The implications of tense US-Russia ties
- An unsettled Russia is only likely to tighten its embrace of China, which would be the least desirable outcome for India
The United States (US) and Russia are holding urgent meetings to de-escalate the crisis over Ukraine, described as the tensest point in relations between the former Cold War rivals in recent times. Leaders of both countries have not displayed optimism about the talks — US secretary of state Antony Blinken doesn’t foresee breakthroughs, while Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov made it clear that the Americans should have no illusions that the issue will be resolved after the first of the planned meetings in Geneva, Brussels, and Vienna. Mr Blinken has accused Russia of putting “a gun to the head of Ukraine” by amassing 100,000 troops near its borders, and the US wants Russia to move away from aggression.
Russia has sought new security arrangements with the West, including a halt to the further expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which was considering granting membership to Ukraine. Any military move by Russia against Ukraine is guaranteed to provoke a sharp response from the US, including sanctions on Russian leaders and the country’s banking system. President Vladimir Putin’s move on Ukraine and his swift intervention to put down protests in Kazakhstan were aimed at shoring up Russia’s position in areas it perceives as within its sphere of influence, while President Joe Biden is keen on restoring America’s credentials as a leader of the democratic order after the erosion of the Donald Trump years. If things take a turn for the worse, India could find itself in a tough position as, unlike the era of the Cold War, Russia and the US are key partners. An unsettled Russia is only likely to tighten its embrace of China, which would be the least desirable outcome for India.