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World is much more than Europe, says Lavrov

The Russian Foreign Minister was speaking at the Primakov Readings International Forum in Moscow on Monday….reports Asian Lite News

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cited the statement of India’s External Affairs Minister S Jaishanakar while elaborating on the change in global structure and multipolarity due to the rise of players like Global South and Global East.

He quoted Jaishankar’s remarks that the “world is much more than Europe” and the “world is much more than the West”.

The Russian Foreign Minister was speaking at the Primakov Readings International Forum in Moscow on Monday.

“The key difference of the current edition of multipolarity is the chance to acquire genuinely global proportions, relying on the fundamental principle of the UN Charter: the sovereign equality of states. Previously, decisions of global importance were driven by a small group of countries with the predominant voice coming from the Western community, for obvious reasons,” the Russian Foreign Ministry quoted Lavrov as saying at the event.

It is pertinent to note that EAM Jaishankar while defending India’s position to buy Russian oil amid the conflict in Ukraine had made a similar statement.

“Europe has to grow out of the mindset that Europe’s problems are the world’s problems but the world’s problems are not Europe’s problems,” Jaishankar had stated.

Speaking further, Lavrov said that today new players representing the Global South and Global East have stepped onto the international political stage and their numbers are growing.

“We rightfully call them the Global Majority. They are strengthening their sovereignty in addressing pressing issues, demonstrating independence, and prioritising their national interests rather than someone else’s whims,” Lavrov said.

He added, “To back this up, I will cite my Indian colleague, Minister for External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar who said that the world is much more than just Europe. Clearly, this statement means that the world is much more than the West. Russia consistently advocates the democratisation of relations between countries and a fairer distribution of global benefits”. (ANI)

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Meta Spokesperson Wanted in Russia

Meta listed as a “terrorist and extremist” organization could lead to criminal investigations and fines for users….reports Asian Lite News

A spokesperson for US tech conglomerate Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has been added to Russia’s wanted list, according to an online database maintained by the country’s interior ministry, Voice of America has reported.

The spokesperson, Andy Stone was reported on the list by Russian state agency Tass and independent news outlet Mediazona on Saturday.

In October, Russian authorities classified Meta as a “terrorist and extremist” organization, opening the way for possible criminal proceedings against Russian residents using its platforms.

Meta listed as a “terrorist and extremist” organization could lead to criminal investigations and fines for users.

The interior ministry’s database does not give details of the case against Stone, stating only that he is wanted on criminal charges.

Mediazona, the independent news website that covers Russia’s opposition and prison system, claims that Stone has been on the wanted list since February 2022, but authorities made no related statements at the time and no news media reported on the matter until this week, reported Voice of America.

Facebook meta.(

In March this year, Russia’s federal Investigative Committee opened a criminal probe into Meta. It was alleged that the company’s actions following Moscow’s all-out invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 amounted to inciting violence against Russians.

Stone announced temporary changes to Meta’s hate speech policy following Russia’s troop invasion into Ukraine. The changes allowed for “forms of political expression that would normally violate (its) rules, like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.'”

In the same statement, Stone added that “credible calls for violence against Russian civilians” will remain banned.

Mediazona claimed Sunday that an unspecified Russian court earlier this month issued an arrest warrant for Stone on charges of “facilitating terrorism.”

Western social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, were popular amongst young Russians before Moscow’s full-scale war on Ukraine. The popular apps have since been blocked in the country as part of a broad crackdown on independent media and other forms of critical speech.

These apps can still be accessed using a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which can be easily downloaded on phones and laptops.

In April 2022, Russia also formally barred Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg from entering the country, Voice of America reported. (ANI)

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5 Nations Seek ICC Probe Into ‘Potential Crimes’ in Gaza

South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, and Djibouti jointly submitted a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC)…reports Asian Lite News

In a significant move, South Africa, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, and Djibouti jointly submitted a referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC), urging an investigation into potential crimes in Palestinian territories, CNN reported citing ICC prosecutor Karim Khan.

