On February 26, the Cuban government issued a declaration on the situation in Ukraine. The “Declaration of the Revolutionary Government” was transmitted on the Website of the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Relations, and it was published in its entirely in Granma, which is the principal daily newspaper in Cuba and the Official Organ of the Communist Party of Cuba.
The Declaration begins with the observation that the U.S. insistence on continuing the progressive expansion of NATO toward the borders of the Russian Federation has brought about a scenario, with unpredictable implications, that could have been avoided. “It is not possible to examine with rigor and honesty the present situation in Ukraine,” it continues, “without assessing at length the just complaints of the Russian Federation to the United States and NATO.” It notes that the United States and NATO, as is well known, have been carrying out military movements in regions adjacent to the Russian Federation, and they have been delivering modern arms to Ukraine, which together constitute “a progressive military siege.”
The Cuban declaration asserts that “it was an error to ignore for decades the reasonable demands of guarantees of security made by the Russian Federation, and to assume that that country would be powerless in the face of direct threats to its national security. Russia has the right to defend itself. It is not possible to attain peace by encircling and corralling states.”
The declaration predicts that “history will demand of the government of the United States that it take responsibility for its doctrine of a growing military offensive beyond the borders of NATO, threatening peace, security, and international stability.”
The Declaration concludes with the observation that the recent policy of the United States with respect to Ukraine is consistent with its pattern of seeking its geopolitical objectives without consideration of the cost in lives nor the principles UN Charter.
“The United States and some allies have utilized force on multiple occasions. They invaded sovereign states in order to provoke regime change, and they interfered in the internal affairs of other nations that defend their territorial integrity and their independence and do not submit to U.S. interests of domination. They are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians, which they designate as ‘collateral damage,’ for millions of displaced persons, and for vast destruction of the entire geography of our planet, as a result of its wars of pillage.”
Only an educated people can be free
The Cuban Revolution emphasizes raising the political, historical, and global consciousness of the people, believing that, in accordance with the teachings of José Martí, only an educated people can be free. Accordingly, Cuban norms and structures in education and journalism promote intellectual work that is tied to the Revolution and to the anti-imperialist people’s movements throughout the world. Moreover, newspapers and television channels provide space for frequent and extended explanations of national and global dynamics by leaders, journalists, and academics.
As a result, when a major world event occurs, the Cuban media frequently explain the event in an anti-imperialist framework that is tied to the struggles of the neocolonized peoples of the world for sovereignty and for socioeconomic development. This has been illustrated in Cuban media coverage of the Russia military action in Ukraine, which has been receiving extensive daily coverage.
On February 24, Granma reported that “the world lived through a day of tension and media manipulation after the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, announced the carrying out of a ‘special military operation’ to defend Donbass.” It further reported that Putin had emphasized that the circumstances demand that Moscow act immediately and with firmness, and he asserted that “the popular republics of Donbass had solicited Russian aid.” The Russian president further pointed out that “Russia cannot exist with a constant threat emanating from Ukrainian territory” and that the Ukrainian authorities had given Russia no other option for protecting the Russian people.
The Russian chief of state also asserted that Russia does not intend to occupy Ukraine; its plans do not include military occupation of Ukrainian territory. Rather, Russia seeks the demilitarization of Ukraine. After the announcement by the Russian president, the Minister of Defense of Russia asserted that its armed forces are not attacking surrendering troops nor the civilian population.
Granma also reported on international reaction, characterizing as the most belligerent the reaction of the President of the United States, who announced sanctions against various Russian banks and the freezing of assets valued at a billion dollars, noting that the policy had been coordinated with the leaders of the United Kingdom, the European Union, and Japan. In addition, Biden announced a new deployment of land and air troops to the eastern flank of NATO. In contrast, Granma reported, China called for all parties to maintain a measured response and avoid the situation getting out of control. The spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry, Hua Chunying, asked, what role has the USA played in the crisis in Ukraine? “It is irresponsible,” the Chinese spokesperson declared, “for someone to accuse another of being inefficient in flighting a fire while throwing wood on the fire.”
