Monday, 5th June 2023

Russo-Ukrainian war: Dancing on the brink of apocalypse

By Editorial Board
12 May 2023   |   4:00 am
The situation in Europe since the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict is unsettling for global peace, and indeed for humanity. This assertion is underscored by four related incidents in the theatre of conflict, and the reason countries of the world..

A soldier of the Ukrainian Volunteer Army prepares ammunition to fire at Russian front line positions near Bakhmut, Donetsk region, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Sergey SHESTAK / AFP)

The situation in Europe since the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict is unsettling for global peace, and indeed for humanity. This assertion is underscored by four related incidents in the theatre of conflict, and the reason countries of the world, including Nigeria, should be worried.

Firstly, in an episode that puts the global community on edge, on March 14, the Russian Aerospace Forces had an encounter with a United States Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) leading to the crash of the UAV. Secondly, Finland acceded to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and soon after, there was a reported discussion by the Finnish Foreign Ministry of ongoing discussion with the U.S. government to the effect of the latter constructing military platforms in Finland, over which Russia has vowed retaliation with military measures if the U.S. and NATO use Finland’s territory. As the Russian foreign ministry puts it, “We confirm that Russia will be forced to take retaliatory measures of both military-technical and other nature to curb threats to our national security that appear in this connection.”
Thirdly, on May 3, Moscow reported a drone attack on the Kremlin by the Ukrainian forces allegedly to eliminate Russian President Putin in what appeared yet another escalation of the crisis. Consequently, Russia has sent out a chilling message. Sergei Lavrov said that the Russian Foreign Ministry responds with action rather than rhetoric. The deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, Dmitry Medvedev, who is also a former president of the Russian Federation, said “After today’s terrorist attack, there are no options left other than the physical elimination of Zelensky and his clique.” He further noted that Ukrainian President, Vladimir Zelensky, “is not even needed for signing an instrument of unconditional surrender.”
And fourthly, on May 6, the Polish plane supposedly taking part in the Frontex mission, the So-called Frontex-JO MMO Black Sea 2023 mission, monitoring migration risks in the Black Sea basin, had an encounter with Moscow’s powerful Su-35 jet and as a consequence, the Polish crew temporarily lost control of the aircraft. The incident almost threw NATO into a frenzy with NATO’s Joint Air Operations Centre in Torrejón, Spain, alerting the Romanian and the Spanish Air Force, whose fighters were reportedly given orders to intervene at the first opportunity, if things deteriorated. 
The heart of the matter is the Russo-Ukrainian crisis underpinned by geopolitics that has morphed into a proxy war between the United States, its allies, and Russia. Although Russian invasion of Ukraine is wrong, but equally, nothing bars self-defence. Interestingly, some U.S. statesmen support this viewpoint. Robert Kennedy Junior, and Jeffrey Sachs, have both noted that it is the U.S. that is fighting Russia to satisfy the hawkish neoconservatives’ (neocons) geopolitical ambition.
Truly, the U.S. policymaker, convinced that the 21st century is its century, is seeking to dominate global affairs, while Russia is acting in a rabid defence of its national security and seeking a multi-polar world order, free from the hegemonic designs of the United States and its Western alliance. Indeed, the conflicting dynamics point to the transformation of that post-war world order that has been dominated by the U.S. and its willing allies after the end of bipolarity.
In this imperial game, the U.S. has identified Russia and China as its major obstacle to being able to ride roughshod over the rest of humanity. A recent report by its intelligence agency dubs “a significant and increasingly unpredictable challenge to the United States of America in key areas” that is armed with strategic hypersonic systems. And indeed, Russia has not veiled its intention to employ its nuclear warheads in defence of its existence as well as in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
As Dmitry Rogozin, former head of the Russian Space Agency, noted under the Russian doctrine, the latter has every right to use tactical nuclear weapons, and “that is precisely what they are there for – this great equaliser.” Similarly, Ukrainian is inundated with all types of Western military hardware ostensibly to defeat Russia and weaken Russia, and possibly break the federation into pieces as they did in former Yugoslavia. By some comparative analysis, the U.S. alone has pumped over $100 billion into Ukraine, more than what it spent on Afghanistan in 20 years. 
However, the Russian resolve has been indicated by former president Dmitry Medvedev, who said that Russia should seek “mass destruction” of Ukrainian personnel and military equipment, deal a “maximum military defeat” on the Armed Forces of Ukraine and demilitarise the entire territory without which the Kyiv actors “will not calm down… and the war will drag on for a long time. Our country doesn’t need that.” As an observer has noted, “The mood has turned ugly and the conflict is set to take a vicious turn, as diplomacy has run aground completely.” As it were, the world is dancing on the brink of apocalypse consciously, and stupidly so. A World War III could be in by sheer miscalculation.
It will be recalled that following his ascension to the leadership of the former Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev loosened the iron grip on Eastern Europe and the eventual collapse of the Warsaw Pact and the Union itself. He equally exerted a promise from the Americans that forbade an eastward expansion. As documented in the engaging work of M.E. Sarrotte, Not One Inch, the U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, proposed to Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, to allow for German unification and the promise of NATO not moving eastward, but following the collapse of the Soviet Union, for NATO, it became an off-limit encroachment. There were equally other diplomatic cables in which British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had appealed to Gorbachev to hold the Soviet States together and avert disintegration. What the current crisis has shown from the weight of available evidence is the hypocrisy of the U.S.-led West alliance.
But the pertinent question is: what is Nigeria’s position in all this? In most of the voting on the UN platforms, Nigeria has been pro-West. Given the continent’s history and its subjugation by the colonising powers of the West, a non-aligned position ought to be the obvious direction. The unity of the continent is required on this existential threat to humanity because a deep regional response is required. South Africa has exhibited continental leadership laced with a great historical understanding of this crisis.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that these spiralling events portend grave danger to all. A nuclear conflagration will spell doom for humanity but conciliation is required for a pull back.