Warring Worlds: Expanding Conflict Zones

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As the India-China media diatribe raged, Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh met his Chinese counterpart at the SCO in Moscow. Shots have been fired, accusations and counter accusation fly fast, the India-China conflict has escalated. What next?

Post Galwan, China imagined that it was bargaining from a “position of strength.” In that way Chinese incursions forced the Indian Army to bolster its positions in the Pangong Lake area. Chinese moves were designed to raise costs for India at a time when the country faces other priorities. For that reason alone India needed to assert itself. Both parties talked disengagement, but the fortifications at the LAC kept piling.

Given the progress of negotiations on restoring status-quo ante, it was obvious the two parties could only bargain if they were equals at the high table.

China was working on a strategy to keep the 4,000 km LAC between India and China active and raise costs for India at a time when it had different priorities.

In this situation the use of the SFF was to send a symbolic yet strong message on Tibet — a region over which Chinese claims are weak.

India’s moves were calculated to send the message that it could not only play at the same game, but dared to raise the stakes too. If China wants peace, foreign ministers of both India and China can indeed use their meet to find a diplomatic solution.

Hopefully, India and China can now negotiate status quo and peace as equals.

So, do we see a Siachen-like situation in Lake Pangong? China seems to be wanting to create a ‘zone of conflict’ in Ladakh. China is escalating conflicts broadly — it sees a perverse opportunity in the post-COVID world to assert itself the ‘No. 1 country’ in the world.

India has hinted clearly that the road from Ladakh heads into Tibet.

Onto Eurasia, the poisoning of Vladimir Putin’s critic, Alexey Navalny forced Germany to hint that the Russian Nord Stream pipeline project might be stalled. But how far true is the statement?

Relations between Germany and Russia have been closer than with many other European states. Angela Merkel has in fact been a supporter of the Nord Stream pipeline project standing up to Trump’s bullying when he wanted Germany to buy US instead of Russian gas.

Putin, on the other hand, would be happy to see Trump continue for a 2nd term as it may help strain US-Europe relations further and be good for Russia’s continuing interests in Europe and West Asia.

There are several private companies heavily invested in the nearly complete Nord Stream project. For this reason alone while the Nord Stream project may be a pressure point, this cannot be its end.

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