What South Asia has to embrace out of Russia-Ukraine Conflict?

In the war of power acquisition and control on the trade routes, the weaker economies of South Asia are likely to be impacted by price hikes, supply chain disruptions and inflation which could ultimately affect the livelihood of people in this region.

Russia-Ukraine conflict dates back to 2014 when the Russian forces invaded and annexed Crimea, the affect the cultural intersection between the two states started to fade ever since the event took place. Ukraine has been a part of the former Soviet Union and it declared its independence from the USSR in 1991, since then the tensions between the two have been there. The current regime of Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Ukraine has been pro-west and the Russian administration couldn’t afford to have a neighbor that calls for an aid from the NATO forces.


World’s second largest oil exporter and third largest Natural gas exporter, Russia, is under the western sanctions. Along with many other negative outcomes of the sanctions, the Oil prices are likely to go up and the struggling economies of the countries in South Asian region wouldn’t be able to bear this price hike.


The Indian government is in difficult position and it can’t put all its eggs in one basket, on one side India has military cooperation with the Russia and on the other it has close ties with the United States to cater the Chinese influence. India has recently started receiving the parts of S-400, a Surface to air missile defense System, from the Russians and it can’t afford to stand with West in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.


India being a part of the quadrilateral security dialogue (QSD), can’t even afford to restrain itself from taking the side of the United States. QSD is a strategic security dialogue between US, Australia, Japan and India, and primarily it was established to cater the Chinese influence in the South China Sea.


India also has close ties with European states and multiple cooperation are taking place between the EU and India, most of these cooperation’s benefit the Indian population. Owing to these developments, India has found itself in a tough positon and it can’t afford to take sides in Russian-Ukraine conflict.


Pakistan being the second important actor of the region has nothing much to gain or lose in the conflict. Pakistan’s relations with the United States haven’t been exemplary in the past couple of years. The trade agreements between Pakistan and China weren’t appreciated by the United States of America and since then the relations between US and Pakistan have been on the downslope.


On the contrary, Pakistan has established close ties with the government in Beijing and Moscow, this has put Pakistan is much easier position owing to the Russia Ukraine War. However, Pakistan has taken a policy decision to remain neutral and not to join any of the two blocks in the on-going war.


The prime minister of Pakistan recently visited Russia and urged to resolve the matter through peaceful means; however the timings of the visit have been questioned by the west. The United States has decided not to let go of this mistake of the premier and has punished National Bank of Pakistan with $ 55 million fine for non-compliance with federal laws, rules, and regulations. Even if Pakistan tries to remain neutral in the conflict, there is a lot that can impact the country as a whole.


As far as the Afghanistan is concerned, the effects of US withdrawal haven’t yet vanished and the regime in Afghanistan is yet to establish itself. The global attention, which was devoted for the Welfare of Afghanistan would now shift towards the Ukraine. The global assistance especially that of the United Nations would now be given to Ukraine and this could affect the support for the Afghanistan.


Bangladesh owes debt to the Moscow, the USSR had voted in favor of the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 in the Security Council. The government of Bangladesh should support the Putin Regime and repay the debt of their support in 1971. However, the government in Dhaka isn’t in a position to directly take a stand against the west, rather it would maintain a neutral position and ask the stakeholders to deescalate peacefully.


The tensions between the stakeholders of Russia-Ukraine conflict should de-escalate peacefully and the major actors of South Asia have insisted on doing the same. The talks between the Ukraine and Russia have already started and it is expected that something positive would come out of these talks. Putin regime would be looking to increase its influence in Ukraine while the NATO members would be pushing on the Ukraine to keep their sphere of influence. In the coming days, one has to see which of the stakeholder compromises on its position.

Published in Global Affairs April 2022 Edition

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Shujaat Nadeem

Written by Shujaat Nadeem

Shujaat Nadeem is a graduate of National Defense University Islamabad in the discipline of Strategic Studies. The Author has interests in the Geopolitics of South Asia, Nuclear doctrines, Trade routes, and the Kashmir Conflict.

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