ARE we slowly moving to World War III? Can Russia allow NATO to gulp Ukraine? Is this an existential threat to Russia? Can Russia exist with NATO countries surrounding it and a NATO member in its gut? Real politics will suggest that, having now exposed Russian weakness, the West has no alternative but to push on its own advantage. Russia is the heart of the Slavic people, and Ukraine is its soul. A soulless Russia will collapse – this is Putin’s view.
How did Russia lose its preeminent arms producing power? Would anyone contemplate the nation that supplied arms that led to the overthrow of apartheid in South Africa? Iran is now building and selling drones for Russia, and South Africa is supplying arms to Russia. Could Russia be so weak? New information is now available about the link between Russia and Europe, especially how much gas and crude oil Russia exported to Europe, estimated at 40 per cent.
The importance of Ukraine as the bread basket of the world, including selling grain to the Third World, is now common knowledge. Ukraine produces cheap wheat for Europe and Africa. Europe and the U.S. find it cheaper to throw their grain into the sea and subsidise their farmers rather than allow market forces to determine the price of grains. For years, the ECC battled to activate its common agriculture policy, but it could not. Russia was the haven of communists, an authoritarian dictatorship whose people had no freedom.
Every Nigerian who wanted to go to Russia had to leave Nigeria for Accra, Ghana, under President Kwame Nkrumah, where Nigerians were processed for Russia. Nigerians with Russian degrees were denigrated; there was a programme to retrain them. The only thing we know is what the West told us about Russia, which does not have the means to talk to us the way the West does. Western propaganda is so insidious that we swallow it unconsciously. Does the US need a strong adversary to survive? Is that what is playing out in the war in Ukraine – the support of the West against Russia?
My mother’s influence in my early life, including my education and socialisation, was profound. For example, we knew of soap as Palm Olive or Lux soap, tea as Lipton, and breakfast as margarine, butter, cheese, or bread. Cigarette was Golden Guinea, or Bicycle. She read every novel written by Leslie Chatteris, who invented the character of “The Saint” which became a famous TV series named “The Saint”. Her magazines were Women and Women’s Own. I read almost everything she read. A little while ago, I was in a hotel in Warri. When I asked for breakfast, the steward asked what I wanted to drink. I replied: ‘Tea’. He then asked if I wanted Lipton, Nescafé, or Bournvita? I replied Lipton. To the steward, all hot drinks were tea.
I believed whatever Great Britain told me to believe. Pro-Western ideas have not stopped influencing Nigerians. Today, most Nigerians regard the BBC and CNN as purveyors of “true” news; the same people regard their own news from NTA as less than accurate. There is a greater premium given to foreign English news than anything broadcast by their own agencies. Nearly everything from Russia and China gets boxed in as propaganda. I have gone into details of my childhood to show how deep the acculturation process has been on the psyche and mindset of Nigeria. The schools we went to were Christian or government, and we only spoke English in school.
If caught speaking our language, we were punished for speaking vernacular. We were taught to look down on any education that was not British. People with degrees from the United States or India were not encouraged to teach in our schools. We hardly met anyone who was not educated in Great Britain. Even my contemporaries who wanted to study abroad did not want to go anywhere else for further studies. We were steeped in Western culture, our standards of value were those of Great Britain; we learned ballroom dancing.
In this cultured milieu, there was no scope for Russian or Chinese inference in our upbringing. As we were taught, so did we teach our children. Much of this cultural bias has remained in our system to date. Our news is BBC, not Pravda. We know next to nothing about the USSR or Russia except what we gleaned from the West. So Putin is a megalomaniac, war-hungry despot who wants to subdue the good people of Ukraine. The coverage of the war we get is all dedicated to showing that the peace-loving people of Ukraine were fighting a war for freedom. Most of the war seems like a gentleman’s game.
The reporters are with the troops, apparently in no danger. Casualties on the part of Ukraine are relatively low and usually a result of drone strikes on civilian areas, killing a few, usually women and children. Propaganda was designed to show the Russians as callous infidels. Ukraine is receiving weapons from NATO countries at an alarming rate, including long-range missiles, drones, and cluster bombs (which were incidentally banned by most countries). Ukraine is now to get US bomber fighters, even more defence equipment, and training on the world’s most sophisticated planes with long range missiles. How long this war will last is unknown. The military jets will counteract the dominance of Russia in the air. At what point does Russia react if it begins to be attacked on its territory? Will NATO be able to hold a triumphant Ukraine in check?
What can we make of Russia’s open threat of “tactical nuclear bombs” if NATO introduces nuclear weapons in Ukraine? What would be NATO’s reply?
By Dele Cole