If Russia succeeds in Ukraine, it will encourage external aggression– Falode, HOD, Department of History and Internationally Studies, LASU – TrendyNewsReporters
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If Russia succeeds in Ukraine, it will encourage external aggression– Falode, HOD, Department of History and Internationally Studies, LASU

Head of Department, History and International Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo, Dr Adewunmi Falode, tells GRACE EDEMA that if Russia conquers Ukraine in the ongoing war, it will encourage more aggressive countries to oppress lesser countries

Putin said the media should not describe the attack on Ukraine as a war, or invasion but as a special military operation. Is it an invasion or a war, or a special military operation?

Well, let me say this from a layman’s perspective: Beauty is always in the eyes of the beholder. In war, the two sides usually lead to what is called propaganda. Propaganda in the sense that of course, you want to get people’s sympathy on your side. Of course, you wouldn’t want to be seen as the aggressor. Even if you are the aggressor you try to justify the reason behind your carrying out that military operation. That is exactly what Putin is trying to do. Don’t get me wrong – as the Russians are lying, the Ukrainians too are also lying. I mean everything is okay in warfare. The important thing is to get the international media, the spectators, the other neutral countries, on your side. That’s why Putin is trying to say it’s just a special military operation; “that it’s not a war  like we are calling it. It’s like two brothers fighting a war and outsiders should not be involved.” That’s why Putin came up with that idea. Putin wouldn’t want any outside involvement. Like I said it is the usual practice in warfare. That’s an element of propaganda – to always try to let people see things from your own perspective. That is one, two, you always try to get them on your side.

You said something like Russia and Ukraine are not coming out with the truth. Is it more than don’t join NATO; don’t join EU? Are there some other background issues that are not open to the public?

 In every warfare, we don’t always have a mono-causal factor. What is happening now may not have been the major factor responsible for the war. There are underlying factors – historical factors, economic factors, even social factors could be responsible for this war. The Russians and the Ukrainians are ethnically related. There is a problem that Russia has and that is security. Russia is a very, very flat country. When I say flat that is it has no natural barrier against foreign aggressor or invasion. So the best that Russia could use to protect itself is for Russia to invade its neighbours and subjugate them to Russian rule so that if anybody is going to invade Russia, they have to get to those neighbours; the Russians would have been adequately prepared to repel the invaders. If Russia colonises its neighbours, it will not be easy for any foreign country to invade or attack Russia. Before they can get to Russia, they will have to destroy their neighbours first. That’s the basis of Russia going after the countries around it. Countries like Ukraine, Belarus, and Azerbaijan. At one point or another, Russia actually colonised them. There is that tacit agreement between them when USSR collapsed in 1991that look; I know you are independent, my security matters as Russia, and your own security matters as independent states. Do not do anything that will jeopardise my sovereign integrity. That is, Russia is telling them: Don’t do anything that will jeopardise my sovereign integrity on my interest. Now, Ukraine trying to become a member of NATO, and of course, the EU was a big problem for Russia. If Ukraine should join NATO or the EU, that means automatically Ukraine is bringing Russia’s number one enemy closer to its border, and that is the United States of America. That is the major factor responsible for that war.

What are the implications of this war on Africa, even other countries, as of today, inflation in Egypt has risen to 10%?

