Lessons for India from Ukraine-Russia conflict – UPSC GS2

Major learnings from Ukraine-Russia Conflict:
  • Fallacy of collective defence:
    • US and Western countries only providing weapons and intelligence.
    • No one is sending troops on ground to support Ukraine.
    • This indicates that a nation’s vital interests can be protected only by that nation itself.
  • Importance of military power:
    • Almost entire West has imposed toughest economic sanctions on Russia but it could not stop Russia.
    • This proves that hard power dictates terms in geopolitics as famously said by the fifth century BC Greek historian Thucydides who wrote: “Right, as the world goes, is only in question between equals in power — while the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.”
  • Importance of self-sufficiency in defence domain:
    • India has had to walk a diplomatic tightrope over the Russia-Ukraine issue as it tries to balance its ties with Russia and the West. One of the prime reasons for this stance has been the heavy dependency of India on Russia and the western countries for defence equipment.
    • For a nation to have strategic autonomy in matters of national security, self-sufficiency in defence research and development and manufacturing is imperative.
Indian experience in earlier conflicts:
  • During the 1962 India-China war, Russia was not supportive of India and it in fact sided with China and the Americans though offered moral and logistic support. It turned down India’s request for military help.
  • India’s focussed efforts at strengthening its defence capabilities helped it win the wars of 1965 and 1971.
  • The 1974 ‘peaceful’ nuclear explosion and the 1998 Operation Shakti nuclear tests have helped India achieve a degree of nuclear deterrence in the nuclear realm. This is crucial given that India faces two nuclear adversaries on its borders.
  • Recognizing the perils associated with heavy dependency on other countries for defence equipment, after the Cold War ended, India diversified its defence purchases to dilute its dependence on Russia.
  • An atomic weapon is a deterrent in the nuclear realm and not a determinant of ‘conventional’ power, so India should improve its conventional defence capabilities.
  • Recognizing India’s lag in conventional military capability, the Atmanirbhar thrust in matters of defence research and development and manufacturing has to become a national endeavour in mission mode.
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