Ukraine NATO silent on prospects for peace | Sunday Observer
Russian super-jet downs stalking US drone:

Ukraine NATO silent on prospects for peace

19 March, 2023

Who does Washington think it is fooling? Barely weeks after US fighter jets downed Chinese meteorology balloons seemingly invading its airspace, the Americans had to watch Russian fighter jets masterfully down an incoming US military attack and surveillance drone in the skies at the edge of Russian airspace.

Those Sukhoi ‘SU’ series jets are legendary as the world’s most manoeuvrable supersonic fighter aircraft and it was a SU-27 that was sent up to intercept what is classified as the world’s deadliest drone, the MQ 9A ‘Reaper’ (another version is called the Predator). This is one of the world’s largest, most effective military unmanned aerial vehicle used by the US to kill people and destroy targets in Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan’s remote border areas and, possibly other places not on public record.

The Russian SU-27 long range fighter with NATO code name ‘Flanker’ is already the stuff of legend. Its super-manoeuvrability seems to have enabled it to avoid using its weaponry and simply get close enough to physically damage the much smaller US drone by innovatively dumping some fuel on the Reaper’s propellor engine, forcing its American remote handlers to bring it down into the Black Sea waters.

And so the Ukraine war continues with the world’s most boastful ‘peace-loving democracies’ playing such dangerous military pranks right at the doorstep of a military power, Russia, which has already been surrounded by NATO member states and is reacting highly dangerously in response to decades of such Western military brinkmanship.

What Russia is currently doing is, no doubt, legally defined outright ‘aggression’ against Ukraine. But anyone familiar with what has happened since the Warsaw Pact collapsed and the Cold War ended, will know about the continued strengthening and systematic geopolitical expansion of the rival military alliance, NATO, to surround Russia – which stopped being the aggressive, hostile ‘Soviet Union’ decades ago!

Leave aside Russia, NATO has continued to operate far outside its supposed ‘theatre’ of operations of the North Atlantic (known imperiously in White Hall and the Pentagon as ‘the Pond’) all over the world. It is the result of NATO or NATO-aided interventions that Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia are enormously tragic political and humanitarian disasters today.

But life goes on in the First World as if as ‘normal’.

After a slightly less riotous Christmas holiday season – marred more by a series of trade union strikes on cost-of-living issues rather than by heavy weather – the life in the United Kingdom remains concerned with the latest living-costs data. Concert halls and pubs are packed, not just in the UK but throughout much of Europe, even in the countries adjoining Russia and Ukraine.

Comfort zone

The European comfort zone is happily remote from the tragedy that continues to unfold in bloody battlefields of Ukraine, minor bank crises notwithstanding.

Despite higher prices, spring is ushering in another season of south European beaches crowded with revellers. Despite drone interceptions to their north, Bulgaria’s famed beach resorts are thriving.

But prices are slightly affecting demand for non-essential consumer items like perfumes, luxury foods, electronic appliances, and so on in the world’s richest continent. Ukraine remains lurking in a corner as a reminder of the fickleness of geopolitics.

Meanwhile, the far greater carnage and devastation that is worsening in Palestine is not even mentioned in the West and much of the rest of the world except in the neighbouring Levant. Israel’s new hard right regime is attempting such racist and dictatorial reform of the country’s legal system and political institutions, that even Israeli Jews (the privileged ‘Maha Jaathiya’) have begun to protest.

Jewish supremacist

Also notable is that many secular and liberal Israeli Jews have begun permanently migrating Westward, fleeing the social tensions and cultural intolerance generated by the current Jewish supremacist Government.

But while Europeans are buying less perfumes and gourmet food and drink, over half the world’s population living in the developing countries, are buying less food overall – and starving more, thanks to the Ukraine war.

Food makes up 54 percent of the family budget for the world’s billions of poor and Ukraine-induced food insecurity is already triggering social unrest in impoverished Africa, especially, even Europe-based think tanks concede (Centre for Economic Policy Research, UK).

Meanwhile, energy price-rises and restrictions on traditional sources of energy imports from Russia due to NATO-imposed sanctions, make electricity availability for tens of millions of sub-Saharan Africans still seem a distant dream. For better-off countries elsewhere in the Third World, it means drastically reduced transport options and freight and supply chaos, also thereby raising food and other essential commodity costs.

Even though the Western news media did not highlight it, food riots occurred in Cairo, Khartoum and Baghdad, among other West Asian and North African cities last year, within a month of NATO imposing sanctions on Russian exports.

Western analysts, trying to find positives in this dismal global socio-economic scenario, are pointing to the new market advantages gained by other global energy and food suppliers like China, Brazil, India and Nigeria. But these market shifts cannot deal with general price volatility.

