Robin Yassin-Kassab

Ukraine Posts

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine has made me very briefly go back to Facebook. I’m no expert on Ukraine, but having watched the western mainstream buy Russian oil and gas and treat Putin as a statesman, and the western left and hard right spread Putinist propaganda, while Russia destroyed Syria, I am something of an expert on the appeasement of Russian imperialism. Fortunately that appeasement is ending. Here are my posts from February 22nd until March 3rd. By the end of February it was clear that global politics had completely transformed. (I’ll be leaving Facebook in a couple more days. I’m not doing politics any more. I’m writing short stories.)

From free Kafranbel, Syria, before the town succumbed to Russian bombs.

“Putin calls Ukraine a ‘brother nation’ as his armies invade it. Remember that Russian imperialism organised a genocide in Ukraine in the 1930s. Remember too (because you won’t read it in the newspapers) that the Russian imperialist terror bombing of Syria continues, on a daily basis.”

“Excellent that Germany seems to be cancelling the Nord Stream 2 pipeline for Russian gas, even if it’s many years too late. The murder of tens of thousands of Syrians and the expulsion of millions by Russian bombs didn’t get in the way of this project, nor did the aggression against Ukraine in 2014. Finally some are waking up. Now it’s time for a purge of Russian gangsters from London, their money-laundering capital.”

“As predicted, appeasement brought us to this terrible point. Obama started it when his ‘red line’ over Assad’s chemical massacres vanished and he handed Syria to the Russians. This led to a vastly increased casualty rate in Syria, and the rise of ISIS. Trump continued the trend, withdrawing support from the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army when Putin asked him to, leading to the fall of that Front and the occupation of southern Syria by Russia and Iran. Trump also had American troops in NE Syria turning their camps over to the Russians. Europe ignored the obvious signs of resurgent fascism in Russia because it wanted Russian gas. The British welcomed Russian gangsters to use London as a money laundry. There are implications today for China, an expansionist and genocidal state which deeply penetrates Western economies.”

“In Syria Russia targeted schools, hospitals, markets, bakeries and residential blocks, again and again and again, murdering tens of thousands of civilians, destroying the democratic opposition and deliberately causing an outflow of refugees to Europe. Europe and America imposed no sanctions on Russia for this. Zero. Trumpists and Corbynists even admired Russia’s murder spree. Here is the result of such craven appeasement.”

“Thornberry (Labour) and Davis (Tory) are both talking strong against Russia, which is great, but I can’t help but remember them repeating Russian and Assadist propaganda when Russia started bombing Syria. The difference is made by racism and Islamophobia (and careerism in Thornberry’s case). Same goes for very many European politicians. In the 1930s analogy, if Ukraine is Czechoslovakia, Syria was Abyssinia.”

“Today the imperialists hit their first Ukrainian hospital, killing four. If their barbaric behaviour in Syria is any guide, this will be the first of many hundreds of such incidents. These aren’t mistakes – they’re the heart of Russian strategy.”

“If there had been action against Germany when Hitler moved into the Rhineland, there would have been no second world war. Appeasement turns minor situations into enormous catastrophes. If Russia had been hit with massive sanctions when Putin dismembered Georgia, he wouldn’t have been in a position to take the Crimea. If a No Fly Zone had stopped his mass murder in Syria, he wouldn’t have the confidence to invade Ukraine. As it is, the Russian army and Wagner Group mercenaries are spilling blood in Ukraine, Georgia, Syria, and Libya, and are positioning themselves in the Sahel. Sanctions need to be total, and military aid to Ukraine needs to be massive, high quality, and immediate. Otherwise this will continue to escalate.”

“True heroes of anti-imperialism include the soldiers who died rather than surrender the island in the Black Sea, and the men and women defending Kyiv today, and the Russian men and women facing imprisonment for protesting against the aggression. Those in the UK and the US who call themselves ‘anti-imperialists’ – the conspiracy theorists, Assadists and Putinists – are actually useful idiots for imperialism.”

“It seems there are quite a few people who swallowed Russian propaganda on Syria, at least when it was relayed by Corbyn and such figures, but who are not swallowing it now. These people need to be asked to examine what the difference is, if they now recognise they got it wrong on Syria, and why they got it wrong. (Of course there are still plenty of useful idiots for Russian imperialism, leftists and rightists, whose position hasn’t developed in the slightest.)”

