Ukraine conflict & its dynamics |By Nazim Uddin

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Ukraine conflict & its dynamics

THE world has already entered the New Cold War milieu with a much more complex, disturbing and chaotic system.

Unlike the previous cold war, which was carried out on one front—military—the prevailing war has at least three dimensions—economic, cultural and military.

Today, China—the leading player in this conflict—is deeply immersed in the global system on predominantly economic fronts with almost every country, no less with the US.

As regards culture, in 2019, no less than 155 million Chinese travel abroad, mostly for business and education.

The military capability of China as realists would say has augmented by leaps and bounds, thanks to the Chinese position as the second global economic power.

Considering all these factors, it seems the new Cold War can be anything but simple.

The US has been declining since the end of the (former) Soviet Union due to its military adventurism and political miscalculations.

From President Bush to President Obama, foreign policy went through utter trials and tribulations.

However, the rise of President Trump made it easy for China to increase its sphere of influence.

Donald Trump put his personality cult before everything and engaged friends and foes alike, putting hefty tariffs on goods, walking back on international accords, insulting allies, considering democratic norms unnecessary which culminated in the Jan 6 riot.

As a result, the US kept on losing the trust of its allies both in Europe and Asia.

His hasty withdrawal agreement with the Taliban seems to be the last nail in the coffin of US-led global dominance.

While President Joe Biden has been trying to cobble together the last remnants of US hegemony, it has become too late to reverse the gear.

Against this backdrop, Russian President Vladimir Putin has shot the arrow out of blue at the border of Ukraine to test the nerves of the West.

Those who know Putin may not say that he’s foolhardy.If his past is any guide, all his adventurisms in the past had turned into a success—be it the annexations of Georgia, Crimea and Donetsk.

But nevertheless, Ukraine may not be as simple as he considers it to be.Russia is pretty much a poor country whose dependence on arms sales and exports of energy speaks volumes.

Its economy faces multiple challenges, most recently due to the pandemic.One percent of Russians own almost 75 percent of the whole national wealth, rendering the rest extremely poor.

Even politically Russia has been a non-entity, Putin might think otherwise.Since he rise to power, his romance with the past has found no end and he seems unapologetic to blame the world as well as his predecessors for the truncated, mutilated and weakened Russia.

To some extent, Putin’s claims that NATO’s dominance poses threats to Russia bear water.

In the past, Russia had been attacked multiple times from Ukraine, so to protect Russia, Ukraine has to be neutral.

His concentration of almost 120, 000 troops in Belarus, Crimea and other parts bordering with Ukraine partially seems to cow the rest to accept Russian demands.

While most of the European countries are with Ukraine, Germany’s reluctance to provide defensive facilities depicts the growing division among the EU countries.

For the Germans, the economic situation trumps all other concerns.

The US is in a strange position.On the one hand, China shows its tentacles both in the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, on the other, Russia knows no limitation to trash the post-Soviet World Order.

Add to these the relative decline of the US coupled with its reluctance to get indulged in global politics.

Peter Zeihan calls it “deglobalization of the US” which indicates growing unrest, more conflicts and cataclysm.

Although the US hinted to impose hefty sanctions on Russia, this threat doesn’t seem to intimidate Kremlin too much considering such sanctions have been placed against Russia to no avail.

Despite its strong position, Moscow has two options only: one, invade Kyiv—either a chuck of it or all of it — and face the music; two, accept what the West has to offer i.e.some assurance on the Ukrainian neutrality.

Of course, the latter doesn’t seem viable now, but if this doesn’t get materialized, there will be no way to stop Mr Putin who seems profoundly cautious about his manoeuvres.

He may go for a false flag operation to legitimize attacks on Ukraine, however, there is no conclusive understanding of the future.

For almost 23 years, Vladimir Putin has been in power and his political image has withstood many vicissitudes and misfortunes.

He tried to shape the world in a way that would be favourable to his ideals in spite of inheriting a weak country.

There is no denying even today Russia seems weak, but its relevance has been there on a daily basis.

The fact is that to begin a war is easy but to end it takes an ocean of resources and human lives.

What war does need no history? One has to look at Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or Yemen, where life has become more difficult than, say, 5000 years ago.

Another war—that too in Ukraine—can wreak havoc not only on the region but the whole world at large.

There are existential issues such as climate change and the prevailing pandemic, and going into another issue will be a great disaster for humanity.

The international community should play its role to avert this catastrophe.

—The writer is contributing columnist.

 

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