Russian Game Plan in Ukraine and its Repercussions
Russian invasion into Ukraine on 24 Feb 2022 is not only the talk of the town but the entire world today. What made Russian President Vladimir Putin to take this step, is a matter of unending deliberations. All political and Defence analysts are busy trying to find a valid reason to explain as to why it happened. For a change, was the US intelligence right in saying the Russians had already made up their mind for a full scale invasion or was it an afterthought of Russian President? No other than Ukraine President Zelensky himself was trying to deny any Russian threat of invasion, terming it as US fear-mongering. On the other hand, President Putin had been reassuring the world that there was no plan to invade Ukraine. Was he lying all these days and weeks? Let us do some logical analysis.
Why should Russia invade Ukraine?
Just like why US-led NATO invaded Afghanistan or Iraq, Russia has some justification to interfere in Ukrainian affairs right since 2014, when the Russian speaking majority of Donbass area was declared disturbed and Ukrainian Forces started repressive measures against it. The Social Security for the population was terminated, administration was put in limbo, essential services remained affected and the ‘Russian Origin’ population were termed as separatists and attacked by its military every now and then. Russia has been effectively supporting the region with humanitarian aid and assistance since then. Ukraine has been dragging is feet at the behest of EU/NATO to implement the Minsk-II agreement, awarding it autonomous status ratified through its parliament. There was a thorny issue of joining NATO too.
Right from the days of Europe sponsored massive protest against Ukrainian President Mr Yanukovych and his overthrow, Russia had been keeping its focus on it. The caretaker President Mr Turchinov followed by Mr Porochenko and the incumbent comedian Mr Zelensky…all have been on the wrong side of Russia for one simple reason…that they all have been dancing to the tunes of the European Union (EU) and NATO. Russia and NATO have traditionally been enemies ever since the latter made inroads into the erstwhile break-away republics of the USSR, esp Estonia and Latvia (in 2004), both bordering Russia. Thereafter, Russia had made-up its mind that it is not going to let Ukraine become a part of NATO. Posturing and counter-posturing continued till 2008 when Yanukovych applied for the membership which he declared to put on hold in 2012. However, after toppling the govt in 2014, the EU and NATO have been having almost a complete hold on the Ukrainian policies and affairs and to their dismay, Crimea decided to go the Russian way. Europe has also committed to the Ukrainian demand of re-integrating Crimea into it which is almost impossible.
In the last 2 yrs, NATO has upped the pressure on Ukraine to dissociate from Russia for whatever little concerns for each other was left. Instead, NATO has started providing military hardware some of which are banned under Minsk-II agreement. After the recent supplies of shoulder-fired anti-tank (Javelin) and anti-aircraft (Stinger) missiles among other arms by NATO, writing was on the wall of Russian reprisals. Half-hearted efforts of reconciliation by the signatories of Minsk agreement failed as they dragged their feet on the basic issue of ratifying autonomous status to Donesk and Luhansk. It was a combination of all these that Russia recognised the two break-away republics an independent status and dispatched its ‘peace-keeper’ forces in the night of 20/21 Feb 22. EU and NATO prematurely over-reacted with a flurry of sanctions. Further, knowing the fact that Russian Forces were officially present in Donbass area, Ukrainian forces welcomed them with artillery shells on 22,23 Feb. This added a fuel to raging fire.
The USA had been warning of impending Russian invasion and raising ‘False Flags’ over two weeks preceding the actual invasion. It seems that Prez Putin had made the plans to invade much before he actually declared the ‘Special Military Ops’ with two aims…firstly to liberate the two breakaway republics from Ukrainian Forces and secondly, to demilitarise Ukraine. Thus American fears of the Russian invasion became a reality. President Zelensky was somewhat taken by surprise.
