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EDITORIAL ANALYSIS : Lessons from Russia’s Ukraine war


Source: The Hindu


  • Prelims: Current events of international importance, referendum, UNGA, ICJ etc
  • Mains GS Paper II: Important international institutions, agencies and their functions etc, Significance of Russia for India, International organizations, India-Russia relations.etc


  • Winston Churchill(1939): Russia is “a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”.
    • The military flare-up between Russia and Ukraine dates back to 2014, when Russia annexed
  • Churchill: The end of the beginning” of unilateralism and great powers of the pitfalls of long wars.





What is the Conflict?

  • Contesting the Post-Cold War central European territoriality and resurrecting Russian past is at the core of the Ukraine crisis.
  • They share hundreds of years of cultural, linguistic and familial links.
  • Ukraine’s bid for NATO membership and Russian interests in the Black Sea accompanied by the protests in the Ukraine are the major causes of the ongoing conflict.


International forums approached by the Ukraine to stop war:

  • UN
  • International courts such as the ICJ, the International Criminal Court
  • European Court of Human Rights


President Vladimir Putin’s strategy:

  • Before the war: He created an aura of power around himself and Russia.
  • He disrupted Georgia’s ambition to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
  • Made forays into West Asia neutralizing Israel and Turkey(both American allies)
  • Took Crimea without a fight
  • Energy superpower: Turned Russia into an energy superpower.


The illegally annexed regions:


  • Kherson
  • Zaporizhzhia
  • Luhansk
  • Donetsk


Signs of the passing of American unilateralism:

  • America’s wars in the Muslim world did not proceed as the US had expected.
  • The U.S. got stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq: Russia became more aggressive, Iran more defiant, and China more powerful.
  • Russia’s intervention in Georgia and its annexation of Crimea
  • Iran’s growing militancy in West Asia
  • America’s defeat in Afghanistan


Recent steps taken by the US:

  • Alliances: It has taken pains to keep the Western alliance together.
  • It wants a coalition of democracies against dictatorships.
  • It admits that the ‘rules-based order’ (American-centric world) faces systemic challenges from Russia and China.
  • Conflict: It doesn’t want a direct conflict with Russia.


China’s takeaway from the war:

  • Shift in Washington’s policy of ‘strategic ambiguity’: The US’s claim of defending Taiwan in the event of an attack from China.
  • Defeating Russia in Ukraine would discourage China from making any adventurous move towards Taiwan.
  • The U.S. strove to exploit the divisions between the Soviet Union and China to prevent the formation of a strong Eurasian alliance.
  • China would like the U.S. being distracted in Europe while it strengthens its ties with Russia and spreads its influence elsewhere.


Way Forward

  • The Ukraine war tells us about the limitations of great powers in shaping the outcome of conflicts with smaller ones.
  • The U.S. intervention in Vietnam, its invasion of Afghanistan, and the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan are some of the best examples of great powers getting stuck in smaller theaters.
  • Miscalculating the power of Ukrainian nationalism and the resolve of the West, which Russia thought was weakened by internal divisions and external setbacks.



Q. What is the significance of Indo-US deals over Indo-Russian defense deals? Discuss with reference to stability in the Indo-Pacific region (UPSC 2020) (200 WORDS, 10 MARKS)