Show Some Bloody Humility
As UFOs trend and balloons descend in an American panic that fits with the return to the 1950s, it’s a year on since Russia invaded Ukraine. On the 17 January 2022, Russian troops begin arriving in Russia’s ally Belarus, ostensibly “for military exercises”. On the 25 January 2022, Russian exercises involving 6,000 troops and 60 jets took place in Russia near Ukraine and Crimea. On 10 February 2022, Russia and Belarus began 10 days of “military maneuvers”.
On February 12 2022 Craig Murray wrote:
“The mainstream media is, without exception, repeating the unevidenced claim from the Biden administration that Russia is about to invade Ukraine. They do this with no proper journalistic questioning or scepticism. They do this despite the fact that, in the last month, not only have we had repeated cries that invasion is “imminent”, we have had specific secret intelligence sourced claims from the Americans, that a Russian staged false flag attack was about to happen, and from the British, that there was about to be a coup in Kiev led by very minor figures. Both claims turned out to be nonsense.”
He continued: “Biden and Johnson both have an interest in stoking the fires of conflict to try to improve (well deserved) terrible poll ratings at home. NATO has an interest in promoting Cold War, its traditional raison d’etre. The disastrous results of NATO’s attempts to expand its role in Afghanistan and Libya have led to the organisation needing an apparent success. For all these western political interests, they see a win-win over Ukraine, because when Putin does not invade, they can claim it is a victory and that they forced Putin to back down.”
But also: “By taunting Putin with the position that Johnson and Biden will claim Putin lost if he does not invade, they are effectively daring him to invade.”
In this masterly analysis the West is responsible for both Putin not invading and for Putin invading. But ultimately Murray explains that despite the mass troops and the arrival of huge forces surrounding Ukraine: “I maintain the view that Putin is far too wily to be pushed into an invasion.”
Again, Putin is both wily and yet also has no volition. Any war that he might be involved in is something he has no control over. Murray was not alone on the ‘anti-imperial left’ in producing such grotesque stupidity:
Despite the cheerleaders and apologists, things are going very badly for Russia. Putin has descended from his status as a ‘wily’ genius-strategists to an isolated figure whose every war-aim is failing. As Will Lockett wrote in December 2022: “By now, it is evident that Putin is losing the Ukrainian war. He has failed to capture Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and has had to quickly retreat to stem the colossal losses his military has suffered.”
For many the war in Ukraine (that was never going to happen), and was a figment of the West’s imagination – became a war that was going to be an easy and inevitable victory for Russia. As the weeks and months passed that narrative subsided and became quieter. Now the same voices say it is one which should be sorted by ‘diplomacy’, and with it presumably massive concessions to the Russian aggressor.
As Jen Stout wrote in these pages last year (‘A cult of violence‘): “Coming from people on the Left, people who ostensibly hate imperialism, this stuff is particularly strange. And I think, or hope, that a lot of this is due to basic misunderstandings about Ukraine, and about Russia. Because this war is about imperialism; a crumbling empire with a huge and terrifying military capability trying to wipe out a smaller, neighbouring country, its former colony.”
“To insist on negotiations now is to imply Ukraine should be ready to give away territory. What else could it mean at this stage, when Russia has occupied 20% of Ukrainian land? To ask this is outrageous; they’re not going to give up their citizens to an occupying power, especially one as brutal as that. Russia has no intention or interest in negotiations at this point. But if they start to lose territory – as well they might, given the dire state of the Russian army – they will be interested in negotiations. The war will of course end in negotiations.”
But the war in Ukraine has not just backfired spectacularly against Putin creating the complete opposite effect of his goals, exposed the anti-imperial left, and re-shaped Europe – it has changed completely the European energy market.
For Will Lockett, writing in December: “… the world has dramatically accelerated its shift to renewable energy in response to the Ukrainian war. In fact, the IEA found that the world will build 2,400 GW of new renewable energy capacity (mainly from solar and wind energy) over the next five years. That is equal to China’s entire current generating capacity! This represents a significant quickening in the adoption of these planet-saving technologies.”
Putin’s strongest suit was Russia’s fossil fuel stores and Europe’s abject dependency on it.
But as Lockett points out:
“This is where wind and solar energy come in. These renewables are by far the cheapest forms of energy humanity has ever developed, costing around 70% less per kWh than natural gas power. They can also be built and deployed far cheaper and quicker than other forms of energy, and they can be built locally (though, admittedly, less so with solar). This means they are incredibly attractive to countries desperate to stop suckling at Putin’s oily teat, and according to the IEA, this is what has caused a wind and solar energy boom.
Ultimately, Russia depends on a thriving oil industry. 40% of the Russian Federation’s income, 60% of its exports, and 20% of its GDP come from the fossil fuel industry. Yet, Putin’s pointless war has pushed the world to give up oil faster than ever and, in doing so, has reduced this cornerstone of their economy dramatically. What’s more, current sanctions are causing a recession in Russia, with 13.4% annual inflation expected to continue for the next few years.”
The tilt towards renewables has far-reaching consequences beyond the (slim possibility) of ecological salvation. The shift away from fossil fuels opens up the possibility of an Afro-Futurism which sees Solar Africa as an economic powerhouse and source of (endless) ‘free’ energy as well as the shift away from ‘big state’ energy solutions.
Putin’s Russia may be causing itself irreparable damage on multiple fronts (few of them military) by its attack of Ukraine. But it is ending not just itself as an entity but the idea of fossil fuel powers.