Opinion – Latinoamérica21: For an international order of free peoples: let us help Ukraine


The Russian government’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine is a threat to the international community. In addition to the theoretical-methodological differences in the study of international relations or political-ideological preferences, there is no doubt that this is an unjustified use of military force, an aggressive attempt to reconfigure an area of ​​hegemonic influence and the imposition of a global “new Tordesillas” that benefits a few. This is a renewal of the old “big stick” policy, an illegitimate manifestation of imperialism which, certainly, has not been an exclusive practice of the Russian State, but which cannot be compromised.

From the perspective of international law, the attack on Ukraine violates almost all the principles, values ​​and foundations on which relations between sovereign states are based. This includes an attempt to relativize essential criteria of international relations, such as non-intervention in the internal affairs of other States, respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, peaceful settlement of disputes, abstention from the use of force, the self-determination of peoples, the credibility of treaties and legal equality.

For Latin American countries, which for a long time were objects of US and European imperialist abuses, maintaining and claiming such criteria is absolutely crucial, invaluable and unquestionable. This is a clear and direct challenge against the effort aimed at building an international order of free peoples. Recognizing and supporting the people of Ukraine in their struggle to defend themselves from external aggression and at a decisive moment in their history would, from a Latin American perspective, be right, just and necessary.

From the side of international security studies and contemporary strategic issues, it is evident that in Moscow’s strategic calculation there are considerations that go beyond the strictly bilateral with its neighbor. Other state and non-state actors are involved in this conflict, such as pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Eurasian relations with China, and even ethno-political and civilizational. None of this, however, would authorize the implementation of an imperialist, expansionist and militarist aggression like the one observed in the middle of the 21st century.

Disdaining this attack against the Ukrainian people and government will encourage similarly aggressive behavior from other major regional or world powers. Therefore, taking into account the Latin American experience, in which there was no lack of abusive imperialist interventions of a similar nature, as well as the corresponding anti-imperialist reactions, it is understood that a progressive and republican stance should be implemented against the geopolitical ambitions of the government of the President Vladimir Putin, Russian oligarchs and collaborators such as the government of Belarus.

Furthermore, while the Ukrainian government was democratically elected, the same cannot be said of Russia, which is considered a case of competitive authoritarianism. There is a risk here of democratic erosion and autocratization derived directly from the issue at hand.

Latin America has a long tradition of anti-imperialist, counter-hegemonic struggle and South-South cooperation. Therefore, denouncing the aggression against Ukraine in no way means being subordinate or complacent with Western powers such as the United States that also had similarly abusive pretensions. Basically, it is about being coherent, maintaining a principled anti-imperialist policy and following the path paved by the liberators of the 19th century.

After a week of military operations against Ukraine that were condemned by almost all actors in the international community, especially in the United Nations system, the most constructive way out would be direct and good faith negotiation between the parties. The Moscow government should take note that its aggression will not be recognized or passively accepted, even within Russia itself. Negotiation without preconditions, with an open agenda and on an equal footing would help resolve their differences with the Kiev government and reduce rising global tensions.

A possible Russian political-military victory in Ukraine would imply, among many other things, a return to the era of barbarism, gunboats or the “banana wars” policy. It would be a mistake and a tragedy for the international security insertion of smaller and medium countries.

Likewise, other regional powers, encouraged by the precedent of the Russian attack on Ukraine, could feel justified in invading other countries because they disagree with their preferences, priorities and conduct. Therefore, the threat of the use of force in international politics and security cannot be passively, naively or candidly tolerated, whether in Eastern Europe, Latin America or any other region of the planet.

The aggression against Ukraine deserves a deep and detailed reflection, especially by Latin American progressive forces. The people of that country need and demand our support, solidarity and fraternity. As some philosophers have said: “Where there is aggressor and victim, neutrality always benefits the aggressor.”

The governments of the planet, the emerging transnational civil society and the academic world must raise their voices. At this point, only in this way will it be possible to advance in the constitution of a world order of free peoples.

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