An open letter to Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine
Dear Mr. President,
You must be the most worried person in the world today.
The war has devastated several parts of Ukraine and killed hundreds of innocent civilians. Lakhs of people of your country have migrated to other countries. Thousands of families have been separated. Many of them may never be reunited.
We all know that your forces are fighting bravely to defeat the mighty Russian armed forces. However, your latest appeal to Israel to mediate and arrange a talk with Russian President Putin has sent clear and loud message to the world that you are desperate for the end of the war. This is quite natural because you know very well that NATO countries will not send their forces to Ukraine and your forces can only prolong the war without winning it.
Mr. President, sympathies for the people of Ukraine and you as their leader notwithstanding – and please remember, I have no sympathy for Putin – I would like to ask you a question: do you, in the heart of your heart, really believe that Putin alone is to blame for the war?
I know, you will not give an answer today or even tomorrow but let me share with you Indian experience to help you introspect.
Before the Communist China occupied Tibet, the latter was a buffer state between China and India. Jawaharlal Nehru was the Prime Minister of India when China easily occupied Tibet in late 1951. Even after more than seven decades, Nehru’s critics have not pardoned him for not saving Tibet’s position as a buffer state and for making China the next-door neighbour. Nehru had no vision to foresee the permanent problem India was to face. He did not believe that China would ever attack India. To be more precise, he made himself and India believe that his foreign policy based on the principles of peaceful coexistence was the biggest guarantee of peace between China and India. He had not bothered to strengthen Indian armed forces. In fact, he had made the armed forces very weak.
Chinese territorial ambitions became evident in the late 1950s and in 1962 China invaded India. Initially the short-sighted Prime Minister Nehru took it lightly. By the time he realised the gravity of the situation, India had lost to China.
For your knowledge, I would like to add that no country of the world, not even the United States known for its strong anti-Communist stance those days, came to India’s help. A weak India was left to fight its own battle and lose to the Chinese.
Sir, like Tibet before the Chinese occupation, Ukraine is also a buffer state between Russia and Poland, a member of the mighty NATO led by America. Putin is not Nehru and Russia is not a weak a country like India at the time of Chinese aggression. Considering its geopolitical position, it is in the self-interest of Ukraine to remain neutral. It is not accepting defeat or revealing weakness. It is realpolitik. You have seen that no member of the NATO is ready to join your armed forces in the battlefield. Poland is not even ready to send fighter planes directly to Ukraine and America has rejected Poland’s offer to send fighter planes via Germany.
Mr. President, given the harsh reality of world politics, only you can stop the war and save your country from further destruction. The Western democracies and international organisations will give your country financial aid but that will take years to rebuild Ukraine and will not bring back lives lost and those who have left their country because they do not believe that it is safe.
Instead of appealing to Israel or any other country to mediate and arrange a meeting with Putin will not help unless you are ready to declare that Ukraine will remain neutral between Russia and NATO.
Mr. President, please do not make the war a prestige issue. Please be realistic and act like a leader who understands his country’s geopolitical position and the harsh reality of world politics.
Once again, I tell you Mr. President, that only you can stop the war.
A well-wisher from India
March 12, 2022