by Asif Haroon Raja
“Remember when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, only what you have given, a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, and courage.” – St. Francis of Assisi
After the end of the 2nd WW, the world was divided into two camps, one led by the USSR and the other by the USA. The nuclear capability of the two superpowers deterred the two rivals from clashing with each other, but they got involved in a prolonged Cold War, which raged till 1991.
Western Pledge to Gorbachev
Once the Soviet Empire was built by Lenin-Stalin began to totter after the defeat and ouster of Soviet forces from Afghanistan in Feb 1989, followed by the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 14 Soviet Republics, and the Soviet satellite states started declaring independence.
A conference was held at Bonn in 1989 attended by the officials of the USA, UK, France, and Germany to discuss the German unification modalities. The participants gave a categorical assurance which was conveyed to Gorbachev through the US ambassador in Moscow Jack Matlock that NATO would remain confined to united Germany and would not push into the territory east of Germany, i.e. Elbe. It was stated that East European countries wouldn’t be offered NATO membership.
This pledge was dishonored after the fragmentation of the USSR in 1991 and getting reduced to the Russian Federation. Russia was not even accepted as part of a unified Europe. George H.W. Bush had declared that the First Gulf War against Iraq would usher in a ‘New World Order led by the USA. In 1992 came the Wolfowitz Doctrine, envisaging the prevention of the re-emergence of a new rival. With the demise of communism, Islamic fundamentalism was declared as the new threat to the US international order and capitalism.
NATO’s Eastward Expansion
The US-NATO launched five waves to expand eastwards. In the first wave, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic were taken into the fold of NATO in 1999.
In the second wave in 2003-2004, the three Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Slovakia were made members of NATO thereby threatening the eastern border of Russia. The pro-Moscow socialist regime in Georgia was replaced with a pro-West regime through a color revolution in 2003. Russia reacted in 2008 by making the two provinces of Georgia independent.
The 3rd wave was in 2009. In the 4th wave in early 2014, a regime change was made in Ukraine through another color revolution. In reaction, Russian forces captured Crimea in March of that year. The 5th eastward wave was in 2019.
In 2021, Washington and Brussels announced their intentions to make Georgia and Ukraine members of NATO. Membership of NATO jumped from 12 to 16 and then to 30.
The last indirect intrusion was in Kazakhstan in Jan 2022 where widespread anti-government protests had almost toppled the pro-Moscow regime but were rescued by the Russian troops.
Most of the former Soviet Republics barring a few happily helped the US and NATO in encircling Russia. Poland and Romania agreed to deploy the American Ballistic missiles defense system.
President Zelensky allowed the US to establish 25-30 biochemical weapons labs in Kiev, Kharkov and Odessa. Reportedly, Israel was also in this business. There are reports of coronavirus research labs as well.
Importance of Ukraine
Ukraine is important to both Russia and the EU since it is the largest country in Europe and rich in mineral resources. It is Europe’s breadbasket and a major exporter of grains.
It provides direct access to Russia’s Gazprom gas field and oil pipelines to Europe. 40% of the gas, and one-quarter of crude oil, are supplied by Russia through Ukraine to Europe. Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands are the largest importers of Russian gas.
The loss of Ukraine will directly threaten the security of Russia.
Hence Ukraine which provides strategic depth to Russia is the vital ground for Russia’s geo-economic and security interests.
The imposition of sanctions on gas from Russia will oblige the EU to import it mainly from the US at triple the price.
Brzezinski stated ‘Without Ukraine, Russia ceases to be an empire, but with Ukraine, suborned and then subjugated, Russia becomes an empire’.
Moscow’s Reminders to Washington
The US-NATO were repeatedly advised by Moscow to abandon their Cold War approach and to respect the sovereignty of other countries and interests, but drunk with power the haughty US-NATO paid no heed to Russia’s security concerns.
Vladimir Putin instead of taking proactive measures to block NATO’s encroachment adopted a conciliatory policy with the West. He even collaborated with the US in its war on terror and didn’t object to the growing US influence in Central Asia.
