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September 7, 2022 9:46 pm

Ukraine’s Long Shadow

PRIME Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said that the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Covid-19 pandemic have had a major impact on global supply chains, while reiterating India’s call to adopt the path of “diplomacy and dialogue” to end the conflict. Virtually addressing the plenary session of the 7th Eastern Economic Forum being held in Vladivostok, Russia, the PM said that in today’s globalized world, events in one part of the world trigger far-reaching fallout in other parts. He also highlighted that foodgrain, fertilizer, and fuel shortages are a matter of great concern for developing countries. But as things stand, the war in Ukraine seems set to continue. More so, in the absence of any global effort to negotiate a solution to the crisis.

Meanwhile, Russia has only further hardened its stand with Putin saying it is “impossible”  to isolate Russia through western sanctions. Building on its longstanding Pivot to Asia policy, Russia is looking toward the East to make up for the economic loss inflicted by the western sanctions. The rise in global fuel prices has also benefited Russia’s economy. Also, despite western sanctions, countries like India have continued to import cheaper fuel from Russia. On the other hand, the higher oil prices have begun to bite the European countries. There have already been protests in some western countries against the rising inflation.

But the situation is unlikely to change for the better unless the war draws to an end. And this looks unlikely to happen anytime soon. The US-led western military alliance NATO has so far ensured that Ukraine forces put up tough resistance to the advancing Russian army. The US and major European countries have supplied Ukraine with generous military aid to better defend itself against Russian aggression. The West has also got Russia’s neighbours like Finland and Sweden to join NATO.  The development has further riled Russia which opposes the expansion of NATO right up to its borders, a position that became the trigger for its invasion of Ukraine.

The situation, meanwhile, is becoming fraught. Russian troops already control swathes of Ukrainian territory to the east. One of its aims seems to be to dislodge the current Ukrainian government and install a Russia-friendly dispensation. Russia’s objectives are unlikely to stop there. It also wants guarantees from NATO to stop its eastward expansion and the latter is loathe to do so for reasons that this could jeopardize its global military dominance. This makes the situation very complicated and not amenable to an early solution. More so, when the west has already put economic sanctions on Russia and is contemplating more of them.

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