Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

International Criminal Court issues arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ICC

Mains level : Ukrainian War

putin

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for war crimes for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Russia’s commissioner for children’s rights.

Charges against Putin

  • The ICC issued the warrants because it believes that Putin bear individual criminal responsibility for the war crime of –
  1. Unlawful deportation of population and
  2. Unlawful transfer of population from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation

The ICC and its Background

  • The ICC is a standing body created two decades ago to investigate war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity under a 1998 treaty known as the Rome Statute.
  • The court is based in The Hague, a Dutch city that has long been a center for international law and justice.
  • Many democracies joined the ICC, including close American allies such as Britain.
  • However, the United States has kept its distance due to fears that the court may one day seek to prosecute American officials.
  • Russia is also not a member.

Implications of the Warrants   

  • Human rights groups hailed the warrant as an important step toward ending impunity for Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
  • The likelihood of a trial while Putin remains in power appears slim since the court cannot try defendants in absentia, and Russia has said it will not surrender its own officials.
  • Putin’s isolation in the West deepens, and his movements overseas could be limited.
  • If he travels to a state that is a party to the ICC, that country must arrest him according to its obligations under international law.

Possibility of Putin Facing Trial

  • The ICC has no power to arrest sitting heads of state or bring them to trial, and instead must rely on other leaders and governments to act as its sheriffs around the world.
  • A suspect who manages to evade capture may never have a hearing to confirm the charges.

Are you an IAS Worthy Aspirant? Get a reality check with the All India Smash UPSC Scholarship Test

Get upto 100% Scholarship | 900 Registration till now | Only 100 Slots Left

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

What is the Moscow-dominated security pact ‘CSTO’?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : CSTO, Nagorno Karabakh region

Mains level : Not Much

Central idea: Armenia’s PM accused the Moscow-dominated security alliance Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) of leaving Armenia in the cold amid renewed hostilities with Azerbaijan.

What did Armenia say?

  • Armenia has repeatedly criticized the CSTO for its failure to protect itself.
  • Russia has maintained a delicate diplomatic balancing act between Armenia and Azerbaijan, avoiding any forceful action.

What is CSTO?

  • The CSTO is a Russia-led military alliance of seven former Soviet states that was created in 2002.
  • Current CSTO members are Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and Tajikistan. Afghanistan and Serbia hold observer status in the CSTO.
  • Its purpose is to ensure the collective defense of any member that faces external aggression.
  • It has been described by political scientists as the Eurasian counterpart of NATO, which has 29 member states, while the CSTO has just six.

Outlined functions of CSTO

  • CSTO supports arms sales, manufacturing, and military training and exercises, making the CSTO the most important multilateral defense organization in the former Soviet Union.
  • Beyond mutual defense, the CSTO also coordinates efforts in fighting the illegal circulation of weapons among member states and has developed law enforcement training for its members in pursuit of these aims.

What does CSTO membership provide?

  • While CSTO membership means that member states are barred from joining other military alliances, limiting, for example, their relationship with NATO.
  • Its members receive discounts, subsidies, and other incentives to buy Russian arms, facilitating military cooperation.
  • Most importantly, membership presumes certain key security assurances – the most significant of which is deterring military aggression by third countries.
  • In the CSTO, aggression against one signatory is perceived as aggression against all.
  • It however remains unclear whether this feature works in practice.

Armenia’s Concerns and Threats

  • The PM emphasizes the threat of escalation along Armenia’s border and in Nagorno-Karabakh, citing increasingly aggressive rhetoric from Azerbaijan.
  • Tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan increased in December when Azerbaijani protesters blocked the Lachin corridor, leaving Nagorno-Karabakh residents short of food and basic supplies.

Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

csto

  • Nagorno-Karabakh lies within Azerbaijan but has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces since a separatist war in 1994.
  • In 2020, Azerbaijani troops routed Armenian forces in six weeks of fighting.
  • They claimed a significant part of Nagorno-Karabakh and nearby areas which had been in Armenian hands for nearly two decades.

Back2Basics: NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)

  • NATO was established in the aftermath of the Second World War.
  • Its purpose was to secure peace in Europe, to promote cooperation among its members and to guard their freedom – all of this in the context of countering the threat posed at the time by the Soviet Union.
  • It is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949.
  • It sought to create a counterweight to Soviet armies stationed in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.
  • Its original members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • NATO has spread a web of partners, namely Egypt, Israel, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Finland.

Are you an IAS Worthy Aspirant? Get a reality check with the All India Smash UPSC Scholarship Test

Get upto 100% Scholarship | 900 Registration till now | Only 100 Slots Left

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Ukraine Conflict: Implications And The Danger Of Provoking A World War

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Russia- Ukraine War and Implications

Ukraine

Central Idea

  • The Ukraine conflict has significant implications for Europe and the world. It has demonstrated that the US is the true defender of Europe and highlighted the fragile state of Europe’s defence industry. The conflict has also given the US confidence to take on all challengers, leading to new ambitions in Western minds. While the conflict has taught several important lessons, the wrong lessons could also be derived, which could prove to be dangerous in the long run.

What is the Present Situation?

  • While acknowledging the bravery of the Ukrainian people, significant efforts are underway in Europe, including France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, to end the ongoing war.
  • Given that neither side is poised for a decisive victory, it is highly unlikely that Russia will withdraw from the territories it initially occupied.
  • The initial enthusiasm has given way to a sense of exhaustion, and the conflict in Ukraine is increasingly being viewed as a US-backed NATO proxy war against Russia.
  • As a result, European leaders are currently focused on negotiating a ceasefire and ending the conflict rather than prolonging it.

Implications of the war on Europe

  • Europe’s struggling economy: Despite receiving state-of-the-art weapons from the US, Europe remains at the mercy of NATO and the US due to its fragile defence industry. The prospect of a prolonged war without end is daunting for Europe’s struggling economy.
  • US as the True Defender of Europe: The Ukraine conflict has demonstrated that the US is the true defender of Europe, with the people believing that without the US, Europe would not have come together to support Ukraine.
  • US Confidence and New Ambitions: The US’s success in Europe has fuelled new ambitions and the belief that momentum now lies with them. This could potentially lead to dangerous experimentation, with Ukraine and the war in Europe not being a laboratory for similar experiments elsewhere.
  • The Danger of Overconfidence and Misadventures: US triumphalism could lead to misadventures, as Ukraine and Europe cannot be a bellwether for what might happen in a conflict with China in the Indo-Pacific. China is not Ukraine or Russia, and Asia is not Europe.

China’s strong Posture

  • China’s Direct and Harsh Language Against the US and Western Countries: China is accusing the US and other Western countries of engaging in the containment, encirclement, and suppression of China. China have openly accused the US of attempting to encircle China through its Indo-Pacific strategy, which they say is an Asia-Pacific version of NATO. China’s language is unusually direct and harsh, leading to concerns that China may be preparing for a direct confrontation with the US.
  • China’s Preparation for All Eventualities: China is preparing for all possible scenarios in response to the current situation. It has warned that no amount of guardrails can prevent derailment if the US continues to speed down the wrong path. China’s efforts are aimed at thwarting US attempts to restore its dominant position in world affairs.
  • Taiwan as the Flashpoint
  • Taiwan remains a flashpoint in the Indo-Pacific region, with tensions further aggravated by the recent visits of top US military leaders to Taiwan. However, newer tensions are also adding to the possibilities of a conflict in other regions in the Indo-Pacific.

The danger of provoking a world war

  • Starting with a misreading or misunderstanding of the other side’s intentions, all wars can begin.
  • The success of the US in assisting Ukraine to withstand the Russian offensive and undercutting Russia’s image of being a superpower in Europe.
  • The success in Europe and the goal of returning to the post-1945 era may be the impetus for targeting China. This could lead to a direct confrontation with China and have disastrous consequences, possibly leading to a world war.

Conclusion

  • The US is basking in the glow of its successful intervention in Europe and this could provoke retaliation, leading to the escalation of hostilities in other regions and potentially paving the way for another global conflict. Such an outcome would be a catastrophe of monumental proportions.

Are you an IAS Worthy Aspirant? Get a reality check with the All India Smash UPSC Scholarship Test

Get upto 100% Scholarship | 900 Registration till now | Only 100 Slots Left


 

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Food Security and Energy Crisis In The South Asian neighbourhood

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Russia-Ukraine war, global implications , Food and energy cisis

Central Idea

  • To be sure, the Ukraine-Russia conflict has thrown the energy markets into a crisis in several Global South nations. In addition, the supply cuts by edible-oil exporting countries, alongside the rise in fuel prices, have led to a surge in food prices, making food security a primary concern, especially for the vulnerable sections of society. In addition, China’s COVID-19 surge has dampened global economy, especially in BoB.

Get your Rs 10,000 worth of UPSC Strategic Package for FREE | PDFs, Zoom session, Tests, & Mentorship

How the South Asian neighbourhood is in flux?

  • Sri Lanka and Pakistan: Sri Lanka and Pakistan are facing economic headwinds, with the former having gone through a full-blown economic collapse and the latter facing huge external debts, power shortages, and extreme inflation.
  • Bangladesh: The IMF sanctioned a precautionary loan of US $4.7 billion to Bangladesh amidst the precarious macroeconomic situation in the country, with high inflation and volatility of the Bangladeshi Taka.
  • Myanmar: A post-coup Myanmar sees a shutdown of businesses and a massive spike in unemployment.
  • Nepal: Nepal, too, sees widening trade deficits and declining foreign exchange reserves.

How Russia-Ukraine war challenges Food security?

  • Russia-Ukraine war and the resulting food crisis: Ukraine and Russia play a significant role in the global food supply chains, further affecting low- and middle-income countries and vulnerable populations already grappling with hunger in the post-pandemic world.
  • Wheat suppliers: Since both countries exported more than one-third of the world’s wheat and barley, and about 70 percent of sunflower oil, governments around the world were severely hit as the war stopped exports of around 20 million tons of Ukrainian grain.
  • Agricultural commodities exports to Asia have dried up: An estimated 6 million tons of agricultural commodities were exported monthly to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. As of June 2022, this number had dried up to a fifth of its original value.
  • Ripple effects on food prices and availability: According to the United Nations’ (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), global food prices have risen by 20 percent. It further predicts a rise in the undernourished population to be between 7.6 to 13.1 million, because of the conflict situation and its ripple effects on food prices and availability.

Sri Lanka: A case of Food security crisis

  • The economic meltdown in Sri Lanka wreaked havoc on the food security of the local population.
  • For Sri Lanka, the sudden switch to organic farming in 2021 worsened its trade performance in the agricultural sector.
  • The island nation had to import sugar, rice, and various other commodities, including intermediate goods in which the economy had had a previous surplus.
  • By 2022, the tea industry, which was a major commodity of exchange, incurred losses of approximately US $425 million, further worsening the economy’s foreign exchange situation.

Energy crisis

  • Heavy on energy imports: The data analysis on energy imports shows that all the countries in Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), especially India, Myanmar, and Bhutan, rely heavily on energy imports.
  • Fuel dependency makes the region highly vulnerable to external shocks: The trade dependency on fuel is a major curse for the region, making it highly vulnerable to exogenous macroeconomic shocks. The Russia-Ukraine conflict underscores the importance of nations having self-reliance regarding energy.
  • Absence of infrastructure and synchronisation in BIMSTEC Grid plan: Despite the BIMSTEC countries having developed a ‘Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation in BIMSTEC’ and also signed a MoU for the establishment of the BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection in August 2018, the absence of required infrastructure and adaptive power market, the lack of synchronisation of the grid system, the lack of financial policies, and other related issues have made progress in energy cooperation slow among the countries in the region.

Bangladesh: In a tough spot

  • Unable to set in motion the transition to renewable energy, alongside heavy dependence on fuel imports, Bangladesh, especially, has been placed in a tough spot concerning energy security.
  • The Russia-Ukraine conflict has added more fuel to this fire. With energy prices climbing upwards and subsidy bills increasing, the fiscal balances and current account deficits have been worrisome for Bangladesh’s economy.
  • The government had to finally put in place some austerity measures. The domestic prices of diesel, kerosene, octane, and petrol were increased to achieve price parity with its neighbours such as India, China, and Nepal.

Way ahead

  • Safeguard against food security crisis: It becomes imperative for regional groupings to set up safeguards against crises where their food security is affected by geopolitical events and domestic macroeconomic threats.
  • Food Bank for BIMSTEC: The idea of a food bank for the BIMSTEC countries modelled on the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) Food Bank is a good start as it will aid in stabilising prices.
  • India urged to develop regional strategy and promoting millets: Recently, in November 2022, India hosted the second Agriculture Ministerial-level meeting of the BIMSTEC nations, where it urged the member countries to develop a regional strategy for transforming agriculture and promoting millets into the food systems.
  • Millets have potential to ameliorate food insecurity: Promotion and intra-regional trade of food items such as millets, where these countries have surplus production, can help ameliorate food insecurity to a large extent.
  • Self-reliance in energy: Overdependence on fuel will make the region more vulnerable and affect its financial stability. Therefore, developing a domestic energy market is critical for the region. This can be achieved by accelerating the green transition.
  • For instance: FDI from Japanese firms has constantly seen more impacts and spillovers in the Indian economy. If Japanese firms’ economies of scale and their potential in developing different green energy technologies could be fully utilised, it would reduce the regional dependence on China, which is currently the dominant player in the domain of solar energy.

Conclusion

  • Regional economies have huge potential to invest in research for green transition technologies and sustainable agriculture which can help them have self-reliant energy and food markets respectively. Led by India, the Bay of Bengal region can lead the way in innovations in renewable forms of energy such as solar and wind.

Mains Question

Q. The South Asian neighbourhood is in flux. Discuss the major challenges and suggest a way ahead.

Attempt UPSC 2024 Smash Scholarship Test | FLAT* 100% OFF on UPSC Foundation & Mentorship programs

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

US ‘destroyed’ New Start Treaty: Moscow Copy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : New Start Treaty, INF Treaty

Mains level : Not Much

Russia has accused US for destroying weapons control agreements, after the US said Russia was not complying with their last remaining arms pact, the New START treaty.

The New START, INF and the Open Skies …. Be clear about the differences of these treaties. For example- to check if their inception was during cold war era etc.

New START Treaty

  • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) pact limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and is due to expire in 2021 unless renewed.
  • The treaty limits the US and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, well below Cold War caps.
  • It was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
  • It is one of the key controls on the superpower deployment of nuclear weapons.

Background of US-Russia Nuclear Relations

  • The US formally QUIT the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF)
  • The agreement obliged the two countries to eliminate all ground-based missiles of ranges between 500 and 5,500 km.

When did nuclear disarmament begin?

  • In 1985, the two countries entered into arms control negotiations on three tracks.
  • The first dealt with strategic weapons with ranges of over 5,500 km, leading to the START agreement in 1991.
  • It limited both sides to 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads.
  • A second track dealt with intermediate-range missiles and this led to the INF Treaty in 1987.
  • A third track, Nuclear, and Space Talks was intended to address Soviet concerns regarding the U.S.’s Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) but this did not yield any outcome.

Success of INF

  • The INF Treaty was hailed as a great disarmament pact even though no nuclear warheads were dismantled.
  • As it is a bilateral agreement, it did not restrict other countries.
  • By 1991, the INF was implemented. USSR destroyed 1,846 and the US destroyed 846 Pershing and cruise missiles. 
  • Associated production facilities were also closed down.
  • INF Treaty was the first pact to include intensive verification measures, including on-site inspections.

How has the nuclear behavior been?

  • With the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the USSR in end-1991, former Soviet allies were joining NATO and becoming EU members.
  • The U.S. was investing in missile defense and conventional global precision strike capabilities to expand its technological lead.
  • In 2001, the U.S. announced its unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty).
  • The US also blamed Russia for not complying with the ‘zero-yield’ standard imposed by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This may indicate the beginning of a new nuclear arms race.

Implications of the New Start

  • The 2011 New START lapsed in 2021. It may meet the fate of the INF Treaty.
  • The 2018 NPR envisaged the development of new nuclear weapons, including low-yield weapons.
  • China is preparing to operate its test site year-round with its goals for its nuclear force.
  • CTBT requires ratification by U.S., China, and Iran, Israel and Egypt and adherence by India, Pakistan and North Korea. It is unlikely to ever enter into force.

Conclusion

  • A new nuclear arms race could just be the beginning. It may be more complicated because of multiple countries being involved.
  • Technological changes are bringing cyber and space domains into contention. It raises the risks of escalation.

 

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Russia officially ‘suspends’ New START Treaty

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : New Start Treaty, INF Treaty

Mains level : Not Much

Central idea: The article provides an overview of the New START treaty, which was signed by Russia and the United States in 2010. It highlights how the treaty limits the number of nuclear weapons that the two countries can possess and deploy.

The New START, INF and the Open Skies …. Be clear about the differences of these treaties. For example- to check if their inception was during cold war era etc.

New START Treaty

  • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) pact limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and is due to expire in 2021 unless renewed.
  • The treaty limits the US and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, well below Cold War caps.
  • It was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
  • It is one of the key controls on the superpower deployment of nuclear weapons.

Background of US-Russia Nuclear Relations

  • The US formally QUIT the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF)
  • The agreement obliged the two countries to eliminate all ground-based missiles of ranges between 500 and 5,500 km.

When did nuclear disarmament begin?

  • In 1985, the two countries entered into arms control negotiations on three tracks.
  • The first dealt with strategic weapons with ranges of over 5,500 km, leading to the START agreement in 1991.
  • It limited both sides to 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads.
  • A second track dealt with intermediate-range missiles and this led to the INF Treaty in 1987.
  • A third track, Nuclear, and Space Talks was intended to address Soviet concerns regarding the U.S.’s Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) but this did not yield any outcome.

Success of INF

  • The INF Treaty was hailed as a great disarmament pact even though no nuclear warheads were dismantled.
  • As it is a bilateral agreement, it did not restrict other countries.
  • By 1991, the INF was implemented. USSR destroyed 1,846 and the US destroyed 846 Pershing and cruise missiles. 
  • Associated production facilities were also closed down.
  • INF Treaty was the first pact to include intensive verification measures, including on-site inspections.

How has the nuclear behavior been?

start

  • With the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the USSR in end-1991, former Soviet allies were joining NATO and becoming EU members.
  • The U.S. was investing in missile defense and conventional global precision strike capabilities to expand its technological lead.
  • In 2001, the U.S. announced its unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty).
  • The US also blamed Russia for not complying with the ‘zero-yield’ standard imposed by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This may indicate the beginning of a new nuclear arms race.

Implications of the New Start

  • The 2011 New START lapsed in 2021. It may meet the fate of the INF Treaty.
  • The 2018 NPR envisaged the development of new nuclear weapons, including low-yield weapons.
  • China is preparing to operate its test site year-round with its goals for its nuclear force.
  • CTBT requires ratification by U.S., China, and Iran, Israel and Egypt and adherence by India, Pakistan and North Korea. It is unlikely to ever enter into force.

Conclusion

  • A new nuclear arms race could just be the beginning. It may be more complicated because of multiple countries being involved.
  • Technological changes are bringing cyber and space domains into contention. It raises the risks of escalation.

 

Attempt UPSC 2024 Smash Scholarship Test | FLAT* 100% OFF on UPSC Foundation & Mentorship programs

Get your Rs 10,000 worth of UPSC Strategic Package for FREE | PDFs, Zoom session, Tests, & Mentorship

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

What is Munich Security Conference?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Munich Security Conference (MSC)

Mains level : Not Much

Central idea: The article is about the controversy surrounding billionaire philanthropist and political activist George Soros and his alleged statements on India and the Indian PM at the Munich Security Conference.

Who is George Soros?

  • George Soros, the 92 YO billionaire philanthropist and political activist, has been at the center of several controversies over the years.
  • Some of the key controversies associated with Soros include:
  1. Currency manipulation: Soros became famous in the 1990s for his role in the “Black Wednesday” financial crisis in the UK, where he was accused of profiting from the devaluation of the pound sterling by short-selling it.
  2. Insider trading: Soros has also been accused of insider trading in several instances, including the case of the French bank Societe Generale.
  3. Political meddling: Soros has been accused of using his vast wealth to influence political campaigns and events around the world, including in countries like Hungary, Ukraine, and the United States.
  4. Anti-Semitic accusations: Soros has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories and accusations of anti-Semitism, with some critics alleging that he is part of a secret globalist agenda to control world governments and economies.

About Munich Security Conference (MSC)

  • The MSC was founded by a German official and publisher Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist at the peak of the Cold War (1947-1991).
  • Starting in 1963, the conference initially only focused on military issues and was mainly attended by western countries and their high-profile officials, who “came together to display a united front in their struggle with Soviet communism”.
  • After the end of the Cold War, the conference expanded its agenda that went beyond defense and security matters to include issues such as climate change and migration.
  • It also started to invite leaders from eastern nations, including Russia, India and China.

What will be the focus of this year’s MSC?

  • This year’s edition might entail a refocus on its goal- the security order in Europe, in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war that began just days after the MSC 2022 was concluded.
  • The conference might also serve as a platform for diffusing tensions between the United States and China, especially after the former shot down an alleged spy balloon.
  • Another theme on the agenda is to focus on diverse perspectives from the Global South, which included some of the poorest and least industrialized countries in the world.

 

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

US bombed Nord Stream Gas Pipeline

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nord Stream Pipelines

Mains level : Not Much

nord

An American investigative journalist has claimed that the September 2022 bombing of the undersea Nord Stream gas pipelines was carried out by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

What is Nord Stream Pipeline?

(1) Nord Stream 1:

  • Nord Stream 1 is the biggest pipeline transporting natural gas between Russia and Europe via Germany.
  • It is a system of offshore natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.
  • Nord Stream 1 is a 1,224 km underwater gas pipeline that runs from Vyborg in northwest Russia to Lubmin in northeastern Germany via the Baltic Sea.

(2) Nord Stream 2:

  • Russian threats to choke this gas supply to Europe present an economic threat to Germany.
  • To expand options and double the supply from Russia, Germany decided to build Nord Stream 2.
  • The construction of the $11 billion-worth Nord Stream 2 was completed in 2021 but never began commercial operations.

Why the Nord Stream pipeline is so much in news?

  • For Germany: Energy prices in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, are among the lowest in the continent because of the cheap gas supplies via Nord Stream 1. This also makes German manufactured goods more competitive in the international market.
  • For European Union: In 2021, Russia supplied nearly 40 per cent of the EU’s natural gas needs through this pipeline. The flows through Nord Stream play a vital role in filling up the national storage tanks of EU. It is crucial to provide the required heating in the upcoming winter.
  • For Russia: Russia is using the supplies via the crucial pipeline as a bargain to navigate its economy through sanctions from the western countries.

What is the current status of Nord Stream Pipeline?

  • Nord stream pipeline is the largest single supply route for Russian gas to Europe. The Russian state owned gas company Gazprom has a majority ownership in the pipeline.
  • While it was running at just 20% of its capacity since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began, the company, in early September fully cut gas flows from the pipeline on the pretext of maintenance.
  • According to Bloomberg, while 40% of Europe’s pipeline gas came from Russia before Russia Ukraine the war, the number now stands at just 9%.
  • Even though both pipelines were not running commercially, they had millions of cubic metres of gas stored in them.

