Ukraine | The Humanitarian Hellscape
From a military strategy perspective Russia is at the cusp of invading Ukraine in the near future. Present-day the Russian military mobilization encircling Ukraine is past the point of no return for demobilization with the date of invasion solely up to Vladimir Putin and his generals.
One possible invasion date is after the winter Olympics’ closing ceremonies in China on February 20 so as not to “overshadow” Putin’s newest “best friend” in President Xi. It’s simply “professional courtesy” between the newly closely aligned autocrats.
Despite US and western defensive weaponry arriving in Ukraine, it’s too little, too late to effectively defend against Russian might & firepower.
Because Putin needs a swift and decisive military victory, I expect an aggressive thrust from Belarus to Kyiv, the shortest route to the Ukrainian capital. The capture of the capital “decapitates” the ability Ukrainian government and military command to effectively coordinate the defense of other regions. Ironically this strategy may force the Ukrainian government to surrender far sooner than later to spare lives.
Escape From Kyiv
According to mainstream media and blogger articles Kyiv residents don’t seem to have any departure plans in place as the Russian buildup continues. It seems as if they’re far less prepared to evacuate present-day than those residents near Chernobyl in 1986 after the unexpectedly sudden nuclear accident.
For this reason the Russians might occupy the capital with most of its citizenry in situ. It remains to be seen whether the Russian military command has orders to allow civilians to flee west via a narrow escape corridor or under lockdown in the city until further notice.
The Russian decision will be political and strategic. Keeping Kyiv citizens means assuming a caretaker responsibility to feed those citizens. Allowing whoever wants to leave westward releases them from any humanitarian duties and deliberately floods European countries with refugees, specifically the bordering EU countries of Poland, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.
The following chart entitled Ukraine: The Crisis on the Verge of Catastrophe provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, presents the grim humanitarian consequences of a conflict:
Contingent on the duration and intensity of the conflict this crisis could easily become far worse than the projected 3.45 million displaced Ukrainians. Furthermore, European countries beyond those bordering Ukraine are ill-equipped and stretched to provide adequate food and shelter.
European Socio-Political Firestorm
The political battle to establish priorities as to which refugees will receive care will be heated perhaps with the unofficial practice of a tiered ethnic/racial system based on Christian Europeans, Christian non-Europeans and then Muslims.
Unable to return to their homes because they were destroyed or fear political persecution, many Ukrainians might remain elsewhere in Europe for at least the medium term, perhaps longer. There might be enough political pressure to accept Ukrainian refugees elsewhere such as Canada and the US.
The shock to the system is the sudden displacement of upwards of 3.45 million Ukrainians already in Europe is considerably different than the piecemeal arrival of smaller groups of non-European refugees over many years.
The following chart entitled The Biggest Humanitarian Crisis of 2021 provided by the United Nations represents the current state of affairs with respect to humanitarian assistance worldwide. This chart will undergo considerable revision once the Russians invade.
The Humanitarian Hellscape
Reports of the Russian military build-up does not mention any equipment or facilities beyond the mobile military hospitals that could assist internally displaced Ukrainian refugees, only to support Russian armed forces casualties. This seems to run counter to Putin’s narrative of stating that Ukraine is an artificial country and for that reason that Russians and Ukrainians are one people. Yet through deliberate gross negligence the Russian government may fail to provide for their basic needs and human rights post-invasion and during occupation.
Although there has been discussion amongst EU countries with respect to handling a refugee crisis from Ukraine, there has been far less humanitarian mobilization than Russian war mobilization. This proportional lack of effort and preparation will only exacerbate a brutal problem.
With respect to the international donor community, the 2022 UN Refugee Agency (UN HCR) Refugee Global Appeal for Ukraine is $22.5 million as of 8 February 2022 with only 8% funded. Despite the looming conflict Ukraine donations are a tough sell because Ukraine is considered a middle-income country whose citizenry have more economic resources that those from Afghanistan and Yemen whose fund-raising targets are $5 billion and $1.7 billion respectfully.
The Viral Contagion
Throughout human history disease runs rampart during wartime regardless of medical advancements. The conflict in Ukraine is a matter of exceptionally bad timing because Ukraine and Russia have one of the lowest European vaccination rates hovering at 40%.
Imagine how those rates will explode and spiral out of control not only with the hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees fleeing to nearby European countries and perhaps outside Europe like Canada and the US.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) neither Ukraine nor Russia is on track to reach the WHO’s mid-2022 70% vaccination goal. The following chart entitled 122 Countries on Track to Miss Covid-19 Vaccine Goal provided by Our World in Data indicates the global vaccination state of affairs.
Hijacking Human Rights
Conquests by dictatorships and autocratic governments do not work out well for the conquered who are always subject to the same or worse repressive treatment as the conqueror’s own citizenry.
There have been numerous anecdotal stories of human rights abuses and political persecution in the pro-Russian Donbas region and targeted population in Crimea anecdotal. One released prisoner commented, “This is not the Soviet prisons of the 1950s and 1960s, rather of the 1930s and 1940s.”
Jingoistic Justification | The Virtual Curtain
Russia’s new Iron Curtain won’t be the physically imposingly garish Soviet built wall, rather a Virtual Curtain. Putin’s narrative will be disseminated by his sophisticated propaganda public relations hacker army based everywhere worldwide. This includes the unknowing cooperation of his Fifth Column, the woke group in western societies, to legally mute anti-Russian opinion and policies.
Putin is deploying on a large scale his array of poisons, literal and figurative, whether to targeted individuals or propaganda poisons domestically and internationally through the injection of noxious narratives.
Putin believes that a divisive and indecisive US and its allies do not represent an effective antidote. For this reason Putin is gambling that Russia is sufficiently “inoculated” against harsher and more comprehensive US sanctions should he invade Ukraine.
ding autocracies are inherently brittle and those who engage in over-reach inevitably crumble in the worst way because their brief dominance is often driven by a strong man’s greed and ego which have no checks & balances.
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The Cerulean Council is a NYC-based think-tank that provides prescient, beyond-the-horizon, contrarian perspectives and risk assessments on geopolitical dynamics and global urban security.