The strategy being urged on the Ukrainians by NATO of fighting to the death against Russian forces will inevitably lead to Ukraine falling into a morass, writes Prof. Madhav Nalapat
India is a country in which attacks on sovereignty and grabbing of territory by Pakistan and later China have spanned 75 years and counting. Barring a few statements of concern on recent incidents and a still insufficient level of weapons sales, Washington under Joe Biden has done nothing. What is taking place to the Ukrainian people is horrible, although the causes of that may differ from the accounts retailed in most US or European newspapers.
There is an obvious frenzy in the Atlanticist media, as report after report gives details of what the Ukrainians say are Russian atrocities. Each such report is followed by calls from discussants on television and contributors in print and online media to accelerate the supply of still more deadly weapons to Ukrainian forces, which from the period of the western-backed Regime Change Movement in 2014 has mostly consisted of militias who are not exactly admirers of Russian-speaking individuals, including in Ukraine.
There is a cry for even the S-300 and other Russian weapons platforms to get transferred from former Warsaw Pact partners to Ukraine. And yet it is evident that Biden, Johnson and Stoltenberg do not believe that transferring such supplies would provide a reason for Putin to expand the war into the former Warsaw Pact zone, so that such transfers cease. Why countries such as the US, France, Britain and Germany are directing petrol instead of water into the cauldron that Ukraine has become is beyond logical understanding. World wars, it is said, begin by accident. This is not true. Germany under its clueless Kaiser launched World War I by its overconfidence in the abilities of Hindenburg and Ludendorff to prevail over even France.
ALSO READ: Putin moving to ‘Plan B’ in Ukraine
That country, assisted by Britain and belatedly by the US, held its own and at great cost in lives and treasure, held the Kaiser’s minions to a stalemate that proved fatal to the survival of the Hohenzollerns and to the country that the last Kaiser Wilhelm led to disaster. After taking over France while allowing the British military to escape to safety by the stupidity of the former corporal turned Fuehrer, who was the Supreme Warlord of Germany during World War II, Hitler regarded the takeover of the USSR as child’s play, as apparently did their generals until they were held up outside the gates of Moscow, Leningrad and Stalingrad (whose names that were steeped in Russian history were changed in the 1990s by another disastrous leader, Boris Yeltsin) after less than six months of what seemed to the rest of the world a one-sided conflict.
Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill disagreed with this view, and that fateful initial stalemate of the Wehrmacht proved them to be right. By 1943, helped by weapons mostly from the US and by intelligence on German capabilities secretly transferred from the UK to the USSR through a network of Soviet agents of British nationality, it was clear except to a psychotic or psychedelic mind that the Wehrmacht was facing the prospect of doom at the hands of the Soviet armies. Hitler was aware of the fate that Stalin had reserved for him if captured by Soviet forces, so he decided to pre-empt such an outcome by first killing himself, his Alsatian dog Blondi and his wife Eva, in decreasing order of importance to Der Fuehrer.
The Russian Federation is not the country that the largely Russian Soviet forces fought during WWII, Nazi Germany. Nor is Vladimir Putin the Hitler of the 21st century, although Biden confidante and Regime Change Specialist, Victoria Nuland, may believe otherwise. The problem facing the global community is that the collective leadership of NATO seems intoxicated by the idea of rendering Russia helpless in the face of the alliance that, when last heard of in Asia, had exited in Afghanistan after handing control back to the Taliban. This is the government that since the NATO withdrawal has faded from Atlanticist attention in their collective hysteria about Putin and in effect the whole of Russia.
The NYT, Washington Post, CNN, BBC and other repositories of truth as seen from the perspective of the “international community” aka the members of NATO seem unaware that as these words are being written, the Taliban is carrying out house to house searches in Kabul and other cities to identify and execute those who had been unwise enough to assist NATO in its 2001-2021 operations in Afghanistan against the Taliban. As a consequence, several times more Afghans lost their lives or limbs during that period than troops from the NATO countries that had earlier assured them protection.
Of course, Afghans are not Ukrainians, but what is so different about Ukrainians that make them in the eyes of the Atlanticists different from those populations that saw NATO military involvement and which have all been in an indescribable way since then? Of course, it must be added that the strategy now being urged on the Ukrainians by NATO, of not cutting their losses and moving on, but fighting to the death against Russian forces will inevitably lead to Ukraine falling into the same morass that the North African and West Asian countries find themselves in, a morass that has disappeared from the pages of NATO media despite its continuing consequences on innocent lives. It is without a trace of incongruity that those who favour the incarceration of Julian Assange, the blocking of Russia Television and the condemnation of contrarian voices such as Tucker Carlson or Tulsi Gabbard lecture the world on freedom of speech.
Biden has flagged the conflict between NATO and Russia as a battle between authoritarian and democratic forces. Clearly, China is in the latter category, for otherwise it would not be getting courted by the US President and his European counterparts. The good news for the EU is that Boris Johnson has returned to the fold in all but name. The bad news is that the sanctions screw that is being steadily tightened against Russia is making it more likely that Putin will not stop at Ukraine but continue until the Russians reach a point where kinetic conflict erupts between NATO and Russia. This would not be over Moldova or Georgia, that will meet the fate of Ukraine, but because of the Baltic states and more and more likely, Poland.
From then to the use of tactical nuclear weapons and the subsequent chain reaction of escalation would not be an impossible step. It is a testimony to his disconnect from geopolitical reality that Volodymyr Zelenskyy is importuning NATO members to carry out actions that would lead to the catastrophe he is anxious to prevent. Rather than bringing him into reality in accepting the situation and cutting a deal with Moscow, it is inexplicable why Biden, Johnson and Stoltenberg are encouraging him in his disastrous fantasy of defeating Russia. Both Napoleon and Hitler had similar fantasies. President Zelenskyy, unlike such despots, is a liberal democrat and a Ukrainian patriot, which makes his escalatory demands on lawmakers in the US, UK and EU so tragic for Ukraine.