Living Dangerously

War in Ukraine seems to have entered the deadliest phase after three weeks. Desperation makes it a point of no return for both Russia and Ukraine. Three million refugees have already crossed the Ukrainian border to take shelter in Poland and elsewhere while another 10 million people are said to be internally displaced as per a conservative estimate of UN. How many people are dying daily is not known. Russian forces are allegedly not collecting their fallen combatants. Horror of World War 2 has returned. Bombing continues unabated—major cities in Ukraine are now rubbles and devastation is so horrific that even die-hard apologists of Russian invasion will weep. America did it in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and now Putin’s Russia is doing the same thing in Ukraine which was once a part of Soviet Union. In truth Ukraine’s vast industrial infrastructure was built during the Soviet era. And now 80 percent of it has gone according to American media reports.

Attacks and hostage-taking at nuclear power plants, the shelling of refugee convoys and anti-war protest rallies, maternity hospitals, theatre hall, super markets and schools—these were previously unthinkable actions. But they are now a hard reality. Russian troops are reportedly wilfully flouting standard conventions of acceptable behaviour in war. What is more, scientists across the world are rethinking the unthinkable—nuclear war. Putin’s nuclear threat may not be empty—after all he can ill-afford to lose the war at this stage. Conventional war in Europe is shocking enough but Putin has seriously raised the spectre of WMD—weapons of mass destruction. Maybe, Russia now seeks a face-saving rationale for having gone into Ukraine in the first place, one that echoes the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. In light of Putin’s decision to make nuclear weapons look usable, it has become all too clear that the global scientific community and human rights crusaders must rise to the occasion before it is too late. The Russia-Ukraine war shows nuclear threats are real, present and dangerous. This war also justifies why the world needs new nuclear agreements—the people everywhere face an exceedingly dangerous moment. Many think Russia could detonate a nuclear weapon over the open ocean, where it would not kill people but might influence the West to pressurise Ukraine to give up its resistance.

For one thing Putin has shattered the myth of NATO’s invincibility. NATO member countries are divided; they are dribbling in the midfield despite the Uncle Sam’s encouragement. They don’t want war with Russia—war is not on the American soil. Europeans will have to pay the price if the war prolongs which is precisely the objective of America. It is now a settled fact that Ukraine won’t be a member of NATO in the foreseeable future despite Zelensky’s frantic appeal to NATO leaders almost every day. NATO is at worst a paper tiger with nuclear teeth in the face of Russian aggression. Surprisingly, even Ukrainian president Zelensky is criticising NATO for its impotency. What he wants is to involve NATO in this war which is not happening. The crack in the western camp in confronting Russia is too glaring to overlook. Much to the dismay of the US, Germany and Hungary are against any new sanctions. And Serbia has flatly refused to join NATO.

Now both sides are spreading disinformation as disinformation in wartime is a time-honoured practice. It is a tool of both the weak and powerful; it is cheap, quick and easier than spilling blood. This war is actually between Russia and America while Ukraine is the proxy. America has long been trying to integrate Ukraine into the NATO defence system to encircle Russia and the so-called Maidan-Revolution or Counter-Revolution engineered by America, in 2014, was aimed at installing a pro-American government in Kiev. Somehow their NATO plan didn’t materialise according to their original script which envisaged Ukraine in NATO by 2010. Ukraine under Zelensky has been asking NATO leaders to make them a member of NATO so that they could effectively fight Russia, right from the day one. He is trying to involve NATO’s direct participation in the on-going war. America has been training the Ukrainian army since 2014 and now the American bloc is sending military and financial aid to save the Kiev regime. Every now and then Zelensky is roaring about third world war but third world war cannot be anything but nuclear.

Strangely enough, anti-war movement across the world is not that powerful though Putin is somewhat isolated in the international community. And in India even the left has not really taken any stand against the war, not to speak of protests in the streets. Issuing harmless statements about peace and negotiations makes little sense. War is being fought in European theatre and America’s military-industrial complex is minting millions from the corpses of Russians and Ukrainians.


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Vol 54, No. 40, April 3 - 9, 2022