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A Year into the Ukraine War

The narrative about the war in Ukraine is hugely lopsided with the US led west deploying every imaginable form of propaganda, information, disinformation and misinformation

February 23, 2023 By Major General Atanu K Pattanaik (Retd) Photo(s): By Twitter / DefenceU, Wikimedia , Pléiades Neo
The Author is former Chief of Staff of a frontline Corps in the North East and a former helicopter pilot. He earlier headed the China & neighbourhood desk at the Defence Intelligence Agency. He retired in July 2020 and held the appointment of Addl DG Information Systems at Army HQ.


Russia-Ukraine war has now been going on for one-year

February 24, 2023 marks completion of a year since the war began in Ukraine last year this day, in the middle of a pandemic. Ukraine today is a country devastated, atomised and crumbling, yet it fights on regardless. That would make a great story of valour and grit, if we ignore the background to the war. Unfortunately, this is a tragic war, tragic for the over ten million people of Ukraine who have fled the country and taken refuge in the neighbourhood, including Russia which houses about three million Russian speaking migrants, and another 8-9 million spread over Europe including 1.5 million in Poland and 1.1 million in Germany.

The media daily blares out stories and statements from the pulpit by leaders of the US led west branding President Putin as the villain, harbouring notions of restoring the glory of old Russian empire. At the Munich Security Conference US Vice President Kamla Harris said Russia has committed crimes against humanity by invading Ukraine. So, did the US do a great service to humanity by invading Iraq in March 2003, with a blinding and ferocious ariel bombing of its major cities including Baghdad, Mosul and Kirkuk that it was proud to call as its 'shock and awe' campaign?

President Biden has called President Putin a war criminal and to put Putin on trial by the International Criminal Court but, the US does not recognise the jurisdiction of this legal body.

Only that no WMDs were ever found by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It is important to remind the reader that in October 2000, Iraq had insisted on dumping the US dollar for the more multilateral euro for its oil trade. It is not difficult to understand that apart from its technology innovations and enterprise, the US economic dominance rides largely on the USD status as the global reserve currency and by protecting ruthlessly the status of petrodollar. Sometimes it is through engineering regime change, sometimes it is outright invasion.

In the last one year, the ongoing war has caused tremendous destruction of infrastructure in Ukraine

Iraq was left devastated with over 3,00,000 dead and millions fleeing the war zone. The oil rich and largely Kurdish northern parts, along with the adjoining regions of Syria where it attempted a regime change through the Arab Spring in 2011, are now ungoverned areas controlled by US backed militias and elements of the dreaded Islamic State. That is one of the primary reasons why thousands of lives could not be saved as rescue and relief humanitarian assistance couldn't access the region in time after the devastating earthquake of February 6th 2023.

In a way, this is the completion of nine years into the Ukraine war, raging since February 2014.

The narrative about the war in Ukraine is hugely lopsided. The US led west has deployed every imaginable form of propaganda, information, and disinformation, misinformation overt and covert, aimed at domestic and international audiences. US President Joe Biden made a dramatic visit to Kyiv on Monday, February 20, 2023. This visit was brandied as an "incredible act of bravery' but actually was directly coordinated by White House with Russia to keep the zone deconflicted. During his visit, President Biden once again asserted unwavering support to defend democracy and the free world. Earlier, US President Biden has used the word genocide to describe atrocities committed by Russia in Ukraine and also previously called Russian President Putin a war criminal and said evidence should be gathered to put Putin on trial by the International Criminal Court. But here's the rub. The US does not recognise the jurisdiction of this legal body.

The war has spiked energy prices in Europe with a possible economic recession in the region

Let us step back a little and sequence the events leading to the invasion of Ukraine which Russia has labelled as security operations with its own justifications, right or wrong. A US sponsored Maidan Movement Revolution in February 2014 witnessed violent clashes between protesters and state forces in the capital Kyiv culminated in the ousting of elected President Viktor Yanukovych and a return to the 2004 Constitution. The two Minsk agreements of 2014 and 2015, with France and Germany as guarantors obviously were signed in bad faith, not to be honoured. Repeated pleadings by Putin about no further eastward expansion of NATO were derisively ignored. Between 2014 and 2022, the Donbas region witnessed thousands of killings by neo-Nazi militias backed by the Ukrainian state. In a way, this is the completion of nine years into the Ukraine war, raging since February 2014.

US is the biggest beneficiary, selling LNG to Europe at five times the pre-war prices and billions in arms sales to NATO member countries

The blitzkrieg of sanctions has obviously not worked. Russian factories are humming. The Rouble is at its peak, trading at 74 to a USD, after dropping to a historic low of 138 after the war began in 2022. The EU continues to buy significant Russian origin oil and gas even as the ten billion dollar Nord Stream II pipeline was blown up in September 2022, allegedly by the US, with collusion by Norwegian Navy as per investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. Unwittingly, Europe is the biggest casualty in this war, staring at de-industrialisation and recession with over 10 per cent inflation due to rising energy costs. Put aside the hoax of promoting democracy for a moment, the US is the biggest beneficiary, selling LNG to Europe at five times the pre-war prices and billions in arms sales to NATO member countries.

Nord Stream II pipeline explosion is being viewed as sabotage

US is trying in vain to bully China to prevent it from supporting Russia. Zelensky says that if China aligns with Russia, there will be a world war. An economically tottering EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned that supplying arms to Russia will be a red line. But the US and NATO countries supplying lethal long-range arms and air defence systems to Ukraine fuelling the war is par course. No wonder, the very next day China's top diplomat Wang Yi met with President Putin at the Kremlin and reiterated their strategic alignment and Putin declared withdrawal from the New START treaty, signed in 2010 that limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers.

The call on India to play peacemaker is more a ploy to force India to take a stance against Russia rather than end the war in Ukraine. It should not raise eyebrows that in this turmoil, India and China appear to be on the same side with Russia even while the LAC remains on the boil. The Indian citizen must remember the unwavering and critical support Russia has provided to India, fending off the US Seventh Fleet which had sailed in support of Pakistan during the 1971 war. Today, energy security and sharing of cutting-edge defence and nuclear energy technology drive the Indo-Russian engagement. That story is more compelling than the smokescreen of democracy and rule-based international order, read status quo US hegemony that dominates the narrative of this war.


Disclaimer: The views expressed herein are the personal views of the author.