Prisoners Of Geography

There is a claim that many politicians in the West breathed a sigh of relief and muttered quietly, “Thank goodness, Ukraine isn’t in NATO or we would have to act.”

Prisoners Of Geography

“Prisoners of Geography- Ten Maps That Explain Everthing About The World”, by Tim Marshall, provides a powerful lens to both students of politics and intelligentsia enabling them to see regional and international alliances as well as emerging conflicts including war beyond the surface.

In the introduction, the distinguished author states that “broadly speaking, geopolitics looks at the ways in which international affairs can be understood through geographical factors: not just the physical landscape –the natural barriers of mountains or connection of river networks, for example climate, demographics, cultural regions, and access to natural resources. Factors such as these have an important impact on many different aspects of our civilization, from political and military strategy to human social development including language, trade, and religion”.

The author is convinced that many politicians in the West breathed a sigh of relief and muttered quietly, “Thank goodness, Ukraine isn’t in NATO or we would have to act.”

The aggressor has not realized that his madness to annex territorial spaces of a sovereign state has culminayed in catastrophic conditions for those trapped in the war or fleeing the war.Since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war on 24 February 2022, over 8 million people have fled to neighbouring countries (Poland,Hungary,Germany, Slovaikia, Moldova, Romania, Belarus,Britain and Russia etc) as refuges, while millions are internally displaced ,the largest displacement crisis in Europe since World War two. 

As per the United Nations, those internally displaced are in dire need of humanitarian assistance like the bedding, medication, heating, food, water, and shelter, etc.

The UN spokesman Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams on the heels of Russia-Ukraine war is on record as declaring that it was mostly women and children making the crossing into Poland.

In an unprecedented move, on March 4 2022, the European Council activated the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD). This enable around 4.9 million people to escape from the war in Ukraine - mainly women and children – and find temporary residency, as well as immediate access to housing, education and essential services in EU Member States. 

According to Save the Children, children make up about 40% of refugees from Ukraine. Although the TPD guarantees the right for children from Ukraine to access national school systems, a Save the Children survey found that one-third of children have not attended school since leaving Ukraine, and a quarter did not intend to enrol during the 2022-23 academic year. Capacity issues in some countries remain a key challenge. 

As per UNICEF, minors separated from their families were” especially vulnerable to trafficking and exploitation”. It is to be kept in mind that the Ukraine government has banned male population with the exception of the elderly not to leave so that they could fight for the country.

The UK has opened its gates for refugees first for those having their relatives there, then open to all, coming into the country, under humanitarian considerations. The vetting process for the applicants seeking refuge in the UK has been relaxed. 

Thus, the UK government announced to give GBP 350 for those taking a refugee. Saner voices in the UK raised alarms over the looming danger of refugees being exploited by unscrupulous characters in the country. 

Jessica Elgot and Rajeev Syal in their write-up titled “UK refugee scheme could lead to exploitation of Ukrainians” say that “Lauren Agnew, the human trafficking policy expert at Christian Action, Research, and Education, said the scheme was “well-motivated” but could lead to exploitation. 

Needless to say that the war brings in its wake, displacement, hunger, death, and destruction for the countries directly involved in the conflict. But, it also has serious ramifications for other countries as it is unleashing social, political, and economic problems in the shape of refugees, rising prices of energy, subsequent inflation, etc. 

The Greek Foreign Ministry has warned of looming shortage of wheat and grains in the European Union due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. The global market witnessed disruptive food chain supply and subsequent price hike. 

Imperialist America’s interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine is an open secret, Intoxicated with the idea of regime change, it both funded and fuelled soft coups unleashing civil war in which thousands of people were killed. 

America and its media outlets have put their political weight behind Volodomor Zelensky and they have dared Ukraine to continue the war because they want to use the Ukrainian military and civilian as cannon fodder in a proxy war with its political enemy, Russia. 

European countries also are giving political and logistical support as they both want Ukraine to fight a proxy war for them. The Ukrainian President Volodymyre Zelenskyy said he was fighting for European values. What he failed to understand so far is that global politics is not based on democratic principles and justice.