“In accordance with the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, a State Party may refer to the Prosecutor a situation in which one or more crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court appear to have been committed requesting the Prosecutor to investigate the situation for the purpose of determining whether one or more specific persons should be charged with the commission of such crimes,” Khan said in a statement.

The ICC prosecutor noted that his office is already conducting an investigation into the situation in Palestinian territories, initiated on March 3, 2021, focusing on potential crimes since June 2014 in Gaza and the West Bank. The investigation encompasses the recent escalation of hostilities and violence since the attacks on October 7, 2023, according to CNN.

“It is ongoing and extends to the escalation of hostilities and violence since the attacks that took place on 7 October 2023,” Khan said, adding, “In accordance with the Rome Statute, my Office has jurisdiction over crimes committed on the territory of a State Party and with respect to the nationals of States Parties.”

Meanwhile, tensions continue to rise on the ground, with Israeli troops prepared to advance wherever Hamas is found, including the southern part of the Gaza Strip, as declared by Israel Defence Forces spokesperson Rear Adm Daniel Hagari.

“This will happen where and when would be convenient for the IDF and when conditions are optimal,” Hagari said.

The death toll among IDF soldiers has reached at least 372 since October 7, with indications of a possible ground offensive into the southern part of the strip.

Israeli leaders have already asserted control over the northern part of Gaza, including Gaza City. A leaflet dropped on communities near Khan Younis in the southern part of Gaza advises residents to “head towards known shelters,” fuelling speculations of an imminent ground offensive.

Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has declared that the ground operations “will last for many months and will include both the north and the south” of the Gaza Strip, emphasising the determination to dismantle Hamas wherever it is found, CNN reported. (ANI)

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NZ Gives Further Humanitarian Support Amid Gaza War

This brings New Zealand’s total contribution to the humanitarian response to the Gaza conflict so far to NZ$10 million…reports Asian Lite News

The New Zealand government is contributing an additional NZ$5 million ($3 million) to support the response to urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said on Saturday.

This brings New Zealand’s total contribution to the humanitarian response to the Gaza conflict so far to NZ$10 million, reports Xinhua news agency.

“New Zealand is deeply saddened by the loss of civilian life and the grave humanitarian situation as a result of the conflict,” Hipkins said.

New Zealand strongly supports the UN Security Council resolution passed on Thursday calling for full, rapid, safe and unhindered access for humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, and to facilitate the provision of essential goods and services to civilians throughout the Gaza Strip, he said.

“Hostilities must stop to allow the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid and support to get to those in need. All parties must act to protect civilians and to allow access for humanitarian aid,” Hipkins added.

New Zealand’s latest humanitarian funding includes a further NZ$2.5 million contribution to the International Committee of the Red Cross’ response in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.

New Zealand will also increase its support to the World Food Programme, with a further NZ$2.5 million contribution to its response to help provide emergency food and cash assistance to over 764,000 affected people.

Foreign Minister Grant Robertson said both organisations will continue to expand their operations as conditions allow.

They act with full independence and neutrality.

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World Bank warns Israel-Gaza conflict may surge commodity prices

In Gaza, the impact of the conflict on employment has been catastrophic, with a staggering loss of 61% of jobs since hostilities began…reports Asian Lite News

The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, with its roots extending back over seven decades, continues to cast a long shadow across the Middle East. Recently, hostilities have intensified, with both sides experiencing significant casualties. On October 7 , Hamas initiated a series of assaults on Israeli towns, prompting a robust military response from Israel. With many casualties on both sides, the devastation is obvious. But, the impacts of the conflict have rippled throughout the world, with protests in many western nations and significant economic implications.

World Bank warns that oil prices may reach unprecedented levels

The World Bank has raised alarms that the escalation of the Israel-Gaza conflict could significantly disrupt crude supply, potentially driving oil prices to a peak of $157 a barrel. This dire prediction echoes the crisis of the 1973 Arab oil embargo, suggesting a potential shrinkage in global supply by six to eight million barrels per day. The repercussions of such a supply cut could send prices skyrocketing, affecting economies worldwide.

