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SPECIAL ISSUE

RUSSIA-UKRAINE: WHERE TO NOW?

 

Ukraine vs Russia becomes NATO vs Russia 

In early-April, there was a dramatic shift in the US/NATO approach to the Russia-Ukraine war. US and European statements defined new, maximalist goals for its endgame. 

President Biden’s remark in end-March that “Putin cannot remain in power” had been quickly ‘clarified’ by his aides as an off-the-cuff remark, but a few weeks later, Secretary of State Blinken made the considered assertion that “a sovereign,

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SPECIAL ISSUE

RUSSIA GOES TO WAR

Russia leaps over the cliff

After four months of Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s borders, President Putin announced his decision to launch a “special military operation” into Ukraine, early in the morning on 24 February. This was preceded by an equally dramatic announcement on 21 February of Russia’s recognition of the two self-declared Donbas “republics” of Donetsk and Lugansk, followed by the signing of a treaty of friendship and cooperation with each of the

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SPECIAL ISSUE

WAR CLOUDS OVER UKRAINE ?

Sabre-rattling and verbal volleys

The decibel-level of the Russia-West standoff over Ukraine has been rising inexorably over recent weeks. Reports of the Russian military build-up near Ukraine’s borders quote ever-higher troop figures and more aggressive postures. Russia has been accused of political subversion in Ukraine, false flag operations as a pretext for invasion and cyberattacks on Ukrainian official websites. Russians have been equally vocal in al

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Russia Review | November 2021

Overview

• India-Russia relations seek a revival
• Re-engaging on Afghanistan
• US & Russia spar and talk​​​​​​

India-Russia relations seek a revival

2020 and 2021 have seen a litany of commentaries on the health and relevance of the India-Russia relationship, prompted by the postponement of the annual summit in 2020, the India-China standoff in Ladakh, President Putin’s comments on a Russia-China quasi-alliance, Foreign Minister Lavrov’s intemperate comments about India’s Indo Pacific engagemen

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Russia Review | October 2021

Overview

• Russia shrugs off Nobel Peace Prize message
• US & Russia tone down rhetoric and rev up engagement
• Finding a modus vivendi on Ukraine

Russia shrugs off Nobel Peace Prize message

The award of the Nobel Peace Prize 2021 was awaited with expectant anticipation in various constituencies in the post-Soviet space. The responses to the announcement ranged from quiet relief in official circles to indifference and disappointment elsewhere.

The Russian recipient, Dmitry Muratov, who shared th

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Russia Review | September 2021

Overview

• Russia flexes oil and gas muscle
• Retaining the initiative on Afghanistan
• Parliamentary elections show public apathy​​​​​​​​​​​

Russia flexes oil and gas muscle

About a couple of months ago, the Russian media bristled at President Biden’s comment that President Putin was in “real trouble”, because of an economy “that has nuclear weapons and oil wealth and nothing else”. As the summer wore on, Russia fortuitously found itself in a position where it could leverage its oil (and gas) w

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Russia Review | August 2021

Overview

• Afghanistan: Russian schadenfreude may be short-lived
• Can/Will the US engineer a Russia-China split? 
• Russia and India re-engage on Afghanistan  

Afghanistan: Russian schadenfreude may be short-lived

As the Taliban rolled into Kabul with unexpected ease, the first reactions in Russian media, academia and officialdom were of glee at the Americans’ discomfiture. The social media gloated that the fate of the government in Afghanistan also awaited that in Ukraine, since the US was in

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Russia Review | July 2021

Overview

• Russia’s National Security Strategy looks inward 
• India & Russia rediscover convergences 
• As India disavows non-alignment, Russia embraces it
• Putin bats for Sputnik

Russia’s National Security Strategy looks inward

On July 2, the Russian president signed off on the country’s new National Security Strategy (NSS), succeeding NSS 2015. NSS 2021 has apparently been under discussion in the Russian Security Council (which President Putin chairs) since mid-2020. Presumably, Covid 19 an

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Russia Review | June 2021

Overview

• Biden and Putin explore “rules of the road”
• Proof of the pudding: Afghanistan, Iran, Syria
• Russia and China transcend alliance
• Putin skates around the Quad​​​​​​

Biden and Putin explore “rules of the road”

The June 16 Biden-Putin meeting in Geneva – awaited with anticipation in Russia, unease in Europe and scepticism in the US – generated just a sliver of hope for some abatement in the acrimony that has dominated US-Russia relations over the past decade.  

Faced with criticism a

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Russia Review | May 2021

Overview

• US & Russia move gingerly towards a summit 
• The US yields on NordStream2 
• Ukraine feels let down by the US & NATO
• Lukashenka challenges Europe by "hijacking" an aircraft​​​​​​

US & Russia move gingerly towards a summit

With the US Intelligence Community confirming Russia’s interference in the Presidential elections of 2020 and its involvement in the “Solar Winds” cyber hacking, and the inevitable US sanctions that followed, US-Russia relations looked like continuing on the turbu

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Russia Review | April 2021

Overview

• Russia & US talk and spar 
• Ukraine crisis erupts; a lid is put on it

• A band-aid for India-Russia relations 

Russia & US talk and spar

The US intelligence community had determined that Russia had interfered in the 2020 Presidential elections and that Russian intelligence was behind the Solar Winds cyber hacking. Tensions in eastern Ukraine were escalating. Just when it seemed the US-Russia hostility would move up a notch, President Biden telephoned his Russian counterpart on Apri

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Russia Review | March 2021

Overview

• The “killer” exchange
• “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned” – but in Moscow, Doha, Istanbul & New York

• Russia and China define democracy, human rights and the international order
• Global arms transfers: US rising, Russia falling​​​​​​

The “killer” exchange

By accident, coincidence or design (or a combination of them), US-Russia relations are administered a jolt whenever they show the slightest signs of a thaw. This time, the jolt came from a March 15 decision of the US Director of Natio

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Russia Review | February 2021

Overview

• Which is the bigger threat: Russia or China?
• Navalny: in Europe we trust 
• Nordstream 2: in or out?
• Eastern Ukraine: on a snakes-and-ladders board
• Sputnik V finally takes off (almost)​​​​​​

Which is the bigger threat: Russia or China?