Granma noted that media manipulation has been in evidence from the beginning of the conflict. It referred to an article in Sputnik by the intellectual Pascual Serrano, who argues that the bias is clear with respect to the media treatment of the Russian recognition of the republics of the east, in that the media now call for compliance with the Minsk Accords, following months in which said accords were violated daily by Ukraine and the West, without commentary by the media. The article specifies the silence of the media concerning the 2,158 violations of the Minsk cease-fire, including 1,100 explosions. “Russia did not start the war,” Serrano points out. He notes that double standards, partial analysis, silence concerning relevant facts, and unbalanced analyses always are clearly visible in any conflict in which the United States and the European Union are involved.
On February 26, Granma reported that Russia, seeking to guarantee its national security in the face of the NATO siege of recent years, was advancing in its mission of the demilitarization of Ukraine on the second day of its “special military operation in Ukraine.”
Granma also reported that both the Russian and Ukrainian presidents had publicly expressed their desire to negotiate. In the case of Russia, a delegation had been formed, consisting of the ministers of Defense and Foreign Affairs, as well as the presidential administration. Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenski declared his disposition to discuss the neutrality of Ukraine in the East-West European divide, a key demand of Russia.
Meanwhile, the government of Kiev continued with the deployment of many rocket launchers in the residential zones of the principal cities, including the capital. For his part, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Serguei Lavroy, reiterated that the Russian operation was provoked by the Ukrainian authorities, and that it has clear objectives: the demilitarization and denazification of Ukrainian territory, according to Granma.
Granma reported on the continuing rejection of the Russian military operation by the governments of the West. The European Council suspended Russian membership, and the European Union announced new sanctions. The Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the United Kingdom warned that London will continue taking measures until the Russian economy deteriorates. NATO announced the deployment of troops to the eastern part of the alliance, although not to Ukraine.
Granma reiterated that, in the face of NATO expansionism of several years and NATO’s intention to surround Russia, the constant will of the Russian government has been not only to stop the Western advance for reasons of national security, but also to stop the permanent attacks on the population of Donbass, a region in which the people are primarily of Russian origin. Granma writes that “the United States has been the great instigator of a conflict that, having arrived to the present situation, permits the West to present Russia as an unjustified invader.”
The February 26 Granma article reported on the second day of military operations. It notes that Russian troops had arrived to the periphery of Kiev, where they took control of an airfield. They also entered the Ukrainian city of Melitopol without encountering resistance. The Russian Minister of Defense asserted that the inhabitants of the city welcomed the Russian soldiers, with some older citizens taking to the streets with red flags. The article noted that Russian head of state Vladimir Putin had declared that, as was expected, the majority of the confrontations are with armed nationalist groups and not the regular troops of the Ukrainian army. The nationalist groups are deploying heavy arms in central zones of the large cities, including Kiev and Kharkov, in order to provoke an armed response by the Russian military against residential neighborhoods. Putin noted that “they act in the same form as terrorists in the entire world: they use the people as a shield with the hope of blaming Russia for the victims among the civilian populations.”
The February 26 Granma articles concludes with the observation that the conflict is maintained alive with the ardent calls of the West, but Russia seeks a solution that guarantees its national security in the face of the encirclement of its borders in recent years by NATO, with the intention of imposing its hegemony.
Granma subsequently reported on the third day of the Russian military operation. It reported on the Russian announcement that the Russian armed forces had destroyed a total of 831 military infrastructure installations in Ukraine. It further reported that the Russian Minister of Defense had communicated that “Ukrainian nationalists had carried out on Saturday, February 26, an attack with several rocket launchers against populated neighborhoods in the city of Starobilsk, which resulted in the destruction of residential buildings and deaths among the civilian population. Bombardments also were reported by the Russian news agency TASS in the city of Donetsk, where inhabitants took refuge in basements.
