Strategic Discussion | Review of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict
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The VIF organized a Strategic Discussion on the Review of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict on 25 March 2022 via hybrid-mode, with some participants joining in via web conferencing while the others attended the discussion physically at the VIF. The discussion was moderated by Dr Arvind Gupta who also delivered the opening remarks. Discussants included Amb. Kanwal Sibal, Amb. Arun K. Singh, Akshay Mathur, Amb. P.S. Raghavan, Gp. Capt. Naval Jagota, Brig. Vinod Anand, Dr. GulshanRai, AM Anil Khosla, Adm. Girish Luthra and Lt. Gen. R. K Sawhney. A month into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, this discussion was geared towards assessing and reviewing the impact of the ongoing conflict across a multitude of geopolitical and economic facets.

The European security order is undergoing a decisive and lasting change. The conflict in Ukraine is likely to persist for some time and there seems to be no going back to the pre-February 24 situation. Europe will inadvertently be defining its relationship with Russia differently which will have subsequent global consequences. While they are supplying Ukraine with defensive weapons, the greater effort is geared towards actively preventing the outbreak of a full-fledged war in Eastern Europe between Russia and NATO.

The discussion took stock of the role and perceptions of the West with a particular emphasis on the ongoing process of economic decoupling from Russia. As Europe continues to be largely dependent on Russian oil and gas, the looming threat of massive loss in jobs and inflation in case of an abrupt stoppage of these energy supplies has created an economic situation that is quite complex and needs to be carefully navigated. The germination of a parallel effort by Europe to generate pressure on China in case it steps in to help Russia was also flagged in the discussion.

In their assessment and review of the conflict, the discussants proposed two possible scenarios that can emerge at the culmination of the current crisis. It was highlighted that unless the bilateral negotiations between Russia and Ukraine succeed, this conflict is likely to go on. Any chances of success in the negotiations are primarily dependent on the US in addition to Poland, Baltic States and the other East European countries.

In their elaborate review of the economic impact of the crisis, the discussants appraised the impact of the sanctions on the business community, the energy markets and the regional and global economy. Within the cyber-security aspect, it was noted that while cyberwarfare between Russia and Ukraine has persisted since 2014, the only incident of note since the invasion has been an attack on the satellite ground station of Ukraine and Germany where more than 30000 connections were impacted; the biggest impact being on the Ukrainian army intelligence. In terms of information warfare, Ukraine has decisively come out on the top as they have successfully carried forward their narrative via social media. They have been fully assisted by the West in this aspect.

At the tail end of the discussion, it was surmised that the US is working towards a strategic defeat of Russia and is gradually going for the jugular. This brings to the fore a vital question, if Russia is defeated, what’s next? There is simply no guarantee that a regime change in Russia will play up to the expectations and ambitions of the West.

In this bubbling geo-political and geo-economic hotpot, it has become increasingly pertinent that India undertakes a clear cut and comprehensive assessment of the overall situation.

Event Date 
March 25, 2022

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