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Ukraine and After~II

SUBRATA MUKHERJEE | New Delhi |

An important fall out of the war is the increased economic cooperation of Russia with China with a surge in Yuan-Rouble trade of 1067 per cent since the beginning of the war. It is a nolimit strategic friendship to reduce the power of the USA. But for the two Eurasian powers, it is still a defensive alliance as the USA and UK have 900 overseas bases, with Russia and China having only three. The USA’s deep state creates fear to make money and to enhance the power and prestige of the military-industrial complex. The threat perception allows increased defence expenditure.

Scott Ritter finds the Nato attempt to build a formidable Ukrainian army a flawed one, similar to attempts in Iraq and Vietnam. It could not be a winnable army, but the aim was to bleed Russia dry. It is a perfect example of Western double standards when the USA occupies Iraq and Syria and steals their oil but finds Russian action in Ukraine objectionable. The gulf Arab states have declined to levy sanctions against Russia. The West considered Russia to be a glorified gas station. But it ignores that it is self-sufficient in both energy and food.

Russia is actually winning the economic war. The US bond holders would be paid in rubles and there would be no default. There is no insolvency or unwillingness to pay and the payment procedures, as a consequence of the sanctions, would lead to legal battles. There is no change in military balance due to this war and no evidence of a Russian collapse. Even the increased Western military assistance would not change the situation on the battlefield. It would be a replacement of the earlier supplies destroyed by Russia and enjoys compatible deterrence. In practice the war has gone as far as it can. But the crisis has proved again that even the great powers of Europe have ceded decision making to Washington. They could not stop Ukrainian fortification since 2014 which invited Russian intervention.

The illusions of a peace dividend and Europe as a peace zone have been shattered. A liberal illusion of no more war in Europe has been proved wrong. The fact remains that even now hard power is decisive. Major great powers put a lot of premia on security and in this Russia is no exception. There was a great deal of complacency in Western Europe even when the US dependency shifted to East Asia. The idea of regime change was misconceived. The USA is also losing initiative, realising the enormous danger of expansion of war involving other countries. A direct confrontation with Russia is to be avoided. It is also not clear what the West would do if Russia uses tactical nuclear weapons. But the risk of humiliation and credibility remain in case of total defeat for Ukraine.

There is also no visible plan to effectively meet the Russian sophisticated air defence system. The US dilemma is that it cannot afford to lose but also cannot enter a direct confrontation with Russia. Obama understood it but Trump and Biden haven’t. In 2014, Russia occupied 7 per cent of Ukrainian territory and now it is 20 per cent. The longer the war continues, Ukraine would be further devastated without any chance of winning. With no sign of the collapse of Russia, Putin’s internal support remains intact. The Russian tactic seems to be to weaken the will of the enemy and destroy the Ukrainian army.

Instead of being pragmatic, the Ukrainian President followed an absolutist policy. Turkey after threatening to block Sweden and Finland’s entry into Nato is playing a waiting game having made it clear that it would be with the winning side. It is moving towards Eurasia and developing close economic ties with Russia. The Western media is also changing its tune. Now questions are being asked how sophisticated weapons would help Ukraine when it lacks trained professionals. It has also acknowledged that the USA has no clear strategy. Ukraine is losing more military men daily than what the US lost at the height of the Vietnam War.

There is a continued deterioration in its military situation. It lost minimum territory in the ceasefire of 2015, but now it has lost the entire Eastern Ukraine. It has no more military cards to play. There is no possibility of a counter offensive. The best part of the Ukrainian army has already been destroyed in Eastern Ukraine. Russian exports now are more diversified, and it is just not oil anymore. Its link with the rest of the world is much stronger and the sanctions threaten the food problem in Africa. There is an increasing realization that replacement of manufactured goods is possible but not commodities and food.

Alexy Miller points out that commodities are more valuable than money. The centre periphery formulation of the dependency theory does not work anymore. Russia is using only an expeditionary force in Ukraine but for the latter it is total mobilization and its survival is dependent only on Nato support. Ukraine has no conceivable way to win. With the industrial heartland of Ukraine wilted Russia is proposing a new club of G 8. Nicaragua is inviting Russian troops and allowing entry of its ships. Russia’s war in Ukraine is in response to the proxy war waged by the USA and Nato.

The Croatian MEP Mislav Kolaknstic castigated the subservient foreign policy of the EU, pointing out that it has become the 51st state of the USA without the right to vote. Only Hungary’s Orban has shown his courage to take a different stand. The US is facing economic contraction and massive inflation. The Russian resilience was underestimated by the West. Lord Richards says that the West did not have a strategy not only on the Ukrainian issue but also on Iraq, Libya, and Syrian interventions as well. The opposite of what the West perceived is happening. As Kissinger said earlier, the best solution was a peace settlement. But as Joe Lauria points out, instead of the West moving towards such a course, it is still pushing Ukraine to prolong the agony of a losing battle.

Even the Western media is shifting towards a more accommodative line. In the process 75 billion dollars have been wasted and Ukraine destroyed. Even some important countries of Latin America like Mexico have questioned the US’ arrogance and attempt to dominate the entire world. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, comments that Russia cares about international law and not what the West thinks. Putin says the US acts as if it was sent by God to earth with their sacred interests. Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have proclaimed that there is a world beyond Washington. These are signs that even in South America, the US is losing its influence and control. The Western misadventure in Ukraine has only hastened the process of multipolarization.