“Putin’s Soviet Ambitions”: The Return of the Cold War
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 26 Mar , 2015

Current Situation – Geopolitical Instability

The current crisis is indeed the biggest political unrest in Europe since Yugoslavia. It is still unknown whether the crisis has to be termed with an international link, as Russia has not taken any responsibility for military intervention or political support of any sort, nor are the actions threatening other bordering nations. However Russia’s strategic importance towards Ukraine should not be undermined followed by the geopolitical importance of Ukraine has brought back the faded memories of Cold War.

Many experts suggested that Ukraine should follow the peaceful plan laid out by the Finnish and the Austrian model.

The crisis began with the interference of Russia in the internal politics of Ukraine followed by the involvement of “green men” in assisting the separatists to claim independence, in the first place. Their presence increased further with continued military operations in the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk and multiple exercises by the Russian Army near the southern borders in the summer of 2014. NATO conducted military training in September in the Lviv Region in the Western part of Ukraine (Operation Rapid Trident) at the same time that peace talks took place in Minsk. Russia, allegedly, sent its soldiers to fight on the side of the separatists in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, as well as initiating five humanitarian aid convoys (as of the beginning of November 2014), which were initially regarded as an undercover invasion of Ukraine. Events escalated further in November 2014, when the Ukrainian government sent military troops to protect the occupied cities. According to NATO, Russia moved its troops to the separatist-occupied territories.The Russian Government however denied this action. This action increased tensions further and turned into an escalated form of Cold War.

Many experts agree to the fact that Russia’s ultimate goal of reuniting its dominance in the region as been achieved. Largely supported by the propaganda, Russia has confined its policies to recollect itself in establishing the old Soviet Union. On the contrary NATO has begun expanding towards the east, after covering the regions of Baltic and Poland, now bordering Russia. Russia has been deprived from invitation of G8 summits, which has also denied the discussion of the alleged accession of Crimea. If the incidents continue to escalate then heated conflict between the two sides is certain. The change of events occurred when several Russian warplanes were discovered hovering in the NATO airspace, from Baltic regions all the way to England. In addition to this, the Ukrainian President alleged that President Putin stated in a private telephone conversation that if he wanted to, “Russian troops could, in two days, be not only in Kiev but also in Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw, and Bucharest”. It is also important to look at the fact that all the players in this game of dominance are equipped with nuclear arsenal, although the international community is doing its best to resolve this already escalated situation, carefully enough to avoid a civil war.

Conclusion – Ending not so soon

All the four actors, the UN, the EU, Ukraine and Russia have stated on numerous occasions that “military solution” cannot resolve this conflict. However in this crisis, there are too many players in the game with almost everything to lose, hence de-escalation of Donetsk while withdrawal of Russian troops from the region has to be a part of solution.

India being the wisest democracy in Asia doesn’t support Russia’s accession of Crimea rather it believes that the actions taken by the President Putin was just as the president was acting under national interest.

The first step to a “peaceful solution” should be that the breakaway regions, Donetsk and Luhansk should be a part of Ukraine, a step to protect this sovereign nation’s integrity intact. They however should be granted with an autonomous status.. Many experts suggested that Ukraine should follow the peaceful plan laid out by the Finnish and the Austrian model.

The Boisto group, consisting of “American and Russian experts and former officials including an ex-director of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service and a top Russia advisor to George W. Bush” met in Finland to discuss a step by step resolution for this issue. They designed a 24 step resolution. The resolution begins with neutralising the area by recalling both Ukrainian and Russian troops from the region, and establishing a UN peacekeeping mission. The governments of both the conflict nations have denied this.

