Skip to main content

Ukraine: To what extent can western countries get into direct confrontation with Russia?

By Bharat Dogra 

Among all the countries and regions of the world, the west is supposed to have the best capacity for conducting research, carrying out investigations and gathering intelligence. This is due to the existence of very well-funded intelligence agencies, academic and research organizations, universities and think –tanks as well as very well-resourced and networked media organizations. In addition there is supposed to be the constitutionally guaranteed freedom for a diversity of opinion to exist and spread, providing checks and balances and enabling corrections at an early stage. Opposition parties are supposed to have wide space, more than in most other countries, to provide alternative and opposing views and having these debated, leading to correctives when needed. All this together can provide a very strong base for evidence-based policy- making.
However despite all this, it increasingly appears that the room for evidence-based policy in the west is fast shrinking, judging from some recent instances. The most discussed issue of recent times has been the Ukraine conflict where most evidence has to be obtained from within Europe and hence is particularly easy to collect. It should have been possible to find very clear answers to at least four basic questions on the situation in Ukraine during 2014-2021.
Firstly, was the 2014 coup to dislodge an elected government largely the result of the support and instigation of the USA and close allies with the aim of a consistently anti-Russia policy being imposed on Ukraine? Secondly, was this followed by the steady strengthening of neo-Nazi forces, including armed forces? Thirdly, were there many attacks on Russian language speaking citizens during this period leading to several thousand deaths, with the neo-Nazis being the leading perpetrators, and such attacks increasing further in 2021? Lastly, did this period witness large-scale farmland grab by big business interests, including those with strong links to western countries and tax havens, while at the same time the condition of farmers, workers and common people declined, at least partially due to policies imposed by west-dominated financial institutions?
These are four crucial questions for getting a clear idea of the nature of changes taking place in Ukraine during 2014-21. If the answer to all these questions is in the affirmative, then clearly the ethical case against the Ukraine authorities and those supporting them during this period would be very strong. On grounds of democracy, human rights and justice, there would be a very strong case for condemning what was happening in Ukraine during this period.
Now a number of efforts of individuals and organizations based within the west have in fact examined these four questions and on the basis of a lot of evidence have answered all these four questions in the affirmative. However these are mostly small, frequently marginalized efforts and their findings have been ignored by those who are really most important from the point of view of policy making. The dominant view has ignored all these concerns. The leading opposition parties have also not taken up these concerns. The leading think-tanks have also not taken them up, nor have the leading media organizations, instead pushing a very different narrative.
In these conditions some of the distinguished scholars, helped by younger colleagues and students, can play a very important role, without any bias at all and in a completely honest way, caring only for the factual position. They can prepare very detailed evidence-based reports on these issues together with carefully written summaries and press releases and make these available for anybody to read and discuss. There can be several efforts in this direction. This will help to create a public opinion based on the factual situation.
Then there is the question of how to see the Russian invasion. There is a strong case for saying that at a time of such a serious environmental crisis, there is no room for any invasion or any war. Then there is also the obvious fact that all invasions involve much regrettable loss of life and other distress, particularly in these times when such destructive weapons are available. But having said that, the task of detailed examination of any invasion still remains, with more emphasis on exploring to what extent it was avoidable and secondly, who should get the most blame for this.
Now the relevant questions in this context are—to what extent was Ukraine being changed to make the situation unacceptably risky for Russia and to what extent were the attacks on the Russian speaking people of Ukraine increasing? If the situation in both these contexts was steadily worsening, and this can be found by evidence-based research, what were the options available to Russia? Was it possible to protect essential and legitimate interests of Russia without an invasion? If Russia had merely relied on any helpful action from the UN or the ‘international community’ was there a reasonable chance of its concerns being addressed? If such questions are honestly explored, a better and more nuanced understanding of the Russian invasion and its circumstances can emerge which can contribute much to policy. It will be helpful to also examine the situation from the perspective of the Russian leadership and people and their concerns, instead of taking only a west-centric position.
Then there is the question of what ‘victory’ in such a war can mean for Ukraine and its western supporters, when the other side always has the option of using nuclear weapons if pushed too much by many western countries playing a bigger and bigger role in providing weapons and other military assistance to Ukraine. At what stage the western supporting countries can get involved in a direct confrontation with Russia, and do the governments of western countries have their people’s mandate for such high risk situations? Cannot brinkmanship result sometimes in situations not planned for, and cannot high risk situations escalate even accidentally beyond control? Who sabotaged the prospects of peace at a very early stage of the Ukraine conflict? It will be very helpful for policy corrections if several eminent unbiased scholars of the west get together to explore these questions with complete honesty and in detail, and prepare publicly available reports based on such deliberations without much delay.
The main policy choice for western countries now is between continuing to forever supply more weapons to the Ukraine regime and pushing for ceasefire and peace as early as possible. Various aspects of this policy choice should be discussed, examining all evidence as well as the wider considerations of world peace, from a perspective of peace, justice and environment protection. All the above questions are also relevant to this. Another relevant aspect is an understanding of the nature of the current regime and controlling authorities in Ukraine, the most powerful forces here.
The most promoted version is that of highly patriotic forces of Ukraine trying to reclaim their territory. However there are disturbing questions that need to be explored. What is the extent of corruption in Ukraine? To what extent are neo-Nazi elements and forces becoming more and more powerful in Ukraine? To what extent have similar elements from other countries joined them? To what extent can this become a main center for such forces from several countries? To what extent are these elements armed? What is the extent of trafficking, smuggling, money-laundering and other crimes in Ukraine? What is the condition, safety and prospects of those who wish to raise their voice against such disturbing trends as the growing influence of neo-Nazi forces in Ukraine? To what extent is the national indebtedness of Ukraine increasing? To what extent is the control of a few oligarchs, super-rich and foreign/western interests increasing in land and resource ownership, directly and indirectly, and to what extent are the interests of ordinary people including farmers and workers being marginalized?
If a correct view of these issues emerges from the combined study of several scholars, then this will be very important for policy and policy corrections. Hence the democratic role of people and institutions contributing to policy corrections would also be fulfilled.
The writer is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Earth without Borders, Man over Machine and A Day in 2071.



