Russia-Ukraine Conflict and India at Crossroads
26th March 2022 – It has been over 1 month now since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began. The conflict does not only impact the two nations involved but has several geo-political implications. On one hand, Ukraine has the moral, financial and military support from NATO and on the other hand, China has extended its support to Russia and abstained from voting against Russia in the United Nations.
India, which has always found a friend in Russia for many decades now, also abstained from voting against Russia in the United Nations. However, the reasons for both China and India were totally different.
China found support from Russia when the Western nations started registering their formal protest against the Chinese just before the Winter Olympics and threatened to boycott the games. The trade between the two nations reached a new high of $ 147 billion in 2021. Although both nations are the product of the Western thoughts (capitalism and communism), Russia and America have been adversaries after the Second World War and fought a cold war for at least four and a half decades which ended with the dis-integration of the former USSR.
China as an economic superpower is the creation of America, but is now threatening the US supremacy in many fields including military, cyber-warfare and technology. The US is continually being challenged in the South China Sea and Indo-Pacific Region. The imminent threats posed resulted in the re-establishment of QUAD in 2017.
India, traditionally, has followed the policy of being non-aligned to any power blocs during the Cold War days. Even today, India is treading very cautiously and has kept it self-interest a priority despite increasing diplomatic pressure from NATO. But, the road ahead is not going to be easy for India.
In a hypothetical situation where China launches its attack on India similar to what they did in 2020 in the Galwan valley where the Indo-China troops clashed with each other. The clash led to the death of 20 Indian and 45 Chinese soldiers. In a similar situation, India would find itself in a very tight spot. Russia may not come to India’s support in open as it has done in the past. On the other hand, because of the neutral stand that India has taken in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the US may impose sanctions including CAATSA on India.
The Way Ahead
The present GOI has focused a lot of its energy on developing indigenous arms and ammunition under the Atmanirbhar campaign. The focus of the government has resulted in some positive results as well where it is being reported that India signed an agreement with Phillpines worth USD 374 million for the supply of shore-based anti-ship missile systems. This could well be a good start. However, the dream of being self-sufficient in military equipment andlatest warfare technology is far from being called achieved. India would have to tread very carefully in its diplomatic relations with the major economic and military powers of the world. One wrong step and the challenges could become monstrous.