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The silence over Ukraine’s appeal for landmines expose the truth about our growing unipolar world

Abbey Makoe

ON March 04, the Ukrainian Minister of Defence, Oleksii Reznikov, issued a broad memo to the “friends and partners” of Ukraine, urging them to supply more arms for use against Russia in the ongoing conflict.

According to the signed memo in possession of African Mirror, Reznikov wrote under the heading “to whom it may concern”. He wrote: “At this time, Ukraine needs maximum practical assistance from its friends and partners.”

He explained further: “There is a permanent need in stocks replenishment of air defence (Stingers), anti-tank (Javelins, NLAW, etc) landmines and personal protection (body armours and helmets) assets, as well as dry rations.”

The memo concluded: “In this context, I am asking you to positively consider the possibility of donating to Ukraine fighter jets, not only former Soviet Union production but also F-16 and other types, preferably multi-purpose.”

Now, Ukraine is perfectly within her rights to call on “friends and partners” to assist the Kyiv administration in the conflict with Russia.

US-led NATO members across the EU and the western capitals have not only supplied heavy weaponry to Ukraine against Russia, but they have also committed billions in dollars for the reconstruction of the economy and infrastructural development. Therefore there is nothing untoward about the memo, except for one thing – the request for the supply of landmines.

The use of landmines is controversial because of their potential as indiscriminate weapons. A global movement to outlaw their use – the International Campaign to Ban Landmines – brought about the 1997 Convention banning the use of landmines.

According to the UN, “Antipersonnel landmines are prohibited under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and Their Destruction (or Mine Ban Convention), adopted in 1997.”

Furthermore, according to the UN annex to the Geneva Conventions, “placing minefields without marking and recording them for later removal is considered a war crime.” This warning is contained under protocol 2 of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

The question is: why would Ukraine soliciting their supply from “friends and partners”? But, even more significant, more than three months later why has this not caused an international discourse, if not condemnation, in the light of the 1997 Mine Ban Convention signed by 164 nations?

Methinks the answer is hard to find. The Western hypocrisy in the Ukraine conflict simply causes more harm than meets the eye. Fuelled by historically deep anti-Russian sentiment, the West would rather look the other side wherever Russia could be made to look good at anything.

This debacle about the landmines request – and it is not clear if they have previously been requested and supplied – caused me to look deeper into their determination of the West to annihilate Russia “by any means necessary”, to borrow from Malcolm X.

The Ukraine conflict broke out in February amid heightened tension between Russia and the US-led NATO, threatening to bring back the proliferation of weapons following a long lull.

At the centre of the conflict as it played out was a context often omitted deliberately from the narrative and seldom referred to at all in the mainstream media as well as social media platforms.

That conveniently-avoided context is the illegal overthrow of the then democratically-elected Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. Western media outlets jubilantly hailed the coup as “the revolution of dignity”, or “Maidan revolution”.

Yanukovych’s well-documented sin – or undoing – in the eyes of the powerful Western governments, was his unmistakable pro-Russian stance in regional and global politics.

In the immediate aftermath of Yanukovych’s violent ousting followed the least-predicted wide-spread protests in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, where majority of citizens are Russian-speaking to this day.

Not only do the aggrieved eastern Ukrainians share language with next-door neighbour Russia – also in common are culture, tradition and values and general philosophy of life. Add family ties to the mix.

The Ukrainians in the sprawling Donbass region thus saw the demise of the deposed Yanukovych as the unceremonious and illegal removal of one of their own. In fact, a collective fall of themselves – of their dignity, their right to elect public office bearers, freedom of choice and the greatest threat to their civil liberties and political rights. The battle for cessation from the mainstream Ukraine political architecture intensified in the immediate period that followed February 2014 – the coup month. For the next eight years fierce fighting between the Ukrainian army and security forces ensued in the Donbass region. By 31 December 2021, an estimated 14, 400 people were killed in the Ukrainian security forces onslaught on the rebel region, with several thousand fatalities accounting for non-combat military deaths. Media houses led by Russia Today (RT has since been banned across western governments on the claims that the channel is the Kremlin mouthpiece) churned out raft of articles about the strife-torn Donbass region. Conversely, famous international news networks – to a large extent – carried on indifferently, covering mainly the pro-Kyiv developments that were endorsed by their western governments. The narrative of Ukraine’s hostility toward Russia became a glorified feature across the Western media and political platforms, breathing oxygen into their self-created tsunami of Russophobia.