Global Ambedkarites in deep shock over killing of Buddhist Ambedkarite youth in Nanded

Joint  Ambedkar International Mission and Ambedkar Association of North America statement on killing of an Ambedkarite Buddhist youth for celebrating Dr Ambedkar Jayanti (birth anniversary) in his village on 1st June 2023 in Bondhar Haveli village, Nanded, Maharashtra: *** Every single public event hosted by any social or political organization in Maharashtra is not completed without citing Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and yet an Ambedkarite Buddhist youth, Akshay Bhalerao was brutally murdered for celebrating Dr Ambedkar Jayanti in the village Bondhar, Nanded, Maharashtra by dominant caste goons. Caste Atrocities are common in such villages where the Scheduled Castes and Buddhists are daily humiliated, mocked, or abused with caste slurs and women subjected to sexual violence. 

How this top Maoist leader couldn't extricate completely from the Left adventurist line

By Harsh Thakor  On the 31st of May Katakam Sudarshan, known as Comrade Anand, breathed his last, at the age of 69. Anand was a member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoists) and an important leader of the revolutionary movement of India.

Discussion on making school education meaningful to vulnerable communities

ActionAid note on workshop to boost National Curriculum Framework operations: *** Leading educationists and activists striving to make education meaningful to vulnerable communities gathered in Delhi to discuss the National Curriculum Framework for School Education (NCFSE). Acting in response to the call of the NCF Steering Committee appointed by the Ministry of Education, Government of India, ActionAid Association had organised the meeting to gather feedback on the draft NCFSE. This is part of ActionAid Association’s commitment to promote inclusive and gender-responsive education. The two-day national workshop titled ‘NCF Perspectives: Seeking Feedback on National Curriculum Framework (NCF)’ on May 30 and 31, 2023, was held at India International Centre, New Delhi. The workshop aimed to ensure a structured approach to gathering feedback from key stakeholders and enhancing their active participation in shaping the response sought by the Government of India. Stakeholders representing e

