War and Punishment in Ukraine

Vidya Bhushan Rawat

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat

(Asian Independent)- Russian invasion on Ukraine has resulted in global outcry against Vladimir Putin and his regime. There are protests and sanctions against Russia. United Nations has passed resolutions where many nations including China, India, Pakistan have abstained and refused to toe to the western line. The UN Human Rights Committee is forming a commission of inquiry against Russian War crime. UN High Commission on refugees has said that over 1.2 million people have left Ukraine and taken shelter in countries like Poland, Moldova, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. Massive protested have been witnessed in various capitals of the world. United States and United Kingdom have ordered seizure of properties and assets of various Russian Oligarchs. Different sports federations have banned Russian players from participating in various international events.

There are different versions in terms of casualties and it is certain that it will be in thousands as the real picture is going to emerge after the war is over. Ukraine says that over five thousand Russian soldiers have been killed so far. Big companies have withdrawn from Russia. Western world has also decided to ban Russia from the SWIFT system of international banking which link over 11000 banks world over. Facebook, Google and other big companies have banned Russian version. Most of the European countries have banned Russian airlines to fly over them. American President Joe Biden called Vladimir Putin a dictator and said that every thing will be counted and that the Western world will not allow Putin go unaccounted for the war crime on Ukraine. The ‘anger’ is so high that even the Russian TV has been prohibited from reporting from the western world and its broadcast now out of bound for the Western World.

The other side, Ukraine is getting every help except ‘direct’ participation by the Americans or Europeans. Its president Volodymyr Zelensky continue to attract attention and is being ‘praised’ as a leader who has ‘united’ the world. His ‘leadership’ qualities are hailed as the one which is ‘inspiring’ and the American President on his ‘State of the Union’ address actually invited the ambassador of Ukraine to the Congress and said that Americans are with the Ukraine.

While there is no doubt that Russians have violated international law and must be made accountable for their action yet it is only our wish. How will we smaller countries make the ‘big powers’ accountable. How much accountability has been sought from those who went to Afghanistan and left that country in lurch. Haven’t we seen how Americans suddenly left Afghanistan to fetch itself and the ‘Afghan army’ that was trained by its forces with heavy investment surrendered without firing a single bullet.

There are interesting things visible now. Israel has refused to censor Russia and its prime minister is now ‘mediating’ between Russia and Ukraine. Shockingly, Israel has never faced the sanctions and condemnation in the ‘rule based’ Western world as Russia is facing. Of course, Americans are the ‘masters’ of rule based’ global order where they can demolish any one at the whims and fancies and Europeans just joined them in ‘protecting’ the order which actually does not protect the hapless people of those countries which they bombed but purely their economic-business interests.

The rule based order is so powerful that NATO bombed Serbia in (March-June 1999) which was part of Yugoslavia and kept the UN ‘Peacekeeping forces’ in Kosovo.  The Serbia separated from Yugoslavia. Due to bombing on a power plant the electricity system collapsed. The great ‘rule based’ order of NATO can also be found in the ruins of  Iraq, Libya, Syria and Afghanistan.

The Russian intervention in Ukraine has created a difficult situation for Taiwan who might face Chinese aggression as it has never accepted the autonomy of the state. The question is how we stop powerful states to violate the international border at their choice? Can peace is possible with ‘sanctions’ and ‘isolation’ of a military power.

The Western world is no doubt a rule-based order where institutions are stronger and fairly autonomous even when racial biases still exists despite tall claims of ‘liberalism’ but definitely in terms of rights and liberty it is far superior to other countries including the Russia, China, Iran, Saudi Arabia where people live in the shadow of ‘mighty’ state.  Economic sanctions are the most brutal and cruel weapon in the hands of the Western world which affect the common citizens of the country. If the aim is to isolate Vladimir Putin through these sanctions then they are wrong because it is the not the leaders or oligarchs who will face the problems but the common people. Though an overwhelming majority of the countries supported the resolution against Russia yet if you see that the number of absentees and opponent then you will realise that in terms of the size and population perhaps except Europe and America, most of the other countries have made their position clear that they would act as per their ‘national’ interests and won’t jeopardise their relations with Russia. It is also clear that even when countries and people might support Ukraine and its autonomy they clearly see the Western hypocrisy in ‘rule based’ system when Syria, Palestine and Yemen are being bombarded on daily basis by their allies. There is no shame in denying the Palestinian their home state and right to live in peace and dignity.

