Expanding Ukraine war, fatal to global peace & nutrition | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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Expanding Ukraine war, fatal to global peace & nutrition

RUSSIAN Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered an immediate call-up of 300,000 additional troops — even as multiple news reports suggested the real number could be three times as many.

The Kremlin has tasked regional governors with overseeing the draft and stiffened penalties for refusal of service or desertion to 10 years in prison.

The warmongering move, announced personally by the Kremlin Chief of Staff, Anton Vaino, marks a significant escalation in the conflict from which Russia is seemingly unwilling to back down.

Veritably, mobilization of troops, albeit partial, will enlarge or magnify the quantum of the Ukraine-Russia War which will ultimately undermine peace efforts to halt the war scenario between Kyiv and Moscow.

According to the Foreign Policy Magazine, ‘’the protracted war in Ukraine is entering a new and potentially much more dangerous phase.

Following rapid advances by Ukrainian troops in a counteroffensive against Russian forces in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region as well as the West’s enduring political and security backing, the Kremlin is now climbing the escalation ladder’’.

Some western commentators have been cautiously optimistic that Ukraine could win the war by the spring

Yet arguably, Vladimir Putin’s latest moves suggest that Russia is settling in for a long war of attrition that will test European resolve.

Thousands of Russian men of military age have been called up to service since President Vladimir Putin declared a “partial” military mobilization following major losses in Ukraine.

The Kremlin admitted last Monday that errors had been made during the mobilization of reservists for the military action in Ukraine and said no decision had been taken to close Russia’s borders.

“Indeed, there are cases when the (mobilization) decree was violated. In some regions, governors are actively working to rectify the situation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Needless to say, Russia boasts one of the world’s largest militaries, with around 1 million full-time active service personnel and up to 2 million reservists.

Thousands of other Russians have fled the country in the wake of the mobilization order, prompting Finland to close its border.

Some eastern European countries, including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, shut down their borders last Monday shortly before the mobilization order.

Russian authorities have said it would only affect Russians with previous military experience, the decree itself gives much broader terms, sowing fear among Russians of a wider draft in the future – and the implications for ethnic minorities.

“Since mobilization started, we are actually seeing a much greater push to get people from those (ethnic minority) republics to go to war,” said Anton Barbashin, the editorial director at Riddle Russia, an online journal on Russian affairs

On the other hand, Ukrainian and western officials and analysts dismiss Russia’s short-term ability to mould often reluctant recruits — whose previous military experience is brief, decades-old or non-existent — into a new offensive capability.

According to the Ukraine military official, Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles “At the first stage, probably within a month-and-a-half, the enemy plans to complete the full complement of its units and military units involved in hostilities on the territory of Ukraine,” said Brigadier General Oleksiy Gromov, Speaking ahead of Putin’s speech last night, President Zelensky dismissed ‘noise’ from Russia and said it will not alter Ukraine’s resolve.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba likewise vowed: ‘The Russians can do whatever they want. It will not change anything. Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will keep liberating them whatever Russia has to say. ’

There are growing threats that President Putin’s current order of troops mobalisation will resulting in manifesting unwanted results for both the sides—Russia and Ukraine— vindicated by the fact that substantial proportion of civilian morbidity and mortality in Ukraine is undoubtedly attributable to diseases resulting from forced displacement and damage to food and water supply systems, health care and public health facilities, and other civilian infrastructure. .

Communicable diseases are more easily transmitted because of crowded living conditions, decreased access to safe water and food, compromised sanitation and hygiene, inadequate medical care, and lapses in immunization campaigns.

During the war, civilians are at especially increased risk for diarrheal diseases, such as cholera, and respiratory disorders, such as measles, Covid-19, and tuberculosis.

In addition, antimicrobial resistance often increases during war. The most detrimental risk is malnutrition, a particular concern for infants and young children, which may lead to detrimental effects on physical and cognitive development as well as increased morbidity later in life.

Moreover, the popular Russian attitudes toward the war reveals important nuances that all too often are overlooked.

First and foremost is the fact that rather than consolidating Russian society, the conflict has exacerbated existing divisions on a diverse array of issues, including support for the regime.

Put another way, the impression that Putin now has the full support of the Russian public is simply incorrect.

A more careful reading of sociological data, including conversations with focus group participants and quantitative research, presents a far more complex picture of Russian society.

The war in Ukraine has led to grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that should be of grave concern to us all.

Russian forces have targeted health care facilities, schools, and civilian neighbourhoods. They have executed unarmed civilians. They have raped women.

The Russian military has claimed to have deported to Russia 1.9 million Ukrainian civilians, including 307,000 children..

And most importantly, destruction of farmland and grain-storage facilities, theft of grain, and blockade of food exports will contribute to malnutrition in low- and middle-income countries that depend on Ukrainian grain exports.

At this juncture, the troops’ mobilization order — led by the move of referendums in Russia -backed Ukrainian territories to join Russia, accompanied by a proliferating risk of nuclear accidents—all seem to have upped the ante in the Ukraine conflict.

President Putin must not ignore the truth that war provides devastation and misery whereas peace builds prosperity and development.

Thus, Putin must revisit the newly introduced troops’ mobalisation order enlarging the theatre of the Ukraine war—fatal to global peace and nutrition. Peace is sublime, worth it.

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law. He deals with the strategic and nuclear issues.

 

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