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The shocking image came in from Tallinn. Dozens of women had gathered outside the Russian embassy in the capital of Estonia to protest the sexual violence and rape inflicted on Ukrainian women. Covering their faces with black masks, the women were clad just in shirts. This is a poignant reflection of the brutal times that we are living in. The dark shadow of war is stretching further. This is why speculation is rife in Finland once again. Citizens are being asked to acquaint themselves with techniques of modern warfare. Apart from this, the government has issued orders to put together rations, petroleum products and essential medicines for a period of three to 10 months.

Not just this, Sanna Marin, the Prime Minister of Finland, in a joint press conference with her Swedish counterpart Magdalena Anderson, has expressed the desire for a NATO membership. Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned both countries to be prepared to face extremely serious consequences. Will Russia now launch an attack on Finland? Most analysts believe that looking at the manner in which Russia has been caught in the Ukraine conflict, it is capable of taking any step in desperation.

It is true that Putin didn’t expect such fierce resistance from Ukraine. Despite becoming an independent nation in 1991, the people of Ukraine have continued to enjoy an emotional connection with Russia. That’s why Putin believed the Ukrainian people would extend a warm welcome to the Russian military. Perhaps, he would have learnt a lesson from the crushing failure of Ayub Khan and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1965—when they dispatched their troops to Kashmir, they too had thought that the Kashmiri people would welcome them and the Pakistani flag will be easily hoisted in Srinagar. Not only did the citizens of Ukraine display their unique patriotism, Volodymyr Zelensky, too, has emerged as a hero for the masses. Zelensky has evolved a unique art through dialogue. Far from escaping from the country, he did not even move out of Kiev and has been addressing Parliamentarians around the world from the Ukrainian capital in his own inimitable style that touches people’s hearts. As opposed to this, Putin doesn’t allow anybody else to gain prominence in public forums. As a result, Russia has not been able to put its point of view across to the global community.

Reports in the western media claim that three Russian Major Generals have been killed in this war and its biggest warship destroyed. Gripped with anxiety, Putin has reportedly imprisoned more than 125 army and intelligence officers, including Vladislav Surkov. At one time Surkov used to be the deputy prime minister of Russia and had played a big role in helping Putin get anointed as President. He is the person credited for coining the term ‘Putinism’. Not just this, Nashi, the radical political youth movement in Russia created along the lines of the Nazis, is also Surkov’s brainchild. Russia’s resolute silence has only served to enhance speculation and rumours. You may remember seeing a photograph of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Zelenski strolling on the streets of Kiev. On that cheerful afternoon of 9 April in war-torn Ukraine, perhaps, Johnson was trying to rectify the historical mistakes made by his ancestor Neville Chamberlain. Chamberlain and a former French Prime Minister had entered into an agreement with Adolf Hitler on 30 September 1938, in which a chunk of German-majority areas of Czechoslovakia were handed over to Hitler. History hasn’t forgiven the two leaders for their folly ever since.

Another consequence of this attack is that NATO, which was perceived as lifeless during Donald Trump’s reign, has emerged as the great unifier of Western nations. Today, along with the West, even countries such as Australia and Japan are partnering with Ukraine. The conflict has also fanned a blinding weapons race around the globe. This has led to a double whammy of repercussions. If Moscow is feeling the heat, even the American arsenal is being depleted. Note: the Pentagon has sent as many as 33% of its Javelin and 25% Stinger Missiles to Ukraine. The US has already spent $2 billion during the crisis. A CNN survey said President Joe Biden’s approval ratings are down to just 39%. The ripple effect of the conflict does not stop there. Last Friday, in a joint military exercise on the border of Taiwan, China announced that the dark shadow of war isn’t just looming over Europe. A six-member delegation of American legislators was visiting Taiwan during the time this exercise was carried out. At this point in time, the world, reeling under trauma, needs essential necessities for life, not war.

Let’s not forget: Developing and poor nations require food, not weapons. The situation is fuelling inflation and the repercussions are being felt the most by developing countries. Sri Lanka is on the verge of bankruptcy and inflation is spreading like wildfire in Nepal, Bangladesh and India. If these fires spread further or if it triggers World War III, global anarchy will prevail. Nothing could be worse than this.

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