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On war in Ukraine-India tiptoes carefully

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer

Thirty years ago i.e. in 1991 the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) disintegrated. All world countries thought it was a peaceful disintegration. There was no contest of arms. But now the world recognised that the “contest of arms” was not avoided but postponed (to date).  Russia is going back to the Soviet era to reclaim some of the lost territories. East Ukraine is pro- Russian even today, whereas West Ukraine is pro-West. Most of the breakaway nations of the Soviet Union joined NATO. Ukraine has not yet come under NATO. In 2014 Ukraine sought European Union (EU) membership. Russia has great objections to Ukraine joining either the EU or NATO. For, joining NATO brings to its (Russia’s) border NATO forces of defense, which Russia perceives as a security threat.

The Western view

All talk of NATO (NATO forces being a security risk etc.), coming from Russia, is a slight exaggeration. A red herring.  To them what Putin could not accept was an economically prosperous Ukraine, as promised by the EU. For the West, Putin’s war is a bolt from the blue. The West was under the illusion that through geo-economics, it could get (some form or the other) economic globalization and Capitalism and that will lead to democracy in world nations. As a matter of fact economic globalization allowed authoritarian states (read Russia and China) to have a free ride on the global market to acquire resources and power to turn around and use against the West and call security risks.  

Putin’s war on Ukraine

Russia started off the war with a hope that it could as easily win Ukraine as it had won Georgia (in 2008) and Crimea (in 2014). But that does not seem to be the case. Ukraine is giving a tough fight. Unlike World Wars I & II, this war on Ukraine is watched by all. The present powerful media brings live- coverage. Earlier wars were a distant stimuli to people in the far flung places. Now, the war is so near. It is on mobile handsets. All right-thinking people want this devastation, destruction and human tragedy caused by Putin be stopped. Some sections say that in a war…this is what happens … this collateral damage of property and civilian lives. Didn’t the U.S. wage war in Iraq, Syria and Libya? Didn’t civilians die in carpet bombing? Etc.

Two wrongs won’t make a right. Yes, democracies also make mistakes. But they have a self-correction. The chances of democracy being corrected are higher than other systems. Whereas Putin is an authoritarian leader. Putin’s external aggression is connected to Russia’s internal repression. Putin keeps Russians in a make-believe world: that he is only taking “military action” against Ukraine but not on “war”. He wants his friendly nations to buy that theory. This is what a totalitarian leader does. The U.S. waged wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan but never shied away from calling them “wars”. The U.S. government did not put any curbs on the media to report in detail their Vietnam, Iraq and other wars as unjustified and criminal.

The West’s Punitive Action

Russia is slapped with stringent economic sanctions. It almost amounts to strangulation. Russian accounts are cut off from SWIFT. European and American air space is completely cut off. The U.N. suspends Russia from the Human Rights Council (UNHRC) after the Bucha incident. The western world views— Putin will remain a geo-political risk as long as he remains in power. However, Russia is used to sanctions by the West and learned to live with them ever since they were imposed a decade ago. Moreover, there is an outright help from China to Russia at present.

India’s Position

Indian (former) diplomats argue, this war was not started by India. This is between the two power blocks: the West and Russia. In principle India says: no country should violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of another country. In general, every country is guided by its self-interest. After the innocent civilian killings in the Ukrainian city of Bucha, India slightly changed its stance. India called the killings “deeply disturbing” and supported an independent investigation. By taking a neutral stand on war, India is abstaining from voting on the resolutions in the U.N.

The U.S. is asking India to take a stand on the Ukraine war in an attitude: either you are ‘with us or against us’. This is a tricky situation. The stand they need is based on “principles” (sovereignty and territorial integrity)  rather than on “self-interest” (of getting cheap oil and arms from Russia). India is cautiously tiptoeing the path. India is asking for talks between the two warring sections to sort things out. India knows when it comes to protecting its territories of Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh from the aggression of China, it has tobe on its own strength.  India should maintain its own capacity to make its own path by being self-reliant i.e. atma nirbhar.

India has a convergence of interest with Russia. That may continue but India has to recalibrate in the triangle between Russia, China and the U.S. Though, India should have open relationship with all countries, what the U.S gives to India no other country can give. World- democracies should support each other. The Govt. at the Centre is taking calculated right steps and exercising the country’s strategic – autonomy. The entire opposition is with the ruling. Hope the war ends soon and peace prevails.

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer
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