A War Where Even Victory May Come in the Form of An Unprecedented Calamity

ukraine russian troops

It has been customary to discuss war in terms of victory or defeat of the two sides. So it is hardly surprising that the ongoing Ukraine war too has often been discussed in these terms. However there are important reasons why such discussion is increasingly irrelevant, the most important being that even a victory by any one side in the Ukraine war can be accompanied by an unprecedented calamity for the victor as well as for many others not even involved in the conflict.

First things first– what are the two sides of the Ukraine war. At the more obvious level, there is Russia on the one side and Ukraine on the other side. In reality, there is Russia on the one side and USA/NATO on the other side, with Ukraine being made to play a very high destruction-prone role by its ‘friends’, USA and close allies. This is well recognized not only by leading scholars, but also in statements made by leaders on both sides. The biggest danger will appear when this breaks into more open conflict between the two real sides, which is most likely to happen sooner or later if the present dangerous trends of escalating role of USA and allies continue.

So how is victory perceived by the USA? This is perceived in terms of a mix of military setbacks by Russia, more or less collapse of Putin led government and preferred emergence of a pliant regime in Russia which is like Yeltsin regime in opening up Russia’s vast resources to plunder by US led western powers and multinational companies. This vision of a victory is not at all rooted in reality but has the support of the huge military-industrial complex, its hangers-on in the media and academia, among leading politicians and government leaders.

Now let us assume (quite unrealistically, for the sake of argument) that the USA achieves the greatest success regarding such a victory. Now whether or not this amounts to an existential crisis for Russia can be open to debate, but before such a US victory is completed, the decision makers in Russia would obviously interpret this as an existential threat and so would feel free to try to prevent this by resorting to nuclear weapons (Russia has the most nuclear weapons in numbers and also highly advanced delivery systems).

As Russian leaders very well understand that the real power behind the entire proxy war against them is the USA, in the situation of a perceived existential crisis Russia may use its deadliest arsenal against the USA or its closest ally (Britain?) rather than Ukraine. This can lead to exchange of nuclear weapons unleashing unprecedented, highly painful loss of human life as well as well as other forms of life, with short-term as well as longer-term impacts spreading to many neighboring countries and regions not even involved in the war. Hence victory against Russia can soon become the biggest ever calamity for the victors as well.

Now let us examine the other side of how Russia would perceive a victory. As all its efforts to join Europe on cooperative terms with equality and dignity have been spurned and instead US with European and other allies ( willing or unwilling) appears to have firmly chosen the path of bleeding and weakening Russia generally and the Putin government in particular, the response of Russia and its current decision makers would also be to not just try to win the Ukraine proxy war ( in such a way as to avoid Ukraine being used forever as a proxy against Russia) but in addition to weaken the USA as well in whatever possible way. Hence decision makers in Russia would be happy if apart from defeating the present Ukraine regime they can also weaken the imperial might of the USA to permanently trouble them. One way would be reduce the exceptional economic strength achieved by the USA due to the highly privileged position enjoyed by the US dollar which has been increasingly misused by imposing sweeping sanctions against countries deemed to be hostile to the USA. If Russia successfully resists USA, dollar hegemony would get a much bigger blow than the smaller blows inflicted already. China would be happy to assist in this, it also has better means for this, and so would other victims of sanctions like Iran. More silently, many other countries would rejoice. But the USA decision makers would be so unhappy about this that they may resort to the most terrible options to stop any decisive threat to the worldwide hegemony of the US dollar. Hence if Russia emerges close to victory as perceived by it, then the US may also seriously consider engaging it in an all-out war, inclusive of the nuclear weapon option, a war which will also involve  US allies and on the other side may also involve China.

This is why, contrary to several other critics of US dollar hegemony, this critic has always argued that the end of US dollar hegemony, a desirable objective in itself, should be achieved in conditions of peace and stability so that US economic interests are not harmed too much and its shift to a different framework of managing its finances is facilitated by the world/international community.

To capture the essence of our arguments here, we may conclude by stating that that there can be no real victory for either side in the Ukraine war, and the best option for both sides and the entire world is to announce immediate ceasefire and negotiate for short-term as well as long-term peace and disarmament. Any prolonging and accentuation of the conflict along recent trends would be ruinous and can bring unprecedented destruction to both sides as well as to almost the entire world.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Earth without Borders and A Day in 2071.


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