The Russian Ministry of Defense accused the Ukrainian government of trying to expand nationalist bands by distributing arms to citizens en masse and without control, according to Granma. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the government of Germany announced that it was sending 1,000 anti-tank weapons and 500 anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine.
Grama reported on February 27 that a Russian delegation, presided by Vladimir Mendisky, advisor to President Putin, had arrived in Belarus to negotiate with representatives of the government of Ukraine.
On February 28, Granma reported that the delegations of Russia and Ukraine began conversations on Monday, February 28, five days since the initiation of the Russian military operation in Ukrainian territory, in Gomel, Belarus. The chief of the Russian delegation, Vladimir Mendisky, announced that Russia is interested in arriving to an agreement with the Ukrainian delegation. The television channel Russia Today, available on a twenty-four hour basis in Cuba, reported that President Putin had declared that a negotiated agreement ought to guarantee Russian security through the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, the neutrality of Ukraine, and the recognition of Crimea as under Russian control.
Granma also reported on February 28 that the European Unions is utilizing the Fund for Aid to Peace to send arms to Ukraine. It is the first time, Granma noted, that said Fund has been utilized to send arms to a third country, that is, a country that is not a part of the European Union.
An editorial by Elson Concepción Pérez in the February 28 issue of Granma observed that Russia is not going to permit the evident attempt to forge an international re-composition of power to the benefit of those accustomed to deciding for others and interfering in the sovereign affairs of countries, launching wars, and imposing sanctions. He writes that “Russian president Vladimir Putin has shown firmness before the U.S. and NATO plan of encircling his country with weapons and military forces.” Concepción’s article included a map showing the twenty-nine U.S. and NATO military bases that surround Russia.
Concepción further observes that the independent republics of Donetsk and Lugansk continuing being attacked and bombed by Ukrainian military forces, and hundreds of tons of modern arms from NATO and the United States have arrived to Ukraine. He noted that both Biden and the head of NATO have supported the inclusion of Ukraine in the U.S.-directed Western military alliance, under the principle of “open doors.”
Concepción also made reference to the peninsula of Crimea, which in a popular referendum opted for uniting itself with Russia. NATO has the objective, he noted, of incorporating the peninsula, thereby depriving Russia of access to the Black Sea. This is vital for Russia, because the city of Sebastopol is the principal base of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea. Crimea is an important piece in the desire of NATO to destabilize Russia, as is the incorporation of Ukraine in the Western military alliance.
On March 1, Granma reported on the first round of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, noting that the head of the Russian delegation observed that the negotiations had identified possible points of positions in common. Granma also reported that Bruno Rodríguez, Cuban Foreign Minister, expressed on Twitter Cuban approval of the negotiations between Russia and Ukraine, characterizing it as the only way to resolve the conflict. The March 1 article further reported that the Russian military operation was proceeding successfully with the destruction of the military infrastructure of Ukraine. And it reports that the West continues to adopt economic and financial measures against Russia; and new restrictions on access to the Russian media of communication, specifically Russia Today and Sputnik.
The militarization of the US economy shapes its interests and discourse
I have for more than two decades encountered the fundamental difference in media perspectives and public debates between Cuba and the United States, and as a result of this experience, I have arrived to a high level of trust of the Cuban media. The trustworthiness of the Cuban media and the high quality of public debate emerges from Cuban conditions. As a small nation with limited natural resources and powerful enemies, its most important arm is the unified loyalty and fidelity of its people, and the only way to attain the people’s confidence and trust is to act in defense of their interests, and to fully explain the objective national and global conditions that define their interests. It would be a serious error for a people’s revolutionary government to lie to its people, under any circumstances, for the consequence could well be its fall.
