The war in Ukraine is being for Vladimir Putin’s Russia what Vietnam was for the United States. It is a proxy war, in which the latest in hybrid warfare is being used by NATO, led by the United States and Britain, against invading Russian troops. If there was any doubt about this, two leaks of information were illuminating:
In the first, the Times revealed that “the US provided intelligence on Russian units that enabled the Ukrainians to locate and kill many of the Russian generals who died in action in the Ukrainian war, according to senior US officials.” In the second, following an NBC News report, the Times reported that the US “provided intelligence that helped Ukrainian forces locate and attack” the Moskva, the main battleship of the Russian fleet in the Black Sea, which later sank.
At the time of the Cold War, the strategic military balance between the United States and the former Soviet Union allowed the right and left to compete for power in their respective countries, especially in Europe, in a democratic way, except in the areas of influence of the two powers. In the agro zone, as football commentator João Saldanha would say, the two powers entered alone: it was like this in Hungary and in the former Czechoslovakia, invaded by the Warsaw Pact troops; and in Latin America, where direct interventions and military coups supported by the United States impeded the ascent of the left during most of the Cold War. The “missile crisis” in Cuba, the exception, in 1962, almost led the world to nuclear war.
The American defeat in Vietnam was the first of a series of events in which the United States failed, such as the Iranian Revolution and Afghanistan. The Soviet defeat in that country can be considered the sign that the disintegration of the Soviet Union was closer than imagined, even before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The collapse of the so-called “real socialism” gave the United States hegemony in this new unipolar world, in which globalization advanced with neoliberal policies and NATO demonstrated its power of intervention in Serbia, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. The emergence of China as an economic power in the last two decades, however, put this hegemony in check at the economic level.
Russia is already defeated, morally and financially. By defying NATO, Putin paved the way for its expansion, including to traditionally neutral countries such as neighboring Finland and Sweden. The two countries participated in the NATO meeting held yesterday, in which Turkey withdrew its objections to the further expansion of the military alliance. As a result, Russia is extremely isolated in the Baltic Sea. The problem is that Russian President Vladimir Putin is running out of options that are not humiliating. War could cost him power, the big gamble for Biden and European leaders.
Biden maintains a firm stance, but he also doesn’t know how to get out of the confrontation with Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is working to make Ukraine a member of NATO or obtain a bilateral military pact with the United States. Both believe that Ukraine can put the Russians on the run. Putin has failed in his original objective: to take Kiev and change the Ukrainian regime; now, he is in danger of failing to control Ukraine’s former industrial center, the Donbass region, whose population is mostly Russian, in a longer and more exhausting war.
The distance between Washington and Hani is 13,336 kilometers; between Kiev and Moscow, it’s only 775 kilometers. Russian military doctrine is based on territorial depth and aerospace warfare. A defeat in Ukraine is not comparable to the United States in Vietnam. Putin has two possibilities: throw in the towel and retreat, in the face of growing resistance from the Ukrainian Army, armed and assisted by US intelligence services, or escalate conventional warfare and destroy Ukraine, with unforeseeable consequences, because that could result. direct intervention by NATO, as happened with Serbia. The difference is that Russia has a nuclear arsenal.
In global terms, there are other aspects to be considered: (1) The economic sanctions adopted against Russia successfully use the entire institutional framework of the world economy; (2) the post-Brexit United Kingdom, outside the European Union, in alliance with the United States, reaffirmed its political-military hegemony in Europe; (3) Germany and France lost the leading role; (4) the war in Ukraine also serves as a warning to China, in relation to Taiwan; (5) the military pact between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia and Australia’s bilateral agreements with Japan and India represent NATO’s expansion into the Indo-Pacific, the main axis of world trade hegemonized by China.