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Lula, hindering the respect for otherness so necessary for the coexistence between nations, Ukraine and NATO

© Ricardo Stuckert/PR

Radicalizing the controversy…

Sorry…this text is long and controversial…I reflected a lot until I decided to write about President Lula's statements regarding the war in Ukraine. Firstly, because I committed to speaking only about Asia, that is "my beach"… "Secondly", because I know that I am “poking the bull with a short stick”… But my conscience leads me to try to analyze as free as possible from any “ideological” bias (?) the statements that Lula has made on the subject.

The vast majority of “well-thinking” individuals agree that what is happening in that region is an unspeakable tragedy.…I think so too…But, for most of them, President Lula's statement that "Ukraine is also responsible for what is happening" is, not minimum, unreasonable. This is what analyst Rubens Abater says in the article “Lula insists that Ukraine is also responsible for the Russian invasion”, that Estadão publishes today. It does no more than reflect the judgment of most "good people"… . I've read similar opinions even from other analysts I respect.

I would also like to “put my nose” in the subject. I do this based not only on what I have heard and read, but in my sixteen years living in Asia, including a period in Astana, in Kazakhstan, in Central Asia, former Soviet Republic as well as Ukraine.

I reflect, because, based on field experience….

 Both Kazakhstan and Ukraine are, in the most absolute reality, countries-infants: they were “born” when the USSR disintegrated into 1991. in that treaty, therefore, as well as the other former Soviet republics, have only thirty-two years of existence as independent countries. That is, are infant states, training, and which until recently were run by ex-KGB agents (some still are), as well as most of your bureaucracies. Still haven't found themselves in the role of independents, that is, are “characters in search of an author”, as Pirandello said… I noticed this when I served in Astana. However, are at the same time societies – and civilizations – very old.

Ukraine, no case, is part of the Slavic and Christian-Orthodox world. In this case, which side of the planet would ukrainians fit on?…This is, it seems to me, a fundamental aspect to understand what the Russians consider as their “area of ​​influence” (or fief, for the most radical). Using History, we found that the birthplace of Russia was the Principality of Kiev, whose formation dates from 1132 D.C. Ancient sagas call the territory “Gardariki” (land of cities), later known as “Little Russia” (Ukraine) and “Great Russia”. According to them, the country was divided into three main parts: Holmogordo (Great Newcastle); I agree (Kiev); of Palteskja (Polation).  The lands of the KIev region were considered the best in the whole country. In 988 AD the region adopted Christianity, with the baptism of the inhabitants of Kiev by Saint Vladimir. A few years later, the first common code of laws was introduced., the call of “Russian Truth”. In Russian tsarism, the word Russia replaced the old name Rus’ in official documents, although the Rus names’ and “Russian land” – the most typical nomenclature in the 17th century – were still common and synonymous for the entire territory; often appeared in the form of “Great Russia” (in Russian: Great Russia kingdom). It is for this and other reasons that Russians consider Ukraine as their “civilizational space”. to moscow, she, Kazakhstan, and all former Soviet republics form part of a large common conceptual universe, although some of them, like poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, for example, have escaped you. I witnessed this strength when I served in Astana, in 2013. I believe that only those of us who live with this reality know how to assess the weight of the “Mother Russia/”Ma Vlast” factor for the region.

Now, let's take the plane, or the trans-siberian, and let's head back in time to Western Europe, per day 4 April 1949, when the “North Atlantic Treaty Organization” was created (OTAN/NATO), the intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty. By him, A collective defense system was created, whereby Member States mutually agreed to react in unison to attacks by any entity external to the organization. NATO, which was little more than a political association until the Korean War, from there it became an integrated military structure. In contrast, the soviet union, together with the socialist countries of Eastern Europe formed, in 1955, the Warsaw Pact. Its objective was to protect the socialist-Marxist regime and expand its area of ​​influence.. The “Cold War” that ensued then fueled the fierce rivalry between the two blocs. And in that context, NATO's commitment became, as we know, defending the West and the concepts and values ​​of capitalism against Soviet communism.

