Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 26 February 2022
- Putin’s moves are hardly ‘chess thumping’
Putin’s moves are hardly ‘chess thumping’
The Russian President Vladimir Putin launched “special military operations” on 24th this year. This is an indication of failure of diplomatic efforts that sought to bring peace in the region.
GS-II: Bilateral Groupings & Agreements, Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India’s Interests
Dimensions of the Article:
- The Russian-Ukraine crisis
- Evolution of the crisis
- The role of Diplomacy
- Russia’s intentions
- Implications of the war on Russia
- Way Forward
The Russian-Ukraine crisis:
- Few days before the launch of military operations on Ukraine, Russia has recognised the the sovereignty of the Peoples’ Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, two of Ukraine’s easternmost provinces.
- Russia has also deployed its peacekeeping force in these territories.
- This was followed by the Invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces.
- After 1945, this is the second time that national boundaries are being redrawn by force
- The first was the 1999 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) air strikes on Serbian forces that led to the creation of Kosovo.
- Nations like the U.S., the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Japan have strongly condemned the actions of Russia and imposed several sanctions against it.
Evolution of the crisis:
- The Ukrainian crisis has been in the making for over a decade.
- In the post-Cold War world that promised a rule-based liberal international order, clearly the message from Thucydides’ Peloponnesian Wars still held — “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”.
- Russia and China has always protested against NATO undertaking “out of area operations” without United Nations Security Council. However, this carried little weight.
- German Unification:
- After the fall of the Berlin Wall in late-1989, the U.S. assured Russia that “there would be no extension of NATO’s jurisdiction one inch to the east” except the inclusion of East Germany in NATO.
- Break down of USSR:
- By end-1991, USSR had broken up into 15 countries
- Rather than look for a new European security framework, the newly independent Baltic and central European states sought security in a U.S.-led NATO.
- NATO’s ‘open door’ policy:
- The assurances given to Russia about NATO’s expansion was discarded by the NATO (U.S in particular) when it adopted an ‘open door’ policy.
- Beginning in 1999, NATO has added 14 new members in stages reaching close to Russian border.
- NATO summit in 2008:
- At the NATO summit in 2008, at U.S. President George Bush’s announced the opening of NATO’s membership to Ukraine and Georgia .
- However, this was opposed by France and Germany, conscious of Russian concerns. They were successfully opposed defining a time frame for their inclusion in NATO.
- This announcement has certainly invited displeasure from Russia.
- Russia’s intervened of Georgia:
- In 2008, Russia stepped in Georgia on the grounds of protecting the Russian minorities.
- It consequently took over the northern provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
- Annexation of Crimea:
- In 2014, Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.
- For Russia, Crimea was a vital as the peninsula hosts Russia’s Black Sea fleet, providing it access to the Mediterranean and its bases at Latakia and Tartus in Syria.
- It was in the same time that pro-Russia separatists, assisted by Russian mercenaries, created autonomous regions in the Donbas region.
- Ukraine’s inclination towards NATO:
- Despite no timeline for membership, Ukraine was made a NATO Enhanced Opportunity Partner in 2020.
- This has significantly increased the presence of of British and U.S. warships in the Black Sea
- U.K.-Ukraine partnership:
- In 2019, the U.K. entered into a cooperation agreement with Ukraine to develop two new naval ports, Ochakiv on the Black Sea and Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov.
- This move was seen by Russia as a potential threat.
- Clearly, Mr. Putin’s grievances, beginning with NATO’s bombing of Serbia in 1999, interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya and colour revolutions to engineer regime changes, the U.S.’ unilateral withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in 2002 coupled with missile defence deployments in Poland and Romania that Russia perceived as offensive, were accumulating.
The role of Diplomacy:
- France and Germany initiated talks between Ukraine and Russia under the Normandy format leading to the Minsk agreements, in 2014 and 2015.
- 2014 Agreement: It was a ceasefire agreement between Ukraine and the Russian-backed separatists
- 2015 Agreement: This was an agreement between Ukraine, Russia, the two separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).
- Supportive declarations by France and Germany were intended to address Russian security concerns.
- Ukraine undertook to introduce certain constitutional amendments to provide a degree of autonomy to the two provinces and Russia was to assist in the withdrawal of all foreign forces.
- However, neither side implemented these agreements and in fact led to hardening their ties.
- The Last few weeks saw continuous efforts by Germany and France to revive the Normandy format.
- However, Ukraine was not ready for talks due to the deployment of 1,50,000 Russian troops on its border and Mr. Putin was looking for his own face saver.
What are the constraints entangling European diplomacy.
- Germany was already been criticised for being soft on Russia because of energy dependency and French President has a difficult re-election coming up in April
- Mr. Biden faces a critical mid-term election in November that could see the Senate shift to Republican control and had already faced considerable flak for the messy withdrawal from Afghanistan last year.
- With a military force of 2,00,000 and an equal number of reserves, Russia held that it launched “special military operations” with the objective of “demilitarising Ukraine” but not “occupying” it.
- However, the separatist groups that currently control only part of the provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk would want to extend their territory beyond the current Line of Contact dividing the separatists and the Ukrainian forces.
- Along the Black Sea coast, Russia could seek to extend a coastal corridor to the Crimean Peninsula.
- This will strengthen it hold on the Sea of Azov, giving it control over Mariupol and Berdyansk and restrict Ukraine to Odessa in the west.
- Ideally, Mr. Putin would have liked to bring about a regime change in Kiev, but that seems unlikely now.
- Situation in Belarus:
- Domestic troubles in Belarus have made its President dependent on Russian support.
- Both countries announced that the 35,000 Russian soldiers, in Belarus for joint exercises that concluded on February 20, would stay on for ‘training cooperation and inspections’.
- A Russian military presence in Belarus puts pressure on the 65-mile long Suwalki corridor that constitutes the boundary between Lithuania and Poland
Implications of the war on Russia:
- Though Russia may claim victory in the near term, it has to face significant consequences in the long term
- The rejuvenated NATO and strengthened trans-Atlantic unity, the Russia’s economic ties with Europe have been adversely impacted.
- The sanctions imposed by U.S. and EU on Russia may not impact it given its considerable reserves of Foreign exchange. However, it can impact Russia in the long term affecting its economy and the common people.
- Russia, in the worst case, can become more dependent on China for political support as well as a market for its energy exports. This will eventually weaken its hand in central Asia.
Russia’s war on Ukraine may yield tactical gains but hardly pass the test for strategic victory.
-Source: The Hindu