Pronouncements on the foreign policy and national security priorities of the Biden Administration provided some clues on unfolding US policies towards Russia and China, in Europe, on Ukraine and with respect to Syria and Afghanistan.

The Biden Adm

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Russia Review | January 2021

Overview

• Russia-and the Biden Administration
• The legacy of Obama & Trump 
• Initial signals and contacts
• US Coordination with allies on Russia
• Biden Administration and China: first steps
• Lavrov clarifies his remarks on the Indo-Pacific​​​​​​

Russia-and the Biden Administration

Over the past few months, this Review has recorded Russia’s expectations and apprehensions about the course of Russia-US relations under the Biden Administration. The return to office of officials who had occupi

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Russia Review | December 2020

Overview

• Reflections on post 2020 India-Russia relations
• FM Lavrov’s Indo-Pacific comments 
• The impact of Russia-China relations
• The Indo-Pacific dimension
• The US-China-Russia triangle
• India’s “strategic choice”
• Obsolete templates need discarding 
• The summit 
• The Outlook​​​​​​

 

Reflections on post 2020 India-Russia relations

The narrative of dilution and drift in India-Russia relations has been prevalent in Indian political, official, business and media circles over a few year

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Russia Review | November 2020

Overview

• Russia’s subdued expectations of a Biden Administration  
​​​​​• A fragile Russia-brokered peace in Nagorno-Karabakh
• Another layer of complexity in Russia-Turkey relations
• Russian Navy eyes the Indian Ocean​​​​

Russia awaits Biden without illusions

Vladimir Putin is one among very few world leaders not to have congratulated US President-elect Joe Biden. Asked about this, Foreign Minister Lavrov gave the legalistic response that congratulatory messages are usually sent after offici

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Russia Review | October 2020

Overview

• The world according to Putin 
​​​​​• The world order and its institutions
• The malaise in international organizations
• Constructive multilateralism
​​​​​​• Arms control
• Relations with Germany
• Russia-China relations
• US elections
• India-Russia relations

The world according to Putin 

It is universally believed that President Putin has unchallenged control over Russia’s foreign, defence and security policies. He makes frequent public pronouncements on these issues, announcing,

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Russia Review | September 2020

Overview

• India-China dialogue & India-Pakistan turbulence in Moscow
• Nagorno-Karabakh: another foreign policy tight rope
• The slow-burning Navalny fuse
• China pips Russia as biggest threat to the US    

SCO & BRICS: platitudes & discord

In a flurry of diplomatic activity, Russia hosted the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) meetings of Defence Ministers (September 3–4), Foreign Ministers (September 9–10) and NSAs (September 15), with the satisfaction of holding two of them in a re

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Russia Review | August 2020

Overview

• Belarus: near-abroad drifting away?
• Khabarovsk: a Siberian challenge
• Navalny: shades of Skripal  
• Sputnik V: “vaccine nationalism

Belarus challenge for Russia and the West

The ongoing events in and around Belarus raise the prospect of yet another part of Russia’s “near-abroad” drifting away from it.

The runup to the Presidential elections was marked by a controversy over the arrest by Belarus authorities of 33 private military contractors of Russia’s Wagner group, accusing th

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Russia Review | July 2020

Overview

• Russians approve a raft of constitutional amendments 
• Reported wrinkles in Russia-China relations
• The snakes and ladders of the Minsk accords
• Snippets: Trump calls Putin, Ukraine & Poland to sabotage NordStream2  

 

Successful referendum on constitutional amendments
 
Between 25 June and 1 July, Russia held a referendum, involving e-voting, postal ballot and physical voting (on July 1), in which they approved the constitutional amendments that flowed from President Putin’s “Stat

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About the Author

Ambassador PS Raghavan

Former Indian Ambassador to Russia

Born in 1955, Ambassador Raghavan holds a B.Sc. (Honours) degree in Physics and a B.E. in Electronics & Communications Engineering. He joined the Indian Foreign Service in 1979. From 1979 to 2000, he had diplomatic assignments in USSR, Poland, United Kingdom, Vietnam and South Africa, interspersed with assignments in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi. From 2000 to 2004, he was Joint Secretary in the Indian Prime Minister's Office dealing with Foreign Affairs, Nuclear Energy, Space, Defence and National Security. Thereafter, he was Ambassador of India to Czech Republic (2004 - 2007) and to Ireland (2007 - 2011).

He was Chief Coordinator of the BRICS Summit in New Delhi (March 2012) and Special Envoy of the Government of India to Sudan and South Sudan (2012-13). Ambassador Raghavan conceptualized and piloted the creation of the Development Partnership Administration (DPA) in MEA, which implements and monitors India’s economic partnership programs in developing countries, with an annual budget of $1-1.5 billion. He headed DPA in 2012-13. From March 2013 to January 2014, he oversaw the functioning of the Administration, Security, Information Technology and other related Divisions of MEA. Since October 2013, he was also Secretary [Economic Relations] in MEA, steering India’s bilateral and multilateral external economic engagement. Ambassador Raghavan retired from the Indian Foreign Service in January 2016, after serving from 2014 as Ambassador of India to Russia. Since September 2016, he is Convenor of the National Security Advisory Board of the Government of India.

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