Danger of world war grows by the day over Ukraine
Ukrainian soldiers prepare a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer to fire at Russian positions in Kherson region, Ukraine, Jan. 9, 2023. | Libkos / AP

Almost by the day, the news about the war in Ukraine and the threat of world war grows worse. The latest reports on Thursday suggest that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other key officials in the Biden administration are pushing to allow the firing of U.S.-supplied weapons into Russian territory by Ukraine.

Those reports follow ones that came out Wednesday and the day before that Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky, dismissing the threat of nuclear war, called upon U.S. officials to give the green light to shooting down Russian missiles over Ukraine. His comments were his strongest ever demands that the U.S. not only send more arms but broaden their use in the Ukraine-Russia war.

Those demands by the Ukrainian president followed statements only two days earlier by Gen. Charles Brown, Jr., chair of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, that U.S. troops, under the umbrella of NATO, would “eventually” end up in Ukraine.

All these moves have been met by Russia with warnings that it would strike back at any forces operating out of Ukraine—no matter what country sent them. These developments all increase sharply the chance that the U.S. proxy war against Russia in Ukraine could turn into a face-to-face confrontation on the battlefield.

From the time that the war began, Americans have been told essentially that all they had to do was provide money and weapons and the Ukrainians will do all the dying. With the latest advances by Russian troops along the northern front of the war in Ukraine, however, that appears to be changing.

Adding to the pressure is the inability of the Ukrainian army to replace the troops it is losing on the front. The country is now conscripting prisoners to fight in exchange for parole, and its border patrols are shooting and even killing men who try to escape the draft. Some 650,000 are reported to have fled or refused to return home if they are already outside the country.

People familiar with discussions inside the Biden administration have told the press Blinken’s position has changed to one of favoring the escalation because of recent Russian gains on the battlefield. Consideration of Chinese and other proposals for negotiations to end the conflict continue to be ignored by the administration, which has participated in sabotage of peace talks several times over the years since the Russian invasion began.

The British foreign secretary, David Cameron, said earlier this week that Ukraine “absolutely had the right [to use U.S. weapons] to strike back at Russia.”

The U.S. is now considering sending troops into Ukraine separately from NATO for the alleged purpose of “training” Ukrainians, according to the New York Times. The obvious question here is what the U.S. would do if those troops were directly attacked by the Russians or were injured by Russian forces inadvertently.

At a press conference earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin would not respond to questions about whether U.S. weapons could be used to attack bases inside Russia that have been used in or are capable of strikes against Ukraine.

The Russian military responded to the latest U.S. talks about escalation by staging maneuvers with units that might be involved in the use of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield. The Russians have said that the maneuvers are “in response to the latest threats and provocations from Western officials against Russia.”

U.S. officials have dismissed those exercises as “nothing but bluster and muscle flexing.” Zelensky said this week that he believed there was no danger of Russia using nuclear weapons because “they have already escalated the war without using them.”

With Israel’s war on Gaza still raging, ongoing U.S. bombing in South Yemen and elsewhere, and the stepped-up U.S. military patrols in the Pacific, the latest escalation in Ukraine has, essentially, put the country on a war footing all over the world. It can only be hoped that peace forces can convince the people to push for reversal of these policies.

The immediate threat that they enable disastrous election results in November is bad enough. The possibility that they trigger a world war is even worse.

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.