How India have become a Major Buyer of Russian Oil

Before the outbreak of the Ukraine-Russia war, hardly any crude oil from Russia used to reach the country. However, in the last few days, India has emerged to be the one of the prime importers of Russian oil, despite what her diplomats in the West say. India produces only 15% of its oil requirement from the states of Assam, Gujarat and Mumbai offshore and has to import the rest 85%.

Mineral oil is a necessity for Indians as most of us use fuel for transportation and cooking on a daily basis. India is the world’s largest importer of fuel oil, a tag which India needs to get rid of in the long run. Though India has upped its renewable energy production, fuel oil is still a necessity for most of the common people. India is mostly dependent on Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE and Iran for its mineral oil requirement.

Mineral oil from Gulf countries have become expensive after Europe started depending on them in the past few months. Heavy economic sanctions put forward by European and American countries towards Russia have made many countries look for alternatives. Europe’s mineral oil requirement was supplied mostly by Russia and Ukraine. The economic sanctions meant that Europe and America now would have to look at the Gulf countries for oil shipment.

As Europe’s dependence on Arab countries’ oil fields increased, the price of oil also increased. However, Russian oil companies offered discount rates of oil, forcing India to divert a part of her revenue towards Russian oil. Despite logistic costs, the increase in crude oil’s prices day by day means that India has to import Russian oil, despite pressure from the West.

As it happened, Indian oil imports from Russia increased by more than 50 times from 0.2% before the start of the Ukraine-Russia war to over 10% now. Last month, Russia overtook Saudi Arabia to become India’s second-biggest supplier of oil behind Iraq as refiners snapped up Russian crude available at a deep discount following the war in Ukraine. Indian refiners bought about 25 million barrels of Russian oil in May.

Russian oil is also expected to take over much of the Indian oil market in the upcoming days as more and more Russian companies come into the picture. The logistics chain was a major hindrance, requiring oil to be shipped a large distance covering land routes through other countries, and Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. With the establishment of a well-suited logistics chain now, the import of Russian oil is expected to rise many-fold in the upcoming days.

Written – Himadri Paul

Global Food Crisis 2022

For the past 2-3 months, the world is seeing a global food crisis like never before. Sri Lanka is by far the worst country to be affected by the global food crisis. Afghanistan and Myanmar are also driven by their extremist leaders towards self-isolation, leading the majority of the population towards below poverty-line. Ukraine is devastated by war with Russia, and hence both countries are seeing lowering of crop production, rise in hunger, and sharp decline in economy.

But many developed countries in the world are seeing food shortages like never before. Sanctions by the European and American countries against Russia, has hit them hard, as they are currently without primary Russian exports of wheat, cotton, edible oil, and mineral oil. Previously, all of the European countries were partially or entirely dependent on Russian supplies to feed the population. Now, with the sanctions, countries like the UK, France, Germany, US and even neutral Switzerland are facing some food crisis.

Not only food, but also production of fertilizers, pesticides, processing machines, and logistics, have dwindled since the Covid-19 pandemic, and has not fully recovered yet in most countries. As the excess stock has been exhausted, we are seeing food shortages across the globe. India, being so huge in size, is not much affected by the global food crisis, as loss in one region is compensated by excess in another region. However, keeping in mind the future food shortages, which may hit the country, India has banned the export of wheat to most countries. Other countries have followed suit, notable among them is Indonesia, banning export of palm oil and China, banning export of fertilizers. India is also looking forward to severely restricting the export of sugar, so that domestic prices are kept within the limits of the common people.

