UKRAINIAN CRISIS AND THE WEST: IDEOLOGICAL DIMENSION
The crisis around Ukraine has both geopolitical and ideological dimensions. From the very beginning of the aggravation of the situation on the eastern borders of this country, various political forces in the United States and Europe assessed the unfolding events differently. Liberals and globalists have united with Kiev, representatives of other ideological movements have taken a more favorable position towards Russia. The start of large-scale hostilities against the current regime in Kiev on the part of Russia caused various reactions: from hysteria on the part of the liberals, to condemnation with a call to immediately start a dialogue on the part of the conservatives.
Liberal pole: ideological battle
Regardless of the country specification, the most zealous supporters of "Ukrainian independence" were rejected by liberals and globalists. For them, the Ukrainian conflict is a confrontation between "authoritarian" Russia and "democratic Ukraine." For the well-known pseudo-historian, sodomite and transhumanist Israeli Yuval Noah Harari, the resolution of “the fundamental question of the future of history and the future of humanity” depends on Ukraine. According to the French liberal pseudo-philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, the West should declare at least a "cold war" to Russia.
Francis Fukuyama, one of the neocon leaders Bill Kristall, and other liberal intellectuals both in the US and Europe made calls to impose immediate and tough sanctions against Russia even before the start of the military operation on February 24. Their point of view is clearly articulated in one of Francis Fukuyama's articles:
“Ukraine today is an advanced state in the global geopolitical struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. Europeans who value liberal democracy for themselves must understand that they cannot be bystanders in this conflict. Putin's ambitions go far beyond Ukraine; he has made clear in recent weeks that he would like to reverse the European democracy gains made since 1991 and create a Russian sphere of influence throughout the former Warsaw Pact. Outside of Europe, the Chinese are closely watching the West's response to this crisis, weighing their prospects for reincorporating Taiwan. That is why the defense of Ukraine must be of urgent importance to all who care about global democracy.”
This part of the political spectrum prefers not to notice that Ukrainian "democracy" is painted in nationalist tones. Or, as German political scientist Andreas Umland explains this process by the costs of confronting Russia, quickly moving on to accusing Russia of “fascism” and comparing Putin to Hitler.
For liberals, the start of a Russian military operation in Ukraine requires immediate Western intervention, including military intervention. In particular, according to Francis Fukuyama: "Now we need something more than sanctions."
The same point of view is shared by the liberal leadership of the United States, Canada and the countries of Western Europe. Among politicians, the most anti-Russian position is occupied by left-wing liberals - the European Greens. So Yannick Jadot, the Greens candidate in the French presidential election, condemned the rather “soft” reactions of Eric Zemmour, Marine Le Pen and Jean-Luc Mélenchon to Russia’s decision to recognize the Republic of Donbass and called for the defense of “democracy” in Ukraine.
If liberals offer a clear model for understanding what is happening around Ukraine (“democracy against authoritarianism”, “global world of the future” against the “past”, “progress against regress”), then there is no such understanding among the right and left. The populist right and left tend to either support Russia or take a neutral stance, calling for dialogue. The mainstream "right", as a rule, aligns itself with the position of the liberals.
In the US, the Ukrainian crisis has divided the Republican Party.
Most Republicans in Congress supported Joe Biden's decision to impose sanctions on Russia. Some have even praised Biden's actions, such as deploying more US troops to Eastern Europe to bolster NATO's defenses.
But influential sections of the Republican establishment, including Senator Josh Hawley, Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson and Ohio Senate candidate JD Vance, oppose US interference in Ukraine. They argue that expanding US commitment to NATO is a mistake and that the president should instead focus on countering China and securing America's southern border.
Ex-President Trump himself, commenting on the decisions of the President of Russia, called him "brilliant." “Oh, this is wonderful,” Trump said about this. At the same time, the politician did not fail to declare that already in his presidency such a development of events would have been impossible. Former US President uses the situation around Ukraine to criticize Joe Biden. After February 24, Trump's rhetoric has not changed. Moreover, during the start of the Russian military operation, when other major US television channels showed the appeal, Douglas McGregor, a retired US Army colonel who was nominated by Trump for the post of ambassador USA in Germany.
