Friday, July 12, 2024

Ukraine still fighting?

The biggest surprise across the world is that though the Russia-Ukraine war has  been going on for 3 days and Ukraine is still fighting Russia. There were expectations that Ukraine would surrender within hours of the start of the war, since no other European country has offered help. But that is not happening. Of course, Ukraine is facing the most experienced and powerful military in the world.

From history, we learn that once a war is started , its ending  might always be the opposite of what was expected. Many nations rush to war with over-confidence.  Large armies are defeated by small agile armies. A war which changed European history was the Waterloo war fought between Emperor Napoleon of France and Duke of Wellington of England in June,1815. War has been going on for 23 years between Napoleon and various countries .  Napoleon’s army was so sure of victory that the night before his officers did not rest but were celebrating the whole night. But the war was won by England and Napoleon became history after that defeat.

Similarly, in June, 1941, Hitler was winning the war against England. He had an agreement with Stalin of Russia. But suddenly, Hitler rushed his armies to Russia’ s  borders thinking that Russia  could be defeated quickly. That was the biggest mistake of Hitler and he was defeated by Russia and lost the war, due to his  arrogance.

In 1979, China was very confident and wanted to teach its Communist neighbor Vietnam a lesson, as there was a border dispute. China sent a huge army to the -Vietnam border.  Btu Vietnam put up a big fight and 20,000 Chinese soldiers died and China fled .No one expected Vietnam to defeat giant China.

No one is saying that miracles will happen between Russia and Ukraine. From all accounts, Russia will win the Ukraine war.  But it does not seem to be so easy. The un-predictability of wars  was called by great war Strategist Von Clausewitz as “the Fog of War” as war  is  totally  uncertain.” ’

“Fog of war” also means that the truth about war cannot be known as there are no witnesses and different armies will release whatever information they want. Right now, Russia releases information which maybe incorrect as does the Ukraine government. The real truth of what is happening will never be known since journalists and media are no actually at the battle ground.

Moreover, the style of war has changed. In old days, there would be one army facing another army. But now, there are many wings of the military and also different locations. Planes and missiles come from different places.  So the real extent of war can never be known.

However, we can get some idea of what is going on.

President Putin and Russia:

  1. There was massive surprise that lakhs of people across Russia started demonstrating against the Russia war. President Putin said that if there are any more demonstrations, he will charge them under the “treason laws’, for betrayal of Russia.  Though the Russian police are fierce, Russians demonstrated against the war. This gives an impression to the world that many Russians are against the war.
  2. Another sentiment which came from Russia is that the people thought that President Putin is very clever and will never actually get into war. Now Russians fear that President Putin is dangerously near a nuclear war, which will ruin Russia. Putin has quietly threatened other countries about his nuclear weapons. Russians are worried if Putin will bring a nuclear war.
  3. President Putin said yesterday (Saturday) that he was ready to stop fighting if Ukraine surrenders and he will then talk  to the Ukraine government. But Ukraine ignored this offer, calling it blackmail.
  4. President Putin of Russia went on television and asked the Ukraine army to revolt and throw out the Zelensky government. Observers say that this shows that president Putin is worried. 
  5. President Putin also went on television and started abusing the Ukraine leaders badly. He called them murderers and drug addicts and criminals. Putin said this in a very angry way and surprised Russians and others on whether Putin has become angry as war actually started.

President Zelensky and Ukraine :

  1. The biggest surprise is that Ukraine is still fighting the war. Russia has been using missiles, heavy guns and tanks and yet the Ukraine army is still fighting. Russia is using its huge air force and navy.  Russia also has a huge cyber-army to attack all computers and electronics of Ukraine, which it is doing. Ukraine has no cyber-army.
  2. The United Nations Security Council, of which India is a member, took up the issue of the Russian aggression. Naturally, Russia used its veto power to stop all action. Though Russia stopped action, for 2 days, there wide discussion across the world about Russia’s attack.
  3. President Zelensky of Ukraine has said that though he approached all the NATO countries and the USA, he received only verbal support and not actual help. Till now, no country has sent soldiers to fight for Ukraine. Zelensky also  added that he was confident that actual help would come from Europe if war breaks out.
  4. President Zelensky of Ukraine also said that he repeatedly asked the NATO member-countries to admit Ukraine into NATO. But he said that all the countries are afraid of Russia and don’t want to be dragged into a big war.

