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TURNING POINT: The World in Catch-22

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NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 14 March) — The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down, but before it could finally stop, another crisis of global magnitude has rushed in to already replace it – the Ukraine-Russo war.

No matter his varied justifications, Vladimir Putin cannot hide his dream, his ambition of reviving the lead role of Russia as a superpower in the defunct Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). He had worked hard in gathering again the previous members of the USSR under one roof, otherwise known as the Russian Federation. Ukraine, which values so much her independence as a sovereign state, has vehemently refused Russia’s overtures. This rejection angered Putin who viewed it as a standing block for the other republics to join his federation, frustrating thereby his glorious dream. The jilted autocrat has launched, therefore a massive invasion, a blitzkrieg of sort with a victory in mind in less than a week. But Putin’s ground assault met strong resistance from Ukraine’s security forces and patriots.

This maddens Putin; he has gone berserk and is now running amok, bombarding and shelling both military establishment and civilian centers with no let-up. Apparently, the aim now is to turn Ukraine into rubbles and crushing it to a humiliating submission. But Ukraine refuses to buckle down. The war of aggression is now in its third week with no sign of ending at all.

The Russo war of aggression may yet eclipse the coronavirus rampage on its impact on mankind.

To counter Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, the West has imposed severe sanctions on Russia that crippled her economy, which include, among others, an embargo on the latter’s fossil oil, natural gas and agricultural products; isolation from trade and commerce; cessation of global banking transactions; and stoppage of transcontinental flights in and out of Russia.

The sanction on oil, however, looks like the West is shooting itself on the foot. This move jacked up the price of fossil fuel not only, unfortunately in the West, but worldwide because of diminishing supply.

The unprecedented spike in the cost of fuel raises the prices in the production of goods and services and of everything, and threatens food security worldwide, but most especially in poor countries. The scarcity of food and other basic goods may yet spark riots and chaos.

 Meanwhile, the prolonged and indiscriminate shelling and airstrike of Ukraine may eventually hit and destroy the country’s nuclear plants, as it has already partly struck some, a dreaded situation that may cause a catastrophic fallout in Europe and neighboring regions.

Ukraine has requested the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to declare its sky a-no-flight zone to halt the damaging air strikes. The plea remains unheeded for fear that such prohibition may plunge the member countries into a direct confrontation with Russia and would only worsen the current situation. The self-restraint has quickly reduced Ukraine into a sitting duck.

So it has become a wait-and-see dilemma for NATO and the European Union.

However, not just Europe but the whole world is found in catch-22 – between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Can the world really avoid WW III by such indecision?

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines.)

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