A specter is haunting Europe – the specter of war with Russia. Russian warnings and subsequent proposals on security guarantees to the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) don’t seem to have been taken seriously. Things have come to a head as Konstantin Gavrilov, head of the Russian delegation to Vienna on Military Security and Arms Control, has warned of a “military response”.
Russia has not shied away from responding militarily. It intervened in Ukraine in 2014 when a popular referendum in Crimea voted for merging with Russia. In 2008, Georgia attacked the breakaway pro-Russian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. That then-National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon backed the “legitimate Russian interests” and drew Putin’s gratitude for “taking a restrained and objective” position, bore India’s correct reading of the situation. Neither will another endorsement of the Russian position today affect India and Ukraine’s limited defense ties. India sources marine engines for its warships from Zorya or parts and upgrades for its Antonov An-32 medium-lift transport fleet. Ukrainian government defense exporter Ukroboronprom actively participates in defense expos in India.
The US’s need for a semblance of stability in Eastern Europe by calling for the Uk too to adhere to the Minsk Agreements – which provides for negotiations with the breakaway pro-Russian People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been refusing – is also accompanied by a need to keep testing Russia’s red lines and keep the sway of European politics in the West’s favor.
The dubiousness of both the American and NATO role should be evident from governments’ antecedents that the two back against Moscow. Zelensky’s anti-Russian resistance has been found to have neo-Nazi and rabidly anti-Semitic factions, with ties to the Azov Battalion and OUN-B groups, which had participated in anti-Jewish pogroms alongside the Wehrmacht. Georgia’s 2008 President Mikheil Saakashvili’s anti-Russian bombast had forced President George W. Bush and his National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley to ask him to pipe it down and take off any US military intervention on his behalf.
While it is a different matter that German and French governments are not entirely on board the US bandwagon given their calls for dialogue, they cannot entirely abandon their American ally either. The Russian proposal to the US provides for not using other countries’ territories against each other and not deploying military bases, nuclear ballistic missiles and military exercises outside the borders of the other. Ironically, Russia does not have any military bases or deployed nuclear missiles outside Russia; the US has 800 bases worldwide.