Wednesday, June 12, 2024

G 20 Summit and  the War in Ukraine

I have one question in mind—the war in Ukraine. Russia is the perpetrator of the war. However, Ukraine has no less responsibility in exacerbating the conditions leading to the war. Its asinine stand of joining NATO is the important reason for the war. Despite the understanding not to expand NATO, NATO led by the US has been on an expansion spree. During the war itself, Finland joined the 31-member military block. Apart from Ukraine, Georgia, Sweden, Bosnia and Herzegovina have shown interest in joining the alliance. Sweden’s membership is just held up because of Turkey’s reservations.

The US and the West are stoking the war. The war is no longer a battle between the neighbouring countries. It is NATO vs. Russia. NATO countries could have persuaded Ukraine not to pursue its desire to join the military alliance. NATO could have stopped its expansion programme towards the East. But it did not.

Unmistakably, Russia is the aggressor in Ukraine. Russia is determined to take on the US and the West what may come. Despite remaining weaker after various nations separated from the Soviet Union, Russia still held imperialist ambitions. However, at present, it is confined to using force to solve the problems with its erstwhile member nations of the Soviet Union.  In the past decade, it fought a war with Georgia in 2008. It annexed Crimea in 2014. It grabbed the eastern parts of Ukraine, where Russians dominate. China has been an ally in all its misadventures.

It is over 18 months since Russia invaded Ukraine. Russia deployed around 13 lakh troops. Ukraine mustered around half of the Russian deployment. Thousands died on both sides. Russians lost around 1,20,000 troops. Leaked Pentagon papers revealed that the Russian deaths were 43,000 until February. 1,70,000 Russian soldiers were injured.1 Last November, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman said Ukraine’s army losses were around 1,00,000. Injured soldiers could be more than the deaths. The estimates are that around 1,20,000 Ukrainian soldiers were injured. Millions of Ukrainians were displaced- 50 lakhs internally and 60 lakhs Ukrainians migrated to other countries. One-fourth of the total population is displaced due to the lethal war. Just a month after the war, 43 lakhs of Ukraine’s children, more than half of the total children population in Ukraine. 2

Billions of Dollars and Euros are pumped into the war. Germany alone gave Ukraine loans,  grants and military aid worth 2.8 billion Euros approximately since the beginning of the war. The US has alone provided financial aid worth $ 20 billion just after the onset of the war. The military packages are worth several billions more. Apart from the individual countries in the EU, the EU also provided financial assistance to Ukraine worth 2 billion Euros. The US influenced various countries to provide financial or military aid. Many Latin American, Asian and African countries are on this list, providing various logistics to Ukraine at the behest of the US. 

The Ukraine war is the most lethal war on the planet at present. It is the longest land war on the European land after the World War.

The US sees this as an excellent opportunity to strike Russia. The US must be thinking that as the Afghanistan war wrecked the erstwhile Soviet Union, this war could wreak havoc on Russia. Will Ukraine be a pawn in the hands of the US in destroying Russia?

But are there any attempts to bring peace? Any efforts to effect a cease-fire? Several rounds of peace talks between Ukraine and Russian delegations happened thanks to the UN, Turkey, France, Estonia, and even Austria. While condemning the Russian violation of Ukraine’s territory, the Brazilian President proposed a ‘ peace club’ from a group of developing countries, including Brazil and  China, to help bring an armistice between the warring countries.

Do we see any role of India in ushering in a truce in Ukraine?

India is leading the G20 till it gives its baton to Brazil on September 10th. Has India done anything concrete to dissuade Russia after the eruption of War? Russia is one of the best friends to India, a strategic partner, and a ‘dependable ally ’. Russia is a co-member in two other Multi-Lateral International Organisations – SCO and BRICS. Despite huge leverage with Russia, except for an anodyne statement by Modi that this is not ‘an era of wars’, which he made in the US that grabbed the headlines, India has done nothing concrete towards a truce between the belligerents. “I have said directly and publicly’, recalling his words to Putin, Modi said, ‘This is not an era of war. But it is one of dialogue and diplomacy, and we all must do what we can to stop the bloodshed and human suffering.”3 Great words indeed! But as the adage goes, proof of the pudding lies in eating. What did Modi do to “stop the bloodshed and human suffering”?   Did he do what he could to bring the warring countries to the table? If at all anything India has done, it grabbed the opportunity of financial ostracisation of Russia and procured as much cheap oil as possible from the friendly country.  India now makes up for nearly 42% of all the crude oil Indian imports for a straight eighth month till May 2023. Before the war, Russia’s share of Indian crude imports was a tiny 1%. Now it peaked at 42%, two million barrels per day.4  Viswaguru failed to bring the warring parties to the table using his good books with Putin.

India always clamours for permanent membership in the UN Assembly. But what is our practice? Except for sending Indian forces for Peacekeeping Operations, nothing tangible is done to establish International Peace. Take the instances of the American war on Iraq and Afghanistan. India’s record is dismal. India offered troops to war in Afghanistan in the wake of 9/11 in 2001 as part of ‘The US War on Terror’.

Here was the best opportunity for India. India has been keeping the best of its relations with Russia. However, we have not even made a single attempt towards the ceasefire in Ukraine. It is not easy. But war is never the solution. When we believe in dialogue and diplomacy, what have we done towards it?

Quite nothing. A Year and a half into the war and a year into the G20 Presidency, neither did India condemn NATO’s ambitious plans to expand to the East nor its pumping of billions of dollars and behemoth war equipment into Ukraine, including controversial cluster bombs. If today is not the era of wars but the age of peace, why do military alliances like NATO still exist? India fails to  question NATO’s raison d’etre.  Viswa Guru is at a loss of ideas and practice towards Viswa Shanti.

Modi tells Zelensky in Hiroshima on the sidelines of the G7 Summit that India would continue to provide humanitarian assistance, particularly pharmaceuticals, to Ukraine. The Foreign Secretary Vinay Kwatra told the press: The PM conveyed to Zelenskyy that India will do everything possible to find a resolution through diplomacy and dialogue. Did anything happen after that? 6

India has not condemned the Russian invasion. It had consistently abstained from voting in the UNSC, General Assembly, and the UNHCR that condemned the aggression on Ukraine.  It adopted a steadied neutrality. By being neutral, India is in the company of strange bedfellows such as China and Pakistan towards Ukraine.5 The neutrality could be understood from its strategic interests because Russia is a dependable arms supplier to India. But India, if it really is interested in peace and does not desire the war in Ukraine, it must have done much more than any leader could have done. But India, unfortunately, did not fulfil its role. Is it for this Himalayan failure that it was propagated that (of course, it was fake news) Modi was shortlisted for the Nobel Peace Prize?

The War in Ukraine has a long shadow on the G20 Summit. Without the presence of China and Russia and without any resolution on the Ukraine peace process, has the G20 achieved anything at this Summit?

G20 finishes on 10th September. And the war in Ukraine will continue to bleed. And the human suffering.

Naturally, the 38 page draft Summit declaration on Ukraine still is left blank.

(G 20 Summit started on 9th September)


1 New York Times, Aug 18, 2023

2 UNICEF, 24 March Bulletin

3 Indian Express,  23 June 2023, 

4  The Hindu, 4 June 2023

5 KP Nayar, The Tribune, 31 July, 2023

6 Ashley J Tellis,  What is our interest: Indian and the Ukraine war,  April 25, 2022—Carnegie Endowment for International Peace website.


8 September 2023

Subrahmanyam Varanasi
Subrahmanyam Varanasi
Subrahmanyam Varanasi, Social activist and advocate from Guntur.


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