By Vivek Pattanayak in Bhubaneswar, March 14, 2022: War has continued for more than two weeks with heavy bombardment of Ukraine and deployment of massive Russian armed forces some in occupation of cities, with claims and counter-claims of losses of military personnel and equipment, a familiar depiction in every war situation where the truth is the biggest casualty. The Western media gives a heart-rending picture of graphic exodus of the Ukrainian population to the east European countries.

Now, BBC gives picture of the Russian people moving to Finland. Footage also shows destruction of civil buildings and residential apartments, which during the American air assault on Iraq, and NATO attack on Yugoslavia, was described as “collateral damages”. The Russian media, it is reported, describes these damages as self-inflicted by Ukraine. During the Iraq war US called such things as “friendly fire.”

Incidentally, one of the air strikes of the US during the long Afghan war took many lives of the Canadian military personnel much to the chagrin of the then Canadian Prime Minister, and similarly another strike killed Pakistani troops which led to blockade of the NATO supplies across the Khyber Pass leading to tension between Pakistan and US. The most damaging to the war objective was killing of civilians in Afghanistan by air strikes and missiles in remote places during marriages and other congregations of the rural folks.

This had led to serious protests from the western nominated Afghan President Karzai. When these “collateral damages” continued, it is the Taliban militants who gained popularity which fortified their strong-hold in the remote areas. During the Kosovo war NATO air strikes hit the Chinese embassy killing a serving diplomat occasioning strong protest from the Chinese government.

Call it by whatever name “collateral damage” or “friendly fire” they have tremendous impact on civilian psyche and morale of people, and they sway public opinion locally and even globally against invader. One should not be in doubt that anger among the Ukrainian population has increased many folds like during the Iraq war and Kosovo war anti-American sentiments heightened both in Arab world and Yugoslavia respectively however much the Western media painted the rulers as dictators and tyrants.

As my former colleague in the UN agency, told me in a blunt but plain language that the Ukrainians would hate Russia and the Russians from the bottom of their hearts for generations to come no matter whether they have ethnic Slavic connection.

Whatever historical narration Putin may give about Ukraine and its origin as an independent country going back to the time of Lenin, unless it is subjugated, the country would remain an enemy of Russia for near future. Unequivocally, Putin has sent Ukraine into the embrace of the West with its supplies of arms and ammunition, more importantly the multi- media support and the Western imposed sanctions on Russia, Zelensky being shown as a hero in the West.

Loss of lives and damages to property and mass displacements leave indelible impression on the minds of people. They determine future relationships on the long-term. It took decades for Vietnam to establish relationship with USA. Even after more than half a century under-current of tension remained between UK and Germany emanating from the sufferings of people. The ordinary Iraqis and Afghans cannot forget the war, certainly not US assault. Hiatus between the ruler and ruled ever increasing, when genuinely popular democratic governments replace the present crop of leaders, US would lose base in the Arab world.

Whatever strategy the Russian leadership now has unless the spectacular result comes soon which can be described as victory, the Russian population intermixed with Ukrainians would be wary of the hostilities as it happened in disastrous involvement in Afghanistan, as also in the prolonged war in Vietnam which made the Administration highly unpopular in America bringing protests and student uprisings, and people finding ways to escape draft. Even after the second Iraq war although Bush declared early victory internecine war and uncertainly continued leading to creation of ISIS.

Although NATO powers and West have presently come together in imposing economic sanctions even ensuring social media in line including other entities like NETFLIX, McDonald, Coca Cola, Starbuck etc., if the economy gets severely affected as it would impact common people the administrations would lose popularity although Biden’s popularity might have increased presently.

Of course, Johnson is the biggest beneficiary now having escaped the scandal relating to “bring your wine party”, with public attention having been diverted against Putin, painted in the British media as Hitler ‘in making’. Curiously, Putin uses the expression neo-Nazis to describe the Zelensky regime. The Russian media, at the same time shows soaring popularity of Putin.

The current sanctions look massive, but sanction is a double-edged weapon. Dependence on oil and gas in the West is overwhelming, particularly in Europe. Although to mitigate adverse effect of sanction on fossil fuel US may relax sanction on Venezuela and Iran but how soon that would neutralize soaring price is another question. Another pertinent issue is whether Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and UAE would ramp up further production when they are harvesting gains with this rising price.

Although the US led Western media has started saying that sanction is having its effect on the Russians with crashing of stock market and exchange rate of rouble having plummeted, one must wait and watch.Fitch predicts Russia may default in debt although Moscow contradicts it. Exiting of the Western corporate behemoths from Russia has effect on their profits and employment at their home countries.

International relations are based on national self-interest. The British Prime Minister, Palmerstone famously said in the 19th century, “Britain has no permanent friends, but it has only permanent interests”. The same doctrine is the guiding principle for most of the countries in 21st century.

Turkey although a member of NATO has waited for years for membership in EU. It has acquired the Russian S 400 missile system. Iran long estranged from US and its allies and aggrieved by the pernicious sanction imposed by US would be with Russia.

When NATO made disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, Russia, China, Iran, Turkey, Qatar, and Pakistan maintained their embassies, a symbolism which cannot escape attention. It is a harbinger of shape of things to come in the Central Asia, the cornucopia of energy and Afghanistan being considered as Saudi Arabia of lithium, the strategic mineral of the twenty-first century.

Russia’s leadership in the Commonwealth of Independent States would be crucial to the balance of power in the region which would impact alignments in the context of the Ukraine crisis with the Anglo-American dominance in global affairs under decline.

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Anita Sabat
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Very true. The war still continues.
Respective media & governments are busy with own propaganda.
Rightly observed about the various terms used when USA is a part of the war via-a-vis Russia.
Ground reality and points clearly and logically explained.
The truth is – all nations have permanent interests for their own affairs!
Oil prices have started increasing again today.