NEW DELHI: StratNewsGlobal spoke to P S Raghavan, former ambassador to Russia and ex-chairman of the National Security Advisory Board, on US and Russia sabre rattling over Ukraine and whether that would lead to war. India has vital stakes in a peaceful resolution as that would enable it to develop strategic ties with all players including Russia, the US and Europe. Here is an outline of what Ambassador Raghavan said.
- President Joe Biden wants to concentrate on his domestic agenda and externally focus on the principle externa before the US, which is China.
- Russia’s President Putin has welcomed it as he wants to ensure a more respectable distance from China. A deal with the US will also end sanctions and help him rebuild the economy. It would also involve US recognition of Russia’s security interests in Ukraine, in Europe and other parts of the world.
- Since June diplomatic, military and intelligence chiefs of either side have met with the focus on strategic stability (arms control).
- In the middle negotiations appear to have been hit by a crescendo of accusations in the Western media of Putin planning to invade Ukraine with the aim of installing a puppet government there.
- This appears to have been driven by sections of the military and intelligence establishment in the US that have always seen Russia as enemy no.1.
- The Baltic republics and Central European states also do not want a US-Russia deal given their historical animosity to Russia. Ukraine does not want a deal that does not address its demand for the return of Crimea, which Russia occupied in 2008.
- Russia also wants a guarantee that Ukraine will not be admitted into Nato as that would open the Caucasus to US meddling. Ukraine’s flat terrain will also enable rapid movement of military forces towards Russia and Moscow.
- For India, a conflict over Ukraine means pressure from the US on its Russia relationship. India could come under CAATSA sanctions. Russia would move closer to China, thereby limiting India’s strategic and diplomatic options.
- The objective reality points to an agreement where the US and Russia tacitly acknowledge each other’s concerns and interests.