Worldview with Suhasini Haidar | One year of Russia-Ukraine war | What are endgame scenarios?

One year of Russia-Ukraine war | What are endgame scenarios?

In this episode of Worldview, we discuss India’s absention at the UNGA as the world marks one year of the war in Ukraine. We also look at how the war has changed the global political and economic landscape.

Published - February 24, 2023 09:02 pm IST

This week counts one year since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered attacks across Ukraine, actions that have triggered the biggest military faceoff in Europe since the second world war and has changed the global political and economic landscape

- In Moscow this week, President Putin defended his actions

- In Kyiv Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was joined by US President Joseph Biden in a message of solidarity.

- And in New York, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution where most of the players voted exactly as they did a year ago- 141 or nearly 80 % of the hall voted for the resolution, and India, as it has done for at least 20 votes in the past year- at the UNGA, UNSC, IAEA, HRC, decided to abstain.

What did this resolution say:

1. Calling for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace

2. Deploring human rights and humanitarian consequences of aggression by Russia

3. Demanding Russia immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces and cease hostilities

4. And asking for accountability for war crimes committed, under the International Criminal Court

Belarus, Russia’s closest ally in the conflict proposed two amendments:

1. It proposed to delete the reference to Russia’s actions as a ‘full-scale invasion of Ukraine’, as this is referred to as Special Military Operations

2. The draft resolution should include an immediate call for peace negotiations- since the western position is that it will not call for talks, unless Ukraine wants talks, which it doesn’t at present.

” If Russia stops the war, the war will end. If Ukraine stops the war, Ukraine will end,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said at the UNGA.

Eventually, the UNGA vote ended with 141 in favour, 7 against and 32 abstentions.

UNGA vote tells us all you need to know about the world one year into the Ukraine Conflict:

US and European Allies

- More united than when they started

- Dealing with energy crisis by diversifying sources to gulf

- Support to Ukraine- humanitarian, economic, military

- 10th round of EU sanctions on Russia

Russia

- Controls about one fifth of Ukrainian territory and Has ordered the training of a new batch of conscripts for an offensive this year

- Has the full support of only a handful of countries, but is maintaining its ties with all countries other than the West and US Allies.

- Russian oil supplies to EU countries has dropped 80% and gas 60%, which means less revenues, but also that Europe has had to diversify sources

- Despite that Russia has seen a contraction of about 2.1% only in its economy in the past year-long

Global South and Non-Aligned World is divided

BRICS divided- with Brazil voting for

NAM divided- with Egypt and Indonesia voting for

Even India’s neighbourhood was divided- Bhutan, Maldives and Nepal voted in favour of resolution, while Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka abstained with India

India

India’s position has not changed at all in the past year:

At the UN- India continues to abstain

India’s ties with Russia have been maintained over the past year

- Political- high level meetings continue, excepting PM Modi did not travel to Moscow last year for the annual summit. Pres Putin is invited to Delhi twice this year,for the SCO summit and the G20 summit

- Economic ties showed a 400% jump in India’s import of Russian oil, fertilizer and other commodities. Russia jumped from number 17 in India’s suppliers to number 1, accounting for 28% of its oil imports, compared to 0.2% the year before. India’s imports jumped 30 fold, from 40,000 Barrels per day to 1.27 million bpd

- Defence ties have not formally changed, but has seen some attrition as Russia has been unable to supply India its hardware purchases on time, including the S400. In addition, Indian payments have been held up by sanctions

- Afghanistan and regional- India and Russia continue to coordinate closely on Afghanistan and other regional issues- NSA Doval even met with Mr. Putin during his visit to Moscow this month

3. With Ukraine- India continues a “people-centric” approach- has only supplied humanitarian support, and more importantly no support on multilateral votes

“Today as the UNGA marks a year of the Ukrainian conflict, we must ask ourselves some questions: Are we anywhere near a possible solution acceptable to both sides? Can any process that doesn’t involve both sides lead to a credible solution? Has the UN system and the UNSC not been rendered ineffective to address contemporary challenges to global peace and security?” India’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ruchira Kamboj said at the UNGA.

Scenarios for the next year:

1. On the ground Russia has sustained many losses, but that compared to its size, Ukraine has lost much more-

- 180,000 Russian soldiers to 100,000 Ukrainian soldiers (not counting civilian casualties)

- 3,000 Russian tanks to about 1,000 Ukrainian tanks

- 150 Russian Aircraft and helicopters to about 90 Ukrainian

- About 12 Russian naval ships to 25 Ukrainian ships

What this means is that:

1. Ukraine will need even more military aid, rockets, tanks, aircraft ships etc from NATO countries- all of whom have increased their defence budgets for the war , to sustain their efforts- ie. Europe and US will get more involved

2. Russian control on this side of the Dnipro river means the status quo is in its favour at present and dislodging Russian forces will need both a massive escalation by Ukraine, and an insurgency within annexed territories – i.e. difficult without Western support on the ground

3. Ukraine has no incentive to go to the table for talks until it gains some military advantage- i.e. no appetite for talks at present- India could play a role here as G20 President, although hasnt been able to do so thus far

4. The larger scenario global order is worth studying as well- US and allies are closer, Russia and China are closer, suggesting the global standoff will only deepen, and the UN’s role is in some peril.

In such a situation, India continues to be faced with a Hobson’s choice- to support the west and lose its important friendship with Russia, or to support Russia, even as it gets closer to India’s arch rival, and risk the ire of the West.

READING RECOMMENDATIONS:

Ukrainian Perspective:

1. A Message from Ukraine by Volodymyr Zelensky

2. Borderland : A Journey Through the History of Ukraine by Anna Reid

3. Hybrid Warriors: Proxies, Freelancers and Moscow’s Struggle for Ukraine by Anna Arutunyan

4. Russia’s Road to War with Ukraine: Invasion amidst the ashes of empires by Samir Puri

5. Invasion: Russia’s Bloody War and Ukraine’s Fight for Survival by Luke Harding

6. Putin’s Wars: From Chechnya to Ukraine by Mark Galeotti

Russian Perspective:

7. The Great Delusion: Liberal Dreams and International Realities by John Mearsheimer, also author of The Tragedy of Great Power Politics

8. Russian World: Understanding the Ukraine Conflict by Nikolai Petrov

9. Illiberal Europe: Eastern Europe from the Fall of the Berlin Wall to the War in Ukraine by Leon Marc

10. How the West Brought War to Ukraine by Benjamin Abelow

Indian Perspective

11. A World without War by Sundeep Waslekar

12. Strategic Challenges : India in 2030 by Jayadeva Ranade

13. India as Kingmaker: Status Quo or Revisionist Power Paperback – Import, 30 December 2022 by Aakriti A Tandon ( Michael Slobodchikoff

14. Modi: Shaping a Global Order in Flux, Foreword by Dr S Jaishankar by Sujan Chinoy and Vijay Chauthaiwale

15. Strongmen Saviours: A Political Economy of Populism in India, Turkey, Russia and Brazil Kindle Edition by Deepanshu Mohan and Abhinav Padmanabhan

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