Russia’s brazen attempt to force Ukraine into submission by threatening its territory and freedoms must be resisted.
If Russian President Vladimir Putin successfully imposes his will on an independent nation by force of arms or a manufactured political coup then the sovereignty of all nations is jeopardised. It would validate the use of coercive power, encourage dictators around the world, destabilise Europe, trigger another refugee crisis and send financial markets into free fall. And you can kiss goodbye to what remains of the rules-based order.
That’s why Ukraine matters for Australia.
Oh please. It doesn’t matter to Australia at all. This is exactly the same neo-liberal rubbish we were told about Afghanistan; that it too mattered to our freedom and democracy. How did that turn out? The hypocrisy over Ukraine is almost as huge as Mr Putin’s ego. At one and the same time, hawks dismiss the wilfully provocative expansionism of NATO while also upping their stridency towards China because its ambitions – as regards Taiwan and the sea lanes vital for our survival – are seen as a belt, road and bridge too far into Australia’s domain. This isn’t about sides or personalities but realpolitic. Russia is no innocent – nor are the AUKUS Metternichs who blew up a goodly chunk of the world and their own moral capital to capture Iraqi WMD – but it has a case for a buffer against its foes more compelling than Australia’s in the Asia-Pacific.
And the hypocrisy doesn’t end there. Inevitably, Mr Dupont raises the spectre of 1962 when “Nikita Khrushchev recklessly dispatched ballistic missiles to Cuba.” Put to one side the fact that Russia’s Cuba gambit was largely precipitated by the nuclear arms race Jack Kennedy foolishly flagged with his “missile gap” lies during the 1960 election campaign. Russia isn’t trying to park armaments on anybody’s doorstep; NATO is. Putin is not Khrushchev in the analogy; he isn’t Kennedy either but a righteously wrongheaded somebody else in between. There is nothing so twitter-friendly here as a viable chauvinism in black and white.
One thing that is genuinely obvious (and nauseating) is the same US Democrats who paid Kremlin cutouts to crash the Trump Administration waxing Churchillian about the malice of Moscow. The sadder tragedy, though, is cultural: Western Europe is now a marshmallow-Marxist, post-Christian bloc where sovereignty is so strictly controlled as to be more or less outlawed. Vladimir Putin is not a Constantinian white knight of Christian revival – let nobody say that with a straight face – but at least his cynical vice pays Rochefoucauld’s tribute to virtue. Western Europe won’t even pay for its own defence. That’s how much they value freedom.