Under a less severe yet substantial “medium disruption” scenario, which mirrors the 2003 Iraq war’s impact, the supply reduction could range from three million to five million barrels per day, pushing prices to hover between $109 and $121 a barrel.

Despite these concerning scenarios, the World Bank’s baseline forecast is somewhat more optimistic. It projects oil prices to average $90 a barrel in the current quarter, with a decline to $81 next year, assuming a global economic downturn. Investment banks like Goldman Sachs and UBS anticipate a stable oil price around $90 to $100 per barrel over the next twelve months.

Of course, it’s not just oil, but most commodities. Gold, being a safe-haven, appears to be appealing in such conflicts. Gold trading , of course, seeks to capitalise on this, despite the inherent riskiness of CFD trading. But, when the safe-haven assets become the subject of traders’ attention, they can increase in volatility, making them less of a safe-haven.

In Gaza, the impact of the conflict on employment has been catastrophic, with a staggering loss of 61% of jobs since hostilities began. This equates to about 182,000 lost jobs, as reported by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The economic fallout from this crisis extends to the occupied West Bank, which has seen a 24% loss in employment, or roughly 208,000 jobs, due to the war’s spillover effects. Daily income losses for the two Palestinian territories are estimated at $16 million. The ILO’s assessment paints a grim future for the local economy, which will likely struggle with the repercussions of this crisis for many years. Gaza’s pre-war economic conditions, marked by severe deprivation and one of the world’s highest unemployment rates, only exacerbate the situation .

Conversely, in the Israeli town of Sderot, close to the Gaza Strip, businesses persevere despite the conflict. Factory owners, among many other sectors, face the burden of repairing war damages and safeguarding their workforce. While both economies will take a hit, the suffocation of Gaza has resulted in greater economic damage.

How Russia’s invasion impacted commodity prices

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 set off a chain reaction in global commodity markets, significantly influencing prices across the board. The war caused immediate disruptions in the supply of oil and gas, particularly affecting Europe, which had been heavily reliant on Russian energy. The situation exacerbated existing tensions in energy markets, pushing prices upwards as countries scrambled to find alternative sources.

It’s useful to draw comparisons here of how conflicts impact commodities, because these two large conflicts are in such close succession to one another. While Europe isn’t dependent on Israeli or Palestinian energy like it was with Russia, global prices are still impacted.

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UNSC Finally Votes For Gaza Humanitarian Pause

Human Rights Watch welcomed the resolution, characterising it as a rare and powerful message to Israel, Hamas, and other armed groups….reports Asian Lite News

In a significant move, the United Nations Security Council has approved a resolution calling for a series of humanitarian pauses in Gaza, CNN reported.

The resolution received support from twelve states during the session held on Wednesday, while the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom chose to abstain from the vote.

The adopted resolution emphasises the need for “urgent and extended humanitarian pauses and corridors throughout the Gaza Strip for a sufficient number of days to enable, consistent with international humanitarian law, the full, rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access for United Nations humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners,” as reported by CNN.

Human Rights Watch welcomed the resolution, characterising it as a rare and powerful message to Israel, Hamas, and other armed groups.

Louis Charbonneau, UN director at Human Rights Watch, stated, “The UN Security Council just sent a rare and powerful message to Israel, Hamas and other armed groups that compliance with international humanitarian law is non-negotiable. So far, there has been widespread disregard for civilians by all parties. That the US finally stopped paralyzing the council on Israel and Palestine so this resolution on the plight of children in Gaza could move forward should be a wake-up call to Israeli authorities that global concern, even among its allies, is strong.”

About a month ago, the United States had vetoed a similar draft resolution at the UNSC, proposed by Brazil, which called for a humanitarian pause in Gaza. The draft condemned Hamas’ attacks on Israel, urged the release of hostages, and called on all parties to comply with international law.

Following the recent vote, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield explained that the US sought more time for on-the-ground diplomacy to play out.

