EDITOR, The Tribune.
Had PM Davis been in Volodymyr Zelensky’s shoes, I would want him to do the following:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has made Time’s The 100 Most Influential People of 2022. In a recent Jerusalem Post article, there’s mention of him being a comic book hero.
Zelensky has become an international superstar since the ill-fated start of the Russian/Ukrainian War on February 24. Some 13 million people have since been displaced with a death toll among civilians topping 3,000.
Russia now controls Kherson, Mariupol, Donbas, Luhansk and Donetsk - areas Russian President Vladimir Putin now considers consolation prize, after failing to overtake Kyiv.
Russian proxy militia groups overtook Crimea in 2014, after the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych was deposed as Ukrainian President, after not signing a deal with the European Union in 2013.
Considered the Bible Belt of Europe, Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, subsequent to the collapse of the USSR.
Calling the current war a “special military operation,” the Kremlin has stated that it aims to “demilitarise and de-Nazify” Ukraine.
Putin has gone on record as stating that he wants to protect Russians under Ukrainian jurisdiction who have been subjected to eight years of genocide.
His exploits have led the US and the international community of accusing him of War crimes.
This war seems to have started over Ukraine flirting with NATO - a Western 30-member defensive military alliance that now has a presence in the Baltic and Central and Eastern Europe.
Based on my understanding, Zelensky had proposed Ukraine becoming a neutral state, which means that his state would be non-alinged and non-nuclear, with no foreign military bases in its territory.
The neutrality proposal came in late March. We are now a week away from June. The Russians are obviously not impressed by the proposal.
Putin has accused NATO of engaging his country militarily through Ukraine. He has already punished Poland and Bulgaria by cutting gas supplies. The US has banned Russian gas and oil.
This ban on oil has led cargo shipping companies to increase their costs of shipping supplies to merchants.
The merchants have passed on those cost increases to consumers.
I recently saw a 12-count pack of Bubba Hamburgers priced at $46 in a local grocery store.
A gallon of gasoline in The Bahamas is well above $6.
The Bahamian middleclass and poor are being decimated with record breaking inflation, with the state hardly being in the position to ameliorate the economic situation. And all because Volodymyr Zelensky decided to play hardball with Vladimir Putin by poking the Russian Bear.
A few weeks after the war commenced, Bahamian politicos were posting Facebook memes of Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis and Zelensky, with the aim of comparing the two leaders.
For the critics of Davis, Zelensky came out on top.
However, I strongly disagree with this unfair comparison. If Davis were in Zelensky’s shoes, I would want him to capitulate to the Russians in order to prevent an unnecessary war. Context is paramount.
Suppose the Davis administration invites the Russians to build a nuclear weapon strictly for “scientific purposes” on Andros or Grand Bahama.
And suppose that the US and Russia were still engaged in the Cold War, similar to what transpired during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
As an independent, sovereign country, would you want The Bahamas to defy the White House and go ahead with the Russian nuclear initiative some 60 miles away from the State of Florida?
It would obviously be suicidal for the Davis administration to do so, as the RBDF is hardly a match for the formidable US Army.
Yet that is how I view the Zelensky situation, even if he truly relishes his 15 minutes of international fame.
The Ukrainian President seems to be a noble, courageous man.
However, the flirtation with NATO in the face of Russian opposition tells me that while he has done a stellar job of keeping his friends (US and the EU) close, he has failed to keep his enemies (Russians) closer.
Freeport, Grand Bahama
May 23, 2022.