Opinion | Ukraine War: Still a Cuban Missile Crisis in Slow Motion | Joseph Gerson

During the first days of the Ukraine war, former  Senator Sam Nunn warned that the Ukraine War was a Cuban Missile Crisis in slow motion. That warning was recently reiterated by  senior analysts in Moscow during an off the record conversation. The war is about Ukraine and much more: power, privileges, the security disorder in Europe; the future of Putin’s rule; and Biden/Blinken efforts to reinforce U.S. hegemony in the face of pressures for a bipolar or multi-polar world disorder.

We thus face a long war, with the danger of spiraling escalations that bring us eyeball to eyeball in great power and nuclear confrontation.

While debate rages on the Internet, it is clear that Putin’s ill-conceived, illegal, and brutal invasion of Ukraine was triggered by a combination of frustrated Russian imperial ambitions and Washington’s arrogant expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders. The turning point came in 2008 when, against French and German opposition and Fiona Hill’s admonitions, W. Bush pressed NATO to extend its welcome mat to Ukraine and Georgia. With the history of Napoleon’s, the Kaiser’s, and Hitlers invasions from the West, powerful—if illegal—pushback  from Moscow was  inevitable.  And now we have a proxy war, with the U.S. and NATO committed to weakening Russia and reinforcing U.S. European hegemony.

Despite  Putin’s statements to the contrary, former senior Russian officials concede that recent Russian losses in the Kharkiv region have created political problems for Putin. Add to that Xi’s and Modi’s steps to begin distancing their nations from the war. Even before Putin issued new threats and President Biden warned against escalation and possible use of WMD’s, Russian advisors and former generals predicted that escalation would be the inevitable response. Russians, they said,  will “do anything necessary to win.” Despite  Biden’s “Don’t. Don’t. Don’t”, the specter of possible nuclear, as well as chemical weapons, attack casts its shadow over the war and humanity as a whole. Even if neither side opts to launch nuclear war, as we learned during the Cuban Missile Crisis, presidents do not have complete control over their nuclear arsenals, and accidents, miscalculation and insubordination can happen.

Opinion | Ukraine War: Still a Cuban Missile Crisis in Slow Motion | Joseph Gerson