Anyone reading The Fourth Estate may notice that I have not been posting as much as I used to lately. Between posting something new like Economic History Case Studies and Conservative Socialism or focusing on contemporary events, I felt that it was time for me to discuss the latter. For the past day or two, I spent hours gathering as much information as I could about the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and start making an educated discussion based on what I had found.
Let it be known it will certainly not be the last Blog post that I intend to write about the subject. I had invested so much time and effort this week to not be working on a few follow ups. There is still a lot I have yet to figure out and important information being omitted from the historical record as I speak. While I cannot make any guarantees that my analysis will be completely perfect, I can at least try to draw some conclusions as a political scientist.
Allow me to begin by stating something unusual about the Russian invasion. Has anyone been able to access the Russian portion of the World Wide Web lately? Preparations for Russia to disconnect its digital infrastructure from the WWW was an effort that predated the invasion and the Coronavirus Pandemic, so I initially became curious regarding those efforts. And from what I was able to find out lately, the Internet Service Providers of the WWW, the majority of whom are situated in the US, are being pressured by the Ukrainians to disconnect Russia from the WWW. According to the following Internet news article from yesterday, that happened not too long ago:
“Cogent Communications, a U.S.-based internet service provider, will reportedly begin cutting off services to Russian clients.
David Schaeffer, Cogent’s CEO, told The Washington Post that the company wanted to prevent the Russian government from using its network for cyberattacks and spreading propaganda, but doesn’t want to cut off normal Russian citizens.
D.C.-based Cogent is a provider of Internet backbone, or data routes between interconnected computer networks. Cogent’s networks carry about 25% of internet traffic globally, Schaeffer told The Washington Post. The company provides services in more than 200 markets throughout 50 countries, and is one of the largest providers in Russia. Rostelecom, a Russia state-run telecommunications company, is one of Cogent’s clients.
Schaeffer told The Post the move is to not ‘empower the Russian government to have another tool in their war chest.’ The company began cutting off its Russian clients gradually starting at noon eastern time on Friday.
Cogent said in a statement that it is complying with EU regulations with respect to ‘the blocking of certain media.’
‘Cogent is not otherwise restricting or blocking traffic originating from or destined for Russia,’ the company said in a statement. ‘Cogent continues to provide services to Ukraine.’”
Granted, I normally would try to steer clear of contemporary events, preferring to refrain from providing inaccurate predictions. The conflict is still ongoing as of this writing and it is too early to make any judgments like victors and losers or what happens once the fighting stops. What I will state is that the conflict was a continuation of the previous hostilities that began with the Russia regaining control over the Crimea region. Even so, this confrontation came so suddenly to the point that Russian troops were now officially being deployed to invade the country. It is not so much a question of who is right or wrong here; it is a question of why this conflict is even happening at all. I mean, why is the conflict continuing at a time like this?
An important conclusion can be made from the decision to block Russian access to the WWW. The most obvious entails denying Russian propaganda from being disseminated online and distorting information on what is happening. If that is the case, then we can expect something similar being employed by the Ukrainians. Ukraine is trying to create a propaganda narrative for itself where it can recast itself as an independent nation and not an historical territory of Russia. The exact content is not important here. It is actually the context that matters here, whether Russia’s claim to Ukraine is validated by the rest of the world or not. That would explain the whole flurry of propaganda videos flourishing online over the past several days with a pro-Ukrainian narrative.
Make no mistake: I am confident that Russia historically had territorial claims over the Ukraine, its hegemony preceding the Soviet Union and originating with Czarist Russia. Yet I am bothered by the fact that these claims are being raised at a time when I remain unconvinced of Russia being capable of annexing the whole country. If Russia is not going to annex Ukraine, it will at least try to settle for the eastern portion of Ukraine.
The Russian threat of nuclear retaliation against anyone trying to intervene on the Ukrainians’ side was done as a deterrent. From what I can tell, the EU/NATO wants to intervene but cannot do so due to the limitations of their own militaries. That does account for why the EU/NATO member-states have instead chosen the Russian invasion to be a pretext for rearmament, whereas the Jeffersonians are deciding to remain at the periphery. There is no indication that the Jeffersonians are going to attack the Russians unless the Russians themselves decide to push westward. Since the majority of ethnic Ukrainians are situated on the western half of Ukrainians, things will be interesting once the Russians reach that part of the country, if they will at all.