There are reports of racial discrimination against students mainly from African countries who wanted to leave Ukraine amidst the Russian invasion. The stories being narrated and explained on BBC, CNN and other ‘international’ networks unambiguously reflect their racial prejudices. Those who were habitual of witnessing Blacks, Muslims, Asians as ‘refugees’ were at pain to see, ‘healthy’, ‘white’, ‘Europeans’ compelled to become refugees. Of course, this is painful and disturbing but why discriminate on the basis of their ethnicity. We should not ignore the statement made by President George W Bush immediately after the assault on World Trade Centre using the term Islamic Fascism for those who attacked United States. President Putin has also used the term neo Nazis discriminating against the Russian population. The disturbing thing is that every global power has justification of its action and Russian do have the same argument as American had when they bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki as Nelson Mandela put it, that though American bombed Japan but the main aim of these bombs was to warn Soviet Union to desist from any ‘misadventure’. In the very similar way, Ukraine has now become the hotspot for the Western world to humiliate Russia.

Vladimir Putin is now a ‘despot’ surrounded by his cronies and oligarchs. One does not know whether the capitalist world have ‘oligarchs’ or not? Who are those ‘saints’ creating obscene wealth by exploiting the cheap labour from the global south.  Even if Vladimir Putin has to be penalised but that should also happen as per the ‘international law’ and how can TV channels be ‘authorised’ to start a Kangaroo court to do that. If Putin is solely responsible for the crisis then why are you penalising the Russian people who as per your own ‘admission’ do not support Putin and must ‘revolt’ against him. How is the Western world different than Russian one when you are not able to ‘tolerate’ RTV and banning all the portals and sites which could be termed as Russian ‘propaganda’. We all know nobody can match western world in propaganda but ofcourse that is not called ‘propaganda’ but ‘research’ and ‘analysis’.

During the War against terror, Muslim became the target in the Western world and it showed their ignorance and prejudices. They were violated and called as ‘terrorist’. It seems with growing sanctions and campaign against Russia in the Western World, we might witness Russian Phobia, hatred against Russian expatriates. How are the non-resident Russian responsible for Putin’s war crime?  How can you confiscate assets of ‘individual’ citizens for the crime committed by a political or military leadership of a country? Is it rule based? If this become a norm and really rule based then all big bankers in the United States belonging to Jewish origin will lose their asset for the war crimes of Israel in Palestine which are far more than the Russian crimes elsewhere and of course, who will penalise the Americans for the crime in the name of ‘protecting’ democracy. And yes, Colonial powers exploited us not to bring democracy in our countries but to exploit our resources.

An Italian University decided to withdraw the literature of legendary Russian novelist, author Fyodor Dostoevsky after Russia invaded Ukraine. Now, what is the connection between Dostoevsky and Putin’s adventurism in Ukraine ?

Dostoevsky, known for his celebratory work of ‘Crime and Punishment’, The idiots, Demons, The Brother Karamazov etc was born on November 11th, 1821 was sentenced to death in 1849. He was known for his thought-provoking work. ‘The man who lies to himself and listen to his own lies comes to a point that he can not distinguish the truth within him or around him and so loses all respect for himself and for others. And having no respect he ceases to love’ from The Brother Karamazov. In his famous ‘crime and Punishment’, he says, “Pain and sufferings are always inevitable for a large intelligence and a deep heart. The really great men must, I think, have great sadness on earth’. Dostoevsky’s conviction came from his ‘alleged’ participation in ‘anti-government’ ‘activities’. His death sentence was altered and he was sent to labour camp in Serbia and got released in 1854.