He and Trump were pally with each other, so much so that Trump was accused by the Democrats of seeking help from Russia to win the 2016 elections.
Putin Loses his Cool
Once Putin assessed that the aggressors were not prepared to halt their expansion and to remove the strike weapons deployed close to Russia’s borders, and close the bio-weapon labs, and were about to make Ukraine a member of NATO, he lost his cool, and gradually deployed up to 1, 30,000 Russian forces on the borders of Ukraine from Nov 2021 onwards, and then invaded Ukraine on Feb 24, 2022.
If the US could legalize its policy of pre-emption and step into Afghanistan and the Middle East located 7000 miles away to safeguard its homeland, why can’t Russia do it when its immediate backyard is threatened?
Ongoing Operations in Ukraine
A large bridgehead has been made in the Donbas region in the east where Luhansk and Donetsk, who had declared their independence were recognized by Moscow on 22 Feb.
From the direction of Crimea in the Kherson region, Russian troops have made deep penetrations and have closed up to Odessa. The southern port city of Mariupol is about to fall. The northwestern suburb of Bucha is entirely held by Russian forces including parts of Irpin and Kharkiv in the northeast.
Invaders are gradually encircling the capital city Kiev to choke it and force the defenders to surrender. Chernobyl nuclear plant has been seized, and several US-funded and run biochemical labs destroyed.
Chechen forces allied with Russian forces are fighting the Ukrainians. 15000 Syrian fighters have volunteered to join Russian forces in Ukraine and Putin has given them a nod.
So far, other than Kherson, no major city has been captured due to stiff resistance by the Ukrainians.
Over 4 million Ukrainians and others have fled and have become refugees in neighboring states bulk in Poland. The Refugee issue will blow up further and would create social problems for the host countries.
Both sides have suffered casualties. But, these are no match to the killings and destruction caused by western forces during the war on terror.
Russia has put its nuclear assets on high alert. Belarus has shed off its non-nuclear status, enabling Russia to deploy its nuclear weapons there.
Putin views all the former USSR Republics as artificial states propped up by the west and has sternly warned them to stay out of the conflict.
Russia is determined to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine. He is in no mood to pull out his forces until and unless his security concerns are addressed.
He allowed human corridors for the exit of civilians, but actually, he wanted to deprive the Ukraine army of the human shield.
He is drawing strength from the support of China, which is also a victim of the US belligerence.
Battle in Ukraine is the battle for the new world order. Like Lenin and Stalin, Putin is seeking to overthrow the US imposed world order which in his view is selfish and unjust.
Much against expectations of Putin of a short and swift outcome, the war is dragging on and is likely to get prolonged.
Zelensky’s Pleas Fallen on Deaf Ears
Zelensky, a Jewish TV comedian, is beseeching the US and NATO to come to his rescue, and establish a no-fly zone to prevent Russian jets from bombing the cities.
UK, Germany, France, and other NATO countries have dispatched heavy consignments of missiles, anti-tank, and air defense weapons to Ukraine to bolster its spirits. At Brussels, it was decided to double NATO forces on Russia’s border.
The US has deployed two additional Patriot batteries in Poland, sanctioned $ 15 billion in aid, and committed a $ I.5 billion military aid package. Biden is now thinking of sending long-range anti-aircraft guns to Ukraine.
Biden declared that the US will defend every inch of NATO territory with the full might of a united and galvanized NATO, but will not fight the war against Russia since he cannot risk a 3rd WW.
Western media is severely condemning Putin and is painting him as a butcher, deranged, an evil monster, and a war criminal.
Parleys are taking place between Ukraine and Russia at Istanbul, but so far no breakthrough has been achieved.
It has been revealed that the borders of Ukraine were never demarcated and registered in the UN as a sovereign state. Hence, officially it is part of the former USSR of which Russia is the officially recognized successor state.
Moscow can now claim Ukraine to be its integral part, and whatever is happening there as its internal matter.
