Russia is painting itself into a tight corner. President Putin is not just endangering innocent Ukrainians; he is also putting the very foundation of Russia in jeopardy.
As the Russian military continues to attack Ukraine, the world has imposed harsher sanctions that will severely impact the Russian economy. The EU is gearing up to support Kyiv with air defense missiles, anti-tank weapons, and humanitarian and financial aid. The belligerent Russian President has countered by ordering Russia's "deterrence forces" - which wield nuclear weapons - on high alert, blaming "aggressive NATO statements."
Reports that Belarus citizens have, in a constitutional referendum, approved hosting of nuclear weapons on its soil adds to the consternation. President Lukashenko's regime is widely seen as a crony of the Russian leader. Belarus aided Russia's invasion of Ukraine by facilitating troop movement through its territory. Minsk's new status as a nuclear-friendly state would further tilt the balance on the continent.
Reverting to its intermediary role, Belarus has now offered to facilitate negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow along the Belarusian-Ukrainian border. Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office said they would go to the talks without preconditions.
Russian invasion has found little support other than from Belarus. Though China, India, and the UAE abstained from voting on a UNSC resolution that "deplored" Moscow's actions, they have also called for restraint and swift cessation of the conflict.
Nuclear war is not the answer to any conflict, much less an unprovoked one. It is common knowledge that there can be no winners in such a war. The fallout of such a catastrophe will not be confined to a country or continent. Nuclear experiments and reactor accidents have demonstrated that the air, water, and soil remain contaminated for decades to come, imperiling the health and well-being of generations to come.
Protests within Russia demonstrate how little people want war. Russian climate scientist Oleg Anisimov's apology at the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) session surprised many. It also depicts a grim reality. Reports that even some in the Russian military were surprised by the orders to invade suggest little support for President Putin's grand scheme on the ground.
The world has set its hopes on the negations about to take place between the Moscow and Kyiv delegations. While Russia's demands for Ukraine's neutrality and recognition of the independence of the breakaway regions of Luhansk and Donetsk are unlikely to be acceptable, hopes are pinned on the talks for a declaration of ceasefire.
With the nuclear threat looming large, the unprovoked war is turning deadlier by the day. It is up to the world leaders to ensure that Moscow's uncalled-for aggression does not turn into a third world war. If crippling the Russian economy, including its energy sector, is the only weapon available, the world leaders must be willing to bite the bullet on that.
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