OPED By Gp Cpt TP Srivastava
The Russia-Ukraine conflict is in its 22nd month. On February 24, 2024, the unwanted and highly undesirable Russia-Ukraine war will be two years old. Putin’s declaration of suspending START signed in 2010 (due to expire in 2026) by Obama and Medvedev heightens the risk of a nuclear war.
The most pertinent question is, ‘Whose war is it anyway’? Few military strategists believe that there is no specific answer. Few believe that it is due to Russia’s hostile attitude towards Ukraine.
That is surprising because the simple answer to this supposedly complex question is the US’s desire to expand NATO eastward. Finally, the USA and its NATO cronies found a puppet in the form of Ukrainian president Vladimir Zelensky, who was/is willing to dance to their tune even though, in the process, he has single-handedly destroyed a beautiful nation.
He has brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war. The President of Belarus has been categorical in his assertion that the USA and other NATO members forced this war on Russia (during an interview with BBC).
The near destruction of a nation’s infrastructure and death of hundreds of thousands of soldiers/civilians (exact figures will/may be known after the war ends, if and when it does) has achieved nothing. What was the crying need for the USA to push for Ukraine to join NATO?
Until this insane desire of the USA altered the Russia-Ukraine relations, things between the two nations were stable. Instead of treading into the past regarding the expansion of NATO eastwards, the most recent event of German reunification merits a mention.
After Russia was convinced of the need for German reunification, the then Secretary of State of the USA, James Baker, stated, “NATO would not expand an inch eastward” or words to that effect.
Non-Expansion Of NATO Eastward
Russia reminded NATO and the USA about the verbal commitment of the USA regarding ‘no eastward expansion of NATO’ on quite a few occasions. The annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation in 2014 merely caused a minor whimper from G-7 nations when they decided to boycott the summit to be held at Sochi.
On February 14, 2022, the Russian Foreign Minister clearly and unambiguously stated that the continued efforts of the USA to bring in Ukraine as a NATO member will have serious repercussions. Russia demanded a legal ban on Ukraine joining NATO based on a commitment made by the USA as one of the conditions for German reunification. But Russian demand was rejected, both by NATO and Ukraine.
Russia was forced into a corner, which led to Russia openly justifying the breach of the Budapest Memorandum. As if Ukraine’s impending entry into the NATO fold was not enough for Russia to retaliate, Sweden and Finland joined the queue.
It would be pertinent to mention that Finland and Sweden decided to remain neutral during the height of the Cold War. But for the objection raised by Turkey and Hungary, Finland’s and Sweden’s NATO membership was delayed as the 32nd and 33rd members of NATO. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel had called NATO a ‘BRAIN DEAD’ alliance.
Despite repeated statements by Russia, Ukraine declined to join Russia for talks; the last offer made was on February 19, 2022. Russia attacked (read Special Military Operations Commenced) on February 24, 2022. The USA and NATO countries did not expect Russia to launch the offensive. But Putin is famous for doing the unexpected, which is what he did.
Russia Vs. Ukraine Or Russia Vs. NATO
Except for the first six weeks of the war, when it could be called the Russia-Ukraine war, the nature of the war started altering rapidly to the Russia–NATO war. Military strategists of the world opine that Ukraine has fought Russia on equal terms. Nothing could be further from the truth. Russia has given a befitting reply to NATO and the USA combined.
The current state of Ukraine is in total ruins. Beautiful cities have been reduced to rubble. What an exorbitant cost to pay for NATO membership! Whatever chances there were for Ukraine to join NATO have evaporated in thin air. In the prevailing scenario, Russia will adopt all possible measures, including nuclear options, to ensure that Ukraine is not admitted to NATO.
USA & NATO Want War To End?
Instead of addressing the issue of whether Ukraine and Russia want to end the war, the above question is more pertinent. US hypocrisy is evident. The USA has already given more than US$30 billion in military aid and nearly US$40 billion in humanitarian assistance.
However, the US Secretary of State announced a grant of an ‘astronomical’ sum of US$100 million to help Turkey recover from one of the most disastrous natural calamities the world has witnessed.
POTUS decided to travel to Kyiv on February 19, 2023, albeit by a ten-hour-long train journey. It is only the third time that POTUS has visited a war zone but with a difference. Obama visited Afghanistan, and Bush went to Iraq. But their trips were done secretly. Biden visited Kyiv after giving prior information to Russia lest an errant SSM find its way close to where Biden was in Kyiv.
NATO members faithfully follow their ‘political master,’ the USA. UK, Germany, France, and Poland have offered Ukraine military aid. Are their actions meant to end the unwanted war?
This is even though Germany’s bill for energy for the current fiscal would/might exceed by nearly US$160 billion. Germany thrived and prospered due to Russian gas. The ‘international policeman’ probably sabotaged NORD STREAM 1 and 2, who did not hesitate to carry out the most disastrous ecological catastrophe in recent times.
