Ramifications of the war in Ukraine - GulfToday

Ramifications of the war in Ukraine

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

Egypt has called for a delegate-level emergency Arab League meeting to discuss the situation arising out of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, even as Arab states took different positions on the issue.

The United Arab Emirates, along with China and India, abstained from the voting in the United Nations Security Council, Syria supported Russia, and Lebanon has condemned it. China and India look at the situation in the Russian-Ukraine conflict as more complicated and where it is not possible to take a simple stance. Both the UAE and India enjoy close relations with Russia as well as the United States and other Western countries.

China though opposed to the United States seems to view that the issue of the sovereignty of states is much too important to be ignored and respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of any state is a cardinal principle of Chinese foreign policy. But it is allied with Russia in its opposition to the dominance of Western countries.

 Syria’s support for Russia is due to the active support Moscow had extended to the Bashar Al-Assad government.

Meanwhile, Turkey has declared that there is a war in the region. This allows Ankara to close the straits of Bosporus and Dardanelles to Russian ships. But Ankara has not taken any specific decision in the matter. Turkey is a member of NATO, the Western military alliance forged in the Cold War days. But it has developed close ties with both Moscow and Kyiv in the last two decades.

Turkey then will have to take some hard decisions in the coming weeks about imposing a naval blockade in the Black Sea. Cairo has also issued a tender to import wheat from other sources due to the Russian-Ukraine war. Egypt’s wheat imports were from Russia and Ukraine, 69.4 per cent from Russia and 10.7 per cent from Ukraine.

What seems to be a confrontation between Russia and Ukraine in one corner of Europe has implications in West Asia and in Africa. Russian military presence in West Africa, especially in Mali, and more so after the withdrawal of French troops from Mali, makes Africa a factor in the Russian-Ukraine war.

It reveals that there is need for greater international diplomacy, and it must come from outside Europe. There is a clear division in Europe between the NATO countries and Russia. The United States as a leading member of NATO is in no position to play the role of the impartial arbiter in the conflict. After the Russian veto in the Security Council, the United States and other countries which supported the resolution “deploring” – apparently in the initial draft the word “condemned” was used – will not shift the debate to the General Assembly. There is no provision for a veto in the General Assembly. And it is likely that a resolution against Russia would be passed there. But a UN resolution criticising Russia, either in the Security Council or in the General Assembly, will not be of much use in defusing the critical situation on the ground.

That is why, non-European international diplomacy becomes an important means of bringing Russia and Ukraine to the negotiation table. Ukraine has agreed to meet the Russian delegation at the Ukraine-Belarus border on Monday morning. At the same time, Russian President Vladimir Putin has put the Russian nuclear forces on the alert. While some Ukrainians described it as a glimmer of hope, others were sceptical. And none of the European capitals can serve as a venue because of the NATO factor. It is evident from the fighting of the last four days in Ukraine, that Russia will not be a victor and that Ukraine cannot fully repel the Russian attack. The only option for both sides is negotiation and it needs the intervention of outside players to arrange for it.

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