India, China and Russia

Much to the dismay of merchants of death or one may call them war-gamblers, nothing spectacular happened on the occasion of the first anniversary of Russia-Ukraine war on February 24. Russians didn’t observe the day by launching a massive offensive as speculated by the defence experts of America and Europe. And quite expectedly Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy marked the sombre anniversary by issuing renewed pledges to push for victory. Also, for him it was an opportunity to demand more weapons, rather more advanced weapons, from the West. All things considered, the war is likely to stretch beyond 2023 because Russians are not leaving unless they get their objectives fulfilled. They are now trying to consolidate their control over territorial gains they have achieved over the year through enormous sacrifices. Despite tremendous devastation in Ukraine American policy of prolonging the war has not changed. The Pentagon, however, celebrated February 24 by committing a new package of long-term security assistance for Ukraine with a $2 billion in drones ammunition. With US and its allies continuing to bolster the Ukrainian means no endgame is in sight. No peace initiative from any side. Both sides are strengthening their ground position so that they could bargain from a position of strength in any negotiation in future. There are so many self-proclaimed mediators and yet nothing positive is emerging.

Barring Hungary no European country shows any interest in a negotiated settlement without which peace in the region will remain elusive for years to come. The one-year-old war is now being directly orchestrated from the war room of Washington while sufferings of Ukrainians are multiplying with every passing day. Giving his annual state of the nation address, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban called for peace and said that the conflict could last for years, and everyone in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the European Union (EU) was in favour of escalating war, except for Hungary.

For one thing the EU was already at war with Russia, albeit indirectly, because they were sending weapons and training military personnel. As per Orban’s assessment “Europe is on the verge of drifting into war, they are walking on a very thin platform”. The White House strategists want Europe’s direct participation in war so that they could kill two birds with a single stone–their plan is to weaken Russia and Europe as well. The way they are provoking rebel Moldovan region with the aim of fomenting tensions illustrates among other things that America needs another front to decimate Russian forces. Reacting to American conspiratorial move Russia warned Ukraine and NATO against provocation in Moldovan breakaway province of Transnistria. Moscow saw in it a new threat to Russian peace-keepers stationed there. Not very long ago Moldova raised a hue and cry over destabilisation exercise by Russia. This way or that storm is gathering over Europe substantiating Hungary’s narrative. Allegations and counter-allegations are fuelling war hysteria making a peace process difficult to start.

Meanwhile, China has launched its ‘peace diplomacy’ to assert its position in global power theatre. Whether America likes it or not, a multi-polar world is a reality and the Ukraine war has hastened the new trend of geo-political polarisation. But China’s idea of peace in a 14-point formula is not attracting much attention from the parties concerned. Their position paper on war calls for sovereignty (for Ukraine) and protection of national security interests (for Russia) while opposing the unilateral sanctions imposed by the US. If respecting Ukrainian sovereignty means vacation of Donbas by Russia then China’s peace politics has no taker in Moscow. And if protection of Russian security interests means stoppage of NATO expansion, then the West is unlikely to respond to China’s initiative. After all two parallel lines never meet.

China has been on the sidelines for one year. They are too hesitant to antagonise America despite their unlimited friendship with Russia. What matters in their strategic calculation is business. Unlike North Korea and Iran China has not yet sent a single bullet to Russia. If China was at all serious about peaceful resolution of the conflict, they could have stepped in much earlier without sitting on the fence for a year. They are actually doing a balancing act in which they are masters, to keep both Russia and America in good humour.

Land has historically been the root cause of any conflict, big or small, and will continue to be so. But American and Western weapons alone are not capable of ensuring victory or creating conditions for victory. In truth it is creating conditions for a catastrophe for the people of Ukraine as if their current predicament is not enough.

Back to Home Page

Vol 55, No. 38, Mar 19 - 25, 2023