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Ukraine war tolls death knell for NATO

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The defining moment in US President Joe Biden’s press conference at the White House during President Zelensky’s visit was his virtual admission that he is constrained in the proxy war in Ukraine. European allies don’t want a war with Russia. 

To quote Biden, ‘Now, you say, ‘Why don’t we just give Ukraine everything there is to give?  Well, for two reasons. One, there’s an entire Alliance that is critical to stay with Ukraine.’

Biden realised at that point that ‘I probably already said too much’ and abruptly ended the press conference.’

The whole point is that the western commentariat largely forgets that Russia’s core agenda is not about territorial conquest, much as Ukraine is vital to Russian interests, but about NATO expansion. And that has not changed. 

Putin has a phenomenal memory and alluded to Biden’s choice of William Burns as his CIA chief. Burns was Moscow Embassy’s point person for Chechnya in the 1990s. Putin has now ordered a nationwide campaign to root out the vast tentacles that the US intelligence planted on Russian soil for internal subversion. Carnegie, once headed by Burns, has since shut down its Moscow office, and the Russian staff fled to the West!  

The leitmotif of the expanded meeting of the Board of the Defence Ministry in Moscow on Wednesday, which Putin addressed, was the profound reality that Russia’s confrontation with the US is not going to end with the Ukraine war. Putin exhorted the Russian top brass to carefully analyse the lessons of the Ukraine and Syrian conflicts. 

Importantly, Putin said, ‘We will continue maintaining and improving the combat readiness of the nuclear triad. It is the main guarantee that our sovereignty and territorial integrity, strategic parity and the general balance of forces in the world are preserved. This year, the level of modern armaments in the strategic nuclear forces has already exceeded 91 percent. We continue rearming the regiments of our strategic missile forces with modern missile systems with Avangard hypersonic warheads.’

Putin summed up: ‘We will not repeat the mistakes of the past. We will improve the Russian Armed Forces and the entire military component. We will do it calmly, routinely and consistently, without haste.’ 

If the Washington Deep State wanted an arms race, they have it now. The paradox, however, is that this is going to be different from the bipolar Cold War era arms race. 

If the US intention was to weaken Russia before confronting China, things aren’t working that way. Instead, the US is getting locked into a confrontation with Russia and the ties between the two big powers are at a breaking point. Touché! Russia expects the US to roll back NATO’s expansion, as promised to the Soviet leadership in 1989. 

The neo-cons had expected a ‘win-win’ in Ukraine: Russian defeat and a humiliating end to Putin’s presidency; a weakened Russia, as in the 1990s, groping for a new start; consolidation of western unity under a triumphant America; a massive boost in the upcoming struggle with China for supremacy in the world order; and a New American Century under the ‘rules-based world order.’ Dream on!

Biden has understood that Russia cannot be defeated in Ukraine; nor are Russian people in any mood for an insurrection. Putin’s popularity is soaring high. Thus, Biden is getting a vague sense, perhaps, that Russia is gearing up for the long haul to sort out NATO once and for all. The transformation of Belarus as a nuclear-capable state carries a profound message from Moscow to Brussels and Washington. Biden cannot miss it.

Logically, the option open to the US at this point would be to disengage. But that becomes an abject admission of defeat and will mean the death knell for NATO, and Washington’s transatlantic leadership goes kaput.

Worse still, major west European powers, Germany, France and Italy, may start looking for peaceful coexistence with Russia. Above all, how can NATO possibly survive without an ‘enemy’?

Clearly, neither the US nor its allies are in a position to fight a continental war. But even if they are, what about the emerging scenario in the Asia-Pacific, where the ‘no limits’ partnership between China and Russia has added an intriguing layer to geopolitics?

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