With the world becoming more and more fragmented along different lines, nation-states adopting more isolationist policies combined with weaponization of international economic system, the existing global security order is bound to deteriorate in the coming years if such situation prevails for long, write Nivedita Das Kundu and Taimur Khan.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict has acquired its own momentum over the past year. It is a year now that this conflict is continuing and entered into the risky zone. There have been occasional moments of peace but mostly it has been violence and destruction that has dominated the discourse. Ripples of the Russia-Ukraine conflict are felt all across the world, especially with the disruption of global supply chains, commodity price hikes, massive inflation along with creation of acute food and energy insecurity.
Since the beginning of this conflict, the world has witnessed the ushering of bloc politics once again with the great power competition manifesting itself in different parts of the globe and countries being forced to pick one side or another. Having said that, the most concerning impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict is the reorientation of the global security order back to its traditional concept, that was established post-World War II, dominated by military action, alliances, agreements, arms races, massive military industrial production and soaring defence budgets.
Besides the world wars, there have been several conflicts throughout the world that have had an impact on a global scale such as the Mongol conquest, (the Thirty Years’ War), the Russian Revolution, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf War to name a few. However, in the contemporary era, the Russia-Ukraine conflict definitely ranks among one of the major conflicts of the 21st century. It undoubtedly has and will continue to have an over-arching and long-lasting impact on global affairs and has profoundly remained the centre stage for global politics and power competition.
Countries that had adopted a somewhat “Pacifist” foreign policy orientation and enjoyed remarkable economic prosperity after World War II such as Germany and Japan have effectively abandoned their old positions and have embraced Realpolitik. Germany allocaed approximately $109 billion for military modernization after amending its constitution for establishing this fund with an overwhelming majority in Bundestag along with plans to spend more than 2 per cent of the GDP on military, as per a NATO goal agreed to in 2014.
Japan, in an act of going against the Article 9 (i.e. no war clause) of its constitution has decided to spend $320 billion on its military build-up in the next 5 years starting from 2023. It has also signed multiple defence agreements with countries like Australia, Britain, Italy and USA such as the Reciprocal Access Defence Agreements (RADA). The trend of increased military spending and build-up have also been followed by other nations around the world.
Moreover, neutral countries like Sweden and Finland have also abandoned their stances and applied for NATO membership. A thorough examination of the newly published policy documents of several states and unions such as NATO’s 2022 Strategic Concept, United States’ National Security Strategy and Japan’s National Security Strategy, provide ample evidence towards the re-orientation of their policies that are more isolationist in nature and highly defence-oriented in the traditional sense that shows that pessimism now prevails in their world views and perspectives about the future.
Both Russia and Ukraine are talking about the use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), knowing very well the disastrous consequences of WMD use in any form. This crisis has dealt a blow to globalisation. Shortages of food grains and fertilizers due to the conflict as well as trade disruptions caused by sanctions have affected the global economy. Energy crisis has now become a full-fledged weapon of conflict which is as effective as missiles and bombs in this Ukraine-Russia crisis. Today, hydrocarbons have become an important tool of geopolitics. The countries which depend on energy imports have become victims of energy geopolitics.
Russia was pushed to use force due to provocations by NATO nations. Many used the “democracy versus authoritarianism” discourse in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, but it is not the case. The basic dissonance between Russia and Ukraine, the two prominent states of erstwhile Soviet Union, arose from Ukraine’s assertion of its autonomy and preference for gradual integration with the Euro-Atlantic community. Whereas, Russia wanted to keep Ukraine within its own sphere of influence. Major areas of discord between Russia-Ukraine are: the Black Sea Fleet, the conflict over the Crimean Peninsula, on the border delimitation issues, over the ethnic issues and concerns over Ukrainian affiliations with euro-Atlantic community, on oil and gas supply. It is also a conflict between NATO’s eastward expansion and maintaining Russia’s hegemony in its immediate neighbourhood. Ukraine considers itself the meeting point of eastern and western civilisations and has been trying to reunite with Europe through integration with the west. However, Russia always considers Ukraine’s inclination to join NATO as a major security concern for itself. Ukraine has great security, political as well as economic significance for Russia. Ukraine on its part feels an existential need to assert its identity as distinctly different from Russia for its nation building. In the wake of such ominous developments, especially after the onset of the Russia-Ukraine conflict that started one year back, the future of global security order seems extremely bleak. With the world becoming more and more fragmented along different lines, nation-states adopting more isolationist policies combined with weaponization of international economic system, the existing global security order is bound to deteriorate in the coming years if such situation prevails for long.
