PUTIN’S WAR ON UKRAINE (PART I)
By Akin Ojumu
In the face of the unimaginable human tragedy unfolding in Ukraine as a result of the unprovoked invasion by Russia, there’s the argument emanating from certain quarters that the United States and its NATO allies must be measured in their response so as not to provoke Vladimir Putin and send the world into World War III.
While limbs of babies are being ripped apart and lives of little children prematurely and cruelly snuffed out, there are those who vehemently argue that Putin was goaded into invading Ukraine because of his legitimate concern about the risk that country poses to the security of the Russia state. Even as Russia uses cluster and thermobaric bombs to flatten apartment buildings, destroy schools, and reduce to rubble hospitals, the constant refrain of some observers is that Western nations must be blamed for Putin’s acts of aggression. Tucked away in the safety and security of their homes, thousands of miles away from the war front, these Russia apologists would like the world to know that Ukraine is getting exactly what it deserves for allowing itself to be used as a pawn by the US and its NATO allies.
In the opinion of these Russia sympathizers, Vladimir Putin’s fear about NATO’s expansion to abut its borders is valid. If NATO had not been so willing to admit into its fold countries that share borders with Russia, they argue, Russia would never have had cause to invade Ukraine and slaughter its citizens. They insist that Putin is only doing what any good leader would do to protect the safety and security of his people. So, his decision to pummel Ukrainian towns and cities and reduce them to rubble is fair game in international geopolitics.
Parroting Russia’s talking point, these advocates of the Russian state warn the United States and its NATO allies of the consequences of coming to the aid of Ukraine. Espousing Putin’s propaganda, some folks in this camp of pacifists have even gone to the extent of warning western nations not to interfere with Russia in its invasion of a peaceful sovereign nation. They argue that Ukraine has always been part of Russia culturally. So, the world should simply leave Putin alone and let him do whatever he wants with Ukraine.
They are against the imposition of sanctions on Russia. And even if sanctions are going to be imposed at all, these Putin’s boosters quibble that they must be carefully calculated and delicately titrated so as not to crash the world’s economy into a recession and create economic hardship for the entire world.
These Russia backers are especially against the imposition of sanctions on Russia’s oil and gas by NATO. To do so, they opine, will bring about a catastrophic energy crisis, as their citizens will be forced to pay higher prices at the pumps with the ripple effect of plunging the world’s economy further into recession.
Another no-no for these Putin's enablers is the threat of a no-fly zone. A no-fly zone over Ukraine is a redline that must never be crossed. Doing so, they argue, would amount to a declaration of war on Russia. The potential consequence of such an action is World War III which, in the words of Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, is going to be a nuclear war.
So as not to provoke Putin, his Western admirers are strongly opposed to the idea of providing Ukraine with warplanes – not even Russia-made warplanes – with which they can defend their homeland against the Russian invaders. Doing so, they say, will unnecessarily anger Putin. And you do not want to anger Vladimir.
As Russia's war in Ukraine progresses, rational observers praise the bravery of the Ukrainian people and their military and salute the heroism of Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, for putting up a valiant fight against one of the strongest armies in the world. The typical assessment of the pro-Russia apologists in the West, however, goes along these lines.
The war is going according to plan. The Russians have been very gentle in conducting their attacks and have very carefully carried out their operations in the war theater. They’ve avoided attacking nuclear power plants. With no mobility, no air defense, no air cover, and no logistical infrastructure, the Ukrainians forces are being annihilated by the vastly superior Russian forces. The Ukrainian forces have fled the battlefields and are now mingling among civilian populations whom they use as human shields to avoid destruction. Putin does not want to flatten Ukraine. In fact, he intends to capture most of it intact. And so far, the Russian forces have inflicted surprisingly little damage to infrastructures in Ukraine.
In a world given to disinformation and misinformation, it's a thin line that separates common sense from arrant nonsense.