Why this war isnʼt like WWII and what the world knows about “dirty bombs”. Worldʼs leading media about the Russian invasion on October 27

Sasha Sverdlova
Anton Semyzhenko
Why this war isnʼt like WWII and what the world knows about “dirty bombs”. Worldʼs leading media about the Russian invasion on October 27

The New York Times writes that the war in Ukraine can accelerate the transition to clean energy, not slow it down, as some analysts wrote. The crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Russian energy blackmail is expected to cause a surge in the transition to clean technologies ― wind and solar energy, and the abandonment of gasoline engines in favor of electric cars. The international energy agency World Energy Outlook has published a 524-page forecast of global energy trends until 2050, which says that the world will reach a peak in global demand for fossil fuels in the near future. By the end of the decade, demand for fossil coal and gas will reach a plateau and then decline. Investments in clean energy will almost double. At the same time, the pace of transition to clean energy remains insufficient to avoid the consequences of global warming. After the start of a full-scale war in Ukraine, some analysts expected a much larger increase in carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels, associated with the growth of coal consumption instead of Russian gas. In fact, the transition to green technologies and high energy prices increased this yearʼs emissions by only one percent. The report predicts that Russia will suffer the most from changes in the energy market, even though it itself caused these changes. Since its export volumes of fossil fuels may never return to the pre-war level.

Professor of international relations and security Christoph Bluth writes in The Conversation about "dirty bombs" ― weapons that Putin calls a threat from Ukraine. On October 23, Sergei Shoigu called the defense ministers of Britain, France, and Turkey with a "warning" that Ukraine was allegedly planning to use a "dirty bomb." This term, Bluth writes, is used to refer to conventional explosives mixed with radioactive materials such as uranium or cesium-137. However, as early as March 2022, the Russian ambassador to the UN stated that Russia had discovered evidence of the existence of Ukrainian "secret biolaboratories" funded by the United States. Reality did not confirm this. As for "dirty bombs", they have never been used before, and attention to this term exists due to the efforts of terrorist organizations that do not have access to nuclear technology. Bluth cites a 2020 study that discussed the potential harm from "dirty bombs." The authors concluded that more people could die from the explosion of such a bomb than from radiation, which indicates an exaggeration of the possible damage of the latter. Since Russia has named two facilities where work is allegedly underway on the creation of such bombs ― the Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kyiv and the Eastern Mining and Processing Plant ― it can be assumed that there is a threat of an attack on these facilities by the Russian Federation. Their damage can lead to radiation emissions, Bluth believes.

Researcher Anatol Lieven writes in an essay on Foreign Policy that the West compares the Russian invasion with World War II in vain. Lieven believes that the American establishment often invokes World War II as an example of the existential struggle between good and evil to justify US agendas. America used this tactic "from Vietnam to Iraq," the essay says. World War II is a convenient example, as most other wars were much more morally complex and did not end in complete victory for one side. As for the current war in Ukraine, it is more appropriate to draw an analogy with the First World War, the author believes. During it, more than 20 million people died, half of them civilians, and its consequences led to the revolution in Russia and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Today it seems that, in fact, that war was the result of a wrong assessment by the politicians of that time of their countries. Although it is believed that the main moral burden for the start of the First World War lies with Germany, it was Russian support for Serbia that led to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Today, Lieven writes, the world places the main responsibility for Russiaʼs invasion of Ukraine on the Russian government, and it is interesting how historians of the future will assess the role of the USA and NATO in creating a "threat to Russiaʼs interests". Lieven also urges caution in associating Russian war crimes in Ukraine with "Russian cultural characteristics", as Western nations have also committed similar atrocities in the past. The author touches on the issue of Crimea, and his interlocutors from among Russian officials say that an attempt to return the territory of the peninsula to Ukraine may result in the use of nuclear weapons ― as the United States would do to protect Hawaii or Pearl Harbor. This could be the end of civilization, and this is not at all the result that is worth striving for. Lieven concludes that, in his opinion, Ukraine has already won and secured independence and the right to try to join the West, and therefore the Biden administration should be careful with further support for Ukraine "until complete victory".