Ukraine Crisis

WITH every passing day, the west and Russia are getting closer to confrontation over Ukraine. In an extraordinary development on Friday, US president Joe Biden said he was now “convinced” that Russia has decided to invade Ukraine. He added that the US believes Russian forces intend to attack Ukraine "in the coming week" or sooner and that an attack will target the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. The US and the other western nations have already warned of putting Russia under severe economic sanctions should it proceed with the invasion. Vice President Kamala Harris who was in Munich, Germany, also warned of "swift, severe and united" consequences for Russia in the event of an invasion. The stalemate, however, continues. According to White House, Biden will hold a National Security Council meeting on Ukraine. On the other hand, in a positive development, France and Russia have agreed to defuse the Ukraine crisis and Putin and Biden are likely to meet. Whether this hectic diplomatic activity will succeed is anyone’s guess. But one thing is Russia has thrown down the gauntlet at the west.

And this is not the first time Russia has done it. A few years ago,  Russia’s intervention in Crimea had brought back the geo-politics of cold war. Russia’s increasing defiance of the west and the China’s inexorable rise has confronted the US and the EU with a new existential crisis.   The new and more powerful global enemies like Russia and China could  help create a new geo-political narrative and also its fallout will have implications for the world as a whole.

In South Asia, India and Pakistan will also be hardpressed to grapple with the new geopolitical reality should the war break out. They will find themselves in a difficult position of choosing sides. More so for India which has drawn close to the US over the past two decades. Washington's priorities with India are no longer regional in their nature but their scope is the larger geo-politics. In recent years, the US-India engagement has also been about the remaking of the global power equation with India not only being recognized as a global power in its own right but also as a countervailing force to China, effectively the world's No 2. It goes without saying that India's 1.3 billion population with a value addition of a burgeoning middle class has become an ultimate attraction for the west.

Russia is the new entrant to this game. Having substantially recovered from a drastic power meltdown following the collapse of USSR in 1989, Russia has again thrown its hat in the ring. And it isn’t bound by its old equations and associations with the countries of the region, including India.  Russia is now getting closer to Beijing and even Islamabad, a prospect that hasn’t been to the liking of New Delhi.

Here’s hoping that diplomacy wins the day over Ukraine. The war, should it break out, could easily take on global proportions. And it will be a nightmarish scenario.

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