War between Russia and Ukraine reaches critical moment

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM –

There are moments in history that seem as crucial to the world as they are terrifying.

Only this century: the 9/11 attacks in 2001; the US “shocking” war on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq two years later; the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 has killed millions of people and turned their lives upside down; and most recently the February 24 invasion of Ukraine by Russia, bringing the devastating war back to Europe.

Friday seemed like one of those turning points when Russian President Vladimir Putin signed treaties to illegally annex much of eastern and southern Ukraine, as it did with Crimea in 2014.

After seven months into the conflict and facing near-daily nuclear threats from Kremlin leaders with their backs to the wall, Putin horribly vowed to protect the newly annexed regions by “all means available”. Almost immediately, Ukraine’s president responded by applying to join NATO’s military alliance, which pitted Russia against the West.

Any thought that this kind of harrowing short-sightedness had ended in the 1980s, when the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and then-US President Ronald Reagan eased the Cold War and the specter of nuclear Armageddon, is now gone.

Even as the horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan burn on the collective consciousness of humanity, the world must rethink the possible use of nuclear weapons.

After a series of humiliating setbacks on the battlefield, Putin made it painfully clear that any attack on the newly annexed regions would be construed as an attack on Russia. He would use every available resource in his vast arsenal — the nod to nuclear weapons was barely disguised — and didn’t bluff, he said.

“We are in an escalation phase and Russia now faces a series of more extreme choices than before,” said Nigel Gould-Davies, the former British ambassador to Belarus.

Gould-Davies, senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, said Russia’s attempts to win the war by more moderate means have failed, and Putin has now reached the “reach and seriousness of the measures” should increase. Russia takes, including annexation and nuclear threats.

Even as Moscow annexed the four Ukrainian regions in a move that will not be recognized by an overwhelming majority of the world, tens of thousands of Russian men drafted to fight in the war fled Russia.

Former Kremlin speechwriter-turned-political analyst Abbas Gallyamov on Friday linked Russia’s war reversals to annexation. “It looks like an attempt to respond somehow, and it looks quite pathetic. Ukrainians are doing something, taking steps into the real material world, while the Kremlin is building a kind of virtual reality, unable to the real world to respond,” he said. said.

The driving force behind Putin are years of alleged humiliation by the West after the demise of the Soviet Union. And the fact that previous bloodshed and atrocities against Chechnya and Syria escaped serious international intervention seemed to give him the conviction that he had carte blanche to rebuild an Imperial Russia.

That is not the case now.

Billions of dollars in the United States and European military aid are helping highly motivated Ukrainian troops liberate territory in the war, amid clear signals from Washington that “catastrophic consequences” will follow any Moscow use of unconventional weapons.

On a day like Friday, September 30, as the Russian war in Ukraine enters a flammable, even more dangerous phase, the question remains; Is a wider war looming with devastating consequences for the world, perhaps not seen since 1939-1945?

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