Foreign Policy Note: Putin’s Russia and the Ukraine Gamble …Will he attack or will he not ?

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President Biden’s security advisor says Russia may attack Ukraine any time now. ” We are in the window,” Advisor Sullivan said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “Any day now, Russia could take military action against Ukraine or it could be a couple of weeks from now, or Russia could choose to take the diplomatic path instead. (Ref: Bloomberg)
As we know Russia has stationed its 100,00,0 plus troops on the Ukraine border for almost over a few weeks and has been contemplating an attack to merge Ukraine back with itself. Readers would also remember that Prior to this the erstwhile USSR has gulped Crimea while the western world watched helplessly. 
So the new global trend is quite visible. Both Putin and Xi have been aggressively pursuing their geo-political goals without guilt and with full conviction. China under Xi has also been doing the same, from South China seas to Tibet and Pakistan to Taiwan etc. 


It is interesting to also see the bonhomie between the two countries as they are colluding to topple the United States both for their own reasons. While Putin wants to take revenge on the US for the humiliation of destroying the USSR and its east block countries, China wants to defeat the US to become number one in the world. Thus the meeting and friendship of the two countries make a perfect match as of now. 
Both the Presidents met during the Winter Olympics and have exchanged notes in the shadow of the event. Previously also Russia has used the opportunity after such international games. Russia’s 2008 war with Georgia erupted on the day of the opening ceremony of the Beijing Summer Olympics, to the chagrin of Chinese leaders, prompting Putin to fly home to direct military operations.

Days after Putin hosted the closing ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, on which he’d spent a record $50 billion to stage the Games, Russian forces began their operation to annex Crimea from Ukraine.  

How does it affects India:

There has been an important development in all this. The large number of forces Russia shifted from its Eastern Military District (EMD)  (12 BTGs+) to Belarus is illustrative of the degree of vulnerability Moscow is comfortable with China. The Russian Far East has probably not been stripped of combat power like this in decades. This large deployment from EMD, unprecedented in contemporary history, offers one additional piece of evidence that the alignment liberates both states to pursue their respective contests, without having to invest as much in hedging against each other. If Moscow does go through with a large-scale military operation, this deployment will not be short-lived. It suggests Eastern MD will be understrength for quite some time and it shows a degree of Russian confidence in the relationship. At the core of the alignment is a functional non-aggression pact, which enables both countries to pursue their respective contests. (Ref: Michael Kofman) 

The implications are significant and will certainly have an impact on India. 

Military and strategically India is highly dependent on Russia. Any shift in Russia’s strategic goals will have a definite say on this side of the world. The willingness of Russia to align with China, therefore, poses a challenge atleast in the short term if not longer. Russia might be using the Chinese goals wrt US for its own advantage. Between Putin and Zi we would give more marks to Putin on being clever and smart. Xi is driven by self-esteem and is more vulnerable to vanity and global criticism. 

India has to be also smart while observing these developments and fine-tuning its own. The US needs India, Russia also need India to a good extent. 

India has to keep its options open and play the devil with these two countries on the diplomatic front and strategic. It has to lure both countries by buying arms and signing strategic requirements. It has to prove that it is a more important country on the economic and military front than China and of course Pakistan. It has to project itself as the most stable country not only in the region but globally. It has to unleash its economic powers systematically and methodically and should not try to cut deals that are not warranted. Every country must know the price of getting a concession with respect to India economically and this should be hard bargained. NO free Bees should be the mantra and China must know this more than anyone else. IT should not be allowed to sell its goods freely in the country while also building BRIDGE over Pangong river in the Ladakh area. 

Conclusion: 

The world is on a transition spree and no one knows what is going to happen next. India has to be alert and smart. The word is a balanced approach rather than Biased. Russia should not see us moving towards the US while the US should not see us moving towards Russia. That will be the biggest challenge for the south blick policymakers. Continuous interaction with both these countries must remain on the table. As far as China is concerned we have to remain firm and operate with full conviction. Pakistan is going down at a good speed and needs to be on the radar as always. Afghanistan seems to be silent at the moment but then can be only temporary for you never know when it can flare up. India has to keep engaging with her all neighbors and southeast Asian countries besides Europe. The world has been recognizing India as a great power and we must not lose the opportunity to present ourselves as better than others.

Asheesh Shah

Samanvaya

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