Russia And Ukraine Conflict Essay

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Abstract
To understand the Russia / Ukraine Conflict one must understand how the fall of the Soviet Union created a power vacuum in both Russia and the former Soviet satellite states.  Both Russia and Ukraine were looted by mob-connected businessmen during the 1990s.  The oligarchs in Russia used their influence and money to privatize industries and amass great personal wealth.  When Putin came to power, he insisted that the oligarchs stay out of politics.  Berezovsky fled to UK, sponsored a color revolution in Ukraine to prevent the Putin-backed politician from winning, and opened the door for the West to gain influence in the region.  Since that time, the West has pushed for NATO expansion in a power-play to prevent Russia from gaining greater leverage over Europe.  Russia has indicated that it will not abide NATO expansion into its own backyard.  Thus, the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 is an attempt by Putin to take back, once and for all, control of Ukraine so that it will not fall into the permanent hands of the West.

Main Title:

How Putin’s Position on the Russian Oligarch Berezovsky Led Ultimately to the Russian / Ukraine Conflict

Introduction:

To understand the Russian-Ukraine Conflict of 2022 in context, one has to really understand the rise of Putin and his stance against the oligarch Boris Berezovsky.  It is Berezovsky who sponsored the color revolution that turned Ukraine into a Western puppet-state.  It is Berezovsky who had been chased out of Russia by Putin.  It is Berezovsky who, along with the Yeltsin family, hand-picked Putin for the most powerful post in Russian politics.  The story of the Russian-Ukraine Conflict is the story of the conflict between these two powerful men.  As with any larger-than-life story, it is complicated by numerous factors that this paper will attempt to explain.

Thesis Statement:

The conflict in Ukraine is the result of oligarchs and political powers vying for control of a state that stands between Russia and the West—a state that represents the last red line between peace and WW3.

Body of Paper:

Putin’s Rise to Power

Putin came to power in Russia as a result of a political complication faced by Boris Yeltsin at the end of the 1990s.  Russia was a in a state of collapse and Yeltsin’s popularity was not high enough to ensure a victory in the upcoming election.  The Yeltsins and the so-called “Godfather of the Kremlin,” the oligarch Boris Berezovsky, chose Putin to take over the Kremlin and fill in for Yeltsin in the upcoming election (Klebnikov, 2000; Mezrich, 2015).  Putin quickly became the popular choice among voters—and won the election.

However, Putin did not act as the political puppet that Berezovsky hoped or assumed he would be.  Quite the contrary, Putin now turned on the “godfather” and postured as a staunch Russian nationalist.  He stood before the cameras and described how he was fed up with the lawlessness that had taken hold of the state over the past few years.  He said that he would now hold the looters and scoundrels accountable for their actions.  Putin essentially told Russia that he would hold the oligarchs responsible for their crimes against the state in the 1990s.  The Russian public celebrated (BBC, 2012).  

Privately, Putin told the oligarchs that they could keep their ill-gotten wealth but that they must forevermore stay out of politics (Mezrich, 2015). For Berezovsky, political power had meant everything.  He had risen through the corrupt auto industry, had gained influence in Yeltsin’s family, and had taken over Russia’s state television network.  Now it was all being taken away from him.  From the Kremlin he had been able to win friends and influence people at the highest levels.  Other oligarchs, like Roman Abramovich, came to him for help.  Now Berezovsky was being shown the door by the very man he helped put into power.

Berezovsky in Exile

Now out of favor in the Kremlin, Berezovsky fled to UK and plotted his revenge (BBC, 2012).  To overthrow Putin was his stated goal.  He envisioned himself as returning at some point to Russia and taking back his position of power.  But first he needed to set a plan in motion that would ultimately erode Putin’s credibility and support.  In short, Berezovsky needed to start a war with Russia.

To start a war is no simple task and it can take years to set the gears in motion.  But Berezovsky had no other preoccupation.  He turned to friends in the US and Israel for support in taking out the Russian-friendly president of Ukraine and installing an anti-Russia leader.  Ukraine was now the target and would be used in the exiled oligarch’s plot to remove Putin from power.  From England, Berezovsky directed his plan, using the media and what remained of his money and clout to execute his plan.

