Ukraine Dead-end

RUSSIA on Monday captured the neighbouring Luhansk province in its ongoing military campaign in Ukraine.  Luhansk is one of the two regions of the contested Donbas region that has been the site of pro-Russian resistance for eight years. The war has been grinding on over the last five months and shows no signs of ending anytime soon. Russia’s war effort has by and large been of a subdued nature. The mighty Russian army has struggled to score victories and seems still a long way off from capturing Kyiv. But intermittent capture of the territory has kept the momentum going.

However, the US-led western military alliance NATO has so far ensured that Ukraine forces put up tough resistance to the advancing Russian army. The US and major European countries have supplied Ukraine with generous military aid to better defend itself against Russian aggression. The West has also got Russia’s neighbours like Finland and Sweden to join NATO.  Ambassadors of the NATO’s current members have signed the bloc’s “Accession Protocols”  bringing Sweden and Finland further closer to joining the military alliance. The development has further riled Russia which opposes the expansion of NATO right up to its borders, a position that became the trigger for its invasion of Ukraine.

The conflict stems from  Russia’s legitimate fears of being encircled by the west and the NATO military bases reaching its doorstep.  Many of the Eastern European countries which were once a part of the USSR-led Warsaw Pact have become a part of NATO, heightening Russia’s insecurity. The growing likelihood of Ukraine also joining NATO became the last straw for Putin. While it is nobody’s case to countenance the invasion of a sovereign smaller country by its powerful neighbour, the solution to the evolving fraught situation can be resolved if the US-led West and Russia sit down and work towards addressing each other’s grievances and fears.

At a larger level, the war has become a great power battle royale. America faces one of its severest tests as the world’s sole superpower. Some western experts have already written the epitaph of America’s unipolar moment. In that sense, it would be interesting to see who blinks first in this great power war of nerves. And that could decide the new superpower of the world. But America, despite its recent setback in Afghanistan, its failure to have its way in Syria in the teeth of the opposition from Russia and Iran, remains the world’s No 1 power. Its GDP and defence expenditure remains several times higher than its nearest competitor China. But in Ukraine we are at an interesting moment in history. The outcome of the war will determine the new global geopolitics if not the new superpower of the world.

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