Humanitarian crises are both defined and handled differently when such crises are happening in different parts of the world. It is the vested interests, regional and racial preferences fueling the engine of global order. We saw the death of both American and European values called democratic norms while Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen etc. were being bombed and the population culled. This carnage happened because of the American and European being on the same page.

Countries from Poland down to other European states that opened their arms to embrace Ukrainian refugees were reluctant to receive those fleeing from other war zones. The refugees from Asia and Africa-the global south were seen as swarms of locusts- economic migrants threatening their prosperity. This is the reason why much material in both print and electronic, and social media sites appeared and uploaded respectively exposing the double standards applied by those posing as proponents of global goodness.

The so-called champions of human rights turned a blind eye when it came to raising robust voice while the people of Kashmir, Palestine, and Rohingya of Myanmar were besieged, killed, and deprived of citizenship by the oppressive regimes of India, Israel, and Burma respectively. 

Many opinion makers have asked not to highlight historical hypocrisy emanating from Ukraine refugees episode. 

However, such double standards imbedded in international political spectrum can’t be suppressed. History will keep naming and shaming the countries and those in power corridors involved. It has to be acknowledged that countries wielded with “Veto power” use it for their advantage i.e. regionally and politically-motivated outcomes called strategic aims. 

As a result, the UNO stands as the lamest duck entity in terms of stopping the aggressive states against those aggressed. This is the reason why, intoxicated with military might, some of those are either directly subjugating small states or giving legitimation to their bedfellows for the same through the’ veto power’ ultimately resulting in no resolution of long-standing global issues. 

Today, Russia is one of the top three oil producers in the world (after America and roughly equal with Saudi Arabia, and is also the world’s largest natural gas exporter and second-largest producer again after America.

These energy resources have brought global political clout and massive revenues for Russia. Due to the invasion, Russia’s economy will dip and inflation will soar thanks to sanctions slapped on Russia. 

Daniel Yergin one of the energy analyst and award-winning author of “The Prize and, “The New Map” says Vladimir Putin is destroying the foundation of his country’s economic power. There is no denying that European countries are looking to Gulf monarchies for energy alternative i.e. to minimise their dependence on Russian oil and natural gas. This will further undermine Russian economic growth. 

Besides, sanctions slapped on Russia will wreak havoc on the population. The distinguished writer Olga Tokariuk has convincingly commented on the war in question saying “This war is not just between Russia and Ukraine. It’s a war between tyranny and democracy. Between the past and the future. Between backwardness and innovation. Between cruelty and humanity.” 

Russia and Ukraine combine for nearly a third of world’s wheat and barley exports. Ukraine also is a major supplier of corn and the global leader in sunflower oil, used in food processing. Ukraine is known as the world’s “Food basket”. The war unquestionably reduced food supplies. And disruption in supply chain is synonymous with price hike. The global repercussions of the Ukraine had begun sooner than expected.

Following full-scale war, the shortage of cooking oil and subsequent price hike raised their head in Germany. The prolonged war will also negatively impact those already left on the margins and receiving subsidized bread in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon etc. 

Thus, food insecurity looms large across the countries and continents. International Grains Council Director Arnaud Petit had justifiably warned that the countries that heavily rely on affordable wheat exports from Ukraine could face shortages. The crippling economic conditions of the population that had undergone war can be measured from the fact that a growing number of impoverished Afghans are selling their kidneys as the country descended into economic crisis following the shameful flight of America six months ago. The practice has become so widespread in the western city of Herat that a nearby settlement has been nicknamed “One kidney Village”. 

President Putin has been consistenly touting the line that Russia is threatened by NATO and has justified invading Ukraine that was yearning to join NATO’s integrated defence system.

What those at the helm of Ukraine’s affairs need to realize is that the various international players have placed their gun on the shoulders of Kyiv to exact their political equations and those in Moscow need to understand that the powers that be want to weaken the country – Russia. Both countries should sit down together to carve out a political strategy to end the conflict in question as this would be in the larger interest of their respective countries in particular and the humanity in general.

The writer is a freelance contributor. He may reached at Nazeer tweets at @nazeerarijo.