Winter stands at the door of Europe as the Russia-Ukraine War completed 250 days since its commencement in February this year. The war in Kyiv seems far from over, as both countries show no signs of raising white flags.
The Russia-Ukraine War has — in an unprecedented way — impacted globally with political and economic ramifications.
Russia-Ukraine War: The Beginning
On 24 February 2022, at around 5 AM, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation against Ukraine.
The Russian President, in his speech, stated: “he had no plans to occupy Ukrainian territory”. He said that the operation’s objective was to protect the Russian-speaking area of Donbas and free Ukraine of demilitarisation and denazification.
Within minutes of the televised announcement of the Russian leader, loud explosions were heard in several Ukrainian cities. Martial law was declared in Ukraine by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and a general mobilisation of all males between 18 to 60 years of age was ordered.
Since then, the war has remained an eye-catching topic in mainstream media — with news channels reporting every hour on ground zero. Despite the wide media coverage, several are still under-informed about the history of the rival nations.
Formerly, Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union as both of them claim their heritage from the Kievan Rus’.
The Kievan Rus’ was a polity spread across eastern to northern Europe from the 9th to 13th century. According to old Rus texts, Kyiv was considered the mother of all Rus. Thus, Kyiv has a special significance for Vladimir Putin. From the Russian Empire to the Soviet Union, Ukrainians were generally accepted as Ethnic Russians.
Ukraine became an independent state after the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991. The new state, since its creation, was tilted more towards NATO and the European Union, a policy generally disliked by the Russian state.
After his ascension to power, Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to reverse Ukraine’s favouring of NATO. He has constantly claimed Ukrainians and Russians as one people while denying the statehood of Ukraine.
Annexation of Crimea
A major turn arrived after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 following the ousting of pro-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. This led to a war in Donbas, and Russian troops captured one/third of the region.
Russia was highly criticised in the International forum for its annexation of Crimea. Western nations responded with severe sanctions on Russia which crippled its economy and currency. However, the annexation of Crimea led to a new wave of nationalism in Russia.
As per the 2015 Pew survey, the general public in Russia wanted more Ukrainian land to be annexed, a demand which was to be fulfilled seven years later. However, neither the Russians nor Vladimir Putin would have expected the nationalistic passion of Ukraine to save their state.
Resistance By Ukraine
The indomitable spirit shown by the Ukrainian army, citizens and government earned praise globally.
Liam Collins, the founder of Modern War Institute, wrote, “Russia’s initial strategy that projected a rapid advance into Kyiv – and a quick capitulation of Ukrainian forces – has not happened because of poor planning, even worse execution and stiff Ukrainian resistance”.
Even after ardent effort, Ukraine lost enormous parts of its territories to Russia, though it also was able to reclaim parts around the Eastern and Southern fronts.
As much as the fierce resistance by Ukraine has been effective in stopping Russian forces, the arms and ammunition of the West played a significant part.
NATO-member states have coordinated and assisted Ukraine by providing billions of dollars in financial aid or military equipment.
As per Statista, the United States has aided Ukraine with most military assistance, amounting to $25 billion since February. Many NATO allies, such as Germany and Sweden, have reversed past policies against providing offensive military aid to support Ukraine.
The United Kingdom has committed a total of $1.7 billion in humanitarian and financial support for Ukraine. It has sent another £2.3 billion of military aid.
Sanctions on Russia
As Western nations have supported Ukraine with aid, they have also countered Russia with strict sanctions, on the other hand.
The western sanctions targeted individuals, banks, businesses, monetary exchanges, bank transfers, exports and imports. The sanctions also cut Russian banks from SWIFT, the global payment network.
The EU member-states decided to cut off their energy imports from Russia, although they did not know it was going to bite them back.
The European Energy Crisis
The European Energy Crisis was an unprecedented event — which is still ongoing — affecting every European nation.
The world was already facing an energy crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it was aggravated by the Ukraine-Russia war — Europe facing the maximum brunt of it. The pre-war figure of the EU’s 27 member-states reveals how they relied on “Russia for 40% of their natural gas and 30% of their crude oil.
As a result of reduced energy supplies from Russia, electricity bills increased several folds in several European countries. Standard of living increased in countries like the UK, Italy and Germany, where people had to cut their daily budget.
High energy bills triggered protests in several countries — bolstering Euroscepticism and right-wing parties.
The protests forced many countries to restart their nuclear energy programmes or backtrack to coal, angering climate activists. It also presented new opportunities for developing countries such as India and China.
India and China Buy Cheap Russian Oil
Amid high global energy prices, Asian nations such as China and India opted to buy Russian oil — at a heavy discount.
As per the latest reports, Russia became India’s top oil supplier, toppling Iraq and Saudi Arabia in October. This has led to several debates in the West over India’s moral obligations on Ukraine.
The arising questions in the West have been sternly opposed by Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and, recently, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
Impact on India
The conflict in Ukraine has affected every nation in the globe and naturally, India too has borne its brunt.
Thousands of Indian nationals — mostly students were left stranded in Ukraine after the commencement of war. Indian government through its ‘Operation Ganga’ rescued its citizens along with foreigners too.
The Indian currency Rupee and the economy have been affected by the ongoing Ukraine war. The annual inflation rate had gone up to 7.8% in April this year, the highest since May 2014. However, it has maintained the tag of fastest growing GDP, and Rupee has not depreciated to US dollar, as bad as when you compare it to other Asian currencies.
One of the biggest challenges for India has been to balance its national interests between the West and Russia. Recently during the SCO summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his military action in Ukraine.
India can not abandon Russia — an evergreen and historically tested ally but at the same time, isolating itself from the West will not be a sensible diplomatic move.
The Current Scenario
The unending war in Ukraine has edged past 250 days since it began, and no one can predict the future of war.
Instead of de-escalation, the war has worsened, particularly after the Crimean Bridge Explosion last month. In the aftermath of the Bridge explosion, Russia responded with Brutal air-strikes and missile attacks on Ukrainian cities.
Currently, Russia has backed out from a UN-mediated Grain export deal. It accused Ukraine of using a safety corridor to attack its fleet as it suspended the food deal. Several nations and the UN have urged Russia to reconsider its decision.
The Way Ahead
As rightly said by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a military conflict or war in this modern age can never be considered a viable way to resolve conflict.
Now it would be wrong to attribute all blame on Russia as the US and NATO have been trying to surround it — often alleged by Vladimir Putin. The United States has to get out of the traditional rivalism mindset against Russia and pay more heed to emerging Asian economies, ready to challenge its global hegemony.