U.N. chief: prospect of nuclear conflict back ‘within realm of possibility’ over Ukraine
“It is time to stop the horror unleashed on the people of Ukraine and get on the path of diplomacy and peace,” [UN Secretary-General] Guterres said.
Russia’s membership in the UN notwithstanding, at least Guterres and UN leadership recognize the great threat that Russia now poses. Putin has established that possession of nukes provides both a sword and a shield. His nuclear weapons enable him to hold Europe hostage while he takes what he wants, rampaging at will.
All the vulnerable states in the world see that Ukraine’s surrender of its nuclear weapons left it vulnerable to being pulverized into dust by Russia. Accordingly, they will be scrambling to join North Korea, Iran, Israel, India, and Pakistan in the nuclear club. If Libya, Lebanon, and Iraq had possessed nuclear weapons they would never have seen their cities razed and their leaders deposed. Russia’s nukes are the only reason that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad still has his life and his position.
The linked Reuters report exposes the fact that Russia’s membership in multilateral cooperative organizations belies Putin’s disingenuous sham fellowship with civilized nation-states.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairman-in-Office Zbigniew Rau told a U.N. Security Council meeting that Russia’s aggression threatened the existence of OSCE, which has nearly 60 members, including Russia.
“Its noncompliance with OSCE principals and commitments poses questions not only about the future of the organization but also about stability of the rules-based order,” Rau said, urging both the U.N. and OSCE to reinforce efforts to restore peace.
“Smoldering ashes of Kiev, Kharkiv and Mariupol and thousands of innocent lives lost are a stark reminder of a heavy price that we pay for indifference in the face of brute force,” he said. [Emphasis added.]
Some 95 per cent of all the states that exist today and are members of the United Nations do not possess nuclear weapons, and with a few exceptions they have no ambitions to change this status. This is fortunate since the nuclear nonproliferation regime would otherwise not hold or could be maintained only by strong pressure from the few major powers that (as a matter of fact and irony) already have nuclear weapons.
If Putin succeeds in subjugating Ukraine, other non-NATO states without nukes will see themselves vulnerable and may pursue nukes on their own. Scandinavia’s intentional avoidance of nuclear armaments leaves them vulnerable to the same games of nuclear “sword and shield” at the hands of a member of the “nuclear club.”
North Korea’s nuclear capacity surely has inspired Iran’s efforts to acquire its own nukes. Does anyone really question the fact that Israel’s access to nukes has preserved its existence despite deep enmity from nations around it? Does anyone really question the fact that every other Middle Eastern state will scramble for their own nukes once Iran achieves its own bombs?
Taiwan adheres to the principles of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and has stated that it does not intend to produce nuclear weapons, on an official basis. Past nuclear research by Taiwan makes it a “threshold” nuclear state.
If Putin prevails, Taiwan will eventually be invaded and subjugated by China given Taiwan’s lack of nuclear weapons with which to stave off invasion. China has never hesitated to remind Taiwan and the US of its willingness to utilize “drastic measures” to impose its will over Taiwan if the island “crosses a line.”
Once China fully controls Taiwan, it could easily block the Taiwan Strait or the South China Sea, impairing the industrial powerhouses Japan and South Korea from efficient interaction with Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership or the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement.
Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in the face of global condemnation proves that “might makes right” - and it especially proves that possession of nuclear weapons can serve as a sword to allow territorial expansion as well as a shield to protect against retaliation by anyone seeking to check its blind ambition.
China is serving as an enabler by its refusal to join in condemning Putin’s unprovoked invasion and crimes against humanity in his minions’ offensive destruction of Ukrainian cities, utilities, hospitals, and civilian residences. India also has blood on its hands, turning a blind eye to Putin’s atrocities as the price of obtaining Russian wheat.
Putin’s destruction of Ukraine would not have proceeded to its current, horrible, stage if the world’s forces had not been cowed by Putin’s nuclear threats and Russia’s war doctrine of “escalate to de-escalate.”
Putin’s invasion would not have occurred absent Ukraine’s utter vulnerability by its lack of nuclear weaponry as a defensive threat and shield. Nuclear proliferation will be the likely result, encouraging defensive nuclear ambitions in any vulnerable state from the Middle East to the Baltic Sea - not to mention some African nations, as well.
The UN Secretary-General is more prescient than he realizes when he says that the prospect of nuclear conflict is now and will in the future “within the realm of possibility.”