International Stand

Russian Federation 

Russia considers Ukraine to be one of its closest allies and a ‘brother nation’. Kiev was originally “Kiev Rus”, which had a significant image of multicultural state. In the past few years Russia has done everything it could to keep Ukraine close, economic deals while pressuring the Ukrainian government over gas deals, followed alleged poisoning of President Yushchenko in 2004. The Russians have also granted Yanukovych asylum. Russia recognises the government under Yanukovych no matter whether he is still in play or not, followed the self proclaimed governments of Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia allegedly annexed the Crimean peninsula under the guise of “protecting the Russian communities” (which constitutes approximately 60% of the total population of the region). Russia amid heavy criticism is still playing “the game of oppressions”. Under heavy economic sanctions Russia is still enjoying its relationship with Asian nations by signing USD 400 billion gas contract with China. Due to the economic sanctions placed on Russia, the falling price of oil, and a drop in the rouble against the US dollar, Russia has fallen into recession.

China like in all conflicts has a more neutral role as its interests are not affected by the conflict.

United States of America 

The US has been supporting the Ukrainians since beginning. It has on numerous occasions condemned Russia on its old habits of accession over Crimea. It has imposed harsh sanctions over Russia, depriving the nations with basic trade. President Obama has sent a very clear message; more succession means more sanctions, ultimately destruction of this post World War II nation. He has ensured continued support to NATO forces followed by continued assistance to Ukrainian authorities against Russia’s “dark tactics”.


“NATO believes that a sovereign, independent and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to Euro-Atlantic security”. The cooperation, which was created in 1991, has strengthened in light of the current conflict, and NATO is determined to support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Ukraine is a long-standing partner of NATO and is part of some of the Alliance’s programs. At the Bucharest Summit in April 2008, NATO leaders agreed that Ukraine might become a NATO member in the future. During its summit in Wales on September 4th, Allied leaders issued a statement pledging to further support the Poroshenko government, strengthening its military capacities and insisting that Russian forces retreat from Ukraine.


China like in all conflicts has a more neutral role as its interests are not affected by the conflict. It is the Russia’s “friends in arms” and is considered to be the “biggest winner” in the whole conflict. The crisis has resulted stronger economic ties with Russia, while giving the nation a strong player to stand with amid US–India relations in Asia. It believes in peaceful solutions.


India is the “oldest friend” of Russia as it is one of key allies of Russia in BRICS. In March 2014, the MEA (Minister of External Affairs) issued a statement with respect to escalations in Crimea, and stating Russia’s response as “legitimate”. However India being the wisest democracy in Asia doesn’t support Russia’s accession of Crimea rather it believes that the actions taken by the President Putin was just as the president was acting under national interest. President in its statement to press thanked idea for its “restraint and objectivity” towards the crisis. India has also congratulated the newly elected president Poroshenko for his victory in Ukraine. India shows a very balanced response to the conflict, looking at the growing Russia-China relationship in one end and while intense fighting and human rights violation in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk on the other. It seeks a balanced solution to the crisis. According to Ranjit Gupta, a former member of the Indian National Security Advisory Board, “India’s stance in relation to events in Ukraine has been somewhat ambiguous and decidedly nuanced, but admittedly tilted in favour of Russia”.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Anant Mishra

is a security analyst with expertise in counter-insurgency and counter-terror operations. His policy analysis has featured in national and international journals and conferences on security affairs.

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8 thoughts on ““Putin’s Soviet Ambitions”: The Return of the Cold War

  1. It is time for us to look at the Ukraine from an INDIAN perspective. After breakup of the Soviet Union, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. However NATO, a military pact, continued to expand eastwards – aimed at whom? When I questioned the commander of the Leningrad Military district as to what would be Russia’s reaction if Ukraine joined NATO, his simple reply was that contingency plans were in place. Our conversation was in 1999: but the subsequent events have validated the Commander’s remarks to me. If Russia sees the eastwards expansion of NATO as a military threat – it is indeed a valid point. Suppose China were to position armoured, artillery and infantry divisions in Mexico, what would be the US response? The US sees developments in far away Syria as a threat to their country, but Russia must not see a NATO-sponsored Ukraine as a threat. This position is indeed absurd. India enjoys cordial relations with both Russia and the Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine must unilaterally sort out the problem – both do need one another in the long-term.

