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

Medieval Cities of Europe You can Visit This Summer

Despite being devastated by successive wars, Europe has led the world to modern development. However, there are many cities in Europe, which were never affected by war, and have never lost their medieval charm.

Summer is the best time to visit any place in Europe, and it is also the best time to see these wonderful fairytale cities in their true splendour. Let us look at the cities that even today are the best examples of how the Medieval World was like in Europe.

Rothenburg :

Rothenburg in Germany is like a fairy tale medieval town even today. This south German town has escaped destruction during both the World Wars, and is now a fairy tale land for the tourists.

Brudges :

Brudges of Belgium and its waterway canals are a major tourist attraction all over the world. The city has modernised, with a modern transport system, yet maintains the slow-paced medieval charm in its waterways that crisscrosses throughout the city. Not to forget, the medieval architecture of its buildings is a true wonder.

Lviv :

This eastern European town in Ukraine, which escaped demolition throughout history is under constant threat of bombardment in the ongoing Ukraine-Russian war. Keeping that aside, Lviv has maintained its medieval charm and culture which exists in eastern Europe even to this day.

Lucerne :

This medieval city of Switzerland lies on the edge of Lake Lucerne at the backdrop of the Alps mountain. Its wooden bridge over Lake Lucerne is one of the oldest in the world. The city’s orientation makes it suitable to reach most destinations by a boat, which will take less time than road transport.

Rhodes :

This Greek town lies in a small island off the coast of Turkey in the Mediterranean Sea. Rhodes contains medieval castles, walkway roads, beaches and coves, which will make you feel that walking though Rhodes is better than riding a car.

Dubrovnik :

This is another sea-side city, which is also a major port in the Adriatic coast. This south Croatian city is known for its distinctive Old Town, surrounded by massive stone walls, completed in the 16th century.

Bologna :

Bologna is one of those medieval north Italian cities, where the Renaissance started. Bologna is also home to the oldest continuously operated University in the Western World. Today, the historic city centre is a major tourist attraction, and influences cuisine and culture of the world.

Carcassonne :

This is a hilltop town, famous for its medieval citadel, La Cite, surrounded by numerous watchtowers and double-walled fortifications. Going here, you will get a perfect example of how the city dwellers built and defended their cities in the middle ages.

Torun :

Torun is one of the rare cities of Poland which has till date maintained its Old World Charm. This city, by the Vistula river, is known for gingerbread making, which dates back more than a millennium.

Riga :

Set on the Baltic Sea, the Latvian capital of Riga is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its museums, medieval city centre, and the gulf all together contributes to the amazing beauty this city has.

Prague :

The capital of Czechia, Prague is one of the most magnificent medieval cities in the world. Since medieval times Prague has been known for its sprawling market square, its rich culture and roadside music, its modern trams, its medieval castles, and medieval bridges across the Vltava river. Its iconic half-timbered houses, decorated doors and windows, cobbled-stone roads and spires of cathedrals make it one of the prettiest cities in the world.

Edinburgh :

Edinburgh, one of the oldest cities in the UK, is today the capital of Scotland. Its Medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town are both part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Edinburgh Castle and a walk through the city centre will take you to a city, having both old charms and modern vives.

Tallinn :

The capital of Estonia, Tallinn is also one of most picturesque cities in the world. Tallinn’s Old Town, the Baltic Sea and the white-orange colour contrast of buildings, will take you to a fairyland. Tallinn’s access to the Baltic Sea means you can hop on a ferry and visit Helsinki, Riga, St Petersburg, or Stockholm at a short notice.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Picture source – Internet

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