By Tony Candela
It has been quite some time since I commented on the war in the Ukraine. When it started, I expressed outrage at what clearly has been an illegal incursion into someone else’s territory for the purpose of gaining strategic benefits. The answer to “why?” lies in a complicated set of motivations, some of which run deep in Russian history and others glued tightly within the Russian psyche. As I write, it has been six long months since the war in Ukraine began. When the Russians bogged down en route to Kiev, I thought it was the perfect time for NATO forces to get involved, using air power to knock out a major Russian force, perhaps ending the war sooner. The NATO response, mostly via the U.S., has been to provide weapons, supplies, and intelligence data. These have saved the Ukraine from immediate conquest and led to the destruction of large numbers of Russian men and material, but in my opinion, will not forestall it forever.
Then there came an assault on the Chernobyl nuclear power plant and now another on the one in Zaporizhzhia. While we haven’t heard much about Chernobyl lately, the Zaporizhzhia assault is currently hot. The Russians have taken up residence inside the grounds and are shelling Ukraine forces. Ukrainian artillerymen are loathe to fire back for if they hit the plant, fire and radiation will abound. In effect, the Russians are getting “free shots” at the Ukrainians. In my view, this is the pinnacle of cowardice, but it is no longer a surprise as the Russians have demonstrated time and again their low moral stature and, ultimately, their incompetence.
The International Atomic Energy Commission is pleading with both sides to cease fire and its leader has offered to personally negotiate a removal of forces from the plant. There are things to do in the interim, the most important of which is to shut down the reactors. This would deprive a sizable chunk of electrical power from eastern Europe, which would have to be found elsewhere, but at least it would mitigate (but not eliminate) the danger of nuclear leakage and spread should there be an explosion.
When will NATO decide that it is in the interest of its member nations to intervene? I asked this question when Chernobyl was under attack. I offer the same logic again. That is, the risk from Russian cowardice and incompetence goes far beyond the Ukraine. Poland is most likely first in line for the effects of major radiation leakage. The fact that a lot more of Europe will be hurt by the loss of electrical power may not be enough to warrant NATO intervention, but the risk of environmental catastrophe ought to be.
Russian incompetence seems to be built into their culture. They are not doing anywhere as well in the Ukraine as their self-image led them to believe. They have made more messes in world history through bullying and sheer meanness than most nations. The current war is mor a reaction to feelings of loss of power and autonomy than anything else. Although they suffer more than 500 casualties per day, twice that of the Ukraine, their willingness to fling bodies at their military targets will ultimately be the downfall of the Ukraine and most likely the downfall of Russia too. NATO could speed the latter if it would only intervene. Given Russia’s history of committing atrocities beyond the belief of most people in Western society, when will we?
If the West intervenes, what might the intervention or interventions look like? I believe military assets can block and even destroy many of the supply-lines Russian forces need to keep on fighting. NATO military forces can more quickly use the sophisticated weaponry being provided to the Ukraine’s and private contractors and enable these forces to back up the Ukrainians as they attack Russian positions. Ukrainians cannot continue the war much longer if they keep losing men at the rate they have been. Air power can more easily stop advancing Russian soldiers and equipment than the ground forces and missiles( all they have) used by the Ukrainians. Then, pressured by more immanent defeat, the Russians could finally be brought to the negotiating table for peace talks. Threatened by even more lethal NATO action, a settlement might be made that does not reward Russian land-grabbing and restores the Ukraine, if not to pre-war status, then perhaps to something more sensible and long-lasting than the conditions that Vladimir Putin couldn’t stomach. This should include a suitable arrangement with the eastern provinces and, in my view, restoration of the Crimea and southern cities like Mariupol to the Ukraine along with a way for Russia to move freely through those territories so it doesn’t feel as boxed-in as they have been. In the end, if Russia is so incompetent as to need a 20st century war in the 21st century, the rest of the western world will need to chaperone.
Anthony R. Candela, Author
Saying aloud what should not remain silent.
Stand Up Or Sit Out: Memories and Musings Of a Blind Wrestler, Runner, and All-around Regular Guy
A memoir about life lessons learned, especially through sports
Vision Dreams: A Parable
A sci-fi novella about how a dysfunctional society forces people to go to extremes, including four blind people who seek out artificial vision.
Christian Faith Publishing, 2019
Tony Candela has worked as a Rehabilitation Counselor, supervisor, manager consultant and administrator for more than 40 years in the field of blindness and visual impairment. His work has included promoting literacy and employment of blind persons and a special interest in enhancing the career preparation of blind persons who wish to work in the computer science field. He is a “retired” athlete, loves movies, sports, reading, writing, and music, including dabbling in guitar. Reach out to Tony, make comments on this post and read more at: https://www.facebook.com/anthonyrcandelaauthor
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