“There must be an immediate and total embargo on Russian oil and gas. What on earth are we waiting for? The invasion of Poland? Certainly it’ll hurt the economy and push inflation up further, but it’ll hurt quite a bit less than world war three.”

“There is hope for Ukraine, and therefore for the world, much more than there was for Syria. In Syria the Russians were attacking civilians and poorly armed militias. In Ukraine they are attacking an army. In Syria Russians dropped bombs from the air, but Iranian militias did the fighting for them on the ground. In Ukraine Russian soldiers have nobody else to fight for them, and it seems they are taking thousands of casualties. The Syrian revolution was unsupported, whereas western countries – finally woken up by Russia’s attack on white Christian Europeans – are sanctioning Russia and providing serious weapons to Ukraine. Every day that Russia doesn’t meet its aims in Ukraine increases the possibility that Russia will lose. Strength to the Ukrainian resistance.”

“With regard to Putin’s nuclear posturing – what an inadequate failure the man is. This is bluff, an attempt to intimidate now his initial blitzkrieg has failed – but the very fact that he makes such a bluff shows how dangerous he is to the whole world. The best possible outcome would be for Russian generals to get rid of him. Someone needs to get rid of him, whoever it is. The disarmament of Russia’s nuclear weapons should also potentially be a condition for the eventual lifting of sanctions.”

“Turkey has closed the Bosphorus to Russian warships – something it didn’t do at any point over the years of Russian warships burning Syrian cities. Wishing Turkey had done it then doesn’t stop me praising Turkey for doing it now. There is a moderate risk that Putin, to retaliate against Erdogan, will tell Assad to attack Idlib.”

“Farage has been peddling the Kremlin line that Russian imperialism is NATO’s fault. He served Putin’s aims with Brexit. Trump, absurdly, is pretending he’d be tougher than Biden, but in power he did Putin’s bidding in Syria, and helped Putin by attacking and undermining the EU. His greatest gift to Russia and the world’s dictators was to refuse to recognise the results of the American election. Those who present themselves as ultra-patriots very often tend to be traitors. (Corbynist leftism, of course, follows the same pro-Russian, anti-EU ideology, just with a different tone.)”

“It is really inspiring to see western sanctions ramping up by the day (still not nearly enough – we need a total oil and gas embargo), and that this is happening in response to the pressure of public opinion. Of course Europeans were always going to sympathise more with white Christian victims of Russian imperialism, and of course they are rightly scared now they see the bombs falling in Europe, but still this shows how very different the outcome in Syria could have been if western leftists and rightists hadn’t got away with relaying Russian anti-Syrian propaganda to the extent that the mainstream opinion on Syria became ‘it’s too complicated’. I hope one result of the current tragedy is a cleansing of western politics from the filth of Putinism.”

“My mother, in Scotland, says she is more frightened than she’s been yet in her long life. It’s a result of the fascist’s nuclear bluster. Only for that, damn him. Then damn him again a million times each for every Ukrainian, Chechen, Georgian, Syrian, Libyan and Russian life he has taken.”

“In the last four days, everything has changed. Perhaps it’s the biggest change since the fall of the Soviet Union thirty years ago. Everything has changed in ways we can’t yet understand. Politically, economically, culturally. Remember carefully what life was like last week, because it’ll never be like that again.”

“A million refugees in a week. Cities burning in central Europe as they burned in Syria. A huge global recession almost certainly on its way. Threats of nuclear war. This is what the appeasement of Russian fascism and imperialism has brought. Until the Russian regime is brought down, the tragedies will continue to accumulate. We need a total embargo on Russian oil and gas, still more weapons for the Ukrainians, and zero tolerance for the servants of Putin in the West, whether on the left or right.”

Here’s an interview with Fiona Hill full of detail and context.

Here’s an article by Jonathan Littell, author of the amazing Holocaust novel The Kindly Ones and of a short book of reportage on Syria:

Written by Robin Yassin-Kassab

March 1, 2022 at 12:26 pm

Posted in Russia, Ukraine

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