International

Understanding Russia-Ukraine Tensions (Part 2)

Hello defence lovers! In our previous article on Russia-Ukraine Tensions, we discussed how Ukraine became an independent state from the former Soviet Union which gave rise to the Black Sea fleet issue. We also looked at the internal political situation of Ukraine during the annexation of Crimea. We also discussed the Donbas conflict. In this article, we are going to look at some recent developments and would try to figure out whether the Russia-Ukraine war is going to be a reality.

UPDATE

As of 24th February 2022, Russia has launched missile strikes on Ukrainian military installations. Russian Invasion is expected within hours. Stay tuned for more updates.

Source: Times of India
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Birth of Two New Nations

Russian President Vladamir Putin has unilaterally divided Ukraine into three parts. Russia has officially recognised the independence of the Donbas region. Two new countries have been formed which are the Republic of Luhansk and the Republic of Donetsk. With this step, there are two possible outcomes. The first possibility is that now there could be a full-scale invasion of Kyiev through Belarus and the second one is that Putin will wait a few more years to incorporate Ukraine completely into Russia. But one thing is sure now Russian Military will officially enter into Donbas region. Russia says it will have an agreement with the two newly formed republics to use their soil for its military purposes for the next 10 years.

Russian Objectives

Russia has almost achieved many of its desired objectives without any major loss and fighting. Its main objective was to create a buffer state between NATO and its land. Now there are two more states between Ukraine and Russia that will act as buffer territory. Moreover, Russia has tested the will of NATO countries to fight. Since Ukraine has lots of disputed territories now, it is informally assured that Ukraine will never become a NATO member as due to NATO’s Article 5, war can start anytime.

Article 5 is the cornerstone of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and states that an attack on one member of NATO is an attack on all of its members.

One of the most significant reasons behind the Russia-Ukraine tensions was the acute water shortage in Crimea. Since its annexation, Ukraine has stopped the supply of fresh water to Crimea. As a result, agriculture has been severely affected over the years. Now Russia can slowly push deeper into territories near Crimea through asymmetrical warfare and can ensure control over the water supply systems.

However looking at the scale of mobilization, it is very unlikely that Russia has only moved its troops just for building pressure on Ukraine and the west. Russia’s economy is not in very good shape and the massive expenditure done on the mobilization of its troops and heavy equipment to the frontline only indicates some serious military action. If Putin has to invade Ukraine, February would have been a perfect time since the frozen ground would have helped the movement of Russian tanks. Hence the possibility of a full-scale invasion cannot be ruled out.

America On Its Backfoot

Joe Biden is the weakest American president in the entire history. Under him, the Taliban took over Afghanistan, and now Russia has almost achieved all of its objectives in Ukraine. Biden had made it very clear in the beginning that he is not going to send any troops to Ukraine if Russia invades, which indirectly gave clearance to Russia to attack. Biden’s concerns were that it could start the third World War. However, he destroyed all the deterrence that Ukraine had. “West was with Ukraine” became the biggest lie. Russia supplies more than 30 percent of Europe’s energy needs. Thus putting sanctions on Russia’s natural gas export will hurt Europe the most. Putin knows this very well.

A Nuclear War

In 1992, Ukraine gave up its inherited soviet nuclear stockpile and signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. At that time Russia guaranteed Ukraine protection under its nuclear umbrella. However, with the shift in political alignment in Ukraine, Russia became Ukraine’s greatest enemy over the decades. Now Ukraine needs nuclear weapons for its survival. Building a nuclear weapon won’t be difficult for Ukraine as the old soviet nuclear technology, blueprints of weapons with the technical expertise is still there among the Ukrainian scientists.

Impact On India

The Russia-Ukraine conflict will severely affect India and its diplomatic interests. The immediate effect will be pressure from America and other Quad countries to downgrade our ties with Russia. Historically India had deep relations with the Soviet Union. Due to this conflict, India will have to choose from Russia or the West since it would be very difficult to stay neutral over this issue. Russia has been India’s most reliable defence partner for decades. But Russia’s power is now fading away. On the other hand, there are western countries and Quad, whose support is essential for keeping a power balance in the indo-pacific. Choosing a side will be neither easy nor good for India’s interests.

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Sheershoo Deb

I am a defense aspirant preparing to be an officer in the prestigious Indian armed forces. Earning the prestigious blue uniform is my dream.

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