The Security Council, despite being the UN’s most powerful body, often faces challenges due to the veto power held by its five permanent members. The October draft received approval from twelve members, with the UK and Russia abstaining and the US using its veto, according to CNN.

Amid escalating tensions and humanitarian concerns, the UN’s humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, called for an end to the “carnage” in Gaza.

“As the carnage in Gaza reaches new levels of horror every day, the world continues to watch in shock as hospitals come under fire, premature babies die, and an entire population is deprived of the basic means of survival,” said Martin Griffiths, the UN’s under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator. “This cannot be allowed to continue.”

While Israel has claimed that underground bunkers beneath Al-Shifa hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, were used by Hamas as a command centre, hospital officials and Hamas have denied these allegations.

The situation remains complex, with ongoing scrutiny and international efforts to address the humanitarian crisis in the region, CNN reported.

Over 11,300 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza since October 7. In Israel, the official death toll from Hamas’s attacks stands roughly at 1,200. (ANI)

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Over 100 UN Staff Killed in Gaza Since War Began

United Nations offices across the world lowered their flags to half-staff on Monday….reports Asian Lite News

At least 102 United Nations staff members have been killed in Gaza since the conflict between Hamas and Israel started, CNN reported citing the UN aid agency operating in the enclave’s statement on Monday. It said that at least 27 UN staff members have been injured since the start of the war.

In the statement, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said, “In the last 24 hours, one UNRWA staff member was killed with her family in the north of the Gaza Strip due to strikes,” bringing the death toll to more than 100.

In the statement, UNRWA said, “This is the highest number of United Nations aid workers killed in a conflict in the history of the United Nations,” CNN reported.

United Nations offices across the world lowered their flags to half-staff on Monday. Furthermore, all UN staff members observed a moment of silence to mourn and honour their colleagues who lost their lives in Gaza, according to the statement.

On October 7, Hamas launched an attack on Israel. In response, Israel launched a fierce counter-offensive targeting Hamas sites in Gaza.

According to Israeli authorities, more than 1200 people have died in Israel since Hamas launched the attack on October 7. According to Palestinian authorities, at least 11,180 in Gaza as of November 13, according to CNN report.

Meanwhile, Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said that two more soldiers were killed fighting against Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip, raising the death toll in the Israeli ground operation to 46, The Times of Israel reported.

According to IDF, the troops have been identified as Staff Sgt Roee Marom (21), a squad commander in the 906 Battalion and Master Sgt Raz Abulafia (27), a fighter in the 6863 Battalion. The IDF said that a reservist logistics soldier and an NCO in the Combat Engineering Corp’s 605th Battalion were seriously injured during fighting in northern Gaza.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Hamas had lost control in the Gaza Strip as the Israel Defence Forces moved to fully capture Gaza City, The Times of Israel reported.

Gallant said that the Israeli forces are advancing towards every location and the terrorists are fleeing south, according to The Times of Israel report.

He said, “There is no force of Hamas capable of stopping the IDF. The IDF is advancing at every location. The Hamas organisation has lost control in Gaza. Terrorists are fleeing south, and civilians are looting Hamas bases. They have no confidence in the government.” (ANI)

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G7 Meet Vows to Counter China’s Illegitimate Tech Transfer

The group called on China to stop assisting Russia in its war against Ukraine….reports Asian Lite News

Foreign Ministers from the G7 countries–Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the European Union and the United States pledged to counter China’s ‘malign’ practices of illegitimate technology transfer and tackle economic coercion.

“We will seek to address the challenges posed by China’s non-market policies and practices, which distort the global economy. We will counter malign practices, such as illegitimate technology transfer or data disclosure. We will foster resilience to economic coercion. We also recognise the necessity of protecting certain advanced technologies that could be used to threaten our national security without unduly limiting trade and investment,” read the joint statement of G7 countries.

The group also called on China to stop assisting Russia in its war against Ukraine.

