Not before the globalized devastating pandemic, which killed millions and run havoc in the world economy pushed billion of people into acute poverty, relieved the human populace from its evil clutch, another monstrous evil in the form of war between Europes’s two neighbours and having globalized impact a la pandemic, started on February 24 this year. Here, to note that not long back, these two warring Eurasians were part of the Soviet Union and Cold War era’s Warsaw Pact bloc.
Initially, it was assumed by reputed war observers around the world that this war would be the shortest one as they believe, the invader Russia, a military giant, as it to a large extent retained the military infrastructures and gadgets of the Warsaw Pact, under the leadership of its longest serving President Vladimir Putin, would maul with the lightening speed the relatively tiny and militarily weak Ukraine, which post-independence had abandoned its nuclear arsenal inherited as part of Soviet Union.
But, the war isn’t yet showing any sign of ending soon, though Ukraine suffered large-scale destruction and loss of lives apart from the loss of territories in its industrially prosperous eastern Donbas region and in the southern region having the country’s all ports and sea links. As per the latest development, Ukraine after the early success of vanquishing Russian forces from its northern region close to the capital city Kyiv is fast recovering from the territorial loss in the Donbas region, while the invader after conducting a referendum in its claimed conquered lands asserts that these territories are largely inhabited by Russian speaking people who were under Ukraine’s alleged fascist regime had been exploited and tortured. In the meanwhile, as Russian soldiers found retreating from its occupied territories in the same region, Putin changed his military commander for this war and started his psychological sabre-rattling using N-threat with logic to safeguard the country’s sovereign territories of which Donbas post-referendum has become part.
The most recent change of Commander, Russia started the ruthless bombing of Kyiv and other cities in so far not affected interior Ukraine using missiles, which are found only impactable war gears in the arsenal of invaders on the face of NATO supplied highly effective land to air war gears on the shoulders of highly motivated Ukrainian soldiers with alleged infiltration of ferocious far-right Azov militants, with a strategy to divert victim’s focus from its occupied territories. In view of the above, it is difficult to predict when the war will have its logical conclusion with both parties cooling down in favour of peace.
Though the war has so far been restricted between two countries in a limited geography, the same has got a devastating impact on post-pandemic economies in Europe and almost all countries around the world because they are the two of the world’s commodities -including food, fuel, and mineral- powerhouses. And both countries are heavily dependent upon their Black Sea ports for exports. In fact, Ukraine has been a landlocked country post-invasion as all its ports are in the Black Sea, now under invaders’ attacks and many of them have already been under siege.
Post-WWII, Europe and the US economies that led the world economy have hardly passed through the present kind of low inflation-low rates to high inflation-high rates. By the end of September, inflation in European countries is expected to be around 10%. In Europe’s major economies such as German, it is at 8.5%, France-5.6%, UK-10.1%, and Italy-8.9%. London-based The Guardian on October 20, 2022, bannered, “Millions forced to skip meals as UK cost of living crisis deepens”. The major culprits for the present state of affairs in European and world economies are the Russia-Ukraine war impacted the short supply of food grains, edible oils, gas, crude oil, fertilizers, and metals.
On October 04 “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” program published in FOXBusiness, the former US Army Gen. Jack Keane said, “Ukraine aid is an investment in the security of America’s future. We’ve invested 1.1% of the budget. So for $66 billion what we’re getting is Ukraine is doing the fighting, they are literally destroying the Russian Army on the battlefield, which would set them back for years and deny them the ability to ever accomplish under Putin any of his ambitions in terms of taking back some of the Soviet Republics. By the way, if that would happen, that would mean war between NATO and Russia. The scale of that would be much greater than what it is right now.” Going further, he said, “The support among the American people to continue to help Ukraine is about 66%.”
The above statement from a top former commander of the US Army can be interpreted that the ongoing war in Eastern Europe is in fact fought between Russia and the US in which the brotherhood between European countries is getting stained on social, economic, and security fronts, among others. Here, European leaders should not forget Vladimir Putin’s expression of willingness to join NATO through George Robertson, a former UK Labour Defence Secretary, who led NATO between 1999 and 2003. Putin said, “It is hard for him to visualize NATO as an enemy. Russia is part of the European culture. And I cannot imagine my own country in isolation from Europe and what we often call the civilized world.”
But, NATO, which came into existence as a military/security alliance to stop the westward expansion of Communist Soviet Russia, continues to exist after the post-fall and disintegration of Communist Soviet Russia and the dismantling of the latter’s led NATO counterpart Warsaw Pact. And by denying Russia, which largely inherited Soviet Russia’s largest territory and population as well as the Warsaw Pact’s military establishment and N-arsenals, NATO membership and later humiliating its leadership by way of refusing to respect all the conditions and agreements signed between the two sides post-Berlin Wall fall, the West has forced Russia to suspect former’s bonafide. By doing so, the West, the so-called champion of democratic value and liberal civilizational outlook, which had been the main concern for them when they started embracing Communist China in the 1970s argued that through integrating Communist China’s economy with the world economy, China could be democratized and liberalized, had lost a golden opportunity to integrate Russia into democratic and liberal Europe.
Here, this author would like to bring to the notice all concerns what Russian President V. Putin said later on in 2005. “First and foremost it is worth acknowledging that the demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” Putin said and continued, “As for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy. Tens of millions of our fellow citizens and countrymen found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory. In an apparent response to foreign allegations that Russia has been backtracking on democracy, Putin said ‘Russia’s main political task was to develop as a free, democratic nation with European ideals. He stressed that individual freedoms would not be compromised by strengthening the state.’
In the above-quoted statements, Putin wanted to tell the world that Russia mightn’t compromise its post-Soviet Union territorial integrity while progressing toward democracy. But, the US refused to recognize the significance of these aspects and blocked the integration of Russia with Europe, the prime reason for the present crisis. As per the statement of the US General as quoted above and Biden’s personal attack on Putin since the start of the present conflict, France President E. Macron rejected branding those ‘inflammatory and escalatory’, the US isn’t keen to normalize relations between Russia and Europe for her strategic and other hidden benefits as per its age-old policy of ‘America has no friends or enemies, but only interests.
In Europe, nobody should have an iota of doubt that Russia will ever be another Ukraine by abandoning N-weapons to free America, which relentlessly promotes the eastward expansion of NATO, from any Russian threat as envisioned in the statement of Gen Jack Keane despite the possibility of it getting weakened economically and militarily due to on-going war. Apart from the American threat, Russia can’t trust revisionist and expansionist Communist China in her resource-rich Eastern frontier though they are allies now. Continuation of this war will badly destroy the European economy; forget about what is there in the fate of the world economy. Besides, it will promote extremism in Europe, already infected with alleged Islamic terror after the incursion of ISIS-infected Arab refugees in the middle of last decade.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of the Government of India and Defence Research and Studies
Title image courtesy: The Economist