Russian annexation

Published October 3, 2022

AS Russia and the West play a zero-sum game in Ukraine, Moscow’s official annexation of four Ukrainian regions it has occupied during its ‘special military operation’ in the country will only add fuel to the fire. President Vladimir Putin made the move after holding questionable referendums in Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, deciding to merge the occupied regions with Russia. Moscow’s Nato adversaries have raked Russia over the coals for the move, while the UN has also expressed concern. Moreover, Mr Putin’s action sets a negative precedent where other occupied or contested regions of the world are concerned. Commenting on the annexation, US President Joe Biden termed the referendums “fraudulent”, while Mr Putin observed that the West wanted to turn Russia into “a colony”. Following the annexation, the Ukrainian president said his country would ‘fast-track’ accession to Nato. Ironically, it was the transatlantic military alliance’s ingress into Russia’s neighbourhood that served as one of Mr Putin’s primary justifications for the Ukraine war. Now, with the annexations, the Russian leader has given his foes an excuse to speed up the process. Moreover, the mysterious leakages in the Baltic’s Nord Stream gas pipelines have caused both Russia and its Western adversaries to trade allegations of sabotage.

It is evident that neither Nato nor Russia will settle for anything less than total capitulation of the other in this grinding conflict. Chances of a peaceful settlement are extremely slim; instead, there is an increasing possibility of the Ukraine conflict transforming into a much larger war. It must also be said that Russia’s move to annex Ukrainian territory gives other states the green light to illegally devour land that does not belong to them. Palestine and Kashmir top the list of these occupied territories, as Israel and India can point to the Ukrainian example to justify their patently illegal occupations. This bodes ill for the subjugated people of Palestine and India-held Kashmir, who have been largely forgotten by the international community, and are left to face their oppressors on their own.

Published in Dawn, October 3rd, 2022

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