Provoking Russian Invasion of Ukraine

By Kollengode S Venkataraman

Henry Kissinger, in his Washington Post article (March 5, 2014) titled To Settle the Ukraine Crisis, Start at the End, didactically traced Ukraine’s convoluted political, cultural and religious history, and why Russia — not just Vladimir Putin — is obsessed with Ukraine. Kissinger’s advice was unambiguous: Ukraine “should not join NATO” while it “should have the right to choose freely its economic and political associations, including with Europe.” Kissinger is not alone on this. Among many other experts, George F. Kennan was the architect of American post-World War II strategy for containing the Soviet Union. In the late 1990s after the USSR imploded, Kennan called the expansion of NATO into Central Europe “the most fateful error of American policy in the entire post-Cold War era.” But US foreign policy machine and bipartisan Congressional leaders in the Obama, Trump, and Biden presidencies have been heedless. 

President Biden, so soon after ending the longest (20 years) and the costliest ($2 trillion) American war in Afghanistan, knows that Americans are not ready for another military adventure thousands of miles away in Russia. Further, the US military and foreign policy advisors to Biden recognize that Russia is no Afghanistan or Iraq. And EU nations are not ready to spill their blood and draining their treasury in a military confrontation with Russia over Ukraine. Besides, 40% of EU’s natural gas comes from Russia, with which EU is historically interlinked in complex ways.

No wonder, other than sanctions — including sanctions on individuals in Russia — there is nothing the US can do for now. So, Russia is militarily overpowering Ukraine and prolonging the conflict. No matter how this ends, we are in for a long Cold War II.

Media in the US talk in moral tones about Russia’s military ambition and penchant for interfering in US domestic politics. But then, since WW-II, the US has deposed democratically elected leaders, propped up despots, and made the USSR implode, not to speak of countless asymmetric wars, big and small, in many parts of the world killing and maiming civilians in the thousands and destroying their physical infrastructure. 

Russia is not, by any stretch of the imagination, an economic or technological threat to the US. Militarily, maybe. And yet, after dismantling the USSR, the US added fifteen new members to NATO, all encircling Russia, Wanting to admit Ukraine into NATO only provoked Russia. The American focus should be on China, a more menacing threat economically, politically, militarily, even culturally, and with deep pockets.   ∎


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