By Sajjad Shaukat
Tensions still exist between China and India, and Pakistan and India, Syria and Israel, and Iran and Israel which also have atomic weapons, secretly obtained from the US and some other Western countries. There is a co-relationship of the US-led West’s double standards and double game regarding human rights, terrorism and cross-border terror attacks in the volatile regions. But, this dual strategy, particularly regarding Beijing and New Delhi, and India and Pakistan in wake of the unresolved issue of Kashmir, including the Middle East in connection with the unsettled Palestinian-Israeli dispute may culminate into nuclear war, rendering the theory of nuclear deterrence obsolete.
So, there are several nuclear flashpoints in the word, while Ukraine has become another nuclear flashpoint.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, this year, as the latter had refused to reverse its decision to get NATO membership.
Presenting the unified front against the Russian invasion of Ukraine and using aggressive statements against the Russian President Vladimir Putin, rulers and leaders of the US and Europe ,including many EU, NATO countries and Japan imposed various kinds of sanctions and restrictions on Russia.
On the other side, President Putin ordered European countries to make payment of gas and oil in terms of Rouble—otherwise, the supply would close.
Europe gets about 40% of its natural gas from Russia which is also the bloc’s main oil supplier. So, sudden supply cuts could have huge economic impact.
After finding alternative supplies, the EU plans to ban all purchases of Russian oil by the end of this year. But, there is no consensus yet among the EU members on stopping imports of Russian gas. The US has also declared a complete ban on Russian oil, gas and coal imports.
However, various sanctions and restrictions on Moscow are resulting into backlash on America and its Western allies, while affecting world’s other countries.
Now, global food market is under a blockade. Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter, while Ukraine is the sixth largest country.
Meanwhile, Finland and Sweden which decided to abandon their military neutrality are seeking the NATO membership. It is West’s provocative action against Moscow.
President Putin has repeatedly stated that NATO’s encroachment on his country’s borders and decision of the Kiev to join NATO was the main reason of Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, and in the pretext of European security—in all, about 20 countries, most members of NATO and the EU are funneling arms into Ukraine to fight off Russian forces and are arming an insurgency against Moscow. NATO is also moving as many as 22,000 more troops into member states, bordering Russia and Belarus.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin who visited Kyiv on April 25, 2022 told Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy of more than $322 million in new military financing for Ukraine, taking total US security assistance since the invasion to about $3.7 billion.
Nevertheless, since the end of the Cold War, the question of NATO expansion for European security has been vehemently debated. After Russia-Ukraine war, the debate has been accelerated. But, some strong supporters of NATO have opined that NATO’s enlargement would be too provocative toward Moscow. US-led West’s irresponsible approach to encourage Ukraine to join NATO and Russia’s military action thwarted Ukrainian move to get the membership of NATO.
Notably, Ukrainian President President Volodymyr Zelensky is following contradictory strategy, as sometimes he states that he will continue fighting Russian forces till victory and sometimes he says that he will not join NATO. That is why, talks for ceasefire and durable agreement between Kiev and Moscow failed.
Some days after the start of war, President Zelensky signed his country’s application for membership in the EU which shows his connivance with EU to further provoke Russia.
President Zelenskiy has been pleading with the US and European leaders to supply Kyiv with heavier arms and equipment.
Zelensky said on April 16, this year that “We shouldn’t wait for the moment when Russia decides to use nuclear weapons”, and the world should prepare for it.
In an interview on state television on April 25, 2022, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that the conflict in Ukraine risked escalating into a third world war and that NATO was “in essence” engaged in a proxy war with Moscow by supplying Kyiv with weapons. He elaborated that the risk of a nuclear conflict must not be underestimated.
Citing “aggressive statements” from the West, President Putin has put his nuclear deterrent forces on high alert.
Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN in a recent interview that Moscow has said it would use a nuclear weapon on Ukraine in the case of an “existential threat” against Russia.
Nonetheless, many people live in the Western countries are sympathetic to Russia. Other countries such as Iran, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Cuba stand by Russia, while some countries like India and Pakistan have maintained a neutral position.
Particularly, China aims to take diplomatic measures and strike a balance between Western countries and Russia. Hence, the Chinese president Xi Jinping is eager to boost the nation’s ties with Russia, so it cannot endorse the invasion of Ukraine. Beijing’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, pleaded with all parties to be restrained and to give a chance to peace.
China wants to avail the cheapest possible supplies on the Russian energy market without being hit by Western sanctions.
EU politicians are now busy in giving misleading statements and raising so-called serious concerns about the imminent disconnection from China and Russia, but their investors, businessmen and financial gurus who generate profits, pay taxes and afloat fiscal balance are still closely associated with China and, of course, its global development project One Belt, One Road (OBOR) or Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), while China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which is also part of this project. America and Indian have already opposed these projects.
