No, Ukraine won’t be the next war theatre, but why?
RUSSIAN troops’ deployment at the Ukrainian border is a development that has led to a debate within the international media of the possibility of war a breaking out.
Many in the media are suggesting that the world is standing at the brink of total war.Some important questions emerge from this possibility: • Can the world powers afford this madness?
• Are these powers are not aware of the hazardous implications of Total War, not only on these countries, but on the whole geostrategic environment?
Most scholars agree to the fact that the probability of total war is not on the horizon, and that these powers are looking instead to exercise their diplomatic and military might – in the form of threats – and that this tension is a phenomenon of grey zone conflict.
The United States has warned Russia that the conflict with Ukraine would be horrific and while NATO countries have announced an increase in troop deployment in Eastern Europe; interestingly, none of them has used the word ‘Ukraine’.
These states are very well aware of the implications of the language being used as well as the fact that the roots of these recent tensions are not Ukraine but the Middle East.
Crimea gives Russia an easy access to the Middle East, and since 2014 this has been a cause of anxiety for the United States and its allies as they consider Russia responsible for their Middle East policy failure.
Russia successfully captured the power vacuum in the post-Arab Spring era, which is exactly what the western powers didn’t want.
The US new Middle East policy led to the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan which they call a safe haven for the non-state actors and this makes Israel an even greater tool of the greater US objective to remain a hegemony in the region despite abandoning Afghanistan militarily.
With the US support of Israel showing little sign of diminishing, the US has an ally in the Middle East that will do its biding.
Historically, Russia has remained supportive of the status-quo in the Middle East power dynamics, especially in Syria.
Israel has played the role of a spoiler to disturb the status quo in alliance with the United States.
What does the status-quo mean for Israel?The dream of the greater state of Israel, at the total annihilation of Palestine, remains its dream.
The expansionist policy of Israel has remained a cause of frustration and anxiety for the global powers except the United States.
Multiple non-state actors in Middle East, like ISIS, Hamas, rebels in Syria and Hezbollah and their alliance with the regional state powers vis-a-vis the strategic interests of global powers in the region, provide shape to the conflict.
The swinging loyalties of these groups make this conflict more than a challenge.In Crimea and Syria, Russia has active military bases.
In Ukraine, the Russian military would be unmatchable, as the environment favours them, and the US and its allies, along with NATO, must know that engaging in open or cold conflict would be clear madness.
Now imagine that, with Russia in Syria, and Israel threatening Syria and pursuing its goals amid several warnings from Russian authorities, there may be the belief that, as Israel ignores those warnings, this will keep Russia on its toes in the power equation.
If Russia chooses to confront or respond to Israel, it will provide the reason for allies of Israel to jump in and assert international pressure.
“If there is an insult against the Last Prophet (M-PBUH), do you think this is about exercising your freedom of creativity?
I don’t think so… I think it is an infringement of religion, this is also an insult to the sacred feelings of the people who profess Islam … moreover it brings about even more arch extremist sentiments….
” These remarks were made by Russian President Vladimir Putin during his annual press conference last year.
His statement was appreciated and lauded globally by Muslims.Interestingly, this was followed by an announcement from the Israeli Prime Minister of Israeli intentions to double the population in the Golan Heights (internationally recognized as Syrian territory occupied by Israel) and airstrikes on Syria.
It is widely believed, within the strategic intelligentsia, the Israeli raids are an attempt to assure its deterrence capability.
The above development is the evidence that Russia understands that the world powers want it out of the Middle East.
Russia has deployed troops and installed defence infrastructure in Syria, which gave Syria a strategic advantage regionally and globally.
The passions and the ability to maintain deterrence will define the future of this conflict, and that depends who has more resources to waste in this struggle.
—The writer is a geopolitical scientist and currently the Executive Director of Council on Global Policy, Islamabad.