Skip to main content

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and emerging geopolitics

By IMPRI Team

In the backdrop of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, #IMPRI Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi hosted a panel discussion on Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine: Implications for India and Emerging Geopolitics. The event was chaired by Ambassador Anil Trigunayat (IFS Retd.), Former Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Libya, and Malta; Former Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of India, Moscow. The panelists of the event were Prof Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu, Clinical Professor, Center for Global Affairs, New York University; H.E. Freddy Svane, Ambassador, Royal Danish Embassy, New Delhi; Maj. Gen. (Dr) P. K. Chakravorty, Strategic Thinker on Security Issues; and T. K. Arun, Senior Journalist, and Columnist.
Ambassador Anil Trigunayat commenced the discussion by stating the fact that wars are evil. He opines that no war has ever brought peace and prosperity to any country and that diplomacy and dialogue are the only way in which today the world can live. Considering the destruction in Europe in the aftermath of the first two world wars, he states that no one was anticipating a war in Europe in recent times. Further, he states that this war is a conflict for geopolitical and geo-economic competition between a hyperpower and a superpower. Another thing that we are seeing, in his view, is this is the first full-fledged hybrid warfare that is taking place in the world today and it will change the way the world is looked at in present times.

India’s Special Privilege

Mr. Anil Trigunayat talks about India’s vote in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). He states that he is not looking at it from the point of view of India’s special and privileged strategic partnership with Russia. Nor is he looking at it from the point of view that Ukraine throughout its history has never supported India on anything. Rather, he is looking at it from where India stands and opines that India’s vote was indeed the most sensible as it was in keeping with its history and philosophy and its adherence to the UN Charter as well as to the dialogue and diplomacy. In his view, India has never, in its modern history, supported external military intervention whether it was by the United States or whether it is by Russians. it has always overtly or covertly has always told the powers that they’re wrong and that dialogue and diplomacy should be there.
Looking at the geopolitics now, he states that while the transatlantic alliance is becoming stronger because of this particular threat from Russia, we have seen weaponization of the financial instruments. In his view, it is the Europeans, including Russia, that will now move into the Asian bracket a little more. In that sense, he states that we are looking at a Cold War 2.0 scenario with a much stronger vehemence of the opposition and fight for technology with the Sino-Russian axis emerging very strong.
He concludes his introduction by saying that India could have done a little more and that henceforth, we should try to work on something called Nations for Strategic Autonomy (NSA). Given the fact that India has the second-largest population in the world, and is the second biggest market in the world, he opines that there is a lot of scope here and that a large number of countries will support this venture of an NSA.

Three Lenses

The discussion is then taken forward by Prof Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu. He begins the discussion by outlining three lenses through which most countries view any kind of global commitment including military operations. The first is a national interest, in the sense of trying to promote and advance your own security and interests. Second, he believes, there is also an element of wanting to preserve the rule-based order. Similarly, the third is the element of humanitarian dynamics. He then states that there is an obvious hierarchy among these three elements. However, if there is a convergence between these three lenses, that’s when the world can see greater support for that action.
He then points out that in the case of the United States, the invasion of Ukraine covers all three lenses. It is in the US national interest, it is a humanitarian issue and it does challenge the UN Charter. Putting the US in the context of the ongoing ‘war’, he also attempts to give an Indian perspective to the discussion. He states that not of its own choice of wanting Soviet and Russian actions, India has more often than not been put in a bind. In his opinion, however, this conflict provides India with an opportunity to think about diversification because that is what would really underline the autonomy that was earlier spoken about. He then talks about the issue of abstention.
The first point he makes is the way this has come across almost being seen as a negative force whereas in a way it is really much more neutral. He then also talks about how India’s relationship with the US is taking an upward trajectory since 1991. In his opinion, the administration of the day only determines the pace of that trajectory. However, when it comes to the US, there are at least 3 actors that India needs to think about: the government, the corporate sector, and the diaspora.
On the government front, Prof. Sidhu continues, while there is a much better understanding on the part of the administration of India’s position which is why in the emergency QUAD meeting which was called just at the beginning of March, India was not forced to put into a corner on its position of not supporting the rule-based law in Europe while wanting to support it in the Indo-Pacific.
He believes that the real challenge is going to be in the Congress because that is where India is going to come under much greater scrutiny on the part of its abstention, particularly for the kind of exemptions it is seeking for military equipment from Russia and in particular the s-400. He believes that that is going to be a critical element for India’s own security and geopolitics.
He concludes his perspective by pointing out that 35 countries chose to abstain according to the UNGA voting. These abstentions are both problematic for the Russians because many of Russia’s so-called allies chose to abstain rather than support it. But, he also believes that India, apart from looking after the interests of its own citizens, has not done as much as it could so it is talking the talk of dialogue but hasn’t walked that walk yet.
New World Order
Ambassador H.E. Freddy Svane then took the discussion forward by stating that this is a very important juncture in the new world order and also for humanity and for all the democracies around the world. He points out that Europe has changed overnight: there are no more fractures to be seen in the European Union and in Europe as such, NATO is much more cemented than before and the transatlantic relationship has also changed dramatically. Therefore, in his opinion, we will see a world order that is very different but also challenging for the rest of the world.
He also believes that India could have done more in this particular scenario. But in the longer run, the current trends also have to be looked into. New equations are emerging, and Russia is more isolated than ever before. The other part, in his opinion, is who will benefit from this conflict in the larger picture. He states that Russia and China might find stronger coherence and that might not be a comfort to India, therefore forcing India to make a call one way or another.
He argues, however, that the context since 1947 and even in the last decade has changed dramatically, and consequently, so have the demands being put on the democracies of the world. Although he believes that the Indian way is an important way, it cannot just be how it worked early on because the context back then was very different. He concludes his discussion by saying that in the context of India, dependencies will have to be reduced. India will have to be loyal to its own strategy and define much more clearly and strategically its own interests, navigating not with words but with actions.

