An undeclared cold war.

Are we witnessing an undeclared cold war? Millennials and those who were born before have experienced cold war, at least through media. The collapse of Soviet union in 1991, Globalization and Neoliberalism made the world accept capitalism than ever. Initially, we were told that the cold war is between two super powers and it is an ideological war. It was not an ideological war. It is a strategy adopted by United States to be the global leader. Today, United states is bullying the world around to remain Super-power. America is leading the world into a nuclear war. What we are going through is an undeclared cold war. And they call it trade war. 

It’s been more than hundred days since Russia Invaded Ukraine. We do not have an idea about when the war in Ukraine will end. It of course will not end as expected by United States and it’s western allies. More than 14 million people are thought to have fled their homes. UN states that as of 24 May, around 6.6 million refugees have left Ukraine to find asylum in Poland, Romania, Russia, Hungry, Moldova, Slovakia and Belarus. Czech republic has granted more than 350,000 emergency visas to Ukrainian refugees. More than 700,000 Ukrainians are in Germany and 40% among them are children. Putin claims that his forces helped to evacuate 140,000 civilians from Mariupol. The European union granted Ukrainians the right to stay and work throughout it’s 27 member nations for up to three years. The UN estimates that about eight million people are displaced within Ukraine. 
Ukrainians who have immediate or extended family member in UK are allowed through family visa scheme. After criticism, the UK government launched ‘Homes for Ukrainians scheme’, to allow those without relatives to settle in UK. Refugees coming to UK via this scheme will be able to live and work in the UK for up to three years. They will have access to healthcare, welfare and schools. It allows the refugees to stay rent free for up to six months. And their host will get £350 a month. So far, 115,000 visas had been issued and 60,100 visa holders have arrived in the UK. These refugees have lost everything they had, which was hard earned. Many of them lost their loved ones. We all should appreciate European countries and UK for helping homeless Ukrainians. And it's time to think about preventing such wars in the future.
The ongoing war has far reaching consequences than it appears. It will take several decades to rebuild infrastructure and property, which is reduced to rubbles. Adverse effects on environment and how it’s going to effect the people in Ukraine is yet to be known. 

Ukraine has turned into a battle field of the world. It reminds us about Russia invading Afghanistan. The war in Afghanistan wouldn’t have lasted for so long and the damages wouldn’t have been so much, if it were to be between USSR and Afghan Mujahideens. United States and it’s western allies provided generous amount of financial aid and military assistance to Afghan Mujahideens to make it a global war. Back then, America and it’s allies justified it saying that it is to stop USSR from expanding their authoritarian government, which is backed by communist ideology. 

If one were to agree that it was not right to use Afghanistan as global battlefield against the then USSR, then they should accept that the United States and it’s allies have committed the same crime again in Ukraine. But the Russians will not compromise this time and their intention is to wreck Ukraine completely. Russian’s defeat in Ukraine will be a challenge to their existence. There are several incidents which tells that Russia will not back off due to sanctions or any sort of pressure. For example;

(1) Soon after invading Ukraine, Russia declared to pull out from the international space station with an year’s notice
(2) Russia test launched a new nuclear capable intercontinental ballistic missile (SARMAT-6000 kilometres range ) on 20 April 2022.
(3) On 28 May 2022, Russia test fired another hypersonic cruise missile (ZIRCON- 1000 kilometres range) 
(4) Putin warned United States and UK  that any attempts to get in its way will lead to a nuclear war.

What is even more worse is that United States and it’s allies are engaged in another crisis, which is in the making. So what we see in the news is nothing less than an undeclared cold war. A hostile situation created by world powers and we are preparing for another global war, soon after Ukraine. 
Cause for Russia invading Ukraine:

Expansion of NATO, a military alliance:

America and it’s western allies looked at dissolution of Soviet union as surrender and not as a friendly compromise. NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) was formed after second world war on 4 April 1949. A security alliance to protect democratic freedom. This treaty was an Anti-Soviet Accord. A treaty by liberal nations to protect its allies in the event of an aggression from USSR. USSR led by Russia created Warsaw pact to counter NATO.  Both NATO and Warsaw pact was to protect member nations from any aggression from others.
Warsaw pact member nations
Warsaw pact was dissolved after the collapse of Soviet Union, while expansion of NATO continued. This isolated Russia. United States denies several promises made to Russia, when there is ample evidence to prove it. Soviet union was broken into 15 independent countries and many of them are part of NATO now. Even the countries which were part of Warsaw pact are now NATO members. Most of the European countries joined NATO and it surrounded Russia. Montenegro and North Macedonia which are in the backyard of Russia also joined NATO. In 2021, NATO officially recognised Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Ukraine as NATO members. NATO was an alliance of liberal countries started with 12 founding nations to protect against Communist Soviet Union. Now in the absence of Soviet union and Warsaw pact, NATO the military alliance is moving up to Russia’s doorstep. If this is not Provocation, then what is it? 
Expansion of European union, an economic alliance:

Expansion of European union wouldn’t have been a concern for Russia, unless it was used to hinder Russia’s development. America and it’s western allies used Ukraine to chock Russia. If not, Ukraine’s attempt to join European union since 2014 wouldn’t have created any sort of unrest in Moscow. Russia continued to supply gas to Ukraine at heavily subsidized price even after Ukraine becoming an independent nation. Russia demanded full market price from Ukraine for gas only after ‘Orange revolution’, which ousted pro-Russian leader Yanukovych. 

United States intervened in every major economic and development measures of Russia. Russia is the world’s third largest producer of oil and 12% of world’s oil need is met by Russia. Russia is the world’s second largest producer of natural gas. Russia has oil and natural gas in abundance. European union depends on Russia for more than one fourth of its crude oil imports. One third of European union’s natural gas consumption is met by Russia. Before invading Ukraine,  8% of America's crude oil and petroleum products import was from Russia. Similarly, 6% of UK’s crude oil and petroleum products import was from Russia.

Building infrastructure (gas pipeline) to supply natural gas to European countries will help the development of Russia and Europe. But American administration been a trouble maker for Russia, from the days of John F Kennedy till Reagan. United States tried to stall construction of DRUZHBA pipeline in 1963. Again in 1981, US tried to stall construction of natural gas pipeline from Siberia going into western Europe. In both cases, United States imposed sanctions against USSR and they lobbied pipe suppliers to USSR. Back then, the reasoning was to stop expansion of Soviet Union. Soviet Union is no more. Many countries who were part of Soviet Union and Warsaw pact are now part of European union or NATO. US still wants to mess things in the name of geopolitical leverage and strategies.
Immediate cause for the war:

Russia’s ambitious Nord stream2 was approved by Germany in 2018 and completed construction in 2021. Nord stream2 runs parallel to Nord stream pipeline that carries natural gas from north west Russia through the Baltic sea, directly to Germany. Currently, Nord stream pipeline which was commissioned in 2011, handles one third of Russia’s gas exports to Europe. Nord stream saves Russia $720 million a year, which was earlier paid to Ukraine as transit fee. It is estimated that 75% of Germany’s natural gas need is met by Russia alone, since 2020. Nord stream and Nord stream2 together can handle more than 80% of Russian gas supply to 27 European countries via Germany.  Once Nord stream2 starts its operation, Germany will get more than 2billion as transit fee every year. Other than Germany, Hungary and Austria will be able to earn transit fee from Nord stream2. United States will no longer be able to chock Russia using Ukraine, if Nord stream2 starts functioning.

It is believed that Nord stream2 could not start its operation due to regulatory delays caused by US pressure politics in Europe. Nord stream2 will help Russia to save billions of dollars in transit fee every year. Thus US pushed Russia into this war.
How a prolonged war will affect the world: 

Food shortage, energy crisis in Europe, hike in fuel price which leads to inflation and price rise across the globe. 

Ukraine produces nearly half of world’s sunflower oil. Ukraine is among world’s top five corn producers. Around 20% of world’s corn production is from Russia and Ukraine. Russia is the largest exporter of wheat, which accounts to 20% of world’s wheat production. Ukraine accounts for 10% of world’s wheat export. 

Antony Blinken the US secretary of the state blamed Russia for using food as weapon referring to 28 million tons of grain stuck in Ukrainian ports. Deputy chairman of Russian security council hit back saying; “on one hand, insane sanctions are being imposed against us, on the other hand, they are demanding food supplies. Things don’t work like that, we are not idiots”. 

Did anyone think about what will happen if the war continues for another six months? Agriculture in Ukraine will come to standstill and there will not be any food produces coming to the port for export anymore. Russia has stopped export of agricultural produces and fertilizers among many other items, till this year end. Russia is a major low cost fertilizer exporter.

Even before the war broke out, the world bank issued a warning on 15 February 2022. As per that seventy countries will face debt crisis  like Srilanka. In March this year, UN released a report which warns that 107 countries will face one of the below risks. 

