Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: 107 Days of Slaughter
Today marks the 107th day since Russia carried out its first air strikes in Ukraine and invaded the country with its army. Despite controlling large parts of Ukraine’s eastern regions (including major cities, such as Mariupol), Russia has fallen into a prolonged and costly war.
Arguably, the sinking of the Moskva, once a flagship of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet, by Ukrainian anti-ship missiles is an apt representation of Russia’s problem.
The further it advances into Ukraine, the more Russia loses in the way of both its frontline military assets – like fighter planes (which it cannot easily replace) – and its broader economic and international standing.
However, on the other hand, this war also exposes a harsh truth – i.e., the Colonialist powers treat human lives and nations as tools for driving their interests. To date, the U.S. has been using Ukraine to inflict pain on Russia both on the battlefield and in the global economic system.
To this point, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said, “Today, the westerners are ready to oppose Russia, as we say today, ‘until the last Ukrainian.’” (TASS). Not only that, but Lavrov also pointed out how the U.S. is benefitting from the war by gaining more access to Europe’s market.
However, at what cost? The loss of lives in Ukraine and, arguably, greater economic turbulence that could, if it is not already, hurt people all over the world.
Just as Rasul’Allah (saw) observed the war between the Persian Empire and Byzantine Rome, we also need to closely watch the Ukraine war. It’s important for us to extract lessons, avoid the traps of the Colonialist powers, and build a roadmap that will liberate and empower the Muslim lands.
America Wants to Prolong the War
The U.S. is working to inflict pain on Russia. For example, the U.S. is supplying armaments – such as anti-tank guided missiles and drones – to Ukraine. In turn, the Ukrainians are using these weapon systems to destroy Russian tanks and injure or kill Russian soldiers. Likewise, the U.S. also led the effort to hammer Russia’s economy through sanctions and embargoes.
However, Washington is not interested in seeing this war end. Rather, it is simply fueling the war so that it keeps continuing. Strategically, the way to end this conflict would be to either let Ukraine quickly lose, or to support Ukraine to such an extent that it can win. However, the U.S. opted to take a ‘messy middle’ approach by giving Ukraine just enough capability to resist Russia, but not decisively turn the tide.
For example, in the early days of the war, Ukraine saw that it could not fight off Russia’s warplanes. So, as far back as March, Ukraine’s President Zelensky pleaded to the U.S. and the West for more fighter planes. To date, neither the U.S. nor Western Europe answered Zelensky’s pleas. In fact, the U.S. itself rejected Poland’s proposal to send its old MiG-29 fighter aircraft to Ukraine (Al Jazeera).
Instead, they let Ukraine acquire less sophisticated hardware, notably Bayraktar TB2 drones from Turkey. While these drones were somewhat effective in hurting Russia’s land forces, they did not provide Ukraine with air cover against Russian fighter jets. Had Ukraine been given the means to defend itself in the skies, it may have gained a decisive edge, or at least denied Russia that capability over Ukraine. Clearly, the U.S. did not want to give Ukraine that edge or level of flexibility as it could risk deflating Russia.
On the other hand, the U.S. is not letting Russia capitalize on its gains. So, each time the Russians advance deeper into Ukraine, the U.S. sends better – but not optimal or ideal – weapons to Ukraine. For example, recently, the U.S. agreed to sell four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones to Ukraine (Reuters). While these drones could help Ukraine with long-range airstrikes, they will not stop Russian fighters in the air.
Stalemate by Design
However, these new drones (and other weapons) will make it harder for Russia to consolidate its control in freshly-taken areas. As a result, the Russians are at high risk of losing soldiers and equipment to drone strikes and guerrilla attacks. Yet, at the same time, Ukraine will not have enough military power to re-take those areas (like Mariupol) from the Russians.
With no clear end to this war, Russia will be stuck fighting – and losing its military resources – while at the same time suffering economically from sanctions. The result? A weaker Russia, which is one of America’s key goals. In April, the U.S. Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, said, “We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kind of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” (Washington Post).
With the Ukraine War shaping into a long-term conflict, Europe – especially NATO – will have to deal with long-term instability and insecurity. This reality caused a number of European countries to greatly change their national defence policies. Germany, for example, raised its defence spending past 2% of its GDP, and also created a special $107 billion military fund. Sweden, which had maintained neutrality from both the East and West, is now moving to join NATO and cement its position in the Western Camp.
