SYED SHAHAB U DIN ANDRABI
An erstwhile part of the Soviet Union from 1922 until its collapse, Ukraine is the second-largest country in Eastern Europe after Russia, territorially. With the deployment of over 100,000 troops near the borders of Ukraine, the NATO and the US are aghast and exasperated. Even with the constant reiteration of Vladmir Putin that Russia is not going to invade Ukraine, the West isn’t buying this assurance. In the arch rivalry between the NATO and Russia, haplessly the Ukraine is held hostage by Russia to thwart the further enlargement of the NATO eastwards. Some experts say Russia will not make the mistake of invading Ukraine, knowing full well the adverse ramifications it will suffer. Some experts say Russia is emboldened by the US retraction from Afghanistan, as it has led to the rendition of the US as a feckless declining power in the international sphere.
As a consequence of the Bucharest declaration 2008, which declared that Georgia and Ukraine will become NATO members, Russia attacked Georgia and took control of two of its provinces. Although, when the membership into the NATO was offered to Georgia and Ukraine, 20% of the Ukraine’s population desired so, which according to disparate accounts has jumped to more than 70% today. Likewise in 2014 when the pro-Moscow government was overthrown, Russia invaded and annexed Crimea and Sevastopol, leaving the then US President Barack Obama clueless on what to do next. The Russian population doesn’t agree to another incursion into Ukraine. Nonetheless, the Russians believe that they have been duped. They believe that when the USSR leaders allowed Germany to be unified, they received ample assurances from the Washington administration that NATO would not be allowed to expand towards Eastern Europe. Of course, existence of this reneged promise is corroborated by the last Ambassador of the US to Soviet Union, Jack Matlock. He testifies that Mikhail Gorbachev received assurances that if Germany unified and remained in the NATO, the NATO wouldn’t be allowed to move eastwards.
The Russian security concerns cannot be downplayed. Russia is only attempting to do what the US did in 1962. When the Soviet Union wanted to use Cuba as a base for its Nuclear Arms Missiles, the Kennedy administration expressed the same security concerns as Russia is now expressing. Moscow is being constantly threatened by the West with ‘severe economic sanctions’ if it decides to attempt another invasion of Ukraine. In return, Russia has threatened the US that it may consider deploying military in Cuba or Venezuela. According to Bret Stephens, “Kremlin has built its gold and foreign currency reserves to record highs”. Hence, economic bullying doesn’t impel Russia to compromise its toughened stance vis-à-vis NATO in its backyard. The talks have yielded nothing so far and it is probable that they won’t materialise altogether, given the obduracy of the two sides. Russia demands pullout of NATO from Eastern Europe, something that the US is loath to concede. Instead, the US invites deliberations on missile deployments in Eastern Europe which Moscow is reluctant to acknowledge. Their obstinacy has a very adverse bearing on the innocent people of Ukraine, something that has been ignored by both the sides.
The Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, recently asserted that the ‘threat is real’. Meaning the NATO and the US are confident that Russia can invade Ukraine at any time now. However, the Russians continue to deny any further belligerence, ruling out Ukrainian incursion. The Western intelligentsia is sceptical of Russian assertion vis-à-vis Ukrainian incursion. According to many Western analysts, Russia may invade and capture Eastern Ukraine, then will use it as a base to accost the NATO in and outside Ukraine, a view which seems imminent to materialise. To my mind, Ukrainian crisis has reached the stage where it’s very probable that this deadlock may convert into yet another nuclear confrontation. The Prophet (SAW) said, “The last hour will not come until the two warring factions confront each other, and there is a large-scale massacre between them, and they both belong to the same religious calling.” We are aware of the East-West schism in 1054 in which Christianity got divided into Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Western Christianity. The Eastern Orthodox Christianity is now headed by Russia which has always been a staunchest enemy of the West. Based on this historical fact, coupled with a pertinent saying of the Prophet (SAW), the current crisis has gained a momentous potential of turning into a full-blown nuclear confrontation between the US and Russia, ensuing in unimaginable destruction and devastation.