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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

Ukraine: Punching Own Weight

It is the sixth day of Russian invasion of Ukraine that commenced on Thursday, 24th February 2022 after blatant provocation by the USA and NATO for years. We all know that Russia is not part of NATO. The Russia-NATO Council was established in 2002 to handle security issues and joint projects. Russia has been calling upon the United States and NATO not to let relations with Russia slip into a “cold peace” following the addition of seven new members into the Western military alliance. Moscow’s view of Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia joining NATO was “calm, but negative” expecting that the West would not allow it to become a “small vent shaft” or close altogether by forsaking Russian interests. NATO’s recent expansion marked the second time that states from the old Soviet military bloc joined their previous Cold War rivals and the first to include former Soviet republics, in the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. NATO welcomed Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic into its ranks in 1999.

According to George Friedman, “The primordial interest of the United States, over which for centuries we have fought wars– the First, the Second and Cold Wars– has been the relationship between Germany and Russia, because united there, they’re the only force that could threaten us. And to make sure that that doesn’t happen.” The Ukrainian crisis has nothing to do with Ukraine. It’s about Germany and, in particular, a pipeline that connects Germany to Russia called Nord Stream 2. Washington sees the pipeline as a threat to its primacy in Europe and has tried to sabotage the project at every turn. Even so, Nord Stream has pushed ahead and is now fully-operational and ready-to-go. Once German regulators provide the final certification, the gas deliveries will begin. German homeowners and businesses will have a reliable source of clean and inexpensive energy while Russia will see a significant boost to their gas revenues. It’s a win-win situation for both parties. Obviously, the US Foreign Policy establishment is not happy about these developments. They don’t want Germany to become more dependent on Russian gas because commerce builds trust and trust leads to the expansion of trade. As relations grow warmer, more trade barriers are lifted, regulations are eased, travel and tourism increase, and a new security architecture evolves. In a world where Germany and Russia are friends and trading partners, there is no need for US military bases, no need for expensive US-made weapons and missile systems, and no need for NATO. There’s also no need to transact energy deals in US Dollars or to stockpile US Treasuries to balance accounts. Transactions between business partners can be conducted in their own currencies which is bound to precipitate a sharp decline in the value of the dollar and a dramatic shift in economic power. This is why the Biden administration opposes Nord Stream. It’s not just a pipeline, it’s a window into the future; a future in which Europe and Asia are drawn closer together into a massive free trade zone that increases their mutual power and prosperity while leaving the US on the outside looking in. The said development also becomes a natural supporter of Chinese BRI’s success; thus, the emerging China as well as resurgent Russia become a reality giving USA, NATO and EU sleepless nights as they see their 75 years old security and economic architecture crumbling. This is why Washington is determined to do everything it can to sabotage Nord Stream and keep Germany within its orbit.

Ukraine officially declared itself an independent country on 24 August 1991. The Russian historic claims over Ukraine, recognition of breakaway Ukrainian regions like Donbas (Donetsk and Luhansk oblast) as independent states, serious military conflicts in 2014 and annexation of Crimea notwithstanding, the last straw on the Ukrainian camel‘s back was its propensity to join NATO and EU despite knowing the consequences; but disregarded by Jewish president Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy, former actor and comedian. Ukraine is Washington’s ‘weapon of choice’ for torpedoing the Nord Stream and putting a wedge between Germany and Russia. Therefore, over a period, the U.S. created a perception that Russia poses a security threat to Europe, which materialized with the invasion of Ukraine. A clear indication that Russia after self-imposed strategic restraint since dissolution of former USSR in 1991, kept preparing for a showdown with USA on European soil and in erstwhile sphere of influence so jealously guarded like a canine’s marked territory. The economic sanctions imposed on Russia, SWIFT banking , suspension of flight routes for Russian airlines, and announcement of suspension of certification of NORD-2 by Germany are all double edged swords cutting both ways and unsustainable for a long period by the U.S.’ allies. Russia made dramatic moves to shore up its economy earlier today in the face of crippling Western-led sanctions. Its central bank with almost $ 630 billion as international trade reserves has more than doubled its key interest rate from 9.5 percent to 20 percent, while exporters are now required to convert 80 percent of foreign exchange revenues to rubles as the currency falls to record lows against the dollar—the Russian currency was down nearly 30 percent against the dollar early Monday, and later recouped some losses.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s call to keep nuclear strike commands for readiness and holding of dialogue with Ukraine are diametrically opposite but indicative of Russia having run out of patience with USA and NATO’s overtures in its neighbourhood. Nevertheless, the world seems on the brink of World War-3 with horrible and most catastrophic consequences for the whole world if it turned out to be a calculated or accidental use of nuclear weapons. However, After Putin’s nuclear comments, expect the phrase “escalate to de-escalate” to become ubiquitous over the coming days. The term refers to Russia’s alleged strategy of using nuclear weapons to rapidly end a conventional conflict. Well that is the fallout of punching an equal weight after getting superficially intoxicated by decimating selectively picked weaker opponents by the West without any moral pangs in the last seven decades. President Putin has just proved, “Wait and watch; revenge is a dish best served cold”. The racist remarks by a lot of Western commentators showing sympathy with Ukrainian sufferers for their coloured eyes, blond looks, ethnic and religious commonality and modern dresses worn unlike hapless Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria and so on also lays bare the hypocrisy of the West for humanitarian concerns.

The use of cyber-attacks and disinformation warfare for propaganda by use of all segments of media is being witnessed. What’s left unsaid is that Russia has not invaded any country since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and that the US has invaded or toppled regimes in more than 50 countries in the same period of time, and that the US maintains over 800 military bases in countries around the world. All of the hysterical war propaganda is created with the intention of manufacturing a crisis that can be used to isolate, demonize and, ultimately, splinter Russia into smaller units. The real target, however, may not be Russia, but Germany in the European context.

On the global horizon, the U.S’ Asia-Pacific Rebalancing policy executed through AUKUS and QUAD Group consisting of the U.S, Australia, Japan and India seem in doldrums, as U.S’ arch rival China and new found strategic partner India along with UAE abstained from voting against Russia in the UN Security Council. Therefore, President Joe Biden’s hope of a routine clean chit from the UN for all American military misadventure since 1945 and in particular since 1991with more than 50 military interventions gets checkmated effectively by Russia and China; which underscores the demise of the unipolar world. Besides, Biden’s hopes of overcoming internal politico-economic challenges by provoking confrontation with Russia also seem dashed. In Central Asia, Russia displayed similar commitment recently in Kazakhstan by foiling West’s sponsored coloured revolution attempt by quick quelling with employment of CSTO troops. In South Asia, Indian deceitful promises with the USA on challenging China both in the CASA region as well as in the Indo-Pacific get exposed sooner than expected. The timing of the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit that coincided with the current situation has remained under debate; but may rightly reverberate the adoption of multi-polarity in Pakistan’s foreign policy for better politico-economic and national security interests. The food and energy security in Pakistan is likely to see the day light with import of wheat and gas from Russia in the near future besides enhanced security cooperation to the dismay of the American lobby in Pakistan.
1st March 2022

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