What began as a diplomatic tussle between the UK and Russia, has fast spread to the US and then to other Western and EU countries. Now it is turning into mass expulsions with more countries expelling Russian diplomats followed by Russia indulging in counter-expulsions.
So far India, which in principle is still wedded to a Non-Aligned Movement, has not reacted in any form, but maintains good relations with both the countries. However, there has been a lurking fear among some quarters of Indians in the US that India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who enjoys special place of respect in the view of US President Donald Trump, may be pressurized to react which might anger the Russian President Putin and his allies.
Ideally, some senior Trump administration officials have said that the US’ expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats is not intended at sending any message to a country like India which has an equally strong relationship with both Moscow and Washington.
In the light of the straining relations between the UK and Russia over the issue, and between the US and Russia, over the Kremlin’s alleged over-indulgence in the internal elections of the Britain and the US, indications are that there is possibility of polarization of countries of the world, leading to once again the days of the long forgotten Cold War.
For India, it is a very testing time as the general elections are only about a year and a few months hence. The Narendra Modi government is already facing stiff opposition within the country to his “progressive” policies.
The trouble between the UK and Russia began with the alleged poisoning of former Russian spy in Britain and his daughter. The UK strongly suspects that Russia used a nerve agent attack on Sergei V. Skripal, a former military intelligence officer who spied for Britain, and his daughter, Yulia.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has expelled 23 Russian diplomats over the “poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil.” This has risen tensions between the two countries to a level not seen since the heights of the Cold War. Theresa May vowed to crack down on Russian spies, corrupt elites and ill-gotten wealth in Britain, reports say.
The two countries have engaged in a worsening clash in recent days, with Britain widening an investigation into the incident and courting friends and allies to increase pressure on Russia, while Moscow has threatened to retaliate over any punitive action.
As of April 1, reports say that in all, 27 countries have ejected more than 150 Russians, including people listed by their embassies and consulates as diplomats, and military and cultural attachés.
— Contributed by Mr. J.V. Lakshmana Rao, a freelance journalist who works from Hyderabad and Chicago. He till recently worked as the Editor-in-Chief of India Tribune in the USA, and formerly the national news coordinator of Indian Express and its News Service in New Delhi.
Picture Credits: Reuters