Ukraine is the breadbasket for Europe. When I say breadbasket I mean 90% of the world’s wheat comes from the country called Ukraine. Not only that during the Cold War, since Ukraine was within the Russian orbit, but Russia also developed Ukraine economically. It’s an economic powerhouse for the Soviet Republic then. In fact it elevated Ukraine to a second-world country, not even a third-world country. Most of Russia’s energy supply passed through Ukraine to the rest of Europe. The bulk of Russia’s natural resources are tied up within Siberia. So to get those things from Siberia, through Russia to Western Europe, you know Russia is the major energy supplier. That pipe has to go through Ukraine to the rest of Europe. That is how Ukraine is to Europe’s economy. Ninety per cent of European oil and gas goes through Ukraine to the rest of Western Europe. So Ukraine is strategic to the Russian economy, to the European economy, then to Ukraine itself. Of course, if there’s going to be warfare, there would be large-scale destruction to European energy suppliers. Egypt is a bread-eating country. 90% of their wheat, they get it from Ukraine. Since there is disruption, of course, there will be inflation. Then again there is a particular oil that they use – we call it our own vegetable oil – Ukraine is the major producer of sunflower oil presently. So most countries in the world get it from Ukraine. The sunflower oil they said it is the best – it is good for the heart and all those things. Of course, now since the world is going on, nobody will have time for cultural activities – importing and exporting. It will disrupt lots of economies. That is why they are getting that inflation within Ukraine. Of course, it’s going to affect Nigeria. We buy wheat from Ukraine too. This is an interdependent thing. Most times we just eat; we don’t know where that stuff is coming from. You can now hear the talk in Nigeria. Honeywell stepping up to fill the gap. Flour mill now stepping up to fill the gap. This is the opportunity for Nigeria to be dependent; to look for a way to produce what we eat; and so on and so forth. Again, it boils down to fact that I said Ukraine is the best breadbasket in Europe. In fact, it is this war that made everybody realise how Ukraine is to the world economy. That’s why some countries in Europe are very reluctant – in fact, Hungary is the closest ally of Russia. Hungary was very reluctant in imposing sanctions on Russia; that look, if we impose sanctions on these guys it will affect our own energy supply. It was the same reason why Germany was very reluctant too in imposing sanctions on Russia because it was going to affect their economy. Germany was very reluctant because of this energy thing. Fine, Russia has done wrong; no problem. But then if they try to punish Russia, it should not be at the expense of our own economy. And to everything, I’m saying Ukraine is central to all of this because almost all energy supply to Europe passes through Ukraine to the rest of them. That’s why they are measured and careful with their response. You know they wouldn’t want to get angry with Russia so that it wouldn’t punish them with the energy supply. So they are in a serious dilemma.

Is it only about wheat that it might affect Nigeria or others?

Well, again the wider geopolitical significance it seems. If Russia should get away with that thing is doing now In Ukraine, It’s sending the wrong signals to other states within Africa. For example, if we don’t like the Benin Republic, Nigeria can just go and take over Benin Republic. You might be saying that it’s not possible. China is watching what is going on and in Taiwan, they are having sleepless nights. Exactly that’s the wider geopolitical implications. If Russia should succeed in this Ukraine venture, China has always been on the neck of Taiwan that it is not an independent state, it is only America that is helping Taiwan to survive. If Russia should get away then it is a green light, China may go ahead.

From the point of diplomacy, how can this war be brought to a quicker end?

We are here saying that what Russia is doing to Ukraine is bad, but we are not the one receiving the bomb. So if the Ukrainians are tired of receiving the bomb they know what to do. It’s so sad. The Ukrainian refugees are now all over Europe and the Ukrainian are suffering. So finally Voloodymyr Zelensky has realised that look, Ukraine for Ukrainians alone not for America. For every sanction imposed on Russia, Russia will inflict times 10 of that in Ukraine. So Ukraine is tacitly agreeing to one of Russia’s demands.

What lessons should other countries learn from this so far?

One lesson is you are on your own. Don’t rely on any international community. A state should know how to look out for itself to protect its own interest. Under balance of power, there are just two methods to survive for the weak and the strong: alliance and bandwagoning. That way you survive. Russia is the enemy to everybody but countries are very, very cautious when they are trying to deal with Russia, Germany, Italy, etc. You choose your friends very carefully; you also choose your enemies very carefully because under international relations there are no permanent friends or enemies, what matters most is your interest. Every country would define it own interest and they would know the best way to achieve that interest. After all the Russia that we are castigating today, they are the only country that helped Nigeria during the Nigerian Civil War. Britain and America abandoned Nigeria. Russia came on the side of Nigeria and they gave us weapons. Again, not because they love but simply interest. It was a period of the Cold War so they were still looking for friends in Africa. So we gave them that opportunity to enter Nigeria. Every country in the world would have to look after their own interest. It’s just that simple.

What further role can United Nations play to put this war to an end?

Actually, this was exactly how the Second World War started when the League of Nations failed to play its role in mediating between Germany and the other. I saw the League of Nations has been ineffective. If this UN had been effective the war wouldn’t have broken out in the first instance. The major reason why they established the UN was to maintain international peace and security. If it had been effective in that role then we wouldn’t have had this war. This was a slow-motion war. Everybody saw it. I mean it happened in 2014; they took Crimea. As far I’m concerned the UN’s role is ineffective in this kind of situation maybe they should reassess the role of the UN and other international bodies.  ,,

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