A Game of Consequences: Diplomatic Challenges for India in Today’s Russian Roulette


While India has a limited level of influence in the geopolitical affairs of Eastern Europe, its stakes are equally high due to the global implications that may arise from this issue.

By Don McLain Gill and Upamanyu Basu

With allegedly 100,000 Russian troops deployed around the Ukrainian border, this may be the lowest point in Russian-Ukrainian relations for the past decade. In this context, peace and order in Eastern Europe continue to move closer to potential war. While India has a limited level of influence in the geopolitical affairs of Eastern Europe, its stakes are equally high due to the global implications that may arise from this issue. It is on this note that India will seek to play its cards well to reduce instances of unilateral provocation, which will have serious consequences for its interests.

During the UN Security Council meeting, Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzia claimed that the United States was a provocateur because of its influence in the anti-Russian political awakening in Ukraine. Russia’s position on the annexation of Crimea in 2014 was also a point of vindication regarding American influence in the overthrow of a pro-Russian government in Ukraine and the flight of President Yanukovych. The United States, on the other hand, expresses deep concern over Russian military aggression against Ukraine, seen as a critical challenge to the very fabric of sovereignty under the UN Charter. However, Russian President Vladmir Putin’s scathing remarks against the potential expansion of NATO membership to Ukraine create a necessary rationale for the contemporary theater of the Cold War at the UNSC meeting on 31 January.

After 2014, the European Union and Russia applied mutual economic sanctions, stifling global economic chains. The annexation of Crimea demonstrates that Eurasian political instabilities have global diplomatic and economic repercussions. The previous annexation had created a series of economic sanctions against Russia. by the European Union, as well as the United States. The latest round of economic sanctions has had a serious impact on the Russian economy. This had compelled Moscow to refrain from rocking the status quo in Eastern Europe since the 2014 debacle. However, the current military escalation around Ukraine’s borders raises a similar question.

As tensions surrounding Russia and Ukraine continue to unfold, the world’s eyes are on key players on the international landscape. Among them, India holds an interesting and important place. While Europe, Russia and the United States have much more direct interests in the current dilemma, India’s position at this crossroads represents its broader strategic balance between the West and Russia. Both Russia and the United States play distinct but critically important roles in India’s foreign policy and regional interests. Although New Delhi is seen to have significantly expanded its relationship with the United States on a wide range of issues and to maintain the rules-based order, its historical and pragmatic strategic partnership with Russia remains strong and intact. The current issue serves as a crucial test of India’s ability to balance major power relations on the one hand and secure its immediate security concerns and interests on the other.

A major part of this equation centers on China and its impact on the global balance of power. China’s assertive actions not only along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India, but also across the region, continue to be a major constraint to achieving a stable, peaceful and people-based region. rules. Moreover, as China also continues to be locked in a power competition with the United States, the former will use any factor that helps shift the balance of power in its favor. In this context, the economic weight of China has brought Russia closer to its orbit despite the geopolitical concerns that persist between them, in particular on the influence on Central Asia. Moreover, China seeks to integrate Russia’s tumultuous relations with the West as a key bulwark in its power competition with the United States.

With tensions in Eastern Europe escalating by the day, it will be in India’s interest to prevent the issue from giving the impression that Russia is being cornered by other major powers. . This will inevitably bring it closer to China, which will be detrimental not only to India’s interests, but also to the stability of the global geopolitical landscape. Accordingly, New Delhi has sought to maximize its great power position to exemplify pragmatism at a time when emotions and rhetoric are on the rise.

This attempt was witnessed during the January 31 UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine, where India stressed that the “legitimate security interests of all parties” must be taken into consideration. Furthermore, “all measures which increase tension must be avoided by all parties in the broader interest of ensuring international peace and security”. These statements reflect an important point of view in the context of the matter at issue. India’s emphasis on the need for both sides to be sensitive to each other’s security concerns indicates that, like the West, Russia also has security issues that need to be addressed. It breaks with one-sided narratives that have the potential to exacerbate the already tense situation. In addition to this, India’s vote to abstain from the proposal to have a public meeting on Ukraine also highlights this point.

India recognizes the importance of its partnership with the West and Russia. It is in this context that he seeks to maximize all means of controlling the situation to prevent it from sinking deeper into an abyss that could lead to a fire war. Although it is not possible to significantly alleviate this problem in the short term, or even in the medium term, India will try to maximize its diplomatic capacity to contribute to the general level of peace, although it does not have as much influential weight in Eastern Europe. business.

(Don McLain Gill is a Resident Fellow at the International Development and Security Cooperation (IDSC) based in Manila. He is a geopolitical analyst and author who has written extensively on India-Southeast Asia relations and Indian foreign policy, author of the recently published book: The Rise of Philippinedization: Philippinedization is not Finlandization.

Upamanyu Basu, is a doctoral candidate at the National University of Legal Sciences. He is currently working as an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Manav Rachna International Institute for Research and Studies, India. It also servess as a Non-Resident Fellow in International Development and Security Cooperation, Philippines.

The opinions expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of Financial Express Online. Reproduction of this content without permission is prohibited).

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