Russia-Ukraine war and India
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Russia-Ukraine War: India should uphold its position in the great-power game

The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war has resulted in immense suffering for the latter country which is a former Soviet Union state. One of the chief reasons for this predicament is the desire of the Ukrainian people to be a part of the European Union. This led to foreign policy uncertainty, and eventually, the country became a pawn in the ongoing political power struggle between the United States of America (USA) and Russia. Of course, Russia has also been suffering from the effects of the economic sanctions imposed on it by the USA and its allies. This is for the first time in the last 77 years, after the Second World War, that a large economy like Russia has been sanctioned, so heavily.

The US has also borne the brunt of the war. The US government’s decision to sequester the Russian central bank currency reserves had an unprecedented effect. With over 90% of the global currency reserves of various countries held in US$, British pound and the Euro. The American action has severely shaken the confidence of almost all major nations possessing currency reserves and held in British or American banks. As such, most nations are exploring the possibility of shifting their currency assets to non-dollar currencies. However, the possibility of that happening soon is bleak. The action will also have a detrimental effect on the US dollar.

India should realise

The Government of India realizes that it has neither significant influence nor any vital role to play in stopping the Russian-Ukraine war. On the other hand, it loses heavily if it takes an anti-Russian stand. It should be understood ab-initio that Russian help is critical for India in several sectors such as defence, nuclear power, fertilisers and energy-related sales. Even for space, supercomputers and other high-tech related goods, India is heavily dependent on Russia. Politically speaking, Russia also advises China not to pressurize India. There is also the fear that Russian weapons might suddenly become not too reliable if Russia is unhappy with India.

On the other hand, the USA is not too keen to open the American markets to Indian products in a way it opened up to Chinese products. Nor will the USA transfer its latest technology to India. As such, India will continue to be a part of the QUAD grouping to counter China. However, it will resist joining anti-Russian groups. In the present situation, India will try to be neutral as far as possible. It is a very relevant and timely quote from Carol Braun for India, “Nations do not have permanent friends nor enemies, but permanent interests.” It is rather simplistic to assume otherwise.

The whole world (including India and China) is searching for a chance to bargain in Europe in pursuit of their strategic interests. This is the most natural thing to do. The US may be shedding tears for the Ukrainian people however, it has its strategic interests.

Every country with their own interest

Every nation is looking at the current Russia-Ukraine war through its spectrum of interest. Moreover, Vladimir Putin is hardly affected by India or China’s support or neutrality. He has gone too far ahead to bother about such niceties. On the contrary, the world should prepare for Russian attacks sooner or later on the Baltic republics or elsewhere where it suits him. Most of the countries of the world have been spending increasingly enormous amounts of money on military/defence purchases which need to be pruned as it adversely affects other development projects. Moreover, due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, which are both major wheat growers and exporters, people are already witnessing a shortage of wheat, sunflower oil and other food grains. If the war lasts for a long time, the unrest will spread out until it affects the whole world, and no country or region will be spared.

The fear that the unrest in Afghanistan / Pakistan will spill over into South and South East Asia. This will lead to terror attacks inside the countries that is not unfounded either. The countries then have to spend a lot of precious resources and time to guard against such eventualities. Despite all these efforts can Southeast Asian countries and people be truly protected and get real peace?

World need peace

The lesson, we should draw at present is the populace of the world is unwilling to let go of their desires for a meaningful life. They too wish to live a life where health, education, food etc is a fundamental right and not a charity doled out by the rich as a balm for their guilty conscience. For that, we need a meaningful and just world order, with fewer military bases, military exercises and strategic confrontations. Enough of the western hypocrisy of mouthing hollow platitudes and arm twisting, in the game of big powers. India and other developing countries should have to speak, have an independent and clear foreign policy, and uphold their positions in the Russia-Ukraine war.

By Dr Girish C G

Note: Views expressed in the article are of the author. 14M Media Group or may not be agreed with the views expressed by the author.