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by Lenrod Nzulu Baraka
Military mobilisation in Russia has led to thousands of Russians fleeing their country to escape conscription. Russians, perhaps mindful of the 27 million of their countrymen that fell defending the motherland against Nazi aggression, are saying no to the prospects of becoming cannon fodder for another war between Russia and the rest of Europe. Direct flights from Russia to countries that do not require Russians to have visa are already sold out.
Russian mobilisation comes at a time when European and America belligerence is at an all time high. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has doubled down on Russian sanctions saying that the sanctions were here to stay and that now was a time to show resolve not appeasement. Maybe she is trying hard to shore up the commitment of European nations that are staring down a bleak winter of discontent.
President Biden fresh from his 60 Minute interview in which he bluntly stated that he was willing to send American troops to assist Taiwan if that country was threatened by invading Chinese forces, amplified Ursula von der Leyen’s hawkish rhetoric. With a very straight face President Biden berated Russia for wanting to extinguish Ukraine’s right to exist as a state. I guess he forgot what the American government did to Iraq, Libya, and Yugoslavia.
In his speech at the UN President Biden reminded his fellow world leaders that no nation should be allowed to pursue imperialistic ambitions without consequences. He probably winked at the leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia as he said these words to remind them that his statement did not apply to their nations. The US has used its veto over fifty times to shield Israel from UN resolution condemning Israeli actions against Palestinians. And who could forget the famous fist bump between President Biden and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after President Biden pariah threat.
Undaunted and undeterred by the European Community, NATO, and the US and its allies, President Putin ordered a military mobilisation of 300 000 reservists. In a televised address to his nation President Putin stated that if the territorial integrity of his nation was threatened, he would use every available means to protect Russia and its people. President Putin’s cryptic weathervane comment in connection with his nuclear statement preceding it, suggests that the deadly game of nuclear escalation has started.
The US and NATO bring to the table an impressive array of military and economic weapons many of which have already been deployed against Russia. On its own, Russia will not be able to withstand the American /NATO assault indefinitely. The longer the Ukrainian war drags on the weaker Russia’s position becomes. A major Russian escalation could however turn the tide in Russia’s favor.
The formal annexation of new Ukrainian territory may fit the bill for an escalation that might prove to be decisive. The West will have to decide whether President Putin is bluffing about his nuclear threat as they decide on an appropriate response. Ukrainian attacks against territory formally annexed by Russia will be interpreted as an attack on Russia by Ukraine. The path to total war will be open and Russia will unleash its most potent weapons on Ukraine and secondly on any NATO or American forces that come to Ukraine’s assistance.
Since Russia will be the underdog in an all out dogfight with NATO and the US, Russia will have to rely on its nuclear arsenal either as a deterrent to outright invasion of Russia by NATO and US forces or as a game changing strategy to decimate the opposition. Russia may very well decide to go nuclear for the same reason the US went atomic against the Japanese. Rather than throwing his population into the meat grinder of a conventional war, Putin may go instead for a few precision strikes designed to instill terror in the camp of the enemy. Once that first nuclear button is pushed everything changes and the world that we know will be transformed.
Lenrod Nzulu Baraka is the founder of Afro-Caribbean Spiritual Teaching Center.