ISSN 2330-717X

Will Europe Prosecute Putin In Nuremberg II? – OpEd

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The conflict between European countries and Russia has a root of 400 years old; Napoleon and Hitler were two examples of European hatred of Russian expansionism and ambition, both of whom failed to confront Russia and as a result, the chronic disease of insecurity in Europe was stirred. The security situation in Europe after Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine is similar to that of the past- pre-war armed peace; like the period that paved the way for the spread of war in Europe and the First and Second World Wars.

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Europe has always been at the center of global tensions, crises, and threats because of rivalries among Russia, Germany, Britain, and France. It is clear to Europe that the Ukraine war could be the biggest threat to the Green Continent because, for the first time since World War II, bombs, cannons, and mortars land in Europe.

Europe should not get involved in Ukraine war because it cannot has a decisive role in it; as was the case in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The Ukraine war is a continuation of the game between two military superpowers that has been going on for more than 70 years around the world; weaker countries lack mediation capacity. Europe must learn from the proxy wars between the United States and Russia in Asia, the Asia-Pacific region has always been the center of global crises, and proxy wars in the rivalry between the United States and Russia were devastating and never ended in victory. The last eight decades of wars between the United States and its allies in Asia have been at the crossroads of Western conflicts of interest with China and Russia, paid for by the nations of the region; however, Europe has been the beneficiary of this rivalry.

For example, in 1950, the United States entered the Korean War in competition with China; an intervention that was in China and North Korea’s favor. France launched the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam in 1954, which ultimately led to its defeat, and Paris was forced to hand over the battle to the United States for a large sum of money and get out of Asia pacific forever. This was France’s first defeat against a communist independence movement.

Following the Battle of Dien Bien Phu, the United States launched the Vietnam War in 1955, which lasted until 1975 between US-backed forces and Soviet-backed communist movements; a war that ultimately led to the US defeat.

 Following the East-West rivalry, the Soviet Union occupied Afghanistan in 1979 under the pretext of supporting the communist regime in Kabul, but was defeated by US-backed Afghan Mujahedeen, and withdrew completely from Afghanistan in 1989. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Iraq invaded Iran with the support of the Soviet Union and Western countries, especially France. The war continued for 8 years without the victory of any side. Less than a year after the end of the Iraq-Iran war, Saddam attacked Kuwait and Saudi Arabia; however, the United States and its European allies reacted to the occupation of Kuwait and invaded Iraq in what became known as the “First Gulf War”.

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In the aftermath of 9/11, the United States invaded Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban regime; in 2003, Saddam Hussein was overthrown by America in the Second Gulf War. The United States invaded Libya with its European allies in 2011, which led to the end of Gaddafi’s rule. Russia lost its strategic influence in Asia and North Africa after the normalization of ties between the United States and Vietnam and the fall of Najibullah in Kabul, Saddam in Baghdad, and Gaddafi in Tripoli, who were all Russian allies.

Now, this is the first time that Europe, overshadowed by the United States, confronts Russia in such a magnitude that can cripple Russia with military, economic, and media war. This is the moment when Europe hopes to set up a second Nuremberg tribunal for Putin, his allies, and Russia’s future, to perhaps restore security to Europe forever.

In contrast, Moscow’s scathing message to the United States and its allies in the Ukraine war is that if Russia’s global interests are further threatened, they must accept that a strategic turning point in the conflict of interests has been reached; whose impulses can directly target European and then American interests by a nuclear war. According to Moscow, if the Ukrainian war does not provide an opportunity to serve Russia’s global interests in the future as a superpower and not a marginal state; the United States and Europe will have to go beyond Ukraine’s proxy war against Russia and go directly to war with Moscow. In this situation, as in World Wars I and II, Europe will suffer so much that European countries will be forced to accept a fundamental change in the structure of the world order that will guarantee Russia’s long-term interests.

At present, the goal of the joint Ukrainian-Western think tank is to hide Putin’s achievements and the defeat of the Red Army. The focus of US and European support for Ukraine is also on downplaying Crimea’s strategic position in the Black Sea and the successes of Russian armored forces in ground battles. The Ukrainian navy’s ability to use the Neptune and Harpoon missiles, which destroyed the Russian warships, while maintaining Kyiv’s superior capabilities in the Black Sea, sent a message to the Kremlin that the idea of annexing Crimea to Russia is a delusion.

By successfully shifting the balance in land and naval warfare, the West seeks to weaken Russia for two purposes. The first goal is to create frustration by escalating domestic discontent over the continuation of the war, which can spark an internal crisis in Russia in order to eventually remove Putin from the Russian political scene. The second goal is to bring Moscow to the negotiating table without military gains so that Russia will have to pay hundreds of billions of dollars in war damages to Ukraine. Undoubtedly, the heavy reparations of the war will make the Russian people poorer for decades, and the future Russian government will be plunged into political and economic tensions for years.

Thus, European arms assistance to Ukraine and the immediate and urgent support of the European Union, especially Germany, for the Russian oil embargo, as well as the allocation of $ 32 billion by the United States, are other signs of US and European determination to implement the weakening strategy of Kremlin.

Moscow is also deprived of UN benefits due to its military aggression against Ukraine. The United States was able to take action against Russia at the UN General Assembly, keeping the international body neutral. The United Nations’ position on the Ukraine war is that food prices around the world are at an all-time high and the number of hungry people in the world’s poor countries will continue to rise as the war proceeds.

Russia’s only hope was China. Beijing supported Moscow at the beginning of the crisis. However, the withdrawal of Russian ground forces from around Kyiv affected China’s support for Russia and made Beijing’s stance on Ukraine conditional on progress in the war. If the war situation changes in favor of Ukraine and the West, Beijing will not spend its national and global interests on a weakened Russia.

The US goal is to contain Russia by continuing the war of attrition in Ukraine. In this war, China also becomes controllable, making it impossible for Putin to end the war in a manner he prefers. Russia has little chance in a war of attrition even in the Donbas and Crimea regions due to the pressure of sanctions and the Kremlin’s secession from the world economy; a situation which will eventually shift the Kremlin’s focus from geostrategic to tactical goals, the outcome of which is certainly the defeat or continuation of the war of attrition.

China may be supporting Moscow because of its need for energy and instability in a lukewarm manner. But Beijing, as a world economic power, cannot help but adjust its position to the situation on the battlefield in Ukraine because of the cost of war. In addition, Russia has historically been an annoying neighbor to China. China’s great advantage is that it is a master of changing direction to protect its own interests and has the ability to act with both Russia and the west. The United States is well aware that China, unlike Russia, feeds on the vast global interests it has created, and that it has achieved its global interests in cooperation with the United States and Europe and in a world order based on greater American interests; while Putin seeks to change the world order by invading Ukraine.

It can be said that the levers of energy, the UN, and China are also lost for Russia. Therefore, in order to survive, Putin must either completely occupy Ukraine as soon as possible or withdraw completely from it and even Crimea. Both war and sanctions are worse for Putin than defeat. Certainly, Putin will not give up, and European stability and security in the technological-military war between the United States and Russia will witness another bitter historical experience.

Greg Pence

Greg Pence is an international studies graduate of University of San Francisco.

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