(1) Raising food prices
(2) Energy crisis
(3) Tougher economic crisis

The report further says that 69 countries will face all the three above mentioned risks.
Vladimir Putin's Rise:

Putin could have been the modern day Lenin or Stalin of Russia, if he were not corrupt. Unfortunately, Putin’s Russia had widespread corruption, chaos and violence. Putin’s rise from a KGB man to deputy mayor of St.Petersburb, then as a bureaucrat in Kremlin was filled with corruption. He was selected as prime minister, because of his quality of protecting the corrupt Anatony Sobchak. Boris Yelstin the then corrupt president of Russia wanted someone who could protect him after his retirement. And soon Putin became president. Putin was too good at creating an image through autobiography, documentary, even cold war rhetoric to become president and using USSR anthem soon after he becoming the president of Russia.

There is no doubt that Putin is a good politician. But, Incidents like Belsan school bombing talks volumes about his insensitivity. Putin was not ready for negotiation with Chechnya rebels. Putin’s army shelled school from point blank range, killing 320 people and more than half of them were children. A gossip or a cartoon against Putin in media can lead to harsh jail terms. Putin will takeover businesses from anyone in Russia. The only way to sustain in business is to co-operate with Putin. Being Putin’s men is a license to exploit and a big share of profit will go to Putin. These are characteristics of typical Communist rule and it won’t last for more than a while. Putin was able to stay in business mainly due to US aggression.

Barack Obama tried to reset relationship with Russia. Hillary Clinton gave symbolic gag gift to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva. The ceremonial reset bottom had ‘peregruzka’ engraved on it.  ‘Peregruzka’ means ‘overcharge’ in Russia. Obama administration never wanted ‘overcharge’ on the button or in bilateral relationship. But both ended up that way. 
Intercepting Victoria Nuland’s phone call and making it available for public wasn’t a smear campaign against USA. It was a warning. Obama administration didn’t take it seriously. Later, through email hacking, Putin was able to create doubt and chaos that the American presidential election is controlled by Russia. Obama administration wanted to avoid embarrassment, with election due in few days. So Obama administration downplayed it, while Donald J Trump used it for his benefit, instead of condemning it as a threat to US national security. 

Rift between Putin and USA since 2007 international security conference:

Putin expressed Russia’s resentment in international security conference held in Munich, Germany in February 2007. He said, “NATO has put it’s frontline forces on our boarders. This expansion represents a serious provocation that reduces the level of mutual trust. And we have the right to ask; against whom is this expansion intended? And what happened to the assurances our western partners made after dissolution of Warsaw pact?

Russia’s sentiment has been echoed by a group of American experts and intellectuals. On 26 June 1997, a group of 50 prominent foreign policy experts that included former senators, retired military officers signed an open letter to the then president of United States. The letter states that the US efforts to expand NATO is a policy error of historic proportion. 

American diplomat and historian George Kennen said condemning NATO expansion; “I think it is tragic mistake. There is no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else”.

William J Burns, former US ambassador to Russia said; “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite. From Knuckle-draggers in the dark recesses of the Kremlin to Putin’s sharpest liberal critics. I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests”. 

Robert M Gates, former defence secretary of states, US in the Bush and Obama administration said;  “Trying to bring Georgia and Ukraine into NATO was truly overreaching. This move was a case of recklessly ignoring hat the Russians considered their own vital national interests”. 

Strobe Talbott, a former defence secretary of states, US said; “Many Russians see NATO as a vestige of the cold war. They point out that they have disbanded the Warsaw pact and ask why the west should not do the same”?

Professor John J Mearsheimer from Chicago University has explained this in ‘the uncommon core'. He says; If China were to make some alliance with Canada and Mexico to build their army base in US boarders, then the United States will call it provocation and will attack them. The same is what is being done by Russia. 
There are many western documentaries which shows Putin as a psychopath, someone locked in the past. For example: While addressing international security conference in Munich, Germany, Putin said; “United states has overstepped it’s national boarders in the economic, political and humanitarian spheres, it imposes on other nations. Well, who would like this?

Some say that Putin was lashing out aggressively. But we all should appreciate his courage in stating Russia’s genuine concerns without being diplomatic. If US foreign policies are against Indian interests, then Modi would say what Putin said. 

Let me explain what Putin actually meant in the following three paragraphs.