In contrast, the U.S. discourse is shaped by the dependence of its economy on the military. It was not always so. The United States of America began its remarkable story as an agricultural economy with small agricultural producers; and with political-economic structures favorable to the interests of small property holders, including a federation of the then thirteen states that permitted significant state and local control. The economic ascent of the nation was constructed on a foundation of the military conquest of the indigenous nations of North America, combined with lucrative trading relations with slave-producing regions in the U.S. South and the Caribbean islands; but the arms industry itself was not a major component of its expanding economy. In the second half of the nineteenth century, unfair and unethical competition among many industrial producers led to concentration, so that “monopoly capitalism” emerged. Big corporations arrived to control not only the economy but all areas of society, and among the consequences was a greater centralization of political power. During the twentieth century, the big corporations discovered through the two world wars the enormous profitability of the arms industry, such that following the second of these great conflagrations, they established a permanent war economy.
The post-World War II turn to a permanent war economy was justified before the people with the Cold War ideology. The Cold War was pure ideological construction, designed to respond to the profit interests of the big corporations rather than the long-term needs of the nation and the people. In reality, the Soviet Union did not have an expansionist orientation; its fundamental interest was in establishing a buffer zone of security on its western border in Eastern Europe. To be sure, the world was ablaze with anti-colonial and anti-imperialist revolutions, and the Soviet Union offered some inconsistent and mostly rhetorical support to them. But the anti-colonial, anti-imperialist revolutions had their own logic. They were going to succeed or fail on their own terms; they were not driven by Soviet support or lack thereof.
The Cold War, although built on a false and unreal ideological construction, was real in its consequences. It established a permanent war economy and a dependence of the U.S. economy on the production and exportation of arms, and on the development of its armed forces. The permanent war economy created a real economic interest in making war and in fabricating threats of war, an interest that would shape the nation’s public discourse from 1948 to the present.
The worst consequence of the Cold War was that it prevented the nation from constructively addressing what was a more important real issue facing the world following the Second World War, namely, the drive of the peoples in the colonized and semi-colonized zones for independence and equal participation in the world order, a drive then reaching culmination. Looking at the anti-colonial revolutions and movements through the Cold War lens, the nation saw communists everywhere, and it could not see the legitimacy of colonized peoples’ claims for sovereignty and full and equal participation in world affairs, freed from the interventions of the colonial and neocolonial world powers. Even worse, the nation could not see that attention to the just and legitimate demands of the colonized was the only possible foundation for a politically stable world and the development of world peace and prosperity. Focusing on the development of its military capacities, the nation lost the opportunity to develop industries and commercial relationships and partnerships that could have been integral to the development of a more just, democratic, post-colonial, and post-imperialist world order. The nation became the most powerful nation in the evolving neocolonial and imperialist world order, but unable to understand, much less constructively attend, the central problems and issues of that world order.
The blindness of the U.S. political discourse is fully visible in the first quarter of the twenty-first century. The U.S. discourse does not see the most significant development of the current period, namely, the renewal of the demand of the neocolonized peoples for sovereignty, equality, and socioeconomic development, which had gone into decline during the 1980s and 1990s, a victim of the imposition by the global powers and international finance agencies of neoliberal economic policies. And the U.S. political discourse misinterprets the policy of China toward the neocolonized peoples, seeing it as a new form of imperialism rather than as a bid to construct a new post-imperialist world of cooperation and mutually beneficial trade among nations, constructively responding to the renewed demand of the neocolonized peoples for sovereign equality.
Seeing its economic decline in a world order that it does not understand, the U.S. foreign policy establishment formulates strategic objectives based on what is sees but does not comprehend. It sees the ascent of China as a threat to its strategic interests, without understanding the alternative Chinese road to economic development. It sees the relations between Russia and China as a mutual assistance arrangement that seeks the ascent of both, not understanding it as cooperation toward a different kind of post-imperialist world order. It sees Russian cooperation with Europe as a threat to the slipping U.S. unilateral control of the world-economy, not fully discerning that said cooperation is pointing toward a European-North America multilateral imperialism, or possibly Eurasian participation in a more just pluripolar world order.
