Dr Siddhartha Sahu

Thursday morning (Feb 24), Indians awoke to the news of Russian President declaring war against Ukraine. Ukraine has traditionally been a conflict zone among western powers. Oil rich Ukraine with resources in the Black Sea has been prized by many. To complicate matters further, Ukraine has a significant Russian population which has felt discriminated. To protect Russian interests, Russia aims to demilitarize Ukraine by military action.

Once a part of the Soviet Union, Ukraine started asserting an independent foreign policy after the collapse of USSR. Ukraine allied with NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), the erstwhile cold war opponent of the USSR. Something that Russia has never taken well. Putin with his Soviet era intelligence training has always been uncomfortable with Ukraine aligning with NATO.

With Russia and Ukraine accounting for a major source of world petroleum supplies, crude oil rates have soared sky high. This places all major economies of the world at risk of financial stress. This would be an additional blow to the Indian economy badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Ukraine hosts many Indian students pursuing higher studies in medicine and science. Some of these students including Odias continue to be stranded in Ukraine, giving anxious moments to their parents back home.

International response to the war on Ukraine has been mixed so far. China has been cautious, shying away from calling it war. The US president has given stern warnings. However the warnings have been threats of economic sanctions. UK too has warned of economic sanctions. Senior opposition leaders in UK warn of the impending defeat of Ukraine in a few days unless the west intervenes militarily. Ukraine has been appealing to world leaders to defuse the current war.

While economic sanctions work well in prolonged conflict, they don't make the same impact in all out war. Defeat and possible annexation of Ukraine has created a scenario, unprecedented since World War 2. The policy of appeasement by England in handing over Poland on a platter to Germany did not stop World War 2. USA with its hasty exit from Afghanistan has taken a beating in its invincible Superpower image. China which claims sovereignty over Taiwan would keenly watch how USA reacts to this crisis. For, it is only a possible US retaliation that is keeping China from taking over Taiwan. If USA is ineffective in defusing the present crisis, many countries may be tempted to challenge the present World order.

The Ukrainian ambassador to India underlined the importance Putin gives to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while appealing for Indian help in defusing the war. Modi responded quickly by calling President Putin and appealing for peace and immediate cessation of violence. India has a tough balancing act between a friendly Russia and a friendly Ukraine. India has a tough choice between might and right. Time will tell if India can relive its glory days of the non-aligned movement as the conscience keeper of the world.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author's own and have nothing to do with OTV's charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same. The author is an Orthopedic Surgeon and can be reached at sidusahu@gmail.com)

More From The Author: 19 Lakh Cases Pending In Odisha Courts: Reasons Galore But Govt's Role Can Alter Pendency