Russia-Ukraine War : Causes & Effects (India & World)

the West-led global order

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This topic of “Russia-Ukraine War : Causes & Effects (India & World)” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.


Russia declared war on Ukraine.

Russia-Ukraine War - Causes & Effects (India & World)

The reasons behind the conflict between Russia and Ukraine

  • Russia has long resisted Ukraine’s move towards European institutions and it is now demanding it never joins NATO, a demand rejected by the Western alliance.
  • Russia seized part of southern Ukraine in 2014 and backed separatists who started a conflict in large areas of the east.
  • Russia was warning of military measures for long if the West does not meet its demands.
  • The non-acceptance of Russia’s demand by the west has now created a pretext to invade Ukraine.

Why did Russia does not want Ukraine to join NATO?

  • NATO is a group that consists of world countries that share a part of its army with all others.
  • NATO is a military alliance made up of 30 countries including the UK and the US.
  • It acts as a defence mechanism for all the member countries and the pact to support each other.
  • Former Soviet states Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have already joined NATO, meaning that of the 30 member countries five border Russia.
  • Ukraine lies in the southern part of Russia and the sea route towards Russia starts from Ukraine.
  • If Ukraine joins hands with USA and Allies, it’s a threat to Russia obviously.

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Why was the Crimean Peninsula annexed?

  • It was when Ukrainians deposed their pro-Russian president in early 2014 that Russia moved in, seizing and annexing Ukraine’s southern Crimean Peninsula.
  • Russian-backed separatists then captured large swathes of Ukraine’s two eastern regions collectively known as the Donbas.


What does Russia really want?

  • Russia is demanding a swift, point-by-point response to its demands.
  • Its main demand is to stop NATO’s expansion any further to the east.
  • For Russia, it’s absolutely mandatory to ensure Ukraine never, ever becomes a member of NATO.
  • Moscow accuses NATO countries of “pumping” Ukraine with weapons and the US of stoking tensions.
  • Russia also wants NATO to abandon military activity in Eastern Europe, which would mean pulling out its combat units from Poland and the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and not deploying missiles in countries such as Poland and Romania.
  • In short, it wants NATO to return to its pre-1997 borders.
  • Russia has also proposed a treaty with the US barring nuclear weapons from being deployed beyond their national territories.
  • Also, these moves can be seen indirectly as a move of Russia to revive the erstwhile USSR.
  • After the Second World War, Russia re-established its control over the rimland in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, which it hoped would protect its heartland.
  • But the disintegration of the Soviet Union threw its security calculations into disarray, deepening its historical insecurity.
  • This insecurity is the source of what historian Stephen Kotkin calls the “defensive aggressiveness” of Russian President Putin.
  • Russia is also frustrated that the 2015 Minsk peace deal for eastern Ukraine is far from being fulfilled.
  • There are still no arrangements for independently monitored elections in the separatist regions.
  • Russia denies accusations that it is part of the lingering conflict.


Ukraine’s stand

  • Ukraine is very strong in its stand to join NATO which it feels a safer side for its people from foreign invasion.
  • The USA being a strong enemy for Russia, Russia fears the consequence of being attacked by the USA at any time.
  • Ukraine had banned its people in the age group of 18 to 60 from cross-border travel and had supplied 10000 guns to the public to defend themselves.
  • Ukraine’s president had made an open call to the public inviting everyone to join the war and pledge to their country’s win.
  • NATO was watching the affairs closely and had agreed to supply weapons and ammo to the war site for Ukraine and it will not join the attack directly as Ukraine is not a member of NATO.

Where is India in the Russia-Ukraine dispute?

  • India has till now maintained a neutral stand on Russia Ukraine war and has also appealed to both countries to exercise resistance.
  • However, PM Modi in a telephonic conversation with Putin appealed to stop violence in Ukraine and also asked to identify a diplomatic and peaceful path to find the solution to Russia’s conflict with NATO.

Response of the West

  • The western countries had imposed a new round of sanctions against Moscow hours before the invasion.
  • German Chancellor suspended certification of Nord Stream 2, a major gas pipeline between Russia and his nation.
  • The European Union has announced a “massive” package of sanctions.
  • But clearly, it had no real impact on Moscow’s calculus.

Why Ukraine is left to stand alone?

Not a NATO member

  • This is because Ukraine is not a member of the NATO alliance, meaning it is not obligated to launch an armed attack against Russia to protect Ukraine.
  • NATO is a military alliance made up of 30 countries including the UK and the US.
  • Allies have increased the number of troops in NATO countries surrounding Ukraine in recent weeks.
  • Some members have also been providing indirect support, including arms, ammunition and other equipment as well as providing the country with intelligence.

Incoherence in response

  • The West has been incoherent in its response — not being able to present a united front, and worse, not even speaking the same language at times.
  • For the West, this has been a moment when it has been found wanting — a lack of imagination, lack of will and lack of leadership, all rolled into producing a lackadaisical response to one of most serious security crises in decades.
  • France has used this moment of crisis in trying to showcase its own leadership credentials.

Energy dependence

  • With the EU importing 39% of its total gas imports and 30% of oil from Russia, and with the Central and Eastern European countries being almost 100% dependent on Russian gas, the reasons for internal EU dissonance are not that difficult to fathom.

Lack of trans-Atlantic engagement

  • It turns out that even the US has not been able to build the trans-Atlantic engagement around common objectives to be pursued collectively.

