ruth is the worst casualty in the Russia-Ukraine war as it often happens during warfare on a large scale. But, this time it is in the interest of the global community that the truth is known about what is actually happening there as the world economy is reeling and global climate change is being seriously impacted by that event. Yet, no one knows for sure who is telling the truth about the outcome of the war so far. Russia on the one side and Ukraine and its Western allies on the other are claiming successes in either controlling swathes of territories in Ukraine or repulsing the enemy from the occupied areas. The deception has been sustained with propaganda and repression.
If one is to go by the Deputy Defence Minister of Ukraine Hanna Maliar a Ukrainian offensive is “taking place in several directions.” This triggers speculation that a major push by Kyiv to recapture land held by Russia’s occupying forces could be getting underway. To buttress her claim she has even said it is not only about repulsing the Russian soldiers from Bakhmut, but the offensive is taking place in several other places as well. She appeared in the country’s television late last week exuding confidence.
Recent weeks have seen Ukraine’s military attacking Russian targets such as fuel depots and weapons dumps far behind frontlines. But government officials in Kyiv have been at pains to say the start of any counteroffensive would not be announced.
Both Ukraine and Russia have engaged in intense information campaigns to sway public opinion and mislead their opponents about their battle plans. In fact Maliar’s comments came in the wake of the Russian Defence Ministry claims that its troops resisted a “large-scale” attack from Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donetsk region. The Russian military claimed in a statement to have killed 250 Ukrainians and destroyed armoured vehicles used in the assault, but provided no evidence whatsoever.
In the midst of this propaganda and counter-propaganda has come the news of drone attacks on strategic locations of Russia. This seems to have rattled Russia’s President Vladimir Putin who has so far been successfully convincing his people that he is winning the battle. It is easy to sustain lies with doctored images on television. But when drones strike specific targets in Moscow, it explodes the myth of invincibility carefully built by Putin. There were also reports of a fire at an oil refinery in the southern Russian Krasnodar region, started by a drone. The raid on Moscow did not cause as much damage as alarm. It is highly embarrassing for Putin to find ordinary Russians being greeted with such strikes close to their homes. This punctures the illusion Putin has so carefully created to hoodwink his own people. It is difficult for him now to pretend things did not happen when his people can see them from their windows.
Most analysts believe the drone attacks are part of a strategy to force the Kremlin to divert resources and attention away from the frontline in advance of a Ukrainian counteroffensive to recapture occupied territory. It is therefore all the more necessary to get facts about the war. For Putin the invasion of Ukraine was a dire necessity to create a buffer zone in view of Ukraine’s highly probable induction into NATO. He was convinced he could do so easily. Obviously, his intelligence agencies did a shoddy job as they were unable to assess the resolve of the Ukrainians to defend their territories. The supply of arms and ammunition and sophisticated air power by the US-led West has further upset Putin’s calculations.
It could be that if he is cornered, Putin may exercise the nuclear option that he has so long been threatening to intimidate the West. The need of the hour for the global community is to persuade Putin to go to the negotiation table and end the war.
The country that can make it possible is China. But, the latter seems to have other ideas. When the economy of Russia and the West are getting hit daily due to the war, China is consolidating its own economy with its plan to overtake the US and become the largest economic power in the world.