Friday marks the first anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a tragic event that has had a profound impact not just on Ukraine and its people but also on the international community. As a nation that believes in the rule-based international order, Nepal has consistently stood against any form of aggression towards sovereign countries. Nepal's support for Ukraine's sovereignty and independence is evident in its Thursday’s vote in favor of the UN resolution condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which received support from 141 nations. There were only seven countries including Russia itself which voted against the UN resolution. It is a clear message that Nepal, along with the international community, is committed to upholding rule-based international order and finding ways to restore peace in Ukraine and prevent such situations from occurring in the future.
The war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on people's lives worldwide. The human cost of war is severe, with a large number of people being victims—either killed or wounded or displaced-- of the conflict. Furthermore, the UN has expressed concerns about the increasing food insecurity, inflation, and poverty caused by Russia's hostilities in Ukraine. The disruption of global supply chains has affected the global markets and food supply, worsening the global hunger crisis. It is crucial to find ways to restore peace in Ukraine and prevent any further aggression against sovereign nations in future. But this should come at the cost of territorial integrity and political independence of a sovereign nation. Nepal's support for the UN resolution condemning Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a positive step towards these ends.
As a small country located between two disproportionately powerful nations, Nepal should uphold its position from a moral vantage point and continue standing on the right side of history. While pursuing a non-aligned foreign policy, Nepal must not give up its principled position that the sovereignty of all countries must be respected, irrespective of their geographical size and military might. In fact, the war holds several lessons for small countries like Nepal. One of the most important lessons is the importance of upholding sovereignty. Small countries like Nepal should be proactive in protecting their independence and sovereignty, as they are more vulnerable to external interference. They should ensure that they have a strong and independent foreign policy that reflects their national interests, actively engage with their neighboring countries and other international actors to pursue diplomatic solutions to conflicts, and invest in building diplomatic relationships with other countries to ensure that they have a voice in international affairs. Above all, small countries should avoid getting caught up in the polarizing politics of big powers and strive to maintain good relations with both neighboring countries and superpowers, regardless of their geopolitical interests.
Additionally, the Russian invasion of Ukraine highlights the need for international cooperation more than ever before. Small countries should work closely with international organizations like the UN to promote international cooperation and resolve conflicts peacefully. International organizations provide small countries with a platform to voice their concerns and advocate for their interests. Small countries should also be prepared for the worst-case scenario, building their defense capabilities and have contingency plans in place to deal with any unforeseen circumstances. They should work together with their regional partners to build a collective security mechanism to counter external threats. The Russian invasion of Ukraine highlights the challenges and vulnerabilities that small countries face in the face of external aggression. However, by upholding sovereignty, engaging in diplomacy, avoiding polarization, promoting international cooperation, and being prepared for the worst-case scenario, small countries like Nepal can effectively navigate the complex geopolitical landscape and protect their national interests and sovereignty.