Indo-Pacific Security Balance Amid Russia’s Ukraine Onslaught

putin modi
Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi during a meeting in Sochi on May 21, 2018. (MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP via Getty Images)

March 2, 2022

The Russian incursion into Ukraine continued as peace negotiation talks failed to reach a solution. On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported a warning from U.S. officials cautioning that Russia has not yet used its full military strength in its Ukraine siege. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to fight as a “40-mile long” Russian convoy approached, Inside Edition states.

Zelensky Escapes Assassination Attempt 

Zelensky has survived an assassination attempt against him by a Chechen death squad, according to The Telegraph. Russian special forces units have entered Kyiv to hunt down and eliminate Ukraine’s seated government. As the situation escalates, Zelensky reportedly pleads with Western leaders to prevent “genocide” in Ukraine. 

Taiwan In Peril 

As the war in Ukraine rages on, Taiwan looks on with growing concern. The New York Times notes that Russia’s disregard for international normalization is seen by Taiwanese as “a parallel” to the peril their country is in from China. Taiwan, as a self-governed democracy, has long been faced with the prospect of a Beijing conquest that would be absorbed by the Chinese Communist Party. As Russia breaks the international normalization protocols with the Ukraine assault, Taiwan expects Beijing to be emboldened. 

In response to the growing international anxiety over Ukraine-Taiwan parallels, U.S. officials urge caution. 

The Question of India 

As the Russian assault in Ukraine continues, Financial Times turned the spotlight on India, accusing the eastern nation of choosing “to stick with Russia” in its national interest. New Delhi is reportedly reluctant to upset Moscow due to its economic and trade relationship. 

With anxiety over China, India continues to maintain cordial relations with the Kremlin. Moscow and New Delhi reportedly maintain a “military and technical sphere like no other,” according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin refers to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “a time-tested friend.” 

James Crabtree, an opinion contributor featured at Nikkei Asia, writes that, in his view, despite Western nagging, India’s Russia-China dilemma has not been appeased. Crabtree is the executive director of IISS-Asia Singapore, a think tank. 

A Larger Geopolitical Erosion 

Western actors have condemned India’s unwillingness to spar with Russia over the Ukraine invasion. Yet, Crabtree reasons that India is navigating a difficult geopolitical game. India is reportedly becoming a more powerful player in the Indo-Pacific geopolitical landscape. This, Crabtree writes, is a position it must grapple with. India’s decision not to condemn Russia’s actions has caused a stir with the Western nations India has recently drawn closer to, which India has done to balance support from Beijing’s pressure. 

Crabtree reasons that, despite Western fears that India is showing itself to be unreliable, India’s motion towards the West is genuine. India faces a border crisis with recent aggressions from Beijing. Border conflict escalations continued in December, with Beijing media reflecting on whether or not the Indo-China border region, Line of Actual Control (LAC), would become “permanently militarized” in response.

In recent weeks, Indian officials stress that Beijing continues to ignore written agreements regarding the LAC zone, which, The Indian Express reports, New Delhi says should be seen as a “matter of international concern.” Indian officials have reportedly briefed the government of Australia regarding the security status of their Pacific regional neighborhood. 

As tensions rise for the geopolitical status quo, The Wire notes how India must deal with the troubling prospect of a Moscow-Beijing symbiosis. Indian officials fear that Russia, under the pressure of U.S. sanctions, will move into a closer-cooperation phase with China’s economy. 

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