On 24 February 2022, Russia began a series of strikes on various Ukrainian cities. Russia had gone further than expected. Vladimir Putin addressed the Russian people stating that the invasion of Ukraine, stating that NATO’s expansion motivated the invasion. Putin listed NATO’s aggression in Iraq, Syria, and Yugoslavia as examples of aggression.
The Ukrainian people have fought back against Russia. The Ukraine state has distributed arms to civilians and encouraged them to make petrol bombs to repel the Russian troops. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has refused Russian claims that he had fled Ukraine.
Peace talks between Ukraine and Russia have begun. So far, Western powers have responded with sanctions against Russia and some basic military aid to Ukraine. The Russian economy, which was already suffering in the aftermath of the COVID pandemic, has been badly struggling. Switzerland has frozen the bank accounts of many Russians, including Vladimir Putin.
Russia is important to the rest of Europe economically. Russia supplies nearly a third of the Natural Gas used in Europe. European countries are wary of going further in politically or economically isolating Russia. Russia is an important source of fuel for Europe, in wake of the denuclearization of the European energy sector.
What does NATO stand to gain from the Ukraine- Russian Crisis?
The “open” invitation for Ukraine to join NATO is complicated. Ukraine was originally denied entry into NATO because of opposition from France and Germany. The European powers were hopeful to engage with Russia. An expanding NATO would jeopardize their relationship with Russia.
Media reports have presented the war as a clash of personalities and attitudes. Questions regarding the support of Putin, NATO, Russia, Ukraine or the US reduce the war to a sports match, where spectators watch players and support their favourite.
To join NATO, Ukraine would need to clear any border disputes. The Crimean war already created a situation where Ukraine and Russia had an unresolved border. If the invasion ends without final clarity on the borders, Ukraine’s entry may never happen. The United States might move beyond NATO. The United States could still try to establish a formal alliance with Ukraine. However, this could result in a powder keg situation where American-Russian war looms as an indefinite possibility.
Turkey, a NATO member, has blocked Russian ships from moving through the Turkish Strait, out of the Black Sea. This is important as the Black Sea borders Turkey, Ukraine and Russia. Turkey has deployed submarines to prevent ships from crossing. If fighting occurs on this front, NATO might be brought into the war.
The World Order
The current situation resembles the state before World War I. Before World War I, European powers tried capturing different parts of the world and fought many small wars. Europe formed alliances, which brought all countries and their colonies into a massive war. The UK and France formed alliances around developed countries that controlled most of the world. Germany formed alliances around younger European countries. The world was covered by these two expanding alliances.
In the twenty-first century, American expansion has proceeded but still faces obstacles from some large countries, like Russia. While these large countries might not be militarily as strong as the US, they are influential in certain areas. Russia is very strong in Central Asia. Partly owing to American/NATO military activities in Afghanistan and the Middle East, and partly because of its growing military alliances in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, Russia has not been able to expand in any other direction. Russia has one of the largest militaries in the world, and if it decides to fight, there would be untold damage. From the time of the Syrian Civil War, Russia has been at odds with the Western powers, putting the World’s largest military powers on a collision course.
What does an anti-war movement look like in the 21rst century?
Media reports have presented the war as a clash of personalities and attitudes. Questions regarding the support of Putin, NATO, Russia, Ukraine or the US reduce the war to a sports match, where spectators watch players and support their favourite. Those who do not live in those countries act like innocent bystanders who judge players in a game they do not play.
In the first few decades of India’s independence, the Non-Alignment movement was an important movement across the world. India took a historic place as a world leader, deescalating the Cold War. This was critically important when both the Soviet and American poles scoured for allies among the newly independent states freeing themselves from imperialism.
But in the twenty-first century, all corners of the world are connected. The arms industries of the world are connected too.
Russia accounts for nearly half of India’s arms imports. Russia is the second-largest arms exporter in the world means that the Indian influence in the defence industry in Russia is substantial. Russia’s biggest arms manufacturing, Almaz-Antey, United Aircraft Corporation and others, have had substantial deals with the Indian government.
The American defence industry is another question. America is the world’s largest arms exporter, supplying almost twice the amount that Russia does, however, it is India‘s third-largest Arms trade partner, and India is not a substantial target for the arms trade, however the corporate entities that profit from war have a strong presence in India and have invested heavily in India in various sectors. American arms industries, mostly in the private sector, have been profiting heavily from the war in Ukraine. Many of the large companies, like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, have offices in India. Rather than trade with India, they have worked within the “Make in India” paradigm and set up branches in India. The trade is hidden, but it exists.
An anti-war movement cannot stop at identifying heros and villians but should strike at the root of war itself. Our globalized economy makes us all connected to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and consequently, it makes us all culpable. From India, an anti-war movement would challenge the branches of industry that profit and drive the war efforts. Investments into the war machine must come down, and war should invite some costs.
The international war machine hits not only Ukraine but people all over the world. As we revisit the dangers of World War I in a post-nuclear world now is the time to form a real anti-war movement.