AND IT FINALLY HAPPENED in the early morning hours of Thursday, the 24th Feb. 2022 when the Russian President appeared on National Television to announce a full scale invasion of Ukraine. He had tested the resolve of World Leaders and was probably emboldened by their lacklustre response to his so-called “peacekeeping duties” in the rebel controlled territories of Donetsk and Lohansk, announced just three days before, in the embattled nation which is less than 1/20th the size and about 1/3rd of Russia’s population.
The overwhelming military might of Russia with almost 4 times bigger Army than Ukraine and has a much larger stockpile of advanced arms and ammunitions is no comparison for Ukraine. Moreover, Russia has one of the largest nuclear stockpile (estimated at about 6500 warheads) whereas Ukraine god rid of its nuclear arsenal it inherited from erstwhile USSR and these were completely disassembled in 1996, 2 years after it joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty.
Putin has never been able to reconcile himself about the disintegration of the USSR in 1991 as evident from his address to nation in the wee hours of 21st Feb. 2022 where he blamed the entire communist leadership from Lenin to Stalin to Khrushchev and Gorbachev
The disintegration of our united country was brought about by the historic, strategic mistakes on the part of the Bolshevik leaders and the CPSU leadership….. The collapse of the historical Russia known as the USSR is on their conscience.(Putin – Feb. 21,2022)
In the late 1980s, the Soviet Union grew weaker and subsequently broke apart….. it has shown us that the paralysis of power and will is the first step towards complete degradation and oblivion. We lost confidence for only one moment, but it was enough to disrupt the balance of forces in the world. (Putin – Feb. 24,2022)
One of the biggest grudge of Putin has been the attitude of western countries towards Russia and its security. He blames NATO of not only of complete disregards to its security concern but also for cheating and going back on its promises of not to expand the NATO in Russia’s neighbourhood.
Ukraine joining NATO is a direct threat to Russia’s security….Today, one glance at the map is enough to see to what extent Western countries have kept their promise to refrain from NATO’s eastward expansion. They just cheated….we have seen five waves of NATO expansion, one after another …as a result, the Alliance, its military infrastructure has reached Russia’s borders. (Putin – Feb. 21,2022)
The collapse of the Soviet Union led to a redivision of the world. … This array includes promises not to expand NATO eastward even by an inch. To reiterate: They have deceived us, or, to put it simply, they have played us. (Putin – Feb. 24,2022)
By accusing Ukraine of thanklessness towards Russia and genocide of dissenters and blaming NATO and US of complete disregard to Russia’s security concerns, for euphoria created by their absolute feeling of superiority and arrogance resulting in invasion of Iraq, Libya and Syria, of lies made at the highest state level and voiced from the high UN rostrum, thereby resulting in tremendous loss in human life, damage, destruction, and a colossal upsurge of terrorism; Putin is now set on his path of correcting the course and getting Russia its due place in the new world order, as he perceives it. So essentially it is now for the world-leaders to decide how they want to deal with his aggressiveness. This unfortunately doesn’t seem to offer much hope though.
For records, both the US and NATO have publically declared they don’t intend to be directly engaged in countering the Russian invasion of Ukraine, leaving the beleaguered country at the mercy of invaders. That leaves it with the only choice of imposing financial sanctions on Russia effective of which is anybody’s guess. There are also reports that Russian crude won’t be subjected to these sanctions, which if true, will make these sanctions ineffective for Russia would have intact one of the major source of its income, guaranteeing it the unhindered inflow of funds.
India on the other hand has to perform a tightrope walk as, on one side, it has deep friendly relations with Russia developed over last so many years and, which incidentally also happens to be its main defence supplier while, on the other, it is worried that lack of a proper response from world community may bolster a country like China to be more aggressive on its border with India and also to invade Taiwan. It will also not be taking any chances to antagonise Russia by voting in favour of any Resolution that may be brought to the UNSC or the UNGA and is most likely to abstain from voting while maintaining its call for an immediate ceasefire and return to dialogue. While increase in oil prices will have ass to the inflationary pressure at home, the impending threat of sanctions are most likely to delay the supply of S-400 missile defence system from Russia and the chances of getting a US waiver under CAATSA are also dimmed in view of the changed scenario.
What the future holds for world at large will depend how the events will unfold in the coming day however for now it seems that Putin has bitten more than he can chew as he would not have expected the kind of fierce resistance his forces are facing from ordinary Ukrainian citizens, the growing anti-war chorus at home and also the worldwide condemnation for his act of aggression and blatant violation of international law.
One can only hope that the world leaders rise to the occasion and see to it that the diplomacy is given a due chance to contain the damage and destruction the war has brought and effectively manage the situation by addressing the concerns of all the stakeholders.