The many shades of grey in the Ukraine war


People and nations disagree often, and disagreements may lead to quarrels. It begins with protest, warning, trying to stop the belligerence in a civilised manner and only when all fails, force is normally resorted to. The reasons behind the ongoing war in Ukraine are complex, and they can’t be seen as just black and white, because there are so many shades of gray in between.

From 1985 (when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the then Soviet Union) until 2008, at the Bucharest Summit, when the NATO led by US welcomed Ukraine and Georgia’s aspirations to join NATO, the West cannot name any major action that Russia has undertaken to threaten this alliance. This begs the question: Then why does NATO want to bring missiles and offensive weapons right up to Russia’s doorstep?

War is never good, but in all fairness, the world needs to look at all the dimensions of a war being waged to counter an existential threat. No war can be without casualties; truth being the first casualty. Civilians, homes, factories, etc, are bound to be destroyed in any war.

History tells us how during World War II, so many nations formed groups or an alliance to take on, and defeat, Hitler’s Nazi Germany. It also tells us how, in the following decades, and till most recently, superpowers attacked smaller nations just to protect their own business, financial, military, political and other interests. And the world remained mostly silent.

What is the nature of the conflict taking place between Russia on one side and the combined forces of Ukraine-EU-America on the other side? There are three wars taking place simultaneously — the media war, financial war and war on the ground.

Rotary International stands with the UN General Assembly and human rights organisations in expressing grave concern at the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Ukraine. As a global humanitarian organisation, Rotary takes a proactive stance toward peacemaking by addressing the underlying causes of conflicts. This aligns with Rotary’s deep commitment to promoting peace through dialogue and conflict resolution. We are working with our international partners to provide relief and resources to more than 10 million Ukrainian refugees forced to flee the warzone.

Our organisation is, as it should be, non-political and is always focused on service, just as the Red Cross and similar organisations.

Dr Mahesh Kotbagi
RI Director, 2021–23

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