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We haven’t begun to see the consequences of this war


THE war in Ukraine has shown that Vladimir Putin’s military machine is no successor to the formidable Red Army that crushed Hitler’s Wehrmacht and enforced Stalin’s postwar empire in central and eastern Europe.

Though the jury is still out on Russia’s military strength this apparently ill-planned campaign has revealed serious flaws in the Russian Armed forces, relating to training and maintenance as well as to capability. 

The inability of the Russian army quickly to overcome Ukraine explains why Vladimir Putin was so determined to prevent the country joining Nato and putting the US-led alliance on his Western border with Ukraine.

If Nato, led by the full weight of the US military, were to attack Russia from Ukraine, the Russian army would be unable to fight for long. Short of unleashing a nuclear response which would inevitably be suicidal, Putin would be defeated with the US presumably installing a puppet government in the Kremlin.

This is why the US wanted Ukraine in Nato in the first place as, we now see, a sacrificial lamb.

In a scenario worthy of Pirandello, Joe Biden, the corrupt and semi-senile occupant of the White House, is on the verge of succeeding where Napoleon and Hitler failed. Biden says he doesn’t want an East-West war but he doesn’t need one if the Ukrainians do the fighting for him and bring Putin to a standstill which would be as good as a defeat.

We need to see that the war between Russia and Ukraine is a fight between two countries, both of which have their backs to the wall, who have been deliberately led into a trap by the United States and that both are destined to lose.

What the West has refused to understand – or pretended not to – is the genuine desperation of the Kremlin as the US tightened its containment of Russia this century using Nato and Ukraine as proxies. When Putin and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov say they believe the US is an existential threat, they mean it.

Nato, Washington’s instrument in Europe which it manipulates in its own interests, claims it is purely defensive. If that were truly the case, why did the US break its promise to Mikhail Gorbachev not to expand eastwards to take advantage of the collapsing Soviet Union? There were other ways of establishing security in the region.

Why did President Clinton brush off Putin’s suggestion that Russia should join Nato and become a partner in future?

Why did the Americans ignore UK and French objections at the 2008 Nato summit in Bucharest and invite Ukraine and Georgia to join which Russia saw as a deliberate geopolitical aggression?

Ukraine in Nato would fill in a key gap in Nato’s presence on Russia’s border only 500 miles of flat tank country from Moscow. Had not Putin annexed Crimea, Ukraine in Nato would have opened the naval  base at Sebastopol to the US navy.

Georgia in Nato would have begun the enfoldment of Russia on its southern flank and opened the way to Kazakhstan as Nato’s next target for absorption.

In consequence of all this, why would Russia interpret the US march on its borders under cover of Nato as anything but aggressive in intent while affecting purely defensive motives?

Russia and Ukraine share a border of 1,250 miles. What could Russia do if the US, with Ukraine as an alliance member, began to mass infantry, armour and overwhelming air power on its border as George Bush did on the Iraqi border in 2003?

If the current Ukraine war is any example, Putin must be aware that the answer is very little without resorting to nuclear weapons which he must know is unthinkable. Nato would not even need to attack to force Russia into submission.

None of this would have been possible while the Soviet Union existed and its effective border with the West was Germany. Even the US military would have been stretched fighting a ground war with the Soviets across Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland to reach the Soviet Union itself.

Whatever its outcome, analysts will argue about the origins of this war for years. They include the broken US promise not to expand eastward, the ignored Kremlin warning that admitting Ukraine and Georgia to Nato would be a casus belli and Putin’s equally ignored demand last year for a renegotiation of security arrangements in central and eastern Europe

Putin’s creation of an invasion army on Ukraine’s border, which he held back for three months, was a warning that he meant business. The attack has now happened and become a disaster for Russia’s military reputation. Even if he eventually wins on the ground, Putin loses overall – which is what the Americans always wanted. Gaining control of Ukraine, whatever the cost, is the only leverage left to the Russians as they try to extricate themselves from this mess.

The media are understandably full of coverage of the plight of the Ukrainians who are the victims of a cynical power play between the US and Russia which could have been avoided at any time over the last year had the US not been determined to finally prevail over its rival of more than 75 years.

The human cost will be paid not just by Ukrainians and Russians but by us all as sanctions against the Kremlin have a lasting worldwide economic effect resulting in massive inflationary pressures and food shortages. In the Middle East, countries such as Egypt can no longer get the 80 per cent of the wheat they ordinarily import from Ukraine and Russia. How are they going to feed themselves when the rest of the world has no wheat to spare?

We haven’t yet begun to see the consequences of this war.

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Donald Forbes
Donald Forbes
Donald Forbes is a retired Anglo-Scottish journalist now living in France who during a 40-year career worked in eastern Europe before and after communism.

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