With Attack on Ukraine, is Third World War Inevitable ?
Will the biggest ground war since World War II involving Russia and Ukraine that is being watched over T.V. & Internet for the second time after U.S.A. ‘s act of ‘liberating Kuwait ‘ in 1991, give indication for possible inhuman assaults, leading to World War III ?
Entry of 150,000 Russian troops into Ukraine, which voted for Independence in 1991, from three sides is certainly an act of invasion leading to smoke, dust, screaming of helpless citizens, explosions and gunfire being heard all over. Fog of war and days of upheaval are bound to multiply worries and anxieties, more from missiles that could now be launched even from a distance of 11,000 kms. While airport of Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv (3 million population) has been already shut, strategic locations in many cities, such as, Ivankiv, Lviv, Odesa, Kharkiv, Dnipro, Sumy, Chernobyl and Hostomel airport have been taken over by the Russians. With more than 200 casualties, 1100 injuries and some 100,000 displaced already in three days, one can think of the scale of tragedy ahead.
As it happens in such abnormal situations, apartment buildings, river bridges and schools are not being spared at all.
Emotions Will Not Work
Emotional outbursts from a former Comedian & T.V. star,President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, such as:
“When bombs fall on Kyiv, it happens in Europe, not just in Ukraine”,
“When missiles kill our people, they kill all Europeans”,
“Ukrainians are demonstrating heroism” etc, may NOT cut any ice now before the tough, experienced and shrewd Vladimar Putin.
The latter wants Ukraine to get rid of “drug addicts and neo-Nazis” and act neutral by abandoning its ambition of joining NATO on the path shown in 2004 by Estonia,Latvia and Lithuania (formerly part of erstwhile USSR) or face his ongoing special military operation.
Zelenskiy, in power since 2019 and already facing opposition over Covid control failure and controlling corruption in the country’s Judiciary may not easily surrender to the threat emanating from Russian forces.
It has been learnt that he was willing to discuss Ukraine’s ‘non-aligned’ status. Russians reportedly have offered to have talks in Belarus but only after Kyiv lays down arms.As per Russians, Ukraine had rejected their offer, suggesting a meeting in Poland , instead.
Upon annexing Crimea in 2014, the latest move of Russia to officially recognize Donetsk and Luhansk areas ,partly occupied by pro-Russian rebels since 2014 in the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine, could be a well thought of diplomatic move. Earlier defeat inflicted on Georgia , also should not be forgotten.
Further, Nord stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany going underneath Ukraine has already been a bone of contention between Ukraine and Russia for some time.
It is significant to note that location wise Belarus on the North of Ukraine and Poland and Slovakia on the west are not areas of concern for the Russians for the time being.
Stand of Security Council May Not Have Any Impact
Latest action by Russia has been opposed harshly by eleven permanent and non-permanent members.While India after discussing the issue extensively, has abstained along with China and the U.A.E. Russia has used its Veto power.Russia had taken such a recourse on the Crimea issue in 2014 as well.
China normally acts like this in such situations.
According to Syed Akbaruddin, India’s former Permanent Representative to the U.N.O.,India as a non- permanent member had abstained five times when the India-Pakistan question was discussed in the UNSC in 1950-51.
Plight of Stranded Indians
Total number of estimated Indians, so far reported from Maharashtra, U.P.,Uttarakhand, Sikkim and some other states differs from 18,000 to 20,000, majority being medical students.Their welfare and security being very crucial , 470 students have been escorted to Romania after the Foreign Minister S.Jaishanker took up the matter telephonically with D.Kuleba, his Ukranian counterpart.
The crisis, however, could have been preempted at least a fortnight ago when clouds of war began hovering .We unfortunately wait till the last moment and indulge into unwanted acts, such as, formal launching of a Helpline for the stranded , subsequent to closure of airspace in the devastated zone . Late reaction by the Indian Medical Association could also be considered a mere formality.
In a welcome development, Russian soldiers inside Ukraine have been instructed to allow movement of Indians towards Rumanian borders through the Purubne-Siret border crossing. Some of the Pakistani students carrying wrongly Indian Tricolour, however, were stopped.
After the airlifting of 242 Indians by an Air India plane from Kyiv, only two flights carrying 469 Indian students in all from Bucharest had reached Mumbai and Delhi, respectively.
But aren’t all these a drop in the vast ocean ?
With a view to explore alternative routes from the neighbouring countries to evacuate its citizens, Indian officials have been placed at Chop-Zahony check point on Hungary border and at Porubne-Siret check point on the frontier with Romania.
Future Nuclear Fears and Harm To Environment
When Ukraine is drawing international attention for right or wrong reasons, one must flash back to the 1986 nuclear Catastrophe of Chernobyl at Pryp’yat, located very close to the Belarus border.
Within 24 hours of 24th February, Russian forces could seize control over the shut nuclear plant, easily one of the most radioactive places on earth.It has been learnt that Ukraine has officially intimated IAEA about losing hold over its highly radioactive fuel rods, significant amount of Plutonium-239 therein possibly becoming a Nuclear bomb which could turn thousands of hectares into a lifeless desert apart from causing unthinkable health hazards for the people.
Taking cognizance, the international regulator has found that readings recorded so far may have been caused by heavy army vehicles” stirring up soil” contaminated from the 1986 accident and these being low, posed no immediate danger to the human beings.
According to a report, apples still grow in the vicinity but no one dares to touch them for obvious reasons. But who can curb smoke emanating from oil installations ?
Sanctions by the USA
While the USA, after literally failing at diplomatic level, has gone ahead with a series of economic sanctions against Russia, these are aimed at ensuring higher inflation and interest rates with lower investment, purchasing power and growth in Russia. According to Daleep Singh, the U.S.Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economics, these measures would give a fitting reply to physical land grab of territory, pursued by President Putin.
Late Response by Reluctant NATO Allies
Poland, Netherland, Italy, Germany,Czech Republic and Belgium have now come out openly in favour of Ukraine and people of Israel are also extending support. Internal protests against invasion in Moscow and St.Petersburg and demonstrations in New York are also becoming noteworthy.
Whether support now from 28 NATO countries would push humanity on the brink of 3rd World War remains to be seen.
Such a tragic situation in the midst of an ongoing challenging fight against Covid/Omicron NEEDS TO BE AVOIDED BY ANY MEANS.
CESSATION OF FURTHER VIOLENCE AND RESUMPTION OF TALKS IS VERY MUCH CALLED FOR.
(The author is former Chief Secretary, Sikkim)
West is acting like old story of a monkey and cat when monkey was given authority to divide a loaf.Ukrain is the cat and USA the monkey role.After great defeat in Kabul US has no moral right to instigate Ukraine.No world war is going to happen both superpowers are in a spree to sell arms world over.