Two Months Of War

THE Russian invasion of Ukraine is almost two months old and it is showing signs of getting worse by the day. In one of the biggest blows to Russia last week, the country lost its flagship warship Moskva in a missile attack by Ukrainian forces. Moskva had the capacity to carry 16 long-range cruise missiles, reducing Russia’s firepower. In response, Russia has intensified its attacks on Ukraine, particularly its capital Kyiv. It has claimed to have “liberated” Ilyich steel and iron plant in Mariupol, Ukraine’s second-largest steel maker. Russia’s effort so far has been to take over the key port city of Mariupol in the east of Ukraine.

The CIA has warned of Russia resorting to using tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons in Ukraine in view of the military setbacks faced by the country. Meanwhile, European countries are trying to replace Russian energy with imports of gas from other countries, particularly those in the Gulf like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that he will redirect his energy supplies eastwards if European countries stop buying its oil and gas.

The past two months have witnessed a complete break-up in the relationship between the West and Russia. The west which until before the war had differences about how to tackle the then brewing Ukraine crisis has united against Russia. NATO has put its all might behind Ukraine which, as a result, has so far been able to slow down the Russian assault, if not stall it.

The coming few weeks would be crucial. It needs to be seen whether Russia makes more advances or suffers reverses from the territory it has captured so far and this would determine how each side would calibrate its response. Though Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly called for talks with Russia, the latter is in no mood for such a meeting. West has also been cautious not to join the war directly, so as not to expand the conflict which could culminate in a nuclear exchange, a frightening scenario that could bring about doomsday for the world. This makes it urgent for the world powers to climb down from their hubris and work together to find a way out of the ongoing war. But going by the tough postures adopted both by the US and Russia, such an outcome looks unlikely in near future. And considering both sides see an existential crisis in the defeat, the war is likely to drag on.

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