These shifts are also helping the U.S. For example, a major bulk of Germany’s increased defence spending will go towards American weapon systems. Recently, Germany greenlit the purchase of 60 Boeing CH-47F Chinook heavy transport helicopters. Likewise, Sweden will likely draw on more American technology for its future military programs. The U.S. is also working to boost its production of LNG as a means to export to the European Union (Yale), which said it plans to reduce its reliance on Russian gas (BBC).
The ‘International Community’ is a Myth
One of the loudest lies sold to the developing world, the Muslim lands, and smaller powers, in general, is the “international, rules-based order.” This is the idea that “international law” and institutions – especially the United Nations – will protect people and guarantee a country’s sovereignty.
Those aware of the reality of the Muslim lands – especially Kashmir, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc – will know that ‘international law’ or the U.N is simply a mirage. They do not protect people in need nor are they in the business of upholding truth or justice. They are simply tools of the major powers.
How Ukraine Failed
When it originally emerged out of the Soviet Union, Ukraine had one of the world’s largest militaries. However, in the early 1990s, Ukraine dismantled its nuclear weapons and greatly reduced the size of its military. Why? It believed that the ‘rules-based international order’ would guarantee its safety from outside interference. However, in the end, Russia did not care for those rules, and it invaded.
This is not a new story. The Zionist Entity flagrantly “breaks the rules” in Palestine by occupying more and more of the Muslim lands. The Modi Mob in India “breaks the rules” in Kashmir by brutally repressing the people while also causing water issues for Pakistan and Bangladesh through “illegal” dams. The U.S. itself “breaks the rules” by invading countries, drone striking civilians, and kidnapping and torturing innocents.
As Muslims, we must recognize that there is no point in appealing to the U.N or believing in ‘international law.’ The only time these institutions matter is when the major powers, especially the U.S., want to use them to fulfill their own interests. That’s the only time the U.N et.al gain any real importance.
Ultimately, what matters in world affairs is your own ability to fulfill your national interests. If Ukraine had understood this properly, it would not have denuclearized nor neglected its military.
In fact, Ukraine was given an early lesson in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. Clearly, the “rules-based order” did not help Ukraine then, so its leaders should not have expected help in 2022. However, in the eight years since the Crimea event, Ukraine did not take re-militarization seriously. Instead, it continuously looked towards the U.S. and the West for help, but when ignored, it did not take other steps.
For example, Ukraine had the option to start working with Turkey to develop weapons. Ironically, Ukraine had relied on Turkish-made drones (i.e., Bayraktar TB2) during this war. It could have built these drones – plus new warships, armored vehicles – in the years leading up to this war. Likewise, Ukraine did not focus on modernizing its air force after 2014. Granted, the West may not have been forthcoming to equip Ukraine with new fighter jets, but China would have been willing to sell its aircraft instead.
There are many reasons why Ukraine did not take these steps. In the end, however, Ukraine is paying the steep price of relying on the U.S., NATO, the U.N, and “international law.”
The Lesson for Muslims
The lesson for us Muslims is to stop viewing the major powers (be it the U.S., China, Britain, Europe) or their tools (U.N, Security Council) as our awliyah (guardians, helpers).
In fact, Allah (swt) warned us about this issue:
“O believers! Take neither Jews nor Christians as guardians—they are guardians of each other. Whoever does so will be counted as one of them. Surely Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.” [Qur’an: 5:51]
To rely on the U.S. (or others) is to walk into a trap. In fact, the world – especially outside of the West – can sense this reality. Today, neither the U.S. nor the West are influential and dominant because others genuinely love them, but because of threats, such as sanctions or war. No one wants to be the next Russia or Iraq.
Thus, the world desperately needs another power to rise, and the only ones who can do it while carrying justice and mercy are the Muslims. So, instead of repeating the same mistakes (like appealing to the U.N to protect us), we should appeal to Allah (swt) to restore our power via our state, the Khilafah.
The Khilafah will be the only force in the world that will carry the voice and interests of the Ummah, and, ultimately, oppose the U.S., Russia, China, Britain, Europe, and others in their oppression. Indeed, Ukraine shows us that it is not only the Ummah that needs the Khilafah ala Minhaj an-Nabuwa, but all of humanity.
Allah (swt) said:
“And so We have made you believers an upright community so that you may be witnesses over humanity and that the Messenger may be a witness over you.”