Widespread destruction and immeasurable human misery : cost of Russian adventure against Ukraine
In Iran, an ally of Russia, people chanted slogans of “Death to Putin”. Not only in Iran, demonstrations against the military adventure by Russia against Ukraine have also erupted all over the world. There are reports of protest demonstrations within Russia itself condemning President Putin for having gone to war against Ukraine. According to media reports, the Russian administration has arrested more than 3000 people for committing the ’crime’ of exercising their right to independent opinion and expression of it through public demonstrations.
Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union which disintegrated into12 independent republics in 1991. Ukraine is the second largest country in area in Europe after Russia. It also shares its borders with Belarus, Poland, Slovakia, Hungry, Romania, Moldova, and a coastline with the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea.
Whether Ukraine should join or not the NATO and the European Union (EU) is a matter for the government and the people of Ukraine to decide in their own best national interests. It is nobody else’s business.
President Putin also seems to be suffering from some kind of fear psychosis that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine may join the European Union (EU) and NATO and that will pose a direct threat to Russia (Putin).
Russia has already annexed Crimea and Belarus as a friendly country. A large number of Russian troops have trekked into Ukraine from Belarus.
The Aggression against Ukraine is being looked upon more as an adventure by Putin and less by Russia.
For long, Putin is reported to be toying with the idea to revive the old concept of the USSR embracing all the erstwhile constituent countries which were part and parcel of the USSR till 1991 when it disintegrated. After Putin succeeds in putting Ukraine under its umbrella, it would not be difficult for him to make other erstwhile countries fall in line. But Ukraine President Zelenskyy even after 2 weeks of war stood his ground and refused to surrender.
It looks President Putin underestimated the strength of the spirit of nationalism in the people and government of Ukraine. He, perhaps, thought that it will not take more than 2-3 days for President Zelenskyy to surrender before mighty Russia. Through aggression, Russia wants to install a puppet government in Ukraine that should dance to its tunes.
President Putin also needs not to forget the ignominious misadventure Russia launched in Afghanistan in the1980s when getting out of it became more problematic than para trooping in it.
Even the US undervalued President Zelenskyy’s grit and determination to fight Russia to the last. Just after two days of the war, when the invading Russian forces closed in on Kyiv, the US government offered the Ukrainian president to evacuate and leave his country, an upbeat Zelenskyy said, “The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.” He said: I will live and die for the country with his people.
Frustrated at his plans going awry, Putin even threatened to use atomic weapons. He has compared the sanctions imposed by the US, European and other countries as declaration of war against Russia. His intransigence has pushed Ukraine to seek membership of the European Union (EU) and the same has been granted. What an irony, Russia has pushed Ukraine to fall into the EU lap, an eventuality to prevent which Putin had invaded Ukraine!
The United Nations (UN) and the UN Security Council (UNSC) have once again proved impotent to do anything against a blatant aggressor Russia. It has failed not only to prevent the war but also the human misery. Russia has inflicted unmeasurable human tragedy — innocent killings of men, women and children; hospitals, places of worship, educational institutions, heritage buildings and sites and residential areas being razed to the ground. One can hardly find the slightest difference between the brutality and barbarism perpetrated in old 19th and 20th-century wars and that in the present one.
Whatever else, Russian President Putin is certainly not going to escape unscathed. He has sullied the Russian image in the eyes of the world community, as never before. In the UNSC, Russia stood completely isolated, friendless as never before. Out of the 15 members, none stood by Russia. 11 voted in favour of the resolution against Russia and three nations abstained. Left alone, Russia used its dictatorial power of veto to nullify world opinion. But can a veto blind the eyes of the world?
The UN General Assembly does have shown the mirror to Russia, nay Putin, where he stands among the comity of nations in the world over. The 193-member world parliament went to vote on the resolution “Aggression against Ukraine” demanding Moscow to immediately withdraw its forces from the soil of its sovereign neighbour. An overwhelming number of 141 countries voted in favour (against Russia) and just four ((Syria, North Korea, Belarus, and Eritrea) nations plus Russia itself siding with Russia. 35 countries abstained from voting in favour or against.
The present conflict has once again made the world not forget that even in the 21st century ‘Might is Right’ continues to hold good.
The Russian example has also raised the chances of China embarking on a similar adventure against Taiwan. But it has to be kept in mind that Taiwan is not Ukraine and vice versa.
The war may continue for any number of days, but it will not solve the issues between the two countries. Ultimately the dialogue remains the only panacea. This will happen at last. Feeling the pinch of economic sanctions by various countries, Russia has also started talking of peace talks. The sooner it is done, it will be in the interests of both the countries at war and the world.
Yet the main question will still remain: Should the 21st century world allow an aggressor to get away with the ill-gotten booty of aggression? Should the perpetrator/s of immeasurable human tragedy, pain and misery be allowed to go unscathed? Already more than 2 million civilians have moved out of Ukraine to seek shelter in neighbouring countries as refugees. Each day of the war is adding to the human tragedy of killings and multiplying misery of the people.
By Amba Charan Vashishth
(Views expressed here are individual of the writer)