The statement read, “We call on China to act as a responsible member of the international community. In this regard, we welcome China’s participation in the Ukraine-led peace process. We further call on China not to assist Russia in its war against Ukraine, to press Russia to stop its military aggression, and to support a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.”

The G7 Foreign Ministers also underscored their call on China to abide by the international laws and principles of the UN Charter and expressed their concern over the forced attempts to change geographical areas.

The Joint statement said, “We underscore that China has a responsibility to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter in their entirety. We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas, strongly opposing any unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force or coercion.”

It said further, “We reemphasize the universal and unified character of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and reaffirm UNCLOS’s important role in setting out the legal framework that governs all activities in the oceans and the seas. We reiterate that the award rendered by the Arbitral Tribunal on July 12, 2016, is a significant milestone, which is legally binding upon the parties to those proceedings, and a useful basis for peacefully resolving disputes between the parties.”

The leaders also reaffirmed their stand on Taiwan’s peace and stability and expressed their concern over human rights violations in China.

They said, “We reaffirm the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as indispensable to security and prosperity in the international community and call for the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues. There is no change in the basic position of the G7 members on Taiwan, including the stated one China policies.”

The G7 ministers also reiterated their support for Taiwan’s meaningful participation in international organisations, including in the World Health Assembly and WHO technical meetings.

They also raised concerns over the human rights situation in China, including in Xinjiang and Tibet.

“We call on China to act in accordance with its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations and not to conduct interference activities, aimed at undermining the security and safety of our communities, the integrity of our democratic institutions, and our economic prosperity,” added the statement. (ANI)

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Europe Interview World

‘NATO Expansion Concerns Not Cause of Ukraine Invasion’

Oleksandr Svitych is an Associate Professor at the Jindal School of International Affairs. His research interests lie at the intersection of political economy, critical theory, and political philosophy. Oleksandr was born and raised in Ukraine. He pursued higher education in Ukraine, Hungary, and Singapore. Prior to moving to India, he worked in the development sector for a Danish NGO in the Ukraine’s Donbas region. While there, he also ran a taekwon-do club for the local kids of his hometown Sloviansk. While Oleksandr has developed a cosmopolitan outlook, he remains firmly rooted in his homeland. In a bit of serendipity, he happened to move to India just a few days before Russia invaded his country.Besides social sciences, Oleksandr finds meaning in martial arts, philosophy, and his family. They reside in Sonipat, Haryana. In this interview with ABHISH K. BOSE, he discusses the Russia – Ukraine war and the damages of it in the economy of the countries and other related developments.

Excerpts from the interview      

Abhish K. Bose: In the book “The Rise of the Capital-state and Neo-Nationalism: A New Polaniyan Moment” you argue that populist nationalism emerged as a reaction to the pro-market structural changes in the political economies of nation-states. You claim that there is a link between free market reforms, declining state legitimacy, and identity-based mobilization. You also saythat discontented voters are pulled toward populist nationaliststo cope with their insecurities generated by the state restructuring. How did these dynamics play out in the case of India? Is this how BJP rose to power in 2014 and 2019?

Svitich: In the book, I draw on the ideas of the Austro-Hungarian political economist Karl Polanyi from his famous book The Great Transformation. Polanyi made several important insights on the relationship between the state, market, and society, backing his claims with rich amount of anthropological and historical evidence. Firstly, there is no such thing as the complete “free market.” The market needs concrete institutional and legal arrangements for it to operate, which historically have been provided by the state. Secondly, the market economy is only one possibility for organizing human activity, albeit it has crowded out other alternatives. In contrast to classical economists, there is nothing natural or “rational”about the desire to barter or strive for profit. Humans can be productive through other motivations, such as social recognition, social standing, occupational pride, or a sense of solidarity. Thirdly, state attempts to promote the free market generate strains in society and lead to counter-movements to protect people’s livelihoods from the market forces. These observations are especially pertinent in the era of neoliberal globalization that we are living in today. In the book, I explore how these dynamics played out in different national contexts and generated populist nationalism – both on the Right and the Left of the political spectrum – as a form of Polanyian counter-movement.

