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World leaders must intervene in Ukraine, Russia war now

The Russia-Ukraine war, which has been raging for about eight months has assumed a potentially catastrophic dimension for the whole world.   In the eight months…

The Russia-Ukraine war, which has been raging for about eight months has assumed a potentially catastrophic dimension for the whole world.  

In the eight months of bloodletting accompanied by massive disruption of lives and destruction of infrastructure, the world has watched with trepidation as the protagonists in the conflict make claims and counter-claims on who is right and who is not. The estimated number of lives lost runs into thousands both on the battlefield and amongst civilians caught in the battle between the opposing forces. 

Russia, which first launched the invasion into Ukraine claims that it is doing so to in the interest of its own national security by preempting Ukraine’s membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), the pan-Atlantic security organisation led by the United States and its allies, and with which Russia has been in conflict since the Cold War years. Russia views this with much alarm as membership of NATO by Ukraine will mean that the western security alliance will have the right to station troops and military platforms right at its doorstep. The Ukraine authorities, however, have countered with some justification that Russia’s action amounts to blatant violation of its sovereignty which stands condemnable in international law. For the Ukrainians, the principle of freedom of association enshrined in International Law accords it the right as a sovereign nation to seek alliances with any country or countries for its security. 

Last month, in a critical stage reached in the fighting, Russia organised a referendum in four Russian-speaking regions of Ukraine and purportedly absorbed them into the Russian Federation. This move by Russia cannot be more dangerous, as it implies that any attack on these regions by NATO-backed Ukraine, amounts to a direct NATO attack on Russia itself. This could well signal a tipping point to the use of nuclear weapons in the conflict. 

In a statement which was rightly condemned by much of the world, President Vladimir Putin remarked that Russia would not rule out deploying tactical nuclear weapons if it became necessary to do so in the course of the conflict.

Therein lies the inherent danger in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Already, the world is reeling from the economic effects of the war in terms of the energy and food security crises it has engendered. Countries in Europe and elsewhere which rely on Russian gas and crude oil supplies are feeling the pinch. Reports have it that due to drastic cut in supplies of Russian energy sources, many countries in Europe, including Germany and France, face a bleak winter. Also, since Russia and Ukraine are major sources of agricultural products, machinery and precious metals and minerals, the war has resulted in a slump in world markets leading to inflation and related economic problems. 

Indeed, economic forecasts speak of a possible global economic recession and even depression as a result of the war. But what must register as a matter of utmost concern to us all is the possibility that the conflict in Ukraine could escalate from the conventional war to a nuclear conflict. Putin’s statement on the possible deployment of nuclear weapons cannot be taken lightly. It must be seen as a reckless statement of intent which brings home to us the danger of strategic miscalculation on the part of either Russia, or Ukraine’s western backers. Deployment of nuclear weapons by Russia in Ukraine will almost certainly result in a like response from the US and its allies. And it follows that a nuclear confrontation between Russia and America-led NATO will annihilate much of the world. Both powers, it must be mentioned, possess enough nuclear platforms and delivery systems that will reduce the world to ashes. 

It is with this grim prospect in mind that we call on Russia and Ukraine to step back from the brink. As a member of the UN Security Council, Russia, which launched the war, has a responsibility to act in ways that reduce the tensions in the war, not escalate it. So too does the United States, the world’s lone superpower which, together with its NATO allies, is arming Ukraine to the teeth and providing tactical intelligence to the Ukrainians.  

Although the war seems to have resulted in countries taking sides, for the greater good of the world, we call on some significant countries to wade in and bring the protagonists to the negotiating table to de-escalate and eventually end this dangerous war. We have in mind here countries like Turkey and China, and world organisations like the UN, ASEAN and the African Union to take the lead in initiating the process leading to a ceasefire and negotiations that would end the conflict. There can be no more sitting on the fence as the future wellbeing of humanity is at stake. The conflict in Ukraine should not be allowed to become one in which only the recourse to nuclear war is left for the protagonists. 

It is time to end the war before it escalates into something whose consequences humankind will forever regret.  


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