After 2 days of superficial attacks on the Ukrainian military establishments by his Cruise and Ballistic missiles, Russia made apparently insufficient military campaign to achieve his objectives. It is believed many Russian soldiers were killed by Ukraine. Ukrainian President made the worst decision of his life (on the advises of his EU and NATO masters) to ask his citizen to pick-up weapons and fight the Russians. Hereafter, assault rifles, shoulder-fired anti-tank (Javelin) and anti-aircraft (Stinger) missiles started being fired from the residential premises that drew the retaliation from Russian artilleries and aircraft, thus raising the residential buildings to dust. Historians will blame Zelinski for bringing the battle-ground to his cities & towns, to the residential premises. It is also believed that he has put his Air Defence Units within the cities that is attracting anti-Radiation missiles from the Russians fighter aircraft. Sadly, all those cities will become ghost places.
The changing Russian Game Plan
Incited by the civilians firing on the Russian Forces from within the city residential complexes, Russia has started a deadly campaign of attacking the various cities one after the another. Now there seems a changed plan. No longer is the Russian aim to demilitarise Ukraine for which they could have skirted around the cities and moved to attack the military establishments with requisite strength of its forces (>2.5 vs 1). Now Russian Military Forces are destroying and capturing the cities one by one…Kharkiev, Sumy, Chernihive in the north and Mariupol, Melitopol, Kherson, Odesa on its south, extending northward. Russian forces have surrounded Kiev and Irpin is almost taken over. Isolated Russian attacks are taking place in far flung areas of Ivano, Vynitsia, Zhytomyr and Makariv too. Zhaporizhia has already fallen. From the eastern front, Russian Forces along with Donesk-Luhansk militia have already captured nearly entire of the Donbass and are moving further west. On the first glance, it looks if Ukraine is going to be bifurcated into East and West along Dnipro River extending towards Odesa and merging in to Transnistria portion of Moldova; to capture the entire coastal belt along the Black Sea (See the picture below) and isolating Ukraine in to a land-locked state. Thereafter, Russia will have a direct hold on the entire Russian Speaking/leaning territories of Ukraine/Moldova.
The above move will seriously impact Ukraine economically and geographically. Capture of the south coast will cut it off from the Black sea thus restricting trade and military might. Land-locked Ukraine will have to depend on Russia for its access to the black sea. The further advantage to the break-away republic will be the cushion area against Ukraine up to the Dnipro river. The Russian game plans seems to have changed to bifurcate and curtail the powers of Ukraine for ever.
In this conflict, clearly Russian President Putin appears to be villain-in-chief…BUT…EU and NATO is not far behind, in inciting Ukraine against the Russians, against their legitimate security concerns of NATO coming to their backyard. In this game, the biggest loser is Ukrainian Prez Zelenski who is behaving as a political novice, dancing to the EU-NATO tunes, in putting his own beautiful country to destructions, devastations and perils with the innocent civilians to deaths. He has pushed them to take up arms and in turn, has converted their residential neighbourhood in to battleground. Even after 12 days of war devastation, he has not realised his folly of converting his country into ruins and that NATO will not come to his help for fight against Russia at his ground. He is still living in fool’s paradise that NATO will enforce ‘No Fly Zone’ in his airspace. He does not realise it will make NATO to face the Russians. He has not realised that both EU and NATO are happy to find a ‘battle-chessboard’ called Ukraine in the Russian back-yard, to make him fight alone, may be with some of the NATO military hardware. He doesn’t realises that no one else will send foot soldiers in his territory. He has lost vital installations of power and ports. Ukraine is today a land-locked country with its navy made defunct. Surely, Ukraine has put a highly incapable person at the helms of its critical affairs. The world should not be surprised if revolt erupts from within to throw him out.
Changing Hostile Ukrainian Govt
Russian Forces have surrounded the capital Kiev. Its fall is imminent in few days at the most. Russia will like to change the govt that could reverse its move towards EU and NATO membership. Zelenski will have to flee or will be captured. He could be tried for putting the civilians to perils with its entire military still within his grip. There could also be a growing dissent against him for putting Ukraine at perils for his ‘NATO-mirage’. No sooner the hostile govt at Kiev is replaced with a ‘friendly’ one, all EU and NATO-centric decisions could be reversed in no time. Otherwise, with the passing time, the collateral damages to Ukrainian infrastructures and population will be so unprecedented that their own civilian population will say 'No More' and may throw them out of power. Zelenskyy's life will be in danger. Zelensky has sacrificed too many cities, assets and civilian lives for own ego.