On 9 August 2020, farmers in India went on a indefinite protest against three new farm laws. The British lawmakers wanted it to be discussed in their parliament. United Kingdom imports farm produces from India. So it is good that they wanted to discuss issues concerning Indian farmers, because the Indian lawmakers didn’t think it is important to discuss it in Indian parliament. Indian media called it; “ Colonial hangover of UK”. Pop icon Rihana and Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg were among prominent figures who commented on the issue. Delhi police registered FIR against unnamed persons for conspiracy to cause violence, sedition, criminal conspiracy, intent to cause riot and various other sections of Indian penal code for allegedly uploading a toolkit. American President Donald J Trump also commented on farmer’s issue in India. Prime minister Modi called it; “Foreign destructive ideology (FDI)”. 

Recently, American president Joe Biden said; “India has it’s own problem”, during a private fundraiser campaign in Seattle. Indian media responded to it saying; “nobody asked Biden to judge and troubleshoot Indian democracy. But the US president did it anyway”.

Similarly, in the recent two plus two dialogue between India and America, Antony Blinken the secretary of the state decided to talk about Indian human rights records. He said that he was tracking concerning reports from India. Indian media quipped; It is unsolicited and India did not ask for an assessment. Blinken was proactive.

The opposition in UK questioned prime minister Boris Johnson in their parliament, about his visit to British owned bulldozer factory in Gujarat, during his recent visit to India. And the reason for they doing it was because the company’s equipment is used in the controversial demolition of properties in Jahangirpuri in Delhi.

It is good if issues like farmers protest, communal violence or human rights violation is discussed by western leaders. It brings pressure on Indian administration, for whom India’s global reputation matters than the issues.
We see Christian missionaries going around the world to spread Christianity. I do not want to judge whether it is right or wrong? But, I can say that many of them sincerely believe that they are part of salvation army and are helping others. Same is the story of people associated with ‘Hare Krishna’ movement and iscon society. We see  American administration going around the world to spread democracy like Christian missionaries, but they are not honest. If China were to send their Hilary Clinton to India to preach that the political ideology of Modi is against communal harmony and it should be class struggle, then police in India will arrest them. India will ban Chinese goods completely. It can result in a India/China war, if China were to fund Indians to topple Modi government to bring Authoritarian Communist government in India. Same will be the Chinese reaction, if India tries to topple the authoritarian Chinese government to bring democracy there. The democratic missionaries who go to spread democracy are self centered and least bothered about the lives of people who will suffer and die in the process.

When Soviet union invaded Afghanistan, it wasn’t a war between democracy and autocracy. It was between Communist authoritarian government against Afghan Mujahideens and Al Qaeda. It was autocracy of communist ideology against dictatorship motivated by religion and Jihad. America and it’s western allies provided military and financial assistance to Afghan Mujahedeen. America and it’s western allies lost their interest in Afghanistan after Soviet union withdrew its troops. Afghans felt that the US and it’s western allies didn’t do much for development, after years of war. A feeling that they were taken for a damn ride. Rise of Al-Qaeda, led by Osama bin Laden and 9/11 attack is a by-product of it.

Later, United States invaded Iraq and overthrew the Iraqi government on 9 April 2003. Saddam Hussein had been In power since 16 July 1979. He was known for his brutality, killing his own people, gassing the Kurds (using chemical weapons) and he waged war on Iran. 

Saddam Hussein was a dictator. He was notorious for his brutality, corruption and lived a luxurious life. He and his family used to eat in gold plates. US suspected Saddam Hussein’s involvement in 9/11, terror funding and his arsonal had weapons of mass destruction. He declared that he will consider making euro the currency for oil trade from Iraq. So, United States  invaded Iraq to protect their interests. And it was not to spread democracy. 

United States helped Arab springs (Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain), the revolution in Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine with money, intelligence and diplomatic service. United States did this to setup new democratic government who will be American friendly and will depend on America. It helps United States to remain as world leader. 

Being in number one position globally and bullying other nations to stay at number one position is the strategy used by USA. Its time to consider more effective way to be on top of everyone. It’s time to consider the number of lives lost during each war, the negative impact on environment due to war and the chaos after war. However, we cannot disregard America’s contribution to the world during various humanitarian crisis. More wrongs could have happened, If it wasn’t America the world leader. 
The hard working people in United States and their great leaders built this powerful nation. Extreme capitalism to help only the super-rich, policies to help weapon and oil lobby in the recent decades has brought this great nation into the brink of collapse. In the last three decades, United States could getaway with it’s foolish foreign policies because they were too powerful. The irresponsible economic policies of United States to encourage chronic capitalism has created an imbalance in the last three decades. Such policies made American companies outsource most of their service industry to India, Philippines and Africa. Such policies resulted in American companies setting up their manufacturing units in China and other countries. 

