Russia has become one of the world’s most sanctioned countries since the invasion of Ukraine. Except for a handful of Asian countries, no country has imposed sanctions on Russia. China has not imposed any sanctions on Russia other than denouncing its attack on Ukraine.
India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Mongolia abstained from voting on a resolution in the UN General Assembly condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, Australia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have imposed sanctions on Russia. Japan and South Korea have taken steps to bar several Russian banks from using the global payment system ‘Swift’, but to little effect.
Russia’s share of world trade is only eight percent of the Asian nations that have imposed sanctions on Russia, along with Western nations.
According to Syed Munir Khosrow, chairman of the Institute for Policy, Advocacy and Governance, Russia won’t care until and unless China and India impose sanctions. Eighteen percent of Russia’s world trade is with China and India. In addition, Russia has been preparing for years for possible global sanctions. Even when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, Western countries have imposed sanctions.
Russia has been trying to reduce its dependence on the dollar since 2014, shifting its reserves to gold and the Chinese yuan.
What is the reason for China’s position?
China has to consider the pros and cons of imposing sanctions on Russia. China is Russia’s largest trading partner. Just weeks before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China lifted a ban on wheat imports from Russia and signed a 30-year agreement to buy gas from Russia. In addition, Russian companies such as Gazprom and banks are using the Chinese currency for payments. Former Singapore ambassador to the United Nations Belhari Kaushikan says China has three goals.
China is very sensitive about the principles of sovereignty, territorial sovereignty and non-interference in international relations, reasons of all that are: Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine violates all these principles, but one of the goals of China is that Russia is its strategic ally. Besides, China and Russia are dissatisfied with the dominance of Western countries in the world system.
According to Mr. Kaushikin, China’s interests in the global system are huge and the United States, Europe and Japan are bigger markets for it than Russia. Be damaged
Where does India stand?
Russia is the largest supplier of arms to India and Vietnam. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also visited Moscow last month to discuss a gas pipeline deal.
Mr Kaushikan says India has a large stockpile of Russian-made weapons that it wants to keep in use because of China.
In addition to strong ties with Russia, India is also part of the US-led Quad, a four-nation alliance that includes Japan and Australia. Some see the Quad as an anti-China alliance.
Former Indian Ambassador to Russia Pankaj Saran said in a tweet, “Which side does India stand on? We stand by ourselves. “
The reaction of Asian countries to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine can be seen in the context of Pankaj Saran’s tweet.
Supporting one side is not new for governments in Asia. Asian countries instead of supporting human rights, decide according to their own interests and situation. According to Professor Munir, as the world’s largest democracy, India can be expected to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. “But it runs its own interests contrary to worldly principles and worldly manners.”
‘Asia’s small economies are stuck between the West and China and Russia’
The vote on a resolution against Russia at the United Nations has further highlighted the division of Asian countries. North Korea was one of five countries that opposed the resolution against Russia.
Myanmar supported the resolution condemning Russia, but said it was probably due to Myanmar’s government-in-exile. However, Burma’s military rulers are pro-Russian, where they buy weapons.
According to Chang Jaein of the NUS Department of Political Science, Asia’s small economies are trapped between the West and China and Russia. In general, they avoid criticizing countries like Russia and China, which they may have to pay a price for.
In Asia, it is widely acknowledged that what Russia is doing in Ukraine is wrong and that Russia’s actions violate the principle of sovereignty, on which it also depends. They are silent, they do not criticize or support.
According to Professor Chang, the pro-Western South Korea is very cautious because it also needs Russia’s help on the North Korean issue and does not want to get in China’s way unnecessarily.
According to Manjari Chatterjee Miller, South Asian Fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, many Asian countries want China’s presence in the Indo-Pacific, while India and some other Asian countries may want Russia to come forward to balance China’s growing role in the Indo-Pacific..
This explains why some Asian countries have chosen to remain silent on Russia’s aggression, but there is another side to it: what can China learn from the Russian invasion of Ukraine? What will happen to China if Russia is not stopped? If global sanctions do not change Russia’s attitude, what will be the effect on Indo-Pacific policy and Taiwan’s future?
Manjari Chatterjee Miller says that if oil prices continue to rise, the war in Ukraine continues, and atrocities continue to escalate there, then problems will arise for countries that are still watching the spectacle on the sidelines.