Two Weeks Of Ukraine Invasion, The Sumy Rescue And Cricket Tragedies!


Russian President Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has entered Day 14 leaving a trail of devastation and loss of lives across the country. We pointed out earlier that the war was totally unnecessary, and now it seems abundantly clear that it was in the interest of the West that Russia did invade Ukraine so that the latter’s strategic presence in Europe could be checked, if not eliminated. The surprising resistance by Ukraine is mainly thanks to the baits by the West in terms of entry into the European Union and a membership in NATO. Russia also made a mistake by not anticipating the support to be extended to Ukraine by the US, most European nations and other strategic allies to fight the war. The main objective of the Western allies seems to be the justification to impose the economic sanctions to isolate Russia in a bid to force it to submit. But unfortunately, they’ve decided to ignite a dormant volcano instead by ignoring its demands, also as strategic as theirs, and by abandoning the universally accepted method called international diplomacy.

 

President Biden has been maintaining that ‘Putin cannot defeat Ukraine’ which means that he along with his allies expect a protracted war so that at the end an isolated and economically bleeding Russia calls it a day. However, the Biden allies have conveniently forgot that by isolating Russia, a major supplier of natural gas, petroleum and weapons, they have nearly plunged the world into an economic crisis—a global economy just recovering from the Pandemic. Crude oil prices have touched almost $140 a barrel and with the US decision to ban all Russian oil imports can further accentuate the oil fire. Among other countries it could hit India in the most severe way because India has already been suffering from insufficient consumer demand to boost the economy. With the assembly elections over it’s to be seen how long the government can fend off the inevitable price increase in petrol an diesel.

 

President Zelensky has let the cat loose. First, he demanded NATO to declare No-fly zone in Ukraine; NATO refused, obviously because it would mean a war between Russia and America, possibly a Third World War which could be nuclear if Putin’s threats are taken seriously. Then, Zelensky wanted more arms, weapons and fighter aircrafts from NATO, in a way, directly asking NATO to involve itself in the war and to protect Ukraine. Thwarted on all requests, the Ukrainian President is now crying hoarse calling it a betrayal by the West and that he would give up his on his promised NATO membership. And, that’s exactly what Russia wants. Putin has been saying clearly that he would instantly end the war if Ukraine gives up on its aspirations to join the EU and the NATO. Well, at the same time the rights of a sovereign nation to do what its citizens desire cannot be repressed, whatever be the strategic interests of whatever power blocks.

 


In the meantime, a humanitarian crisis with unbearable consequences had been developing in the Ukrainian city of Sumy where around 700 Indian students were trapped in the bunkers as food, water and other amenities were drying out. As the attacks outside intensified they were even frightened to switch on the electricity at those endless nights. There seemed to be no way out to evacuate them as it was extremely dangerous to venture out in the missile-raining streets. We must commend the efforts of the Government of India by not giving up and resorting to the much-forgotten diplomacy. A tripartite diplomatic mediation between Russia, Ukraine and India resulted in Russia agreeing to declare ceasefire in four cities to ease the process of civil evacuation. Yesterday, the Sumy students were moved out to Poltava by road, then moved to Western Ukraine by trains and finally to be airlifted to India. We must congratulate the die-hard efforts the Indian Air Force, the officials of the Ministry of External Affairs and of course, the pilots and staff of Air India (now operated by the Tata group).

 


Moving to other fields of world affairs we must mention the double-tragedy suffered by Australian Cricket losing two of their veteran cricketers—wicket-keeper batsman Rodney Marsh (74) and the legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne (just 52)—within 24 hours on 4th March 2022. Shane Warne, undoubtedly the best-ever leg-spinner in world cricket with his 708 Test wickets (the first to reach that mark), has been fully active in cricket even after his retirement in 2007. He played for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL apart from his other international assignments. We have been aware of him all the time as he never failed to comment on the performances of Team India in its international matches. Warne, fondly called Warnie by his pals, reportedly got three months of leave from Fox Sports for whom he had been working, and went to Thailand to start his much-deserved holidays along with his friends. Tragically, the very next day he was found unresponsive in his room. His friends did CPR on him and then it was done repeatedly at the hospital, but the legend could not be revived.   

 

It is indeed hard to put away Shane Warne from our cricket-loving minds. When he dominated the Indian batsmen, prominently Sachin Tendulkar, we admired him, and when he was hit all around and out of the park by Tendulkar, we loved his open admiration and wonderment at the living legend’s prowess. This had been typical of the essence of Warne’s personality who lived his life on his own terms and was not bogged down by the few controversies thus created. And we really feel great talking about the times of the greats. Shane Warne has been bestowed the 4th place in the list of Wisden Cricketers of the century along with the greats of Donald Bradman, Garfield Sobers, Jack Hobbs and Vivian Richards.

 


Earlier on 4th March Rodney Marsh passed away—a cricketing great who excelled during 1971-1984 as a wicket-keeper batsman and created history of achieving a record 355 Test catches behind the stumps, mostly combining with the lethal fast bowling legend Dennis Lily. Of course, we could not watch his antics on the field as in those times our only means of tuning in to cricket had been the radio commentary. Interestingly, both of Marsh and Warne had had very ordinary debuts. And more disconcertingly, Shane Warne had twitted his condolences to Rodney Marsh’s demise, not knowing his own destiny. We cannot still believe Warnie is no more.

 

Meanwhile, India made mincemeat of a listless Sri Lanka in the first Test at Mohali winning by an innings and 222 runs. The highlight of the test match is the tremendous comeback of Ravindra Jadeja into the Test team after months of nursing an injury—he made a historic 175 not out in India’s defining first inning total of 574 and went on to take 9 wickets in the Sri Lanka two innings with a fifer in the first innings. Now, Jadeja could justifiably be termed as one of the greatest all-rounders in world cricket. Earlier, India swept the 3-match T20I Series 3-0 where Jadeja also figured prominently. 


(We acknowledge wikipedia.org, alzazeera.com and google maps for the images.)

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