America’s theatrics over shooting down one Chinese balloon has been watched with amusement around the world – as for the billions worth aid to Ukraine compared to some aid to quake-hit Turkiye and none to Syria. Chinese balloons have transited US airspace earlier also including during the presidency of Donald Trump.

The timing of shooting down the balloon was to boost the image of President Joe Biden before his State of the Union Address. But as another balloon-like object has reportedly been shot down at 40,000 feet altitude over Alaska, the US administration appears woken up to the possibility of an EMP attack (preemptive?) which could sully 90 percent of America.

The exposure by Seymour Hersh of how the US sabotaged the Russian Nord Stream pipelines indicates that the US is prepared to go to any length in pursuit of its unachievable target of “killing” Russia. The fact that the sabotage was done knowing it would perpetuate the energy crisis and inflation for its European allies makes the plot even more sinister. But Washington appears to have successfully exploited political ambitions of individual European leaders and leashed them collectively using the Anglo-Saxon ideology.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continues to play the role of America’s chief geopolitical prostitute; without inhibitions about how many Ukrainians are killed and the destruction of his country.  The US could not have installed a better mascot in Kiev. America has facilitated Zelenkyy addressing every conceivable forum over the past one year. But Zelesnkyy has realized that compared to video addresses, more dividends accrue from his personal visits for garnering support.

Zelenskyy’s visit to Washington DC last December on invitation of the US, resulted in more American aid to Ukraine including longer range and advanced weapon systems, Patriot air defence missile systems, as well as western tanks – Abrams ex the US,  Leopards ex Germany-Poland and Challengers ex Britain.  The Abrams and Leopards use depleted Uranium ammunition, which would add another dimension to the war in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy’s visit to London on February 8 to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, King Charles and address the British Parliament perhaps was also by invitation – conveyed in person by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson who met Zelenskyy in Kiev recently. Zelenskyy statement in London, “Today, I heard the Prime Minister’s willingness to provide us with aircraft… we can start training our pilots. At the same time, not everything in this matter depends on the will of the UK”, indicating western fighter jets to Ukraine are possible subject to Washington’s nod.

The Netherlands Broadcasting Corporation, citing the Netherland Defence Minister Kaisa Ollongren, has said that Ukraine has asked the Netherlands for F-16 fighter jets and sent a formal request although Ollongren has noted that this request is not easy to fulfill, as the kingdom needs these aircraft.

After London, Zelenskyy visited Paris and met French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, with both promising full support to Ukraine. Macron has been indicating there are no limits on how much support would be provided to Ukraine.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called French President Emmanuel Macron’s invitation to his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky to Paris for a trilateral meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz inappropriate and said, “I believe that our strength in this sense is in our unity and solidarity. Sometimes to indulge internal public opinion means to harm the cause, and I think this is just such a case.”

Interestingly, Elon Musk is unhappy that his StarLink satellite cover for Ukraine is being exploited for offensive operations, which he says was not the aim. But Musk can do little to undermine Washington’s evil intent. Apparently, it is only a matter of time before Western fighter jets are supplied to or are used to support Ukrainian military operations. This is apparent from NATO’s intent to snatch the initiative from Moscow.

Rob Bauer, Chair of the NATO Military Committee, recently said in a media interview with Portugal’s RTP TV that NATO is ready for direct confrontation with Russia, but added that NATO will respond only if Russia crosses the red line by invading one of NATO member states.

The Russian view is that with the type of NATO support to Ukraine, NATO is already in direct confrontation with Russia. Supply of or support of Western fighter jets to Ukraine would aggravate the situation and the US appears to be in the mood to continue violating Russia’s redlines. The US may be planning something coinciding with the POTUS Joe Biden’s forthcoming trip to Poland for the Ukraine war anniversary. There is every possibility that US-NATO would use their own pilots to attack Russian forces instead of waiting to train Ukrainian pilots to fly these aircraft. The war is therefore set to get uglier.

The author is an Indian Army veteran. Views expressed are personal.

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