 

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Indo-pacific and the New Eurasia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : New Eurasia opportunities and challenges for India

pacific

Context

  • Japan, which invented the contemporary geopolitical idea of the Indo-Pacific, is now well on its way to changing the way we think about the relationship between Asia and Europe. In his swing through Europe last week, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s message was simple, the security of Europe and the Indo-Pacific is indivisible.

Crack Prelims 2023! Talk to our Rankers

How Japan shaped the idea of Indo-pacific?

  • Japan is not alone for Indo-pacific anymore: Building on the ideas of his predecessor, the late Shinzo Abe, Kishida is determined to build strong military partnerships with Europe. Together Japan, South Korea and Australia are bridging the divide between Asia and Europe long seen as separate geopolitical theatres.
  • South Korea raising profile in Europe: South Korea, which does not always see eye to eye with Japan, is also joining the party by raising its profile in Europe. for example, Seoul, is selling major weapons platforms in Poland.
  • Australia eager to bring Europe in Indo pacific: Australia, which has joined the US and UK in the AUKUS arrangement, is equally eager to bring Europe into the Indo-Pacific.
  • Accelerated by Ukraine war: This process has been accelerated by Russia’s war in Ukraine and the alliance between Moscow and Beijing.

The idea of Eurasia

  • Many used it as a neutral term: The idea of Eurasia is not new, many used it as a neutral term to describe the vast landmass that connected Europe and Asia.
  • Separate political spheres: Despite continental continuity, Europe and Asia emerged as separate political and cultural spheres over the millennia.
  • Russia as European and Asian: Russia, which straddles this space, saw itself as both a European and Asian power but had trouble becoming a part of either. When post-Soviet Russia’s effort to integrate with the West soured in the 2000s, it developed Eurasia and Greater Eurasia as new geopolitical constructs.
  • Putin’s Eurasian strategy: Consolidating the former Soviet space, restoring influence in Central Europe, building a strong alliance with China, and limiting Western influence in the continental heartland became part of Putin’s Eurasian strategy.

China-Russia alliance

  • Altering geopolitical dynamics: Well before Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol turned to Europe, it was Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin who altered the geopolitical dynamic in Eurasia.
  • Alliance without limits: Days before he ordered his armies into Ukraine, Putin travelled to Beijing last February to sign an agreement declaring an alliance without limits and no forbidden areas.
  • China’s tilt towards Russia: China, which had made a largely successful effort to cultivate Europe since the 1990s, deliberately avoided taking sides in Europe’s conflicts with Russia. But on the eve of the Ukraine war, Xi chose to tilt towards Moscow by blaming NATO for the crisis in Ukraine.
  • New kind of Eurasian alliance: Together, Putin and Xi unveiled a Eurasian alliance that they might have hoped would deliver the long-awaited coup de grace to the global hegemony of the West. What it did instead was to not only strengthen the Western alliance in Europe but also provide the basis for a new kind of Eurasia an alliance between China’s East Asian neighbours and Russia’s West European neighbours.

What are the Challenges for India?

  • For India, the rise of Eurasia is making it harder to ride on two boats at the same time: Until now, India could easily hunt with the maritime coalition the Quad in the Indo-Pacific and run at the same time with the continental coalitions led by Russia and China.
  • US Europe and Japan on the one hand and China, Russia on the other: The conflict between the US, Europe, and Japan on the one hand and China and Russia on the other is now acute and shows no signs of immediate amelioration.
  • India’s security challenge on Himalayan frontier: On the downside, then, India’s mounting security challenges from China on the Himalayan frontier and the tightening embrace between Moscow and Beijing will mean the shadow over India’s continental strategy will become darker in the days ahead.
  • Strategic capabilities in partnership: On the upside, the possibilities for strengthening India’s strategic capabilities in partnership with the US and Europe as well as Japan, South Korea and Australia have never been stronger.

Opportunities for India may include

  • Economic cooperation: Increased economic cooperation and trade between India and countries in Europe and Asia
  • India’s larger role in global affairs: The potential for India to play a larger role in regional and global affairs as a result of increased connectivity and cooperation
  • To address security concerns in Indo-Pacific: Opportunities for India to strengthen its ties with Japan and other countries in the region to address security concerns in the Indo-Pacific

Conclusion

  • Japan’s strategy of promoting greater connectivity and cooperation between Europe and Asia could present both opportunities and challenges for India in terms of economic cooperation and geopolitical influence. India will have to carefully navigate and balance its relationships with various countries and groups in the region to maximize the opportunities and minimize the challenges.

Mains question

Q. Japan is now well on its way to changing the way we think about the relationship between Asia and Europe. In this backdrop discuss opportunities and challenges for India.

(Click) FREE 1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

India’s role in chaotic world order

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : India's role in present International relations

India

Context

  • As the great powers get at each other’s throats, the prospects for multilateral agreements have diminished. On both the economic and political fronts, the conflict among the major powers has sharpened. That makes India’s chairmanship of G20 more challenging.

Click and get your FREE Copy of CURRENT AFFAIRS Micro Notes

Historical understanding of major global events

  • Major wars and rebalancing: Major wars have always reshaped great power relations and rearranged the international system. Russia’s war against Ukraine will be no exception.
  • First world war: The First World War saw the collapse of the Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian, and the Russian empires. It also helped the Bolsheviks in Russia form the Soviet Union, gave birth to new nations in Europe, and accelerated the rise of Asian nationalism.
  • The Second World War: Hastened the demise of European colonialism and heralded the rise of the United States and the Soviet Union as the superpowers. Washington and Moscow managed an armed peace in a divided Europe during the Cold War. The process of decolonization saw the birth of a number of new nations in Asia and Africa.
  • The Cold War: It led to the collapse of the Soviet Union, undid its sphere of influence in East and Central Europe and led to the rise of the unipolar moment. The era of massive economic interdependence that followed the Cold War saw the rapid rise of China and a slower but definitive emergence of India as a major power.

How Russia and China are colluding to change regional and global world order?

  • Asserting themselves against US: Moscow and Beijing, which were willing to acquiesce in the unipolar moment in the 1990s, began to assert themselves against the US-led international order in the 21st century. Europe focused on strengthening its economic and political integration, and sought greater strategic autonomy from the United States.
  • Apparent decline of USA: As they drew steadily closer over the last decade, Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping bet that the apparent American decline was real and irreversible. That emboldened Putin to fancy his chances in ending Ukraine’s sovereignty.
  • China backed Russia against Europe: The seeming political disarray in the West also convinced Xi to back Putin’s attempt to reorder European regional security order. The partnership without limits and no forbidden areas of cooperation was unveiled less than three weeks before Putin invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

Outcome of Russia’s failed attempt to capture Ukraine

  • Only option is diplomacy: As the costs of war mount, the case for diplomacy will gain ground in 2023. While both sides talk about peace, they are also gearing up to fight through the harsh winter. Bridging that gulf between Russian and Ukrainian negotiating positions will occupy diplomacy in 2023.
  • Weaker Russia: Whatever the nature of the eventual settlement, Russia will come out weaker from this military misadventure. Putin’s attempts to eliminate Ukraine as an independent nation and roll back the eastward expansion of NATO have backfired. The war has consolidated Ukraine as a nation and NATO has expanded to include Sweden and Finland.
  • Self-defense Inability of Europe: The war has also demonstrated Europe’s inability to defend itself against Russia despite the EU’s economy being 10 times larger than that of Russia. But for now, and the near term, Europe will remain dependent on the US to defend it against an expansionist Russia. While Europe is weaker, trans-Atlantic NATO has become stronger.
  • US industries are winning: The US is emerging as a big winner from the Ukraine war. American oil companies are raking it in from high energy prices. US weapons like the HIMARS and its high technology companies like SpaceX with its Starlin satellite system and Palantir with its algorithms have actively shaped the battlefield in favour of Ukraine, the underdog in the war. Far more consequential is the fact that without being directly involved in the fight, the US is influencing the direction of the war and has the most leverage in defining the terms of peace in Ukraine.

Impact of Chinese and Russian aggression on Mid-power countries

  • US as reliable partner: Thanks to the overreach of Putin and Xi, the US has become a valuable partner for the middle powers at the receiving end of Russian and Chinese bullying.
  • Eyeopener for Germany and Japan: Russian expansionism in Europe and Chinese aggressiveness in Asia have compelled Germany in Europe and Japan in Asia to boost their defence spending.
  • Regional security Policy: Poland in Europe and Australia and South Korea in Asia have embarked on ambitious regional security policies.

What should be the approach of India?

  • India should rework its status: India that long relied on Russia to provide a regional balance of power will have to rework its great power sums. This should not be too hard, given India’s improving relations with the US and Europe and its focus on diversifying its defence partnerships.
  • Boosting the domestic capabilities: Delhi, however, will have to move much faster in developing the national capabilities and international partnerships to deter China’s aggressive actions on the border and balance Beijing’s power in the Indo-Pacific. Delhi certainly can’t take for granted that its current economic and political advantages will endure.
  • Prevent the breakdown of multilateral system: Finally, it is unlikely the world will return to the kind of multilateralism we got used to since the 1990s. India’s G20 leadership would be a success if it can prevent the complete breakdown of the multilateral system and generate major power consensus on a few issues.

Conclusion

  • India should take the advantage of chaotic world order to strengthen itself. Indigenous military capabilities, double digit economic growth and securing core foreign policy interest should be the top priorities for India.

Mains Question

Q. Major wars in world have often culminated into rebalancing of international politics. Comment. What should be the India’s approach towards new emerging global order in the aftermath of Russia-Ukraine war?

(Click) FREE1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Understanding the Russia through Ukraine War

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Russia Ukraine war, India-Russia relations

Russia

Context

  • Russia marks two anniversaries the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Soviet Union and the 31st anniversary of its dissolution. Following the Bolshevik Revolution in November 1917, the Soviet Union was proclaimed on December 30, 1922. Until its dissolution on December 26, 1991.

Click and get your FREE Copy of CURRENT AFFAIRS Micro Notes

Russia

How India looks at Russia?

  • Special Strategic Partner: Vladimir Putin’s Russia continues to be valued as the heir to the Soviet Union and as a special strategic partner.
  • Ukraine war has not affected the ties: Putin’s aggression against Ukraine and his brutal bombing of its civilian population, which Moscow claims is an integral part of Russia, has hardly made a dent in the way the Indian political classes think about the crisis.
  • Russia as anti-imperialist: On the left and centre of the Indian political spectrum, the Soviet Union has been viewed purely through the ideological lens of progressive politics nationalist, internationalist, communist and anti-imperialist. That lens, however, is detached from the history of Russia and the continuing struggles for its political soul.
  • Russia as best friend forever: Within the strategic community, the conviction that Russia is India’s “best friend forever” leaves little room for a nuanced view of Russia’s domestic and international politics.

Understanding Russia’s behaviour through Russian History

  • The Bolshevik Revolution: It is initially sought to destroy the Russian Orthodox Church, eventually leveraged it in the deification of the Soviet state and lent a religious colour to the claim of Russian exceptionalism.
  • Alliance with orthodoxy: Putin has taken the alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church to a higher level. For the Russian nationalists today, the effort to take back Ukraine is a “holy war”.
  • Limited sovereignty to other communist state: After the Second World War, Soviet Russia insisted that fellow communist states had only “limited sovereignty” and Moscow had the right to intervene to keep them on the straight and narrow path of socialism and prevent their destabilisation. The military invasions in Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), and Afghanistan (1979) were motivated by this impulse.
  • Russia has not given up Imperialist tradition: In claiming that Ukraine has no sovereignty of its own, Putin is merely following that imperial tradition as well as the conviction that Ukraine, Belarus and Russian-speaking people everywhere are part of the “Russkiy Mir” or the “Russian world”.
  • Mao’s characterization of Russia: After he broke from the Russian communists, Mao began to characterise Russia as an “imperial power”. Mao had not forgotten the persistent tension between the Chinese and Russian empires.

Russia

Analyzing Russia’s internal politics

  • Weak federalism by Lenin: The founder of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Lenin warned against the dangers of “great Russian chauvinism”. He insisted on structuring a federal polity with the right of various nationalities to secede.
  • Strong soviet by Stalin: Stalin, however, turned Russian federalism into a hollow shell and erased the difference between the “Soviet Union” and “Soviet Russia”.
  • Putin refuse to recognize Ukraine: Putin denounced Lenin for giving a separate identity to Ukraine. “Modern Ukraine”, Putin said, “can with good reason be called ‘Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s Ukraine’.”
  • Stalling the democratic process: The enduring autocratic impulse in Moscow that is rooted in the stalled democratic revolution. Traditionally, the Russian fear of disorder has left the population to put great faith in strong leaders.
  • Centralising tendency: The frequent but unsuccessful efforts at political liberalisation have left a fertile ground in Russia for centralising power under leaders like Putin and increasing the chances of grave miscalculation.

Russia

What should be the India’s approach towards Russia?

  • Not directly criticize Russia: Although it has been reluctant to directly criticise Russian aggression, official India is not blind to the fact that Putin’s “special military operation” has gone horribly wrong.
  • Taking note of changing world order: India will inevitably find ways to adjust to the tectonic shifts in the world order triggered by Putin’s misadventure.
  • Learning from Putin’s mistake: The Indian political and strategic communities must come to terms with the many complex factors that have contributed to Putin’s egregious errors in Ukraine.

Conclusion

  • To understand how the war in Ukraine might play out and its longer-term consequences for India, India’s discourse must pay greater attention to the turbulent history of Russia and its troubled relations with its Central European neighbours.

 

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Price cap on Russia’s Oil and India’s contextual response

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Price cap on Russia's Oil and its implications on global oil supply chain, India's response and bilateral trade

cap

Context

  • Recently, G7 proposal to impose a price cap on Russian oil came into effect. The proposal, which took months to fructify, seeks to achieve a delicate balance how to starve the Russian state of oil revenues so as to financially cripple its war against Ukraine, but without causing supply disruptions in the global oil market which would cause prices to spiral. The move, however, risks fracturing the global crude oil market.

Click and get your FREE Copy of CURRENT AFFAIRS Micro Notes

What is Price cap on Russian oil?

  • The $60 per barrel and denial of infrastructure services to Russian oil: The $60 per barrel cap is intended to cut Russia’s oil revenues while keeping Russian crude on the market by denying insurance, maritime services, and finance provided by the Western allies for tanker cargoes priced above a fixed dollar-per-barrel cap.
  • Aim to hurt Russia’s oil revenue and create a pressure: The US-proposed cap aims to hurt Moscow’s finances while avoiding a sharp oil price spike if Russia’s oil is suddenly taken off the global market.
  • Impact on shipping: Without insurance, tanker owners may be reluctant to take on Russian oil and face obstacles in delivering it.

cap

Russian response to the price cap

  • Russia refused to abide by the measure: Russia has said it will not observe a cap and will halt deliveries to countries that do.
  • Retaliate by shutting off the shipments: It could retaliate by shutting off shipments in hopes of profiting from a sharply higher global oil price on whatever it can sell around the sanctions.
  • Russia said price cap will not hurt financing the war: Russia recently said that the cap would not hurt the financing of its “special military operation” in Ukraine.
  • Others buyers may bypass the restrictions putting countries interests first: Buyers in China and India might not go along with the cap, while Russia or China could try to set up their own insurance providers to replace those barred by US, UK and Europe. It is also possible that these countries will find creative ways to bypass the restrictions imposed by the G7.

cap

How impacts global oil supply chain?

  • Russian oil can now only be shipped using G7 countries infrastructure: Broadly speaking, Russian oil can now be shipped across the world using the infrastructure of the G7 countries tankers, insurers, etc only if it is sold at a price of $60 per barrel or less.
  • Higher price for buying oil from Russia: This makes buying oil from Russia at a higher price in the week prior to this announcement, Urals crude was trading in the mid-$60s range  a difficult proposition as most of the companies that offer shipping and insurance services are located in these G7 nations.
  • Countries wish to buy are at disadvantage but still not higher than brent crude oil: While Russia has refused to abide by this measure, and the cap will place countries that do opt for buying oil from Russia at a price higher than $60 at a disadvantage, it will still be at a considerable discount compared to Brent crude oil which is currently trading at around $81 per barrel.
  • Countries that continued trade despite of objections: So far, despite objections from western nations, countries like India and China have continued to trade with Russia.

cap

India’s response and the bilateral trade with Russia

  • India’s bilateral trade with Russia has surged to an all-time high: In fact, as reported in this paper, India’s bilateral trade with Russia has surged to an all-time high in the first five months of the year (April-August).
  • India putting its interests first and taking advantage of discounted price: Putting its interests first, India has raised its oil imports from Russia, taking advantage of the discounts being offered the country which used to import less than 1 per cent of its import requirement from Russia, now imports around a fifth from it.
  • As India is an oil importer, the trade at discounted price will give some relief in current account deficit and economic stability: After all, for an oil importer like India, which meets an overwhelming share of its requirements through imports, lower crude oil prices will moderate the price pressures in the economy and bring relief to the current account deficit, easing risks to macroeconomic stability.
  • India rejected the so-called moral duty: India has rejected any “moral” duty to join the price cap coalition.

Conclusion

  • Attempts to use trade as a weapon will only distort the global market and hurt energy-poor consumers not responsible for the war. India’s response so far to the West’s retaliation against Russia for the war in Ukraine has been guided by its sovereign interests. This must continue to be the guiding principle.

Mains Question

Q. G7 recently imposed a price cap on Russian oil driven by US and west. In light of this Discuss how it disrupt the global oil supply chain and how India is responding?

(Click) FREE1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Russia postpones with US under New START nuclear treaty

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : New Start Treaty, INF Treaty

Mains level : Nuclear disarmament

Russia postponed nuclear weapons talks with the United States under the New START Treaty with neither side giving a reason for the postponement.

New START Treaty

  • The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) pact limits the number of deployed nuclear warheads, missiles and bombers and is due to expire in 2021 unless renewed.
  • The treaty limits the US and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers, well below Cold War caps.
  • It was signed in 2010 by former US President Barack Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
  • It is one of the key controls on the superpower deployment of nuclear weapons.

Background of US-Russia Nuclear Relations

  • The US formally QUIT the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF)
  • The agreement obliged the two countries to eliminate all ground-based missiles of ranges between 500 and 5,500 km.

When did nuclear disarmament begin?

  • In 1985, the two countries entered into arms control negotiations on three tracks.
  • The first dealt with strategic weapons with ranges of over 5,500 km, leading to the START agreement in 1991.
  • It limited both sides to 1,600 strategic delivery vehicles and 6,000 warheads.
  • A second track dealt with intermediate-range missiles and this led to the INF Treaty in 1987.
  • A third track, Nuclear, and Space Talks was intended to address Soviet concerns regarding the U.S.’s Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) but this did not yield any outcome.

Success of INF

  • The INF Treaty was hailed as a great disarmament pact even though no nuclear warheads were dismantled.
  • As it is a bilateral agreement, it did not restrict other countries.
  • By 1991, the INF was implemented. USSR destroyed 1,846 and the US destroyed 846 Pershing and cruise missiles. 
  • Associated production facilities were also closed down.
  • INF Treaty was the first pact to include intensive verification measures, including on-site inspections.

How has the nuclear behavior been?

  • With the end of the Cold War and the break-up of the USSR in end-1991, former Soviet allies were joining NATO and becoming EU members.
  • The U.S. was investing in missile defense and conventional global precision strike capabilities to expand its technological lead.
  • In 2001, the U.S. announced its unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (ABM Treaty).
  • The US also blamed Russia for not complying with the ‘zero-yield’ standard imposed by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This may indicate the beginning of a new nuclear arms race.

Implications of the New Start

  • The 2011 New START lapsed in 2021. It may meet the fate of the INF Treaty.
  • The 2018 NPR envisaged the development of new nuclear weapons, including low-yield weapons.
  • China is preparing to operate its test site year-round with its goals for its nuclear force.
  • CTBT requires ratification by U.S., China, and Iran, Israel and Egypt and adherence by India, Pakistan and North Korea. It is unlikely to ever enter into force.

Conclusion

  • A new nuclear arms race could just be the beginning. It may be more complicated because of multiple countries being involved.
  • Technological changes are bringing cyber and space domains into contention. It raises the risks of escalation.

 

Click and get your FREE Copy of CURRENT AFFAIRS Micro Notes

(Click) FREE1-to-1 on-call Mentorship by IAS-IPS officers | Discuss doubts, strategy, sources, and more

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kherson from mapping perspective

Mains level : Russia's retreat in Ukraine

kherson

Ukraine’s defence and intelligence unit has reported on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson but predicts it to be a delusion for a retreat.

Where is Kherson?

  • Geographically, Kherson is a strategic location for Russia and Ukraine.
  • Situated in the northwest of the Dnipro River, the province shares borders with Donetsk, Crimea and the Black Sea.

Why is it important for Russia?

  • With Moscow capturing Crimea in 2014, the occupation of Kherson in March 2022 has benefited Russia in transferring its military from Crimea to counter Ukraine.
  • It provides access to Odesa and Black Sea ports in the west and serves as the main route to secure southern Ukraine.

Implications of regaining for Ukraine

  • For Ukraine, regaining Kherson is significant to protect its population in Kalanchak and Chaplynka districts and also to recapture Crimea.
  • Kherson is also an important agricultural region, with irrigation channels.

How did Kherson come under Russia’s control?

  • In early March 2022, Kherson was captured by Russia through intense fighting.
  • The battle of Kherson proved to be the starting point to capturing and occupying the southern part of Ukraine while the battles for Kharkiv and Kyiv in the north progressed.
  • Russia’s hold over Kherson since March 2022 enabled Moscow to capture the key port cities — Mariupol in the Sea Azov, and Odesa, thus expanding control.
  • Kherson’s irrigation canals were used as defence positions, creating a strong line preventing Ukraine’s counter-attacks.
  • Russia also had positioned its soldiers in Kherson and stockpiled the ammunition.

Why has Moscow announced its withdrawal from Kherson?

  • Mobilisation failure: When Russia was advancing rapidly in capturing the southern and northern cities of Ukraine, its military personnel and weapon systems started to run thin.
  • Unexperienced troops: The failure of new recruits added an additional challenge to Russia to keep its hold against the Ukraine counter-offensive in Kherson.
  • Inability of Russia to govern Kherson: Despite imposing martial law, Russia could not effectively rule Kherson; the three-level security in the occupied areas could not enforce Russia’s control on the ground.
  • Ukraine’s expanding counter-offensive: Until August, Ukraine was supplied only with short-range and low-grade weapons by the West. On the other hand, Russia has been facing challenges in augmenting its military hardware on the battleground.

Is the withdrawal final, or a tactical move by Russia?

  • Ukraine is advancing: Russia’s new mobilisation has failed to stop the advancing of Ukraine forces.
  • Russia is weakening: The challenges to remobilise its defence systems and the shortage of weapons must have played a role in Russia’s withdrawal.
  • Inevitable western intervention: With Ukraine strengthening its military capacity through support from the west, upgrading from land-based to air-based to heavy battle tanks, Russia is facing a challenge to hold its occupied territories in Ukraine.

