Author : Harsh V. Pant

Originally Published 2023-02-23 15:25:59 Published on Feb 23, 2023
Finding a New Equilibrium in a Militarized World
As reports emerge of Russia’s preparing to launch another offensive against Ukraine a year after invading it, the world seems to be entering a dangerous phase. Russia and Ukraine are unrelenting in trying to secure their battlefield objectives even as the wider West further entrenches itself in the war. This crisis in Eurasia has further cemented the centrality of geopolitics in shaping the global order, something that many in Europe had believed to be a thing of the past. With conflict in Eurasia and a shifting balance of power in the Indo-Pacific, the world is at an inflection point. The Russia-Ukraine war has accentuated the polarization in the international system and its long-term consequences for global alliances. The China-Russia axis grows stronger by the day and the West is waking up to the challenge of managing this partnership. The United States and its European partners no longer have the luxury of looking at Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific through two distinct prisms. As a consequence, even with a tactical focus on Russia, the strategic focus on China has not disappeared. How effective the West would be in crafting a policy response to this Beijing-Moscow partnership, however, remains to be seen.
The China-Russia axis grows stronger by the day and the West is waking up to the challenge of managing this partnership.
This major power polarization is drowning out the voices and concerns of the rest of the world. The energy, food, and concomitant economic crises engendered by the Russia-Ukraine war have wreaked havoc in many countries, but a distracted world has little time to find resolutions. Global governance is in crisis as multilateral institutions and frameworks flounder across the board. This has given a country, such as India, that believes in championing the Global South a new space to showcase its leadership credentials. New Delhi intends to use its G20 presidency this year to advance the cause of the weakest and poorest countries in an attempt to craft a new global role for itself as a responsible global stakeholder. Finally, the use of force has returned with a vengeance as the last resort in international relations. Russia’s naked aggression against a sovereign nation and China’s repeated aggression in trying to change the territorial status quo along its maritime and land borders is forcing nations large and small to relook at their defense postures. The future of warfare is being shaped by new technologies as well as a new recognition of the diminishing effectiveness of nonmilitary coercive measures. India has been successful in balancing its ties with the West and Russia so far but it has been a delicate balancing act. As faultlines sharpen with the conflict likely to escalate in the coming months, the challenges for New Delhi are only likely to grow.
This commentary originally appeared in Council on Foreign Relations.
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Harsh V. Pant

Harsh V. Pant

Professor Harsh V. Pant is Vice President – Studies and Foreign Policy at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi. He is a Professor of International Relations ...

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