In the recent past, US President Joe Biden accused Beijing of giving aid to Russia and threatened sanctions against China, but the latter denied. However, China does not want to derail its connectivity with the EU or another country in the region, but still opposes Eastern expansion of NATO.
Russian and Chinese military planes carried out joint exercises near Japan on May 24, 2022, while leaders of the Quad group of countries met in Tokyo, and the Japanese defence minister calling it “provocation”. Washington remarked that joint Russia-China military exercises demonstrate that Beijing is still committed to its partnership with Moscow despite the invasion of Ukraine.
It is mentionable that in the beginning of May, 2022, pro-Russian websites claimed that Russian armed forces captured Canadian general Trevor Cadieu who was in charge of a NATO biological warfare lab under the besieged Azovstal steel plan—military Biolab in Ukraine, where 18 people worked with deadly viruses. He was helping Ukrainian neo-nazists to conduct terrorism on Russia. Russian online newspaper Vzglyad also reported that Russian troops arrested Cadieu on May 1, while he was trying to escape from Azovstal.
This is a big blow to NATO and to the reputation of the west, which strongly denied that no single NATO military personnel in Ukraine and the west are not involved in the Ukraine war, but are only supplying weapons to Ukraine to defend itself.
Earlier, the Russian military intelligence reported that at Azovstal in Mariupol there are many active soldiers from the US, Canadian, British, and French elite units—members of Delta Force, SAS among mercenaries—Azov Battalion holds women and children including elderly people hostage—Most of these innocent civilians that are used are the Russian-speaking people whom the neo-nazists hate most and don’t care much about their survival, but only interesting in using them as human shields and lap up ‘war crime’ propaganda against Moscow, if they were being killed.
As regards the role of media about Russia-Ukraine war, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on March 18, 2022 praised Fox News for its coverage, appearing on the Russian state-controlled RT network to hail the right-leaning US cable channel, whose primetime host Tucker Carlson has played down the invasion. In this regard, he remarked: “Only Fox is presenting an ‘alternative point of view’ rather than ‘information terrorism…We know the manners and the tricks that are being used by the western countries to manipulate media, we understood long ago that there is no such thing as an independent western media…Russian media regularly play clips of Carlson criticising the US and Ukraine, and he was still praising President Vladimir Putin”.
It is noteworthy that in the recent years, the US-led West has started the new cold war with Russia. In this connection, in October, 2021, The Kremlin announced a historic decision to end Russia’s cooperation with NATO, stripped all NATO staffers of their accreditation in Moscow, and suspended its own mission in Brussels after the expulsion of eight Russian members who were accused of espionage. NATO’s military and information offices closed down in the Russian capital on Nov. 1, 2021.
The move marked the bitter end of a long, fraught relationship. Russia and NATO had been working to reach an understanding for more than two decades, since 1994, when Moscow joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace program after nearly five decades of the Cold War.
Moscow-based political analyst Yuriy Krupnov told The Daily Beast: “The Kremlin has long been frustrated about NATO’s expansion toward Russian borders. During Putin’s first presidential term, Kremlin officials debated joining the alliance. Ex-Duma deputy Sergei Markov recalled his visits to Brussels with a Russian delegation. “I asked NATO officials for some guarantees that there would be no NATO nuclear weapons in Eastern Europe, but NATO did not want to sign any firm agreements with us back when we had good relations”, Markov, a pro-Kremlin analyst, told The Daily Beast: “Many NATO generals know that Russia was right to be upset about the expansion… [now] Russia is going to boost its alliances with Turkey, China, and Iran”.
It is worth-mentioning that more than 100 missile strikes had been launched against Syria by the US, UK and France on April 14, 2018 in response to the alleged chemical weapons attack which killed at least 50 people in Syria’s rebel-held town of Eastern Douma on April 7, 2018.
According to the American allies, “The strikes destroyed important infrastructure at three sites connected to the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons programme.”
The Russian military claimed that Syria shot down 71 out of 103 cruise missiles launched, and that the targeted facilities only suffered minor damage.
Russian President Putin stated: “The strike had a destructive influence on the entire system of international relations…An act of aggression against a sovereign state…without a mandate from the UN Security Council and in violation of the UN Charter and international law.”
He reaffirmed Russia’s view that the purported chemical attack in the Syrian town of Douma that prompted the strike was a fake and added: “Just as one year ago, when the Shayrat Airbase in Syria came under attack, the US used as a pretext…a staged chemical attack against civilians, this time in Douma…Russian military experts, having visited the place of the alleged incident, did not find any traces of the use of chlorine or other poisonous substances. No local resident confirmed the chemical attack.”