Conclusion

  • Withdrawal from Kherson exposes a serious gap in Russia’s strategy to hold southern Ukraine.
  • However, it also underlines its strategy — to withdraw under serious attack or resistance by the Ukrainian forces — as it happened in Kyiv and Kharkiv.

 

Click and get your FREE Copy of CURRENT AFFAIRS Micro Notes

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

India’s role in Russia-Ukraine war

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Russian-Ukraine war, India's strategy, worlds perspective

Ukraine war

Context

  • As external affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar arrives in Russia this week for a bilateral visit, there is growing international interest in the potential Indian diplomatic contribution to ending the tragic war in Ukraine which is now in the ninth month and has shaken the world to its core.

The story of Ukraine’s war and India’s Strategy so far

  • India’s balanced approach: India has reasons to be satisfied that there is a better appreciation of its position on Ukraine in the Western public discourse. In the last few months, the Western media and think tanks had been relentless in their criticism of the Indian approach to the crisis as lacking moral and strategic clarity in the face of Russia’s unprovoked aggression.
  • India didn’t criticize Russian nor endorse Russian aggression: Through the last nine months, Delhi was reluctant to explicitly criticize Russian aggression against Ukraine and insisted on a dialogue between the warring parties. At the same time, India refused to endorse Russian aggression, underlined the importance of respecting the United Nations Charter, emphasized the inviolability of territorial sovereignty, warned against the use of nuclear weapons, and sought to draw at tension to the economic impact of the war on the “Global South”.
  • America showed sensitivity to India’s position: In the Biden administration there was a measure of understanding of where Delhi was coming from and India’s long-standing equities in the relationship with Russia and the constraints it imposed on India. Official Washington never let the heat of the Ukraine crisis in Europe undermine the longer-term American imperative of engaging India to stabilize the Indo-Pacific. The same can’t be said about Europe, but then the continent was right in the middle of the gravest conflict since the Second World War. The European trauma from a shattered peace is real.
  • India’s role in grain shipment and nuclear power station: Recent reports in the US media recount the Indian diplomatic contribution at a few critical moments in the nine-month-long war-in helping overcome issues over the grain shipment deal from Ukraine and in reducing the growing risks of the war targeting the nuclear power station at Zaporizhzhia in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine war

Can India take on a larger diplomatic role?

  • India’s role is limited: Good relations with Moscow and Washington do put South Block in an interesting position. But India is not the only channel of communication between the US and Russia. Nor are Washington and Moscow totally reliant on third parties.

Efforts to end war by west and Russia

  • Communications between the defence ministers: The defence ministers of the two countries have frequently talked to each other reminding each other of their redlines in the war. Meanwhile, the onset of winter will increasingly limit the possibilities for military operations in Ukraine and would give a chance to both sides to pause, regroup and rethink their strategy and tactics.
  • Putin’s strategy: Putin’s current focus on destroying the Ukrainian cities and the occasional threat to use nuclear weapons underline Russia’s weakness in the Ukraine war rather than strength. From a military perspective, there is no easy way for Russia to secure a “victory” in this war.
  • Limitations of Putin: Putin might have no option but to consider an honorable draw that will save his political face and secure some territorial gains in Ukraine. Can the same be said about the other Vladimir? (The Russians and Ukrainians both claim Vladimir or Volodymyr the Great of the 10th century as the founder of their nations).
  • Ukraine’s strategy: Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has led the country’s fight against Russian aggression with impressive determination. Unlike the Russian troops, the Ukrainian forces are trying to save their nation against aggression and have inflicted significant military defeats on the Russians.
  • Limitations of Ukraine: There is a question, can Zelenskyy succeed in liberating all territories occupied by Russia, including Crimea which Russia took by force in 2014? Zelenskyy might like to fight on until he realizes that goal, but there are second thoughts in the Western coalition that is backing him.
  • Western effort of sanctions on Russia: The West had bet that the massive sanctions it imposed after Moscow launched its war against Ukraine would bring the Russian economy to its knees. But Russia is still standing and the costs of the sanctions are beginning to have major effects on Western societies.
  • Rising energy cost and Ineffectiveness of sanctions: As the economic and energy costs of the war mount, there is growing political support in Europe for a quick resolution of the conflict. In the US, which has emerged as the main supporter of Ukraine, there are both Republicans and Democrats who are questioning the current American “blank cheque” for Ukraine. If the Republicans do well as they are expected to in this week’s midterm elections to the US Congress, the internal polarization could sharpen and cast a shadow over American foreign policy, including the Ukraine strategy.
  • USA is repairing its strategy: Although these developments need not be fatal to US strategy, Washington is beginning to recalibrate. In important private advice to Kyiv last week, Washington called for greater flexibility in Zelenskyy’s approach to negotiations with Putin.

Ukraine war

Conclusion

  • Ending the war in Ukraine is very crucial as global economy especially western, facing energy and inflation crisis. India has a limited impact as mediator in ending the war in Ukraine. West and Russia need to realise their futile pursuit of complete victory is hurting them more. Sooner the war ends better for world.

Mains Question

Q. What role India can play as mediator in Ukraine war? What are efforts by Russia and Western nations to end the war?

Click and Get your FREE copy of Current Affairs Micro notes

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Black Sea Grain Initiative

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Grain Initiaitve, Black Sea

Mains level : Implications of Russia-Ukraine War

black sea

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative as Russia has agreed to resume its participation.

Black Sea Grain Initiative

  • The Initiative eased Russia’s naval blockade and saw the reopening of three key Ukrainian ports.
  • The agreement to create the sea corridor was negotiated by representatives from Ukraine, Russia, the UN and Turkey in July this year.
  • The agreement created procedures to safely export grain from certain ports to attempt to address the 2022 food crisis.
  • It provides a safe maritime humanitarian corridor for Ukrainian exports (particularly for food grains) from three of its key ports, namely, Chornomorsk, Odesa and Yuzhny/Pivdennyi in the Black Sea.

Outcomes of this deal

  • Approximately 9.8 million tonnes of grains have been shipped so far since the deal was brokered.
  • People hoarding the grain in the hope of selling it for a sizable profit owing to the supply crunch were now obligated to sell.
  • The initiative has also been credited for having made a huge difference to the global cost of living crisis.

What would suspension of the deal mean?

  • In a nutshell, the deal’s suspension was expected to re-introduce the price pressures on grain prices, especially that of wheat, with inventory being at historical lows.
  • It could particularly impact countries in the Middle East and Africa such as Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Sudan and Yemen which have benefitted from the resumption and are particularly dependent on Russian and Ukrainian exports

About Black Sea

black sea

  • The famed water body is bound by Ukraine to the north and northwest, Russia and Georgia to the east, Turkey to the south, and Bulgaria and Romania to the west.
  • It links to the Sea of Marmara through the Bosphorus and then to the Aegean through the Dardanelles.

Significance of Black Sea for Russia

  • Domination of the Black Sea region is a geostrategic imperative for Moscow.
  • Black Sea has traditionally been Russia’s warm water gateway to Europe.
  • For Russia, the Black Sea is both a stepping stone to the Mediterranean.
  • It acts as a strategic buffer between NATO and itself.
  • It showcases the Russian power in the Mediterranean and to secure the economic gateway to key markets in southern Europe.
  • Russia has been making efforts to gain complete control over the Black Sea since the Crimean crisis of 2014.

 

Click and get your FREE Copy of CURRENT AFFAIRS Micro Notes

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Nord Stream Pipeline Leakage: A climate Catastrophe

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nord Stream,GHG,Methane Emission

Mains level : Environmental degradation, Man made disasters.

Nord StreamContext

  • Four leakages were reported at different points in the Nord Stream pipelines, linking Russia and Europe, since September 26. Two of the leaks were in Swedish waters while the other two were reported from Danish waters. The European Union said they suspected “sabotage” behind the leaks.

What is Nord Stream Pipeline?

  • Nord Stream 1:
  • Nord Stream 1 is the biggest pipeline transporting natural gas between Russia and Europe via Germany.It is a system of offshore natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.
  • Nord Stream 1 is a 1,224 km underwater gas pipeline that runs from Vyborg in northwest Russia to Lubmin in northeastern Germany via the Baltic Sea.
  • Nord Stream 2:
  • Russian threats to choke this gas supply to Europe present an economic threat to Germany.
  • To expand options and double the supply from Russia, Germany decided to build Nord Stream 2.
  • The construction of the $11 billion-worth Nord Stream 2 was completed in 2021 but never began commercial operations.

Nord StreamWhy the Nord Stream pipeline is so important?

  • For Germany: Energy prices in Germany, Europe’s largest economy, are among the lowest in the continent because of the cheap gas supplies via Nord Stream 1. This also makes German manufactured goods more competitive in the international market.
  • For European Union: In 2021, Russia supplied nearly 40 per cent of the EU’s natural gas needs through this pipeline. The flows through Nord Stream play a vital role in filling up the national storage tanks of EU. It is crucial to provide the required heating in the upcoming winter.
  • For Russia: Russia is using the supplies via the crucial pipeline as a bargain to navigate its economy through sanctions from the western countries.

What is the current status of Nord Stream Pipeline?

  • Nord stream pipeline is the largest single supply route for Russian gas to Europe. The Russian state owned gas company Gazprom has a majority ownership in the pipeline.
  • While it was running at just 20% of its capacity since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began, the company, in early September fully cut gas flows from the pipeline on the pretext of maintenance.
  • According to Bloomberg, while 40% of Europe’s pipeline gas came from Russia before Russia Ukraine the war, the number now stands at just 9%.
  • Even though both pipelines were not running commercially, they had millions of cubic metres of gas stored in them.

The recent leakage in the pipeline

  • Commercial Methane: Measuring satellite firm GHGSat says, that a conservative estimate based on available data suggested that the leaks together were releasing ‘more than500 metric tonnes of methane per hour’ when first breached, with the flow decreasing over time.
  • Biggest methane leakage ever: According to UNEP The leakage from the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline system under the Baltic Sea have led to perhaps the single biggest release of methane ever recorded.
  • Amount of leakage: The rate of leakage at one of the four points of rupture in the pipeline was 22,920 kg per hour. That is equal to burning about 286,000 kg of coal every hour, according to scientists.

Nord StreamWhat will be the Impact of methane leakage?

  • Possibility of more leakage: With the timeframe for repairs being uncertain, the pipelines were unlikely to provide any gas to Europe in the forthcoming winter months, even if the political will to resume supply was found.
  • Commercial damage: European gas prices spiked after reports of the leaks emerged; European Benchmark prices rose 12% on Tuesday, while Dutch and British Prices continued to rise.
  • Ozone formation: Methane is the primary contributor to the formation of ground-level ozone, a hazardous air pollutant and greenhouse gas, exposure to which causes 1 million premature deaths every year.
  • Green House gas: Methane is also a powerful greenhouse gas. Over a 20-year period, it is 80 times more potent at warming than carbon dioxide.
  • Global warming: Methane has accounted for roughly 30 per cent of global warming since pre-industrial times and is proliferating faster than at any other time since record keeping began in the 1980s.
  • Emission have already increased during the lockdown: According to data from the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, even as carbon dioxide emissions decelerated during the pandemic-related lockdowns of 2020, atmospheric methane shot up.

Nord Stream

Why is it important to reduce methane emission?

  • Short lifespan: Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. But it takes only about a decade for methane to break down. So, reducing methane emissions now would have an impact in the near term and is critical for helping keep the world on a path to 1.5°C.
  • Human caused methane emissions: Human-caused methane emissions could be reduced by as much as 45 per cent within the decade. This would avert nearly 0.3°C of global warming by 2045, helping to limit global temperature rise to 1.5˚C and putting the planet on track to achieve the Paris Agreement targets.
  • Prevent premature deaths: Every year, the subsequent reduction in ground-level ozone would also prevent 260,000 premature deaths, 775,000 asthma-related hospital visits, 73 billion hours of lost labour from extreme heat and 25 million tonnes of crop losses.
  • Reducing the Agriculture emission: Agriculture and allied activities remains the biggest contributor of methane emission. The UN’s Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture initiative is supporting the transformation of agricultural and food systems, focusing on how to maintain productivity amid a changing climate. Representatives are also working to mainstream agriculture into the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

Conclusion

  • Nord stream pipeline leakages will further exacerbate the ozone formation, Green House Gas emissions global warming and thereby climate change. In the spirit of Paris climate change agreement nations must act together to rein in the menace of GHG emissions.

Mains Questions

Q.Methane emission into atmosphere is done more by human activities than natural causes. In the spirit of Paris climate change agreement nations must act together to rein in the menace of GHG emissions. Explain

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

 

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan Conflict

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Batken Region

Mains level : Not Much

conflict

Nearly 100 people have been killed and scores injured in violent border clashes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan over the last week.

What is the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan Conflict?

  • The clashes are replaying old pre- and post-Soviet era legacies.
  • The borders of the two republics were demarcated under Joseph Stalin’s leadership.
  • Historically, the Kyrgyz and Tajik populations enjoyed common rights over natural resources.
  • The issue of the delimitation of the border is a relic of the Soviet era.
  • While regular talks have tried to resolve the issue, one of the crucial points of disagreement remains over the map which should be used for demarcation purposes.
  • Almost half of its close to a 1000 km border is disputed.

Genesis of the dispute

  • The creation of the Soviet Union saw the large-scale redistribution of livestock to collective and state farms, which upset the existing status quo.
  • Unfortunately, there was only so much land to go around.
  • The Tajik territory of Batken saw their livestock increase, and with scarce grazing land, agreements were signed between the two populations over the utilisation of Kyrgyz territory by the Tajiks’ livestock.

What is happening now at the border?

  • The last few weeks have seen constant shelling, violent confrontations by local communities, and active engagement by security forces on either side.
  • The Batken region of Kyrgyzstan is seeing families being moved out and getting relocated.
  • According to Kyrgyzstan, close to 1,50,000 people out of the 5,50,000 odd population of the Batken region have either fled the area or have been relocated by the state.
  • The situation in Osh, Kyrgyzstan, is no different. The highly militarised borders also add to tensions.

Significance of Batken

  • The Batken region, bordering Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in the south of the country, is one of the seven regions of Kyrgyzstan with its natural underground and water resources, natural beauty, smooth transit routes and a population of around 500,000.
  • Located 750 kilometers (466.02 miles) from Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, and in the southwest of the country, the Batken region is located on the edge of the famous Fergana Valley in Central Asia.
  • Fergana Valley includes Fergana, Namangan, Andijan in Uzbekistan, Hocand in Tajikistan, Osh, Jalalabad and Batken in Kyrgyzstan.
  • The Batken region borders the Republic of Uzbekistan in the northeast and the Republic of Tajikistan in the southwest and north.
  • Covering 8.5% of Kyrgyzstan’s land, the region has agricultural, underground, water and energy resources, as well as oil and natural gas resources, albeit small.

What led to the current flare-up?

  • The ideological basis of the current set of clashes is reinforced by developmental issues, thus providing a fertile ground for the entire geopolitical space to become a hotbed of multiple minor conflicts and clashes.
  • The groups from either side planted trees in disputed areas and engaged in a physical confrontation using agricultural equipment as weapons.

Why are the clashes occurring now?

  • The collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent dissolution of the then-existing water and land agreements saw the creation of multiple smaller independent farms.
  • This has led to a marked increase in water consumption patterns among the farmers.
  • Both countries share multiple water channels with undulating trajectories and flow, which upset equitable access to water on both sides.
  • As a result, small-scale conflicts occur practically every year during the crucial irrigation period.

What is the road ahead?

  • The path to resolution of the conflict will require groups to agree upon a common map.
  • Russia often brokers between the two.
  • The international community will have to make efforts to solve the dispute by involving elders in the communities, as historically, elders have been used to resolve conflicts.
  • The informal small-scale governance mechanisms would also have to be further strengthened through a concerted effort by the respective countries to stabilize the geopolitical dynamics.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Nord Stream Pipeline to remain shut

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nord Stream Pipelines

Mains level : Economic impact of Russian invasion

Russian has said that it can‘t resume the supply of natural gas through a key pipeline to Germany for now because of what it said was a need for urgent maintenance work.

Why in news?

  • There are growing concerns in European countries that Russia would shut down its gas supplies in retaliation against the current sanctions against Moscow.

What is Nord Stream 1?

  • It is a system of offshore natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.
  • Nord Stream 1 is a 1,224 km underwater gas pipeline that runs from Vyborg in northwest Russia to Lubmin in northeastern Germany via the Baltic Sea.
  • Two further pipelines under construction running from Ust-Luga to Lubmin termed Nord Stream 2.
  • Majority owned by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, the pipeline is the primary route through which its gas enters Germany.

Worry for Europe

  • There have been growing concerns that there could be further restrictions to European gas supplies.
  • European countries rely on Russian energy for their cold winters.
  • But now they believe that Russia could weaponized their dependency as a response to their sanction due to the conflict in Ukraine.

What are Europe’s alternative sources of energy?

  • As an alternative source for energy, European countries have increasingly turned towards the US, from whom they purchase liquified natural gas (LNG) that comes via ships.
  • Since ship-delivered gas ends up being far more expensive, there are also attempts to get non-Russian pipeline gas from Norway and Azerbaijan.
  • While EU countries were earlier seeking to phase out fossil fuels and emphasize renewable forms of energy, many are now returning to coal to deal with the energy crisis.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

A global order caught up in a swirl of chaos

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : I2U2

Mains level : Paper 2- Changes in global order

Context

Adrift at the end of the 20th century, the world of the 21st century is proving to be highly chaotic.

Lack of strong European leadership

  • Europe has been undergoing several major changes in recent months
  • Germany, which has steered European politics for almost two wdecades under Angela Merkel, now has a Chancellor (Olaf Scholz) who has hardly any foreign policy experience.
  • Without Germany’s steadying hand, Europe would be virtually adrift in troubled waters.
  • Emmanuel Macron may have been re-elected the President of France, but his wings have been clipped with the Opposition now gaining a majority in the French National Assembly.
  •  The United Kingdom is in deep trouble, if not disarray.
  • Consequently, at a time when actual and moral issues require both deft and firm handling, Europe appears rudderless.
  • Economic impact: Compounding this situation is the negative economic impact of the war in Ukraine.
  • What is evident already is that apart from the spiralling cost of energy, food and fertilizers, quite a few countries confront the spectre of food scarcity given that Ukraine and Russia were generally viewed as the granaries of the world.
  • Apart from this, nations do face several other problems as well, including, in some cases, a foreign exchange crisis.
  • The instruments employed by the West against Russia, such as sanctions, have not had the desired impact as far as the latter is concerned.

Growing Russia-China closeness and its implications for Indo-Pacific

  • The situation in Europe is still to be decided, but what is also becoming obvious is that outside Europe, the conflict is beginning to take on a different dimension, leading to the emergence of new patchworks of relationships.
  • China’s growing influence in the Pacific region, including in the Indo-Pacific, and further strengthened by the entente with Russia, may hardly be a by-product of the Ukraine-Russia conflict, but it has induced fresh energy into a possible conflict between two rival power blocs.
  • Asia unwilling to take sides: Understanding the changing nature of relationships in Asia, and considering that most Asian nations appear unwilling to take sides in the event of a conflict, is important.
  • No unity of purpose: Unlike the unity and the strength displayed by European nations — there is no evidence of any such unity of purpose in the event that China was to launch a conflict with Taiwan.

Challenges for India

  • India cannot ignore the situation created by the stronger bonds between Russia and China.
  • Uncertainty about Russia: India will need to determine whether Russia can be expected to play a role as a ‘trusted friend’ of India’s.
  • Again, it would be too much to hope that in dealing with China, India can expect the same kind of support it may need from the Quad.
  • China sidelining India: China, however, seems intent on establishing its dominance and also sidelining India in Asia, which New Delhi would have discerned in the course of the virtual BRICS Summit hosted by China in June.
  • Afghanistan challenge: Apart from China, India also urgently needs to come to terms with a Taliban Afghanistan.
  • Sri Lanka Challenge: At this time, the democratic upsurge in Sri Lanka presents India with a fresh set of problems.
  • In a situation where ‘rage’ and ‘anger’ are the dominant sentiments, there is every reason for concern that even governments that have maintained a ‘hands-off’ relationship could become targets of the new forces emerging in Sri Lanka.

Major developments in West Asia

  • The Abraham Accords in 2020, which brought about the entente between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, has been the harbinger of certain new trends in the tangled web of relationships among countries of West Asia.
  • But even as the U.S.’s relations with Arab nations in West Asia appear to weaken, Russia and China are beginning to play key roles, with Iran as the fulcrum for establishing new relationships.
  • China continues to steadily build on its connections with the region, and with Iran in particular.
  • How India is dealing with the situation: India has been making steady progress in enlarging its contacts and influence in West Asia.
  •  While the India-Israel relationship dates back to the 1990s, the India-UAE relationship has blossomed in the past couple of years.
  • India-Iran relations, however, seem to have reached a stalemate of late.
  • Issues with I2U2: India has joined a U.S.-based group, the I2U2, comprising India, Israel the UAE and the U.S.
  • Details of the new arrangements are unclear, but it is evident that the target is Iran, as China is for the Quad, injecting yet another element of uncertainty into an already troubled region.

Implications for nuclear deterrence

  • The argument being adduced is that a wide gap exists today in regard to China and India’s nuclear deterrent capabilities, and implicitly blames India for its voluntary ban on testing and its ‘no-first-use’ doctrine from making progress in this arena.
  • What is also implied is that India could overcome the lacuna by seeking the assistance of western nations which have such capabilities and knowledge.
  • Way forward for India: It is important for India to guard against such pernicious attempts at this time to undo its carefully negotiated and structured nuclear policy and doctrine, and be inveigled into any anti-China western move on this front.

Conclusion

Geopolitical experts in the West confine their findings at present solely to the impact of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, believing that this alone would determine not only war and peace but also other critical aspects as well. Significant developments are also taking place in many other regions of the globe, which will have equal if not more relevance to the future of the international governance system.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Russia, Ukraine seal grain exports deal

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Global wheat shortage

Kyiv and Moscow penned a landmark agreement with Turkey and the UN to unblock Ukraine’s Black Sea grain exports after a Russian blockade raised fears of a global food crisis.

What is the deal about?

  • The deal was agreed through UN and Turkish mediation.
  • It establishes safe corridors along which Ukrainian ships can come in and out of three designated Black Sea ports in and around Odessa.
  • Both sides also pledged not to attack ships on the way in or out.

Why such move?

  • It will bring relief for developing countries on the edge of bankruptcy and the most vulnerable people on the edge of famine.
  • The five-month war has already displaced millions and left thousands dead.
  • It is being fought across one of Europe’s most fertile regions by two of the world’s biggest grain producers.
  • Up to 25 million tonnes of wheat and other grain have been blocked in Ukrainian ports by Russian warships and landmines Kyiv has laid to avert a feared amphibious assault.

Why was the grain export deal signed?

  • Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but Russia’s invasion of the country and naval blockade of its ports have halted shipments.
  • Some grain is being transported through Europe by rail, road and river, but the prices of vital commodities like wheat and barley have soared during the nearly five-month war.
  • Ukrainian and Russian military delegations reached a tentative agreement last week on a UN plan that would also allow Russia to export its grain and fertilizers.
  • Ukraine is expected to export 22 million tons of grain and other agricultural products that have been stuck in Black Sea ports due to the war.

