Is the World Underreacting to Russo-Ukraine War?

It is almost a year. To be precise, it was on 24 February that Russia invaded Ukraine in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukraine war that began in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea, an island of independent Ukraine, striking its major cities, including Kyiv, its capital with missiles and artillery firing. The invasion has caused tens of thousands of deaths on either side. Millions have left their homes causing the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

When the invasion began, everyone, including the West, which is supposed to have been well informed by its highly rated intelligence wings, was certain that Ukraine would be crushed by mighty Russia in no time. Mr Putin expected Ukraine’s leaders to flee from the country and its army to surrender. But to everyone’s surprise, that did not happen.

But the brave Ukrainians stood and fought. If reports are true, Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, brushing aside the offer of the West for a safe ride out of Kyiv, asked them to supply ammunition to squarely counter the invasion from his neighbour. Reports reveal that even ordinary citizens of Ukraine exhibited their patriotism by volunteering to join the forces to battle with the invading Russians, risking an agonizing death even. That was the spirit of nationhood that was aroused by the invading Russians who wanted to snub their right to live as citizens of an independent country.

They even showed exemplary ingenuity. Quickly learning how to use the weapons supplied by the west and aided by the intelligence provided by the US spotted the weaknesses of invading forces and blew up their fuel and ammunition supplies. They even launched a counter-offensive to drive away enemy soldiers from Kharkiv province.

Leading the country against the invasion, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the marginalised political figure in the early days of his Presidency, metamorphosed into an international icon displaying leadership qualities, which the present-day world appeared to be deprived of.

War, nevertheless, is a catastrophe. And its devastation is everywhere to be seen in Ukraine. Cities are smashed, and villages are plundered by the invading forces. Charred and shattered apartment blocks, burnt trees, and twisted electric poles are what remained in the war-torn cities. Playgrounds turned into trenches; metro stations became shelter homes from the missile attacks. Water and energy supplies were disrupted. In absence of tap water, citizens melt snow. When there was no electricity, they struggled to keep themselves warm by burning the wood collected from the rubbles of the shattered buildings.

Yet, “the widening gyre” and the anarchy that Russia has loosed upon Ukrainians do not seem to have dented their morale anyway. But the ill effects of war are not limited to Ukraine alone. They pervaded the whole world, though not directly. It has ignited serious global food and energy crisis. Also accelerated the negative disruptions to the economy that was already underway due to the pandemic. The January 2023 World Economic Outlook Update projects that global growth will fall to 2.9 percent in 2023, while global inflation is expected to fall to 6.6 percent in 2023, which is still above pre-pandemic levels. Interest rates are on an upward march in every country that matters. Key supply-demand imbalances still remained unresolved. Cumulatively all this is pointing toward an impending recession in the global economy.

Yet, the world appears to be indifferent to the sufferings of the Ukrainians, the economic destruction inflicted on them, and the world at large except for sporadic statements from the leaders. The United Nations Secretary-general Antonio Guterres said in the UNO: “…that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation of territorial integrity and the charter of the United Nations. It must end for the sake of the people of Ukraine, Russia, and the entire world.” Yet, Russia is shelling Ukrainian towns and cities brutally killing innocent people, while Germany and the US are dilly-dallying with the idea of sending battle tanks to Ukraine under the fear that it may escalate the war further.

It has been a year since the war started and it has already caused enormous damage to Ukraine. And to the world economy too. Now the question is: How long the world wants to let Ukraine suffer at the hands of the aggressor? Ukrainians are of course, rightly angry at Russia and so want to go all out to drive away Russia from every inch of their occupied territory. At the same time, it would be hard for Ukraine to make Mr Putin swallow complete defeat. This may mean prolonged war and years of further destruction.

So, the world cannot afford to be indifferent to this calamity any longer. Now that Ukraine is in as good a position as possible to assert its voice at the negotiating table, it is time for the US and NATO to launch a serious attempt at a negotiated settlement … at least stop the ongoing mindless destruction … pending a permanent solution.

Remember, watching the war from the side-lines is inhumane … …


More by :  Gollamudi Radha Krishna Murty

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