“The first thing we have to do is to recognize that Putin's main point of view - not only his point of view, but also the point of view of the Russian government, which they have been holding for 25 years, is valid. They don't want US troops, missiles and NATO troops right across the border in eastern Ukraine," McGregor said. In his opinion, the United States should agree with Russia on the neutrality of Ukraine in order to avoid conflict.
American populist ideologue Stephen Bannon also assessed Russia's actions quite positively. According to him, "the situation in the Russian-speaking eastern regions of Ukraine, this crisis is 100% created by the actions of the Biden administration."
The right also offers an ideological assessment of what is happening. For liberals, the recognition of the DPR and LPR, followed by the deployment of Russian troops there, is a blow to the liberal world order. American populist conservatives assess the global consequences of this move in a similar way, but assess them positively.
In the words of popular conservative blogger and commentator Steve Posobik, “This is the complete collapse of the neoliberal world order. This is a situation where everything goes back to Sam Huntington's seven civilizations model. ... It turned out that civilizations, national interests and realism prevailed.
After the start of the military operation in Ukraine, liberal and neo-conservative media and commentators began to persecute Stephen Bannon, who spoke positively about Putin in one of the broadcasts with Blackwater founder Eric Prince.
Sociologists' data show that at present the electorate of the US Republican Party is the least inclined to support Biden's anti-Russian adventures. Thus, only 43% of Republican voters supported Biden's moves to transfer American troops to Europe, as opposed to 56% of independents and 70% of Democrats, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. For a significant part of the Republican Party's electorate, internal problems are important, not a crisis in another part of the world.
In France, the most "anti-Russian" position on the right flank was taken by Valerie Pecresse, a candidate from the right-wing Republican party. She actually agreed with the position of the liberal President Emmanuel Macron, who advocates both pressure on Russia and dialogue with it. “You need to have a real dialogue with Russia, and I will support such a dialogue, but this is not a dialogue of submission to Russian positions,” Pekress said. After the start of the military operation in Ukraine, the candidate declared "full solidarity" with Ukraine and proposed taking "tough measures" against Russia.
Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Rally, called President Putin's decision "an extremely regrettable act" but said "everything must be done to return to the path of dialogue to ensure peace in Europe." The politician advocates the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Donbass, but the recognition of Crimea as Russian.
After the start of Russia's military operation in Ukraine, Le Pen's position did not change. She advocates the withdrawal of Russian troops and the beginning of a dialogue with Moscow. In her opinion, France should take the initiative to hold a diplomatic meeting under the auspices of the UN with the participation of the United States, Russia, Ukraine, France, Germany, Great Britain, as well as Poland, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia, states bordering Ukraine,
In turn, Eric Zemmour, speaking from positions similar to those of Donald Trump, criticizing Russia's actions, noted that both NATO and the policy of expanding the alliance against Russia's interests are to blame for violating Ukraine's borders.
In general, Zemmour's position has not changed since February 24. In his opinion, France should initiate a NATO agreement with Russia to stop the expansion of the alliance.
In general, the position of the right-wing part of the French populists is restrained. Ritual condemnation of Russia is offset by statements about the need for dialogue.
In Germany, the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany party initially came out in support of Russia's actions. AfD leader Tino Krupalla emphasized that residents of the DPR and LPR have the right to decide for themselves which country to belong to.
In a statement on behalf of the party, the AfD stated, however, that it expressed "regret" over the current developments. The current situation is a consequence of "NATO's eastward expansion, which was promoted contrary to all agreements with Moscow." Thus, the West "violated Russia's legitimate security interests." In turn, the Berlin AfD politician Gunnar Lindemann posted fireworks on Twitter in honor of Russia's recognition of the people's republics.
Russia's military operation in Ukraine was condemned by the AfD: Alisa Weidel, the leader of the faction in the Bundestag, and Tino Krupalla said that "Russia must immediately stop hostilities and withdraw its troops from Ukraine."
In Italy, the leader of the League party, Matteo Salvini, condemned the "violation" of Ukraine's borders, but opposed the imposition of sanctions against Russia.
