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Global War fronts UPSC NOTE

 Why is the Ukraine conflict still going on?

  • Ukraine war, the largest ground war in Europe since the Second World War, one of the most consequential conflicts of the post-war world was its great power involvement. 

  • While the actual fighting is between Russian and Ukrainian soldiers within Ukrainian territories, the source of the conflict is the rivalry between NATO, a Cold War-era trans-Atlantic nuclear alliance, and Russia, an ageing great power.

  • After the war broke out, NATO members, under the leadership of the U.S., formed a coalition to financially and militarily support Ukraine.

  • The West’s approach was two-fold: it sought to cripple the Russian economy with expansive sanctions and wound Russia on the battlefield by supplying weapons worth billions of dollars to Ukraine. 

  • The sanctions have hit the Russian economy but did little to stop Vladimir Putin’s war machine, which is telling of how the global economic landscape is changing after the rise of China and India

  • On the battlefield, Ukrainian soldiers, tens of thousands of them trained in Western bases, fought with some of the West’s most advanced weapons

  • After the breakthroughs in Kharkiv and Kherson last year, Ukraine failed to make any substantial territorial gain in 2023. 

  • Six months after the Ukrainian counteroffensive, Russian troops are now on the offensive, seizing the Donbas town of Marinka earlier this week.

  • Ukraine and its allies are facing some reality checks as the war is set to enter its third year.

What is happening in Gaza?

  • If Russia is fighting a long war of attrition in the NATO-supported Ukraine, Israel is fighting a blitzkrieg in defenceless Gaza. 

  • Israel’s attacks have practically turned Gaza uninhabitable, but the Jewish state is far from meeting its declared objectives of the war — be it freeing the hostages, dismantling Hamas or taking down the Islamist group’s top leadership.

  • As the war is set to enter its third month, Israeli generals and political leaders show no let-up in fighting. 

  • While it’s too early to make a clear assessment of how Israel’s war on Gaza would affect West Asia, there are some signals on the geopolitical fallout of the war

  • Israel stands almost isolated on the global stage despite its claim that Hamas brought this war upon Gaza after the October 7 attack. 

  • Israel’s war also drilled holes into the moral case the West, especially the Biden administration, had built around Russia’s Ukraine invasion to drum up global support

  • The total number of civilians killed on both sides of the Ukraine war in 22 months is roughly 10,000, according to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU). 

  • The total number of Palestinians killed in Gaza in less than three months is 21,000.

  • A vast majority of them women and children, as per the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry

  • The U.S., which is supplying arms and money to Ukraine to fight the Russian invasion, has not even called for a ceasefire in Gaza. 

  • In the UN Security Council, the U.S. vetoed two resolutions that called for a humanitarian ceasefire; and in the UN General Assembly, the U.S., Israel and two other countries voted against a resolution that endorsed the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. 

  • There is a groundswell of anger towards the U.S.’s support for Israel in the Arab world

  • Russia, which the U.S. seeks to isolate and weaken, and China, the U.S.’s primary competitor, on the other side, are trying to channel this anger by offering support for the Palestinian cause.

Why is Israel not heeding a ceasefire call?

  • With Israeli leaders claiming that the fighting would go on for months, risks of a wider regional war are rising

  • As conflicts persist with large-scale destruction of global security and disruption of supply chains, the Global South, whose focus is on its own developmental challenges.

  • Its is getting impatient with the current order and is pushing for alternatives

  • These trends are likely to continue in 2024. 

What is Russia’s position?

  • Russia now refers to its actions as a "special military operation" aimed at demilitarizing and "de-Nazifying" Ukraine.

  • Their stated goals have shifted over time, with an initial focus on capturing Kyiv to a more recent emphasis on securing control of eastern Ukraine.

  • Russia has participated in on-and-off negotiations with Ukraine, but no concrete agreement has been reached.

How have the U.S. and China reacted?

  • Understanding the nuanced and evolving stances of the U.S. and China towards global warfronts is crucial in today's interconnected world

  • Both nations wield significant influence, and their reactions can shape the course of conflicts and international relations

  • Engagement and Intervention: The U.S. has historically played an active role in global conflicts, often through diplomatic efforts, military interventions, or support for one side or another. Examples include leading NATO interventions in Libya and Afghanistan.

  • Prioritization: With limited resources and domestic pressures, the U.S. has adopted a more selective approach in recent years, sometimes favoring strategic interests over multilateral interventions. Recent examples include shifting focus from the Middle East to countering China's influence.

  • Emphasis on Alliances: The U.S. prioritizes collaborating with allies and partners to address global threats, like the recent Quad alliance with India, Japan, and Australia aimed at balancing China's rise.

  • Non-interference Principle: China traditionally promotes non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, often criticizing Western interventions. However, they have become more involved in recent years, like peacekeeping missions in Africa.

  • Economic Leverage: China increasingly leverages its economic might to influence global affairs, sometimes using trade ties or infrastructure projects to gain political footholds. This approach raises concerns about debt-trap diplomacy and neocolonialism.

  • Focus on Regional Interests: While increasingly assertive, China's main focus remains on its

immediate neighborhood, particularly the South China Sea and Taiwan. 

  • They pursue territorial claims and military dominance in these regions, raising concerns about potential flashpoints.

What is India’s take on the conflicts?

  • India’s positions, which are largely aligned with those of the Global South, are driven by both its specific interests and the larger trends it sees in the global dynamics

  • In the case of Ukraine, it condemned the war and called for talks and a ceasefire without naming any party. 

  • Even under heavy pressure, it was careful not to let the crisis affect its multifaceted strategic partnership with Russia

  • In the case of Gaza, it repeatedly condemned the Hamas attack on Israel, an important bilateral partner, while also reiterating its traditional position in support of the two-state solution.

  • When civilian casualties mounted in Gaza under Israel’s indiscriminate attacks, India joined the global chorus calling for a ceasefire.

  • The U.S. seems less in control of the geopolitical developments unfolding in its spheres of interests — Europe and West Asia. 

  • Its efforts to weaken Russia are not rewarding and it is unable to control a vengeful Israel, which is affecting its reputation in the Arab World, and the Global South in general

  • China is focused on its immediate periphery and is wary of risks. 

  • Russia is the weakest among the three great powers. 

  • So India, itself a strong proponent of a multipolar world, sees the global order in flux

  • It appears to be careful not to align with any great power, while maximising its interest through multi-engagement and trying to be a voice of the Global South.

How do the wars affect the Global South?

  • In the case of Ukraine, most countries in the Global South refused to buy the western narrative that the war was caused by an “unprovoked Russian aggression”, and stayed away from the sanctions regime

  • They condemned the war and called for upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, in this case, Ukraine, but called for talks and a ceasefire instead of prolonging the fighting

  • While they condemned the Hamas attack, they also strongly backed the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

  • They also see the different positions taken by the West, particularly the U.S..

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Learnerz IAS | Concept oriented UPSC Classes in Malayalam: Global War fronts UPSC NOTE
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