By Jonathan P. Henderson
Joe Biden’s incompetence on foreign policy has reached new heights. Two months ago, 15 Russian warships were deployed to Ukraine in live drills after warning U.S. destroyers to turn back for their ‘own good’. Complicating matters, Ukraine then vowed to embark upon a nuclear weapons program to deter the threat of a Russian attack should the West fail to shut down Moscow or deny Kiev entry into NATO. Two months later on June 14th, President Volodymyr Zelensky tweeted that “NATO leaders confirmed that [Ukraine] will become a member of the Alliance.” The following day however, President Biden dismissed the possibility of an early entry for Ukraine, citing that Kiev must “clean up corruption” before it can be trusted by member nations.
The narrative gets creepier. Once Biden finally met with Emmanuel Goldste... er, I mean, Vladimir Putin, who he’d called a ‘killer’ during an interview with NBC in March, and after just threatening a military response before America’s NATO allies “if Russia continues its harmful activities,” he backtracked. Could the macho Joe Biden have been intimidated by the ex-KGB colonel in light of his inexplicable battery of a ‘bright’ and ‘tough’ Putin? Why would he suddenly refuse to repeat that Putin is a ‘killer’? Zelensky, it should be noted, had previously expressed that he was ‘confused’ and ‘disappointed’ by Biden’s Russia policy after President Biden denied his request to meet before his summit with Putin on June 16th at Geneva,
Consider that in his interview with NBC while in Geneva, Putin accused the Biden administration of jailing MAGA demonstrators who took part in the January 6th Incident at the Capitol Building. He likened it to ‘persecuting political opponents’ the way, say, a dictator (like himself) would. Then he asked the generic left-wing interviewer, “Did you order the assassination of the woman who walked into the Congress and who was shot and killed by a policeman?” Biden had hammered Putin during his first visit to the State Department, outlining that Washington would no longer roll over “in the face of Russia’s aggressive actions.” He didn’t disappoint: he simply lifted sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline while handing a list of primary U.S. military targets over to Putin. He didn’t need to roll over then, but rather kick the can down the road. And that can landed last week when Russian fighter jets red warning shots at British naval vessels in the Black Sea. The highly-editorialized narrative, spun as “the latest military muscle flex by (Russian President) Vladimir Putin,” according to the British tabloid The Sun, came after “(Putin) mobilised tens of thousands of troops” along Ukraine’s eastern border. Beginning in the Caspian Sea, the Russian Navy sailed across the Sea of Azov through a network of canals, rivers, and waterways―all of which have belonged to Russia since the tsarist army under Peter the Great captured it from the Ottoman Empire in 1696.
Excluding his increasingly obvious cognitive issues, we might begin addressing Biden’s ‘U-Turn’ by determining who’s padding his bank account, and why reporters failed to ask the President about his personal experiences with Ukrainian oligarchs during the press conference. Recall that in 2014, President Obama tasked then-Vice President Biden with running the administration’s Ukraine policy. In the following years, ‘Papa’ Joe and his son Hunter have been the focus of investigations into the latter’s employment as an executive with the energy firm, Burisma Holdings. According to leaked emails, he was paid by oligarchs “as much as $50,000 a month” in exchange for access to then-Vice President Biden, despite no prior work experience in the energy sector. In fact, President Trump’s first impeachment directly involved his call with then newly-elected President Zelensky over information involving Biden providing $1 billion in ‘foreign aid’ in the form of a ‘quid pro quo’. (“I said, I’m telling you, you’re not getting the billion dollars. ... If the prosecutor [Viktor Shokin] is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch. He got fired.”)
In a similar scenario, Kazakhstan oligarch Kenes Rakishev and Hunter Biden reportedly explored business opportunities together. A photograph published by Breitbart on October 20, 2020 showed ‘Papa’ Joe posing with Hunter and Rakishev. This was released just one day before the publication Army Technology reported that Russia and Kazakhstan had signed an agreement to boost bilateral military cooperation between the two countries. In the words of Russian General of the Army Sergei Shoigu, “The Republic of Kazakhstan is Russia’s main strategic ally and closest partner.”
Russia’s latest deployment of tens of thousands of troops and tanks to the Ukrainian border may well be a worrisome escalation of tensions. But the struggle in Central Asia between NATO and Russia in the post-Cold War period has a history prior to 2014. To better understand the Ukrainian conflict’s origins, one must revisit and understand the Budapest Memorandum. Within the document, the governments of Russia, Britain, and the United States pledged never to threaten or use force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, Belarus, or Kazakhstan (which the U.S. and NATO violated in late 2013 by throwing a coup d’etat), nor to use economic coercion to subordinate Ukraine to their own interest. They pledged to refrain from subjecting the former Soviet republics to any military occupation, or to engage in other uses of force in violation of international law (which Moscow did in February 2014). All sides also agreed that no such occupation or acquisition will be recognized as legal. However, the document is not formal, and therefore no concrete “means of enforcement” exist, according to law professor Barry Kellman, director of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University’s College of Law. It’s message, according to Kellman, is simple: “Don’t interfere.”
Furthermore, the conflict is closely linked to the presence of ethnic Russians, Pan-Slavism, and relations within the autocephaly of an Eastern Orthodox Church experiencing a miraculous resurrection after 70 years of suppression by the atheist Soviet state. It’s well recorded that Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and right-wing French politician Marine Le Pen have declared Putin’s Russia to be ‘the defender of Christian civilization’ as the West rapidly secularizes. In 2008 for example, Russia fought a war with Georgia (whose primary religious institution is the Georgian Orthodox Church) in the Southern Caucasus, and still retains troops in the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. George W. Bush’s administration supported the Georgian government, angering Moscow enough to where this may have precipitated the conflict. Western allies fear that Russia will gain sovereignty
over Belarus, a former Soviet satellite in which 48% of its population identify as Orthodox Christians.
Whatever ramifications lie ahead for NATO after Britain’s game of chicken are unclear. London, which doesn’t recognize Russia’s claim over Crimea, vows to defy Moscow’s warnings and threats of military retaliation which included a possible nuclear response. Will the conventional wisdom from 2014, that Ukraine may yet get Russia to maintain its remaining territory, but shouldn’t count on NATO for help, prevail? That’ll depend on whether the Russian or Ukrainian oligarchs are to pad the cognitively-challenged payola President’s bank account, and if the threat of a nuclear Ukraine materializes because of it.
image credit: shutterstock