In France, most of the left-wing presidential candidates have come forward to condemn Russian moves against Donbass. So Christiane Tobira, ex-Minister of Justice, said that “The solidarity of European states with Ukraine should not weaken”, the Head of the French Communist Party (PCF) Fabien Roussel stressed that: “The recognition by the President of Russia of the independence of the two separatist republics of Ukraine is an extremely serious and dangerous decision ! Everything possible must be done to defuse this war, which is flaring up on the threshold of Europe!
The same politicians condemned Russia's military operation in Ukraine.
Even Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the left-wing populist movement Defiant France, who previously had a positive attitude towards Russia, said that “regardless of what we think about ulterior motives or about the logic of the situation, nevertheless, it was Russia that took responsibility for this episode".
On February 24, the left-wing politician condemned Russia's use of force and called for the mobilization of the EU and French defense forces. In his opinion, France should promote a peaceful dialogue.
In Germany, the Left Party has declared that it unanimously condemns Russia's actions as contrary to international law. In a joint statement, party and parliamentary group leaders Susanne Hennig-Wellow, Janine Wissler, Amira Mohamed Ali and Dietmar Bartsch accused the Russian president of recognizing the "people's republics" of Luhansk and Donetsk and the associated "invasion" of Russian troops into Ukraine as "contrary to international law violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and raising the danger of a major war in Europe.” The leftists demand the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Donbass. Sevim Dagdelen and Gregor Gysi, left-wing Bundestag deputies who previously spoke pro-Russian positions and accused NATO of fueling the conflict in Ukraine, called for preventing a war between Russia and NATO. At the same time, Dagdelen accused Russia of violating international law.
Although Gizi and Dagdelen are opposed to sanctions against Russia, the party has strong left-wing voices accusing Russia of great-power chauvinism, nationalism, and supporters of the sanctions approach.
Sarah Wagenknecht, a representative of the populist wing of the Left, also condemned Russia's actions, calling them "a clear violation of the Minsk agreements."
On February 24, Die Linke released an official statement stating that "the bombing and invasion of Russian troops in Ukraine is a new level of aggression by Putin, which we condemn in the strongest possible terms."
In Italy, foreign minister from the left-wing populist 5 Star party Luigi Di Maio condemned Russia, calling for "proportional" sanctions against Russia.
Liberalism versus realism
In general, in the United States and European countries, left and right populists are more likely to act from the position of "understanding" the actions of Russia and promoting dialogue with it, rather than outright support of its actions. The positions of the "left" and "right" parts of the populist spectrum in this situation in each country are practically similar, with the exception of the United States, where there is no serious populist pole within the Democratic Party. Also in the US, populists most openly view the crisis in Donbass as “not the business of the US.”
In Europe, in turn, among the countries that have a serious impact on the international agenda, the political spectrum is most united on anti-Russian grounds in the UK. There are also no serious populist structures in the politics of this country. More or less close to the position of continental populists are the ideas of Nigel Farraj, the former head of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who considers it necessary to adopt a moratorium on Ukraine's entry into NATO and not spin the hysteria about Russia's "invasion" of Ukraine.
In general, despite the ritual condemnation of Russia, populist forces, left and right, view the crisis in terms of the theory of realism in international relations (IR). For them, it has no ideological content, and despite the possible difference of interests, dialogue with Russia is possible, even if they do not welcome its actions. Liberals (including right and left liberals) understand the conflict around Ukraine differently: first of all, as an ideological confrontation (the liberal theory of IR), which excludes any dialogue.
In general, massive informational pressure is expected in the short term, possibly even attempts to initiate criminal cases under far-fetched pretexts against left and right populists in Western countries. The liberals are using the situation in Ukraine to put pressure on their rivals. In doing so, these rivals will also be forced to adapt to the prevailing anti-Russian discourse. However, the possible successes of Russia and the failures and blunders of the liberal governments of the West, on the contrary, will bring points to populist movements and leaders who insist on a realistic vision of world politics. To a large extent, the political alignment in Western countries will depend on the prospects for the Russian military operation in Ukraine.