The Russia-Ukraine crisis can be explained as a modified version of the conflict game 'chicken', where two players force each other to yield to avoid the worst possible outcome.
And the reason I call this crisis a modified version of 'chicken' is that one of the players, Russia, has suddenly planted over 100,000 troops along the Ukraine border, escalating tensions to unprecedented levels. And the other players, the US, and NATO have been presented with a list of security demands by Russia, which include banning Ukraine and other former Soviet states from joining the military alliance. And the worst possible outcome in the case may be war.
The US and other NATO allies have, so far, made no concessions to the demands, terming them as a non-starter since they go against NATO's core principles of an open-door membership policy. US President Joe Biden has gone to the extent of warning Russia that it "will pay a heavy price" if it chooses to invade Ukraine.
Russia has stated that it does not want war and that it will not invade Ukraine, but the presence of troops and tanks at the border has stoked fears in the West that Kremlin is ready to start a new war if needed.
The present crisis also puts India, a close long-term ally and trade partner of both the US and Russia, in a bind, in the event of it translating into a war scenario. The big question here is: Will India remain neutral or choose a side?
The primary issues to understand here are: Why is Russia fielding soldiers along the Ukraine border? What is President Vladimir Putin's game plan? What does this crisis mean for India?
To discuss this, I am joined today by a friend of the show, Professor Harsh V Pant, who is the Director, Studies and Head of the Strategic Studies Programme at the Observer Research Foundation, a global policy think tank.