  2. With the breakup of the Soviet Union the cold war should have officially ended. The Russian State became busy in mending its political structure and integrating its economy with the world. The NATO began consolidating its self while the Bear slept. NATO took the first steps to move in to the Baltics. They encouraged the mess in the Balkans. As was usual American led NATO only bungled where ever they stepped in. Look at the American involvement across the globe, where ever they went and left they left a big mess behind which festers on till today. Russia was content with itself resolving its internal issues. Ukraine is a strategically located state between Europe and Russia. It’s a dual door which can open either way. Its territory can be used both ways, either to step into Europe or into Russia. It had a strategic position best left to neutrality. It was the European Union egged on by USA which used its leverage in the NATO to create a situation of instability in Ukraine in order to integrate Ukraine with NATO. Integration with European Union is in real fact integration with NATO and in real sense with the USA. The real powder keg was Crimea going the NATO way, strategically bottling the only warm water access that Russia ever had. That was the real danger and that’s what woke up Russia. It was an obvious thing to do – grab Crimea which the Russians did and did so rightly. So how does Russia stop NATO in its track from crossing the threshold of neutrality? Create internal turmoil in Ukraine and mobilise Russian Army on the Borders of Ukraine. Which they did. The Russians have just made the right moves that any self-respecting country would do. It’s the American belligerence that putting the region on the boil, it wasn’t the Russians that spooked the ghosts of the cold war and woke up the Russian Bear. So whose ambition is it – Putins or NATO (USA). Putin only reacted.

  3. The author as mentioned in previous comments is seriously “CNN news based”
    Get out of NY, UN rep and watch some unbiased news.

    Have you ever given the thought why the so-called PEACE keeping FORCE NATO is encircling Russia since its inception?
    The Orange Revolution and all the other protest in Ukraine was CIA plot, just like Arab Storm.
    When Russia does a military exercise in Russian territory Jen Psaki says its “Russian Aggression” whereas US doing the same thousands of kilometers away from home in Russian bordering countries its PEACE KEEPING exercise?
    Please do some good research beforehand when you write about Russia / Ukraine.

  4. The author is a Pro-Congressy for sure. The West inspired view of the conflict is what can only be expected from such type of people. He likes reading Western newspapers is very much evident from this article. I would request him to atleast try to witness the scenario from the Russian perspective. It was the West which had facilitated the Maidan uprising. They never wanted Russia to get any support and stand again. When NATO has already reached its borders, do u want Russia to be just a sitting duck and do nothing. As long as Ukraine was neutral, it was fine. But if u join a block A against the wishes of another block B, the block A is always going to do anything to protect itself.Ukraine is right on Russia’s border. It will not let Ukraine slip from its hold anymore.
    Russia has helped India the most since independence. Its time to pay the debt back, and not be selfish about being weakened. It was US which had threatened us with nuclear attack in 1971, and it was Russia which came to our support. Have we forgotten everything so quickly??

    We are a future superpower and should have separate relations with all countries, but in Indian culture, we stick with our friends and don’t abandon them in hard times. Now it is India’s times to show our support to Russia.

  5. It is hoped that the Indian policy planner tread the waters carefully. The cold war between Russia and the West will have only one outcome. Russia will be bankrupt and the West will continue to progress to prosperity. India must never become part of the Russian cold war. It has already paid a huge price in terms of lost opportunities and impoverishment of its masses over the last sixty years. During this same period China raced forward to become number two power in the world by joining the Western free market leaving India in the dust. India embraced pseudo neutrality and dependence on Russia for arms but today has to start from ground zero with number one priority to provide toilets to 70% of its population and then millions of other catch ups.

  6. Dear Author Cold war never ended & had a changed name Cornering War against russia followed by its allies.
    Russia was tolerating all tactics but when push came to shove it was forced to react in its national interest before it’s too late.
    west tried to support Chechnya out of Russia but Putin a very capable, shrewd, fore sighted leader did not let it happen.
    Being an Indian i ask you india s standing in world order as a sovereign independent nation without russian support.

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