100 days of the war in Ukraine
Putin’s actions weakened Moscow, caused human suffering, and put friends in a spot
For over 100 days now, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused human suffering, triggered a global food and commodity price crisis, and destabilised the global geopolitical order. It has led to the United States (US) deploying military support to Ukraine, and crippling Russia economically. It has forced Europe to reset its strategic calculus, boost military spending, and take initial steps to reduce its energy dependence on Russia. It has strengthened the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with newer members queuing up to join the bloc. And it has fundamentally weakened Moscow, which has failed to meet its war objectives. And the war shows no signs of ending, proving the old adage that conflicts may be easy to begin, but there is no knowing how they evolve or end.
India, a friend and well-wisher of Russia, is still absorbing the costs of Moscow’s misjudgment. Delhi wanted Washington and Moscow to get along in order to face an assertive Beijing; instead, the US and Russia are locked in a deep conflict. It did not want a Moscow that would be dependent on Beijing; instead, China, despite its stated ambivalence about the current moment, will remain among Russia’s strongest allies when the war ends. Delhi did not want its traditional military relationship with Russia to become the object of western censure; instead, Russia’s own ability to keep up a steady supply of spares and parts of existing weapon systems and provide newer weapon systems has come under a cloud even as the West expects India to speed up its diversification of arms imports. India did not want to be in a position where it had to make a choice between the West and Russia, and while it has diplomatically navigated the crisis with finesse, it has had to invest tremendous strategic capital in keeping both sides happy. India wanted a conducive post-pandemic economic climate to grow; instead, it is staring at a slowing of growth and spiralling inflation, which has political implications and narrows the government’s strategic choices. India wants an end to the war, but has little ability to influence its outcome.
In these 100 days, Delhi has offered a lesson in how best to safeguard national interests in adversarial circumstances. All it can hope for is that better sense prevails in Moscow, which created the crisis; Washington moderate its ambitions and refrain from escalatory steps; and Kyiv, while preserving its sovereignty, recognises the limits of what it can achieve on the battlefield. The war must end.