Ten factors which can lead to the Ukraine proxy conflict becoming a direct war between two big powers

tactical nuclear weapons

At what stage can a proxy war between two big powers become a direct war? This question has become very important in the context of the proxy war between the USA and Russia being fought through Ukraine, particularly as Russia and the USA are by far the two biggest nuclear weapon powers in the world, having about 90% of the total stock of nuclear weapons in the world, and the exchange of just one-tenth of their nuclear weapons is enough to destroy the world.

While the entire world recognizes that there should never be a direct war between Russia and the USA, several red lines have been breached in recent times in the context of the Ukraine conflict.

Firstly, these were breached when several kinds of destructive weapons which were not considered earlier for supplying to Ukraine by the USA and its allies started being supplied in abundance. Britain has even sent depleted uranium shells.

Secondly, training for operating these weapons as well as help for wider strategic planning has also been provided by the USA and NATO allies.

Thirdly, intelligence has been steadily provided in terms of satellite data etc. for knowing enemy deployment and positions.

Fourthly, regarding the weapons supplied by the USA or NATO allies it was stated earlier that these will never be used to attack Russia mainland but this is also reported to have happened.

Fifthly, Russia has already stated that it is a situation which is like fighting the collective west.

Sixthly, the USA has steadily pursued a policy of ensuring that only forces hostile to Russia can be in the ruling regime of Ukraine ( to the extent of engineering a coup for this) and of strengthening and arming these forces.

Seventhly, the USA while steadily expanding NATO eastwards in violation of previous promises has always supported at least the idea of NATO membership for Ukraine while Russia has always opposed this very strongly.

Eighth, business interests based in the the USA and close allies, including politically influential ones, have been steadily advancing in Ukraine so that there is greater likelihood of the USA maintaining a very strong influence in Ukraine on longer-term basis.

Ninth, those in charge of foreign policy in the USA in recent times have been seen to be increasingly aggressive towards Russia and what is more, have not been observing the necessary cautions regarding not indulging in dangerous brinkmanship which can go out of control.

Last but not the least, some NATO members which are located close to Russia and Ukraine have been very aggressive towards Russia and have many refugees from Ukraine living there. An escalatory action may start from here and in case of Russian responding equally aggressively USA/ NATO members may be drawn in too.

Thus we see a situation in which conditions that were earlier considered to be red lines are being crossed. In addition  on important issues opposite viewpoints which cannot be reconciled are being promoted and the situation is being so manipulated that the ruling regime in Ukraine, a country having a very long border with Russia and very old, many-sided relationships among people of the two neighboring countries, remains always hostile to Russia and under the influence of USA/NATO.

Hence possibilities are increasing that the direct conflict and hostility between two neighboring countries of Ukraine and Russia become very prolonged and also that at some stage, sooner or later, the proxy war between the USA and Russia becomes a direct war.

This is a very dangerous situation and must be checked from further escalation by the collective efforts of all forces of peace.

Longer-term and stable peace along with reduction of distress and welfare of people is best achieved by Ukraine remaining neutral in big power rivalries and mobilizing the people of the devastated country for a broad-based rehabilitation and reconstruction effort which should get unconditional and generous support from all countries which can contribute for this.

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


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