The world’s biggest democracy still won’t condemn Russia a year after the war in Ukraine began

Zelensky’s Call for a War in Ukraine: India’s Implications to the G20 Summit and the Indian-Pubpressed Interaction with Russia

During a phone conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was relying on India to implement a peace formula.

The call comes as New Delhi seeks to boost trade ties with Moscow after becoming one of the largest purchasers of Russian oil – defying Western sanctions and providing a vital financial lifeline to Russian President Vladimir Putin as the Kremlin wages an unprovoked war against its neighbor.

In a statement following the call, the Indian government said Modi had repeated his calls “for an immediate cessation of hostilities” and to “revert to dialogue and diplomacy.”

Zelensky presented a 10-point peace formula to world leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, in November. The G20 presidency will be held by India until next year.

The Prime Minister explained the main priorities of India’s G20 Presidency, which included giving a voice to concerns of developing nations on issues like food and energy security, according to New Delhi.

Modi has called for a cease-fire in Ukraine, without condemning Russia’s attacks. Some of his political opponents say that doesn’t go far enough, and point toward India’s actions rather than its words.

Modi was also thought to be a key player in the G20’s decision to issue a joint declaration condemning Russia’s war in Ukraine “in the strongest terms.”

India, a nation of 1.3 billion, has repeatedly said its decision to increase purchases of Russian energy is to protect its own interests as a country where income levels are not high.

The list of more than 500 Russian products was sent to India last month, and includes parts of cars, aircraft and trains.

“Fake News” Laws in Ukraine: Putin hasn’t lied about the War, nor does Russia want to kowtow”

Putin said Sunday he’s ready to negotiate “about acceptable solutions” regarding the war in Ukraine, according to state media. In response, a Zelensky adviser said Moscow “doesn’t want negotiations, but tries to avoid responsibility” as it continues to attack civilians.

Russia has since unleashed a wave of air strikes on civilian infrastructure in an attempt to freeze Ukraine into submission during the winter months. The bombing campaign has made life in Ukraine miserable, but there are few signs of Ukrainians backing down.

The “special military operation” that Putin said he was starting was a term that implied a limited campaign that would end in a few weeks.

The invasion has grown into the biggest land war in Europe since World War II, forcing millions of Ukrainians from their homes, decimating the Ukrainian economy and killing thousands of civilians.

Yet the war has also fundamentally upended Russian life — rupturing a post-Soviet period in which the country pursued, if not always democratic reforms, then at least financial integration and dialogue with the West.

The military or leadership has become unpopular due to the bad laws passed since February. A leading independent monitoring group says that nearly 20,000 people have been jailed for demonstrating against the war.

Long jail sentences have been meted out to prominent opposition figures who questioned the Russian army’s conduct or strategy.

The repressions extend elsewhere: organizations and individuals are added weekly to a growing list of “foreign agents” and “non-desirable” organizations intended to damage their reputation among the Russian public.

Even Russia’s most revered human rights group, 2022’s Nobel Prize co-recipient Memorial, was forced to stop its activities over alleged violations of the foreign agents law.

Russia’s anti-LGBT law has been vastly increased by the state due to their belief that the war in Ukraine reflects an attack on “traditional values.”

It remains to be seen whether repressions remain targeted. Some of the new laws are still unenforced. There is no doubt that the measures are designed to crush wider dissent.

Leading independent media outlets and a handful of vibrant, online investigative startups were forced to shut down or relocate abroad when confronted with new “fake news” laws that criminalized contradicting the official government line.

Restrictions extend to internet users as well. American social media giants such as Twitter and Facebook were banned in March. Roskomnadzor, the Kremlin’s internet regulator, has blocked more than 100,000 websites since the start of the conflict.

Technical workarounds such as VPNs and Telegram still offer access to Russians seeking independent sources of information. But state media propaganda now blankets the airwaves favored by older Russians, with angry TV talk shows spreading conspiracies.

The Russian Exodus after the September 11 Revolution: Does Putin Really Need to Leave Russia Behind? Why Putin walked away from the war and why Ukraine didn’t

Many perceived government opponents left in the war’s initial days due to concerns of persecution.