Third World Wooed
The USA and Russia are trying to win over as many countries of the third world to their side to swing the diplomatic balance on their side.
China and Russia stand on the higher moral ground to win the support of the countries of Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
China has been helping debt-ridden countries by providing easy loans for social programs, and developing infrastructure.
Russia helped Iran in its missile/ nuclear programs and in easing sanctions, and had a key role in saving the Assad regime in Syria.
On the other hand, prejudice, malice, and discrimination against non-whites have been the guiding principles of the western world.
Today the West has no justification to dub Russia as a warmonger since Russia didn’t for once step into the backyard of the USA, nor meddled in the internal affairs of other countries, or indulged in proxy wars, or imposed sanctions on any country.
“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” – Frederick Douglass
USA’s Policy of Sanctions
To compel Russia to pull out its troops, the US and EU took no time to impose a series of tough sanctions on Russia and closed airspaces for the Russian air movement. The US told Europe to boycott Russian goods and not to buy oil and gas from Russia. Russia’s $ 300 billion has been frozen in the US/European banks.
Consequently, Russia has become the most sanctioned country after Iran.
The purpose is to isolate Russia, make it bankrupt, bring a regime and install a puppet regime in Moscow.
Blackwater in Ukraine has been activated by the CIA to create trouble.
In Poland, Joe Biden gave a call saying “Putin cannot remain in power”. Russians are being invited to topple Putin’s regime. He also hinted that it will be a long war. Nine months earlier, he had declared that “it’s time to end the war forever”.
He is now justifying the long haul under the plea of fighting a great battle between democracy and autocracy, between liberty and repression. He uttered these holy words ignoring that George Bush senior and junior had also raised similar slogans to justify their brutal invasions. He also forgot that Poland is ruled by an ultra-right xenophobe regime under President Duda. Biden’s jingoism points towards another New World Order.
In anticipation to deal with harsh western sanctions, Russia amassed some $600 billion, yuan and gold in reserves, stored huge stacks of grain and other commodity items, and reduced its trade-in dollars by 50%. It has replaced visa and master cards with Chinese cards.
China’s central bank operationalized its digital yuan CBCD in 2015 to break the monopoly of petrodollars in the trade of oil and gas through US-controlled SWIFT.
China’s System for Transfer of Financial Messages (SPFS) is equivalent to the SWIFT financial transfer system developed in 2014. SPF is likely to be integrated with the China-based Cross Border Interbank Payment System (CIPS).
The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and China have agreed to design the mechanism for an independent international monetary system.
In case Russia and China succeed in importing and exporting oil and gas in the ruble, yuan, and gold, it will cause a deadly blow to the power of the dollar.
Sanctions are painful but have never been productive. They proved ineffective against Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, and Venezuela and wouldn’t bend Putin.
USA’s Relations with Arabs & Iran
Some cracks have appeared in the US relations with Saudi Arabia and UAE.
The two princes didn’t answer phone calls Biden and declined the US desire to increase production of oil so as to lower oil prices in the international market that have crossed $ 140 a barrel.
They are going by the policy of OPEC, in which Russia is a key member, is the third-largest oil-producing country, and is the largest producer of gas.
Saudis and UAE, the two largest oil-producing countries are considering trading oil in yuan.
Boris Johnson air dashed to Riyadh on 16 March on a one-day visit to convince MBS to enhance the oil production, but couldn’t get a commitment.
UAE, which has put the F-35 jets deal on hold has been put on the grey list by the FATF.
Iran has made the renewal of the nuclear deal with the US subject to clearance from Moscow. Iran doesn’t want its oil and gas trade with Russia to get affected by the renewal of the 2015 deal to which Russia is one of the signatories.
Contrasting Foreign Policies
Russia’s past is as sinful as that of the West, with Stalin presiding over the massacre of 20 million people in the 1930s.
However, after the end of the Cold War, Russia has not embarked upon any external military adventure, nor has meddled in the internal affairs of other countries, or ridiculed Islam.