 America is no longer a land of promise. Rich Americans are buying second passport through ‘Citizenship by investment program (CIP)’.A program meant to attract investment in return for citizenship. The American applicants for CIP has increased more than 300% in the last three years. Portugal is the most sought after destination by rich Americans. 

Unemployment, high infant mortality rate, economic instability, debt burden, mental stress, depression, gun violence, increased systemic racial discrimination are few among the pressing problems of USA. These problems were discussed by many American lawmakers and intellectuals from several years. But they failed to stop American corporates from depending on cheap labours from around the world. America’s dependence on China is increasing by every passing year. They failed to make policy changes to set up manufacturing units in United States.
On 15 November 2021, president Joe Biden signed the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill into law. The package will put $550 billion in new funds into transportation, broadband and utilities. This bill is aimed to boost US economy, create jobs and to overhaul physical infrastructure. This bill can change the way US economy functions, if all the raw materials required for the construction are made in United States. This means promoting new manufacturing units in US if necessary and avoiding import of raw materials. President Biden wants to replace the lead pipes used for water supply with steel pipes, which are more healthier. Where do these steel pipes come from? Is it going to be from China, Japan or some European company supplying new steel pipes and fibre optic cables? Manufacturing unit for such raw materials can create permanent jobs and soon United States can export them to other countries. 

International organisations like United Nations has considerable number of Chinese. China is funding them generously. Chinese grip on WHO was more than evident during WHO’s investigation in Wuhan into the origin of Covid-19. UNO was formed after second world war. UNO was formed to maintain international peace and security, arbitrate armed conflicts, prevent wars from happening again and to ensure a better future for the world. But it has been reduced to a forum for international politics, blame game and appreciation. Veto power given to few members is limiting it’s power. There can’t be a better example than the recent veto against sanctions on North Korea. If I am not wrong,  UN was formed after the failure of ‘League of Nations’ and it was not with an intention to make UN a pet dog of everyone. 
At a larger perspective, Europeans and several other nations depend more on China and Russia, than on United States. European countries especially Germany depends on Russia for energy and are reluctant to side with US sanctions against Russia. It is European countries who will suffer more due to US sanctions. Russia turned off gas supply to Poland and Bulgaria, after they refused to pay in roubles. This means, Russians are prepared to break any agreement made before US sanctions. In fact, Europeans have already found a work around to pay in roubles for oil and gas. Hungary declared that they will pay in roubles. So these European countries neither support war in Ukraine, nor they support US sanctions. India has doubled Russian oil purchase since the invasion. In December 2021, India got its first S400 missile system delivered from Russia, despite CATSA sanction. The second regiment of S400 missile system is expected to reach India by June 2022. India’s dependence on Russia for military equipment is from several years. And it is not practical to change things overnight. Russians attack on Ukraine was well planned. Russia wants to pulverise Ukraine. Russia wants to settle issues as per their terms. 

Recently, US declared that they will send precision rocket to Ukraine. UK wants to send offensive weapons instead of defensive ones. These weapons will not help Ukraine to defeat Russia. A prolonged war will result in acute food shortage worldwide, worsen the world economy which has suffered a lot due to pandemic and lockdown.

Way forward:

As mentioned earlier in this article, if we were to regret for Afghanistan and Ukraine, then it’s time for course correction. Who wants another crisis after Ukraine? Who wants this hostile situation, which is in the making?

We see the world leaders being busy meeting each other in the last one year. Quad is gaining prominence than ever. Then we saw the formation AUKUS, a new strategic one by those who are also part of Quad. We see news about ‘String of pearls theory' and ‘necklace of diamonds strategy’ to counter it. So, isn’t it a cold war? Are we preparing for a global war, which will not be complete without nuclear weapons?
Even if we were to go by ‘String of pearls theory' and ‘necklace of diamonds strategy’, they only will help us to stand a better chance for negotiation. And those negotiation should be aimed at better understanding and cooperation. Why can’t these Quad leaders negotiate with china on issues concerning China, than planning a war.

The primary focus of Quad should be to strengthen bilateral relationship with non Quad members. And their collective goals should be to reduce carbon emission, counter climate change, increase the use of renewable energy, counter terrorism, preparedness for handling natural calamities, and crisis like pandemic. Quad, AUKUS, NATO and UN should work together to boost economy, trade, Cultural exchange and not war. Its time for United States to review it’s trade and commerce with China. Isolating China and Russia or even trying to destroy them will not bring peace and stability. Collapse of China or Russia will create an imbalance in the world.

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