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Release of dabang neta: Rule of law can't be allowed to be slave to political rhetoric

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  When we look to politicians for solutions and politics as the 'final solution' for every evil then we are disappointed most of the time. In politics, we knowingly or unknowingly become part of the propaganda tool of the ruling elite which exists everywhere across different castes. We often provide issues and talk about them in binaries which suit our elites. The minorities among the marginalised who have no political space and representation rarely get heard by these majoritarian parties whose agenda remain power communities. Every political party in today's time is following the 'successful' formula of 'democracy' which is keeping the 'powerful' 'jaatis' with them leaving aside the marginalised one. The BJP started this but yes they cobbled together all other communities too through a diverse narrative.

J&K RTI activist denied opportunity to address audience, bring forward critical issues

Statement by Er. Irfan Banka, Founder of J&K RTI Foundation and convener of the Nalae Ferozpora Bachav Movement, regarding the incident of official misconduct during the My Town My Pride Jan Abhiyan Program and communication to Raj Bhavan: *** Er. Irfan Banka, a prominent RTI Activist and advocate, has come forward to address an incident of misconduct that occurred during the My Town My Pride Jan Abhiyan Program held at Mugam Town Hall in  Budgam. Additionally, Er. Irfan Banka has communicated the matter to Raj Bhavan, seeking appropriate action. During the event, Er. Irfan Banka was denied the opportunity to address the audience and bring forward critical issues concerning the people and services in the community, including waste management, traffic management, and the achievement of sustainable development goals. The incident involved the Additional Registrar Co-operative Kashmir, who not only prevented Er. Irfan Banka from speaking but also subjected him to public humiliation. E

Why are 17 Indian cos, including Sterlite, blacklisted by Norway bank

By Venkatesh Nayak* Readers may recall the gory incidents that took place at Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) in Tamil Nadu in the southern part of India on 22 May, 2018. Thirteen protesters died on the spot when the police opened fire to disperse an assemblage of thousands of local residents and representatives of civil society groups. They were protesting against the adverse environmental impact of the industrial operations of Sterlite Copper which runs a copper smelter plant in the area. Accusations against the company have ranged from polluting local water resources to plans for expanding the installed capacity of the plant without the necessary environmental clearances. A ground report published in The Wire recently, mentions the decision taken by Norges Bank a few years ago to not invest funds from Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global (GPFG) in Sterlite “due to an unacceptable risk of complicity in current and future severe environmental damage and systematic human rights violations

Sengol imbroglio suggests reason why Modi, BJP don't respect modern Indian history

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  The new parliament building opened on February 28. It looks it is not the Parliament but part of #Pratinidhisabhas ' started by earstwhile #princelystates in India. The #BJP for long has been acting as if India is a #Kingdom and Modi ji the new #King of India. Even at the coronations of Kings, you find a large number of people, and dignitaries but look at the opening ceremony we have only one face as if he build everything. Is it the dream of a republic.

Danger ahead: Smartphones making teens sexually smart, but mentally disturbed

By Harasankar Adhikari  We live in a digitally globalised society. Bombarded consumerism and imitation of foreign cultures and practises reshape our everyday lives. Life choices and lifestyles are the driving forces of modernity at present. People of almost all ages are within this realm and rhythm of consumerism for happiness.

Cave of Spleen - a feminist perspective: Status of women in early 18th century England

The Cave of Spleen: Aubrey Beardsley's illustration for Pope's “The Rape of the Lock” By Pragya Ranjan  "The Rape of the Lock" by Alexander Pope published in 1712 is a mock-heroic narrative which satirically glorifies trivial incident of cutting of locks of protagonist Belinda. This poem was written in the Augustan Era (1660-1784) which is marked by the period of scientific reason and rationality, whose effect can be seen on the writers of those times. This timeline is particularly important to analyse the episode of the Cave of Spleen.