The absolute isolation of Kyiv

Military engagement of any kind entails collateral damage. But the nature of modern warfare is such that often civilian targets bear the brunt of shelling along with military establishments.
The absolute isolation of Kyiv

The horrors that have unfolded over the past few days as the Russian invasion of Ukraine stretches on, has made battle-hardened veterans and political stakeholders shudder at the new lows perpetrated in the name of military conquest. News channels played out the aftermath of the massacre in Bucha, a suburb of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, where as many as 300 innocent civilians were tortured and murdered in cold blood. President Zelenskyy in his address to the people spoke about how retreating Russian soldiers had indiscriminately opened fire on the general populace, with many of them being bound and gagged, before being killed. Reports suggest members of the Russian military had engaged in war crimes that included rapes as well.

While world leaders have condemned the attacks in sharp words, saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin must be answerable for this horrific violence, Moscow has denied that any such massacre has taken place. Instead, it said that the entire episode has been staged, in spite of incriminating video evidence that shows the corpses of Ukrainian citizens on the streets, bloodied and brutalised.

While Russia’s actions are worthy of condemnation, what is surprising to many political observers is how non-committal the rest of the European Union and developed nations in the West are, as far as engaging with Russia on a direct basis is concerned. Apart from implementing sanctions to cripple the Russian economy, not a single military unit belonging either to NATO or the US has shown the courage to defend Ukraine militarily against the Russian invasion. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison stopped short of sending soldiers to defend the war-torn nation. What he did instead was place on record how the Australians sent not just their prayers but military equipment to Ukraine, which included armoured vehicles called Bushmasters, as well as munitions and humanitarian aid.

On Tuesday, the Ukrainian President addressed the UN security council for the first time since the invasion. And while 140 member nations had already voted to condemn Russia over the humanitarian crisis resulting from the invasion, there are a few truths staring at Zelenskyy right now. One of his big realisations might be how ill-placed his trust was, as far as NATO and the US was concerned.

Having urged NATO to grant Ukraine a speedy membership, all Zelenskyy has witnessed is reassurances without any actual positive outcome. Would any member nation of NATO stand back and watch such atrocities as the ones in Bucha be perpetrated elsewhere in another NATO member State, and not lift a finger? Consider the posturing employed by the US, which had until a few years ago, assumed the role of Big Brother to the rest of the world (read the Middle East’s oil rich dictatorships). It had intervened in nations even when it wasn’t necessary, from Afghanistan to Iraq and Syria. The US is no longer the superpower we once deemed it to be, after its pullout from Kabul.

Sadly, that is also the state of NATO as a union. Its ineptitude in protecting a vulnerable nation that had been pining for its membership has now come to the fore. In spite of everything the allies of Ukraine tell its citizens, they are utterly alone and isolated in this travesty of a military engagement. A thought running in Zelenskyy’s head might be: with friends like these, who really needs enemies.

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