The famous hypnotherapist Milton Erickson once said ‘Confusion always precedes Enlightenment’. Recent diplomatic circus on display post Ukraine crisis aptly amplifies the axiom. The barrage of statements and sanctions from US and European capitals during first fortnight of Putin’s operations intending to target everything Russian, soon led to realization that perhaps nothing is stopping Russia yet. The state of confusion and chaos was so intense that German spy chief Bruno Kahl was in Kiev on the day of invasion and he was to be evacuated by road, a slow retreat towards Polish border among thousands of refugees. Fact was West got caught completely on the hop this time. Primary reason was the US and Europe’s approach of mutual appreciation all these years which led them in a world of fictional superiority. Having got caught totally ill prepared in-spite of intelligence overload, they did the next best thing, they accused Putin of being completely irrational. Really hilarious it seems, as if Putin ought to ratify his special military operations from US and NATO before starting the invasion.
The Hollow Response
The natural response to a crisis of this magnitude demanded sanity and maturity from everyone but the response was far removed from reality. Diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions on Russia was the end all response from West. This did cause some adverse impact on Russian economy but proved horrifically inadequate to force Russia change its course. This brings us to the next question did the West really want to understand the problem, there response so far doesn’t prove so. The problem was never Putin’s dislike of Ukraine but the unabashed attempt by US and NATO to prop up Ukraine as a puppet against Russia. Unfortunately for Ukraine the West didn’t had a Plan B, they are still cheer-leading Ukraine with money and useless weapons without putting boots on ground as if war should go on till last Ukrainian standing.
The ongoing war has caused another casualty that of diplomatic decency, listening to US and European leaders was shame. They were heard hurling abuses on Russian President with President Biden in lead. Disapproval is one thing but you don’t burn bridges you are supposed to travel back on. Having killed the communication channels with Russian head of state, West has nothing much to leverage upon than dish out more threats to Russia during daily press briefings. Hypocritical as it might be it was followed with more outrageous instances of lecturing sovereign nations especially India and China about how to conduct themselves. Western belief of ‘My-way or No-way’ was on full display when White House press secretary was seen advising India to be on the ‘right side of the history’ or when an unknown someone, probably US Dy NSA came uninvited for a forgetful visit to suggest – Russia will not ‘come to help India’ in a conflict with China. Even ignoring for a moment that he spoke way above his pay grade, but really! at first India never sought a guidance from West and secondly India can safeguard its borders and interests. So much for diplomatic decency but the language smacks of utter disregard for sovereign choices of independent nations. That’s the precise reason why the West today is completely out of sync with times and at the cost of their own paying.
Post massive destruction in Ukraine, which unfortunately still continues as we speak and super sanctions on Russia, West appears to have run out of ideas. Military response remains a complete NO, so what’s left is sanctions followed with more sanctions. But here’s a word of wisdom – combined might of worst sanctions by US and Europe could not alter a state like Iran into submission or change its path. Iran after posting a negative growth of -6.78% in 2019 had posted a growth of +2.76% in 2021. Dramatic as it may seem but it’s true, thus experimenting it out on a country as big as Russia appears a novice play. The hope was if everyone can join against Russia then sanctions might have desired effect meaning, if that’s not the case sanctions will NOT work. It’s not that Americans and Europeans aren’t enlightened about it but an acceptance of the same would sound very defeatist and harm their hard earned reputation. Nonetheless, they would still give a try and hope like hell everyone comes on-board. That explains serious desperation across the Western capital and hectic diplomacy in New Delhi. Key foreign dignitaries who lined up in past fortnight to present their case included British foreign secretary, foreign ministers from China, Russia, Oman & Greece apart from Japanese Prime Minister, US Dy NSA and Canada’s minister of international trade just to name a few.
India Not the Same Anymore
Whatever may have been the talking points, what was very clear though that New Delhi has shown the capacity to talk to all, it has displayed huge maturity while navigating this complex situation. It continuously maintained strong communication lines with all world capitals and is uniquely placed to facilitate a much needed understanding between conflicting parties. It was a stout recognition of India’s fair and matured diplomacy that both parties of the conflict were giving equal respect to India’s concern. India demonstrated its standing by executing successful evacuations, the largest in history in which more than eighteen thousand Indian nationals were evacuated from a war zone by almost ninety flights under Op Ganga. Active military operations were halted by both parties to provide a safe passage to Indians, bears a real testimony of the towering stature India has built over the years. Given the context, it appears extremely childish on part of self-appointed custodians of world order to pass their opinion on matters of handling international relations. It was indeed a great lesson in diplomacy, neutrality is not same as hands off approach. Maintaining a steady engagement, displaying capability to understand a context and not forgetting what history has taught requires sensibility and a spine of iron. It is reflective of a Nation which believes in its strength and ability. What India could see many willfully wished away, India saw the cause behind conflict as well as building up of a humanitarian disaster. India didn’t pick one over the other, while it absented at all ten UNSC votes Indian relief materials were continuously landing in Ukraine. So was the Indian approach that both the parties to conflict requested India to facilitate the peace talks, while President Zelenskyy went as far as to request India provide security guarantee to Ukraine. These are not trifling developments, as it’s said respect is earned. India has earned this place by staying pragmatic while addressing its core interests. History will remember the why’s and how’s of this conflict, if Russia has the onus of executing this massive military operation, West will be called out as the most selfish among all the parties who pushed a prosperous nation to the brink. These realities will slowly sink in, a myopic approach towards a crisis of the century will do No good. Diplomatic decency demands respect for the contrarian views and having channels of communication open. Where India stands today on this severe crisis No other world power can create a space like that for themselves. Sooner it’s understood the better it will be, as the world is not going to be the same again.
–By Ravi Srivastava