What is the grain export deal?

  • The deal makes provisions for the safe passage of ships.
  • It foresees the establishment of a control center in Istanbul, to be staffed by UN, Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian officials, to run and coordinate the process.
  • Ships would undergo inspections to ensure they are not carrying weapons.
  • Ukraine has insisted that no Russian ship would escort vessels and that there would be no Russian representative present at Ukrainian ports.
  • Ukraine also plans an immediate military response in case of provocations.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Russia resumes gas supplies to Europe via Nord Stream Pipeline

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nord Stream Pipelines

Mains level : Energy implications of Russia-Ukraine War

Russia restored critical gas supplies to Europe through Germany via the Nord Stream pipeline after 10 days of uncertainty in guise of maintenance.

Nord Stream Pipeline

  • It is a system of offshore natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.
  • It includes two active pipelines running from Vyborg to Lubmin near Greifswald forming the original Nord Stream, and two further pipelines under construction running from Ust-Luga to Lubmin termed Nord Stream 2.
  • In Lubmin the lines connect to the OPAL line to Olbernhau on the Czech border and to the NEL line to Rehden near Bremen.
  • The first line Nord Stream-1 was laid and inaugurated in 2011 and the second line in 2012.
  • At 1,222 km in length, Nord Stream is the longest sub-sea pipeline in the world, surpassing the Langeled pipeline.

Why in news?

  • Germany, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas, had feared that Moscow would not reopen the pipeline after the scheduled work and accused Moscow of using energy as a “weapon”.
  • The showdown came amid the worst tensions in several years over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • Germany believes Russia is squeezing supplies in retaliation for Western sanctions over the war.

Why is Russian gas so important?

(1) Major chunk of energy

  • Russia supplied some 40% of Europe’s natural gas before the war.
  • That has dropped to around 15%, sending prices through the roof and straining energy-intensive industries.

(2) Everyday use

  • Gas is used across a range of processes that most people never see – to forge steel to make cars, make glass bottles and pasteurise milk and cheese.
  • Companies warn that they often can’t switch overnight to other energy sources such as fuel oil or electricity to produce heat.

(3) Fuel inflation

  • High energy prices are already threatening to cause a recession in Europe through record inflation, with consumers having less to spend as costs rise for food, fuel and utilities.
  • A complete cutoff could deal an even heavier blow to an already troubled economy.

What is visible in Russia’s game plan?

  • Since the invasion, Russia’s revenue from exporting oil and gas to Europe has doubled over the average from recent years, to $95 billion.
  • So Putin has cash in hand and could calculate that painful utility bills and an energy recession could undermine public support for Ukraine in Europe and increase sentiment for a negotiated settlement in his favour.
  • It would be unwise to exclude the possibility that Russia could decide to forgo the revenue it gets from exporting gas to Europe in order to gain political leverage.

What alternatives does Europe have?

  • The EU has turned to more-expensive liquefied natural gas, or LNG, which comes by ship from places like the US and Qatar.
  • Germany is fast-tracking construction of LNG import terminals on its North Sea coast, but that will take years.
  • But LNG alone can’t make up the gap.
  • Conservation and other energy sources are key.

Could people freeze this winter?

  • Its unlikely homes, schools and hospitals will lose heat because governments are required to impose rationing first on businesses.
  • The German government also could allow gas suppliers to immediately pass on increases to customers.
  • The choices could include torpedoing industry and/or socking consumers with even higher bills.
  • The IEA recommends that European countries step up campaigns for people to conserve at home and plan to share gas in an emergency.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

The Ukraine war and the return to Euro-centrism

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Return of Euro-centrism

Context

The Russian aggression against Ukraine has led to an unmissable feeling of insecurity in Europe, particularly in Germany.

 Euro-centric world order and new security consciousness

  • For centuries, Europe imagined itself to be the centre of the world — its order, politics and culture.
  • What contributed to its decline? Decolonisation, the emergence of the United States as the western world’s sole superpower, and the rise of the rest dramatically diminished the centuries old domination of the European states and their ability to shape the world in their own image.
  • The political and military aftermath of Russia’s war on Ukraine could potentially tilt the current global balance and take us back to a Euro-centric world order.
  • US dominance: For sure, the U.S. continues to dominate the trans-Atlantic security landscape and this is likely to remain so.
  • And yet, the new security consciousness in Europe will reduce Washington’s ability to continue as the fulcrum of the trans-Atlantic strategic imagination.
  • If wars have the potential to shape international orders, it is Europe’s turn to shape the world, once again.
  • The United States, fatigued from the Iraq and Afghan wars, does not appear to be keen on another round of wars and military engagements.
  •  A pervasive sense of what some described as “existential insecurity” has brought about a renewed enthusiasm about the future of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • The European Union (EU) Commission has backed Kyiv’s bid for EU candidature.
  • This new military unity is not just words, but is backed with political commitment and financial resources from the world’s richest economies.
  • Berlin, for instance, has decided to spend an additional €100 billion for defence over and above its €50 billion annual expenditure on defence.

Implications

1] Weakened faith in the institutions and globalisation

  • Germany, the engine of this new security thinking in Europe, is coming out of its self-image of being a pacifist nation.
  • There appears little faith in the United Nations or the UN Security Council anymore in Berlin, they have decided to put their faith in a revitalised EU and NATO.
  • European states are deeply worried about globalisation-induced vulnerability and this has set in a rethink about the inherent problems of indiscriminate globalisation.
  • The combined effect of European re-militarisation (however modest it may be for now), its loss of faith in multilateral institutions, and the increased salience of the EU and NATO will be the unchecked emergence of Europe as an even stronger regulatory, norm/standard-setting superpower backed with military power.

2] Unilateral and Euro-centric decision making

  • The EU already has a worryingly disproportionate ability to set standards for the rest of the world.
  • Instruments such as the Digital Services Act and the Digital Assets Act or its human rights standards will be unilaterally adopted, and will be unavoidable by other parts of the world.
  • While these instruments and standards may in themselves be progressive and unobjectionable for the most part, the problem is with the process which is unilateral and Euro-centric. 

3] Euro-centric worldview

  • A euro-centric worldview of ‘friends and enemies’ will define its engagement with the rest of the world.
  • India is a friend, but its take on the Ukraine war is not friendly enough for Europe.
  • The EU will lead the way in setting standards for the rest of us and we will have little option but to follow that.
  • For sure, Europe will seek partners around the world: to create a Euro-centric world order, not a truly global world order.

4] Dilemma for India

  • This unilateral attempt to ‘shape the world’ in its image will also be portrayed as an attempt to counter Chinese attempts at global domination.
  • To oppose or not? When presented as such, countries such as India will face a clear dilemma: to politically and normatively oppose the setting of the global agenda by Europeans or to be practical about it and jump on the European bandwagon.

Conclusion

The key message from the European narratives about the Ukraine war is that European states would want to see their wars and conflicts as threatening international stability and the ‘rules-based’ global order.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

What is the Nord Stream 1 Gas Link?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Nord Stream Pipelines

Mains level : NA

The Nord Stream 1, Germany’s main source of gas from Russia, was recently shut down for scheduled maintenance work.

Why in news?

  • There are growing concerns in European countries that Russia would shut down its gas supplies in retaliation against the current sanctions against Moscow.

What is Nord Stream 1?

  • It is a system of offshore natural gas pipelines running under the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.
  • Nord Stream 1 is a 1,224 km underwater gas pipeline that runs from Vyborg in northwest Russia to Lubmin in northeastern Germany via the Baltic Sea.
  • Two further pipelines under construction running from Ust-Luga to Lubmin termed Nord Stream 2.
  • Majority owned by the Russian energy giant Gazprom, the pipeline is the primary route through which its gas enters Germany.

Worry for Europe

  • There have been growing concerns that there could be further restrictions to European gas supplies.
  • European countries rely on Russian energy for their cold winters.
  • But now they believe that Russia could weaponized their dependency as a response to their sanction due to the conflict in Ukraine.

What are Europe’s alternative sources of energy?

  • As an alternative source for energy, European countries have increasingly turned towards the US, from whom they purchase liquified natural gas (LNG) that comes via ships.
  • Since ship-delivered gas ends up being far more expensive, there are also attempts to get non-Russian pipeline gas from Norway and Azerbaijan.
  • While EU countries were earlier seeking to phase out fossil fuels and emphasize renewable forms of energy, many are now returning to coal to deal with the energy crisis.

 

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Asia seeking to diversify its security partnerships

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Diversification of security partnerships

Context

For the first time, the prime ministers of Australia, Japan, and New Zealand as well as the president of South Korea participated in a NATO summit.

How Ukraine war revived NATO

  • More than a decade ago — in 2010 — when NATO agreed on a strategic doctrine, it was discussing it with its Russian partners.
  • There was no reference to China in the 2010 strategic concept.
  • At that time, the West was trying to deepen ties with Russia and build expansive economic cooperation with China
  • In unveiling a new strategic conception for the alliance in the wake of the war in Ukraine, NATO has declared Russia “the most significant and direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area”.
  • Not ignoring the threat from China: NATO has declared that China’s “stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values.”
  • The last few months have seen a closing of ranks in NATO that is now determined to cope with the Russian threat.
  • Germany — which has long sought good political and commercial relations with Russia — has agreed to raise its defence spending and do more for European security.
  • Sweden and Finland have ended their historic neutrality and decided to join NATO.
  • The US is doubling down on its military commitments to Europe.
  • The last few decades of peace and prosperity in Europe and Asia had enormously increased the influence of Russia and China in their neighbourhoods.
  • But the imperial ambitions of both — rooted in a profound misreading of their leverage — have produced a massive geopolitical backlash.
  • Consolidation of old alliances: Rather than sharpen the contradiction between the US and its regional allies, Russian and Chinese actions have helped consolidate old alliances and gave birth to new security coalitions.

Why small  European countries seek alliances and how it applies to Asia as well

  • Small countries seek alliances when their fears of more powerful neighbours become acute.
  • Russia’s invasion has sent countries on Moscow’s western flank looking for NATO cover.
  • Most Central European states don’t want to rely purely on a European response to the Russian challenge.
  • They suspect France and Germany are more likely to accommodate Moscow at their expense than stand up to Russia.
  • For the Central Europeans, it is the US that offers a real balance against Russia.
  • It should not be too difficult for India to understand why some Asian countries are turning to NATO.
  • After all, India’s own turn to the Quad was a direct consequence of Chinese actions on the disputed bilateral frontier.

How China’s expansionist policies are reshaping Asian security landscape

  • Way back in 2007 — when India conducted a mere joint naval exercise with the US, Japan, Australia and Singapore — Beijing called it a precursor to an “Asian NATO”. 
  • Australia and New Zealand are a bit further away but are deeply tied to the Chinese economy.
  • For those like Japan, who face a direct threat from China, “Ukraine could well be about the future of Asian security”.
  • What has happened in case of Ukraine created fear in Asian, at a moment when China has become so much more powerful than its neighbours.
  • Improving national capability: Creation of more sophisticated national military capabilities has been the first priority of some of Beijing’s neighbours.
  • Resolution of differences: Resolving mutual differences and strengthening security cooperation — for example between Japan and South Korea — has been another.
  • Alliance with US: Boosting bilateral alliances with the US is yet another.
  • Diversification of security partnership: Even as nations in the region reboot ties with the US, Asia is also seeking to diversify its security partnerships.
  • Engagement with Europe: This has led to greater Asian engagement with Europe as well as the creation of new Indo-Pacific regional institutions – including the Quad, and the AUKUS.

Conclusion

Thanks to the egregious expansionism of Russia and China, the strategic integration of the Asian and European geopolitical theatres has now begun. Whether they like it or not, all countries in Europe and Asia will have to deal with the consequences.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Ukraine crisis is shaping future world order, India needs balanced outlook to its strategic policy

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Partners in the blue pacific

Mains level : Paper 2- Need for balanced outlook to strategic policy

Context

Three back-to-back summits in the past fortnight have helped settle the dust on who stands where on the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Background of the summits

  • The BRICS summit took place on June 23-24, followed by the G-7 summit (June 26 and 27), and then the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in Madrid (June 29).
  • In order to understand what they portend for the future global world order, it is necessary to study the messages sent out by each of these groupings against the backdrop of the situation in Ukraine.
  • Most importantly, how can India, that has hitherto managed a careful balancing act between all the groupings, build a movement out of this moment of deep polarisation in the world?

Why outcomes of BRICS Summit throws some challenges for the West

  • The fact that India agreed to join the summit showed India’s commitment to BRICS as an alternate grouping of economies spotlighted India’s refusal to shun Russia, and agreement to set aside the two-year stand-off with China in favour of multilateral meetings such as BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO).
  • The BRICS Beijing Declaration was a consensus document, as each member cited differing “National Positions” on the Ukraine issue.
  • Economic initiatives: BRICS’s New Development Bank (NDB), has approved about 17 loans totalling $5 billion for Russian energy and infrastructure projects, the “Contingent Reserve Arrangement” (CRA).
  • A BRICS Payments Task Force (BPTF) for coordination between their central banks for an alternative to the SWIFT payments system, was proposed.
  • Mr. Putin also proposed building a global reserve currency based on a “basket of currencies” and trading in local currencies.
  • Challenges to western sanctions: The BRICS economic initiatives contain several challenges to the western-led sanctions regime against Russia
  • Russia also committed to providing more oil and coal supplies to BRICS countries, which will no doubt raise red flags in the West.
  • The possible admission of countries such as Argentina and Iran that have applied to the BRICS mechanism will also sound alarm in the West.

G7 Summit and India’s flexibility

  • A day after BRICS, Mr. Modi left for the G-7 Summit in Germany, proof of India’s flexibility in dealing with both sides of the conflict.
  • In a number of statements, the G-7 targetted Russia’s war in Ukraine and China’s economic aggression.
  • Its outreach documents — on “Resilient Democracies” and “Clean and Just Transitions towards Climate Neutrality” — the only ones that India and other invitees signed on to, were devoid of any mentions of either.

Key takeaways from NATO Summit

  • Reference to China: NATO for the first time, made a reference to “systemic competition” from China as a challenge to NATO “interests, security and values”.
  • Presence of US allies: The presence of the U.S.’s trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific military allies at one conference sent out a clear message against a perceived Russia-China alliance.
  • US’s growing focus: The launch of another Indo-Pacific coalition — of “Partners in the Blue Pacific” (PBP), i.e., the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Japan, in addition to last year’s Australia-U.K.-U.S. (AUKUS), is another signal of the U.S.’s growing focus on countries that it has military alliances with, against its adversaries.
  • No consideration of Russian sensitivities: Apart from the Indo-Pacific partners at the summit, there were leaders of the five countries that have applied to join NATO.
  • The direct message was that NATO would no longer consider Russian sensitivities on the subject of NATO expansion.

What is the strategy adopted by India?

  • The outcome of all three summits points to a growing polarisation, even battle lines being drawn, between the Western Atlantic-Pacific axis and the Russia-China combine.
  • Neutral stand on Ukraine crisis: India has adopted a singular strategy, albeit a defensive one, that does not condone Russia for its attacks on Ukraine, but one that does not criticise it either.
  • India has joined China as global economies that have most increased their intake of Russian oil, and where India continues to source fertilizer, cement and other commodities from Russia.
  • Strategic tilt towards the U.S. India is working to diversify its defence purchases from Russia, hostilities with China are high, and a strategic tilt towards the U.S. and Quad partners in the Indo-Pacific is growing.
  • Balancing Act: On the multilateral stage, too, India remains a balancing voice in the room: along with Brazil and South Africa, India ensured that the BRICS Beijing declaration did not carry the Russian position on the Ukraine war or any criticism of the West.
  • While making certain with other partners of the global South that the G-7 outreach documents carried no criticism of Russia and China.

Way forward for India

  • It is time for New Delhi to seize the moment for leadership in a world that is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the growing polarisation and the disruption due to the Ukraine war.
  • India is not alone.
  • At the United Nations General Assembly, for example, a majority of 141 countries voted to castigate Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, but much fewer, only 93, voted to oust Russia from the Human Rights Council.
  • This represents a large pool of independently-minded countries that do not see it in their own national interest to blandly choose one side over another.
  • India’s national interests would be better served by building a community of those like-minded countries (from South America to Africa, the Gulf to South Asia and to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), who cannot afford the hostilities, and want to avoid the possibility of a global war at all costs.
  • In 1955, it was in such a similar moment that India took leadership along with countries such as Indonesia and Egypt at the Asian-African Conference of 29 newly independent nations, at Bandung that eventually led to the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).

Conclusion

This is the time to rethink India’s role in reducing the polarisation and bringing the objective and balanced outlook Nehru spoke of, to the forefront of India’s strategic policy.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

The perils of multilateralism

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- \Multilateral engagement vs. bilateral engagement

Context

At a time when the world is trying to grapple with the impact of unprecedented problems which arose in the first two decades of the 21st century, the various intergovernmental organisations and groupings, which are undergoing fundamental changes, may not be fertile places for building peace.

Contradiction in the BRICS

  • The 14th virtual BRICS summit hosted by China (June 23-24) was a clear attempt by China to hijack the grouping, going by a blueprint it has prepared for the new world order.
  • Not a political grouping: BRICS was not meant to be a political grouping when the acronym, BRIC, was coined by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill in 2001.
  • Economic grouping: Seeing the possibility of developing a non-western global economic system, China welcomed the idea of BRICS as the nucleus of a new economic grouping and invested energy and resources in building it.
  •  Two permanent members of the Security Council together with three aspirants to permanent membership underscored the contradictions in composition.
  • No support for permanent membership: The fundamental question of support for the three countries to secure permanent membership was fossilised on China’s position that the role of the developing countries should be enhanced, implying that there shall be no expansion of the permanent membership of the Security Council.
  • But the grouping focused on possibilities of cooperation among them by developing institutions such as the New Development Bank, the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement and cooperation in certain sectors.
  • India-China relations: The entire fragile framework of limited cooperation was shattered with the bloodshed at Galwan, when China unilaterally sought to alter the situation on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
  • China showed no enthusiasm to bring India into the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) even after India met the criteria of a liberalised economy.
  • Expansion for friends: The way China brought in 13 like-minded countries through the back door for a high-level dialogue on global development smacked of unfair means to expand the group with their friends.

What was achieved by India at G7 meeting

  • India’s presence at G7 meetings are not rare and Germany invited the India to attend the G7 summit in Bavaria.
  • The G7 made its own statement on the Ukraine war on expected lines and India was only involved in other issues such as environment, energy, climate, food security, health, gender equality and democracy.
  • Since it was a war summit, it did not produce any results on other major issues.
  • Curtailing energy supplies from Russia would hurt Germany, France, Japan and others, but they could not get any exemption.
  • India’s gain has been the opportunity it got to interact with world leaders, though it was tinged with the disappointment that India, as a Quad member, did not condemn Russia’s action in Ukraine.

Conclusion

Multilateral negotiations will be increasingly difficult in the present chaotic global situation. It is only by working bilaterally with potential allies that India can attain the status of a pole in the new world with steadfast friends and followers.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Russia withdraws from Snake Island

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Snake Island

Mains level : Russia-Ukraine War

Russian forces abandoned the strategic Black Sea outpost of Snake Island, in a major victory for Ukraine that could loosen the grip of Russia’s blockade on Ukrainian ports.

I will give you a trick to remember countries bordering Black Sea. It is ‘GURRBUT’.

Now please take effort to write those names of countries here.

Snake Island

  • Zmiinyi Island, also known as Snake or Serpent Island, is a small piece of rock less than 700 metres from end to end, that has been described as being “X-shaped”.
  • It is located 35 km from the coast in the Black Sea, to the east of the mouth of the Danube and roughly southwest of the port city of Odessa.
  • The island, which has been known since ancient times and is marked on the map by the tiny village of Bile that is located on it, belongs to Ukraine.

Why does Russia seek to control the Black Sea?

  • Domination of the Black Sea region is a geostrategic imperative for Moscow.
  • The famed water body is bound by Ukraine to the north and northwest, Russia and Georgia to the east, Turkey to the south, and Bulgaria and Romania to the west.
  • It links to the Sea of Marmara through the Bosporus and then to the Aegean through the Dardanelles.
  • It has traditionally been Russia’s warm water gateway to Europe.
  • For Russia, the Black Sea is both a stepping stone to the Mediterranean as well as a strategic buffer between NATO and itself.
  • Cutting Ukrainian access to the Black Sea will reduce it to a landlocked country and deal a crippling blow to its trade logistics.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Turkey backs Sweden and Finland’s NATO bid

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NATO

Mains level : Read the attached story

Turkey has agreed to support Finland and Sweden joining the NATO military alliance after weeks of angering partners by insisting it would veto the Scandinavian countries’ accession.

What is NATO?

  • NATO is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949.
  • It sought to create a counterweight to Soviet armies stationed in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.
  • Its original members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • NATO has spread a web of partners, namely Egypt, Israel, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Finland.

Expansion of NATO: Transforming Europe

  • The war in Ukraine has already changed the geopolitics of Europe and the world.
  • The admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO would bring about a transformation in the continent’s security map by giving NATO a contiguous long frontier in western Russia.
  • Finland and Russia share a 1,300-km border — and doubling it from the present 1,200 km, parts of it in northern Norway, Latvia and Estonia, and Poland and Lithuania.
  • In addition, Sweden’s island of Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea would give NATO a strategic advantage.
  • Furthermore, when Sweden and Finland join NATO, the Baltic Sea — Russia’s gateway to the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean — would be ringed entirely by NATO members.

Why Nordic countries are willing to join NATO?

  • Although the debate over joining NATO was ongoing in both countries for nearly three decades, Russia’s annexation of Crimea pushed both towards NATO’s “open door” policy.
  • Still, there was little political consensus in either country, especially in Sweden where the Social Democrats have long been against the idea.
  • However, February 24 changed everything the date on which Russia invaded Ukraine.

A knee jerk reaction?

  • If Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was meant to deter NATO’s eastward expansion, the war has had the opposite effect.
  • If admitted, Sweden and Finland will become its 31st and 32nd members.

Russian response

  • Back in March, Russia had evoked a threatening response to take retaliatory measures by stationing its nuclear and hypersonic weapons close to the Baltic Sea.
  • Russia denounced the problems with Finland and Sweden but the NATO’s expansion at the expense of these countries does not pose a direct threat to us.
  • But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory will certainly provoke their response, warned Mr Putin.
  • Sweden had already said it would not allow NATO bases or nuclear weapons on its territory.

Hurdles for Finland, Sweden

  • At the moment the main obstacle to their applications in Turkey, a member since 1952 and which has NATO’s second-largest army after the US.
  • Turkish president Erdogan has objected to their applications on the ground that the two countries had provided safe haven to the leaders of the Kurdish group PKK.
  • Many Kurdish and other exiles have found refuge in Sweden over the past decades.
  • PKK is an armed movement fighting for a separate Kurdistan, comprising Kurdish areas in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.
  • Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organisation.

What could Turkey gain?

  • Turkey is expected to seek to negotiate a compromise deal to seek action on Kurdish groups.
  • Erdogan could also seek to use Sweden and Finland’s membership to wrest concessions from the United States and other allies.
  • Turkey wants to return to the US-led F-35 fighter jet program — a project it was kicked out of following its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems.
  • Alternatively, Turkey is looking to purchase a new batch of F-16 fighter jets and upgrade its existing fleet.

