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How Asia is drifting away from US sphere of influence?

The drift of Asian nations away from the American sphere of influence has Washington in a frenzy. Although no country on the continent has publicly supported Putin's activities, few are willing to publicly condemn Russia for its alleged atrocities against the Ukrainian people.

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Americans are ardently rooting for Ukraine in a conflict that many views as a vital battle for human liberty. It is tempting to imagine that everyone in the world is fascinated due to the intensity of American adoration. They are not.

Only Western capitals and a few East Asian nations have responded to the United States’ passionate plea for Ukrainian assistance. With the exception of Kuwait, Israel, and Turkey, the majority of Middle Eastern nations refused to mention Russia by name in the UN-sponsored resolution condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a result of the balancing act that has been ongoing since the United States began withdrawing from the region under President Obama. Syria, Iraq, and Iran see the Russian-Ukrainian situation as a purely Western conflict in which they have no stake.

Read more: The Rise of China and the US Strategy in the Asia-Pacific

Asia: Home to Most Potent Dissenters

Asia appears to be the region where opposition to joining the pro-Ukraine group is most popular. This perilous situation has prompted the US to relaunch carrot-and-stick diplomacy to persuade Asian states to play ball.

It is difficult for countries like Pakistan, China, and India to openly denounce the Russian invasion of Ukraine because of their security, trade, and oil ties with Russia. Asia, where 59% of the world’s population resides, is home to the most potent dissenters. Not only did the three nations abstain from the United Nations vote condemning Russia, but they also rejected sanctions backed by the United States.

In an interview with CNN, US National Security Advisor Jack Sullivan cautioned China that ” there will absolutely be consequences for large-scale sanctions evasion efforts or support to Russia to backfill them”. Not only did China hesitate to denounce Putin’s foray into Ukraine, but it also argued that Russia’s “legitimate security concerns” must be treated seriously. Unfortunately, the United States can do little to compel the world’s second-largest economy to comply.

India appears more susceptible to US ire than China

At a time when its relations with the West are at their greatest, it is undoubtedly facing pressure over its neutrality stance. On three separate occasions, New Delhi defied western expectations by abstaining from voting on United Nations resolutions condemning Russian aggressions. India was the only Democratic member of the UN Security Council to abstain from voting on the February 26, US-sponsored resolution condemning the Russian incursion.

Again, India abstained from voting against Russia at the General Assembly of the United Nations. Similarly, it rebuffed western pressure at the United Nations for the third time when it declined to support a resolution calling for an investigation into Russian violations of human rights in Ukraine.

For Washington, New Delhi’s neutrality is disappointing because it signals a sharp divergence between the two on an issue of immense global importance, i.e. the use of force to subdue a sovereign nation. Numerous US leaders, including the president, have expressed dissatisfaction with the Indian stance. In his address to business leaders, Joe Biden said that India’s response to Russian aggression against the Ukrainian people was “slightly shaky” among the Quad group of nations.

Read more: AUKUS pact and its implications for South Asia

Similarly, Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his unhappiness by noting that the United States has began “watching some recent troubling events in India, including an increase in human rights violations.” Brian Deese, the principal economic advisor to President Biden, cautioned India that severe consequences would ensue if it did not reconsider its strategic orientation.

India’s public neutrality toward the crisis reflects a conscious decision motivated by its worries towards Pakistan and China. New Delhi views both of its neighbours as existential threats to its security, and it seeks to prevent Moscow’s close proximity to them. In order to escape the Russian ire, it has chosen to stay mum on Russia’s aggression against a sovereign state. Additionally, India’s reliance on Russian energy and military supplies and the critical S-400 air defence system that Russia has provided to India as a strategic deterrent against Pakistan and China have contributed to New Delhi’s silence on the conflict.

In addition to abstaining from voting on a United Nations resolution condemning Russia, Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan visited Moscow on the day that Putin launched military operations in Ukraine. When a delegation of 23 envoys, primarily from the European Union, pressured Islamabad to criticise Russia for its brazen aggression against Ukraine, Imran Khan lashed out at the West, asking if they believed Pakistan to be their “slave.”

Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu testified before Congress that he was “disappointed” with Pakistani and Sri Lankan authorities’ response to a request from his country to lend diplomatic support to Ukraine’s resistance against Russia. Imran Khan was deposed on April 9 by an opposition-sponsored, military-backed vote of no confidence, which Khan described as a “regime change operation” by the US prompted by his February visit to Moscow and his refusal to grant the US military bases on Pakistani soil for surveillance on Afghanistan.

Khan has vowed to topple the “imported government” through a mass movement that he terms as a “freedom struggle” against the United States and its puppets in Pakistan. Due to the pervasive anti-American sentiment in Pakistan’s traditional society, the response to his conspiracy theory has been enormous and has gained him widespread support. As a result, Imran Khan has successfully crafted a narrative for the next general elections.

Read more: US defeat in Afghanistan: Ending west’s dream of hegemony over Eurasian land mass?

A shocked and panicked Washington

The drift of Asian nations away from the American sphere of influence has Washington in a frenzy. Although no country on the continent has publicly supported Putin’s activities, few are willing to publicly condemn Russia for its alleged atrocities against the Ukrainian people. The majority of the population believes that the United States, which invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, has no right to criticise the use of sheer force to achieve strategic objectives. For them, Washington being the supporter rules-based international system is pie in the sky

Asia is anticipated to play a leading role in the 21st century as a result of its booming economy and demographic trends. Asian states see their interests as aligned with those of the continent’s two superpowers, Russia and China. The United States is delusory if it believes that the prospect of economic penalties and diplomatic isolation will bring them back into its sphere of influence. This could have the reverse consequence of alienating them even more.

 

The writer is a Mphill English Literature. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space (GVS News).