Who is the real cheerleader for the war in Ukraine?
Even as saner voices in the US and elsewhere have called for a negotiated settlement to the conflict in Ukraine, the Joe Biden administration has egged on the government in Kyiv to continue hostilities. The West has been pumping in weapons into Ukraine at an unprecedented rate since the conflict began. The US directly delivered M109 Paladin armoured self-propelled howitzers, which weigh around 30 tonnes and have the capacity to fire artillery rounds weighing 45kg over a distance of 50km. Ukrainian service members rest after firing shells in Donetsk Region, Ukraine on June 6. By the third month of fighting, it had become clear that the Russian military had gained the decisive upper hand. Ukraine, a non-NATO member, will now be able to use the same kind of weaponry as the US armed forces and will theoretically be able to strike targets hundreds of kilometres inside Russian territory. The massive inflow of arms is happening at a time when Ukrainian forces are on the retreat across the eastern and southern fronts. More than 8 million Ukrainians have sought refuge outside the country in the past three months. Ukrainian refugees wait in front of a bus in Sarafovo, Bulgaria. The Russian side, too, has suffered casualties, but no official figures have been released since the end of March when the Russian Defence Ministry had said that 1,351 soldiers had been killed by that time. Severodonetsk is the latest city in the Donbas region that seemed about to fall to the Russian forces when this went to press.
Henry Kissinger, former US Secretary of State, suggested at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos that Ukraine should reconcile to the loss of some territory and make peace with Russia in the interest of global economic and political stability. But Zelensky, along with the neoliberal interventionists in Washington, were quick to criticise Kissinger’s suggestion. The New York Times, which started out as a strong supporter of the US-led proxy war against Russia, has now changed its stance. France and Italy have indicated that they want Ukraine to agree to an early cessation of conflict. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesperson, accused Washington of trying to prolong the war by sending new long-range missiles to Ukraine. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that such deliveries only increased “the risk of third parties” getting drawn into the conflict. The gutted remains of cars sit along a road during heavy fighting at the front line in Severodonetsk in the Luhansk region of Ukraine on June 8. Following Biden’s announcement of the despatch of new weapons, Russian forces targeted Kyiv with a cruise missile to signal their military capacity. Despite Biden saying that Washington was not sending rocket systems capable of striking into Russian territory, US officials told the media that Washington was not putting any conditions on the use of the weaponry. Ukraine has already carried out a few attacks inside Russian territory since the conflict began. The US has also been providing Ukraine with military intelligence on Russian troop positions since the beginning of the conflict.
The Biden administration’s attempts to escalate the conflict come at a time when the international community is feeling the brunt of it. Some prominent US military and strategic analysts are trying to exploit the deteriorating humanitarian situation to fan the conflict. During the eight-year Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, US naval ships used to escort oil tankers belonging to allies such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Moscow has repeatedly stated that it has no objections to the export of Ukrainian wheat and has pointed out that it is the Ukrainian army’s mining of the key port of Odessa that has prevented wheat exports from Ukraine. Wheat farmers in a wheat farm outside Bashtanka, Mykolaiv region in Ukraine on June 9. In mid-May, the US government sent alerts to around 14 African countries, warning them that Russian ships were trying to offload “stolen Ukrainian grain” in their ports. The US government also warned Turkey against buying wheat from Russia. Macky Sall, the African Union (AU) President, personally met with Putin during a recent visit to Moscow and was full of praise for the Russian leader. Macky Sall, chairperson of the African Union, with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on June 3. Washington and its allies have been putting pressure on countries around the world to boycott Russian products, including foodgrains and oil.
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