· The Russia-Ukraine crisis has galvanised the Trans-Atlantic security alliance and could pave the way for Russia’s long-term separation from the west.
· The Russia-Ukraine crisis has disturbed the international financial systems.
· The Russia-Ukraine crisis has upset the world order and trying to create a new one.
· The present crisis has made it amply clear that to win a major war, a nation should be self-dependent to fulfil military and economic needs.
· The nuclear threats have pushed the conflict into the next phase however, for restoring peace and dialogue between Russia and Ukraine is essential.
· Diplomacy and talks are the logical options between Russia and Ukraine and immediate ceasefire is needed for the resolution of this conflict.
· Ukraine needs to work for increasing its self-sufficiency in defence, energy and economic sectors and avoid the humanitarian crisis.
· Investment in education and skill development process will help improve the domestic situation in Ukraine and bring back Ukrainian nationals, who fled the country due to the conflict, and stop migration.
· Global powers jointly need to resolve further deterioration of the existing global security order. The world is presently confronted with its worst security crisis.
· Inputs taken from recent reports and issue briefs from conferences, round table discussions, seminars held in prominent think tanks on Russia-Ukraine conflict over the last one year.
· Recent interviews and imminent experts views also incorporated in the article.
· Henry Foy, “NATO’s Stoltenberg Accuses Putin of Dangerous and Reckless Nuclear Rhetoric”, Financial Times, September 2022; “I am not bluffing”: Putin’s Nuke Threat as Ukraine War unravels, NDTV, 21 September 2022.
· Vladimir Putin Mobilises More Troops, Says Nuclear Threat “Not a Bluff”, The Hindu, 21 September 2022; Robyn Dixon, Catherine Belton and Mary Ilyushina, “Putin’s Draft upto 30,000 reservists”, backs Annexation amid war losses”, The Washington Post, 21 September 2022;
· Russia-Ukraine War, interview by Ambassador Ashok Sajjanhar, March 2022, Ananta Aspen Centre, New Delhi.
· Russia-Ukraine War News: Shelling cuts power to Ukraine Nuclear Site, Times of India News, October 9th 2022.
· Rajaram Panda, “Russia-Ukraine War: Indian Perspective”, Eurasia Review, News and Analyses, March 20th 2022.
· Sashi Asthana, “No Winner in Russia-Ukraine War After Six Months: Contest is Who will Lose”, August 26, 2022.
· Sashi Asthana, “Why Parties to Russia-Ukraine war is Prolonging it”, interview, Modern Diplomacy.
· Natasha Turak, Germany announces major defense policy shift in face of Russia’s Ukraine conflict, CNBC, February 27, 2022.
· Japan to Double Defence Outlay for $320 Billion Military Build-up, Asia Financial, North Asia, December 16, 2022.
· The Constitution of Japan, Office of the Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet, promulgated November 03, 1946.
· Agreement between Japan and Australia concerning the Facilitation of Reciprocal Access and Cooperation between the Self-Defense Forces of Japan and the Australian Defence Force, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, January 06, 2022.
· Tim Kelly, Paul Sandle and Nobuhiro Kubo, Japan, Britain and Italy to build jet fighter together, Reuters, December 09, 2022.
· Defense Budget by Country (2023), Global Firepower database, accessed on January 10, 2023.
· Daniel L. Davis, What is the US getting in Ukraine for $100 billion?, Business Insider, January 11, 2023.
· US National Security Strategy, The White House, October 2022.
· NATO 2022 Strategic Concept, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), adopted on June 29, 2022.