Mohammad Pervez Bilgrami
Recent turmoil in Ukraine where pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from the power by the United States (US) and European Union (EU)- backed opposition has opened a debate on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s double standard on Egypt and Ukraine.
President Putin’s endorsement of Egyptian Military leader Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi for the Presidential position in Egypt in his last month’s visit to Moscow did not bode well in the pro-democracy circles of the Middle East. Within a few weeks time following the US-EU backed regime change in Ukraine, its sphere of influence perplexed the macho black belt champion Putin.
At this moment everything seems to be going pretty much what the western powers had thought, that is, chaos in Kiev, US trying to take control of the new Ukrainian government and its policies, and Putin getting ready to react when the need arises.
There are parallels with Ukraine and Egypt. That is, both of them are much divided countries in which the West has successfully initiated the regime change, and both are dirt poor. In both the countries, the way the US can hope to stabilize any puppet leader is to pour huge amount of money into the place and make sure it gets distributed to the people. If not done so, there will be unrest and more popular uprisings. In Egypt’s case, it is the Gulf monarchies that opened their coffers with petro-dollars for the economic survival of Junta regime. Yet, it is unclear how the Western power will manage the economic survival of hugely indebted government in Kiev.
From Putin's standpoint, they are quite different. The Ukraine for Putin is almost an integral part of his country. Losing it to hostile western imperial powers is an existential threat to Russia. So he has to either defend it (at least the South-Eastern part) militarily if necessary, or he has to have a western backed regime in place in Kiev that he can at least work with Moscow.
However, Egypt is hardly a part of Russian Empire or ‘sphere of influence’. In fact, Egypt has been an outlying part of US since Camp David accord signed by the then president, Anwar Sadat. But Egypt under the US-backed puppets has never been an existential threat to Russia; so, Putin can easily live with Al-Sisi, a continuation for him of the same old regime. But the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Cairo is seen by Putin as an existential threat to the Russian Federation.
Putin like US and its western allies does not like the idea of any kind of pan Islamic democratic movement that crosses over national frontiers, since it will have an overarching Islamic philosophy as does the MB that can destabilize the Muslim areas in the North Caucasus and Volga Basin of Russian Federation.
Yanukovych’s denial of signing the economic deal with EU and drifting towards Russian economic package has alerted the US and its Western allies to use anti-Russian forces trump-up against Yanukovych. Putin, in turn, had offered $15 billion in aid to Yanukovych before he fell. The Russian aid came with no obvious strings attached.
Thus, Ukraine has now become a glaring example of double standard of both, the combined US-EU and Russian. Both the opposing players had said nothing of countless deaths and atrocities committed by the military junta in Egypt. The US-EU have orchestrated Egypt’s coup with the Putin’s nod and later Putin’s defence minister has also offered the big arms deal to Egypt’s Junta regime.
Few deaths in Kiev received stupendous responses from US - EU capitals and termed Ukrainian events as a humanitarian crisis and looming a civil war. On the other hand, the Russian leader termed Ukraine’s opposition’s response as the coup against the democratically elected President of the country.
Russia’s double standard on Egypt has paid back heavily in Ukraine where Putin and his associates are calling foul of the ouster of Yanukovych by a West-backed coup against the democratically elected Government in Kiev with the help of mainstream opposition.
Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has criticised the West for backing Ukraine's protesters, accusing European and American leaders of inciting "increasingly violent" protests. Speaking at the three-day Munich Security Conference, which began on Friday, February 28, Mr Lavrov likened the West's support for protesters in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev to Russia supporting demonstrations in a European capital.
Yanukovych, accused of murder in the killings of few anti-government protesters, is the West’s enemy in Ukraine whereas Al-Sisi the mass murderer of thousands of protesters is putting back Egypt towards democracy as US Secretary of State John Kerry and EU foreign policy chief Catharine Aston have been advocating since the coup July 3, 2013 that ousted President Morsi.
Obviously, Putin’s adamant stand on backing the beleaguered Al –Assad in Syria and now backing bloody coup leader in Egypt phrased by many experts as Russia’s growing influence in the Middle East has now met a huge setback in its own backyard. Putin’s plans on forging Eurasian Union economic block would become a dud without a supportive Ukrainian government in the Kiev.
Moreover, Russia’s economic leverage on cash-strapped Ukraine is huge, and its military intervention has already begun on the call of ethnic Russians living in the eastern region - the same military intervention - Putin and his predecessor Dimtry Medvedev had blocked on Syria in the UN Security Council.
Now, it remains to be seen whether the events in Ukraine will have any impact on the attitude of Putin towards Egypt, and most particularly, the Syrian stalemate where unabated killing is continued and people are suffering the humanitarian catastrophe in the geo-political game plan of the world powers. Whatever may be the future course of events in the countries presently faced with the human tragedies imposed by these powers, Putin will have to bear the brunt of his own contradictions; so will be the destiny of the US and the EU, grossly involved in causing the humanity bleed with their disastrous contradictions.Last Mod: 02 Mart 2014, 12:50