Likewise, China also adopted a defensive policy of peace and friendship after 1978.
Russia and China increased their spheres of influence in the developing world through peaceful means. Putin adopted friendly policies toward the Muslims in Russia and made Chechnya a close ally.
Conversely, the US used its military might, financial power, and diplomatic clout to enlarge its presence all around the globe. War on terror was used as a ploy to rob the resources of the Muslim world and to neo-colonize it.
Sanctions, embargoes, human rights, World Bank, IMF, FATF, and proxy wars are other tools of coercion. The UN, ICJ, and other world institutions are the US handmaidens.
Islam was ridiculed and demonized by the Western media under a calculated agenda to undermine Islam.
The US has the biggest stockpile of nuclear missiles, and well knowing that Russia has the second-largest nuclear arsenal, the US has been constantly provoking Russia by breaching its perimeter of security.
The US administration under the domination of the Military-Industrial Complex is anti-peace and pro-war and has established over 800 military bases all over the globe. Since WWII, the US indulged in 19 wars causing deaths to millions.
The US is a Bully
The US behaves like a bully and has never directly locked horns with big power. It always chose a weak country to fight and yet never won. The two glaring examples are its humiliating defeats in Vietnam and Afghanistan.
China has been warned by the US to stay out of the conflict and not to provide a lifeline to Russia.
The US has also made it clear to its allies to cut off relations with Russia, or be prepared for the consequences. Pakistan is among the countries that were threatened on March 7. Reportedly, it sponsored the no-trust motion moved against Imran Khan’s Government by the band of opposition parties. Imran is being penalized for daring to run an independent foreign policy.
China has made it clear that it will not accept another round of cold war and proxy war in this region.
For the first time, the US is provoking the two titans, Russia in Ukraine, and China in the South & the East China Sea and Taiwan Strait.
The US-Russia showdown has commenced and the US-China showdown is in the making.
Europe as well as Pakistan and India will get sucked into the fight of the big elephants if the war gets prolonged.
NATO’s Prestige Smeared
The Ukraine crisis has given a new lease of life to the West and has helped in uniting the divided EU and NATO, and both the US and EU are taking punitive steps to pressurize Russia to step back.
The US-NATO has yet to prove whether it can stand up to the challenge and turn the tide.
Russia is exposing the impotence of NATO which has already tarnished its reputation in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
Paranoia in India
India has got hedged between the USA, Russia, and China and is finding itself caught between the devil and the deep sea.
On one side is Russia with which it has had a strategic relationship since the late 1940s. 60-65% of India’s defense equipment is of Russian origin.
On the other side is the USA to which it had got married in 1990 out of expediency. India has been drawing huge economic and military benefits, and the US is helping India to become a global power.
China, closely aligned with Russia and nuclear Pakistan, is breathing over India’s neck in the Himalayas.
The US is now expecting that India should pay back by severing ties with Russia, and also become an effective member of QUAD to counter China’s assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region.
For India, joining China-specific QUAD is getting highly risky.
Coming months will see whether India bends down to the dictates of the US, or makes another volte-face, quits QUAD and reverts to nonalignment, and extends a hand of friendship to China and Pakistan.
Reinvigoration of Cold War
The new Cold War has resurfaced and the two belligerent camps are forming up.
The Ukraine crisis, if not defused, could lead to the worst economic crisis which will have a catastrophic impact on the world.
With so many flashpoints, and the climate crisis morphing into an existential threat to humanity, the world has become a powder keg and needs a matchstick in the wrong hands to ignite.
The standoff in Ukraine has revived fears of a nuclear clash and possibly a third world war.
The realities that cannot be ignored are that shrunk Russia has bounced back on the global center stage, China is the emerging superpower, the US is a declining power, and its global hegemony is unsustainable.
The unipolar world has been replaced by a multipolar world.
NATO will neither establish a no-fly zone nor become a part of the Ukraine war since it would put the whole of Europe at risk.
