Rajat Sharma

War is no solution : Putin should talk to Zelenskyy

rajat-sir The Russian defence ministry on Friday announced that its army, after a long halt outside the Ukrainian capital Kiev, has entered the city in a bid to dislodge the Zelenskyy government. There were reports of fires raging in several buildings in the capital. Civilians have been asked to move to safer places. The 64-km long convoy of Russian tanks and armoured vehicles has been deployed outside Kiev, where regular air raid sirens are being sounded.

As Russians rained missiles and shells on key Ukrainian cities on the 9th day of war, Russian forces have seized Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhia. There was an early morning scare, when fire broke out at the nuclear power plant, due to Russian shelling, but it was immediately brought under control. Only a training building and a lab were affected. The director of the nuclear power plant said, the safety of all nuclear equipment is now guaranteed. The Ukrainian foreign minister appealed to Russian forces to stop attacking the nuclear plant. “If it blows up, it will cause damage 10 times larger than the Chernobyl nuclear disaster”, he said.

Russian forces are gaining ground in southern Ukraine, with reports of heavy fighting in Mariupol, the strategic port sea on Azov Sea. The Russian army has occupied the port city of Kherson, the first major city to fall in the current war. Meanwhile, Russian and Ukrainian authorities during their talks on Thursday agreed on creating safe corridors for civilians to allow them to leave combat zones.

On Thursday night, embattled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, looking unshaven and wearing a military T-shirt, spoke to journalists in his office building in Kiev fortified by sandbags. Zelenskyy said there could be some compromises, but he did not clarify. He said, “there are issues where we need to find a compromise, so that people do not die, but there are issues where there cannot be any compromise, we cannot just say, here, it your country now, Ukraine is part of Russia.” Putin is insisting on his two main demands: complete demilitarization and neutral status for Ukraine.

Zelenskyy, who has now become a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, pleaded for a no-fly zone and said he was not afraid of death. Zelenskyy said, he hardly gets three hours of sleep at night, and said, “It’s not that I want to talk to Putin. I need to talk to Putin. The world needs to talk to Putin. There is no other way to stop this war.” In an ominous message, he said, the “Russian aggression will only spread, if it is not stopped in Ukraine. …This is a nightmare. I cannot even imagine the type of man who could plan such acts.”

In my prime time show ‘Aaj Ki Baat’ on Thursday night, we showed visuals of Russian forces bombarding the port city of Mariupol with missiles and rockets. While the Russian ground forces are concentrating on war in northern and eastern Ukraine, its forces are carrying out attacks on the port cities. With Kherson under control, the Russian forces are now out to occupy Odessa. In order to cut all Ukrainian supply lines, Russian forces have attacked Chernihiv and Sumy, the two key cities through which the supply lines pass. The siege of these two cities is vital to allow Russian army to occupy capital Kiev. The biggest industrial hub of Ukraine, in Kharkiv, now stands devastated after Russian forces occupied the main administrative building following heavy shelling and missile attacks. The capital Kiev is now literally desolate, with most of the buildings in ruins.

The Russian forces have caused widespread devastation across Ukraine. The most severe economic sanctions against Russia, its president and its officials and oligarchs, have failed to bend Putin till now. In a 90-minute telephonic talk with French President Emmanuel Macron, Putin clearly said, we will stop our military operation, only after we achieve our objectives. Putin also said, if Ukraine refuses to accept Russian demands, his government would add fresh demands to its list. “Our objective is not to occupy Ukraine, but to demilitarize it and make it a neutral state”, Putin reportedly told Macron.

Naturally, Putin fears that if Russia fails in its objectives in Ukraine war, other neighbouring ex-Soviet nations may cause problems for his country. Putin could never digest the fact that Ukraine developed into an independent and democratic country, on the lines of other western European nations. He was not willing to accept inclusion of Ukraine in NATO at any cost. He wants Ukraine to remain under Russian control, with a puppet government installed in Kiev. Judging by the latest developments on the war front, it appears that Putin will continue with this devastating war, till the time the Ukrainian government accepts his demands.

The manner in which Putin wrote the script of devastation for Ukraine, ignoring American and European threats, has now brought a situation where most of the world has started condemning the Russian invasion, within nine days of war. Most of the leaders of big nations have now become staunch opponents of Vladimir Putin, and Russia appears isolated, and now stands in the ranks of ‘failed states’ like North Korea and Syria, in the United Nations general assembly and security council.

Putin had expected Chinese support in the United Nations, but the Chinese chose to abstain rather than support Russia. One more outcome of the Russian invasion has been that all the European nations now stand united with an aim to stop Russia from continuing with the war. All these outcomes could prove to be critical for President Putin in the coming days.

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