Ukrainian President has warned that if China sides with Russia in the war against Ukraine, it would mean World War III.
President Zelensky thinks the world will hazard a nuclear war to serve his ambition. Perhaps he pins his hope on winning a war with the help of borrowed war machine. Powers, not proxies, fight wars.
Russia does not need military help from any country, as does Ukraine, to fight the war. The Ukraine war is a long-deferred war against the colonial mentality of raising proxies to fight their wars and push their interests. This line of thinking convinced China and India not to sign the US-sponsored condemnation resolution against Russia.
The US and NATO need to understand the rationale behind China and India not signing the condemnation resolution. Their declining to sign did not betray hostility towards the US; it was instead a friendly hint that the issue would best be resolved through dialogue.
If the dialogue failed, the world would have understood where the malady lay. The dialogue should have started before sanctions were imposed on Russia.
The refrain of the West’s rhetoric is why Russia attacked Ukraine and that it is a blatant violation of the UN Charter on Human Rights etc. You place snakes in one’s backyard and then deride him for protecting his life by finishing the reptile.
A day before the Russian action against Ukraine, President Putin said in no ambiguous words that Russia may not match the combined war machine of Europe and the USA, but she has nuclear precedence.
This statement should not have been taken lightly because it reflected Russia’s threat perception. Unfortunately, the West refused to come out of its mindset.
We do not intend to give a clean chit to Moscow either. Both China and India dealt with the issue as mature states, conscious of their international responsibility, should have done.
The US and her Western allies would have done well to understand that a country with a democratic dispensation was on the same page as a country with an authoritarian dispensation.
As the leading democracy of the world, it behooved the US to get into serious consultation with both. But they relied on their weapons and not on their wisdom. The simple wisdom dispassionately understands that no country has ever won a war against Russia.
Let us go deeper into the issue. At the Samarkand summit of SCO, Indian Prime Minister Modi openly told President Putin a meaningful sentence. “Your Excellency, you know this is not the war era.” We wish the West and especially the European Union members had understood the weight of this sentence and the spirit behind it.
We wish President Zelensky of Ukraine had understood how serious India was to see the de-escalation of fighting. He should have contemplated the dimensions of the role he had agreed to play; he should have pondered over the consequences of a proxy pushed to confront its long-armed neighbor.
By not signing the condemnation resolution against Russia, India did not harm Ukraine’s interests but tried to open a channel for a peaceful resolution of the holdup.
India did not like Ukraine to be reduced to buffer status but maintain its dignity as a sovereign state. Had these considerations prevailed, President Zelensky would not have felt the impulse to talk out of tune.
Coming to Zelensky’s warning, it is “His Master’s voice.” On the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference held on 19 February, State Councilor Wang Yi told Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, “China has always stood on the side of peace and dialogue and has always insisted on urging peace and promoting talks. Beijing does not wish to see any escalation in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.”
Not only that, the top Chinese diplomat told his Ukrainian counterpart that China did not want to see the crisis in Ukraine prolonged and expanded and that China was willing to work with the international community to avoid further deterioration of the situation and persistently strive for peace.
We should note that Wang is also the Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission, which means that what he has said is China’s state policy.
With this clarification of China’s stand on the European conflict, Zelensky’s warning is uncalled for. And if it is wishful thinking, it will not go beyond the four walls of Zelensky’s home.
According to the Chinese ministry, Kuleba said Ukraine valued China’s international status and influence and its position on the political settlement of the crisis and expected Beijing to “continue to play a constructive role.”
On Twitter, Kuleba said, “Wang reaffirmed China’s respect for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as its rejection of the use of force as a means of resolving that.”
“Sovereignty and territorial integrity” are the themes India and China focus on throughout. Ukrainian leadership shows the slightest concern for Ukraine’s sovereign status, and it is precisely what Russia wants to ensure and establish.
Beijing has repeatedly called for peace talks and, like India, declined to join sanctions against Russia. The tool of sanctions has become outdated because it means hegemony and domination. If this is no era for war, in the words of PM Modi of India, it is equally no era for hegemony and domination. That must be clear.
Chinese top diplomat said that his country would release a position paper on the Ukraine war, although he did not elaborate on the statement. But according to commentators, the position paper will reiterate several important claims by Chinese President Xi Jinping, including that sovereignty and territorial integrity should be respected and legitimate security concerns should be considered.
This is the crux of the issue; recognition of sovereignty and respect for legitimate security. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin clarified what the position paper would likely suggest.
He said, “We will reaffirm that nuclear war cannot be fought or won. We will call for the security of civilian nuclear facilities, oppose attacks on nuclear power plants, and advocate a common opposition to using biological and chemical weapons.”
This clarification has come from Beijing in response to Secretary Blinken’s warning to Wang Yi about the “implications and consequences if China provides material support to Russia or assistance with systemic sanctions evasion.”
In response, Wang said Beijing would not accept US “finger-pointing or even coercion targeting China-Russia relations.”
- KN Pandita (Padma Shri) is the former Director of the Center of Central Asian Studies at Kashmir University. Views expressed here are of the author’s.
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