As Mariupol Falls

AS the Russia-Ukraine war is due to complete its third month, there are no signs that it will wind down anytime soon. In the latest development, Russia has strengthened its control over the besieged city of Mariupol. Ukraine has confirmed that hundreds of its fighters trapped for more than two months in Mariupol’s Azovstal steelworks have been evacuated. Russia, on the other hand, said that 265 Ukrainian soldiers, including several dozen wounded troops, surrendered. Does this change anything fundamentally on the war front in Ukraine? Not necessarily.

It is apparent now that Kremlin’s war effort has stalled or remarkably slowed down in recent weeks after the NATO-backed Ukrainian Army put up stiff resistance to Russian advances. The capital Kyiv still remains out of bounds for Moscow. Russia has now focussed more on the East and South of Ukraine but the gains it is making are still very feeble. So, the war is likely to frag on. The stakes for Russia and NATO are too big to be seen as losing the war. Russian president Putin has already signaled, that he is prepared to use nuclear weapons. And the west, on the other hand, is not ready to blink.

But for the west or the US-led world order, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is nothing short of an existential challenge. Even a negotiated settlement let alone the Russian victory will re-order the world and shift the balance of power away from the US. So, for the west, the war basically is not about Ukraine, at stake is its own dominance of the world.

Meanwhile, the war is causing a humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine. Millions of people have fled the country and they are painting a horrible picture of the state of affairs prevailing back home. Considering that the west has shown no sign of backing down let alone make calls for negotiations to address mutual concerns, the war is looking set to continue.

Russia too has shown no signs of being mellowed by the sanctions. But the war so far seems to have not gone according to Putin’s calculations. Russia appears far from taking control of Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. West has, meanwhile, armed Ukrainian forces with the latest weaponry which is believed to be mainly responsible for halting Russian campaign

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.

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