“With Ukraine, Putin has imposed a debate on the acceptability of Russia as a European power”

This is a multidimensional crisis. The first is a deeply historical and political question about Russia’s position in Europe. If you look at the last four centuries, Russia was an integral part of the European order along with Prussia, Britain, France, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empires. But the Bolshevik revolution fundamentally put it at odds with the rest of Europe. Russia supported revolutions in other European countries, and the struggle for power took on a deeply ideological character in 1917. But during World War II, the West needed Russia to fight Germany. This alliance later broke down and led to deep enmity between Russia and the other states of the Soviet Union and then the West. When the Cold War ended in 1991, Russia thought it could be part of Europe. But after the break-up of the Soviet Union, it was neglected and its interest in securing its rightful place in Europe ignored. Consequently, Russia mobilized troops to assert its role and primacy in the regional security order.

The second problem concerns security. As the Warsaw Pact between Russia and its Eastern European satellite states crumbled, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) persisted and continued to expand, moving closer to Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin therefore now wants to draw a line and wants genuine security guarantees to stop NATO expansion and the inclusion of new members in the bloc, as well as to reverse some of the old decisions on military deployment. and weapons. The threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine is a strategic counterbalance. The third aspect of the crisis is Putin’s idea of ​​stitching up the former Soviet Union in a different form based on common political and military interests. They already have the Eurasian economic union and a central security organization with many former members of the Soviet Union. You don’t actually integrate them, but create institutions and structures to put Humpty Dumpty, or the Soviet Union, in a reasonable form. Remember that Putin recently acknowledged that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. He wants to undo this past as his legacy. The West, on the other hand, does not want Russia to sanitize or obtain some sort of veto over its neighborhood. In addition, former Soviet republics like the Baltic nations of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia deny Russia’s paternalistic interest in them and do not want to return to a structure from which they voluntarily exited.

The United States follows its old protectionist Monroe Doctrine which once warned European nations against new colonization or puppet monarchs. In South Asia, India is sensitive to China’s proximity to Nepal and Sri Lanka. All major countries tend to seek a sanitized area around them. In this sense, Russia is trying to do the same, just as China is trying to build its favorable sphere of influence in Asia. The history of international relations is always one of deferring to the interests of big powers rather than protecting the interests of small countries.

The fourth dimension concerns Ukraine’s international relations in the face of the Russian demand “No Ukraine in NATO”. NATO had promised Ukraine to induct him in 2008 and although US President Joe Biden says that cannot happen immediately, Russia wants a legal safeguard against further inclusion. But what about Ukraine’s interests and choices? If NATO enters Ukraine, instead of Ukraine entering NATO, that is not acceptable either. Can India make similar demands in its neighborhood? No. Finally, there is the internal structure of Ukraine. There are large Russian-speaking populations, Russia has already taken Crimea and supported independent entities in eastern Ukraine. He wants deep decentralization and federalism.

In conversation with Shubhajit Roy, Deputy Head of National Office. Express

On Putin raising his voice now

He is looking for an inheritance. In power for 20 years, he has revived the Russian economy and wants to correct the injustice of 1991. He no doubt thought that with an overly divided West and a United States focused on consolidating its position in Indo -Peaceful to tame China, now is the right time to negotiate negotiating forces. Remember, Biden reached out to Putin to settle matters in Europe. So he upped the ante.

On the Ukrainian crisis similar to the Indo-Pakistani crisis

This question will persist when there are many commonalities between nations like India and Pakistan. Many nations want to take back territories based on historicity. Pakistan thinks it can take Kashmir by force, China wants suzerainty over the South China Sea, Arunachal Pradesh and even Vladivostok in Russia’s far east while Turkey wants to recreate a neo-civilization. -Ottoman. Just because you have a common past doesn’t mean you will have a common future. In addition, Ukrainians are also neo-nationalists, changing their script from Cyrillic to Latin. Ethnic nationalism creates a logic of its own and going back into the past becomes difficult. Even Stalin made sure that Ukraine and Belarus had a vote in the United Nations General Assembly in 1945. Yes, that helped Russia get two more votes, but there was also a nationalist sentiment in both at the time. No wonder Ukraine seeks protection from other major powers to resist Russia’s bullying tactics. If Sri Lanka gives the Chinese a base tomorrow, India cannot afford to be threatening. The big countries have to convince the small ones and the smaller ones have to be careful not to provoke the bigger neighbors because that’s how Crimea happened and Ukraine lost territory. This is where the prudence and balance of trying to respond to a new historical circumstance is a great challenge, but it is difficult for the nationalist mood to agree on a mutual understanding.

On whether India should be concerned

It is difficult to manage foreign policy when the great powers start to fight. If there are serious sanctions against Russia and the United States blocks waivers, they will impact our S-400 agreement. We have to evacuate a large number of Indians. Oil prices will skyrocket if there is a war and worsen inflation. But the biggest problem will be if Russia asks for a referendum saying it took Crimea based on a vote where 90% of the population wanted to join. A referendum makes it possible to take someone else’s territory in the name of ethnic and religious solidarity. Tomorrow, Pakistan could do the same in PoK. Remember when a referendum was held in Crimea, the Hurriyat issued a statement saying it was a great idea. We don’t want to talk about it because of our friendship with Russia. But if there is a referendum in eastern Ukraine, I doubt that India will support this kind of action.

On India’s diplomatic position

We will face double pressure, from the Russians as our traditional ally and from the United States with whom we have partnered for Quad. Our interests with the West are much deeper, our economic interests are largely with the United States and Europe. And although Putin has met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, China will be guarded and not lash out. Everyone should judge for their own interests instead of relying on feelings. India is not a small nation, it is becoming the third largest country. We can navigate with finesse, take firm positions on principle and ensure that our interests are respected. The relationship between the United States, Russia and China has changed so much over the past 70 years. China is now 10 times bigger than Russia whereas in the 1950s it was the junior partner. A Russia fighting the United States and Europe would be of little value to China. The moot point is that our problem with China is real, deep and unlikely to change. We have to go in the direction that helps us neutralize it.

On whether the US and Russia can fix this mess

The Russians have been in the art of governing for 1,000 years, far longer than independent India, and have already made deals with Americans.

They are not innocent, pushed into this conflict by miserable Americans. Russia has real grievances against NATO expansion and US weapons in Ukraine. We understand both positions. If they make a deal, good for us. If they cannot, we must react to this situation.

On whether India should have a regional security architecture like Europe

Europe’s peace rested on American ascendancy and Russian decline. So Europeans are delusional if they think they have discovered Immanuel Kant’s perpetual peace and Asia is still in the Hobbesian world of ruthless war with each other. Putin has already won a victory. He’s forced a debate, and if he doesn’t overplay his hand, he can walk away with some winnings. Today, French President Emmanuel Macron declares that the Russian trauma must be dealt with, that Russia is part of Europe and must have common security. At least the crisis has forced the West to stop calling Russia a regional power. He has enough military power to play hell, which Putin demonstrates.