And in reaction to the false allegations of America, UK and Britain who had claimed that they had proof regarding the use of chemical weapons attack in Douma, the Russian Defense Ministry presented evidence on April 13, 2018, which showed that Britain had staged the chemical attack in Douma—a group of people, some with video cameras, had run into a hospital in the area and doused patients with water while shouting that there had been a chemical attack. Footage of the ensuing panic formed the evidence of the attack.
Recall that before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, a deliberate disinformation campaign was launched by the CIA and Jewish-controlled media all over the world that Baghdad had Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMDs). In that respect, on the self-fabricated intelligence report and without mandate of the UN Security Council, American-Anglo forces invaded Iraq where no WMDs or chemical weapons were discovered. The covert aim of America and UK was to remove the government of Saddam Hussein as part of the regime-change policy, because he had challenged the dominance of Israel in the region. Same happened with the Libyan President Col. Muammmar Gaddafi who was captured and killed on October 11, 2011. America, UK and France, including other NATO countries which had funded and armed the rebel groups, conducted aerial strikes on Libya.
As a matter of fact, the New Cold War accelerated between Russia and the US-led West, when in September 2015, Russian-led coalition of Iran, Iraq, the Syrian army-the National Defense Forces (NDF) and Lebanon-based Hezbollah started breaking the backbone of the ISIS (Also known as Daesh and ISIL) terrorists, Al-Qaeda’s Al-Nusra Front and the rebels in Syria and Iraq. Russian-led alliance thwarted the attempts of the US-led some Western countries who wanted to oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government as part of the regime-change policy of the Washington-led by Tel Aviv to obtain the aims of a greater Israel. Besides exposing the double game of the US-led West, Russian-led forces had also exposed the smuggling of oil by the European companies from the ISIS-controlled areas, while European government took no action against those companies.
Especially, in 2013, there was danger of nuclear war between America and Russia when the then US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Syrian President Assad of using chemical weapons in relation to the Syrian civil war. In order to protect the interests of Tel Aviv, in the pretext, America was determined to attack Syria. But, Russian President Putin warned Western powers against any airstrike. For face-saving, the then US Secretary of State John Kerry withdrew from American stand, as he could not prove it.
It is of particular attention that after the World War 11, nuclear weapons were never used, and were only employed as a strategic threat. During the heightened days of the Cold War, many crises arose in Suez Canal, Korea, Cuba and Vietnam when the US and the former Soviet Union were willing to use atomic weapons, but they stopped because of the fear of nuclear war which could eliminate both the super powers. Therefore, the two rivals preferred to resolve their differences through diplomacy.
Likewise, many occasions came between Pakistan and India during the Kargil crisis of 1998, Indian parliament’s attack by the militants in 2001 and particularly in 2008 in the post-Mumbai terror attacks when New Delhi started a blame game against Islamabad in wake of its highly provocative actions like mobilization of troops. Pakistan had also taken defensive steps to meet any prospective aggression. But, India failed in implementing its war-like designs, because, Islamabad also possesses nuclear weapons.
India had escalated tensions with Islamabad especially in the aftermath of the false flag terror attack at Puwama in the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). On February 27, 2019, in response to the Indian so-called pre-emptive air strike in the town of Balakot, close to the border with Pakistan’s sector of Kashmir, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets and launched aerial strikes at six targets in the IIOJK.
From time to time, Indian forces have continued shelling inside Pakistani side of Kashmir by violating the ceasefire agreement across the Line of Control (LoC) and compelled Pakistan Army to give a matching reply. In a major development to deescalate tensions, the Director Generals of Military Operations of Pakistan and India have agreed to strictly observe the 2003 ceasefire agreement at LoC and other sectors, including Working Boundary from the midnight of February 24 and 25, 2021. But, unless resolved, Kashmir will remain a nuclear flashpoint.
Similarly, drastic tensions arose between New Delhi and Beijing on May 5, 2020, when India occupied various areas, adjacent to the Line of Actual Control (LAC). In reaction, Chinese forces moved into the regions along the eastern Ladakh border and vacated the disputed territories.
Now, situation is very dangerous, as since Narendar Modi, the leader of the ruling party BJP, became Indian prime minister, he has been following extremist policies by ignoring the doctrine of nuclear deterrence vis-à-vis Pakistan and China.
Political strategists agree that deterrence is a psychological concept which aims to affect an opponent’s perceptions. In nuclear deterrence, weapons are less usable, as their threat is enough in deterring an enemy who intends to use its armed might. In this context, a renowned scholar, Hotzendorf remarks that nuclear force best serves the interests of a state when it deters an attack.
While, escalation of the conflict in Ukraine is undermining efforts to reach some sort of peace agreement. West’s atomic powers and Russia have been ignoring the principles of deterrence, popularly called balance of terror, which may culminate into a nuclear war.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations
Email: [email protected]
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