by Sudhanshu Tripathi 12 May 2023
The current situation in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war is particularly grave as Russia threatens the Western powers to exercise its nuclear option if they continue supporting Kyiv. Thus in the ever-degenerating grim scenario where no end to the continuing war looks in sight, the world today stands on a nuclear volcano that may blast any day with the slightest spark set on fire by any nuclear power. That will inevitably lead to worldwide chain reactions of nuclear explosions to result in unimaginable and irreparable destruction of all living beings. In this scenario, the role of the United Nations and global movements like the Non-aligned Movement can be meaningful and decisive in resolving the intricate challenge amicably.
The prevailing tense scenario in almost the entire world involving some of the most prominent global powers polarized into two rival groups reminds one of the post-Ind World War bloc formations on ideological lines after 1945. That led to the coming up of a liberal-democratic bloc comprising Western European countries as against the communist bloc headed by the then-existing Soviet Union or United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) consisting of the states of Eastern Europe. That further resulted in inter-bloc rivalry and a fierce cold war between these two blocs during the late 1940s and afterward, which finally terminated with the disintegration of the USSR during the closing years of the 1980s whereupon Russia emerged as the successor of the erstwhile Soviet Union. The formation of the two mutually antagonistic ideological blocs soon engulfed the whole world, particularly Third World countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America, which were then emerging as free nations after successfully waging their long to very long or even centuries-long war of independence against their colonial masters. That instilled fear-psychosis in the whole world and instigated a massive arms race producing nuclear bombs, hydrogen bombs, and other deadly weapons apart from forming military alliances viz NATO, WARSAW Pact, ANZUS, SEATO, CENTO, etc. between the two blocs and other regional powers as well. Thus the post-1945 years witnessed bipolarity or bipolar international order in the world, manifesting a fierce cold war between the two blocs and further leading to the onset of the intense arms race between them, thereby engendering largescale production of new generations of lethal weapons, including weapons of mass destruction as well.
Russia-Ukraine War & emerging scenario
Almost the same scenario has emerged again in the world in connection with over a yearlong ongoing Russia-Ukraine war which is now inching towards a possible nuclear holocaust involving the two erstwhile superpowers, and most of the major Western powers clubbed into the NATO alliance. However, today’s (May 03, 2023) drone attack on Kremlin, allegedly by Ukraine – the safest place in Russia – has drastically changed the scenario wherein Moscow has secured freehand to unleash an all-out attack over Kyiv, including the killing of the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy. In this context, the mounting tensions between the US and Russia may perhaps soon witness a direct fight between them particularly due to the ever-continuing Western power’s help to Ukrainian forces comprising lethal weapons and logistical support, etc. has very much angered Russian President Putin who has repeatedly threatened to exercise nuclear option against the western alliance led by the US. Since America and its NATO allies have continuously been extending all needed support to Ukrainian forces almost since the outbreak of this war, Russia in its bid to strengthen its counteroffensives against Ukraine continues to consolidate and advance its military power including the rising number of nuclear weapons, ICBMs and super-sonic and hypersonic missiles and nuclear bombs, etc. with its ulterior motive to challenge and outdo the collective might of NATO headed by the US.
The paper here discusses the historical background in its introduction by bringing out some of the stark similarities between the global scenario immediately after the Second World War and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict in the world. The second part discusses the emerging scenario at present in the context of this ongoing war, and the next one focuses on evolving the Beijing-Pyongyang-Teheran-Moscow axis against the US-led NATO powers. The fourth part deals with the US’ counteractions against Chinese growing interference into the Indo-Pacific, particularly the South China Sea, which has now constrained China, as discussed in the fifth part. The next part underlies the alarming consequences that emerged due the ongoing war that has adversely impacted the regional geopolitics as well as the global order in the world. The seventh one analyses some of the feasible options to stop this war through UPR to be invoked by the UNGA immediately despite the few technicalities involved therein, along with India’s peaceful and constructive role. Lastly, the paper concluded in favour of across-the-table talks by both warring nations under the auspices of the UNGA, apart from International Arbitration by the PCIJ to fix responsibility of initiating war and committing war crimes accompanied by violation of the Laws of War, and adequate compensation to the victim state by the aggressor.
