The war rages on | By Imtiaz Rafi Butt


The war rages on

What started on 24th February, 2022 as an invasion of Ukraine from Russia, is now a war in full swing that is swirling out of control.

It is the now the largest deployment of weapons and exile of refugees near Europe since the Second World War.

It is even more alarming how shockwaves of this crisis are being felt across the globe. And without proper initiatives and prudent planning from World leaders, all continents will face disruptions and possibly chaos.

This is not just a War between two countries, this the future of millions of people in developed and developing countries around the world.

The alternatives to this conflict are dark or darker, with no possible positive outcome. The war in Ukraine is a case of massive indecision, interfering and failure of international diplomacy which can only get worse if not planned and handled with utmost restraint and meaningful dialogue.

Up till now there have been over 4 million refugees fleeing Ukraine. Most of them are travelling into Europe.

In the coming weeks, this number can cross over upto 10 million. There have been a number of civilian casualties.

In times of social media, there are conflicting reports of every event from both sides, the ultimate sufferers are the war-stricken people of Ukraine.

The prospect of weapon supplies from NATO countries, Europe and the United States of America in general, keeps adding fuel to the fire.

There have been scores of Russian casualties and many armaments, choppers and equipment have been shot down.

The Ukraine army has shown immaculate resolve and resilience under the leadership of Zelensky. Vladimir Putin is fixed on his objectives and the war is no where near ending.

On the alternative, the Russian army with its huge stockpiles of weapons that were in development since 2019, are ready to bombard and destroy Ukraine to the last building.

There will be more deaths on both sides, there will be more refugees and massive disaster can ensue anytime.

Before we can dive into the how the war is progressing, it would be wise to consider what started this war and what are the terms that will end the war.

The source of the conflict lies in the dissolution of the Soviet Union and its humiliation at the hands of the Western allies in the 1990s.

Russians have considered the area of Ukraine as a closely-knit area joined with the Russian federation, and a bulwark, a last of line defense, against NATO and European powers.

The war was set in motion with Ukraine attempting to join the NATO alliance and deploying American military installations and equipment next to the Russian border.

This was unacceptable to Putin who knew the real aims behind the plan. The response took less than one year in the making.

In 2014, Russians had already taken Crimea to convey a clear lesson to Kyiv but to no avail.

Now that the invasion has destroyed much of Ukraine and the military support expected by the Government of Ukraine from Western countries is no longer available, Vladimir Putin has put forth four direct demands to end the war.

Firstly, that the Government of Ukraine denounce the idea of joining the NATO alliance, secondly, that the Government of Ukraine recognize the state of Crimea, Luhansk and Donetsk, thirdly to give up the Eastern borders regions to Russia and refrain of joining any move to target Russian power in the region.

Apart from the first, all other can be used to launch another war. If the demands are not met, Ukraine will be obliterated, taken over, and Kiev will be in rubbles till a Government is placed there with the assistance of Pro-Russian elements or, the area will descent into a larger war where other nations may or may not become a direct part of the conflict.

Putin has already clarified that if any nation, large or small, Superpower or not engages Russian troops, it will be considered a direct act of war and may even receive a nuclear response.

A threat that has tied the hands of nuclear powers and massive powers alike. This conflict can turn nuclear and destroy the world as it is.

There is no room for mistakes here, a point realized by Joe Biden. There has been wide condemnation of Russia.

Social media, new channels, bloggers, vloggers and activists have flooded the world with negative information about Russian forces, there have been massive outpour of emotions and sentiments.

But there is a disarray, none of these stakeholders raise their voice when even worse human rights violations take place in Palestine and Kashmir at the hands of Israeli or Indian army.

There is not even a mention of atrocities faced by the Muslim populations of these regions, any in media channel, especially not in Europe, but it is only when the fire has reached the doors of Europe, that a pandora box sanctions, rebuke and censure have been opened.

The world seems eschewed, with the worst sense of justice and morality. The so called pro-democratic countries and the developed world seem to be complicit in the act.

As a contrast, China seems to be keeping a cautious path as it too has been subjected to immense criticism and condemnation for Tawian and Hong Kong.

It appears International law is subjective afterall. The invasion of Ukraine is creating a global shockwave.

As much as we hate to admit it, we are all dependent on each other. The covid-19 pandemic proved this point.The argument now is, when will the heads of Governments realize and plan accordingly.

With the influx of Ukrainian refugees into Europe, the doors for refugees from the Middle East and Africa have been closed.

Numerous philanthropic projects being funded by European Governments are now being shut and the funds are being redirected towards raising defense budgets and security arrangements against Russia.

Weapon supplies and production supply chains for guns, anti-air artillery and anti-tank equipment have increased manifolds.

Everyone will feel the pinch of the Russian war. On the other hand, Russia and Ukraine war is hurting the food and fuel supply chain of the world.

34% of the World’s grain production comes from Russia and Ukraine which will disrupt prices all over the world and more so in poor nations.

Shortage in food supply are directly correlated with rise in depression, violence, chaos and public unrest.

All will be revealed in the coming months. Price-push inflation and fuel supply will give a rise to energy crisis.

Countries that are depending on import of fuel will see rising trade deficits, leading to multiplier inflation, which will hurt the poorest sections of society.

Food shortage, commodity prices and energy costs will the greatest challenge faced by Government after the pandemic.

It seems the recovery from the covid-19 disaster will be slower than what researchers thought.

Every day the war rages on, it creates a void of poverty, suffering, chaos and deprivation, not only in Ukraine but across the world.

Children in African and Middle East are poorer today than they were in two months ago, the food aid and medical supplies being provided to orphans in Central Asia is lesser than it was before the Ukraine invasion, and all of it is spiraling towards the worst.

Failure of political forces is creating an economic storm which will need decades of fixing, long after the fires of the Ukraine invasion have been put out.

—The writer is Chairman Jinnah Rafi Foundation, based in Lahore.