The last straw that seems to have broken the patience of the Kremlin became the audible, nay, gloat-like talk of Ukraine joining NATO.

The Russian foreign affairs minister Sergey Lavrov invoked the old files, and quoted the US-led Nato’s undertaking never to expand eastward in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union at the turn of the 90s. The assurance was given to the last premier of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev. A triumphant NATO, feeling buoyed by the manner in which the Cold War ended pocketed the bragging rights, so to speak.

In their protracted celebratory mood, Russia gradually but increasingly became the West’s object of ridicule. As the West upped the ante to their agenda to isolate Russia, so did their insatiable appetite to confront Moscow militarily.

This, then, explains why the Ukraine conflict has very little to do with Kyiv’s territorial integrity but more to do with the rising unipolar world order. The US and its allies in the G7 describe the unipolar world as a “rules-based world order”. However, their voices are muted when they are forced to admit that the “rules-based world order” means their rules and theirs alone. And then, as if that was not enough, they couch their view of unipolar world as “the will of the international community”. They are accustomed to getting away with using their wealth and influence to undermine dissenting views, particularly in the Global South. Their dominance of geopolitics has bred arrogance laced with ignorance.

The US penchant to unleash punitive unilateral sanctions against opponents – perceived or real – is legendary.

For instance, last year Cuba marked sixty years of living under the stranglehold of US sanctions. Venezuela has been enduring hardships brought about by the hostility of the US foreign policy that has found President Nicolas Maduro and his administration undesirable.

So powerful are the henchmen, and women, at the helm of many omnipotent regimes in the Global North that the existence of the UN in their eyes has become all but ceremonial.

The demise of the UN’s global authority really began to take a huge knock during the 2003 illegal invasion of Iraq led by then US President George W Bush.

When he couldn’t master the international community’s support through UN protocols, he cobbled together a so-called “coalition of the willing”, ably aided by his closest ally, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

When their stated reason to invade Iraq – the search for Weapons of Mass Destruction – failed to materialise, none of the war-mongering leaders apologised to the international community for their failed intelligence capability. Instead, they bragged about killing Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, saying the world “is a better place without him”.

But more crucially, there was no penalty to pay for Iraq’s spectacular failure. No consequences to face. The multilateral world order as we knew it began to fade, faster. Today, the protagonists of the unipolar world order are hell-bent on one key mission – the demise of Russia at all costs. Their plan to obliterate their sworn enemies is based on the theory of “one at a time”.

After Moscow collapses – and I doubt the nuclear power will go down in our life time – the worst-kept secret is to focus their attention on the irritation that is the epic rise of China.

In my book, this explains why the US-led unipolar world is investing little or nothing on finding a truce to end the Ukraine war.

Geographically, the US is far away from the battle fields. Only the Ukrainians are taking home their soldiers and hordes of amateur fighters in body bags. At the outbreak of the war on February 24 Western media outlets ran stories of beauty queens carrying AK-47 assault rifles ready to defend the sovereignty of Ukraine. Nothing has been heard about their heroism or whereabouts amid a war that continues to claim scores of lives.

In an atmosphere of massive loss of lives on all sides of the conflict, the question that beggars reply is: Why are NATO weapons raining on Kyiv to prolong the war instead of triggering a flurry of diplomatic efforts to save innocent lives?

Why is the Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky, who excelled at the granted opportunity to address one parliamentary sitting after the other across the EU and Nato territories, making huge appeals for weapons supply instead of calling for pressure to be borne on all sides to sit around the table?

This is the posture that should worry all peace-loving people around the world. 

The top question remains: Why would the Ukraine ministry of defence appeal for donations of landmines? The hugely popular British royal, the late Princess Diana, passed on whilst relentlessly fighting for the abolition of landmines world-wide.

Why, then, is the world dead silent when it is Ukraine that desires the use of outlawed weapons that contravenes international law? You be the judge.

By The African Mirror

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