Brief on Russia’s Relations

Maj. Gen. (Dr) P. K. Chakravorty then continues the discussion by stating that war is a continuation of the political dimension by other means so it’s not something that someone likes or dislikes but it is something that is done, and all the definitions of war do not emanate in either India or Russia, but in the United States. He points out that collaborating with the US is very difficult whereas dealing with Russia is much simpler in that you have one agency and the Indian embassy in Moscow. He then proceeds to highlight the events between Ukraine and Russia since December 1991.
He starts with the black sea fleet laying in Crimea was declared part of Russia by Boris Yelstin. Next, he talks about what he claims to be the most important decision which took place in 1994 when nuclear weapons in Ukraine were removed by Russia. Then, he spoke about how General Gerasimov continues to be the Chief of General Staff from 2012 to even now in 2022, and how he applied the Gerasimov doctrine.
He proceeds to mention the Donbas region and how the conflict between the two countries has been developing. After setting the context, he talks about the ongoing conflict. He mentions Putin’s motive of not letting Ukraine join first the NATO, and then the European Union. The aim, in his view, was to make the political leaders realize that there is no point in going with the West. He also further opines that out of all the leaders, Putin is probably militarily the most calibrated. In his view, if Ukraine joins NATO, the world will cease to exist.
Mr. T.K. Arun then continues the discussion by supporting Dr. Chakravorty’s claims. He does so by stating that India’s stance is not guided by the past but by the future. He opines that when the world was divided between the US and the erstwhile Soviet Union, India was able to meddle between the two and play one side against the other. But that option will not be available when one of the two hegemons is China. If that happens, India will be completely under the thumb of the US which goes against the very root of India’s policy of having strategic autonomy. Therefore, it is in India’s interest for Russia to continue as a viable geopolitical power and that is one major reason that motivates India to act in the way that it has.
Further, he opines that even if the war ends tomorrow, there are serious economic implications that have already been unleashed and which will not go back. That is, in his view, the fact that the oil, gas, and wheat prices have gone up and these are things that can not be suddenly reversed. The next sowing of wheat in Ukraine has been affected which means there will be a shortage of wheat for the foreseeable next six-seven months and that will have its own implication for food prices. This comes at a time when the world is seeing heightened inflation as a result of COVID-19 related supply bottlenecks and these pressures will increase the tendency for prices to stay up and keep rising.
Further, the foreign portfolio investors have dumped their investments in Indian stocks and have gone back to their home countries. This pushes pressure on our exchange rates, the Rupee has depreciated as well. when the RBI intervenes to stabilize the Rupee and sells Dollar then it actually creates an additional liquidity shortage. And that is not very good for India at a time when the economic recovery is still very nascent. These are all consequences that have been created by the war in the short term but there are longer-term implications as well.
The weaponization of the dollar that we saw with Iran already had created problems even for Europe. Europe had wanted to buy oil from Iran because they were part of the new Iran nuclear deal and they were not very happy when Trump walked out of it unilaterally but because of the ability of the United States to use the dollar as leverage against all other countries in the world, they got away with it.
But now, China and Russia will collaborate in creating an alternate payment mechanism that will greatly reduce the ability of the US to weaponize the dollar. And this, in his opinion, is something that will get added impetus in the wake of the Ukraine war and the sanctions that have been imposed. In his view, India should be happily willing to buy Russian oil and also be willing to sell them whatever proceeds they need. Moreover, he believes, that we should also be willing to settle Russia’s external payment obligations.
Another big change, in his opinion, that is going to happen now is that every country is going to increase its arms expenditure. We are going to see increased military outlays by countries across the world. This means that they will cut back on the money that is required for other things which in turn will have its own implications for economic activity. He also believes that there will now be a greater investment in nuclear energy in that we will see a big resurgence in nuclear power. Therefore, in all these areas, there is going to be a major shift even if the talks succeed and the war in Ukraine comes to an end.
---
Acknowledgment: Palak Bothra, research intern at IMPRI