Yet Putin’s order to mobilize 300,000 additional troops in September prompted the largest outflow: Hundreds of thousands of Russian men fled to border states including Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Georgia in an attempt to avoid the draft.

Putin argued it was good riddance, part of a “self-cleansing” of Russian society from traitors and spies. The Russians want to take away those who left the country of their passports. Russia can thrive without many of its best and brightest there are some questions.

Meanwhile, some countries that have absorbed the Russian exodus predict their economies will grow, even as the swelling presence of Russians remains a sensitive issue to former Soviet republics in particular.

Russia’s ruble currency plummeted in the first days of the invasion and its banking and trading markets looked shaky. Hundreds of global corporate brands, such as McDonald’s and ExxonMobil, reduced, suspended or closed their Russian operations entirely.

The west is trying to limit Russian oil profits by capping the amount countries pay and limiting seaborne oil imports. There are signs the efforts are already cutting into profits.

Ultimately, President Putin is betting that when it comes to sanctions, Europe will blink first — pulling back on its support to Ukraine as Europeans grow angry over soaring energy costs at home. He announced a five-month ban on oil exports to countries that abide by the price cap, a move likely to make the pain more acute in Europe.

The economic damage has already put an end to Putin’s two-decades strong reputation for providing “stability” — once a key basis for his support among Russians who remember the chaotic years that followed the collapse of the USSR.

When it comes to Russia’s military campaign, there’s no outward change in the government’s tone. Daily briefings from the Defense Ministry recount successes on the ground. Putin, too, repeatedly assures that everything is “going according to plan.”

Yet the sheer length of the war — with no immediate Russian victory in sight — suggests Russia vastly underestimated Ukrainians’ willingness to resist.

Russian troops were unable to defeat the capital of Ukraine in either Kyiv or Kharkiv. The city of Kherson was left abandoned in November during a Ukrainian counteroffensive. Russian forces have been shelling the city.

Moscow’s problems have been underscored by its illegal annexation of four territories of Ukrainian origin and the fact that it has not been able to regain full control of the lands it claims as its own.

The true number of Russian losses is considered to be a highly taboo subject at home. Western estimates place the figure much higher.

Russia’s ability to defend its own strategic infrastructure has been put into doubt by a series of explosions along the key bridge connecting Russia to the peninsula of Chechen origin.

Russia’s invasion has backfired in its primary goal of getting NATO to expansion towards Russia’s borders.

It would have been unthinkable in Soviet times for allies in Central Asia to criticize Russia’s actions out of concern for their own sovereignty. India and China have eagerly purchased discounted Russian oil, but have stopped short of full-throated support for Russia’s military campaign.

The Russian Premier’s Deceleration of the State of the Nation Address and Implications for Global Oil Demand after 10 Months of War

A state of the nation address, originally scheduled for April, was repeatedly delayed and won’t happen until next year. The annual direct line, a media event in whichPutin gives questions from ordinary Russians, was canceled completely.

An annual press conference in December that allows the Russian leader to deal with questions from pro-Kremlin media was also tabled until 2023.

The Kremlin has given no reason for the delays. Many suspect it might be that, after 10 months of war and no sign of victory in sight, the Russian leader has finally run out of good news to share.

According to Reuters, Russia took the decision to reduce its output without consulting the OPEC+ group of producers, which includes Saudi Arabia. OPEC+ decided in October to cut output by 2 million barrels per day and has not adjusted that stance since.

Futures prices for Brent crude, the global benchmark, jumped 2.7% on the news Friday morning to $86 a barrel as traders anticipated a tightening in global supply.

Russian Urals crude traded at a discount to Brent crude of $28 a barrel Friday morning. Over the past few months, India and China have snapped up cheap oil from Moscow, just as the EU — once Russia’s biggest customer for crude — has ended all imports.

A potential drop in global oil supply could come at a tricky time. China’s swift reopening of its economy in December after almost three years of strict coronavirus restrictions has pushed up estimates for global oil demand.

