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Russia-Ukraine standoff

Ambassador Dr. Jamil

The writer is a former ambassador, senior analyst and international affairs expert.

US President Joe Biden has warned there is a distinct possibility Russia might invade Ukraine in a few months. The United States and Russia have kept the door to diplomacy open but huge gaps remain while there is a clear division among US and European countries amid increasing NATO pressure.

The tension between US allies and Russia is brewing up as the region faces the most serious crisis since the Cold War. NATO forces have placed 8,500 troops on alert to deploy to Ukraine. The US and NATO countries have asked its citizens and families of diplomats to evacuate from the country. As tensions intensify, Anthony Blinken warned that the US will not impose further sanctions on Russia but wants to maintain reserves in case of an incursion. 

Russia has amassed over 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders and there is posturing between the two rivals in different parts of the world. European countries, except Germany, have offered Ukraine military support. While answering security concerns, Russians have clearly stated that its deployment of troops is within its own borders and in accordance with the law. Russia also wants assurances from NATO to not admit Ukraine as a member.

Russian are certainly not there to have coffee and the US and NATO officials have revived their military plans to prepare for all possible scenarios, thus generating the heat in the region.

Another key demand by Russians, which is highly unlikely or rather impossible in the near future, is the complete pullout of NATO missile defenses in Eastern Europe including Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia. In the past 15 years, NATO has deployed ballistic missile shields and battalions in Russia’s backyard. Modern warfare is not only confined to the deployment of troops. NATO has deployed missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads and weaponized space. In response, Russia has also deployed military equipment to counter any possible threat. If the situation escalates any further, we cannot rule out any clash.

Although the possibility of a full-blown war is very, even a brief clash will generate geopolitical tensions. We cannot rule the possibility of a World War but certainly, the Ukraine crisis will have far-reaching effects. It could also face a fallout on the simmering tensions in the Middle East, whether it’s the situation in Israel, drone strikes in UAE, or the Iran nuclear deal. There is the possibility of an incident in the region to deflect focus from the Ukraine crisis. 

The crisis can also have serious economic consequences. Morgan Stanley has predicted that oil prices could reach $150 a barrel amid supply disruption. Europe could face a severe gas crisis as it receives a major share of its supply from Russia. Also, both Russia and Ukraine are the largest exporters of wheat and maize.

A full-scale war in Ukraine is certainly not the answer and all stakeholders will need to avoid the possibility. However, when military deployment reaches a standoff, it eventually can reach a flashpoint. Although war cannot be ruled out, we can surely expect major skirmishes in Ukraine. The tensions are unlikely to end anytime soon and will have severe consequences for the region and the entire world.

(Translated by M.M News)

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