individual rank. The Ukrainian fleet is already fully under Russian control. Finally, another spectacular reversal on the part of the United States: there would have been very advanced secret conversations between Moscow and Washington to adopt a new constitution in Ukraine, to install a coalition government whose neo-Nazi extremists would be excluded in Kiev on the occasion of the May 25 elections and, especially to impose a neutral status on Ukraine, its "Finlandisation" (recommended by Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski) [2], which prohibits its entry into NATO, but allows economic agreements with both the EU and with the Eurasian customs Union (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan). If such an agreement is reached, the EU will be faced with a fait accompli and will have to resign itself to pay the bill of the Russian-US head-to-head. With such guarantees Moscow could consider its safety requirements are met. It will have regained its footing in its former sphere of influence with Washington’s agreement and will refrain from fomenting separatism in other Ukrainian provinces or in Transnistria (Moldova province populated by Russians ) while reaffirming its strong respect for European borders. The Kremlin will at the same time have offered an honorable exit to Obama. A master stroke for Putin.

Geopolitical consequences of the Ukrainian crisis

The G7 had not calculated that, by taking steps to isolate Russia, besides the fact that it will have applied to itself a "sado-masochistic punishment" in the words of Hubert Vedrine, former French Minister of Foreign Affairs, it, in spite of itself, precipitated a process, already well under way, of deep restructuring of the world for the benefit of a non-Western group led by China and Russia under the aegis of BRICS. In response to the G7 communiqué of March 24 [3] , the foreign ministers of BRICS have expressed their rejection of any measures to isolate Russia and they immediately took the opportunity to denounce the U.S. practices of espionage against their leaders and for good measure they demanded that the United States ratify the new distribution of voting rights at the IMF and the World Bank as a first step towards a "more equitable world order" [4]. The G7 did not expect such a quick and virulent reply from BRICS. This episode may suggest that the G20, of which G7 and BRICS are the two main pillars, could traverse a serious crisis before the next summit in Brisbane (Australia) on November 15 and 16, especially if the G7 continues to marginalize and punish Russia. It is just about certain there will be a majority in the G20 to condemn the sanctions on Russia, which will in fact have the effect of isolating the G7. In their statement to the press, the ministers of BRICS felt that to decide who is a member of the group and what is its purpose is up to all its members "on an equal footing" and none of its members "may unilaterally determine its nature and its character." The Ministers call to resolve the current crisis in the context of the United Nations "with calm, high road vision, by renouncing hostile language, penalties and sanctions against". A snub to the G7 and the EU! The G7, which alone put itself in a bind, is warned that it will need to make significant concessions if it wants to continue to have some influence in the G20.

Moreover, two important events are to occur in the coming weeks.

First, Vladimir Putin will pay an official visit to China in May. The two giants are about to sign a major energy deal that will substantially affect the global energy market, both strategically and financially. Transactions will no longer be in dollars, but in the national currencies of the two countries. Turning to China, Russia will have no problem selling its gas production in case Western Europe decides to switch supplier. And in the same rapprochement, China and Russia could sign an industrial partnership agreement for the production of the Sukhoi 25 fighter, a highly symbolic development.

Elsewhere, during the BRICS summit in Brazil in July, the Development Bank of the group, whose creation was announced in 2012, could take shape and offer an alternative to financing by the IMF and the World Bank, ever reluctant to change their operating financing rules to give more weight to emerging economies and their currencies beside the dollar.

Finally there is an important aspect of the relationship between Russia and NATO which is sparsely commented in the media but is very revealing of the state of dependence in which the "West" finds itself as it withdraws its troops from Afghanistan. Since 2002, Russia agreed to cooperate with Western countries to facilitate the logistics of troops in the Afghan theater. At the request of NATO, Moscow authorized the transit of non-lethal equipment for the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) by air or land between Dushanbe (Tajikistan), Uzbekistan and Estonia, via a multimodal platform at Oulianovk in Siberia. This is nothing less than conveying all supplies for thousands of men operating in Afghanistan, among which are tons of beer, wine, pies, burgers, fresh lettuce , all transported by Russian civilian aircraft, since Western forces do not have sufficient air assets to support military deployment of this magnitude. The NATO-Russia October 2012 agreement extends cooperation to the installation of a Russian airbase in Afghanistan with 40 helicopters where Afghan personnel are trained in the anti-drug fight which the West has abandoned. Russia has continued to refuse to allow transit through its territory of heavy equipment, which poses a serious problem for NATO at the time of withdrawal of his troops. Indeed they cannot travel via Kabul-Karachi land because of attacks on convoys by the Taliban. The Way North (Russia) being impossible, heavy equipment is flown from Kabul to the United Arab Emirates, then shipped to European ports, which quadruples the cost of withdrawal. For the Russian government, NATO intervention in Afghanistan has been a failure, but its precipitate withdrawal before the end of 2014 will increase chaos and affect the security of Russia and may cause a resurgence of terrorism.

Russia also has important agreements with the West in the field of armaments. The most important is probably the one signed with France for the manufacture in its arsenals of two helicopter carriers for $ 1.3 billion euros. [5] If the contract is canceled under the sanctions, France must repay amounts already paid as well as more contractual penalties and will lose thousands of jobs. The worst is probably the loss of market confidence in the French armament industry as noted by the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Let’s not forget that without the intervention of Russia, Western countries would have never been able to reach an agreement with Iran on nuclear non-proliferation, or with Syria on chemical disarmament. These are facts about which the Western media are silent. The reality is that because of its arrogance, its lack of knowledge of history, its clumsiness, the Western bloc has precipitated the systemic deconstruction of the unipolar world order and offers on a platter to Russia and China, supported by India, Brazil, South Africa and many other countries, a "window of opportunity" to strengthen unity of an alternative block. The evolution was moving forward, but slowly and gradually (nobody wants to give a kick in the anthill and suddenly destabilize the global system), but all of a sudden everything is going faster and interdependence is changing the rules of the game.

Regarding the Brisbane G20, it will be interesting to see how Mexico positions itself, after the G7 summits in Brussels in June and BRICS in Brazil in July. The situation is very fluid and will evolve quickly, which will require great diplomatic flexibility. If the G7 persists in his intention to marginalize or exclude Russia, the G20 could disintegrate. Mexico, caught in the nets of TLCAN and the future TPP, must choose between sinking with the Titanic of the West or adopting an independent line, more in harmony with its interests as a regional power with global ambitions, by drawing nearer to BRICS.

Roger Lagassé
La Jornada (Mexico)

[1Vladimir Putin speech to Russian lawmakers on Crimea”, by Vladimir Putin, Voltaire Network, 18 March 2014.

[2Kissinger thinks Ukraine should be more like Finland”, Voltaire Network, 9 March 2014.

[3Joint G7 statement about Russia”, Voltaire Network, 24 March 2014.

[4Conclusions of the BRICS Foreign Ministers Meeting”, Voltaire Network, 24 March 2014.

[5Will France sell its warships to Russia?”, Voltaire Network, 22 March 2014.