Many international think tanks, including the World Bank, see a link between the Ukraine war and worsening political unrest within several African countries and also sharper conflict between some African states.

World economic growth has slowed to below 3 percent annually. This does not help Third World exporters who need a constantly growing bussing power in the First World for export success.

Add all these Ukraine-generated woes are only added to Sri Lanka’s own internal social stresses due to the domestically-caused financial and agricultural crisis.

Western assessments of the Ukraine war, when shed of NATO’s war propaganda, paint a less than optimistic picture of the prospects for eastern Europe.

It is all about military supply and re-supply of Kyiv’s war effort. The rest of the world actually know little of what is really going on in Ukraine, especially the military successes and failures on either side. Access to Russia’s side of things is now denied to us by the forcible Western blockade against Russian media.

Global news inputs

Our cable news channels have suddenly become depleted of that spread of global news inputs we once enjoyed with cable TV providers stuttering as they try to explain to viewers as to why Russia Today, Raptly and other pro-Moscow news agencies have been summarily removed. Instead, subscribers are forced to watch more West-based channels, creating a ridiculously one dimensional information facility despite the media industry’s claim to be ‘liberal’ and uncensored. Today we are served a monotonous diet of heavily Euro-centric channels like CNN, BBC, France 24, MSNBC, ABC, with only Al Jazeera to make a difference.

This one-sided information war is in stark contrast to the media scenario during the Cold War when the geopolitical power balance between the Western capitalist bloc and the Soviet-led socialist bloc ensured that the rest of the world could access information from all sides. Today the singular dominance of NATO and the capitalist great powers has enforced their information, propaganda and even cultural hegemony over much of the world. Only those societies strong enough to assert their independence on the global stage are shielded from such geopolitical one-dimensionality. Of course, in some of those neutral and economically independent societies also have their own internal controls that are less than democratic.

Certainly, the global armaments industry is enjoying the Ukraine war, judging from the huge uptick in weapons and accessory technology production (and profits). So are the media analysts, military researchers and sundry propagandists.

The prestigious Centre for Security Studies (CSS), Zurich, in its assessments of aspects of the Ukraine war, lists a range of impacts from a drastic re-defining of the European continent’s overall security and governance architecture to the relative merits of types of warfare, to the emergence of robotics and artificial intelligence in military operations in a decisive way, to the usefulness and failures of military hardware and battle tactics.

Certainly, in terms of military hardware itself, Ukraine had reassured arms manufacturers that much of the weaponry they currently design, produce and sell, has been shown to be still useful. Even though industry experts are noting a new interest in Germany’s newest main battle tank (MBT), the Leopard 2, it is acknowledged that other top-of-the-range MBTs like the UK’s Challenger 2 and the French Leclerc are seen as equally good in performance on Ukraine’s battlefields.

In Ukraine, we see a return, to some degree, of the classical trench warfare that featured in the European theatre during the ‘World Wars’. Analysts note that traditional positional warfare is a key element of the Ukraine war. At the start of the war, Ukraine had some 1,800 MBTs compared with over 4,000 in the Russian army. Indeed, Ukraine, although not known as a military ‘power’, had remained a well-armed State after the Cold War ended, thanks to the Soviet Union allocating major arms industries in Ukraine.

One major lesson that has been driven home in the Ukraine war is the superiority of self-propelled artillery over traditional heavy artillery. The Sri Lankan army learned this during the Tamil Eelam War when it found the conventional towed artillery guns actually impeded rapid tactical movements. That is why soon the SLA deployed the mobile multi-barrelled rocket launchers (MBRL) across the Vanni theatre. Although much lighter in calibre, the MBRLs compensated with their devastating instant salvo capability, firing off upto 16 missiles in a single salvo.

In the Ukraine, towed artillery has largely been replaced with self-propelled artillery.


Analysts have also noted that despite many drawbacks in lack of hi-tech weapons guidance systems, the Russians have shown impressive adaptability in their tactics, learning quickly from failures as the offensives progressed. One major shift noted has been the use of more integrated and self-contained smaller military formations of battalion size rather that deploying brigade-size formations. These smaller strike forces have enabled great flexibility for the Russians.

Nevertheless, the war is currently seen as a kind of ‘stalemate’ with neither side very significantly gaining ground. The Pentagon significantly did not even hint at a stronger reaction to the downing of its drone. Moscow craftily ensure that its high-tech plane did not even use ammunition in the aerial interception.

Despite this stalemate, while Moscow had repeatedly called for negotiations, the West remain silent on any peace moves. The most hawkish Western power is the one that is the most distant from the war zone and, therefore, the least affected. The European powers are far less hawkish, but are reluctant to side-step Washington because the US remains the chief sustainer of NATO military dominance in the world.