Ukrainian imbroglio: A blot on modern times

Shihab Sarkar | Thursday, 12 May 2022

The quandary in which Ukraine, once called the breadbasket of the Soviet Union, now finds itself is unexpected, if not unique. A number of nations in the two World War-hardened global theatre found themselves in a similar maze-like situation. The 'offence' of Ukraine was it had opposed some unilateral actions of its formidably strong neighbour, the Russian Federation. The relations between Ukraine and Russia, since the latter's imperial past, have been strained since long. In the midst of one such hostility, France, the UK, Ottoman Empire and Piedmont-Sardinia, formed an alliance backed by other military powers of the 19th century Europe. They were in support of Ukraine against Russia. In history it is known as the 3-year (1853-1856) Crimean War. Russia lost the war. However, it later retook control of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. It was followed by the annexation of the territory along with its strategic ports by Russia in 2014, over two decades after the crumbling of the Soviet Union.

Initially started in 2014, the Russian 'invasion' of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. It sparked a global outcry, drawing strong disapprovals from most of the big powers, especially those aligned under the military pact of NATO. The European Union, an economic bloc comprising big and small nations in the continent has extended full support to the punitive sanctions imposed on Russia. The nuclear-armed and fast emerging world economic power China has been keeping a safe distance from the Russo-Ukrainian imbroglio. They are apparently prepared to bear with all kinds of domino effect of the Russia vs. NATO-EU face-off. So are the fast developing and the so-called non-aligned countries, India in particular. In the two important UN General Assembly resolutions condemning Russia for the Ukraine invasion, and the killing of innocent Ukrainian citizens Bangladesh abstained from one along with some other nations. The reason Dhaka has put forward for its abstention from the first resolution is former Soviet Union's all-out backing to the case for Bangladesh independence at the UN Security Council in 1971.

As days wear on, the Russian invasion of Ukrainian cities keeps intensifying. The strongly built century-old cities in the large country fall one after another. People are being killed in their hundreds at homes, safe shelters, even at a theatre and on roads. The Ukrainian president may have started feeling being drawn into an otherwise avoidable war. His resistance forces are no match for the battle hardened and well trained and heavily armed Russian forces. Sophisticated Russian missiles keep raining down on the small and large cities of the besieged country. Given the lopsided nature of the conflict, regional war experts have started foreseeing Ukraine's veritable turn into the Palestinian remnants in occupied territories. What's unfortunate, comfortably oblivious to the Russian resolve to abort the Western dream of building a NATO outpost in Ukraine by turning it into 'vassal state', the pro-West lobby continues to offer morale booster to the long beleaguered and bewildered President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

 In tandem with the heightened ferocity of the war, Ukrainian refugees continue to enter Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary and other neighbouring countries in droves. Inter-state refugee movement, experts say, leading to the growth of disillusionment with the refugees looms large. In such a dreaded situation, the only option that might remain open to the displaced Ukrainians would be a 'Diaspora' throughout the whole Europe. Unlike the Palestinians engaged in a seemingly resistance battle or 'Intifadah' against the Israelis, the ethnically integrated Ukrainians might, ironically, prove miserably inept in such a national task. The concept of the sovereign Palestinian State is now veritably a myth. Compared to it, Ukraine has been in existence as an independent territory for three decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the 18th century, it was part of the Austrian and Russian empires. Prior to the decades when it was under the Soviet rule, Ukraine enjoyed freedom as a sovereign territory. These days, as the Russo-Ukraine conflict continues to turn fierce and complicated, sucking in anti-Russian forces into the mindless battle, analysts keep presenting grim scenarios for the theatre.

The most dreadful development many fear being in the making is carving up of the whole Ukraine. In such a reality, the vast country might be fragmented into several autonomous regions. Of them the larger one bordering on mainland Europe will be governed directly by Moscow. Relocation of the poorer and xenophobic Russians there will be a practical strategy to wipe out the original Ukraine from the map. The smaller Ukrainian territories under assorted names may manage to survive with their meagre economic supplies coming from the mainland Europe.

The sensitive people across the world might start cringing at this Orwellian forecast. But something worse might also happen: Russia giving an ultimatum before using nuclear-head missiles, on being piqued constantly by the West. Already the ex-communist superpower has openly told the world of its nuclear might. In case Russia prepares to go nuclear, the US may not sit idle. France and the UK might also feel provoked, with China playing the role of a passive observer, at least for now. With all the five superpowers activating their nuclear arsenal, an apocalypse for the whole world may not be far behind. The adventurists among the geopolitical experts may turn to another case-scenario. As they might weigh the global power balance, taking into view Russia's economic might, they may have reasons to find mid-rank military powers switching sides. As a result, like during the two global wars in the last century, the world may have to brace for several small-scale wars sweeping the vast Russo-Ukrainian, the Baltic and the Polish-Austrian swathes. That will be like inviting doom for the whole world.

The doomsters do not stop here. In another gloomy development, splinter gurerrilla groups from the smaller territories in the neighbouring area may one day start attacking the Russian-controlled remodelled Ukraine. Lots of countries nurturing petty interests might be found eager to back them. These violent and anarchic times may continue for decades. But it would not be a single-track war of freedom like that witnessed in Vietnam. That war witnessed a formidably powerful enemy --- the US, pitted against Vietnamese liberation fighters. The guerrilla fighters in camaraderie with the occupied country's people fought for 20 years (1955-1975) to free their motherland from the clutches of the US invaders. They were a single but formidable enemy, confined to the southern part of the country with the capital being Saigon. The northern Vietnam remained the centre of the liberation fighters, who fought all alone with no direct supports from sympathising nations. In the annals of the history of the liberation wars, few have been so precisely divided between the country's people and the invading enemies. However there were US Army's collaborators. The general Vietnamese didn't waste time to ferret them out. Many fled by plane and ship with the defeated US soldiers. Thousands fled the country by boats for destinations as far as Australia.

The Ukrainian scenario may not unfold this smoothly. Like Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, and presently Yemen, Ukraine is feared to split into territories fighting each other. According to doomsayers, thus a centuries-old nation of mixed ethnicities may end up being a dysfunctional entity. It is simply a strategic bid on the part of NATO to keep Russia at bay, and the latter's desperate efforts to protect its frontiers which have led to this disastrous situation. Here one shouldn't exclude the endless miseries the Ukrainian refugees are set to undergo and the mindless destruction of a strong and prosperous nation. In reality the optimists are not prepared to subscribe to all of the predictions made by the doomsters. Being positivists, they'll leave no stone unturned to see an amicable way out of the hubris and panic-born imbroglio. All this reminds the wise people of the inanity of the feeling of superiority. Alas, this is what defines the style of safeguarding national interests in the modern times.


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