Politics & International Studies

Dealing with dictators and democrats under duress

India just cannot offend Russia even as it won’t like to upset the growing engagement with the US and European countries, says the author.


Jagdish Batra, Professor and Additional Director, English Language Centre, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.


“From frying pan into fire” is the proverb that cynically fits in to describe  mankind’s slipping into another challenging situation after the Covid19 epidemic. The ongoing Russian attack on Ukraine threatens to unleash nuclearized  World War III. 

Whereas Covid19 was the Chinese gift to the world, the ongoing battering of Ukraine is solely Russian’s doing. One can say that the Russian President Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping toe similar line in many respects, even as there are some differences. 

When Xi got the constitutional bar on having a third term as Secretary General of Communist Party of China removed, and thereby secured for himself as many terms as he would be able to marshal, Putin too followed suit. 

Both seem possessed by imaginary fears of threat to security, or so it is presented to the world, to justify their adventurous moves. Both are, therefore, intent upon expanding their areas of influence — literally as well as metaphorically. 

Both are bitten by the bug of megalomania and see themselves as no less than the great emperors of yore. So, Xi goes grabbing land of neighbours on all sides of China to fulfil Mao-tse Tung’s vision of a greater China, and Putin sets about to geographically restore the former Soviet Union!  

The issues at stake are indeed complex, being a mix of reality and fiction. Russia, being a truncated part of the earlier Soviet Union, has long viewed its territorial diminution as a result of the western conspiracy, therefore, it won’t want contiguous countries to hobnob with western powers. 

For the western bloc, it is denial of democratic freedom to the people of Ukraine to elect their leader and to choose friends from among the comity of nations. This is not a purely ideational construct.  

The people of Ukraine do not have happy memories of the past as member states of the Soviet Union. Had it been otherwise, they would not have separated from it like some other states, in the first place. 

The discordant voices within Ukraine come from the Russian-speaking regions which Russia has capitalized upon to dismember Ukraine. When such grand dreams motivate the dictators, other reasons can be easily discovered or invented. 

Published in: The Times of India

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