Now, any one who would read and enjoy the extremely meaningful and thought-provoking life and work of Fyodor Dostoevsky would simply ask the question as why does Western world want to shut its door for those great writers just because they happened to be Russian. How is an author who fought against the tyrannies of the governments of his time be made responsible for Putin’s attack on Ukraine. Though the Italian University withdrew its decision but it reflect in which direction the things are moving. The way, western world has gone berserk against Russia, could ultimately create a big wall between them. The more you push a power to wall and isolate it, the bigger will be the threat for the world. Western world is dealing with various opponents at this time. There is China apart from Russia and then there is Islamic world too. The best bet to bring peace in the world is to sit and strengthen the institutional mechanism. The economic sanctions will harm the poor citizen but it will also compel the other countries to think of developing an alternative model of dealing with each other’s. Many countries like Cuba, Iran, Venezuela, Russia have already been transacting with each other in their own currencies.  Whether it is our communication network or financial system, each country will be forced to start its own model and it will only result in growing ‘nationalist’ war cries.

The West must understand that not every one is thinking on their line. Ukraine send its forces in Syria and Iraq. It condemned India’s nuclear explosion and never really supported Indian position on Jammu Kashmir. Russia on the other hand, has been a time-tested friend of India and India’s position on Russia was as per its own strategic needs and interests. Many in the establishment actually endorse Russia’s stand and the hawks in India want the same powerful responses which is dangerous as India is not Russia and has mighty neighbour as China but every country will now think for itself. We have seen the Western hypocrisy not during this war but during the Covid Crisis when a country like Canada and UK had amassed the vaccine and denied poor countries their fair share. Many big countries in Africa and Latin America actually had Russian vaccine. Today, the fragility of the global order is being witnessed and need to be understood. When your government stand for your rights and that do not really match with the Western world then you must be ready for sanctions. Nothing happens to the government but suppose google or all these international corporation close down in India, the damage would be enormous. The sanctions and approach of the western world has only explained to us that we are in an uneven world and that they can switch off things and close your transactions and communications if they are ‘upset’ with you. Already, Covid crisis has shown us that our own governments can deny us our right to internet whenever they feel threatened. These are dangerous and need serious introspection from all. We need responsible mechanism internationally where common person is not penalised and where our transactions and communications are safe. If we are individuals and globally individual is considered to be supreme then how can individuals be held responsible for the wrongs of institutions of a country whether Russia or any other country.

Western democracies are no doubt liberal and provide a hope too but they need to work more. Right now, the sanctions against Russia will only push it further to the wall. It might help Putin become hero as everybody would feel that the interest of the western world is in a week and meek Russia as happened after 1991 when Gorbachev and Boris Yelstin were at the helm of affairs of that country. Putin create a resurgent Russia and perhaps no government whether democratic or military would want a divided Russia. Ultimately, Western world will have to sit with them and create a congenial environment for talks keeping Russian concern in mind. If that does not happen then Ukraine will pay the price as nothing is being done to stop the war except these so-called sanctions as by the time they will show some effect Ukraine will be totally flattened. It will take decade to create that again and the trauma will be much deeper than we can think. West can think of ‘rebuilding’ it after Russia is defeated or compelled to withdraw but by that time the damage would be enormous and the blame can not be put on Russia alone but the Western liberal world too will be held responsible for the destruction in Ukraine, for their failure to protect it on time. Peace building is important but it is not possible without keeping the egos out and addressing the security concerns of Russia and ofcourse the sovereignty of Ukraine. Can it become a peace zone between Russia and the West? Time is running out and any escalation of the war would be detrimental for the world so all efforts must be made to bring all parties to negotiating tables without war of words. It is time to act and stop this madness.

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