The War That Will Not End

Ukraine is not winning, Russia is not losing’. That is how some defence experts define the stalemate in the current phase of Russia-Ukraine conflict. Former Swiss intelligence officer and NATO adviser Jacques Baud alleged in no uncertain terms that the US and UK undermined a peace deal that could have ended the bloody war. The West’s aim “is not the victory of Ukraine, it’s the defeat of Russia’. Nobody bothers about Ukraine and Ukrainians. They have just ‘‘instrumentalised Ukraine for the purpose of US strategic interests—not even European interests”. And Zelenesky has allowed himself to play the role of an American stooge as some people on the left would like to call him a ‘Neo-Liberal Pawn’. Peace is not on the agenda of any party. China’s initial initiative is a non-starter. Neither Moscow nor Kyiv has much in talking at the moment. The proposal of cease-fire and withdrawal of sanctions was no more than window dressing for Xi’s highly publicised and yet less understood visit to Moscow in March.

The human and economic costs already enormous are poised to climb as Russia and Ukraine ready their next moves in the battlefield. With the arrival of spring and soil becoming hardened tanks from both sides are likely to roar anytime soon. While Ukraine is dancing with recently delivered Germany’s Leopard II and American Abraham tanks , Russia is flexing muscle by parading its improved Soviet era models.

According to opinion polls from the Leveda Centre more than 70 percent Russians still back war though 9 lakh youths are said to have left Russia apprehending forced conscription. But what matters most in this war is Russian nationalism, rather Great Russian Chauvinism, which is so strong that Putin is not worried about domestic voice of dissent, despite setbacks in war zone before the Ukraine army’s superior skill and morale. After all this is not the Soviet red army, it is Russian army. Russia looks determined to occupy a larger chunk of the industrially advanced Donbas region. Ukraine too appears to be preparing a deadly assault with the help of newly acquired American long-range fire arms to destroy the land bridge between Donbas and Crimea, clearing the way for Ukrainian forces to fully expel Russian troops and restore its pre-2014 territorial position. But it is easier said than done. Ukrainian successes are being exaggerated by the western media while the Russians do more shelling than propaganda to cripple Ukraine’s economy. Ukraine is said to be one of the most corrupt countries in Europe and Ukrainian persons in power and authority across the country are minting millions because of liberal ‘defence benevolence’ showered by America and its western allies. So Ukraine is in no mood to settle. Rather than looking to the West for diplomatic intervention Zelensky is continually asking for more military and economic help. Because it means more money for his corrupt officials and politicians.

Despite strict censorship some disturbing facts are being leaked to make things worse for the war-mongers. The combined defence-industrial base of America and Europe cannot keep up with Ukraine’s expenditure of equipment and ammunition against Russia’s abnormal rise in defence production. After all sanctions have failed to weaken Russian economy much. America is being forced to divert some of its military hardware in the Indo-Pacific as Taiwan may become another flash point. Then no country has won war by depending on foreign arms. Ukraine having lost much of its own production capacity has no option but to depend dangerously on the West and America to avert existential crisis.

Tragically enough, the Zelensky club continues to defend the indefensible---complete destruction of Ukraine. Their army has suffered more than 100,000 casualties and lost many of their best troops. The Ukrainian economy has shrunk by some 30 percent, the poverty rate spiking and Russia continues to bombard the country’s critical infrastructure and major cities forcing more and more people to flee war and take refuge in some European countries. Then the plight of internally displaced persons defies description. Ukrainian refugees now languishing in European camps don’t know when they will be able to return to their homes. Zelensky and his men are taking risk to destroy themselves in pursuit of goals that are in all probability out of their reach.

No doubt the war is imposing massive costs on the global economy as well, triggering high inflation, disrupting supply chains and creating energy, fertiliser and food shortages, particularly in the global South. From France to Britain to Egypt to Peru, economic duress is producing political and social unrest. Workers, doctors, nurses are on the streets. This war is also polarising, for good reasons or bad, the international system, allowing the poor to join the new emerging bloc against the hegemony of one power bloc led by America.


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Vol 55, No. 44, April 30 - May 6, 2023