The Russia-China ‘axis’

  • As the two nations seem ready to take on the West that seems willing to concede without even putting up a fight, The Russia-China ‘axis’ is only getting stronger.
  • Any interference by NATO may lead to a third world war.

Already shattered economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic

  • The significant economic impact has already been caused across the globe due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Russia-Ukraine war: What it means for Russia?

  • Along with sanctions from a list of countries, Russia’s access to the SWIFT system of payments could also be blocked.
  • One of the harshest options US and its allies have reserved is to cut Russia off from SWIFT.
  • Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications or SWIFT, is a Belgian financial service that connects more than 11,000 financial institutions across the globe.
  • It allows banks and financial institutions to alert one another of transactions about to take place.
  • But whether cutting off Russia from the SWIFT system would mean the same as in the past remains to be seen as many countries, including Russia have developed their own financial messaging systems.
  • The EU has put Russian politicians and officials on blacklists, banning trade, import and export with separatist entities.
  • The US rolled out the first set of sanctions targeting members of Putin’s inner circle and two banks it considers significant for the functioning of the Kremlin and the Russian military.
  • The US has prohibited any new American investments in the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, forbidding importation, exportation, sale or supply of goods, services and technology.
  • The UK has issued sanctions on five Russian Banks and three high net-worth individuals and allies of Putin, while Germany suspended the certification process for the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline that directly links Russian gas to Europe.
  • However, Russia’s largest trade partner is China. These sanctions could push Russia into closer economic ties with the Asian economic giant.
  • The two countries had recently signed a 30-year contract for gas supply to China.
  • Experts believe that Russia is likely to pivot all its energy and commodity exports to China.

Russia-Ukraine war: What it means globally?

  • While Russia is an enormous country with a population of 146 million, its economy has limited importance in the global economy. It is, however, a key supplier of oil, gas and raw materials.
  • Russia’s impact on the European economy is likely to be far more significant than, say, the US. Forty per cent of Europe’s natural gas and 25 per cent of its oil comes from Russia.
  • European leaders have already accused Putin of reducing supplies.
  • Food prices, that inflated to their highest in more than a decade due to the pandemic supply constraints, are likely to be further impacted.
  • Russia is the world’s largest wheat supplier with Ukraine accounting for nearly a quarter of total global exports.
  • Some countries like Egypt and Turkey are likely to be severely impacted as 70 per cent of their grain imports come from that flow.
  • Turkey will be under immense pressure as it is already amid an economic crisis.
  • Ukraine the ‘breadbasket of Europe’ sends more than 40 per cent of its wheat and corn to the Middle East or Africa.
  • Meanwhile, oil prices already surged on the first day of the war, with Brent breaching $100 a barrel for the first time since 2014.
  • Gold prices that were expected to see an increase already saw a jump.
  • Prices of palladium, a metal used in automotive exhaust systems and mobile phones, could also see an increase following sanctions on Russia, which is the largest exporter of the metal.

How Russia-Ukraine war will Impact India?

  • India imports more than 80% of its oil requirement, however, the share of oil imports in its total imports is around 25 per cent.
  • This is worrisome, as the Russia Ukraine war can lead to rising in oil prices which will further pose risk to India’s rising inflation.
  • The rise in oil prices will also have an impact on the current account deficit. It is a difference between the values of goods and the services imported and exported.

Rise in Inflation

  • The increase in the oil prices resulting from the Russia Ukraine war will have a direct impact on the freight movement because of which food items such as fruits, vegetables, oil, and pulses, among others are likely to be expensive.
  • If inflation rises in India, it will increase beyond the projected figures and India’s central bank will then be forced to increase the rates.

Increase in Crude oil prices

  • If the experts are to be believed, the prices of Brent Crude Oil are likely to increase to $105 a barrel.
  • As India imports Crude Oil, it will become at expensive prices, the effect of which will be seen in the form of a price rise.
  • The impact is also likely to be on the metal sector of India which is exported in a good amount to Russia.
  • However, if the sanctions against Russia continued and metal imports are banned, it will result in a major economic problem for India.

India’s gas imports from Russia

  • As per the data, India imports 0.20% of gas imports from Russia.
  • Recently, the Gas Authority of India Limited (GAIL) has also signed an agreement with Gazprom for LNG.
  • Under this, an agreement has been signed between the two countries to import 25 lakh tonnes annually for the period of 20 years.
  • However, in what provides some relief, the sanctions on Russia imposed by the United States do not include a ban on the oil and gas exports.

Emboldening China

  • This ineffectual western response has emboldened not only Russia but also China as the focus of the West is in danger of moving away from the Indo-Pacific.

Way Forward

  • By ordering a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia might be planning a unilateral restructuring of Russia’s external environment, focused squarely on Ukraine.
  • If Russia can succeed in dismembering and destabilizing Ukraine, it might emerge from this war satisfied that Russia has been made somewhat more secure, powerful, and feared across Europe.
  • Russia may still be determined to impose a wide-ranging settlement on the West that includes its maximalist goals of limiting NATO deployments and barring future expansion.
  • Today, the balance of power is once again in flux, and as China develops a strategic partnership with Russia, the future of the West-led global order will be defined by how effectively it responds to the crisis in Ukraine.


  • The future of the West-led global order will be defined by how it responds to the crisis in Ukraine, and in the shadow of growing Russia-China ties.

Practice Question

  1. The tragedy of great power politics is unfolding in Europe but its embers will scorch the world far and wide, much beyond Europe. Discuss. (15 Marks, 250 Words)

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