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Future Challenges

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Vladimir Putin’s miscalculation against Ukraine is costing Russia plenty, the impact of which will be felt long after the war gets over. Having failed to make gains against the Ukrainian fighters, the Russian military is blindly committing war crimes against civilians in an increasingly brutal way. The expulsion from the UNHRC is a direct consequence of this. World opinion is shifting strongly against the Russians and those, like India, who remain neutral in the hope that Putin will come to his senses soon, are also having to face flak. Despite the propaganda war, the truth is becoming known as this is the most visually captured conflict ever.

Ukraine is offering fewer concessions in the peace talks as the situation changes on the ground. This will make a face-saving solution for Putin even more difficult. Despite the hold he has over the Russian establishment, it will prove really hard for him to explain away the fiasco. Although he has decimated the opposition at home, he will very likely face tremendous resentment from the ordinary people, many of whom will have lost loved ones in this pointless war.

As seen in many parts of the world, the impact of the war on the national economies is already being felt. The post-pandemic situation has worsened because of the rise in petroleum products and food shortages. A critical consequence of this will be a widening gap between the rich and poor nations. Sri Lanka is not the only country facing a political and economic crisis as a result.

It would have been different if Russia had not been a nuclear power. Putin would never have taken the risk of facing NATO in a direct conflict. It is a mistake for leaders to think that nuclear weapons are leverage in power dynamics instead of just a deterrent. North Korea and Pakistan, for instance, are in the habit of playing this dangerous dice. The international community will need also to deal with this problem in the future.

It is not just Russia and Ukraine that will have to pick themselves up after the conflict. India, too, will face the direct and indirect consequences, economically and politically, for which it must prepare. Having eggs in both baskets, it will require a delicate balancing act. Just more headaches in an already troubled scenario!