Analysis of Sansad TV Discussion: A New Age Of Geopolitical Complexity
”GS 2: Bilateral Groupings & Agreements, Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India’s Interests”
- The current Russia-Ukraine crisis has been impacting the security of both Europe and Asia through its spillover effect.
- After much speculation, the fratricidal war between Russia and Ukraine is on and contributing to a new kind of geopolitical complexity in Eurasia.
- India because of its stature as a global power can play a major role in addressing the complex geopolitics emerging out of the Slavic geocultural space.
Key questions which will be the deciding factors
- To what extent global players will involve themselves in the present crisis?
- Will the present war take the shape of a Europe (NATO) vs Russia conflict?
- To what extent Russia can overcome the slew of sanctions being imposed by the West?
- Will the present stand-off between Russia and Ukraine push India to play a “balancing “role in global politics?
Brothers Turned into Enemies
• Lack of confidence between the two civilizational Slavic brothers contributed to the present strategic stalemate.
• Mutual distrust between these two countries reached an alarmingly low level culminating in the present situation in recent years, especially after 2004.
• One moot point of contention between Russia and Ukraine is the continuous expansion of NATO which alarmed Moscow more particularly in the aftermath of the Colour Revolution that occurred in Ukraine in 2004.
Russia vs NATO Led to Current Crisis
- In the middle of the 1990s both Russia and Ukraine joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) Programme.
- However, the image of Russia changed from a timid one under Boris Yeltsin to an assertive one under the leadership of Vladimir Putin at the beginning of 2000.
- Russia under Putin took steps to contain the expansion of NATO and its ideals like democracy, human rights and other liberal values which Russia considered as inconsistent with Russian ethos. The growing proximity of the Ukrainian leadership with NATO is at the heart of this conflict.
- The stationing of NATO troops along with regular maritime exercises especially in the Black Sea also alarmed Russian policymakers.
Russia’s growing ambitions to become a major maritime power
- Russia through its Greater Eurasian policy, over the years is also pursuing an aggressive path, especially in the post-Soviet space.
- As part of this strategy, Russia wants to be a major maritime power through greater control over both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea.
- This will propel Moscow to control the strategically important maritime corridor. It is in this context that Russia chose its target, Ukraine, to send a strong message to NATO.
To what extent the West will involve itself in the current conflict?
- France will supply arms to Ukraine and the US has also moved its naval warships to checkmate Russia.
- NATO has also kept its troops on standby to meet any future eventualities.
- However, this military assistance will not help Ukraine much at present because Russia has already captured a vast tract of Ukrainian territories.
- However, Innocent civilians’ killing may take the war into the heart of Europe and may aggravate the situation culminating in World War III.
Impact on European Energy Security
- Europe is the traditional consumer of Russian energy.
- The European Union imports nearly 45 per cent of its gas and around 25 per cent of its oil requirements from Russia. This energy supply chain has already been disrupted following the war.
- Since the Black Sea is the focal point of the present conflict, it will also affect the movement of Caspian oil and gas through this route. This could have a significant impact on the world energy market.
Impact of Western Sanctions on Russia
- Western sanctions are likely to impair Russia’s interests substantially, as Moscow relies majorly on the export of energy to Europe to sustain its economy.
- In this context, the decision of the Western world to impose further sanctions could cripple Russia’s economy.
The value of the Ruble is already plummeting very fast.
- At the same time, the growing dependence of Russia on China will put it in a more vulnerable position.
Uncertain Geopolitical Situation for India
- For India, the uncertain geopolitical situation arising out of the Russia-Ukraine war is both an opportunity and a challenge.
- The rise in prices of oil and gas in the international market will have an impact on India.
- Similarly, sanctions by the West will also to a substantial extent hit India’s investment in Russia — particularly in the energy and other mineral sectors.
- India’s defence sector may also face a problem in procuring equipment from Russia.
- In a nutshell, India’s economic recovery could come up against a bit of a strong headwind.
Some Hope for India out of the Conflict
- As for the opportunity part, the conflict provides India with a chance to be a global leader by helping resolve the crisis.
- Despite the sanctions on Russia, it is expected that Indian companies will get exemption from the US and European countries in doing trade with Russia.
- This will also, to a substantial extent, neutralize Russia’s dependency on China.
India’s Current Position
- India’s position that the best way to resolve the dispute is through mutual negotiations has been appreciated by different quarters having stakes in the conflict.
- US President Biden has also reportedly reposed faith in India for influencing Russia to resolve the stalemate.
- At the same time, instead of taking sides, India did the right thing by abstaining from voting at the UNSC.
- India maintained that “all member states should honour principles of international law & UN Charter, as these provide a constructive way forward”.
- By doing this, India strengthened its strategic autonomy and enhanced its status in global politics.
One can map out the conflict between Russia and Ukraine through the prisms of geo-culture, geopolitics and geoeconomics. Only these two sides can resolve their own outstanding issues through negotiation.