As the crisis between Ukraine and Russia deepens, the world has been divided into two part for the first time in 40 years since the end of the Cold War. Many countries have already announced sanctions on Moscow following Russia’s order of troops into the rebel ‘republics’ of Donetsk and Luhansk.
But sanctions will, to some extent, cut both ways. Russia is not just a major player in the oil and gas sector, but also a big player in a number of other commodities and minerals. Even if these can be sourced from elsewhere, there will be a price spike, and perhaps shortages.
Inflation is already higher than it has been in decades and the world economy is struggling to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. In such a situation, how much pain will the West be willing to bear while ‘punishing’ Russia? Besides, over the last 40 years since the end of the Cold War, there are significant investments that Western companies have made in Russia.
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Who will support Russia?
Cuba, a close ally of Russia, has sharply criticised the United States for imposing the progressive expansion of NATO towards the borders of the Russian Federation and called for a diplomatic solution to preserve international peace.
Russia will get the strongest support from China. China has already announced that NATO is doing arbitrariness in Ukraine. Ever since the stance of Western countries has turned against China, Russia has always been supporting China. In fact, both Russia and China have a multi-dimensional partnership with cooperation ranging from trade to military to space.
Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Belarus once a part of Soviet Union will support Russia due to the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) agreement signed between the 6 countries. This means that in an event of an attack on Russia, these countries will consider this an attack on themselves.
Due to the abrupt American withdrawal from Afghanistan and the takeover of the country by the Taliban last year, the security concerns among the West Asian countries have increased, causing a natural shift towards Russia.
Azerbaijan is also expected to ignore any calls for rising against Russia in case of a conflict. In 2020, the Russian President brokered a truce between Armenia and Azerbaijan fighting over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. While the entire world called on them to end the war, it was only Putin’s intervention that resulted in a ceasefire pact.
In Middle East, Iran is one country that would back Russia. After the nuclear deal fell apart, Russia has been consistently courting Iran to its fold. While tensions have risen over the years between the US and its allies on one hand and Iran on the other, Russia has supplied arms and has been cooperating with Iran in the Syrian War.
North Korea would wholeheartedly support Russia if a full-scale war was to take place. In fact, China and Russia recently blocked the US bid to impose sanctions on North Korea at the United Nations following a spate of missile launches in the peninsula.
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Who will support Ukraine?
The European countries of NATO – Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States fully support Ukraine. The United States and Britain have emerged as the biggest supporters of Ukraine.
Germany and France have recently tried to defuse the controversy by making a speedy visit to Moscow. But after Russian President Vladimir Putin recognised two breakaway Ukrainian regions as independent states and ordered Russian troops to deploy there, Germany halted approval of the key Nord Stream 2 pipeline and other Western nations issued sanctions.
Japan, South Korea, Australia, Canada are all supporting Ukraine and have imposed sanctions on Russia after it recognised Ukraine’s two provinces of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent countries.
Neutral stand on Ukraine-Russia crisis
India is one of the most geopolitically important countries in Asia and is typically known for its neutrality and being a non-aligned state despite having strong ties with Russia and the West. India has a very close relationship with both, Russia and the United States.
Nearly 40% of India’s GDP comes from foreign trade. In 1990, this number was around 15%. The bulk of India’s trade takes place with the US and its allies in Western Europe, and in the Middle East. India does around USD billion trade with the Western countries.
India’s trade with Russia is around USD billion. Even though India has started diversifying her defence procurements (in recent years, Indian defence purchases from the US and Western Europe have surpassed purchases from Russia), India remains quite dependent on spares and equipment from Russia.