How does this affect Turkey’s image in the West?

  • Turkey is reinforcing an image that is blocking the alliance’s expansion for its own profit.
  • It also risks damaging the credit it had earned by supplying Ukraine with the Bayraktar TB2 armed drones that became an effective weapon against Russian forces.

Is Turkey trying to appease Russia?

  • Turkey has built close relations with both Russia and Ukraine and has been trying to balance its ties with both.
  • It has refused to join sanctions against Russia — while supporting Ukraine with the drones that helped deny Russia air superiority.

 

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Caution in buying Russian cruide

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Purchasing Russian oil

Context

This week the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times both reported on India emerging as a major buyer of Russian oil.

Background of rising fuel prices due to Ukraine crisis

  • A significant fallout of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been the rising cost of petroleum.
  • In response to the invasion, Western countries, including the United States and Europe, have imposed an array of sanctions against Russia.
  • Reduced purchases from Russia: Europe and the United States have seen the price of oil steadily rise after they reduced their purchases from Russia.
  • For now, Russia has been able to mitigate the impact of sanctions by selling crude, oil and coal at reasonable prices in greater volumes to newer bulk buyers like India, to combat Europe trying to wean itself off Russian crude.

Why India increased purchase of Russian oil

  • India has chosen a different route.
  • Cope with rising fuel prices: We are the third-largest importer and consumer of oil in the world and have increased our purchase of Russian oil to cope with rising oil prices elsewhere.
  • We are also refining crude oil or turning it into products like jet fuel and diesel and selling it to Europe and other nations.
  • Curb inflation: Importing Russian crude also helps us curb inflation that has been made worse by rising fuel prices.
  • Halting the fall of the rupee: Procuring discounted Russian oil is an effort by the government to bring down prices and halt the decline in the value of the Indian rupee.
  • India’s behaviour is governed by our best interest, which is the most important element of any astute foreign and economic policy.

Issues with purchasing oil from Russia

  • The European Union has announced a ban against insuring ships carrying Russian oil, to commence this December.
  • Insurance ban: Countries like India, China and Turkey that are increasing their oil purchases from Russia have six months to find a work-around to the insurance ban by using non-European insurance companies.
  • European companies own most of the ships carrying Russian oil to India.
  • These insurance sanctions will impact the companies that own these ships as well.
  • Dependence for batteries: Apart from geopolitical changes in the world indicating the rise of China, there is a major change: Electric vehicles and electric batteries substituting for non-renewable resources like petroleum and diesel.
  • India cannot afford to be dependent on an unhindered supply of electric batteries from China, given geopolitical considerations and border disputes between the two nations.

Way forward

  • To weather the new electric era that will no doubt be dotted with territorial wars and national security concerns, India would do well to preempt shortages in the arena – by putting in place factories which will build the electric batteries that will power our futures.
  • What the invasion of Ukraine has taught us is that we need to be more self-reliant and have in-house energy sources.

Conclusion

India needs to factor in the implications of comprehensive western sanctions as it increases its purchase of discounted Russian oil.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Places in news: Snake Island

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Snake Island

Mains level : Not Much

Ukraine has said it has caused “significant losses” to the Russian military in airstrikes on Zmiinyi Island, also known as Snake Island, in the Black Sea.

Snake Island

  • Zmiinyi Island, also known as Snake or Serpent Island, is a small piece of rock less than 700 metres from end to end, that has been described as being “X-shaped”.
  • It is located 35 km from the coast in the Black Sea, to the east of the mouth of the Danube and roughly southwest of the port city of Odessa.
  • The island, which has been known since ancient times and is marked on the map by the tiny village of Bile that is located on it, belongs to Ukraine.

Why does Russia seek to control the Black Sea?

  • Domination of the Black Sea region is a geostrategic imperative for Moscow.
  • The famed water body is bound by Ukraine to the north and northwest, Russia and Georgia to the east, Turkey to the south, and Bulgaria and Romania to the west.
  • It links to the Sea of Marmara through the Bosporus and then to the Aegean through the Dardanelles.
  • It has traditionally been Russia’s warm water gateway to Europe.
  • For Russia, the Black Sea is both a stepping stone to the Mediterranean as well as a strategic buffer between NATO and itself.
  • Cutting Ukrainian access to the Black Sea will reduce it to a landlocked country and deal a crippling blow to its trade logistics.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

The tricky restructuring of global supply chains

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 3- New phase of globalisation and challenges ahead

Context

After the go-go 1990s and 2000s the pace of economic integration stalled in the 2010s, as firms grappled with the aftershocks of a financial crisis, a populist revolt against open borders and President Donald Trump’s trade war.

Background of globalisation

  • After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, main theme of globalisation was efficiency.
  • Companies located production where costs were lowest, while investors deployed capital where returns were highest.
  • Governments aspired to treat firms equally, regardless of their nationality, and to strike trade deals with democracies and autocracies alike.
  • Low prices: All this kept prices low for consumers and helped lift 1bn people out of extreme poverty as the emerging world, including China, industrialised.

 

Recent worries with globalisation

  • Volatile capital flows destabilised financial markets. Many blue-collar workers in rich countries lost out.
  • Recently, two other worries have loomed large.
  • Cost in case of disruption is high: First, some lean supply chains are not as good value as they appear: mostly they keep costs low, but when they break, the bill can be crippling.
  • Covid-19 was a shock, but wars, extreme weather or another virus could easily disrupt supply chains in the next decade.
  • Dependencies on autocracies have increased: The second problem is that the single-minded pursuit of cost advantage has led to a dependency on autocracies that abuse human rights and use trade as a means of coercion.
  • Hopes that economic integration would lead to reform—what the Germans call “change through trade”—have been dashed: autocracies account for a third of world gdp.

The fragile state of the international trade and beginning of new phase in globalisation

  • The pandemic and war in Ukraine have triggered a once-in-a-generation reimagining of global capitalism in boardrooms and governments.
  • Supply chain resilience: The supply chains are being transformed, from the $9trn in inventories, stockpiled as insurance against shortages and inflation, to the fight for workers as global firms shift from China into Vietnam.
  • Preferring security over efficiency: This new kind of globalisation is about security, not efficiency: it prioritises doing business with people you can rely on, in countries your government is friendly with.
  • One indication that companies are shifting from efficiency to resilience is the vast build-up in precautionary inventories: for the biggest 3,000 firms globally these have risen from 6% to 9% of world gdp since 2016.
  • Many firms are adopting dual sourcing and longer-term contracts.
  • Investment pattern is inverted: The pattern of multinational investment has been inverted: 69% is from local subsidiaries reinvesting locally, rather than parent firms sending capital across borders.
  • Strategic autonomy: The industries under most pressure are already reinventing their business models, encouraged by governments that from Europe to India are keen on “strategic autonomy”.
  • Moving towards vertical integration: The car industry is copying Elon Musk’s Tesla by moving towards vertical integration, in which you control everything from nickel mining to chip design.
  • Long-term supply deals: In energy, the West is seeking long-term supply deals from allies rather than relying on spot markets dominated by rivals.

Challenges

  • Protectionism: The danger is that a reasonable pursuit of security will morph into rampant protectionism, jobs schemes and hundreds of billions of dollars of industrial subsidies.
  • Long-run inefficiencies: The long-run inefficiency from indiscriminately replicating supply chains would be enormous.
  • Were you to duplicate a quarter of all multinational activity, the extra annual operating and financial costs involved could exceed 2% of world gdp.

Way forward

  • Restraint: Because of the above challenges, restraint is crucial.
  • Diversification: Governments and firms must remember that resilience comes from diversification, not concentration at home.
  • Diversify in the areas controlled by autocracies: The choke-points autocracies control amount to only about a tenth of global trade, based on their exports of goods in which they have a leading market share of over 10% and for which it is hard to find substitutes.
  • The answer is to require firms to diversify their suppliers in these areas, and let the market adapt. 

Conclusion

Will today’s governments be up to the task? Myopia and insularity abound. But if you are a consumer of global goods and ideas—that is to say, a citizen of the world—you should hope globalisation’s next phase involves the maximum possible degree of openness.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Lessons from the Ukraine crisis price shock

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Lessons from Ukraine crisis

Context

The Russia-Ukraine conflict, now more than three months old, will cause major, long-term shifts in the global energy and commodity trade.

Factors responsible for high prices

  • Ukraine war: Western sanctions on Russia and efforts of European nations to diversify their energy supplies are already causing market distortions and high prices.
  • Crude oil prices are at their highest level since 2014; the price of LNG is at its highest ever, fertiliser and food are up and markets for several other commodities such as nickel have been disrupted.
  • Expensive commodities are already causing distress in India’s neighbourhood, for example, in Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
  • Insufficient investment: Insufficient investment in oil and gas production in preceding years resulted in high prices, and shortages were being felt.
  • A number of European investors, such as Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, announced they would no longer invest in traditional fuels — oil, gas, coal.
  • Natural gas is used as a feedstock for fertiliser.
  • An energy shock is then inevitably followed by a food price shock.

Future trends

1] Strained EU-Russia relations will distort prices

  • In the immediate term, the EU is trying to source its raw materials — most critically oil and natural gas, but also fertiliser, agricultural goods and metals — from non-Russian sources.
  • This will cause distortions and price spikes for those commodities in the global market, as can already be seen in the natural gas market, up 300 per cent in the last year.

2] Sanctions are unlikely to achieve the desired political outcome

  • The US and its allies are quick to impose sanctions — and these are rarely withdrawn, if ever.
  • Iran has been under US sanctions since 1979, and the same with Venezuela for over a decade.
  • In both cases, sanctions have failed to achieve the desired political outcome.
  • As Russia is much better placed than either of those two countries to weather sanctions, the restrictions are likely to remain for a long while.

3] Emerging world unwilling to align with West on sanctions

  • The high price of energy and the resulting inflation shows why much of the emerging world is unwilling and unable to align with the West on the current sanctions.
  • Russia is 11 per cent of the global landmass and among the world’s top five producers and exporters of oil, gas, fertiliser and other critical commodities like nickel.
  • It is too big to be replaced as a supplier.
  • In emerging economies, it can fan public anger and political unrest, as was seen in Tunisia and other Arab countries from 2010 on.

4] Larger emerging economies will disregard sanction

  • Larger emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil will disregard sanctions on their key economic interests, particularly food, fertilisers and energy.
  • Specifically for India, its dependence on these essentials is unlikely to reduce meaningfully over the next 15-20 years.

Way forward for India

  • Collaborate with other economies: In the immediate future, the India should collaborate with other similar economies to ensure that Russia doesn’t get locked out of global commodity markets.
  • Work on insulating the supply chains: For the long term, it must work on insulating its supply chains from global political crises.

Conclusion

India needs to brace for the price shock emanating from the distortion caused by the shift in the energy policies of Europe. At the same time, India needs to collaborate with other similar economies to ensure that Russia doesn’t get locked out of global commodity markets.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Explained: European Union’s ban on Russian Oil

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Global sanctions on Russia

As part of the sixth package of sanctions since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Union member states reached an agreement to ban 90% of Russian crude oil imports by the end of the year.

Oil embargo on Russia

  • The proposal is to completely phase out Russian crude and refined products from EU territory.
  • It includes a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline crude and refined.
  • This however needed the agreement of all the 27 EU member states in order to be implemented.

What was the rationale behind such a move?

  • The Russian economy is heavily dependent on energy exports, with the EU paying billions of dollars every month to Russia.
  • The EU wants to block this massive revenue inflow.
  • This is akin to Europeans bankrolling Russia’s war.

Why such a move now?

  • The EU has been attempting, ever since the Ukraine invasion, to build consensus on ways to hurt Russia economically.
  • The most obvious route was to stop buying Russian energy, which isn’t easy given European households’ dependence on Russian oil and gas.

What are the terms of the ‘compromise deal’ that has been agreed upon?

  • EU leaders have agreed to ban all seaborne imports of Russian crude, which account for two-thirds of EU’s oil imports from Russia.
  • Germany and Poland are pledging to phase out even their pipeline imports from Russia by the end of the year.
  • The embargo would eliminate 90% of Russian oil imports.

Special concessions to Hungary

  • The remaining 10% that’s been allowed represents a free pass for Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Bulgaria to continue imports via the Druzhba pipeline, the world’s largest oil pipeline network.
  • Hungary has obtained a guarantee that it could even import seaborne Russian oil in case of a disruption to their pipeline supplies.
  • This was deemed a legitimate concession since the pipelines do pass through the war zone in Ukraine.

Why was exemption given for pipeline imports?

  • The exemption for pipeline imports was made on the logic that landlocked countries (Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia).
  • They are heavily dependent on Russian pipeline oil and do not have a ready option to switch to alternative sources in the absence of ports.

How will the sanctions affect Russia?

  • Analysts calculate that a two-thirds cut in Europe’s imports might cause Russia an annual loss in revenue of $10 billion.
  • Given Russia’s limited storage infrastructure, the cutback in demand would force Russia to find other markets.
  • Since that won’t be easy, Russia might have to cut production by 20-30%.
  • So far, Asian importers, especially India, have absorbed some of the excess inventory at discounted prices.

Impact on the ongoing war

  • It remains unclear if the embargo would have any impact on Russian military operations in Ukraine.

How will the sanctions affect Europe?

  • It is likely to further fuel inflation in Europe, where many countries are already facing a cost-of-living crisis.
  • European lifestyles have tended to take cheap Russian energy for granted, and if inflation peaks further, the EU runs the risk of losing public support for harsh sanctions.

What about the import of Russian gas?

  • Compared to Russian oil, Europe’s dependence on Russian gas is much greater, and this embargo leaves the import of Russian gas — which accounts of 40% of Europe’s natural gas imports — untouched.
  • In other words, Europe will continue to pay Russia for gas imports.
  • But since crude is more expensive than natural gas, the oil ban is expected to hurt Russian revenues.

Indian response to these developments

  • India ramped up purchases of Russian crude at discounted prices in the months following the Russian invasion, and this policy is expected to continue.
  • The announcement of the EU ban caused an immediate surge in oil prices, and as Europe seeks alternate sources – from West Asia, Africa and elsewhere — for its oil needs, prices are expected to stay high.
  • In this context, with Russia reportedly offering discounts of $30-35 per barrel, India has found it convenient to make the most of the cheap Russian crude on offer.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

The return of the great power rivalries

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Implications of Ukraine war for European security

Context

The post-Cold War period of peace in Europe is more an aberration than norm in the continent’s history of conflicts.

Background of the First World War

  • The Russian power had collapsed in its far east after the war with Japan in 1904-05.
  • Faced with the erosion of Russian influence and the rise of Wilhelmine Germany, which together threatened to alter Europe’s balance of power, France and Britain, competing colonial powers, came together. 
  • France had already reached an alliance with Russia.
  • The three would later form the Triple Entente, triggering a dangerous security competition in Europe with the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy), which would eventually lead to the First World War in 1914.
  • What triggered the great power security competition in the run-up to the First World War was the phenomenal rise of Wilhelmine Germany as a military and industrial power and the regional hegemons’ response to it.

Similarities with the past

  • When Otto von Bismarck became the Minister-President of Prussia in September 1862, there was no unified German state.
  •  Bismarck adopted an aggressive foreign policy, fought and won three wars — with Denmark, Austria and France — destroyed the confederation, established a stronger and larger German Reich that replaced Prussia.
  • Bismarck stayed focused on transforming Germany internally in his last two decades.
  • It was on the foundation Bismarck built that Wilhelmine Germany turned to weltpolitik in the early 20 century, seeking global domination.
  • If Bismarck inherited a weak, loosely connected group of German speaking entities in 1862, Russian President Vladimir Putin got a Russia in 2000 that was a pale shadow of what was the Soviet Union.
  • Bismarck spent his years in power expanding the borders of Germany and building a stronger state and economy.
  • The post-Cold War Russia initially stayed focused on the restoration of the state and the economy, and then sought to expand its borders and challenge the continent’s balance of power — first the Crimean annexation and now the Ukraine invasion.
  • While NATO’s expansion deepened Russia’s security concerns, driving it into aggressive moves, Russia’s aggression has strengthened NATO’s resolve to expand further into Russia’s neighbourhood.

Offensive realism

  • Offensive realists argue that “revisionist powers” tend to use force to rewrite the balance of power if they find the circumstances are favourable, while the status quo powers, or the existing regional hegemons, would seek to thwart any new country attaining more power at their expense.
  • The result of this type of competition is permanent rivalry and conflict.
  • One major difference between the era of Wilhelmine Germany and modern Russia is that there were no well-defined international laws in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • The international system has evolved ever since.
  • But its basic instincts, as realists would argue, have not changed much.
  • Mr. Putin’s Russia is not the first country that violated the sovereignty of a weaker power and flouted international laws in the “rules-based” order.

Future of Europe’s security

  • Russia apparently had two strategic objectives in Ukraine —
  • One, to expand Russian borders and create a buffer.
  • And two, to reinforce Russia’s deterrence against NATO.
  • While Russia has succeeded, though slowly, in expanding its borders by capturing almost all of Ukraine’s east, the war has backfired on its second objective.
  • Russia’s inability to clinch a quick outright victory in Ukraine and the tactical retreats it has already made have invariably dealt a blow to the perception of Russian power that existed before the war.
  • This has strengthened NATO, driving even Sweden and Finland into its arms. Besides, the economic sanctions would leave a long-term hole in Russia’s economy.
  • But a Russia that is bogged down in Ukraine and encircled by NATO need not enhance Europe’s security.
  • As Henry Kissinger said at Davos, Russia had been and would remain an important element in the European state system.

Conclusion

The prospects are bleak. There will not be peace in Europe unless either Russia accepts its diminished role and goes into another spell of strategic retreat or Europe and the West in general accommodate Russia’s security concerns. Both look unrealistic as of today.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

NATO Expansion & Russia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NATO

Mains level : Expansion of NATO

After nearly three months of debate within the two countries, Finland and Sweden have formally applied for membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

What is NATO?

  • NATO is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949.
  • It sought to create a counterweight to Soviet armies stationed in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.
  • Its original members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • NATO has spread a web of partners, namely Egypt, Israel, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Finland.

Expansion of NATO: Transforming Europe

  • The war in Ukraine has already changed the geopolitics of Europe and the world.
  • The admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO would bring about a transformation in the continent’s security map by giving NATO a contiguous long frontier in western Russia.
  • Finland and Russia share a 1,300-km border — and doubling it from the present 1,200 km, parts of it in northern Norway, Latvia and Estonia, and Poland and Lithuania.
  • In addition, Sweden’s island of Gotland in the middle of the Baltic Sea would give NATO a strategic advantage.
  • Furthermore, when Sweden and Finland join NATO, the Baltic Sea — Russia’s gateway to the North Sea and the Atlantic Ocean — would be ringed entirely by NATO members.

Why Nordic countries are willing to join NATO?

  • Although the debate over joining NATO was ongoing in both countries for nearly three decades, Russia’s annexation of Crimea pushed both towards NATO’s “open door” policy.
  • Still, there was little political consensus in either country, especially in Sweden where the Social Democrats have long been against the idea.
  • However, February 24 changed everything the date on which Russia invaded Ukraine.

A knee jerk reaction?

  • If Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was meant to deter NATO’s eastward expansion, the war has had the opposite effect.
  • If admitted, Sweden and Finland will become its 31st and 32nd members.

Russian response

  • Back in March, Russia had evoked a threatening response to take retaliatory measures by stationing its nuclear and hypersonic weapons close to the Baltic Sea.
  • Russia denounced the problems with Finland and Sweden but the NATO’s expansion at the expense of these countries does not pose a direct threat to us.
  • But the expansion of military infrastructure into this territory will certainly provoke their response, warned Mr Putin.
  • Sweden had already said it would not allow NATO bases or nuclear weapons on its territory.

Hurdles for Finland, Sweden

  • At the moment the main obstacle to their applications in Turkey, a member since 1952 and which has NATO’s second-largest army after the US.
  • Turkish president Erdogan has objected to their applications on the ground that the two countries had provided safe haven to the leaders of the Kurdish group PKK.
  • Many Kurdish and other exiles have found refuge in Sweden over the past decades.
  • PKK is an armed movement fighting for a separate Kurdistan, comprising Kurdish areas in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.
  • Neither of these countries have a clear, open attitude towards terrorist organisation.

What could Turkey gain?

  • Turkey is expected to seek to negotiate a compromise deal to seek action on Kurdish groups.
  • Erdogan could also seek to use Sweden and Finland’s membership to wrest concessions from the United States and other allies.
  • Turkey wants to return to the US-led F-35 fighter jet program — a project it was kicked out of following its purchase of Russian S-400 missile defense systems.
  • Alternatively, Turkey is looking to purchase a new batch of F-16 fighter jets and upgrade its existing fleet.

How does this affect Turkey’s image in the West?

  • Turkey is reinforcing an image that is blocking the alliance’s expansion for its own profit.
  • It also risks damaging the credit it had earned by supplying Ukraine with the Bayraktar TB2 armed drones that became an effective weapon against Russian forces.

Is Turkey trying to appease Russia?

  • Turkey has built close relations with both Russia and Ukraine and has been trying to balance its ties with both.
  • It has refused to join sanctions against Russia — while supporting Ukraine with the drones that helped deny Russia air superiority.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

A war that is shrinking India’s geopolitical options

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- How Ukraine war is reducing India's options

Context

What was initially assumed in New Delhi to be a quick confrontation between Russia and Ukraine, the war in Europe is now raging on with no end in sight, and with its long-term implications yet unknown.

Why Ukraine war may reduce India’s options

  • For several weeks during late March and April, it seemed as though the Ukraine war presented a number of geopolitical options for New Delhi to choose from.
  • War may limit India’s options: Instead of enhancing New Delhi’s ability to make strategic choices in its broader region, the Ukraine war may actually limit the number of options available to New Delhi for at least three reasons.
  • 1]Absence of Russia for balancing purposes: Russia as a key strategic partner is no longer available to India for balancing purposes.
  • 2] Increased Chinese influence in the region:  Russia’s sudden absence from the Asian balance of power equations has further enhanced Chinese influence in the region.
  • By the time the war ends, whatever may be the shape of the global balance of power, the regional balance of power would have irretrievably shifted in Beijing’s favour.
  • 3] Indo-Pacific region moving out of focus: Given that the United States and its western partners are more interested on the Ukraine theatre today, their focus on China is already taking a hit, if not yet on the Indo-Pacific.