Without the physical support of the US-NATO forces, Ukraine wouldn’t be able to push back the Russian forces and will have to come to terms with Moscow through a political settlement.
The US-NATO wants Ukraine to become another graveyard for Russia, and is preferring proxy war over open war, but this time the end result will be not like in Afghanistan.
In case Putin comes out of this war as a victor, it will make Biden politically weak, and his party will have slim chances to win the midterm elections in November 2022.
The Zionists and extremist Jews wishing to rule the world, after pitting Christianity against Islam, have pitted the USA against Russia, and will also try to pit USA against China.
Israel is maintaining a balancing act and has so far not imposed sanctions on Russia or provided military support to Ukraine.
After fighting communism for decades and burying it, the US created a new threat and defined Islamic radicalism and terrorism as the biggest threat to its international order and capitalism. For the next three decades, the US-NATO forces bombed Iraq twice in 1991 and in 1998, invaded and occupied Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and in its bid to change the regime, destroyed Syria. Yemen, Sudan, and Lebanon were also mauled. Large-scale destruction and massacre were undertaken through invasions, proxy wars, drones, and sectarian wars, in order to gain global hegemony and to earn profits for the arms industry. Democratic, legal, and human rights were thrown out of the window.
The Muslim-specific war coupled with expanding NATO’s outreach into East Europe was the most egregious crime in the post-cold war era.
From 2018 onwards, the threat of terrorism has been replaced by Russia-China combined as the new threat to the US national security, for which Biden has sounded war bugles and is quite prepared to soak Europe in blood.
The US efforts to disrepute Putin have utterly failed. He has become more popular, and as per Levada Centre, over 80% of Russians support his actions. Conversely, Biden’s graph is dropping.
The minimum that Putin might agree on will be to make the Donbas region independent, with Luhansk and Donetsk as People’s Republics, Crimea part of the Russian Federation, and Western Ukraine becoming a neutral country.
Zelensky has agreed not to become a NATO member and to make Ukraine neutral subject to a security guarantee. He might agree to make Donetsk and Luhansk semi-autonomous instead of independent, and acknowledge Russia’s sovereignty over Crimea.
The US, EU, and NATO might reconcile with this arrangement, and would agree to make Ukraine a buffer state between East and West Europe.
Wars, conflicts, civil strife, intrigues, deceit, lies, and hypocrisy have become the norm. Putin has called the West an empire of lies. Piety, tolerance, and forbearance have been replaced by immorality, intolerance, and egotism.
The Western leaders have the moral obligation to call for an immediate end of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine. The atrocities of war must stop immediately and the sanctity of human life and habitats must be assured by all within the global systems of political governance.
Author: The writer is a retired Brig General, a war veteran who took part in the epic battle of Hilli in former East Pakistan in 1971, he is a defense, security & political analyst, international columnist, author of five books, Chairman Thinkers Forum Pakistan & Director Measac Research Centre, takes part in TV programs, and delivers talks. [email protected]
Brig. General Asif Haroon Raja a Member Board of Advisors Opinion Maker is Staff College and Armed Forces WarCoursequalified holds MSc war studies degree; a second generation officer, he fought the epic battle of Hilli in northwest East Bengal during 1971 war, in which Maj M. Akram received Nishan-e-Haider posthumously.
He served as Directing Staff Command & Staff College, Defence Attaché Egypt, and Sudan and Dean of Corps of Military Attaches in Cairo. He commanded the heaviest brigade in Kashmir. He is lingual and speaks English, Pashto and Punjabi fluently.
He is author of books titled ‘Battle of Hilli’, ‘1948, 1965 & 1971 Kashmir Battles and Freedom Struggle’, ‘Muhammad bin Qasim to Gen Musharraf’, Roots of 1971 Tragedy’; has written a number of motivational pamphlets. Draft of his next book ‘Tangled Knot of Kashmir’ is ready.
He is a defense analyst and columnist and writes articles on security, defense and political matters for numerous international/national publications.