On the brink of a World War-III ?| By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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On the brink of a World War-III ?

AWFULLY, things are going to be worsened day by day.The sixth day of fierce war between Russian and Ukraine forces evidenced heavy causalities and devastation on both sides-— Russia and Ukraine.

The Russian President Putin has ordered Russian Deterrent Nuclear Forces to be on high alert, a scowling indication that Putin is likely to use the nuclear weapons to ensure his victory over Ukraine.

All the while the US, NATO and the European forces seem ready to rebound the Russian aggression.

These all developments indicate that the world is heading on the brink of a third world war—an impending global havoc.

So far, the diplomacy has waned its role since the UNSC resolution has been technically vetoed by Russia.

Undeniably, the only way to resolve the current crisis is to diplomatically mend the fences between East-West relations.

During the early hours of last Thursday, Vladimir Putin announced on television that he had decided “to carry out a special military operation” in Ukraine.

Shortly afterwards, explosions were reported across the country, but in start, it was unlikely to devolve into World War-III as some cautiously feared it.

But as the war enters the sixth day, grave apprehensions are mounting in eastern and western quarters that the war could turn into a global catastrophic upheaval.

Moscow has warned the Ukrainian public to evacuate the urban cities.Russia’s growing temptations and its force posture around Ukraine suggests that its military planners have the objective of seizing the Ukraine capital for establishing its territorial dominance.

Briefings by senior Western officials suggest it is likely President Vladimir Putin’s troops will now attempt to take a number of key Ukrainian cities and ports including Odessa, Mariupol and the eastern city of Kharkiv.

‘’Russian forces have increased their use of artillery north of Kyiv and in vicinities of Kharkiv and Chernihiv.

The use of heavy artillery, including rocket launchers and missiles in densely populated urban areas greatly increases the risk of civilian casualties.

Given the complex dynamics of this asymmetric warfare,’’ It is too early to tell at this stage what direction Russia’s campaign against Ukraine is going to take but there are multiple options,” said the Chatham House Russia expert.“This also needs to be put in the broader context of Russia’s strategic aims’’, he added.

Putin now claims that Ukraine is an integral part of Russia.Although Putin thinks that his actions in Ukraine are justified in so far as the West did not take a serious note regarding his security concerns over NATO’s eastward expansion trajectory, yet the magnitude of his aggression in Ukraine cannot be defended.

Many Europeans think that Putin feels no concern regarding what Ukrainians think; conversely, Russia’s growing might and its global leverage are all that matter him.

“That’s a world war when Americans and Russians start shooting at each other,” said US President Joe Biden earlier this month, vowing he would not deploy American troops to Ukraine under any circumstances.

Apparently, as long as there is no direct conflict between Russia and NATO then there is no reason for this crisis, bad as it is, to descend into a full-scale world war.

But nothing can be predictable in a situation of war.Currently, the most probable indications warrant that the Ukrainian war could go beyond the Ukrainian borders, particularly to the borders of three Baltic States—members of NATO—Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

What if any NATO member state is attacked by Russia.Veritably, under NATO’s Article 5 the entire western military alliance is obliged to come to the defence of any member state that comes under attack.

It is why the Russian policy experts are against NATO’s Article-V.Moreover, a growing western apprehension is that after strident western sanctions against Russia, Moscow will certainly retaliate in some form.

Western businesses in Russia are likely to suffer, but it could go further, much further, if Putin decides.

“Revenge” could take the form of cyber-attacks – as already warned by the US National Cyber Security Centre.

Often hard to attribute, these could target banks, businesses, individuals and even critical national infrastructure.

“Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.says Kenneth Weinstein, a Hudson Institute distinguished fellow.

“But if NATO is forced to invoke Article-V by a Russian attack on the Baltics, Poland or other alliance members, and the Chinese move simultaneously and massively on Taiwan…, we’d be there.

” Needless to say, the current war will not only influence the European region, but its impact in the ME, particularly in the South Asian region cannot be ignored where China, India and Pakistan are arch-rivals.Suzanne Nossel argues in the Foreign Policy Magazine, ‘’Diplomacy has limits.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine occurred despite every effort of Western diplomats to avert it.

Keeping the Russian temptations aside, the most irrefutable fact is that the West has also played an irresponsible role in making the present situation worse because the West paid no heed and attention to the Russian reminder of security concerns regarding expanding NATO near to the Russian border—the promise that the Western powers committed to Russia.

Should not the Biden Administration recall the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 when Russia finally withdrew in order to prevent a nuclear war between the two Cold War era rivals?

The onus of burden now goes to the western political leadership to find the way to address the current peace challenge.

The West accuses Putin that he is challenging the rules-based order.The fact is that Modi’s unlawful annexation of IOK in 2019 — a revisionist attempt is intrinsically motivating President Putin to expand his present Russian borders.

Sadly, the global power tussle between the western policymakers and the Russian strategists resurrected the Cold War order — an order rampant with antagonism, arms and nuclear race around the globe — a faded dream to render the future of 21st century’s humanity as much safer than yesterday.

The Big challenge posed to the UN’s diplomacy is that in order to prevent our posterity from the threats of the present and future nuclear and conventional wars, we must make a peaceful settlement of the most sizzling conflicts like Ukraine, Kashmir, Taiwan and Palestine.

—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.

 

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