Proxy War

Are geopolitical gains more important than people’s lives, human distress and the widespread destruction of Ukraine?

Ukraine War & Climate Change . Pic – Carbon Brief

By Mrinal Roy

“In war, truth is the first casualty.”
— Aeschylus 6th BCE

The war in Ukraine has yet again exposed the hidden and sordid facets of armed conflict. The world is waking up to the cruel reality that the accompanying propaganda battle and daily spin doctoring on every development and event in the war broadcast and repeatedly rehashed on the main news channels seem to have overshadowed the human distress, widespread destruction and deaths caused by the war. Unverified narratives aired and recycled by mainstream media have become weapons of war.

Amidst the anguish and devastation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky became the only Head of State to successively address the US Congress, the EU Council, and the parliaments of various European countries, etc., to viva voce seek their military and material support as well as request them to take various actions and impose tougher sanctions on Russia.

Propaganda war

The well-oiled propaganda machine built around claims of missile attacks on hospitals, maternity wards, schools, civilian casualties, and children killed cumulating in the latest allegations of war crimes in Bucha spins a Manichaean narrative on the war pitching Ukraine, the US, the EU, the West, NATO and their allies against Russia. This has triggered calls for imposing additional sanctions on Russia and the pledge to supply more advanced and lethal weapons to Ukraine. The callous gamble is to unduly prolong the war despite the escalating civilian casualties and havoc wreaked to the point that the sanctions imposed sap Russia’s resolve to pursue the war. It is quite shocking that world leaders are glibly accusing Russia of war crimes without waiting for an independent inquiry by forensic and other qualified experts to establish the truth. Russia has denied the allegations and qualified the ‘evidence’ presented by Ukraine as ‘fabricated’. The propaganda war is also an unequal battle.

What is also particularly galling is the lack of independent investigative journalism to objectively sort the wheat from the chaff in the daily blitzkrieg of claims and counter claims in the propaganda war opposing the protagonists.

Ground reality

In the light of the ground reality, what on earth is the logic of continuing to supply billions of dollars of arms to Ukraine to prolong an unequal battle which daily wreaks widespread destruction and human suffering across the country, reduces cities into rubble and forces millions of Ukrainians to flee their homes with some 4.3 million seeking refuge in neighbouring countries? Despite the bravado and the hype about Ukrainian resistance and eventual victory, the stark reality of this costly proxy war is that Ukraine and its hapless people are bearing the brunt of the daily devastation, distress and casualties wreaked by the conflict. The major beneficiaries of the war are the arms manufacturing industry and those insidiously jockeying for their parochial geopolitical interests.

In this proxy war between the West, the US, NATO and Russia, sovereign countries having no axe to grind in the conflict have been press-ganged to toe the line at the UN and choose the right camp. The world has been divided. Even China and India were lobbied. The superpowers must realize that the world is experiencing tectonic changes and shifting power dynamics ushering a new world order which is multipolar. The war in Ukraine is also catalysing this process.

In contrast to the billions of dollars of weapons supplied to Ukraine, the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released on 28 February 2022, reveal that the most polluting countries and the world leaders have failed to take the urgent actions necessary and commit the scale of resources required to halve greenhouse gas emissions this decade in order to save our planet and mankind from a climate change catastrophe, bearing in mind that some of climate change consequences are already irreversible.

Instead of reducing its dependence on fossil fuels for its energy production to combat the dire consequences of climate change following its decision to cut down its imports of highly polluting coal, oil and gas from Russia, the EU is turning to alternative sources of fossil fuels, gas and coal having a larger carbon footprint, proposed by US and other allies. The Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban termed the proposal of ‘replacing cheap Russian gas with expensive American gas’ as ‘absurd’.

Widespread devastation

The war in Ukraine has also showcased the scale of destruction caused by the arsenal of the latest high-tech weaponry, state of the art missiles and firepower unleashed in the war.

After more than 42 days of war, the main cities of Ukraine are in ruins and more than 11 million people have fled their homes. It is particularly deplorable that against such a grim backdrop there has been no serious initiative by the main leaders of the world and the United Nations to broker a peace agreement to end the war at the earliest. World leaders should have multiplied their efforts to end the war and not stoke it. Are geopolitical gains more important than people’s lives, human distress and the widespread destruction of Ukraine?

Some news channels thriving on sensational news have even displayed an irresponsible frivolity about the likelihood of a nuclear war. Has the world not learnt the traumatic lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? People must realize that a nuclear war and its attendant radiation would be disastrous for humanity and the world. The whole world must do what it takes to eliminate nuclear weapons and forestall every risk of a nuclear war.

Hope for peace

It is noteworthy that the initiative for a peace agreement between Ukraine and Russia was not taken by the Secretary-General of the United Nations nor the leaders of the United States and the EU. Turkey provided the forum to facilitate direct negotiations between representatives of Ukraine and Russia. The outcome of the round of negotiations held on 29 March in Istanbul as spelled out by the Ukrainians and the Russians as well as the Turkish President Recep Erdogan are very constructive and finally provide a hope for peace.

However, despite extensive details of the constructive peace talks being spelled out, there was new spin doctoring and scare mongering to question the elements of the proposed peace agreement to patently derail the process.

What if?

Is there a latent fear that peace will bring to light documents, video footage, evidence seized during the war and testimonies of victims which could reveal the sordid truths on the underlying causes of the protracted war in Ukraine, claims of atrocities during the war or the nature of research carried out in the biological and chemical laboratories uncovered in Ukraine? Too many questionable acts and unholy alliances have been justified in the name of geopolitical interests. Peace could expose the untruths and hidden truths of the devastating war in Ukraine and ensure that all those responsible are made accountable and punished for their acts and wrongdoings.

After the widespread destruction, death, and distress in Ukraine, it is time to give peace a chance and for truth to prevail.

Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 8 April 2022

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