Ukraine had announced its sovereignty and independence in 1990-91 after the Berlin Wall fell and Communism collapsed.  The Russian-friendly Leonid Kuchma won just over half the vote in 1994, but corruption in the Ukraine mirrored that in Russia in the 1990s, as the looting of the state transpired and the looters became oligarchs.  Inflation, crime, and gangsterism prevailed; strikes and protests occurred, and the need for a genuine leader was felt by all.  Kuchma himself was accused of corruption.  It was into this pool of acrimony that Berezovsky waded.  He meant to turn Ukraine away from Russia toward the West, where he had made new allies in his dream of bringing down Putin.

The Color Revolution

The Orange Revolution of 2004 was the result of Berezovsky-and-friends fomenting protests over the Ukrainian election of that year.  The protests led to a re-vote and the election of the oligarch’s candidate Viktor Yushchenko.  In the initial counting of the votes, the Kuchma-backed candidate Viktor Yanukovych appeared to have won.  Berezovsky and friends sprang into action and fueled the protests in Kiev, which lasted into 2005.  The state felt pressured into acting, and so declared no confidence in the initial vote.  The re-vote delivered the outcome Berezovsky and friends desired.  Ukraine would now no longer be under the thumb...…in it?  Russia appears to be willing to go the whole mile.  Those calling for a “Great Reset” may get their wish if the West via NATO and the EU decide to engage in a direct hot war with Russia.  WW3 could erupt in spectacular fashion and bring the current economic, political, and social world system crashing down.

If the West comes to the aid of Ukraine, fighting will intensify.  But it is unclear whether Russia has sufficient allies to support it against all of NATO and the whole of the EU.  The West has supplied Ukraine with ample weapons with which the Ukraine government has waged war against East Ukraine separatists.  Russia has recognized the independence of East Ukraine and has justified its invasion of Ukraine on the basis of providing support to these independent states—but also out of concern for its own security.

The conflict has also given the West media cover to put to bed the COVID pandemic and move on from that as well as the domestic protests (such as trucker convoys in Canada, Washington, and elsewhere around the world).  There’s nothing like a war to distract the public from whatever scandal is currently consuming the attention of the public.  

With all of that in mind, it is very much a waiting game at this point insofar as much of the global public is concerned.  Will the Russia-Ukraine Conflict be the start of WW3?  Or will it fizzle out, be resolved through diplomatic channels (Ukrainian and Russian officials are, in fact, currently meeting to discuss a peaceful resolution)?  Or will it be used as pretext for alienating Russia from the world economic system?  Or will it be used to usher in a “Great Reset” for the entire public?  Or is it merely a media story being sensationalized to distract the public from the COVID narrative that has long overstayed its welcome insofar as much of the public is concerned?  Only those closest to the action can say.

Conclusion:

The Russia / Ukraine Conflict has been a long time coming.  It began when Putin turned on Berezovsky, who fled to England and began plotting his revenge.  Berezovsky conspired with allies in the West and Israel to pry Ukraine away from Russia’s grip.  One revolution followed another, and soon separatists in the Russia-loyal Eastern region of Ukraine began fighting with the Western-backed Ukrainian government.  Russia took Crimea and then it recognized the independence of East Ukraine.  Russia then sent forces into Ukraine, and has surrounded Kiev.  Kiev’s current president has appealed to the West for more support—but so far the West has shown no desire to put boots on the ground and engage directly in a hot war with Russian forces.  It has instead chosen economic warfare.  But such an approach could backfire on the West and on the US.  If states around the world discover that they can trade without USD, it may be the end of US dollar hegemony and of American exceptionalism.  Who will lead the world at that point, and…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited / Bibliography:

BBC. (2012). Russian godfathers. Retrieved from https://www.documentary24.com/russian-godfathers-putin-and-the-oligarchs--848/

Klebnikov, P. (2000).  Godfather of the Kremlin. New York, NY: Harcourt.

Levitt, H. (2022). Dimon Says SWIFT Sanctions May Bring ‘Unintended Consequences’.  Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-28/dimon-says-swift-sanctions-may-bring-unintended-consequences

Mezrich, B. (2015). Once upon a time in Russia. New York, NY: Atria.

Roth, A. et al. (2022). Putin signals escalation.  Retrieved from  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/27/vladimir-putin-puts-russia-nuclear-deterrence-forces-on-high-alert-ukraine



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