The Russia and Ukraine issue has been in the news for a very long period of time. But the latest move by Russia has sparked tensions among international communities. Russia has suddenly deployed its army in significant numbers very close to Ukraine. In the meanwhile, American President Biden has warned Russia by saying that the US will act decisively. Does this mean that the USA and Russia are coming face to face? The tone and tenor of these two countries is escalating to aggression each and every day. The world is inching closer to a war.
What has Russia done this time?
Sudden buildup of Russian soldiers very close to Ukraine is being seen as a threat to the independence of Ukraine. It is being suspected in the international community that Russia is going to annex Ukraine this time.
Satellite images are showing troops built up by Russia in Yelnya, Pogonovo, Soloti regions which are very close to Ukraine. Western agencies are suspecting the deployment of 100,000 troops in these regions by Russia but the Ukrainian government surmises the number to be much higher. Russian President Putin has clearly been intimidated by talking about ‘appropriate retaliatory military-technical measures’ if western aggression continues.
Russia had attacked and annexed Crimea in 2014 in the same style following which the USA has imposed many economic sanctions on Russia which trembled Russian economy to a great extent. The Russian economy is already in peril due to continuing sanctions. If the USA takes further steps to break down the Russian economy, it will worsen the conditions for Russia and its ripple effect will be seen all over the world.
What are the longstanding issues between Russia and Ukraine?
Ukraine is a European country which is also the second largest country by area in Europe after Russia. Ukraine was once a part of the USSR but it got independence in 1918 following the first world war. The bordering countries like Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Russia and Romania, most of them are part of the NATO countries. Although Ukraine is culturally close to Russia , it has made constitutional changes in 2019 and will be joining the European Union between 2025-2027 and later NATO also.
Now, Russian president Putin is living with an ulterior motive to build today’s Russia as large as the erstwhile USSR. He doesn’t want Ukraine to join the enemy clan, especially the EU.
In 2014, a pro-Russian, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych halted the Ukraine-EU deal which enraged the people of Ukraine but this move was supported by people of Crimea region. By seeing Crimean people in its favor, Russia annexed the Crimea region of Russia. Also, the Donbas region of Ukraine has been under the Russian separatist's group since then. Following these events, the USA imposed heavy economic sanctions and penalties on Russia.
Now Russia is moving forward with the same intentions to annex the whole Ukraine this time.
What is the response of the USA and other western nations?
The USA has deployed its JSTARS military planes, anti-tank Javelin missiles in Ukraine. NATO is also preparing on its own. The UK is planning to set up two naval bases, one in Black Sea and one in the Sea of Azov to help Ukraine.
In a press conference, US President Biden said that NATO might not respond so harshly if it is just a minor incursion by Russia. It attracted criticism from NATO and other allies that the US might not impose harsh penalties on Russia. Later, the US Secretary of State clarified it by saying that we will give a ‘united response’ to Russia if it plans an invasion on any part of Ukraine.
Now President Biden has cautioned Russia that he can think about cutting off Russia from the SWIFT payment system. As we know, the SWIFT payment system is used by banks and other financial institutions for transactions. If Russia is barred from using this system, it will be a huge setback for Russian businesses. The USA can also provide required weapons for Ukraine to fight against Russia. The USA also has the option of disrupting the Nord gas pipeline for which Russia is still in talks with Germany.
Meanwhile, Germany has also condemned the move of troops deployment by Russia and has halted the certification process of Nord pipeline of Russia. Russia is currently earning money from oil and few defense deals only. This move by Germany can raise tensions for the Russian economy.
Impact on India
India’s diplomacy will be facing a tough time to handle the rapidly changing geopolitical situations. On one hand, India has purchased the Russian S-400 missile system. India is also inclined to buy the Russian S-500 system. The war between US and Russia will push China and Russia closer by default which is not a good signal for India. Pakistan is already working against India. If Russia joins this China-Pakistan group, it will be troublesome to handle. India has recently signed a trade and arms deal with Russia in December 2021 during Putin’s visit to India. The Non-Aligned approach of India seems to be changing soon.