Could a Cease-Fire and Compromise Be Arrived at?
United Nation, the Security Council and the P5 have been cheating the world with ‘jungle law’ of ‘might is right’ for decades. P5 nations have repeatedly been failing the world of the peace. Presently, Russia is betraying the world by continued destruction and annihilation of Ukraine. Earlier Azerbaijan violated the rights of Nagorno-Karabakh, NATO-led Americans wounded the souls of Afghanistan, Iraq and so on. It has been free for all in Syria. Saudi attacks on Yemen has put the lives at perils, causing huge humanitarian crisis…and all these are happening while the UN and UNSC are watching mutely, helplessly. Under such atrocious behaviours of the UNSC, what is the use of its existence that has repeatedly failed the humanity with endless wars and devastations. The UN secretary general goes on making hollow speeches and doesn’t attend to the most important issue of reforms of the UNSC to ensure world peace and meet the aspirations of all nations…weak, small or mightier (Open letter to the UN Secretary General; https://articles.thecounterviews.com/articles/open-letter-to-un-secretary-general/).
From the early rounds of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine talks, any middle path seems to be difficult. Prez Putin seems stiff on Ukraine surrendering and Zelensky is singing HMV (His Master’s Voice…of EU & NATO) tunes. In the process, cities after cities of the erstwhile picturesque Ukraine is getting converted in the rubbles and ghost towns. Some half-hearted mediation by UAE, Israel and Turkey seems to be heading nowhere. India, by virtue of being friendly to both, is reluctant to mediate as long as both parties don’t ask for it. However, many experts in international diplomacy feel that a common ground could be arrived at without hurting the prides of either party. Donbass is already liberated and an emergency session of Ukrainian parliament could provide an assurance of Ukraine remaining a neutral country. This could invoke an immediate cease-fire after which, the remaining issues could be mutually discussed and sorted out.
Risk of Escalation
There is also a strong risk of escalation of the war if NATO gets involved in whatever way. Russia has already spelt out its probable response under those circumstances. Even if NATO or EU doesn’t get involved militarily but applies crippling financial sanctions and socio-cultural boycott that isolates, chokes, humiliates and cripples Russia; their fight for survival may start escalating the war. A look at the sanctions imposed by the EU and the NATO is a pointer to it. There could also be an international boycott of these sanctions by the States which are not a party to the war. Any sanction not ratified by UN/UNSC is not binding on others. Soon many nations of Asia, Europe and America may voice their non-approval/adherence to these sanctions by EU and NATO. Any attempt to enforce on other could be met with resistance. Hence, the efficacies of these sanctions are questionable.
We are also witnessing a socio-cultural discriminations and biases by the international sports bodies of EUFA, FIFA, International Olympics Committee and so on as they have barred the Russian athletes from participation. How can IOC debar Paralympic participants from Russia from Winter Olympics? It is iscriminatory, unjust and amounting to Sports Apartheid which is highly condemnable.
Europe has also started a deplorable seizure of the individual properties and assets of nationals of Russian origin. The moment war escalates to a level beyond the tolerance limits of Russia, its allies the CIS nations and the Chinese may get involved. Thereafter, WW-III is very much on the cards. If either of the blocks opt to use their nuclear arsenal (which cannot be ruled out), it will be free for all… catastrophic end of the entire world.
In summary, it could be concluded that EU, NATO and Russia have started a very ugly game of supremacy in the region in which Ukraine is the battle-chessboard. EU & NATO will be pleased to keep this battlefield active in the Russian backyard. Mr Zelensky is behaving like a political naïve, turning his country to the ruins and its civilians to peril. There is also a grave risk of conflagration of the conflict into World war if NATO tries to assist beyond an imaginary red line.