March 03, 2024

Two Years of War in Ukraine

R Arun Kumar

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THE war in Ukraine has entered into the third year. It is now established beyond doubt that the war is waged by the US-led NATO, with Ukraine only as the theatre. The purpose of the war is also by now clear – to contain an assertive Russia and reinforce the hegemony of imperialist US. The vested interests of imperialist forces, which are funding and financing Ukraine are the reason for the failure of attempts to find a diplomatic solution. In spite of all the backing, due to the setbacks suffered by Ukraine in the recent period, the optimism and buoyancy that was witnessed a year ago among the US and its allies is absent today.


The war in Ukraine impacted the entire world. Rising food and fuel prices and high inflation are affecting the lives of millions. The fast rising inflationary rates in many countries have outpaced the growth of wages and triggered a cost of living crisis. It had adversely affected the health and well-being of people, particularly those from the poorest sections in the society.

Apart from the countries in Europe, many developing and emerging economies around the world, particularly in Africa, are dependent on food and fuel produced in Ukraine and Russia. With the war, they are facing difficulties in procuring and feeding their people, resulting in rising hunger levels. Similarly, rising fuel prices are having a spiraling effect that is leading to rising costs of production, storage and transport. In colder climates, heating costs have grown exponentially. People are forced to switch-off their heaters in many countries in Europe and suffer the biting cold.

Of course, there are countries and corporations that have benefited from the war. The country that had benefited the most from the war is the US. It had capitalised on the situation by selling weapons, oil, and gas at high prices globally. Giant oil companies in the US have used the sanctions on Russia to increase their market presence. They have tried to substitute Russian gas and oil in many European countries, often at much higher costs. Shareholders of the world’s top five oil and gas companies saw record profits of $209 billion and distributed $102 billion in the form of dividends and share-buy-backs in 2022. Similarly, food grain corporations in the US, Australia and Europe used the sanctions and disruption in the supply caused by the war for their expansion and profiteering.

The other major industry that had benefited from the war is the defence industry. According to media reports, since February 2022, the stocks of five of the top US and European defence contractors have all risen. The companies – Europe’s BAE Systems, Thales and Rheinmetall, and Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman in the US – have all either provided weapons for the battlefield in Ukraine or signed agreements to do so. The BAE Systems reported profit of $3.3 billion in 2023, up 8 per cent from 2022; Saab, a major defence contractor from Sweden reported a 30 per cent growth in profits last year – an all time high. Lockheed Martin and Rheinmetall too have reported an increase in their profits in the third quarter of 2023, due to surging demand for their arms and ammunition. The drive to arm themselves and Ukraine has led to an increase in the defence spending by most countries. The world defence expenditure rose by 9 per cent in 2023 and had reached a staggering $2240 billion in 2023.


Till date 47 countries have provided military aid to Ukraine. The US is by far the top funding country, followed by the EU. Since February 2022, Ukraine has become the top recipient of US foreign aid – the first time a European country has held the top spot since the Marshall Plan after Second World War. The Biden administration had given around $75 billion in assistance to Ukraine in the last two years, in which 62 per cent was military assistance. The US has supplied advanced weaponry like the Abrams battle tanks, anti-aircraft missiles, coastal defense ships, and advanced surveillance and radar systems. It had promised to deliver F-16 fighter jets by mid-2024. The US had even supplied Ukraine with cluster munitions that are banned by many countries. Now the Biden administration is negotiating hard with the Republican dominated US Congress to allow it transfer an additional $61 billion to Ukraine to shore up its war efforts.

Volodymyr Zelensky, president of Ukraine is clear that if the western support dries up or slackens, it would lead to the defeat of Ukraine. Addressing the stalled US assistance, he stated: “Our position in the battlefield will be weaker without it”. He said that Europe cannot replace the assistance of US and if the US Congress fails to pass the bill allowing the $61 billion aid, “it will leave me wondering what world we are living in”. He is pleading the US not to betray Ukraine. Betrayal is not new to the US as it is known for pushing countries to fight its battles and abandon them when the situation turns counter-productive.