Regarding the case of India, my cautious estimation is that a similar framework can be applied yet it must accommodate the specificities of the Indian society, politics, and culture. In fact, quite a number of researchers have applied Polanyi’s ideasto the Indian context. Some focused on the neoliberal restructuring of the Indian state since the 1990s as an example of Polanyian “great transformation.” Others analyzed a myriad of counter-movements – both at the grassroots and state levels – that these changes generated, ranging from fights to reclaim the land, to labour movements, to farmers’ protests, to environmental campaigns, and so on. Yet others charted the links between the structural changes in the Indian political economy and the rise of right-wing populism, most notably exemplified by the Bharatiya Janata Party.There’s a lot of excellent work on these themes done by scholars like Ajay Gudavarthy, Ashoka Mody, Christophe Jaffrelot, Partha Chatterjee, Rahul Verma, and Sarbeswar Sahoo, to name a few.

There’s a consensus among academics to classify BJP as a “populist” party despite different interpretations of the term “populism.”What is unique about this case is that it illustrates how populism can be combined with religious nationalism to offer an irresistible cocktail for voters. My intuition is that political economy indeed contributed to the electoral success and persistence of BJP. There’s certainly a correlation between liberalisation of the Indian economy and the appeal of BJP’s message to the public. The class politics are alive and well in the Indian society. At the same time, India’s distinct institutional legacies must be factored in – post-colonialism, the role of caste, and statism, for instance. In addition, India has come up withvarious responses to neoliberalization of its economy and society, sometimes quite creative ones.I would therefore refrain from drawing a direct connection between state transformation and neo-nationalism, especially that more data are needed. And yet the general tendencies, on the surface, are remarkably similar to what we observe elsewhere across the globe. In other words, there is roomboth for similarity and contextual specificity in the Indian case.

Q. The war in Ukraine has devastated the country, isolated Russia from the West, and fuelled economic insecurity around the world. The embargoes and sanctions have affected Russian oil trade. Could you assess the financial burden the war brought onto the people of Russia and how it affected their standards of living, including health, education and food? What is your projection for future?

I am not an economist by training, and thus cannot estimate with precision the impact of Russia’ criminal war against Ukraine onto Russian citizens.And all future projections are futile, of course. I am much more informed about the situation in Ukraine. However, based on the information that I receive both from the Russian sources (by virtue of knowing the language) and foreign ones, the Russian economy does not perform well. This should not come as a surprise as the war disrupted Russia’s economic, business and financial ties with the world, as you pointed out, and put pressure on people’s ability to make both ends meet. Still, I’d like to balance this narrative by several crucial observations.

Firstly, there’s enough evidence that Russia is managing to manoeuvre its way around the sanctions regime, albeit not entirely. This is done via either trade and military ties with China and Iran, for instance (and probably will be done via the expanded BRICS club), or intermediary companies to bypass sanctions, or smuggling activities as in Kazakhstan. Secondly, some Russians have certainly benefited from the war, materially speaking. And here I am less interested in the Russian oligarchs whose wealth mushroomed through military contracts with the state. I am talking about the Russian soldiers who choose to fight in Ukraine in the hope to reap lucrative bonuses from the state – and pay off their mortgages. This is a sort of a Russian roulette: you either die or get rich. Thirdly, we should not underestimate the effect of Russia’s obscene propaganda which targets the audiences both at home and abroad. Domestically, the narratives of “national greatness,” “fighting Nazis,” and “defending Russian values” obfuscate economic hardships. This combination of material and symbolic rewards is an explosive mix that helps sustain loyalty to the Putin regime.