Comments

TRENDING

Sorry state of Indian academics: why was I thrown out of Delhi varsity interview room?

By Dr. Abhay Kumar*  The interview for the post of political science (Guest) was scheduled on Saturday afternoon, September 10, 2022. Given my previous experience, I was not willing to appear for it. But friends persuaded me to go and fight for our rights. I reached the college well before the time. When my turn came and I entered the room. The first question was asked about my experience. I said that I had taught for four semesters at NCWEB. I mentioned that I had taught ”Comparative politics”, “International Relations”, “Comparative Political Thoughts” and “Indian Government and Politics”. I said that as a teacher I had taught all the articles listed in the syllabus of the same Delhi University and the expert could ask anything about any reading or ideas. Friends, the first question asked by a female member, perhaps she is the principal of the college if I am not wrong, to give the full form of NCWEB! The second question asked by a male expert, perhaps he is the political science dep

Musician and follower of Dr Ambedkar? A top voilinist has this rare combination!

Some time back, a human rights defender, Vidya Bhushan Rawat, who frequently writes for Counterview, forwarded to me a video interview with Guru Prabhakar Dhakade, calling him one of India's well known violinists.  Dhakade is based in Nagpur and has devoted his life for the Hindustani classical music. A number of his disciples have now been part of Hindi cinema world in Mumbai, says Rawat. He has performed live in various parts of the country as well as abroad. What however attracted me was Dhakade's assertions in video about Dr BR Ambedkar, India's undisputed Dalit icon. Recorded several years back at his residence and music school in Nagpur, Dhakade not only speaks candidly about issues he faced, but that he is a believer in Dr Ambedkar's philosophy. It is in this context that Dhakade narrates his problems, even as stating that he is determined to achieve his goal. A violinist and a follower of Ambedkar? This was new to me. Rarely do musicians are found to take a

Tokens, symbols or incipient feminists? : First generation women sociologists in India

By IMPRI Team  The online event on the theme ‘Tokens, Symbols or Incipient Feminists? : The first Generation of Women Sociologists in India’ was held as an initiative of Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi under the #WebPolicyTalk series of The State of Gender Equality – #GenderGaps. Inaugurating the session, Zubiya Moin welcomed the speaker and participants to the program, followed by an introduction to the eminent panelists. Commencing the program, Prof Vibhuti Patel made her opening remarks welcoming Prof Kamla Ganesh, Feminist Sociologists and then greeted Prof Ratna Naidu and the editors of book ‘Reimaging Sociology in India: Feminist Perspective’, Dr Gita Chadha and Dr. Joseph M.T. along with Prof Arvinder Ansari and also welcomed all participants. She set up the stage by making us familiar with women sociologists and their works. Dr Gita Chadha, Editor of the book ‘Reimaging Sociology in India: Feminist Perspective’ After th

Omission of duty by BSF and police: Hindu forcefully kidnapped, taken to Bangladesh

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), & National Convenor, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI) writes to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission: *** I am writing this to focus on the life and situation of the poor and marginalized villagers living alongside the Indo-Bangladesh border of West Bengal. Through the several complaints we made throughout the years to your good office, it is now evident that the people of this border are living in an acute crisis, not only from a financial perspective but also in terrible distress. The people of the border are devoid of their basic rights and are subjected to immense torture, harassment and restrictions mostly enacted by the Border Security Force personnel, who are supposed to be posted at the international borders with intentions to protect the Indian citizenry. However, on the contrary, incidents of victimizing Indian citizens are being witnessed at large by the BSF. 130 Bhot

