By Musa Bassadi Jawara Economic, Political & Security Observer
What was unthinkable hitherto the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on 24 February, this year, the conflict is moving around the edges of nuclear confrontation in Europe. Nuclear threats and rhetoric have been the horrifying backdrop of this war. If it gets to nuclear war, there will be catastrophic consequences all over the world, without exception. In an apocalyptic situation, civilization comes to a halt with concomitant global economic activity. There will be biblical loss of human life and supply activities halted throughout the world. Global economic stagnation, depression, hopelessness, destitution, radiation related illnesses metastasize the world over. If anything, the havoc Covid-19 Pandemic outbreak dealt the world will be the tip of the iceberg when compared to the Himalayan catastrophe of a nuclear holocaust. The Gambia and rest of Africa, for example, economic and social hardship will be unfathomable (It’ll be prudent for government authorities around the world to have contingency plans ready for their citizens)!
Seven months into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, did not envisage or thought through before ordering his Armed Forces to invade Ukraine, the strong and draconian response from US and its NATO allies with punitive economic sanctions and arming of Ukraine as it fight the aggression. Putin’s calculus mimics the forcible annexation of Crimea in 2014. And, this time, his calculus was a colossal failure! The Russian economy is in the doldrums; the Russian Oligarchs decimated; the Kremlin and Moscow Establishment grapple with eerie uncertainties and, the entire Russian Federation in a state of Limbo! Putin, despite his peccadilloes, his hegemonistic tendencies and bellicosity, he remained second only to President Biden of the United States as the most powerful man in the world. Putin’s the chief custodian of over six thousand nuclear warheads (the largest nuclear stockpile in the world) including Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capable of striking any locale on the globe.
Putin’s legitimate grievances among others include: NATO’S expansion at his doorstep; the bulwark mounted by Ukrainian army in concert with NATO and the United States; NATO arming Ukraine in a way unthinkable before the war. In his public pronouncements, these are existential threats to the Russian Federation. President Putin’s idiosyncrasy & mindset still reflect the Soviet Union’s foot soldier. An ex KGB agent, the Stalinist and Communist philosophy and dogma are still ingrained in his psychic, despite the capitalist transformation of Moscow, the past two decades. Putin remained a Communist hard-liner. The Ukraine war is a vivid reminder that despite the transformations of the Russian nation into a vibrant Western style entrepreneurial society the past two decades vis-a-vis hosting the World Cup, unboycotted Olympics, hosting the African Union Heads of States’ Summit and the Moscow Exchange Stock Market among others, the relics and vestiges of Communism and Marxist-Leninist ideology, linger.
The world is in a state of dystopia. This is precipice having President Biden of the United States referenced a nuclear “Armageddon”! How and when this battle is fought, there will no victor or vanquished. Apocalyptic outcome assured!
Putin is between the Devil and Deep Blue Sea. The prospects of him winning in Ukraine via conventional military campaign are slim, which make the use of nuclear or chemical weapons, highly likely. From the onset of the war, Putin and his top aides in the Kremlin engaged on nuclear saber-rattling and given the mammoth casualties Russian Forces incurred, this battle may be transformed into nonconventional warfare, and it’s getting more and more macabre with time. The prized Crimea bridge hit by a blast over the weekend accentuated the predicament Putin is in and all indications point to a conventional military defeat. Given this stark and harsh reality on the battlefield in Ukraine, how much longer Putin’s reign extends from this point on, is any body’s guess!
A major global crisis is at hand and, if a ceasefire is not achieved in a haste, a nuclear confrontation involving US and its NATO allies against the Russian Federation is afoot! History cannot be rewritten, but sure can be repeated! World-War II, was fought in Europe and the Pacific. Given this proviso, a World War-III in Europe and the Pacific, is not beyond the realms of possibility given the recent belligerent activities of the DPRK on the Korean Peninsula, firing ballistic missiles over Japan, and on the verge of seventh nuclear test after a five-year hiatus. The last time North Korea conducted nuclear test was in 2017. If this is linked to Russia-Ukraine war, it’s Déjà vu the 1940s!
In conclusion, I fervently believed the annexation of four Ukrainian regions by Putin, is a face-saving way out of the conflict after suffering ignominious defeats on the battlefield in Ukraine. Aggression must not be rewarded in any way, shape or form, but to avoid an apocalyptic outcome in Ukraine and Europe at large, ceding these territories to Putin might be a plausible starting point of diplomatic negotiations. President Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian people must acquiesce and salvage what is left of their country. A nuclear war will further ruin Ukraine and the destruction will be total. What’s of paramount importance at this stage is de-escalation and immediate ceasefire, to be followed by diplomatic negotiations.
The possibility of a nonconventional warfare in this conflict are high, given the quagmire Russia is in. The only way forward in this fracas is de-escalation, ceasefire and diplomacy, barring which, is: game, set & match for modern-day civilization.