Students worry about their education in Canada

Universities are worried as due to diplomatic...

Canada must give proof, stop sheltering terrorists: Diplomats

‘Canada is actually providing safe haven by...

Allahabad HC grants bail to women accused in conversion case

NEW DELHI The Allahabad High Court has recently...

No one is the winner in a Russia-Ukraine conflict

NewsNo one is the winner in a Russia-Ukraine conflict

Three fundamental or structural factors that have been driving the present tension between Russia and Ukraine are: a) cultural rift in the Slavic world represented by both Russia and Ukraine; b) Ukraine’s growing western engagement in the Russo-Ukrainian conflict which reminisces the Cold War geopolitics; c) the spillover effect of Russia vs Ukraine to other parts of post-Soviet Eurasia. This is creating a new uncertainty in both global and regional geopolitics. For instance, the European Union, though considered to be a part of the Western alliance, is deeply apprehensive about whom it will support. They depend on Russia for securing energy considerably but at the same time are part of the NATO.
The present strategic impasse between Moscow and Kiev is generating many hypothetical questions regarding what kind of future regional order will emerge in this part of Eurasia if the conflict persists. Three moot questions can be raised here. These are:
A) Will the present conflict make Russia victorious over Ukraine which will give it an upper hand in the geopolitics of the Slavic part of Eurasia?
B) To what extent will Ukraine be able to manage support from its Western allies in its war against Russia?
C) How far will other external powers like China and Turkey make this conflict murkier?
These questions will provide a broader understanding to the Russia-Ukraine conflict which is lingering since 2004 when the first Colour Revolution, or Orange Revolution, took place in Ukraine. This revolution provided an opportunity to the Western countries, particularly the United States to poke its nose into the geopolitics of post-Soviet Eurasia. This also was a strong setback to Russia which under President Vladimir Putin was reviving as a “great power” at that point of time.
The present rift between Russia and Ukraine cannot be looked at merely from a strategic perspective. The historical elements in their own way are shaping the present dynamics between these two countries as they share a common historical past, an umbilical cultural connectedness rooted in a common cultural identity of “Kievan-Rus”. As scholars on Slavic cultural traditions argue there are two major geopolitical traditions which emerged from the concept of Kievan Rus. These are “Vladimir-Suzdalian Rus” and the “Galician-Volhynian Rus”. While the former geopolitical traditions gave birth to the modern Russian state, the second one paved the way for the emergence of the Ukrainian identity and expanded its sphere of influence up to the present-day Central-Western Ukraine. The “Vladimir-Suzdalian Rus” identity was more confined to present day Russia and its identity subsequently underwent a change following the Mongol annexation which continued till the 13th century. The present-day cultural conflict between these two countries is woven around the concept of Kievan Rus. As scholarly studies suggest, the name Russia may have been derived from a river name Rus, which flows in Ukraine. In the modern geopolitical sense, Russian historians like V.O. Kliuchevski, George Vernadskii gave a new terminology to the term Russia rooted in its expansion in the Orient. Here one can notice some sort of cultural fusion in Russia’s expansionism. Some of these issues are aptly captured by Kliuchevski in his five volumes on history of Russia.
The reason to dwell on the historical aspect of Russia-Ukraine relations is to highlight the fact that there is an inherent historical contradiction which is shaping the dynamics of the present relations between the two countries. The conflict between these two civilizational partners got murkier after the Crimea crisis, as well as because of the Russian majority Donetsk region which declared its independence from Ukraine. Thus to insulate itself from Russia, especially after the Crimea crisis, Ukraine is seeking a closer partnership with the West. The West, more particularly the US, and its European NATO allies perceive Ukraine as a base for encirclement of Russia. As in the past, the West is rushing weapons and soldiers to increase Ukraine’s strategic leverage vis-à-vis Russia. The Black Sea region too is becoming a major hub where a military contest between Russia and the West is going on. The US under the Joe Biden administration has also despatched its troops for deployment in Eastern Europe as a measure of reinforcement in case of a war between Ukraine and Russia. At the same time, Russia is also increasing its presence on its border to thwart any possible military adventurism by the West and Ukraine. General Stanislav Zas, the head of Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a Russian led body is reported to have said, “Military activity is increasing [by the West] and militarization of the whole region is actually underway. This creates threats not only to Belarus and Russia but adversely affects the provision of security of our entire organization, the CSTO.” The joint military exercises by Russia and Belarus (another country of Slavic fraternity) show that Russia is preparing itself to face a joint Nato-West onslaught. However, the moot question is: Is the West supporting Ukraine or is it settling scores with Russia? The US under Biden may not involve itself in a war against Russia, understanding the consequences. If there is a direct military conflict between Russia and the US over Ukraine then it will lead to World War III, hence, one can rule out a direct confrontation in the near future. But Ukraine has managed to obtain West’s support in its war against Russia and has received massive financial assistance to the tune of $3 billion, as reported by the US State Department. But there is a need to avoid military confrontation. In simpler terms, a direct war between Russia and Ukraine will put both Slavic countries in an adversarial situation. Maintaining status-quo by both Moscow and Kiev is the best desirable option. At the same time, though Biden ordered American troops deployment in Eastern Europe as a standby to meet the challenge posed by Russia, but there is a growing resentment among the general public in the US over Biden’s policy.
What will be the consequences of the present stalemate between Russia and Ukraine? No doubt the West is rallying around in support of Ukraine, but Russia’s closest strategic partner China too has thrown in its weight behind it. Turkey, which nowadays is the main patron of radical Islam, is poking its nose into the crisis, taking advantage of its strategic location. Historically, there has been a conflict between the Ottoman empire and the Slavic world. Though China is taking the side of Russia, but Russian policymakers should be cautious. China is aiming to aggravate the Russia-US confrontation so that it diverts the latter’s attention from Beijing. Both China and the US are at loggerhead with each other, and this confrontation is going to get more murkier in the near future. China’s basic objective is to keep Russia under its fold, rather than as an equal partner. Russian policymakers are apprehensive about China’s intentions in Russia’s Siberia and Far East. Hence, Russia should cautiously pursue its policy of engagement with China. China is fostering radicalism at the global level by supporting Islamist religious groups and their patrons, Pakistan, Turkey and the Taliban in Afghanistan. As analysts argue there is a “Sino-Wahhabi alliance”. It is in this context that Russian policymakers should understand China’s real motive.
Russia needs to understand the consequences of starting a war against Ukraine. It will put Russia under further sanctions from the West which will affect its domestic economy quite severely. At the same time, the Ukrainian leadership should try to resolve the dispute with Russia through a civilisational bonhomie. India should engage itself to resolve the dispute between Russia and Ukraine in a proactive manner, as New Delhi shares a strong friendship with both Moscow and Kiev.
No one will be a winner in case of a conflict. Thus, resorting to a peaceful resolution of the dispute is key to peace.

The author teaches at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He can be reached at

Check out our other content

Check out other tags:

Most Popular Articles