A mature and responsible head of state should have announced from the war zone that the war must end to avoid further disaster and eliminate any chances of a nuclear war. Instead, Biden said that the USA stands with Ukraine.
Military deployment in Europe has increased substantially. NATO forces, around 5,000 before January 2022, have grown to nearly 40,000 under direct NATO command, comprising eight multinational battle groups stationed in Baltic states.
Broken promises by NATO under US directions have been the only and primary cause of Russia launching an offensive against ‘one of his own’ countrymen in the none-too-distant past. NATO and the US found a willing ally (a puppet), a non-NATO member of Ukraine, which was promised NATO membership.
The story of the US failure to keep the promises under various treaties and verbal assurances to rid the world of the agony of the Cold War is described in detail in a book titled “Not One Inch: America, Russia and Making of the Cold War Stalemate” authored by Mary Elise Sarotte published in 2021, barely a year before the most unwanted war was imposed on Russia to enable the USA to fight its proxy war against Russia.
Destruction suffered by Ukraine is of little or no consequence to the USA and NATO. What an outstanding example of strategic partnership!
India, China, And Russia
India’s deft handling of pressure exerted by Western nations to condemn Russia’s so-called war against Ukraine has established a new normal in international diplomacy. India’s Minister of External Affairs has shown EU nations their place. The German Chancellor in the Munich security conclave has acknowledged the truth of his statement.
Without a doubt, Russia has also suffered not only economically but also by way of loss of lives. Prolonged war will, instead, force Russia to seek military aid from China, resulting in further escalation. Suppose Ukraine’s demand for nearly 200 modern fighters from Western nations is met, in that case, Russia will have two options: Firstly, to seek military aid from China and secondly, to ‘end’ the war with Ukraine in precisely the same manner as the US did during World War II. NATO and the USA have to decide.
China’s stand on whether or not to support Russia due to US pressure is enunciated in an official Chinese statement released after Wang Yi met with Anthony Blinken in Munich: “It is the US, not China, that has been pouring weapons into the battlefield in Ukraine. The US is in no position to tell China what to do. China will never accept US finger-pointing or coercion on China-Russia relations”.
Imminent Nuclear War?
The United Nations Secretary-General had this to say in the context of the Russia-Ukraine war: “Geopolitical crises with grave nuclear undertones are spreading fast from the Middle East to the Korean Peninsula to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”
He made this statement in Hiroshima. Putin’s doctrine enunciates that Russia reserves the right to exercise nuclear options even against a formidable conventional weapon attack, which might threaten Russia’s territorial integrity.
Failure Of Kyiv Offensive
Pseudo-military strategists will take longer to declare that the Kyiv offensive has failed. Zelensky’s militarily insane option is not only disastrous for Ukraine but also for European nations adjoining Russia. Finland must regret its decision to join NATO and convert an otherwise dormant and safe border with Russia into a highly active one.
In all likelihood, whether Russia is close to victory or Ukraine is deliberating on a ‘smoking’ peace pipe will be known shortly. Ukraine cannot sustain the war effort without active support from USA and EU nations, which appears to be dwindling.
Russia has been able to achieve its military aim of destroying Ukrainian infrastructure, which will take decades to rebuild at a cost of hundreds of billions of dollars. Has Ukraine gained anything except the destruction of its cities and making lakhs homeless? Exact casualty figures may never be known. That NATO is ‘tired’ of this war is evident from recent statements of the German Chancellor and French President.
‘White Man’s War’ will end, if it ends, without any firm conclusion. Impending NATO membership in Ukraine might remain an unfulfilled dream.
With the US presidential elections due in November 2024 and Taiwan in January 2024, the US administration may not have enough time for ‘TV Actor’ Zelensky. The unforeseen war between HAMAS and Israel has resulted in the shift of US focus, and the Russia-Ukraine conflict has become just another skirmish.
Republicans have vehemently opposed Biden’s proposal for aid to Ukraine. If they successfully block further assistance to Ukraine, Zelensky might realize the reality and be ‘forced’ to seek peace with Russia. NATO membership is no guarantee for security. In addition, differences are emerging between Zelensky and his top military advisors.
Therefore, sustaining the war through the winters might be a difficult option. Putin’s recent visits to Saudi Arabia and UAE also sent a strong signal to the West, highlighting that Russia is not as isolated as was predicted by the West.
The announcement of Vladimir Putin seeking yet another tenure as President sends a clear, crisp, and candid message to the West: stop the eastward expansion of NATO, or else — Zelensky’s military hierarchy may not support his continued effort to make Ukraine a NATO member and in the process destroy Ukraine. Conditions are ideal for Zelensky’s removal and possible military takeover in Ukraine.
- Gp Cpt TP Srivastava (Retd) is an ex-NDA who flew MiG-21 and 29. He is a qualified flying instructor. He commanded the MiG-21 squadron. He is a directing staff at DSSC Wellington and chief instructor at the College of Air Warfare. VIEWS PERSONAL OF THE AUTHOR
- Follow EurAsian Times on Google News