With these limited and false perceptions, U.S. foreign policy seeks a New Cold War with Russia (and China). The New Cold War with Russia could possibly break the tendency toward increasing relations between Russia and Europe, forcing Europe to revitalize its commerce with the United States. And in using the NATO military alliance as an instrument, the territorial expansionist policy toward Russia re-emphasizes the role of the military in political-economic affairs. Thus, in provoking a military confrontation with Russia, the United States seeks to reinforce its unilateral domination of an increasingly militarized imperialist world order.
The Russian defensive military action in Ukraine appears to have concrete, relatively limited strategic objectives: stopping NATO expansionism; ensuring a demilitarized and neutral Ukraine; maintaining Russian control of the Crimean peninsula; and protecting the Russian civilian population of Donbass from fascist military groups, providing stability to the two recently recognized peoples republics in that region. If Russia could arrive to a negotiated agreement with Ukraine with respect to these goals, it would accomplish a successful relatively brief military intervention, with carefully defined objectives based on understanding of the situation. If so, such a successful intervention would stand in contrast to the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby further enhancing the prestige of Russia in the world, and further discrediting U.S. imperialism.
In the quest for the development of an alternative, more just, and more cooperative world order, China, Russia, and the nations of the Third World have sought to cooperate with one another and to develop mutually beneficial trade among themselves, as a strategy of facilitating the socioeconomic development of all, a strategy historically called South-South cooperation by the nations of the Non-Aligned Movement. But China, Russia, and the Third World also have sought to maintain commercial relations with the United States and Europe, but transforming them into more just and mutually beneficial commercial relations, in accordance with the principles of the alternative world order in its embryonic stage of development.
However, the aggressive hostility of the West toward the sovereign aspirations of the nations of the world, symbolized by the NATO expansion to the East and the West’s rejection of Russian efforts to defend itself, may provoke China, Russia, and the Third World nations to focus on circumventing the West and to cast their hopes on developing an alternative pluripolar world that would include China, Russia, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America and the Caribbean. Surely some European countries would want to get on board. If such a scenario were to unfold, the United States, if it cannot reorient its foreign policy objectives, would be commercially and diplomatically isolated, hastening its economic decline.
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Follow me on Twitter: Charles McKelvey@CharlesMcKelv14
i am not surprised and am really glad Cuba is standing by Russia. The map you have provided is proof of what has been happening in Europe, surrounding Russia with NATO missiles. The problem is the US and NATO and EU don't like their game to be disclosed to the public, which Russia is doing now. All they can think of is Europeans are suffering, European refugees etc. Unbelievably racist comments about Europeans being attacked lie they were Syrians or Iraqis. I cant believe people's short sightedness regarding the history of the region, including from so called Marxists. People do see Russia as the problem and i am wondering where do they learn their history?
The Cuban government does support Russia's right to defend itself, but the strategy...?
Notably, the Cuban government was silent about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s armed incursion into Ukraine’s separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, which he recognized as independent, self-proclaimed republics. The rebel-controlled areas are not mentioned in Cuba’s statement.
“The Cuban position is that Russia’s concerns about NATO expansion are justified, but the Foreign Ministry conspicuously does not endorse Russia’s military action, instead emphasizing Cuba’s support for a diplomatic solution to the crisis,” said American University professor William LeoGrande, an expert on Cuban affairs. “Cuba does not recognize the two breakaway states or even mention them.”
“Cuba has always argued that Great Powers have no right to use force against small powers in order to maintain a sphere of influence — not surprisingly since they endured hostile relations with the United States for more than 60 years,” LeoGrande said. “The Cuban position tried to balance that principle with the realpolitik importance of its relationship both with Russia and the EU.”
The statement avoids criticism of NATO members and blames the U.S. for “imposing the progressive expansion of NATO towards the borders of the Russian Federation,” which the Cuban government sees as a “threat to the national security of this country and regional and international peace.”