Hawks like David Cameron, in his new avatar as the foreign secretary of UK and German foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, are trying to whip up emotions and mobilise resources for Ukraine by overplaying the threat of Russia. ‘If Putin’s aggression is not stopped, this will touch every state in the United States’. They fear that a ‘Russian victory would embolden challengers to the US hegemony, like China’.

That these so-called liberal democratic countries do not have any love for Ukraine, but are only concerned about their interests becomes clear when we read the interview of David Arakhamia, leader of the ‘Servant of the People’ party, to which Zelensky also belongs. He stated (November 2023) that the war could have concluded in Spring 2022, but for the intervention of the then UK prime minister, Boris Johnson. The peace deal with Russia was ready for signatures after the talks between both parties in Istanbul in 2022. It is then Johnson visited Kiev and intervened against the deal. “Boris Johnson visited Kyiv and said that we should not sign anything with the Russians and 'let’s just fight’”, Arakhamia stated.

Pushed into a war that does not benefit them, Ukrainians are suffering. The neo-Nazi forces controlling Ukraine are deceiving their country people. Russia is slowly grinding Ukrainian forces in the war of attrition. All the advanced weaponry that was supplied by the US and its allies to Ukraine is found to be no match before the Russian fire power. The highly anticipated ‘counter-offensive’ that was launched last summer, spectacularly fizzled out without accruing any major gains or denting Russian defences. Russia is slowly pushing back the Ukrainian frontline. The recent Russian victory in the crucial town of Avdeevka, opens up the entire Donetsk region.

The war in Ukraine has not benefited Russia too. Though the Russian economy had taken a hit, increased defence expenditure and war costs have contributed to ‘military Keynesianism’. In the short term this is proving to be effective, though it might not be true in the long term. Economic sanctions imposed on it by the US and its allies are proving to be ineffective due to the strength of the Russian economy. An interesting study found out that 95 per cent of the 2800 foreign components found in Russian weapons on the battlefield since the war started were western and a majority of them (70 per cent) came from the US. This explicitly shows the failure of sanctions as a weapon to weaken Russia. Moreover, Russian exports like oil, gas, coal, uranium and titanium drive major world economies. Emerging countries like China, India, Brazil and South Africa are circumventing the sanctions and are continuing to trade with Russia.

Thus, in spite of all the bravado displayed by the US and its allies, they realise that they are on the losing side in Ukraine. Only two options are open for them – continue pumping billions of dollars into a lost cause, while searching for an exit plan; or directly confront Russia.

President of France, Macron advocated for the direct deployment of NATO troops in Ukraine. His suggestion was immediately ruled out by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Even the US and UK dismissed Macron’s proposal. None of them wants to risk a direct confrontation with Russia, which would certainly propel out of control. People would not support such a confrontation as there is a growing war weariness and weaning support to Ukraine.

A recent survey in 12 European countries conducted by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) found out that a general war fatigue had set among the people. A majority (52 per cent) want Ukraine to be pushed to accept a negotiated settlement. Only 10 per cent believe that Ukraine could win the war, while double that number believe in a Russian victory. This appears to be the mood even in the US, where majority of the people feel that it is a waste to spend so many billions on Ukraine. 55 per cent of Americans said in a CNN poll that Congress should not authorise additional funding to support Ukraine. It is this popular sentiment that is captured by Trump, who is campaigning against Biden’s proposals to further aid Ukraine. The ‘fear’ of US abandoning Ukraine is turning to be more realistic with every passing day.

War is not beneficial to anyone – either Ukraine or Russia, or the people of the US and its allies. It is only benefiting the military-industrial and other huge corporations that are profiting from peoples’ anxieties and needs.

People would benefit only if the war is immediately brought to an end. Negotiations and diplomatic resolution should be immediately prioritised. Putin, in a recent interview has expressed his willingness to negotiate, while Zelensky, blinded by his imperialist masters, is unwilling. Public opinion should be mobilised to push both the parties to negotiate and bring the curtains down on this sordid affair – war.


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