India’s dilemmas in medium to long term

1] Managing China

  • Weakened US influence in South Asia: While the Ukraine war has strengthened and revitalised the U.S.-led military and political coalition globally, it is bound to weaken the American influence in the Southern Asian region.
  • China is the biggest beneficiary of the U.S./western retrenchment from the region which gives it a free hand in it.
  • Russia not available: For New Delhi, Moscow is no longer available for its pursuit of its regional interests, and the U.S.’s ability to produce favourable geopolitical outcomes for India in the region is shrinking as well.
  • While there is little doubt that in the longer run, a war-fatigued and weakened Russia will become a junior partner to China, India today does have an opportunity to get Moscow to nudge Beijing to stop its irredentism on the LAC.
  • If the Chinese side, taking advantage of the Ukraine distraction, heats up the LAC, India would have to turn to the West and the U.S. for support (political, diplomatic, intelligence, etc.).
  • This would invariably hurt Russian interests. 
  • Russia, it is important that two of its Asian friends — China and India — do not clash at least while the war is still on.
  • While this may be a useful way to manage the Chinese aggression on the LAC in the short term, this will depend on how China views its dynamics with Russia and that of Russia with India.
  • Herein lies the challenge for India.
  • India’s engagement with Indo-Pacific region: If China were to stabilise the LAC at the nudging of Russia, it would also expect India to go slow on the Indo-Pacific, something India can ill-afford to do.
  • Inability to exploit contradictions: While, under normal circumstances, India could have utilised the many inherent contradictions between Moscow and Beijing, the Ukraine war has suspended those contradictions.

2] How Ukraine war affected India’s north-western continental strategy

  • India’s north-western continental strategy, in particular towards Afghanistan and Central Asia, too will get complicated due to the Ukraine war.
  • For over a year now, the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan is calm and the violence in Kashmir has come down.
  • More pertinently, New Delhi’s presence from Afghanistan has entirely disappeared.
  • So, it appears that the calm in Kashmir and along the LoC is a quid pro quo for the Indian withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • If this is a bargain New Delhi accepts, it will not only mean giving up its strategic interests in Afghanistan but also reducing its engagement in the Central Asian region as well at a time China is making feverish inroads into the region, right in the backyard of the Russian sphere of influence.
  • Had Moscow not been caught in the Ukraine war, it would have fended off Beijing’s attempts to take over its backyard (in one sense, China is doing to Russia using economic means what the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been doing to Russia using military means).
  • During the December summit, India and Russia had decided on a number of initiatives focusing on Central Asia and Afghanistan.
  • They are unlikely to be revived anytime soon, ceding further ground to China and Pakistan.

Conclusion

The combined geopolitical impact of the ill-timed U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Russia’s Ukraine war, and the rapid expansion of Chinese influence goes to show how New Delhi’s geopolitical choices have suddenly shrunk due to the Ukraine war.

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

From neutral to NATO: Why Finland joining the alliance matters

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Mains level : Russian contention with NATO

Earlier reluctant, Finland is now hurtling to join NATO making a monumental shift for a nation with a long history of wartime neutrality and staying out of military alliances.

What is NATO?

  • NATO is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949.
  • It sought to create a counterweight to Soviet armies stationed in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.
  • Its original members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • NATO has spread a web of partners, namely Egypt, Israel, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Finland.

Why was it founded?

Ans. Communist sweep in Europe post-WWII and rise of Soviet dominance

  • After World War II in 1945, Western Europe was economically exhausted and militarily weak, and newly powerful communist parties had arisen in France and Italy.
  • By contrast, the Soviet Union had emerged from the war with its armies dominating all the states of central and Eastern Europe.
  • By 1948 communists under Moscow’s sponsorship had consolidated their control of the governments of those countries and suppressed all non-communist political activity.
  • What became known as the Iron Curtain, a term popularized by Winston Churchill, had descended over central and Eastern Europe.

Ideology of NATO

  • NATO ensures that the security of its European member countries is inseparably linked to that of its North American member countries.
  • It commits the Allies to democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes.
  • It also provides a unique forum for dialogue and cooperation across the Atlantic.

What is Article 5?

  • Article 5 was a key part of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, or Washington Treaty, and was meant to offer a collective defence against a potential invasion of Western Europe.
  • It states: (NATO members) will assist the party or parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
  • However, since then, it has only been invoked once, soon after the 9/11 attack in the United States.

Why Finland wishes to join now?

  • The country, so far, has stayed away from joining such alliances as it always wanted to maintain cordial relations with its neighbour Russia.
  • For a long time, the idea of not joining NATO or getting too close to the West was a matter of survival for the Finns.
  • However, the change in perception and overwhelming support to join NATO came about following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
  • NATO membership would strengthen the country’s security and defence system.

Was this a long time coming?

  • For Finns, events in Ukraine bring a haunting sense of familiarity.
  • The Soviets had invaded Finland in late 1939 and despite the Finnish army putting up fierce resistance for more than three months, they ended up losing 10 per cent of their territory.
  • The country adopted to stay non-aligned during the cold war years.
  • However, insecurities started growing since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 as Finland brought back conscription and military spending went up.

What about Sweden?

  • Sweden is likely to apply for membership after Finland’s final call.
  • If Finland joins, Sweden will be the only Nordic non-member of NATO.
  • Now, unlike Finland, whose policy stance was a matter of survival, Sweden has been opposed to joining the organisation for ideological reasons.

What would a membership mean and will it benefit NATO as well?

  • NATO has shown eagerness about Finland and Sweden’s memberships.
  • Usually, becoming an official NATO member can take up to a year as it requires the approval of all existing member states.
  • Finland’s geographical location plays in its favour as once it becomes a member, the length of borders Russia shares with NATO would double.
  • This would also strengthen the alliance’s position in the Baltic Sea.

How have Russia and other countries reacted?

  • Russia’s foreign ministry has said that they will be forced to take military steps if the membership materialises.
  • Russia has warned that this may prompt Moscow to deploy nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Russia officially quits the International Space Station (ISS)

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : ISS

Mains level : Not Much

Russia is responding to the Western sanctions. It has decided to walk out of the International Space Station.

International Space Station

  • The ISS was launched in 1998 as part of joint efforts by the U.S., Russia, Japan, Canada and Europe.
  • The idea of a space station originated in the 1984 State of the Union address by former U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
  • The space station was assembled over many years, and it operates in low-earth orbit.
  • Since its inception, it has served as a laboratory suspended in space and has aided multiple scientific and technological developments.
  • The ISS was originally built to operate for 15 years.

Why was ISS launched?

  • A space station permits quantum leaps in research in science, communications, and in metals and lifesaving medicines which could be manufactured only in space.
  • ISS has consistently maintained human presence for the past 21 years, providing astronauts with sophisticated technologies for scientific research.

What is Russia’s role in maintaining the ISS?

  • The ISS is built with the co-operation of scientists from five international space agencies — NASA of the U.S., Roscosmos of Russia, JAXA of Japan, Canadian Space Agency and the European Space Agency.
  • Each agency has a role to play and a share in the upkeep of the ISS.
  • Both in terms of expense and effort, it is not a feat that a single country can support.
  • Russia’s part in the collaboration is the module responsible for making course corrections to the orbit of the ISS.
  • They also ferry astronauts to the ISS from the Earth and back.
  • Until SpaceX’s dragon spacecraft came into the picture the Russian spacecrafts were the only way of reaching the ISS and returning.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

India, Europe and the Russian complication

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- India's engagement with Europe and factors shaping it

Context

The re-election of Emmanuel Macron as the president of France on Sunday has sent a sigh of relief across Europe and North America. Delhi too is pleased with the return of Macron, who laid a strong foundation for India’s strategic partnership with France.

Why France election matters to the regional and domestic order in Europe

  • Unlike the Soviet Union, which sought to shape European politics though left-wing parties, Russia today influences European politics through right-wing parties.
  • Victory for Marine Le Pen, Macron’s opponent, would have dramatically complicated the geopolitics of Europe.
  • Le Pen, like so many other right-wing leaders in Europe, has close ties to Vladimir Putin.
  • Le Pen’s victory would have not only altered France’s international trajectory, but also shaken the EU to its political core.

Three factors shaping the transformation of India’s ties with Europe

  • Russia’s threat to the regional and domestic order in Europe is among multiple factors shaping Delhi’s intensifying engagement with Brussels.
  • Three major external factors are facilitating the transformation of India’s ties with Europe.

1] Russian Question

  • For India, a normal relationship between Russia and the West would have been ideal.
  • But Russia’s confrontation with the West comes during India’s rapidly expanding economic and political ties to Europe and America.
  • Delhi might be sentimental about India’s historic Russian connection but it is not going to sacrifice its growing ties to the West on that altar.
  • Russia’s declining economic weight and growing international isolation begins to simplify India’s choices.
  • During the last few weeks, Delhi has insisted that its silence is not an endorsement of Russian aggression.
  • India’s position has continued to evolve.
  • Delhi’s repeated emphasis on respecting the territorial integrity of states is a repudiation of Russia’s unacceptable aggression.
  • Meanwhile, geographic proximity and economic complementarity have tied Europe even more deeply to Russia.
  • The EU’s annual trade with Russia at around $260 billion is massive in comparison to India’s $10 billion.
  • Putin’s reckless invasion of Ukraine has compelled Europe to embark on a costly effort to disconnect from Russia.
  • The war in Ukraine has certainly presented a major near-term problem that needs to be managed by Delhi and Brussels.

2] China Question

  •  Moscow has been deepening ties with Beijing for more than two decades triggering many anxieties in Delhi.
  •  In February, Putin travelled to Beijing to announce a partnership “without limits”.
  • India has no option but to manage the consequences of the Russian decision.
  • In the last two decades, China has emerged as a great power and now presents a generational challenge for Indian policymakers.
  • That challenge has been made harder by Putin’s alliance with Xi Jinping.
  • As Delhi strives to retain a reasonable relationship with Moscow, Europe emerges as an important partner in letting India cope with the China challenge.
  •  Thanks to the growing problems of doing business with Xi’s China, Beijing’s geopolitical alliance with Moscow, and the rapid deterioration of Sino-US relations, Brussels is ready to invest serious political capital in building purposeful strategic ties with India.

3] American Question

  • Until recently it appeared that Europe’s calls for “strategic autonomy” from the US were in sync with India’s own worldview.
  • But the Ukraine crisis has underlined the US’s centrality in securing Europe against Russia.
  • In Asia, Chinese assertiveness has brought back the US as a critical factor in shaping peace and security.
  • Washington wants a strong Europe taking greater responsibility for its own security; it would like Delhi to play a larger role in Asia and become a credible provider of regional security.
  • Above all, America wants India and Europe to build stronger ties with each other.

Conclusion

For the first time since independence, India’s interests are now aligning with those of Europe. Together, Delhi and Brussels can help reshape Eurasia as well as the Indo-Pacific.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Places in news: Kuril Islands

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Kuril Islands

Mains level : Not Much

Japan has recently described the Kuril Islands (which Japan calls the Northern Territories and Russia as the South Kurils) as being under Russia’s “illegal occupation”.

Note the Islands of Japan in North to South Direction:  Hokkaido, Honshu , Shikoku, and Kyushu

What are the Kuril Islands/ Northern Territories?

  • These are a set of four islands situated between the Sea of Okhotsk and the Pacific Ocean near the north of Japan’s northernmost prefecture, Hokkaido.
  • Both Moscow and Tokyo claim sovereignty over them though the islands have been under Russian control since the end of World War II.
  • The Soviet Union had seized the islands at the end of World War II and by 1949 had expelled its Japanese residents.
  • Tokyo claims that the disputed islands have been part of Japan since the early 19th century.

Why in news?

  • This is the first time in about two decades that Japan has used this phrase to describe the dispute over the Kuril Islands.
  • Japan had been using softer language since 2003, saying that the dispute over the islands was the greatest concern in Russia-Japan bilateral ties.

What lies behind the dispute?

  • Japan’s sovereignty over the islands is confirmed by several treaties since 1855.
  • Russia, on the other hand, claims the Yalta Agreement (1945) and the Potsdam Declaration (1945) as proof of its sovereignty.
  • It argues that the San Francisco Treaty of 1951 is legal evidence that Japan had acknowledged Russian sovereignty over the islands.
  • Under Article 2 of the treaty, Japan had “renounced all right, title and claim to the Kuril Islands.”
  • However, Japan argues that the San Francisco Treaty cannot be used here as the Soviet Union never signed the peace treaty.

Continuing the WW2

  • In fact, Japan and Russia are technically still at war because they have not signed a peace treaty after World War II.
  • In 1956, during Japanese PM Ichiro Hatoyama’s visit to the Soviet Union, it was suggested that two of the four islands would be returned to Japan once a peace treaty was signed.
  • However, persisting differences prevented the signing of a peace treaty though the two countries signed the Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration, which restored diplomatic relations between the two nations.
  • The Soviet Union later hardened its position, even refusing to recognise that a territorial dispute existed with Japan.
  • It was only in 1991 during Mikhail Gorbachev’s visit to Japan that the USSR recognised that the islands were the subject of a territorial dispute.

Have there been attempts at resolution?

  • Since 1991, there have been many attempts to resolve the dispute and sign a peace treaty.
  • The most recent attempt was under PM Shinzo Abe when joint economic development of the disputed islands was explored.
  • In fact, both countries had agreed to have bilateral negotiations based on the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration.
  • Russia was even willing to give back two islands, the Shikotan Island and the Habomai islets, to Japan after the conclusion of a peace treaty as per the 1956 declaration.
  • Japan’s attempt to improve ties with Russia was driven by its need to diversify energy sources and Russia by its need to diversify its basket of buyers and bring in foreign investments.
  • But nationalist sentiments on both sides prevented resolution of the dispute.

Implications for Japan

  • Soon after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Japan made its unhappiness with Russia clear.
  • Japan has been among the most steadfast of Western allies in denouncing Russian aggression and punishing it with sanctions.
  • Japan has probably been spurred by its fears of a Russia-China alliance as Japan itself has territorial disputes and an uneasy history with China.
  • Secondly, Japan might have felt that this is a good opportunity to further isolate Russia and paint it as a “habitual offender” of international law.
  • Finally, Tokyo might have been prompted to take this position as it feels that the invasion of Ukraine proves that getting back the Kuril Islands is a lost cause.

 

UPSC 2023 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

India can be the fulcrum of the new global order

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Opportunities for India in the wake of Ukraine-Russia conflict

Context

As Mahatma Gandhi’s nation, India must be a committed and relentless apostle of peace and non-violence, both at home and in the world.

How the Russia-Ukraine conflict is reshaping the world order

  • Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, a paradigm of free societies, frictionless borders and open economies evolved to be the governing order in many nations.
  • This catalysed freer movement of people, goods, services and capital across the world.
  • India too has benefited enormously from being an active participant in this interconnected world, with a tripling of trade (as share of GDP) in the last three decades and providing vast numbers of jobs.
  • Such tight inter-dependence among nations will lead to fewer conflicts and promote peace, was the established wisdom.
  • The Russia-Ukraine conflict has dismantled this wisdom.
  • Mutually beneficial to mutually harmful: If inter-connectedness and trade among nations were mutually beneficial, then it follows that its disruption and blockade will be mutually harmful.
  • Global Village was built on the foundation of advanced transportation networks, cemented with the U.S. dollar as the reserve currency and fenced by integrated payment systems.
  • Any disruption to this delicate balance runs the risk of plunging the ‘Global Village’ into disequilibrium and derailing the lives of all.

Trade opportunity for India

  • Trade with other nations should and will always be an integral cornerstone of India’s economic future.
  • A reversal towards isolationism and protectionism will be foolhardy and calamitous for India.
  • As the western bloc of nations looks to reduce dependence on the Russia-China bloc of nations, it presents newer avenues for India to expand trade.
  • It presents a tremendous opportunity for India to become a large producing nation for the world and a global economic powerhouse.
  • However, to capitalise on these opportunities, India needs free access to these markets, an accepted and established global currency to trade in and seamless trade settlements.

Suggestions for India

1] Bilateral currency agreements are unsustainable

  • The American dollar has emerged as the global trade currency, bestowing an ‘exorbitant privilege’ on the dollar.
  • But a forced and hurried dismantling of this order and replacing it with rushed bilateral local currency arrangements can prove to be more detrimental for the global economy in the longer run.
  • We had an Indian rupee-Russian rouble agreement in the late 1970s and 1980s, when we mutually agreed on exchange rates for trading purposes.
  • Now, with India’s robust external sector, a flourishing trading relationship with many nations and tremendous potential to expand trade, such bilateral arrangements are unsustainable, unwieldy, and perilous.

2] Avoid discounted commodity purchases from Russia

  • In the long run, India stands to gain more from unfettered access to the western bloc markets for Indian exports under the established trading order than from discounted commodities purchased under new bilateral currency arrangements that seek to create a new and parallel global trade structure.
  • It entails a prolonged departure from the established order of dollar-based trade settlement or jeopardises established trading relationships with western bloc markets, it can have longer term implications for India’s export potential.

3] Non-disruptive geo-economic policy

  • India needs not just a non-aligned doctrine for the looming new world order but also a non-disruptive geo-economic policy that seeks to maintain the current global economic equilibrium.
  •  By the dint of its sheer size and scale, India can be both a large producer and a consumer.
  • To best utilise this opportunity, India needs not just cordial relationships with nations on either side of the new divide but also a stable and established global economic environment.

4] Social harmony is a must

  • Just as it is in India’s best interests to balance the current geo-economic equilibrium, it is also imperative for India to maintain its domestic social equilibrium.
  • Social harmony is the edifice of economic prosperity.
  • Fanning mutual distrust, hate and anger among citizens, causing social disharmony is a shameful slide to perdition.

Conclusion

The reshaping and realignment of the world order will be a unique opportunity for India to reassess its foreign policy, economic policy and geo-political strategy and don the mantle of global leadership.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Russia’s new nuclear missile ‘Sarmat’

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Sarmat Missile

Mains level : ICBMs

Amidst stiff resistance from Ukraine in the ongoing war and harsh sanctions imposed by the West, Russia went ahead and tested its new Inter Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) Sarmat.

What is Sarmat?

  • The RS-28 Sarmat (NATO name Satan-II) is reported to be able to carry ten or more warheads and decoys
  • It has the capability of firing over either of the earth’s poles with a range of 11,000 to 18,000 km.
  • It is expected to pose a significant challenge to the ground-and-satellite-based radar tracking systems of the western powers, particularly the USA.
  • The ten warheads are Multiple Independently-Targetable Re-entry Vehicles and each has a blast yield of .75 MT.
  • The Sarmat will also be the first Russian missile which can carry smaller hypersonic boost-glide vehicles. These are manoeuvrable and hard to intercept.
  • It is a liquid-fuelled missile as compared to US ICBMs which have moved on to solid fuel systems.

Who is it named after?

  • The Sarmat is named after nomadic tribes that roamed the steppes of present-day Southern Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan in the early medieval period.
  • Sarmatians were highly developed in horsemanship and warfare.
  • It goes on to say that the administrative capabilities and political expertise of Sarmatians contributed to their gaining widespread influence and by the 5th century BC.
  • They held control of the land between the Urals and the Don River.
  • In the 4th century they crossed the Don and conquered the Scythians, replacing them as rulers of almost all of southern Russia by the 2nd century.

Was Russia known to be developing this missile?

  • It was widely known that Russia was developing a new ICBM to replace its older ones.
  • An announcement in this regard was made by Vladimir Putin in 2018 while making his State of the Nation address to the Federal Assembly.
  • He had stated at the time that the first Regiment fully armed with Sarmat ICBM will be operational by the end of 2022.
  • The deteriorating relations between Russia and the Western Powers is said to have given an impetus to its development.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

The war’s many victims

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : World food program

Mains level : Paper 2- Impact of Russia-Ukraine war on the developing and least developed countries

Context

Beyond Ukraine’s borders, far beyond the media spotlight, the war has launched a silent assault on the developing world. This crisis could throw up to 1.7 billion people — over one-fifth of humanity — into poverty, destitution and hunger on a scale not seen in decades.

Impact of the war on the developing world

  • Ukraine and the Russian Federation provide 30 per cent of the world’s wheat and barley, one-fifth of its maize, and over half of its sunflower oil.
  • Together, their grain feeds the poorest and most vulnerable people, providing more than one-third of the wheat imported by 45 African and least-developed countries.
  • At the same time, Russia is the world’s top natural gas exporter, and second-largest oil exporter.
  • But the war is preventing farmers from tending their crops while closing ports, ending grain exports, disrupting supply chains and sending prices skyrocketing.
  • The World Food Programme has warned that it faces the impossible choice of taking from the hungry to feed the starving.
  • It urgently needs $8 billion to support its operations in Yemen, Chad and Niger.
  • But while much of the world has stepped up in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, there is no sign of the same support for the 1.7 billion other potential victims of this war.

The Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance

  • The group aims to develop coordinated solutions to these interlinked crises, with governments, international financial institutions and other key partners.
  • 1] On food, the group is urging all countries to keep markets open, resist hoarding and unjustified and unnecessary export restrictions, and make reserves available to countries at the highest risk of hunger and famine.
  • 2] On energy, the use of strategic stockpiles and additional reserves could help to ease this energy crisis in the short term.
  • But the only medium- and long-term solution is to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy.
  • 3] And on finance, the G20 and international financial institutions must go into emergency mode.
  • They must find ways to increase liquidity and fiscal space, so that governments in developing countries can invest in the poorest and most vulnerable, and in the Sustainable Development Goals.
  •  Social protection, including cash transfers, will be essential to support desperate families through this crisis.
  • But many developing countries with large external debts do not have the liquidity to provide these safety nets.

Conclusion

The only lasting solution to the war in Ukraine and its assault on the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world is peace.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Why is the Black Sea crucial to Russia?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Black Sea mapping

Mains level : Read the attached story

The sinking of the huge Russian warship Moskva whether due to a Ukrainian missile strike or, as Russia claims, a fire on board — is a serious setback for Russia in the Black Sea.

About Black Sea

  • The famed water body is bound by Ukraine to the north and northwest, Russia and Georgia to the east, Turkey to the south, and Bulgaria and Romania to the west.
  • It links to the Sea of Marmara through the Bosphorus and then to the Aegean through the Dardanelles.

Significance of Black Sea for Russia

  • Domination of the Black Sea region is a geostrategic imperative for Moscow.
  • Black Sea has traditionally been Russia’s warm water gateway to Europe.
  • For Russia, the Black Sea is both a stepping stone to the Mediterranean.
  • It acts as a strategic buffer between NATO and itself.
  • It showcases the Russian power in the Mediterranean and to secure the economic gateway to key markets in southern Europe.
  • The Rhine-Main-Danube canal connects the Black Sea to the Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea and the port of Odessa serves as a vital link between Ukraine and the outside world.

Black Sea in the Ukraine war

  • Russia has been making efforts to gain complete control over the Black Sea since the Crimean crisis of 2014.
  • During the ongoing invasion, the domination of the Black Sea has been a major Russian objective, along with the land bridge to connect Russia and Crimea.
  • As such, there have been intense efforts to capture Mariupol, the Sea of Azov port in the breakaway eastern Ukrainian oblast of Donetsk.
  • Mariupol appeared close to falling to the Russians.

Sinking of the Moskva

  • The sinking of the Moskva is believed to be the worst loss in the history of naval warfare.
  • It was sunk by shore-based anti-ship cruise missiles which took advantage of bad weather and used decoy UAV attacks to defeat the ship’s air defence systems.
  • It demonstrates the success of outside-the-box measures adopted by Ukraine in the war.

