We hoped it would not happen, but it happened. We hoped the war would be avoided, but it broke out. Now we hope that the nuclear apocalypse will not come upon us, but… What will be written about 2022 in history textbooks decades from now? And will our children and grandchildren be able to read it?
Russian aggression against Ukraine undermined peace and tranquility in Europe. Now everybody understands that Ukrainian people are suffering all horrors of war. The Russian army, regardless of own losses, is conducting active hostilities, surrounding and bombing Ukrainian cities. The United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution, strongly condemned the Russian invasion. However, by no means all are taking seriously the threat of a nuclear war.
Developments in Ukraine can become a prelude to the next world war. It is enough to recall the bloody lessons of world history in order to understand this.
The prelude to World War I were the Balkan Wars. In 1912 and 1913 many viewed those conflicts as local small wars. But they erupted into the world war with millions of casualties. The ongoing war in Ukraine has already overshadowed the magnitude of the both Balkan wars combined.
During the cold war people on both sides of the Atlantic feared nuclear weapons and regarded the threat of its use as a real danger. Sometimes the fear of nuclear apocalypse had extreme even panic forms, but eventually that fear had been saving the world from nuclear Armageddon for more than 70 years. Time passed and now very few people think about this threat. For many of our contemporaries war is just colorful footage on television or YouTube. This attitude by itself represents a huge danger. The people do not believe deep down in a real possibility of a nuclear war.
The whole horror is that this possibility is real now. Russia possesses a huge amount of nuclear weapons – 6000 nuclear warheads, which is more than half of all nuclear weapons on the planet. The NATO member-countries have no less powerful nuclear capacity – United States 5500 nuclear warheads, Great Britain 200, France 300. Military clash between NATO and Russia will be the real Armageddon.
Ukraine borders with Romania, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary – all these countries are NATO member-countries, on their territories the NATO alliance is keeping in readiness its troops. If one of these countries is involved in the conflict, according to the North Atlantic Treaty of 1949, the United States, Great Britain and France will be obliged to join the war against Russia. In this case the nuclear world war is inevitable. It will be inevitable even if the West refrains from using nuclear weapons, unwilling to ruin the lives of millions of innocent Russian civilians and to provoke Russian nuclear strikes on European and American cities. The thing is, according to the Russian national security doctrine adopted by the Kremlin in 2010, the Russian nuclear forces can be used not only in response to a nuclear attack but also against a state waging war with Russia by non-nuclear conventional weapons. Putin has already declared that the Russian nuclear forces have been put on maximum alert. We should also remember that there are several nuclear facilities on the territory of Ukraine, including the infamous Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Right now, battles are being waged near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. It is the largest nuclear plant in Europe. In warfare an explosion can occur at any time on nuclear facilities, which can be falsely detected by control systems as the usage of nuclear weapons. One little mistake can cost billions of human lives.
Within the stream of awful news one announcement went unnoticed. The Swiss government announced that it would join in the EU measures countering Russia. Switzerland also closed its airspace for the Russian planes. This little message has a paramount importance. Switzerland is a country that has declared absolute neutrality for the past two centuries. Due to the position of principle, it did not engage in military alliances, it did not join the North Atlantic Treaty. It even did not join the European Union in order not to cast doubt on its neutral status. Switzerland is a country that managed to remain neutral even during World War I and World War II. The Swiss stand in the international arena has always been regarded as an absolute and indisputable axiom. The government of another peaceful and neutral state Sweden announced that it would deliver 5000 anti-tank weapons to Ukraine. The mere fact that the most peaceful and neutral countries are taking sides, indicates that a degree is off the scale and the whole world is on the brink of an unprecedented devastating global war.
At this decisive moment all governments and peoples must understand that only negotiations for peace can save this very peace and the world. History has repeatedly taught us that militarism and war mongering are devastating.
People of Ukraine are the first who are experiencing tremendous sufferings. We must not stay away. War must be stopped immediately, otherwise these and even greater sufferings will come in every country, every home and every family.
Author’s bio: Neil Karpenko, PhD, Ukraine’s history and politics researcher residing in Toronto. Contributing author to Haaretz, The Hill Times and Morning Star