The people of the USA don’t want this. The people of Russia don’t want this. The people of the entire world don’t want this. Nevertheless, USA and Russia have been moving closer to the possibility of a direct conflict.
This most dangerous trend not desired by people anywhere has been happening due to the manipulations, extremely narrow vision, inflated aggression and shocking irrationality of a small number of persons in whose hands absurd level of power has been concentrated in the USA (and some of its close allies) and who are closely tied to the military industrial complex.
To understand the more recent escalation of the chances of a direct confrontation between Russia and USA/NATO, four factors may be considered. Firstly, the USA and its close allies have been steadily increasing the supply of more and more destructive weapons to Ukraine and now they are willing to supply long-range weapons which can strike deeper into Russia. Secondly, earlier there was a clear disapproval by the USA and its close allies of the use of highly destructive weapons supplied by them to Ukraine for striking the Russian mainland. Now this disapproval is being withdrawn, and the new attitude is—we have given these weapons to Ukraine to help their defense; how exactly they use these is their own decision. Thirdly, as some of these weapons need expert handling and need satellite and sophisticated intelligence for precise targeting, it is inevitable that western expertise for this too will become available and is already becoming available. Last but not the least, as the current Ukrainian counter-offensive has failed in its objectives and manpower for any further such ground offensive is scarce, future tactics of Ukraine in this proxy war will depend more and more on those long-range weapons which can harm and are increasing allowed (by the suppliers of these weapons) to harm mainland Russia and Crimea, within the range of these weapon-systems.
So as long-range weapons start endangering and disrupting the life of Russian people they are likely to ask—Whose weapons are these? Who is guiding and directing these weapons to our targets? The answer to both questions would be—the USA and its allies.
This may prompt them to ask some more questions. Who engineered a coup that would bring in a Ukraine government hostile to them? Who is determined to ensure that the ruling regime of Ukraine (as well as some other neighboring countries) will always be against Russia? Which is the country that broke the promise of not expanding hostile NATO towards Russia, not even one inch? After the break-up of the Soviet Union which country was most responsible for the plunder of Russia to the extent that its life-expectancy declined to an unprecedented extent? Which country has most consistently followed the policy of bleeding Russia in as many ways as possible? The answer to these questions would also be—the USA assisted by close allies.
This is the stage—when the people of Russia see repeated evidence that they are being killed on daily basis by weapons supplied by the USA and its allies, and they see this against a background of slow bleeding for several earlier years—when the possibilities of a direct confrontation between Russia and the USA start increasing in ways that are significant enough to cause very serious concern.
This can lead to several brinkmanship situations which can even unintentionally and accidentally escalate into a direct war. Then there is the possibility that anticipating even higher hostility by the USA ad its willing or reluctant allies, Russia and China can also enter into a defense pact on the lines that any war against one will be regarded as a war against the other too. There are some other countries which too may join the Russia-China alliance depending on circumstances. Hence there can also be a war of one military alliance against the other, or The Third World War.
All wars are planned by an aggressive country on the assumption that the march towards victory will bring benefits. In the Ukraine proxy war however a (highly unlikely) march towards victory by Ukraine can result in a use of nuclear weapons by Russia, resulting either in collapse of Ukraine military effort, or retaliatory nuclear weapon use by the west , again leading to a short third world war, also a nuclear war. This may be an unlikely scenario but this establishes the fact that the proxy war which the USA is fighting in which neither defeat nor victory is acceptable is essentially an irrational war.
This is in line with growing evidence that the USA foreign policy makers have been increasingly acting in highly irrational ways even when seen from the limited objective of advancing the enlightened interests of the USA, while from the point of view of world peace recent US foreign policy has been a complete disaster.
Hence the only hope for world peace as well for an enlightened pursuit of rationally conceptualized national interests of the USA rests now in a strengthening of peace movement which can bring to the forefront those diplomats and leaders who have been pleading for more peace-based and rational solutions. In the context of resolving the existing crisis situation, as this writer has repeatedly emphasized, this must start with an unconditional ceasefire in Ukraine to be followed by prolonged peace negotiations in conditions of goodwill, created by the people as well as by the international community, while at the same time a huge, community-based rehabilitation and reconstruction effort in Ukraine is launched with resources raised at world level.
Russia and the USA are 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. This should not be allowed to continue as prolonged periods of tensions and brinkmanship can lead to even unintentional rapid escalation and direct confrontation.
This is a very dangerous situation and must be checked from further escalation by the collective efforts of all forces of peace.
Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, A Day in 2071 and Earth without Borders.