The war in Ukraine, which is still limited in many ways, has severely impacted the global trade and financial transactions. If it continues further, the world is likely to witness more suffering and tribulations. In the last few months, the war has disrupted the global supply chain especially of two essential commodities- food and energy. The price of both the products has shot up immensely leading to inflation in most of the countries.
“Some signs of recovery are visible, but if the war continues, it might lead to economic recession in the West and elsewhere. India has somewhat escaped the recession, but its expected growth rate has been revised downwards several times this year. The Indian economy cannot be completely immune to recession in the West and in China. It is bound to have an impact on the Indian economy in multiple ways,” Prof Rajan Kumar, School of International Studies, JNU tells Financial Express Online.
Sharing his views with Financial Express Online, Prof Rajan says, “A protracted war may take two forms: escalation in its intensity or a long-frozen conflict. An escalation of conflict would mean more devastation and disruption. Use of nuclear weapons cannot be completely ruled out. There is a serious concern that if Russia is cornered and finds no other means to defend itself, it might use nuclear weapons too.
President Putin has said clearly that the Russian threat should not be treated as ‘bluff’. Several other Russian leaders have threatened Ukraine with the use of nuclear weapons. Such threats should not be treated as mere rhetoric.The Russian leadership has projected this conflict as an existential and survival issue. Further, the survival of the regime in Russia is linked to a reasonable and acceptable outcome in the conflict. Therefore, the war in Ukraine should be treated with utmost caution by the international community.”
Can Russia use nuclear weapons?
In his view Russia is a responsible nuclear state and has a long history of possessing nuclear weapons. “Chances are slim, but nuclear threats should not be taken lightly. Russia may consider using nuclear weapons only when its own territory and people come under direct attack. Despite several provocations during the Cold War, the USSR avoided using nuclear weapons against any state. Ukraine is a non-nuclear state and therefore it is illegitimate to even threaten such states with nuclear weapons. Russia will face international isolation if it uses such a weapon.”
“Russia may be blamed for several things, but it has not yet used several conventional weapons that could have had a devastating impact on Ukraine. Therefore, the chances of using nuclear weapons are very low,” he opines.
Why does India stand with Russia?
According to Prof Rajan, “It would be wrong to say that India supports Russia on Ukraine. Its support is much more subtle and nuanced. Bluntly put, most of the experts in India believe that the West, especially NATO, is responsible for provocation and Russia overreacted to that threat. New Delhi therefore finds fault with both the sides. It may not say so openly in its official statements but the fact remains that none of the three parties are innocent.”
“Ukraine passed a language law in 2019 which granted special status to the Ukrainian language and made it mandatory for any public sector worker. Which state in the world can claim to be a democracy and yet pass such a law against its own significant minority.
Second, the West was not going to disappear if Ukraine was not included in NATO. Granted that every state is sovereign in its decision making, but was Ukraine really sovereign when it forced Victor Yanukovich to exit in 2014. Ukraine had become a battleground for proxy-war between Russia and the West long before 2014. Therefore, the argument of sovereignty does not hold much water. Finally, Russia overreacted to the threats from NATO. It is unlikely that Ukraine will become part of NATO soon,” he observes.
From New Delhi’s perspective, what matters now is how to de-escalate the conflict. It does not have a history of mediating between the conflicts. It also avoids mediations due to its own territorial conflicts and fears of interventions from other powers.
“But as an aspiring global power, it must shed its provincial inhibitions and be ready to take some bold steps. Prime Minister Modi’s phone call to Volodymyr Zelensky should be viewed in that light,” Prof Rajan states.