Emerging dimensions of India’s foreign policy in the context of global politics

By IMPRI Team  The three-day course took place recently, providing participants with an understanding of the development of Indian foreign policy, the complexity of geopolitics, and its flexibility to adjust to and even shape global outcomes. Many distinguished academics, senior scholars, former Indian diplomats, and journalists who are skilled observers and commentators of India’s foreign policy will serve as instructors for this course. Day 1 The three-day immersive online certificate training on “Emerging Dimensions of India’s Foreign Policy and Global Politics”, an initiative by the Center for International Relations and Strategic Studies (CIRSS) at IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), began on July 14th, 2022 at 5:00 PM (IST) on Zoom platform. Dr Souravie Ghimiray served as the emcee throughout the 3 days of the event and welcomed the distinguished speakers of Day 1. The esteemed panel on Day 1 consisted of, Dr Soumita Basu, Associate Professor, Department of Intern

Demographic parameters of India@75: resource allocation, political representation

By IMPRI Team  As per UN Population Prospects 2022, India is going to be the most populous country in the world. In this regard, IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi with #IMPRI Center for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD) , organized a panel discussion, #WebPolicyTalk, as part of the series The State of Population Development- #PopulationAnd Development on India@75: Most Populous Country? The moderator of the event was Mr Devender Singh, Global Studies Programme, University of Freiburg and a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. The panellists for the event were Prof P.M Kulkarni, Demographer, Retired Professor of Population Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University(JNU) , New Delhi; Dr U.V Somayajulu, Co-Founder, CEO and Executive Director, Sigma Research and Consulting ; Dr Sonia George, General Secretary, Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), Kerala; Prof K.S James, Director and Senior Professor, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai. Th

Tamil Nadu govt claiming to reform Hindu religion, temples. People deserve better

By NS Venkataraman  For the last several decades, there have been hate campaign against Hinduism in Tamil Nadu in a subtle or not so subtle manner. Initially, it was a hate campaign against brahmins and the brahmins were abused, insulted and physically attacked. Fearing such conditions, many brahmin families left Tamil Nadu to settle down in other states in India or have gone abroad. Now, the brahmin population in Tamil Nadu is at microscopic level, for which these hate campaigners against brahmins were responsible. Later on, emboldened by the scenario of scared brahmin families not resisting and running away, the hate campaigners started focusing on Hindus. For some years, when M.G.Ramachandran and Jayalalitha were the chief ministers of the state, the hate Hindu campaigners were not much heard, as both these chief ministers were staunch believers in Hindu philosophy and have been offering prayers in temples in full public view. However, in the last eighteen months in

Bhagawat Gita shows the way for the attitude to life and desirable goal of life

By NS Venkataraman*  When a mother delivers a human body, this body has no identity. Then, parents, relatives, friends consult each other and discuss the alternate appropriate names and arrive at a suitable name for this human body and this body is known and identified by this name. This human body, which steadily grow just like animals, plants and others and after experiencing the pleasures and pains of worldly life alternately for several years, perish one day, for the body to be burnt or buried. This body, bearing a name as it’s identity, comes in to the world and goes away from the world and the name that is the identity for the body also goes away along with the body. This is the scenario for several thousands of years that have gone by. The question: One question that does not seem to be still “convincingly explained” in a way that will appeal to the brain in the human body, is as to whether this human body only consists of flesh, bone and blood with well

Implementing misleading govt order to pollute Hyderabad's 100 year old reservoirs

Senior activists* represent to the Telangana Governor on GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD), Government of Telangana: ‘...restrictions imposed under para 3 of said GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996 are removed...’: *** Ref: GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996: ‘To prohibit polluting industries, major hotels, residential colonies or other establishments that generate pollution in the catchment of the lakes upto 10kms from full tank level as per list in Annexure-I...’ We come to your office with grievance that GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by Government of Telangana not only contains false information issued ‘By Order and in the name of the Governor of Telangana’ , without any scientific or expert reports, but also that implementation of the said GO is detrimental and can be catastrophic to the Hyderabad city as two 100 year old reservoirs Osman Sagar and Himayath Sagar were constructed as dams on river Moosa and river Esa, with the first and

Tattoos and intimidating gestures can't always win cricket matches for India

By Sudhansu R Das  Team India waited with baited breath for the outcome of the Pakistan vs Afghanistan match. Speculation was on about India’s return to the game if Pakistan loses to Afghanistan until Pakistan’s tailender, Naseem hit two massive sixes to win the match for Pakistan. Unfortunately, Afghanistan lost the match after being in a strong position till the last over of the game; two full touch balls in the final over turned the match into Pakistan side. The Afghanistan team would never forget this blunder and shock for a long time. India’s team management should introspect and take tough decision keeping in view of the tough match situation in the world cup matches. India lost two crucial matches in the Asia Cup. It could not defend a big total of 176 against Pakistan due to mediocre bowling attack, sloppy fielding and unimaginative captainship. It failed against Sri Lanka in similar fashion; it could not defend another respectable T 20 total of 171 runs. It was a pat