 

Must answer this PYQ in the comment box:

Q.Consider the following pairs:

Sea Bordering country
1. Adriatic Sea Albania
2. Black Sea Croatia
3. Caspian Sea Kazakhstan
4. Mediterranean Sea Morocco
5. Red Sea Syria

Which of the pair given above are correctly matched? (CSP 2020)

(a) 1, 2 and 4 only

(b) 1, 3 and 4 only

(c) 2 and 5 only

(d) 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5

 

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Russia warns against NATO enlargement

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NATO

Mains level : Russian contention with NATO

One of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies warned NATO that if Sweden and Finland joined the US-led military alliance then Russia would have to bolster its defences in the region, including by deploying nuclear weapons.

Why in news?

  • Finland, which shares a 1,300-km border with Russia, and Sweden are considering joining the NATO alliance.

Why do they want to join NATO?

  • The possible accession of Finland and Sweden into NATO to get collective Western security against Russia — would be one of the biggest strategic consequences of the Ukraine war.
  • Finland gained independence from Russia in 1917 and fought two wars against it during Second World War during which it lost some territory to Moscow.
  • Sweden has not fought a war for 200 years and post-war foreign policy has focused on supporting democracy internationally, multilateral dialogue and nuclear disarmament.

What is NATO?

  • NATO is a military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949.
  • It sought to create a counterweight to Soviet armies stationed in Central and Eastern Europe after World War II.
  • Its original members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
  • NATO has spread a web of partners, namely Egypt, Israel, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Finland.

Why was it founded?

Ans. Communist sweep in Europe post-WWII and rise of Soviet dominance

  • After World War II in 1945, Western Europe was economically exhausted and militarily weak, and newly powerful communist parties had arisen in France and Italy.
  • By contrast, the Soviet Union had emerged from the war with its armies dominating all the states of central and Eastern Europe.
  • By 1948 communists under Moscow’s sponsorship had consolidated their control of the governments of those countries and suppressed all non-communist political activity.
  • What became known as the Iron Curtain, a term popularized by Winston Churchill, had descended over central and Eastern Europe.

Ideology of NATO

  • NATO ensures that the security of its European member countries is inseparably linked to that of its North American member countries.
  • It commits the Allies to democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes.
  • It also provides a unique forum for dialogue and cooperation across the Atlantic.

What is Article 5 and why is it needed?

  • Article 5 was a key part of the 1949 North Atlantic Treaty, or Washington Treaty, and was meant to offer a collective defence against a potential invasion of Western Europe.
  • It states: (NATO members) will assist the party or parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
  • However, since then, it has only been invoked once, soon after the 9/11 attack in the United States.

Why has Article 5 not been invoked this time?

  • The reason is simple: Ukraine is a partner of the Western defence alliance but not a NATO member.
  • As a result, Article 5, or the Collective Defence Pledge, does not apply.
  • While NATO has said it will not be sending troops to Ukraine, it did invoke Article 4, which calls for a consultation of the alliance’s principal decision-making body, the North Atlantic Council.
  • In its history, it has only been activated half a dozen times.
  • But the fact that this time around eight-member nations chose to invoke it was enough to demonstrate the seriousness of the situation at a global level.

What may prompt NATO to invoke Article 5?

  • NATO will invoke Article 5 only if Russia launches a full-blown attack on one of its allies.
  • Some top US officials have warned of the impact of some of Russia’s cyberattacks being felt in NATO countries.
  • When you launch cyberattacks, they don’t recognize geographic boundaries.
  • Some of that cyberattack could actually start shutting down systems in eastern Poland.

But what is NATO’s problem with Russia?

  • Russia has long been opposed to Ukraine’s growing closeness with European institutions, particularly NATO.
  • The former Soviet republic shares borders with Russia on one side, and the European Union on the other.
  • After Moscow launched its attack, the US and its allies were quick to respond, imposing sanctions on Russia’s central bank and sovereign wealth funds.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

BRICS and the creation of a multipolar world

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : SWIFT

Mains level : Paper 2- Implications of Ukraine crisis for BRICS

Context

The current crisis in Ukraine will consolidate BRICS as the group will make further efforts to become a real alternative to the West to create a real multipolar world.

 BRICS’ efforts to change world economic system

  • The group was brought together by geopolitical rather than economic considerations and this can be seen in the strategic interests shared by Russia and China.
  • Inclusion of non-Western states in international financial institutions: BRICS is actively involved in the efforts to change the world economic system by increasing the number of non-Western states in international financial institutes.
  • The BRICS countries decided to create the $100 billion BRICS Development Bank and a reserve currency pool worth over another $100 billion to offer an alternative to countries in the non-Western world when it comes to choosing the sources of funding for development or coping with serious economic crises.

Consequences of Ukraine crisis for BRICS

  •  It demonstrates that the West has not abandoned the idea of a unipolar world and will continue building it up by drawing into its foreign policy orbit issues it calls “international” or even “common to mankind.”
  • Many non-Western states look at this as a new wave of colonialism.
  • This will increase the desire of non-Western countries to enhance their coordination and perhaps the current conflict is already showing signs in this respect.
  • The BRICS states are different in many respects and their disagreements with the West are rooted in different historical and political circumstances.
  • The current crisis in Ukraine will consolidate BRICS as the group will make further efforts to become a real alternative to the West to create a real multipolar world.
  • RIC controls 22 per cent of the global GDP and 16 per cent of global exports of goods and services.
  • The fallout from Russia’s alienation from the G-8 group of nations, raises the prospect that — tactically at least — Russia, India, and China might be playing their own triangular integrationist card within BRICS at Moscow’s initiative.
  • Eurasian integrationist core: This will create a north Eurasian integrationist core within BRICS, whichever way Moscow’s relations with the US and Europe play out.

Implications for India

  • Both the Asian giants — India and China — may stand to reap the “best of both worlds” as the Ukraine imbroglio plays out.
  • Investment: This could mean greater industrial and energy cross investments between Russia and India as well as between Russia and China.
  • Additionally, the proposed arrangement for rupee-ruble cross currency pairing could result in settlement of payments in non-dollar currencies with more countries looking at India’s sovereign Financial Messaging Systems (SFMS), while also remaining connected with a central system like SWIFT.
  • Dedicated payment mechanism: This should also anchor India’s quest to build a dedicated payment mechanism for energy-related payments and settlements as a long-haul measure.
  • This could change the contours of the global payments landscape and benefit the rupee immensely.

Spotlight on India

  • As the war progresses, New Delhi has been receiving a stream of high-profile visitors from around the world.
  • This has included delegations from the US, Australia and Japan, India’s partners in the Quad.
  • The foreign minister of Greece has also been to India and the Israeli prime minister is scheduled to visit soon.
  • Even traditional rival China is making overtures to India at this time, with Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit.
  • Another suitor is Russia, which is now also becoming a supplier of discounted crude oil to India as Moscow recoils from sanctions enforced by western consumers of its natural gas.

Conclusion

New Delhi is basking in its well-deserved spotlight with well-crafted diplomacy. India could be looking at a new dawn.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

India condemns atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Definition of War Crimes

Mains level : War crimes and genocides

India condemned the killing of civilians in Bucha, Ukraine, at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) calling for an independent UN inquiry. (However India abstained from blaming Russia for the civilian deaths.)

Note: Such events are of least GS importance. However, one must recognize the severity of such massacres and the imprint that it left on entire humanity. Yes, it is not India’s war, but it is no mean activity for a military superpower to march and annexe a small neighbour.  This topic holds much importance for personality test.

Bucha massacre

  • The grimmest discoveries have been made in a Kyiv suburb called Bucha, a town located about 25 km to the northwest of the capital.
  • More than 300 bodies have been found in the town, some with their hands bound, flesh burned, and shot in the back of the head.
  • Satellite images now available show streets strewn with corpses, and many of the bodies seen by journalists in the past couple of days appear to have lain in the open for weeks.
  • The reports and pictures of corpses wearing civilian clothes, some clutching shopping bags, suggest that ordinary citizens were murdered without provocation, as they went about their daily business.

A no lesser holocaust event

  • The discoveries have drawn comparisons with the killings of civilians in this area during World War II.
  • It reminds of the First Battle of Kyiv (part of Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union that began in June 1941) and the Second Battle of Kyiv (November-December 1943).
  • The Red (Soviet) Army started to push back the Germans from Ukraine, the area around the Ukrainian capital, including Bucha.
  • It saw the “Holocaust by bullets” during which an estimated 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, were shot dead at close range.

A genocide or war crimes?

  • War crimes are defined as “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions, agreements signed after World War II that laid down international humanitarian laws during war time.
  • Deliberately targeting civilians amounts to a war crime.
  • The International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague has already opened an investigation into possible war crimes by Russia.
  • The investigation could in theory target even Putin. But it will be difficult to bring Russian defendants to trial or to prove intent.
  • Russia does not recognise the ICC and will likely not cooperate with the investigation.
  • The crimes of genocide are defined by the United Nations Genocide Convention of December 1948.
  • It includes acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. Genocide is seen as the gravest and most serious of all crimes against humanity.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Who are the Bucharest Nine (B9) Countries?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : B9 Countries

Mains level : Not Much

The envoys to India of nine Eastern European countries called Bucharest Nine jointly wrote to acquaint the Indian public with the basic facts on the ground” about the “premeditated, unprovoked and unjustified Russian aggression in Ukraine”.

What is Bucharest Nine?

  • The “Bucharest Nine” is a group of nine NATO countries in Eastern Europe that became part of the US-led military alliance after the end of the Cold War.
  • The Bucharest Nine or Bucharest Format, often abbreviated as the B9, was founded on November 4, 2015, and takes its name from Bucharest, the capital of Romania.
  • The group was created on the initiative of Klaus Iohannis, who has been President of Romania since 2014, and Andrzej Duda, who became President of Poland in August 2015.

Composition

  • The B9 are, apart from Romania and Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and the three Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
  • All members of the B9 are part of the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).
  • All nine countries were once closely associated with the now dissolved Soviet Union, but later chose the path of democracy.
  • Romania, Poland, Hungary, and Bulgaria are former signatories of the now-dissolved Warsaw Pact military alliance led by the Soviet Union.
  • The other Warsaw Pact countries were the erstwhile Czechoslovakia and East Germany, and Albania. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were part of the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

Functions of B9

  • The B9 offers a platform for deepening the dialogue and consultation among the participant allied states, in order to articulate their specific contribution to the ongoing processes across the North-Atlantic Alliance.
  • It works in total compliance with the principles of solidarity and indivisibility of the security of the NATO Member States.

Opposition to Russian expansion

  • The B9 countries have been critical of President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against Ukraine since 2014, when the war in the Donbas started and Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula.
  • After the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the B9 met in Warsaw.
  • Ukraine’s President has also appealed to the B9 for defense aid, sanctions, pressure on the aggressor Russia and create one anti-war coalition.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Time for India to redefine its relationship with Russia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Time to rethink relations with Russia

Context

Russia’s war on Ukraine has decisively shaped international opinion. Indian foreign policy is also going to be affected in a profound manner.

India’s foreign policy conundrum

  • Russia’s attack on Ukraine has put New Delhi in a foreign policy conundrum that will not disappear soon because Russia’s action has changed the global order.
  • India has not directly criticised Moscow’s action.
  • Memories of the historic Indo-Soviet partnership still seem to tip the scales when it comes to India’s vote at the UNSC.
  • Western countries have criticised India’s repeated abstentions at the UNSC on the issue of the Russian invasion.
  • The Western world has imposed unprecedented sanctions against Russia and banned energy imports.
  • New Delhi is concerned about the impact of these sanctions on global finance, energy supplies, and transportation, amid growing signs that they will constrain India’s ability to import Russian oil.

India’s challenges

  • Russia’s increasing dependence on China: What must worry India is the fact that Russia will now become increasingly dependent on Chinese support to defend its policies.
  • The collapsing ruble, the punishing sanctions, and the dire state of the Russian economy will push Russia further into China’s military and economic orbit.
  • China’s challenge in Indo-Pacific: India’s real strategic challenge is surfacing in the Indo-Pacific with the rise of China, as Beijing has consistently sought to expand its zone of military, economic and political influence through the Belt and Road Initiative.
  • Though India would like the U.S. to continue to focus on China, it is not possible for Washington to ignore Russia’s aggression along NATO’s periphery.

How India’s ties with Russia changed over time

  • Since the end of the Cold War, Indians have been debating the contours of strategic autonomy.
  • For one section the doctrine of ‘multi-alignment’ is the 21st century avatar of strategic autonomy as India has been expanding its engagement with all the major powers.
  • Following the disintegration of the USSR, India joined Russia and China against the unipolarity of the U.S.
  •  For some time, this common concern about unipolarity put the three countries on the same path towards mutual cooperation and understanding.
  • Later, Brazil and South Africa were also brought into this coalition.
  • However, it soon became clear that India and China did not see eye to eye.
  • Moreover, India was determined to maintain its partnership with Russia, an important arms supplier.
  • Its ties with the U.S. have also improved significantly since the end of the Cold War.
  • But continuing dependence on Russian weaponry has become India’s strategic headache.

Way forward for India

  •  Under Mr. Putin, Russia is in a state of transition, swinging wildly from one crisis to another.
  • Therefore, it is too risky for India to pursue vague aims vis-à-vis Russia in these uncertain times.
  • A NATO-Russia Council was formed specifically to alleviate Russia’s concerns, and that Russia was recognised as one of the world’s leading industrial powers through a formal admission into the elite G-7.
  • Though Moscow has drifted much closer to Beijing, and is sharply critical of India’s engagement with the U.S. and the Quad, India finds it difficult to extend support to Ukraine.
  • It goes without saying that the U.S. is the country most likely to bolster India’s future as a great power.

Conclusion

It is not going to be easy for New Delhi to maintain its balancing act in the future as Washington hardens its position further. It is inevitable that during this time of diplomatic and strategic uncertainty, New Delhi needs to be ready to radically redefine its relationship with Moscow.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Why ICJ order on Ukraine matters

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- ICJ decision on Ukraine crisis and its significance

Context

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Russia to immediately suspend its military operations in Ukraine. In short, to end the war instantly.

Breach of the Genocide Convention

  • Ukraine moved the ICJ against Russia accusing it of falsely claiming that Ukrainians are committing genocide in their territory and using this untruthful premise to start an illegal war.
  • This, Ukraine believes, breaches its rights under the Genocide Convention — a treaty that is binding to both Russia and Ukraine.
  • This decision was rendered by the ICJ in response to Ukraine’s application for indication of provisional measures under Article 41 of the ICJ Statute.
  • Provisional measures under the ICJ Statute are the international equivalent of an interim injunction that can be provided by the court to preserve the rights of the parties pending a final decision on the merits of the case.

Three reasons cited by the ICJ

1] ICJ’s jurisdiction in the case

  • Since 2014, Russia has been repeatedly accusing Ukraine of committing genocide in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  •  Just before the military invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned ending the genocide in Ukraine as the reason to use force.
  • Ukraine vehemently rejects this charge.
  • Prima facie, this shows the existence of a “dispute” under Article IX of the Genocide Convention — the compromissory clause that bestows jurisdiction on the ICJ.
  • Self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter: Russia contended that its formal basis for use of force against Ukraine was its right to self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter (a patently illegal argument, but this issue is not before the ICJ).
  • The court held that it had prima facie jurisdiction in the case because the subject matter fell under the Genocide Convention.

2] Preservation of rights claimed by the parties

  • Ukraine argues that it has a right under the Genocide Convention not to be falsely accused of genocide and rely on this wrong pretext to use force against its territorial integrity.
  • The ICJ held that the objective of indicating provisional measures is the preservation of the rights claimed by the parties, pending the decision on merits.
  • Since the current proceedings were only for provisional measures, the ICJ did not decide definitively whether Ukraine has such a right under the Genocide Convention.
  • Nonetheless, the ICJ found Ukraine’s right plausible, which is adequate for the current purposes.
  • While the court did not decide on whether Russia has breached the Genocide Convention, as this is a question of merits, it did express doubt over whether a country can unilaterally use force against another country for punishing or preventing an alleged act of genocide.

3] Risk of irreparable harm to Ukraine’s rights

  • The ICJ held that if it does not indicate provisional measures, that is, order cessation of military action, there is a real and imminent risk of irreparable harm to Ukraine’s rights.
  • This is because of the magnitude of destruction that the ongoing war has caused.

Significance of the order

  • ICJ’s decision is binding on Russia and constitutes part of its international legal obligations.
  • However, the remedy for not complying with ICJ rulings lies with the UN Security Council, which has Russia as a permanent member.
  • But just because authoritarian populist leaders like Vladimir Putin don’t care for international law does not diminish its significance.

Conclusion

The weight of global opinion against Russia on its egregious abuse of international law is mounting with each passing day. Russia can keep ignoring this only at grave peril to itself.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Why the Russia-Ukraine crisis may lead to a shortage in Semiconductors?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Semiconductor, Rare earth elements

Mains level : Economic impact of Russian invasion

The global supply of semiconductors is now being threatened once again by the Ukraine crisis on account of supply of two key raw materials — neon and palladium — that are at a risk of being constrained.

What are Semiconductors?

  • A semiconductor sits between a conductor and an insulator and is commonly used in the development of electronic chips, computing components, and devices.
  • It’s generally created using silicon, germanium, and other pure elements.
  • Semiconductors are created by adding impurities to the element.

Why are neon and palladium important for chipmaking?

(a) Neon

  • Neon gas is used in the photolithography process that is the most common method for fabricating integrated circuits.
  • Specifically, the neon gas is used in the laser machines that carve the integrated circuits.
  • But for use of neon gas in the semiconductor industry, the gas has to reach 99.99% purity levels — which makes it a rarity.
  • More than half of semiconductor-grade neon comes from Ukrainian companies Incas and Cryoin.

(b) Palladium

  • It is used for multiple purposes in semiconductor and electronic manufacturing.
  • It is used to coat electrodes that help control flow of electricity.
  • It is also used in plating of microprocessors and printed circuit boards — which is an essential process of chip making.
  • Russia accounts for nearly half the global supplies of palladium and the multiple trade sanctions on Moscow threaten to constrain the availability of the element.

Why was there a shortage in semiconductors?

  • The trigger point was the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns across the world that forced chip-making facilities to shut in countries like Japan, South Korea, China and the US.
  • A key feature in a chip shortage is that it almost always causes cascading effects, given that the first one creates pent-up demand that becomes the cause for the follow-up famine.

How is the Russia-Ukraine crisis protracting this shortage?

  • Palladium and neon are two resources that are key to the production of semiconductor chips.
  • Russia supplies over 40 per cent of world’s palladium and Ukraine produces 70 per cent of neon.

How long will the semiconductor shortage last?

  • The answer to that question is a function of two variables:
  1. Existing stockpiles of these raw materials with chip manufacturers
  2. Time for which the crisis in Ukraine prevails
  • If a deal is not brokered in the coming months, expect the chip shortage to get worse and for industries highly dependent on them to be similarly affected.
  • This means significant risks are ahead for many automakers, electronic device manufacturers, phone makers, and many other sectors that are increasingly reliant on chips for their products to work.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Why the West should focus on China

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS)

Mains level : Paper 2- Need for focus on China

Context

The Russian offensive on Ukraine on the night of February 23-34 shocked the world. The trigger for the conflict has been the rise of anti-Russia/Putin and pro-Europe lobby in Ukraine, led by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and with the tacit support of the US and the West.

Background of the conflict

  • The situation became deeply polarised after battle lines were drawn in 2015, with Ukraine’s breakaway Donbas region seeking a merger with Russia, after Crimea’s unification with the latter.
  • Russia has, over the years, quite correctly questioned the relevance of NATO — a grouping of the Cold War era — and its expansion eastwards. 
  • For instance, NATO included the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries of Georgia and Ukraine, earlier part of the Soviet Union, in its “Partnership for Peace” programme, despite Russian objections.

Implications of war for geopolitics and role of China

  • Geopolitics will never be the same, especially with Germany and Japan announcing militarisation initiatives, polarisation in Europe and the strengthening of the anti-US nexus of China- Russia-Turkey-Iran.
  • Focus moves away from China: A matter of concern is that once again, the attention of the US and the West has been diverted from China, the main adversary, to a war that should not have taken place.
  • Possibility of annexation of Taiwan: In the current conflict, the ineptitude of the US/NATO to support Ukraine with “boots on the ground” is bound to embolden China in its nefarious design to annex Taiwan.
  • This could also lead to increased hostility by China in the resolution of land disputes with the neighbouring countries, as well as in the South and East China seas.

Consider the question “With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the geopolitics will never be the same again.”Comment. 

Conclusion

For India, the greatest lesson is that it will have to meet the Chinese challenge on its own. There is no likelihood of the US or any other nation getting involved in India’s fight with China. Let us focus on atmanirbharta in all its dimensions.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

What Quad can learn from NATO’s blunders

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Quad

Mains level : Paper 2- Lessons for Quad from Russia-Ukraine war

Context

The Russian invasion of Ukraine offers several lessons to the Quad countries.

Negligence on part of NATO

  • This article is admittedly written in hindsight, but there is a continuing thread to the western blunders in the approach to dealing with Moscow, particularly concerning Putin.
  • He has had a dramatic rise in the political hierarchy of Moscow, with many of his successes unexplained but for the strong behind-the-scenes backing of the FSB.
  •  Unfortunately, it was ignored in the West, and particularly in Europe, which was busy with civilianising and militarily downgrading NATO.
  • The western leaders were overcome with hubris and dismantled the military intellectual content of NATO headquarters, reducing NATO forces to a rapid reaction force under the political control of a civilian secretary-general.
  • The West, therefore, failed to connect Putin’s invasion of Georgia with his continuing vision to fight the regime change in Ukraine in 2015.

What can Quad learn?

  • War in Indo-Pacific will be maritime war:  War in the Indo-Pacific will be a maritime war fought in accordance with maritime strategy and space assets.
  • The greatest difference is that peaceful maritime reconnaissance is a legitimate activity with the help of which situational awareness can be built up, enabling the delivery of a crippling conventional first strike in the first stages of a possible conflict.
  • Avoid making Quad a diplomatic grouping: To call the Quad a “diplomatic grouping” is a catastrophic error.
  • Implication of calling Quad a diplomatic grouping: In actual fact, the Quad, is all about maritime domain awareness, underwater domain awareness, and information sharing — all of them purely naval activities, which need continuous communication (that is catered for), a command organisation and a secretariat, neither of which we have because Quad is a diplomatic grouping.
  • The military is trained to think structurally, cast future scenarios, do contingent planning, find alternatives and plan for victory. Diplomats have no such background.
  • Confusing Beijing by calling it a diplomatic grouping will certainly lead to a misunderstanding of the Quad nations’ resolve and possible Chinese adventurism.

Way forward

  • The Quad needs to be represented by the owners of the maritime assets used to obtain domain awareness and a staff with command communications and a depth of intellectual planning.
  • The great maritime strength of the Quad is its force of Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
  • Japan and the US are particularly rich in those resources.
  • India’s force of P-81s is substantial and with the help of Australia, a maritime domain awareness can be built up that denies the PLA navy the chance to hide in the vastness of the ocean.
  • The Indo-US communication agreement was presumably established to keep the four-nation search group on a common grid.
  • Quad meetings should be headed by naval officers, with diplomatic support.

Conclusion

West failed to read Putin’s ambitions and downgraded NATO. The same mistakes should not be repeated in Indo-Pacific by the Quad.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

India’s Crude Oil Trade with Russia

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Crude Oil imports of India

Mains level : Read the attached story

The Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd (HPCL) has bought two million barrels of Russian crude oil as Indian energy majors forge ahead with attempts to secure a part of the Russian energy supply.

