Kiev’s main boulevard, Khreschatyk Street, is now lined with the burned-out metal skeletons of the Russian war machine. The heroic defense of Ukraine has taken some of the glamor of a superpower off from President Vladimir Putin. While we are past the six-month stage in a war that Moscow confidently expects will be largely completed in as many weeks, the only chance is that thousands more will die.
It has been 31 years since the country that Putin promised to wipe out declared independence. Accurate human and economic tolls are impossible to call, but according to New York Times, 5,587 Ukrainian civilians are confirmed dead. The true number is estimated to be in the tens of thousands. The number of refugees has exceeded 6.6 million. Military casualties were heavy on both sides, with around 9,000 Ukrainians and up to 25,000 Russians killed.
Ukraine has also lost control of 20 percent of its territory. Financially, the destruction has already cost them at least $113.5 billion. More than $200 billion may be needed to rebuild.
In Moscow, the war has a greater meaning. Ukraine’s declaration of independence helped destroy the Soviet state and fuel the domino effect that led to the dissolution of the empire.
It is not surprising that it is at the heart of Putin’s deluded dream of reconsolidation.
Whatever the outcome, it will likely shift the balance of power. The embers of old disputes could revive – for example between Russia, Moldova, Georgia or several other countries.
The potential for further devastation and global destabilization is also limitless. The possibility of a radiation catastrophe since the occupation of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant is frighteningly real.
UN chief Antonio Guterres said the consequences of “this senseless war are being felt well beyond Ukraine,” citing rising food and energy costs around the world.
If Putin planned to sweep through Ukraine in a series of major battles, he was wrong. Ukrainians have used hand-held missiles to carry out pin-prick attacks. Its soldiers can now use US-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to take out Russian command posts and ammunition depots. “We don’t have the resources to litter the territory with bodies and shells like Russia does,” said Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.
Another Ukrainian official said they were focused on inflicting “a thousand bee stings.”
This will not end with bee stings. Unlike in the West, Russian military doctrine involves the use of battlefield tactical or nuclear weapons.
While experts say such weapons are unlikely to be used, no one can say for sure.
A struggle of voluntary resistance against the full might of Russia has captured the world’s imagination, but the notion that the slaughter can go on indefinitely without consequences is dangerously misplaced. History has proven that the longer and more widespread a war becomes, the less likely it is that global powers remain bystanders.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/editorial/history-teaches-us-that-war-is-no-respecter-of-borders-41935476.html History teaches us that war respects no borders