But time passed, and to the extent that since the fall of the USSR there is no longer, effectively – At my point of view –  the “communist enemy” in the contemporary world order, the term has become a label emptied of its original meaning. Emerged, like this,, the need to redefine NATO's role: its objective then became to guarantee the security policy of the countries that integrate it. It means, in the last instance, the validation and imposition of Western political-strategic concepts and values, what, with Kiev as the principality's capital, risk disfiguring those multi-century olds of “mother Russia” and create the threat of westward gravitation.

But, seems necessary, ultimately, the formation of this containment barrier in this century of globalizing interdependence? We, senior diplomats, we lived in the decades of 70/80 with the omnipresent threat of nuclear holocaust and the fragile administration of “détente” by the two superpowers at the time, until the dissolution of the Soviet Union, in 1991, made this primary objective somewhat obsolete. NATO then began to defend the values ​​of “western democracies”. But what would these values ​​be?, and what is this west: the “central” – Western Europe, North America and (in this case) Japan – which in a way established “erga omnes” standards and parameters ? Does this “West” – in what this term may mean – and the rest of the planet agree with the same references and values? lived in 11 Asian countries, and I can say with conviction that they are not interchangeable, and in many cases, even antagonistic. facing a double dilemma?… Ask a Brazilian – miscegenated Iberian – for example, that accepts as correct and absolute the reasons for the invasions of NATO troops in Iraq, Libya or Afghanistan, and the tragic consequences that, it seems to me out of any sense, except in the case of “ideological conversion” (sorry…), far from who we are and what we believe is our place and role in the world…

Here comes President Lula… He has been emphatic in stressing the sharing of blame – and responsibility – between the two neighbors. So, to print, part of public opinion and some countries have accused him of “sticking his nose where he shouldn't”. There is a reason for this: indeed, the ukraine war, “so far”, is far from(s) our(s) reality(s), except for the consequences it entails for our economy. And I believe that we don't have the clout to lead a pacification movement like Lula wants either. (remember the case of Iran?…). But you have no reason, At my point of view, when he says that Ukraine , for his “dating” with NATO, is also responsible for what is happening. Let us remember that Russia only sharpened its belligerence when it felt that the Western military organization was threatening to invade its fiefdom.. Ukraine, we know, is for Putin and the Russians the buffer state against the spread of “Westernism”. And it was then that he left for a crazy crusade and contrary to the most basic principles of coexistence between nations and "human rights"., these are universally degraded when a population is threatened and expatriates its children to refuges around the world! Tragic…

What will all this lead to?? There is much more at stake than this simple analysis can address., such as the question of the occupied territories, for example. There will be a “grand finale”, or even “finale” in the short or medium term? How will international society react? More clumsy than effective, how has it been? Perhaps the “Joint Declaration” of the Presidents of Brazil and China at the end of the visit that Lula has just made to that country could be a possible route. According to her, “the parties claim that dialogue and negotiation are the only viable way out of the crisis in Ukraine., and that all efforts leading to the peaceful resolution of the crisis should be encouraged and supported.”…without forcefulness and without “parti pris”.

I always tell my students that in international relations, as in life itself, nothing is black and nothing is absolute white. It is in the gradations of gray that they – and life itself – happen.

To be continued…after the Partition of the Subcontinent the Security Council adopted the Resolution…

Fausto Godoy
Doctor of Public International Law in Paris. He entered the diplomatic career in 1976, served in Brussels embassies, Buenos Aires, New Delhi, Washington, Beijing, Tokyo, Islamabade (where he was Ambassador of Brazil, in 2004). He also completed transitional missions in Vietnam and Taiwan. Lived 15 years in Asia, where he guided his career, considering that the continent would be the most important of the century 21 - forecast that, now, sees closer and closer to reality.