Last month, the International Energy Agency said it expected global demand to surge by 1.9 million barrels per day to reach an all-time high of 101.7 million barrels per day, with China accounting for nearly half of the increase.

India’s Cold War with Russia: Implications for the Indian Economy and the Indian-Czechstani-American Correspondence

This reminds us that condemnation of Russia isn’t unanimous a year into the war. Much of the global south actually sees the West’s focus on Ukraine as a distraction from other, more pressing issues like food security, inflation and mounting debt.

India was still under British colonial rule when Russia opened its first consulate there in 1900, in Mumbai. But relations really took off during the Cold War.

It started out as a means of sympathy for the Soviet Union as India gained its independence. So it’s an anti-colonial experience, anti-imperialism,” says Rajeswari (Raji) Pillai Rajagopalan, a political scientist at the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi. The Cold War became more against the west and against the U.S.

“You’re already seeing a very close Russia-China relationship emerging, even in the last few years,” says the ORF’s Rajagopalan. “So the current Indian approach is, we don’t want Russia to go completely into the Chinese fold. Because for India, China has become the No. 1 national security threat.”

In November, Modi’s top diplomat, S. Jaishankar, traveled to Moscow, where he stood alongside his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov and called their countries’ relationship “steady and time-tested.”

“The actions that India is engaged in so far do not reflect any remorse or even mild criticism of the events in Ukraine,” says Praveen Chakravarty, a political economist affiliated with the opposition Indian National Congress party. It seems to aid and abet.

India has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The International Monetary Fund predicts India’s growth will be 6.8% this year compared to the United States’ 1.6%. By 2030, India is forecast to be the third-largest economy in the world, behind the U.S. and China.

It’s the third- largest oil consumer in the world. It needs more to fuel growth. But because India has few oil and gas reserves of its own, most of the oil it needs has to be imported. It is a relatively poor country that is sensitive to price.

Indian officials have defended those purchases by saying it’s their job to find bargains for their citizens. And Jaishankar, the foreign minister, has suggested it’s hypocritical of wealthier Westerners to ask them not to.

“Europe has managed to reduce its imports of Russian gas while doing so in a way that is comfortable”, Jaishankar said last month. “At 60,000 euros or whatever is your per capita income, you’re so caring about your population. I have a population at 2,000 dollars [per capita annual income]. I am not in a position to pay for high prices for oil, because I need energy too.

Last April, Jaishankar went to the White House for a virtual summit with President Biden. There, U.S. officials told their Indian counterparts they understand India’s energy needs and were hoping only that India would not “accelerate” Russian oil purchases.

Here’s one possible explanation for Washington’s change of heart: India is buying Russian crude at deep discounts — something the West can’t do because of sanctions, or doesn’t want to do because of the optics. India refines the Russian oil and exports it to the US and Europe. So the West gets Russian oil, without getting its hands dirty.

So the Indian government has started replacing some of its Soviet-made aircraft and artillery with French, Israeli and American versions. But it’s a time-consuming and costly task to update India’s entire arsenal, Pande notes.

Let’s go to the Indian Air Force. The fighter aircraft are referred to as flying coffins. Aparna Pande is a political scientist with the Hudson Institute in Washington. “So India knows they need to be replaced.”

Indian defense experts may have been the only ones not surprised to see Russian tanks falling apart in Ukraine this past year, Pande says. They’ve been unhappy with Russian equipment for a while.

“Let’s say my entire apartment had only IKEA furniture, and now I decide, ‘OK now I want to change it, and I want West Elm.’ I can only replace one chair. I have to change my entire dining table and all the chairs,” Pande explains. In terms of updating its weapons, India has done piecemeal. Russian-made big ticket items are still made in that country. So that’s the change which has to happen, and this is what will reduce the Russian influence.”

India’s biggest foreign policy preoccupation is not Russia or Ukraine. It’s China. The two countries are at odds over their border. Satellite imagery shows China may be in the vicinity of India. There were fighting there in June 2020, and again in December.

Even if the US doesn’t like it, the Biden administration will grant India a wide berth, since they understand why India has not condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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