Other developments:

  1. Europe and America have started putting financial restrictions on Russia. Such restrictions are targeted against only Russian leaders and not against the general public.
  2. The United Nations General assembly will meet to decide about the Russian-Ukraine war. The vote of all the Members will have a significant moral power.
  3. Many observers of the war have said that Ukraine of 2014 is different from the Ukraine of 2022. They said that in 2014 when Russia attacked Ukraine and captured state of Crimea, Ukraine had a small military. But now, with time, Ukraine military is stronger and are giving a good response to Russia. .
  4. Seeing the aggression of Putin and Russia, there is hardening of attitude amongst smaller European nations. They will develop their armies, as they know that Russia might target them next.
  5. Though China was in the forefront to encourage Russia, it now seems that China is also advising Russia to slow down the war and talk with Ukraine. Pressure has been brought on China that it will also face consequences, if Russia continues  its aggression. China wants stability and may advise Russia to slow down.
  6. There is also much discussion across the world that the best way to punish and control Russia is to switch to other sources of energy other than oil. It is only Oil sales by Russia that maintain Russia. There are really no other exports from Russia except oil, natural gas and minerals.
  • France and Germany have very close economic relations with Russia.  President of France Emmanuel Macron and German Prime Minister visited Russia and requested Putin not to go to war.  The fact that Russian President Putin ignored them has started a process in Germany and France  that Russia cannot be trusted and Europe should plan better to counter Russia.
  • The present system of alliances and institutions like NATO seem to have failed in controlling Russia. Therefore, there is thinking that the present system has to be totally changed to meet new challenges from Russia and China, who are not following “ international  rules “. Till now, all nations followed traditional diplomacy. The fact that a major country like Russia has behaved in a violent manner and went to war will start re-thinking. In 75 years, the Russians started a real war in Europe.
  • The vivid images of Ukraine fighting and civilian injuries are having an anti-Russia effect across the world.  If the war continues and there are more deaths, then governments may come under pressure from their citizens to intervene on behalf of Ukraine.
  • India abstained from voting at the UN security Council. Russia is quite satisfied with this support from India. Ukraine is also aware that India had to abstain form its own needs of national security issues, as India is heavily dependent on Russia for arms.
  • The arrogant behavior of President Putin has angered all European leaders and the USA. There seems to be a more aggressive attitude now amongst them.  Being human, these leaders will definitely try to salvage their pride and we may expect more aggressive action.

The most important question is what will President Zelensky of Ukraine do?  Till now, president Zelenksy says that he won’t leave Ukraine, though Russia has targeted him and his family. Yet, Zelensky says that he will stay and fight.  Zelensky also has an alternative. He could resign or move to another city.  But from all indications, President Zelensky will not do what the Afghanistan President  Asraf Ghani did on August 15, 2021 . Afghan president fled Afghanistan when Taliban were going to enter the capital city of Kabul.

Zelensky seems to be more sure of staying and fighting. If Zelenksy continues to fight, then Russia will increase bombing and use heavy weapons, resulting in big civilian casualties. Right now, military experts say that after capturing some land and maybe the Capital Kiev, Russia may stop fighting.

But once a war is started, it becomes un-predictable.  It is easy to start a war. But the ending of war depends on others too. President Putin needs a victory or he will lose his standing in Russia and in the world. But President Zelensky of Ukraine needs only to continue to fight for some time to get world’s sympathy.

Napoleon also had some wise words of wars and warriors. When a journalist asked him what kind of generals he wanted to lead his armies, Napoleon simply said “Lucky generals.”  That rule still stands. Luck also plays a role in wars. Is President Putin lucky or at least does he have Lucky generals?

Victory also means different things for Ukraine and Russia. For Russia victory means that President Zelensky must go and a new government  friendly to Russia must be formed in Ukraine. For Ukraine, victory means that Zelenksy does not  resign and fighting continues, even if Ukraine is losing.

Tomorrow is another day! Anything may happen as President Zelensky said that Russia bombs heavily in the nights.

Also read: KCR – man in a hurry on a national journey

Dr. P. Pullarao
Dr. P. Pullarao
Dr. P. Pullarao, born in West Godavari, studied at Loyola College, Madras, PhD from JNU, Economic research at University of Chicago under Prof. Buckminster Fuller, famed futurologist, and Dr. Milton Friedman. Public Advocate, writer, TV Commentator and newspaper columnist based in New Delhi.


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