Where is the world heading?
Expulsion of diplomats brings a new wave of Cold War between the East and the West.
In the wake of recent happenings on the international front, some 18 nations around the world have expelled approximately 100 Russian Diplomats (considering them to be spies) in response to the poisoning of the ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, the UK which is allegedly supposed to be carried out by Russia. Such sudden expulsion of Russian Diplomats mostly by the Western countries has given way to a new wave of Cold War and the world is still looking up to the Russians' response on this entire issue. Although Russia reciprocated immediately by expelling 23 British diplomats out of Russia, its course of action over the other countries is yet to come to light.
Expulsion of diplomats is a very common phenomenon in International Relations where it is mostly used as a 'tool' by one country against another showing its displeasure, enmity or non-compliance over any issue. This incident, however, has raised worldwide concern because it is the biggest expulsion of Russian diplomats by the western countries since the Cold War times. It's alarming also because even the NATO has expelled seven staff from Russian mission, thereby increasing the intensity of the issue. The entire issue is also sensitive owing to the use of a nerve-agent Novichok in the alleged poisoning of the Russian spy, the first offensive use of a nerve-toxin on the European land since World War II.
The important questions concerning the international community in the aftermath of this issue are: is the world on the verge of another Cold war between the eastern and the western bloc? How is the "expulsion of diplomats" a solution or a way forward for the countries around the world to show their displeasure? Most importantly, use of such nerve toxins or dangerous weapons of mass destruction is back in the limelight which has not been used since the World Wars ended. So, where exactly is the world heading?
With such important questions at hand, the situation is definitely alarming. It is a time when countries should not just blindly follow what others are doing especially when it puts the relations with the other countries at stake. The present situation definitely applauds the role of a country like "Austria" which instead of following what its other European allies did, decided to stay neutral, thereby acting as a "bridge-builder" in the relations between the East and the West and therefore, not expelling any of the Russian diplomats.
Amidst such circumstances, the role of countries like India in this entire issue becomes primarily important and India has significantly played well as of now, not expelling any of the Russian diplomats, rather waiting and watching the turn of events globally. This is so because, on one hand, Russia has been one of the most trusted partners of India since decades and on the other hand, India has been trying in the past to maintain some really good relations with the United States. So annoying either of them is not an option for India.
At last, this is the time when countries like Austria and India should set an example for the international community of how to maintain peace in times of war and how countries across the globe can actually contribute for a peaceful world because ultimately, in this case, for instance, expelling diplomats is not a solution to the problem. It only aggravates situation without even realising how painful expulsion can be if one happens to ask the diplomats' families and consider their personal and professional life.
(The author is a research scholar at JNU. The views are strictly personal)