Russia has launched a devastating attack by air, land, and sea on Ukraine, a European democracy of 44 million people. Russian forces are on the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv. For months, President Vladimir Putin denied he would invade his neighbour, but then he tore up a peace deal, sending forces across borders in Ukraine’s north, east and south. The attack is ongoing for the sixth day and may prolong for several upcoming months though both parties sat for talks yesterday. Though this appears to be a regional conflict but the consequences will be global as this war may draw a new picture of global power balance.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia has put the world on edge. The military move by Russian President Vladimir Putin has left many people looking for information on how and why the conflict started. Putin nurses a deep sense of grievance over the loss of Russia’s power and influence since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. Ukraine was formerly part of the Soviet Union but declared its independence in 1991.
There are different trade issues also involved in the relations of Russia and Ukraine. The major gas exporting pipelines of Russia to Europe went through Ukraine, which earned billions of dollars as transit fee. But in recent years, Russia established new transit routes and Ukraine raised concern over those. Moreover, Russia needs to use seaports through Ukraine due to comparative weather advantage. Additionally, the major infrastructures of Ukraine were developed during the era of USSR and that implicates that Russia heavily invested in that country at some point.
Though the Western countries including the mighty USA always pledged to be alongside Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he did not see anyone ready to fight alongside the Ukrainians. The United States and its allies responded with a barrage of sanctions, but the Russian forces looked to press home their advantage after a string of key strategic victories in their air and ground assault. President Zelensky also said that, these sanctions did not go far enough and will not eventually help Ukraine.
On multiple instances, the Ukrainian President mentioned that he is number one and his family is number two target of the enemy, implicating that he has life threats. His so-called Western allies offered to ensure his safety. Washington offered to extricate him from Kyiv, so that he could form a government in exile. But Zelensky swatted away the promise of safety. He reportedly preferred that Washington deliver him more arms for his resistance. He said, he needs ammunition, not a ride.
Ukraine was betrayed by the US and UK. Under the Budapest Memorandum, the US and UK promised to ensure Ukraine’s security, but, the world has seen that both the US and UK have not fulfilled their promise. On December 5, 1994, the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Britain, and the United States signed a memorandum to provide Ukraine with security assurances in connection with its accession to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state. The memo clearly mentioned the commitment of US and UK to protect the security and sovereignty of Ukraine. But the agreement was not respected.
In view, of the Budapest Memorandum, the US and UK, should have protected Ukraine and ensured its geographical integrity and sovereignty. Unfortunately, they are backed from their promises and failed to meet their obligations. It is a message for other nations that if they depend on them, should be careful and should not trust them. Former President Trump used to say America first, which means, they can do all unethical practices in American interests. The actions of America and UK will definitely make their allies to think again regarding their support in crucial times.
Russia borders with 10 countries and Ukraine with 7 countries. Both countries share borders with Belarus and Poland, other than each other. Belarus has already joined with Russia in support of their invasion of Ukraine. Poland, on the other hand, being a NATO member, did not join the cause but is focusing on aiding the refugees. No countries, bordering Russia, has yet expressed concern about Russian invasion on their own land so far though the Western media is trying hard to strengthen that speculation.
Western nations agreed to exclude some Russian banks from the SWIFT messaging system, used for trillions of dollars worth of transactions between banks around the world, further isolating Russia’s economy and financial system. Germany set aside restraint on arms exports to war zones and said it will supply Ukraine with battlefield weapons, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. It is also moving to close its airspace to Russian aircraft. But these measures will not help Ukraine much.
Ukraine was seeking a clear timeline to join NATO and Russia wants to ensure that it never becomes that. Last year, President Putin wrote a long piece describing Russians and Ukrainians as “one nation” and he has described the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991 as the “disintegration of historical Russia”. He has claimed modern Ukraine was entirely created by communist Russia and is now a puppet state, controlled by the West. President Putin also argued that if Ukraine joined NATO, the alliance might try to recapture Crimea. But Russia is not just focused on Ukraine. It demands that NATO return to its pre-1997 borders. In President Putin’s eyes, the West promised back in 1990 that NATO would expand “not an inch to the east”, but did so anyway.
Many dreams were shown to Ukraine by the Western countries but those all turned into ashes. The measures of US, UK and other Western countries are completely focused on to destroy the Russian economy. But that will not be easy as Russia grew self-sufficient in most areas under the leadership of Putin during the last decades.
Moreover, Russia has strong allies too. Countries like; China, North Korea and many others, even from Europe and Southeast Asia will join Russia. Trade is not a one sided thing. If Russia loses Western Markets, Western countries will also lose Eastern markets. Additionally, Western countries need resources like gas and many things else from Russia. So, these sanctions will not be very effective. Most importantly, Russia is not a timid country to get frightened of these sanctions. Additionally the impact of these sanctions will not be limited to Russia only. It will soon reach many other countries, especially the third world countries as the global supply chain will be adversely impacted.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine carries huge risks for a world economy that’s yet to fully recover from the pandemic shock. The global markets are already facing the consequences. Invasion of Ukraine is a single event now but many such incidents will occur in the future. The Western countries, under the leadership of the USA, have invaded and destroyed the sovereignty of many nations like Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Japan, Vietnam etc. for their selfish interests. They never respected the needs of the people of those nations. They used the concept of ‘democracy’, ‘terrorism’ and ‘human rights’ as their shields. Now also, they are acting selfish regarding Ukraine.
Though different events were identified as individual incidents, the world is experiencing a power shift throughout the recent years. Many nations of the world are tired of serving the Western masters as per their wishes while the East is gaining economic and technological supremacy. The flag of democracy has been tainted with so many black marks while countries like China and Russia is offering benefit-oriented partnership with different nations. This will actually change the landscape of the whole world in the upcoming years.
Hence, all countries, including the US and its allies, should now focus on protecting their own national interests rather than spreading influence. They should also practice benefit-oriented partnerships, which will help the people. Only then, the world will be out of loud and silent wars and humanity will prevail for everyone.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and Chief Patron, Bangabandhu Shishu Kishore Mela