Finally, the foreign aspect of Russia’s propaganda and disinformation campaigns is related to your first question on populist nationalism. I disagree with researchers who describe Putin as “populist” in the period before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He is and was part and parcel of the elite, which is the complete opposite of being a populist who blames the elites for leaving the people behind. Now, however, I think Putin can be described as a transnational populist as part of his overall political persona. He taps skillfully into the anti-western and de-colonial sentiments in the countries of the so-called Global South. It is ironic how an authoritarian and an imperialist like Putin flirts with leftist ideas of anti-colonialism and anti-neoliberalism. Unfortunately, his narrative – propagated by Russia’s propaganda machine –does seem to gain traction among former colonies, including India. What needs to be remembered, however, is that Russia is one of the most neoliberal and unequal countries in the world, while Ukraine has been on the receiving end of its imperialist politics for decades, if not centuries. 

After the flower-laying ceremony on National Unity Day, Vladimir Putin speaks with representatives of civil society and youth organisations. (Photo via Kremlin)

Q. According to the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2022 was a bad year for the Russian economy. It is estimated that in 2022, Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) dropped by 2.1%. Russia’s economy may continue to shrink in 2023. Its GDP is forecast to decline by 2.5% in the worst-case scenario (OECD) or by 0.2% according to the World Bank. Going by the statistics,the economy is going down. Do you agree with this assessment?

I think my response to the previous question largely covers this. I will add that we need to be cautious with “objective” assessments like these ones as they do not, and cannot, completely reflect realities on the ground. Overall, I think it’s prudent to take a middle stance between two extreme positions: the inevitable collapse of Russia’s economy and, vice versa, the infinite strength of its regime.

Q. What was the driving force behind the Russian invasion of Ukraine? What was the political advantage Putin and the Russian elites envisioned when they ordered the aggression? Do you think they overestimated its benefits?

In the question of the driving force behind the invasion, I have tried to cover it elsewhere for the Indian audience, so I will largely and briefly repeat myself. I have also already touched upon this in the previous questions. The main reason for the invasion is Russia’s aggressive imperialism. In fact, Putin has been quite explicit about this, comparing himself to the Russian historic figures like Peter the Great and Catherine the Great who “collected lands.” His pseudo-historical essay on the eve of the invasion makes it abundantly clear that Putin, in the good old KGB tradition, is paranoid about the so-called “project Anti-Russia.” This, in his erroneous view, justifies bullying its sovereign and peaceful neighbours.

Putin has denied the existence and identity of Ukraine for years, treating it as his “sphere of influence” and interfering into Ukraine’s domestic politics long before the country officially adopted pro-EU and pro-NATO trajectories. This is why he was so adamant to blame Lenin, by the way: for him Lenin had committed a grave error by allowing a degree of national self-determination for the Soviet republics. All Russia’s criminal policies in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine seek to erase all traces of the Ukrainian identity – by abducting children, forcing the Russian language, giving away Russian passports, or torturing dissenting locals. This is provided they had not been killed earlier by Russian rockets, missiles, bombs, and drones.

A repeated claim I keep hearing from some researchers, students, and Indian common people, such as taxi drivers or street vendors, is that this is a proxy war between Russia and the US, or Russia and NATO. India’s political establishment seems to share this view, at least rhetorically. More ironically, the overwhelming majority of Indian leftists, including prominent figures like Arundhati Roy, do the same.This is a flawed and a very dangerous stance. Empirically speaking, there’s plenty of evidence that Russia’s alleged security concerns about NATO expansion were not the reason behind the invasion. To mention just one, the 2022 escalation, to remind the readers, was preceded by an 8-year-long Russia-ignited war in the Donbass and the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014. These, in turn, were justified by Putin as a reaction to the Ukrainian Revolution of Dignity which ousted pro-Russian president Yanukovych and, in Putin’s view, was nothing but a U.S. orchestrated coup d’état.

The Russia-NATO argument is not only wrong, but is also politically dangerous for several reasons. It denies the agency of Ukraine and Ukrainians. It ignores the fact that empires do not come only from the West. And it fans anti-western and NATO-sentiments instead of mobilizing solidarity with the oppressed Ukrainian people.

