Recent major escalation in the war in Ukraine may affect India, humankind

The Russian people have been wound up enough over the year with an information war. But the recent major drone attacks on sovereign Russian territory, even close to Moscow, are likely to ratchet up the tensions and propaganda. There is in fact near zero support in their main media that does not characterize NATO and […]

The Russian people have been wound up enough over the year with an information war. But the recent major drone attacks on sovereign Russian territory, even close to Moscow, are likely to ratchet up the tensions and propaganda. There is in fact near zero support in their main media that does not characterize NATO and the US that leads it as generally despicable, duplicitous and not to be trusted at all.
Most importantly, a victory by Ukraine operating as a proxy to US-backed NATO is considered by Moscow as precursor to fragmentation of Russia. And even the beginning of the end of its distinct Orthodox civilization. This view has been added to by recent statements by its leadership such as its past president, Dmitri Medvedev. That even its own culture, seen as threatened among major sections of Russian speaking areas of Ukraine will be put more into doubt in Russia proper if it does not win this real war. Even Russian president Putin stated he could not imagine a world without Russia. Now, that could be seen as ominous in terms of the full extent Russia will go to see its fragmentation does not take place.
It is a fragmentation of Russia that the US Pentagon showed it essentially desired in its famous Wolfowitz doctrine put together decades ago. A doctrine generally supported by the late Zbigniew Brezinski, ex National Security Advisor to a US president and who headed up the Harvard Institute to which I was an Associate, in which I decidedly still have a different view than his about US exceptionalism and its need to be aggressively pushed globally. The Wolfowitz/ Brezinski doctrines are still popular with many in Washington. It may put the whole world in peril, one day and possibly sooner than later.
Now, with the major drone attacks of recent against Russia proper, it appears that it will now go all out to do much more considerable damage to Kiev’s military forces and infrastructure. Those threat perceptions by Russians to their existential interests will be further red flagged by their leadership and media. So, countries like India have to worry that Russians are more ready to go to all-out war may lead to serious health, economic and security collateral damage to it.
As the growing risk of a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia is heightened, this does not do anything positive for global economic security. If there is a belief that war will spill over to the largest market in the world with the largest GNP, world growth could be lowered. We are talking of Europe as a major trading and investment partner to India and to some extent a security partner; it does not want to see weakened. India needs to more sharply express this to Moscow.
If war breaks out directly between Russia and NATO because of escalations seriously undermining Russia security, watch out. China may feel the need to lend its massive arsenal in full or in part in support of Moscow. That would mean likely rising of tensions along borders China has territorial disputes with as it become more trigger happy or paranoid of even proxies being used against it. That includes the border between India and China. The effect would be to draw more resources in India significantly away from the regular economy. That would be a serious interruption to the success India is economically experiencing now. And because of the security relationship India has with the Quad that includes the US, India might be forced to shed its positive neutrality, and get caught up in sending forth serious numbers of its soldiers, particularly if a World War III broke out.
There is no guarantee that India as a consequence of this might not find its own infrastructure under attack from China, just as Ukraine has experienced from Russia. And not to forget both India and China are both seriously nuclear weapons armed.
But let us first look at the most likely pressing risks toward a nuclear war. One predicted by scientists would cause a nuclear winter, snuffing out almost all life on the planet including those of Indians. Or a more limited one that would spread radiation to the subcontinent, raising levels of cancer and causing other serious health problems like pandemics.
As a precursor, to such a devastating global war, as its perceived last defence against a NATO “takeover”, Russia’s nuclear force could be put on standby alert to launch at some point if it feels evermore under threat. And even a missile “warning shot” launched into the sea, nearby to a NATO country to message NATO that Russia will not be put under existential threat if further attacks come from Kiev into main Russian territory. If North Korea can make intimidating major missile launches and get away with it, maybe Moscow will do the same. With the suspension of the SALT nuclear treaty, Russia may not have to give a heads-up on whether any launch is a prelude to a real nuclear strike. So would NATO, especially Washington, want to play “nuclear chicken” itself to show continued solidarity with Ukraine? Or worse make a deadly misinterpretation of Moscow’s intentions and order a real nuclear attack on Russia.
There is simply a “tribe” in Washington that wishes to win at just all costs. Whether it was the “cookie wars” of Victoria Nuland to act like she was a sweet talker in giving out her treats to security forces defending the previous pro-Russian Ukraine regime. All in her hope of smoothing out her image as a Washington, pro- interventionist hawk. One that Moscow described her as in helping to stage successfully, a US backed coup against Kiev. All as a further piling onto NATO’s expansion east to the borders of Russia that had continued to draw serious security worries. Those included NATO placing intermediate missiles in eastern Europe, formerly part of the defensive ring of nations to Russia now completely evaporated with the demise of the Warsaw pact with the fragmentation of the Soviet Union in 1991.
It was a fragmentation process that traumatized Russians enough especially of Russian president Putin’s generation. And a NATO alliance that not even former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger describes as a defensive one. The bombing of Serbia, essentially a Russian ally, by NATO was the first major signal of Moscow’s legitimate concerns that whatever that alliance’s head said about its benign intentions towards Moscow that they should not be believed. Little of what NATO has done in its support of liberal interventionism (Afghanistan Iraq, Libya, Syria etc) makes the Kremlin think that it is not the target in the end by Washington.
India must now use its leadership through the G20 and its moral position to press all war promoting sides to the conflict towards real peace and call out the pro-war factions as manic irresponsible. Furthermore both the US-led NATO and Russia risk becoming pariahs if they let the war in Ukraine lead to the likes of India being seriously damaged in the end and humankind being ever put into jeopardy. This is kind of selfish behaviour that could crush the South, not only as it is doing to Ukrainians. It is totally unacceptable and must stop now!

Peter Dash is a former Associate of Harvard’s Center for International Affairs. He has been a writer and active volunteer on development for decades.