There has been widespread recognition of the ongoing Ukraine war as a proxy war. It is a proxy war involving very high costs in terms of the loss, already, of several hundred thousand human lives as well as other extreme distress.

Four dimensions of the high costs and losses suffered in the course of the nearly one and a half years of this war can be easily identified.

Firstly there are the losses suffered by the country which has been used as a proxy, namely Ukraine. It is Ukraine which has suffered the heaviest losses in terms of the huge loss of human lives, serious injuries caused to many others, the internal and external displacement of millions of its people, large-scale destruction of houses and infrastructure and an increasingly uncertain future. Various explosives which continue to explode later for years are likely to cause destruction till several years later, perhaps even decades later.

The second dimension relates to the country which is the target of the proxy war, namely Russia. This targeting started much before (perhaps in 2014) Russia’s invasion started in early 2022. Russia has lost a significant number of its soldiers. Very heavy economic costs and uncertainties have been imposed on it. Russia is being forced to incur the high  costs of many significant economic and military powers (including the biggest military power of the world), getting together to impose very heavy costs on Russia by supporting Ukraine in numerous ways, particularly by supplying very destructive weapons endlessly.

The third dimension consists of the country, or countries, which took the decision to use Ukraine in a proxy war against Russia. The foremost among them is the USA. It has spent well over 100 billion dollars in assisting the war effort of Ukraine in various ways. Its entire agenda of using Ukraine as a proxy is so heavily based on deceit and duplicity that this has reflected very badly on its commitment to peace. Its ambitious but highly unethical objectives of bleeding and harming Russia by using a proxy, regardless of the immense distress caused also to the people of the proxy country, have fallen far short of their original intentions, while at the same time entangling the country in several contradictions which may be difficult to get out of and eventually prove very harmful to it in various ways. As far as the European allies of the USA (some keen, some reluctant) in this proxy war are concerned, their economic losses as well as  political losses (in terms of steady loss of autonomy and sovereignty at various stages in the course of the advancement of this proxy war) have been even heavier.

The fourth dimension is that of disruption of world peace and well-being in various serious ways. Food shortages for millions of people already facing food scarcity in many countries have increased. What is more, several eminent commentators have stated that this proxy war has increased significantly in several ways the risks of a direct war between the USA/NATO and Russia, and hence the risks of a nuclear war and the third world war have increased. Senior leaders from the USA as well as Russia have also spoken about such higher risks. By dividing the world deeply, this proxy war has badly harmed the prospects of international cooperation for solving urgent environmental and sustainability problems, while at the same time war by itself is also a big factor resulting in higher pollution.

Hence in all its dimensions, the Ukraine war has not only brought immense distress but in addition has created the threat of much higher distress. In fact it has increased the possibility of the most destructive war ever in human history. This has also created extreme uncertainties at various levels for multiple millions of people. No matter which dimension of this war we look at, we see increasing distress, problems and uncertainties. On the other hand, for those who have the vision to see all the dimensions together and to be concerned about all the dimensions, it is much clearer that the Ukraine proxy war is a disaster for humanity. Hence the best policy option in the present deeply troubled and dangerous state of affairs is to call for unconditional ceasefire so as to stop the actual fighting immediately, and create a space for negotiations for peace, then continue these negotiations even if these are needed over a longer time, while goodwill creating efforts are also made simultaneously at various levels. The ultimate aim must be not only to end the war and all the destructive fighting, but to end it on a note of goodwill and genuine, durable peace.

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

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