India now a messiah for world peace

India now a messiah for world peace

India now a messiah for world peace


The US-led West joined the fray in support of Ukraine amid appeals from President Volodymyr Zelensky for grant of NATO membership to Ukraine and the conflict went on to assume the proportions of a 'war' with no end in sight.

One of the great foreign policy feats of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is that he stood upfront on the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine -- sparked by the launch of Russian military operation in February 2022 to support the Russian-speaking eastern provinces of Ukraine against the alleged suppression of their rights by Ukraine -- and took a line that both sides had concerns which should be resolved through peaceful negotiations.

The US-led West joined the fray in support of Ukraine amid appeals from President Volodymyr Zelensky for grant of NATO membership to Ukraine and the conflict went on to assume the proportions of a 'war' with no end in sight.

The US and its allies are merely supplying arms, ammunition and sophisticated war material to Ukraine, creating an impression that they were conducting a 'proxy war' against Russia. It is possible that the US saw in its strategy a parallel with the anti-Soviet armed campaign in Afghanistan that had ultimately led to the withdrawal of the Soviet army and the demise of the USSR. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that Vladimir Putin's Russia is not getting worn down and it is Ukraine that is taking the real hit in terms of loss of life and assets.

However, the total scene around this military confrontation of geopolitical significance suggests that it is still not an irreversible case for return to peace. What is needed is a credible global level mediation acceptable to both sides.

Prime Minister Modi became the first world leader to call for cessation of hostilities and recourse to peaceful negotiation to resolve the Ukraine-Russia conflict. He told the Russian President that 'this is not an era of war,' and subsequently voiced India's firm opposition to use of nuclear weapons when there were speculations about possible induction of tactical nuclear missiles by Putin to achieve his goal in the war with Ukraine. These responses made India the sane voice in the world and established Prime Minister Modi as a global counsel on issues of war and peace.

Modi has spoken to the two Presidents more than once and has kept up hopes in the prospects of return to peace sooner than later.

The success of India's foreign policy in the Modi regime can be measured by the fact that India's friendly bonds with Russia do not come in the way of the deep and natural strategic friendship of India with the US, which was the hallmark of convergence between the two largest democracies of the world and - what is even more significant - by the fact that US President Joe Biden and Putin both understood India's geopolitical position.

An international team of negotiators, including Indian representatives, can start a dialogue with Ukraine and Russia with their consent. As mentioned earlier, mediators have to acknowledge the security concerns of the two warring nations and try to find their redressal in a mutual peace agreement that neighbours with different governance models could adhere to.

The US would do well not to create a geopolitical situation where Russia and China would jointly deal with the West and accelerate the reemergence of Cold War between two matching powers.

The virtual summit between Putin and Xi Jinping on December 30 reaffirmed that Russia-China strategic friendship is deepening further and blamed those who were, according to them, instigating the Cold War mentality.

As far as India is concerned, Indo-Russia friendship is one reason why China at least pretends that it wants to maintain good relations with India. India has to watch out against China continuing to practice its 'two steps forward one step backward' policy in spite of such pretences.

When the Cold War ended consequent on the dismemberment of USSR and the termination of the Warsaw Pact, the emergence of East European states as independent nations, besides the rise of Central Asian Republics (CARs), left the residual Soviet Russia as a much smaller empire. The US-led West might have done well to work for peaceful coexistence between Russia and its neighbours. In fact, in the unipolar world order, the US was expected to work for world peace while militarily safeguarding American interests across the globe. Instead, Biden has declared Russia as the prime adversary for the US and underlined the trans-Atlantic alliance with Europe in a manner that underscored the continued use of NATO as a deterrent against Russia.

In the final analysis, the US and Europe should work to return to democracy in all countries that were once a part of the USSR. This will be a useful long-term strategy for the US to maintain its geopolitical hold and global acceptability.

Enlargement of the democratic order can be an effective counter to Chinese expansionism and Russia's possible strategic aim of bringing back the former USSR territories under its influence. This provides an additional non-military route for the US for maintaining its supremacy as the leader of the democratic world.

Prime Minister Modi's mandate that 'this is not an era of war' in fact strengthens Biden's hands. India must continue to press for a peace negotiation between Russia and Ukraine without any preconditions being set by either side.

(The writer is a former Director of Intelligence Bureau. The views expressed are personal)

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