Indeed, the just solemnized grand show of the Russian victory parade, Moscow stands upbeat with its massive display of the latest armaments to the whole world. However, the drone targeting of the Kremlin on 03 May 2023, allegedly by Ukraine to assassinate Russian President Putin, the over-a-year-long continuing Russia-Ukraine war has attained a new height. Indeed, Moscow has extensively destroyed many cities in Ukraine to avenge the assassination attempt, despite Ukrainian President Zelenskyy emphatically refuting this allegation. The alleged assassination attempt has resulted in ever-massive Russian retaliatory attacks upon Ukraine. Perhaps that may be aimed at liquidating Ukraine through a nuclear strike by Russia. And may witness the final closure of this war being supported by the US-led Western powers as America had dropped nuclear bombs over two cities of Japan to terminate the IInd World War. The so-called assassination attempt may possibly be a part of Russian machination to liquidate Ukraine.
Evolving Beijing-Pyongyang-Teheran-Moscow axis
Further, Moscow has successfully brought under its fold some of the powerful states nurturing anti-Americanism for different reasons. Prominent among those includes China, North Korea, and Iran, apart from a few Muslim countries in West Asia viz. Libya, Lebanon, Algeria, Syria, and Palestine, because all three nurture a deep-seated grudge against Washington. That may include many more anti-US rogue states, as cited above, besides numerous terror organisations viz. Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hizballah, Abu Nidal group, and many more to count. If China, North Korea, and Iran have their vested interests against America, South Korea, Japan, and Israel, too, have their interests in supporting the US. Added to the US’ advantage is the NATO alliance wherein Finland’s induction has already baffled and angered President Putin as Moscow shares over a thousand miles long border with Helsinki. Thus Finland’s presence in NATO has brought the thirty-one-member alliance to the Russian doorstep obviously putting Russia’s national security at risk, and that has raised serious alarms to much discomfiture of President Putin. Considering these developments, Russian leadership continues to spread its tentacles to surround the entire Europe with its consistently advancing weaponry, including ever-deadly nuclear arsenals, particularly with a view to targeting the US and its NATO partner states.
While Russia wishes to destroy Ukraine with its awesome might, it finds itself restrained by the collective power of the Western states under the US leadership in not letting Moscow to do so. That has propelled it to forge much-needed military alliances with all corners of the world, overtly or covertly. This is why Russia has concluded a special treaty with China with a view to encircling the US in the Pacific as well as Atlantic Oceans. Again the likely emerging Beijing-Teheran-Pyongyang-Moscow axis appears to be aimed at confronting the US-led NATO powers, standing consolidated behind Ukraine with their full might. To fight against this axis, the US has come out boldly and is trying to unite all those powers facing tensions or security-related issues with China, North Korea or Russia apart from Iran in West Asia under one umbrella.
Further, the US’ has already stationed its large-sized nuclear-powered naval carriers like USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt in the sea waters of the Indo-Pacific and has virtually encircled the Chinese carriers to render them mostly immobile and inoperative, apart from maintaining a decisive American presence in the South China Sea. Added to the collective woo of China and North Korea, Japan’s naval warship JS CAGA has also entered into the ocean to strengthen its position with that of the US, apart from discouraging Pyongyang from attempting to take any irresponsible action against Seoul or Tokyo. Not only that, America has also deployed its B-2 and B-52 bombers and F-16 fighter jets into the region to restrain Beijing’s untoward action against Taiwan or similar actions of North Korea against South Korea or Japan. Both South Korea and Japan in the Fareast and the Philippines in Southeast Asia, including Taiwan, have virtually evolved a counter-security network under the leadership of America in the Indo-Pacific, and that may work as a powerful security bulwark or architecture in this region against China’s possible evil designs, if the need so arises. This network is further assisted by Australia in the down South to Israel and Turkey in West Asia. The US already has a significant security deal with Australia, and that can put serious obstructions against Chinese imperialist designs in the broader Indo-Pacific region. Also, the US-Philippines military alliance providing five naval bases to American naval forces in the seawaters of the Philippines has baffled China and China has threatened Manila, which has angered America.
