By Kato Mukasa
I have read several opinions, especially by some African elites supporting war-monger, swaggering militant and autocratic dictator Putin.
Many have naively said that they support Putin’s war because Russia unlike Great Britain and some European countries – has never colonised Africa and is not an imperialistic country and therefore pro-African interests!
Others have said that NATO is a terrorist organization and having orchestrated the downfall of Gadhaffi and the destruction of several countries, they are in full support of Putin in preventing Ukraine – a sovereign country – from joining the same! They naively absolve Putin’s Russia from any wrongdoing!
They are wrong, they are not aware of the destruction Putin’s Russian army and artillery has caused in the Middle East, they are yet to know that like other imperialists they blame, Putin’s Russia has been equally very brutal for far too long. A little reading may offset this painful and willful ignorance on their part.
For starters, Russia has been at the forefront of imperialism and colonialism since the 16th century. In the 17th century, it colonised the Pacific, then the Russo Polish war of 1654-67 which resulted in the incorporation of left-bank Ukraine.
Russian conquest continued unstopped as they conquered Siberia and it aggressively expanded Eastwards from its capital and conquered several lands in Eastern Europe and extended into Asia.
In fact, before WW1, Russian imperialism had taken over Finland, Latvia, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Persia, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Transcaucasia. Russia had colonised Crimea and many other lands.
All these conquests involved the use of brutal force forcing their art, religion and military on conquered territory. They forced their version of Christianity -Russian Orthodoxy-every where they conquered.
In the 18th Century, Russia went across the Pacific Ocean and founded settlements in Alaska and California and took their imperialism there. However faced with the volatile American revolts and the political ramifications of the Crimean war, Russia was forced to abandon their North America colonies because they had become too expensive to retain. The US paid about $125m to buy Alaska though even today, the Russian colonial dialect language is still spoken in Alaska.
So don’t be deceived Russia is no better than Great Britain when it comes to colonialism and imperialism. They have been competing for supremacy for a very long time. Russia agreed to sell Alaska to the US in an attempt to win US support hoping that the US would prevail over Great Britain to enable Russia’s influence in the Pacific.
So you say Russia has never colonised any African country and therefore it’s a better party to support in their barbaric invasion of Ukraine? Hello no! Russian empire didn’t scramble to colonise Africa in the 19th century not because they loved Africa, therefore, wanted to spare our ancestors from their aggression, no.
It was because they had run out of resources and it would be far too expensive to scramble for Africa then. It was the same reason they had abandoned Alaska and California. By that time, Russia was too busy colonising and conquering so many other areas including conquering parts of Central Asia, Siberia and many other lands.
Africa was simply not very attractive to the aggressive Russians and most importantly Russian army lacked warm water ports to easily connect to Africa. Had Russians colonised Africa, Africa would have been in a far worse situation than it is today if you critically think about it.
Today many African dictators are tight-lipped, very silent on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, why? Since 2015 Russia has signed military cooperation agreements with over 20 African countries many of them under dictatorship. Why? Russia supports dictatorship openly and will never condemn its allies even when hundreds of citizens are murdered for political reasons.
Like China, Russia doesn’t show any remorse when they are pursuing their interests. Their Human Rights record is zero wherever they invest, theirs is unmasked barbarism. Imperialistic England and the US more often practice humanism, they show some concern and sometimes intervene to stop mayhem just to save humanity from oblivion, Putin’s Russia has never done so. Putin’s army is as barbaric as it were in the 16th century, they have nothing to get ashamed of, nothing like Ubuntu in them. You will always see Ubuntu in Great Britain and American soldiers despite the greed that motivates their politicians.
So yes, Putin’s Russia is advancing neo-imperialism and neo-colonialism in Ukraine and it’s far dangerous to support brutes using unconventional means to fight a war they call a “special operation” as they bomb cities into rubble and continue to kill hundreds of innocent bystanders not even allowing them to escape to safety.
Imperialism involved conquest and rule, colonialism involved the imperialistic colonizer occupying and taking residence in the conquered territory. Neo imperialism involves domination and hegemony over other countries, especially through “legal agreements”, economics and cultural influence and neo-colonialism involve control by a powerful country over a weaker one, especially a former colony.
Read the above paragraph and tell me if Putin’s Russia is not doing that in Ukraine and if Russia is not extending Putin’s neo-imperialism and colonialism in Africa today? Be honest.
For the record I am not in any way condoning the excesses done by NATO and US in invading and destroying sovereign states for their selfish interests but for the Ubuntu they exhibit either by accident or design, I am team Ukraine and all their allies and at any given day, if pitted between two devils in Russia and Great Britain, I will always choose Great Britain.