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Tracking A Global Conflict

More than 100,000 Russian troops have been stationed on the Ukrainian border for more than a month. In December 2021, Russia requested its neighbour to ensure security along the border. The Kremlin also urged Kiev not to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), and to keep the region free from NATO forces and armaments. As Ukraine rejected Russia’s request, the Russian troops arrived at the border to protect their Motherland. Meanwhile, the NATO, too, has sent troops to Ukraine, in order to tackle any untoward situation. The US has become overly active, and so is Britain. In a nutshell, the new Cold War is all set to become Warm.

It may be noted that the stage was set long ago. In an article, titled On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians, Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned in 2021 that the two countries were a single Nation. There was nothing new in this claim, as the Imperialist Theory of Irredentism was prevalent in 19th Century Tsarist Russia (even before Bolshevik Russia). At that period of time, Native Russians used to imagine themselves as the Great Russians, refer Ukrainians as tiny Russians, and Belarusians as White Russians. According to this theory, the three States are a Sub-nation, or three parts of the same race. Therefore, it is a political responsibility to take back what has been lost from the clutches of Great Russia.

The Kremlin has continued to use force in order to keep Ukraine under its influence since the fall of the Soviet Union. There is no Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact has also disappeared in history, but Moscow is still under the shadow of the Soviet. Hence, the Kremlin is reluctant to accept sovereignty of Ukraine, as it tries to influence the foreign policy of Kiev.

So far, at least four European nations have sent troops to the western border of Ukraine, and the US has started playing an active role. All these are another form of hyperactivity, which is rapidly polarising the situation. While internationally recognised as parts of Ukraine, Donetsk and Luhansk Oblast, the two self-proclaimed republics, have hinted to join Russia. In other words, separatist movements and extreme unrest have shaken Ukraine and Eastern Europe in recent times. On January 26 (2022), Pope Francis organised a day-long special prayer for peace and stability in Ukraine.

India, too, has to be careful, and it is clear in the statement issued by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, after breaking the long silence. New Delhi, which signed various agreements with the two warring parties, knows that it would be a bit risky to make public comments on Russia’s muscle-flexing in the region. It will not be a good piece of news for India, if the Kremlin leans towards China due to its hostility to the West. Hence, the Indian diplomats have decided not to back any of the two parties. While Russia hailed India for abstaining from the voting on Ukraine at the UN in the last week of January, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that his country saw space for the Indian role to defuse the ongoing crisis in Eastern Europe. “It will make an impact,” he stressed.

Watch: How can the Russia-Ukraine standoff impact India?

In an article published in The Indian Express daily on February 2, Shubhajit Roy explained that India is concerned about Russia’s commination, and external intervention in national matters. However, the South Asian nation does not want to jeopardise the close military ties with Russia, as nearly 60% of India’s military supplies are manufactured by Russia. At the same time, both the US and Europe are important partners from India’s strategic calculus. Many US platforms have been used for reconnaissance and surveillance along the India-China border, as well. Another concern for India is the small Indian community in Ukraine, comprising mostly students in medical colleges.

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