Further in this context, the US defense department has already prepared a confidential report regarding the real motives of Russia as well as China in this regard and has cautioned the US administration against the emerging nefarious designs against American interests, particularly in the South China Sea and also in the larger Indo-Pacific region. Washington has rightly perceived all these hidden agendas of Russia in collusion with China and North Korea. It has virtually launched its massive counter-offensives in terms of joint war drills displaying its excellent air, naval, and army power involving its counterparts in most of the states in the region, especially in reaction to frequent Chinese military show of joint exercises therein. Further, the US has concluded the atomic deal with South Korea intending to deter North Korea, which has tested its solid-fuel propelled Huesong 18 missile, having a range of 20000 km., which gives it rare capability to target almost all corners of entire America.
Also, the Cope Thunder air exercise involving massive power shows of the American air force and Philippine air force is back after more than three decades to counter the growing military might of China in this region. In fact, the US has engulfed the Clark air base in the Philippines to defend Taiwan against China’s repeated intrusions into Taiwanese air space in recent months. And America continuing military exercise in the South China Sea has resulted in mounting tensions between the US and China. And that underlies the significance of eastward shifting global geopolitics wherein apart from economic cooperation, strategic and defense cooperation holds the key, which is quite evident against the backdrop of Philippines’s President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcose Jr.’s visit to America. Both leaders are supposed to draw an effective strategy against China’s growing interference in the South China Sea and also to consolidate their increasing defense partnership in the region. This is why the ongoing American war drills in Asia-Pacific extending into the Indo-Pacific have significantly deterred China and North Korea from initiating irresponsible action against Taiwan and South Korea, including Japan.
Against the evolving scenario, China is finding itself encircled and constrained due to the US’ steady presence in the region to pursue its unjust policy of imperialism and expansionism throughout the Indo-Pacific region apart from other regions/ continents. Perhaps to derive some solace in terms of Russian support against America, Chinese President Xi has paid a state visit to Russia to strengthen Moscow’s position vis-à-vis Ukraine and also to project itself (Beijing) as an honest broker of peace to bring truce into the ongoing Moscow-Kyiv war.
As obvious, the ongoing unstable and highly tense, and suspicious scenario due to the Russian-Ukraine war has had a considerable impact on regional geopolitics as well as global order both. In contrast, the ongoing war has driven a deep and wide wedge in most of the world’s regions viz. Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia, Fareast Europe, Asia-Pacific extending into Indo-Pacific region and Artic regions, and a few more, the consequences of the ongoing war assessed in terms of precious human lives and property are beyond imagination. Ukraine is almost destroyed and has proved to be a foolish state fighting ceaselessly a lost battle against the erstwhile Superpower at the behest of the US and the NATO powers, which have accrued immense economic benefits through regularly supplying weapons to Kyiv that a renowned American political scientist Prof. John Mearsheimer had suggested to the US administration to not indulge into the Russian-Ukraine war in the larger interest of regional as well as global peace and security.
The situation is particularly grave as Russia threatens the Western powers to exercise its nuclear option if they continue supporting Kyiv in the ongoing war between the two asymmetric powers viz Russian and Ukraine. Thus in the ever-degenerating grim scenario where no end to the Russia-Ukraine war appears, the world today stands on a nuclear volcano that may blast any day due to the slightest spark set on fire by any nuclear power. If so, that will inevitably lead to worldwide chain reactions of nuclear explosions, resulting in unimaginable and irreparable destruction of all living and material beings. The saner minds must think many times over to devise ways immediately and mean to protect innocent humanity from approaching a nuclear holocaust in the form of IIIrd World War.
