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Varanasi
Monday, June 27, 2022

Putin pummels Ukraine as Biden watches

US prognosis about an imminent Russian invasion into Ukraine finally came true as Putin launched a military blitzkrieg from three sides as a weak US President along with his NATO allies imposed fresh sanctions falling short of banning energy imports as the gas prices in America touched 3.5 dollars a gallon. 

Ahead of the offensive Putin declared that the action was necessary after the US and its allies crossed  Russia’s “red lines,” by expanding NATO and said that the goal of the operation  was the  demilitarisation of Ukraine. 

Zelensky was left alone to defend his country as he made a wailing appeal to the western powers for help as the Kremlin pounded Ukraine’s military assets and airfields grounding its airpower which in military parlance is called “SEAD” suppression of enemy’s air defence.

As zelensky appealed for peace Putin held an olive branch for talks in Minsk the capital of Belarus drawing parallels with the earlier Minsk agreement. With Russian  troops closing in on Kyiv the fall of the Ukrainian  capital is a foregone conclusion. 

The resolution  at the UN condemning Russia was vetoed as expected  as China and Bharat abstained.

For the moment  Putin seems to be in control having already factored in the sanction part and seems to have rightly  guessed the US and NATO response which will not go beyond sanctions. 
Russia  is sitting pretty at the moment with 650 billion dollars of reserves and with the oil and gas prices hitting the roof (crude 105 $ a barrel) Russia stands to gain in the immediate  aftermath of the attack on its neighbor. 

Russia  has still not been  barred from the Belgium  based financial  banking network SWIFT and it’s  oil and gas supply to Europe  are still on though the Nordic stream 2 pipeline in the underbelly of the Baltic has been provisionally decertified. An energy starved Europe cannot survive without  Russian  gas for long and it would be interesting to see the extremity of the sanctions  imposed by the EU. 

All eyes are on what Putin does once kyiv falls. Zelensky  has still not fled and could  be taken hostage with pro Russian  arrangement  in place in kyiv. With the eastern objective also met by the carving of 2 independent  province’s namely Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas region Putin could have met his immediate objective of keeping NATO  at bay and putting Ukraine on a leash.

The economic  sanctions  and freezing of assets  and bank accounts of Russian oligarchy  could have some ripples in the Kremlin but Putin will take care of that.

Russia  China ties are set to strengthen  further as trade between  the two giants  increases giving rise to a new world order akin to the cold war era. NATO’s eastward expansion has been  halted and it will have to  be further  strengthened to counter a more defiant , stubborn and pugnacious  Russia under Putin. 

Russia  and China have a common foe in America  and their  partnership  is sure to get stronger  with Pakistan  piggybacking  on both much to the chagrin of Bharat. Both China and Pakistan are sure to increase  their belligerence  towards  Bharat whose  neutrality  and fine balancing act will be perceived  and interpreted differently  by the West and Russia. 

The US and France want Bharat to do more vis a vis their opposition to Russia but Bharat has just played it right by abstaining which Russia could interpret as a vote in its favour. 

With a weak US President at the helm who has been ridiculed by his predecessor (Trump has described Putin a genius after his Ukraine adventure) playing to his domestic audience and sticking to his policy of no American boots on foreign soil after his Afghanistan fiasco, a Russia China collaboration looks formidable and threatening for the West. 

Ukraine expected much more from the US but Biden was just a spectator as Russia over ran Ukraine reminiscent of his inaction in Afghanistan when he was a  fence sitter watching Taliban runover Afghanistan. For the moment it’s Putin who is calling the shots while the world watches. 
Biden though could have another test coming his way with the Dragon thinking about taking over Taiwan. Will he resurrect his already sagging image or will he act for a change.

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Aman Gupta
Aman Gupta
Political Editor, Samast Bharat magazine

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