The stubbornness of Kiev to relinquish its desire for becoming a member of Nato and the ambition of the West’s eastward expansion pushed Putin to take some extraordinary steps thereby twisting the scene of the melodrama of the Ukraine-Russia crisis. Russia extended its formal recognition to the Lohansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine as independent republics.
Moscow amassed hundreds of thousands of its troops along the Ukraine border and moments later let them invade Ukraine from multiple sides. The full-scale skirmish was kicked off between the Russian invaders and Ukrainian troops across the country and it is still going on with a considerable loss to both economy and human beings. There seems to be no possibility of a ceasefire and dialogue.
The reaction of the world
The invasion of Ukraine has triggered the violation of International law which stands for the respect of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a state. Therefore, an international community brought the invasion under storm for encroaching upon the sovereignty of an independent and sovereign nation. The UN along with other leading Intergovernmental Organisations(IOs) and Non-Governmental Organisations(NGOs) lambasted the incursion and called upon Moscow to retreat from using ‘unjustified’ force against Ukraine thereby saving humanity while keeping per se off violating the fundamental human rights. The West came up with a bundle of economic sanctions.
The European Union put a ban on the traveling of those members of the Lower House of the Russian Parliament who had given nod to President Putin’s decision of invading Ukraine and recognizing Luhansk and Donetsk as independent republics, to Europe. Their assets in Europe would be frozen. Similarly, the UK put a ban on the five key banks of Russia and three of its rich men. The US ousted Russia of the global Swift system and impose harsh economic sanctions on Moscow. Notwithstanding all this, Moscow has not shown even a minimum dilution in his aggression as it is reported to have prepared well for undoing the sanctions.
What is next?
Is diplomacy still a viable option? The answer to the question now lies in the word ‘no’ as the door of diplomacy has almost shut down at least for now as opined by Ali Mustafa, TRT World representative and Kamran Bukhari, a leading expert in international affairs. The option of the diplomatic solution was deemed to be worthy in the pre-war time, but now, as the fighting has formally erupted between Kiev and Moscow, the diplomacy seems to be too fragile to work and offer a durable and mutually agreed-upon solution to the ongoing conflict. Therefore, it engenders another question: what would happen next?
Moscow has shunned joining the dialogue table unless and until Kiev surrenders. Once the Ukrainian troops throw down their weapons, Moscow will rush out of Ukraine with the purpose to install either a Moscow-led puppet regime in Ukraine or bring the territory directly under the control of the Kremlin. In either case, Russia will face a tough insurgency against its backed Ukrainian regime. The insurgency against the pro-Russian regime in Kiev would openly be supported by the West including the US. Thus, it is apt to say that in the fight of these two elephants, it is Ukraine that is ultimately going to suffer.
Global and Regional Implications
If the Ukraine- Russia conflict has attracted the world, it is just because of the vital importance of Ukraine which is one the largest exporters of agricultural products like Wheat among others, in the world. As per an estimate, Ukraine caters to the need for food of nearly 600m people across the globe. Ukraine is also home to Uranium ores and iron among other minerals and natural resources. The ongoing conflict has disrupted the global crude oil market as the price of a barrel per dollar has been seen as quite unstable. It is going to affect those countries which are dependent on the agricultural exports of Ukraine.
Regionally, the neighbors and regional countries have been put into trouble as how to deal with such tense and demanding situations. India has successfully kept itself off the camp politics followed by Pakistan which dispute the recent visit of its PM to Moscow, has clearly stated that it would never indulge again in camp politics.
The conflict’s thundering uproar is reported to have brought the post-cold war international to an end. The fall of the Berlin Wall formally buried the cold war era and engendered a new global order which Francis Fukayama called the formal end of the ideological war as the new perpetual international order had come into being in the form liberal politico-economic system.
This very liberalization of international politics and economy which later on gave birth to globalization, which is still working for the liberal international order, worked for the next two decades, but now the rise of the soft power of China especially its economic rise and the emergence of a hostile Russia, that very liberal order seems to be breathing its last. Fareed Zakaria, an American-based popular tv anchor, opined a few days ago that the post-cold-war era had then formally come to an end. Thus, the propagators of the international liberal order will now put the two competitors, China and Russia, in their global power rivalry.
Implications for Pakistan
Though it is doubtless that the fire of Ukraine- Russia standoff is agglomerating far away from Pakistan, it is not leaving Pakistan unburned. The Ukrainian crisis is posing challenges to Pakistan too, in a number of areas. Ukraine is one the largest exporters of agricultural goods like Wheat, the disruption of which is afflicting Pakistan. Moreover, as the world is harshly criticizing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Islamabad is also expected of joining the international condemnation campaign.
The UN General Assembly special meeting on the Ukrainian crisis is going on where Pakistan is reported to have been pressurized by the international community to join it in criticising and condemning the aggressive Moscow for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and forcing Kremlin to pull back from the aggression. However, Islamabad has clearly stated and made it clear that it would never rejoin the camp- politics. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, has called upon the warring parties to give chance to dialogue, use diplomacy and avoid war for the resolution of their conflict.
If Islamabad shows an unequivocal tilt toward Moscow, it will definitely infringe its economic ties with the West (Pakistan’s exports to the EU stand at $9bn annually along with its exports of nearly $7bn to the US) and the US. The West is also home to hundreds of thousands of Pakistani diaspora who become the main source of remittances which is a source of income for Islamabad. Moreover, a section in the policy formulation corridor at Islamabad has also favorable sentiments towards the West.
Notwithstanding all this, adopting a neutral and delicate balancing act is very much desirable for Islamabad especially to fulfill its new approach of geo-economics which also occupies the center of its first National Security Policy. Any explicit tilt towards the West may disrupt the trust fabric once again not only between Islamabad and Moscow but also between Pakistan and China. This is not something odd to stand neutral as India is also adopting this approach despite having close strategic ties with US and the West.
While squeezing the discussion in a bottle, the above account unmasks the nature of the conflict, its causes, the recent situations and global and regional implications of the Ukraine- Russia standoff among others. At least for now, a maximum restraint approach needs to be adopted by the warring parties. The West must realize its mistake and must try to convince Moscow of ensuring the desired security. A noteworthy piece of writing in Foreign Affairs calls for the renewal of Helenski 2.0 which will bring into force a new joint security infrastructure unit only for Europe, but also for Russia as the Helenski Accords did in 1975.
The imposition of sanctions cannot work alone since the West even the US are largely dependent on Russia for their energy imports. Russia must be taken into coordination and cooperation in the international system thereby addressing its grave concerns of being marginalized. Similarly, Russia must show maturity and take responsible decisions as letting a full-scale skirmish is going to affect not only the combatants but also the whole world.