THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE CONFLICT: EXPLAINED
The entire world is dealing with the gloomy news of the Russia-Ukraine war. The Russia-Ukraine hostility, which had been ongoing for a long time, turned into a full-fledged war in the early hours of 24th February local time when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced to his nation to conduct a "special military operation" in Ukraine. A war of such a scale is of concern to the entire world because of its various repercussions, including the horrifying event of it blowing up into a much larger war involving many countries.
Russia and Ukraine claim their heritage from the Rus (also known as Kyivan Rus or Ancient Rus), a polity that in the 10th century united several tribes and clans of different ethnicities under the Byzantine church.
After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, the successor states' bilateral relations have undergone periods of ties, tensions, and outright hostility. Relations between the two countries have been hostile since the early 1990s when the Ukrainian government wished to commit the country to a future within the EU and NATO, rather than continue to play the delicate diplomatic game of balancing its own economic and security interests with those of Russia, the EU, and NATO members. In 2004 the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia had joined the EU, followed by Bulgaria and Romania in 2007 (see the Member State of EU). The Russian government feared that Ukraine’s membership of the EU and NATO would complete a western wall of allied countries by restricting Russia’s access to the Black Sea. Eventually, Russia would be ring-fenced by potentially hostile powers.
In the wake of this political concern, Russia backed separatist militias in the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic in a war in Ukraine’s economically important Donbas region, on its eastern border with Russia. This region has a Russian ethnic majority. By early 2022 the Russo -Ukrainian war had killed more than 13,000 people and brought some Western sanctions on Russia.
The build-up to the present situation began after the people of Ukraine elected its current President Volodymyr Zelensky to power in April 2019. In January 2021, he urged US President Joe Biden to let Ukraine join NATO. This did not sit well with Russia, who saw this as a provocative move. Putin had earlier demanded that NATO stop its eastward expansion and deny membership to Ukraine. In retaliation to the Ukrainian President’s comments, Russia started sending troops near its Ukraine border for what they called "training exercises" in the spring of 2021 and increased it during autumn.
By December of 2021, the troop build-up was steadily increasing, and the USA began exciting the deployment of the Russian troops. President Biden warned of severe sanctions if Russia invaded Ukraine. This followed a back and forth between Russia and the USA. The USA repeatedly warned of an invasion, and Russia repeatedly denied the allegations.
After months of building up troops on Ukraine’s borders and failed diplomatic talks, Russia finally invaded Ukraine on the 24th. On the day of the invasion, Putin claimed that the Russian military seeks "demilitarization and denazification" but not occupation. He demanded Ukraine lay down its weapons or be "responsible for the bloodshed." Since then, Russians have targeted critical infrastructure, like airports, with airstrikes, and have launched ground operations from different directions, including from Belarus, from the north, from the east of Ukraine, and the south. Russia seized the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant 80 miles north of the Ukrainian capital, the site of the 1986 nuclear disaster. The International Atomic Energy Agency is monitoring developments there "with grave concern."
Fighting continued into the morning of 26th with reports that the Russians were closing into the capital city of Kyiv. There are also reports of the Russians facing stiff resistance from Ukrainian forces near the capital city. As the situation continues to develop, the world watches on, hoping an end will soon be realized and the unnecessary bloodshed comes to a halt.
Reactions of Global Institutions:
UN-Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Russia’s actions, telling Putin to "bring your troops back to Russia." At the UN Security Council, Guterres implored Putin to "give peace a chance."
EU- The bloc will hold Moscow accountable for the "unjustified" attack on Ukraine, the chief of the EU’s Executive Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said.
NATO- The Atlantic alliance’s secretary-general said Russia had "chosen the path of aggression against a sovereign and independent country."
G7- The Group of Seven industrialized nations strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and said they would bring forward severe and coordinated economic and financial sanctions against Moscow.
IOC- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Russia had breached the Olympic Truce that is currently in effect, which aims to harness the power of sport to promote peace and dialogue.
Impact of the war on India:
A draft resolution sponsored by the U.S. and Albania, condemning Russian aggression and calling for the country’s withdrawal from Ukraine, was put forward in the UNSC. India abstained from voting due to its complex diplomatic, military, and trade relations with Russia and the USA.
Impact on trade: India’s trade with Russia has not yet been severely impacted by the rising tensions in the border region of Russia and Ukraine, but there is the looming prospect that it could be affected if broader sanctions on Russia are announced.
Impact of fuel prices: As the world’s third-largest oil importer, India relies on other countries for more than 80% of its crude oil requirements. The global price benchmark for crude oil, Brent, hit $105 a barrel after the events on the 24th. This could push India’s oil import bill, worsening its external position. Higher oil prices aggravate India’s inflation, widening the current account deficit and pressuring the rupee.
Impact on the markets: The Indian stock market took a heavy beating on the day of the invasion due to panic selling, with the Sensex crashing 2,800 points, or 4.72%, to end the day at 54,529.91, while Nifty fell 815.30 points to 16,247.95. Although the markets showed slight signs of a recovery on subsequent days, the situation is still volatile. It is a cause of concern for Indian investors.
Impact on Indians in Ukraine: There are approximately 18,000 Indians present in Ukraine, including a large number of medical students, and many have sought shelter in the underground bunkers to stay safe as Russia is carrying out bombing raids across the country. The Embassy of India in Kyiv announced that an evacuation was being organized with the joint effort of the Indian embassies in Romania, Hungary, and Poland.
Possible Future Outcomes:
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine carries enormous risks for a world economy that’s yet to recover from the pandemic shock fully.
Several experts already call this war the most significant war in Europe after WW2. Its impact has started to reflect on depleting markets worldwide and rising fuel prices. Not only in Ukraine, but this invasion might lead to an economic crisis in Russia too. Several sanctions have already been imposed on Russia by several world powers like the USA, the UK, and the EU. While the threat of being banned from SWIFT looms over Russia, its currency is already at a record low.
Various possible economic scenarios of this war are :–