Biased action

The imposition of sanctions on Russia by the United States and the European Union (EU) over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea lays bare enormous double standards on the part of the West.

The West has intervened militarily in a string of countries such as Libya, shrouding its strategic and economic motivations in humanitarian compulsions to liberate one section of the population or other from alleged oppression.

It has done so with little regard to international laws or norms. Yet when Russia sent in its forces and annexed Crimea after a referendum vote there, an outraged West is up in arms and has decided to punish Russia with sanctions. The US has chastised Russia for not seeking UN approval before it acted to split Ukraine. How many times has the US done so prior to interventions and invasions? The hypocrisy is breathtaking.

As a first step, the US and EU have imposed ‘limited sanctions’ on Russian officials close to president Vladimir Putin who they claim were involved in the referendum decision. They are likely to expand this to include economic sanctions on Russia.

These are supposedly aimed at forcing a Russian rethink on annexing Crimea. However, sanctions, even so-called ‘smart’ ones like those imposed now on Russia have rarely had the desired impact. In fact, it could hurt the EU and US too. Besides, it will result in a surge in Russian nationalism and contribute to a freeze of already cold relations between Moscow and Washington.

India’s opposition to the western sanctions on Russia is prompted in part by its principled opposition to sanctions and to its unilateral - as opposed to UN - imposition. That Moscow has been a close friend of Delhi for decades, which wielded its veto repeatedly in the UN Security Council in India’s favour, would have been other reasons behind Delhi’s decision.

However, the decision is not without its complexities. After all, the referendum route to independence or annexation by another country is hardly one that India endorses especially in the context of Kashmir. Thus Delhi is likely to have been uneasy with Russia’s action in Crimea. In the coming weeks, India will be confronted with difficult decisions as the Crimean question will come up in the United Nations. What position will Delhi take on a likely resolution on protection of Ukraine’s territorial integrity? 

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