Experts say that this global food crisis was expected at the turn of the decade, when the Covid-19 pandemic started. However, the shortage is not equal throughout the world, and some countries are facing worse economic conditions than others. Some countries are getting help from neighbours and other countries like Ukraine and Sri Lanka, while others like Myanmar and Afghanistan have opted to ruin their own people. Only if the whole of humanity works together and fights the crisis we are facing today, we will get out of this global food crisis without much damage to our economy and our brothers and sisters.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Siege of Mariupol – 2 months of Ukraine-Russia War

St. Petersburg faced the worst crisis during the 2nd World War, and goes down in history books as the longest siege ever taken on a city. The city was then known as Leningrad, and was the second largest city in the Soviet Union. During the 2nd World War, the city remained cut off by German and the Finnish army for 4 ever-lasting years. However, at the end, the Soviet army achieved a breakthrough and drove the Germans and the Nazi regime to the point of extinction.

In the ongoing Ukraine-Russia, Russia had air superiority, a bigger army and modern weaponry. However, Ukraine managed to hold back Russian aggression in most areas and even drove the Russian army back in various sectors. However, the Donbas region, the main centre of conflict, had strong backing of the separatists, and the nationals are finding it difficult to hold ground and stop attacks from both the Russian army and the Russian-backed separatists.

The cities of Donetsk and Luhansk already have some degree of autonomy as the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic. Russia also had control over Sevastopol and the Crimean peninsula. Only the city of Mariupol, in the Donetsk region, posed the final hurdle between Russian-controlled Crimea and Russian-backed regions of Ukraine.

Since the war began, Mariupol witnessed heavy fighting among 3 parties, the advancing Russian army from both Crimea and Donetsk sides, and the Ukrainian army, which includes the Azov Battalion, and the Russian-backed separatists in the region. Russia had surrounded Mariupol from 3 sides, and for more than a month, the only connection between Government-controlled Ukraine and Mariupol was the Sea of Azov. Even the Sea of Azov was mostly Russian controlled, leaving Mariupol to starve and surrender. The condition became so worse that the entire city was razed to the ground by Russian missiles and most residents were left without adequate food and water to live.

Slowly but steadily, Russia advanced to control Mariupol as capturing it would ensure a land bridge between Crimea and the Donbas region. The city hold up for 2 long months, but lost more than 20,000 civilians. Half the city fled to other Ukrainian cities through humanitarian corridors, and the other half was forcefully dislocated to Russia. As of now, Russia controls almost the entire city except the Azovstal Steel Plant, a massive industry covering 11 square kilometers. Russia does not want to take the Steel Plant by force, but let the civilians and the army living inside to die of hunger or forcefully surrender. However, as per latest updates, Russia have agreed for civilian evacuation from Azovstal where more than 2000 soldiers and an estimated equal number of civilians are trapped. With taking of Mariupol Russia had an upper hand in the war, though it withdrew from Kyiv and its surrounding areas, after encountering fierce resistance.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Impact of Indian Defence Industry on Russia-Ukraine War

The Russia-Ukraine war erupted on the evening of 24th February, 2022 and is currently on-going in Ukraine. Its impact has been felt widely around the globe and India too is not an exception. Russia has been the main contributor of advanced defence weapons and training programmes of the Indian defence since independence. Hence, it is necessary for India to have backup plans in case the Russia-Ukraine war escalates into a global World War III.

Why India needs to import weapons?

The Indian defence consists of 3 main wings – Army, Navy and Air Force. Despite having the largest number of soldiers and armed men in uniform in the world, India still lags behind in its weapon industry. While India manufactures most of its defence weapons, for advanced technical weapons, she has to import from Russia, Israel, France or even the US. The weapons have modernised in the modern world, involving technologies like artificial intelligence and integrated circuits, to enhance precision, damage, and self-defense. India has lagged a bit in this industry, despite having hostile neighbours, who are ready to plunge an attack into Indian territories. Russia and Israel formed crucial partners of India to maintain the Indian defence as par with most other developed countries.

How Ukraine-Russia war can affect our defence industry?

