Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to the biggest clash in decades between Moscow and the West. Russia started invasion of Ukraine on 24th of Feb 2022 thinking of creating shock and awe by its rapid advance through Air, Sea and land using it’s awesome military power. President Putin thought that Ukrainian population was pro-Russia and they will welcome the Russian forces with open arms, like the liberation of Bangladesh, by the Indian armed Forces. It was their considered view that NATO forces and EU will not come to save Ukraine. They had planned to wrap up the campaign in just two to three weeks. None of their assumptions came true except involvement of NATO to save Ukraine. However, it’s easy to start a war but difficult to stop it.
The war in Ukraine has been going on for two months now. The Ukrainian forces or Govt has not surrendered. The war could well drag on, proving the existence of space for conventional war, in the nuclear backdrop. Russia is facing logistics problems in the battlefield and the economic sanctions will begin to hurt soon. However, in this short time, the conflict has not only divided the world but also given rise to fears of World War III.
Emerging world order
The UN was established after World War II to guide the world in the right direction. But it got caught in the battle between two ideologies in what became the Cold War. Ukraine is a wake-up call for the West. To wake up to the reality of a rapidly emerging new international order, driven by national interests.
All developed countries have united under the US banner, against Russia. They are weaponizing trade and finance and carefully scrutinizing arms sales. Russia has been declared economic pariah and all world trade has been stopped with Russia. There’s real concern among Western leaders over their failure to build a broader coalition against Russia. India’s neutral stand has hit them particularly hard. Even traditional Western allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia, UAE, among others, have refused to fall in line. As the distinctly disjointed global response to the Ukraine war demonstrates, most developing countries would prefer to forge their own path in a global political economy.
India’s principled stand
NATO and Russia are competing to persuade some of the world’s most powerful nations, namely China and India, to take a side in the conflict. Both Russia and the U.K. sent their foreign ministers to India. One of the top U.S. advisors, Daleep Singh, also traveled to India in April. Prime Minister of U.K. was in India recently , calling Narendra Modi as his ‘Khas Dost’.
India has taken a path of principled neutrality. The key reasons for this stand are old connections, Russian concessions following oil price spikes, the reliance on Moscow for 60% of military supplies, and the current government’s resolve. PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Nation First’ theory applies to foreign policy as well. POTUS has taken a mature stand and stated that US understands india’s specific needs and neutral stand due to it’s own compulsions.
As the conflict grinds on amid meandering negotiations in search of a mutually acceptable face-saving diplomatic formula. Sooner or later, the war will come to an end, but Ukraine will be damaged beyond immediate repair. There is likely to be barter at the bargaining table where Ukraine will be declared a buffer state between Russia and NATO. The Eastern parts of Ukraine and Crimea could be declared Independent with Russia friendly Govts. Russia will agree to phased withdrawal from Ukraine along-with lifting of sanctions. There may be regime change in Kyiev, inspite of all the bravery on stage by Zelenskyy.
A new world order will emerge post Ukraine War, with multi polar dimensions. It will see degradation of Europe further in global order and image of USA as the only super power will get a beating. Regional alliances and super powers will emerge with countries like China, India, Japan, Russia and Australia having their own influences. On the economic front, supremacy of dollar as world trading currency will decline and many alternatives of direct trade will emerge. Interdependence on other countries will reduce with PM Modi’s call of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ gaining momentum. The relevance of strong armed forces as the last instrument of foreign policy will be established again. All developing countries like India will have strong ‘Force of Deterrence’ to safeguard it’s frontiers and as guarantee to safety, progress and growth.