Abhijit Bhattacharyya | If the war in Ukraine continues, no return to the status quo

We can only hope the present doesn’t imitate the past to make the future darker, darker and dirtier

If the Moscow-Kyiv conflict continues, with no likely ceasefire in the foreseeable future, a dramatic shift in the conflict zone is inevitable as it winds down. So forget about any status quo ante.

This war follows the typical European pattern of chauvinist belligerents. Prolonged haggling and bickering after the bloodshed can be expected, and grumbling over lingering disputes, as seen in pockets of Europe. Today’s bloodbath is the legacy of myriad conflicts dating back centuries.

It also sparked speculation about the potential shape and size of a post-war Ukraine. Who will get what? Which nation, which may not be directly part of the conflict currently, could be a surprise beneficiary?

Worrying signs are crystallizing. Even at the best of times, Europe has rarely known peace for long. A portion of the continent has always simmered and bubbled with discontent or disillusionment since the mid-18th century due to the continent’s development and decadence, and growth on the shoulders of imperial profits at the cost of territorial loss of the least units. poorer and landlocked.

We can only hope that the present doesn’t imitate the past to make the future murkier, darker and dirtier. Nationalism on land has generally been Europe’s biggest headache. Turn the clock back a century and see the chaotic “nationalism” created for Europe’s rise and fall. Falling birth rates and rising deaths have made a prosperous generation wary of physical battles on their own soil. It transformed the nature of nationalism from physical combat to money, trade and profit.

When the First World War ended in 1918, the concept of “national self-determination” took center stage at the conference table. Even the Imperial powers have only paid lip service to the fancy new terminology to satisfy gullible smaller powers, lest they play spoiled sport over the possession of distant empires. Four empires (Berlin, Vienna, Istanbul, Moscow) fell under the internal weight factor of “national self-determination”. This gave rise to the new stimulus of “awakened national sentiment” to wage war and give hope of attaining sovereign autonomy for various subject peoples under European empires.

This path had been revealed earlier, during the “blood and iron” policy implemented in the middle of the 19th century during the “unification” of Italy and Germany. But instead of the machine guns of the past, the post-WW1 world has seen the birth (and rebirth) of multiple nations through map reshuffling, forcibly implemented by victorious powers.

Six new nations are created: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland. Six existing nation states became larger and more compact: Serbia (Yugoslavia), Romania, Greece, Italy, France and

Denmark. The four mainland European imperial powers declined. Suddenly, following the peace conference, the new map of Europe had 27 sovereign states, compared to 21 previously.

The impact of the shock of the 1914-1918 war was so great that hardly anyone strongly opposed the changes. Even the newly born USSR consented to the “secession” of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland from the historic Russian Empire.

This political reshaping of Central and Eastern Europe on a ‘national’ basis has always been extraordinarily difficult and challenging, however, because of the large minorities living on the wrong side of the map. Russians

or Poles, Serbs or Romanians, Greeks or Bulgarians, Ukrainians or Turks, all were strong and motivated nationalists who remain as complex as they were in the past. Also in the ongoing European conflict, the Russian minority in Ukraine is a major sore point for Moscow.

So what are the possibilities today? Will Ukraine emerge as it was before February 24, 2022 in one piece? Will Crimea see its pre-2014 status quo? Will the West accept the “surrender of the territory to Russia” proposed by Henry Kissinger? What is Poland’s position, as it shows an unusual interest in countering Russia and collaborating with Ukraine? Does Warsaw look at Ukrainian land because of its historical grievance against Russia? Of all the major European powers, Poland is the only one to have been wiped off the map for 124 years, from 1795 to 1919, when it was divided between Berlin, Vienna and Moscow.

Besides Russia itself, several countries – Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Poland and Turkey – could consider additional land following a peace conference. Will Ukraine agree? Almost certainly not! But what if, for the sake of “guaranteed security”, Israel is also offered a plot, called “Western Israel”, as one of the strong nations also friendly to Russia, the Ukraine and Turkey? Weren’t the Jews threatened with extinction in Europe? And if the Jewish state founded in 1948 in the Levant was renamed “Israel of the East”, and “Israel of the West” took its moorings in the Balkans, on the shores of the Black Sea, where the Jews lived for centuries, until 1945? Will Ukrainian Jewish President Volodymyr Zelensky welcome a new Jewish state on Ukrainian soil? Will Russia be happy to see Ukraine fragmented by Israel, Poland and Turkey, provided they all accept Crimea and the Donbass region under Russian sovereignty?

Will the European Union be relieved to see checks and balances to reduce political tensions on its eastern flank?

In fact, two opposing and contradictory factors seem to be at play here. First, the arms dealers want the war to escalate and continue. Second, as the EU’s economic woes mount, creating possible political upheavals leading to unforeseen eventualities, it is understandable that it does not want the destruction of its economy based on “interdependence” and linked to global trade. . But then there is the “X” factor – the role of the United States – which will favor the larger game in which military mega-contractors like Boeing play the central role, responding to Brussels’ concerns with an extension and continuation of the war.

The summary of the unfolding European saga is as follows: following the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, a partition or fragmentation of the land is a historical fatality, in which at least five adjacent countries and a somewhat distant Israel come into scene is more than a possibility. No major European conflict in the last 200 years has passed up the opportunity to realign or redraw territorial borders without new entrants, exclusions or fixations. Ukraine is unlikely to be an exception. Poland (1795), Korea, Vietnam, India-Pakistan (1947), Yemen, Sudan, Congress of Berlin 1878, Versailles (1919), Germany (1945), Yugoslavia (1990s), USSR 1991, Czechoslovakia stand out live on the new frontier formula.

The victorious powers wait to “settle” their accounts through “fraternal” discussions on the drafting of treaties in the framework of high-level diplomacy; resulting in a “spectacle” of peace for the “redistribution” of wealth, territory and resources, however ephemeral.

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