Q. Is Russia getting any monetary or other support from any country in the wake of sanctions against it?

I’m not aware of any direct financial support. And if there is one (for instance, from China), the Russian state will do its best to conceal this information from public. Other examples are better known, like receiving military assistance from Iran and North Korea. Also, while China does not openly supply weapons to Russia for its war against Ukraine, it may be secretly selling some components. Finally, in my view, the recent expansion of the BRICS club should be viewed as another opportunity for Russia to steer away from the sanctions regime.

Q. The Russia-Ukraine war has passed six hundred days. As a Ukrainian academic, what do you think will be the lasting vestiges of the war and its ramifications in theUkrainian and Russian economies? How long will it take for both the economies to resuscitate from the damages?

I am a Ukrainian academic by birth but not by affiliation. That said, of course I remain very must invested emotionally and morally into my own country. If you permit, I’ll shift the focus away from the economy (except one comment in the end) as we’ve talked quite a bit about it. Other vestiges of the war will reverberate for years and decades to come: colossal damage to Ukrainians in terms of lost lives, displaced people, destroyed infrastructure, contaminated territory (Ukraine hasthe biggest number of landmines in the world), and polluted environment. And these are just the material effects. On a bit more optimistic note, the war has forged and consolidated Ukrainian national identity. It is also an opportunity to steer the country’s socio-economic development in a more socially just manner. This will become especially important as Ukraine embarks on the path of reconstruction upon. In this regard, there are some important advocacy campaigns and proposals launched by the Ukrainian leftists, such as cancellation of the foreign debt, which I totally support.On the international scale, the war will be a reminder of the fragility about the global security architecture and the need to reform the UN Security Council. It will be also a stark warning about the dangers of “whataboutism” where, in a twisted manner, references to the injustices conducted by powerful nations in the past (such as the US) can be used strategically to fuel the sense of imperial nostalgia, status frustration, andnational greatnessby others (such as Russia).

(Image shared by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Ukraine.)

Q. India has apparently initiated a shift in its foreign policy by favouring Israel instead of Palestine in the Israel-Hamas war. Is this a shift from the country’s conventional foreign policy stand and the stanceit adopted for the purpose of realpolitik? Is this the appropriate stance?

By “shift” you must be referring to India’s abstention to condemnunequivocally Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. There are several reasons why India has taken a clearer stance on the Israel-Hamas war. India still wants to see itself as an ally of the US, which is Israel’s key partner. There is a sizeable Indian diaspora in Israel. Also, condemning the terrorist Hamas is in line with the Indian government’s tough stance on terrorism allegedly emanating from the training camps in Pakistan. Lastly, as highlighted repeatedly in the media, there is a personal affinity between Narendra Modi and Benjamin Netanyahu. In my opinion, the source of this affinity is ideological and comes from similar right-wing majoritarian politics.At the same time, if India clams to be the voice of the Global South, as it has tried to be, it must remember to acknowledge the voice of Palestine in the longer Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Q. What do you think about the future of the Russia-Ukraine confrontation? How long will it last according to your perspective?

I’ll be very laconic here. The war will end with Ukraine’s victory and Russia’s defeat.

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Elon Musk reveals his son’s middle name is Chandrasekhar

The meeting came as Musk-run Tesla and Starlink internet service are eyeing to enter the India market…reports Asian Lite News

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State for Electronics and IT on Thursday met Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk during inaugural AI Safety Summit in the UK.

The meeting came as Musk-run Tesla and Starlink internet service are eyeing to enter the India market.

Musk told the minister that his son’s middle name is also Chandrasekar.

The billionaire named his son with Shivon Zilis after Professor Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.

“Look who i bumped into at #AISafetySummit at Bletchley Park, UK. @elonmusk shared that his son with @shivon has a middle name “Chandrasekhar” – named after 1983 Nobel physicist Prof S Chandrasekhar,” the minister posted on X.

Earlier, addresing the first-ever ‘AI Safety Summit’ in the UK, the minister said that a new framework needs to be built, where there is greater accountability of Internet platforms on the issue of user harm.

“There’s greater accountability of platforms in ensuring safety and trust of all those who use their platforms, whether it is AI or the broader internet at large,” he told the gathering of top world leaders.

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