The political economy of one year of war in Ukraine
By Kaushal Kishore*
The prolonged war started in the last week of February 2022 in Ukraine. It has entered its second year now. All the speculations about its short term are nowhere to stand, and the fall of Kyiv is too difficult to achieve. Ukraine is pushing the Russian soldiers back. The number of dead and wounded victims of this violence is more than three hundred thousand from both sides. Here the ratio between Russia and Ukraine is 2:1 and the displacement is yet another problem. The number of its victims reached around 15 million with 94% of them from Ukraine. At least one and a half million people are having a shelter in Poland today.
Fears of Russian expansionism are ailing Western Europe. They have coined it in order to refer to the prevailing crisis. The United States is leading the club of its allies. Moreover, threats of nuclear weapons are being hurled, a few decades after the Cold War. Here, China mentioned chemical and biological weapons as well. Ukraine is fighting the war with the support of NATO. And Ukrainians are ready to sacrifice their lives fighting the long and difficult battle.
The flag of NATO that came into existence after World War II to promote the two per cent of GDP to develop the military-industrial complex has been flying high. A few days before the 1st anniversary, US President Joe Biden reached Kyiv. He has returned to Warsaw and reaffirmed the unity of NATO and invited its members to the United States to celebrate the 75th anniversary next year. He has repeated the promise to supply weapons to Ukraine in order to continue the war.
Expansion of North Atlantic Territory is on the rise since the Cold War. The United States and the West have been imposing sanctions on Russia. China condemned the same before presenting the 12-point peace plan. The impact of this war is devastating on the world economy affecting the supply chain industry badly, however, the banking and arms business is making profits out of the war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin recently delivered a State of Nation address blaming the West for this conflict. He also suspended the New START (Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms) policy with the US to control nuclear weapons with immediate effect. The folly of Vladimir Lenin is the definition of Ukraine, in the lexicon of Putin, who has reaffirmed it to be part of old Russia. Ukraine which came into existence after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 has had tensions on its border with Russia for a long time now. Crimea has been under Russian occupation since 2014. As such this crisis is referred to as an internal issue in Russia due to the tension and violence in Donbass and other Russian-dominated areas of Ukraine. The war has disturbed peace prevailing in Europe since World War II. In fact, there are a number of obstacles in the peace process that can settle the prolonged war.
The Russian position is at stake with the idea of the inclusion of Ukraine in the European Union and NATO. The population of 35 million people in Ukraine are suffering. It has divided the world into three different camps. China stands with Russia. Then there are nations like India and Brazil in the third camp. Ukraine produces grain in abundance to export food to countries like Pakistan. It has created a famine-like situation in such countries. India’s import of oil from Russia has been increasing from one per cent to thirty per cent. A part of it is being exported to other countries. NATO member like Turkey has sent weapons to Ukraine, and also continued their trade with Russia. As such the Russian economy is making a profit out of the crisis. If everyone is committed to their own interests the war is definitely going to continue for a long time.
Hundreds of innocent victims were killed in the Bucha massacre last year in March by Russian troops. The pride of Ukraine appeared thereafter in a new light. Unlike Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, the Ukrainian people came to the battlefield with help from allies. The prisoners are being released from Russian prisons to be deployed on the war fronts. There is no one to take care of the poor victims of this battle. Ukraine rushed to the battlefield, and there are people in Russia to oppose the war. Restoration of the position of 1991 and the reconstruction of Ukraine are in demand. At the same time, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy predicts the assassination of Putin instead of the fall of the Kremlin.
The fear that the Pandemic has created is being nourished by this conflict. It has consolidated the NATO that was fragmented after the United States left Afghanistan. The proponents of non-violence and world peace are keeping silent on the display of the superpowers and increasing the consumption of weapons of mass destruction. Land of Buddha and Gandhi has definitely failed to address this crisis, however, its leader advised the Russian President to implore peaceful solutions. It can be raised again during a series of dialogues concerning the G-20 presidency. In order to establish their supremacy, India’s all-weather friend Russia and India’s not-so-friendly neighbour China are at the centre of this humanitarian crisis. The peace process required mutual consent and cooperation to address the challenges.
The United Nations has proved inefficient at a critical juncture and limited itself to the relief work. It provides a platform for different camps to display their agendas instead of restoring peace. NATO has rejected the Chinese peace plan that denounced the mentality of the Cold War era and promised to ensure the safe return of prisoners of war. It also reminds all how to respect the territorial integrity that the UN charter has promised. Ukrainian President Zelenskyy is trying to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discourage the arms supply from China to Russian troops. It will minimise the destruction of Ukraine. The peace plan seeks the international community to create certain conditions and platforms for the resumption of peace negotiations. Despite all these efforts, to date, no consensus has been reached for peace.
Obviously, China and India have been looking for a way out. Russia also wants to get out of the crisis. China has started to create a respectable condition to address the issues and the Russian side responded to it with a warm welcome. NATO stands against it. The United Nations need to act in order to restore peace. Can a Chinese plan help President Zelenskyy to save the people of Ukraine?
*Author of The Holy Ganga (Rupa 2008) and Honourary Secretary, Srishti Sustainable Development Foundation.