The Russian blitzkrieg on Ukraine has been met with extraordinary courage and determination by its people. While sanctions have been imposed and negotiations are ongoing, the attack continues. What President Putin seemed to have thought would be a "quick" operation is turning out to be a frustrating, protracted war on the ground for each city and suburb of Ukraine.
Bombarding the suburbs and cities with firepower, almost indiscriminately, has resulted in civilian casualties and the destruction of hospitals and other civilian buildings. The attack invokes memories of earlier Russian attacks during the Syrian and Chechen Wars, when the Russian military paid little attention to sparing ordinary citizens. The invading army had asked the citizens of Kyiv to leave the city. General David Petraeus, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, stated on a radio show that this is a repeat of the "depopulating" tactic used by the Russians before they laid siege to the capital of Ukraine.
What spurred the invasion was Russia’s perceived “security threat” in the face of NATO alliance. President Putin seems determined in his rabid attempt to keep Ukraine out of NATO and the EU. Threatened by the thriving democracy of the country, the autocratic leader is keen to replace the brave and charismatic Ukrainian President Zelensky with a puppet regime that will follow Moscow's bidding.
Even as world leaders exhausted diplomatic channels attempting to deter the Russian President from continuing the war, Gen. Petraeus opined that a messenger, like the former German Chancellor, who enjoyed a good relationship with President Putin, could possibly make headway provided she could offer terms agreeable to both sides. Finding a mediator acceptable to all parties is crucial. The person or persons would have to negotiate with an autocrat with the world’s largest nuclear arsenal at his disposal.
The mere possibility of this turning into a nuclear war is creating anxiety across the continent. The genuine threat that Russian officials have reiterated of using nuclear weapons gives rational world leaders pause in escalating the conflict or directly engaging with Russian forces. President Putin made his intentions crystal clear by ordering Russia's "deterrence forces" - which wield nuclear weapons - on high alert. Even as other NATO members remain on alert, countries like Germany substantially increase their defense spending.
The possibility of directly engaging with Russian troops is off the table. While other options are being explored, many of them have already been implemented. So far, the global powers have imposed harsh, never-seen-before sanctions on the Russian economy and financial institutions to punish the Putin regime. Consequently, the rouble is trading at its lowest level, and Russian stock prices have nosedived.
Reports that a cyberattack on a NATO state could trigger the collective defense clause, Article 5 of the NATO agreement, have also been doing the rounds. Though there is no such precedent, cyberattacks have become an effective weapon in modern warfare. Unless applied with great caution, such attacks would be seen as provocative by the aggressive Russian leader and could trigger retaliatory attacks that could pose considerable losses to the U.S. and EU.
No effort is being spared to contain the invasion of Ukraine as a conflict between two nations. Even if the initial reactions from the world seemed slow or tardy, President Putin's actions have united the EU and the western countries. They have found common ground and taken steps to initiate punitive measures, even at a high cost to their economies and energy security.
The world leaders and military commanders are aware of the dangers of pushing the aggressive President too far. Already isolated from most of the world and facing criticism from his own citizens, President Putin is likely to retaliate with rash actions that will have far-reaching consequences.
The tough question before the world is, what will it take for the Russian President to order a ceasefire? And how can the world bring him to the point of reconciliation without triggering nuclear war?
The prospect of a third world war is one that no one finds palatable.
Related tippinsights Editorials:
Brothers In Arms: The Russian Army And The Wagner Group
Punish Russia, Not Russians
Putin’s Outrageous Nuclear Threat
5 Factors Behind Putin's Aggression And The Possible Endgame
SWIFT: Europe Can't Have Its Cake And Eat It Too
It’s Time To Walk The Talk To Defend Ukraine
Anti-Fossil Madness Funds Putin's Ukraine Aggression
Putin’s Nonsense Peacekeeping Mission
Nord Stream: A Lesson In Energy Dependence
Cracks Among Ukraine's Allies
Countering Putin’s Brinksmanship
Thirty Years Since The Collapse Of The Soviet Union
Who Will Prevail- Russia Or NATO?
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