We in India have evry reason for concern as despite contradictory reports our economy already seems to be under severe stress,and the fortunes of this war are likely to have incalculable impact on world economy and trade.It is most necessary to have a fair idea of the way this war is going.True we made windfalls gains like cheap Russian crude in large quantities,but our exports might suffer if demand contracts in Europe as a result of the decline in industrial production there due to dwindling gas supply from Russia.
It is by now clear that Russia had not bargained for such a long-drawn war and least of all the magnitude of Ukrainian resistance.Of late the latter even seems to have seized the initiative in the field,forcing Russia to change the character of conflict to massive air-strikes by missiles and drones.Given the routine inflation in Western propaganda of Russian failures and Ukrainian successes it is difficult to gauge what has been the actual impact of this air offensive.But so far Ukraine seems unfazed and determined to continue fighting.Hence it is possible that the early Russian strategy of wearing down the enemy’s morale by massive and irreparable damage has failed to work.
When soldiers are fighting to defend their own countries there is bound to be higher morale and willingness to suffer losses,whereas normally soldiers of an invading army lose their spirits if they face strong resistance.
What has surprised most observers is that an offensive that was thought to be completed in a couple of weeks is now in its eighth month with no end in sight.Russian tank offensive looked like a rehash of Second World War approach with massive deployment in a continuous line presenting a vulnerable target for precision tactical missiles and likely to spread panic along the line.A missile hit at some point is sure to clog the advance of the entire cavalcade.Twentieth century tactics against twenty-first century weaponry is itself an incongruity.
Besides America seems to have weighed in much more aggressively than what the Russians had anticipated.It has used Ukraine as a testing ground for their latest and technologically most advanced weapons.With a military budget five times as large as that of China, Pentagon naturally has a battery of such sophisticated and more or less automated digital weapons.Since it is unlikely that Ukrainian soldiers have quickly enough mastered the trick of using them smoothly presence of American ‘advisers’ on the field cannot be ruled out.The American army has a vested interest in the war not only for the general strategic reasons,but also for the narrower aim of honing their skills in this kind of conflict and testing the efficacy of their new weapons.It is in brief NATO’s war or America’s war with Ukrainian soldiers.
The American leadership seem to have assumed that if it is the prelude to the third world war,so be it.For Putin’s own mulishness and its success in roping in support of European allies have led it to believe that a message that Russia had started this war will gain easy credence.The costs of this war will however be borne entirely by Ukraine and perhaps by the rest of the world, but the primary objective of pushing the Russian bear back into a narrow cage for the safe march of Western capital will have been achieved.
But for Putin it has become an unwieldy misadventure,and the latest gestures from Defence Minister Lavrov and spokesman Peskov make it clear that they are ready for an honourable settlement. European leaders like Macron and Scholz who do not want Putin to lose face should seize this opportunity to call curtains to this savage drama to everyone’s relief.
Meanwhile it must be said that though Putin had earned his spurs in the feared KGB,somehow he has fallen far behind Americans in the lethal game of intelligence. Ukrainians owe their major successes in the war partly because of advanced weapons and partly because of key inputs from American civil and military intelligence.
During the lax and messy Yeltsin years Russia got honeycombed with American spy cells from the highest levels downwards.Russia now has a lot of ground to cover.Its cyberspies have failed to get wind of American messages to Ukraine.
Russian setbacks in territory seized from Ukraine in the east may be explained by withdrawal of main Russian troops leaving relatively raw local self-defence forces in charge, as pointed out by retired diplomat Bhadakumar,and the advantage this has given to the Ukrainian forces.Again the advice of NATO/American generals are very much in evidence.But the massive Russian retaliatory air-strikes might make the jubilation at such triumphs transient.
Putin has now made it clear that the war under present circumstances is not a viable and worthwhile enterprise for both the belligerent.But Ukrainian president Zelenski is too buoyed up by the recent taste of success against a mightier adversary to give a mature response in time.
It is time mature world leaders not enamored of such childish play with fire,backed by world opinion from popular platforms and the streets,stepped in and put a stop to this unraveling madness.
Zelenski seems to cherish the fond illusion that just as America has supplied endless truckloads of advanced weaponry,it will also help sweep up the debris at the end and generously shower on him funds for restoration and reconstruction of the economy and the infrastructure.But he might yet meet a stupendous disappointment.Following the Iraq war which had decimated the economy and infrastructure for modern life in that country,several billion dollars of aid for reconstruction of that ruined country were gobbled up by such giant American infrastructure construction firms such as Haliburton in frenetic hurry without doing anything of durable worth.Millions were forced to migrate to face the miseries and indignities of refugees on alien shores. Once the threat of Saddam was eliminated Americans were back in the old business of making a quick buck and exiting the scene, leaving the client fuming in despair.
And all this bluster of advancing the flag of democracy is just poppycock.Scores of thousands of Ukrainians have left home,and the UK might just pack them off to Zambia under a recent treaty whereby Zambia will give shelter to migrants on a permanent basis in return for some hard cash.So much for human rights.There is not a trace of doubt that NATO and America had triggered the war in their insane urge to put a cordon around Russia.
And Putin’s pompous bluster on the eve of the invasion must share the blame for causing such damage to a country and its people without trying out even the flimsiest chance of negotiations,especially during the early phase of the war.He may also have to account for losses to his own people sooner or later in the tribunal of the people.
Hiren Gohain is a political commentator