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Ukraine War Showcases Value Destruction And Learning From It

Can we prevent the primacy of greed, selfishness, power and money? Do we want a bipolar or a unipolar world? Do we want to destroy value or create value?

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Not one of us will disagree that there has been value destruction for countries, for people, for systems and so on during the Russia-Ukraine war.

Most of us look at the actual value destruction during the war. Very few look at the value destruction that led up to the war, and will continue after the war.
The value destruction was caused partly by:

The desire of two super powers to become stronger

The positioning and posturing before the war

The lack of understanding of each other’s thoughts, needs and psyches. Above all a real desire to avoid war did not exist.

To avoid these wars, we have to look at the defensive (value creation) rather than the offensive and such posturing.

1.The desire of two super powers to become stronger 

USA and Western Europe has been expanding into the hitherto Soviet territory or countries participating in the Warsaw pact (dissolved in 1991), and considered to be part of the Soviet Bloc. This included the Baltic states, Czechoslovak, Hungary, Poland, Rumania, Bulgaria, Albania and the Balkan states including Croatia and Montenegro, to name a few. Many, after the split up of the Soviet Union in December 1991, were recognised by the USA such as Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. The Baltic states were the first to move away from Russia. Many have become members of NATO including Poland.
Wiki says: Several disputed states with varying degrees of recognition exist within the territory of the former Soviet Union: Transnistria in eastern Moldova, Abkhazia and South Ossetia in northern Georgia and Artsakh in southwestern Azerbaijan. Since 2014, the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic in far eastern Ukraine have claimed independence. All of these unrecognized states except Artsakh depend on Russian armed support and financial aid. Artsakh is integrated to Armenia at a de-facto level, which also maintains close cooperation with Russia. Prior to its annexation to Russia in March 2014, which is not recognized by most countries, Crimea briefly declared itself an independent state.

NATO had 12 founding countries. Today there are 30 countries as part of NATO. New entrants are Hungary (1999), Czech Republic (1999), Poland (1999), Slovakia (2004), Romania (2004). Slovenia (2004), Bulgaria (2004), Estonia (2004), Latvia (2004), Lithuania (2004), Albania (2009), Croatia (2009), Montenegro (2017), North Macedonia (2020). Turkey (1952) was an early entrant. The growth of NATO occurred majorly after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc.

You can see why Russia would become nervous. The Baltic states bordered Russia. Hungary. Poland and Romania bordered Belarus or Ukraine. Ukraine could have become the next NATO country adding to the perceived threat to the Soviet Union.

Would USA tolerate Mexico joining a Russia coalition? A communist Cuba was perceived as a major threat to the US.

Russia, has therefore been trying to control Ukraine, who was leaning towards the West and even conquer it as it did Crimea. It continues its bullying tactics, as it fights with Georgia, and postures against Finland.

In fact, short of annexing Ukraine, Russia wants to close Ukraine’s access to seaports and have Eastern Ukraine move into Russia at the very least.

2. The positioning and posturing before the war 

Both the West and Russia, tried to show their independence and that they could withstand non-war moves by the other. They flexed their muscles much like kids who say “my father is stronger than yours”. Zelensky has proved to be a hero in spite of causing pain and countless tragedies for his country via Putin, who in his desire to have an ascendant Soviet state has put aside concern for human suffering and other damage he is causing. He has caused havoc with the global system.

USA and the West challenged Putin to war, while pretending to seek peace and threatened with a widening NATO and sanctions. Putin had also joined the peace wagon while openly threatening Ukraine and telling them not to join NATO. Today, Putin is putting his own sanctions, cutting off gas supply to Poland and Bulgaria!

All this will change the world’s power balance and well-established precedents and systems in the world: the dollar, the trading system, the alignment and re alignment of nations, a change in energy supply, transportation, to name a few.
3. The lack of understanding of each other’s thoughts, needs and psyche

This perhaps is the worst lapse. In spewing rhetoric, countries tend to believe their own words and beliefs (what I’d like to see), and even look at the other as they would like to think and ignore reality. Think tanks are most guilty of this. Honest assessments are parked as “never will happen” etc. I have seen this on China. Around 2000, I was on an Indo US think tank conference. The American kept saying China will never be a super power. They stated that China does not have their own technology and steals technology. It was so much wishful thinking. That is what they would have liked to see and therefore have started to believe.

The West, Ukraine and Russia did not truly want to prevent escalation. It is almost as a proxy war between NATO and Russia. USA has been planning something like this from 2014 when Hillary Clinton spent time in Ukraine (maybe all this emboldened Zelensky). Today, it appears that Ukraine may follow how Russia allowed Napoleon and Germany to enter, but eventually weakened them and threw them out.
Do read Never by Ken Follett to see how the fallout of not understanding each other can cause catastrophic results.
Therefore, do not view everything like a chess game, moves, countermoves, obfuscation, deceit etc. As I said earlier, to avoid these wars we have to look at the defensive (value creation) rather than the offensive and posturing. We have to go out of the way to understand the others psyche, pander to it and build a relationship. Avoiding war is creating value, and so we have to do this.
India can start with China and build a broader understanding with it and of each other, each other’s needs, the psyche, the imponderables such as the path to internal power (pandering to voters or ensuring the military remains in your control etc). Ensure more open dialogs, start Track II and other means to move forward so that reliable and credible channels are opened to prevent war.? ?Simultaneously, true, un-biased intelligence is required. This is a tough job, but AI can help.
Value has been created for Russia by doubling its fossil fuel revenues. Value has been created for China as more Americans view it as a competitor and not an enemy?.? Nevertheless, Russia's war has destroyed value for all.
Can we prevent the primacy of greed, selfishness, power and money? Do we want a bipolar or a unipolar world? Do we want to destroy value or create value?

The author is President, Customer Value Foundation and Founder Editor, Journal of Creating Value 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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ukraine-russia Ukraine-Russia Conflict

Gautam Mahajan

Gautam Mahajan, internationally acclaimed expert in Value creation, strategy, general management and globalization is President of Customer Value Foundation. He is also Founder Editor of the Journal of Creating Value

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