Ukraine war: Nigerian opportunity or pitfall? (1)

By Phillip Oak

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is now in its 5th month. With no sign so far of letting up on aggression from either of the belligerents nor their international cheerleaders, the stage seems set for a long drawn out conflict with potentially cataclysmic regional and global cost implications in terms of human suffering, loss of life, and the destruction of material and logistic resources.

On a daily basis media channels worldwide are replete with disconcerting news reports from the war zone, complete with gory and graphic images of the human and material carnage of a meaningless war; solemn omens of the deepening, widening negativity of the ongoing new war in Europe on global wellness and stability.

A full review of the immediate and remote causes of the crisis is beyond the scope of this article but we must entertain a summary of the issues at stake for proper appreciation of the situation.

The Russian Federation is the bonafide formal residue of the now defunct communist-state superpower, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the USSR), the Cold War-era counterweight to the rise of American cultural and political imperialism. At its zenith it was the largest country in the world made up of fifteen federating national states, with a highly centralized one-party system of government under the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

The Cold War ended in 1991 with the swift and dramatic collapse of the Soviet Union, ending about 70 years of the Bolshevik Red Revolution.

The Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic (the Russian SFSR), the preeminent province of the Soviet Empire and home to its capital, Moscow, became its de facto successor, inheriting the material and moral legacies of that fragmented federation, primarily responsible with curating the memories and records, the pains and privileges of an expired, glorious era.

If the Russia SFSR was the father province of that grand ‘family’ of federating socialist states, Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic (Ukrainian SSR) was its mother-state. Geographically and ethno-culturally contiguous with Russia it is a province endowed with a matriarch-like abundance of natural resources, rich with fertile plains and prairies.

She was the great forge of the Soviet Union’s powerful military-industrial complex, and was, in order of geopolitical importance within the union, second only to the Russian SFSR. Ukraine was one of the four founding provinces that signed the Soviet Union into formal existence in 1922 and, in the wake of the aborted August 19th coup detat, her formal exit from the Soviet Union, in league with Russia and Belarus, via the Belovezha Accord, forming the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) from the disintegrating USSR, was the final blow to the existence of the shaky alliance of Soviet states.

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Post the USSR, Ukraine in the ‘90s went through transitional crises, burdened with the novel difficulties of her brand new sovereignty and the challenges of establishing self-direction and governance outside the strappings of a centrally controlled communist empire. And inspite of her formidable resources and potential, plagued by rampant crime and corruption, she experienced a severe economic downturn plunging into deep recession with the stigmata of a steep loss of its GDP, soaring unemployment rates and hyper-inflation.

With time however she mostly overcame these teething problems, stabilizing by the late 90’s into an increasingly flourishing economy and one that was able to truly begin the task of nation building while renewing and reshaping vital trade and defense relations and alliances. All of which helped to further solidify the nationalist pride and confidence of Ukrainians as capable captains of their own destiny.

Yet there lingered over her the shadow of the old empire in the shape of carried-over intimate regional partnership with that lost empire’s most powerful residuestate, the Russian Federation.

Bilateral trade and defence arrangements and agreements underpinned with major infrastructural connectivities, such as an intricate, interdependent system of crude oil production, refining and distribution, continued the intimacy of this relation. Russia maintained enormous fiscal and technical.

support towards the stability and prosperity of the now sovereign but historically and functionally coexisting erstwhile Mother of the Soviet Union.

For Russia this defacto relationship had an overarching importance: keeping Ukraine out of the expanding sphere of influence of the North Atlantic powers (led by the USA) and their defensive consortium, The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

•Oak is a Nigerian Canadian medical doctor with a passion for socio-developmental issues.

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