The Russian attack on Ukraine has already impacted the rest of the world with oil prices rising to more than $100 per barrel. Non-oil producing countries that have been facing major balance of payment issues owing to the Covid-19 crisis will be immediately and severely affected. In India’s case, it is already being reported that the rise in oil prices will impact the current account deficit by $15 billion. Having already got people used to the ‘real’ price of oil through high taxes, the Indian Government may be able to lessen the impact by lowering these, but it will definitely hit its ability to spend on essential sectors of the economy. The affect on economies that have been under stress for some time now can only be imagined. Coupled with the devastation that Ukraine will suffer, particularly if it puts up a determined fight, what advantage will the Russians get by inflicting this harm on an already Covid affected world? It may be claimed that sanctions imposed by the US led alliance have not deterred any nation in the past and are not likely to do so now, but it is a fact that these do cause serious long term damage. Putin’s bid for glory will affect the lives of Russians for years to come in numerous significant ways. Important buyers of military equipment like India will think twice about future deals as this dependence inhibits their strategic choices. India’s muted response to Russia’s dangerous actions in the current situation is a result of this. Even the present weapons procurement will be under threat, jeopardising India’s security. Putin has not been a friend by not considering India’s sensitivities on this issue.
Will Russia’s security improve with annexation of Ukraine or its being transformed into a permanently neutral nation? Very unlikely! It will unite Europe, which had become somewhat NATO-skeptic. Spending on defence will increase. The focus will be back on Russia, instead of the other more real threat, China. The ‘world order’, what there is of it, will be further challenged. The role of the UN, compromised as it is by many of its agencies, will become weaker. The Ukrainian Foreign Minister has already reminded that the nation gave up its nuclear weapons in 1994, putting its faith in the international community. It is now paying the price for this naiveté. Even more small nations will now look for nuclear umbrellas to defend their sovereignty. It is truly a terrible time for the world and the dreams of ordinary people have been betrayed by their ‘leaders’.