Letter to the Editor: Ukraine Conflict and India.

Dear Editor:

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine is the most significant geo-political event since the end of Second World War with the possibility of even a nuclear exchange threatening the very existence of the world. It has pitted old cold war rivals USA and USSR against each other even though Russia the present avatar of USSR is in a much weaker position.  I am not going to the historic details of the Ukrainian conflict. The attack on a smaller country by its stronger neighbor is definitely inexcusable.

This conflict will affect practically all the countries in the world including India which finds itself in a difficult and delicate situation. Russia has been a strategic ally of India, its main defense partners for many years. India also depends on Russia as a counter weight to China in Central Asia. USA has also become a close ally especially in the Indo-Pacific area. USA is a sister democracy and the Indian public has a lot a sympathy for Ukrainians who are fighting to save their nation from aggression. Thousands of   Indians live in USA and trade with USA is more than ten times that with Russia.

The only benefactor in this conflict is Communist China. If Putin loses Russia will become more dependent on China, becoming its junior partner, unless there is a regime change in Russia. If Russia wins it will further weaken USA the principal rival of China. The more the conflict lasts the better for China as USA will have less time and resources to spend in the Indo-Pacific area opposing China. The worst scenario for India is USA accommodating China’s hegemony in Asia as a reward for China not helping Russia.

India did not create this problem, but cannot isolate it from it. Morality really does not count in International power game. A country has only permanent interests, no permanent enemy or friend. In 1971 Nixon had no problem joining Mao to support Pakistan, a military dictatorship against India a fellow democracy when millions of refugees were coming to India from East Pakistan to escape genocide. So far India has played its card well balancing its national interests without antagonizing either side, but how long can this last?
Jay K Raman MD