Red Lantern Analytica on 29th March hosted a webinar titled ‘Russia Ukraine Crisis”. The webinar had Major Amit Bansal (Fellow-IDSA & Associate Fellow-Chatlam House), Dr. Swasti Rao (Associate Fellow, Monohar Parrikar IDSA) and Dr. Raj Kumar Sharma (Maharishi Kanad Post-Doctoral Fellow, Delhi School of Transnational Affairs, University of Delhi) as speakers.
Dr. Swasti Rao was the first speaker, and she said that the Russian attack on Ukraine have met with stronger resistance than Moscow anticipated. She shed light on the role of information & disinformation in building a narrative. Initially, the West ramped up its game of building a “Narrative” for a brazen military adventurism of Russia in Ukraine. This was followed by Russian information efforts to catch up.
She said that one can observe the presence of a minority of “Neo-Nazi” foreign fighters joining the Ukrainian Army and fighting alongside it. She said that for the last 8 years, the CIA has been secretly funding Ukraine with the aim of promoting a long-term insurgency against Russia. According to her, the ground situation in Ukraine will remain chaotic since there is a presence of military groups alongside the Ukrainian army; which lacks accountability. As per Dr. Swasti, not just the USA, but even European countries like the UK and Germany have been instigating a war against Russia for past many years.
Speaking on China’s tacit support to Russia, she said that China has been known for waiting for events of international chaos and disturbance to arm twist any country they can seek additional benefits from. For e.g. in 2014, during Russia’s annexation of Crimea; China forced Russia to give additional discounts on crude Oil prices.
Major Amit Bansal, the second expert speaker for the session, began by highlighting the importance of Ukraine in Eastern Europe. He stated that Ukraine has a special significance in Europe because it is the continent’s food bowl.Russian control over it will mean having a tighter grip over Europe, while US control will mean America virtually knocking at the doors of the Kremlin.
According to Major Bansal, Russia’s aim is to capture Kiev and have a “Friendly” government installed there, which can recognise Russian claim on Crimea, along with an assurance that Ukraine will not join the NATO. By doing so, Russia seeks a long-term balance in its favour in Eastern Europe. Speaking about the war’s international ramifications, he stated that the European Union appears to be the biggest loser due to its reliance on Russian gas.In the event of sanctions being imposed on Russia, the countries of the European Union will have to buy expensive gas from Middle-eastern countries like Qatar, which could greatly impact their economies.
In reply to a question asked about India being a member of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), Major Bansal said that the group is not a military group. According to him, the border dispute between India and China is a dispute between two countries, and India should not let any other country, e.g., the USA or any other QUAD member influence this.
Dr. Raj Kumar Sharma was the final speaker of the session. He told that South Asia’s ‘Historical Memory’ is on similar lines with that of Eastern Europe. Like South Asia. was a part of British Empire, the Eastern European countries together formed the Soviet Union. He reiterated that Russia has always been India’s friend. Such a friendship becomes important when we compare it with the USA, which is known for leaving its friend and allies high and dry during critical moments. He also added that in the times of smartphones, “cognitive warfare” plays an important role. We as common folks right now are surrounded with US influenced media. This one-sided coverage leaves to take into account the Russian side of the story which goes unheard. He added that people must try to see both parts of the story.
He also shared a theory doing rounds in Russian media that the US instigated and counted on Russian counteraction, to strengthen the NATO on a pretext of saving Ukraine while also to group the European Union against Russia.
Following the final speaker’s talk, the webinar had a brief Q&A session. Ms. Arshey Bhardwaj, Research Associate, Red Lantern Analytica moderated the webinar while Ms. Ifrah, Research Associate, Red Lantern Analytica delivered the welcome address for the panel speakers. Ms. Anisha Kaul, Research Scholar, Jamia Millia Islamia, delivered the vote of thanks following the final question.