What is the news?

  • India is exploring alternative payment channels for trade with Russia and the possibility of sourcing additional oil at a discount, even as the West reduces its exposure to Russian oil.
  • Now India needs to make some necessary adjustments in the financial front because of the challenges posed by the American sanctions.

India’s import dependence and Russia

  • India is heavily dependent on oil imports, the bulk of which comes from the Middle East, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, and South-East Asia.
  • Russia’s oil-related exports to India are only about $1 billion.
  • However, Russia is keen to scale this up even as the US has announced a ban on oil imports from the country and the UK has adopted a more gradual reduction.
  • This offers the opportunity for a lucrative supply deal with the second largest oil exporter after Saudi Arabia.

Do you know?

India’s nuclear power project in Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu is built with Russian collaboration.

What is at stake in oil trade with Russia?

  • India, however, needs to find alternative payment channels due to the evolving crisis.
  • This is also crucial for bilateral non-oil trade.

Risks posed by payment crisis

  • Western curbs cutting off some Russian banks from the SWIFT payment system has proven to be a setback for bilateral trade.
  • Many payments worth $500 million to Indian exporters for goods already shipped reportedly being stuck.
  • A steady supply of critical commodities such as fuel and fertilizer from Europe is crucial in India’s efforts to manage inflation.
  • A spike in natural gas in global markets is pushing up the cost of procuring commonly used urea, which is sold at a subsidized price to farmers.

Why is oil supply from Russia important?

  • As much as 85% of India’s oil requirement is met through imports.
  • The government has tried diversifying its supply sources.
  • This would add more gas into the energy basket, giving a strong push to electric mobility, building strategic reserves and blending ethanol in auto fuel to reduce oil import dependence.
  • Extra oil supplies from Russia could aid in this effort.

How’re the two nations handling the situation?

  • India and Russia are exploring a Rupee-Rouble trade mechanism using currency of a third country as a reference.
  • This would allow Indian exporters to be paid in rupees.
  • This would need an Indian and a Russian bank opening shop on each other’s soil.
  • Another option is routing payments via a bank with limited overseas exposure so that it will not attract curbs.
  • For additional Russian oil shipments, India needs access to more vessels and containers.
  • Indian refiners’ ability to process larger quantities of crude oil also needs to be assessed.

Extending the collaborations

  • New Delhi has for long followed the policy of acquiring energy assets abroad to reduce risks related to heavy import dependence on oil.
  • Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd’s investment in Russia’s Sakhalin project is one example.
  • Besides, Russian company PJSC Rosneft Oil Co. is a stakeholder in Nayara Energy Ltd that runs the second largest single-site refinery in Gujarat.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Fragmenting world order, untied nations

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : GATT

Mains level : Paper 3- Implications of Russia-Ukraine war for the global order

Context

The outcome that should worry us apart from the devastating consequences for the Ukrainian nation, is the impact the Ukraine crisis is having on the global world order, which is fragmenting in every respect of global interconnectedness — in terms of international cooperation, security, military use, economic order, and even cultural ties.

Implications of war for global order

1] Question mark on the relevance of the UN and Security Council

  • Russia’s actions in Ukraine may, in terms of refusing to seek an international mandate, seem no different from the war by the United States in Iraq in 2003, Israel’s bombing of Lebanon in 2006 and the Saudi-coalition’s attacks of Yemen in 2015.
  • But Ukraine is in fact a bigger blow to the post-World War order than any other.
  • It run counter to the UN Charter preamble, i.e. “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war…”, “to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours”, as well as Articles 1 and 2 of the ‘Purposes and Principles’ of the United Nations (Chapter 1).
  • Meanwhile, in their responses, other P-5 members such as the United States, the United Kingdom and France did not seek to strengthen the global order either, imposing sanctions unilaterally rather than attempting to bring them to the UN.

2] Declining nuclear safeguards

  • Russian military’s moves to target areas near Chernobyl and shell buildings near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant show an alarming nonchalance towards safeguards in place over several decades.
  • The world must also consider the cost to the nuclear non-proliferation regime’s credibility: Ukraine and Libya that willingly gave up nuclear programmes have been invaded, while regimes such as Iran and North Korea can defy the global order because they have held on to their nuclear deterrents.

3] Use of non-state actors

  • There are also the covenants agreed upon during the global war on terrorism, which have been degraded, with the use of non-state actors in the Ukraine crisis.
  • For years, pro-Russia armed militia operated in the Donbas regions, challenging the writ of the government in Kyiv.
  • With the arrival of Russian troops, the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has invited all foreign fighters to support his forces to the country.

4] Fragmentation of global financial order

  • While analysts have pointed out that the sanctions announced so far do not include some of Russia’s biggest banks in order to avoid the disruption of oil and gas from Russia, the intent to cut Russia out of all monetary and financial systems remains.
  • The arbitrary and unilateral nature of western sanctions rub against the international financial order set up under the World Trade Organization (that replaced the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT).
  • The obvious fallout of this “economic cancel culture” will, without doubt, be a reaction — a pushback from Russia and an exploration of alternative trading arrangements with countries such as China, India and much of the Eastern Hemisphere which continue to trade with Moscow.
  • For the S-400 missile defence deal, for example, New Delhi used a rupee-rouble mechanism and banks that were immunised from the U.S.’s CAATSA sanctions (or Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) for advance payments.

5] Isolation of Russia

  • While several governments including the U.S., the U.K. and Germany have persistently said that their quarrel is not with Russian citizens but with their leadership, it is clear that most of their actions will hurt the average Russian citizen.
  • Some of this isolation of its citizens will work to the favour of an increasingly authoritarian Kremlin.
  • Mr. Putin’s response to the banning of Russian channels in Europe and its allies has been to use the western media ban as a pretext to ban opposition-friendly Russian channels as well.

Takeaways for India

  • India’s abstentionist responses and its desire not to be critical of any of the actions taken by the big powers might keep Indians safe in the short term.
  • But in the long term, it is only those nations that move proactively to uphold, strengthen and reinvent the global order that will make the world a safer place.

Conclusion

The events over the past two weeks, set in motion by Russia’s declaration of war on Ukraine, have no doubt reversed many of the ideas of 1945 and 1990, fragmenting the international order established with the UN, ushering in an era of deglobalisation and bringing down another Iron Curtain.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Ukraine invasion and the great geopolitical reset

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not much

Mains level : Paper 2- Emerging trends from Russian invasion of Ukraine

Context

Major wars have significant consequences for the internal and international politics of the combatant nations. Wars between great powers are far more consequential.

Geopolitical changes triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

1] New dynamism in great power triangle

  •  Biden hoped to distance Russia from China and focus all of America’s energies on the Indo-Pacific.
  • But Putin chose to align with China and confront the US and Europe with an impossible set of demands including a sphere of influence in Central Europe and turning Ukraine into Moscow’s protectorate.
  • China’s public articulation has underlined “rock-solid” support for Moscow but it is under some pressure to balance between its Russian alliance “without limits” and its deep economic interdependence with the US and Europe.
  • Whichever way this plays out, the current crisis has revealed America’s pole position in the great strategic triangle.

2] Reinforced US primacy amongst the great powers

  • The US primacy amongst the great powers has been reinforced by the restoration of strategic unity within the West.
  • While many trans-Atlantic differences remain on the nature and extent of sanctions against Russia, the crisis has revealed the enduring sources of Western unity.

3] Disciplining of Europe

  • Third is the American disciplining of Europe, especially Germany, where illusions of normative soft power and the faith in mercantilism had blinded the continent to geopolitical challenges presented by Russia and China.
  • Europe’s belief that it can enrich itself in the Russian and Chinese markets while expecting Washington to do all the heavy lifting on security is no longer sustainable.
  • The German decision on rearmament announced in the wake of the Russian aggression marks a definitive geopolitical turn in Europe.

4] EU’s dilemma in energy domain

  • Nowhere is the EU’s Russian dilemma more visible than in the energy domain where Europe is deeply tied to Russian imports of oil, natural gas, and coal.
  • The EU pays $110 billion a year to Moscow for these imports.
  • While stepping up pressure on Europe to drastically reduce energy imports from Russia, Washington is reaching out to Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and Iran to fill the gap created by the planned blockade of Russian energy supplies.

5] Asia is adapting to the change

  • Sensing the dangers from a Sino-Russian axis and fearing that Europe could distract America, Japan is rethinking its nuclear abstinence.
  • South Korea’s president-elect, Yoon Suk-Yeol wants to strengthen ties with the US, and explore potential cooperation with the Quad.
  •  While the ASEAN remains torn between the US and China, many in the region are waking up to the dangers of betting that Beijing’s rise is irreversible, and that the Western decline is terminal.

Lessons for India

  • The first major conflict amongst the great powers in the 21st century has presented India with multiple challenges, including its long-standing reliance on Russian military supplies.
  •  More immediately, the crisis in Ukraine demands that Delhi move on a war-footing towards a rapid modernisation and expansion of its domestic defence industrial base that is so critical for sustaining India’s strategic autonomy.

Conclusion

Unless there is an early diplomatic breakthrough, the conflict between Russia and the West is likely to sharpen in the coming days. But this hinge moment in world politics is also an opportunity for Delhi to increase its heft in the changing global balance.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Analysing India’s stand on the war on Ukraine

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : UNSC

Mains level : Paper 2- India's vote at the UN on Ukraine

Context

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has placed considerable moral responsibility on India. However, at the United Nations (UN), India has refused to condemn the violation of the rights of the Ukrainians.

Issues involved in India’s vote

1] Commitment to principles

  • National interest: One of the arguments justifying India’s stance is that in international affairs, a country must be guided by its national interest and not some abstract principles.
  • It is pointed out that due to the very high dependence of India on the Soviet Union for defence equipment and the likely need of support on the Pakistan issue in the Security Council, India must not offend Russia by condemning the invasion.
  • Why India should condemn Russia: If a people’s principles are their most deeply held beliefs about how the world must be ordered, then their interest lies in ensuring that their principles prevail in international relations.
  • Thus, if India does not want to see itself to be the victim of territorial aggression in the future, it must communicate strongly on the world stage that it condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

2] India-West relations

  • In the 1950s the West was clearly unsympathetic to India, playing its card openly on the Kashmir issue at the UN as early as 1947.
  • On the other hand, the Soviet Union, the precursor to the present-day Russian state, had rescued India several times by exercising its veto in the UN Security Council.
  • Now, close to 75 years later, the situation has changed.
  • Public opinion in the West does not favour unconditional support of Pakistan vis-à-vis India while Russia encourages Pakistan.
  • Moreover, we know by now that some limited support at the UN matters little, as taking the Kashmir issue to the UN Security Council has not got Pakistan to withdraw from the territory it occupied.

3] India’s dependence on Russia for defence supplies

  •  It is indeed correct that India relies on the Russians for such equipment and their spare parts.
  • At the same time there is a global market for arms. It is not evident that anything withheld by the Russians cannot be sourced from that market.
  •  For India to base its public stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the assured supply of armaments is to really drag ourselves down to the bottom of the pit in terms of ethics.

4] East-West conflict argument

  • Another argument is that this is a conflict between the east and the west, and India should stay out of it.
  • To say that this is just another east-west conflict from which India should stay out is tantamount to seeing the Russian invasion and the brave defence of their country by the Ukrainians as a mere marital squabble.
  • India had refused in 1956 to condemn the Soviet invasion of Hungary, its action today is much worse.

Conclusion

India must take a long view of how it wants to engage with it. Its actions so far leave it in the company of Russia and China.

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Geneva Conventions and the Russia-Ukraine War

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Geneva Conventions

Mains level : Read the attached story

As the evidence of casualties in the civilian population continues to mount, the world will increasingly look to the Geneva Conventions in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Geneva Conventions Guidelines for Wartime

  • These are a set of four treaties, formalized in 1949, and three additional protocols, which codify widely accepted ethical and legal international standards for humanitarian treatment of those impacted by war.
  • The focus of the Conventions is the:
  1. Treatment of non-combatants and prisoners of war, and
  2. Not the use of conventional or biological and chemical weapons

What are the four Geneva Conventions?

(1) First Geneva Convention: Health and Medical Issues

  • It protects wounded and sick soldiers on land during war.
  • This convention extends to medical and religious personnel, medical units, and medical transport.
  • It has two annexes containing a draft agreement relating to hospital zones and a model identity card for medical and religious personnel.

(2) Second Geneva Convention:  Offshore Protection

  • It protects wounded, sick and shipwrecked military personnel at sea during war.
  • This convention also extends to hospital ships and medical transports by sea, with specific commentary on the treatment and protections for their personnel.

(3) Third Geneva Convention: Treatment of Prisoners of War (PoW)

It applies to prisoners of war, including a wide range of general protections such as humane treatment, maintenance and equality across prisoners, conditions of captivity, questioning and evacuation of prisoners, transit camps, food, clothing, medicines, hygiene and right to religious, intellectual, and physical activities of prisoners.

(4) Fourth Geneva Convention: Civilian protection of occupied territory ***

  • It particularly applies to the invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces.
  • It protects civilians, including those in occupied territory.
  • Comprising 159 articles, it outlines the norms for this critical dimension of conflict.

Extent of the Fourth Geneva Convention amid the Ukraine-Russia War

  • Along with the Additional Protocols of 1977, the Fourth Convention expounds upon the:
  1. General protection of populations against certain consequences of war
  2. Conduct of hostilities and the status and
  3. Treatment of protected persons
  4. Distinguishing between the situation of foreigners on the territory of one of the parties to the conflict and that of civilians in occupied territory
  • This convention also spells out the obligations of the occupying power vis-à-vis the civilian population and outlines detailed provisions on humanitarian relief for populations in occupied territory.

Which countries are signatories?

  • The Geneva Conventions have been ratified by 196 states, including all UN member states.
  • The three Protocols have been ratified by 174, 169 and 79 states respectively.

Russia and these conventions

  • In 2019, perhaps anticipating the possibility of its invading Ukraine in the near future, Russia withdrew its declaration under Article 90 of Protocol 1.
  • By withdrawing this declaration, Russia has pre-emptively left itself with the option to refuse access by any international fact-finding missions to Russian entities.
  • Not withdrawing could have find Russia responsible for violations of the Geneva Conventions standards.
  • Further, the four conventions and first two protocols of the Geneva Conventions were ratified by the Soviet Union, not Russia.
  • Hence there is a risk of the Russian government of the day disavowing any responsibility under the Conventions.

What would be the steps for potential prosecution under the Conventions?

  • Under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the ICC, it is the ICC that has jurisdiction in respect of war crimes, in particular “when committed as part of a plan or policy or as part of a large-scale commission of such crimes.”

To what extent have Geneva Conventions been upheld worldwide in recent years?

  • Amnesty International notes that there has been a blatant disregard for civilian protection and international humanitarian law in armed conflicts where four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council are parties.
  • Specifically, Amnesty cited:
  1. US-led coalition’s bombing of Raqqa in Syria, which left more than 1,600 civilians dead
  2. Destruction of civilian infrastructure and lives in Aleppo and Idlib by Russian forces
  3. Leading to mass displacement of millions
  4. War in Yemen where the Saudi Arabia and the UAE-led coalition, backed by the West, killed and injured thousands of civilians, fuelling a full-blown humanitarian crisis

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

What is ‘Most Favoured Nation’ Status?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : MFN status

Mains level : Global sanctions on Russia

The United States, the European Union, Britain, Canada and Japan are to move jointly to revoke Russia’s “most favoured nation” (MFN) status over its invasion of Ukraine.

What is MFN status?

  • The World Trade Organization’s 164 members commit to treating other members equally so they can all benefit from each other’s lowest tariffs, highest import quotas and fewest trade barriers.
  • This principle of non-discrimination is known as most favoured nation (MFN) treatment.
  • There are some exceptions, such as when members strike bilateral trade agreements or when members offer developing countries special access to their markets.
  • For countries outside the WTO, such as Iran, North Korea, Syria or Russian ally Belarus, WTO members can impose whatever trade measures they wish without flouting global trading rules.

Removal of MFN status

  • There is no formal procedure for suspending MFN treatment and it is not clear whether members are obliged to inform the WTO if they do so.
  • India suspended Pakistan’s MFN status in 2019 after a suicide attack by a Pakistan-sponsored group.
  • Pakistan never applied MFN status to India.

What does losing MFN status mean?

  • Revoking Russia’s MFN status sends a strong signal that the US and its Western allies do not consider Russia a economic partner in any way, but it does not in itself change conditions for trade.
  • It does formally allow the Western allies to increase import tariffs or impose quotas on Russian goods, or even ban them, and to restrict services out of the country.
  • They could also overlook Russian intellectual property rights.
  • Ahead of MFN status removal, the United States had already announced a ban on imports of Russian oil and gas.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

What is the Temporary Protection Directive of the EU?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : TPD

Mains level : Refugee crisis of Ukranians

Responding to the crisis, EU Member States made the unprecedented decision to activate a major European Union’s Council Directive, known as the Temporary Protection Directive (TPD).

What is Temporary Protection?

  • The EU Commission describes “temporary protection” under the TPD as an “exceptional measure to provide immediate and temporary protection to displaced persons from non-EU countries and those unable to return to their country of origin”.
  • The directive applies when there is a risk that the standard asylum system is struggling to cope with demand stemming from a mass influx risking a negative impact on the processing of claims.

Objectives of this protection

  1. To both establish minimum standards for giving temporary protection to displaced persons
  2. To promote a balance of effort between Member States in receiving and bearing the consequences of receiving such persons

Why establish standards?

The Commission gives two reasons for doing so:

  • It reduces disparities between the policies of EU States on the reception and treatment of displaced persons in a situation of mass influx.
  • It promotes solidarity and burden-sharing among EU States with respect to receiving large numbers of potential refugees at one time.”

What obligations does the TPD place upon EU states?

According to the European Commission, the TPD “foresees harmonised rights for the beneficiaries of temporary protection”, which include:

  • Residence permit for the duration of the protection (which can last from 1-3 years),
  • Appropriate information on temporary protection,
  • Access to employment,
  • Access to accommodation or housing,
  • Access to social welfare or means of subsistence,
  • Access to medical treatment,
  • Access to education for minors,
  • Opportunities for families to reunite in certain circumstances, and
  • Guarantees for access to the normal asylum procedure

The TPD also contains provisions for the return of displaced persons to their country of origin, unless they have committed serious crimes or they “pose a threat to security from the benefit of temporary protection”.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Do Economic Sanctions work as a deterrent?

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : NA

Mains level : Economic implications of Russia-Ukraine War

The economic sanctions imposed by the US, UK, and the EU on Russia for going to war against Ukraine could prove to be detrimental to the country.

What do economic sanctions mean?

  • Economic sanctions are penalties or bans that are levied against a country to push it to modify its strategic decisions.
  • They include withdrawal of customary trade and financial relations for security and foreign policy purposes.
  • Sanctions could result in cutting economic ties in every respect such as terms of trade, financial assistance, transit support, travel bans, asset freezes, and trade restrictions.
  • The curbs could also be targeted, thus restricting transactions with certain businesses, groups, or individuals.
  • Amid increased global and economic interdependence, they could prove to be detrimental for the targeted country.

How do sanctions impact an economy?

  • No country can afford to be a closed economy.
  • The affected country’s supply chain gets disrupted in terms of the inflow of goods and services and for reaching out to the export markets.
  • In the former, there is a risk of the internal economy being crippled, especially if it depends on imports of critical raw materials.
  • The domestic economy could also be deprived of external market support.
  • The risk element is high especially in case of economic curbs being imposed collectively, such as by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

What are the economic sanctions against Russia?

  • Major Russian banks have been banned from the SWIFT financial messaging service and their assets have been frozen.
  • Sanctions have been levied on the Russian Direct Investment Fund and against some of Russia’s wealthiest people.
  • Access to air-space has been denied and export controls introduced.
  • The countries imposing curbs on Russia account for 34% of world GDP.

What is the cost of such restrictions?

  • This depends on the economic strength of the country being targeted.
  • Russia cannot be brushed aside as an ordinary economy.
  • The country is important to the global economy because of its oil reserves and access to nuclear power.
  • Russia is also a supplier of sophisticated defence products and is an important supplier of crucial defence products to India.
  • Given the long-term strategic nature of the relationship, India is abstaining from voting on resolutions to condemn Russia.

How did India manage curbs after Pokhran-II?

  • India’s dependence on external assistance was more than $100 billion.
  • The government appealed to non-resident Indians (NRIs) whose annual savings were more than $400 billion.
  • NRIs’ subscription to government bonds was more than double the annual foreign assistance.
  • India could also showcase its scientific strength as none of the scientists involved were trained abroad.
  • This helped India display confidence, especially to investors.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

The complexities for implementing a No-Fly Zone

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : No-Fly Zone

Mains level : Read the attached story

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary General stated that the organisation would not designate the Ukrainian airspace as a ‘No Fly Zone’ which he said would lead to a full-fledged war in Europe, involving many more countries and resulting in greater human suffering.

What is a No-Fly Zone ?

  • In simple terms, a No-Fly Zone refers to a particular airspace wherein aircraft, excluding those permitted by an enforcement agency, are barred from flying.
  • Articles under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter dealing with Action with Respect to Threats to the Peace, Breaches of the Peace, and Acts of Aggression’ are invoked to authorise a potential no-fly zone.
  • Article 39 dictates the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to determine the probable existence of any threat to peace or an act of aggression.
  • It suggests further measures, if required, are to be carded out in accordance to Article 41 and 42 to restore international peace and security.
  • No fly zones have been implemented without UN mandate too.

Cases of implementation

  • In 1991 after the first Gulf War, U.S. and its coalition partners imposed two no fly zones over Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussain born attacking ethnic groups.
  • In non-combat situations, No fly zones can be imposed permanently and temporarily over sensitive installations or for high profile events like Olympics.

What is the feasibility of ‘No fly zone over Ukraine?

  • No-fly zone declarations are essentially a compromise in situations demanding a response to ongoing violence, but full military intervention is politically untenable.
  • NATO has previously imposed No-Fly Zones in non-member states like Libya and Bosnia. With Russia it fears a full-fledged war in Europe.
  • It has been demanding that NATO scale back to the pre-1997 arrangements. Both Russia and Ukraine are not members of NATO.
  • Due to this the idea of imposing a no fly zone’ over Ukraine has been rejected outright.
  • If implemented, it means NATO deploying aircraft and assets which would result in a direct confrontation with Russia.

What are the broad contours in a No-Fly Zone?

  • The UNSC had banned all flights in the Libyan airspace post adoption of Resolution 1973 in 2011 in response to the Libyan Civil War.
  • Member slates were asked to deny permission to any Libyan registered aircraft to use the territory without requisite approval.
  • Further, the member states could bar any entity from flying if they found reasonable grounds to believe the aircraft is ferrying lethal or non-lethal military equipment.
  • Member states were permitted to allow flights whose sole purpose was humanitarian, such as delivery of medical supplies and food, chauffer humanitarian workers and related assistance, or evacuating foreign nationals from the territory.

 

UPSC 2022 countdown has begun! Get your personal guidance plan now! (Click here)

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments