Geopolitics

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Wider Repercussions
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 25 Mar , 2022

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that began on the 24 of February 2022 is yet to end with the military and diplomatic outcome still mired in uncertainty. However, whatever the ultimate outcome, it has already changed the world in many ways. Some of these changes are such that the future of the world has begun to look even more uncertain than in the past. The ‘dooms day’ clock has shifted a few notches more towards a possible Armageddon.

But the good news first. Even after nearly a month and despite its superiority in arms and numbers, Russia has failed to force Ukrainian forces to surrender. This is in direct contrast to what happened 80 years ago! During the Second World War when the German Panzer forces surrounded and cutoff the Soviet Armies in Kiev area, nearly 300,000 troops surrendered. Today a much smaller number of Ukrainian forces continue to fight. This shows massive miscalculation on part of the Russians. One explanation for this could be that given the close family and ethnic ties between Russians and Ukrainians, the Russia has not been as ruthless as Nazi Germany was. To the invading German’s, Ukrainians and Slav people in general, were ‘sub human’ species and Germans made no distinction between Civilians and Soldiers while unleashing death and destruction. Despite all the horrors of the current war, this distinction has been maintained by the invading Russians. Paradoxically it is this ‘softness’ that has engendered the Ukrainian resistance. In addition, an interconnected and interdependent world today is far different than the 1941 days of German invasion. 

But one inescapable conclusion from the Ukraine crisis is the total absence of ‘inter national law’ and impotence of the United Nations when it comes to vital issue of war and peace.

The era of international anarchy began in 1991/92 after the demise of Soviet Union. Till that time the Cold War and Duo-Polar nuclear balance made sure that out right invasions and conventional wars were largely prevented and certainly ‘controlled’. The MAD or mutual assured destruction capability of the two super powers and their willingness to ‘use’ the threat of nuclear weapons lent a degree of stability to the international state system.

Contrary to the current Western propaganda, Ukraine is not the first conventional war on European soil in post-World War II period. That ‘honour’ goes to the Kosovo conflict of 1990s. In fact, there are eerie similarities between the NATO war against erstwhile Yugoslavia and Russian invasion of Ukraine. Engineered breakup of Yugoslavia was NATO’s plan to remove a ‘potential’ pro-Russia country from Central Europe. Of course there are major differences between the two events. NATO had overwhelming superiority in the air and the potential backer of Serbia, the Russians, were in turmoil and in no position to help Yugoslavia. This is not the case in current conflict. In addition, NATO and European Union had enormous advantage of ‘soft power’ in terms of common Yugoslavian’s attraction towards a prosperous Western Europe. Russia in the present instance lacks that pull. It is therefore erroneous for the Russians to believe that they can do a ‘Kasovo’ in Ukraine.

The current phase of international scenario is that while the US power has visibly declined due to internal and economic factors, there is no new power combination on the world scene that could enforce peace. The UN has long been in coma as it is an organization based on 20th century geopolitics that has become fossilized. It is quite apparent that UN is incapable of tackling the 21st century problems.

‘Prisoner’s dilemma’ was often used to  explain the arms race. In simple terms while it was in everybody’s interest to reduce armaments, mutual suspicion made sure that nations opted for the safety and economic inefficiency.  Mutual suspicion leading to less-than-optimal solution.There was however one exception and that was alliance politics that led many countries to opt for low defence budgets as it was thought that the security alliance would guarantee safety. The economic prosperity of Western Europe, Japan and South Korea was to great extent due to lower defence spending. Ukraine crisis has shown that American implicit guarantees is no longer effective to prevent an invasion.

Countries like Germany, Japan, South Korea stayed out of this trap of sub-optimal choice by joining alliances and implicit guarantees by Super Power. Invasion of  Ukraine by Russia has shattered this belief and there is likely to be change in re-arming by middle powers…………giving rise to a truly multipolar world, it may well become nuclear multi polar world with grave repercussions for future. 

It is time for India to take initiative in forming a group of democracies that believe in territorial status quo and non-aggression……….a grouping of India, Japan, Germany, South Korea, South Africa and France could be the answer to ineffective UN.

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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

Col Anil Athale

former Joint Director War History Division, Min of Defence. Currently co-ordinator of Pune based think tank 'Inpad' that is affiliated with Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.  Also military historian and Kashmir watcher for last 28 years. He has authored book ‘Let the Jhelum Smile Again’ and ‘Nuclear Menace the Satyagraha Approach’ published in 1996, and ‘Quest for Peace: Studies in Insurgencies and Counterinsurgencies' as a Chatrapati Shivaji fellow of the USI.

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4 thoughts on “Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Wider Repercussions

  1. Colonel A. A., has a military solution to wars, conflicts and strife using alliances but leaves out civilians who are level headed with common sense.

    Alliances could be wonderfully good or deadly bad.
    Historians argue that WW1 should have been avoided by cool headed diplomats instead of alliances that had not enough tolerance and flexibility.
    WW1 plants seeds for WW2.
    Alliances again caused this Ukraine war according to Mearsheimer, see article… https://www.economist.com/by-invitation/2022/03/11/john-mearsheimer-on-why-the-west-is-principally-responsible-for-the-ukrainian-crisis

    If Africa, South America, South Asia has no alliances with western powers, they avoided wars. But alliances with USA somehow or another resulted in many wars in the last 70 years.

    They love to waste your life for their gains but India, Africa refugees from Ukraine are not welcome in Poland, else where????
    CANADA, publicly wants unlimited Ukrainians, but silence on brown refugees.

    Being ‘British’ India needs serious thoughts.

  2. A very good article. Ukraine war scenario has been well analyzed and thereby the changing world scenario is also lucidly explained. I feel that Russia had been waiting in the wings for the right opportunity as to when would the U.S.A. gets mired in wars at various locations in the world and financially weak as well as their population gets decimated with the health problems and Overall U.S.A.’s capability to aid their allies around Russia left neglected in crisis. The opportunity came when pandemic Covid 19 left western countries exhausted in Europe and USA., while controlling deaths, dwindling financial resources due to falling exports,industrial output, tourism etc. The aspect of Biological warfare as preparatory weapon for war needs focused attention of the world.

  3. “To the invading German’s, Ukrainians and Slav people in general, were ‘sub human’ species and Germans made no distinction between Civilians and Soldiers while unleashing death and destruction.”

    https://www.google.com/search?q=godhra+riots&client=firefox-b-d&sxsrf=APq-WBvJJkhEtueGPSauehsxlB87btGqqQ:1648218417881&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwithb2KvOH2AhVDR2wGHSKhC4UQ_AUoAnoECAIQBA&biw=1152&bih=513&dpr=1.67#imgrc=YS9uaj1ItyKELM

    https://www.google.com/search?q=godhra+riots&client=firefox-b-d&sxsrf=APq-WBvJJkhEtueGPSauehsxlB87btGqqQ:1648218417881&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwithb2KvOH2AhVDR2wGHSKhC4UQ_AUoAnoECAIQBA&biw=1152&bih=513&dpr=1.67#imgrc=dF7rs0yZyigYXM

    https://thewire.in/communalism/scars-bombay-riots-remain-many-victims-closed-chapter-now

    “a grouping of India, Japan, Germany, South Korea, South Africa and France could be the answer to ineffective UN” –

    Counterpoints:
    1. All the countries mentioned above , when push comes to shove, will depend on the US. US calls the shots.

    2. QUAD is an alliance of democratic countries – not majoritarian , proto-fascist, hybrid regimes -> that India has become since 2014.

    3. If there is in fact a regime change in Russia, more than likely as the country’s Oil exports are embargoed, and it is totally isolated – India will basically have to start from scratch to import its weapons from the West. They will not give India a blank cheque (refer point 2 above).

    As India had to move away from Soviet Style economy in 1991, now Indian apparatchiks have to move away from a Soviet -style, high-handed, opaque, Corrupt, unjust, authoritarian, quasi-fascist model (pretending that shit-hole system currently in place, as a democracy) and become a true Europeanised democracy.

    B. Raman once wrote that if what is happening in Gujarat (Bhagvad gita in schools etc) continues, India goes the way of Pakistan.

    We will return to Plassey , implemented thru indirect warfare and regime change, if India remains “Shaky’.

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