A possible way out UPR & Role of India
And for this end, the role of the United Nations and global movements like the Non-aligned Movement can be meaningful and decisive in resolving this monstrous challenge amicably. The UN General Assembly must come forward to ensure the immediate cessation of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war by re-invoking the Uniting for Peace Resolution (UPR), which was first used during the Korean War in the early 1950s. Indeed it is very difficult for the UNGA given the five permanent members, viz. the US, Russia, China, England and France, enjoying veto powers in the Security Council. And any of these five members can use veto power to forestall such a proposal in its interest. As in the present case, Russia will use its veto over the above-mentioned UPR to inflict an unparalleled decisive defeat over Ukraine, given the power asymmetry between them and the expanding time period to much of its embarrassment. However, Moscow has its ulterior motive to reemerge as an undeterred global hegemon or as the erstwhile superpower it had been during the cold war years in the aftermath of the Second World War. Notwithstanding the aforementioned technical difficulty, the prevailing situation is almost the same as during the Korean crisis. Still, the UN stands as a mute witness since the very outbreak of the war. The UPR had then enabled the UNGA to call for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the two Koreas along 380 parallel, which had successfully ensured armistice between the two belligerents. There was another help too in resolving the issue. That was the emerging Non-aligned leadership of the first Indian PM, Late Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru became a global leader enjoying significant influence in international affairs due to his Non-aligned Foreign Policy, securing strategic autonomy and independent decisions for India vis-à-vis all international or global issues, irrespective of the prevailing predominant cold war power politics during post-IInd World War decades. Why not the same UPR is being invoked again in the case of the present Russia-Ukraine continuing war? Because Russia in itself is a party in this war! But for that, the UNGA amended the UPR as a special case to debar even a permanent member of the UNSC from exercising its veto power if it is a party in an armed conflict. Why can’t the UNGA do this in right earnest? After all, unusual circumstances demand equally unusual provisions or even draconian laws in the common interest of humanity because their very future is at stake today. Why not people at large be allowed to live in peace, secure, dignified, and life-sustaining environment? Who will come to their rescue? These are some of today’s most pertinent questions before us or the saner minds at large. Apart from these, India’s silence, except for a few occasional comments or appeals in this war, is especially worrisome, as is its callousness over a mighty power Russia trying to swallow a very small state like Ukraine. Ukraine has been forcibly brought to its knees and destroyed with uncounted deaths of innocent Ukrainian citizens. Unfortunately, Russia has also witnessed considerable loss of its soldiers. Who is/are responsible for all these bygone lives?
Unfortunately, India being the spiritual Guru and upholding ideals like Vishwa Shanti, Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam, Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah…, Sahanavavatu, Sahanaubhunaktu…etc. And also, being the founder-member of the Non-Aligned Movement, apart from being the progenitor of the doctrine of Nonalignment, has not yet overcome its structural constraints as regards institution-building for policy formulations and national decision-making wherein experts and scholars from higher academia and qualified professionals from other sectors be involved, like that existing in the US and other advanced nations in the West, which may act as an impartial intellectual powerhouse or think tank to prescribe feasible policy options for the speedy realization of its national as well as global interests. Hence India is an important key player in global affairs and immediately needs to evolve a broad-based fulcrum of national policy-building institutions which may formulate and advance the much desired feasible policy options to be practiced by the leader of the country at crucial junctures like the present one in the larger interest of humanity.
Thus amidst the grand victory parade in Russia and, drone targeting of the Kremlin and launching of supersonic & hypersonic ICBM missiles having ever-large nuclear payloads, including testing of more powerful nuclear weapons by the direct contenders in the fray viz. Russia, Ukraine, and indirect others like China, North Korea, Iran, the US, South Korea, Japan, and NATO states, etc., the overall scenario is becoming increasingly worrisome and fearful with the passage of each day. In such a precarious and volatile situation when the aforesaid major powers are armed with lethal nuclear weapons which can trigger the world into an unimaginable holocaust, all peaceful, independent, loving, and security-caring nations like Australia, Japan, South Korea, and India, etc. must come forward to raise the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war issue in the UNGA and must collectively pressurize the assembly to invoke the above cited UPR to obtain the immediate cessation of this more than a year-long war. Both the belligerents are induced to resume across-the-table talks under the auspices of the UNGA so that their differences can peacefully be resolved. Also, all other external players like the US, China, Teheran, and North Korea be strictly forbidden from adding fuel to the burning fire just to fulfilling their selfish interests for one reason or the other, like arms trade or maintaining a sphere of influence or regional or global hegemony, etc.. The cases of war crimes and violation of the Laws of War also be framed by the assembly and put before the Permanent Court of International Justice for arbitration and suitable compensation for the victim country to be realized by the aggressor state apart from punishment for war crimes. Further, the ongoing trilateral fierce power struggle involving the US, Russia, and China be discouraged anyhow and at any cost. This may become feasible as nothing is beyond human endeavour.