A dangerous place the world is…

pic by AFP

OPINION on the Russian invasion of Ukraine is becoming somewhat divided now, as opposed to earlier widespread expressions of solidarity with the latter.

While it is generally observed that opposition to the invasion and military aggression on a sovereign nation remains resolute, sympathy and show of support expressed towards Ukraine is met with a growing degree of cynicism.

They stem from the disgust towards what is perceived as a selective anti-war stance and double standard.

Chief among the issues is that major Western sporting bodies threw all their weight behind Ukraine and sought to punish Russia in every way possible.

One example that is widely pointed out by their critics is that when individual football players expressed solidarity towards Palestine for the Israeli military invasion and continued genocide, these players were told to keep politics and sports separate.

However, in the case of Ukraine, whole teams and stadiums were not only allowed to express solidarity, these acts were encouraged and received accolades.

Critics were not sparing in their vitriol, reminding all that the Western sporting bodies, despite dozens of resolutions against Israel for its atrocities on Palestine and Palestinians, had not initiated any move to sanction the murderous regime, let alone ban it altogether as it is doing so towards Russia.

Disgusts are further directed at the US, lead nation of the Western bloc and chief architect of several invasions where target nations are still reeling from their aggressions.

Sadly, Ukraine, which joined the US-led Coalition of the Willing in the invasion of Iraq, is reminded of its deed.

The same invasion is also returning to haunt the US President Joe Biden, who were among the 77 senators, who in 2002 authorised then President George W Bush, to use military force in Iraq.

In fact, most of the Western nations condemning Russia’s invasion were allies of the US in the invasion of Iraq.

While raising of such issues when the innocents in the Ukraine suffer and die seemed heartless and insensitive, those raising them may feel that it was an opportune time to remind the Western powers that anti-war positions cannot be selective and double standards.

It is doubtful that any of those who had raised issues with nations expressing solidarity against the invasion of Ukraine felt any less upset over reports of victims among innocent civilians, in particular children.

Unfortunately, the raising of the issue with nations in solidarity with Ukraine had been read as being supportive of Russia and its invasion.

This narrative is also fast developing in Malaysia, which in many ways, is as vulnerable as Ukraine, given the region’s geopolitics vis-à-vis the interest of the superpowers in this part of the world.

With protracted territorial disputes unresolved and the intermittent show of strength by powerful nations in the region, Malaysia’s sovereignty may end up being repeatedly undermined.

And any shift in the balance of power may have severe repercussions.

The picture is grim and the stakes are definitely high but the global outcry against the invasion of Ukraine may still provide hope that other nations may not want to face the same reaction if they decide to undertake any invasion.

And despite the solidarity shown to Ukraine, the assault persists amid efforts to get the two nations to the negotiation table.

And if Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Yemen and other invaded nations that did not attract the same kind of attention and solidarity as Ukraine, are the yardstick, such hope may be misplaced.

It is a much more difficult world now and with Beijing and Moscow cosying up, opinions that a bipolar world is re-emerging since the fall of the Soviet Union is catching on.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, if anything, is a challenge of the US-led world order.

In the end, Ukraine and other smaller nations, end up merely as pawns to the power play of these superpowers in their battle for global supremacy.

But such matters should not derail the advocates of peace and humanity be it in solidarity with Ukraine, Palestine, Iraq or any other nation that had suffered external military belligerence.

Indeed, whatever the sins of the Ukrainian political elites may have committed in the past, the sympathy for the common people of Ukraine should not waver and neither should the Western forces be spared of their hypocrisy and double standards when dealing with genocidal Israel and hegemonic US.

Going by past records, such criticisms may not change anything. But rather than keeping quiet and remaining a neutral observer, voicing out against an injustice goes a long way for the conscience.

And at least, inner peace.

Shamsul Akmar is the editor of The Malaysian Reserve.