We have both short term and long term consequences here. In the short term, most of the deliveries of weapons from Russia are likely to be delayed. The delivery of the long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) system S-400 Triumf ‘SA-21Growler’ could get delayed if the war continues. The delivery started in December last year and is expected to be completed by 2025, but the war is likely to postpone it, and in the worst case, may cancel it. The production of AK-203 riles is likely to get slower, and acquiring them from Russia right now is even tougher. Two Grigorovich-class ‘Project 1135.6’ frigates for the navy are in the middle of construction at a shipyard in Russia. Its delivery will most likely be hampered by the war. Even the products which are ready faces hurdles in the payment system, as Russia has been banned from SWIFT, the main International Banking System.

Is there any impact due to the long term consequences?

The long term consequences will be far worse for India for which India needs to change its strategy from being entirely dependent on Russia on its military strength. In the long term, as US and other European countries are also defence partners of India, India cannot sign a pact or deal with Russia in terms of defence. Any kind of bonding with Russian defence will raise suspicion among the western countries, which may isolate India similar to what Russia has been facing currently. No military drill, technology transfer, or joint exercise can be conducted between the countries during the aftermath of war. Russia, being an ally of China for years, will likely remain neutral in case of an attack from China in Arunachal Pradesh or Ladakh. However, the current infrastructure does not permit India to sever all defence ties with Russia, as India faces threats from the west, the north and even the military jungta regime in the east.

So, what is the solution?

The short term solution is to abstain from voting in the UN and side with neither NATO nor Russia. The long term solution is ‘Atmanirbhar’ in defence. ‘Atmanirbhar’ means self-dependent, which likely will reduce dependency of Indian defence to foreign countries. However, it is easier said than done. India need to produce up-skilling in various technology fields, need good leadership in defence drills and trainings, and also produce all or most of the raw materials. As the Prime Minister of India said, we are moving towards being ‘Atmanirbhar’ in the near future, India’s prime focus of being self-dependent should now be on the defence industry.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Economic Impact of Russia-Ukraine War

Russia and Ukraine, the two biggest countries of Europe, have gone into war against each other. Most European countries, and some American countries including US and Canada, have imposed heavy economic sanctions on Russia, while helping Ukraine to stand up in the war. The economic impact of the Russia-Ukraine war is expected to reach almost every country in the globe and at a large scale as much as the World Wars.

Russia and Ukraine control most of the Black Sea oil and natural gas reserves around the world. The Black Sea region contains one of the biggest oil reserves around the world. These oil reserves were the cause of Hitler invaded Soviet Union during the Second World War. Additionally, most agricultural products like wheat and edible sunflower oil are grown by these two countries. Economic sanctions against invading Russia means that cheap wheat and oil is no longer available to European and other NATO countries. They now have to import wheat and oil from other countries far across the globe, resulting in increasing logistics and importing costs. However, most countries, which have imposed economic sanctions against Russia, are ready to face consequences of a slowing economy.

India has sided with neither Ukraine, nor Russia in the war, nor has it imposed any economic sanctions against any of the two countries. But some products like sunflower oil, wheat, and fuel are likely to see inflation in upcoming days. Ukraine in times of food and oil shortages, simply can not afford to export anything. Its resources have been seriously depleted due to the war and is in urgent need of humanitarian aid from other countries. But in the long term, no country will be as severely hampered as Russia. Cutting off Russian banks from the main international payment Gateway, SWIFT, is expected to severely hamper the Russian economy. It may have an impact in India also, as financial transactions between Indian and Russian banks have abruptly come to a halt. Already, the Russian ruble has fallen to a historic low of 30% below its value before the war.

Russia has already been excluded from participating in FIFA, UEFA, Olympics, hockey, skating and other sports. Belarus, having aided Russian troops in invading Kyiv, also faces such exclusions in various sports fields. Google, Facebook, and other big IT companies have already blocked access to Russian users. In coming days, Russia may face bans in the fields of film, cultural activities, television broadcasts, use of global apps and IT services, and international co-operational, political, and economic integration summits.

Written by – Himadri Paul