Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened an escalation of the Ukraine war, after his perceived loss of support from two of his strongest allies.
Which two allies?
China and India. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during a regional summit in Uzbekistan last week, told Putin that “today’s era is not of war”. Just a day before Modi’s comment, Putin acknowledged that Chinese President Xi Jinping had “questions and concerns” about the war. Support from China and India has been significant for Putin’s prosecution of the war, but both Asian giants seem to be rethinking their stance on the back of global food and energy challenges.
How is this likely to affect the war?
The implied criticism of the war highlighted the fact that Putin is currently facing what may be his most difficult time in recent months, suffering not just from these diplomatic setbacks but also from battlefield retreats and escalating domestic criticism of his handling of the conflict. However, Putin’s next moves are still unknown, and Western officials think that if he encounters more setbacks, he could significantly increase the ferocity of Russia’s onslaught.
Putin insisted, during a press conference held on Friday following the meeting of the Asian leaders, that recent Russian cruise missile attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure were “warning strikes” that could herald an even more intensified campaign. At the same time, Putin reiterated that he was prepared for negotiations without mentioning any preconditions, reaffirming that his military objectives did not necessarily extend to all of Ukraine – perhaps due to concerns among important allies like China and India.
Reiterating that his military’s plan for the invasion needed no “adjustment”, Putin said, “We are not fighting with our full army. The main goal is the liberation of the entire territory of Donbas”. “This work continues despite these counteroffensive attempts by the Ukrainian army. The general staff considers some things important, some things secondary, but the main task remains unchanged, and it is being implemented”, he added.